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endeavored over a period of years to set the pace for others to follow and we are out front so far as railroad employees are concerned, and we are hopeful that some day there may be more general recognition to those in general on ...] security. We feel that we have done justice to those who come within our province and it will be hoped that others will do likewise in groups that they have jurisdiction over. Are there any questions, gentlemen? Thank you. Now, I would like to inquire as to these witnesses. I will ask them to answer to their names. (Thereupon, the chairman called the names of the witnesses who subsequently testified, and they answered “present”.) The CHAIRMAN. Now, I may inquire whether you gentlemen represent one group or are you representing different groups? The reason that I ask that is this, that I notice that there is a considerable amount of time asked for by each witness and if you are speaking for one group, I was wondering whether it would not be possible that you could agree among yourselves and have a spokesman rather than to have many, assuming that you are all speaking for the same group. Mr. HAAs. Mr. Chairman, I believe as to the time allotted on the program, that we will not take nearly as much as that. We put down more than we really needed. We probably will be perhaps 6 to 8 minutes each. The CHAIRMAN. Well, that will be very helpful if that suggestion is carried out, because the committee as you recognize is very busy and then the business on the floor today is rather important, and in addition to that we are anxious to act on this bill today in order that it may be reported to the House. Who will speak first for you? Mr. HAAs. Mr. Stack.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS STACK, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL RAILROAD PENSION FORUM, CHICAGO, ILL.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Stack. Mr. STAck. Mr. Chairman and honorable Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. My name is Thomas Stack; I reside at 1104 West One hundred and fourth Place, Chicago, Ill., and am president of the National Railroad Pension Forum, a nonprofit organization chartered under the laws of the State of Illinois. This organization represents the rank and file of the railroad industry who are opposed in principle to certain unjust amendments to the Railroad Retirement Act, enacted in the Seventy-ninth Congress under Public Law 572. I have worked over 38 years for the railroads. For the past 27 years, I have been employed as a rate analyst in the office of overcharge claims of the C. R. I. & P. Railroad in Chicago. At this point, I want to emphasize that my activities with the National Railroad Pension Forum are not influenced in any manner by management. I have been an active member of the Brotherhood of Railroad and Steamship Clerks for the past 25 years, in fact, until March 1947, at which time I incurred the displeasure of Grand President Harrison, because I questioned his arbitrary action in forcing upon railworkers the masterpiece of confusion commonly termed in railroad circles as the “Double Crosser Act.” I was convicted by Mr. Harrison, and then afterward was offered a “commissar trial” which I naturally refused to accept. However, I did challenge my accuser, Mr. Harrison, to a debate on the lodge floor where the points in controversy could be discussed openly. For the benefit of the record, I want to make it known now that the Crosser amendments were never discussed on a lodge floor. We were not informed of the unions' support of these amendments until after they had become law. We then attempted to bring our objections to the lodge floor, but this privilege was denied. At every meeting grand lodge officers were sent to lecture to us on the great benefits that they had succeeded in obtaining for the railroad employee. The questions that were answered proved only one thing, that the interests of the rank and file were not protected. I was successful in having a motion passed on the floor to the effect that the entire matter be submitted to the members on a secret ballot. George Harrison, citing an article of the constitution which he had fathered, denied the request. In February 1947, the union leaders called an open meeting of railroad employees at the Hamilton Hotel in Chicago. The union officials attended the meeting en masse and introduced as their princial speaker, a former labor affiliate, who was then connected with the }. Retirement Board. This gentleman floundered desperately in an attempt to show the good points of the Crosser Act. Finally, after I succeeded in getting the floor, Grand Vice President Gobel refused to let me speak. The railroad workers protested his refusal and the meeting became disorderly. The meeting was eventually brought to order when I was granted permission to ask the speaker some 20 questions. The answer to the questions I raised resulted in the founding of the Railroad Employees Protective Committee of the Chicago area at requests of many hundreds of railroad employees, the forerunner of the present National Railroad Pension Forum, Inc. A great philosopher once said, “By their fur you shall know them.” Let us apply this maxim to the Crosser Act which is now entering its second year. The Board's report for the fiscal year of 1947 discloses the following: - That 240,026 on the retirement rolls, average