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CONSTRUCTION SITE PICKETING
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1960
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to recess, in room 429, Old House Office Building, Hon, Carl D. Perkins (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. PERKINS. The subcommittee will come to order. A quorum is present, so we will proceed. We have with us this morning the Honorable Seymour Halpern. We will be pleased to hear from you now.
STATEMENT OF HON. SEYMOUR HALPERN, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK Mr. HALPERN. I will be just a few moments, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear this morning on behalf of the bills to amend section 8(b)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, which would remove picketing at the site of construction projects from the secondary boycott provisions of the act.
My bill, H.R. 9175, is similar to the other measures before the committee.
The committee has received excellent testimony on the technical and legal aspects of this question. I am in complete accord with that testimony, and I concur fully with the statements of the witnesses who have appeared before the committee on behalf of this bill.
I want to add my support to those who are so eloquently urging the adoption of this measure.
A substantially similar provision to that proposed in the bills might have been included in the labor bill enacted last year except for the particular parliamentary situation that then existed. I believe that there is substantial support for its enactment this year,
We are all aware of the inequitable position which the building trades unions have found themselves in as a result of the decision in NLRB v. Denver Building & Construction Trades Council (341 U.S. 675 (1951)). H.R. 9175 and the other bills would reverse that ruling and permit a building trades union to picket a construction project on which a contractor is working with whom the union has a labor dispute though employees of other contractors working upon the same job refuse to cross the picket line.
The Denver Trades Council decision was concerned with section 8(b) (4) (A) of the act before its amendment last summer. That provision, in effect, forbade a union to induce or encourage the employees of any employer to engage in a strike where an object there is forcing or requiring any employer to cease doing business with any other person. This provision was substantially incorporated as section 8(b) (4) (B) by the said amendments. H.R. 9175 and the other bills would add an additional proviso to the amended National Labor Relations Act to remove from the application of section 8(b) (4) (B), strikes at a construction site against those who are in the relationship of joint venturers or contractors and subcontractors in the construction industry.
I urge its adoption for several reasons:
Such picketing, which induces refusals to cross picket lines at construction sites, does not constitute a true secondary boycott. The nature of the relationship among employers engaged at such sites on a single construction project is such that no one of them can truly be said to be an innocent third party. They are, in such a situation, more like units in an industrial plant rather than separate business entities.
Thus, adoption of the proposed measure would constitute a recog. nition of the realities of the relationships at construction sites. It would remove an inequity against building trades unions which has existed since the Supreme Court decision in 1951. - ;
Finally, it would not disturb existing law respecting true secondary boycotts in the construction industry such as picketing activities which occur at locations other than the site of a building project.
For these reasons and because it has long been supported by the President and the administration, as well as by organized labor and members of both parties I urgently request that this subcommittee report the bill to the full committee with a recommendation for its speedy consideration and approval.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Wier. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman, but I could not let the opportunity slip without congratulating our colleague here for a fine presentation. You have done a better job than perhaps I could.
Mr. HALPERN. Thank you.
Mr. Griffin. I thank you for your interest in coming before the subeommittee.
Mr. HALPERN. Thank you.
Mr. Perkins. Mr. Malin, representing the chamber of commerce of the United States will be our next witness.
Will you identify yourself for the record and then proceed in any manner you desire.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES B. MAHIN, CHAIRMAN, SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON SECONDARY BOYCOTTS, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES; ACCOMPANIED BY HARRY J. LAMBETH, SECRETARY OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON SECONDARY BOYCOTTS
Mr. Mahin. My name is Charles B. Mahin. I am an attorney with MacLeish, Spray, Price & Underwood in Chicago. I am here speaking for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose secondary boycott committee I happen to be chairman of.
With me is Mr. Harry J. Lambeth, of the chamber, who is secretary of that committee.
Mr. WIER. Would you yield for just a question that aroused my curiosity ?
