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Mr. RAUSENBUSH. There are only seven States now which have a flat uniform duration. All the others use varying duration based on length of work or amount of wages for covered work in the base period. So this is, of course, the kind of a controversial issue which every State deals with in its legislature.
This always keeps coming up, it has had a lot of consideration, and it is indicated that some States have abandoned flat uniform duration and moved to variable because they think it meets the problems better.
Mr. BROWN. I might add this, that it seems to me if there is any thought of a Federal legislation adopting some kind of standard in any area, wouldn't it be logical that this standard be evolved from the common denominators of experience that have developed in the States, and uniform duration is not a common denominator of the development in the program when there are only seven States left doing it.
Senator BENNETT. Well, from your testimony, it seems to me it is a step backward.
Mr. Brown. That is right.
The Secretary of Labor suggested that H.R. 15119 should be changed to further limit and restrict the right of the States to disqualify individuals for benefits for certain causes. He has recommended that the State should not be allowed to postpone benefits for more than 13 weeks because of any disqualifying act other than a labor dispute or fraud. He has coupled this recommendation with a brandnew standard which does not appear in either H.R. 15119 or S. 1991. His completely new standard would prohibit a State from charging an employer's experience rating account with any benefits paid for unemployment which follows a disqualifying act.
I would like to throw the question to the panel and have one of you respond with your comments on this new proposal of the Secretary of Labor. Were these proposals considered in the House?
Mr. Hill. Yes, Senator Bennett-well, not exactly this specific proposal, but you will recall that the original administration proposal had in it a standard that would have limited disqualifications to a postponement of benefits for 6 weeks.
Now, of course, the House rejected that. They made a limitation on how far you could go with disqualifications but it was a limitation which simply said “You cannot wipe out entirely the man's credits.”
This proposal of 13 weeks moves off of the original 6 and just says instead of 6 now we will settle for 13, and when this whole matter was taken up before the Ways and Means Committee Mr. Mills asked the Department of Labor to appoint several people and he asked me to appoint several people from the States and to formulate a little committee over the Easter recess, as I recall, to work on this exact problem to see whether or not there was an equitable kind of standard that could be developed in this field.
H.R. 15119 has in it a standard but it was not one that was agreed upon by the States and the Department. There was one simply that the Ways and Means Committee put in at the end, and we do not object to it.
However, this particular 13 weeks, the problem with that is that from time to time you run into disqualifications where 13 weeks are not severe enough. So, consequently, any kind of limitation that you put on disqualifications of this nature in terms of weeks, we think is bad.
Now, let me have one shot at this business of noncharging and then I will pass this question along to the others.
You will notice part of the Secretary's proposal, and this is new, is that on disqualifications after you are allowed to postpone up to the 13 weeks, you are not to charge the employer for any benefits that are paid thereafter.
Well, somebody has to pay the bill for this. So, in effect, when you do not charge a given employer, that is you don't charge it back to his merit rating, you charge it against the State fund, and thereby everybody, in effect, picks up the bill for that. You have socialized the cost, if you will.
Now, most of the State administrators, I think, would urge you not to move into the area of noncharging because the further you go down the road of saying that “we are going to pay benefits but don't charge them back to a specific employer; charge them to everyone," the further you go toward the elimination of merit rating, that in effect is what you are doing. You are saying now,"We are going to pay this man but we no longer are going to charge it to the account of a particular employer. We are just going to spread the costs."
So I simply point that part out about the proposal.
Now, Mr. Brown served on the committee that tried to work in this very field and he probably has some comments.
Mr. Brown. Just briefly, again, I fall back on the point that I made earlier and that is that it would seem to me that even in this area of disqualifications that the collective, cumulative experience of the States and their current practices might serve as a common denominator for a so-called standard.
Well, a common denominator of State laws is diametrically opposite to this proposal. If there is one thing that is common among State laws, for example, it is to generally say that a man quits his job must become reemployed again before he is going to be eligible for benefits. The States collectively have this viewpoint. This would violate that.
Senator BENNETT. Any other comments on this question ?
You know part of our problem is that we hope that we have public acceptance of our program, that the public, people who are affected by it have confidence in it. This is most important in order that the system might work.
Last year, last fall, there was a poll taken by the Gallup people which asked some questions about what the general public thought of unemployment compensation in this country, and I would like to coinment first of all that one of the questions was: Would you favor or oppose making the unemployment benefit laws more strict?
Sixty-nine percent of those who replied favored it, a more strict law, coupled with the fact that the very first question asked:
Do you think many people collect unemployment benefits even though they could find work?
And we find that 75 percent of those polled think they could. In other words, they are saying that there are many people who are drawing unemployment compensation that probably shouldn't be.
Now, this proposal which we have before us instead of making the law more strict lessens it. This modifies it. It is a postponement.
The person can embezzle thousands of dollars and get caught and under this provision 13 weeks later he is a claimant.
Now, we believe it is far better to fit the penalty to the crime. The facts in each individual case ought to be considered, and the appropriate penalty, if one is required or necessary, should be applied by the people who are reviewing the facts at the point where it occurred, and not in accordance with some standard that has been promulgated flatly.
Senator BENNETT. Mr. Chairman, I will be happy to wait, I have one more question, and I will be happy to wait, and ask it later if Senator Hartke is anxious to get away.
Senator Douglas (presiding). I am going to recognize Senator Hartke, but before I do so I would like to recognize our beloved colleague from Vermont, Senator Aiken, who has the commissioner of employment security of Vermont with him.
Senator Aiken, would you like to introduce her?
STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE D. AIKEN, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF VERMONT
Senator AIKEN. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for this opportunity. It is a very welcome assignment.
