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The rival membership campaigns had caused considerable friction in some quarters, and a number of fights occurred between members of the opposing groups. We felt that an election should be held to determine which organization had the legal right to bargain with the company.
Early in July a delegation of the officers of our organization accompanied by our attorney went to the regional office of the N. L. R. B. in Atlanta and interviewed Judge Feidelson, the regional director. He gave us the necessary blank forms to be filled out and returned to his office. This was done immediately, but to this day we have not had the courtesy of an acknowledgment from his office.
Shortly after our trip to Atlanta we learned that our company had received a citation from the N. L. R. B. accusing it of unfair labor practices and illegal cooperation with our organization. We filed a petition with the N. L. R. B. asking that we be allowed to intervene and when the hearing began in August 1937 I, with out attorney, was present.
It was while present at this hearing, which lasted until December 1 of that year, that I heard the testimony of one Higdon, a company witness. Higdon's testimony, which is a part of the official record, contains the statement that he had been a member of the U. R. W. A. and acted as bodyguard for one of its officials. While so engaged he heard Judge Feidelson say to U. R. W. A. officials that he would not allow the Goodyear employees to have an election as long as the U. R. W. A. did not have a majority. He also testified that Mr. Feidelson said he was out to “get Goodyear."
The proceedings of the hearing seemed very peculiar to the people in this part of the country in that the Board acted as both "prosecutor” and “judge.” The Alabama Magazine, a local publication, described the proceedings of the hearing as a "kangaroo court." This term we believe in all fairness to everyone was justly applied.
Our organization has an auxiliary for the colored employees of the plant, having their own set of officers, collection of their own dues, et cetera. The Board's attorney introduced a witness who testified that plans were discussed in one of these meetings to beat up someone. He was questioned at length concerning the business transacted in this meeting. On the other hand when either the company or the intervener attempted to introduce testimony dealing with plots and plans of intimidation discussed in meetings of the loyal U. R. W. A. they were promptly met with objections which were sustained on the ground that the U. R. W. A. was not on trial.
Nearly all testimony for the Board was taken in open court but when any evidence was given by company or intervener's witnesses which might be damaging to the character or veracity of the Board's witnesses an executive session was announced by the examiner and all spectators and newspaper reporters excluded from the courtroom.
Witnesses for the Board were allowed almost unlimited latitude in their testimony. Mere conjectures were allowed to stand when the Board's witnesses were testifying on the ground that these surmises might be substantiated by later testimony. No such latitude was allowed our witnesses who were generally held to the strict rules of evidence.
The fact that the examiner, the attorney for the Board, and the counsel for the U. R. W. A. came to court together, ate together, and continually fraternized could not help but give us the impression that they were linked together in a conspiracy against us.
In our opinion, Judge Wilbur is a fine gentleman and would have been fair and impartial in all his dealings had he been allowed to be so. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Walter J. Mooney.
STATEMENT OF WALTER J. MOONEY, PRESIDENT OF THE BALLSTON-STILLWATER KNITTING CO., BALLSTON SPA, N. Y.
Mr. MOONEY. My name is Walter J. Mooney. I am a manufacturer, president of the Ballston-Stillwater Knitting Co., Ballston Spa, N. Y., and the Enterprise Garnetting Co., Cohoes, N. Y.
On March 26, 1937, certain employees of our company at Ballston Spa petitioned for an increase in wages, a 15-percent increase in wages. At that time the petition was laid on the desk on Friday
afternoon at 4 o'clock, and they worked 40 hours per week, and they quit at 5 o'clock on Friday afternoon, but in certain departments we work on Saturdays and Sundays, four shifts a day.
When I got the petition signed by 245 people, nobody to represent them, I caused a notice to be posted on Saturday morning that the plant would be closed until Monday afternoon, and at that time to have their representatives meet me to go over the increase.
That afternoon, Monday afternoon, the various departments sent representatives. I explained the position of the corporation, how we were a one-season business, that we sold our merchandise in November and December for delivery the following July, August, and September; that I had taken business on the present cost of labor, and any additional cost would have to be borne by the corporation.
I asked them to wait until August when our men went out for the fall for repeat business. This they agreed to do, but I said, "If there is any difference in rates or working conditions or anything like that, I will gladly go over the matter with you."
They accepted that, and I ordered them paid for all the time lost, which amounted to about $1,800 for the 2 days we were closed down. Then, on April 29, we received a letter from Mrs. Eleanor Herrick, from the regional board at New York, stating that we had been cited for unfair labor practices, due to the fact that we had laid off 45 employees at our Stillwater, N. Y., plant, and nine of them had preferred charges, claiming discrimination.
