Wednesday, May 29, 1946

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, May 29, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senator Scott Lucas told his Senate colleagues that the coal strike would be settled the afternoon of this date. After meeting with the UMW policy committee, John L. Lewis had no comment.

Basic terms on which the Government and the UMW were said to be in agreement included change from a six-day work week to a five-day, 45-hour week (which included a previously negotiated hour per day for travel time in the shaft), and an increase in pay of 18 cents per hour to a net of $59.25 per week, compared to the previous $63.50 per week for 54 hours of work. Also agreed upon was provision for two welfare funds, one to be financed by the operators on the basis of a nickel per ton of coal mined and administered jointly by the operators and UMW, the other, to be administered solely by the union, funded by current payroll deductions, exclusively devoted to health care. Other provisions covered mine safety standards, and inspection of housing and sanitation facilities by an impartial body.

Meanwhile, it was announced that the contract of the anthracite coal miners, set to expire at midnight the following day, would not be accepted by UMW for another year, and the 76,000 miners in that industry would strike.

A poll of 63 Senators showed 45 were opposed to the proposed drafting of labor provision of the President's bill put forward Saturday in his address to a joint session of Congress. Only 18 were for it. A majority only required 48 votes, with the vacancy of Senator Carter Glass, who had died the previous day. It was likely that an early resolution to the coal strike would provide the additional votes necessary to defeat the proposal, already passed by the House.

The House passed the Senate's version of the Case strike-control bill, and sent it to the President for signature. The strict Case bill originally passed by the House had been considerably toned down by the Senate, only creating a Federal mediation board and providing for a 60-day cooling off period prior to calling a strike, during which time the mediation board would seek to resolve the dispute. It also provided for loss of collective bargaining rights by anyone engaging in violence during a strike and banned secondary strikes, with a like loss of bargaining rights and re-employment rights. It also established fact-finding boards and penalized workers interfering with the movement of goods in interstate commerce. Among other things, it banned employer contributions to welfare funds exclusively administered by unions—which would nix part of the terms on which agreement was said to have been reached in the coal strike.

In Philadelphia, 370 striking newspaper delivery truck drivers, belonging to a Teamsters affiliate, voted to end their fourteen-day strike. The strike had caused the city to be without its three major newspapers.

In Rochester, N.Y., the citywide sympathy strike, touched off by a City bus drivers' strike, was, as expected, resolved. The strike came from the announcement that the City was abolishing 489 jobs in the Public Works Department.

In London, over 25,000 employees of the English Electric Company walked off the job for a day in protest of the firing of a union spokesman at the company's Liverpool factory.

In Landsberg, Germany, the U.S. Army hung 28 Nazi war criminals, convicted for the systematic murder of 300,000 prisoners at Dachau. Fourteen were hanged this date and another fourteen the previous day.

Martin Gottfried Weiss, commandant of the camp who had once been a prisoner, had been hopeful of an Army reprieve which never came. He claimed that he had done everything he could to make life comfortable for the prisoners. He proclaimed that he was giving his life for Germany, just before the rope snapped his neck.

Another of the executed was Dr. Klaus Karl Schilling who experimented with 1,200 prisoners, injecting them with malarial immunization, causing the deaths of at least 400, mostly Polish priests. He had requested of the tribunal time to complete his experiments.

The hangings took place near the cell block from which Adolf Hitler had written Mein Kampf.

The State Department indicated that it would send a ship to Bilbao, Spain, to transport 2,205 Nazis back to Germany, in response to an assurance by the Franco Government that it intended such deportation. Spain had balked, however, for lack of transportation. The assurance came in the face of a Polish-Russian-French complaint to the U.N. Security Council that the Franco Government was harboring German scientists to conduct research on weapons, threatening the peace.

Secretary of State Byrnes told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the United States intended to work for limitation of arms among the nations of the world. Mr. Byrnes had denied the charges leveled against him by Russian Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov, that at the Paris four-power conference of foreign ministers, the Secretary of State had joined with the British to form a bloc against Russia, frustrating agreement on reparations and treaties, and that the Secretary's suggestion of leaving to the U.N. final formulation of the treaties ran counter to the Potsdam Agreement of July, 1945.

The British military Governor of Germany, Air Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, announced a new policy toward Germans in the British occupation zone, giving Germans responsibility in the sector for distributing coal from the Ruhr.

