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Those who worked out the agreement with Mr. Steelman were P. J. Shields, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers; D. B. Robertson, president of the Brotherhood of Enginemen and Firemen; R. 0. Hughes, president of the Order of Railway Conductors; W. P. Kennedy, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen; Daniel P. Loomis, of the Western Carriers' Conference; L. W. Horning, of the New York Central system, representing eastern roads, and 0. D. McKay, representing southern lines.
Mr. Kennedy called his 110 general chairmen to a meeting at Cleveland January 4 to consider ratifying the pact. A spokesman for Mr. Kennedy said the union regarded it as a tentative proposal by Mr. Steelman. He said he could not predict what the general chairmen would decide about it. The other three brotherhoods are expected to call similar meetings of their general chairmen soon to decide whether to ratify the pact.
The memorandum agreement does not specifically bar strikes during the life of the contract. However, unions would be barred from making new demands during the 3 years of the pact and hence would have no excuse for authorized strikes under the terms of the Railway Labor Act.
COMMITTEE EXHIBIT No. 3
LIVING COST CONTRACT
WASHINGTON, December 21 (AP).–The railroads and four big unions agreed today to a 3-year pact settling a long wage dispute. The agreement raises wages of 300,000 engineers, firemen, conductors and trainmen, retroactive to October 1, and calls for future adjustments as living costs rise or fall.
This provision for flexible wages-reached under the eyes of United States officials—could set a pattern for Government wage policy under the mobilization program.
The White House announced the peace plan after a night-long 26-hour conference. A railroad official estimated the agreement will cost $131,000,000 a year,
The possible effect on passenger and freight rates was not indicated. These are controlled by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Rate hikes often have followed wage raises in the past.
ARMY STILL IN CONTROL
No immediate move was made to release the railroads from legal control by the Army. They were taken over August 26 to halt a strike of trainmen and conductors. Sixteen other rail unions still have wage demands pending. However, John R. Steelman, Presidential assistant, said he would check whether they even considered striking, apparently with a view to releasing Government control.
Today's agreement, worked out under pressure of the national emergency decreed last Saturday by President Truman, carries these terms for the Brotherhoods of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, Locomotive Engineers, Railroad Trainmen, and Order of Railway Conductors:
For 120,000 yardmen: A retroactive increase of 23 cents an hour with another 2 cents on January 1 and adjustments geared to living costs. These are provided for each 3 months beginning next April 1 at the rate of 1 cent an hour for each rise or fall of one point in the Government's consumer price index.
For 180,000 road service workers: A retroactive increase of 5 cents an hour, another 5 cents on January 1 and the same cost of living arrangement.
The living-cost feature paralleled a plan first worked out in the automotive industry.
Another idea in that industry-rewards for productive improvement-may benefit the railroad men eventually.
It was agreed that if Government policy during the emergency accepts the principle of these improvement allowances, the two sides will get together to consider further wage adjustments after July 1, 1952.
COMMITTEE EXHIBIT No. 4
[From the Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Friday, December 22, 1950]
ERA OF RAIL PEACE LOOMS IN WAKE OF WAGE SETTLEMENT
(By Harlan Trott) WASHINGTON.—Three years of labor peace on the railroads is promised in the agreement just reached between management and the Big Four unions.
The settlement brings wage boosts up to 25 cents an hour for some 300,000 members of the engineers, firemen, conductors, and trainmen's brotherhoods.
It promises railroad yardmen a 40-hour week but not before January 1, 1952, because of the manpower shortage.
The terms figure to increase railroad management's costs by $130,000,000 a year.
The settlement terminates disputes over wages, hours, and working conditions, items the brotherhoods call "rules," that have dragged on for nearly 2 years. It brings mutual concessions, hammered out in clock-round sessions managed by Dr. John R. Steelman, the President's White House labor specialist.
Hastening this belated but welcome agreement, made all the more so by the developing military crisis, were the recent wildcat strikes.
Leaders of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen unquestionably did their best to avert these unauthorized work stoppages in the yards and terminals.
But the men's patience exploded due to anxiety that wage freezes would go into effect and leave them out in the cold.
The men reportedly were becoming furious because the White House was permitting Government seizure to dawdle along in what they called a do-nothing atmosphere beneficial to the railroad managements.
Two years of Government "seizure” meant letting labor grievances and demands go unsettled without seizure of railroad profits.
