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The Wage-Price Commission, established on March 12, 1957, on a 1-year trial basis, is composed of two representatives each from the two coalition parties and two each from the Chambers of Commerce, Agriculture, and Labor, and the AFTU. The name Paritätische Kommission refers to the fact that all political and economic interests have equal representation on it. The Commission has two subcommittees one for wages, and the other for prices—which study the demands made and present their findings to the Wage-Price Commission. The wage subcommittee consists of one representative each of the Chambers of Labor and Commerce; the price subcommittee includes one representative each of the Chambers of Labor, Commerce, and Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance, and the AFTU, and two representatives from the Ministry of Interior.
When the Commission was set up, representatives of labor and management organizations agreed to discourage demands for higher wages and higher prices respectively among their members. All parties concerned emphatically reiterated, however, that the establishment of the Commission was to be interpreted as control, and not as a freeze, of wages and prices. In practice, both wages and prices were permitted to rise whenever the Commission found such rises justified. The Commission depended, for its success, largely on the good will of labor and management, for although the government was represented, the Commission constituted a purely unofficial and voluntary attempt at labor-management cooperation.
The AFTU maintained discipline among member unions by refusing to back wage demands not approved by the Wage-Price Commission. Strike action of the affiliates is subject to approval by the federation. Where wage negotiations were approved, the Commission tried to get workers to accept fringe benefits rather than direct wage increases, since employers were slower to translate higher benefits into price demands.
To prevent price increases in spite of its recommendations, the Commission depended largely on the pressure of public opinion, but it also had the right to recommend the removal of tariffs on specific products so that foreign competition would
force down domestic prices. The AFTU, however, was able to exert greater influence on its members in curbing wage increases than the representatives of employers' organizations could exert on their members.
When the Commission's term was about to expire, at the end of 1957, the AFTU urged that it be continued and further recommended that the Commission be given greater powers to control prices, since business interests had not maintained the discipline that labor had. The fact that the cost-of-living index had advanced only 1.8 percent from the end of 1956 to December 1957 4 was used by the trade unions to support their argument that a commission of this type was necessary and
a useful. At the same time, however, labor made its continued cooperation contingent on giving the Commission more extensive powers.
Since it was generally agreed that the WagePrice Commission had been a success, the AFTU was in an excellent bargaining position. Both of its fundamental proposals were accepted by management and government, although not without considerable opposition from business interests. Thus, in April 1958, the decision was made by all interested parties that the Commission would become a more or less permanent part of the Austrian economic scene and was to be given greater power. This was accomplished by strengthening the law against profiteering (the price-gouging law-preistreibereigesetz) and by arranging for the automatic suspension of import restrictions on fruits and vegetables whenever prices rose above a certain level.
The amendment to the price-gouging law made it a penal offense to charge prices greater than locally customary. Customary prices for nonagricultural products are to be determined jointly by the Chambers of Commerce and Labor and the AFTU. Prices of agricultural products are to be established by agreement between the Chamber of Agriculture, on the one hand, and the Chamber of Labor and the AFTU, on the other. Charging prices in excess of those so set will be subject to a penalty of fine or imprisonment. Thus, the Wage-Price Commission, heretofore dependent upon voluntary cooperation, has been given legal authority.
| Technical Training in the United Kingdom
TECHNICAL TRAINING in the United Kingdom, as in the United States, is available at the secondary and college levels of the educational system, and also includes on-the-job training at various levels, with without collateral classwork.
After a pupil has completed the work of the infant school (ages 5 to 7) and the junior school (ages 8 to 10; 8 to 11 in Scotland), the type of secondary school to which he will go is determined by his achievement in a test. The secondary schools are of three types:
1. Technical schools, i.e., those which specialize in vocational subjects (serving about 5 percent of all secondary school students). The course is 4 or 5 years long.
2. Modern schools, i.e., those in which the courses are general, but with a practical bias (serving about 75 percent of the students). The course is 4 or 5 years long.
3. Grammar schools, i.e., those which provide academic or college-preparatory courses, including schools maintained by public authorities, and those, called "public
schools,” which are maintained by private organizations 1 (serving about 20 percent of the students). The course
is usually 7 years long. It provides no technical training, except such as is inherent in secondary school science.
