79th CONGRESS 1945-1946
Why Spanish, not English, should be the first language in the schools of Puerto Rico: A letter to President Truman
April 11, 1945
Nineteen hundred and forty five is the year of decision; undoubtedly the most tremendous military decision in the world will be made in Europe soon . . . . February 1945 marked the announcement of the most far reaching political decisions in the history of mankind. The decisions at the Crimea [Yalta] Conference constitute implementation on a worldwide basis of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Atlantic Charter. Lasting and democratic peace is dependent entirely upon the grand coalition cemented at Crimea and to be further reinforced at San Francisco [at the first meeting of the United Nations Organization]. The immediate success of this war is dependent upon the success of the grand coalition composed of Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Only the other day we saw living proof of this when the Soviet Union delivered a hammer blow against Japan in announcing the abrogation of the neutrality pact. I do not want to see that coalition impaired under any circumstances. It is in the interest of the world of today and tomorrow that all questions be subordinated to the problems of the preservation and strengthening of this coalition.
In making my plea for Italy I do so in the hope that her problem will be solved within the structure of the coalition. In making my plea for Italy I do so with the full realization that Italy's cause, the cause of all nations, can be saved only as a result of the success of the coalition, as a result of the success of its decisions, and as a result of the further strengthening of the coalition. The chance for a democratic Italy, a democratic Greece, a democratic world is dependent entirely on the success of the coalition of these three great nations and the fruition of the decisions made at Yalta by the leaders of the people of these great nations. If San Francisco fails, if the coalition is disrupted, Italy's cause, the cause of all other nations, the cause of the world will fail. Therefore, I again say that in pleading Italy's cause I do so, not in contradiction of the great decision at Yalta, but with the full understanding that the cause of a democratic Italy is an integral part of the living flesh and blood of the Teheran agreements, of the agreements of Yalta, of Dumbarton Oaks, and of the great meeting which will take place at San Francisco. For this reason alone Italy cannot be left out of the meeting at San Francisco.
In a report to Congress on the subject of the progress of the war made on September 17, 1943, the President stated:
"Italian soldiers, though disorganized and ill-supplied have been fighting the Germans in many regions. In conformity with the terms of unconditional surrender the Italian fleet has come over to our side and it can be a powerful weapon in striking at the Nazi enemies of the Italian people."
It must be remembered that when we invaded Italy we at all times stated to the Italian people that we were entering Italy as liberators and not as conquerors. This was said truthfully as we recognized that the people of Italy would have no truck with a Fascist-Nazi war. In a radio address to the Nation on July 29, 1943, following Mussolini's overthrow, the President promised:
"Eventually Italy will reconstitute herself. It will be the people of Italy who will do that, choosing their own government in accordance with the basic democratic principles of liberty and equality. In the meantime, the United Nations will not follow the pattern set by Mussolini and Hitler and the Japanese for the treatment of occupied countries the pattern of pillage and starvation."
And again on September 11, 1943, immediately following the armistice in a joint statement, both President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill said to the people of Italy:
"Take every chance you can, strike hard and strike home. Have faith in your future. All will come well. March forward with your American and British friends in the great world movement toward freedom, justice, and peace."
I sincerely believe that all of these messages and promises were made in good faith and it is my firm belief that the President will do his utmost to see to it that these promises made to the Italian people are kept. It is my firm belief that the overwhelming majority of people in America, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union do not desire a status of conqueror and conquered between them and the Italian people, but of liberator and liberated.
It is with regret that I must state that the events subsequent to the armistice in Italy have not conformed to the spirit, honor, and letter of the pledges made. The armistice itself restricted Italy's army to 11,000, . . . now that restriction has been slightly lifted to allow Italy an army of a little better than 50,000 Italy's 300,000 partisans are fighting the enemy behind the lines. Her soldiers are at the front and her navy is doing a good job. Although it is extremely doubtful whether under the terms of the armistice Italy will be permitted to declare war against Japan, and pool what she has into the war in the Pacific, for Italy cannot under the armistice declare war without permission of the Allied Commission, I am confident that Italy will make war against Japan if permitted and will do an effective job if material assistance is given to her.
I am not going to discuss the economic terms of the armistice except that they place on a country impoverished by the rapacious forces of the Nazis a burden that no nation can ever carry. I do not care to give a recital of the indignities imposed on the Italian people by the Allied Commission, as it would serve no purpose at this time. I will simply give you those instances which will apprise you of the nature of the conqueror role that the Allied Commission has played in Italy: One, with the exception of the slight increase from 11,000 to some fifty-odd thousand in the armed forces, the Allied Commission has consistently denied the appeal of the Italian Government to permit her to raise an effective fighting army. Two, even on the matter of relief the Allied Commission for months refused to carry out the President's order to increase the daily bread ration from 200 grams to 300 grams. The President issued this order some time in October. It was finally put into effect on March 1, 1945. Three, when a national government composed of all antiFascist political parties was established in June of 1944, the Soviet Union sought to extend diplomatic recognition of that government; the Allied Commission, in an arrogant letter to Prime Minister Bonomi, informed the Italian Government that it could not enter into diplomatic relations with any government, including an ally.
It is not necessary for me to recite the conditions of famine and disease now rampant in Italy. These are well known, and as for those who do place the blame on the Italian people, may I remind them that the retreating Nazis took along with them all the cattle they could seize, all the grain, all the food, clothing, bedding and other household furniture. What they could not take they destroyed. In many towns the Italian people were left without food and shelter and yet these people still refused to have truck with the Nazi-Fascist war lords and welcomed those who came as liberators. Disillusionment followed soon, caused not by our soldiers, nor by the people of the three great nations, but caused by an Allied Commission.
Spring will soon come to the unliberated regions of Italy. The rivers will overflow. The floods will add to the untold hardships of the winter that has just passed .... Unless we aid Italy now by extending lend-lease aid to her as an ally, to assist her in reconstruction, to help her to prevent further damage, to help her mobilize her forces fully so that they can join with us in defeating fascism, Italy will be a liability and a serious drag in the postwar world. Is it not sound economics as well as justice that Italy be permitted and enabled to assist, in the full dignity of a member, in building the postwar democratic world? The answer to this question too lies in the determination of Italy's status: conquered country or liberated country; a co-belligerent or an ally; an outlaw nation or partner at the San Francisco Conference.
