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full-fashioned hosiery, and we have union conditions in about 80 percent of that branch of the industry.
Mr. HARTLEY. Then, there are some?
Mr. RIEVE. Oh, yes. Personally I will say that I have no objection to the employers. I am not one of those who thinks_that every manufacturer is in business just to squeeze down labor. Rather I am one of those who believes that there are certain economic forces that govern conditions and that the employer is a helpless tool in those forces. And if we cannot eliminate those economic forces we will have that type of situation. I do not think there is any employer who is glorying over the fact that he pays two or three dollars a week wages. But it is the survival of the fittest.
Mr, Wood. It is a vicious circle.
Mr. Wood. The last man who testified yesterday named a number of mills in the South, and I was very much interested in his testimony when he revealed the length of hours as they had been stretched out in the South in those mills, and it ranged from 48 hours to 60 hours.
Mr. RIEVE. That is right. We have the same thing elsewhere.
Mr. Wood. It averaged about 55 hours, and it indicates the hours in those mills have been increased from 10 to 15 a week.
Mr. RIEVE. That is right, sir.
Mr. Wood. Is that the condition, that some of these employers have based their contention upon that the voiding of the N. R. A. has caused an upturn in industry?
Mr. RIEVE. I presume so, Congressman Wood.
Mr. Wood. They have made so many statements of that type that I have often wondered what was the cause of the upturn in industry, as they term it, since N. R. A. was voided. I have never yet had one of them bring forth a reason for his statement.
Mr. RIEVE. Well, Mr. Congressman, I think the witness who appeared here Monday morning representing the Southern Manufacturing Textile Council gave you as good a reason as I have heard, that is, that they were forced to increase wages 100 to 200 percent in some instances in order to bring them up to the $12 minimum. I think that is as good a reason as any.
Mr. Wood. That was the gentleman who had so much interest in the gardens of the workers.
Mr. RiE' E. Yes; and he said they had a happy life because they worked in the mill part of the time and then raised their own potatoes.
Mr. KELLER. We will now call upon Mr. Leader and the delegation from Philadelphia representing the hosiery workers in that section. STATEMENT OF WILLIAM M. LEADER, PRESIDENT, PHILADEL
PHIA BRANCH, NO. 1, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF HOSIERY WORKERS
Mr. LEADER. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, this is my statement on the Ellenbogen. I am for the Ellenbogen bill first, on the ground that we believe it will reduce unemployment in the textile industry, increase the purchasing power of the workers, stabilize the entire industry, affording the worker a fair wage and the decent employer a fair profit.
Branch No. 1 of the American Federation of Hosiery Workers represents the major portion of the hosiery workers in Philadelphia, and influences the entire Philadelphia market. By that I mean that those manufacturers who do not have collective relationships with the union in Philadelphia, for the most part maintain the union wage scale and union working conditions. This is done largely, of course, in an effort to prevent the employees from joining the union, but from an industrial point of view it means that as far as labor conditions are concerned, Branch No. 1 of the American Federation of Hosiery Workers has tended to stabilize it and make it uniform. Of the 18,000 hosiery workers in Philadelphia area, 13,000 are members of our union.
As collective bargaining, the Ellenbogen bill contains the same provisions with reference to collective bargaining as the National Labor Relations Act. Company unions are outlawed, and the majority rule is established. Philadelphia is definitely affected by the fact that in all parts of the country, and especially in the South, company unions flourish. These company unions are merely the puppets of the employer. They make out of collective bargaining a farce. The officers are hired and paid by the employer to
out the employer's wishes. The entire textile industry is infested with them. They are the greatest menace to our economic democracy, and are today, by encouraging low wages, long working hours, and poor working conditions, tending to drive the textile industry into bankruptcy.
