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1 Taft-Hartley Law Exposed!
.^Members of the law firm of Padway. Woll, Thatcher, Glenn and
Wilson, serving as general counsel for the American
Federation of Labor)
This is the first of a series of articles to l>e published by the
AFL Weekly News Service in refutation of an article appearing
in the Saturday Evening Post which praised the Taft-Hartley
law to the skies. Author of thb Pont article was J. Mack Swi
gert, law partner of Senator Robert A. Taft—enough said:
AFL President William Green requested the Post to grant
him the opportunity of replying to the article but the request
was curtly refused by Ben Hibbs. the editor, who frankly ad
mitted that his magazine was one-sided on the question of the
Taft-Hartley law.
At the outset and before commencing a refutation of the
specific points made in the Post article, it will be helpful
to set forth, in broad outline form, labor’s basic objections
to the Taft-Hartley Act. The arguments in support of
these objections will appear in the course of refuting Mr.
Swigert’s contention, and thus a rounded and whole ap
proach to the point at issue—what does the Taft-Hartley
Act really do—will result.
The favorite device of those
who attempt apologies for the act
(including the writer of the Post
article) is to tell only part of the
story, to pick out and play up
certain provisions to which no
particular exception can be made
(and to which labor has taken
no exception), or to emphas:ze
only* one claimed beneficial result
of a provision to which labor does
object without indicating the oth
er very harmful results of that
provision which far outweight any
possible good the provision might
appear to accomplish.
Labor, objects to the Taft
Hartley Act for reason^ which
go to the fundamental principles
of labor and economic philosophy.
The act goes far beyond the cor
rection of any abuses, real or im
aginary; it constitutes a complete
reversal of national labor and ec
onomic policy. Its operation
necessarily will have adverse ef
fects upon our entire national
economy and will seriously im
pair the operation of our free
enterprise system.
The act reverses national and
economic policy in the following
1. It seeks to discourage rfther
than to encourage the association
of employes in free trade unions
and to drive a wedge between
the worker and organizations
formed by workers for their mu
tual aid and protection.
2. It seeks to discourage rather
than to encourage the practice of
free collective bargaining between
parties possessing equality, of
bargaining power.
S. It foregoes and repudiates
reliance on a free trade union
movement as a means, through
free collective bargaining, not
only of settling labor-management
difficulties, but of insuring a suf
ficiently high wage level to sup
ply the purchasing power neces
sary for the successful function
ing of our greatly productive
economy. Instead, it seeks to
weaken the trade union movement
and thus substitute either man
agement difficulties and to main
regulation for the settlement of
labor disputes and the mainte
nance of a balanced economy.
The national and economic pol
icy which has been repudiated by
the Taft-Hartley Act was set
forth in part in the Norris-La
Guardia Act protecting labor
against the' abuses of the labor
injunction, and then more com
pletely in the Wagner Act of 1936.
Under these acts it was declared
to be the national policy to rely
primarily on free collective bar
gaining rather than governmental
dictation both to settle labor-man
agement difficulties adn to main
tain a high level of purchasing
poWer. That policy was a sound
one consistent not only with the
private enterprise syltem in a
free society but also consistent
with the new universally accepted
principle that the maintenance of
a wage level sufficiently high to
enable the .consuming public to
purchase the products of our ex
tremely productive capitalist sys-..
tem is indispensable to the suc
cessful functioning of that sys
tem. But obviously, free and ef
fective collective bargaining be
tween workers and management
could not exist without an equali
ty of bargaining power between
the parties, with a corresponding
duty to bargain in good faith—
conditions which did not wholly
exist, particularly in the mass
production industries, prior to
1935. Accordingly, the framers of
the original Wagner ,Act sought
to encourage the formation of a
strong trade union movement by
preventing employer* from d s
couraging unionization. In ad
dition, a duty was imposed upon
employers to bargain in good
faith once organisation of a ma
jority of employes in a particu
; lar bargaining unit had been
achieved. Thus, the Wagner Act,
ns originally conceived, was nec
essarily one-sided hi the sense
! that' it contained restrictions
against employers only. Obvious
ly employers, and particularly em»
ployers in the mass production
industries with their semi-monop
oly status and vast resources,
needed no safeguards to maintain
their bargaining power on the
one hand, and on the other hand
were almost universally guilty of
interfering with the organizational
rights of their individual em
ployes who could not hope to ne
gotiate on their own.
New York City.—In these days
when ft is common practice for
labor's foe* to biame the building
trades unions for the high costs
of home building, testimony of a
builder refuting these charges
comes as striking and telling
William Levitt, head of a big
construction company which has
erected hundreds of homes for
veterans on Long Island, told a
congressional committee headed
by Representative Ralph W.
Gwinn that practices in the dis
tribution of building materials are
adding as much as 33 1-3 per
Cent to the price of homes.
He declared that a $7,500 house
could be sold for $5,000 if it were
rot necessary to pay profits run
!* ?? over 50 per cent to middle
men, who frequently never even
sed the material.
It was important testimony be
cause. first, Gwinn, from the be
ginning, has been intent on smear
ing th** building trades unions
j and holding them up as responsi
ble for the housing difficulties;
and, second, Levitt is a non-union
! contractor who has built probably
more houses than any other ope
rator in the Long Island area.
I When he said that $2,500 could
lie knocked off the price by elimi
nating the “gravy" of dealers,
distributors and wholesalers, he
knew what he was talking about
—because, to protect himself, he
has secured control of two supply
Builders don’t stand a chance of
breaking down the practice be
cause it is followed by such giants
as Johns-Manvilie, Kohler, Briggs,
Westinghouse and General Elec
tric, he said,
“It’s a shame and a disgrace,"
Levitt declared, adding that some
practices of the unions are un
reasonable, but that it' is grossly
unfair to blame the workers when
middlemen are principally- re
| sponsible.
Cambridge, Mass. — Harvard
- University announced that 8 U. S.
I labor leaders, including trainmen
and bo-lermakers, are studying
! it the university this year.
The unum men, designated as
i “labor fellows" by the university,
j ire studying for 9 months such
i subjects as labor law. collective
bargaining and human relations.
The courses are paid for jointly
by Harvard and various unions,
to give union leaders a better
understanding of labor-managa
ment relations.' o -
Unlike anyone else at the uni
versity, the 28-to-41-year-old la
bor leaders are nyt required to
"pass" a single course to stay
there. The only requirement is
| "proVen ability to serve the labor
movement and records as union
St. Louis—Roy Horn, 75, retired
general president of the AFL
Brotherhood of Blacksmiths. Drop
Forgers and Helpers, died at a
hospital here. He was president
of the brotherhood from 1926 un
til last March and had been a
member of the union since 1900.
Voluntary Wage Control Is Held
Possible If Inflation Is Curbed
The number of strikes and time lost because of work
stoppages continued to decline in October, according to
preliminary estimates of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS report showed that since last April there has
j been a continued downward trend in labor-management
i disputes resulting in cessation of work.
Preliminary estimates indicate that 175 new stoppages,
involving 60,000 workers, occurred in October as compared,
with 200 stoppages, involving 75.000 workers, beginning
in September. Idleness due to work stoppages in plants
directly involved was estimated at 1,850,000 man-days in
j October as against 2.000.000 in September,
i Total stoppages in effect during October, including those
which continued from earlier months, numbered 350 and
involved approximately 145.000 workers. The lengthy CIO
shipyard strike, affecting about 35.000 employes. Continued
as the larges* >t>ppage during the month.
The Federal Mediation and ConcifSation Service termi
nated 83 stoppage cases involving 21,500 workers in Oc
tober in addition, the Service settle 405 controversies
and threatened strikes, involving 184,000 workers, before
work stoppages developed.
