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Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 49, Number 9 (June 1948)

Faculty profile,   pp. 18-20


Page 19


on the desk, and launches into a breezy
discussion of the topic of the day in a
fashion that has his student lawyers
roaring with laughter one minute and
frantically scribbling notes the next.
Behind the rostrum he is the soul of
wit and friendliness, but let no budding
barrister mistake this facade for soft-
heartedness. Feinsinger expects results
and he hands out flunks with the best
of them. Just so, in settling strikes the
Feinsinger gloved hand conceals a solid
punch.
  The professor got his first crack at
practical labor-management relations
in 1937 as special assistant to the Wis-
consin attorney general under Gov. Phil
LaFollette's ('19) Wisconsin Labor Re-
lations Board.
  His outstanding work in Wisconsin
drew Washington attention and in 1942
he became associate general counsel and
director of national disputes for the
War Labor Board. In 1944 President
Roosevelt appointed him public member
of the Board itself. Since the war Fein-
singer has been chairman of fact-find-
ing panels for steel industry and public
utilities disputes in all parts of the
country. Now he is standinz by as a
member of the U.S. Conciliation Serv-
ice's 26-man staff of special labor trou-
bleshooters.
   How does Feinsinger operate?
   Let's let the Professor tell the story
himself.
   "From what I saw while serving for
Wisconsin's Labor Relations B o a r d
back in 1937," he says, "I began to
believe that the only way to settle labor
problems is to treat them as human
problems. They can't be settled by
force. There will never be a permanent
industrial peace if the parties to a
dispute are forced to accept a decision.
  "For instance, things were at pretty
much of a standstill when I arrived
out in San Francisco in November,
1946, to work on the maritime strike.
Neither labor nor management were
speaking to each other, and it was my
job to start them talking again. That's
the essence of bargaining.
  "I began by talking to each party
separately with the hope of narrow-
ing the difference in their demands as
much as possible. If I could get one
party to make a concession on a side
grievance that wasn't really instru-
mental in causing the strike, I was
sure that the other side would make
sorne concession on the main issue. That
would narrow the difference between
them enough so that they would start
talking again and would be able to
settle their own strike.
  "And that's the way it worked out.
  "I firmly believe that neither labor
nor management wants strikes. The
only thing than can be done is to con-
vince them that it is a problem that
they alone can solve, and then keep
them working at it. They must be made
to think in terms of settlement instead
of about just fighting.
  "The Hawaiian pineapple strike in
1947 was a tough one. When I got to
Hawaii I found that negotiations had
been dragging on for months. Labor
and management were dead set in their
opinions.
  "This presented a serious problem
in 'face-saving,' because the strike had
gone so far that neither side was will-
ing to give in. We knocked their heads
together a little and finally came up
with enough   concessions from   both
management and labor so that a wage
settlement was agreed upon and the in-
dustry went back to work. And just in
time to save the crop, too.
  "It all boils down to this. Mediation
is a matter of influencing the parties
in the disputes to solve their own prob-
lems. Nobody   really  wants strikes,
neither workers nor employer. They're
engaged in psychological warfare. Keep
them both off dead center and even-
tually they'll get. together.
  "The only purpose the outsider like
me can serve is to convince both sides
that it is a problem which they alone
can solve, and try to keep them work-
ing at it.
  "We try to persuade them to think
for themselves, to give and to take-
which is the true spirit of collective
bargaining. There is always some right
and some wrong on both sides."
  Sounds easy when Professor Fein-
singer tells about it, doesn't it? What
he doesn't explain is the long hours of
boning up on the dispute before he even
makes an appearance. Or the weari-
some midnight sessions in an hotel
room struggling first for c o m m o n
ground and then for the all-important
concessions.
  Nor does he hint at the invaluable
stage props which make Feinsinger
  What are the deep-stated philoso-
phies underlying the amazing success
of this No. 1 mediator? At the outset
Feinsinger is a firm believer in indus-
trial self-government. He is convinced
that the rules of industry must le the
