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TABLE 1.- Geographical distribution of 524 commission weavers used by 84 con

verters during 1934 1

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1 Taken from a survey of converters in New York City made during February and March 1935.

TABLE 2.-Distribution of commission weavers by converters for whom they worked

during 1934 1

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1 Taken from a survey of converters in New York City, made during February and March 1935.

The study made in the Paterson mills corroborates the converter study. Of a total of 704,000 yards produced in 1 week in the mills covered, 294,000 yards were 50/64's or 48/64's; 63,000 yards of this total were contracted for on a basis that included warping and winding, 91,000 on a basis that covered weaving only (table 3). Details for the rest of this yardage were not available, but of the 91,000 yards, 86,500 yards were woven for 6 cents or less per yard, excluding warping and winding. Of the contracts let to include warping and winding, 34,000 yards, more than 50 percent, were at prices of 7 and 744 cents per yard. These figures were for only 1 week in 1935 and prices had apparently declined somewhat from 1934 levels. There is no way by which the total annual production at these low prices can be calculated but these figures for approximately one-quarter of the Paterson mills indicate that the annual total would be very large.

It is only necessary to compare these prices with the actual costs of mills operato ing under standard conditions to realize that it is impossible for such mills to meet this competition. The code authority for the industry has records showing the manufacturing costs of standard mills upon the 50/64 quality referred to above. Total manufacturing costs inclusive of winding and warping range from 10%, cents per yard to 12.2 cents per yard for nine typical establishments. Inquiries made by the Board members informally substantiate these cost figures. For weaving without warping and winding costs, an estimate of approximately 144 cents per yard less would be very nearly correct. Our study indicates, therefore, that a very large amount of commission weaving is being done in the industry and especially in the Paterson area at prices that are from one-third to one-half below the actual costs of mills operating under standard conditions.


Figures published by the Textile Foundation, Inc.,' indicate that 406,000,000 yards of broad silk were woven in 1934; 40 percent of this total yardage was woven on a commission basis. The studies made by the Board's staff indicate that not less than one-third of this yardage produced by commission weavers was woven at prices ranging around and averaging 7.7 cents per yard. If these figures may be taken as being roughly accurate, there were produced in 1934, 50,000,000 yards of broad silk at prices 33 to 50 percent below the normal costs reported by typical mills.

The volume of commission weaving and the proportion of it done at prices below standard costs are sufficient to demoralize completely the market for goods within those classes which can be produced in the price-cutting commission weaving establishments.


The effect of the competition of the commission weavers upon the industry generally has been disastrous. Stock-carrying mills, unable to compete with the prices for which the contract weavers will work, are being forced defensively to contract out their own weaving, even to buy greige goods from converters. Some stock-carrying firms have gone completely out of business as manufacturers, and supply their market entirely with goods purchased indirectly from commission weavers. Other mills, and this is especially true in Paterson, have sold or rented their equipment to weavers able to evade the purpose of code regulation, and the mills can now get the greige goods, woven on their own former equipment, at a price lower than their former costs. That section of the industry which seeks to continue operations on the normal, stock-carrying basis is trying desperately to find some means of lowering costs to a point where competition with the commission weaver is possible. Wage reductions and increases in work assignment are two avenues through which these attempts at lower costs are being made. Because of the effect of this competition, directly upon legitimate mills, and indirectly upon labor, therefore, some means of regulation must be found.


The effect upon labor of this system of contracting out of weaving is by no means confined to the general tendency toward wage reduction. The study of the Paterson silk mills has revealed that the conditions existing in the mills weaving cloth at the extremely low prices quoted are of the very worst. TABLE 3.—Number of yards and prices paid for manufacturing 50/64's and 48164's

in Paterson commission weaving shops 1 Without warping and winding:

Yards 5 cents per yard..

1, 500 542 cents per yard.

13, 650 535 cents per yard.

2 1, 100 534 cents per yard.

53, 775 6 cents per yard.

16, 483 674 cents per yard.

1,000 642 cents per yard.

1, 800 674 cents per yard.-

1, 750

With warping and winding:

91, 058

7 cents per yard.. 744 cents per yard. 772 cents per yard.. 8 cents per yard. 872 cents per yard.

26, 066

7, 725 15, 541 10, 000 3, 600

Total.. Price not given.

62, 932 139, 950

Grand total.-.

293, 940 1 Covers 1 week in February or March 1935. 3 50/62's. * Production and Distribution of silk and Rayon Board Goods, by M.T. Copeland and W. H. Turner, the Textile Foundation, Inc., and the National Federation of Textiles, Inc., New York, 1935, p. 87.

