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TIPRO DISCOVERS AN OLD TRUTH AUSTIN The tone of the now famous “TIPRO memo” is aggrieved amazement that the Texas independents’ big brothers would engage in such “an exercise in duplicity” \(that is, the old ner’s office need not have been so surprised. Texas independent oil men should have realized long ago the truth of the old saw that the Democrats arc for small business and the Republicans big business. Instead they have had to learn the hard way, by getting slapped by the monopolies they thought would protect them. If you believe in competition, as liberals and Democrats do, you want the economic giants to be regulated in their methods and to pay taxes which to some extent recompense society for, the greed it tolerates from them. ‘Furthermore, the liberal’s tax policy will try to encourage small-timers, free lancers, upstarts, and even oil independents; this is simply the thought, “strength in numbers,” the countervailing power of individualism against monopoly. When Wright Patman in Washington or Dean Johnston in Austin proposes a “graduated corporation income tax,” this is exactly what they are trying to dohelp small businessmen compete with the impersonal corporate giants of New York. As the TIPRO memo itself observed, Rep. Bob Eckhardt’s gas tax on dedicated contracts was an even more direct tax of gas pipeline companies than Governor Daniel’s. “Strangely,” says the memo, “it was from the ‘liberal’ contingent that came pleas to by-pass producers and royalty owners and at least attempt to put the tax on the pipeline companies. A `conservative’ in this instance all too often meant a member dedicated to substituting a gas production tax … for a … pipeline tax.” That’s not strange at all, and the sooner Texas independents realize that “conservatism” in the real American context means “monopoly” and “riberalism” means “competition,” the sooner can Texans break free of Eastern domination and build an economy whose fruits stay among the people here. In further evidence that the liberals are the ones who have fought for, and the conservatives against, a tax on gas pipelines instead of on Texas independent producers, here are excerpts from statements by three liberals within the last three weeks on the very question: 1 Rep. Franklin Spears, the freshman liberal from San Antonio : “The issue that has kept a tax bill from passing the House was the refusal of the Senate to agree to a tax on the natural gas pipelines in place of a tax on the independent producers of gas.” In a letter to a number of independent producers in Bexar County, Spears charged that his six fellow representatives from Bexar County deserted the several hundred independent producers and royalty owners in Bexar County and voted instead with the gas pipelines. Spears pointed out that the motion to instruct the new conference committee to substitute a tax on the pipelines for a produCtion tax drew the real` issue. Spears was the only representative from Bexar County to vote for the motion. 2 Woodrow Bean, a leader of the original Gas House Gang in the House, and now the liberal county judge of El Paso: “The alternative to gas pipeline tax is a sales tax, and it’s high time the legislators who have been fighting so valiantly in this legislature got some help from those of us who have fought the past 20 years for fair taxation of the gas pipelines. “The `gashouse gangs’ of 1947, 1949, and 1951 fought valiantly to levy reasonable taxes on natural gas pipelines. We thought the battle was won in ’51 when the Sewell-Nokes gas gathering tax was adopted, but that tax went out the legal window, and now the pipeline lobbyists have regrouped and re-strengthened their forces. If the gas pipelines get by this time, the odds are good they’ll never be taxed. “The spirit that carried those determined legislators through in that fight still exists today in these legislators who are just as determined that the people of Texas will not be saddled with a sales tax while the gas pipelines continue to haul Texas gas out of the state by the billions and billions of cubic feet without paying a fair and reasonable tax to the State of Texas.” 3 Rep. Charles Hughes, Sherman liberal and’ a member of the Gas House Gang of 1951, in a report on the present. situation to the citizens of Grayson County: “The majority of the member of the House, including mysel f and my fellow representative, Tony Korioth, feel that the out-of-state gas pipeline companies who are pumping our gas to the North and East do not pay their share of the tax burden of this state. … We arc opposed by the Senate and a minority group in the House who support a general sales tax and refuse to place any sort of tax on the pipeline companies. This group is aided by the cxt remely powerful gas lobbyists and by the fact that the Speaker of the Home of Representatives, Waggoner Carr, is Nvith them. … “Although my law practice has suffered from this extended stay in Austin \(longer than anyone anticipated render to these out-of-state gas pipe line lobbyists and foreign corporations. If I have to stay in Austin till Christmas, I intend to keep voting against a general sales tax and to keep voting for a fair tax on the interstate gas pipeline companies and foreign corporations.” It remains to be seen whether TI PRO will stand firm now with their only real friendsthe Democrats, the liberals, who believe in economic competition and would prefer to tax the gas pipelines instead of the producers. If not, the independents may get it in the breadbasket again for the Eastern majors have already driven in their knives and if the liberals must finally choose between sales taxes burdening consumption and a gas production tax burdening small business, they will tax the producers, too. R.D. ce Relations In a Southern Union HOUSTON The workers of Local 2708, United Steelworkers of America, have gone on the picket line before the entrances to the big Houston plant of the Sheffield Division of the Armco Steel Corporation. There are no distinctions of race in the picket line of this integrated Southern union which now wrestles with management after having wrestled some months with itself. The U.S. Supreme Court recently, in a decision little noted publicly, in effect, absolved Local 2708 of any implications that the union discriminated against its Negro members in favor of whites. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans approved the contract entered into by Local 2708 and Sheffield Steel on May 1, 1956, affirming that it was, as the district court held, “fair and free from racial discrimination.” THE FIVE NEGROES in the local had brought suit, objecting to the contract and asking for an injunction and $500,000 damages against the union. Chris DiXie, prominent Houston labor attorney, defended the union. He established that Local 2708 had been diligent in representing fairly all members and steadily pressing the company to end past discriminatory hiring practices. It was ironic that the steelworkers, ‘ho have been among the foremost unions of the nation in fighting for fair employment practices, should have been the defendants in a lawsuit challenging their fairness and the fairness of the contract which they had approved and entered into. Since 1942, when the steel mill started operations, the union has been exclusive bargaining agent for a unit of production and maintenance workers of approximately 3,000. Of these. about 1,700 are whites and about 1,300 are Negroes. The local itself has always been integrated. The president, at present Claude Baldree, is white. Negroes hold office in. the union, including the key office of plant grievance chairman. At Sheffield, as at other steel plants, the skilled jobs were grouped together in logical sequence and called the No. 1 line ; the unskilled jobs also were grouped and called the No. 2 line. Until the contract of May 31, 1956, whites were hired into the No. 1 line ; Negroes into the No: 2 line. I N NOV., 1954, the first complaints of racial discrimination had been voiced by Negro employees who felt aggrieved because they were not allowed to “bid” on jobs in the No. 1 lines. The union started negotiations with Sheffield for contract changes permitting Negro employees to enter No. 1 lines. The negotiations were Conducted by a joint seniority committee of the union composed of two Negro and two white members. The result of. these negotiations was the May 31, 1956, agreement, after almost a year of negotiations. The racial lines were eliminated, and the agreement made other substantial changes in the company’s employmerit practices : Each bottom job in a No. 1 line was changed from a starting job, which had been subject to the company’s uncontrolled screening, to a bid job, and, in doing this, the company had to give up its right of original selection. A pool, or extra board, of white employees to fill vacancies in the No. 1 line was abolished, and employees in No. 2 lines, Negroes, were given preferential rights to fill No. 1 vacancies. There was one qualification : the employee in a No. 2 line who wanted to fill a vacancy in a No. 1 line had first to pass a qualifying test. If no employee in a No. 2 line had passed the test, then a man in the labor pool who has passed the test would be allowed to bid. But, on the other hand, new workers both white and Negro started in the labor pool, instead of only Negroes. Many Negroes felt the requirement of passing a test was unfair, although by the terms of the, contract both whites and Negroes had to pass from the labor pool, through the No. 2 line, to the No. 1 line after passing the test. Still, because of the past inequality, the effect was, they claimed, a continuation \(4 inequities because a man at the top of the No. 2 line would take a pay cut if he went into the bottom job in the No. 1 line. Also, they objected that men already in the No. 1 line didn’t have to take tests to be promoted. T HE TWO Negroes on the union committee opposed the agreement, but it was ratified by a vote ‘of 1,412 to 202 at the union meetings which considered it. About 900 Negroes attended these meetings, but a large proportion of them refused to vote either for or against the agreement, and of those who did vote, 200 cast votes against, only 14 for. About 90 Negroes since have taken the tests and passed them and gone into jobs in the once all-white No. 1 line. The court did not find any racial discrimination ; any present favoritism, it said, that may result from the operation of the contract provisions on seniority and promotion, would work in favor of the Negroes. It also saw no reason for requiring men already in the No. 1 lines, whO had been subjected to 260 hours of probation, to take tests before they could be further promoted, saying “fairness is not achieved by treating the white incumbents unfairly.” The appeals court said : “The problem before us is not unique. It is bound to come up every time a large company substitutes a program of equal job opportunity for previous discriminatory practices. In such case it is impossible to place Negro incumbents holding certain jobs, especially unskilled jobs, on an absolutely equal footing with white incumbents in skilled jobs. In this situation, time and tolerance, patience and forbear ance, compromise and accommodation are needed in solving a problem rooted deeply in custom. “We attach particular importance to the good faith of the parties in working toward a fair solution. It seems to us that the Union and the Company, with candor and honesty, acknowledged that in the past Negroes were treated unfairly in not having an opportunity to qualify for skilled jobs. After many months of negotiations … they came up with the May 31 agreement, an honest attempt to solve a difficult problem. Courts, when called upon to eye such agreements, should not be quick to ‘substitute their judgment for that of the bargaining agency on the reasonableness of the modifications.’ The Union and the Company made a fresh start for the future. Angels could do not more. IT IS UNDENIABLE that Negroes in Line 2, anxious to advance themselves to skilled jobs, are at a disadvantage compared with white incumbents in Line No. 1. This is a product of the past. We cannot turn back the clock. Unfair treatment to their detriment in the past gives the plaintiffs no claim now to be paid back by tinfair treatment in their favor.” This was the judgment of the Fifth Circuit, and the Supreme Court did not add to it, or take away from it, merely letting it stand. Only a few weeks before the steel strike started, President Baldree reported with satisfaction that the union had won a series of arbitration cases in which it demanded and got the workers in Line No. 2 Negroes mostly, although whites also are in No. 2 nowthe right to substitute temporarily in skilled jobs left open when the No. 1 line incumbents were away on vacation, sick, or otherwise unavailable. Meanwhile, the integrated picket line continues fn Houston. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page. ‘5 July 25, 1959