Morse, David Abner

views updated


MORSE, DAVID ABNER (1907–1990), U.S. labor executive and lawyer. Morse, who was born in New York, graduated from Rutgers University in 1929 and studied law at Harvard University; he was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1933. Morse worked on the legal staff of the U.S. Department of the Interior (1933–34), as chief counsel for its Petroleum Labor Policy Board (1934–35), and as a regional attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in New York (1935–38), before entering private law practice. From 1940 to 1942 Morse was impartial chairman for the milk industry in the metropolitan New York area. On leaving the public service, he became a partner in the law firm of Coult, Satz, Tomlinson and Morse. He also lectured on labor relations, labor law, and administrative law at several educational institutions. From 1943 to 1944 he servedin the U.S. army as head of the Labor Division of the Allied Military Government in Sicily and Italy, where he formulated and implemented labor policies and programs for the American and British liberators. From 1944 to 1945 he served as head of the Manpower Division of the United States Group Control Council for Germany, where he worked with representatives of Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States to help coordinate the way they dealt with labor matters in occupied Germany. By the end of the war, he held the rank of lieutenant colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1946.

After serving with the military, Morse held the position of general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (1945–47) until appointed assistant secretary of labor, in which capacity he created the department's Program of International Affairs. In 1948 he was elected director general of the International Labor Organization (ilo) based in Geneva, Switzerland, and remained in that position for an unprecedented 22 years. As ilo head, Morse directed its establishment of international labor standards and its training programs designed to assist underdeveloped countries, and particularly their workers, in raising their standards of living and bettering their job conditions. When the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969, Morse accepted the award on behalf of the ilo. In 1970 he resigned as ilo director general and became the impartial chairman of the New York coat and suit industry.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

About this article

Morse, David Abner

Updated About content Print Article