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of those who have disregarded the code and have lengthened hours and have reduced wages.
Mr. HINRICHS. I would not be competent to pass judgment on that question. There is no doubt, in the history of the cotton textile industry during the decade of the twenties, there was very serious competition on the basis of wage scales. If the situation developed to that condition that you have described, where there were a few maintaining, were to come about, there is no doubt in my mind that it would mean a depression of wage standards.
The point on which there may be a question of doubt and on which I have no information in the Bureau, is the precise number of individuals who have departed from code standards. In the case of cotton, so far as I have evidence, the situation is not yet one
Mr. Wood (interposing). It has been conclusively proven that a very small portion of the employers can destroy the price structure of those who attempt to maintain that structure. That has been proven beyond any question of doubt.
Mr. HINRICHS. The Cotton Textile Institute ought to be able to give you some picture of the struggle going on in order to maintain their standards.
Mr. Wood. If we continue to drift as we are, we will be back to the point where we were in 1933.
Mr. WELCH. Are there any further questions? If not, thank you, Mr. Hinrichs.
The next witness is Mr. Schweitzer, general secretary of the American Federation of Silk Workers.
STATEMENT OF FRANK SCHWEITZER, GENERAL SECRETARY,
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF SILK WORKERS
Mr. Welch. Will you give your name and who you represent?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. My name is Frank Schweitzer, I am general secretary of the American Federation of Silk Workers. That is the silk department of the United Textile Workers.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. You do not cover the rayon industry, do you?
Representing and speaking on behalf of the workers of the silk and rayon division of the textile industry, I sincerely urge your committee's favorable recommendation for the enactment of this measure as a permanent instrument of stability for the entire textile industry.
The absolute necessity for immediate stabilization in the silk branch of the industry I do not think will be denied by any witness that may appear before this committee regardless of their opinion as to the soundness or feasibility of the enactment into law of this bill; neither do I think that any one can honestly or well dispute the fact that a vast portion of the employees have suffered wage reductions since the nullification of the N. R. A. by the Supreme Court. From personal observation, I would say that approximately 80 percent of our silk workers have suffered wage reductions varying from 5 percent to 40 percent; machine loads have also been increased in approximately 40 percent of the industry; hours of work have likewise been increased in many instances through one form or other. This form of violation, however, is perhaps the least we have to contend with in the silk division due undoubtedly to the fact that the market demand for this product in recent years was very limited, proof conclusive that hours should be reduced through Federal legislation, inasmuch as the necessity of shorter hours of production is so very apparent that with perhaps only one exception the many silk manufacturers submitting testimony at the code hearings held just prior to the Supreme Court's decision suggested a reduction of hours from 80 to 40, and certainly up to the present time no effort in that direction has been made by the manufacturers through self-regulation of industry by industry.
To further support our contention, I quote from_testimony submitted at the above-mentioned hearing by Mr. Peter Van Horn, impartial chairman of the Silk Code Authority, and president of the Federated Textiles Trade Association of Silk Manufacturers:
In January of 1935, the Silk Code Authority submitted a master code for the entire textile industry to the textile division of N. R. A. proposing one shift of 40 hours and a minimum wage for weavers of $17 per week. This was done only after a 5 months' careful study of the industry's condition. I also quote from the testimony submitted at the same hearing by Messrs. Herman Chopak and Louis Lazarre, representing the Converters Association, an organization representing a yearly sales value of over $100,000,000:
It is estimated that on an 80-hour-week basis of work rayon and silk looms now engaged in the production of these fabrics could produce over a billion yards in 1 year, a figure more than double the actual consumption. As a means of stability on prices and production and eventual increase in wage rates, a twoshift operation of 24 hours is suggested.
I could quote at length from evidence submitted at that hearing by the representatives of both management and labor, that more adequate governmental supervision was necessary than that provided in the various textile codes governing the several divisions of the textile industry. However, in order that the time of your committee should not be taken up by unnecessary repetition, I respectfully suggest that your committee avail itself of the valuable information relative to this matter contained in the transcript of the proceedings of that hearing which I am sure is available to your committee.
