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1918, the three regional directors entered into a written agreement with the chiefs of the four Brotherhoods (the "Big Four") that the wages and hours as determined by the Director General were to be incorporated into existing wage agreements between the railroads and the Brotherhoods; and that "matters of controversies arising from interpretations of wage agreements shall be decided by the Railway Board of Adjustment." Adjustment Board No. 2, with jurisdiction over grievances of the "Railroad Shopmen" of the American Federation of Labor, was, like Adjustment Board No. 1, arranged for before the standardization of wages by the Wage Commission had been announced. On February 20 the Director General and this union group, through its president, entered into an agreement under which, irrespective of existing agreements to the contrary, relaxation might be effected in working hours in cases of necessity, and also changes in the conditions under which the ratio of helpers and apprentices to journeymen might be increased. Up to the present time Board No. 1 has decided about 400 cases, Board No. 2 about 100, and Board No. 3, established in the middle of November, only a few.
But probably the most important contribution of the Railroad Administration's labor adjustment system has been its successful promotion of local shop committees. The March 22 agreement with the Brotherhoods contained the following provision about the handling of grievances:
10. Personal grievances or controversies arising under interpretation of wage agreements, and all other disputes arising between officials of a railroad and its employees, covered by this understanding, will be handled in their usual manner by general committees of the employees up to and including the chief operating officer of the railroad (or some one officially designated by him), when, if an agreement is not reached, the chairman of the general committee of
employees may refer the matter to the chief executive officer of the organization concerned, and if the contention of the employees' committee is approved by such executive officer, then the chief operating officer of the railroad and the chief executive officer of the organization concerned shall refer the matter, with all supporting papers, to the Director of the Division of Labor of the United States Railroad Administration, who will in turn present the case to the Railway Board of Adjustment No. 1, which board shall promptly hear and decide the case, giving due notice to the chief operating officer of the railroad interested and to the chief executive officer of the organization concerned of the time set for hearing.
11. No matter will be considered by the Railway Board of Adjustment No. 1, unless officially referred to it in the manner herein prescribed.
12. In hearings before the Railway Board of Adjustment No. 1, in matters properly submitted for its consideration, the railroad shall be represented by such person or persons as may be designated by the chief operating officer, and the employees shall be represented by such person or persons as may be designated by the chief executive officer of the organization concerned. (U. S. Railroad Administration, General Order No. 13.)
Substantially similar rules govern all appeals for adjustment by the adjustment boards. Bona fide resort to shop committee procedure is required before the assistance of the Director of the Division of Labor can be invoked. The result has been that the vast majority of grievances never reach him, and that local railroad management and local railroad labor over the country are becoming to an increasing degree habituated to frank, thoro discussion of grievances and to their equitable and amicable adjustment.
As might be expected, the exercise by the railway unions, both manual and clerical, of these important advisory functions in railroad labor policies has greatly increased their membership and influence. Railroads upon which unionism had never obtained a real foothold prior to 1918 have seen the establishment of unions or their great increase. This has been particularly true of the railroad shopmen and of the clerks.
In any endeavor to appraise the developments in labor adjustment during the war for their effect upon after-war conditions, we are confronted with so many variables, both political and industrial, that no estimate can be made with assurance. But we may take the features of control in the order of their apparent chances of survival. The local shop committee has been planted so well and so broadly throughout industry by these various governmental adjustment agencies as hardly to seem eradicable. Promoted from the outset by the Shipbuilding Labor Adjustment Board, later by the President's Mediation Commission in the Arizona Copper district, and in the packing establishments, firmly established subsequently by the War Labor Board in widely divergent fields of industrial activity which had never known its use, and finally made a thoroly integrated part of a machinery for adjustment extending over the entire American railroad system, the shop committee has secured a strong position. And it has on the whole been accepted by organized labor with willingness. Is it not likely to prove a permanent element, fixed in American industrial life by the events of the war? Whatever reaction is to be expected toward pre-war industrial relations could hardly sweep away a method so widely employed and in essence so akin to the genius of American institutions.
But as regards final appeal in disputes, and restraint during and after adjudication - how will these develop after the war? Of the three principal new types of machinery which were evolved during the war, only one was designed both to handle disputes and to supply with some effectiveness the element of restraint in the use of
1 A significant indication is the establishment on January 7, 1919 of a thorogoing system of shop councils, with a joint board of appeal, by agreement between the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation and the Metal Trades' Department of the American Federation of Labor.
the strike, namely, the Shipbuilding Labor Adjustment Board type. Here the chief union representatives agreed, each for his union, that production would be continuous, both during and after adjudication. But the motives which made this arrangement possible have no equivalent which is apparent at this time and which would induce the unions to bargain away their chief weapon, the strike. And yet, if they should be given an equal voice with the employer in the determination of labor standards, it cannot be said that some such political-industrial arrangement is impossible.
As regards the establishment of quasi-judicial machinery for wage determination, the three types which emerged under war conditions varied in important particulars. The three types are the War Labor Board, the shipbuilding arrangement, and the railroad adjustment system. In the first two, management and labor both placed the settlement of their disputes in the hands of a board on which the opposing interests were equally represented. In the War Labor Board no method was devised for breaking a deadlock between the two sets of representatives; they were forced to reach some sort of settlement, and the advantage naturally tended to remain with the labor group, which retained its right to strike. In the shipbuilding type, on the other hand, a supposedly neutral member, appointed by the government, cast the deciding vote. Finally, in the railroad adjustment system, disputes were left to a board again constituted of an equal number of representatives from both sides, but established directly by the railroad management itself; the railroad management moreover reserved and continues to reserve final decision for itself; it has in its own hands the control of labor standards. In any event we may expect the wage board of the future to be more independent of the management
than is the Railroad Administration type today. As between the balanced board and the board in which a neutral member turns the scale, the issue might perhaps come to depend upon the political strength of labor, if the government should continue to promote adjustment of industrial disputes.
Quite a different development, as to after-war survival, is that of the Federal Employment Service. As a federal agency for stabilizing employment for labor it is evidently marked for survival in some form. The final establishment of this work has not been by means of executive action or by semi-official emergency agreements, but through the firm basis of statute.
The statute of 1913 creating the Department of Labor set forth the activities in which it could engage immigration and naturalization, labor statistics, and mediation. There was no mention of labor exchange work, despite the fact that unemployment was then a pressing problem and that a number of the states, following European example, were establishing state employment agencies. Doubtless one reason for this omission was the uncertainty of legal justification which must be faced by any federal activity, other than transportation, which undertakes to operate within a state. Obviously, an employment office operating at a given point could hardly limit itself to interstate operations by placing applicants in positions in other states only.
Unemployment relief, however, made its own way into the Department of Labor without the aid of Congress. During the three years preceding 1917, the Secretary of Labor made the Bureau of Immigration the vehicle for an employment service which established offices at a number of points and gave useful service, operating generally apart from the state and municipal