With tongue partly in cheek, Labor Secretary Ray Marshall chided the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday for its claim that passage of the administration's proposed labor law revisions would triple union membership.
The chamber's charge, said Marshall, was not only an exaggeration but also an inadvertent confession that business compliance with exisiting labor laws has not been all it should have been
Asked if the chamber was uninformed in its prediction, Marshall said, "That might be. There's something wrong." He said he was reminded of how Louisiana's Earl Long used to respond to critics: "You had a good momma and a good daddy. There's something else wrong with you, and I don't know what it is."
At a press conference Monday to announce results of a poll it took on labor issues, Robert T. Thompson, chairman of the chamber's labor relations committee, predicted that union membership would rise from 20 per cent to 60 per cent of the American work force over the next decade if the bill passes.
The legislation, which passed the House last fall and is now before the ier to organize unions and win initial contracts by speeding up procedures and stiffening penalties for labor law violations.
Asked about the chamber's claim at a press briefing yesterday, Marshall said a 60 per cent unionization rate would make the United States the most heavily unionized country in the world, far in excess of even European countries with labor governments.
Such a "dramatic change," said Marshall, could occur only "If you make the assumption that the workers are now being so thwarted by violations of the law that they have a burning desire to join a union and only the illegal activities of the employers are keeping them from it."
That, he added, is a "confession I'm surprised they would make . . . and i don't believe it."