Contrary to testimony submitted at this hearing in opposition to the enactment of this measure, I am firmly convinced that the only possible solution to the competitive problem confronting this important basic American industry is to regulate through governmental supervision the competitive factors which affect labor conditions, wage rates, work assignments, and hours. And this bill provides such supervision through the establishment of minimum wage rates for each occupational group and such other measures supervising or regulating work assignment and hours of work, etc., throughout the entire industry, thereby establishing uniformity of labor costs and at the same time outlawing the common practice of industry using labor conditions as a competitive football.
Mr. Chairman, I want to emphasize the absolute need for the definite establishment of compulsory uniform minimum wage rates, by citing the Paterson, N.J., and New England situations, and other sections where our people have managed to maintain organization.
Some years back, Paterson, N. J., produced more than 90 percent of all silk fabrics. The city was commonly known as the Lyons of
America, or the Silk City of America. Traditionally, weaving, the occupation that employs the vast portion of the workers, is or was considered a male occupation, thousands of families being dependent upon the earnings derived therefrom by the heads of families. This same condition, I believe, prevailed in the northeastern States where the cotton and wool industry predominated prior to the southern migration of the cotton manufacturers. Wage rates for weaving, while never on a par with other skilled occupational groups, were nevertheless more or less on a par with general male wage rates in other industries. However, since the migration by manufacturers, who apparently moved their plants because of the desire for greater profits which could be secured by employing help from agricultural sections of the country, this of course resulted in an ever-increasing pace of competition at the direct expense of labor, which, in turn, resulted in strikes and ever more strikes—labor's only means of staving off an ever-decreasing wage rate.
To get away from this industrial strife, manufacturers have migrated to such an alarming degree that at the present time the once proud Silk City of Paterson, that at one time produced 90 percent of all silk, now can only boast of 16 or 17 percent of the industry. This naturally affects not only the workers involved but the entire city and State.
Now, I would like to point out some of the conditions. We listened to the workers from the southern part of the country and, particularly in the cotton branch of the industry, when they pointed out the low wages and horrible living conditions, which I am firmly convinced is absolutely true.
Now, as to the metropolitan area. The city of Paterson, N. J., is only 17 miles away from the city of New York, where rents are high. Weavers work there who have families of four or five or six or sometimes eight children, and they earn as little as $5 or $4 a week. When I say that I mean on 40 hours a week. However, I do not mean that is a general condition throughout the city of Paterson, but it is a condition which prevails throughout the entire silk industry, whether it is in the city of Paterson or in the eastern part of the country or in the State of Pennsylanvia.
I saw that weavers earn $4 or $5 or $6 or $7 a week, in many instances, while working 40 hours a week. The operation until recently was on a four-loom basis. If the weaver operated four looms during the entire 40 hours he could probably earn in Paterson under fair conditions $17 or $18 a week. However, there are many, many instances where the employer does not have sufficient orders, sometimes he does not run his plant efficiently, and the weaver operates only two or three looms during part of the week, or possibly only one loom, and he earns only $10 a week.
This bill has a provision in it which tends to establish annual wage rate conditions, which I think is very important not only for the welfare of the industry but for the country at large.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the witness if he has finished his statement.
Mr. SCHWEITZER. I would be very glad to answer any questions.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Are you familiar with the strike that took place in Cleveland in the mills of the Industrial Rayon Corporation?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. No, sir; I am not. I realize why you ask me that question. You asked me when I first got up here why I interested myself in all the different branches of the organization, or, rather, why my branch of the organization interested itself in the rayon industry. What I meant by that was the rayon weaving. There is a separate branch interested in the manufacture of synthetic yarns. That is a synthetic yarn manufacturing plant to which you refer now.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. And you are not familiar with that?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. No; I am not. We have a gentleman here representing just that branch of the industry.
Mr. WELCH. How many hours did the man work in order to earn $4 or $5 or $6 a week?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. Forty hours a week.
Mr. WELCH. And they received as low as $4 or $5 a week for 40 hours work?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. That is correct. That condition prevails today in a great many plants in the State of Pennsylavnia and in Paterson, N. J.
