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Mr. KEATING. For the purposes of enlightenment, what would happen if we did not pass this bill?
Mr. GRAHAM. Well, first of all, it would curtail the Treasury Department in its request for funds. They have come in, in order to establish this, to secure funds from the Appropriations Committee, and if they do not it will limit the operation of the Coast Guard to that extent.
Mr. KEATING. Yes.
Mr. GRAHAM. On our part, if we fail to recommend it, then there is nothing further for the full committee to do and it ends right there.
Mr. KEATING. I do not make myself clear, perhaps. The people will still be subject, will they not, to a review of any proceeding by a civilian agency?
Mr. GRAHAM. So it is my understanding. As I recall, Mr. Volpian, the testimony of one of the officers when you were not present, was that there was no denial of a civil remedy. That is my recollection and there is some confusion on that point. You are of the impression and so stated, that is denied here. On the other hand, the Coast Guard officials have testified there is a right of civil appeal. That has to be resolved some place or worked out. If you are right, they are wrong, and vice
of course. Mr. KEATING. I am bound to say I am quite impressed on this double-jeopardy point. I do not know the law on this. I assume we are presumed not to know the law, but as I see it this witness' very convincing testimony is directed to that question more than to this precise bill before us here.
Mr. GRAHAM. Would you be satisfied from your viewpoint and of your men if you had knowledge that there would be a right of appeal from the action of the Coast Guard ?
Mr. VOLPIAN. No, sir; we would not.
Mr. GORSKI. What you want is to revert to the situation or standing the merchant marine was in before the war?
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRAHAM. You want to have the status quo as it was before the war?
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. KEATING. And under that there was no review to the action taken by the captain, except the captain's boss might overrule him.
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes; that is correct.
Mr. VOLPIAN. The United States Shipping Commissioner who is in charge of these matters. He is regarded as the authority on affairs between seamen and their employers and if a captain unjustly logs a man, the man has a right to appeal to that commissioner, and he is a qualified man to decide whether the penalty was a fair one or not.
Mr. KEATING. And, if he sees fit, would he take evidence in the case ?
Mr. VOLPIAN. The only way that he can change the decision of the captain, aside from the decision being illegal, is to ask for an arbitration, and both parties, both the captain and offending seaman, must sign that they will accept the judgment of the commissioner as final. Mr. KEATING. That is part of the contract with the union, is it?
Mr. VOLPIAN. No; that is part of the law. That is in the law.
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. Volpian, it boils down to this, let us see if we get this right. You have stated that within your own ranks you have discipline and disciplinary measures that you invoke and apply?
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRAHAM. Prior to taking over of those functions by the Coast Guard during the war this was a matter handled by the captain, and you were satisfied with that.
Now then, with the advent of the war, the Coast Guard took over and, of course, it is realizable why they did it. The war was on.
The necessity for secrecy for the mobilization of ships, transports, and the like.
Your argument today is by reason of that, in substance, there has been no improvement of discipline in the men, but there has been a harshness applied by an accumulation of penalties. Is that your argument?
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes. In addition to that I would like to add L' Mr. GRAHAM. Go ahead.
Mr. VOLPIAN. There is a great deal of resentment among the men, many of the men, by reason of the extra penalties.
Mr. GRAHAM. Do they feel that they are under the surveillance of the Coast Guard ?
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. GORSKI. You feel, Mr. Volpian, during the war it was absolutely necessary to have this under the Coast Guard ?
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes, sir. Mr. GRAHAM. May I go a step further and say under the present disturbed conditions throughout the world and the uncertainties we are passing through today, do you, or not, think it wise to continue this until at least temporarily conditions level off and settle?
Mr. VOLPIAN. No, sir; I do not think there is any necessity for it.
At the end of the war we found there was a lessening of offenses. During the war they were hysterical and neurotic and they were likely to commit a lot of offenses they would not now. They were not likely to commit so many under peacetime conditions and, I think, the record of the Coast Guard will show there are many less offenses.
We think it was unfair during the war that some of these offenses were not judged with a certain amount of understanding, and some of the boys did crack up during conditions at the time and we do think a little more understanding would have helped.
Mr. Graham. I want to ask a direct question. Is there any infiltration of Communists within your ranks?
Mr. VOLPIAN. No; not in ours.
Mr. KEATING. You would not accept a Communist in your union, would you?
Mr. VOLPIAN. No; I would say a Communist would be afraid to try to get into our union.
Nr. KEATING. If you found a man were a Communist, would it be grounds for expulsion from the union?
Mr. VOLPIAN. Yes, sir.
As I explained to you, Mr. Volpian is from New York. We shall try to give him full opportunity to be heard and then hear from the Treasury and Coast Guard witnesses.
Mr. VOLPIAN. I would like to say one or two more words.
Mr. VOLPIAX. We like to think the uniform of the United States is something to be respected. Under the present hook-up or lash-up, as you have it, there is a great deal of resentment among the men of the merchant marine, and it is breaking down the loyalty of men to their country, and they are beginning to feel they are being unreasonably persecuted in peacetime, and since we are of the opinion that proper economy of the country is one of free enterprise, we insist that free labor go along with it.
Mr. GRAHAM. Are you an affiliate of the CIO or AFL?
Mr. KEATING. Do you represent the same union which the gentleman did who spoke to us on Monday?
Mr. GRAHAM. Captain Ash.
Mr. VOLPIAN. No. Captain Ash is from the Masters, Mates, and Pilots. They are an AFL affiliate.
Mr. KEATING. I see. Yours is the Seafarers.
Mr. GRAHAM. All right, thank you. We will resume with Mr.
