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AMENDING THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1938
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committees met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10:30 a. m. in the Commerce Committee Room, the Capitol, Senator Royal S. Copeland (chairman of the Commerce Committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Copeland (chairman of the Commerce Committee), Thomas of Utah (chairman of the Committee and Education and Labor), Sheppard, Clark, Donahey, Guffey, Maloney, Berry, Johnson of California, Nye, Vandenberg, Walsh, Murray, Ellender, Davis, and O'Mahoney.
Present also: Rear Admiral H. G. Hamlet, United States Coast Guard, retired; Capt. C. S. Joyce, secretary of the Technical Committee on Safety at Sea; John W. Mann, senior attorney, United States Maritime Commission; U. Bon Geaslin, attorney, United States Maritime Commission.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order.
I had a telegram from Mrs. Herrick, who represents the National Labor Relations Board in the east. She took exception to statements made by Mr. Scharrenberg at one of our recent hearings. The pertinent part of that testimony is found in part 8 of our hearings, beginning at page 738.
At this time we shall be glad to hear from Mrs. Herrick.
STATEMENT OF MRS. ELINORE M. HERRICK, REGIONAL DIRECTOR
OF THE SECOND REGION, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, NEW YORK, N. Y.
The CHAIRMAX. Will you proceed, please, Mrs. Herrick. Please state, first of all, your name and your title.
Mrs. HERRICK. Mrs. Elinore M. Herrick, regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, second region, New York City, 233 Broadway.
The CỦAIRMAN. Now, please proceed in your own way.
Mrs. HERRICK. A Mr. Paul Scharrenberg, purporting to represent the American Federation of Labor, has testified before your committee. Does he represent the American Federation of Labor? I doubt it, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Scharrenberg holds no official position, either in the Imerican Federation of Labor or in the International Seamen's Union or its successor, nor does he represent any organized group of maritime workers, to the best of my knowledge.
The record of the National Labor Relations Board, and, specifically, the second region office in New York, is open to examination. Suchi examination supplies a complete refutation to any attack that has been made or that conceivably can be made upon the National Labor Relations Board or upon me, in connection with the eastern and Gulf maritime situation.
What are the facts? After 4 years in the Government service. I have learned the difference between facts that you know are true and facts that you can prove are true. And the facts I am now going to recite are facts that I can prove are true.
In March 1936 a rank-and-file group of seamen rebelled against the leadership of the International Seamen's Union and struck, on the coast, the strike lasting until May 1936. At that time the National Labor Relations Board took no part in settlement of the strike or any charges growing out of the strike. It was not until December 1936, when it was obvious that conditions on the waterfront were growing no better and that our merchant marine industry was subject to repeated strikes, delays of sailing schedules, and so forth, that the National Labor Relations Board was brought into the picture. The Rank and File Committee of Seamen petitioned the Board to hold elections to determine whether the rank-and-file organization or the International Seamen's Union represented the men for collective bargaining. The National Labor Relations Board held hearings at Washington to deterniine whether the petition which had been presented but not yet accepted really involved a question with which the Board could properly deal as being within the scope of the National Labor Relations Act, or whether it was really an internal union dispute of a character which it was against the Board's policy to handle.
These hearings were terminated without any official action by the Board, when the executive council of the American Federation of Labor, through its general counsel, Mr. Charlton Ogburn, offered to appoint a committee to supervise elections for new officers within the International Seamen's Union. The Rank and File Committee expressed a belief that such elections would settle their problem and result in a united International Seamen's Union. For a period of months all through the early part of 1937 leaders of the Rank and File Committee and the special committee appointed by the American Federation of Labor, of which Mr. Ogburn was chairman, met and discussed plans for such elections within the union. I am not personally or directly familiar with the negotiations carried on by these two committees, as the National Labor Relations Board had stepped out of the picture when the American Federation of Labor offered to work out a plan for elections within the union.
