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STATEMENT OF UPHOLSTERER'S INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA-AFL,
SEPTEMBER 21, 1951
I. STATEMENT OF INTEREST AND QUALIFICATION
The Upholsterers' International Union of North America, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, has its headquarters and principal national place of business at 1500 North Broad Street, Philadelphia 21, Pa. This union, founded in Chicago in 1892 and maintaining continuous existence as an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor since that time, has approximately 60,000 members in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Its membership falls into five principal categories of upholstered furniture workers, wood furniture, mattress and bedding, burial casket and canvas, tent and awning workers. It is the largest single collective-bargaining agency in the five key industries. Outside of a limited number of box-spring makers in the mattress and bedding industry, the principal recognized apprenticeable trades in the industries covered by our union and the only occupations which could be legitimately recognized as skilled trades capable of acquirement by systematic training are, respectively: upholsterers in the upholstered-furniture industry and cabinetmakers in the woodfurniture industry.
At the peak of enrollment in private trade-school institutions under the GI Bill of Rights as of October 31, 1949, according to the so-called Gray report of January 25, 1950, in excess of 12,000 GI students were enrolled in schools purporting to train in cabinetmaking and upholstering. It should be noted as evidence of the ridiculous nature of this result, as indicated by this figure, that total employment for all production workers in the upholstered-furniture industry in the United States, including all operations in addition to upholsterer, is less than 40,000, and that this number enrolled in the GI training schools in upholstering courses at this one time exceeded total employment capabilities for this occupation for this entire industry in the United States. It should further be noted that, whereas on the systematically developed and carefully supervised Federal apprenticeship-training program, there was at the same date approximately 2,500 unholstering apprentices and 5,000 cabinetmaking apprentices registered, reflecting in general the actual proportions between the two occupations and the true industrial balance.
The Upholsterers' International Union's officers had their attention called to actual and potential evils, destructive of the interests of the industry, the taxpayer, and the veteran, particularly in the Pennsylvania area, late in 1947 and early in 1948. Investigation of ad hoc private-profit industrial-training schools set up to enroll veterans under the GI Bill of Rights in Pennsylvania, and particularly in Philadelphia, early revealed that these schools were set up by people with no experience whatsoever in the trades to be taught and with no conception of standards to ensure any benefit to the veteran and without any care or judgment in the seeking of qualified personnel adequate to instruct the most interested and proficient student.
When protest was made against the licensing of such a school to the certisying board of the State of Pennsylvania, it was discovered that there was no possibility or provision under said State board for adequately investigating or processing applications for certification of these private-profit trade schools ; no secure method of getting investigation made prior to certification, and no provision for supervision after certification. The union discovered in the course of its exploration thạt the original legislation decentralized the certifying procedure into the hands of the States, very unevenly or not at all prepared with an agency to care for the function, and that no funds for reimbursement of States for such supervisory function was provided, and that in the original statute there seemed to be no mandate upon the Veterans' Administration to exert any supervision of these schools. Once in operation and after an illconceived and false economy move in the final session of the Eightieth Congress had wiped out the Training Division of the Veterans' Administration, there was no actual administrative machine provided for the supervision of the expenditure of some of the largest sums of public money ever laid out by the Federal Government.
Dismayed by the conclusions above cited acquired from their experience with the operation of the GI Bill of Rights in respect to authorization of privateprofit trade schools, the officers of the Upholsterers' International Union engaged in further investigation and found a run-away situation involving even further and larger-scale abuses in other trades than in the upholstered-furniture trade. So far as could be determined, for example, by late 1948, there seemed to be approximately 3,000 GI's, it was indicated on very adequate surveys available to the union, in watchmaking schools in Pennsylvania, where the watchmaking industry, at its maximum, employs approximately 2,000 at the optimum in that State.
