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SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
!A COMMITTEE ON LABOR.
H. R. 804
A BILL TO PROHIBIT ALIENS FROM VOTING IN LABOR
OFFICERS OR AGENTS
H. R. 1483
A BILL TO REQUIRE THE FURNISHING OF CERTAIN
MAY 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, AND 25, 1943
Printed for the use of the Committee on Labor
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
TO REGULATE LABOR ORGANIZATIONS
TUESDAY, MAY 11, 1943
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON LABOR,
Washington, D. C.
The subcommittee met at 10:30 a. m., Hon. Thomas E. Scanlon presiding.
Mr. SCANLON. The committee will come to order.
The first witness will be Mr. Landis the author of bill, H. R. 1483, which requires the furnishing of certain information by labor organizations and to prohibit political contributions by labor organizations.
Are you ready, Mr. Landis? You may proceed now.
STATEMENT OF HON. G. W. LANDIS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA
Mr. LANDIS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am exceedingly grateful to this committee for granting me a hearing on H. R. 1483, a bill designed to require the furnishing of certain information about labor organizations and to prohibit them from contributing to political campaigns. This hearing will give the public an opportunity to learn the facts about the labor situation.
The fact that a hearing has been granted is a high tribute to the ability of the Labor Committee to recognize the fact that public opinion toward the conduct of labor unions is rapidly undergoing a change. The public thinks, and has a right to think, that labor unions, as public institutions should be granted the same rights and no greater rights than any other public group. My bill seeks to put labor unions on exactly the same basis, insofar as their financial activities are concerned, as corporations have been on for many years.
The terms of my bill are no more onerous or exacting, in fact considerably less so, than regulation imposed generally under existing State and Federal laws.
Under all State laws, corporations are required at the minimum to make detailed annual reports on their affairs to the States under whose laws they are respectively incorporated. Since the institution of the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission, all corporations engaged in interstate commerce, which under Supreme Court decisions now embraces practically the entire field of corporate activity, are required to make voluminous reports at periodic intervals going into considerably greater detail than annual State reports.
With respect to corporations, therefore, it is fair to say that as of today practically every phase of their corporate lives are microscopically exposed to public scrutiny.
The requirements imposed upon labor organizations by the Landis bill cover a substantially similar field in less detail.
This bill is not the result of an idea which has come to me suddenly. It is the result of long and careful deliberation on the long-haul welfare of my many friends in organized labor. As is well known, I come from a district which has many union workers. Many members of these unions are my friends. They have helped send me to Congress. They were responsible, in part, for my being made a member of this committee. Since I have been on this committee I have striven to the best of my ability to do everything I could to further their best interests. My voting record will show that.
For a long period I stood steadfast, just as the Washington representatives of most labor unions are now standing, against any change in existing labor laws. I sincerely thought that efforts to amend them came largely from unfair employers and others whose chief purpose was to break down labor unions. So long as I thought that, I refused to budge one inch in my refusal to help change existing
But some 2 years ago I began to realize that I was mistaken and labor leaders were mistaken in their steadfast, not-budge-an-inch attitude. I recognized the fact that the public believed labor, after having been generously dealt with by Congress and the administration, was unwilling to meet certain obligations which were due the public. One of the matters upon which I sensed that the public was taking a stand opposite to that of labor leaders was the question of the handling of funds of labor organizations. The public was aroused by many rumors of huge war chests being maintained by labor unions, of enormous fees and dues being extorted from war workers, of political contributions to parties and candidates which later were held as clubs over the head of high Federal officials. The public wanted to know the truth about these stories. Maybe they were false. Maybe they were true. Whether true or false, the public demanded and justly so, to know the facts.
I was so concerned over this situation that I sought counsel from my friends among labor leaders. To my great surprise, I found them absolutely unaware of the obvious change in public sentiment. When I talked with them they insisted that these demands for facts about labor organization financial activities came only from the foes of labor. Apparently these leaders had not seen the light. My most earnest and friendly efforts to make them understand that they should get in step with the times were unavailing. My urgent pleas that honest labor unions had nothing to fear from making all the facts about their finances public and that crooked unions should be exposed, produced only bitter and unreasoning criticism.