Although the strike of March 1936 had been officially terminated in May, the rank-and-file seamen continued their battle for better working conditions on ship after ship. The harbor was in indescribable turmoil. A crisis came when on April 15, 1937, the International Mercantile Marine Co., suffering from a general and complete tie-up of its boats, formally filed with the New York office of the National Labor Relations Board a petition for an election. This petition stated:
A serious dispute has arisen among the men employed on its ships, as to who are the duly authorized representatives of the men. The International Mercantile Marine Co. is unable to determine who are the duly authorized representatives of the majority of the men in each department on its ships. The company is prepared forthwith to collectively bargain with the representatives of the majority of the men in each department, when it has been determined who are the representatives of the men. The dispute as to who represents the men is leading to serious disturbance, unemployment, interference with the mails of the United States, tying up the ships, and doing serious inconvenience to passengers, causing loss of freight and passengers through transfer to foreign-flag ships, and is otherwise hampering and endangering the foreign and domestic commerce of the United States and the peace of the community.
At the same time the strikers also formally appealed for protection of their right to bargain collectively, and so a joint conference was arranged.
On April 16 the general strike on the International Mercantile Marine ships was settled by an agreement for Government-supervised elections to determine the representatives for collective bargaining desired by the men. Provision was made that meanwhile passes to board the International Mercantile Marine ships would be issued to representatives of the striking seamen as well as the International Seamen's Union.
On April 21 a conference was held in my office, at which were present representatives of the International Mercantile Marine Co., the various divisions of the International Seamen's Union, and the Rank and File Committee. Ivan Hunter, for the International Seamen's Union, proposed a form of ballot, which was agreed to by Gus Brown, of the marine firemen, oilers, and water tenders group in the International Seamen's Union; David Grange, of the Cooks' and Stewards' Union, International Seamen's Union, dissenting. The Rank and File Committee accepted Hunter's plan. The crisis of April 15, and the conferences which began April 21 and were held almost daily for a period of nearly a week, apparently hastened action by the American Federation of Labor Committee, of which Mr. Ogburn was chairman. On April 22 he telegraphed to the attorney for the Rank and File Committee:
Subject to certain reservations which I have discussed with the Board, our rules for the election now forthcoming will in the main meet your desires. I will see you in New York Saturday.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Herrick, what is the meaning of “the Rank and File Committee"? Does that have a technical meaning in your mind?
Mrs. HERRICK. That was an insurgent group which had led these strikes on the east coast, and which later became the nucleus for the National Maritime Union. In just a moment I shall come to a discussion of that particular point.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well.
Mrs. HERRICK. In connection with the conference in my office on April 21, I find these statements regarding that as made by me:
I want peace on the waterfront. I'll do all in my power to get it. I called you here to get your views on that. I don't want to see union discord require the Government to rule unions by law. I am realistic. I know this discord is stopping the ships from sailing on the east coast. We want that discord stopped. Settle it in your own way as between the seamen's groups, but American shipping must go on.
General approval of an election in the east and Gulf ports was reached; and Mr. Clare, one of the attorneys for the International Seamen's Union, dictated a plan for the election. The two groups took away this plan for the election, to discuss it separately, and
were to reconvene the following day. Then, as Mr. Ogburn's telegram, quoted above, indicated that the situation regarding the election could be straightened out by the American Federation of Labor, I decided to postpone further conferences.
On April 27 Mr. Ogburn came to see me and said that the plan for election of officers in the International Seamen's Union was practically set, and that he expected to announce them either that day or the following day. His plan provided that nominations were to be filed by May 14, and the election was to be held during June, but extended through July if two-thirds of the union members had not voted in June. Those eligible to vote were to include persons who had paid dues to representatives of either of the two groups.
For reasons unknown to me, the announcement by Mr. Ogburn never materialized, nor did the American Federation of Labor election, according to the plan described above, ever take place.
