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LA BOR DISPUTE BETWEEN RAILROAD CARRIERS AND

FOUR OPERATING RAILROAD BROTHERHOODS

THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1951

UNITED STATES SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE,

Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to recess, in the old Supreme Court room, the Capitol, Senator James E. Murray, chairman, presiding.

Present: Senators Murray (chairman), Morse, Lehman, and Taft. Also present: William H. Coburn, chief clerk of the committee; Tom Shroyer, of the professional staff of the committee; Ray R. Murdock, counsel to the Subcommittee on Labor-Management Relations; and Charles Murray, administrative assistant to Senator Murray.

The CHAIRMAN. The hearing will come to order, please.
Mr. Shields has not concluded his statement.
You may proceed, Mr. Shields.

TESTIMONY OF J. P. SHIELDS, GRAND CHIEF ENGINEER, BROTHER

HOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS, ACCOMPANIED BY GUY L. BROWN, FIRST ASSISTANT GRAND CHIEF ENGINEER, CLIFFORD D. O'BRIEN, COUNSEL, AND FRANK P. DOUGLAS, SECRETARY TO MR. SHIELDS Resumed

Mr. SHIELDS. Mr. Chairman, I believe that I left off reading from my prepared statement at the top of page 25. The CHAIRMAN. That is right.

Mr. SHIELDS. In response to an invitation from Dr. John R. Steelman, Presidental assistant, at this stage in the mediation proceedings I attended a meeting at the White House with Dr. Steelman, and the chief executives of the other three transportation brotherhoods. This meeting was in no sense at the request of any representative of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. At the request of Dr. Steelman I outlined the details of the B. of L. E. proposals, and Presidents Robertson, Hughes, and Kennedy similarly outlined the details of the proposals of their respective organizations.

Mr. MURDOCK. Mr. Shields, would you fix the date of this first invitation ?

Mr. SHIELDS. I think that was on November 21.
Mr. MURDOCK. That would be November 21, 1950?
Mr. SHIELDS. 1950.

Dr. Steelman indicated to us that the President of the United States, because of the grave international situation, desired to avoid any serious difficulties between the operating employees and the railroads. Under these circumstances, Dr. Steelman further indicated, the President might proffer his—Dr. Steelman's—services in an effort to accomplish a settlement.

Following Thanksgiving, the four chief executives responded to a second White House call from Dr. Steelman on November 29. He then asked us collectively, or if that be not possible individually, to

, inform him what would be considered by the organizations an acceptable basis for settlement. The proposals of each of the organizations being dissimilar, a joint statement in response to this inquiry was not possible, and each chief executive replied individually that at that stage of the dispute each organization stood on the terms of its original proposals.

Mr. MURDOCK. Mr. Shields, the previous witness was interrogated as to the function of Dr. Steelman in these conferences. Did he indicate to you that he was acting in behalf of the President, or that he had been ordered by the President to effect a settlement? Or just what were his representatives to you?

Mr. SHIELDS. I never got that quite clear, Mr. Murdock. I think perhaps the most that I could say about that was that he was proffering his services as an individual and in the capacity of Presidential assistant, to assist the Mediation Board in handling the dispute. And I find some confirmation of that understanding from the fact that in all of the conferences in the White House one or more members of the National Mediation Board were present. Dr. Steelman did, as I have already indicated, state at both of the meetings, both the 21st and the 29th, that the President of the United States was very much concerned about the controversy existing between the organizations, and fearful that in view of the impending national emergency some untoward circumstance might occur which would interfere with the defense effort. And for those general reasons, and without being specific, as I recall it, Dr. Steelman had indicated that he might at some later time offer his services. I don't recall that he stated definitely that he was making that proffer on advice or instructions from the President.

Mr. MURDOCK. You never did meet with the President, did you? Mr. SHIELDS. No, sir.

Mr. MURDOCK. You said that one or more members of the Mediation Board were present on some of these occasions. Did the representatives or the members of the Mediation Board participate in your conferences with Dr. Steelman in any way!

Dr. SHIELDS. Yes, sir; they did.

