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The leadership conference supported the inclusion of title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a constructive step in the direction of employment equality. While it did so, it reiterated its long-held position that to be fully effective any fair employment legislation must contain maximum coverage of employers, labor unions, and employment agencies and must be enforcible through administrative action, including the authority of the enforcement agency to issue cease-anddesist orders. It should come as no surprise, therefore, when I say the leadership conference favors strengthening of title VII.
We, therefore, welcome the introduction of H.R. 8998 and H.R. 8999 by Chairman Roosevelt and Congressman Reid—the two bills. that are the subject of this hearing—as well as the bills introduced by Congressmen Frank Thompson and James O'Hara which also have as their objective the strengthening of title VII.
Despite our agreement with the objectives of these bills, however, we have concluded that the bills under consideration present problems that could not be resolved without further consideration by our constituent organizations.
H.R. 8998 and H.R. 8999 would add a third method of enforcement of the existing equal employment legislation. It would result in the same administrative agency attempting to conciliate complaints, processing them through to enforcement on its own initiative and through its own administrative machinery, or referring them to another agency-the Department of Justice for court enforcement. While creating possible administrative confusion, this would fall short of our previously adopted position of seeking full administrative enforce
Some organizations within the leadership conference have expressed concern over the specific exemption given in the present legislation to government agencies. This has been highlighted by the recent firings in Virginia, North Carolina, and other Southern States of colored teachers in the process of school desegregation.
In raising these questions, we reemphasize our position in favor of the strongest possible fair employment legislation. At such time as serious congressional consideration of this subject is likely, I am sure that the constituent organizations within the leadership conference will agree on the details of a program they could all support and the proper time to implement such a program. The arrival at such a consensus, however, would require further consideration within the conference. If the subcommittee so requests, we will explore these questions further with our member organizations.
It is no secret that an effort is being made to require the passage of the legislation before this subcommittee as a precondition to further action on the passage of H.R. 77, to repeal section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended. We believe that each of these pieces of legislation should be considered by Congress on its own merits, and the passage of one should not be contingent on the passage of the other.
On May 27, I appeared before the Special Subcommittee on Labor to present a statement on H.R. 77 for Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NUACP: 1. Philip Randolph, president of the American Negro Labor Council; Rev. Martin Luther King, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and James Farmer, national di
rector of the Congress of Racial Equality. In the course of that statement I expressed their combined views as follows:
We know after many long years of experience that so-called right-to-work laws do not give Negro workers the right to work. These laws are of no value in ending discrimination. We shall proceed, as we have in the past, on our efforts to eliminate discrimination by some employers and hy certain labor unions, but we also wish to assist in helping to build a truly democratic American labor movement that is based upon the principles of racial and economic justice.
The leadership conference is on record in support of the strongest possible safeguards against discrimination by employers and labor unions. Many of its member organizations support repeal of section 14(b). We ask that Congress address itself to these objectives as separate legislative items of business.
Because of the shortness of time, it was not possible to follow the usual practice of clearing this statement with all members of the leadership conference. The following organizations were represented at the Monday meeting at which the statement was approved :
NAACP;AFL-CIO; National Urban League; Japanese-Americans Citizens League; IUE and AFL-CIO; Anti-Defamation League; Amalgamated Clothing Workers; National Association of Colored Women's Clubs; American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees; National Council of Churches: Industrial Union Department and AFL-CIO; ACLU; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; United Steelworkers of America; National Council of Negro Women; ADA; United Auto Workers; Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workers; Zeta Phi Lambda; Delta Sigma Theta; Jewish War Veterans; National Council of Agricultural Life & Labor; American Jewish Congress; Citizens Lobby for Freedom & Fair Play; American Jewish Committee.
With your permission, I would like to add the International Ladies' Garment Workers to the list presented, and the National Council of Jewish Women, which inadvertently was omitted from the list.
One organization represented, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), reserved the right to present a separate statement of its position.
Mr. ROOSEVELT. Thank you very much.
