« PreviousContinue »
it was taking steps to “protect its membership" and warned Joseph Curran, general organizer of the N. M. U. "and his aids, that there comes a time when patience is exhausted and that time is rapidly approaching.” The warning, it was feared in shipping circles, might lead to serious altercations on the port's water front between the two factions.
The National Labor Relations Board, following a recent election conducted on Eastern ships, certified the Seamen's Union as the crews' collective bargaining agency. The N. M. U., charging that the company recently replaced N. M. U. seamen with A. F. of L. sailors on its liner St. John, last Wednesday called a strike at New York and tied up three of the company's ships here. The strike ended the following day, however, when the striking members were replaced by Seamen's Union men.
In making the warning, Robert Chapdelaine, president of the Seamen's Union, said that Mayor LaGuardia and Commissioner Valentine had been asked for adequate police protection following activities of "beef squads” in the market places and side streets near the Eastern Steamship Lines' piers at Warren and Franklin Streets, which watched for crew members to come ashore.
CHARGES Y, M. U. TERRORISM
"We are informed,” Mr. Chapdelain said, “that the leadership of the N. M. U., unable to induce members of our union to strike, are out to put enough of them in the hospitals to tie up the vessels.
"If the N. M. U. is not satisfied with the decisions of the N. L. R. B., why don't they picket the Board and have their "beef squads" beat up the members of the Board ?
“If the Board is unable or unwilling to enforce its decisions we want to know it. We have enough members in many vessels now certified to the N. M. U. to cause real chaos in the marine industry if we have to. However, the American Federation of Labor's Seamen's Union feels that we owe a duty to the public and to the seamen and for that reason we are doing our best to maintain peace. Continued chaos and street fighting will not improve conditions for seamen, nor reestablish the confidence of the public which is being rapidly destroyed by the tactics of the N. M. U. leadership.
"Let Mr. Curran and his aides be advised, however, that there comes a time when patience is exhausted and that time is rapidly approaching."
TOWBOAT ELECTION ASKED
The Labor Seamen's Reorganization Committee, handling the affairs of the former Atlantic and Gulf district unions of the International Seamen's Union, was completely in accord with the seamen's union, it was said by Patrick Ryan, director of the committee. The former union is expected to be absorbed soon by the new A. F. of L. union.
Following a conference yesterday with the New York Maritime Council, Capt. William Maher, secretary-treasurer of the Associated Marine Workers, an affiliate of the C. I. 0. Inland Boatmen's Union, announced that an application would be filed with the National Labor Relations Board, probably today in Washington, requesting an election be held among 6,000 workers on towboats and self-propelled lighters in the port.
[New York Herald Tribune, November 3, 1936) GREEN ASSAILS C. 1. 0. UNION IN “ALGIC” Sit-Down-A. F. L. PRESIDENT PLEDGES
His SUPPORT TO KENNEDY ON SHIP DISPUTE STAND-RIVAL FACTIONS CLOSERNEW PROPOSALS ADVANCED FOR FEDERATION-LEWIS PACT
(By John C. O'Brien)
WASHINGTON, November 4.-As labor's embattled factions resumed their peace negotiations today, William Green, president of the American Federation, denounced the Committee for Industrial Organization's National Maritime Union for conducting a sit-down strike on board the Government-owned freighter Algic and pledged the support of his organization to Joseph P. Kennedy, Chairman of the Maritime Commission, in his efforts to build a merchant marine and establish stable labor conditions.
The Green broadside came just as negotiators for the rival labor camps had completed the draft of terms looking hopefully to a truce, if not reunion, and in a more conciliatory spirit than prevailed at the opening of negotiations last week they agreed to continue their discussions.
The Green statement was the sharpest rebuke to the C. I. 0. that has come from the Federation camp since the break 2 years ago. The Federation chief condemned the strike on the Algic as indefensible and took a firm stand against "unauthorized and sporadic strikes in violation of contracts,” whether at home or in a foreign port.
