Texans Discuss ‘Right to Work’ Law Results AUSTIN; HOUSTON The defeat of the to-called right-to-work law in five of the six states in which it was an issue Nov. 4 provides a backdrop for an inquiry into how the law actually operates in Texas labor-management relationships. We addressed the same questions about the law to Ed Burris, executive vice president of the Texas Manufacturers’ Assn., who consulted with his staff several hours and then answered comparatively briefly, and to Jerry Holleman, president, Texas AFL-CIO, who brought along three associates for an interview over lunch. Burris, the chief spokesman for Texas industry, says union membership in Texas has increased from 110,000 in 1939 to 374,000 in 1953, while national membership rose only 192 percent the same period, which he takes as confutation of claims that the right-towork law has reduced Texas union membership. He does not have figures on union growth since the passage of the first Texas unionrestricting laws in 1947 to the present. \(Present Texas union membership is estimated by union Has the right to work law affected bargaining relationships in Texas? Burris says it has not had “any material effect upon what you might term the legitimate union operations.” In evidence he says that “12 or 14 years ago we were below the national average in wages, and today we are above the national average.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Burris adds, says that as of Sept., 1958, manufacturing average wage in Texas was $86.74, compared to $85.17 for the U.S. Does the law make strikes less likely? Not economic strikes, Burris says, but organizational strikes are definitely more difficult. “The organizational strike is designed to force an employer to unionize his employees. These are less likely in right-to-work states. You can’t force a man to join a union in right-to-work states, and thereare illegal.” Burris, after consulting with his industrial relations consultant, said that management tactics and the quantities of labor complaints submitted to arbitration and the NLRB have not increased under right to work. Sell It If Can Generally he addresses himself to the subject thusly: “The right to work statute in Texas does not subject management to forced organizational strikes, and the evil effects stemming therefrom. We feel that it enables management to have a freer hand in selection in employing their workers, and as a matter of fact, disposing of the type worker who is not qualified to do the job. “Secondly, we feel that it serves to cause union leaders to be more alert and more responsive to the needs of their members, and consequently in a better position to truly represent their members than they are their own views … and as a result management is more inclined to listen to them than they would be if that union leader had a dictatorial hand over his workers. “We in management feel that a person should be free of his own volition to join a union or not to join and that a union’s growth as such should be dependent upon the services rendered the members, and if they can’t sell a member on that basis then they should not expect him to be a member of the union. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 7 Nov. 14, 1958 “In other words, they have a service to sell. If it’s a good service they can sell it; if it isn’t, they can’t. They should pitch their organizing on that basis, and we think that right to work laws protect the individual workers against that compulsion of forcing them to join a union that he does not feel worthy of his support.” The participants in the lunch discussion were Holleman; Hank Brown, educational director of Texas AFL-CIO; Don Ellinger, area eight director, labor’s Cornmittee on Political Education \(for Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Marcus Loftis, business manager, electrical workers union local. 520, Austin, and president, State Association of Electrical Workers. Excerpts from the interview: Holleman: “It’s almost impossible to measure the effects of the law because it has a negative result. You can’t measure how many businesses would have been organized.” Since the Brown-Olds pre-hiring hall arrangements and invalidating dues collected under contracts including them, which became effective this Nov. 1, “Texas unions have had neither pre-hiring authority nor any union security.” Fear Organizing Loftis: Since Nov. 1 hiring halls are based, not on union membership, but on experience only. This weakens unionism. On a building construction job, before the rightto-work law, the “building trades idea” prevented parts of the job from going non-union, “we had the threat of pulling the union people off. But now the contractor says, ‘Hell, we don’t have to be union,’ and you can’t do anything or you’ll be sued for picketing for an illegal purpose, the closed shop.” This has had “a tremendous effect” on the contracting business. In Austin from 25 to 30 percent more construction is non-union than right after the war, and this holds true roughly for the rest of the state except for two or three unionized areas. “Most of the men going into business, too, say ‘This is a right to work state, we don’t have to be union’.” Brown: “Labor representatives themselves are almost discouraged from any efforts at organizing because of the anti-trust provisions of the state laws. There’s a $1500 a day penalty.” Holleman: “The law has caused union representatives to be very fearful of doing anything for fear of violating it. They could do more than they do legally but they don’t understand it, they’re not lawyers, there is so much fear of violating it they’re almost ineffective.” Another thing: without union security it is necessary for unions to take almost every grievance to arbitration in order to keep all the members happy, “to hang onto membership.” “This causes tremendous cost to the union and the company, and a constant foment among employees,” with the direct costs of arbitration of each case to a final conclusion ranging from $1500 a case upward. Brown: “With 17,000 employees in Convair at Fort Worth under the bargaining unit, there are 6,000 free riders. When the union representatives go to the ‘bargaining table, they do not get anywhere near the settlements they get in California because the company says, ‘If you strike, we have 6,000 loyal people’.” Holleman: “Fort Worth always has to ride the coat-tails of California.” \(The San Diego Convair plant is a union \(There was a prolonged and violence-touched wildcat strike at Lone Star Steel Co. in DaingerStar President E. B. Germany “decided he was going to take every single grievance, there were 300 or 400 of them, to arbitration, and then he refuses to comply with every judgment. Each case costs $4,000 or $5,000 to the unionthe members’ money. The union has already spent over $100,000 on the Lone Star situation and the overall cost of this dispute to the union is expected to go to a quarter of a million dollars. This is a result of a union’s insecurity. If we have the closed shop the officers can say to a member, ‘That’s tough, but under our contract you don’t have a case’.” Ellinger: “All it takes is one guy to say the union’s crawled into bed with the company. It can even be a stooge of the company to say they turned him down, ‘What did it?’ ” `Dumping’ Union Holleman: Madhinists local ‘776 in Fort Worth had 23,000 workers after the war but has only 9,000 to 11,000 now, partly because of a reduction in force. “A union that size ought to have five million dollars in the treasury, but they don’t because they’ve spent it contending cases involving members. It’s a cost to the members, and all cost to the company is part of the cost of production.” How many members has rightto-work cost Texas unions? Holleman: “Any guess would be a wild guess. But we have not been able to do anything in Texas, largely because of right-to-work, with retail trades, office employees, hotel and restaurant workersthat category. Potentially in Texas there are half a million in this category in intrastate trade. If the right to work law kept only ten percent Van Cliburn, in a Dallas press I I conference, criticized the State Department for restricting the movement of Russian artists about the U. S. “It is always bad to me when the world places art in the same category as politics,” he said. “It seems to me that the United States and Russia are playing cat and mouse. Well, we can see why the Russians are doing it. Their revolution is comparatively new, and they are nervous. But it seems to me, since our own revolution is almost 200 years old, that we should be more sophisticated about those matters than the Russians.” IT An honorary degree of doctor of humanities was conferred on Van Cliburn at Baylor University \(he did not go to college but studied at Julliard school of Van Cliburn played Tschiakowsky’s No. 1; he and his father gave Baylor $10,000 for a symphony fund, and he returned his $4,000 musican’s fee in four scholarships, one each honoring his great-grandfather, who taught math at Baylor; his grandfather, a Baylor graduate and legislator; his grandmother, an actress; and his mother. IT Dallas Civic Opera Co., threat ened, then called off a gambit into New York for a stand in an off-Broadway theater with opera star Maria Callas, fired by the Metropolitan Opera Co. The singer, in the midst of perfor mances in Dallas, said the Met director, Rudolph Bing, wanted her to sing two performances of “La Traviata” between two cf “Macbeth.” “I cannot switch voices like an elevator,” she said. Dallas opera officials said they might from the union, that would be 50,000. Certainly it has kept out some. Take Scarbrough’s Department Store as a case \(an example merce. Say you try to get them signed up. Most of their workers a r e semi-skilled; almost a n y woman in Austin with personality can replace them. Say 100 percent sign up. Say then the company says no. The workers have two choices, forget it or strike. They ‘strike. Scarbrough’s can fire them and hire othersthere is no protection of the striking workers in intrastate commerce. Suppose, though, they sign the contract. Turnover is heavy and you have to keep getting new members. And there’s no certification. If they get tired of the contract, they dump the people under it and hire new peopleno more contract. They just say to hell with the union. There is no law that they have an obligation to bargain with a majority of the workers … If we had a little NLRB in Texas, a majority could vote for a union, and then management must bargain in good faith with the union as the bargaining agent.” Ellinger: “In the garment industry, as an example, there are any number of chances for favoritism.” You can give a worker in the union a different color of thread and ‘thus require him to change it; since a worker is not paid for this changing time, a union member can be penalized $2.50 to $3 a day this way. “Every union we’ve got, we earnednobody gave it to us.” Holleman: “The whole issue is whether collective bargaining is an individual or a majority right. The right to work says it is individual or collective. But in. 1954 Parkhouse’s S. B. 45 said that to use any of the traditional weapons of the employee, the workers must have a majority they cannot strike or picket without it. It’s the challenge New York someday but not just yet. IT University of Texas put on the air Austin’s third hi-fi radio station with the first half of an Austin Symphony Orchestra concert. IT Forty Austin People formed the Austin Professional Artists group, named seven committees, and set a discussion session on “The Client.” The Way of Life IT Texas Company announced that its 175 scholarships include one to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. The $1500 grant will be used in St. Mary’s Great Teachers Program. IT Mary Matthews, describing the jazz dancing her dancing school offers, told the Houston Post: “You see, in jazz… well, you sometimes push your hips forward and exaggerate your movements. You might say it’s a combination of everything, only exaggerated… Some people say you wiggle too much this way. But then some people oppose any kind of dancing.” Clark Kinnaird, San Antonio Light book reviewer, is contemptuous of Nobel Prize winner Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago: “more an expression of what Pasternak wanted to be than what he was”; “Zhivago is Pasternak playing Walter Mitty”; the book was printed as a result “of an Italian communist’s courage, not Pasternak’s.” individual’s rightbut to use the weapons, it’s a majority right! Individual rights are fine until it comes to enforcing them.” Ellinger: Right-to-work “weakens labor’s ability to defend itself. One of the big objectives of the proponents of the law is to keep us so tied up we can’t be effective organizing.” Brown: If, say, carpenters on a construction job refuse to work with “cheap labor,” they can be sued under the Texas breach of contract law for interrupting a work project where their grievance is not with the employer, but the employer does not come under the breach. of contract. “In 1948 or 1949, W. J. Hamilton of Hamilton Plumbing Co. in San Antonio tore up the union contract in my presence, and there was no recourse for our union against him. The new contract had been signed by the association he belonged to with plumbers and pipefitters’ local 142. I can tell you four or five others like that Christie Plumbing Co., in San Antonio, in 1948, and Favella Plumbing Co., in 1949. The association they had given their power of attorney to negotiate with the union agreed to a 12.5 cent wage increase, they just went open shop.” Loftis: “That’s the psychological effect of the right to work law. These non-union people who are working under right to work law benefits, it’s costing them from $4 to $10 a day to work non-union. The benefits of the right-to-work law …” Ellinger: “The right to work f or less.” Brown: “The main things are the employers’ resistance to un
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