Labor agreement with union becomes part of manufacturer's license. As I understand it, the object of this legislation is to obviate strife, as far as possible, and establish normal working conditions within the industry. In those shops where the national hosiery agreement prevails, strikes are rare, but in those shops in which we have been successful in establishing collective relationships during the period of the strike, we find that immediately thereafter the employer begins, at first subtly, and then more brazenly, to violate the agreement. The union is handicapped. It has no recourse but to another strike. That again involves a loss of time and a loss of money to both employer and employee. The National Association of Manufacturers, an organization not likely to underestimate the losses resulting from strikes, has reported that the cost of strikes in the 10-year period from 1916 to 1925 reached the total of $12,982,048,000, of which $46,000,000 fell on employers, $1,804,000,000 on employees. By making the labor agreement with the union a part of the manufacturer's license to operate in interstate commerce, the Ellenbogen bill, if made law, would immediately offer the union a method by which it could enforce its agreement without resorting to the strike. It would relieve the burden of the strike from both labor, industry, and the general public.
However, strikes are not the only problems with which labor has to contend. There are also labor disputes. Most labor disputes in organized shops are amicably adjusted, but in unorganized shops they leave unsatisfied grievances, they lead to smoldering discontent. Such discontent is reflected in decreased efficiency and in increased cost of production. A system of collective bargaining would tend to obviate these difficulties.
Next is substandard markets. Philadelphia workers and manufacturers are constantly haunted by the substandard market. The substandard market is constantly taking business from the decent employer and work from the skilled worker. In our competitive system, it is only natural that competition should be offered by other markets. We don't expect anything else. However, competition in the South is carried on solely on the basis of lower wage costs. The differential is average weekly earnings of the workers in Philadelphia and those in the southern markets is about 35 percent. These figures go far to explain the increasing number of establishments in substandard States at the expense of the Philadelphia market, which still pays its workers a living wage due to the high degree of unionization. The desire to move away to centers where manufacturers can carry on their competition against the country's leading markets solely at the expense of sabor is becoming an ever-growing factor. It also, however, threatens the stability of the entire industry. Manufacturers who have moved from Philadelphia have found themselves in a worse position than those who have remained.
Accustomed as they are to operate their factories with skilled labor, with workers who have been in the textile industry all of their lives, and many workers who have inherited the industry from past generations, these manufacturers find themselves handicapped with the inexperienced help of other markets. However, the lure is constantly held out by these other markets, by their chambers of commerce, and by salesmen for these markets. It is also a fact that the textile industry in the South is strife-ridden. The general textile strike of 1934 brought forth more violence in the South than in any other part of the country. Edwin E. Witte, in his work, The Government in Labor Disputes, points out: "Weak unions are likely to be radical unions, and strikes against wage cuts peculiarly violent." Is it any wonder then that there was so much violence in the South? The discontent still rages, and, as Francis J. Gorman, first vice president of the United Textile Workers, has pointed out, if the bill fails of passage, conditions will demand another national strike. This will place the industry in a more serious condition than it was prior to the V. R. A., when the employers came to Washington and appealed to the Government for assistance. During the period of the NR. 1., when an effort was made to regulate the industry, the migration was considerably decreased, and if the textile industry as a whole had adhered to N. R. A. standards, there would be no such threat, but the textile manufacturers mura in any other group have tended to depart from N. R. A. standards. Innumerable instances of this have been cited by officials of the United Textile Workers. The work load has been consistently increased. The present measure provides specifically that the change in work load can be made only after 15 days' notice by agreement with the workers.
When the comm ssion deems it advisable, berause of possibilities of overproduction serious enouch to demoralize the industry, it may prescribe limitations on the number of machines, and it may reculate the work load. The textile industry today is in the same insition in which southern American slaveholders were prior to the Civil War. Many of them deplored slavery, but were compelled to continue to maintain the institution because of the fact that others were maintaining it, and abolition of slavery in the South meant virtual e, tinction. A similar condition today is existing in the textile industry. Many employers deplore the increase in the number of loads, the decreases in wages, but in order to survive they have no other alternative. The only solution is the passage of this bill.
Necessity for Federal legislation: Passage of State legislation is of no value whatever. If we were to provide in the State of Pennsylvania for a minimum wage, maximum working hours, and other guaranties to the workers, the only result would be to add impetus to the exodus of manufacturers to low-wage centers and dislocate workers from their jobs.
