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That was from a 1951 edition of Ebony magazine. I think it is extraordinary that the Illinois State Chamber at a time when this subject was not particularly a popular one nor the views it expressed particularly acceptable, I think it is very significant that the Illinois State Chamber saw sound commonsense of hiring employees on a merit basis.
Since that time the Illinois State Chamber has worked diligently at this and it has the support of its members of the largest concerns in Illinois.
I would like to call to the attention of the chairman and members of the committee a film that the Illinois State Chamber has prepared and was released about a year ago.
The film is called "Challenge," and it is an excellently done film. I have seen it, and I am very proud to have had a very small part in the preparation of that film. Mr. Perry had a great deal more.
This film tells the story of how merit employment can work in practice. In the film appear a number of the largest corporations executives in our community. They stated the cause of nondiscrimination very forcefully and very effectively. I think they do it effectively because they believe it and they practice it. This film then becomes, I think, quite an extraordinary addition to the literature of proper race relations in the employment field.
Let me say that it has been viewed by the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, by the Employment Security Commission, and they decided that they would purchase four prints of that.
Mr. Perry tells me that just the other day the new Commission charged with enforcing and administering the Civil Rights Act has asked to see the film, and it is believed that they will purchase it also.
I recommend that anyone interested in this field can gain nothing but profit from viewing this field. It is exceptionally well done.
All this means that the employers of our community-by that I mean the Illinois community-have taken and are taking an active interest in this area of equal job opportunity. We are down here to more or less speak the piece, you might say, for the employers, but I would also like to put in a word for counsel who are advising the firms or attempting to advise them as to what course they take as they begin working with new laws.
Title VII in itself, I think, we must call controversial. I notice in Mr. Roosevelt's statement that was read by the chairman today, he commented on some constriction of the authority and power of the Commission under title VII as it found its way into the statute.
I guess there is no question about that. There is a framework of responsibility that certainly is considerably less expansive than in the bill that is before the committee today. About that I will have a few words to say later.
Basically, title VII and the whole Civil Rights Act grew out of tremendous conflict of political forces and in the last analysis seems to be the best that the country could do at the time.
Let me say that the Illinois State Chamber made several trips down here while that bill was being considered, made some suggestions, and it is believed that those suggestions have found their way into the law, originating with the Illinois State Chamber.
I think the real problem at the moment is simply this: We have a new framework of law, only 19 days old. I believe from the reports I read in the public press that the atmosphere generated by the simple extension of title VII is good. If we may put it in these terms, there has been acceptance that it is the law of the land and that equal job opportunity has become an integral part of the American way of doing business.
With this reaction coming so early in the proceedings, I thing we must ask the question why, and I can add for my own part one reason why. Employers have been looking at title VII for a long time, for many months now. They have been asking questions, seminars have been held, they have been asking the advice of their attorneys as to what they could do and should be doing. I believe that they have gone about it with right good will.
They have been getting the advice and if they are well advised they have themselves structured to live with title VII. I think that one reason why it has gotton off to what I would think is a good start is because there was this preconditioning. I believe now the employers must have time to find out just exactly what title VII really is and how they can best implement it themselves.
Gentlemen, in this area, I am very persuaded that the employer is one of the two keys to the solution. I think this so patent that it does not need much development. The employer acceptance is a very desirable thing
The other, of course, which I will speak about very briefly in a moment is the trained work force to supply to the employer.
But at this point I think all interested parties should have an opportunity to live with this new law. After all, it does mark a great new course in the Nation's history, and it is not too much to ask, I don't believe, that the people most affected have a chance to live with it for a period of time-let's say a minimum of 2 years.
If it turns out that the law is ineffectual at that time or has imbalances, then perhaps to this—2 years from now would be the chance to take a look at it.
We do respect fully submit, however, that a 19-day-old law is too young to be tampered with, so we would recommend in general that the subject be suspended.
