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higher wages, we would not be in the position we are today for two reasons. In the first place, the farmers would have received very much higher pay for their work. The settlement of the whole country would have taken place slowly and naturally. But, instead of doing that, instead of that, as you brought out, and I want to compliment you on that because you called attention to the fact, they found it easier to keep out the pauper goods and bring the poor devils themselves over here and exploit them as they did.
It has been a part of my research recently to work that out, and I am suggesting to you that I found that the result of that has cost the laborers and farmers of this country over the period from the Civil War until the time that we finally stopped immigration into this country, probably $75,000,000,000 during that 60-year period. I call that to your attention and say to you that you have made a suggestion of very great value for this committee.
Mr. Wood. Mr. Chairman, may I just add there that evidently many of the employers have not gotten away from that reasoning, from the fact that yesterday we had an employer here who claimed that the workers had gardens and therefore could provide their own food and did not need such high wages.
Mr. KELLER. I heard some report on that this morning.
Mr. KELLY. Of course, the thought in his mind is this, that he wanted the workers in the Southland to work in his mill for practically nothing, just giving them enough money to see that he had enough to pay the rent, electric-light bill, and water, but nothing for food; and he was supposed to go out on the farm and earn his living; that is, get enough to keep body and soul together as far as foodstuff is concern i
As I say, this country cannot endure under that system. Something has got to be done to prevent that. We are supposed to be all living in the United States of America. We are hearing a lot today about the great Constitution, and I am wondering if my good friend of the State of Georgia knows what the Constitution is-I should say, the State of Talmadge, because the citizens of Georgia do not have anything to do down there; Mr. Talmadge is the dictator and he does not know anything about the Constitution of the United States.
I thought one of the chief precepts of the Constitution was to give you the right of free speech and free assembly.
Then, too, there is the great State of Glass and Byrd. There is another State. Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty or give me death.”. If you go into some towns in Virginia and demand the rights that Washington and Jefferson secured for us, you will be carried out on a stretcher.
Mr. KELLER. I thank you, Mr. Kelly. The next witnesses I am calling, while it is out of order, is because they want to get away this evening, and we will try to help them. I think after they have testified we will probably adjourn until tomorrow. We will call now Mr. Thomas Lawlor and follow him with Mr. Rolla Wallace.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS A. LAWLOR
Mr. Lawlor. My name is Thomas A. Lawlor, president, Carpet and Rug Federation.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I would like to say that the Carpet and Rug Federation worked under a code during the period of the N. R. A., one of the few codes, I believe, that had no restriction whatever on machine hours. The carpet and rug workers in this country worked 24 hours a day, sometimes going to work at midnight on Sunday and working until midnight Saturday night. Along with that, we have had put into quite a few of the carpet factories the Mannett system and the Badeaux system.
I was greatly surprised here today to hear some of the members from the South talk about how the workers have been used in that part of the country, and in looking over history you will never find I know I never could find—where any human being had been followed around with a stop watch or a lead pencil and piece of paper. That is what the Badeaux system is, and the Mannett system, as well.
In the particular factory where I am employed the Badeaux system has been put into effect and the result is that wages have been reduced on particular jobs as much as 35 percent.
On top of that, on December 26 I was handed a notice from the press saying that a revision of wages must take place or the plant would close immediately. At the plant where I am employed we have been locked out since that time. They have submitted a revision of wages from 7 percent to as high as 25 percent reduction, and the Badeaux system is going to stay in the particular plant in the departments where it was established. It is not going to go any further, though.
Some of our employers have reduced wages even in defiance of the N. R. A., by getting the workers to do what they called taking a voluntary reduction in wages. That came about by threatening to close down for good or moving to some other community.
There have been cases cited to me where some of the carpet and rug workers, according to the N. R. A. must receive a certain amount of pay per week. One young lady in particular made $20 in one week and her partner did not make enough to bring the wages up to $14. The boss immediately said, “You take these two pay envelopes out and you give this young lady the $20 that she has coming. We are getting around the N. R. A.”
We also have the same as they do in the other textile plants, the stretch-out.
We have one mill in the carpet industry now on strike against the Badeaux system. It is a spinning plant connected with the plant where I am employed. The wages that have now been submitted to the plant which is now locked out are going to be reduced as much as 15 percent. That is the height of the new reduction that has been offered.
The workers throughout the entire carpet industry, I might say, with the exception of one plant in Philadelphia, are always in fear of their job if they take any active part in an organization.
The workers in Amsterdam, N. Y., where there are approximately, I might say, 7,000 or 8,000 carpet workers, are browbeaten from morning until night. The bosses dare them to join an organization and they pay them just what they feel like paying them.
We feel that this new bill, if it is enacted, will cover the entire textile industry, and it will give a chance to the American people to exist as they should do.
The carpet trade up until 1921 was fairly well organized. At that particular time a reduction was put into effect, there was a strike, and men were forced to leave their homes, travel to other towns and
cities, and work under assumed names. I know two men who were officers of the old Wilton Carpet Workers Union, who even now are denied the right to work in a carpet factory.
The wages that are paid throughout the carpet industry are something like a 5- and 10-cent store. If one fellow cuts a little bit then the fellow next door tries to cut a little bit more. The fear that we have in this particular industry is this, that any time a manufacturer cuts wages the fellow next door cuts and it goes around a complete circle. The result is that the man who is paying a trifle more than his competitor immediately has to start out again, and he says, "I am still higher."
So that bill will be a godsend to the carpet workers and all other textile workers.
I do not think there is any more that I could add to this, because I believe Vice President Kelly has covered the situation, and I just wanted to point out some of the things that took place in the trade that I work at. I believe that is all I have to say.
Mr. RAMSPECK. Mr. Lawlor, will you tell us where it is that these conditions exist that you have described?
Mr. LAWLOR. Yes, sir. Some of the worst conditions in the carpet industry exist in Yonkers, N. Y., the Alexander Smith Carpet Co.
Mr. RAMSPECK. Where is the plant at which you work?
Mr. LAWLOR. A. & M. Karagheusian, Freehold, N. J. They are Armenians.
Mr. RAMSPECK. That is all.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. By what trade-mark or label do they put their product on the market?
Mr. LAWLOR. They have, I believe, about 70 different grades of carpet, and each grade of carpet has a trade name. We have a grade of work that I am employed on that they call Hindustan.
We get $2.28 for making a 9 by 12 rug, and that rug is sold for $59.50.
Mr. Wood. They do not put the name of the firm on the label?
Mr. LAWLOR. Unless they make it for some special store they put their name on a small cloth tag.
Mr. KELLER. How much does the weaver get for that rug, the 9 by 12?
Mr. LAWLOR. $2.28. That is a seamless rug, 9 by 12.
STATEMENT OF ROLLA L. WALLACE
Mr. WALLACE. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Rolla L. Wallace. The Carpet and Rug Federation, or the carpet industry as a whole, comprises about 30,000 employees throughout the industry, ranging in an area from Philadelphia through New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and out through the western part of Pennsylvania.
We have endeavored as a federation to cooperate with the manufacturers in a way which we believe will save the carpet industry of the United States by protecting the employer against unfair competition from foreign sources. We have worked on many cases in the past year and a half, since this federation has been set up, along the lines of organized labor. We have contacted the Carpet and Rug Institute of America, inviting them to meet members of the federation in order to come to some stabilization of wages and hours in the carpet industry. We have met with just a blank form of no recognition at all from the manufacturers, so far as the carpet and rug industry is concerned.
Now, Mr. Chairman, we find that down in the Philadelphia section in Pennsylvania that, while I heard today criticism of Pennsylvania, we are, I believe, in the carpet industry in a different situation because in our section of the country, that is, around Philadelphia, we believe we are the highest paid in the carpet industry.
Our most difficult point seems to be in the State of New York, in the Bigelow-Sanford Co. of Amsterdam, which in turn also has a plant at Thompsonville, Conn. The two plants are owned by the same concern and one competes against the other. The manufacturer uses the Thompson ville plant as a whip on the employees of the Amsterdam plant to the extent that they say if the workers in Amsterdam do not compete with the other plant they will ship the orders to Thompsonville, Conn., and vice versa, because of the fact that the concern has the mills in Thompsonville and Amsterdam.