It is my considered judgment, my earnest conviction, that to recognize Italy now, to extend to her lend-lease aid now, and to invite her to participate at the San Francisco Conference, will be in the interests of American agriculture, American labor, in the interests of 60,000,000 jobs, in the interest of a healthy, free Europe, in the interests of domestic and world stability and in the interests of a democratic world. These interests are our interests, the interests of the American people. They are in the interests of an America that is on the march on the far flung battle fronts of the world; in the interests of a great America of today and of a greater America of tomorrow.
June 8, 1945
[The following three speeches by Congressman Marcantonio give highlights of the parliamentary struggle which he led to bring a bill appropriating funds for the Fair Employment Practices Commission to the floor of the House for a vote.
In the first speech, June 8, 1945, he explained to his colleagues a maneuver designed to kill the bill in Committee.]
I want to deal a minute with this grand mystery, mystery No. 1 of the year, the great detective story "Who killed F.E.P.C.?" I think we should know who used the dagger; we should know who slipped in the poison. We should know who is the undertaker and who is the embalmer. We have been seeing the buck passed, the Alphonse and Gaston act, "I didn't do it. You did it. The Republicans did not do it. You Democrats did it." Let us get the facts. I think the country ought to know the facts.
First of all, it is charged that there was an agreement not to have any vote [by avoiding a committee quorum] until the gentleman from Missouri [Mr. Slaughter] who is the twelfth member of this committee of twelve, and who has been away, returned. [The Committee referred to was responsible for voting on the rule which could bring the F.E.P.C. appropriation bill to the floor of the House.] If that is true, then I say that was a deal against the interests of the country. I say that those who are in favor of permanent F.E.P.C. legislation should never have made that deal. Why is it that that committee did not have a quorum? Why did men who were supposed to favor F.E.P.C. stay away from committee meetings when the chairman was seeking to obtain a vote? lam not worried about the enemies of F.E.P.C. I am worried about the so-called friends of F.E.P.C. You can be somebody's friend in a certain way so as to aid and abet his killer. This kind of friendship, professed friendship, has brought us to the stage where F.E.P.C. is being murdered. So you now finally announce that you are going to vote on Tuesday. What a great favor! You reached an agreement to hold a vote on Tuesday in that committee, a sacred agreement, which is not going to be broken. Let us see what that is going to do for the F.E.P.C. rule. If the gentleman from Missouri returns on Tuesday and if he should cast his vote against the F.E.P.C. rule, that will make the vote 6 to 6, and the rule for F.E.P.C. will fail.
The country ought to know about this jockeying. I can have respect for a man who stands up on the floor of this House or in committee and says, "I am opposed to F.E.P.C. and I will vote against it." I disagree with him but I at least respect him for having the courage of his convictions. But this business of playing this sly game behind closed doors, of making a deal not to vote until you are sure to have enough votes to kill the rule, that kind of business is not in keeping with square and fair dealing that the American people require on this most important question.
I have stated these facts, not being a member of that committee, but these are the facts. No one contradicts them. I want the people of this country to know what has happened so that when Tuesday comes along and the rule is not reported, nobody can start playing once again the Alphonse and Gaston act and say, "No; I did not do it. You did it." And the other fellow says, "No; I did not do it. You did it." We might as well let the people have the whole story. It is one of double-crossing and double-dealing from beginning to end.
July 5, 1945
[In this speech, July 5, 1945, Congressman Marcantonio exposed a maneuver whereby a bill appropriating money for war agencies had been amended to bar funds for F.E.P.C. The intention had been to prevent F. B. P. C. supporters, who were also supporters of the war agencies, from voting against the bill. Yet its passage as amended would have meant defeat for F.E.P.C.
Mr. Marcantonio showed that defeat of the bill did not actually interrupt the work of the war agencies since there was a "provision in the deficiency appropriation act which permits these agencies to continue on the basis of anticipated appropriations." He showed further that the opponents of F.E.P.C. were not sincere supporters of the war agencies, and he justified the defeat of the amended bill because it made it possible to bring the F.E.P.C. appropriation up for a straight vote.]
Mr. Chairman, I believe the people of the country and the Members of the House are not going to be fooled by any of the protestations made by the opponents of the F.E.P.C. to the effect that those of us who are its proponents and who have made points of order [against the appropriations bill amended so as to deny funds to F.E.P.C.] must take the responsibility for killing appropriations for war agencies. The facts should be known. They are known. They should be repeated.
Let us see what the record shows. This [appropriation] bill is not necessary. This bill is simply a device to circumvent the majority of the House of Representatives from exercising its will to vote appropriations for the F.E.P.C. And why? We passed the war agencies appropriation bill in this House just 2 or 3 weeks ago. It went to the Senate. The Senate passed it, appropriating for these war agencies and for F.E.P.C. Who killed those appropriations? All that was necessary last Saturday was unanimous consent to send that war agencies appropriation bill to conference to complete legislative action. Who objected to that unanimous consent request? The opponents of F.E.P.C.
On Monday a request was made to the Rules Committee to send the war agencies appropriation bill to conference and complete congressional action. Who refused to report out a rule to make that possible? The opponents of F.E.P.C.
Further than that, on Monday afternoon that bill was sent by the Speaker to the Committee on Appropriations. The bill had been passed by the Senate, the same identical bill, making appropriations for these war agencies. What happened to the bill? By a vote of 21 to 11 the opponents of F.E.P.C. tabled that bill. Instead of bringing out that bill which had been passed by the House and the Senate, what did you, the opponents of F.E.P.C. do? You did not bring it out. You tabled it and you brought out this piece of paper which is unnecessary and which, I repeat, is simply a device to circumvent the will of the majority of this House to vote on F.E.P.C. appropriations. Again, on Tuesday afternoon the opponents of F.E.P.C. in the Rules Committee refused to vote out a rule to protect these agencies, because they feared that a majority of the House would amend the rule and make F.E.P.C. in order. So do not say that we are killing appropriations for war agencies. You did the job on Saturday. You did it on Monday. You did it on Tuesday; now do not try to place the responsibility on us on Thursday.
