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S. RES. 382



Printed for the use of the Committee on Education and Labor



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Washington, D. C.

The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 o'clock a. m., in room 201, Senate Office Building, Senator Henry F. Hollis presiding. Present: Senators Hollis (acting chairman), Ashurst, Jones, Kenyon, and McLean.

Also present: Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federa

tion of Labor.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Mr. Gompers, the time is yours, so far as I know.

Senator KENYON. I would like to explain to Mr. Gompers that I introduced this resolution, and it was passed by the Senate for the purpose of having this committee take up all questions involved in bettering the social and industrial conditions of the country, and that the activities of the committee are not limited to the things specified here at all, but this is a sort of a skeleton or a nucleus upon which to work. I will say that I have received letters from all parts of the country, from various organizations and from people who would like to appear at this hearing.

Senator JONES. I think that the resolution ought to be inserted in the record at this point.

The CHAIRMAN. Yes; the stenographer will show that this hearing was held on this resolution, and have it embodied in the record.

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

[S. Res. 382.]

Resolved, That the Committee on Education and Labor be, and is hereby, instructed to investigate and recommend to the Senate methods of promoting better social and industrial conditions in the country, particularly as to

(1) The establishment of a national tribunal to review and adjust difficulties between employers and workmen and to improve industrial conditions in the various industries and trades.

(2) The development of the United States Employment Service into a national labor exchange.

(3) The regularization of employment.

(4) The prevention of unemployment among workers, both men and women, by a program of necessary public works to be undertaken during periods of industrial depression.

(5) The promotion of better living conditions and a plan for centralized, administrative control of the housing projects of the National Government during the period of the war.

(6) The extension of the United States sailors' and soldiers' insurance to the civil population, so that the workmen can insure against sickness, accident, and death at the lowest possible rate.

(7) The feasibility of a national insurance law against nonemployment, old age, disability, sickness, and accident.


(8) The feasibility of some plan for a national minimum-wage law.

(9) The question of extending the opportunity for vocational training and education to all people in the United States disabled by injury or sickness.

(10) Any other questions relating to a permanent improvement in the relations between employer and employee.

Mr. GOMPERS. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, the resolution, as I understand it, authorizes or would undertake to authorize an investigation regarding various subjects, having for their purpose the amelioration or the improvement in the condition of the masses of the people. Every man interested in his fellows must necessarily feel that an investigation of that kind should be welcome and would be helpful.

However, there are some of the questions proposed to be investigated which the thinking men, and the men interested the men who have given the particular question some years of study, are not in accord with that is, as they are printed in this document for investigation. I shall, with your permission, try to point out a few of those a little later on. I simply want at this time to emphasize the fact that all the questions suggested to be investigated are not questions in the interest of the working people, and are not in the interest of the masses of the people, but are repugnant to the very spirit of freedom and calculated to work great injury to the institutions of our country and the ideals upon which our republic is based. Senator KENYON. Of course, you understand, Mr. Gompers, that such was not the intention of the resolution by any means.

Mr. GOMPERS. I know Senator Kenyon very well, and anyone knowing Senator Kenyon as well as I do realizes that nothing was further from his mind in the introduction of this resolution. While comparisons are odious, I am told, I shall submit the mere statement that I am satisfied beyond peradventure that that is not what the Senator had in mind. I will try to point them out a little later on if I may, and I think there may be agreement in regard to those points. The one thing upon which there is general agreement among men and women who feel for their fellows is that there must come within the very near future in our country, as well as in the other countries of the world, a new concept of the relations between man and man, a new concept of the relations between nations and nations. These concepts must be founded upon the spirit and the purpose of justice and right and give to man an opportunity for the unfolding of his character and his being and for the development of the best that is in him and his; that is, the wife and the children.

I know that there are many panaceas offered for all the ills of the human family, and that not all of them are applicable or practicable. Of one thing we ought to rid ourselves, and that is speculative theories, and indulge ourselves in the effort to solve the practical problems which are confronting us, and to build upon that line for extension.

It has been said that it is easier to criticize and destroy than it is to advocate a constructive policy. I think that the work in which the men and the women of labor have been engaged for the last 30 years or more has been of a constructive character. When wages have been increased and hours of labor reduced, working conditions, safety, sanitation, have been improved and brought light into the life of the workers. When the morale of the worker has improved,

when the years of life, the longevity of the workers has been increased, when their value as producers has been enhanced, and when the understanding and the activities of and in civic pride and duty count for something in the constructive work of the American labor movement, surely something has been accomplished.

And yet we have had many obstacles to meet and to overcome, and some of them have been the result of the best intentions.

I recall very distinctly that about 20 years ago a Mr. Lusk came from New Zealand to the United States as a crusader and an evan-' gelist for compulsory arbitration of labor disputes between the workers and the employers. He at once undertook a campaign which had been arranged for him to preach his new gospel of compulsory arbitration. Passing from that for a moment, I may say that that good friend of labor and great American, Henry D. Lloyd, who within a year of Mr. Lusk's visit had gone to New Zealand and stayed there for a few months, came back and wrote a book entitled "A Country Without Strikes." I remember very distinctly the rather ill repute that I got myself into by contending against Mr. Lusk's proposition of compulsory arbitration, and I refer to this fact because of the first question submitted for investigation in this resolution.

Now, the newspapers at the time took me to task. I questioned Mr. Lusk in those public gatherings as to what was really meant by compulsory arbitration. I asked him if it did not mean that the workers were to be prohibited by law from stopping work, from quitting employment. I finally pinned him down to the point and he said it was. I asked him that in the event of workmen refusing to abide by an award of a board or a court of arbitration, whether it did not mean that these workers would be fined or imprisoned or both. It was really extracting an answer from him when he finally admitted that that would be the result of disobedience of the court's or board's finding.

I was written down or written up as one who was promoting disorder among the workers, and one who wanted to prevent from being put into operation a very fine method which would prevent strikes.

In spite of any opposition that we could manifest, in the Congress of the United States and in several of the legislatures, bills were introduced for compulsory arbitration, compulsory investigation, and making it unlawful for workmen in concert to leave their employment before a board of arbitration had rendered its award or until a board of investigation had made inquiry and rendered an award. It required all of the energies and activities of our men to prevent the enactment of this species of legislation. In one of the States it became a law-Colorado-compulsory investigation and forbidding strikes or cessation of work until the court or board had made an investigation and rendered an award. That feature was based upon the Canadian act. From the moment that the Colorado act was on the statute books until the present day, there has not been any piece of legislation that has given such general dissatisfaction as that one. A little more than a year and a half ago, in spite of the law, the workmen, failing to secure redress at the hands of the commission or the board, simply struck.

They violated the law. They were lawbreakers. But they quit work and got quicker action at the hands of the employers who have

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