Now, Mr. Lawlor has just stated the case in New Jersey, and we find that Karagheusian has been and is using the whip on the workers in that particular town, because that manufacturer in that small town, with a population of about seven thousand or eight thousand, is, I believe, the main support of the town. Of course, by simply saying that they are going to shut down, they drive fear into the hearts of the workers that unless they take this drastic reduction which the company feels they ought to put through on the workers, unless they do take the reduction, they will simply shut down the mill.
This is an indication of where, while the employer tries to talk cooperation on one part, he is working in just the opposite direction on the other part.
Now, according to reports coming in from the delegates that come into the Carpet Federation, many times the delegate from the Karagheusian Co. has reported that his company was in favor of meeting a committee from the employees of the Carpet Federation. He says he has advocated it to the Carpet Institute, but we find that Mr. Karagheusian has more or less been instrumental in the beginning of the cycle of reduction in the carpet industry.
Before the N. R. A. the carpet industry was practically at a standstill. Our wages were low during the years of 1930 and 1931, which had taken in so many strikes, and, of course, the wages had to come down. We realized that they had to come down and they did come down. They came down to such an extent that the carpet workers found that even though they were taking reductions it was not doing them any good insofar as working was concerned. They did not get any more work. They simply went along that way until the N. R. A. came along.
At that time we were no doubt in a very low state; things had to revive at some time, but the N. R. A. came along and more or less set a standard of wages throughout the textile industry.
While we did not have anything to do with setting up the codes, it was more or less a stability there which we were interested in at the particular time because of the fact that it gave all manufacturers the
same chance of putting his stuff on the market and it equalized things for the manufacturer.
Mr. KELLER. Did the N. R. A. hurt you or did it help you?
Mr. WALLACE. That is what I was trying to bring out. I just could not think of what I wanted to say. The N. R. A. has more or less helped us out in many ways.
Mr. KELLER. What about the hours?
Mr. WALLACE. Particularly in hours. We are working 40 hours now, and while our firm has always been considered a fair firm, he has in the past through slight grabbing here and grabbing there increased the machine load in small proportions.
Mr. RAMSPECK. You say you only work 40 hours a week?
Mr. RAMSPECK. What did Mr. Lawlor mean by saying they worked from midnight Sunday to midnight Saturday?
Mr. WALLACE. Mr. Lawlor was attempting to explain the industry in some particulars. In my particular plant, as I stated before, in Philadelphia, we are organized much better than throughout the rest of the carpet industry, which enables us to hold the 40 hours much better than the people on the outskirts.
Mr. Wood. They put on three shifts for that work?
Mr. WALLACE. Mr. Chairman, at one time we never worked any more than a regular 8-hour day.
Mr. Wood. But some of these mills do work three 8-hour shifts and work 24 hours a day?
Mr. WALLACE. Yes.
Mr. Wallace. I was trying to point out what Mr. Lawlor meant. He meant some mills have three shifts running. These men can be called in to work their 8 hours any time in the 24 hours.
Mr. Wood. Your wages were appreciably increased under the N. R. A.?
Mr. WALLACE. My wages?
Mr. WALLACE. My wages, with the increase in wages and the reduction in hours that we received amounted to 38 percent. That is with the reduction in hours and the increased wages that we received through the N. R. A.
Mr. Wood. It amounted to a 38-percent increase, approximately? Mr. WALLACE. Yes.
Mr. Wood. Has there been any reduction in wages since the N. R. A. was declared unconstitutional?
Mr. WALLACE. Well, our firm has not introduced this Badeaux system, not exactly.
Mr. Wood. The stop watch?
Mr. WALLACE. Yes, sir. They have brought them in there and they have increased the skeins 3 ounces, whereby they would ordinarily be running 10-ounce skeins, they have increased them 3 ounces.
Mr. Woop. But they pay you the same wage?