« ÎnapoiContinuați »
and hour standards cannot be maintained unless some means can be found to bring the Paterson family shops under regulation.
A study of the methods used in the clothing and garment industries for the regulation of similar sweatshop conditions has led hte Board to believe that the rayon and silk industry problem should be attacked by substantially the same means. Much of the success in the earlier years of the clothing industries' fight against the sweatshop was due to the existence of strong labor organizations and a close cooperation between employers and unions in the campaign for regulation. Although with the coming of the N. R. A. code provisions supplemented and to some extent duplicated the terms of former labor agreements, the enforcement of these provisions still depends to a very large extent upon the vigilance and activity of labor organizations and associations of employers.
There is not, in the silk industry generally, the type of cooperation between labor and management which could immediately undertake the problem of regulating the sweatshops which commission-weaving methods have developed. Employers and workers alike realize the seriousness of the evil, but they have not vet developed the practice of working together for the handling of their common problems. At the border of the commission-weaving industry, both in the dyeing industry and in the garment industry, there exist strong labor organizations maintaining regular relations with their employers. These groups might very properly be called upon to cooperate in the administering of any plan for controlling commission weaving.
The Board does not feel that there exists in the code authority the means for enforcing or administering the regulations necessary to check the sweatshop evil. This ought not to be construed as a criticism of the code authority; the characteristics of the sweatshop are such that its_handling is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs in industrial government. The Board feels however that if some external governmental agency might begin the attack upon this situation, labor unions, employers' associations, and code authority might be expected to take over the job after a short time.
The specific recommendations of the Board are based upon provisions appearing in various codes of fair competition. We are assured that these proposals are proper and we are convinced that they offer a very good prospect of success if adopted.
The Board had recommended in its report on the plan for regulation of work assignments that there be created a rayon and silk adjustment board. The recommendations below contemplate the creation of a department of this Board to set up a system for controlling the Paterson and other commission weaving. Until such time as the employers' associations, labor unions, and code authority can take over this work, the rayon and silk adjustment board should be made a special agency with authority to enforce the regulations outlined below. With this understanding we recommend:
1. The code of fair competition should be amended to include the following or equivalent provisions:
(a) All converters and/or stock-carrying mills who cause their silk goods to be woven by commission weavers shall adhere to the payment of rates for such production in an amount sufficient to enable the commission weaver to pay the employees the wages and earnings provided and in addition a reasonable payment to this commission weaver for his overhead.
(6) Converters and/or stock-carrying mills who cause their greige goods to be woven by commission weavers shall immediately designate by name the commission weavers necessary to meet their business requirements. They shall confine and distribute their work equitably to and among only such commission weavers.
(c) No work shall be carried on in homes or tenement houses, basements, or in insanitary buildings, or in buildings unsafe on account of fire or dangerous to health.
(d) Converters, stock-carrying mills, or other concerns giving out weaving to be done on a commission basis may add to, subtract from, or change their list of commission weavers after investigation by the code authority or the adjustment board, provided that such additions, subtractions, or changes conform to the business requirements of the converters or stock-carrying mills, and are not intended to discriminate against the commission weavers or workers, and provided further that such changes or additions are not made for the purpose of evading the established wages plus the commission weavers' overhead.
(e) In order to assure the observance of these regulations, the books, records, vouchers, etc., of commission weavers, converters, and stock-carrying mills shall be open to inspection at all times by the code authority and the rayon and silk adjustment board.
(f) To insure the observance of these provisions, the code authority shall formulate provisions to carry into effect the purpose and intent thereof.
2. The rayon and silk adjustment board should be given authority to formulate, in conjunction with the code authority, provisions necessary to make effective code regulation of wages, and working conditions in the commission-weaving establishments, and to regulate work assignments in the family shops.
3. Converters, stock-carrying mills, or other concerns giving out weaving to be done on a commission basis should be held responsible for wages, hours, work assignment, and sanitary conditions in the commission-weaving mills working for them. Whatever regulations are placed in the code of fair competition or drawn up by the rayon and silk adjustment board should be aimed primarily at placing this responsibility upon the types of concerns mentioned. - 4. The special cooperation of State factory inspection services should be enlisted in the attempt to improve working conditions in the family shops. Respectfully submitted.
W. A. MITCHELL,
Chairman. E. L. OLIVER, Employee Representative.
J. W. NICKERSON,
Employer Representative. Mr. KELLER. It is now 5:15 o'clock, and the committee will adjourn for the day; to meet tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock, at which time Senator Fitzgerald will be heard as the first witness.
(Thereupon at 5:15 p. m., Monday, Jan. 27, 1936, the subcommittee adjourned, to meet at 10 a. m., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 1936.)
TO REHABILITATE AND STABILIZE LABOR CONDITIONS IN
THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES
TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 1936
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., in the caucus room, Old House Office Building, Hon. Kent E. Keller (chairman) presiding.
Mr. KELLER. The committee will be in order. Gentlemen, two of our members will not be able to be present this morning, but the others will be here in a few minutes. I am going to give Senator Fitzgerald the opportunity of speaking to just two of the members of the committee at this moment, unless he prefers to wait until the others come in. I extend that opportunity also to Lieutenant Governor Hurley. If the gentleman would rather wait until the other members come in, we are glad to wait, but if not, we should be glad to start at this time.
Mr. FITZGERALD. Mr. Chairman, I would like to have more members of the committee present, of course, but if they are detained at other committee meetings, I would as soon go on at this time.
Mr. KELLER. Mr. Marcantonio is presiding over another hearing having to do with silicosis, in the committee room of the Labor Committee this morning, and he will be busy at least until noon.