All known work stoppages, arising out of labor-manage
! ment disputes, involving six or more w-orkers and continu
ing as long as a full day or shift are included ir. reports
j of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Figures on “man-davs
(idle” and “workers involved" cover all workers made idle
in establishments directly involved in a stoppage They
do not measure the indirect or secondary effects or other
establishments or industries whose employes are i made idle
as a result of material or service shortages. \
EXCEED OVER 2,000,000
Washington, D. C.—Nearly 2,
150.000 wo,isrs will be employed
in the construction industry *«
September of 1948, 250,000 more
than in the peak month of 1047.
according to estimate* of the Bu
reau of Labor Statistics.
j The estimate is base'i upon a
[forecast of construction outlay!
j totaling $15,200,000,000 Jn 1943 j
prepared jointly by the Lab vr an i
j Commerce Departments.
It is estimated that private
I builders pill start 950,000 new
permanent dwellings next year—!
an all-time high. This figurei
tops the 1025 peak of 937,000 j
units, and exceeds the expected i
1947 private total by nearly j
100.000 publicly financed dwellings
are expected to be started in
1948, compared with around 5.000
th « year. Considering the pro
ductive capacity of the indus
try, and anticipated labor and
materials supply, there is a good
possibility that the number of
private units to be started next
year will actually exceed 950,00*).
In any case, it is unlikely that
anything but a severe recession
will cause the number of housing
starts to fall belo*y this eor.serv
aive estimate.
Roughly a third of the con
traction workers will-be engaged
at the site of new housing proj
ects in September, 1948, about
the same as in tW peak month
of this year. Unlike 1947. rel
atively little fluctuation in the
! level of residential building is
■ expected in 1948, with the mainte
nance of comparatively high lev
els throughout the spring and
j summer months.
Indications now are that the
j rising rate of apartment building,
which began last May, will con
tinue into 1948 but that the in
crease in housing for moderate and
low - income families will be
slight. Should the homebuilders
make strides next year in a mod
Ierately priced housing program,
the possibility for achieving a
volume of starts in excess of the
estimate would appear very good.
The number of permanent
homes to be completed in 1948
is expected to reach 986,000.
around 160,000 more than the
! estimated figure for 1947. Com
' pletions totaled only about 440,000
dwellings in 1946.
Albany, N. V.—Titllprn because
of work stoppages 'Sjr New York
State dropped lo 'a'record weekly
low for the year during the week
ending November 8. Industrial
Commissioner Edward Corsi re
vealed. i
The statewide total of 3,625
persons away from their jobs be-:
■ause of strikes throughout the ’
state was 8 285 below the prev
■ < week'* total and 6.275 less
than this year's high, on April j
14, when the nationwide tele-:
here strike was in progress.
Of the 2,625 idle workers. 2,- !
t*90 were in New York City, in
volved in 41 stoppages. The seven
other disputes recorded at the
weekend, involving 635 workers,
were upstate.
The November 8 total was the
lowest since the State Labor De
partment started checking week- |
ly total two years ago. The low- (
est tota* in l'.*46 was« 5,100, for
the week ending December 28.
Major factor in the sharp de-!
crease, said Mr. Corsi. was
termination of the 136-day CIO
Bethlehem Steel Shipyard strike
which sent’. 9,500 workers back
to their jobs. Five other small
disputes were also settled during
the week, returning about 320
other persons to work, but five
new strikes, involving approxi
mately 1.590 wage earners also
■occurred during the week.
“This report. declared t on
I m.ssioner Oorsi. “reflect* the
| vigorous economic an : industrial
health of the state, which, stem
ming from the maturity and sense
of responsibility of both labor
and management, has played a
large part in the maintenance of
New York’s excellent strike rec
Washington, D. C.—William M.
O’Brien, “nretary-treasurer of
the AFL’s International Associa
te -n of Sheet Metal Workers. die<i
here after an illness, of nearly
three months. He was <55 years
Mr O’Brien had a long and dis- 1
tinguished career of service with
his union. In 1927 he was elected
to the position of secretary -
treasurer in which he served at
the time of his death. Prior to
that he was a member of the un
ion’s executive board from 1913
! to 1927.
Washington. D. <\—The Ameri
'n wage earner I'virg in a large
ty paid in September nearly
il.-il for the same goods and j
services which in the period 1935
cost him $1.
This was the meaning of the
! .* M figures released hy the Bu
reau of Labor Statist cs showing
that its consumers' price index
od at art all time high.