benefits $61.10; widows 65 or over, $28.24 per month; widowed mothers $25.27 per month, children $15.70 per month, dependent parents $16.84 per month. Gentlemen, it is obvious that these token allowances are grossly inadequate in the face of present-day living costs. Several States give better old-age pensions. Even charities would refuse to offer such nominal amounts. It is difficult to reconcile these figures with the statements of those people who assure us we have the finest pension plan in the world. Prompt enactment of H. R. 6397 offers Congress the opportunity of correcting the wrong perpetrated on railroad employees under Public Law 572. This bill has been introduced by your colleague Representative O'Hara of the State of Minnesota where we have thousands of employees looking to Congress for passage of this badly needed legislation. The following Rail Brotherhood magazine each month lists names of its deceased members, with benefits received, and their ages:
Machinists Monthly Journal
Total mem- |Total death— bers died ageS Years October 1947 (p. 391)--------------------------------------------------------- 89 5, November 1947 (p. 431)------------------------------------------------------ 117 6,630 Total------------------------------------------------------------------ 206 11,714
The 11,714 divided by 206 equals 56.86—average age of death. Now, gentlemen, these are facts. These are not actuarial figures. They are facts right from the Machinists Journal. Only 52 members—one-fourth or 25 percent—were over 65; 154 members—threefourths or 75 percent—were 65 and under; 25 members—one-eighth or 12 percent—were in their seventies; 11 members—one-twentieth or 5 percent—were in their eighties, and two members—.009 percent or less than 1 percent—reached 90. Surely these 206 male and female workers truly “represent averages applicable to large groups or individuals.” he bill will permit railroad men to retire at the age of 60, after 30 years of service. This provision is intended to meet the needs of many employees who are subject to occupational hazards, severe weather conditions and the like. For example there are many switchmen and yard employees who are unable to work after they reach the age of 60. Lowering the retirement age to 60 will not endanger the solvency of the fund since the white-collar worker will not retire at 60 if he is in good physical condition. As a matter of fact, the rolls are now occupied with numerous employees 70 years of age, and even older, who would like to retire if they could possibly live on the small pension they would receive. Because they are deprived of an adequate pension there are many engineers, over 70 years of age, who are holding runs on some of the streamline trains. The risk to the public riding trains manned by men approaching their dotage cannot be too greatly emphasized. The scale used to arrive at the pension basis is increased 25 percent to take care of the added cost of living which statisticians and economists warn us is here to stay. The method of computating the pension is based on 50 percent of the average salary, not to exceed $300 a month, for the highest 5 years of employment. This is similar to the plan presently enjoyed by members of the armed forces, who can retire after 20 years of service. It eliminates the basis of arriving at pensions under the old act which called for estimate earnings for the years 1924 to 1931. It is significant that these were depression years, when the railroads were trying to keep their employees on the pay roll by spreading the work. Some men worked only 2 days a week during that period. To use this plan for employees who were hired after 1924 or who had service prior to 1924 is manifestly unfair. It was this . that dragged the pensions down to an average of $61.10 per month. The bill also permits the employee to name his own beneficiary in the event he would die before reaching the retirement age and insures protection at least equivalent to the amount paid into the fund with interest. The present law does not give the employee the right to name his beneficiary. It allows a small burial amount which is not even large enough to cover the burial expenses. As a matter of fact, in many cases, if there is specific insurance to take care of the burial, the Retirement Board does not grant the burial fund. In some cases the Board even deducts small burial amounts donated by organizations such as the American Legion, service clubs, and so forth, and then pays the balance. An investigation by our committee of 14 pension systems revealed that none deprived the employee of at least what he had paid into the fund in case of death. Some—for example, the Federal Reserve banks—gave a lump sum in addition to all that was paid in at least equivalent of 1 year's salary. The refund of this lump sum is very important to all railroad workers. Another excellent clause in bill H. R. 6397 permits a widow to take a pension in lieu of the lump sum benefit. Section 5 of the bill increases by 25 percent the amount of allowances presently received by those people now on pension. It is admitted that this increase does not adequately meet the high cost of living but it is a step in the right direction. We have on record the names of 17 former employees on pension who are unable to live on their allotments and who, as a result, are wards of charity. It is a sad commentary on the present pension system that people