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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1921.
BOARD OF MEDIATION AND CONCILIATION.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARTIN A. KNAPP, UNITED STATES
FOR PAYMENT OF SALARIES, INVENTORY OF PROPERTY, ETC. The CHAIRMAN. Judge, for some time, as you, of course, are aware, the Board of Mediation and Conciliation was functioning. After the passage of the transportation act, I think it was the feeling of this committee from what I can learn that the work done by the board could be done through other agencies, and the result is they did not appropriate for the activities of the board for 1922, but we have an estimate now of $8,000 providing for the closing up of the business of the board and for the salaries or compensation of clerks or other employees of the board accrued or that may accrue to the date of the closing of the business of the board; payment of all outstanding indebtedness incurred by the board during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1921; and the inventory of the property and records of the board and their delivery to the proper department of the Government. I am sure the committee would be very glad if you would tell us what the board has been doing and whether there is any necessity for making any additional appropriation? I may say that the thought of the committee when they refused the appropriation was that there was not any further work for the board to do, and they assumed that the failure to make the appropriation would be tantamount to a repeal of the law. As you know, the law has not been repealed.
Judge KNAPP. That is the precise situation. There was a failure to appropriate, but the board was not abolished and so the matter has run along. It is quite true that since the passage of the railway labor act which, among other things, created a railway labor board, the old Board of Mediation and Conciliation has had very little to do.
The CHAIRMAN. Has the board been doing anything since the Congress failed to appropriate ?
Judge KNAPP. Nothing has been done, and approaching the 1st of July, when the appropriation expired, the effects, records, documents, furniture, etc., were moved to a Government building at the corner of Eighteenth and B Streets, where there were satisfactory accommodations; and I might say that under the law creating the board of 1913 all the records of labor controversies in the old Bureau of Labor in the Department of Commerce, of which Dr. Naill was so long the head and of which Mr. Hanger, now a member of the Railway Labor Board, was assistant, all records of railway labor disputes in the Interstate Commerce Commission which had accumulated during the period of administration under the Erdman Law, as well as any that were filed with the commerce court, were required to be turned over to the Board of Mediation and Conciliation, and that was done. So that there is a very large accumulation of records, documents, and papers of one kind and another, some of which are of a good deal of value and concerning which inquiries have not been infrequent. It would seem the perfectly fitting thing that these documents should be put
in proper order, some disposition made of the furniture, and the accrued salaries of the members of the board paid rather than compel them to go to the Court of Claims.
The CHAIRMAN. Inasmuch as the sundry civil act, which became a law on the 4th of March, 1921, failed to carry any appropriation for this activity, it occurred to me the board had ample notice that they were not going to have an appropriation for 1922, and that they should close up their affairs between the 4th of March and the 1st of July of that fiscal year, but they did not seem to do that.
Judge KNAPP. I do not think I can tell you why. I was away much of that time, but I was under the impression it was not definitely known there would be no appropriation.
The CHAIRMAN. It was known on the 4th of March, 1921, because the law became effective on that date, so it must have been pretty definitely known.
Judge KNAPP. Yes; but something must have occurred after that.
The CHAIRMAN. It may be no special notice was sent to any member of the board.
Judge KNAPP. There was more than that. There was some negotiation and some talk about it. I am quite sure it was not definitely understood, certainly not by me, until nearly the 1st of July, that no appropriation would be made for the next year.
The CHAIRMAN. There is no definite term fixed in the law during which the assistant commissioner shall serve, but there was a definite term fixed for the commissioner.
Judg · KNAPP. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And I think the committee thought that inasmuch as there was no definite term fixed for anybody but the commissioner, that the mere failure to appropriate would be tantamount to a repeal of the act, and that all of these people would cease to function. Are you able to tell us, Judge, who the commissioner is and who is the assistant commissioner?
Judge KNAPP. Judge William L. Chambers is the commissioner and has been since this law was enacted in 1913, at a salary of $7,500, and the assistant commissioner is Mr. Whitehead Kluttz of North Carolina, whose salary is $5,000.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you able to say whether they have been drawing their salaries recently?
Judge KNAPP. I know they have not been because there is no appropriation from which they could be drawn since the 1st of July.
The CHAIRMAN. If we fail to appropriate now, is it your opinion that the commissioner and the assistant commissioner would still continue to feel they had salaries coming to them notwithstanding they have no service to render, and there was no appropriation from which they could be paid ?
Judge KNAPP. Perhaps, I ought not to undertake to say what they feel.
The CHAIRMAN. What is your opinion about it under the law?
Judge KNAPP. I have never examined the question, Mr. Madden, but I assumed it is well settled that the mere failure to appropriate for the salary of a Government officer does not relieve the Government from the obligation to pay that salary as long as he remains in office, and I suppose they would have a right of action in the Court of Claims.
The CHAIRMAN. How much is due the commissioner and the assistant commissioner?
Judge KNAPP. It will be six months on the 1st of January, and that will be $6,250.
The CHAIRMAN. If we pay that, what would happen in the future; would they still go on?
Judge KNAPP. Why should you not abolish the board! That will end it.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a very pertinent question.
Judge KNAPP. Personally, I think it was a mistake not to make the regular appropriation. It is true that nearly all of the disputes over which the Board of Mediation had jurisdiction are now subject to the jurisdiction of the Railway Labor Board, but there are some ambiguities about that board, because it says that before they can go to the Railway Labor Board they must exhaust all other means of settlement. That might be construed, and very reasonably, to mean they must utilize the services of this Board of Mediation. The Railway Labor Board, I think, has never passed on that question. Of course, I do not need to tell you that the railway labor situation seems rather uncertain and disturbed, and it may turn out that the present method of adjusting controversies of that sort will not be altogether successful.
I am vain enough to think that the record shows that the Board of Mediation and those who performed similar duties under the old Erdman Act were instrumental in settling a great many serious railroad controversies. Indeed, I think it rather surprising, when one takes into account the conditions which prevailed, say, from about 1905 or 1906 to the time when the railways went under the control of the Government, the number and severity of the strikes which occurred during that time in the industries and on the street railways—I think it is rather noteworthy that during all of that period there was practically no interruption of interstate service on the railroads.
Mr. ANTHONY. Of course, the old board had no power to enforce its decisions.
Judge KNAPP. No.
Mr. ANTHONY. Would you undertake the decision of a case unless both sides would agree to accept your award ?
Judge KNAPP. We never decided anything.
Mr. ANTHONY. Did you require the parties to the controversy to accept your verdict ?
Judge KNAPP. No; we had no power at all.
Judge KNAPP. As far back as 1898 there was considerable agitation for a railway arbitration law and one was passed, as was supposed, bearing the name of one Erdman, who was in Congress here a short time, I think from Pennsylvania. By some good fortune that act contained a provision which I think embodied a principle for the first time incorporated in any legislation; that is, the principle of Government mediation as entirely distinguished from arbitration. The whole theory was to prevent strikes from interfering with the operation of the railroads. It contained a provision that if any contro
versy arose affecting these classes of employees engaged in train operation, either party might appeal to the chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Commissioner of Labor, whose duty it should be to put themselves in communication with the parties and endeavor by mediation and conciliation to bring about a settlement, and failing in that, it was made their duty to endeavor to induce the parties to enter into an arbitration, and then the law followed with somewhat elaborate provisions for the arbitration.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, you would try to bring them together on the basis of good will ?
Judge KNAPP. After a while this mediation feature became the distinctive one, and as I happened to be the chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission during that period, and Dr. Neill, the Commissioner of Labor, we were presently called upon and afterwards called upon in a great many instances, and I have been up against these labor leaders and railroad managers many times. tried to do just what you would do if two of your neighbors had a dispute. You would lend your friendly counsel and aid to try to get them together, with the advantage in our case, that of course we, in a sense, represented public authority; and as a matter of fact, we did succeed in settling a large majority of all the controversies.
