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Your committee joins with the executive council in expressing the fervent hope and prayer that Great Britain will win, recognizing with the council that she stands as the last outpost in the Old World in the defense of democracy and the democratic form of government. Our sympathies go out to her people, the men and women who make up the British Trade Union Congress, and to all who are fighting a heroic battle against tremendous odds.
We join in the recommendation of the executive council in favoring the extension of all help and assistance possible to Great Britain in her hour of need on the part of our Government short of war itself. We concur with this portion of the executive council's report.
After considerable discussion on the part of the hundreds of delegates in attendance at the convention, that report which I have just read, was adopted by a unanimous vote; not one dissenting vote.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you give the date of that convention?
Mr. GREEN. It was held at New Orleans, La., beginning November 18, and lasted for a period of 2 weeks.
The CHAIRMAN. Last year?
Whereas the totalitarian nations are everywhere imposing their rule of violence and terror; and
Whereas the successes of the totalitarian nations have everywhere been followed by the destruction of democracy and the free trade-union movement, and of all the moral, ethical, and religious values upon which our civilization rests; and
Whereas the outcome of the war now being fought by the totalitarian powers against the democracies will affect the lives of members of free trade-unions and the generations to succeed us, we believe that, to protect our security and our way of life, Great Britain and her allies must win and democracy survive: Therefore be it
Resolved, That this convention calls upon the President and Congress to take steps to provide all possible moral and material aid to Great Britain and her allies.
The report of the committee which recommended the adoption of the resolution was unanimously adopted.
There is the basis for my presentation of the statement just made a few moments ago. The great Congress of Labor, the highest authority within the American Federation of Labor, representing over 5,000,000 working men and women, expressed itself unanimously in support of the extension of all moral and material support possible on the part of our country to Great Britian and her allies.
We look upon it as a defense measure, and we believe that the extension of aid to Great Britian and her allies, in that we are merely carrying out our own defense program, because our defense program extends that far, and it is a matter of protection here.
That is all; thank you.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Green, I agree practically with everything that you said here this afternoon. You represent, Mr. Green, a great labor organization, and as I understand what you say, is it not that your organization is in favor of doing everything possible to help Great Britian short of war?
Mr. GREEN. That is right.
Mr. Fish. What is the attitude of your organization on going into war?
Mr. GREEN. The American Federation of Labor does not believe that America will become involved in the war. We would not look with favor upon America being involved in the European conflict.
We do not think that there is any need for that at the present time, but we do believe that America, our country, should extend to Great Britain and her allies all of the moral and material support that lies within our power. We believe that that can be done through the adoption of this measure that this committee is now considering.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Green, I agree with you that that can be done, with certain amendments. You have suggested some very fine amendments, and of course other Members of Congress will also suggest some amendments to try to bring this within the provisions of the law, of the Constitution, and our democratic system, to do the very thing that you want done.
You would have no objection to that, would you?
Mr. GREEN. No; I would be very glad if that is accomplished, so far as extending aid and support to Great Britain is concerned. We would not want any amendments included in the measure that would hamper or hinder the President and his associates in the extension of aid and support to Great Britain.
Mr. Fish. I know of no amendments that have been suggested yet that are designed to hamper sending all material that is designed to Great Britain; I know of no such amendment. The amendments, Mr. Green, that have been discussed are all questions of retaining the constitutional powers of the Congress. I am sure, knowing your views, you have no objection to the Congress retaining its own constitutional powers.
Mr. GREEN. I have tried to make that clear in the suggestions that I have made; I hope that they will be helpful.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Green, just discussing briefly one part of the bill, that part which gives to the President the power to give away any part of our Navy. Would you object to a reasonable limitation on that power?
Mr. GREEN. I favor the extension of broad powers to the President. I am of the opinion that if such power as you have just described is conferred upon the President, that he will not abuse it.
Mr. FISH. Mr. Green, that has been said before by many witnesses, by Mr. Bullitt a few minutes ago, who knows the President very well; he assured us, Mr. Green, that the President would not use this power to give away any part of the Navy.
