-g1& EYES orrp ARE up* You Labor: A Dated Anti-Union Fixation None of the great industrial states of the country can be described as anti-union, yet antiunion Texas hopes to become a great industrial state. Virtually all of the great heavy industries are unionized, yet Texas at once solicits their entry into Texas and persecutes the accompanying unions. Businessmen in the industrial north, east, and west have accepted unions as a part of the economic life for a decade or two; Texas businessmen still think in terms of labor bosses and “the CM.” Until Texas accepts unions, Texas cannot become truly industrialized; or, as Texas becomes industrialized, Texas will become unionized. THE STATE is neglecting to col lect $1.5 million every year which is available to it under the federal vocational rehabilitation program for injured workers. To get the money it must put up half the amount. As of now, according to J. J. Brown, head of the vocrehab section of the Texas Education Agency, Texas is 49th among the 49 states in per capita expenditures for the restoration of hurt workers to usefulness. “We are rehabilitating 2,000 a year nowwe ought to be rehabilitating 10,000,” he told the Observer. The State Board of Education recommended $902,000 for the division; but Gov. Daniel cut the figure back to $560,000. The higher figure, should be appropriated Delete ‘Legitimate’ The Texas Federation of Business a n d Professional Women’s Clubs, in convention in Dallas, advocated deleting the word “legitimate” from Texas birth certificates because it is “insulting to those who are and punitive to those who are not.” This vestige of punishing children of unmarried parents should be done away with. End State’s Privilege “Permission to sue the state” bills clog the calendars of the House and Senate every session. The requirement that citizens get permission from the legislature before they can bring lawsuits against the state was modified, but not substantially, last session. The state has no right to this political protection from lawsuits, just or unjust. It is argued that many citizens would bring irresponsible suits because the state is rich. Corporations are rich too and have no such buffer protecting them from legal action. Requiring citizens to obtain permission to sue the state often requires them to place themselves in debt to politicians in the legislature or to forego justified litigation because of unwillingness to do so. ‘Ambulance Chasers’ The legal profession metes out harsh punishment to lawyers who solicit the business of injured persons. This often leaves the victims of accidents at the mercy of the insurance adjusters. Since some insurance agents lack professional scruples against persuading injured people to sign away their claims for pittances before they have obtained legal advice, izinglawyers approaching injured persons to advise them of their adjusters from approaching injured persons until seven days from the time they become physically able to go see a lawyer. along with money to claim the federal funds. Economy with federal funds at the expense of maimed workers hardly d o es credit to Texas. AN INDUSTRIAL SAFETY LAW for all Texas places of work is such an obvious need, it seems strange that it needs to be argued. The Texas Manufacturers’ Assn.. , killed the House-passed Hughes bill in the Senate last year. With 997 deaths and 402,000 injuries every yearand with countless millions of dollars lost to industry and to workersit is social insanity \(not to say mayhem by set up a state safety program on a voluntary compliance basis. \(We give up the idea of penalties for violations: on reflection, it ought not to be a crime simply to fail as well as such enlightened moderates as James P. Hart, are emphatic about the need for this program. Since industrial safety and industrial accidents are sides of the same coin, one consolidated agency should be able to handle them both. THE MOST NEEDED innovation in Texas for working people of all kinds is a minimum wage law. Realists in union leadership do not foresee the passage of such a law soon; nevertheless, it is the one step which would do the most Blindfolded Juries Under present laws regulat ing damage ‘cases, a lawyer is not permitted to tell a jury that the true defendant is an insurance company instead of say, the aging truck driver with four children. The jury, denied the right to know the truth about who will pay the damages it allows, if it allows any, is required by law to decide such cases veritably blindfolded \(“Don’t Skid in Texas,” defense is that juries will soak insurance companies if they know they’re involved. But if juries cannot be trusted with the relevant truth, who can? Similarly, a lawyer cannot tell a jury that a consequence of its finding a person guilty of DWI is mandatory foss of drivers’ license for six months. The legal reason is technical. The legislature should take these two blindfolds off Texas juries. Another Jury Fraud The state law of compara tive negligence, if properly represented to us by a competent attorney in a large Dallas firm, also leans heavily against the victims of injuries. We quote the attorney: “In Texas, no matter how negligent the defendant in a negligence lawsuit may be, if the plaintiff is in the last way , negligent, which is almost always the case, and that negligence is one of the proximate causes of the injury complained of, the plaintiff may not recover. That is, as far as protecting the interest of the lay public, bad law; however, what is even worse, the jury that passes upon these questions of negligence are completely unaware of the effect of their verdict. It is generally the rule that the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff with a certain amount of damages, but, unwittingly, they also find that the plaintiff committed some act of negligence, and thereby deprive him of recovering anything.” to improve living conditions among unorganized workers. When one remembers that domestic workers \(who may have must work for $15 or $20 a week; that kitchen workers in restaurants are lucky at $35; that clerks in retail stores are most fortunate at $40; when one restores to its jagged pedestal in the social conscience the fact that hundreds of thousands of farm workers are exploited for 50 cents an hour and lessthen the minimum wage begins to glow as an objective far mere vital than improvements in the bargaining position of organized workers already earning ‘respectable wages. As long as racism retains its domain in official legislative policy, there are no means by which legislators committed to segregation but humanely intending can assist the underpriviliged races except by welfare measures, and especially a state minimum wage. The