The CHAIRMAN. I think you did a lot of good work. I recall your work very
well, Judge KNAPP. And when we failed of a settlement we always got an arbitration, and there have been some very important arbitrations, as you know, some of the most prominent men of the country acting as arbitrators, and personally, I regret and have regretted all the time that that principle in the law was entirely eliminated when Congress came to enact the transportation act.
Mr. ANTHONY. That is, the right of the Government to mediate?
Judge KNAPP. Yes. You understand the great advantage of that method is that it brings the parties, or attempts at least to, and generally does, to a voluntary settlement. They make a new contract; they have consented to everything. There is no judgment against anybody. There is no sting of defeat to either one. It is the thing they both agree to do, and it often happened in my experience that where the relations between the management of a given railroad and its employees of one class and another becomes strained by one thing and another, accumulated until there was a threat of strike, then after long negotiation and effort, many times lasting well toward morning, they would come together and they would agree, with a reaction of cordiality and good feeling which is simply astonishing. I remember one night in a hotel in St. Louis after we had been there for a week with a most serious threat of a strike on all those southwestern roads, we finally got a settlement about 3 o clock in the morning, and they all came in and there was a veritable love feast.
The CHAIRMAN. The best way to do that, as my own experience proves, is to let the two belligerent forces go into a consideration of the matter, and then when they fail to agree to let some new element come in.
Judge KNAPP. You understand we never brought the parties together. We would see one side and then the other, and, of course, much depended upon the confidence both sides had in the mediators, and I am vain enough to think that both Dr. Neill and myself did have the confidence to a very great degree of both sides. They would tell us with perfect frankness what was the real trouble and what they would be willing to do when they would not say that to the other side across the table, because, it is this way: If I am a railroad manager here and you are the labor leader over there, if I indicate a willingness to make such and such concession, you immediately think I am afraid of a strike and that leads you to increase your demands, and the same way on the other side. So we never would let one side know what the other side was willing to do until we brought them both to a common ground.
The CHAIRMAN. Judge, you think we ought to repeal the law but before we repeal it we ought to pay these men. That is the sum and substance of it.
Judge KNAPP. I have already said that the whole railway labor situation is involved and uncertain. We do not know what may happen. I have felt, and still feel, that it is wise to keep this board alive as an insurance, as an agency, to be called upon in any emergency which may arise. We do not know when it may break out. The settlement of an unimportant strike might be worth many times more than the $20,000 or $25,000 which it would cost to keep this board in operation. However, that is entirely for the Congress to decide.
Mr. Cannon. As I understand, unless we repeal this law, those still in office could claim their salaries?
Judge KNAPP. I think so. As I said, I have never examined the guestion, but I have understood that is so and have assumed it. I can only repeat that I think this is a sort of insurance.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1921.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
STATEMENTS OF MR. CUNO H. RUDOLPH, MR. JAMES F.
OYSTER, COMMISSIONERS, COL. CHARLES KELLER, ENGI. NEER COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, MAJ. CAREY H. BROWN, ASSISTANT ENGINEER COMMISSIONER, MR. DANIEL E. GARGES, SECRETARY TO THE BOARD, MR. DANIEL J. DONOVAN, AUDITOR, AND MR. H. L. GESSFORD, MAJOR AND SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE.
ADDITIONAL POLICE FOR TEMPORARY SERVICE.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, if you will turn to page 5 you will find the items that refer to the District of Columbia, and we will pass over everything in connection with them to the point where the District is asking for some additional police for temporary service during the Limitation of Armaments Conference, and I wish to say in this connection that the reason we have not taken the bill in the order in which the items appear is that the District Government seems to feel that there is pressing need for early consideration for the request for extra police during this period, and if the authority