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Treasury Department, and when he did that, he did not issue an Executive order giving back the jurisdiction that the Coast Guard had received, that is, the function of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and the Shipping Commissioners, giving that back to the Department of Commerce. So, I wrote a letter to President Tru-, man stating the position of the seamen, that they were opposed to the Coast Guard having continued jurisdiction over the Bureau and requested that he issue an Executive order transferring it back. The letter was referred to the Budget Bureau. I received a letter from Mr. Lawton of the Budget Bureau saying that he would give that consideration. Then.nothing was done. The Coast Guard still retained jurisdiction, and then after that I found out that Congress passed the Reorganization Act, giving the President power to submit plans for the transfer of the functions from one bureau to another bureau.
Mr. MANSFIELD. I would like to state in that connection as a member of the Merchant Marine Committee, I have received many telegrams opposing this being under the Coast Guard. They think it ought to be under the Department of Commerce.
Mr. Rich. I would like to ask this question of the gentlemen just as a matter of record. Are you associated with Bridges in the work of the seamen ?
Mr. Hawk. No, I represent the American Federation of Labor seamen. I think Bridges represents the CIO longshoremen. We have no connection whatsoever, neither organizationally or politically speaking.
Mr. Rich. You are not working in conjunction with anything in which he is interested in trying to influence the Congress in the way this reorganization should be handled! “ Mr. Hawk. No; all I am in here for is to make known to the Congress that the seamen are vigorously opposed to the Coast Guard retaining jurisdiction of the functions of the United States Shipping Commissioners and the Marine Steamboat Inspection Service.
Mr. Rich. And you are bringing that out in your statement?
Mr. Hawk. I am going to speak against permanent Coast Guard control of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and Shipping Commissioners' functions, as provided in the President's Reorganization Plan No. 3, part 1. I should like first to bring out the point that I am speaking for the seamen who will be affected by this jurisdictional switch.
As a former seaman, I speak not only for the members of the union I represent, but for unorganized seamen and those of other unions.
Seamen all feel the same way about the Coast Guard. They think it a fine branch of the service for iceberg patrol, lifesaving activities and its other prewar functions. But they do not like the "brass hat" attitude that is part of the Coast Guard tradition when dealing with seamen. Seldom does a seaman refer to the Coast Guard as such. It is always the "hooligan Navy."
This may sound like gross disrespect to you gentlemen, but if you ever sailed on a ship and were brought before a Coast Guard "kangaroo court” on some asinine charge or other, you would be calling them hooligans, too.
The members of my union have found the Coast Guard officers, with few exceptions, tyrannical and imperious. They are inclined to treat seamen as though they were enlisted personnel of the Coast Guard. Merchant seaman do not like this at all. They are civilians. They want to be directed by civilians, as civilians. - w Mr. Rich. Let me ask you a question right there. Do you feel that the Coast Guard, in dealing with the men that are serving their country in the Coast Guard, are considered in the same light with which you speak about in paragraphs above? Mr. HAwk. The merchant seamen are civilians. Mr. RICH. In other words, are we treating our Coast Guard, from the statement you have just made, as hooligans and with disregard and disrespect? Mr. HAwix. I have never been in the merchant Coast Guard. I do not know how they treat them in the service, not being there. I have certainly had dealings with the Coast Guard representing seamen members of my organization. They certainly deal with the seamen in a high-handed manner and not in a manner as they should be dealt with, r. RICH. I infer from your statement here that a great disrespect was paid our people in the Coast Guard, and I am wondering whether that is your thought in making that expression, as you did there in the last two paragraphs of your statement. Mr. HAwk. I would like to point out to you, Congressman, that during the war, the Coast Guard recruited a lot of young attorneys, and these attorneys did not know what the Coast Guard procedure was, or they had no shipboard experience. They were not familiar with seamen. They were assigned to investigate happenings aboard ship, and they would come down there like detectives; because they had brass on them they figured they drew a lot of water. They were attorneys all right, but as far as seamen and handling seamen, they did not know the first thing about handling or dealing with seamen, or handling men. These are the men that were in the Coast Guard and these are the men that we are definitely opposed to in continuing this sort of maneuvers in dealing with seamen. Mr. RICH. Were those attorneys members of the Coast Guard? Mr. HAwk. Yes, sir. Mr. RICH. Go ahead. Mr. WHITTINGTON. You say they were sent down to investigate, did they have to do with the management of machinery or with the operation of a boat? Mr. HAwk. When a ship came in port. Mr. WHITTINGTON. I just want to know what type of cases they were dealing with. Mr. HAwk. They wanted to find out about the conduct of seamen aboard ship in relation to the master. They would go to the master and ask him questions about the seamen. Mr. WHITTINGTON. It involved conduct and involved nothing about the operations. Mr. HAwk. Seamen resent enforcement of any will beyond that of their officers and the policies arrived at by the rank and file of their unlonS. But during the war emergency the merchant seaman recognized the need for the Executive order transferring the Bureau of Marine Inspec