UNION LEADERS DIFFER
In sharp contrast to the Federation's declaration of support of Mr. Kennedy's policies, officers of the National Maritime Union have assailed the maritime chairman as a "dictator.” Joseph Curran, head of the union, recently demanded an investigation of Mr. Kennedy's handling of the strike on the Algic. The maritime chairman ordered the ring leaders of the Algic strike in Montevideo put in irons. Fourteen members of the Algic's crew were indicted in Baltimore today on charges of insubordination.
Although no agreement was announced at the adjournment of today's peace discussions between the Federation and C. I. O. peace committees, both sides agreed to continue negotiations on the basis of a five-point armistice proposal looking toward cessation, for the time being at least, of raids on each other's unions and an ultimate defining of the respective jurisdictions of the rival organizations.
PROPOSED TRUCE TERMS
The terms of the proposed truce were:
2. Both sides to intensify unionization drives in the industries in which they are now operating.
3. Both sides to agree to an enlargement of the present negotiating committees, the Federation committee now consisting of three members of the Federation executive council and the C. I. O. committee of 10 members of the C. I. 0. executive committee.
4. Both sides to attempt to draw a line of demarcation between workers to be organized in C. I. 0. industrial unions and workers to be organized in A. F. of L, craft unions.
5. The present committees to name subcommittees to facilitate a final reunion agreement.
PEACE COUNSELS GAIN
Both sides seemed more disposed today to make concessions than last week when each angrily rejected the proposal of the other. Apparently during the recess calmer counsels prevailed and each side concluded that no progress toward reunion could be made until encroachments on each other's membership were stopped. Emphasis was shifted in today's discussions from unconditional surrender of one side or the other to an attempt to agree on the maintenance of the status quo.
The dispute over the respective membership claims of the two factions continued to be the chief stumbling block to reunion. The Federation has challenged the C. I. O.'s claim to a membership of around 4,000,000 from the beginning. Federation estimates concede the C. I. 0. not more than 1,919,000 duespaying members, of whom 1,565,000 are credited to twelve unions.
Dues-paying membership in the new unions organized by the C. I. 0. in the aluminum, shoe, leather, cannery, electrical and maritime industries and among State, county, and municipal employees do not exceed 334.000, according to the Federation estimates. The Federation has been willing all along to take back the suspended and withdrawn unions, but it has boggled over recognizing the C. I. O.'s claims in outside fields in which the clash between the rival organizations has been most bitter.
SEE UNIONS CHIEF ISSUE
The clash of interests in the maritime industry is likely to be the most difficult to reconcile. The maritime unions affiliated with Harry Bridges, the C. I. O.'s overlord on the west coast, constitute the bulk of the dues-paying C. I. O, membership in the newly organized fields. Federation estimates give the Bridges affiliates 125,000 dues-paying members. Naturally the C. 1. 0. wants to bring in the Bridges' union if there is to be reunion under the Federation roof, but Mr Bridges has served notice he will have nothing to do with the Federation, and the Federation looks askance at him.
The question of ultimate jurisdictions came up only incidentally at today's peace discussions. The negotiators put the jurisdictional question well down on the truce program, making cessation of raids the first order of business.
"Such a truce would be a distinct step in advance, because it would protect those affected by the controversy who have no responsibility for it,” said Charles P. Howard, one of the C. I. O. negotiators. "By that I mean the workers in the field who have been caught in the battle. It should be possible to arrange a truce.” Another C. I. O. negotiator who seemed hopeful a truce could be arranged was Harvey Fremming, president of the Oil Workers' Union.
The terms of the truce, it was reported, were drawn up at a conference between John L. Lewis and the C. I. 0. committee before the peace negotiations were resumed. Apparently, the Federation regarded them as a distinct step forward from the C. I. O.'s uncompromising demand last week for autonomy within the Federation.
George M. Harrison, the chairman of the Federation committee, seemed optimistic as the conference broke up. “We have agreed to take up consideration of what industries should have industrial unions," he said. "In addition, a number of suggestions were proposed as to procedure, and we discussed them, although we have not yet reached any final agreement."
FOURTEEN SEAMEN ORDERED HELD
BALTIMORE, November 4.-Fourteen seamen of the Algic, ordered held for a Federal grand jury on mutiny charges, swore out warrants today charging two officers of the freighter with involuntary manslaughter.