I realize that the next witness will not be giving her testimony immediately, and I will have to leave to attend the markup of the socalled food-for-freedom bill in the Agriculture Committee. I would like to say that if all the States of the Union were as broadminded and forward looking as the State of Vermont that you would be relieved of much of the proposed legislation which comes before your committee and probably would not have the present bill before you today.
Vermont was the first State to legislate cooperation with all phases of the Social Security Act, and we have undertaken
Senator DOUGLAS. You were Governor then?
Senator AIKEN. I was Lieutenant Governor then, but we all worked on it. There was no difficulty at all. We have tried to maintain that progressive record ever since.
We were the first State to have an effective 39-week coverage period for unemployment. There were two other States that had a 39-week coverage period, but the criteria were such that I believe Vermont was the only State where it was possible to make it effective.
We have had a minimum wage coverage which has been much broader than most of the States of the Union, I believe broader in some ways than Federal law itself, and as a result I maintain we have in Vermont the highest quality employees of any State in the Union, if you don't mind my saying so, and we have the best relationship between employers and employees. We seldom have any difficulties unless someone from somewhere comes in and stirs them up.
Now, I want to simply introduce to you the best commissioner of employment security, without disparaging in any way the commissioners of the other 49 States. I don't know what Mrs. Hackel, Stella, as we call her-yes, I do know what she is going to say because I have read it while I have been waiting here, and I approve it, so you put me on record as approving her testimony. And inasmuch as I do have to leave, I would just now like to ask Mrs. Stella Hackel to stand up. After seeing her, I am sure you are all going to remain for her testimony.
Senator Douglas. We are very glad indeed to welcome both you and Mrs. Hackel. Vermont is indeed a progressive State. It started that way when you entered politics in the State of Vermont. We are very glad to see that the seeds which you sowed are bearing fruit in a somewhat different pasture.
Thank you very much Senator.
Senator Aiken. Adios, or whatever you want me to say, and I will go over and see what we can do on the food-for-freedom bili.
Senator Douglas. Thank you very much, Senator.
Senator HARTKE. Mr. Hill, let me ask an elementary question. You people operate on a consensus theory, in other words, what the consensus of the State administrators is, is that your operating theory?
Mr. HILL. Actually, what we do on legislation is we take a poll, that is we ask the State administrators to respond to particular questions, and I read into the record earlier on this particular bill exactly the question asked and the response received.
Senator HARTKE. Yes. Well, do you operate on a consensus theory or not? In other words, after a poll is taken, that is what the basis of the census is, I suppose.
Mr. Hill. Right.
Senator HARTKE. Then do you follow those recommendations, or do you digress from them, or what are the criteria ?
Mr. HILL. Well, we follow those recommendations with respect to Federal legislation, that is if the State administrators vote that they want, that they are in favor of a given proposition then we present that.
Now, this does not preclude us at a later point in the development of legislation from repolling or taking another poll, because at times there are changes in our position.
Senator HARTKE. On the repoll, do you present the same basic questions with the modifications or alternatives, or do you do it in a summary fashion?
Mr. Hill. Not necessarily.
Mr. Hill. No prescribed method. The conference code prescribes that the executive committee of the conference which is made up of administrators from the various regions of the country will simply approve a poll and decide and determine what shall be asked.
Senator HARTKE. The executive committee then approves of the question which is formulated and
Mr. Hill. Right.
Senator HARTKE (continuing). And then submits it to the membership.
Mr. HILL. Yes. Senator HARTKE. All right. Who, in the executive committee, is charged with the responsibility of the formulation of the questionnaire-any individual ?
Mr. Hill. No particular individual. Usually it is formulated by the legislative committee of the conference. We have a committee on legislation. They usually determine the language on the poll and submit it to the executive committee. Sometimes it is changed, sometimes it isn't.
Senator HARTKE. Then, as you proceed through the consideration of the legislation, who then formulates the question?
Mr. Hill. I don't know that I follow your question as you proceed.
Senator HARTKE. Well, you change, you said that you change during the procedure along with the action of the committee. Who, then, does the formulation of the revised questionnaire ?
Mr. Hill. Well, the questionnaire is ultimately formulated by the executive committee.
What I intended to say to you earlier, the fact we sent out a poll, take their measure, for instance.
Senator HARTKE. Yes.
Mr. Hill. We initially had a poll of the States, in effect it was a national meeting instead of a poll, in which we resolved a number of issues about our position on this bill, and we urged that position in the House, and after the House changed the legislation in certain respects, some of what we urged they agreed to, some of it they didn't agree to, but finally when the bill was ultimately put together in the House and voted upon, we decided to take it back to the States again and say, “Now, do you support this kind of legislation as it came out or not?” And the response I have already read into the record.
Senator HARTKE. Let me state to you quite honestly that I have great respect for polls, but it is an elementary principle of all pollsters that if the formulator, those who are in charge of formulating the questions, can come out with a result which they generally want to, they would desire to make that type of procedure. You understan that.
I am sure with you people that you wouldn't intentionally try to come up with a result which was not in accordance with an objective approach.
However, the poll which you placed in the record this morning was quite detailed, was it not, in the original instance dealing with substantive features of the measures itself, in which you were approachi". some of these broad changes in the unemployment compensation laws?
Mr. Hill. Right.
Senator HARTKE. However, when you came to the place where you had another poll dealing with the final bill which was in front of them, these measures were not taken up in the same categories, in the same fashion, and in the same detail as they were in the original instance, isn't that true?
Mr. Hill. That is true.
Senator HARTKE. So what you have done here is submit to them in the first instance a questionnaire upon the substantive individual portions of the law as originally proposed and as we are now considering them, isn't that true?
Mr. Hil. Correct.