Mr. Welch and Mr. Schneider will be here very soon, I am sure, and so will Mr. Hartley and the others.
Mr. Wood. These remarks will be in the record and the committee members will be able to read them.
Mr. KELLER. Very well, we shall be glad to hear Senator Fitzgerald.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM J. FITZGERALD, DEPUTY LABOR
COMMISSIONER OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Mr. FITZGERALD. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: I am here as a representative of Governor Cross, of the State of Connecticut, representing labor.
Mr. KELLER. If you hold any political office, will you state what it is?
Mr. FITZGERALD. I am deputy labor commissioner of the State of Connecticut. I want to take this opportunity of thanking the chairman of the meeting and the members of the committee for the courtesy that they have extended to the Governor, through me, in giving me the opportunity of speaking first this morning.
There are a great many features of this bill that I believe are good and would be good legislation. There are a great many features of this
bill that Connecticut today can boast of, that we have enacted into law, under the leadership of Governor Cross, during the last 6 years.
We know that we have raised our standards in the State of Connecticut, but, like other States which have raised standards, we are finding out that possibly it might work a hardship upon some of the industries in the State. .
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, there is no doubt in my mind that with the invention of modern machinery today, production has increased by the hundred-fold and if we are every going to take up the slack in this country, we have got to have a regulation of hours.
There is no question in my mind on that issue. I believe that the experience of the N. R. A., when the hours of this Nation were reduced to 40, proved without a doubt that that was one of the ways out.
Connecticut has enacted a child-labor law. It enacted that law at the last session of the general assembly. No child in Connecticut under 16 years of age can be employed, or under 18 on hazardous or injurious occupations.
It is true that we have a minimum wage for women in Connecticut also. But we know it would be suicide, in a great many respects, if we put this machinery into motion. A law providing for 48 hours for women and minors was passed at the last session of the general assembly of the State of Connecticut, with a string on it, that in peak periods or in cases of emergency, they can go back to 55 hours.
A weekly wage law has been on the statute books of Connecticut for a great many years.
Reading over this bill, it came as a revelation to me the necessity for legislation of this kind today in America, so that people shall not be compelled to live in company houses and to trade in company stores. If that kind of legislation is necessary in some portions of the country, then I say it is good legislation because, perhaps in the future, they will tell some of the employees of industry what church they will have to go to.
I believe the textile industry in the State of Connecticut has religiously adhered to the 40-hour week. As deputy commissioner of labor, I know of no violations of those provisions. But I have seen a break-down of wage conditions in the State of Connecticut that was made necessary by other States that had increased their hours of labor and had broken down their minimum standards.
I know that in the State of Connecticut, during the last 6 weeks, four strikes have taken place in order to resist wage reductions. It is true that the minimum has been held, or lived up to, but the higher brackets are where the cuts have been coming.
They have been bringing down the skilled employees to the level of nearly $13 a week. I feel possibly that they are justified because I have employers in mind who have told me that in order to run they must keep abreast of the States that have gone back to 50 and 60 hours of work per week, and the employment of child labor in this industry.
Members of the committee, I am myself a victim of an industry being taken away from the North and being moved to other portions of the country. I worked for 30 years in a foundry. I sweated for 30 years, all my life, for one firm. We had good conditions and good hours in that industry, and for 30 years, men, we had an agreement with our manufacturers whereby we never lost 5 minutes on account of any kind of labor trouble. And we went through the whole period of the war.
But then ambitious chambers of commerce came along and they pictured to this industry how they could go into other portions of the country and get labor for nothing; that hours could be increased; that men of my type, who only had an opportunity to work for a living, to bring up a family and educate them--because I resisted reductions and because the standards of other States were lowered, that plant was moved from Connecticut to Pennsylvania, and they got their cheap labor; and 300 men-some of them after 40 and 50 years of service were thrown out onto the streets.
In this textile industry I know of a plant in the eastern part of the State where conditions were fine, where the weavers were receiving $1.90 for 100,000 picks weaving, and then I saw southern competition come in, with free buildings, free power, $35,000 appropriated to move them, and the board of education to put the machinery into the schools to break in the operatives—and what happened? In order to save that plant in the east they took a reduction from $1.90 to $1.50, and the price, today, is down to $1.20 and two more looms have been added.
That is the reason; other States have got lower standards; and in order to keep those plants that have better standards in operation they are forced to meet the competition.
After that reduction was made and that whole reduction went throughout the silk industry in the State of Connecticut-each plant, or a majority of them, came in seeking a reduction in wages and their whole claim was that they could not meet competition in other sections of the country.
I believe that textile manufacturers of Connecticut are willing to keep these standards high, but the competition that has set in, has made it impossible for them to maintain those high standards.
I believe, members of the committee, that the only way out is a regulation of hours. Whether this bill is the proper bill or not, I am not in a position to say and I am not going to argue the constitutionality of it. I am going to leave that to you men.
But I do say to you, members of the committee, that there were some good features in the N. R. A. and we should benefit by our experience with the N. R. A.
We should benefit by the 2 years of experience that we had with the N. R. A. and try to bring out a bill that will wipe out unfair standards and will bring the States with low standards up to the States that have a standard that an American should have the right to work under.
Mr. Wood. Mr. Fitzgerald, according to your statement, you would approve the general principles of this bill?
Mr. FITZGERALD. Yes, sir.
Mr. Wood. There was a gentleman here yesterday who purported to be representing the Governor of the State of Connecticut. That is to say, he advised the committee that the Governor sent him down here, or that he came at the suggestion of the Governor, representing the textile manufacturers, or a group of them, in Connecticut Now, you are representing the Governor, are you not?