Let me go a step further than that. Let us see who are these gentlemen who pretend to be so enamored of these war agencies today. Let us look at the record. On May 26, 1944, we passed the war agencies appropriation bill. Let us see how the gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. Colmer] voted on these particular appropriations. Page 5067, Congressional Record, May 26, 1944, the gentleman from Mississippi voted "no."
Let us see how the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Cox] voted on these particular appropriations. On the same roll call the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Cox] voted "no."
The gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. Rankin} voted "no."
The gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Smith] voted "no."
No. We are not killing these war agencies. You did the job ....
Mr. Chairman, this is a most serious proposition. The opponents of F.E.P.C. are not fooling anyone. The American people know that we, the friends of F.E.P.C. are supporters, past and present of the war agencies The only reason why we took the action we did today [defeating the amended bill] is to insure that this bill goes to conference; to insure that not only all of these war agencies will be appropriated for, but to insure that this House will have an opportunity to vote on the appropriations for F.E.P.C. That is why we took the action and everybody knows it. You are not going to get away with the attempt to put the onus on us.
Mr. [Charles] LaFollette: Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. Marcantonio: I yield.
Mr. LaFollette: I simply want to say for myself as an individual Member, I endorse the statement of the gentleman from New York.
Mr. Marcantonio: I thank the gentleman.
The action of the opponents of F.E.P.C. has placed this House in an ignominious position. You think you have killed F.E.P.C. You have not. F.E.P.C. can and will continue, irrespective of whether you give it funds. It was established by Executive order and it will continue as long as the President continues the Executive order. You will have it recorded that for the first time in the history of America a Government agency will have to be supported by contributions from the people, from the overwhelming majority of the American people who want this agency, who know that it is necessary in war and in peace; who know that on this issue we are beginning to determine whether or not the peace that follows this war shall be a peace that shall belong to the people, or whether it shall be a peace belonging to the few who are practicing the same doctrines of Hitlerism in America that American boys crushed in Europe.
July 12, 1945
[In this speech, July 12, 1945, Congressman Marcantonio hailed the success of the efforts he had led to force a vote on F.E.P.C. The Colmer amendment he referred to was a straightforward amendment barring F.E.P.C. which could be defeated by a majority vote of the Members. It was defeated, and the Fair Employment Practices Commission received its funds.]
As for the pseudo patriots who have sought here to use their pseudo patriotism as a cover to do a subversive job on this American agency, I say to them that we, the proponents of F.E.P.C. are the real Americans. The genesis of F.E.P.C. is found in the greatest American document of all time, the Declaration of Independence, in which it is unqualifiedly stated that all men are created equal. And when they said "All men are created equal," they meant that every man had a right to work, irrespective of his race, color, and creed; and that goes for Negroes in Georgia and Mississippi and everywhere else. The American people who are fighting this war intend that the Declaration of Independence sh1l live everywhere in these United States, including Georgia and Mississippi. It is not a minority of people who are insisting that that Declaration shall live by the enactment of F.E.P.C. It is the overwhelming majority of the American people who insist on it. The vote on this Colmer amendment will demonstrate who is in the majority and who is in the minority, the proponents of F.E.P.C. or its opponents. I can understand the rage and frustration of the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Cox], that of the gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. Colmer], because for months they have done their utmost to prevent the representatives of the American people from voting on this fundamental American proposition. Today they are enraged and frustrated because for the first time, the efforts of these gentlemen to the contrary notwithstanding, the American people through their representatives have an opportunity to cast their vote in support of this fundamental American institution. Who is and what is subversive? Those who here seek to deny equality in employment are not only subversive but are the adept technicians of the Nazi anti-racial practices.
July 21, 1945
Mr. Speaker, The National Labor Relations Board has in three recent decisions delivered a series of vicious attacks on the principle of industrial democracy. Concretely, the Board has held that a labor organization is entitled to certification under the National Labor Relations Act even though it excludes individuals on the basis of race or segregates them in Jim Crow locals. The Board justifies its decisions on the ground that it will not interfere with a union's membership practices, as long as the union undertakes to represent everyone within the unit fairly. An agency of the United States Government has announced that it will lend the authority of the United States Government to a union which discriminates on the basis of race. The Board's decision, because it lends official sanction to discriminatory race practices, raises serious constitutional questions. Moreover, it is a cruel hoax on the Negro people as well as unsound in terms of trade union realities.
The Board's assumption that a Negro who is barred from membership hence barred from participation in such fundamental matters as the formation of policy, the election of union officers, participation in union conventions can still hope to enjoy equal representation with the whites, who are free of such handicaps, is farfetched and fantastic. It is a fundamental principle of political democracy that fair representation for all citizens is insured by their right to participate in the election of officers and in the formulation of political policy. Where a political or trade union representative is free of the responsibility for accounting to those whom he is under a duty to represent, for the reason that they have no control over him, it is obvious that fair representation is impossible.
This is true not only in the situation in which a Negro is barred from trade union membership, but it is also true where he is segregated in his membership. Segregation violates the fundamental principle of the solidarity of the craft upon which effective collective bargaining is premised. It is not only offensive as a matter of simple democracy to place a Negro in a separate local, which is totally unrelated to any trade union objective, but it denies him the full benefits of collective bargaining which the National Labor Relations Act is supposed to promote.
July 24, 1945
My Dear Senator Bilbo:
I have before me a letter which you sent to Josephine Piccolo, 93 Garfield Place, Brooklyn, N.Y., addressing her as "My dear Dago."
It may be of interest to you to know that this lady had three brothers in the armed forces of the United States, and that one of them lies buried in Germany.
if you have any shred of decency left in you you would apologize.
