Security, Civil Liberties, and Unions

By Harry Fleischman; Joyce Lewis Kornbluh et al. | Go to book overview
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The Butler Bill

In sharp contrast to the demands of many union spokesmen that the security program be limited to workers in sensitive areas, a bill currently before Congress would extend security regulations to all employees in every defense facility. AFL- CIO unions have vigorously opposed this Defense Facilities Protection Act, first introduced two years ago by Senator John Butler ( R. Md.). In 1954, the bill passed the Senate but not the House. Strong union opposition appears to have doomed the measure in the 84th Congress. But it may come up again.

The Butler Bill would authorize the President to set up a loyalty and security program covering workers in any plant, factory or facility which might be important to national security in time of war. This could include any factory, airport, telephone or telegraph system, pier, waterfront, station, railroad, trucking company and textile mill--even newspapers or radio and television stations--which the Secretary of Defense decided was a "defense facility."

If the President declared an emergency, any persons working in these facilities could be fired if there were "reasonable ground to believe they may engage in sabotage, espionage or other subversive acts." The bill doesn't define "reasonable grounds" or "other subversive acts."

Administration spokesmen for the bill indicated that the "emergency" could be proclaimed just as soon as the bill passes. They point out that current security programs are limited to classified information, whereas the Butler Bill would establish a legal basis for getting at any area of potential sabotage and espionage, thus closing the "last gap" in the security ring. Moreover, supporters of the bill insist that, since the Butler Bill would guarantee an accused "risk" a statement of charges within 30 days and a hearing within 45 days, this measure offers greater civil liberties safeguards than many comparable statutes.

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