sum would of course be set by legislative give a n d take we would favor $1.25 an hour and would be pleased with $1. Agriculture should be specifically included, as in eight states \(Obs. \(Thirty two states have minimum wage laws. Employees in retail stores, restaurants, hotels, beauty shops, laundries, and other local establishments generally Comparative negligence, on the other hand, requires the defendant to pay for his percentage of negligence after it has been determined by the jury. Obviously this would be more just. Womens’ Rights We see no justification for Texas law denying women rights men have with respect to effecting contracts, disposing of community property, and so on.. Not the patriarchal family tradition, but the right of each family to decide how to manage its own affairs, is the issue. True, a woman might make a mess of things, but men are reported to have made occasional mistakes in ancient tribal societies. Mixed Drinks We do not approve of the Texas law of local option on prohibition, since prohibition itself is an impingement against personal rights. Since the prospect for repealing the law is remote, however, we advocate, al must look to the state laws for minimum wage protection, “State Minimum Wage Laws,” U. S. Dept. TO STRENGTHEN the unions upon whom rest the responsibilities of expanding union organization in Texas, anti-union state laws should be abandoned and the state should become an impartial mediator of labor-management disputes by enactment of “a Little Taft-Hartley law” \(similar to the one defeated in the to-work” law should be replaced with an agency shop law authorizing the withholding of dues from all workers for support of the union activity \(which beneshop has been agreed on by the union majority and management, but not requiring workers formally to join the union if they object to doing so. State legislation against union racketeering in unions under state authority would be appropriate if written without secondary antiunion motives. In its contracting work the state should pay, not “prevailing wages,” but the union scale. Like the federal government in the New Deal, it should officially encourage new unionization and union pay scales on the theory that more unions are needed in Texas at this point in our industrial development. ternately, the extension of the local option custom to let local areas vote to permit the sale of mixed drinks. You Set Your Own Pay? , Sen. Frank Owen, El Paso, and other far west legislators tem under which justices of the peace keep for themselves a portion of the fines they levy. We agree that such arrangements should be prohibited. Open Banks Saturdays The legislature r e c e n t l y passed a law permitting ‘banks to close on Saturdays if they wish. Now of course most of them do. This is an inconvenience to working people who have to cut into their lunch hour to do their banking, as well as to small businessmen who like to make their depositi Saturday morning. The law should be repealed, the banks required to open Saturday mornings. Fenced Rivers, Beaches If fences are not to be driven down the beaches and into the tidewaters of the Gulf of Mexico, if every river is not to be high-wired away from the public’s enjoyment, the legislature must initiate a study of recent court decisions and land fencing patterns and enact legislation to preserve for public use as many natural camping and fishing sites as possible. Severe Speeding Penalty A law should be passed af ter the Connecticutt model jerking the licenses of drivers for speeding for lengthening periods as offenses recur; simultaneously, the legal rate for fourlane superhighways should be raised to 70. Protect Teachers’ Tenure State law should protect the tenure of all school teachers and should insulate them from reprisals because of their poli tical activities away from the classroom. As long as “prevailing wages” are paid by the state, they should be set only after public hearings. WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION should be raised to 60% of the worker’s real weekly wages before incapacitation, 1. e., about testifying in workmen’s corgip claim suits should be paid, not bY insurance companies or the workers, but by the Industrial Accident Board, to discourage the development of lackey “company doctors” or “union doctors.” Unemployment compensation benefits should be raised and extended to more nearly approach an unemployed man’s needs, and the fund should be regarded, not as trust money, but as an insurance reserve for the adequate payment of just claims. A LAW THE TIMES PASSED BY From “Workmen’s Compensation in Texas” Obs. 11-12-56 and “Hurt Workers Lose Ground” 11-21-56, a series based on an 81-page report by Sam Barton, professor of economics at North Texas State College, Denton: Every year 600 to 900 workers are killed at work in Texas; nearly a quarter of a million are hurt on the job. Yet the state’s Industrial Accident Board “merely processes the administrative decisions of the employers and insurance companies,” Barton found. In 1933 the legislature passed a law assuring injured workers 60 percent of their pay or a cash maximum during the period of disability. Since then the cash maximum has come to be the mils; and the average injured worker gets only a third of his regular pay$25 a week at the most. Sometimes there is a cash settlement added by the board. Barton concludes that because of the unwillingness of some employers and companies to fulfill their legal obligations, coupled with the board’s policies, many workers are denied compensation until they appeal to the courts. “The statistical evidence very strongly indicates the dominance of the insurance companies in board decisions,” he said. “The financial settlements obtained \(by suits are substantially more generous than the board award.” On the average, the court settlements in a random sample Barton took were nearly three times as large as the board’s earlier awards. The role of the “compensation doctor” appears to be as partisan as that of the compensation lawyer, Barton said, “despite the fact that the doctor is supposedly objective and the lawyer frankly partisan.” An injured workman, Barton said, not only suffers physically, but through loss of income, ex-. penses just when he loses ability to meet them, loss of employability, upset living routines, loss of status in his family, repossession of goods, loss of family savings, children going to work. When a worker goes to court over a board award, the disability payments terminate. This obviously increases the economic pressure on the worker at the very time he has undertaken the expense of a law suit. Barton documents numerous
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