The flooding of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and New York continued to claim lives, thirteen having drowned and four others missing, after a cloudburst Monday night had swollen the river well beyond flood stage. At Wilkes-Barre, the river had reached nine feet above flood stage. Flooding was also reported in the Pennsylvania capital at Harrisburg. Elmira, N.Y. was also heavily flooded.

Traffic deaths for April totaled 2,650 in the United States, 47 percent higher than the same month in 1945, complementing the 10,770 deaths since the beginning of the year, 45 percent higher than a year earlier, the result of the end of gas rationing and consequent abandonment of the nationwide 35 mph speed limit, compounded by the poor condition of older cars, with few new ones on the road since early 1942.

In a strange case out of the Florida Everglades, the Seminole Tribal Council brought before it a seventeen-year old Seminole girl accused of falling in love with a white boy, heap-'em pale face, and becoming pregnant by him. She was brought before the mystic annual "Green Corn Dance" to hear her fate.

A lawyer for the tribe said that the verdict of the council would likely never be known as the girl would most probably "disappear in the vast wilderness of sawgrass and cypress swamps."

We think that we may have seen that movie, set in Georgia.

What would happen to her, he continued, would never be known, as she would be likely driven out to live with the whites, a sentence worse than death for a Seminole.

The Seminoles, he explained, lived by the Mosaic Law of an eye for an eye, the old law of the Yukon. The death penalty was exacted in the tribe for murder, for instance, by the same means as the murder had been committed, gun for gun, knife for knife, bat for bat, arrow for arrow, etc.

They forbade marriage to a pale face. But her worst sin was emotion for the white boy. Tribal law require stolid indifference to white boy, heap-'em indifference.

In any event, it appears as another case, as Heywood Broun once recounted, of "you big: quit us".

We hope the Gators didn't get her down there in the Everglades, once the Seminoles got through with her.

On the editorial page, "So There Ought to Be a Law...." discusses the public outrage against labor in the coal and rail strikes, demanding passage of legislation to curb the ability of organized labor in large industries to paralyze the nation. But the question was the type of legislation to be passed. The President's request for emergency legislation would only meet such circumstances as presently crippled the country, but would not work in the more usual case to provide labor as well as management with responsibilities in the collective bargaining process, with public welfare maintained as an overriding interest.

The President's plan, in seeking power to draft labor into Government-seized industries, appeared to smack of conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition against involuntary servitude in trying to uphold the General Welfare Clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. (Of course, a grant of a power by the Constitution could never logically trump a specific prohibition of the document; otherwise, there might as well not be the First and Fourth Amendments, for instance, specifically limiting governmental power. Promoting the "general welfare" could otherwise always be used to try to justify laws violating those proscriptions and requirements. It was, indeed, unlikely that the President's call for a draft of labor, had it ever been passed, was Constitutional. The specific power to raise and support armies is granted to Congress under Article I, Section 12. Thus, the effort to analogize to the military draft was not well taken, even if the ostensible effort was to draft striking labor into the military so that, pursuant to Army or Navy orders, they could then be impressed into work, a roundabout method of simply drafting labor directly, the transparency of which was likely not to be lost on the courts, giving rise to the question as to whether the Government could do indirectly what it could not, directly. But see Butler v. Perry, 240 U.S. 328 (1916), albeit decided on facts very different from drafting labor into a Government-seized private industrial concern—and thirty years and oceans of time having passed since 1916. As there was no common law antecedent at the time of the Founding for drafting labor under such circumstances, the Butler rationale would not have worked to justify the action, being limited to the specific circumstance of compulsory labor to maintain the public roads, a concept which was, itself, no longer acceptable to the world of 1946, considered by then too Draconian even as a punitive measure. Moreover, there would also have remained the question, had the draft provision been given effect and masses continued to strike, of what, once the strike had ended, would have become of the draftee-employees after being impressed into work via the military. How would the railroads have been run, with the employees then consigned to military service following settlement of the strike? It is likely, given the presence of Fred Vinson, Tom Clark, and James Byrnes among his key legal advisers, that the President used this proposal as a bluff under the exigent circumstances then prevailing rather than an intended reality.)

The piece advocates, as had Representative Sam Ervin, a comprehensive labor code to be enforced by the courts, distinguishing between strikes which did not imperil the public interest and those which did.

It required a distinction between the railroad strike and a "dispute between rival labor unions in Hollywood over the construction of false bosoms for movie actresses", the latter being one which "could continue into the next century without harming that mythical character, the average citizen".

