After first denying any direct involvement in the events leading to the Ludlow Massacre, Rockefeller then endured grueling appearances before the presidential Commission on Industrial Relations, which was discussed briefly in the previous section. Its feisty chairman then released many damaging and incriminating documents about Rockefeller's involvement in key decisions leading to the confrontation (e.g., Weinstein 1968, pp. 191-198). The most detailed historical account of Ludlow and its aftermath, based on documents at the Rockefeller Archives, proved that Rockefeller had no information on the actual working conditions at the company and had no interest in examining independent reports that were offered to him (Gitelman 1988).
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In addition to his corporate involvement and great personal wealth, Rockefeller also controlled three foundations: the General Education Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund. Although he did not take a direct role in all of the foundations, he had an executive committee, made up of his main employees from each of them, which met with him to determine whether he should give his own money directly to a project or if the project should be assigned to a foundation. In addition, he chaired the board of the Rockefeller Foundation, which had its offices in the Standard Oil of New Jersey Building from its founding in 1913 until 1933. Rockefeller and his foundations supported a wide array of think tanks and policy-discussion organizations within the larger context of massive financial donations for medical research, education, national parks, ecumenical Protestant organizations, and museums (Schenkel 1995). It needs to be stressed that he spent far more money on one of his favorite personal projects, the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, than he did on think tanks and policy-discussion groups. But still, the relatively small amounts of money he contributed to organizations in the policy-planning network nonetheless had a major impact on the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act (Domhoff and Webber 2011). I can see the raised eyebrows at this point, but read on.
By late 1967 the Labor Law Reform Group had a final draft of its proposed changes in the National Labor Relations Act. First and foremost, the draft put more emphasis on the right of employees to join or not join a union, and on the right of management to talk with employees about this decision. The plans to shape public opinion and influence Congress were also in place, but at the same time members of the LLRG "knew that there was no chance of changing the law unless Republicans triumphed in the 1968 presidential and congressional elections" (Gross 1995, p. 205). The public education phase of the campaign was carried out by Hill and Knowlton, the world's largest public relations firm, which handled publicity and lobbying for numerous industries, including tobacco (by denying that smoking was bad for health), pharmaceuticals (providing advice throughout Senate hearings concerning the marketing of untested drugs), and steel (during large strikes in 1952 and 1959). Its plan involved a nationwide effort that would be conducted without revealing its origins in the LLRG. As part of its effort, Hill and Knowlton said it would "meet privately with leading liberals" to learn how to overcome liberal objections; it also prepared editorials to send to hundreds of small newspapers and longer stories for nationwide magazines with which it had close connections (Gross 1995, pp. 207-208).
in American Foreign Relations: Documents ..
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Major Problems in American Foreign Relations by ..
Based on the direct and overwhelming corporate involvement in the creation of this legislation, and the fact that the inclusion of section 7(a) had some semblance of a business rationale and no enforcement mechanism, most social scientists and historians seem to accept Himmelberg's (1976/1993, Chapter 10) conclusion to his highly detailed analysis of the origins of the National Industrial Recovery Act: the legislation marked "the triumph of business revisionists," the group of business leaders called corporate moderates in this document. So far, then, this document hews closely to the mainstream views on labor legislation, except for the comments and additions concerning the Rockefeller industrial relations network.
Major Problems in American Foreign Relations: …
Gerard Swope, the president of General Electric, and a friend of the New Deal, was named chairman of the BAC. Teagle was selected as chairman of its Industrial Relations Committee, which demonstrates the central role of the Rockefeller network in the corporate community once again. One of Teagle's first decisions was to appoint all the vice-presidents that were members of the Special Conference Committee to the Industrial Relations Committee, thereby making that private group into a governmental body. Rockefeller's personal employee, Edward Cowdrick, the aforementioned secretary of the Special Conference Committee, was made secretary of the new BAC committee. Reflecting the seamless overlap of the corporate community and government in the early New Deal, Cowdrick wrote as follows to an AT&T executive. The memo deserves to be quoted because it reveals one of the ways the corporate leaders explained their involvement in government advisory groups, as well as a decision to avoid any mention of the Special Conference Committee, even though the government advisory meetings were part of Special Conference Committee meetings. The members were told they would be there as individuals, not as representatives of their companies or as members of the Special Conference Committee: