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Senator YARBOROUGH. The Senate has a live quorum and they phoned three times for me to come. I must go, but we want to hear Mr. Turner. There are questions I would like to ask you because you have raised a good many very interesting points. We will consider all of the amendments that you have suggested be approved in the bill and when we have heard all the testimony there will probably be recommendations from the employers, too.
We will carefully consider all of them. I have looked over the various tables that you have appended here, and one thing that is a great surprise to me is what an assistant manager of one of these supermarket stores gets. I have been astonished at the very small difference, with the great responsibility of the manager of one of these big retail automatic self-service stores, at the difference between him and the clerk.
That is the most amazing figure I have seen on these pages.
Mr. Turner, due to the fact we have to go-I would like to ask you gentlemen questions—I will ask you to proceed. This is a very interesting field of law because I used to practice some in this field. It is interesting personally to me. It is sociologically interesting. It is economically interesting. It is industrially interesting.
But time is running so if you will proceed we will appreciate it.
STATEMENT OF J. C. TURNER, PRESIDENT, GREATER WASHINGTON
(D.C.) CENTRAL LABOR COUNCIL, AFL-CIO
Mr. TURNER. Thank you. I appear here in behalf of the Central Labor Council. We would like to ask that our statement be put in the record and we will make a few comments on it.
Our organization represents 150,000 members in the metropolitan area, of which 75,000 reside in the District. The testimony of Howard McGuigan covers our position adequately. We wish to associate ourselves with his statement and emphasize our support of particular provisions in S. 2485.
Due to the time factor, Mr. Chairman, we will simply ask that this be put in the record.
Senator YARBOROUGH. Thank you for this statement. The statement will be printed in full in the record.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Turner follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF J. C. TURNER, PRESIDENT, THE GREATER WASHINGTOX
(D.C.) CENTRAL LABOR COUNCIL, AFL-CIO Mr. Chairman, my name is J. C. Turner. I am President of the Greater Washington Central Labor Council, AFI-CIO which represents 150,000 members in the metropolitan area including 75,000 residing in District of Columbia. We support the major provisions contained in S. 2485.
The testimony of F. Howard McGuigan covers our position adequately. We wish to associate ourselves with his statement, and emphasize our support of particular provisions in S. 2485.
We are convinced that the proposed increase in the minimum benefit will prove extremely beneficial to District of Columbia Workers in private employment.
We favor the elimination of the $24,000 benefit limit in cases of temporary total disability and the reduction from 28 days to 21 days in the period of time required before a worker can receive retroactive benefits. The proposed broadening of the definition of disfigurement will also afford a greater degree of protection to workers in the District of Columbia.
The proposed increase in the maximum benefit amount in disability cases will provide a meaningful benefit for many injured workmen in the District especially skilled and semi-skilled workers.
The proposals to increase the maximum average weekly wage used for computing death benefits and increase the maximum benefit amount payable in cases when there are dependents also merits your support.
We also favor the provision in S. 2485 extending benefits for a dependent or surviving child in school from 18 to 23 years of age.
There are other desirable provisions in S. 2485 that we feel would prove beneficial to workers in the District of Columbia and the other workers covered by the Act. Therefore, we urge early and favorable action by your Committee.
Senator YARBOROUGH. When we adjourn, and we will adjourn not later than 11 o'clock, it will be until 10 o'clock next Monday morning.
I am going to turn the hearing over to Senator Javits, who has already answered the call, the ranking minority member from the State of New York who is very much interested in labor legislation.
I am gratified that your statement compares different provisions of this act with the different provisions of the Federal Employees Act.
Mr. MCGUIGAN. Thank you very much.
Senator Javits (presiding). Gentlemen, I understand you have completed all the statements you wish to make before the committee. Is that correct? We will have a recess for 2 minutes. There is just one question I would like to ask, so stay where you are.
(A brief recess was taken.)
Senator Javits. The committee will come to order and resume its session.
Gentlemen, one of the vexing questions which we are encountering in this matter is the matter of third-party actions. A practice has developed whereby an injured employee may sue the vessel, in admiralty, and a ring around the rosy ultimately brings it back to a suit against the employer because of an express or implied indemnity agreement between the employer of the longshoreman and the owner of the vessel.
Now, yesterday the Labor Department said that they would give us a memorandum both on the law and on their attitude toward this question of third-party actions and, as you gentlemen know, every State workmen's compensation law approached the third-party action question in a different way.