But in between the two extremes, the railroads and the false bosoms, were thousands of other labor situations less obvious, which would need be governed by regulation defining the public peril. Legislation could not aim at a given industry, as coal, because there were times when a strike would not cause harm to the public.

The question also arose as to the type of penalty to be exacted, such as heavy fines from the union treasury. Obviously, jailing thousands of striking workers was impracticable.

The editorial agrees that Congress ought pass enduring legislation, but not the sort of hurried legislation passed in the heat of anger and frustration on the previous Saturday afternoon by the House.

Query what would happen today if all of Silicon Valley suddenly walked off the job? Just a thought, for some reason.

"He Was Also a Statesman" comments on the passing of Senator Carter Glass of Virginia at age 88 the previous day. FDR had called him an unreconstructed rebel, as he was. He had refused to surrender his seat in the Senate to a more able man despite having been unable to conduct business since June, 1942 and despite many in his native state and in his party prevailing upon him to do so.

In his younger days, he had been called a militant liberal, but nevertheless, led a crusade against the New Deal. Its promised tampering with the money system had caused him to refuse an appointment as Secretary of the Treasury in 1933, a post he had held from 1918-1920 under President Wilson. Yet he had co-sponsored the legislation in 1913 to create the Federal Reserve System, as radical in those times as anything FDR ever put forward.

It concludes that history would reward Senator Glass for the acts of the first two-thirds of his public career, not the last dozen years or so, and trusted that it would accord him an estimable place, as he had been a "great public servant".

"Ambassador, Come Home With Me Now" comments upon the statement during commencement exercises at Boston University by its president, Dr. Daniel L. Marsh, criticizing the U.N. delegations for excessive consumption of alcohol.

But Mort Green, the U.N.'s bartender in the Hunter College bar established for the benefit of the members, had begged to differ, explaining that profits were so meager that consideration had been given to closing the bar. It quotes his statements, quoted on the front page Monday, regarding the skimpy profits, as low as ten cents gross daily, the largest single day's take having been but $30, mostly for orange juice, the orange and green drinks going for a quarter and the Cokes for a dime.

"Those diplomats drive me crazy drinking all that orange stuff. We have to keep pitchers full ahead."

The piece finds the conclusions to which Dr. Marsh had jumped were easy, that Demon Rum was the root of all the world's problems, regardless of differing ideologies and international suspicions.

It concludes, however, based on Mr. Green's statements, that the delegates "might as well be drunk as the way they are."

Of course, if the Russians brought their own to go with the orange juice, and the Jamaicans, for the Coke...

Drew Pearson reports that on Saturday, hidden by the labor news, the Senate Banking & Currency Committee had effectively buried price control, eliminating all price controls on meat, dairy products, and poultry. The amendment putting forth the exemption on meat passed 10 to 8, with only two Democrats aligning in support, Senators Ernest McFarland of Arizona and Edward Carville of Nevada. The vote was 9 to 8 for the other two exemptions, Senator McFarland, the key proponent of the amendments, being the deciding vote. The controls were set to be removed on June 30, Senator McFarland's attempt to have it wait until October for implementation being cast aside for its tendency to cause cattlemen and farmers to wait until they could get higher prices before putting their product on the market.

He next reports that John W. Snyder, the President's right-hand man, was principally responsible for the fumbling in the labor strike negotiations. He had told the Reconversion Advisory Committee several weeks earlier that there was nothing about which to be worried in the coming coal strike, that it would last all of ten days. He thus advised that the miners be allowed to strike without Government intervention.

Mr. Snyder's advice had trumped that of Secretary of the Treasury Fred Vinson, Secretary of State Byrnes, and DNC chairman Robert Hannegan, each advising the President that prompt action was desirable to meet head-on the prospect of strikes in vital industries.

The hard-drinking Mr. Snyder had a philosophy of procrastination, similar to that of President Hoover, exactly opposite to that of President Roosevelt and the men in his Cabinet.

People wondered what hold Mr. Snyder had on the President. Some speculated that it was because they had endured hard times together, or because they had served in the Missouri National Guard together. Mr. Hannegan had tried and failed to get Mr. Snyder out of the White House. But, as with his friendship to Kansas City Boss Tom Pendergast, who had given the President his start in politics, Mr. Truman placed personal loyalty ahead of the national welfare.