The situation on the waterfront was considerably and noticeably more peaceful while the negotiations for these elections were in prog
But when the conferences broke up, following the intervention of Mr. Ogburn, and when the elections did not come up, then the situation steadily become worse, and individual ships were again tied up, one by one, on many lines. I want to make it clear, in view of certain statements made by Mr. Scharrenberg, that it was the shipowners and not the seamen who first appealed to me for help and advice. The only advice I could give them was that under the National Labor Relations Act employers were obligated to deal with the representatives of their employees. Some shipowners, accepting this basic principle of the law, were able to patch up some kind of a truce with the strikers. Meanwhile these lines urged the Board to conduct elections to (letermine with whom they should deal on behalf of their employees. Those lines which accepted the principles of the Federal law had comparatively less trouble than did the few lines that tried to reserve the right themselves to select their employees' representatives. The charge has been made that I “by veiled'threats induced various subsidized lines to give passes"-quoting from Mr. Scharrenberg's remarks. Gentlemen, there were no threats by me, veiled or otherwise. When boats were tied up at the docks and the shipowners found that issuance of passes would set their boats to sailing again, it was sheer realism on the part of the shipowners--and no threats by me-- which resulted in passes being granted. And far from the truth is Mr. Scharrenberg's statement that the International Mercantile Marine Co. and Grace Lines wanted to fight the Board but dared not. I want to read into the record at his point two telegrams sent respectively by the International Mercantile Marine Co. and Grace Lines last August, when the first attempt to cripple the Board's work by cutting our appropriation was made, and a letter written within the past week by a member of the law firm which has represented innumerable shipping companies in dealings with my office and who has been the special legal representative of the International Mercantile Marine Co. in all proceedings before the Board.
The letter from that law firm, which is known, I am sure, to the members of this committee-Kirlin. Campbell, Hickox, Keating & McGrann-is signed by Mr. A. V. Cherbonnier, of that office, written to Mr. J. Warren Madden, Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, and dated at New York, January 26, 1938 [reading] :
KIRLIN, CAMPBELL, HICKOX, KEATING & MCGANN,
New York, January 26, 1938. Mr. J. WARREN MADDEN, Chairman, National Labor Relations Board,
Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. MADDEN : The various adverse criticisms in the daily papers against Mrs. Elinore M. Herrick, second regional director, National Labor Relations Board, prompts me to state my opinion of Mrs. Herrick, which is based on long personal contact.
My firm, in acting for various companies, has had innumerable cases before the National Labor Relations Board. Many of these cases have been handled by me personally and I have been in close contact with Mrs. Herrick and her staff from the very inception of the Labor Board here in New York.
The vast majority of the cases have pertained to the shipping industry. It is, of course, a matter of public knowledge that the labor situation in the shipping industry has been chaotic.
During the period when various ships were prevented from sailing due to the action of the crews, to my person knowledge, the tact, sound judgment and tireless energy of Mrs. Herrick materially aided in straightening out problems that at the time seemed hopeless.
In my opinion, Mrs. Herrick has ably handled a most difficult position, with a total disregard for time. She has been as willing to render aid in the solution of controversies in the middle of the night as she has during the day, and I believe that it would be most detrimental if she were to be removed from her present position. You are at liberty to call upon me if I can be of assistance to Mrs. Herrick. Very truly yours,
(Signed) A. V. CHERBONNIER. One of the two telegrams to which I previously referred is as follows: To CHAIRMAN,
House Appropriations Committee: We understand House will consider early this afternoon appropriation for National Labor Relations Board. We strongly urge that proper provision be made to enable the National Labor Relations Board through its New York regional office to handle effectively large volume of work imposed upon it by the greatly disturbed labor conditions in maritime industry in port of New York which are undoubtedly pressing in other industries in this district. Would appreciate your immediate attention this important matter.
(Signed) GRACE LINES, Inc. Mr. Adams actually signed it. And the Grace Lines, Inc., is one of the lines that Mr. Scharrenberg says I intimidated by veiled threats.
The other telegram is signed by Mr. A. J. McCarthy, vice president of the United States Lines, Inc., a subsidiary of the International Mercantile Marine, dated August 17, 1937, as follows [reading]:
New York. August 17, 1937. CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE :
The local Labor Relations Board at New York has been doing herculean task in keeping commerce moving by its untiring efforts in preventions of stoppages of labor which can only be continued provided appropriation of available funds is not curtailed and in the general interests of the shipping industry both labor and capital we strongly urge your cooperation.
A. J. MCCARTHY,
Vice President, United States Lines, Inc. I also have a telegram from Mr. Francis Fenton, who is the general organizer of the American Federation of Labor in Massachusetts, and specifically in Boston, and whose standing as a representative of the American Federation of Labor is unquestioned—a standing that I challenge Mr. Scharrenberg to duplicate. Mr. Fenton, in his