tion and Navigation from the Department of Commerce to the Coast Guard. This came about when the Coast Guard was transferred to the Navy from the Treasury Department for the duration of the war emergency. The seamen did not complain when the Coast Guard took over the functions of the Bureau, such as issuing seamen's certificates, examinations for licensed officers, and discipline of licensed and unlicensed officers. After all, there was a war on. Besides, the Executive order establishing this procedure was to end 6 months after the termination of the war. Not 6 months after peace was declared, gentlemen—6 months after hostilities ceased. During the war and since it ended the seaman has had plenty of cause to regret the Coast Guard control. “Hearing units” were established to try merchant seamen for infractions of discipline. In these “courts” seamen are tried by Coast Guard officers, usually lawyers in uniform who have no sea experience and do not know the practical end of merchant seamanship. Not a few times, but often, seamen have been tried and sentenced to revocation or suspension of licenses for the smallest infraction of discipline, and often without the presentation or hearing of factual evidence. . These are not baseless beefs, gentlemen. They are facts. I am able to substantiate them through a host of seamen who were persecuted by the Coast Guard officers. So the war ended. In the days that followed, seamen were buoyed by the expectation that their days under the Coast Guard soon would be ended. When the “duration and 6 months” came to an end, sure enough, the Coast Guard was returned by the Navy to the Treasury under an Executive order. But the Coast Guard had decided long before that it wanted to retain control of the merchant marine. So, the other Executive order did not come through. - Instead, the Bureau was scheduled to be continued under the Coast Guard in perpetuity. That was a bitter blow for seamen. The membership of my union asked me, Why didn’t the President hold public hearings on the transfer before he drafted the order? Why didn’t you write to him and tell him what a good job the Bureau had done under the Commerce Department? Why didn't you ask him to let us—the men who would be most affected—speak out before he laid down the law? My answer was a weak one. I had. I had written to President Truman on three occasions asking to be heard. In my letters to him I had pointed out the fact that the Bureau had operated successfully under the Department of Commerce since 1884. Seamen and shipowners alike were satisfied with it under that Department. I had pointed out to the President that when the transfer was effected all of the old Bureau employees were transferred, too. They were merely supplemented by Coast Guard officers, who superimposed Coast Guard ideas. The real work of the Bureau continued to be done by the old employees.
All of my letters were answered in noncommittal, official, Washington double talk by a Budget Bureau double-talk master. Each time I received an answer from him in reply to one of my letters to the President, I was inspired to new hope. They were in such a bright and cheerful, vein. Everything was fo to be rosy, they assured me. Oh, yes, thank you for your kind letter; we are glad to entertain your views. But they did not seem to mean anything. Nothing happened.
I would like to submit these letters to be incorporated in the record.
(The letters referred to are as follows:)
JANUARY 11, 1946. The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, White House, Washington, D. C.
MR. PRESIDENT: By virtue of the authority vested in the President of the United States by title I of the First War Powers Act, 1941, approved December 18, 1941, the Honorable Franklin D. Roosevelt, on February 28, 1942, issued Executive Order No. 9083 and thereby transferred the functions of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and all other functions of the Secretary of Commerce pertaining to shipping including the United States Shipping Commissioner and his office and functions from the Department of Commerce to “the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard to be exercised by him under the direction and supervision of the Secretary of the Navy.” These functions dealt among others with the shipment, discharge, protection, and welfare of merchant seamen. On or about December 29, 1945, you issued your Executive Order No. 9666 directing the return of the Coast Guard to the Treasury Department in accordance with your policy of returning the Nation to peacetime status as expeditiously as possible. Presumably this automatically transferred the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, together with the functions of the Secretary of Commerce pertaining to shipping and the United States Shipping Commissioner and his office and functions from the Commandant’s control (as the Commandant no longer functions under the direction and supervision of the Secretary of the Navy) back to the control of the Secretary of Commerce, however, it is respectfully requested that in order to leave no doubt in the matter that an Executive Order be issued by you to that effect. Seafarers International Union of North America, representative of 60,000 merchant seamen, has officially gone on record after meeting of its membership in all ports of the United States as opposing continued control by the Coast Guard of the above-described functions; the desire to have these functions retransferred to their normal previous peacetime status under civilian control and out of military control cannot be too strongly stressed.