(a) Size of mills.-The Paterson study covered 154 mills that were actually weaving cloth, with a total of 3,646 looms, of which 3,485 were active at the time the canvass was made (February-March 1935). There were 2,079 workers in these mills. The sample covered was thus approximately one-fourth of the entire broad goods weaving industry in the city; the investigators marked off the areas to be covered, and visited every mill in those areas.

Of the 154 firms canvassed, 104 were found to be commission weavers (table 4). Some of the others were stock-carrying mills themselves, but let out part of their work to commission weaving mills. Most of the commission weaving mills were very small, and might more properly be called shops than mills; 43 percent of the commission weaving shops had 10 looms or fewer; 77 percent had 20 looms or fewer. Only one commission weaver, a manufacturer of rayon novelties, had more than 60 looms. The stock-carrying mills averaged much larger; only 46 percent had 20 looms or fewer, and 12 percent of that group had more than 60 looms.

The converters covered by the other section of our investigation reported that they were giving out weaving on a commission basis to 147 Paterson firms, having a total of 5,245 looms. Ninty-nine of these Paterson firms had 36 or fewer looms each. (b) The family shop:-An outstanding characteristic of commission

weaving as it has developed in Paterson is the prevalence of the “family shop.” This term is applied to establishments in which one or more of the workers, in addition to the owner, are related to the owner, or where several workers are in partnership: The essential element is that some of the workers are not "employees”, and receive a share of the net proceeds of the shop instead of any stipulated rate of wages. Many variants of this type of shop exist, from that in which only family labor is found to the shop where in addition to family members there are several workers employed on a regular wage basis. In one case a loom fixer having a regular job during the day, had a four-loom shop which his wife worked in and managed during the day; when his 8-hour regular shift was over, he worked another 8 hours in his own shop. In one case (firm 83) two daughters worked as weavers for 8 hours in a 14-loom shop run by their father, then spent 4, 5, or 6 hours of the evening as pickers, quill winders, and bookkeepers. Shop 146 contained 8 looms and was operated by a father and daughter. When the investigator called the father was out and the daughter was running all 8 looms. A man operating a 6-loom shop may have his wife come in for a few hours a day to wind quills, or have his daughter come in after school to help around the shop.

Fifty-four percent of the commission weaving mills covered in the Paterson survey were completely family shops, 14 percent were partly family shops, and 31 percent had no family labor (table 5). Even in the latter group, however, where no family labor is reported, the owners of shops of 20 or fewer looms usually work as weavers or loom fixers in addition to their work of managing the shop. Among the stock-carrying mills, family shops were much less common; only 30 percent were completely manned by the family, 10 percent had some family labor, and 60 percent had none. TABLE 4.-Distribution of commission weaving and other shops in Paterson by

size 1

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1 Taken from a survey of Paterson shops during 1 week in February or March 1935.

TABLE 5.—Number of weavers and other workers employed in family shops and

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Some idea of the family relationships in these shops can be obtained from the fact that in 91 shops with family labor, 24 workers stood in the relation of wife to the owner, 26 in the relation of son, 23 of daughter, 6 of father, 17 of brother, 4 of mother, 2 of cousin, 2 of sister-in-law, and 1 each of uncle, niece, grandmother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and daughter-in-law, respectively. Relationship of the remainder of the family workers could not be ascertained.

c. Mortality of firms.-These small shops do not remain in business for a long time. Changes in ownership and failures are frequent. Of 150 shops canvassed for which information was available, 43 had been in business for less than a year, and in practically all of these cases this had been their first business venture. As a general rule, the owners of these shops were unemployed weavers, who could find no other field of employment, and preferred to open their own shop to going on relief.

Before beginning this study, there had been secured from all available sources, lists of Paterson mills. The lists were combined and used as a basis for the canvass. Of the 150 shops canvassed for which information could be secured, 38 did not appear on any of the lists secured by the Board's staff and 31 of the names appearing on the lists could not be found at the address given. In view of the fact that these lists were secured from the Silk Textile Code, from the Paterson Silk Manufacturers Association, and from silk directories, 'it is very significant that the composite list was only 60 percent accurate.

New York converters reported the names of 147 Paterson establishments working for them on the commission weaving basis. Of this 147, 34—21.6 percent.--could not be found on any of the lists available to the Board.