The situation was desperately discouraging. I was confident that the labor leaders were heading into trouble if they continued their opposition to what I regarded as reasonable public demands. Further, I questioned if the administration, which usually had been guided by the merest whims of labor leaders, would do or say anything about the situation.
Imagine my surprise when, on Tuesday, October 7, 1941, I read in a newspaper that Secretary Perkins, in an address to the Á. F. of L. convention in Seattle, Wash., had sharply pointed out the very things
I had been indicating to my labor friends. In a carefully prepared address, which undoubtedly had the approval of the national administration, she had told the convention that labor had a new role to play in world affairs and, hence, new responsibilities. Especially did she stress the importance of labor organizations keeping their financial records unquestioned. She was offering this advice as a friend of labor, even as I now am offering this bill. So pertinent was that address that I want to read you every part of it relating to the subject now before us. I quote from the Secretary of Labor:
A great change has taken place in the status of trade-unionsim in America in these years. Today everyone expects that trade unions and labor will participate in the councils of our Government along with employers and farmers and other groups. Government agencies call in all interested parties for advice and point of view. The advice of labor is sought not only on questions of wages and working conditions, but on the broad economic and social problems of the national life.
Trade unionism today is no longer a fighting principle barely tolerated, but it is becoming an institution. In fact, it has already become an American institution. Most of the important aspects of American life are conducted by groups, privately organized, but taking public responsibility in their field. Our religious bodies and our National Education Association, the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, the bank, the librarie, insurance companies, laboratories, stock and commodity exchange, and many others, are real institutions which carry on a part of our life and for which we should have to find a substitute if they should cease to function. They determine policy, ethics, and programs of publication within their field.
Such institutions are really private enterprises charged with a public interest and public purpose. Many of our trusted institutions of learning, colleges, research institutes, seminaries, are of the same nature. Many of these institutions are greatly trusted by the people have the confidence of the public. Others from time to time have lost that confidence. Those who are trusted have imposed upon themselves certain rules and certain disciplines. It has been the history of such institutions that so long as they carry out their responsibilities with a view to the well-being of the Nation as a whole that they are permitted to carry on their private affairs, and indeed are respected for carrying them on free and unhampered by any attempt at legislation or regulation by law.
But when they fail to do that, or for any reason lose the confidence of the people, some kind of regulation always follows. Thus we have seen the regulation of the railroads-private enterprises fraught with public interest, rendering a service of tremendous importance to the public. We have seen the regulation of the telephone and telegraph, of the stock and commodity exchanges and of the banks.
American trade-unionism, in becoming an established American institution has implicitly accepted certain definite social responsibilities, and its policies in the future must be predicated not only upon the welfare of its own members, but the welfare of all the people.
The history of your organization shows that it has consistently endorsed legislation and promoted social movements which were for the welfare of all the people and were altruistic in their aims. Beginning with the movement to provide free schoolbooks for all the children, going on to the efforts to reduce and abolish child labor, to the programs for widow's pensions, and that for the protection of women in industry to the laws requiring safeguards against accident and fire, the labor movement has taken the position that its social duties and obligations lie to the unorganized, as well as to the organized, and that because it is strong and informed it can take the lead in securing improvements which protect and help everyone in American society, not merely the members of their own union.
Probably the National Labor Relations Act which freezes labor from the dread of discrimination in employment because of membership in a trade-union has done more than any other one thing to establish trade-unionism firmly as an American institution because of this new status with legal protection. Labor's struggle for the right to organize, for the purpose of collective bargaining, in regard to good working conditions, is practically over. This right is now guaranteed by statute (N. L. R. A.). This statutory protection gives to tradeunionism an enormous prestige and a great responsibility.