had been there for years before would have to walk out. The result would be to put the burden of the re-employing of veterans on those least able to carry it, the individual workers -- not Government or industry.
It is a known fact that when a workman reaches the age of 45 it is extremely difficult, during normal times when said person is out of employment, to secure work in the industrial field generally due to the age of said person unless some person of influence or position sees fit to intercede in behalf of said person. In other words, the older workman with a family and dependents would be placed in a position where the veteran, who is a younger man, would displace him in his employment and create conditions which would revolutionize the practice and custom which has been followed by labor and industry in our American way of life. I do not believe any veteran desires to place himself in the classification of a favored few, when we consider that in this democracy there are 140 million people. One of the reasons for which World War II was fought was for the preservation of this democracy, and a free and equal opportunity to all of the continuation of the right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; that each person in this democracy was to have the same opportunities, rights and privileges, regardless of race, color or creed. I believe that it would be most unfair to place the majority of the workmen in the position where they would suffer by the loss of their employment through special privileges or rights being extended to veterans of World War II.
I hope that my decision might not be taken as indicating any indifference to the claims of those who stood by the nation in the hour of its need in the hazard, and so often with the loss of all that life holds dear.
The Act provides, inter alia, that the veteran shall be restored to such position or to a position of like seniority, status, and pay unless the employer's circumstances have so changes as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so. This was intended to provide for cases where necessary reduction of an employer's operating force or discontinuance of some particular department or activity would mean simply creating a useless job in order to re-employ the former employee. Kay v. General Cable Corporation, 3 Cir., 144 F.2d 653.
Since approximately 2800 men were employed by the plaintiff company during the war, and at the present time its complement only requires 650 men, it appears to me that this is a case where there has been a necessary reduction of an employer's operating force through no fault of the employer but due to general economic conditions as a result of the end of the war and the cessation of hostilities.
Congress has provided for unemployment compensation insurance benefits for honorably discharged veterans where a veteran was unable to secure employment. 38 U.S.C.A. § 696 et seq. Benefits were made available on the basis of $ 20.00 per week for a period of fifty-two (52) weeks where employment could not be secured. I believe that if it was the intention of Congress to have a veteran replace a non-veteran with greater seniority rights, Congress would have provided in the legislation just referred to that the provisions of said Act had application only to veterans under the following circumstances:
(a) A veteran honorably discharged from service who had no employment at the time of his induction or enlistment for military service in World War II.
(b) A veteran honorably discharged from service who was employed at the time of his induction or enlistment, and where at the time of his discharge the employer of the veteran was no longer engaged in business.
(c) A veteran honorably discharged from service who was employed at the time of his induction or enlistment where after the granting of super-seniority rights to veterans formerly employed, no work or position remained available for the additional employees who entered military service as a result of all jobs having been filled by employees in military service.
Furthermore, the policy of a special reemployment right for veterans is incompatible with the welfare of labor generally and job security, with management's interest in minimizing dislocations through sound personnel practice, and with the general public interest in an orderly transition to a peace economy.
It must be remembered that many patriotic workers were not permitted to enter the military service during World War II for the reason that the Government, through its designated agencies, believed that their services in the field of production were most important to the successful prosecution of the war effort. It, therefore, does not appear reasonable to believe that Congress intended to penalize those essential employees, who toiled and worked on the home front, by reducing their seniority status in such a manner that their employment would cease at the time of the discharge of the former employees who entered military service. It is so well known and realized that without the services of the essential employees in production, it would have been impossible to carry the war through to a successful conclusion. I furthermore do not believe that Congress ever intended that veterans of World War I, who also made many sacrifices for the defense of this country during said War, should be placed in a position where they would lose their employment in being replaced by a veteran of World War II.
I, therefore, find that Congress intended as follows:
(a) That the man who was called to military service should not be prejudiced in any way when he was honorably discharged from service in the matter of his employment or occupation.
(b) That a person honorably discharged from military status maintained his seniority status with his employer, and said seniority status should not in any way be impaired by military service, or that a person who entered military service shall be considered as having been on furlough or leave of absence during his period of military service.
(c) That a person who entered military service should be credited while in military service on the same basis as if he were actually employed during his term of service.
(d) That a person in military service would not gain or secure a super-seniority status which would entitle said person, who was honorably discharged, to replace employees of greater seniority with their employer.
Counsel may submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and decree in accordance with this Opinion.
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