Mr. MAHIN. Yes.
Mr. WIER. You announce yourself as chairman of a secondary boycott committee of the chamber.
Mr. MAHIN. Yes.
Mr. WIER. Does that mean that the chamber set up a committee for each provision of the labor law?
Mr. Mahin. No, hardly. But if the Congressman will remember, going back to 1947 Taft-Hartley enactment, from then on there developed numerous loopholes in the secondary boycott provisions of the act, which were of such importance to business and industry and the public that the chamber in due course designated a special committee whose sole function was to study the problems of secondary boycotts and to recommend legislation to correct them.
Mr. WIER. Thank you.
I have personally practiced labor law for about 25 years. I have had a great deal of experience in labor law problems arising out of the construction industry. My firm represents a number of trade association and business clients who are engaged in the building materials and construction industry.
The chamber of commerce of the United States is a voluntary federation of 28,000 business members and 3,300 city, State and regional chambers of commerce and professional and trade associations which have a membership of 2,600,000 businessmen.
Like the general public, the membership of the national chamber is gravely concerned about secondary boycotts and the power of union officials to use this weapon to coerce neutrals to become involved in the labor disputes or union recognition campaigns of labor leaders. The secondary boycott long has been recognized as the unfair tool to make one person stop doing business with another at the peril of suffering a personal loss in his own business.
For many years boycotts of the same type by businessmen or by industry or nonunion entities have been outlawed under the antitrust laws. However, because of the circumstances which led to the TaftHartley provisions originally, unions have over the years employed this device in furtherance of their bargaining objectives and in furtherance of their organizational objectives. The boycott has in fact been used in areas to control the labor supply in a particular community or industry. Possession of such power by a professional unionist opens the door to countless other opportunities for power and control.
With this brief introduction, I would like to testify on the merits of bills before this subcommittee and to discuss the effects the adoption of such legislation would have on the construction industry and on the American public.
These bills are directed to a change in status of the building trade unions, a change in status under the act. It is our view that the bills would give even greater power to these 18 unions that comprise the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department.
The pending legislation: The bills before this subcommittee that would give even greater power to the 18 unions that comprise the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department have been legislative perennials. But Congress has never seen fit to grant all of these desires because they would create a special elite corps within a group of citizens who presently enjoy special legislative immunities.
The current drive for more prounion legislation follows the encouragement given the building trades officials by the enactment of the recent Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, more popularly known as the Landrum-Griffin Act. The day on which the Senate passed Landrum-Griffin, Senator Kennedy and eight cosponsoring Senators introduced S. 2643. A few days later Representative Thompson of New Jersey offered H.R. 9070, an identical bill to S. 2643.
The Thompson bill appears on the surface to be a mere minor technical change in preexisting labor legislation. It is but 18 lines long.
But these 18 lines are the first wedge to weaken the protections offered the American workman and his employer by the Taft-Hartley and Landrum-Griffin Acts. In brief, without question enactment of these 18 lines would give the building trades unions complete authority over the American construction industry.
Distilled to the simplest facts, H.R. 9070 reopens the Taft-Hartley Act's secondary boycott loopholes, tightened by the Landrum-Griffin statute. It even encourages evasion of the new antipicketing provisions of the recent amendment.
The building trades official is given a license to use secondary boycotts to win labor disputes and force workmen to join a union or switch 'their union affiliation. It makes a sham of the legal right now guaranteed to employees by section 7——the right to join or refrain from joining a union. No longer would an employee have a choice.
In substance and in purpose it restores the closed shop to the construction industry and provides the means by which that can be accomplished through secondary boycott activity.
H.R. 9070 would permit a single local union to bring construction to a halt for almost any reason it chose. Under present law, if the union's complaint is justified, the National Labor-Management Relations Act provides a legal method for relief. This bill, however, would permit the local to bypass the procedures established by the law and the Board.
It would let the trade unions take the law in their own hands as they have so often done in the past.