Organized labor won an important round in Congress yesterday as the House voted decisively to block consideration of an industry-backed substitute for the administration's proposed labor law revision.
Still to come are votes today on the substance of the controversial labour bill, but opponents conceded that at least a modified version is likely to pass.
The bill - drafted jointly by the White House and the AFL-CIO - would revamp the nation's labor laws to make it easier for unions to organize and win contracts. It would set deadlines for union affiliation elections, deny federal contracts to employers who repeatedly violate labor laws, provide for reinstatement and double back pay for illegally dismissed employees and generally speed up national Labor Relations Board operations.
Yesterday's vote, which both sides viewed as a test of their strength, came on a Republican bid to open the bill to amendments that could have turned it from a pro-union to an anti union measure. The GOP bid was rejected 267 to 152. Then the House voted 291 to 128 to restrict amendments to proposals submitted 24 hours in advance and considered "germane" to the bill as proposed, making it difficult if not impossible to win consideration of many of the industry proposal.
However, European experts harbour rate, since it means that EEC coun-ballot votes on calling and continuing strikes, curbing union disciplinary actions against members and banning use of union dues for political purposes.
In the rules fight, Republicans led by Rep. John B. Anderson (III) charged that Democrats were attmepting to impose a "gag rule." Charging that the bill was unbalanced in favor of unions, Anderson said the Demovrats were trying to "build a bridge halfway over the river and asking the members to march over it." Rep. Robert E. Bauman (R-md.) charged that the members were being "treated like so many children.
Rep. Frank Thompson (D-N.J.), sponsor of the legislation, said the bills opponents were seeking the breach the House's standard germaneness rule for legislation. Thompson noted that more than 200 amendments were on file and added. "I don't know how much more open we can get."
With the Democratic leadership strongly backing the measure, most Democrats supported the restrictive rule, despite complaints by some members, especially Southerners, that they were being asked to vote on too many labor bills.
Only 13 Republicans departed from the GOP position, despite a widely circulated letter from Rep. Thomas F. Railsback (R-Ill) warning that a vote against the bill would "simply fortify the efforts of those who are convicted that we are anti-labor." Railsback himself voted with the Republicans on the rules issue.
Rep. John N. Erienborn (R-Ill), a leader in the fight against the bill, said after a vote. "It predicted, however, that amendments "to provide some degree of balance and discretion" will be approved. Labor lobbyist agreed that some modifying amendments will probably pass.
Erienborn said the union's success yesterday was partially attribute to "sympathy for them because they've been publicity embarrassed by losing every move up until now." He was referring to defeat of a construction site picketing bill and mixed results on minimum wage legislation, which is now before the Senate in somewhat strengthend form.
Unions, whose lobbying has improved since the picketing vote last spring, were also calling in all their chits on labor law revision, their top goal for the year. William W. Winpisinger, president of the 1-million memchinist, told reporters that Houseber International Association of Ma-members had been told that the bill was the "absolute test" of their political standing with unions.