Well, it was news to us, because we were making a line of cotton hosiery that we discontinued, dismantled the machinery, had never been in the place since.
They also said that we discharged one at Ballston because she was active in the C. I. O. or the T. W. O. C. Well, we didn't know there was such a thing as the T. W. O. C. operating in our plants, or the C. I. O.
Finally we got a letter on April 29 stating that a field representative from the Board would call on us, and about May 4 or 5 a Mr. Cromwell came in the office and he asked us if we had received a letter from Mrs. Herrick, and we said "yes," and he said he was there to investigate, and we said "All right, we will gladly help you and tell you all we know."
So he went over the various cases and we told him we had discontinued this particular line of work, and the reason one girl was laid off at Ballston was because of inferior work. The other two that they complained of were-we intended to take them back, but due to slack work at that particular time they were laid off according to seniority.
"Well," he said, "You have got to take them all back."
I said, "What do you mean, 'take them all back'; what do you sup pose I am going to do, sleep with them?"
He said, "Well, the Board says you must take them back."
"Well," I said, "I don't care what the Board said, I make out the pay roll here, I pay these people, and I haven't any work for them; I will take them back some other time; I will put them on a preferred list."
So we argued there for a couple of hours, and Ballston is 28 miles from Albany, and I invited him to ride down with me to Albany.
So on the way down I said to him, "How do you get that way, trying to insist on a man taking back people when he hasn't any work for them?"
"Well," he said, "you manufacturers might as well get in your heads that there is only going to be one union in this country, and that is going to be John L. Lewis' C. I. O." He said, "Bill Green is all right, but he is out of date; he is not in line-one industrial union for all."
The CHAIRMAN. Who was this person you say?
Mr. MOONEY. Mr. Frederick Cromwell, at that time an examiner under Mrs. Eleanor Herrick, second region, New York.
Well, I left him at the station and didn't hear anything further until July 12-no; June 8. I had this plant in Cohoes, and I got a letter from the C. I. O. from Rochester, from a man by the name of Chapman. He said that he had the majority of the employees of the company at the Cohoes plant, and he would like to bargain. I wrote back and said, “Meet me on Tuesday; it will be satisfactory to me." He came on Tuesday, arranged the hours there were four other manufacturers at that time, the Star Woolen Co., the Peerless Fibre Co., W. Lowenthal Co., and Enterprise Garnetting.
So they were in similar lines of business, and they wanted to make one agreement for the four competitors. So I met them, agreed to the terms, the hours, and so forth, and so after it was all through it was to go in effect on Monday. Then this Mr. Chapman spoke up and he said, "Vich vun of you is Mr. Mooney?"
I said, "I am Mr. Mooney."
He said, "You kent have a contract vit us."
"Well," I said, "you asked for it, and I am ready to give you a
"Vell," he said, "you got to settle the Ballston case before you get our contract."
I said, "I don't know anything about the Ballston case; I know you have got the majority here but you haven't in Ballston. I am willing to negotiate a contract."
So he gave the other three men a contract; he didn't give me any. On Monday morning or on Friday night, June 12, an inside organization up there by the name of Employees Welfare and Protective Association, they came to me on March 26 and said they represented a majority of the employees.
Senator BURKE. Was this in Cohoes?
Mr. MOONEY. No; this was at Ballston. They stated that they represented the majority of employees in the Ballston and Stillwater plants. I said, "I want to know whether you do or not. What proof have you that you do?"
They said, "Well, we have signed cards and pledges."
"Well," I said, "under the Wagner Act I have to bargain with the majority. If you can prove to me conclusively that you have the majority, I will bargain with you."
So the secretary and treasurer and the president came down with a big file of cards, and I went over the pay roll and checked those cards to see if they worked, and of the 900 employees they had 564 cards.
"Well," I said, "what do you want?"
"Well," they said, "we can't wait until August for an increase; we will have to get a 10-percent increase now."
"Well," I said, "if I give you that, it will take it right out of me because I have made my business on the old basis."
But finally I said, "All right; I will give you 5 cents an hour increase for day workers and 10 percent on piece workers."
That was to go into effect on June 14; that was on a Monday. Friday night, on the third shift, there were three employees who became engaged in a quarrel, and it turned out afterward that two of the people were members of the Employees' Welfare and Protective Association, and the other was president of the T. W. O. C., and they had a quarrel in the factory, and the night superintendent threw them out. Well, the next morning there was a picket line there, about 40 or 50 in the picket line. They had no request from them to bargain or anything else.
