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the bill by recent developments in New England. In the course of his testimony he charged the Russell Manufacturing Co. with decreasing wages from $18 to $15 a week.
This information is being passed on to you with the thought that you might want to challenge the statement and correct the record if it is not true, or defend the action, if the facts correspond with the testimony.
The exact language which he used in making this charge will probably appear in the printed report of the hearing when and if it is available for distribution. We shall have a copy as soon as it comes out, and will be glad to give you further information at that time if you so desire. Very truly yours,
(Signed) W. A. DoWER,
Industrial Secretary. In my presentation of facts concerning New England's textile industry, I expect to clearly show that thousands of workers are being exploited by manufacturers. The exploitation, the facts will show, is not limited to any one branch of the industry but affects them all, and instead of decreasing, has shown a great tendency to increase since the National Industrial Recovery Act was declared unconstitional by the Supreme Court.
Wages, instead of being on the increase, to provide the purchasing power to give recovery impetus, are being reduced and again diminished. Not only is the money being taken from the pay envelopes in outright reductions, but further pay declines are resulting generally through increased machine loads.
The machine load and its sister evil, the stretch-out, have been responsible, not only for a great slash at the purchasing power of the workers, but it has been one of the leading factors in swelling the relief rolls of almost every textile center in the New England States.
Hours have not been ignored by employers in their desire to make speedy profits, and despite their assertions that they have continued to live up to the full letter of the outlawed codes, we find that textile operatives are employed 48, 54, and even 60 hours weekly in some centers, without any compensation for the so-called overtime other than the regular straight pay.
With no additional purchasing power, lack of uniformity in wages, and no stability in production, there is not a possible chance of business improving on this basis.
In the 3 days that I have been here I have listened to those who have preceded me, and during the course of that time two gentlemen came forward representing the point of view of the employers. One was Mr. Gilbert, who was from the southern part of the country.
Mr. KELLER. Mr. Gilbert was from Tennessee.
Mr. RIVIERE. The other one was Mr. Nickerson, from the State of Connecticut. Mr. Gilbert stated that down South they could afford to work for $7 a week and that they could live better on that pay than they could up North for twice that amount of money. Of course, down South we have people who are working at the present time for $7 or $8 a week. His discussion developed the question as to whether or not the N. R. A. had been helpful to business, whether it had been helpful to the workers, and the country as a whole.
When the N. R. A. came into being I saw it as a Godsend to the country. And at that very time I believed it to be that very thing.
Just previous to the N. R. A. going into effect I knew men and women who were employed in cotton textile mills, men and women who were skilled workers who were earning $5.50, $6, $7, $8, $9, $10, and $11. And they were not in the Southern States either but in the Northern States where they are gradually and slowly drifting back to those wages. Then the N. R. A. came into effect, and when it did some of these people received an increase in wages of 100 percent. And that meant, Mr. Chairman, that they earned only $13. The fact is that the N. R. A. gave them an increase of 100 percent. The N. R. A. gave them a little more money to spend, and the N. R. A. helped to develop a purchasing power.
Some of the millmen say now that the N. R. A. was not a success. The N. R. A. was not the success that it could have been because the N. R. A. did not receive the cooperation of the employers in this country. Neither did it receive the cooperation of the bankers as a whole who had anything to do with industry.
I have figures here that I have picked from newspapers from time to time showing where someone says as to the cotton textile industry, for example, that 92 percent of them were living up to the provisions of the code.
From time to time these figures have appeared in the public press. We read the statement in the New York Times some few weeks ago that some 95 percent of the textile manufacturers were living up to the provisions of the former code. That came to me as a surprise, because even during the days when the code was in existence we did not have 95 percent of them living up to the provisions of the code; and we did not have 90 percent who did. I figure we did not have in the country 85 percent of the employers who were living up to the code during the period of the code. That was the highest percentage we could hope for.
I base this statement upon the fact that I came into contact with a number of employers in New England and in contact with employees who naturally come into contact
with employers. And from time to time it became necessary for us to even threaten a strike in some of our mills in order to have the employer comply fully with the conditions of the code.
The employers fought the labor unions during the life of N. R. A. Of course, not all of them did that. I exclude the fair employer, and I am willing to refer to the 15 percent to which I referred before. The best we could hope for was that 85 percent of them would live up to the code under N. R. A.; and that the 15 percent of them who did not live up to the code during N. R. A. are not living up to the provisions of the code now. And that is forcing the hands of the others to gradually reduce wages, increase working hours, and increase work-load. And eventually it is going to bring us to a condition that is worse than the condition that existed previous to the N. R. A. going into effect, unless this legislation or some other form of legislation is adopted that will enable the country to cope with the situation.
