195 Code/176

The Secretary of State to the National Recovery Administrator (Johnson)

My Dear General Johnson: Referring to your letter dated February 16, 1934, concerning the memorandum from the Norwegian Minister relative to the proposed code of fair competition for the shipping industry, I transmit herewith for your consideration a copy of a note dated April 14, 1934, received from the Norwegian Minister calling attention to the provisions of Section 13 of the new draft of the proposed code and stating that the Norwegian Government “feels gravely concerned over the possible consequences of this provision, which would be that even when a Norwegian seaman signs on a Norwegian vessel in an American port the labor provisions of the code would probably apply”.

In your letter of February 16, 1934, you made the following statement:

“It is not the intention of the code to interfere with the nationals of other countries on foreign flag vessels. The language of the code, to this extent, will be clarified before approval.”

It is believed that the phraseology used in Section 13 of Article 5 should be amended to make it clear that the section does not apply to cases such as those mentioned in the Norwegian Minister’s note. It is understood that foreign vessels employ only a small number of seamen in ports of the United States and such employment is frequently of an emergency nature to replace seamen who become sick or injured or who desert from the vessel. The newly employed seamen are usually [Page 717] necessary for the safe navigation of the vessel and as Section 13 now reads their contract of employment because entered into in the United States would place them in a different status and would be on a different basis from the officers and other members of the crew in so far as the application and enforcement of the provisions of the code to them are concerned.

As no practical advantage would seem to be gained by American shipping interests by the inclusion of the words “under contracts made without the United States” in Section 13, I recommend that these words be eliminated from the code. The retention of these words may lead to retaliatory measures with respect to seamen employed under similar circumstances by American vessels in foreign ports.

I shall be grateful if you will be so good as to send me a statement of your views with regard to these matters for use in replying to the note received from the Norwegian Minister.

Sincerely yours,

Cordell Hull