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AMENDING THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1937

UNITED STATES SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, AND
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND LABOR,

Washington, D. C. The committees met, pursuant to adjournment at 10:30 a. m., in the caucus room, Senate Office Building, Senator Royal S. Copeland, chairman of the Commerce Committee, presiding. · Present: Senators Copeland (chairman of the Commerce Committee, presiding), Thomas of Utah, Ellender, Vandenberg, and Gibson.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please come to order.
Mr. Borow, how long will you need?
Mr. Borow. It will depend on the questioning, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fletcher, we will hear you first, then.
STATEMENT OF R. V. FLETCHER, GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS, WASHINGTON, D. C.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well, Mr. Fletcher.
Mr. FLETCHER. My name is R. V. Fletcher. I am a lawyer and
live in Washington and am general counsel of the Association of
American Railroads.

The association that I represent has in its membership about 97 or 98 percent of the mileage of the class 1 railroads of the United States and the roads of Canada and Mexico as well. I appear here only for the purpose of making a very brief statement with respect to two sections of the act, these being section 44, appearing at pages 31 and 32 of the committee print, and also section 1001, appearing at page 33.

The CHAIRMAN. Are you speaking now of the committee print or of the bill? Mr. FLETCHER. I have what I understand to be a copy of S. 3078. The CHAIRMAN. That is right; page 31.

Mr. FLETCHER. Pages 31, 32, and 33. I call the attention of the committee to the fact that page 33 defines "maritime employer" as "any person not included in the term 'carrier' in title I of the Railway Labor Act."

And if I properly construe the language, that is entirely satisfactory to the railroads. What we are trying to make clear to the committee is the desire of the railroads that their employees subject to the Railway Labor Act shall not inadvertently be included in this bill.

Now referring to section 44, which according to my print begins on page 31 and extends over into page 32, there are a number of provisions there, no doubt of importance to the maritime workers, but which would not seem to be appropriately applicable to the employees of the railroads operating on their car ferries. And I am speaking now particularly of the car ferries which operate across the Great Lakes, in connection with the Grand Trunk Railroad, the Pere Marquette Railroad, and the Ann Arbor Railroad; and I doubt if it was the intention of the draftsmen of the bill or of the committee to include those employees within the scope of this bill, because they are subject to the Railway Labor Act

The CHAIRMAN. Are they so indicated now by the Interstate Commerce Commission?

Mr. FLETCHER. They are, and by the authorities that enforce the Railway Labor Act and the Mediation Board and all the machinery of the Railway Labor Act.

I am going to suggest that there be added to section 44 of this act the following:

(d) This section shall not apply to employees on car ferries and transports or lighters subject to the provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

That is all, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. Are there witnesses who have come a long distance to testify? Are there such witnesses? If so, please stand up.

Mr. EDGAR N. Gott. I am from a distance.
The CHAIRMAN. Where are you from, please?
Mr. Gott. San Diego, Calif.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you want to be heard?
Mr. Gott. I should like to be.

The CHAIRMAN. Very well, if you will please wait just a moment. We shall call you after Mr. Borow is heard.

Now, is there anyone else who comes from a distance? (No response.)

The CHAIRMAN. Very well. Now, Mr. Borow, please proceed with your testimony.

FURTHER STATEMENT OF MORT. BOROW, SECRETARY, AMERI

CAN RADIO TELEGRAPHISTS' ASSOCIATION, NEW YORK, N. Y.

Mr. Borow. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, continuing the presentation of our case, from yesterday, we take up the question of training ships. On this question, let us repeat again that the A. R. T. A. is in firm accord with the position of the New York Maritime Council, as stated by Mr. Joseph Curran, president of the National Maritime Union, to wit, we are in favor of this amendment, but only under certain conditions. A cardinal reason why the maritime unions look upon this amendment as now proposed with profound suspicion is because those shipowners who have been most vigorous in pushing this amendment are the very ones who have ignored the fundamental principles of decency, good seamanship, and enlightened discipline in the past.

The CHAIRMAN. May I interrupt you at this point?
Mr. Borow. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. You speak as if this bill were the shipowners' bill. This bill came to us from the Maritime Commission. Why are you speaking about the shipowners doing this or that?

Mr. Borow. Well, we have certain feelings with respect to this legislation; and that happens to be one of them.

The CHAIRMAN. Is that one trouble with the whole business: That there are too many feelings?

Mr. Borow. It may be, sir, on both sides.
The CHAIRMAN. All right.
Senator VANDENBERG. I think that is a fair statement.
Mr. Borow. Thank you, sir.

For instance, the vice president of the Moore & McCormack Steamship Co., Mr. Robert C. Lee, in speaking before the Women's Organization for the Advancement of the American Merchant Marine, at the Hotel Commodore, New York City, on December 8. statedparaphrased: a large fleet of modern merchant vessels would be useless unless properly trained and disciplined men were furnished to man these ships.