Why did they fight the labor unions? It was not because they had any real objection to having the workers organized; but behind this is the fact that they knew that if the labor union became a factor in all the mills of the country that with it would come a reduction in the work load and an increase in wages, and the result would be that it would gain greater momentum in time. And that would help to make the N. R. A. a greater success than it was. They are going to tell us that after N. R. A. went out of existence that business is better than it has been. Surely N. R. A. has gone out of existence.
But we are still floating along on the momentum that we gained under N. R. A. But gradually this momentum will cease unless legislation is enacted which will protect the workers and the earnings of the workers so that workers will have purchasing power. And then I claim we are going to be in a worse condition than the condition existing previous to N. R. A.
Mr. Chairman, in New England we made a little survey of conditions in the mills in various districts. I think it is fair for me to begin in the State of Connecticut, from which State Governor Cross has so kindly sent our friend Mr. Fitzgerald and our friend Mr. Nickerson here to testify. I don't know Governor Cross. But he is not taking any chances on being on either one side or the other. He will see that both sides are represented.
In the State of Connecticut there is this condition: Haddam Woolen Co., of Moodus, Conn., manufacture woolen. The work load of weavers was increased 100 percent. In addition to this, their weekly wage was reduced considerably.
The Hartford Rayon Co., Rocky Hill, Conn., manufacture rayon. The wages were reduced from 5 percent to 10 percent, and the workers made to work 10 hours per day.
The Max Pollack Thread Co., of Groton, Conn., are manufacturers of thread. They have increased the working hours from 40 to 54 hours.
The Russell Manufacturing Co., of Middletown, Conn., are manufacturers of narrow fabrics. The weavers employed on elastic web had their wages reduced from $18 to $15, that being a reduction of $3 a week.
The Shetucket Worsted Co., of Baltic, Conn., are manufacturers of worsted. This company locked out the workers because the weavers refused to accept an increase in work load. And they are still out, or they were out up until last Monday or last Tuesday, when I left New England.
The Middletown Silk Co., of Middletown, Conn., are manufacturers of silk. The weavers' work load was increased from four to six looms. Wages were reduced from $1.40 to $1 per 100,000 picks, and working hours have been increased from 40 to 44 hours.
The Willimantic Silk Co. is located at Willimantic, Conn., and they manufacture silk. The working hours were increased from 40 to 48 per week. The weavers' wages were reduced from $1.40 to $1.20 per 100,000 picks. Auxiliary help was reduced from the minimum of $13, for 40 hours to $11.50 for 48 hours.
The Corn Spinning Co., Willimantic, Conn., who produce silk, the wages were reduced from the minimum of $13 to $11.50.
The Chelsea Silk Co., of Mystic, Conn., manufacture silk. Weavers' wages were reduced from $1.65 on rayon to $1.55 per 100,000 picks. On silk, the wages were reduced from $1.50 to $1.40 per 100,000 picks. The auxiliary help are earning from $8 to $9 per week for 40 hours.
The Edward Bloom Mill, of New London, Conn.-silk weavers' wages were reduced from $1.71 per 100,000 picks to $1.50. This company introduced further wage reductions recently but the local union struck and was successful in preventing the company from putting it into effect.
The Edward Bloom Mill, of Putnam, Conn., are manufacturers of rayon. They reduced the wages down through the plant, these reductions ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent. Some of the workers employed in this mill are now receiving as low as $9 a week for 40 hours.
The Grosvenordale Manufacturing Co., Grosvenordale, Conn., manufactures cotton. They increased the workers' machine load in the spinning department. They also refused to concede a lunch period to the workers, and, because of their lack of organization to properly protect themselves, the workers are forced to work 8 hours in a stretch without time for lunch.
The Brunswick Manufacturing Co., Moosup, Conn., manufacture woolens. Their workers are forced to work as long as 16 hours at a stretch in the finishing department of this company.
The Wyandotte Manufacturing Co., Moosup, Conn., manufacture woolens. The finishing department is forced to work 16 hours at a stretch from time to time. No extra compensation is allowed them for the overtime.
The Uncas Finishing Co., Moosup, Conn., are engaged in finishing: They work some of the help as long as 17 hours a day. An official of this company was recently arrested and fined for violation of the State law in regard to women and minors.
The Wauregan Quinebaug Mill, of Wauregan, Conn., manufacture cotton and rayon. They are working watchmen 72 hours per week.