ERAL COUNSEL, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, ACCOMPANIED BY CAPT. ALFRED C. RICHMOND, CHIEF, PLANNING AND CONTROL STAFF, COAST GUARD, AND CAPT. KENNETH S. HARRISON, CHIEF COUNSEL, COAST GUARD
Mr. SPINGARN. May I make a preparatory statement perhaps to orient this thing a little?
Mr. GRAHAM. All right.
Mr. SPINGARN. We believe the net result of this bill will be economy and efficiency. The Bureau of the Budget shares this view, and it was indeed at their insistence in the first case that this bill was proposed and an exemption was sought rather than a request for an appropriation to hire civilian examiners.
We are not dogmatic about the matter. We are here at the instance of the House Appropriations Committee to get a decision from you gentlemen as to whether we should get an exemption, whether civilian examiners under the Coast Guard should hold these hearings, or whether they should be held by commissioned officers of the Coast Guard.
Mr. KEATING. Would you address yourself to this question of double jeopardy?
Nr. SPINGARX. As far as that is concerned, the law was written by Congress.
Mr. KEATING. We make mistakes.
Mr. SPINGARN. It goes back to 1871, although in its present broad terms, it was revised in 1936, by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. It seems that is a matter for the courts to decide.
Mr. KEATING. Have they ever decided it?
Mr. SPINGARN. As far as I know, they have not decided it; no. But I think it is a mistake to say the seamen do not have an appeal to the courts. In the first place, I think they always had an appeal to the courts and if there is any doubt about it the Administrative Procedure Act settles that because section 10 provides it.
Mr. KEATING. Has there ever been an appeal?
Mr. GRAHAM. Without engaging in any controversy between you and him, there is one thing I would like to get clear in my mind. Speaking from the viewpoint of the Coast Guard, do you feel, “excessive harshness" is used in dealing with these cases, or have they been dealt with on the individual merits of each case?
Mr. SPINGARN. I am glad you brought that up, Mr. Chairman. Naturally we are in the position of an agency defending its own procedures, and I suppose any statement we made on that would be subject to Scrutiny as not being objective. We think our proceedings have been fair. I would like to say this, the gentleman who was testifying was opening up a much wider issue than is involved in this bili, as Mr. Keating pointed out. The question they are opening up is whether the Coast Guard should have anything to do with these proceedings. As has been pointed out, until March 1, 1942, these hearings were conducted by the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation of the Department of Commerce. They were transferred to the Coast Guard under the Second War Powers Act and that transfer was made permanent by Reorganization Plan No. 3, which became effective June 16, 1946.
I may say the whole issue of whether these proceedings should be under the Department of Commerce or the Coast Guard was very lengthily fought out at that time last year and there was extensive testimony both ways on it and the Congress decided they should be under the Coast Guard permanently.
I may also say that change met with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce.
Mr. KEATING. When was that?
Mr. SPINGARN. Yes; it was argued out at great length in connection with Reorganization Plan No. 3 last year.
My own opinion is that no agency that administers these hearings is going to be very popular with the seamen, and in support of that statement, I would like to point out that last Monday Captain Ash of the Masters, Mates and Pilots said:
the Coast Guard should be returned to its rightful and commendable duties of lifesaving during peacetime and of Navy operation during wartime.
The merchant marine, a commercial enterprise, should be returned under the Department of Commerce where it rightfully belongs and which by its set-up and personnel, is fitted to control merchantmen intelligently, fairly, and in keeping with the intent and spirit of the Constitution of the United States.
However, I have before me a mimeograph statement of the CIO maritime committee which we were furnished by that organization, which they intend to present. It was intended to be presented last Monday. They criticized the conduct of hearings by the Department of Commerce quite as vigorously as the conduct of hearings by the Coast Guard. I read from that:
the board, in the main, were composed of retired captains, chief mates, chief engineers and first engineers; and they seized upon this occasion to employ R. S. 4450 as a means of upholding steamship companies, and the officers of the vessels, in their disputes with unlicensed crew members, in the miscellaneous and varied situations which arose,
They quote from a book published in 1938, in which it says:
A portion of the blame for the unsafe conditions of American ships was directed at the Department of Commerce which, through its Bureau of Navigation, was supposed to see that vessels and crews complied with navigation laws. The activities of the bureau fell into such disrepute that no commercial underwriter would accept its findings as a basis for insurance. And further:
Not only did they seem to favor ship operators in the inspection of hulls, but they also began to favor them by using R. S. 4450 as a weapon to be applied against merchant seamen when labor disputes arose.
Thus there seems to be some indication that whatever agency is holding these hearings is likely to be criticized.
Mr. LEWIS. May I ask a question, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LEWIS. The thing I have been wondering about, and have been ever since the hearing the other day on this bill, is whether it is right to have the Coast Guard in this picture at all. Now, Congress decided that it was last year, but this Congress can reverse the decision.
Mr. SPINGARN. That is quite true, sir.
Mr. LEWIS. And it seems to me there has been pretty good case made out here for reversing it.
Mr. GRAHAM. May I interject a comment before you answer, Mr. Spingarn. Throughout all this reorganization we are confronted with an amazing task in our own committee when we learn 1,700 bills have been introduced and referred to this committee alone. It is a matter of trial and error. I am not testifying. I am merely giving you some information. They now feel that sufficient time has not yet elapsed for a fair trial. Unquestionably at some future date revisions and changes must be made. The point they make is, have any of these had a fair trial and would it not be better to go along under present conditions? That is the picture I wanted you to get.
Mr. KEATING. May I ask our distinguished chairman if he knows or recalls what caused the Congress to decide to put this under the Coast Guard instead of the Department of Commerce?
Mr. GRAHAM. There were three reorganization plans submitted affecting the executive branch and we had our own reorganization plan for the legislative. This came up under No. 3 at that time, and I think I am correct in this that, due to uncertain conditions, to fear,