May I recall to your mind the fact that only a short time ago, comparatively, 6 months ago, the President tried to give away our new mosquito fleet, and the members of Congress stopped it by digging up a law, and the Attorney General ruled that the President had no such power.
Mr. GREEN. I am not so familiar with that, but we did favor the President giving Great Britain 50 destroyers; we were for that.
Mr. Fish. That was in exchange for certain bases that we needed. So I bring that out, Mr. Green, because I know, and I know your mind, that you want this bill to be written within the confines of the Constitution of the United States, to give all possible aid, and such a bill can be written, Mr. Green, to give them all of the ships and planes and munitions, just as many as is contained in this bill, and you would have no objection if such a bill were written, would you?
Mr. GREEN. I certainly would favor the enactment of a law that would confer upon the President the broad powers that are included in this bill, but I cannot conceive of anyone favoring any violation of the Constitution.
Mr. Fish. Do you have any objection, Mr. Green, to having a provision in this bill to prohibit the President from convoying any of our ships?
Mr. JOHNSON. I believe that I will object to that. The bill has nothing in it about convoys.
Mr. FISH. The press have carried statements that some spokesman for the White House has no objection to such provisions.
The CHAIRMAN. There is nothing in the bill, Mr. Fish, with reference to convoys.
Mr. Fish. I would say to the chairman, so that we can discuss that a little further, that convoys are not named, but the bill is so sweeping in its delegation of power that if this bill passed unamended it is my opinion, at least-it may be contrary to yours—that he can do that and a great many more dangerous things.
Mr. GREEN. I do not believe the President of the United States will ever assign our ships to convoy any vessels.
Mr. Fish. The President has so stated.
Mr. GREEN. I have faith in him; I believe he will exercise good judgment and keep us out of war, because he said he would.
Mr. Fish. He certainly did, and so did Mr. Wilson.
Mr. GREEN. If the Lrisitania had not sunk, we probably would not have been in tbe World War, but if they do that again we will be in.
Mr. Fish. And therefore I take it that you are opposed to the convoying of our ships into the war zone?
Mr. GREEN. I just said a moment ago that I had such faith in the President that I know he is not going to run any risk of that kind, that would involve us in a European conflict.
Mr. Fish. The Secretary of the Navy said that that would be an act of war.
Mr. GREEN. I think the Neutrality Act prohibits the sailing of our vessels in war zones, does it not?
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair will have to rule that any further question of convoying of ships is outside the bill. You will have to confine yourself to the bill.
Mr. Fish. I am finished. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Johnson. Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. Green, you believe, and the organization of which you are the head, the American Federation of Labor, believe that it is the duty of Congress to enact this legislation for our own necessary self-defense, at this time, as I understand from your statement?
Mr. GREEN. That is just it; that is right.
Mr. Johnson. You believe that it should be enacted speedily, Mr. Green?
Mr. GREEN. Promptly.
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. Fish asked you with reference to certain amendments that you favored; I assume that you would not want to commit yourself in favor of any amendments until you saw the language in which the amendment was couched, and also the effect that it might have upon the purposes of the bill?
Mr. GREEN. Well, the amendments that we favor are the ones that I recommended.
Mr. JOHNSON. But you would not care to commit yourself or your organization to any unwritten amendments, just from verbal expression?
Mr. GREEN. Not until we saw them and had an opportunity to read them.
Mr. JOHNSON. You would oppose any amendments that would thwart the purposes of this bill, or would delay the furnishing of materials to England, or might have that effect?
Mr. GREEN. We would be opposed to that.
Mr. JOHNSON. You believe that in emergencies like this that it is necessary that power be vested in the President in order to expedite the securing of materials and shipment of them, do you not?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. EATON. Mr. Green, it is most reassuring to have a great organization such as you represent express their views so completely in accord with the great principles that have made our country the hope of the world for 150 years. I agree with your statement here today, and I am going to work as hard as I can to have most of your amendments made a part of this bill.