Very truly yours, Vito Marcantonio
October 19, 1945
Mr. Chairman, I have been waiting throughout this debate to have someone give away the real reason why this effort is being made to return the Employment Service back to the States. We finally at long last have the motive. It is found in the frank confession made by the gentleman from Minnesota [Mr. Knutson]. He told us that the return of this Service to the States is the best guaranty to force workers to accept employment at wages considerably lower than they have been receiving during the war. In other words, his complaint against the U.S.E.S. [United States Employment Service] is the fact that the U.S.E.S. has made efforts to protect the wage standards of American workers.
The gentleman from Minnesota, whose attitude toward labor was very aptly described by himself at a Ways and Means Committee meeting when he advanced the bull whip as a solution of labor problems, wants this Service returned to the States so that when an unemployed worker insists on American standards and American wages he will be denied unemployment compensation if he refuses unAmerican and substandard wages. This Dirksen provision in the bill is part of the entire anti-labor drive that is going on in this Congress. Labor exploiters want this provision. They want the Employment Service returned to the States now. Why? So that during this period of reconversion workers who have been laid off will either have to accept low wages or be denied unemployment benefits. This plan is an appendage to the anti-labor vehicle that has been let loose in this Congress on the working people of this country, and you are not fooling anybody by talking about efficiency in administration as an excuse for transfer of this Service to the States.
Labor knows what the scheme is. It was revealed just now. It was given away by the gentleman from Minnesota who said that if workers do not take the jobs that are offered at the wages offered, they had better tighten their belts. This is a device to exploit American workers. It is part of the plan to use reconversion as an instrument to cut wages.
October 24, 1945
[Mr. Rankin of Mississippi had referred to Mr. Celler of New York as "a Jewish gentleman." When objection was taken to this reference Mr. Rankin inquired whether Mr. Celler found it offensive to be referred to as "Jewish" or as "a gentleman." Congressman Marcantonio immediately took the floor to reply.]
Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that the Jewish people or any other people need any defense from any attacks that are made here. In referring to any Member of this House as a "Jewish gentleman" there is only one inference. Let us be realistic. It is the practice of advocates of racism to mention one's race for the purpose of arousing discrimination and hate against that person, particularly if his race be that of a minority. When you single out a person by his race, color, or creed, particularly when you are engaged on the opposite side of debate from him, you are not doing that for the purpose of merely pointing out that the gentleman's race happens to be Jewish or that the gentleman happens to be a Negro. Oh, no..You are baiting the gentleman. You are baiting him because of his race or because of his color or because of his creed. You are seeking to subject him to either discrimination or hate.
I want to serve notice that, as far as I am concerned, when I am here I shall raise a point of order on all occasions when any Member's race is made reference to, or when anyone is referred to as the "Jewish gentleman" or as the "Negro gentleman." The injecting of race, color, or creed, in my opinion, is not only dangerous but it is subversive of orderly process in this House. It is not only in violation of the rules of this House, but in my considered judgment it is subversive of that kind of Americanism that was expounded by men of all races yes, Jews, Gentiles, Catholics, Protestants, and Negroes who defended this country in war. Their different races did not divide them. They were united on the battlefield in defending this country. No man on the battlefield turned around and referred to his buddy as the Jewish member of the Fifth Battalion or the Negro member of the Sixth Regiment. No; they were united by their blood. They shed it together and they intend to live together and drive out from America. .. any form of racism.
[Here Mr. Hoffman of Michigan interrupted Mr. Marcantonio by making the point of no quorum. After some floor discussion the Chair ruled that a quorum was present. Mr. Marcantonio then continued.]
Mr. Speaker, at the time the point of no quorum was made I was discussing, the significance of referring to a Member or a person by his race, his color, or his creed. I contend, and seriously do so, that that is fascism; and let us see whether I am right or wrong; let us see what happened in Germany. First, the Jews were referred to as "Jewish Members of the Reichstag," or "Jewish judges," or "Jewish merchants." What followed? Then the word "Jew" was written over the store windows of these people. After that it was written on their doors where they lived, and later on it was written on their clothing when they were placed in concentration camps. So the use of the word "Jewish" is not resented because people of Jewish origin are ashamed of it. Oh, no; they have all the right in the world to be proud of belonging to that race. Particularly as Americans they have a right to be proud of the tremendous contribution they have made to the history of this Nation and most recently to the winning of the war. But the resentment that comes not only from people of the Jewish race, but from everyone who believes in democracy and who is opposed to fascism, is because the history of the word "Jewish" in reference to an individual, singling him out because of his race, his color, or his creed, has been proven to be fascism where it has happened and let us pray to God that it will not happen here.
I do hope for the sake of a united America that it will never again become necessary on the floor of this House to engage in a discussion which I could not avoid this afternoon. I would have been remiss in my duty to my country had I remained silent.
January 22, 1946
The gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Smith] made a very revealing remark last Thursday in reply to a question that I asked him. He referred to labor as a commodity. He said:
"The decision of the fact-finding board is that General Motors should pay so much money. I guess I am a little bit old fashioned, but I was raised up in this country and my ancestors were, and we always went out and we bargained for what we wished to purchase. If the price suited us, we dealt; if not, we did not. If we thought a thing was worth so much, we were willing to pay so much for it. If we thought it was not worth so much we were not willing to pay for it."
How revealing of utter contempt and disdain for the men and women who toil!
It just so happens that the days have gone far past in the United States when labor was considered a commodity. Workers are human beings contributing to the wealth and welfare of America and are entitled as a matter of right to a decent living. They have earned the right to organize and to strike to obtain it. They are not mere commodities to be purchased at a sale and at a price that General Motors, United States Steel, or the gentleman from Virginia are willing to pay.
February 21, 1946
[The bill Congressman Marcantonio here opposed was H. R. 5117 which forbade "any person, association or group to directly or indirectly... interfere.. . with the lawful production, transmission
of any music, musical program, or radio broadcast." The bill provided a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or a $5000 fine for each such act of interference. It was passed in the House by a vote of 22243 but the Senate refused to accept it as written, and finally both Houses agreed on a substitute, S. 63, "Prohibiting Certain Coercive Practices Affecting Radio Broadcasting." This embodied some of the features Mr. Marcantonio opposed, but partially met his major objection by safeguarding the right to strike in enforcement of any contractual or other legal obligations assumed by the broadcasting companies.]
