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telegram, thanks me for my help and fairness in straightening out, the situation on the Eastern Steamship Lines in Boston where, after the International Seamen's Union had won the election we conducted, the National Maritime Union picketed the line, interfering in the operation of the vessels.
The CHAIRMAN. What did you do in that case, where the election had been held, and won by the International Seamen's Union?
Mrs. HERRICK. I called up the National Maritime Union and blew the daylights out of them and said it was a stupid thing to do. The pickets were removed.
Senator VANDENBERG. Were not the ships held up for several days?
Mrs. HERRICK. Yes; I could not do it overnight. As soon as it was brought to my attention, by Frank Fenton, of the Boston branch of the American Federation of Labor, I got busy on it; and from the time when I was notified by Mr. Fenton, which was about 10:30 on a Friday morning, by Saturday morning there was no picket line. The picket line was again renewed on Saturday afternoon, but on Sunday it was off.
The CHAIRMAN. Was not the claim made by the National Maritime Union that there was something unfair about that election?
Mrs. HERRICK. There was, and it has been investigated. My report on that is now before the National Labor Relations Board, here in Washington.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not care to go into that?
Mrs. HERRICK. If Mr. Edwin Smith, of the Board, who is here, has no objection, I shall be glad to tell you what my report is.
The CHAIRMAN. Has Mr. Smith any objection?
Mr. Edwin SMITH. Mr. Chairman, I should think that, unless the committee felt it was particularly important in respect to these present inquiries, perhaps it would be best not to develop the contents of the report. These reports are made by directors, to the Board, as the basis of whether to go ahead and hold a hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. However, it has been charged that that was an unfair election; and it would help the committee in its deliberations if it knew what Mrs. Herrick's position was in the matter.
Mr. EDWIN SMITH. Of course, the report is of a private sort, from the director to the Board; and ordinarily those reports are not made part of public records.
The CHAIRMAN. You are not willing to have it made public?
Mr. EDWIN SMITH. If, after I have stated the circumstances under which the report was made, the committee wishes Mrs. Herrick's report discussed, and wishes Mrs. Herrick to explain the report, I have no objection.
Senator VANDENBERG. I should like to hear it. The CHAIRMAN. Is it the wish of the committee that that be heard ? Senator VANDENBERG. Yes; I think so. The CHAIRMAN. Very well; I believe that is the committee's wish. Mrs. Herrick, will you go ahead, please?
Mrs. HERRICK. Very well. The tenor of my report was that there was nothing unfair about that election. My own opinion is that the American Federation of Labor or the Seamen's Reorganization Committee, or the International Seamen's Union, whatever its present name may be, or however it may now be referred to, has fairly won that election.
The charge was made that a certain boat had been put into service by the line, for the sole purpose of being able to fill it up with a crew of former International Seamen's Union people. And from all the records and all the statements of the people involved, following? hours a day of discussions and hearings with both the National Maritime Union and the shipping company's officers, there, it was revealed that there was no substance to that charge. The proceeding was a regular proceeding, and was well known. And, as a matter of fact, to a large extent the same crew that was taken off what they call the white boats," which they use in the summertime, was transferred over to the winter-run boats, and replacements were made in accordance with an agreement to which the Boston agent of the National Maritime Union stated he was a party, as to the division. I believe it was to be four men of the National Maritime Union and six men of the International Seamen's Union, or the other way around; I forget the details. But I could find no substance to the charge placed by the National Maritime Union.
Of course, the Board may reverse me on that, but that was my report.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you; that is a very frank statement.
Senator VANDENBERG. As I understand, Mrs. Herrick, there is no authority in the Board to enforce one of its orders after an election has been held; you have to rely upon moral suasion at that point. Is that correct?
Mrs. HERRICK. Certainly it is moral suasion, of course. But after an election has been held, if an employer refuses to recognize that, to the extent of dealing with the winning group, then the Board, if charges were filed with it, would institute another investigation to determine if there had been a refusal to bargain collectively.
Senator VANDENBERG. Suppose the reverse situation occurs, and the union which has been defeated in the election interrupts the orderly conclusion of the order of the Board as to the result of the election: What do you do in that situation?
Mrs. HERRICK. Just what we did in the case of the Eastern Steamship Lines—and the picket line was removed.
Senator VANDENBERG. I mean, there is nothing in the law that requires this?
Mrs. HERRICK. It is a moral obligation that is imposed on the employer and the parties to the election, if there are two or more union groups. It is equally imposed upon all of them.
Senator VANDENBERG. Yes.
Mrs. HERRICK. As we go along in the administration of the law, I think we are finding that we have fewer problems arising after elections. I know that in my district since April 12, when the act was sustained, we have had eight-hundred-and-fifty-odd petitions for elections filed. We have run elections in 75 percent of those cases, or else have checked off union membership cards against pay rolls, if the employer prefers that—as sometimes they do. And we have had only two cases—that is, excluding the shipping, because these are manufacturing companies that are involved-where we have had any trouble following the election. That election, with its clear expression of the will of the workers, has made it possible for the employer to cast aside any doubts he may have had in his mind, and to sit down and discuss the problems with the representatives of the workers. And they have done an honest and genuine job together, in collective bargaining, and in laying a foundation for lasting peace in the factories, by their arbitration agreements for settling disputes and that sort of thing.
I think the arbitration records and the fact that there has been a tremendous increase in the number of elections asked for, show the wholesome and steadying effect of the Supreme Court's decision last April. Because once the act was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, the thing seems to have settled down, and people are more willing to accept the principles of the act. I think it has worked in that way.
Senator VANDENBERG. Yes; I agree with your analysis completely, Mrs. Herrick. But what I had in mind was that it seems to me, if we are to stabilize these processes, we must make sure that the result of an election, certified by the National Labor Relations Board, is going to be accepted by all concerned—the employees as well as the employers. Do you agree with that?
Mrs. HERRICK. Oh, I agree with you. And I am sure that that is the result of the election.
Now, in this case of the Eastern Steamship Line, which brought up this question, there was apparently conflicting information given to the union representatives of the National Maritime Union in New York as against their Boston office. When I got the Boston and New York representatives in, together, and the representatives of the company, and their records, it was clear that there was a general misunderstanding and confusion. And the matter has been straightened out; so far as I can see, there is no more trouble. And the Eastern Steamship Co. will confirm that.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Herrick, in the event of a sit-down strike on an American vessel, does your organization have any sort of jurisdiction,
Mrs. HERRICK. Well, that is properly a mediation problem, unless it is a sit-down to force recognition of the representatives of the workers. The sit-down strikes that occurred during this period of a year ago, practically all were for the forcing of recognition of the actual representatives of the men—that is, not being misled by the fact that there was a paper leadership by the International Seamen's Union. The men had shown that they would no longer respond to that leadership. And these sit-downs were to force that fight. The rank and file committee always wanted elections by the National Labor Relations Board; but what they also wanted was the same right to see their representatives, as the members of the crew who were members of the International Seamen's Union had to see theirs.
You see, a seaman's home is the boat; and by an established custom, the shipowners have always let the representatives of the men go on board, to see them and to take up with them any grievances, and to adjust wage questions and complaints against the mates, and that sort of thing. And the rank and file committee people were sitting down frequently, during this period, so as to force the lines to give their representatives passes so that they could see them and be interviewed by them. That was the nub of the whole representation question, you see. And in that connection, I acted, because that brought up the fundamental question of section 9 of the act.
Now, if it were a sit-down for other reasons, and that particular reason I have discussed was not involved, that would be something
that the Department of Labor would go into through their conciliation service.
Does that clarify your question?
The CHAIRMAN. Not wholly. We do have sit-down strikes, do we not?
Mrs. HERRICK. Very few, recently.
The CHAIRMAN. I assume you have gone all through this matter of the selection of the bargaining agents, and so forth. Where you have an agreement, do you have any jurisdiction in the event of a sit-down strike on one of the vessels whose owners or crew are a party to this agreement ?