The Upholsterers' International Union therefore authorized the author of this statement in January of 1949 to make representation to Members of the Congress in the city of Philadelphia, asking that this invitation to widespread corruption and looting of the Federal Treasury be investigated. It was consequent to material submitted by the Upholsterers' International Union that House Resolution 211 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Earl Chudoff, of Pennsylvania, on May 12, 1949, which, after pending through all of the first session and most of the second session of the Eighty-first Congress, was duplicated by the resolution of Congressman Teague, of Texas, which was adopted and led to the formation of the present select committee of the House for investigation of education and training under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act still in process, some of the results of which were processed to this committee of the Senate by Chairman Teague of that select committee on September 18, 1951.
While complaints filed through the Veterans'. Administration by the Upholsterers' International Union in the early part of 1949 and requests for information as to the actual operation of the private trade-school portion of the Veterans' Administration program under the GI bill of rights were met with denials of statutory power, administrative information, and so forth, the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, through Senate Report 1156, dated October 11, 1949, solicited and received on January 25, 1950, a most complete and devastating report from Carl R. Gray, Jr., Administrator of Veterans' Affairs--a most devastating confirmation of all the allegations of waste, fakery, and misuse of funds by the private trade-school industries, brought into existence by the lush opportunities provided by the loosely drawn sections of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act.
Regrettably, the recommendations of the Gray report and the plain lessons of its revelations were not given legislative effect in the second session of the Eighty-first Congress, but instead a measure which originated in the Senate prior to the Gray report and the slightly modified version known as the TaftTeague bill was actually passed by both Houses in the second session of the Eighty-first Congress, which acted to remove administrative restrictions belatedly placed upon this program in at least the interest of the public purse, if not of adequate training for the veteran in the course of the revelations since 1948.
Because of this active and leading concern with the operation of this legislation on this particular program and our success in predicting the inevitable scandal reflected in the interim reports of the House select committee for investigation of this program, known as the Teague committee, and the long series of Federalcourt indictments against private-school operators, the Upholsterers' International Union feels specifically qualified to place certain constructive and critical comments on the legislation pending before this committee as Senate 1940.
II. STATEMENT OF POSITION
In general, we would welcome most of the provisions of Senate 1940 in its revised extension of the privileges of the GI Bill of Rights by an entitlement of those war veterans plunged into active service consequent to the war in Korea. Measurements for requirements of standards in teaching and administration of schools holding themselves forth to veterans eligible to these training benefits are wisely provided, as they were grievously lacking in previous legislation. However, a perusal of Senate 1940 would indicate that many of the previous gaps in the legislation through which the dishonest and advantage-seeking private school operator, low-wage employer, and the veteran who is content to misuse the program as a substitute for earned income, may still, though on less lush scale, walk through, remain unplugged.
One of the greatest and most unforgivable evils of the original legislation was the assignment of the certifying and supervisory function of the private trade schools of State agencies without any provision (1) to discover if such an agency did exist or was likely to be created, (2) setting standards which would bring about an adequate agency, and (3) provide funds for administering what was after all a Federal program and in which many States would feel that they had no responsibility or even stake.
It is still true, for example, in the State of Pennsylvania, where some of the most outrageous scandals in connection with the operation of private trade schools exploiting the Government, the veteran, and the public sprang up, that legislation still provides a State board of private vocational schools which is exclusively made up of enterprisers, in turn, exclusively engaged in the operation of schools exclusively financed out of Federal GI benefit funds. Not a single member of this State board, under the law of the State, is required to have the slightest preparation or understanding of vocational education, and the majority of them, if not all, completely lack anything except the original ability to get a school certified from a previous board.
The only adequate correction for this at the moment would seem to be tightening of the provisions of the present bill in respect to the established ability of such schools to independently command the enrollment of serious students paying their own tuition for the training involved to the point that the vast majority of private trade schools organized to exploit the public purse in the years 1948, 1949, and 1950 will be unable to qualify within the bounds provided for administrative discretions of the Veterans' Administration or the State certifying board.
