Brown and Root which is blatantly antiunion and refusing to invest in companies that have poor safety and health records? And even using pension funds to invest in industries like the Youngstown company. Marshall: We are exploring that under ERISA \(Employee Retirement Inpartment has responsibility for protecting the pension funds and making the rules under which they can be reinvested . . . See, the basic purpose of the pension fund is to make it possible for workers to have pensions when they retire. And if you took those funds and just invested them in anything and ignored the return, well then you wouldn’t protect the pension rights. It was a thing that the AFL-CIO is concerned about. And that we are concerned about. I have had our people in ERISA examining the extent to which we can permit the investment of pension funds in things that the workers want to invest in, or to avoid investing in antiunion firms, for example, and still be compatible with the law. My own view is that you can do it. It becomes a legal question, it seems to me . . . What can we do under the law. Plus a conceptual question, in that the law requires that funds be used for the sole benefit of the beneficiaries. And not the trustees or anybody else. Now the question then becomes: what do you mean by the benefit of the beneficiaries? If by that you include the maintenance of their employment in union firms, then you’ve obviously got a broader definition, which I think we ought to have, than the narrow definiton . .. only where you get the greatest return. Observer: It was the use of pension funds that helped isolate J. P. Stevens. There were . . . boycotts and the bad publicity, but it was the pressure on Manufacturers Hanover and some of these other companies’ \(board of direcMarshall: What the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union did was to bring a variety of pressures. And I think that, until we get labor law reform, you know, until you make the penalties for violation of the law more meaningful, those kinds of things will be the things that unions have to do. Observer: Do you foresee any changes in the make-up of the workforce in the South in the wake of J. P. Stevens? Marshall: I think there are a number of things happening there. Not just J. P. Stevens. I think one of the most significant things besides the J. P. Stevens decision that will change the prospect for union growth in the South was, well, one was the Newport News Drydock case, where the Steelworkers organized one of the biggest non-union operations. The company refused to bargain and then the union brought action to get them to bargain. Now they bargained and .. . they got a contract. Observer: When you say they brought action, do you mean through the National Labor Relations Board? Marshall: Through the NLRB, as well as a strike . . . But while all those things are important, and while you can expect unions to continue to do that, there are a number of changes in the South that will make it possible for them to organize. One, of course, is the great decline in agricultural employment in the South, which was always the reservoir of strikebreakers for the low-wage industries . . . See, union membership is growthe rest of the country. In the 10 years from 1966 to 1976, union membership outside the South grew something like 6 percent, and in the South something like 38 percent. And just the growth of industry . . . as well as the decline in some of the historiwas the feeling by the leadership of the South that you had to do anything you could to attract industry. And one of the reasons for the passage of the so-called right-to-work law it didn’t have anything to do with union security if you look at all the arguments that were used. They rarely mention the anti-union security provision of the laws. The main thing they mentioned was that if you pass this law it will help you attract industry in the South . . . Now the kind of industry you’re likely to get through advertising an anti-union position is low-wage, marginal industry that’s not likely to be good for the region anyway. Observer: in the South have absolutely fought against high-wage industries paying union wages coming in. Marshall: See, that’s what I mean. If you’re motivated mainly by this kind of anti-union attitude, you’re likely to get the wrong kind of industry . . . To get the high-wage industry that can significantly improve the conditions of the people now, that’s going on .. . There’s an upgrading in the kind of industry that has come into the South. Observer: What kind? Marshall: Well, the whole petroleum refining complex, for example. Pulp and paper manufacturers, which all tends to be union. There will be a lot of construction work in the South, which is more likely to be union. Especially the commercial and industrial construction . . . I think the absolute union membership in the South will continue to rise and therefore form the base for expansion. I don’t think there’s anything inevitable about it. But I think, from my perspective, the thing that is most important is that the workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively, or to refrain from it. But the choice ought to be there. And if the unions don’t convince workers that they’ve got something to gain by being union members, then they won’t grow. They have to do that. The thing that I object to is, when workers express their desire for collective bargaining because the penalties are so weak under the National Labor Relations Act now that you can get a company like J. P. Stevens that resists for years. In other words, what they can do and have done, is to make a conscious calculation that it’s cheaper to disobey the law than to obey it because the penalties were so weak. Observer: Let me ask you about the changing face of the American workforce. You’re seeing workers coming, of course, from Mexico, from Central America, Asia, Cuba. At the same time, we’re seeing a lot of American companies going to some of those same countries from which the workers are leaving. What can be done? Marshall: I think a lot can be done; I’m not sure what will be done. Observer: The New York Times has done these stories about slavery and peonage, which is shocking .. . Marshall: What I think we ought to do is whatever we can do. One of the reasons the New York Tittles finds out about these stories is because we are enforcing the law. And I think that, regardless of what we do about immigration policy, this department should enforce the labor laws. And avoid peonage and . . . take the profit out of the exploitation of workers regardless of where they come from. We have started strike forces to go where we know that the undocumented workers are being hired and require that all the labor laws be enforced. One of the important things to us is if you have people who are easily exploited it’s hard to enforce the labor laws. We rely very heavily on complaints by workers. And therefore if they’re afraid to complain then it’s hard for us to enforce the law. So what we do, when we suspect that the foreign workers are being hired, is not to wait for complaints . . . is to put together strike forces to go in there and THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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