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Mr. WOOD. Mr. Chairman, may I ask what is the policy of these textile firms which Mr. Besse represents with respect to the organization of bona fide unions among its employees?
Mr. BESSE. We haven't any objection to unions as such.
Mr. WOOD. None of them? Do they all hold to a policy that the organized worker has a right to organize, for instance, the United Textile Workers? And do they bargain collectively with them?
Mr. BESSE. I would not say that we accepted the Wagner labor bill unreservedly. However we have not opposed the organization of employees in our plants.
Mr. WOOD. Even the textile workers organization?
Mr. WOOD. You deal with whomever they choose?
Mr. BESSE. I would not go so far as to say that.
Mr. WOOD. Well, what is the reason that they would not want to deal with representatives of the employees' own choosing?
Mr. BESSE. Oftentimes there is a considerable difference of opinion as to whether or not the people have been chosen to so represent them.
Mr. WOOD. Well, if they have been. I am not talking about differences of opinion as to whether or not they have been chosen.
Mr. BESSE. I will answer that by saying that I know of no instance where they have refused to confer with them if they have been chosen as representatives.
Mr. Wood. There is so much talk about the outside unions. A good many of the textile manufacturers you represent object to dealing with what they term an outside union represented by people not connected with the firm at all. What proportion of the manufacturers that you represent hold that policy?
Mr. BESSE. I call that a refusal to deal with an outside individual, not an outside union.
Mr. WOOD. What do you mean by an outside individual? Mr. BESSE. An individual who is not connected with the plant. Mr. WOOD. Suppose the employees selected them to represent them?
Mr. BESSE. I have already answered that and said I know of no such instance in the woolen textile industry.
Mr. WOOD. Then none of your group objects to dealing with the employees in collective bargaining if the representatives they choose are not connected with the enterprise? Is that true?
Mr. BESSE. No. You ask me if it is true that none of them object to it. I certainly cannot answer that in the affirmative. There may be countless reasons why they object.
Mr. Wood. It has always been very peculiar to me that while they object to dealing with representatives chosen by the employees' organization to deal with them in collective bargaining, although the representatives chosen by the employees do not work for the plant and are in no way connected with it, invariably the employers' organization, when they choose someone else to represent them, like yourself, choose an outside man who was never in the business and never had any knowledge of the business until he was employed. They reserve the right to chose whomever they please, and the employees can deal with them or not deal with them. The employees are compelled to deal with a lawyer or with someone else entirely
and ethical principle. And other statements in your brief are just as fallacious and just as false.
Now then, you say that it violates an ethical principle. On that you are competent to speak as an individual? Is it unethical to correct a mistake in a complaint or is it common sense to do so?
Mr. BESSE. I think it is unethical if the person complained of does not have the opportunity to be heard on the amended complaint.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. All he can ask is an adjournment and be given a few days to assemble the facts on the amended complaint.
Mr. BESSE. Under this provision you are not obligated to give any such notice.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. The Commission most assuredly would give that.
Mr. BESSE. The Commission is not so obligated.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. What you called for in your brief is a dismissal of the complaint and the beginning of a new complaint, which may take weeks and months. Do you call that ethics? Do you call it justice? Do you call it common sense?
Mr. BESSE. I call it justice and I call it ethical if the person complained of is advised of the original complaint and has prepared his defense on that basis.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. If the amendment is immaterial you would not want to have any more time, would you?
Mr. BESSE. No, sir.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. If the amendment is immaterial you would be satisfied with additional time, would you not?
Mr. BESSE. And proper notification, yes.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. The notification would be given you at the time of the amendment, because you would be there. And certainly you are given that privilege under the bill.
Mr. BESSE. I understand that is not always done. I understand that has not always been done under the Wagner Labor Disputes Act. Perhaps it should have been done. Possibly I am basing my objections to this upon grounds that have not been encountered in actual experience.
Mr. WOOD. In what particular case has it not been done?
Mr. BESSE. I would be very glad to get that information for you. Mr. WOOD. I would like to have you furnish it.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Yes; and I wish you would do it.
Mr. BESSE. I have been so advised. I may have been misadvised. Mr. ELLENBOGEN. I know the Chairman of the Labor Relations Board. He happens to be a constituent of mine. And there is no more fair-minded man in the United States, and I do not believe he will refuse an adjournment of a hearing in case of a material change in a complaint.
If you would come before this committee and in your brief say that a provision should be inserted providing for additional time in case of a substantial change, you would come with some substance. But in this way you are coming with a general statement such as we have just seen.
Mr. BESSE. If I am wrong from a legal standpoint, I stand corrected. Mr. ELLENBOGEN. You are certainly wrong from an ethical stand
Mr. BESSE. As I understand the condition, I beg to disagree with
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Why is it unethical to correct a complaint in accordance with the facts?
Mr. BESSE. It is not, as I said before, if the defendant receives due notification and due opportunity.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Provided he is given the additional opportunity in case of a substantial change?
Mr. BESSE. Then I have no objection. There is no indication that there is provision for that here.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOOL MANUFACTURERS,
Hon. KENT E. KELLER,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
DEAR MR. KELLER: I am enclosing for your information a copy of a letter which I wrote today to Mr. Ellenbogen. Because of the positiveness and vehemence of Mr. Ellenbogen upon this subject when he was questioning me it seems to me appropriate that a copy of my letter should be included in the transcript of the hearing at the point where the transcript covers the discussion on the amendment of complaints.
Very sincerely yours,
Hon. HENRY ELLENBOGEN,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
ARTHUR BESSE. FEBRUARY 4, 1936.