At the same time BLS reported
cortinued advances in wholesale
"rices which “w II serve to push
the consumers’ index still higher
in the weeks and months to come.
Op. September 15th the consum
ers' price index was 12.3 per cent
Lgher ,than a year ago, 22.9 per
cent above June. 1946, ard 66.1
per cent above the August. 1919,
Prjces of all major groups of
items advanced in the month, the
BLS teport for the country as a
hole showed. Foods were up
3.6 per cent, rents 2.2 per cent,
house furnishings 1.8 per cent,
apparel 0.9 per cent, fuels and
ice 0.6 per cent, and miscellaneous
goods 0.7 per cent. All items
other than foods roes 1.2 per cent
on the average. *
The 3.6 per cent rise in food
j Tirices over the month was more
than twice the usual seasonal In
crease • at this time of year and
brought the food index for Sep
tember to 203.5 per cent of the
1935-39 average; 39.8 per cent
higher than in June, 1946, and
19 per cent above the June, ■ 1920.
peak. i
Higher prices for living-room |
and bedroom furniture, (redding, |
dinner-ware, refrigerators, wash
ing machines and other electrical
appliances advanced the house
furnishings index 1.8. per cent
from August to September to a
level of 20 per cent above Jun“,
1948. Scattered decreases for
radios were reported.
Apparel prices in large citiea
averaged 0.9 per cent higher in I
September than in August.
In the 18 cities surveyed in
September, increases in the ap
parel group over the last three
months ranged from 5 per cent
in Memphis to less than l per cent
m Mobile and Philadelphia.
Apparel prices declined 8 per
ent in New York over this 3
month period.
Rents for family dwellings rose
2 _ per cent in the month, bring
ing the index to 113.8 of the 1935
39 level.
Chicago, with a rise of 3.4
per cent, showed the largest aver
age price increase in the month
ended September % 15. Detroit's
• ■ mallest, 0.9 per cent.
Washington D. C. - Led by
John P Frey, president of the
AFL'» Mela! Trades Department,
a group of union leaders protest
ed to top Navy Department of
ficials the shockingly small in
creases granted to thousands of
employes ip navy yards and other
naval establishments.
In all, raises were given to
about 210 workers. In some cen
ters, mostly on the West Coast,
the pay hikes were reasonable—
from 17 to 19 cents an hour. But'
many received only a few cents,
and in some cases, nothing.'
Workers on the East Coast were
particularly hard-hit.
Navy Undersecretary W. John ;
Kenney promised the department
would "try to correct injustices
a» soon as possible.” Union chiefs
made it clear they will continue1
the light until a "square deal” is
Washington, D. C—■Secretary of Labor Lewis R. Schwel
lenbaeh declared that if action is taken to avoid the re
currence of further upward price spirals, wage costs can
be kept in line through “voluntary action.’’
Secretary Schwellenhach expressed this point of view in
testimony before the House Committee on Ranking and
Currency on that paft of President Truman’s anti-inflation
program dealing with proposed control of prices and wages
in selective areas of the nation’s economy.
Washington, P. C.—The number
M()f apprentices in the budding
trades reached an all-time high
in October, according to a state
ment by. William F. Patterson.
' director of the l .a nor Depart
i meets' ^Apprentice-Train'ng Serv
I ice.
| At the end of the month 109,
' T-'aF apprentices were reported in
! the industry, an increase of 3.5
per cent over the September level,
| !r. Patterson declareo.
All of the construction trad >
groups also established new rec
i ords for the number of appren
tices in training at the end of
October, he said, giving the fol
lowing break-down: Wood-working
trades, 39,92b; electrical trades,
17.2(h); pipe trades, 15.658; trowel
trades, 14,799; painting and dec
orating trades, 8,560; sheet metal
trades, 7,990; other building trades,
Patterson commended the tile
setting industry for taking an im
portant step forward recently
when it adopted National Stand
ards for Tile Setters. These
standards are patterns for estab
lish ng local apprenticeship pro
grams. Yhe standards were form
ulated jointly by the Tile Con
tractors’ Association of America.