Mr. DANIELS. I am pleased to note that you feel, Mr. Mitchell, that the two pieces of legislation, H.R. 77 and the bill under consideration, H.R. 8998, are two separate pieces of legislation, that they should be treated separately, and that the passage of one should have no bearing on the other.
I concur in your views on that matter.
You did mention that the leadership conference, of which you are the secretary, deals in other areas in which it feels the Employment Opportunities Act should be strengthened. Does your leadership feel that it desires to go into that and that it should be incorporated in this bill that we are now considering!
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Daniels, I think that would be the sentiment of those who comprise the leadership conference. The chairman has pointed out that the new act is just getting underway; It is no secret, because it was mentioned on the radio Sunday by the chairman, the Commission has assembled a team of lawyers. Their objective is to make certain that they know the strengths and weaknesses of the existing statute.
Necessarily, in that exploration they should come up with recommendations on where to strengthen it, if it is weak. In addition, there are members of the leadership conference who, at our meeting on Monday, pointed out things that they would like to see in a new statute. That is, amendments to the statute. That is why it seems to me it would be very important if we are going to seriously approach amending the law to have the benefit of the views of the various people interested.
I may say, Mr. Daniels, I earnestly sought to present that view at a conference with the chairman of the full committee. I don't see how this can be done in
way. Mr. DANIELS. Mr. Mitchell, do you not think it would be more reasonable and a more practical approach to give the Commission an opportunity first to make its point anl consider the complaints made before the Commission, in order to have the benefit of its experience before we proceed to hasty passage of legislation through the Congress?
Mr. MITCHELL. I would not think it was necessarily a requirement to have a great length of time. Our legal defense fund of the NAACP has made an analysis of the law. It has come up with certain suggestions already that it believes would strengthen it. We are aware of the fact that the statute also permits the Attorney General in instances where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination to institute suits. This is a very potent weapon and it should not be minimized. It is very potent in title II of the existing law. My plea would be, and I think it would be the plea of my colleagues, that we are for all speed, full speed, and if they can amend it tomorrow, fine. But there are two very important things:
One is we want to make meaningful in amending it and the other is we want no part of any holding of the 14(b) for ransom, so to speak, in order to get FEPC out. We don't think that is good practice.
Mr. DANIELS. I am wholeheartedly in support of repeal of 14 (b). I voted for it in the subcommittee and the full committee. I am also in strong support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I voted for it, too. I am in strong support of amending the equal employment opportunity title. But I do also feel as an attorney that we should have some experience with this act and not go at it in a slipshod manner. If we do amend the act, after having the experience of the benefit of these incidents, we can properly implement the existing law.
Mr. MITCHELL. It is very obvious, Mr. Daniels, that one thing that is needed is the right of the agency to issue cease-and-desist orders.
Mr. DANIELS. That is all this legislation does, I understand.
Mr. MITCHELL. Everybody would agree to that. There are some other things it attempts to do. But the question in my mind, and I think the question in the minds of persons who have thought about this, is let's assume we give to the agency the right to issue cease-anddesist orders. Will that be enough? Is it possible that we could go off on a big fight and get that through and still discover that we haven't done everything we need to do to make the law work?
Wr. TITELS. Thank von Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BELL. Mr. Mitchell, I am very glad to see you again before this committee.
Mr. MITCHELL. Thank you, Mr. Bell.
Mr. Bell. I certainly can agree with my friend, Mr. Daniels, who said that two matters should be considered separately. I would agree perhaps that they should be. However, the chairman of the full committee has indicated that they should not be considered separately, that they are in fact tied together.
Is that your understanding?
Mr. MITCHELL. It is my understanding that that is his position. But I emphatically disagree with it. I think it is a very unfair thing to do. I don't see any difference between that and the kind of thing that we have had to put up with in the other body, the Senate. In the Senate we had hostile chairmen who have attached all kinds of conditions to getting civil rights bills out. It was my hope that we were entering into a new day in this country when we did not consider tricky ways of getting legislation, and that we would get the legislation on the basis of merit. We had that problem arise when the educational bill was before this committee. I undertook to get from the senior Senator from Oregon a statement on whether, in view of the fact that we had title VI in the Civil Rights Act, we would need additional protection in the education bill. It was his view that we did not, and his view was based on a report which had been approved by the chairman of the full committee over here.