Mrs. HERRICK. If it involved an unfair labor practice, under the National Labor Relations Act, it would, and a charge would have to be filed, showing that it did involve a genuine dispute.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose it involved a dispute between the two Jabor groups ?
Mrs. HERRICK. That is out of my line. I have heard a great deal about refrigeration on some of the South American boats, and percolators.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have any jurisdiction in such a case as that?
Mrs. HERRICK. For a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, yes. But a specific demand for percolators is a matter for collective bargaining. And provided that the union does represent the men and is recognized as the bargaining group, then that is something for them to handle. Of course, if it involves anything more serious than two percolators, that might be different.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it not a serious thing if the situation results in the disruption of the service!
Mrs. HERRICK. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And you recognize that we still have sit-down strikes?
Mrs. HERRICK. Certainly.
The CHAIRMAN. How are we going to handle those situations and how are we going to prevent those sit-down strikes?
Mrs. HERRICK. That work is started by the setting up of the collective bargaining group to handle those grievances.
The CHAIRMAN. A port committee, for example?
Mrs. HERRICK. Yes; or something of that sort. They are working now, as you know, on the matter of forming a general standardized agreement. I do not know the details of it, because at that point the Labor Board does not enter the picture. But I do know that once the International Mercantile Marine Co. accepted the principle of collective bargaining and said, “We will deal with the people who are designated as the representatives of our employees," thereafter the International Mercantile Marine Co. did not have to cancel a single sailing on account of any major labor dispute from that point on. They did have some difficulties, some individual difficulties, because there was as yet no machinery worked out for the handling of those disputes.
I remember that one night there was trouble down on the Rooserelt, about 2 o'clock in the morning, during the time when we were running the elections, which had then begun. And I did step in, then, because I was anxious to preserve the balance; and I did state that as to whatever members of the crew were then on the boat and then properly taking part in the election, I did not want to have any of them thrown off the boat by pressure from one side or the other side. That was part of the agreement regarding the conducting of these elections, that shipowners and union groups would preserve the status quo so that the election would be the fairest possible kind of an election.
I forget what the issue was, on the Roosevelt; I think there was something to do with whether certain men on one side or the other should go off.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. Mr. Chairman, the witness has testified that the providing of proper machinery for negotiating and for collective bargaining might prevent sit-down strikes of the kind about which we have now been talking. I should like to ask her if the National Labor Relations Act goes very far in adjusting labor difficulties on land, and whether the act has ended sit-down strikes.
Mrs. HERRICK. Has ended sit-down strikes?
Mrs. HERRICK. Certainly, we have—by getting the employers to subscribe to the basic principle in the act, which is recognition of the right of collective bargaining.
Senator Thomas of Utah. But have not sit-down strikes actually occurred, notwithstanding that law?
Mrs. HERRICK. Well, where the employers did not accede to that principle.
Senator Thomas of Utah. I am not talking about who did it; but I am asking if this law has resulted in stopping sit-down strikes.
Mrs. HERRICK. The law has resulted in stopping sit-down strikes, and the violations of the law have caused sit-down strikes, Senator.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. By whom?
Mrs. HERRICK. The violations of the law, in the maritime industry, has been by the employers who have refused to agree to deal with the representatives of the men.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. So, your statement to this committee is that whatever sit-down strikes we have had since the passage of this law, are due to the failure of employers to carry out the orders of this Commission? Is that your statement?
Mrs. HERRICK. I do not say that every sit-down strike has resulted from that.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. All right.
Mrs. HERRICK. The chairman of the comittee brought up a type of sit-down strike with which I am not familiar, because it did not involve a violation of the law. There may be sit-down strikes for other reasons that violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. The reason for my question was that you intimated that if we had a law somewhat similar to the National Labor Relations law, applicable to these seamen, it would end sitdown strikes. I understood you to say that; and therefore I was prompted to ask you if the National Labor Relations law has ended sit-down strikes. And you tell me it has not; and one of the reasons you have given, as I understand, is that the orders of the Board have not been respected. I took it that you meant the Board's orders had not been respected by the employers. Did you mean the employers; and you did not mean the employees?