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SOCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 1919.

UNITED STATES SENATE,

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND LABOR,

Washington, D. C.

The committee met pursuant to adjournment. Present: Senators Hollis (acting chairman), Ashurst; Kenyon, Swanson, and Page.

Also present: Samuel Gompers.

STATEMENT OF SAMUEL GOMPERS Resumed.

Senator KENYON. Mr. Gompers, are you going to discuss what the English have done at all in these industrial councils, or matters of that kind, and your viewpoint about those propositions?

Mr. GOMPERS. My understanding is that in England they have decided not to prematurely or abrubtly demobilize the armed forces of that country, but that on the contrary, they were to demobilize them gradually and not glut what is called "the labor market," but that as opportunities for men were opened up, so many, or such a percentage of the army would be demobilized or sent to particular places, and that in the meantime between the armistice and demobilization and the finding of opportunities for employment, the Government was to pay something to the soldiers. I do not know exactly the amount the Government was to pay them. In addition there has been established a sort of working organization under the Board of Trade of England, composed of employers and representatives of employers, for the purpose of helping work out the problems of reconstruction and employment.

Many of the labor unions of England were made the agencies by which certain beneficiary payments were made, the Government utilizing the organizations of labor as the instrumentalities or agencies by which these moneys might be distributed. Perhaps one of the best pieces of work performed by any committee or commission either in that or any of the other allied countries was that of the Whitley committee, commonly known as the report of the Whitley committee. That is a committee created under the leadership of Mr. Lloyd George before he became premier of the war cabinet and while he was minister of munitions. The reports of the Whitley committee are among the best contributions of conditions of labor, industry, commerce, health, sanitation, safety, and so on, and pointing in many ways a way out or improvement of existing conditions.

Senator PAGE. Have those records been published so that they are accessible now? Senator KENYON. I have one here.

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Mr. GOMPERS. They were reported in full by the British Government; and at the instance of the Council of National Defense and Advisory Commission the Department of Labor of the United States published a condensation of the British Whitley committee reports in so far as the report applies to the conditions and situation in the United States.

Senator KENYON. Mr. Chairman, do you not think that it would be a good idea to print those in the record here?

The CHAIRMAN. Will you furnish them?

Senator KENYON Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. Without objection that will be done. Is there any objection?

(No response.)

The CHAIRMAN. They may be so printed.

(The report referred to is here printed in full in the record as follows:)

LETTER ADDRESSED BY THE MINISTER OF LABOR TO THE LEADING EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATIONS AND TRADE-UNIONS.

MINISTRY OF LABOR, MONTAGUE HOUSE,

Whitehall, S. W., October 20, 1917.

SIR: In July last a circular letter was.addressed by the ministry of labor to all the principal employers' associations and trade-unions asking for their views on the proposals made in the Report of the Whitley Committee on Joint Standing Industrial Councils, a further copy of which is inclosed. As a result of the replies which have been received from a large number of employers' organizations and trade-unions generally favoring the adoption of those proposals, the war cabinet have decided to adopt the report as part of the policy which they hope to see carried into effect in the field of industrial reconstruction.

In order that the precise effect of this decision may not be misunderstood, I desire to draw attention to one or two points which have been raised in the communications made to the ministry on the subject, and on which some misapprehension appears to exist in some quarters.

In the first place, fears have been expressed that the proposal to set up industrial councils indicates an intention to introduce an element of State interference which has hitherto not existed in industry. This is not the case. The formation and constitution of the councils must be principally the work of the industries themselves. Although, for reasons which will be explained later, the Government are very anxious that such councils should be established in all the well-organized industries with as little delay as possible, they fully realize that the success of the scheme must depend upon a general agreement among the various organizations within a given industry and a clearly expressed demand for the creation of a council. Moreover, when formed, the councils would be independent bodies electing their own officers and free to determine their own functions and procedure with reference to the peculiar needs of each trade. In fact, they would be autonomous bodies, and they would, in effect, make possible a larger degree of self-government in industry than exists to-day.

Secondly, the report has been interpreted as meaning that the general constitution which it suggests should be applied without modification to each industry. This is entirely contrary to the view of the Government on the matter. To anyone with a knowledge of the diverse kinds of machinery already in operation, and the varying geographical and industrial conditions which affect different industries, it will be obvious that no rigid scheme can be applied to all of them.

Each industry must therefore adopt the proposals made in the report as may seem most suitable to its own needs. In some industries, for instance, it may be considered by both employers and employed that a system of works committees is unnecessary owing to the perfection of the arrangements already in operation for dealing with the difficulties arising in particular works between the management and the trade-union officials. In other works committees have done very valuable work where they have been introduced and their extension on agreed lines deserves every encouragement. Again, in industries which are largely based on district organizations it will probably be found desirable to assign more important functions to the district councils than would be the case in trades which are more completely centralized in national bodies.

All these questions will have to be thrashed out by the industries themselves and settled in harmony with their particular needs.