Mr. WELCH. Is it a piece-work proposition?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. Yes; it is a piece-work proposition. A weaver generally works on four unautomatic looms. There are weeks sometimes when he has only three of those looms, and the looms may be stopped and standing idle. There may be a serious breakdown and the weaver is operating only two or three looms instead of four. Consequently if he can only earn $15 when working the four looms, if he is only operating part of a machinery he is only earning a proportionate amount for what he is operating. Nevertheless, he has a family and supports a family, and it is vital that decent minimum wages be established.
Mr. WELCH. To what part of the country did those industries which were formerly located in Paterson migrate?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. In the early days I might say that the silk manufacturers migrated to the State of Pennsylvania coal region, realizing that perhaps there was very little other industries for women in that part of the country. Consequently, they could break in women workers who did not have any other occupation and were willing to work for those wages.
We have many fair manufacturers. I am not one to condemn all of the manufacturers, because we have manufacturers in the silk industry who are sincere in trying to bring about better conditions. But because you have a selfish, greedy type of manufacturers the other manufacturer is forced to fall in line with the policies as established by the greedy type of manufacturer.
Mr. WELCH. In other words, the manufacturer who desires to be fair cannot stand up under the cutthroat competition of a certain number of other manufacturers?
Mr. SCHWEITZER. That is absolutely right. I might cite this as an instance. We had a very big silk strike just prior to the enactment of the silk code. As a matter of fact, our people went out on strike at that time in protest against the acceptance of the code on a similar basis as the cotton code, $13 a week. When that strike was settled eventually, in many many instances the workers gained very little. But in the city of Paterson, for instance, where workers have been organized for years and years back, we managed to get a contract with the manufacturers covering the entire industry. There are approximately 480 manufacturing plants in the city of Paterson. We had a union contract covering the entire city, and covering the entire situation. I might say that the contract was ideal. I think it was commented upon a number by college professors and by other people interested in such matters as being an ideal situation of contractual relations as between management and the workers. It established an industrial relations committee that heard all complaints on several days a week; it established a definite wage rate for every occupational group.
However, as the wage rates in the state of Pennsylvania particularly, and in the southern part of the country went down, the contract was eventually broken, the manufacturers claiming--and I feel that they were justified in doing so—that they could not continue on with the contract in connection with the wage rates established therein unless their competitors, particularly in Pennsylvania, raised their wages or ceased lowering wages.
As I stated before, I do not think any silk manufacturer will testify at this hearing contrary to what I am saying that the situation in the silk is absolutely deplorable and something must be done to secure stabilization. They may not agree as to the enactment of this bill, but all of them will agree that some regulation must be established in the industry in order to save the industry from itself.
Mr. WELCH. What is the minimum wage that the men are receiving in the silk industry at the present time?
Mr. ScHWEITZER. You ask what is the minimum wage they are receiving?
Mr. WELCH. Yes; what is the minimum wage?
Mr. ScHWEITZER. That is rather difficult to determine. The minimum wage during the era of the code was $13. That was for the unskilled worker. However, we do have a fairly decent clause in there to take care of the skilled workers. But because of the cotton code, which likewise manufactured rayon-and the silk likewise manufactured rayon—it was impossible for the manufacturers to manufacture rayon. And I am inclined to think that they are right in what they claim. That is perhaps 40 or 60 percent of their product, and they claimed that they could not continue to operate under the code provisions of the silk code as against the provisions in the cotton code, which did not take care of the wage rates for the skilled workman.
You ask what is the minimum wage today. Mr. Henrichs is here and I think he can give you a good explanation through statistical figures, showing that it varies. And I find through personal contact that that is so. And I do considerable traveling through the silk centers of our industry. I find that there are manufacturers who have hardly touched the wage rate. As I said, the wage rate has dropped as much as 40 percent. You know women who were not skilled must have of necessity received $13 during the code era, but at the present time they are working for $6 or $7 a week. The weaver's wage rate at the present time, I would say, is perhaps $13 generally. But there are these exceptions where they earn $6 and $7 a week. On the other hand, there are exceptions where workers in a few instances and in a few mills are earning $20 and $22.