I don't think we ought to make fish of one and fowl of the other. It seems to me it is just unfair to put labor in the position where if it is going to get something that it ought to have and that it needs, that first we have to do something on FEPC. I think it is fine to do them and to do them together, but the realities around here are that there are plenty of people who would be delighted to leave both of them in a limbo. I am sorry to say that the chairman's position plays right in the hands of people who have that kind of a motive.
Mr. BELL. I am pleased to hear you say that. We find ourselves again in mutual agreement.
I also feel that this particular matter is of significant importance, and I agree with you that we want to get the most effective type of legislation in this particular field. It is not one that we can just jump into real quickly because of some action you describe.
I think you would agree, too, that we should give this due consideration.
Mr. MITCHELL. I want to disagree on one word, Mr. Bell and that is "quickly." I think we ought to do everything yesterday or even last week.” But I think, as you say, we need to do it intelligently and make sure we are going to do the job. I think it would be a tragedy if we amended the FEPC statute and then discovered we still weren't coming to grips with the problem.
Mr. BELL. Precisely.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Mr. Mitchell, I presume you are testifying here today as the director of the Washington Bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and testifying, therefore, for the NAACP and not just the Washington branch?
Mr. MITCHELL. The Washington Bureau is a part of the national office of the NAACP and I am the principal officer who is charged with its statements of this kind. But happily I am in a different position even than that, with reference to the formal statement. That is, that the statement is the view of the persons and organizations in the leadership conference. In addition, the views on 14(b) are those which I was authorized to express by the gentlemen whose names appear in the statement.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Mr. Mitchell, I think you are absolutely correct in suggesting that title VII of the civil rights bill will have to be strengthened. I am sure that we can all agree on that. This committee held very extensive hearings on numerous occasions. We have recommended certain measures that were not accepted when the bill came up for final action in the House.
We felt at that time that the bill could be strengthened. I certainly agree with you that title VII will have to be strengthened. But I think you really show the responsible attitude of your organization, and I think the American people generally have learned to accept the NAACP as an extremely responsible agent and spokesman for many of the disadvantaged people in this country.
You have taken the attitude that this needs a great deal of study and a great deal of consideration. When we do move on H.R. 8998 and H.R. 8999 or any of these other amendments, and amendments to title VII, we want to make sure that they are properly drafted and will accomplish the desired results.
I think with your testimony here today, it certainly indicates that this is going to take some careful consideration.
As I said earlier, I am very anxious to hear the views of the new chairman of the Commission. I would like to congratulate you on your statement, as I think it is a forthright statement, one that recognizes how difficult the problem and the area in which we are dealing in this subject.
Mr. MITCHELL. I certainly thank you, Mr. Pucinski. I would like to make it clear that the day has long since passed in the area of civil rights when any one person or one organization has all the knowledge on what ought to be done. The one rewarding aspect of the leadership conference for me has been a pooling of the views of the various people who are interested in civil rights. I don't believe that anybody, whether he is a person in the legislative, judicial, or executive branch of the Government should try to take on to himself the right to make decisions for all the people without giving the people a chance to express their views. This is what we hope will happen in this matter and this is what we hope will happen speedily.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Mitchell.
Mr. HAWKINS. Mr. Mitchell, on page 3 of your statement you listed a group of organizations and you said that these organizations were represented at the Monday meeting at which the statement was approved. Are all these organizations in support of the statement, or does this represent only a majority?
Mr. MITCHELL, This represents all listed as supporting it. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee reserved the right to present a separate statement. I might say the way we arrived at this statement was as follows: The first question was: Who are the people in favor of the statement? The next question was: Who are the peo