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LEAVES OF ABSENCE FROM PRESENT EMPLOYMENT TO
JOIN THE MERCHANT MARINE
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1942
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to call, Hon. Schuyler O. Bland (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, the committee will come to order.
We have met for the purpose of considering H. R. 7744, introduced by Mr. Leland M. Ford, a bill to provide that employees of the United States, its Territories or possessions, or of the District of Columbia who leaves their positions to serve in the Merchant Marine shall be restored to their positions upon the termination of such service.
(The bill under consideration is as follows:)
[H. R. 7744, 77th Cong., 2d sess.) A BILL To provide that employees of the United States, its Territories or possessions, or
of the District of Columbia who leave their positions to serve in the merchant marine shall be restored to their positions upon the termination of such service
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, That (a) any person who, during the present war, in order to perform the services of a seaman on board any vessel of the United States, has left or leaves a position, other than a temporary position, in the employ of the United States Government,' its Territories or possesions, or the District of Columbia, and who (1) is still qualified to perform the duties of such position, and (2) makes application for reemployment within forty days after the termination of such service or after the termination of the present war as proclaimed by the President, whichever is the earlier, shall be restored to such position or to a position of like seniority, status, and pay.
(b) Any person who is restored to a position in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) shall be considered as having been on furlough or leave of absence during his service as a seaman, shall be so restored without loss of seniority, shall be entitled to participate in insurance or other benefits offered by the employer pursuant to established rules and practices relating to employees on furlough or leave of absence in effect with the employer at the time such person entered such service, and shall not be discharged from such position without cause within one year after such restoration.
(c) As used in this Act, the term
(1) “Seaman” means any person (including the master and officers) employed on board any vessel of the United States in the care, preservation, operation, management, or navigation of such vessel, but it shall not include any person who is a member of the land or naval forces of the United States.
(2) "Vessel of the United States” means any vessel registered, enrolled, or licensed under the laws of the United States; any vessel acquired by the United States under the provisions of the Act entitled "An Act to authorize the acquisition by the United States of title to or the use of domestic or foreign merchant vessels for urgent needs of commerce and national defense, and for other purposes," approved June 6, 1941, as amended; or any other merchant
or cargo vessel which is not of foreign registry owned or operated by or on behalf of the United States. The term "vessel of the United States" shall not include any fishing or whaling vessel or a yacht.
The CHAIRMAN. This matter was referred to the War Shipping Administration and also to the Civil Service Commission. Reports there, numbered committee documents Nos. 122 and 123, are on the desks of the members and available to persons who are present.
(The report of the Civil Service Commission on H. R. 7744, is as follows:)
UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION,
Washington, D. C., November 30, 1942. Hon. S. O. BLAND, Chairman, Committee on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
House of Representatives. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Further reference is made to your letter of October 31, 1942, requesting a report of the Commission's views regarding H. R. 7744, a bill to provide that employees of the United States, its Territories, or possessions, or of the District of Columbia, who leave their positions to serve in the merchant marine shall be restored to their positions upon the termination of such service.
H. R. 7744 is patterned after the language of section 8 of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. If enacted into law it would require that any person who has left the employment of the United States or the District of Columbia to perform services as a seaman upon any vessel of the United States shall, upon his application, be restored to his former employment, or to a position of like seniority, status, and pay.
Inasmuch as seamen on merchant vessels of the United States are performing services vital to the war effort and comparable in danger and importance with that rendered by members of the armed forces, the Commission believes that they should be accorded privileges with respect to employment in the Government similar to those available to members of the armed forces, and therefore recommends favorable consideration of the bill. There have come to the attention of the Commission recently, however, many cases in which persons are leaving Government employment for the purpose of enrolling in various types of training courses conducted under the auspices of the War Shipping Administration in preparation for rendering service as a seaman on merchant vessels of the United States. The Commission therefore believes that the language of the bill should be broadened to include not only Government employees who leave their positions to perform service as seamen on board vessels, but also those who leave Government positions to enroll in such training courses.
The provisions of H. R. 7744 have been discussed informally with officials of the War Shipping Administration and it is understood that the administration will submit for consideration a revision of the bill so drawn as to include not only Government employees who enroll in training courses but also persons who leave private employment for the same purpose.