DEAR MR. ELLENBOGEN: I have secured legal advice upon the point which you raised at the hearing last Thursday in connection with the amending of a complaint. The language of your bill is as follows:
"Any such complaint may be amended by the member, agent, or agency conducting the hearing or the Commission at any time prior to the issuance of an order based thereon."
I am advised that in New York one amendment to a complaint is permitted as a matter of right, but that amendment must be made within 20 days of the service of the original complaint. Thereafter the allowance of any amendment is within the discretion of the court, an application being required on notice to the other side. No amendment to a complaint is permissible under court procedure after a hearing has been completed. The provision in your bill would permit an amendment after a he ring was completed and would, therefore, permit the issuance of an order which might vitally affect the rights of a defendant without any hearing whatever upon the specific charge.
I made no statement whatever that this procedure was contemplated, but merely stated that the language of the bill permitted it. I fail to see any respect in which the language of my brief was inaccurate or exaggerated. I regret exceedingly that my ignorance of the law did not permit me to properly clarify this point when I was appearing before your committee.
Very truly yours,
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Then you should make that statement in the brief. And I could point to a multitude of other statements that are just as fallacious and just as false as this one.
Now, I would like to ask you this question. Does your association object to or does it believe in the principle of uniform minimum wages in your industry for unskilled labor?
Mr. BESSE. I think by far the majority of the industry would be in favor of uniform minimum wages.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Now, can you enforce and can you obtain such minimum wages, that is, such uniform minimum wages, without national legislation?
Mr. BESSE. That I cannot say. We have so far.
Mr. BESSE. Yes; we have.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. You have uniform wages?
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Yes; uniform minimum wages.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. In your industry?
Mr. BESSE. Yes, sir.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. In the North and in the South?
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. And in the various plants?
Mr. BESSE. Yes, sir.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. And do you have uniform hours?
Mr. BESSE. Practically speaking. We have a few variations.
Mr. BESSE. I was not.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. If you had been here, you would have heard a witness state that in the Gera Mills, in Passaic, N. J., women were forced to work as long as 10 hours and were forced to work during the night and on Sunday. Is that approved by your institute?
Mr. BESSE. It is not.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Is that a uniform standard of the institute? Mr. BESSE. It is not.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Does that instance not show that your institute is unable to enforce uniform standards?
Mr. BESSE. If that instance is correct, it shows in the instance that we did not enforce uniform standards.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. As a matter of fact, do you have any power to enforce them?
Mr. BESSE. No legal power.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. And your own experience has shown in the past that you cannot enforce them?
Mr. BESSE. Personally I think we have done a pretty good job. Mr. ELLENBOGEN. As a matter of fact, you would be violating the antitrust laws if you attempted to do that.
Mr. BESSE. There again I have to bow to your superior legal intelligence.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. I just wanted to show you that an intelligent understanding of your own industry would bring the members of your association to the conviction that they cannot obtain the minimum standard of decency without national legislation. When you talk about ethics, let us talk about decency. In your brief you objected to the fee imposed for labels or stamps. You stated the commission may employ a number of employees more than it needs. You do not think that would be a very serious objection to the bill, do you?
Mr. BESSE. Probably not.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. I want to come back to the question of the three shifts. I believe you stated that it is the opinion of the majority of your members that the industry should operate on two shifts. Is that correct?
There is a difference of opinion as to
Mr. BESSE. That is correct. certain preparatory machinery.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. If you operate on a three-shift basis, the machinery is better utilized and overhead is not to the same extent expended, and savings in operation are incurred? Is that correct?
Mr. BESSE. Possibly.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Do you not believe that if savings are incurred which will reduce the cost of operation that they should be passed in part to the employees so that their purchasing power may be sustained and they may be placed in a position where they can buy the increased articles of industry?
Mr. BESSE. I would like to see wages increased, however you do it. Mr. ELLENBOGEN. That is exactly the purpose of the provision providing for 5 percent additional pay in case of a three-shift opera
Mr. BESSE. I would prefer not to see the three shifts.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. But if there is a three-shift operation-and at times it may be necessary, and expenses are thereby decreasedshould not the employee also benefit by it, and not alone the stockholders?
I just wanted to point out to you that that provision is not a penalty but is a provision for the purpose of distributing on a wider basis the benefits which might come from a three-shift operation, whereas you jump to the hasty conclusion in your brief that that is a penalty.
What is the real objection of your association to this bill? I do not mean all of these details to which you object, but what is the main objection, if you will give us one or two points?
Mr. BESSE. I have been endeavoring to give you that for the last 2 hours. If I have not succeeded, I question if additional questions will make our particular position plainer to you.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. If you would select one or two main objections what would they be?
Mr. BESSE. The one objection that I would select would be the fact that I do not believe that any Government commission or any private commission can properly set down the detailed methods of operation, work assignment, wages, and other conditions in the industry as varied as ours is, to say nothing of the other branches of the textile industry.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. In your brief you refer to arbitration on wages. Wouldn't you rather have a permanent commission which would acquire some experience in it than a temporary commission in each case?
Mr. BESSE. The permanent Work Assignment Board suggested a continuing board to which disputes could be referred. But the proposal here to me seems to be to set definite assignments in the industry. I do not think that is practicable. I think the Board should hear two sides to the question and determine where the greater right lies, as to whether the man who thinks he is overloaded is more nearly correct than the man who thinks he is not.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. If we should correct that, what is your next major objection?
Mr. BESSE. I think the objection I have made is sufficient.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Suppose we throw that out; would you accept the bill?
Mr. BESSE. Suppose you throw out my objection that I do not believe that the commission can supervise the textile industry? What have you left?