Mr. Speaker, I make a very simple request of the Members of the
House, and that is that before we vote on this bill we read it and study it. This bill is brought here behind a smokescreen of indignation against the activities of Mr. Petrillo [James C. Petrillo, President of the American Federation of Musicians]. Irrespective of what our opinions may be as to the activities of Mr. Petrillo, I submit that the House should consider the implications in this bill. Just what does it do to organized labor in the broadcasting industry?
An analysis of this bill a cold-blooded analysis of this bill demonstrates it does two things. First, it goes further than any other bill that the Congress has ever had before it with respect to the right to strike. This is the first time that we have before us a bill which calls for imprisonment in the event that American workers go out on strike . ... Under this bill, if the American musicians refuse to work because of the broadcasting company refusing to accede to their demands, they may be prosecuted and sent to jail. You cannot get away from that, and no amount of blanket denial will contradict it.
Secondly, this bill for the first time in the history of the Congress, specifically attempts to fix the arrangements that are to exist between labor and the broadcasting companies. It gives, of course, all the advantages to the broadcasting companies. It says that labor cannot ask for certain things. It says that labor, for instance, cannot ask that more men be put on the job. That means they cannot ask for better working conditions. If a union finds that the work in a broadcasting station is such that it imposes peculiarly onerous working conditions on the six men, let us say, who may be employed in the broadcasting company, and if it feels that eight men are needed to do that work, when the men ask for an improvement in their working conditions and ask for more men [on the job], and strike to obtain this legitimate request, or even if they issue a pamphlet or even make a speech in relation to that request, they will be prosecuted and sent to jail.
Ladies and gentlemen of the House of Representatives, read this bill. I know that we are all aware of the newspaper stories against Mr. Petrillo. I am not asking you to pass on whether or not Mr. Petrillo's activities are right or wrong. But I am asking you to vote down a bill which takes money out of the pockets of American workers and puts it into the pockets of licensees and broadcasting companies.
It is a bill to increase the profits of broadcasting monopolies at the expense of workers and not a bill to protect children's orchestras, as its proponents would have us believe. This bill definitely provides for imprisonment for striking, and definitely increases the profits of licensees and broadcasting companies at the expense of the American musicians and other workers in the broadcasting industry.
Mr. Speaker, at this point I ask unanimous consent to include a memorandum prepared by the Congress of Industrial Organizations analyzing the bill in detail .... This bill is [also] the weapon of the broadcasting monopolies to prevent workers from continuing to receive a small share of the profits that come from this most profitable industry. Musicians say, "Here you are using the record, and as a result, we are put out of work. When you use that record, we ask you to pay us a share of the tremendous profit that you are making by using that record. We produced it." What is immoral about it? What is racketeering about it? We have heard this talk about immorality and racketeering. I challenge you to explain what is immoral about it and what is racketeering about it.
In this bill you say, first, it is against public policy, and then you say if you go out on strike and try to get a share of these profits that are being made from that recording, if you musicians attempt to protect your very existence, you say to them, "Try and do it you are going to jail." Let us not talk about Shriners or the Confederate Army or the Union Army or about Caesar [Petrillo's middle name]. Let us deal with the situation that arises as a result of this bill. Let me also say to the gentlemen who are supporting this bill that when men refuse to work and that is what a strike is when they refuse to work, you say to them, "We are going to put you in jail because you are refusing to work and because the companies will not accede to certain demands that we illegalize here in this bill." So what are you doing? You are going back to involuntary servitude. Your bill is unconstitutional and it is immoral because you are taking dollars from American musicians and giving them to the big mighty corporations who are behind this bill 100 percent.
The issue is squarely up to you. This is the first time that you are legislating imprisonment for workers going out on strike. You are legislating imprisonment for men refusing to work. It is clearly in violation of the thirteenth amendment; it is unconstitutional; but if Congress wants to do it, if instead of discussing the bill you prefer to keep up to the pattern that has been set here of raising smoke screens, of waving the flag, of talking about Union men that are buried and Confederate men that are buried, of condemning Caesar and defending the shrine, go ahead and lynch organized labor and enjoy it while you are doing the job. However, when your smoke is blown away, the American people will see the issues. Yes, they will know that this bill is intended to increase the profits of the real Caesars, the broadcasting corporations.
April 5, 1946
[In the following argument Congressman Marcantonio supported an amendment to prohibit segregation in schools and other public institutions of the District of Columbia.]
The District of Columbia, I submit, is still the Capital of all the United States. In the District of Columbia there are people from all parts of America and... it is not asking too much [to ask] that here in the District of Columbia we practice the fundamental precepts of democracy that we are asking all of the world to practice at this time.
As to the cry of race riots, we have heard that cry before. We heard that cry made when we attempted to pass an anti-poll-tax bill in this House of Representatives and in the other body [the Senate]. We heard the same cry raised in regard to F.E.P.C. when we attempted to enact legislation which would guarantee employment without discrimination because of race, color, or creed. Now, we hear the same cry of race riots in respect to a simple request that this Congress rise up to the dignity of the Nation the dignity that the world expects us to rise up to, of practicing the fundamental precepts of Democracy for which men died, both black and white.
Race trouble! We know what it is and we know its fundamental causes. The denial of equality and of equal opportunity is the cause of race disturbances ... [To refuse] a job to a man because his color is black, or to compel him to go to a school other than the one he wants to go to because his color is black, to treat him differently from anybody else because he is a Negro, to heap the indignity of segregation on a person because of his color that is what causes race disturbances. Remove the cause segregation and discrimination and you solve the problem of race relations.
This is not an amendment to agitate race disturbances. This amendment is merely a step toward a better civilization for mankind, and in America's march of progress toward the elimination of race hate and inequality.
Further, let us talk facts. Today race riots are incited by domestic Fascists and advocates of white supremacy.
We have before us a specific, concrete illustration of whether we mean what we say; whether we mean what we say when we talk to audiences from public platforms; whether we meant what we said when we spoke to the departing soldiers; whether we meant what we said when we went before our constituents. This is the first chance to invoke that democracy in the Capital of the Nation.