The Lawton Mills, Plainfield, Conn., manufacture cotton and rayon. Over 1,000 workers are out on strike in protest of a reduction in wages ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent.
The Broad Brook Woolen Co., of Broad Brook, Conn., manufacture woolens. They increased their working hours in their finishing department from 40 to 54.
The Ponemah Mills, Taftville, Conn., are manufacturers of rayon and cotton. The rayon weavers' work load was increased from 10 to 16 looms, and the wages were reduced from an average of $22 to an average of $16. The cotton weavers' work load has been increased from 28 to 40 looms. A wage reduction was put into effect by this company which ranged from 20 percent to 40 percent.
The Ashland Co. at Jewett City, Conn., are manufacturers of silk and rayon. They are operating three shifts in the weaving department.
The Lorraine Manufacturing Co., of Pawtucket, R. I., are manufacturers of wool, cotton, and rayon. They increased the work load 3 to 8 looms, 6 to 8 in other instances. There was a wage cut of 14 percent. They have three shifts of 40 hours.
The Simon Silk Co., are located at Pawtucket, R. I., and are manufacturers of silk. There was a wage cut of about 12 percent. They have two shifts of 44 hours.
The Gilttex Silk Co. is also at Pawtucket, R. I., and they are manufacturers of silk. They had a 15 percent wage cut, and they increased the machine load from four to six looms. There are two shifts of 48 hours each and one of 40 hours.
The Kahn Silk Co. is at Pawtucket, R. I., and they are manufacturers of silk. They had a 15-percent wage cut, and they increased the looms from four to six. They are running two shifts of 44 hours.
The Bay State Mill, Central Falls, R. I., manufacture rayon and silk. They had a 15-percent wage cut and they increased the load from four to six.
The Lexington Woolen Co., Central Falls, R. I., manufacture woolens. They had a 10-percent wage cut. They are running two shifts of 48 hours.
The Salzberg Silk Co., of Central Falls, R. I., manufacture silk. They have had several wage cuts, totaling about 34 percent. They have three shifts of 48 hours.
The Cadillac Silk Co., Valley Falls, R. I., manufacture silk. They had a 12-percent wage cut, and they increased the machine load from 8 to 16 on automatics, and on nonautomatics from 4 to 6. They have three shifts of 40 hours.
The Worcester Worsted Co., Valley Falls, R. I., manufacture worsted. They had a 10-percent wage cut, and they increased the load in some departments.
The Waypoyset Manufacturing Co., Central Falls, R. I., is a novelty mill. They had a 14-percent wage cut and increased the machine load on automatics from 8 to 16, on nonautomatics from 4 to 8. They have three shifts of 40 hours.
Cull Silk Co., Pawtucket, R. I., are manufacturers of silk; have made a 10-percent wage cut and have increased the loom load from four to six.
The National Weaving Co., Central Falls, R. I., are manufacturers of silk and rayon. They have made a 14-percent wage cut and have increased the loom load from four to six to eight. They operate three shifts of 40 hours.
The Royal Weaving Co., of Pawtucket, R. I., are manufacturers of silk. This company has made a 10-percent wage cut and has increased the loom load from four to six. They are running one shift of 48 hours.
The Rhode Island Fabrics Co. are located at Pawtucket, R. I., and are manufacturers of rayon. They have made a 10-percent wage cut, and they are running eight automatic and six nonautomatic looms three shifts of 40 hours.
The Perfect Silk Co., of Pawtucket, R. I., manufacture silk. This company has made a 10-percent wage cut and has increased the load from four to six. They have three shifts of 40 hours.
The Guyon Mill, Valley Falls, R. I., manufacture rayon. They have made a 14-percent wage cut. They run three shifts of 40 hours.
The Narragansett Plush Co., of Pawtucket, R. I., manufacture plush. They are running 60 hours on night shift and 57 hours on the day shift.
Ă. Wolf Co., Hillsgrove, R. I., manufacture broad silk. They made a wage cut of 20 percent, and they have two shifts of 54 hours.
The Berkshire Fine Spinning Co., Albion, R. I., manufacture fine cotton. This company made a 30-percent wage cut and increased the loom load from 20 to 40.
The Manville-Jencks Co., Manville, R. I., are manufacturers of rayon and cotton. They made a wage cut of 20 percent and increased the machine load from 8 to 20. They run three shifts of 40 hours.
The Berkshire Fine Spinning Co., Anthony, R. I., manufacture cotton. This company has made a 30 percent wage cut and increased the loom load from 20 to 36. They run three shifts of 40 hours.