Inc., and the Bricklayers'. Masons'
and Plasterers' International Un
ion of America with the assist
ance of the Apprentice-Training
The construction industry now
has 13 such national apprentice
ship standards covering all of the
major building trades. All of
the standards were set up jointly!
by national contractor, organiza
tions and unions, he 'declared.
Apprenticeship not only devel
op* craftsmen, hut helps to. de
velop good citizens, Patterson
said, stating: "
“‘Apprentices* see .democracy at'
work for their own welfare in
the voluntary ce-operation be
tween employers and their em
ployes to teach them their crafts.
Apprentice-trained craftsmen are
self-sufficient workers with h gh
earning power They are am
bitious individuals -*triv'ng to
improve their- economic condition.
From their ranks we get not only
I f >remert and supervisors for in
: duslry, hut many of our union
leaders, employer* and ci"ic lead
ers. Apprenticeship as it is con
ducted in the United States is
one of the bulwarks against the
‘isms' rampant in other countries
2.#(K).0fH) ON l . 8. PAY ROLL
Leilas Tex. — The number of
civilian employes of the Federal
government has decreased from a
peak of 3,770,0**0 in mid-1945 to j
2,000.000 now, Henry F. Hubbard,!
Washington executive vice-chair
man of the Federal Personnel
Council, said here at the Civil [
Service Assembly of the Unite.!
States and Canada. The current
civil service payroll averages
$500,000,000 a month, hq said.
The assembly is composed of
civil service agency directors and
of other individuals engaged in
government personnel administra
AM- President William <>reen
c'ced -imilar views in a recent
adio address commenting upon
'he President’s program. Me de
lare.i that the pressure for wage
increases would relax if the cost
f living is kept in check and
suit ires ted a. trial period prior to
enactment by the Government of
stringent controls over wages.
In discussing the controversial
question. Mr. Schwellenbach said:
*’It is. my belief that the stab
ilisation of our economy in such
a way as to avo'd further price
spirals, as an essential part of
the total program, can be achieved
through voluntary restraint if
the other parts of the program
are carried forward. Even if it
is decided to control prices of
certain industrial products, di
rectly rather than through, alloca
tions, I am of the belief that it
may well be possible through vol
untary action, assuming that the
cost of living is held, to ensure
that wage costs are kept in line
with the controlled prices in the
same product lines. This will
require constant and careful
watching of the wage picture,
both in the industries where prices
are controlled, and in the key in
dustries where nationwide wage
movements begin.”
To accomplish this purpose Sec
retary Schwellenbach recommend
ed the establishment in the De
partment of Labor of a wage
board to “watch and report on
the course of companion wage
questions.” He said:
“This board might be composed
of Government officials, of public
members or might well tripartite
and include representatives of la
bor, management, and thd public.
Such a hoard would also be of
direct use to management and
labor who are trying, on a vol
untary basis, to maintain price
wage stability.”
oiucn oi air. acnweuennacn a
testimony was devoted to an ex
planation of the President’s re
quest for authority to exercise
price and wage controls where
necessary to control the threat
of further inflation. He declared:
“There may be a handful of
critical situations within the price
pontrol industries where questions
of wages will become crucial fac
tors that cannot be solved by
voluntary action alone. It is for
this reason that the President
has proposed authority to impose
“such wage ceilings a* are nec
essary to maintain the necessary
price oilrigs." This standard
'detines the area where controls
may neecesary, and at the out
set restricts their application to
a very r:\jall segment of the econ
omy. /
"In view of the highly selec
tive nature of the price controls
proposed, and the fact that many
of them will affect agricultural
prices, it is unlikely that the need
for wage controls would arise in
more than a ■ ery few cases. Be
fore compulsory authority is in
voke!, however, every, effort should
be made to exhaust voluntary
"'Even where wage ‘control*
have to be used as a companion
to price fontryls. this would not
necessarily mean a wage freexe.
Here again, there is room for
adjustment of inequities in the
process of etablihing both wage
and price levels. Any action that
is likely to be taken in control
ing wages—in a few casea that
(Continued On Page 4)

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