The courses offered in the technical secondary schools include those in fields of production, such as metalworking, weaving, and farming, as well as those in service fields, such as domestic science, mechanical drawing, and business.
College-level education in technical fields is offered in technical colleges accommodating students from age 15 or 16 to age 18, 19, or 21 (and, in addition, some older students), as well as in the
universities, accommodating grammar school >
graduates from about age 18 to age 21 or 22. Of the technical colleges, about 300 provide full-time
instruction, and 250 more provide part-time in> struction, in architecture; applied chemistry, in
cluding plastics; aeronautical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering; mining; and other technological fields. In the universities, courses are available in geology, chemistry, and many other natural sciences.
About 150 of the technical colleges give instruction at an advanced level in one or more of the technologies. Eight of these institutions have
been designated by the Ministry of Education as "colleges of advanced technology,” at which it is Government policy to promote original investigation by providing Government funds for research.
Advanced training is also available at the universities in such professional fields as medicine and veterinary science, and postgraduate work is available which leads to advanced degrees in mathematics, physics, chemistry, zoology, geography, and other technical subjects.
So-called "sandwich courses" play an important and expanding part in the activities of the technical colleges. Such a course involves alternate and approximately equal periods of full-time attendance at the college and of practical training in industry. Of the courses having the official approval of the Ministry of Education, most are based on alternate periods of 6 months, beginning with a half year of full-time attendance at classes.
Sandwich courses are especially popular among students completing their secondary education who want to start a career as soon as possible, and also among able employed workers who feel the need for, or whose employers want them to have, classroom instruction. Sandwich students are paid the appropriate salary during the work period. In addition, some firms pay the college fees of their students, and a few firms continue to pay a student's full salary during class instruction.
A variation of the sandwich course program involves training within the industry. Some large firms maintain works' schools" on their own premises, with full-time heads and their own fullor part-time staffs or staffs consisting of teachers loaned by the local educational institutions. In a few instances, several small firms of the same industry jointly maintain a separate school for the training of their workers.
Apprenticeship as such continues to exist alongside the more school-oriented programs of technical training, and the day-release plan is used by some firms which employ apprentices. Moreover, the General Electric Co. offers a special arrangement, comparable to apprenticeship, for university graduates in engineering and science, which provides 2 years of practical training on the job.
1 See W. Graham Craig, Outline of Technical Training in the United Kingdom (Ottawa, Canadian Department of Labor, Research Program on the Training of Skilled Manpower Series, 6), 1958.
Significant Decisions in Labor Cases*
Payments to Employee Representatives. The U.S. Supreme Court held that an employee representative who accepted checks from employers intending to make a payment to the union's welfare fund, and used the proceeds for his personal benefit could not be convicted under section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act which prohibits employee representatives from accepting employer payments, as the transaction was within the precise language of the exemption for payments to trust funds.
In this case, a union representative accepted checks identified by the attached vouchers as employers' contributions to the union welfare fund. Instead of depositing the checks in the existing welfare fund account, the representative opened a new account and subsequently used the proceeds for his own purposes as well as nonwelfare union purposes. As a result, he was convicted in a Federal district court of violating section 302(b) of the LMRA which prohibits an employee representative from accepting money from employers of the employees. The Government contended that inasmuch as the representative intended to use the funds for his own purposes when he accepted the checks, his conduct was not within the section 302 (c) (5) exemption from the broad restriction in section 302(b) which provides that the restriction shall not be applicable to payments to qualified trust funds established by an employee representative for the benefit of the employees. The conviction was upheld in the court of appeals.?
Reversing the decision of the lower court, the Supreme Court found that even if the representative's initial purpose was to appropriate the funds for his own use, his conduct did not violate section 302 (b) of the act. The statute does not require mutuality of guilt, the court stated, and a representative might be guilty of violating section
302(b) without employer collusion, as where payments are coerced from an unwilling employer. However, in this instance, the employers' intent is the deciding factor because when the checks were drawn by the employers and delivered to the representative as payment to a qualified union welfare fund, and when the representative received the checks, the transaction was within the precise language of the exception for payments to trust funds in 302(c) (5), and thus was not a violation of section 302(b). The legislative history of the act is devoid of any suggestion that defalcating trustees were to be held accountable under Federal law except by way of injunctive remedy, the court stated, and although the conduct of the representative was reprehensible, the purpose of Congress was not to punish criminal conduct traditionally within the jurisdiction of the States, but to deal with problems peculiar to collective bargaining.