Mr. MURDOCK. Was it your understanding that the Board was then functioning as the Mediation Board ?

Mr. SHIELDS. Insofar as I was concerned, it was my understanding all the way through the conferences in the White House, in which Dr. Steelman participated, that our case was still within the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board, and Dr. Steelman was participating and assisting; and by whatever authority or under whaterer authority I was not clear.

Mr. MURDOCK. But you did have the very definite impression that the Mediation Board was still functioning?

Mr. SHIELDS. That is right.

Mr. MURDOCK. And that your dispute was still within the functioning of the Mediation Board ?

Mr. SHIELDS. That is right.

Mr. MURDOCK. So that it was your impression that at that time you were still processing your grievance under the National Railway Labor Act; is that right?

Mr. SHIELDS. That is right.

Mr. MURDOCK. Did you ever request a conference with the President?

Mr. SHIELDS. I don't recall that we did make a direct request. There may have been requests, but at the moment I don't recall that we made any direct request.

Mr. MURDOCK. But you are quite clear, as your statement shows, that you never requested the intervention of Dr. Steelman?

Mr. SHIELDS. That is correct, sir; as far as my organization was concerned.

At the November 29 meeting I also made it a point to inform Dr. Steelman that if and when a tentative proposition for settlement should emerge it would necessarily be submitted to our brotherhood's association of general chairmen for their acceptance and ratification, or their rejection.

Mr. MURDOCK. Mr. Shields, you had not intended to omit the previous paragraph, had you? Paragraph 2?

Mr. SHIELDS. I beg your pardon.

Speaking for our brotherhood, I then advised Dr. Steelman that we desired to negotiate a settlement based upon our original proposals of January 6 and November 3, 1950, with a further provision for the 5-day-10-hour workweek in yard service, subject to optional acceptance or rejection by each of the several' BLE general committees of adjustment.

At the November 29 meeting I also made it a point to inform Dr. Steelman that if and when a tentative proposition for settlement should emerge it would necessarily be submitted to our brotherhood's association of general chairmen for their acceptance and ratification, or their rejection.

From time to time at the White House from then until December 21, 1950, I repeated to Dr. Steelman the substance of that limitation upon my authority to consummate a final settlement of our dispute with the railroads.

Mr. MURDOCK. Mr. Shields, had you ever made that statement in writing to Dr. Steelman?

Mr. SHIELDS. I had not.

Mr. MURDOCK. Had you made the same sort of statement, or a statement to the same effect, to the Mediation Board ?

Mr. SHIELDS. Yes, sir; at the outset of mediation, and several times during the course of mediation. That is, I mean several times during the time that we were meeting members of the National Mediation Board, and before Dr. Steelman came into the conferences.

Mr. MURDOCK. So that it is the purport of your statement that at all times before the Mediation Board and at all times in conference with Dr. Steelman you had made it clear that you did not have final authority to bind the union members with an agreement without reference back to your general chairman; is that correct?

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Mr. SHIELDS. That is correct, and to the point of being repetitious and to the point in my opinion where those repeated statements became rather obnoxious to the people with whom I was dealing:

Mr. MURDOCK. Now, by “the people with whom I was dealing, what people specifically do you mean?

Mr. SHIELDS. I mean by that the members of the National Mediation Board and Dr. Steelman.

Thereafter and regularly until December 21 conferences between representatives of the four organizations and Dr. Steelman were held at the White House. At all of these meetings one or more members of the National Mediation Board was present. At a few of these meetings representatives of the carriers were also present, occasionally in other rooms in the White House, sometimes in the same room with us. There was a period of approximately a week during which Dr. Steelman was not available, and that interval was occupied with meetings between us and the Mediation Board on the one hand, and between the carriers and that Board on the other.

Most of those meetings were held in the offices of the National Mediation Board.

It is not possible to estimate accurately how much progress was made toward settlement at this series of White House meetings because representatives of the brotherhoods did not hear directly from the carriers, except in piecemeal fashion, what their current position might be.