Then along comes this Mr. Cromwell again. He said that the charges had been preferred and that we would have to answer, have a hearing before the examiner, and so forth.
We said, "It is all right by us; we are caught between two organizations. Why don't you have an election, Mr. Cromwell, and let us know what we have to do here?"
He said, "The Employees' Welfare Association have the votes; they will never get an election. They could petition from now until the end of the world, they will never get certified for an election. because the C. I. O. hasn't the votes."
I said, "What am I to do? I am a young man; started in business when I was 12 years of age, and I have worked for 34 years, and I haven't worked 40 hours a week; I have worked 80 and 90 hours a week, and now I am in between two unions, and have a fight that is costing me a lot of money."
"Well," he said, "you recognize the C. I. O."
I said, "I won't, because they don't represent the majority; you have the election and I will gladly recognize the majority."
Well, on the following Wednesday a telephone call came to my office, and someone said, "Mr. Mooney, you had better not go home tonight because we are going to kill you tonight"-a foreign voice. Well, of course, my wife is highly nervous-I have two children, and they were frightened to death-and so I lived with two policemen, night and day, for 10 weeks.
They had a hearing; they sent a man by the name of Mr. Charles L. Bailey, Jr., trial examiner. They started in the courthouse at Ballston Spa on August 19, 1937, and continued through August 31.
The findings of fact and conclusions of law as found by the aforesaid trial examiner, and affirmed by the National Labor Relations Board showed a decided disregard for the oral testimony as well as the evidence adduced by the undisputed records of the company, and particularly with reference to the evidence showing undeniably the reason for the lay-off of certain employees to be for economic reasons only, and not because of activities on the part of some of the said employees in the C. I. O.
In direct contrast, the aforesaid findings of fact and conclusions of law showed an unquestionable leaning toward the C. I. O. by the complete acceptance of their version of the case, even when completely unsupported by any evidence.
Well, they sent a lawyer by the name of Lovinger, and he was representing the National Labor Relations Board, and on the bench with him was a lawyer by the name of Knapp from Saratoga, representing the T. W. O. Č., and a labor organizer by the name of Strabel.
Well, it was bad enough to go into court in the summertime, but the trial examiner made us stay there until 6 o'clock every night, and we had to keep our coats on in that courtroom, in a stuffy courtroom, for the dignity of the court. Well, we knew what the answer would be, the result of the trial, but our attorney preserved the record in good shape for an appeal.
The examiner would eat with the attorney for the C. I. O., go to the races with the attorney for the C. I. O., go out walking with the labor organizer-so that my attorney said to me, "Why are you going on with this farce; why don't you walk out on them?"
I said, "I have got a clear record; I will go through with it." Well, we did go through, and in about 3 or 4 months afterward we received a notice from the Board that everything was decided against us, we were absolutely wrong, we were criminals, and everything else.
Well, there was only one thing to do. We had our own stenographer there, and this fellow said, "Well, you can pay your stenographer, but you can't use the record."
We said, "Why not? He is the court stenographer in Saratoga County."
But he wouldn't let us use the minutes.
Then, at Cohoes, on June 14, I had a sit-down strike, and they stayed in that plant for 6 weeks without any reason. I agreed to give them the increased pay, the shorter hours, and everything that they asked for there wasn't one question-but they stayed there for 6 long weeks. So one day I got my Irish up and I said, "I will move them out of here if I don't do anything else."
I went to a judge in Cohoes with our papers, and I said, "Is there any way of getting those fellows out of that plant?"
He said, "Yes; draw up your papers."
So we drew up the papers and came back in the afternoon. It was on an old trespass law of 1851. So the minute the judge signed them, the chief of police telephoned over there, and before we could get over there to execute it, the men were out, because the chief of police had advised them in advance.
Well, then there came along an examiner from the Labor Department here in Washington, under Mr. Lubin, I think he is, and his name is Williams, and he wanted to arbitrate the thing.
I said, "What is there to arbitrate? I give them everything everybody else gives them."
"Well," he said, "you will have to sign a contract with them." I said, "Why should I sign a contract the way they have treated me, threatened my life, and closed me up; they are trying to force my people in Ballston to join a union against their wishes."
I said, "They can go back to work if they want to."
"Well," he said, "I can threaten you with the law, 1851." (I guess they were pretty strict laws back in those days.) "I have never used it yet, but," he said, "we can make you sign."
I said, "Make me sign? You might as well get out of here, you are wasting your time."