This is America, where the U.N.O. [United Nations Organization] is meeting. This is Washington, which many would make the capital of the world. Are we going to hesitate to remove from the Capital of the United States the blot of discrimination and segregation? Further than that, shall we place the stamp of approval, by voting down this amendment, on this unAmerican principle? Please do not be frightened by the red herring cry of communism which the gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. Rankin] raises against a proposal that he dislikes. The issue here is not Communism; the issue is not Republicanism or the Democratic Party; the issue here is genuine Americanism; the issue is America, the Capital of the Nation, with no discrimination and no segregation.
April 10, 1946
Mr. Chairman, I have noticed in the newspapers a report on the current labor dispute between the Atlantic coast sugar refineries and the unions representing their workers.
We are all aware that in most of the major industries in this country, certain patterns of wage increases for this postwar period have been established. Steel has given its employees 181/2 cents; electrical manufacturers have done the same, automobile manufacturers have done approximately the same. The meat packing workers have received 16 cents.
Yet at the present time it appears that these sugar refining companies are refusing to come up even to the lowest of these patterns of wage increases. When an agreement could not be reached on the wage issue the unions, which incidentally are made up of both A. F. of L. and C. I. 0. locals acting in cooperation, offered to accept any reasonable means of deciding the issue. They offered to arbitrate. They offered to accept the findings of a fact-finding board.
The companies, however, have flatly refused to accept any means of settling the dispute. They will not arbitrate. They will not agree to submit to, and accept recommendations of, a fact-finding panel. They will not agree to conform to any of the established wage increase patterns.
The American public should recognize that these sugar refining companies on the Atlantic coast have especially weak justification for assuming so arbitrary a position. These sugar refineries have been the subject of some very exceptional favors and protections under the laws of the United States. This Congress in years past has established by law certain quotas very fixed limits on the amount of sugar which may be brought into the United States, not merely from foreign countries but from areas which are part of United States territory, namely, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. These refineries have been given, by law, protection against competition. That law is still on the books of the Nation and will come up for renewal in December of this year.
The theory of this special protection has been that it preserves good jobs for American workers in these Atlantic coast refineries. Yet now we find that when those workers try to secure from these companies some assurance that those jobs will be kept up to American standards, and that wage levels will be adjusted as they have been in all other American industries, they meet with rejection by the companies.
Moreover at a time when the sugar situation is most critical, these companies refuse to accept any peaceful method of resolving the conflict by arbitration, or by agreeing to accept the recommendations of a fact-finding board. Instead, the companies insist on provoking a stoppage of production.
It is certainly to be hoped that these companies will yield to the public interest and agree to conform to the reasonable suggestions made by their employees.
May 10, 1946
[During a strike of the United Mine Workers a number of Representatives secured permission to read anti-labor newspaper articles on the floor of the House. Congressman Marcantonio made the following reply:]
Mr. Chairman, the same "lynch labor" spirit is being engendered here during the last 2 or 3 days that I witnessed at the time this House rushed through the Smith-Connally bill. Under the guise of attacking John L. Lewis, you direct your attack against the men who are engaged, and have been engaged for the better part of their lives, in the production of coal. The press of the country has ganged up against labor again in this instance, as it always does when labor is engaged in a most critical struggle for its very existence. When I say "the press" I mean a good portion of it. In this ganging up the press has deliberately misinformed the people or omitted to tell the American people the real issues that are involved. Freedom of the press! There is as much freedom as the owners of the press and their financial overlords will permit.
As an illustration, the press tries to make people believe that when the miners ask for portal-to-portal pay they are asking for pay from the time they leave their homes to the time they get into the mine, when, as a matter of fact, portal-to-portal pay merely means payment from the time the miner enters the entrance to the mine until he gets down into the mine itself.
This is just a sample of a series of misrepresentations. Nothing is said of the working conditions, the hazards ... and the cruel exploitations of the miner and his family. Yes, Congress must do something. May I suggest that it devote some of its time toward the amelioration of these conditions. Instead, we have anti-labor stories and editorials in the press and anti-labor speeches here. Not a word of condemnation of the operators. The result is an attempt to work up an anti-labor hysteria in this House, similar to the hysteria that produced the Smith-connally law a law that now the author himself seeks to repeal, a law that has been condemned in the last Presidential campaign by the standard bearer of the Republican Party, a law repudiated by everybody.
Mr. Chairman, the issue here is not John L. Lewis. The issue is: shall we permit these ruthless coal operators to carry out their conspiracy against labor and against the interests of the American people? If the American people as a whole, the farmers of your district or the tenement dwellers in my district, knew the real facts they would rise up in protest and in overwhelming numbers, demanding that action be taken, not against the coal miners, but against the coal operators who have conspired to provoke this strike, who are now conspiring to use this strike as a weapon to destroy the gains that have been obtained by coal miners after years and years of struggle, suffering and exploitation. Oh, you say the papers are picking on us! Why yield to their pressure? They are on the side of the operators, protecting them in their nefarious plot against the American people under the guise of a smoke screen attack against John L. Lewis. I, for one, want the press to know that I voted against the Case Bill [an antistrike bill passed by the House but later rejected by the Senate. See P. 217] and spoke against it. I am confident that time and events will vindicate us who voted against and fought the Case Bill ....
No, do not make the miners your target. Make the operators your target. You want to eliminate this industrial dispute? Then put your finger on the cause and put pressure on those who are responsible.
It is the operators who provoked the strike, it is the operators who provoke a continuance of the strike, it is the operators who are obstinate in their refusal to act as reasonable, patriotic persons. They are interested only in profits and not in the welfare of the Nation. Pressure them, not the coal miners of this country, and the strike will be settled without delay.
The Chairman: The time of the gentleman from New York has expired.
May 25, 1946
[Because of the railroad operators' continued refusal to negotiate a new union contract the Railroad Brotherhoods declared a widespread strike, and the Government took over the railroads. President Truman addressed both Houses of Congress, asking emergency legislation to force the strikers back to work. He requested:
1. That the use of injunction and contempt proceedings be authorized against any labor leader who should encourage union members to refuse to work after the President of the United States had taken over an industry.