The rapidity of change of ownership and the mortality of these shops is so high as to make it difficult to keep an accurate list of firms with the available code machinery. In addition the problem is made more difficult because many of the smaller shops have neither the records nor the facilities for answering governmental questionnaries mailed them. Others, suspicious about all investigations, are reluctant to report, and seek to conceal their existence.

d. Condition of the mill buildings.--The Paterson silk mills are concentrated in definite areas. One hundred and fifty of the firms canvassed, where concentration was perhaps somewhat greater than in the city as a whole, were in 16 buildings, in 3 distinct areas, each covering the space of only a city block. None of the 16 buildings covered in the survey is in any sense a modern factory building, and a cursory examination of other buildings not covered in the survey showed that this was in general true of other silk mills in Paterson.

Originally built for larger mills, the buildings do not have the proper exits, staircases, etc., which should exist in a structure occupied by many small tenants. For example, 6 buildings, in one area, which formerly housed only 6 establishments, now have 70 tenants, 61 of which are manufacturers of silk. Repartitioning of these buildings to provide for the smaller establishments has resulted in inadequate natural lighting, in difficulty of access to stairways, and in crowding of looms. In these old buildings now used almost entirely for weaving, and crowded with looms, the floor sway and vibration is terrific. In some shops access to the regular stairway is cut off by the partitioning, and outside fire escapes are the only means of access. Though ostensibly all of the buildings are equipped with fire escapes, many shops have no access to them except through adjoining shops. Where partitions exist the only excess is through wooden doors which in many cases are locked during working hours.

Many of the floors, ceilings, walls, and stairs are badly in need of repair. The stairs are dirty and littered with garbage; often the stairways are wooden, without any encasement. The small tenants feel no responsibility for keeping the shops in order and the owners apparently are content to do only that which they are compelled to do to pass State building inspection requirements.

In certain instances there were as many as 12 shops on 1 floor, some partitioned off by boards and chicken wire netting, and some with no partitioning at all. It was almost physically impossible in some cases to find any one firm without calling on four or five others on the same floor. It was sometimes impossible to go from one floor to another without going outside the building on an open fire escape.

e. Condition of the shops. The inter al condition of these shops is characterized by similarly low standards. With very few exceptions, the shops are disorderly, littered, and extremely crowded. Of the 150 shops, only 13, in the opinion of the investigators, were clean and orderly. The others were dirty, littered with waste material, boxes and cartons, silk sacks, unused weights and warp beams, lying on the floor. Sanitary conditions were extremely bad. Since, as has been noted, the buildings were not originally equipped for so many small tenants, the toilets and wash stands originally in the building were cut off from many of the shops by partitioning. For minimum compliance with factory laws, a men's and women's toilet had been built in on each floor. In many instances, there are only these two toilets for an entire floor. With few exceptions they had been built in a minimum of space by blocking off a portion of the shop in a wooden frame and little attention has been given to cleanliness or sanitation.

In none of the 150 shops visited were the buildings equipped with ventilating systems. Although all of the buildings had enough windows, they could not be opened because the constant humidity required in silk weaving makes natural ventilation difficult. As a result, the shops were intolerably hot and stuffy. Although it is recognized that control of humidity is an ever present problem in silk manufacture, still the old and run-down condition of most of the buildings in Paterson unduly increases the discomfort to workers.

None of the shops had a rest room of any kind and very few had even so much as a bench where a worker might rest. None of the shops had a washroom and only 13 washstands were found in the 150 shops.

The lighting of the shops was extremely bad. Only two had anything approaching good natural light. The artificial lighting was deficient, just barely complying with the New Jersey factory laws. In no instance was an indirect lighting system found, nor was a general lighting system used to supplement hanging bulbs. Characteristically, one bulb of between 50 and 60 watts was used on each side of a loom. In many cases the bulbs were old and faulty and gave a minimum of light. Hanging over the loom in this way, without a shade, a small spot only was brightly illuminated; most of the remaining working space was comparatively dark.

The shops were extremely crowded and the machinery badly spaced. In most cases a minimum of space was rented and in general the total floor space was barely enough to house the machinery. Coupled with bad arrangement of the shops and the cluttered up condition of most of them, there is inadequate working space for the weavers. In some cases as little as 6 inches separated the backs of looms and as little as 1 foot the fronts. Rarely, making allowances for weights which protruded to regulate the warp let-off and cloth take-up, was there adequate working space. Many of the shops had very narrow truckers' aisles and in some cases, aisles were nonexistent.

Every attribute of the internal conditions of these shops accentuated the floor sway and vibration. In all except 5 of the 150 shops the looms were driven by

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