Excerpts from A Statement Dictated by Samuel Gompers
On the Pa. R.R.,
Washington to New York, April 16, 1914.
The apparent lack of energy or interest of the Members of Congress in the fundamental legislation which labor demands at the hands of Congress, particularly the exclusion of the labor organizations from the operations of the Sherman Antitrust Law, worried me very much. Most of the members individually with whom I came in contact declared themselves as favorable to the legislation, but few seemed to be spurred to action, and rather general dissatisfaction was manifested with some of the provisions of the Bartlett-Bacon Bill. They found fault with certain provisions of the Bartlett-Bacon Bill, with some it was the direct terms in which exclusion of the labor organizations was made, and with others it was that provision to do things in furtherance of the interests of labor organizations not in themselves unlawful.
But quite apart from these provisions of the bill, there seemed to be a lack of coherence on the part of the Democratic members on the bill. They were not quite certain as to the Administration's policy and did not care to act independent of the direct expressed will of the President.
. . .
At a conference last Thursday, April 9, after my testimony before the Industrial Relations Commission, I walked from there to the A.F. of L. office with John P. Frey, of the International Molders' Union. In discussing many matters he expressed his dissatisfaction with the apparent failure on the part of the Democrats who are in control of the legislation of Congress to enact the bill relieving the organizations of labor from the operations of the Antitrust Law. He declared that he was satisfied that they would not do so.
He expressed my own misgivings and I put the question to him as to whether he believed the holding of a conference of the officers of International Unions at Washington, similar to the conference held in 1906 and 1908 would be of practical advantage. He declared that in his opinion the calling of such a conference was imperative and that the same should be held at a very early date. I told him on that evening I expected to have a conference with the Chairman of the Committee on Labor of the House of Representatives, Mr. Lewis, and some others upon the question of the prospects of our bill, and I asked him to regard our conference relative to the holding of the conference as confidential, at least until I could see him the following day.
That evening, April 9, the conference was held in the room with the Committee on Labor of the House, in which Mr. Lewis, Attorney Jackson H. Ralston, Secretary Frank Morrison, Grant Hamilton, Arthur Holder and I participated. We went over the situation and had a draft of the section of the Antitrust Bill which the Judiciary Committee of the House was considering. The section is as follows:
"Section 10: That nothing contained in this Act shall apply to fraternal, labor, consumers, agricultural or horticultural organizations, orders or associations operating under the lodge system, instituted for mutual help and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to individual members engaged in carrying out the objects of such associations."
Mr. Lewis informed us that this section being suggested to Hon. Henry D. Clayton of the Judiciary Committee, he expressed himself as greatly relieved of a difficulty with which he and his Democratic associates found themselves confronted regarding the "crude manner in which some of the provisions of the Bartlett-Bacon bill were drafted" and which offered obstacles to the committee considering it favorably. We went over the section. He asked us if this provision became part of the Clayton Bill and the bills introduced by Mr. Clayton in this the 63d Congress, which passed the House of Representatives of the 62d Congress were also made part of the bill, whether that would be approved by us and would satisfy the American Federation of Labor that the Democratic Party would faithfully carry out its platform declarations. After further consultation with our counsel, I answered that it would be.
I then called a conference in which the following gentlemen participated: Frank Morrison, Arthur E. Holder, Grant Hamilton, James O'Connell, A. J. Berres, Andrew J. Furuseth, Mr. Olander, Edw. Nockels, John P. Frey, and myself. The conference was held in the offices of the A.F. of L. Saturday, April 11, and lasted three hours, when the propositions were approved.
On Monday evening, April 13, I received word from Mr. Lewis asking me to come to his committee room at eight o'clock that evening, and to have Mr. Morrison, Mr. Ralston, and our Legislative Committee present. They were present, and also Mr. Edw. Nockels of Chicago. Another draft of the section to exclude the labor organizations from the Antitrust Law was made. The section read as follows:
"That nothing contained in the Anti-Trust Laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of fraternal, labor, consumers', agricultural and horticultural organizations, orders or associations, operating under the lodge system, instituted for the purpose of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to restrain individual members of such orders or associations from carrying out the legitimate objects of such associations."