who have reached the twilight of their years, after laboring for so long a time for the railroads, are compelled to depend upon the charity of strangers and become wards of society. The National Railroad Pension Forum, Inc., has now become a militant organization to protect the railroad employee, both union and nonunion. Never again will we permit the railroad worker to be singled out as a guinea pig for the experimental purposes of a cradle-tothe-grave philosophy inspired by some irresponsible party. We are now united into a strong organization, the leadership of which I am proud to exercise. Members of our organization, including myself, have put a great deal of effort and time into this enterprise without compensation. I, therefore, appeal to you as Americans to hear the plea of the National Railroad Pension Forum, Inc., in the interest of the common good of the railroad employees, the forefathers of whom were the pioneer builders of our country. We appeal to you to pass # R. 6397 in this session of Congress. God willing, you will not 811 Uls. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to say a few remarks in connection with your H. R. 6766. I would not attempt to criticize our good chairman or the members of this committee for putting through a bill of this type, because we realize the sincerity of their effort. Therefore this is not a criticism; but we would ask you to take into consideration in your executive session a few points that we would like to add into this bill, and I would ask you to take those few points into consideration too. It might help you in arriving at the just decision on this bill, and I have just seen it since this hearing started, as it came out June 1. It still resorts to the old antique method of arriving at pensions, that is, using the years 1924 to 1931 estimated earnings. No railroad employee today—and I do not care who he is—in the 1,350,000 railroad employees, could actually tell you under the present system how much pension he would get. The only recourse he has is to go to the Railroad Retirement Board to find out what the record says.
Now, if we had a pension system that was based on 50 percent of the highest paid salary for 5 years, you would have something that any railroad man could figure out at home as to how much pension he got without resorting to the Railroad Retirement Board or to figures that were not compiled by himself. Now, another great feature I think, gentlemen, that you ought to take into consideration in your executive session is the age limits for railroad retirement. I have pointed out to you here in my brief, and I brought this in from a labor magazine, so that you would not think that I was prejudiced. I have produced for you the facts and figures and the page of the magazine to show the average life of the railroad man today is 58.6. Now, if the man lives until he is 60 years old—only a small portion of them live that long—and I think the age ought to be reduced to 60 years for benefits. Any man who gives his life, 60 years to any industry is entitled to a pension and I do believe there that 60 years today is given to women under this Crosser Act, and why discriminate i. to the male employees? They should be entitled to the same privlieges. It is hard to see, gentlemen, where I work in an office, where a man and a woman work as voucher clerks, work in the same position for years and after these many years a woman can go out on full pension at 60 and if the man is unable to work he goes out on pension, he losses one-eighth part before he is retired, because he was retired before he was 65. I was rather surprised here today—in fact, I can hardly believe it. It seems like a fairy tale—that labor executives and management have kissed and made up. But, if the railroad men get any benefit from Mr. Wolverton's bill, in lieu of Mr. O'Hara's bill, I § 1. very glad to give you all the support possible, and I thank you gentlemen for giving me the privilege of appearing before you. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Stack, you have presented a statement with some energy and I believe sincerity. It is impossible for any committee or any group of individuals representing labor or representing an industry to do all of the things that their heart would impel them to do. The bills to which you have referred were given very careful consideration by our staff and members of the committee and we came to the conclusion, as much as we would like to increase benefits to the point of these bills, yet we realized that to do so, would strike at the very stability of the fund which is of concern to all of us. I am certain that you would not want to intentionally advocate something that would mean the disruption of this very worth-while fund. Now, these are all matters that have had the continuous consideration of the committee and the results that we have arrived at in this bill that has the joint approval of the railroad executives and the labor executives, does not, of course, represent everything they would like; but we must give primary consideration to the stability of the fund. If there is one thing that I have stood for as a member of this committee, it is to do nothing that will destroy the stability of the fund. That is a primary importance and that is what we have in mind in this bill today, and while you may have some feeling with respect to Mr. Harrison that you expressed in the early part of your