The dissenting justices were of the opinion that the purpose of the exception in section 302 (c) (5) was to permit the creation of and payments to qualified welfare funds as defined in the act, and that a qualified welfare fund was not established in this instance as the representative established no welfare fund whatsoever. Since the receipt of the checks by the representative as welfare fund moneys was merely a sham, it was not within the exception, the justices reasoned. Thus, the representative violated section 302(b) regardless of the intent of the employers. Moreover, the justices asserted that successful prosecution under this section would be next to impossible if, as here, guilt were based on an elusive mental element such as the employers' intent.
• Prepared in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicl. tor. The cases covered in this article represent a selection of the significant decisions believed to be of special interest. attempt has been made to reflect all recent judicial and admin. 1 istrative developments in the field of labor law or to indicate the effect of particular decisions in jurisdictions in wbich con. trary results may be reached based upon local statutory provisions, the existence of local precedents, or a different approach by the courts to the issue presented.
* Arroyo v. United States (U.S. Sup. Ct., May 4, 1959). ? See Monthly Labor Review, September 1958, p. 1017.
• Local 131, United Brotherhood of Carpenter: v. Cisco Construction Co. (C.A. 7, April 13, 1959).
to keep others from doing business with the struck employer. Moreover, in the opinion of the court, union activities need not be treated as wholly severable, and in determining the legality of the activities both the objective and the related circumstances should be considered. Citing a decision of the United States Supreme Court holding that a picket line at the job can take on an unfair objective, the court of appeals stated that it follows that the legality of a picket line at the job can be spoiled by away-from-the-job activity. Concluding that when the totality of effort is considered in this case, the object of the concerted activities was illegal, the court held that the general contractor at whom the activities were directed was entitled to recover damages.
job site picketing supplemented by illegal secondary boycott activity.
A general contractor who had no agreement with the Carpenters union, although some of his employees were union members, refused to accede to union demands for overtime pay and fringe benefits. The union picketed the job site where the work requiring carpenters was scheduled to be done by the general contractor and where subcontractors, most of whom were unionized, were scheduled to complete those segments of the construction which involved other trades. In addition, the union brought direct pressure on the subcontractors and their workmen to stop doing business with the general contractor.
The employees of the subcontractors would not cross the picket line, and the general contractor employed nonunion, often unskilled, men to do behind the picket line the work which ordinarily the subcontractors' union men would have done. Having suffered delays and difficulties, the general contractor sought damages in a Federal district court under section 303 of the LMRA which
provides, in part, that it is unlawful for a labor organization to engage in a strike or a concerted refusal where an object thereof is forcing or requiring any employer or other person to cease doing business with any other person, and that persons injured by such violation may sue for damages in a district court of the United States. The district court found that the picket line as originally established was not illegal, but that the union's activities away from the job site were calculated to cause others than carpenters to cease doing business with the general contractor within the meaning of section 303. Holding that the illegal secondary activities infected the lawful picketing, the district court found that the union was responsible for substantial damages resulting mainly from difficulties behind the picket line.
In affirming the decision, the court of appeals stated that one of the purposes of the LMRA was to permit a union to strike and picket peacefully without interference, but that protected activities do not include vigorous, concerted efforts
Use of Dues for Political Purposes. The Supreme Court of Georgia enjoined 5 the enforcement of a union shop contract executed under the Railway Labor Act when part of the dues and assessments collected thereunder were to be used to support political programs and candidates which the petitioning nonunion employees opposed, as the contract violates the employees' rights of freedom of speech and deprives them of their property without due process of law under the First and Fifth Amendments to the Federal Constitution.
The facts stipulated in this case showed that certain employees of a railroad objected to a union shop agreement negotiated without any specific authorization from the employees, on the grounds that the dues required under the terms of the agreement would be used in part to promote political doctrines and candidates which the employees were not willing to support. These employees, faced with a choice between involuntary financial support of political activities and giving up their jobs, procured an injunction from the State trial court restraining the union from enforcing the union shop agreement.