At this time there was considerable talk about their impending wage and price freeze, and at the time it occurred to me that the members of the National Mediation Board at least were intensifying their efforts to effect a settlement and had pointed out to us repeatedly the complications which might arise in the event that we were not successful in disposing of this controversy prior to the time that the stabilization policy went into effect.

At about this time I discussed a proposal for settlement of this dispute with Mediator Edwards who suggested we should settle quickly in order to escape complications which might arise from wage freezes which seemed imminent at that time. I told him that it was necessary for me to have approval of any final settlement by our association of general chairmen and he suggested I arrange to convene them by wire.

About mid-December the length of the sessions was increased, the period between sessions was shortened, and the efforts of the principal mediator, Dr. Steelman, seemed definitely to have intensified. At 11 a. m. on December 20 we reported to the White House for what turned out to be an unusually long session from which we emerged on the 21st at about 12:30 p. m.

About midnight of December 20, in the course of a discussion with Dr. Steelman concerning adjustment in pay rates of both road and yard men, I undertook to suggest that a certain proposition would never prove acceptable to the locomotive engineers or to their general chairman and that I would not attempt to sell it to them.

Mr. MURDOCK. What proposition was that?

Mr. SHIELDS. That particular discussion revolved around the offer at that time from the carriers of 10 cents an hour for roadmen, with complete acquiescence in the carrier's rules and the final disposition of the carrier's rules in accordance with the terms that they had so far indicated.

In addition to that, there was under discussion the increase for yardmen, which should be made effective at the two periods, October i and January 1, I believe it was, up to an amount of, I think, 25 cents, prior to conversion. At conversion there was an offer of an additional 4 cents per hour for the engineers, firemen, conductors, and brakemen in yard service.

I raised the question that on the basis rather following the pattern usually employed in converting from the existing workweek to the 5-day 40-hour workweek, in all instances in which I had studied there was an adjustment of the hourly rates to the extent necessary to guarantee that in converting to the 5-day 40-hour week there would be no loss in take-home pay. And I pointed out to the doctor that the carriers' offer, as he had referred to it to us, at conversion would fall 5 cents short of making engineers whole. In other words, it lacked 5 cents of being the necessary adjustment on the hourly rate to provide for our men, if and when they did convert, no loss in take-home pay.

I think, Mr. Chairman, that you and the members will realize that the basic hourly rates of the four groups that were involved and those portions of their groups who had indicated a desire to change to the 5-day, 40-hour week were somewhat different, and that an hourly adjustment in rates that might operate to make one group whole would not make the other group whole. It was in connection with this point and the question of the insufficiency of the wage increase offered roadmen that I got into this discussion with Dr. Steelman.

Mr. MURDOCK. Just for the record, Mr. Shields: You do represent road-service employees as well as yard employees, don't you?

Mr. SHIELDS. Yes, sir.
Mr. MURDOCK. Both groups are embraced in your

union? Mr. SHIELDS. Yes.

We represent yard engineers who might desire to avail themselvesand undoubtedly would-of the 5-day, 40-hour week. We represent firemen who, on some of the properties, undoubtedly would desire to avail themselves of the provisions of the 5-day, 40-hour week, and we also represent some hostlers.

Immediately thereafter I again made it plain to Dr. Steelman that whatever tentative proposition for settlement might ensue could not be regarded as final and binding upon the engineers but would necessarily be submitted to our Association of General Chairmen, acting for the engineers of the railroads concerned, for their adoption or rejection. It is fair to note that this statement displeased Dr. Steelman, though he had several times been apprised of this specific limitation upon my authority. He told me that in all his years of mediatory work this was the first time he had put in so much time in dealing with an individual who lacked authority to sign a final settlement.

And I might say for the record that there was considerable discussion of that particular question, and particularly my indicated lack of authority to at that time or at the conclusion of the conferences sign a settlement.

Mr. MURDOCK. Well, Mr. Shields, did you know anything about the authority of the other chief executives to sign a binding agreement?

Mr. SHIELDS. Only in a general way as it had been indicated to me in our conferences, and as I had heard the other chief executives inform

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