Most respectfully yours,
SEAFARERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA. - JOHN HAWK, Secretary-Treasurer.
ExECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, BUREAU of THE BUDGET, January 25, 1946. Mr. JoBIN HAWK, Secretary-Treasurer, Seafarers International Union - of North America, New York 4, N. Y. DEAR MR. HAWK : Your letter of January 11, 1946, to the President, relative to the transfer of the functions of the former Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, was referred to this office. Although the Coast Guard is still responsible for the administration of the BMIN functions to which you refer, its transfer to the Treasury Department has not operated to determine their final allocation in the Government structure. We are glad to have your views on this subject and assure you that they will be given careful consideration. Very truly yours, F. J. LAWTON, Administrative Assistant.
MARCH 7, 1946.
ExEcutive OFFICE of THE PRESIDENT, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, Washington, D. C. (Attention: Mr. F. J. Lawton, Administrative Assistant.) GENTLEMEN: Kindly refer to your letter of January 25, 1946, addressed to the undersigned. . By virtue of Public Law 263 of the Seventy-ninth Congress, the President is empowered to reorganize various agencies of the Government. We assume that the general powers conferred upon the President by this law encompass the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation. Moreover, we are informed that bill No. 9, which is currently being proposed, but not actually before either the House of Representatives or the Senate, seeks to vest the functions of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, formerly exercised by the Department of Commerce, in the Maritime Commission. - - ." While we are not entirely clear as to the powers of the President under the Public Law 263, and also the scope of bill No. 9, we consider it advisable, at this time, to communicate with the President of the United States for the purpose of making known the position of the Seafarers International Union on the general issued involved. Unfortunately, many bills are passed which Vitally affect the interests of the unlicensed perSonnel in the maritime industry, under such circumstances, that not only are We not given an opportunity to make our views known to the lawmaking bodies, but we are not even apprised of the passage of the bills themselves, until circumstances develop which bring them to our attention. Apparently, proposals are in existence to transfer the functions of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to either the Coast Guard of the Treasury Department, or to the Maritime Commission. We are strongly and unalterably opposed to either of these governmental agencies as a custodian of these important functions. We believe that we are correct in stating that the original purpose of thre legislation creating the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and the United States Shipping Commissioner's office was to further extend the benevolent protection of the law to the unlicensed seaman. Stated in another way, these various remedial laws were designed to protect the seaman against the ship operators and owners. Wested in the hands of impartial Government agencies imbued with the spirit and the purpose of these laws, they have, in times past, satisfactorily performed the purpose for which they were created. However, by transference to the Maritime Commission, these powers and functions will be vested in the hands of an agency of the Government, which is, at the same time, the owner and operator of merchant vessels. Where monetary interests are concerned, a decision favorable to the Seaman and adverse to the Government would serve to operate against the financial interests of that very agency of the Government which administers the law, and from such decision there is no appeal. We urge that such an arrangement is inherently unsound and improper and should not be foisted upon the American seaman by our President. Even where the interests of the Government are not directly involved, the close alinement in interest and sympathy with ship operators of the Maritime Commission in the role of a large shipowner, could easily operate to prejudice the judgment and mental processes of those individuals designated to enforce the laws. Our objections to the Coast Guard, as an agency designated to administer these laws, are equally as emphatic. We have stated our position on a number of occasions, both to the Coast Guard itself and to various members of the House and Senate committees interested in the affairs of the United States merchant marine. In brief, the Seafarers International Union of North America is opposed to the control or interference, to even the slightest extent, of a military branch of the Government in the affairs of the merchant marine. We have found from actual experience that there is a fundamental antipathy between the unlicensed personnel of the merchant marine and this military branch of the Government. The experience of the thousands of seamen whom we represent, with wartime control by the United States Coast Guard, has been unsatisfactory and distasteful. Historically, the policy of this country has always been to confine the military functions of this Government to their proper sphere. Our experience with the Coast Guard during the course of this war verifies and confirms the soundness of that policy.