strong beliefs of both labor and man-
agement.
  "I *haven't been in a single case
where the threat of force by the gov-
ernment has been a material factor in
averting or settling a strike," he main-
tains.
  Feinsinger is consequently not too
happy about the controversial Taft-
Hartley Act.
  "We need the agreement of both seg-
ments of industry in order for a strong
economic nation to exist," he says. "1
have always been against the enforce-
ment of penalties to achieve an end,
and I believe that to the extent the
government steps into the labor-man-
agement picture, the parties will lack
the incentive to solve their own prob-
lems. In theory the act is a good one,
but are we not paying too high a price
for it? It isn't good to discriminate
against one branch of industry for the
benefit of the other.
  "This is legislation in the field of
human relations, and while Congress
may draft the most perfectly balanced
system in the world, it won't work if
it doesn't get acceptance by both sides."
  He adds:
                                       "Special courts to handle labor
dis-
       NEXT MONTH                    putes are just another form of com-
                                     pulsory arbitration. We had such a
  HERE COMES THE CE             -    system during the war and we just
                                     couldn't wait to get rid of it.
NIALI A complete preview       of      "You can't regulate wages without
your University of Wisconsin's       leading inevitably to regulation   of
100th birthday party.                prices and profits. If they really mean
  WHAT "CURRICULUM B" IS             what they say about wanting
a com-
                                     petitive economic system, they should
ALL ABOUT. An outline of             keep all parts of it free, and not just
the University's new        pro-     try to clamp down on one part."
gram   of integrated liberal           Feinsinger also favors management
     ..     .   .   .  . .....-- - -,-'vih';'r,;ni o."c i1d 1 ,hA nA2.fiaat.i
f
  studies. By kro                      do, into industry-wide groups for
pur-
  POOLEY, PhD '32.                     p o s e s of collective bargaining.
He
                                       quotes a dissenting opinion of the
late
                                       Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1896
                                       which declared that "there is
no use
unique as a strike doctor. Like the plen- setting our face against combinations,
tiful supply of liquid refreshments to because we are living in an age of
com-
keep tongues wagging. And like the     binations."
never ending supply of rough-and-ready   He declares, "There are a lot
of back-
gags to break the ice and help the boys room agreements in industry now on
come to terms.                         labor, and they should be made out
in
  When Feinsinger o p e n e d up the   the open. What one segment of an in-
maritime discussions for example, he   dustry does affects all the others."
didn't pound on the table with a gavel  The country is now in a breathing
like a ponderous professor and come    spell between the first round of strikes
forth with a learned dissertation on   which followed the end of the war
and
the Wagner Act. He cleared his throat, a possible second round, caused by
the
leaned back, and cracked:              inflationary spiral, according to
Pro-
  "Well, boys, you might as well realize  fessor Feinsinger.
you're just like the old maid. You're     "Chances for labor peace are
pretty
going to get violated anyway, so you   good, if business and labor have any
might as well sit back and enjoy it."  statesmanship," he says.
"Collective
  And when he was working frantically  bargaining is the only real insurance
of
on the Hawaiian sugar dispute, he kept stability in industrial relations."
tnree bellhops busy buldoing up a cache
of bourbon so that the conference
wouldn't run dry after the curfew hour.
  This is all not to say that Feinsinger
simply jests and floats his way into a
strike settlement. It just demonstrates
his recognition that strikes are a prob-
lem in human relations as he says,
and that he uses human, practical
means to help him over the difficult
technical hurdles involved.
  Out of 20 years as a theoretical pro-
fessor of labor law and: practical strike
mediator, Feinsinger has evolved a five-
point program to reduce strikes in
major industries.
  The program involves a top manage-
ment-labor conference, greater use of
collective bargaining, improvement of
the processes of mediation and concilia-
                                   19


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