Mr. Pearson notes that the widely accepted notion that Mr. Snyder had been a major banker was false. He had worked as a vice-president of the St. Louis First National Bank for two years, only obtaining that job with the help of Secretary of Commerce and RFC chairman Jesse Jones, for whom Mr. Snyder had worked until 1943, after obtaining a job in Government in the Comptroller General's Office in 1930. Prior to that, Mr. Snyder had been a bank teller and cashier in Arkansas.

Harold Ickes, appearing again on the editorial page because of the newsprint shortage resulting from the coal strike, gives praise to Ralph K. Davies, Deputy Petroleum Administrator for War, for his singular effort in insuring that adequate supplies of gasoline were produced and transported to the military fronts during the war. Without it, the war could not have been won.

Mr. Ickes and Mr. Davies both had insisted on construction of the Big Inch, the major oil pipeline from the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma to the East Coast, to make up for the lack of available oil transports by sea, utilized in military service and hampered by U-boat traffic in the Atlantic in the early phases of the war. The Little Inch, the smaller line, then followed. Both pipelines, he suggests, saved thousands of American, British, and Russian lives.

After gasoline rationing was lifted immediately following V-J Day, the Petroleum Administration for War was systematically and efficiently liquidated, with all, save one, of its oil men being smoothly re-employed in their old civilian positions or higher positions.

Ironically, Mr. Davies was the only man, despite universal recognition of his outstanding job, who had been offered only a lesser position by his pre-war employer, Standard Oil of California. Mr. Ickes believes that the reaction of his old employer, in addition to it being fueled by jealousy, was because Mr. Davies had been scrupulously honest during his wartime service to the country and had not given any slight advantage to Standard Oil.

He concludes by relating that President Truman had given Mr. Davies the Medal of Merit, while Standard Oil gave him the Double-Cross.

Marquis Childs discusses the strike situation, recalling the general strike in Britain of twenty years earlier, proving nearly an unmitigated disaster for organized labor. The short-lived rail strike had driven home to the American middle class its stake in the outcome of the labor strife.

In the earlier British strike, the Tories, led by Winston Churchill, had sought to convince the public that it was led by revolutionaries bent on overthrow of the Government and the Constitution. The strikers were not revolutionaries, but the middle class reaction had been similar to that in the United States recently.

For a strike with limited objectives to be successful, it needed the support of the middle class. The railroad unions and UMW had ignored this precept. A. F. Whitney and Alvanley Johnston had never sought to present the plight of the railroad workers to the public; nor, for that matter, had John L. Lewis for the miners. It smacked of the old era of Samuel Gompers, no longer acceptable.

As a result of the British strike, the workers were subjected to vindictive action when they returned to work. In 1927, Parliament passed the restrictive Trade Union Disputes Act, preventing collaboration between unions and formation of union locals.

If the President's proposed bill similarly were passed vindictively, then there would likely be no industrial peace.

Samuel Grafton writes from Vicksburg, Mississippi, still touring the Deep South with Ilya Ehrenburg, visiting Soviet journalist. Mr. Grafton was trying to explain to the Russian writer the concept of States' rights as a check on Federal power. Mr. Ehrenburg responded by analogizing the conception to the Anarchists during the Spanish Civil War, in one town, cutting the rail line so that supplies could not reach the front. It demonstrated to Mr. Grafton how Mr. Ehrenburg would seek to take a concept and explain it via concrete examples which were remote, yet also, in some respects, proximal to the point.

In one town, he had responded to a reporter's question asking how he had reacted to Winston Churchill's "iron curtain" speech of March in Fulton, Mo., by relating that he was in Smolensk when the news came, and Smolensk was a town which had but four houses standing after the war, where people had to read news, for shortage of newsprint nationwide, pasted to the walls of ruins.

When a mother of 25 children assembled six of them before him in a Louisiana sharecropper's shack and bragged that they were all regularly attending school, he asked them to name one Russian city, failing which, he abandoned the subject of education.

He would counter questions regarding his impression of the American free press, with observations that much of it was anti-Soviet.

His mind constantly gravitated from the generalized ideal to the specific instance.

"Isn't it good for the American press to be free? But is it good for it to be tendentiously anti-Soviet? The two questions come out of different worlds: and the differences in the room are more than those of language."

There is no edition of The News available for May 30, 1946, and so we take our leave until Friday.

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