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Mr. Borow. The pamphlet states as follows:
All wages, except American, are taken from Consular reports. The American figures are taken from reports of the shipping commissioners. The wages on foreign vessels are stated in United States equivalents of the foreign values taken at the exchange rate on January 1 of the year named.
A summary of the above figures shows that the radio officers have a status, insofar as pay is concerned, as follows, in the following countries:
In Great Britain the radio officer ranks in pay and social standing next to the chief officer.
In Denmark, the radio officer ranks next in pay to the second officer.
Senator ELLENDER. How does the highest pay, there, compare with that of the American men?
Mr. Borow. In actual figures?
The chief officer on a vessel under the control of the United States Shipping Board, as of the date when these figures were submitted, of course, receives $168 per month.
The chief deck officer—that is, the first mate—on a British vessel receives $100 per month.
Senator ELLENDER. That is a difference of about $68?
Senator WHITE. Are you proposing that all of the radio operators become officers in name?
Mr. Borow. I would not say “all,” sir. Senator WHITE. Is this anything more than a social distinction, at which you are aiming? Does it involve any change in the qualifications or any change in the status aboard ship, of such men?
What I mean is this: Of course, our Communications Act defines certain classes of operators and prescribes what their qualifications shall be in order to get the licenses of different classes. And that is true of our international agreement, too. All of the nations of the world have agreed as to different classes of operators and as to qualifications for the different classes of operators. Now, are you proposing to change that in any respect?
Mr. Borow. No, sir.
Senator WHITE. In other words, you do not change their duties or their qualifications, but you call them officers instead of operators? Is that it?
Mr. Borow. That is correct. That is, to recognize them as officers, by law; in other words, give them legal status as such.
Now, this particular section of S. 3078 would seem even to deny the American radio officer those privileges that he has to date—to claim to be an officer aboard ship. Today on all our passenger vessels the radio officer-as he is referred to aboard ship--wears a regular officer's uniform and has regular officer's designations and insignia. Now, under subsections 2 and 3, here, that would be denied him. And I shall quote:
(4) The uniform stripes, decoration, or other insignia shall be of gold braid or woven gold or silver material, to be worn by officers, and no member of the ship's crew other than licensed officers shall be allowed to wear any uniform with such officer's identifying insignia.
Now, under the present act, and even if it were amended by this section, legally the radio operator is not an officer.
Senator WHITE. No; he is an operator.
Senator GIBSON. Your plea is that the radio operator be given the rank of officer, by law?
Mr. Borow. Yes, sir--the same as in foreign countries.
I have here, sir, from a survey that we took of the merchant marines in some of the leading world powers, just what the comparison is over there. For instance, in the Italian Merchant Marine the Italian radio operators are officers by law, immediately upon obtaining their radio operator's license. The license costs them about 1,000 lire, and is given for lifetime, without renewal. On all Italian vessels the chief radio officer's official rank is the same as that of the second deck officer and they are accorded the same food, accommodations, and privileges as their corresponding deck officers. Every Italian radio officer has his own room regardless of the type or size of the vessel. They are recognized by the Italian Navy as officers.
This is not a condition in our country.
German radio operators are classified as officers in the German merchant service. They are required to spend 3 years as an apprentice operator after which they become licensed officers by law. As such they are accorded the same rank, food, accommodations, and social provileges as are corresponding deck officers. The chief officer in the deck department and the chief radio officer are of equal rank and station, and so on down the line. For example, on the Europa the chief radio officer and the chief deck officer are of equal rank and rate first-class privileges and first-class food. The other deck and radio officers are tourist class. Each of the eight radio officers on the Europa has his own room, equipped with a ship telephone in addition to a special communications system to the radio office. The quarters for German radio officers are far superior to any found on American vessels. German radio officers are eligible to become officers in the German Navy.
French radio operators, after passing their first radio examination must spend a certain period at sea before taking an examination for a first-class license. This is somewhat on the lines of the present American system. Upon passing the second examination, he is given a certificate which makes him an officer on board ship, by law. French radio officers are eligible to become commissioned officers in the French Navy.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Borow, I am wondering if the thing you want is not something that applies to the whole American merchant marine
and not really to the subsidized vessels. Of course this bill we have before us relates to the subsidized ships.
Mr. Borow. Yes; that is recognized, Mr. Chairman. But I am sure we shall find the same thing-in fact, we have seen it already-now, as we did under the United States Shipping Board days. The Shipping Board set the pace, and the rest of the industry simply followed right in line.
The Chairman. I wanted to be sure that you were aware of the fact that this bill relates only to subsidized ships.
Mr. Borow. Yes, sir.
Senator, we have had considerable difficulty, particularly on the west coast.
The CHAIRMAN. I have heard so.
Mr. Borow. So have we--particularly on the larger passenger vessels, like the Matson Line, and so forth.
The CHAIRMAN. Didn't you have some trouble also in Rockland County, N. Y., in a town called Spring Valley?
Mr. Borow. I am not familiar with any of the details.
The Chairman. Well, it is not a seafaring port, but a radio operator lived there.
Well, go ahead.
Mr. Borow. On the west coast in the past few months, due to the indeterminate and indefinite status of the radio operator aboard ship, considerable confusion has existed as to the interpretation of the Maritime Act as it is now written. And some shipmasters insisted that the radio operator was not an officer and therefore he would have to have his messing accommodations with the crew. Now, this caused quite a bit of dissension and confusion, and in several instances almost resulted in economic action. It was only through the intervention of the representatives of this association that this action was forestalled.