And while literally hundreds of bona fide seamen were, in the seamen's parlance, “on the beach,” on the other hand agents for the company, in the summer of 1936, actually engaged and retained in its employ known criminals and fugitives from justice: Manny Moore, wanted for assault and murder, in Houston, Tex.; Louis Factor, wanted in Port Arthur, Tex., for carrying dangerous weapons and inciting to riot. When this untoward condition was complained of to Captain Ebby, port captain of the company, in Philadelphia, he stated:

We're not going to let these men go and permit a bunch of radicals to get control of our ships.

Then again, in the month of November of the same year, and with thousands of real seamen available up and down the Atlantic seaboard, that company, rather than submit to fair labor practices-practices since upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States--actually engaged circus hands in the place of experienced sailors, firemen, and stewards, as the following affidavit will show.

And I shall submit this affidavit for the record, with the permission of the chairman (reading]:

PHILADELPHIA, PA., November 21, 1936. To whom it may concern:

On the Steamship. Commercial Alabaman of the Moore & McCormack Lines (Moore-Mack Lines) at the port of Port Tampa, Fla., on or about the 10th o November 1936 the crew of about 12 men left ship on strike. These men were replaced by mostly inexperienced men, for the most part circus hands from Ringling Bros. Circus, which was partially disbanding for their winter quarters at Tampa, Fla.

These men were issued union books on short notice, without proper procedure, by the I. S. U. delegate in Tampa, Fla., according to dictations of the steamship company's agent in Tampa, Fla. Four of these inexperienced men, engine-room helpers, left ship in Miami about 2 days later and again replaced by men, mostly inexperienced and without proper union credentials.

According to my observations, personal contact and conversations heard, most of these men were inexperienced as seaman, without union affiliations. Signed, FRANK FREY, formerly Radio Officer of Steamship "Commercial Alabaman."

PHILADELPHIA, PA., November 21, 1936. STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA,

County of Philadelphia, ss:
Affirmed by Frank Frey before me this 21st day of November 1936.

ELLEN E. DEADY, Notary Public. My commission expires March 25, 1937.

(The above paper is filed with the Clerk of the Commerce Committee.)

In other statements, the Moore & McCormack Steamship Co. would not employ experienced radio officers, couched in the tradition of the sea and conversant with the marine radio-operating profession. Here again we have this attitude of the company. In their stead, agents of the company and the honored Mr. Lee himself would specifically request green and inexperienced radio operators, right from the schools, rather than hazard the possibility of getting an experienced man who was more likely to be a member of a labor organization.

The pay situation was not in issue because the shipowners' established scale was universally paid on the east coast at that time:

And many similar instances can be cited. That Mr. Lee or other officials of the company had no knowledge of such malpractices, would be a presumption on our part. Yet Mr. Lee and his colleagues are the very ones who are so vigorously sponsoring the amendment providing for training ships, staffed by the military. Is it any wonder that the seamen look with suspicion on such proposals?

Then we have the case of Mr. William K. Jackson, vice president and general counsel of the United Fruit Co., addressing the New York Propeller Club just a few weeks ago. Mr. Jackson, as we all know, represents a very patriotic steamship company-steeped in the tradition of sacrifice to the best interests of our great country, a company with 50 percent of its tonnage under foreign registry. The point that maritime labor raises is, Why should any consideration be shown such interests whose only patriotic concern is the eagle on the American dollar? If the United Fruit Co. were so interested in the welfare and development of the American merchant marine, to "aid the foreign and domestic commerce of the United States and to provide for the national defense,” why do they build their ships abroad, place them under foreign registry, and deny employment to American citizens?

Mr. Jackson's other objections to the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 as now written, as presented to the aforesaid Propeller Club, include an observation as follows, paraphrased:

Of all the maritime nations of the world, the United States has lagged behind in its approach to the question of the training of adequate personnel. We have available in this country seamen and sailors who are just as intelligent as those who sail the ships of foreign nations, but these foreign nations have afforded their sailors and seamen the facilities for intensive education and training in jobs which they are called upon to perform.

This point, paradoxical as it may seem, we find being raised by a representative of a company which, by its indisputable record, is shown to have consistently engaged untrained and inexperienced foreign seamen and, in many cases on record, to have given preference of employment to absolutely green radio officers, when well-trained and well-qualified men were readily available.

Senator THOMAS of Utah. Mr. Borow, how many radio officers' unions are there in the United States?

Mr. Borow. There is one under the C. I. O., which is the one I represent and which has contracts with all the shipping companies on the west coast and with quite a number on the east coast and the Gulf coast and the Great Lakes.

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