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Mr. STEELE. Yes, sir; it is cotton cloth which I myself try to sell again. In 1935 the figures given by the Government are 36,475,000.
And bear in mind, gentlemen, that this bill makes no provision for taking care of that discrepancy.
Mr. KELLER. Is there not a law on that subject, Mr. Steele, to take care of just that condition?
Mr. STEELE. I don't know what law you are referring to.
Mr. KELLER. There is a law, as I remember it, giving the United States Tariff Commission the duty of setting out the facts, and it gives the President of the United States the power also, as I recall it, to raise the tariff to whatever extent may be necessary. Of course, I am just speaking from recollection now.
Mr. STEELE. No doubt you are familiar with the fact that we have begged and pleaded in Washington for help along that line.
Mr. KELLER. I think that is being done at the present time. Mr. STEELE. If you were selling goods under the conditions that I have to face when I go into the market you would think the gate had been let down like nobody's business.
Mr. KELLER. Look up the subject, I suggest. I would look up the subject before I made that statement.
Mr. STEELE. The statement has been made in Washington that it is only a small percentage of our product. Mr. KELLER. That is true. But I understand the effect of that.
. Mr. STEELE. If you will pardon me, I would like to state the effect of it as coming from one who knows and one who has suffered from it, and one who has seen his employees with whom he has grown up and laid off and coming to him begging for something to do. We came to Washington begging for some help from this administration but we go back emptyhanded time and time again.
I go into New York with my product, and I have my trade set up and I go to the customer who buys my goods. He asks what my price is, and I tell him. But he says, "Well, here is a cloth that I can buy for so many cents a yard less than yours. I would like to buy your goods but because Mr. So and So on the same street is buying these other goods and because I have to compete with him, I have to buy them also." Gentlemen, they can buy the finished product from Japan, made from our cotton which is shipped from this country away across the ocean. This cotton is taken from our country to the foreign land to Japan and is put through the factories, is brought back here and is offered on our finished goods market at a lower price than I can take it off of my looms today at our present wage level.
Mr. KELLER. I think what Mr. Ellenbogen has said applies for the entire committee. We not only have no objection to you pointing that out but we are in hearty agreement with you.
Mr. STEELE. The point I wish to bring out in connection with this matter, gentlemen, is that notwithstanding all of this condition caused by the foreign goods coming into our market, the bill makes no provision for taking care of it. That is one objection to the bill.
Mr. KELLER. Let me suggest to you that under a bill of this kind that situation cannot be adjusted; that has to be adjusted through another means.
Mr. STEELE. If I may be pardoned for saying so, the bill says to regulate the stream of commerce coming from foreign countries.
Mr. KELLER. Yes, of course. But the specific means of doing that I think would be through another bill. Wouldn't that be your opinion?
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. It would, because this committee would have no jurisdiction over it at all.
Mr. STEELE. Mr. Ellenbogen, I was pointing out my objection to parts of this bill.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. That would be a separate bill. It would have to be a separate bill because it goes to a different committee.
Mr. Wood. That would deal with embargoes and tariffs?
Mr. KELLER. Yes; that has to go through the Tariff Commission. But, as I said a litile while ago, this committee is not only not against you but heartily approves what you say. So we will not dispute with you about that.
Mr. STEELE. I am not expecting a dispute, because I believe every fair-minded man in this administration wants to take care of the people who are working for their livelihood.
Mr. KELLER. Certainly, they do.
Mr. STEELE. But the point I wanted to make is that while the bill refers to the stream of commerce from foreign countries it makes no specific mention of what should be done to take care of this part.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. It only makes reference to the stream of commerce to foreign countries and not from foreign countries.
Mr. STEELE. I may be wrong, Mr. Ellenbogen.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. There is no dispute about it. It would have to go to a different committee, Mr. Steele.
Mr. STEELE. It says, “stream of foreign commerce with foreign countries."
Well, I will pass that, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, this is a most important factor, and this bill makes no provision whatever for the correction or control of this situation.
In the matter of wages, I have no quarrel with the man or woman seeking to improve their position, if their efforts are in keeping with conditions which confront the industry, and while this bill sets forth a minimum wage of $15 the question again arises what protection will this bill provide against that extremely low wage of foreign countries, if no provision is made. You will readily appreciate our difficulty in competing with foreign goods in our market, and our inability to do so would only work a hardship by lack of employment on those whom this bill seems to protect and help.
This bill savs that before we employ one whom has grown too old to do a so-called full job, the employer must obtain a permit to do so. This in itself will take from him or her their means of self-support, because it would become necessary for this older person to obtain himself the permit spoken of, and many would not even know where to find the proper officer authorized to issue such permits.
Mr. KELLER. In that connection, Mr. Ellenbogen, what was your idea in that? I had overlooked that.
Mr. STEELE. The bill reads that before we employ a man who cannot do a full job, and possibly at a lower wage, we would have to obtain a permit.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Because it has been abused. You see, they have employed able-bodied people and have called them partially disabled, and in that way they avoided the minimum provisions of the bill.
Mr. STEELE. You understand, Mr. Ellenbogen, I am speaking as an individual. That has never happened in my plant.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. But it did happen under the code.
Mr. STEELE. But what I am trying to point out is that the danger of this that is going to take the man who has worked for years in possibly one plant and keep him out of employment.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. There is no danger.
Mr. STEELE. If you will pardon me, the danger is that if it is imperative and compulsory for the manufacturers to get the permit the average foreman will say, "You go ahead and get the permit, and if you get it I will let you stay on.” And that does not happen in the office, and it is not what I would say. But we would have foremen of different departments, and they are not going to accumulate any more work for themselves than they can help. And I am talking about the human element in that. The foremen are not going to do work that they can get away from. But possibly some deserving employee has lost his work.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Some of the States require that already, Mr. Steele.