There are some specifics in the law which I would like to comment about. The first has to do with a radical change in the dimensions of the coverage. The law as it presently stands calls for coverage of 100 employers with 100 employees or more, and in a time that drops to 23.
Illinois, incidentally, at the moment stands at 50. Before an employer is covered by the Illinois law he must have 50 or more employees. There have been repeated attempts in Illinois in the legislature to expand the coverage by lowering the minimum of employees. These attempts so far have not been successful, but there is one significant statistic I would like to point out.
It has been estimated that if the coverage was broadened from 50, which is the present amount, to 10, there would be almost 30,000 additional employers covered by the State statute.
Now, this poses an almost insurmountable burden but also there is a very practical area here which I think must be taken into account. I think it is then a disservice to those who are working in the field to pretend that this problem does not exist. I see no reason for not looking it square in the eye because it is there, and the only slight problem is stating the facts without seeming to be unreasonably critical
Please believe me, I am not criticizing any group of people when I state this. I believe these are the facts, however. This is borne out by statistics, by studies, and also by personal experience.
The fact is that if the scope of the Illinois statute was extended to cover these 30,000 additional employers, most of them smaller ones, the impact of that extension would fall on employers who are located outside of the urban communities of Illinois in the smaller areas. There are two significant difficulties here. The first is there are virtually no trained minority groups in the nonurban communities of the State of Illinois and I believe that is so in other States.
I am not qualified to state it unequivocally but I believe it is so except for the south where there is a large urban Negro population.
First, there is a dearth of potential qualified employees and second I believe there would be great confusion among these smaller employers so that they might feel that they had to practice the counterdiscrimination, the discrimination in reverse and go and seek a Negro employee to stay out of trouble.
I know there is confusion among larger employers, among very sophisticated groups of management-must we hire a Negro? How soon can we get hold of a good, qualified Negro?
The advice is you cannot discriminate either way-hire on merit, don't look at the color of the man's skin.
Well, it is impossible to get this message to 30,000 employers throughout the State of Illinois and I am very confident that if the law were changed to bring them into the coverage that the confusion would do a great deal more harm than good.
If you just expanded that to the other 49 States you see that the potential for chaos is great, and I believe at the moment that it is wholly uncalled for.
Let me add parenthetically that we live in a great society, and I suppose
that is built into our Nation and into our hertiage. We live in a great imitative society. We tend to look up to those who are larger, more powerful, more influential, and I am very persuaded that as the smaller employers who may have closed minds on the subject see the large industrial, banking, and commercial institutions of our community, and I think the same is true all over the country, hiring and upgrading on the basis of merit, I think they will reexamine their own prejudices.
They cannot but ask themselves, if this new vice president of this new monumental national bank is a Negro and he is well thought of at my bank, why should I close my mind to upgrading one of my mechanics?
I believe this is something that we can expect. I think it is almost entirely predictable.
Let me say that the statistics on the subject of availability of qualified minority groups are discouraging, to say the least. I think they are very factual but they are utterly discouraging. The fact is that the job opportunities, and you gentlemen know, they do exist but it
is—the job opportunities are in classifications which again require training and skill, experience, and education and most unfortunately the group that needed the jobs do not have these skills.
This is true in Illinois and it is true all over the country. My statement to the committee has statistics and excerpts from the Governor's committee on unemployment. This is Governor Koerner of Illinois who appointed this committee to study unemployment from Illinois and I just want to read one of these statistics.
Negroes constitute approximately 10 percent of the Illinois population and constitute approximately 30 percent of those who are seeking jobs.
The answer, of course, is in the multidimension of training, education and upgrading the skills of those who lack them.
I believe that any qualified, experienced Negro today has the greatest opportunity of possibly anybody in the country. I would think that a graduate of a first-grade engineering school with a first-grade academic record who was a Negro would find that he was one of the most sought-after college graduates in the country.
But this is not so of the unskilled, of the untrained, and here is where the law, I believe, must take account of the facts.