James K. Cullen, United States Commissioner, issued the warrants against Second Mate Ernest B. Watters and Third Mate John F. Pike shortly after he ordered the seamen held.
The sailors, released on bonds of $500 each, contended the negligence of the officers contributed to the death of Howell V. Gill, a sailor, drowned while trying to go ashore at Victoria, Brazil. Four of the seamen testified before Commissioner Cullen that Gill and three other men got into a small boat which swamped. The sailors said they ran to the two officers and asked permission to lower one of Algic's boats.
SAYS PIKE REFUSED
"Pike refused,” Seaman David Tuttle testified, “and said there would be no boats lowered because the men had taken the small boat and it was their own fault."
The sailors were accused of turning off steam in Montevideo, Uruguay, so nonunion stevedores could not handle cargo.
"I do not find the conduct of you men grave in any way,” Commissioner Cullen said, “but there is evidence of your insubordination. I therefor find you, under the law, subject to the criminal statute for willful neglect of duty and disobedience of your master's orders."
Commissioner Cullen told the sailors he did not find they had engaged in any “revolt to mutiny within the common meaning of those terms." However, he added, the insubordination made them liable to a maximum prison sentence of 10 years if they were convicted.
JANUARY 22, 1938. From: Capt. Paul Joiner Williams, 75 Main Street, Chatham, N. J. To: Hon. Royal S. eland, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Com
merce, the Capitol, Washington, D. C. Date: January 22, 1938. Subject: Coinments on proposed amendments to the Maritime Act of 1936, as set forth in S. 3078.
Page 5, line 4, after “recommendation", insert "in writing.”
Page 5, line 6, after "Commission" insert “or its authorized agent or representative."
I am in agreement for the elimination of the Coast Guard and Department of Labor from this provision, since all complaints should be handled by one bureau. However, I do consider it necessary that such complaints should be filed in writing so the complainant cannot alter the original complaint. As the law now reads, a man may make a verbal complaint and deny the charges at a later date.
In specifying “or its authorized agent or representative," it is my opinion that such complaint could be routed to the Commission in foreign ports through the consular channels and thus expedite its delivery to the Commission in Washington,
Page 5, line 12: It has been proposed by representatives of the radio operators to amend the act by adding after “Navigation" the words "and Federal Communications Commission."
This provision, qualifying officers on shipboard, was designed to draw a clear line of distinction between ships' officers in executive authority and those serving in nonexecutive capacities who are not responsible to the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation as regards to their ability, conduct, and discharge of their duties and obligations, in the normal pursuit of their duties.
Radio operators are not in executive authority on board American vessels. They are not officers and are subject to the orders of the master at all times. They have no authority to give orders to the passengers, crew, or anyone else on board the vessel on which they serve, and, in time of emergency when taking to the boats, they are subject to the orders of the deck or engineer officer in charge.
In time of war or national emergency, when commercial ressels are requisitioned for military purposes, it is my opinion that any radio operators taken into naval service would be rated as a petty officer and not a commissioned officer, since the actual operating of the sending and receiving sets is carried out by petty officers under the orders of a commissioned officer in charge of communications.
There is nothing in the law that alters or changes the living conditions of radio operators. It has been customary to assign them to quarters along with the officers, and on cargo ships they have been given the same privileges enjoyed by officers. On passenger ships, their living accommodations are similar to those of the second and third officers and there is nothing in the present law that changes these conditions.
However, in the past there has existed on passenger ships confusion in the minds of the passengers conerning the officers, since some ship operators encouraged the wearing of ofiicers' uniforms by radio operators, stewards, pursers, doctors, electricians, clerks, bartenders, etc. This brought about a condition of affairs whereby it was virtually impossible for the average passenger to designate the officers from the nonofficers.
From a “sea-safety" point of view, passengers should be able to recognize immediately their officers, upon whom they depend in time of emergency and any abuse of uniform privileges will handicap the officers and passengers in such emergency.
For the above reasons I am opposed to any modification of the law as it now stands.
Page 5, line 23: It is noted that part 6 of section 301 (h) has been eliminated in the proposed amendments. This part 6 of the Maritime Act reads as follows:
“Licensed officers shall take their meals in the main dining salon of the vessel and no other place during regular meal hours, except in cases of emergency.”