Mr. STEELE. I see.
Mr. STEELE. I point this out only to show what is the handicap to the older employees.
This bill says (reading]:
The wages or other income of employees shall be exempt from any charges, fines or other deductions-in other words, it forces the manufacturer to pay the same price for a mediocre employee whose work is not all first quality, as the expert, careful workman whose work is entirely satisfactoryor from payment for provisions, insurance, or sick benefits, except those voluntarily paid by the employee, if approved by the Commission, and in existence at the time of the passage of this act, and except those required by State or Federal law.
Yet this bill says:
Nothing herein shall be construed or applied to prevent the deduction by employers from the wages of employees of dues of a bona-fide labor organization under agreement for such deduction between the employee and said organization.
That is the matter of collecting union dues and is a matter between the union and the brother. And I would suggest that the employer be not asked to participate in this function inasmuch as it will cause him to bear extra clerical expense which bears no relation to our profit or to the management of our plant.
As an individual having many union people in my plant, I will say that many of those people were there when I as a union operative worked with them.
With regard to the union officials in our city, we have a textile council which is made up of the heads of the various crafts. They have never been denied my office when they have called. There have been times when we have not agreed, but I do not think there has ever been a newspaper clipping as to any trouble which has arisen from the disagreement. We have many individuals in the plant and many employees who come to us with their own problems. They are just as welcome as anybody else. When they cannot get satisfaction from
their foremen or from someone else they still have the head of the union come in and talk it over.
This bill says (reading]:
No employee who has been regularly employed for 12 weeks by any one employer may be discharged without prior notice of 1 week.
Does this mean that if a man was found willfully destroying property, perhaps committing arson, intoxicated beyond consciousness, perhaps insanely attacking and doing bodily harm to others, that we would have to give him 1 week's notice before removing him?
This bill says:
For the purposes of protecting employees who have been separated from their jobs by dismissal by their employers, each employer shall pay to any employee he dismisses, for any cause whatsoever, a separation wage computed at the ratio of 1 week's pay for each 20 weeks worked by said employee. This says,
any cause whatsoever."
Mr. STEELE. I am trying to point out the fact that there should be some limitation.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. It is without cause.
For purposes of protecting employees who have been separated from their jobs by dismissal by their employers, each employer shall pay to any employee he dismisses, for any cause whatsoever, a separation wage computed at the ratio of 1 week's pay for each 20 weeks worked by said employee.
Doesn't that go back to the other paragraph, Mr. Ellenbogena separation wage computed at the ratio of 1 week's pay for each 20 weeks worked by such employee?
This clause is not workable and, if enforced, will be the cause of a large turn-over in labor, and once again will prove a detriment to those it seeks to help and protect. Neither is it workable to pay on this basis when business conditions bring about reduction of running time, and, furthermore, we are now contributing to the fund which is supposed to take care of this unemployment.
While our Textile Institute is making a concerted drive on its members not to exceed the two-shift plan of N. R. A. and while it is stated in this bill that one of the objects desired is to prevent overproduction, it does make possible an increased production by a third shift, and the only penalty would be 5 percent of their respective wage.
I will say that I am opposed to any third-shift operation in our industry at any time. I am opposed to mills working through the middle of the night, and I have always been opposed to it.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Mr. Steele, it only permits a third shift if, in the opinion of the Commission, it is absolutely necessary at a certain time to meet an emergency.
I would not put it that way. I mean if in the opinion of the Commission it is a good thing. But it does not permit a third shift automatically by the payment of the 5 percent. The bill does not say that.
Mr. STEELE. What does it say?
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. It says if the Commission permits a third shift in some branches of the textile industry, and if the Commission finds that is economically sound, then in that case they must pay the 5 percent. But the payment of it alone is not sufficient to allow them to operate the third shift.
Mr. STEELE. That is one reason why I am opposed to the Commission in this matter.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. I think there is a lot to be said about it.
Mr. Wood. Mr. Chairman, may I interject that I am glad to hear one employer say that he is opposed to three shifts.
Mr. KELLER. I think Mr. Steele has said a great many things along that line.
Mr. STEELE. I will go further and say that I am one of those who believe in one shift. Mr. Wood. I agree with you there.
. Mr. ELLENBOGEN. They call it the "graveyard shift."
Mr. STEELE. My associates understand my position. And there are many people in our industry who believe in one shift.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. They call that the "graveyard shift."
Mr. STEELE. Anything done during the night is called the “graveyard shift.” And think it is well named. I have worked it.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. What is there about your particular situation that is different than that of others?
Mr. STEELE. I don't understand what you are referring to.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. You appear to be in favor of the one shift and two shifts but others are not in favor of that.
Mr. STEELE. Do you mean others in the industry?
Mr. TEELE. That is just like in any other family; there is a difference of opinion in the same family, no matter what the name of it is.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Do you think it is just a matter of opinion?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. It is a good policy. But some of the other fellows do not see it.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Mr. Steele, many firms are now operating three shifts.
Mr. STEELE. In the textile industry? Do you mean in the cotton textile industry?
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. Yes; in the cotton textile industry.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. The gentlemen from the Cotton Textile Institute can probably tell you that there are a great many operating three shifts.
Mr. MURCHISON. There are a few, but the great majority of the industry are opposed to the three-shift operation, and we are trying to eliminate the third shift through this plan to which I referred this morning.
Mr. STEELE. And, gentlemen, please bear in mind I am pointing out the parts of the bill that I do not think are workable and are not for the best interests of all concerned.
Mr. ELLENBOGEN. I think you are doing a service by expressing your individual opinion.