However, I think one of your statements is susceptible of a very dangerous interpretation at this moment, and that is that if all of these achievements of labor are to be retained in this crisis, it will be interpreted that labor is the only group that declines to make any sacrifices. I do not believe that, but it is susceptible to that interpretation.
Would you tell us how to avoid that?
Mr. GREEN. Well, Congressman, first I want to say that labor has repeatedly stated its position in that respect. We have assured the President and Congress and the Nation that we stand ready to make such sacrifices as any other citizen may be called upon to make in order to protect America, democracy, and our free institutions.
The preservation of these social and economic gains to which I have referred does not mean that we are not willing to sacrifice, or make the ordinary or even the extreme sacrifices that may be necessary in any emergency
But we have learned in the school of bitter experience that when a great social and economic objective is reached, that it is very difficult to maintain it. It is harder to restore it than it was to originally pass it. And that is the reason why we feel it our duty to jealously guard these social and economic gains that labor has secured through years and years of sacrifice and effort. It is not that we are unwilling to make sacrifices.
In fact, two great branches of our organization voluntarily declared, in conferences held just a short time ago, that it was their fixed and determined purpose to prevent strikes, and to avoid strikes, and to refuse to engage in strikes during this national emergency. Now, is that not some sacrifice? That is the spirit of labor, and I am pleased to make that explanation to you.
Mr. Eaton. İs that the spirit of labor, or the labor that you represent?
Mr. GREEN. That was the Metal Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor, the skilled workers who are employed in constructing the vessels, the Navy, the airplanes, and the tanks and
guns and all that goes into the war material needs. And then the great building and construction group that is engaged in building and constructing for national defense.
Mr. Eaton. Thank you, Mr. Green.
Mr. SHANLEY. Mr. Green, under the provisions of the recent revenue act, it may be necessary to put in corelative protection for industry insofar as excess profits are concerned. You would not have any objection to that, would you? I mean this section is so broad, "notwithstanding the provision of any other law,” that while we want to and will protect the rights of labor under the Walsh-Healy Act, and those other Magna Cartas, we also want to protect what we did for industry in the excess-profits tax, so that we could energize production. You would have no objection to that?
Mr. GREEN. I think that that would be fair and just.
Mr. SHANLEY. And that opens up a broad field that must be protected because of that wide, sweeping phrase?
Mr. GREEN. That is right.
Mrs. ROGERS. Mr. Green, you have stated that labor would be willing, very willing, to cooperate in every way, but you felt that the gains that labor had made, such gains at such great sacrifices, must be guarded. Is it not true that some of labor works under very trying conditions, and the health of that labor must be guarded even as a matter of national defense, if you will?
Mr. GREEN. That is quite right. Of course, I did not want to impose on the time of your committee by going into that, but that is quite true, and we have learned much through the experience of workers in Great Britain, and we find from the reports that we receive, which are factual, that in Great Britain even though the workers there have shown a wonderful spirit, and have made amazing sacrifices and will continue to do so, that those in charge in Great Britain found it necessary to make adjustments of the working time by shortening the working periods in order to protect the health of the workers.
They found that better service would be given through that adjustment than it would by keeping them working extremely long hours.
Mrs. ROGERS. They must be kept strong just as the men who go into the fighting line?
Mr. GREEN. They must be strong in order that the Nation may be strong.
Mrs. ROGERS. And labor, of course, is the backbone of the country, Mr. Green?
Mr. GREEN. Yes.
Mrs. ROGERS. Mr. Green, I was delighted to hear you say, in effect, and I think that you did say in effect, that your group wanted all agencies to report to the Congress in detail as the provisions of this
law are being carried out.
I am so glad that you agree with me, because I have felt that full information should be given to us, and to labor and to the country.
Mr. GREEN. We favor that.
Mrs. ROGERS. I will be very glad to support your amendment, and other amendments.
Mr. GREEN. Thank you.