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Code violations, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Cumberland Counties, Pa.-Contd.
Samwill Silk Co.
3 22 40-hour work week.
Includes from 4 to 6 looms. This plant closed due to workers' refusal to accept wage reduction,
amounting to 22 percent.
Baer Silk Co.
7 days per week work much
more than 40 hours per
National Labor Board.
90 hours per week in order to average wages paid under the N. R. A.
Sunset Silk Co.....
Lehighton Silk Co..
? Wages throughout the entire Hazleton-Wilkes-Barre-Scranton district are from $11 per week downward
Code violations, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Cumberland Counties, Pa.—Contd.
* Moved to Virginia because workers refused reduction. $ 20 percent, weavers; 15 percent, all other help. 6 20 percent, weavers; 17 percent, all other help. * Weavers.
Other help. Quillers and winders. 10 Warpers. 13 Carpet; employees now on strike resisting reduction. 13 Employees resisting reduction by strike.
Mr. KELLY. Now, Mr. Chairman, I believe yesterday you asked whether we had any statistical data on what effect a substantial increase in wages would have on this industry. When the codes were being put into effect, of course, we all did not think that the code provisions were sufficient and we believed that a differential should exist and wages should be considerably higher. We were always met with the argument that if we raised wages too drastically we would create a consumers' resistance.
Well, I will give you, if I possibly can, a picture of the ridiculousness of that statement. Everyone of us have a suit of clothes on in this room, and the great consuming public generally buys suits ranging anywhere from $18 to $22.50. Now, the cost of producing enough cloth in the textile mills for that suit is a little better than $1.20 or $1.30. The direct labor costs are about 40 cents for that, and it takes 3% yards for the average suit.
Does it not seem ridiculous that if there were a 50 percent increase in the direct labor cost of that suit, which would add approximately $1, we will say, and that is a wide figure too, that there would be any resistance on the part of the buyer when he went to the store to buy that suit?
The same thing applies in the cotton division of the industry. My colleagues tell me that first-class broadcloth shirting is selling today on the market at approximately 12 or 12% cents a yard. It takes about 4 yards of that cloth to make a shirt, and yet they have the audacity to tell us that if they increase the wages in that particular division 50 percent-4 times 12 is 48, and that would be 24 cents more on a very good grade of shirt, and yet they try to tell us that the consumers' demand would be reduced if the wages of the workers were increased.
The same thing applies in silk hose, for instance. I think the direct labor cost of making a pair of silk hose is about 18 cents, and if there were a 25 or 30 percent increase in wages it would be almost a negligible increase to the consuming public.
Where the resistance comes from is from the employer to the converter, but they try to tell us that it would come from the consumer, which they know themselves privately is not so.
Then, again, there is one more point that I want to bring out, Mr. Chairman. They do not want any regulation and yet they have the most vicious regulation, according to their own stories to me in many instances, that any industry could have. They do not own their industry, they have nothing to say about it. The man who neither weaves nor spins that owns a desk in New York, tells them how much he is going to give them for their goods, because they have inveigled the industry into such a condition that they have a constant struggle. They regulate the prices and regulate the labor and everything else in the industry, and yet when we come here for regulation of the industry that will protect them from themselves, they are down here opposing it.
That does not come from me; that comes from employers. I have talked to some employers in my own industry who will admit that they have absolutely nothing at all to say as far as what they get for their goods is concerned. They are told what they will produce them for, and, because of the condition of the industry, if they do not want to produce it for that they will go to the other fellow and he will produce it for that.
Mr. KELLER. Any questions?
Mr. RAMSPECK. Mr. Kelly, you are talking about the increase in the consumer's price brought about by wage increases. Is this not true, that under our system of doing business in this country that wage increases is pyra nided? For instance, a mill sells to a selling agent in New York on a certain discount, and, therefore, he gets a percentage on that increased wage cost. Then he sells to a wholesaler and he takes a discount and he pyramids the wage cost, and every cost that goes into the manufacturing process under our system of doing business is pyramided on down the line, and when it gets to the consumer, because of the middle forces and our system of doing business it is pyramided, is it not?
Mr. KELLY. Well, it may be, but, after all, why should the workers in the industry have to work at such low wages, slave wages, because of that?