So I would summarize this by saying that the coverage in terms of minimum of employees should not be changed. Actually I think 25 is to law. It is written into the Federal statute, title VII at the moment. I think it is too low, but there it is. Certainly if it is dropped to eight it would do nothing but compound chaos.
But let me just state briefly that it is entirely possible that the Commission is—that is going to administer this law will find some manning problems. I understand that some 65 investigators have been loaned by other agencies of the Federal Government and they are being asked to move into the area of general investigation of employment policies and not concentrate on the handling of individual grievances and complaints.
Let me say that this might possibly be a move in the right direction. First, let nie point out another aspect of the bill that is being considered by the committee.
The Commission under title VII operates largely in the field of conciliation. This, I think, is very appropriate. Let me revert for a moment to the experience of the Illinois commission. It has done its most effective work in the area of conciliation. It has brought parties together, it has adjusted differences of opinion, it has persuaded grievants that they really were not discriminated against.
It has persuaded employers that in this area if you adjust your policy you will be in conformity with the law. It has worked very well in that area.
In one case which has become famous, or infamous, as you choose, the Votorola case, there was no conciliation. It is true the company declined to conciliate. The parties moved into an adversary position and they were locked into almost mortal combat right from the outset and they are still in combat. This case which has received national notoriety is now in the Illinois State Supreme Court. This I can't think is good.
Bill 9222, I believe, deemphasizes conciliation. I believe the cost will be to diminish the effectiveness of the Commission. This bill seems to encourage the adversary position similar to that which we find in the National Labor Relations Board. The grievant files his complaint, it is investigated, if it can't be done—can't be conciliated, the parties go to a hearing and at the hearing are strictly in an adversary position.
I believe that by removing the emphasis from conciliation and mediation into an emphasis of the adversary proceeding the tone of the Federal structure would be changed. I believe it is most desirable to continue emphasis on the vehicle of mediation and conciliation.
Let me say that those existing State commissions and agencies that work most effectively will say just this, that they must have the maximum opportunity for mediation and conciliation.
This, of course, I think is in keeping with the approach to this whole problem. One of the historic agencies in the country that has done a tremendous amount to cultivate the atmosphere that makes all of these things possible is the Urban League and they of course believe in conciliation as distinguished from the violence of direct action.
Now there is one final thing that I would like to talk about and that is this question: Who is going to administer this new structure of fair employment practices?
There are now some 30 States that have State laws similar to Illinois. In title VII, as you gentlemen will recall, there is a series of provisions that says if there is a State law, if a complaint comes in and a State law covers this particular subject, the Federal Cominission will withhold action for a minimum of 60 days, in effect, to see how the State agency works out the poble). There is sort of a first-chance doctrine obtaining there. The State should have a first chance to work out the complaint and only if the results are wholly unsatisfactory and the complainant's rights have not been properly recognized would the Federal agency move in.
I believe that this is an area in which the State machinery should have a first chance. I believe that the way title VII is written is not only ingenious in this respect but I go further and say it comes close to legislative genius in capturing the balance that is needed.
In know the Federal Establishment looks at all 50 States and each State looks at its own affairs. In Illinois we believe that we can handle this problem with the Commission, with agencies such as the Illinois State chamber, with the labor unions; we think we can do this very well for Illinois because our machinery is tailored to our needs.
We realize that you gentlemen must consider the much larger picture and you must consider areas where possibly there is not the atmosphere that there is in Illinois.
I believe that title VII accommodates this balance of interest. House bill 9222 does not. There is no provision in House bill 9222 for first chance by the State government. The national apparatus moves in immediately and I believe this would have a devastating effect on commissions and agencies which were-- which have been working many many years in this field and very effectively.
So we would strongly request that you gentlemen consider the impact of this bill as presently written on the existing establishments.
Now, I come to a subject, and this will be my final word, that I approach with considerable diffidence but nevertheless it must be worked at clearly and that is the strange, incredible inclusion of the word "sex" in title VII. If ever difference were manifested, it is between