The Commission has not ascertained from the Bureau of the Budget whether this bill would be in accord with the program of the President. By direction of the Commission : Sincerely yours,
HARRY B. MITCHELL, President. (The report of the War Shipping Administration on H. R. 7744, together with the suggested revision of H. R. 7744, are as follows:)
WAR SHIPPING ADMINISTRATION,
Washington, December 2, 1942. Hon. S. O. BLAND, Chairman, Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
House of Representatives. DEAR JUDGE BLAND: You have requested the views of the Maritime Commission with respect to H. R. 7744, a bill to provide that employees of the United States, its Territories or possessions, or of the District of Columbia who leave their positions to serve in the merchant marine shall be restored to their positions upon the termination of such service.
The views submitted are those of the War Shipping Administration inasmuch as functions of the Maritime Commission relating to seamen are under the jurisdiction of the War Shipping Administration for the war period under Executive Order No. 9054.
The purpose of the bill is to provide reemployment rights for Government employees who leave their positions during the present war in order to serve in the merchant marine. The Administration is in accord with the general purpose of the bill. It believes, however, that the bill should be amended in order to provide reemployment rights for persons leaving employment, whether private or Government, to serve in the merchant marine, in accord with provisions for persons entering the armed forces of the United States. The War Shipping Administration submits for consideration a draft of amendments in the nature of a substitute text to carry out this objective. The details of the bill will be discussed in connection with an explanation of the suggested amendments.
The substitute text would provide reemployment rights for persons leaving private or Government employment subsequent to May 1, 1940, and prior to the end of the unlimited national emergency declared by the President on May 27, 1941, to enter upon service in the merchant marine. The coverage of the bill is limited to Government employees who leave or have left their positions during the present war. It is the opinion of the War Shipping Administration that employees in private industry should be afforded the same protection in this matter as Government employees. Moreover, to cover only employees who have left during the present war is an unrealistic attitude with regard to service in the merchant marine prior to December 7, 1941, and favors one group of persons in a manner not warranted by the circumstances. Those who entered service prior to the outbreak of actual war have performed and are continuing to perform the same unselfish service for their country as those who joined after the outbreak.
The bill would not apply to persons leaving Government positions to take training for, or to enter upon service in, the merchant marine but who for one reason or another may not serve abroad any vessel. The War Shipping Administration operates or has under its jurisdiction an extensive system of schools designed to train men for service in the rapidly expanding merchant marine. These schools are probably the largest source of supply to fill the country's everincreasing needs for merchant seamen, and it would not be proper, in the opinion of the Administration, to exclude this class from protection of the character provided by the bill. Such failure to include them may also have an adverse effect on the recruitment of personnel for training in the merchant marine.
Service in the merchant marine under the terms of the substitute draft would include service was an enrollee of the United States Maritime Service on active duty.” The Maritime Service was created under authority contained in section 216 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as amended. Its membership is composed of individuals in training for service in the merchant marine and administrative personnel which includes instructors. While those in training would be included under other provisions of the suggested draft the Administration believes that those men serving in the service as administrative personnel should be included. Part of this personnel are members of the Naval Reserve on active duty with the Navy and are therefore entitled to reemployment rights under other statutes. Government employees who leave to enroll in the Maritime Service are, under the terms of Executive orders, granted the reemployment rights afforded employees who transfer from one Government position to another. Thus only those individuals who leave private employment to enter the Maritime Service and who do not enter the Naval Reserve on active duty would receive benefits under the above provision relating to enrollees on active duty. It would be desirable to provide that all personnel in the Maritime Service should have the same reinstatement benefits.
Frequently a seaman, after having completed one voyage, spends several days ashore before he receives and accepts another assignment. The draft would provide that this waiting period may be considered as service in the American merchant marine "to such extent as the Administrator shall prescribe.” This provision, the Administrator considers necessary, in view of the provision requiring that a person in order to obtain reinstatement present a certificate issued by the Administrator showing a period of "substantially continuous service.” Such waiting periods often occur because of circumstances beyond the control of the seamen and it would be unfair to deny a certificate under such circumstances. At the same time voluntary waiting periods of extended duration should be discouraged. The Administration, therefore, feels that discretion should be left to the Administrator in prescribing the extent to which such waiting periods shall be deemed service in the American merchant marine, so that under proper cir