The provisions for regulation and enforcement of standards may reduce the large proportion of malingering on the part of those veterans who have used the GI private-trade-school program merely as an extension of unemploymentcompensation privileges granted under other provisions of the act at one time. However, while the public purse may be to some degree more adequately protected by S. 1940, it should be stated that in the opinion of this union, from its extensive experience, there is no way of making the private profit trade school, organized since the advent of this servicemen's readjustment legislation, actually serve the veteran in terms of adequate training or to the benefit of private industry which, like our own, are constantly in need of really thoroughly trained, skilled journeymen, with the exception of those few old-established trade schools in existence years before the passage of the GI bill of rights. We have become thoroughly convinced that not only is it impossible for these trade schools to honestly offer the veteran training in the trade under our jurisdiction, but that no amount of regulation will enable these schools to so serve.
The case of the city of Philadelphia is very much a point in order. Following the end of World War II, the upholstered furniture industry in the city of Philadelphia was in drastic need of new skilled help. Over a period of the next couple of years, several hundred aprentices were enrolled in an industry that employs in this market only something in excess of 1,200 people at the time of full operation. These apprentice enrollees were practically 100 percent GI's and many of them secured proper benefits as allowed under the GI bill of rights as apprentices. Where individuals showed no aptitude after a reasonable period of time, they were so informed and urged to seek something that they could handle or be useful at, but the greater proportion of those enrolled were either incorporated in the industry or were capable of such incorporation and failed to remain only because other opportunities offered something better.
On the other hand, this international union, following the revelations of the scandalous practices characteristic of the private trade schools under the GI bill of rights, particularly in the city of Philadelphia, carried on a paid advertising campaign inviting graduates of Philadelphia private profit upholstering trade schools to enroll with the union and be assigned to a job and rates commensurate with their training in the upholstered-furniture industry in the city of Philadelphia. This paid advertising campaign in the name of the union and the employers' association finally resulted in the registration of a mere score of the hundreds of GI students who had passed through the three or four Philadelphia upholstering schools. On examination, with a charitable eye at the time when the industry and the completely unionized employers in the city of Philadelphia were anxiously seeking help and were very tolerant of limitations of new, young employees, not a single one of the registrants ranking from 1 to 2 years' enrollment in Philadelphia upholstering schools showed enough benefit from his training to justify any of the associated employers in enrolling him. So far as is known today, as compared with the high percentage of those now still enrolled in the industry from the apprenticeship training program of the postwar years, there is not one single employee in Philaddelphia who has successfully started on the occupation of upholstering through these private trade schools.
While the experience in other cities is not nearly so completely checked and decisive, it corresponds, in general, with differences only in minor details with the Philadelphia experience. The committee, from the point of view of the interest of the veteran sincerely interested in training in a useful occupation after the tragic interruption of war military service, above all, certainly the interests of the taxpayer and of industries such as ours would be best served by cutting this dog's tail off right behind the ears, so refining the provisions of Senate 1940 as to wipe out the participation of all the private trade schools holding themselves forth to veterans which have been organized since 1945 immediately following the first passage of the servicemen's readjustment legislation. Legitimate apprenticeship training programs as already provided for and supervised under Federal law have proven their legitimacy and usefulness in our industries and others under the GI bill of rights' various provisions. Certainly the program for making the provision of higher education available to returned veterans has justified itself and the Nation has benefited in long-run terms, far outrunning the weight of public expenditure.
It can be stated equally categorically that 95 percent of the funds and an equal portion of the time the veterans spent on the private trade schools and, to a lesser extent, on the training within an industry program which has not met apprenticeship standards, has been a waste of funds and time which is enough to make a statue weep in grief.
Senate 1940 can be supported by our organization as a step in the right direction in the new entitlement of new veterans to GI bill of rights benefits. Its reforms and restrictions belatedly reflect the experience and information as set forth in the Gray and other reports prepared or now being prepared. The only criticism of the bill is that it does not frankly face the fact that the private-trade-school program and a large part of the farm-training and training-within-an-industry program has been nothing more and remains nothing more than large-scale public subsidy without public benefit of private interests under the false guise of giving deserved benefit and aid to those who have contributed to the Nation's defense some of the most tragic years of their preparation for life and even some of their most productive years. Respectfully submitted.
ARTHUR G. McDOWELL, Administrative Assistant to the President.