One widespread reaction to the belated agreement is: If Federal mediation could clear up this dispute in a week, why could it not have been the first week rather than the eighty-eighth?
Government seizure made little if any impression on the operators. In effect, the situation was, from the management standpoint, simply a general holding a special office somewhere symbolizing “Government seizure."
Spokesmen for the brotherhoods felt that when the Government took "control" of the railroads, it made the inexcusable mistake of not taking the responsibility which goes with control. Had the Government assumed responsibility for wages, working conditions and profits—they believe the operators would have evidenced a willingness to sit down at the same table with the brotherhoods 2 years ago.
An editorial in tomorrow's issue of Labor, the official organ of 15 standard railroad labor organizations, will say:
TIED TO LIVING-COST INDEX
"Such real control has been tried by Government, and it worked. Uncle Sam really 'took over the Toledo, Peoria & Western during the last war, when wild actions by the president of that road threatened a rail breakdown. For 4 years the Government held the profits of the T. P. & W., and during that period the road had harmonious relations with its workers.
"Likewise the Government really took control of Montgomery Ward and the coal mines, and in both cases labor got fair treatment, because management had to deal with workers on decent terms.
“In contrast, the present Government ‘seizure' of the railroads left all the cards in the hands of management, and those cards have been played in a way to arouse the resentment of railmen."
Whether Congress will consider amending the Railway Labor Act or the national emergency provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act to broaden the Government's seizure powers and make certain mandatory requirements more explicit remains to be seen.
The basis on which the 3-year no-strike agreement finally was fashioned underscores the increasing importance of the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index as a factor in industry-wide wage bargaining.
As soon as the brotherhoods ratify the agreement, an escalator clause tied to the BLS index will go into effect on a quarterly adjustment basis. Wages will go up or down a cent an hour for each corresponding one-point change in the consumer living-cost index.
Other points covered in the agreement include:
1. An increase of 23 cents an hour for 120,000 yardmen, effective October 1, 1950, and an additional 2 cents an hour January 1.
2. An increase of 5 cents an hour, effective October 1, 1950, for 180,000 road service workers, and another 5 cents effective January 1.
The CHAIRMAN. The next witness, now, will be Mr. D. B. Robertson, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen.
Mr. Robertson, you have not been sworn. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give in this proceeding will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. ROBERTSON. I do.
TESTIMONY OF D. B. ROBERTSON, PRESIDENT, BROTHERHOOD OF
LOCOMOTIVE FIREMEN AND ENGINEMEN, CLEVELAND, OHIO
Mr. ROBERTSOX. My name is D. B. Robertson. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, of which I have been president since 1922, has its headquarters.
Your committee is investigating a labor dispute which has been in progress many months between the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, Order of Railway Conductors, and Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, on the one hand, and the Nation's railroads, on the other. The dispute, rather than being settled, seems to be intensified, and recently a series of incidents, apparently developing from impatience on the part of the employees, interrupted commerce to a material degree.
We appreciate your invitation to discuss the situation. We interpret your invitation as extending to us an opportunity to discuss something of the merits of the employees' demands upon the railroads as well as the position assumed by the railroads since December 21, 1950, which until changed will stand as an insurmountable obstacle to settlement of the controversy.
I take it that the committee is primarily interested in two things: (1) discovery of the conditions which stand in the way of settlement of the dispute, and (2) discovery of such corrective measures as can be employed, legislative in character or otherwise, to bring about a settlement.
There is common ground upon which all of us can meet. The leaders of railway labor are as fully cognizant as the officials of Government and the officials of management of the importance of a 100-percent productive effort in these times which the Nation's defense facilities are being swiftly mobilized and thousands of our young men are on the firing line in a deadly shooting war.
I would like to interpose, if the Senators please, at this point, that we railroad men appreciate the importance of all-out production in time of war. Our brotherhood alone had 10,828 of its members in the last World War, and we have close to a thousand already in the present
conflict. We lost several hundred men in the last World War. So we have a real reason for keeping up production during a national emergency
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is true of labor in the United States as a whole. I believe that it was the wonderful cooperation of labor in this country that made the miraculous production that we had possible, which was the chief thing in winning the war. The great record of production which we had in this country, in which labor participated, was, I think, the real thing which made us succeed in the war.