Affirming the judgment of the trial court, the State supreme court pointed out that in upholding the validity of union shop agreements executed under the Railway Labor Act, the U.S. Supreme Court reserved judgment on the validity of such agreement if dues were used "as a cover for forcing ideological conformity or other action in contravention of the First or Fifth Amendment." In
* NLRB v. Denver Building and Construction Trades Council, 341 U.S. 675 (1951).
s International Association of Machinists v. Street (Ga. Sup. Ct., May 8, 1959).
• Railway Employees Dept. v. Hanson, 851 U.S. 228 (1956). See Monthly Labor Review, August 1956, p. 941.
the opinion of the court, this case was within the area in which the U.S. Supreme Court reserved judgment. A person who is compelled to provide economic support for political programs and candidates is just as much deprived of his freedom of speech as if he were compelled to give vocal support to doctrines he opposes, the court held, and to require an employee to join a union and pay dues which are used, in part, to support doctrines he opposes is also a violation of the employee's freedom to contract.
Illegality of Partial Lockout. The National Labor Relations Board held' that although a multiemployer bargaining unit may use the lockout as a defense against whipsaw strikes, a partial lockout permitting the employees only enough work to disqualify them from State unemployment compensation is a violation of the NLRA.
The union in this case struck one member of a multiemployer unit in support of its bargaining demands. When the nonstruck members of the unit invoked a lockout, the union instructed the employees to register with the State employment service for other jobs and for unemployment compensation. The employers protested any payment of benefits on the grounds that the unemployment was due to a labor dispute, which, under these circumstances, precluded benefits under the State law. In addition, they attempted to frustrate what they claimed would be a misuse of the State unemployment fund as a strike fund by offering the employees enough work to disqualify them for benefits.
In the resulting unfair labor practice proceedings, the majority of the Board held that the partial lockout “infringed upon the collective bargaining rights of these employees and tended to discourage support of the union and concerted activity for mutual aid in violation of section 8(a) (1) and (3) of the act." Noting that employers may lawfully counter threatened strikes by lockouts for special economic reasons and that members of a multiemployer unit may resort to a temporary lockout to preserve the unit when the
union strikes only one member at a time, the majority found that the partial lockout employed : by the unit in this instance was not a defensive measure, but retaliation against the employees' union-directed efforts to procure unemployment benefits. Moreover, they held, the fact that the employers would be compelled to subsidize, in part, a strike against themselves through increased tax contributions to the State unemployment reserves did not constitute special circum- ? stances which would entitle them to lock out their employees in order to protect their business from unusual economic loss.
In the opinion of the dissenting members, the employer unit had a duty to resist depletion of the compensation fund by payments to workers whose unemployment resulted from a labor dispute, as well as an economic interest in protecting the fund from unwarranted disbursements which would result in an increase in the employers' tax contribution to the fund. In addition, the dissenting members asserted that use of the unemployment fund as a strike fund would negate the effectiveness of the lockout defense against whipsaw strikes, and would force the employers to underwrite the effectiveness of the strike. Therefore, it was averred, the partial lockout was a lawful attempt by the employer unit to protect its legitimate interest in bargaining on a
Jurisdiction Over Political Subdivisions. The U.S. Supreme Court held that when a State court is otherwise precluded from enjoining peaceful picketing by the NLRA, jurisdiction is not conferred on the State by the fact that one of its political subdivisions is among those seeking relief.
In this case, a municipal corporation contracted for construction work on an addition to the county courthouse. When one of the contractors refused to sign a union agreement, a union picketed the project. The picketing, though peaceful, stopped all work since union members employed by other contractors refused to cross the picket line. In an action for injunctive relief initiated by the county and the general contractor, the State circuit court enjoined the picketing, basing its jurisdiction on a finding that interstate commerce was not affected by the dispute. This
? Great Falls Employers' Council and Retail Clerks International A880ciation, 123 NLRB No. 109 (Apr. 29, 1959).
SNLRB v. Truck Drivers Union (Buffalo Linen), 353 U.S. 87 (1957).
• Local 298, Plumber: Union v. County of Door (U.S. Sup. Ct., May 4, 1959).