At one of the conferences in the room of the Committee on Labor of the House of Representatives, Mr. Ralston called attention to the fact that the injunction feature of the bill as proposed would not include the District of Columbia, for the courts of the District are not district courts of the United States. I thereupon wrote Chairman Clayton a letter, copy of which is attached hereto.
The proposition was thoroughly discussed and analyzed when I expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of the word "restrain" in the latter part of the section. I finally suggested that the two words preceding it should be added, that is, "to forbid," so that it would read "or to forbid or restrain individual members" etc.
Mr. Lewis asked us whether we insisted upon that going in or its entire rejection. He informed us confidentially that the draft as submitted by him was made by the President in consultation with Chairman Clayton, Mr. Carlin, and another Democratic Member of the House Judiciary Committee.
We all agreed that we would like to see those two words added but that if the President insisted that they should not go in, we would not interpose objection to the enactment of the bill without those words. He was greatly pleased and then informed us also in confidence that the President had declared to Mr. Clayton and his associates that day that he would insist upon Congress enacting legislation dealing with the trusts, that the bill would be introduced the following day, that is, Tuesday, that in fact every feature of the bill had been gone fully into and well understood.
Mr. Holder and Mr. Hamilton the day after the introduction of the Clayton bill in the House, went to Senator Hughes of New Jersey, and asked him if he would introduce the Clayton bill in the Senate, at the same time suggesting to him the advisability of having it referred to the Interstate Commerce Committee, of which Senator Newlands was Chairman. This suggestion was made because of the fact that it was feared that if the bill went to the Judiciary Committee that Senators Nelson of Minn., and Dillingham of Vermont, and Root of New York, would insist upon hearings before the Committee, which would mean great delay and possibly a complete failure in getting a report from this committee. Another reason why the suggestion was made was because the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee then had and now has what is known as the trade commerce bill, or in other words an amendment to the Sherman Antitrust Act. Further than this, also, the personnel of the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee is composed of Senators who are in our judgment much more favorable to the legislation which we desired than is the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Hughes was favorable to our suggestion, but with the idea of avoiding any conflict Mr. Holder and Mr. Hamilton waited on Congressman Lewis and related to him the substance of the conference with Senator Hughes, and he, Representative Lewis, in turn went to Mr. Clayton, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and re-related the conference held with Senator Hughes. Chairman Clayton expressed his objection to the bill being referred when introduced in the Senate to the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee, assigning as his reason in substance that he did not desire Chairman Newlands of the Senate Interstate Committee to appropriate to himself any of the ideas which he, Mr. Clayton, had evolved in this particular bill. Using other language, however, that was not at all complimentary to the Chairman of the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee. Following this it was discovered that there was a defect in the Clayton bill, and further negotiations along this line ceased. . . .
I have dictated the above on the train from Washington to Baltimore, en route to New York this Thursday afternoon, April 16, 1914, in the presence and hearing of Mr. Matthew Woll, President of the International Photo Engravers' Union, and Chairman of the Governing Board of the International Printing Trades Associations.
After dictating the above statement, Mr. Woll expressed his belief that the enactment of the bill into law would not prevent suits brought by individuals against labor organizations, or against their members for damages under the existing Sherman Antitrust Law. I replied:
"I made the exact same objection to this provision of the bill at the conference last Monday night, but a copy of the Sherman Antitrust Law was brought forward and section seven of the law was read. I am quoting from memory its provision--'that any individual who may be injured by reason of anything forbidden in this act may recover three-fold damages to that which he has sustained'--when that was shown to me I withdrew my objection because the exemption section of the proposed Clayton bill declares that nothing contained in the Antitrust Law shall be construed to forbid the existence, operation of . . . labor organizations, etc. So that removes that objection entirely."
AFL Microfilm Convention File, reel 26, frames 2349-50, AFL Records.