Mr. RAMSPECK. I do not think they ought. I am just trying to bring out the facts.
Mr. Kelly. I will agree that partially that is go, but invariably the employer and the converter and possibly the retailer always tell the consuming public that it is because of the high cost of labor.
Mr. RAMSPECK. The reason I brought that out is because one of the textile manufacturers in my State put the same argument up to me about the processing tax. He said that the 42 percent processing tax was not 44 percent at all when it got to the consumer, that it had been pyramided up by the various discounts being added to it.
Mr. KELLY. That is right.
Of course, the man who handles the suit of clothes you were talking about has no more difficulty in handling it, no more work to do, if there is $1 added to the cost of it, but he takes his 10 percent or his 25 percent, whatever the profit may be in the transaction, and pyramids the increase in the labor cost.
Mr. KELLY. That may be true, there is no doubt that is so, but in the last analysis when the price of an article goes up to such an extent invariably all those interests that pyramid it say to the ultimate consumer that it is the high cost of labor.
Mr. KELLER. Any questions?
Mr. Wood. The cost of labor in an article does not cut much of a figure in reflecting the retail price of the article?
Mr. KELLY. I do not think so.
Mr. Wood. So the increase of wages should not necessarily increase the cost of the article or the commodity to the consumer?
Mr. KELLY. We can safely say that when the direct cost of labor is divided up into the consumer's price it is almost negliglble, 10 or 15 percent one way or the other.
Mr. Wood. It is generally admitted by large employers that a 60percent increase in wages is finally reflected in about a 25- or 30-percent increase in the cost of the article to the consumer.
Mr. KELLY. Due to this pyramiding?
Mr. Wood. Well, considering overhead and investment and all that.
Mr. KELLY. I understand that possibly it cannot be curtailed or corrected, but if those various agencies through which the goods pass from the producer to the consumer are paid sufficiently at a lesser wage, I cannot understand why they should get an increase when the low-paid producer demands a decent standard of living.
Mr. Woop. In considering the take-off of the middleman with respect to the production of an article in a given factory-that was also brought out in the hearing in the Seventy-third Congress before this committee-a 60-percent increase in wages on that article would finally reflect a 25-percent increase in the cost of the article purchased from the factory.
Mr. KELLY. That would all depend on what article it was. You understand that the labor costs in some divisions of the textile industry are
Mr. Wood. It is negligible, the labor cost?
Mr. KELLY. I would not say that there would be any 25 percent increase in the cost of the article.
Mr. Wood. The trouble is that so many employers try to make the consumers believe that when there is a 10 percent increase in wages that reflects a 10 percent increase in that article to the consumer, which it does not.
Mr. KELLER. Any question, Mr. Schneider?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. I would like to ask the witness if he, or anyone representing his organization, can furnish the committee with the textile labor cost of the finished product when it leaves the mill, just the cost of manufacturing that from the raw cotton into a finished product?
Mr. KELLY. Do you mean the general cost of production-administration and investment, or just the direct labor?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. I do not want to get the high salaries in there.
Mr. KELLER. I think Mr. Gorman said that that was embodied in the general brief submitted by Mr. McNair.
Mr. KELLY. It varies. It might be 20 percent on one and 22 on another.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. That is what we want, the cost of each different grade.
Mr. KELLY. We have not broken that down. The direct labor cost will always depend upon the amount of skilled labor involved.
Mr. KELLER. We can get all those statistics. Mr. Kelly, I want to compliment you on bringing out a thing that I had not heard mentioned in a good many years, and that is the fact that the manufacturers, when they came before the Congress following the Civil War, presented the facts to the Congress and said this to them: Here is a new country with 1,400,000,000 acres of land in the West still open to settlement practically free; it is not possible for us to pay the same wages in our factories and in our mines that they do in the old countries of Europe and keep men in those factories and mines so long as the free land is open to them because they will either demand a higher wage rate or they will go out to the free land.
That was entirely correct, of course, and the Congress took that view of it, taking the implied guaranty at least that they would pay the higher wages, and gave them practically prohibitive tariffs, monopolistic tariffs to all intents and purposes.
If the manufacturers and mine owners had carried out that agreement, or the implied agreement, with the Congress, and paid the