Child labor, one of the greatest scourges of the textile industry, was rampant in the South prior to the N. R. A. The N. R. A. partially did away with this evil. Now it has again raised its ugly head. That is attributable to a multitude of causes. During the N. R. A. the workers being assured of a minimum wage was not interested in having his child work. Now the manufacturer having cut down wages of father and mother in a southern textile family, places the family in a position to virtually begging the employer to let the child work, so that it might contribute to the meager income of the almost destitute family. The employer has willingly heeded their prayer, and thousands of children are back at work in textile mills. This measure would tend to increase the earnings of the workers, outlaw child labor, and once more send the child back to the schoolroom instead of the loom. Even boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 18 are not permitted to work later than 7 p. m., and at occupations that would not impair their health.
As to minimum wages, Professor Nystrom, of Columbia University, prepared an estimate of the amount necessary for a worker's family to live in health and efficiency. The figures quoted were brought up to date with living costs as of December 1932. They state that the minimum necessary to support a family of five is $31 a week. Dr. Nystrom's study showed that a bare subsistence record is $26.77 per week. With living costs rising since then, the amount would probably be considerably increased. It is almost laughable to try to estimate how many textile workers earn that amount. I say that with the rest of the textile industry earning wages that are substandard, that the hosiery worker who earns a higher wage, is threatened. President Roosevelt, on June 16, on the occasion of affixing his signature to the National Recovery Act, said: "By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level. I mean wages of decent living. Thousands of textile workers today are not earning the bare subsistence level, let alone "wages of decent living.” With collective bargaining guaranteed in the present measure, wages would automatically go up, but where there is no union agreement, the bill guarantees $15 a week for unskilled and clerical workers; learners are to receive 80 percent of the minimum. As far as skilled workers are concerned, it is made mandatory for the commission to investigate wage differentials, and it is then authorized to establish wages according to criteria set forth in the act. In that way, wages will be increased, not to the detriment of any individual, manufacturers, for the increase will be national, but toward a stabilization of the entire industry.
A maximum work week of 35 hours, with the elimination of all overtime, is essential if the textile industry is to provide employment for the thousands of workers for whom no jobs can be found now.
Notwithstanding the fact that hours are today regulated by a clause in the collective agreement, there are now close to thousands of workers who work spasmodically. The only way of reducing unemployment among the workers is to lower the maximum working hours, so as to spread the available work among a larger number of employees and over a longer period of time each year than is the case at present. In addition to those wholly unemployed, there is a substantial amount of part-time employment in the hosiery industry. If the reduction in the work week is to be maintained, overtime must be prohibited. That would tend to eliminate seasons. It would discourage distributors to continue to depend upon the large reserve of surplus labor and unrestricted overtime. Prohibition of overtime would compel the distributors to assume a responsibility. It would oblige them to anticipate consumer's demands and place their orders in advance of such demands. Prohibition of overtime would tend to eliminate the peaks and depressions of unemployment and tend to stabilize the industry,
To summarize, we feel that if the bill is passed, it will tend:
1. To foster collective bargaining, which automatically will mean increased wage rates, which automatically will mean the restoration of a balance in the textile industry.
2. Making the labor agreement with the union part of the manufacturer's license will automatically bring back peace in the industry, and will assure the workers that any labor agreement that is entered into between them will be enforced.
3. It will stop the migration and the threat of migration by manufacturers to substandard markets.
4. The only way, we feel, to obviate the evils of the textile industry, is by Federal legislation. State legislation merely tends to increase the temptation to flee from the State.
5. It will tend to eliminate child labor.
The approval of this bill will increase the earnings of the workers in the hosiery industry, and in the textile industry in general. It will increase their purchasing power, and make it possible for them to contribute to the industrial recovery of our country. We str gly urge upon this committee the passage of the bill and its recommendation to the House. We feel that otherwise the textile workers in the country will not be able to bear the evils imposed upon them any longer. Strife will result. Workers in many cases will find themselves brought to a point of desperation. Manufacturers will go out of business. The "dog eat dog" policy that has been pursued for so many years will finally bankrupt the entire industry, leaving manufacturers without businesses, and workers without livelihood.
Mr. Wood. Do you know to what extent the southern textile mills have been reverting to the policy of employment of children under the age of 16 years?
Mr. LEADER. I believe the president of the federation will present many figures to you. The figures that I have with respect to that matter or from organizers that we have located in the South, and they came back with these reports. In addition to that, we are not free from that violation in the North either. We are continually on the job to prevent it.