Mr. ROBERTSON. Thank you, sir.
My associates and I want labor peace that we may attain and preserve a maximum productive effort. We do not encourage protracted labor disputes or interruptions to commerce. But, unfortunately, all elements of labor from time to time, during war and otherwise, have found it necessary to defend their right to receive a square deal from management. My associates and I are unanimously of the belief that we are not getting a square deal from the railroads. I doubt that we will witness the restoration of satisfactory relations between railroad management and railroad labor until we get it in this case.
I hope in this statement to convince you that we have not received fair treatment at the hands of the railroads.
Progress in settling our dispute has been completely blocked since the middle of January 1951, because of the contention of the railroads that a settlement was made by a memorandum of agreement signed by the leaders of the four operating brotherhoods and three chairmen of the Carriers' Conference Committees in the White House on December 21, 1950. Of the railroads' position in this respect, the people of this country were informed by a deluge of advertising in newspapers, Washington newspapers being no exception, newspapers extending from coast to coast, charging that union leaders, among them myself, repudiated a solemn, binding, and final agreement. These are serious charges and reflect upon the integrity and understanding of the four of us who signed the memorandum on behalf of the employees.
The charge by the railroads that this memorandum was a binding settlement, and was not understood by all to be subject to ratification, is utterly false. To the contrary, it was made known to the carriers early in the negotiations that the chief executives of the unions could not make a binding agreement, and that any product of their efforts would have to be submitted to their associations of general chairmen for approval.
I want to point out here that what I know as to the statements made by the chief executives of the other three organizations as to their having no authority to sign a binding agreement I learned from them. As far as our brotherhood is concerned, both the railroads and Dr. Steelman knew that our brotherhood chief executive and subcommittee had no authority to sign an agreement that would be binding on the membership.
It is generally known that the memorandum of agreement of December 21, 1950, was submitted to the general chairmen of the engineers, firemen and enginemen, conductors, and brakemen, and was unanimously disapproved. Not one general chairman from a com
mittee of any of the organizations was recorded as approving. Thus no agreement has been made, with the result that the demands of the employees and counterdemands of the railroads remain the subject of negotiation and attempted settlement. Despite this, the carriers have adamantly refused since December 21, 1950, to consider any proposed basis of settlement, except upon the terms contained in the memorandum of December 21, 1950, which memorandum they contend provides the only means for disposition of every item in dispute. I should like to elaborate upon the tentative character of the memorandum of agreement and how it was known to be nothing more than tentative by the representatives of the carriers who met with us throughout the conferences.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, not unlike other railway labor organizations, is among the most democratic of institutions. The international president and other grand-lodge officers are elected by nearly 1,000 delegates in quadrennial conventions. By detailed constitutional provisions adopted in convention, much power is retained by subordinate bodies within the organization and is not delegated to the officers. Among the powers which the conventions have specifically withheld from the international president and other grand-lodge officers is that of entering into binding agreements in wage and rule matters in the absence of an express authorization by resolution of the associations of general chairmen. The general chairmen have never vested in me authority to enter into a binding settlement of this case, and of this lack of authority the carriers have been aware from the beginning of our talks with them.
Mr. MURDOCK. Mr. Robertson, do you have available a copy of the constitution of the B. L. F. & E.?
Mr. ROBERTSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. MURDOCK. I wonder if you could offer it as an exhibit at this time, to be marked "B. L. F. & E. Exhibit No. 2."
The CHAIRMAN. It may be so marked. (The exhibit referred to is on file with the committee.) Mr. ROBERTSON. I have a statement, if you will pardon me, Mr. Murdock, about two pages on, where I was going to suggest that not only the constitution but some other matter I filed with your committee be introduced.
The CHAIRMAN. You may introduce it at the appropriate place.
The case we are trying to settle with the railroads had its origin in October 1949, at a meeting of our associations of general chairmen in Chicago. Approximately 125 general chairmen representing practically all United States railroads and from our three general chairmen's districts attended these meetings. The associations prepared the proposition we originally submitted to the railroads and then, pursuant to the prescribed constitutional procedure, referred that proposition to the international president and a subcommittee of gen
. eral chairmen for handling. The section of our constitution under which the action was taken-article 15, Section 20 (d)-provides thatbefore a final decision is made to accept a settlement or to submit to a strike vote, the entire association shall be convened to pass upon the same.