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Information bulletin
(January 1952)

Labor union advisers kept busy,   pp. [31]-32 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page [31]


Labor Union
Advisers
Kept Busy
A MERICAN LABOR ADVISERS at the German Indus-
Vtrial Exposition in Berlin had their hands full answer-
ing questions put by Soviet Sector and Soviet Zone resi-
dents curious about labor conditions in America.
Ihe team of experts consisted of August P. Karrer,
United Automobile Workers of America, Committee of
Industrial Organization (CIO), and Fred Treitz, Inter-
national Association of Machinists, American Federation
of Labor (AFL). Rudolph F. Raube, International Associa-
tion of Machinists, AFL, who was on duty for the first
week of the fair, went to Frankfurt to serve as a labor
affairs consultant to HICOG for a year.
"About 300 persons from the East zone and East sector
have asked us thousands of questions," Mr. Karrer said.
"But we always noticed that those who do speak come
flanked by large groups who just listen. The crowd at
our booth was swelled by other individuals who have
just been hanging around hoping that someone would
come along with courage enough to ask questions so they
could listen.
"We were told that many were, afraid to speak up for
fear that the 'wrong person' would see or hear them
showing too much interest in the American worker's way
of life," he added. "We noticed also that East sector
residents speak up more freely than those from the zone."
MR. KARRER ATTRIBUTED the reticence of some
Soviet Zone residents to the fact that many have
little or no opportunity to visit West Berlin or other
Western democratic areas and have no firsthand knowl-
edge of the free speech enjoyed there. "As a result, they
are less open than East sector people, who have a better
chance to look into West Berlin's 'show window of the
West,'" he pointed out.
"Why," Mr. Karrer said, "they pored over our in-
formation pamphlets here, but most of them wouldn't take
even one little sheet away with them because they were
afraid to. One man told me he had lost transportation
privileges for three months not long ago simply because
he had accidentally wrapped a sausage in a half sheet
of west sector newspaper so he could carry the sausage
home in his pocket, and the border police accused him
of carrying West propaganda."
The East residents were interested in all phases of
American labor union activity, according to the labor
advisers who held their discussions with the Germans
in the George C. Marshall House throughout the exposi-
tion Oct. 6-21.
The major need was for specific information as to how
labor union structure in America differed from that in
iu~a'JIpA r. *Lt--- I a-"'  - ""-
of Machinists (American Federation of Labor) and August
P. Karrer (center) of the United Automobile Workers of
America (Congress of Industrial Organization) discuss
labor problems with a visitor to the German Industrial
Exposition at West Berlin's "Radio Tower" fair grounds.
both West and East zones of Germany. Visitors to the
labor booth also wanted to know about the degree of
autonomy of the individual, of the plant committees and
of the town and state labor councils; whether local unions
were free to go out and make demands for higher wages
and better working conditions on their own; what amount
the individual had to pay in dues and where the money
went; if the labor unions supported a particular political
party; if there was a strong socialist trend in America;
if any particular church affiliation was a prerequisite to
holding labor union office; how much Communism there
was in local unions and what methods were used to break
it down; what was the standard of living of the worker
and the buying power of his wages; how, in specific
detail, the federal old age pension, sick benefit and un-
employment insurance plans worked; whether it was
compulsory to belong to a union in order to be able to
work; how union elections were held; and whether punish-
ments were inflicted on a worker who leaves one job
and goes to another.
East and West Germans meet at the America trade union
information booth in the George C. Marshall House to
ply the two labor representatives with an endless stream
of questions.             (PRB BE-HICOG photos by Schubert)
JANUARY 1952


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