Senator GIBSON. What do you mean by "economic action"?
Mr. Borow. The men felt they were being discriminated against in an improper degree, and felt they should follow the example that has been set in the past, of putting a request to the captain that they would like those conditions corrected, or they would refuse to sail.
Senator Gibson. In other words, they would strike?
In another instance we appealed to the operator and told him we would try to take this up with the Maritime Commission or the other authorities, and have this classification defined.
We did address a communication to the Chairman of the Maritime Commission, Mr. Kennedy. He stated that under the law as it is now written, he could not take any oflicial position on it.
Senator Gibson. Have there been many instances where strikes have resulted in such a condition?
Mr. Borow. No, sir; there has not been one, sir. But the resentment of the men has run quite high at times. It is usually due to some particular ship master or some particular shipping company official who takes a dislike to a particular radio officer and says, "Well, you are not going to have the same courtesies that the rest of the officers have, and you are going to be put back with the crew."
This condition should not be permitted to exist, in our opinionespecially in view of the fact of the reasons that have been brought out here, and because right in the contract with the shipping companies they recognized our right to be designated as officers.
And in comparison with the merchant marines of foreign countries, you have seen for yourselves just what the conditions are over there.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you say that the radio men get better treatment abroad than they do here? Is that your contention?
Mr. Borow. Well, it all depends on how you mean that, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. I mean better pay and better quarters and better social standing.
Mr. Borow. Comparatively; yes. Comparatively; yes.
The CHAIRMAN. What do you mean by "comparatively; yes”? What treatment is due them, as compared with our country? Do they get better treatment abroad than they do here?
Mr. Borow. I say, comparatively; yes—they do.
Mr. Borow. In closing this particular point, I have one more paragraph.
In comparison with vessels of foreign registry, it is conspicuously noticeable that the radio officer enjoys an official and social prestige far superior to that of his American cousin. This is an anomalous situation when one realizes how much superior is the American radio officer to the radio officer of any other nation. In ability to repair his apparatus, make improvements, in speed of transmission and reception of the Morse code, in his expeditious handling of traffic, the American radio officer stands without a peer in any foreign country. Why, then, is not the American radio officer accorded that legal recognition by the Government of the United States which all the world, including the American steamship owners, in signed contracts, and the masters of their vessels, have extended to their radio officers?
Because of the foregoing, the American Radio Telegraphists' Association feels itself justified in requesting the Congress of the United States to fix the legal status of the American radio officer. We therefore urge the enactment of the foregoing amendment, offered by ourselves and with the unanimous support of our affiliated groups-an amendment that would fix by law the radio operator's status as an officer.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you finished?
Senator GIBSON. Are not the duties of a telegraph operator and radio operator on board a ship comparable to those of a telegraph operator ashore?
Mr. Borow. No, sir.
Mr. Borow. There are many distinctions. Number 1, sir, is this: Usually the telegraph operator ashore has practically no apparatus of any consequence that he is responsible for, insofar as being responsible for its operation, maintenance, and upkeep: But aboard
ship, the radio apparatus is much more complicated. That is readily understandable, of course.
Senator GIBSON. That is true, of course.
Mr. Borow. Yes. Another thing is that the radio operator is required to be familiar with all the rules and regulations of the radio service company which owns and licenses the apparatus. Second, they are required to be familiar with all the rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States, and the international rules regarding radio communications.
Senator Gibson. And with all the code?
Mr. Borow. Yes; with all the code. Those are just a few of the differences.
Senator Gibson. Are there many companies operating radio stations on shipboard, or is it all under one head?
Mr. Borow. There are two companies that control for the most part the radio communication facilities of the vessels of the American merchant marine: The Radio Marine Corporation of America, which is one, and the Mackay Radio Telegraph Corporation, the other.
Senator GIBSON. Then there is the Globe Co.?
Mr. Borow. Well, the Globe Co. is confined primarily to the ships of the Dollar Line.
Senator Gibson. Are there any other companies comparable to the Globe?
Mr. Borow. Yes, sir. The United Fruit Steamship Co. has a branch or subsidiary which they call the Tropical Radio Co. And they confine their operations, as far as shipboard installations are concerned, to the vessels of the United Fruit Co.
Senator Gibson. So you would make these radio operators officers? Where would you place them in the scale of the grade of officers?
Mr. Borow. Well, that would be in my opinion, up to either the Congress or the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to define.
Senator Gibson. No; I am asking you.
Mr. Borow. But in our opinion he should be placed in the comparable status with that of his foreign colleagues--that is, equivalent, we shall say, to a second deck officer. But the primary objective of bringing this issue before the Congress is to have him legally recognized as an officer.
Senator Gibson. And let the grade be fixed later?
Senator VANDENBERG. Do you contend this bill actually demotes you?
Mr. Borow. Yes, sir; it does.
There is another very important point which I have not brought up, and that is that many of our members hold commissions in the Communications Naval Reserve of the United States Navy. Under this amendment, here-S. 3078--they would not be given the same privileges as other licensed officers who are members of the United States Naval Reserve. They will not even be permitted to wear a uniform, in spite of the fact that they are commissioned officers of the Communications Naval Service of the United States Naval Reserve.