Thirdly, it should be made clear that representation on the industrial councils is intended to be on the basis of existing organizations among employers and workmen concerned in each industry, although it will, of course, be open to the councils, when formed. to grant representation to any new bodies which may come into existence and which may be entitled to representation. The authority, and consequently the usefulness of the councils, will depend entirely on the extent to which they represent the different interests and enjoy the whole-hearted support of the existing organizations. and it is therefore desirable that representation should be determined on as broad a basis as possible.

Lastly it has been suggested that the scheme is intended to promote compulsory arbitration. This is certainly not the case. Whatever agreement may be made for dealing with disputes must be left to the industry itself to frame, and their efficacy must depend upon the voluntary cooperation of the organizations concerned in carrying them out.

I should now like to explain some of the reasons which have made the Government anxious to see industrial councils established as soon as possible in the organized trades. The experience of the war has shown the need for frequent consultation between the Government and the chosen representatives of both employers and workmen on vital questions concerning those industries which have been most affected by war conditions. In some instances different Government departments have approached different organizations in the same industry and in many cases the absence of joint representative bodies which can speak for their industries as a whole and voice the joint opinion of employers and workmen has been found to render negotiations much more difficult than they would otherwise have been. The case of the cotton trade where the industry is being regulated during a very difficult time by a joint board of control, indicates how greatly the task of the State can be alleviated by a self-governing body capable of taking charge of the interests of the whole industry. The problems of the period of transition and reconstruction will not be less difficult than those which the war has created and the Government accordingly feels that the task of rebuilding the social and economic fabric on a broader and surer foundation will be rendered much easier if in the organized trades there exist representative bodies to which the various questions of difficulty can be referred for consideration and advice as they arise.

There are a number of questions on which the Government will need the united and considered opinion of each large industry, such as the demobilization of the forces, the resettlement of munition workers in civil industries, apprenticeship (especially where interrupted by war service), the training and employment of disabled soldiers, and the control of raw materials; and the more it is able to avail itself of such an opinion the more satisfactory and stable the solution of these questions is likely to be.

Further, it will be necessary in the national interest to insure a settlement of the more permanent questions which have caused differences between employers and employed in the past, on such a basis as to prevent the occurrence of disputes and of serious stoppages in the difficult period during which the problems just referred to will have to be solved. It is felt that this object can only be secured by the existence of permanent bodies on the lines suggested by the Whitley report, which will be capable not merely of dealing with disputes when they arise, but of settling the big questions at issue so far as possible on such a basis as to prevent serious conflicts arising at all.

The above statement of the functions of the councils is not intended to be exhaustive, but only to indicate some of the more immediate questions which they will be called upon to deal with when set up. Their general objects are described in the words of the report as being "to offer to workpeople the means of attaining improved conditions of employment and a higher standard of comfort generally, and involve the enlistment of their active and continuous cooperation in the promotion of industry." Some further specific questions, which the councils might consider, were indicated by the committee in paragraph 16 of the report, and it will be for the councils themselves to determine what matters they shall deal with. Further, such councils would obviously be the suitable bodies to make representations to the Government as to legislation, which they think would be of advantage to their industry.

In order, therefore, that the councils may be able to fulfill the duties which they may have the requisite status for doing so, the Government desire it be understood that the councils will be recognized as the official standing consultative committees to the Government on all future questions affecting the industries which they represent, and that they will be the normal channel through which the opinion and experience of an industry will be sought on all questions with which the industry is con

cerned. It will be seen, therefore, that it is intended that industrial councils should play a definite and permanent part in the economic life of the country, and the Government feels that it can rely on both employers and workmen to cooperate in order to make that part a worthy one.

I hope, therefore, that you will take this letter as a formal request to your organization on the part of the Government to consider the question of carrying out the recommendations of the report so far as they are applicable to your industry. The ministry of labor will be willing to give every assistance in its power in the establishment of industrial councils, and will be glad to receive suggestions as to the way in which it can be given most effectively.

In particular, it will be ready to assist in the convening of representative conferences to discuss the establishment of councils, to provide secretarial assistance and to be represented, if desired, in a consultative capacity at the preliminary meetings. The ministry will be glad to be kept informed of any progress made in the direction of forming councils. Although the scheme is only intended, and indeed can only be applied, in trades which are well organized on both sides, I would point out that it rests with those trades which do not at present possess a sufficient organization to bring it about if they desire to apply it to themselves.

In conclusion, I would again emphasize the pressing need for the representative organizations of employers and workpeople to come together in the organized trades and to prepare themselves for the problems of reconstruction by forming councils competent to deal with them. The Government trust that they will approach these problems not as two opposing forces each bent on getting as much and giving as little as can be contrived, but as forces having a common interest in working together for the welfare of their industry, not merely for the sake of those concerned in it, but also for the sake of the nation which depends so largely on its industries for its well-being. If the spirit which has enabled all classes to overcome by willing cooperation the innumerable dangers and difficulties which have beset us during the war, is applied to the problems of reconstruction, I am convinced that they can be solved in a way which will lay the foundation of the future prosperity of the country and of those engaged in its great industries.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

GEO. H. ROBERTS.