2. That all workers who persisted in striking against the Government lose their seniority.
3. That criminal penalties be provided for use against employees and union leaders who violated provisions of this legislation.
In anticipation of the President's request, to be made that afternoon, Congressman Marcantonio spoke in the morning session. In his speech, given in part below, he opposed both the emergency legislation and the way in which it was being rushed through Congress. He expressed his belief that the emergency would be over before the President's address.]
I realize there is very little I can say that will halt the passion and fury which has been whipped up by the press of the country, outside of Congress, and by enemies of labor inside of Congress. I also fully appreciate that some time, somewhere, somehow, those of us who are in opposition to what is to be done today may have our side told to the people of the country. Further, I am confident, Mr. Speaker, that when the sound and fury have blown over, when Americans take stock and inventory, our side, those of us who are trying to let the people of this country know the truth, will be vindicated. I have confidence in time and events. I have faith in the judgment of my fellow Americans.
As far as this rule is concerned, the issue is very clear. I know what it is for. The President makes recommendations; a bill will be offered; then the Speaker, of course, will recognize some one to call up the bill under suspension of the rules. But there is this very, very unusual character to this rule. The gentlemen from Massachusetts and Georgia and several others have said this rule merely advances, by a few days, suspension Monday [on which bills could be called up out of the regular order]. It does more than that. On suspension Mondays bills that are called up are bills that have already been in existence; bills that may or may not have been reported out of committee, but they are bills which any Member will have had the opportunity to read and study. By this procedure that we adopt here, we are providing for consideration of a bill which is not even in existence. No Member of Congress knows what it will contain. I think that is true. I do not believe anybody here can challenge that statement. We are providing for the consideration of a bill, under 40 minutes debate, which is not even in existence. Certainly that is a most extraordinary procedure. In spirit, in my opinion, it is a violation of the traditions of the House, the traditions of due deliberation before the enactment of legislation of this or any other character.
I know what the answer is going to be. We will be told that this is a very unusual situation with which we are dealing and consequently we must use unusual methods and take unusual steps. It is an emergency situation, we will be told, therefore emergency action and emergency procedure will be necessary. Well, now, Mr. Speaker, unless I am very much mistaken, I have every reason to believe that the emergency will be over before the President of the United States addresses this Congress today. If the railroad workers go back to work then you no longer have your rationale, your excuse, your alibi, for emergency procedure because the emergency conditions no longer exist. That is why I have sought to delay this matter, not for the purpose of being dilatory but for the purpose of permitting the Members of this House to be deliberate of having full knowledge of a bill on which they are going to vote and to deal with the situation realistically ....
Yes, the country faces a crisis. A crisis brought upon the American people not by labor, but by selfish and unpatriotic railroad corporations. You would think that the operators did not exist not a word of condemnation of them in the press, not a single proposal advanced here to curb them.
What are the facts here? The facts are that the worst mistake that was made in connection with this railroad situation was that we permitted the operators to continue their adamant position. Even after we seized the railroads, instead of doing what would have solved the problem the Government negotiating directly with the workmen and then returning the property only after the operators agreed to assume a Government-negotiated contract... we had to go after the workers. This was a golden opportunity to smash and wipe away gains that workingmen and workingwomen have made over a period of years of struggle and sacrifice. The heat was on. Monopolists of this country, who have been the recipients of tax benefits . . . sought to smash the equality that labor has obtained in collective bargaining. So they refused to negotiate. They took an unreasonable position and provoked a strike. Why should they worry?.. . on their side now they have the press, on their side now they have the President of the United States. On their side they have now the majority of the Congress of the United States, as was demonstrated here awhile ago. They now have all of the advantages. Everything has been placed on the side of the scales of the operators. Equality in bargaining? Wiped away, wiped away by this diabolical conspiracy launched in Wall Street, in the very heart of Wall Street, and carried on throughout the country by the press and the radio. And now Congress will put its stamp of approval on it.
I know I am just a voice crying in the wilderness here. I know that with a few others I stand alone; but let me assure you, standing alone as we may be, we are expressing an honest conviction a conviction that arises not because of any interest in any class but a conviction that exists because we believe that the democracy of this Nation will survive only as long as there exists a free, untrammeled labor movement ....
In conclusion, I ask that at least if we want to do what you want to do, let us do it on the record. This is such a serious question, do not refuse me when I ask for the yeas and nays.
[The House passed the emergency legislation immediately by a vote of 30613 with 112 not voting. The Senate refused to act so precipitately and that evening the official announcement of the Railroad Brotherhoods' agreement to return to work on the following day Sunday, May 26 concluded the matter.]
May 29, 1946
[The Case Bill, somewhat amended to meet the objections of the Senate, was again presented for a vote to the House. Congressman Marcantonio again led the opposition to it. His argument is given in part below. The bill passed both Houses but was vetoed by the President June 11, 1946. Some of its provisions were a compulsory 60 day "cooling off" period before a strike, injunctions in all cases of "obstructional" picketing, seizure by the President of any industry in which a work stoppage involved "public health, safety or security," forfeiture of all rights under the National Labor Relations Board by employees who disregarded a government return-to-work order, and exclusion of supervisory workers from collective bargaining rights.]
The purpose of this legislation is to destroy labor's right to strike. It is done by destroying the National Labor Relations Act and the Norris-LaGuardia Anti-injunction Act. It takes labor's arms and ties them so that monopoly capital can do as it pleases hereafter in the field of so-called collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining means what? It means equality in bargaining for both sides. That equality is destroyed because labor's only bargaining power is its right of refusing to work. That is destroyed by this legislation. Mind you, you are not limiting this legislation only to industries whose tie up would affect the entire Nation; you are extending this legislation to every industry that is engaged in interstate commerce, and under recent definitions of interstate commerce, this includes practically every industry.