Would you be agreeable, Mr. McGuigan, on behalf of the AFL-CIO, to give us the federation's position on this question of third party actions?
Mr. McGuiGAN. Yes, of course we will, Senator Javits. The statement was not directed to that because that was not a part of the proposed legislation.
Senator Javits. You are exactly right.
Mr. McGUIGAN. I also understand that there is a Mr. Cummings here who will be testifying possibly next week and that he has had considerable experience in safety enforcement on the west coast and he is probably an accomplished witness in this field.
Senator Javits. Good. Without objection, then, the memorandum will be supplied by the AFL-CIO through you as witness, Mr. McGuigan, and will be included in the record.
(The memorandum referred to follows:)
MEMORANDUM FROM THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR AND CONGRESS OF IN
DUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS ON THIRD PARTY SUITS UNDER THE LONGSHOREMEX's AND HARBOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT
PURPOSE OF THIS MEMORANDUM
During the hearings on S. 2485 (November 17, 1967) Senator Javits requested the Legislative Representative of the AFL-CIO, F. Howard McGuigan, to submit a memorandum on the AFL-CIO's position relative to third-party suits under the Longshoremen's Act. This memorandum is a response to that request.
THE AFL-CIO POSITION
The AFL-CIO has established a consistent record of support for the concept of workmen's compensation as the appropriate method of providing cash-wage benefits, medical care, and rehabilitation services to victims of work connected injuries. Under our existing system of workmen's compensation, once a workmen's compensation act becomes applicable, either through election or compulsion. it is (in most cases) the exclusive remedy available to injured workers. No state workmen's compensation act gives an injured worker the option to sue his employer for damages, except for specific acts of noncompliance or willful misconduct on the part of the employer.
However, every workmen's compensation act within our system, including the Federal Employees' Compensation Act and the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, preserves the right of any injured worker to claim damages from the person or party, other than the employer, who caused the worker's injury. Our workmen's compensation system was not designed to extend immunity to strangers responsible for an injury to a worker in the course of his or her employment.
Specific provisions permitting injured workers to bring third-party actions are contained in every workmen's compensation act except two—Ohio and West Virginia—and these exceptions will be discussed below. To avoid double recovery, these laws provide various methods for reimbursing the employer or insurance carrier for compensation paid. These laws also provide for safeguarding the balance of the recovery in excess of the compensation award for the injured worker.
Although the Ohio and West Virginia laws do not contain specific provisions related to third-party suits, injured workers in these two states can still bring third-party actions. The absence of a specific third-party provision in these laws providing for a method of reimbursing the employer or insurance carrier for compensation paid permits double recovery by injured workers. This possibility of double recovery distinguishes the Ohio and West Virginia workmen's compensation laws from the other state laws relative to third-party actions.
The provisions in Section 33 of the Longshore Act (third-party actions) are similar to the provisions contained in every other workmen's compensation act. We are aware of no valid reason for amending this section or any other section of this act that would make the third-party provisions inapplicable to one specialinterest group--shipowners.
The AFL-CIO has long sought all means to assure workers a safe place to work. Experience clearly indicates that a person whose actions are the proximate cause of injury to another will, if required to pay for the consequences of his acts, more carefully conduct himself. We believe if the right of an injured worker to bring an action against a negligent third party is taken away from him, we shall substantially weaken one of the compelling reasons for a third party, in this case a ship owner, to provide a safe place to work. By eliminating a right which all other workers presently enjoy, we eliminate a most important induce. ment to shipowners to pursue a strong safety program.
i Larson, Arthur: The Law of Workmen's Compensation, Vol. 2, p. 168 ; New York, Matthew Bender and Co., 1966.
The administration bill S. 2485 contains no provision relating to third-party suits. The AFL-CIO at its recent convention (December 1967) adopted a policy resolution urging Congress to enact the S. 2485 amendments without delay. This is still the official position of the AFL-CIO, and we are opposed to any additional amendments that would limit or eliminate third-party actions under the existing provisions of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.
Senator JAVITs. If there are no other observations you gentlemen wish to make, the subcommittee will stand in adjournment until Monday at 10 a.m.
Mr. MOGUIGAN. Thank you.
(Whereupon, at 10:45 a.m., the subcommittee recessed to reconvene at 10 a.m., Monday, November 20, 1967.)