INDUSTRIAL COUNCILS-REPORT OF THE RECONSTRUCTION COMMITTEE ON RELATIONS BETWEEN EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYED.

The committee consisted of the following members:

The Right Hon. J. H. Whitley, M. P., chairman, chairman of committees, House of Commons.

Mr. F. S. Button, formerly member of executive council, Amalgamated Society of Engineers.

Sir G. J. Carter, K. B. E., chairman Shipbuilding Employers' Federation.

Prof. S. J. Chapman, C. B. E., professor of political economy, University of Manchester.

Sir Gilbert Claughton, Bart., chairman London & North Western Railway Co. Mr. J. R. Clynes, M. P., president National Union of General Workers.

Mr. J. A. Hobson..

Miss Susan Lawrence, member of London County Council and member of the executive committee of the Women's Trade Union League.

Mr. J. J. Mallon, secretary National Anti-Sweating League.

Sir Thos. A. Ratcliffe-Ellis secretary Mining Association of Great Britain.

Mr. Robert Smillie, president Miners' Federation of Great Britain.

Mr. Allan M. Smith, chairman Engineering Employers' Federation.

Miss Mona Wilson, national health insurance commissioner.

Mr. II. J. Wilson, ministry of labor, and Mr. Arthur Greenwood, secretaries.

To the Right Hon. D. LLOYD GEORGE, M. P., Prime Minister.

SIR: We have the honor to submit the following interim report on joint standing industrial councils;

2. The terms of reference to the subcommittee are:

(1) To make and consider suggestions for securing a permanent improvement in the relations between employers and workmen.

"(2) To recommend means for securing that industrial conditions affecting the relations between employers and workmen shall be systematically reviewed by those concerned, with a view of improving conditions in the future.

3. After a general consideration of our duties in relation to the matters referred to, we decided first to address ourselves to the problem of establishing permanently

improved relations between employers and employed in the main industries of the country, in which there exist representative organizations on both sides. The present report accordingly deals more especially with these trades. We are proceeding with the consideration of the problems connected with the industries which are less well organized.

4. We appreciate that under the pressure of the war both employers and work people and their organizations are very much preoccupied; but, notwithstanding, we believe it to be of the highest importance that our proposals should be put before those concerned without delay, so that employers and employed may meet in the near future and discuss the problems before them.

5. The circumstances of the present time are admitted on all sides to offer a great opportunity for securing a permanent improvement in the relations between employers and employed, while failure to utilize the opportunity may involve the nation in grave industrial difficulties at the end of the war.

It is generally allowed that the war almost enforced some reconstruction of industry, and in considering the subjects referred to us we have kept in view the need for securing in the development of reconstruction the largest possible measure of cooperation between employers and employed.

In the interests of the community it is vital that after the war the cooperation of all classes established during the war should continue, and more especially with regard to the relations between employers and employed. For securing improvement in the latter, it is essential that any proposals put forward should offer to work people the means of attaining improved conditions of employment and a higher standard of comfort generally, and involve the enlistment of their active and continuous cooperation in the promotion of industry.

To this end the establishment for each industry of an organization, representative of employers and work people, to have as its object the regular consideration of matters affecting the progress and well-being of the trade from the point of view of all those engaged in it, so far as this is consistent with the general interest of the community, appears to us necessary.

6. Many complicated problems have arisen during the war which have a bearing both on employers and work people, and may affect the relations between them. It is clear that industrial conditions will need careful handling if grave difficulties and strained relations are to be avoided after the war has ended. The precise nature of the problems to be faced naturally varies from industry to industry, and even from branch to branch within the same industry. Their treatment consequently will need an intimate knowledge of the facts and circumstances of each trade, and such knowledge is to be found only among those directly connected with the trade.

7. With a view to providing means for carrying out the policy outlined above, we recommend that His Majesty's Government should propose without delay to the various assocations of employers and employed the formation of joint standing industrial councils in the several industries, where they do not already exist, composed of representatives of employers and employed, regard being paid to the various sections of the industry and the various classes of labor engaged.

8. The appointment of a chairman or chairmen should, we think, be left to the council, who may decide that these should be

(1) A chairman for each side of the council:

(2) A chairman and vice chairman selected from the members of the council (one from each side of the council);

(3) A chairman chosen by the council from independent persons outside the industry; or

(4) A chairman nominated by such person or authority as the council may determine or, failing agreement, by the Government.

9. The council should meet at regular and frequent intervals.

10. The objects to which the consideration of the councils should be directed should be appropriate matters affecting the several industries and particularly the establishment of a closer cooperation between employers and employed. Questions connected with demobilization will call for early attention.

11. One of the chief factors in the problem, as it at first presents itself, consists of the guarantees given by the Government, with parliamentary sanction, and the various undertakings entered into by employers, to restore the trade-union rules and customs suspended during the war. While this does not mean that all the lessons learned · during the war should be ignored, it does mean that the definite cooperation and acquiesence by both employers and employed must be a condition of any setting aside of these guarantees or undertakings, and that, if new arrangements are to be reached, in themselves more satisfactory to all parties but not in strict accordance with the guarantees, they must be the joint work of employers and employed.

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