Therefore, the purpose of this legislation is to destroy the right to strike and thereby exploit and enslave American labor. If you destroy the right to strike you make collective bargaining a mockery, and what does that mean? It means that American workers can no longer obtain for themselves and their families a decent American living wage and keep up an American standard of living. You do that [destroy the right to strike] under what guise? Under the guise that these strikes disturb production and hold up reconversion. But who is really causing the strikes? Men do not want to strike for the fun of it. It causes them and their families suffering to go out on strike. Men go out on strike only as a last resort and only when they are provoked by the scheming, uncompromising, and unreasoning tactics of profit-bloated, tax-benefited corporations. They provoke strikes, and then the organs of propaganda start beating the drums against American workers in order to intimidate Congress to pass anti-labor legislation. This Case Bill is just what these corporations wanted, to deprive labor of its rights, its right to bargain collectively, its equality in bargaining collectively. All this is accomplished under the guise of an emergency created not by labor but by these corporations who now ask you to pass this Case Bill. This bill was sired by the National Association of Manufacturers, the same sire of the Smith-connally Act. Just as Americans have repudiated the Smith-connally Bill, so will they denounce this Case Bill.
June 25, 1946
[Under the guise of new price control legislation, Congress was considering a bill which opened the way to relaxation and ultimate removal of price controls, particularly on food and clothing. Some Congressmen argued that this bill was "better than nothing." Congressman Marcantonio showed them that, by defeating the bill, they would have an opportunity to extend existing price control legislation for a year.]
Mr. Speaker, the bill as it comes out of conference is not a price control bill but a bill to legalize inflation. Examination of the amendments to the present act agreed to by the conference committee leaves no doubt of this ....
[Here Congressman Marcantonio cited four amendments which would have seriously weakened existing price control regulations.]
The major industries in the country have just closed labor contracts based on the assumption that the present level of the cost of living would be maintained. The passage of this bill will result in either great hardship on the people or in the revision of all wage agreements arrived at, after great disturbance of the national economy.
This bill flouts the will of the American people. The polls have run 101 for effective price control. Passage of this bill in the name of continued price control would deceive the people for only a short time. I refuse to share responsibility for the inflation that will be ushered in by this bill.
It will now be argued as an excuse for surrender that this bin is better than nothing. This is worse than nothing; it is unconditional surrender to inflation and to powerful, selfish interests. There is a way out of this dilemma. This Congress can pass a simple resolution extending O.P.A. [Office of Price Administration] for another year. We have ample precedent for such action. Once before we were up against a similar predicament when President Roosevelt vetoed another O.P.A. bill which, like this one, legalized inflation. Then, too, we were told to either agree to surrender or have no legislation.
However, Roosevelt fought back in defense of the consumers. He vetoed the surrender. Immediately Congress passed a continuing resolution extending the life of price controls. Why cannot this be done now? Vote down this betrayal of the American people and pass a resolution extending the life of price controls. We will be told that Congress will not do it. That remains to be seen. I venture that after the American people talk to Congress, following the rejection of this bill, that such a resolution will pass. If you vote for this bill now, you preclude this opportunity for real price control. If Congress refuses, then those who refuse to vote for such a resolution will have to assume the responsibility. I shall discharge mine by voting in favor of such a resolution. I refuse to accept the alternative to such a course abject and unconditional surrender by voting for the adoption of this conference report. Within 4 months, America will be thrown into the most violent inflation as a result of this legislation. Therefore, I refuse to vote for it. I shall not cast my vote to ruin the economy of the Nation, to permit the robbery of the hard-earned dollars of Americans, simply because you tell me that Congress will not do its duty and extend price controls for another year.
July 13, 1946
Mr. Chairman, I support this resolution [for a 3 billion dollar loan to Great Britain]. I support it because I believe that world peace is dependent upon the strengthening of unity among the Big Three. Unless we have that unity in pursuance of the fundamental policies and decisions laid down at Teheran and Yalta and Potsdam this world will once again be plunged into war. We cannot support the policy of unity among the Big Three and at the same time refuse to implement that unity with economic aid ....
It is argued by some that the relationship among the Big Three has deteriorated. That is true. But the refusal of this loan would only increase the deterioration.
To grant this loan is in keeping with the foreign policy for which Franklin Roosevelt laid down his life ....
The American people believe in world peace and know that the Roosevelt blueprint must be followed. That is why they have supported U.N.O., Bretton Woods, and today they are in full support of the policy of unity among the Big Three for world peace, despite the speeches made here by some of the opponents and proponents of this resolution. This is what is involved here.
I cannot help but deplore the appeals made for and against this resolution which are based on the contention that either defeat or passage of this loan will work to the advantage of the Soviet Union. These proponents of the loan who use attacks on the Soviet Union, and who advocate a cordon sanitaire against her, are negating the very principle for which this loan is made: world peace which can be guaranteed only by full collaboration among the Big Three Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The opponents who make the Soviet Union a target for their attacks on this loan have always opposed Big Three unity. The advocates of the loan who have today used the same line thus find themselves in accord with those who oppose the loan, and therefore give aid and comfort to those who are enemies not only of the loan, but enemies also of unity for world peace. Remember that this loan by itself does not insure world peace. We must return to the fundamentals of Roosevelt, the decisions of Teheran, of Yalta, and Potsdam. The Roosevelt doctrine for a lasting and democratic peace is based on the foundation of Big Three unity. The reason for my support of this loan is therefore based on the proposition that it be utilized in cementing the unity of these three nations, and not destroying it.
Consequently, England too must realize that the American people strongly condemn her policy of rugged imperialism in China, Africa, Indonesia, and in India. The performances of her Bevins and Churchills are not in keeping with the decisions of Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. The British rape of Greek democracy, the attempt to make Italy a British Mediterranean colony, and the British insistence on refusing to Ireland her northern counties, and her ruthless activities in Palestine, violate the basic concepts of the policy of Big Three unity.
May I add a word as to why organized labor gives its support to the loan. Not granting these aids to countries, those who have been our allies, is going to break down our foreign export trade.
We need $10,000,000,000 a year in export trade for full employment.
I refuse to join with those who would disrupt that foreign export trade. The result will be unemployment. Therefore, this loan is in the interest of peace, and it is in the interest of full employment in these United States.