This provision represents a departure from established practice on American passenger vessels and was made a part of the Maritime Act for the following be maintained. Experience has proven this to be true, and unless a clear-cut definition of officers' living conditions is placed in the law, the way remains open for a continuation of the same abuses that existed prior to the passage of this maritime law.
1. There has been criticism of the officers serving on American vessels, some justified and some not justified. Some officers are unsuitable for passenger service, and, although efficient in the performance of their duties, are incapable of conducting themselves in a proper manner. This type of officer should be transferred to cargo service and replaced by that type of officer who commands the respect of his superiors, subordinates, associates, and the passengers.
2. The Maritime Act of 1936 provides that reasonable working and living conditions shall be maintained on all vessels under subsidy. This in itself, however, is no guarantee that reasonable working and living standards shall
For example, vessels (a) and (b), sister ships in every rsepect, designed for combination passenger-cargo services, built under a 75-percent loan from the construction-loan fund and operated under benefit of an ocean-mail contract. Placed in service the latter part of 1932.
On these vessels the only officers that took their meals in the main dining salon were the captain, first officer, chief engineer, and first assistant engineer. The second and third officers and the second and third assistant engineers were assigned to a separate wire-enclosed messroom, situated next to the galley in the same passageway below decks where the crew messed and lived next to certain storerooms, etc.
Included in this messroom were the following: Cadet, two radio operators, two refrigerating engineers, electrician, second purser, clerk, and any supernumeraries.
Following the Morro Castle disaster, the messroom was moved aft to make way for a serving pantry for the stewards, and replaced the pantry. Three tables were provided seating three each, or a total of nine at one sitting. A chief officer was added to the deck officers, who replaced the first officer in the main dining salon. One messman continued to serve the following: Three radio operators, the first, second, and third officers and the second and third assistant engineer officers, second purser, clerk or third purser, two refrigerating engineers, electrician, cadet, and supernumeraries.
The messman, having no pantry, was compelled to wash his dishes in the galley, causing delay in serving meals. Efforts were made to stagger the meals, but this proved unsuccessful. Officers who had to go on watch oftentimes could not get a seat and had to take over the watch without any meal at all. It was nearly impossible for one messboy to serve all these men and keep con. ditions sanitary. Grease from the galley was all over everything, officers ate with their subordinates, and their entire mess facilities exposed to full view of the galley crew and others going to and from the galley to other parts of the vessel.
As a result of these conditions, it was difficult to maintain high standards of discipline, the officers' morale was low, and most of the 150 passengers never knew who these officers were upon whom they had to depend in time of emergency. Two fire and boat drills were held each voyage, one at sea and one in port when most passengers were ashore.
Since the law requires that all eligible officers shall be members of the United States Naval Reserve, it is pointed out that in naval custom officers do not eat or associate with enlisted men. In order to have an efficient Naval Reserve these officers must be trained in naval customs and their commercial maritime customs must parallel, as near as possible, naval customs.
4. The old custom of isolation of officers has been subject to severe criticism by experienced passengers who consider it necessary that every officer be assigned to a separate table in the main dining salon so that passengers will be able to judge these men and know their leaders.
It is true that the conditions described do not exist on board all American vessels, on the larger ships they are more satisfactory. But, unless there is a clear and undisputable order written in the law as applied to subsidized vessels, and which should be extended to all American vessels, then there is no guarantee of improvement, for it must be remembered there is the element of human error involved in the enforcement of such laws. If this particular provision is withdrawn from the law, then the way is left wide open for arbitrary enforcement on the part of the United States Maritime Commission and the possibility that the shipowner and ship operator can in the future establish lower social and economic standards than those herein described.
The turnover of officers is very small as compared with the crew, and conse. quently the ship is their home. The morale of these men and the efliciency of their work is, to a large degree, dependent upon humane treatment and the maintenance of proper social and economic standards on board their ships.
The Maritime Association of the Port of New York, representing major steamship lines under the American flag, offered no comment or criticism of this provision in their Analysis of the Maritime Act of 1936. Such criticisms as have been made of this provision have, for the most part, come from those who do not understand the officers' side of the matter. Diligent inquiry has