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volume in our State we are today one of the largest, if not the largest producers of synthetic yarns in the country. Today we have more silk weaving in Pennsylvania than we had before, but on the other hand we have lost a number of our cotton mills.
I am advised that what has happened in Pennsylvania in respect to textiles is that while in Philadelphia the highly skilled upholstery and rug weavers, who were at one time fairly well paid, have seen their mills leave for the South or for low wage centers elsewhere, a number of silk weaving and throwing mills have come into our State seeking cheaper labor than was obtainable in the organized centers in Paterson, N. J., and elsewhere.
I am reliably informed that in Philadelphia today, out of the 3,000 looms in the upholstery and drapery fabric mills in the city, less than 100 are operating. The manufacture of upholstery fabrics is one of the most highly skilled branches of the textile industry, employing only the most expert weavers.
The fact that Philadelphians are past masters in several very specialized branches of textile manufacture has not protected that community from the inroads of low wage competition from other States or from isolated rural sections in some parts of our own State.
The problem of unfair competition in the textile industry in regard to labor costs is merely one important element in a difficult situation. The textile industry is sick.” This fact has been recognized by every student If modern industrial problems. The textile manufacturers themselves in the early part of 1933 were loud in their wailing as to the dire condition of this industry. At that time the textile manufacturers thought that they could obtain permission from the Government to fix prices by offering to pay paltry minimum wages of $12 and $13 a week. Pennsylvania textile manufacturers were like all others in that respect and Government assistance was welcomed when the industry was prostrate.
The history of Pennsylvania is, of course, linked with the history of textile manufacturing in this country. It is claimed by some economic historians that the oldest textile mills in the country are located in Philadelphia. The problem of textiles is therefore not new to us, although the character of the industry has undergone sweeping changes during the years.
For years child labor was common in the silk textile mills of our State. As late as 1930 there were more than 4,600 children under the age of 16 years, or about 3.1 percent of the total employees, working long hours in the silk textile mills of our State. I am proud to state that children under the age of 16 are no longer permitted to work in Pennsylvania industries. It was my privilege to sign a bill in July of 1935 forbidding children under 16 years of age to be employed in manufacturing industries. This act places Pennsylvania among the progressive States in respect to child-labor legislation. And it is just because we have adopted a higher standard of protection for the children of Pennsylvania that we are obliged to advocate that similar standards be adopted in all other States in the Union. My adminis tration in Pennsylvania would strongly support State legislation similar to that proposed in Congressman Ellenbogen's bill, if it were not for the fact that if we passed such a bill we would place the manufacturers in our State at a competitive disadvantage as against manufacturers in other States where lower employment standards obtain. Therefore, we are obliged to bend our efforts toward obtaining Federal legislation which will enable Pennsylvania to keep the textile industries she now has, to secure additional mills if possible, and to improve the working standards of the 150,000 wage earners in Pennsylvania textile mills.
It has been the custom of Pennsylvania manufacturers to oppose adoption of social legislation by the State on the ground that the Federal Government should enact national legislation to raise standards. However, when Congress attempts to pass national legislation to improve labor conditions we discover that Pennsylvania employers, through their national organizations, appear to fight the proposals they have advocated back in their own State. It is my purpose to demonstrate to the Congress of the United States that the present administration in Pennsylvania is well aware of the necessity of approaching our common economic and social problems from a national standpoint.
As Governor of the Commonwealth I feel it to be my obligation, therefore, to come before this committee of the United States Congress to urge immediate enactment of legislation such as the Ellenbogen Textile Act. Naturally, I am anxious to work for the improvement of citizens of my State, but it has become perfectly clear that Pennsylvania cannot advance the interests of its own citizens in any important respect at the expense of the citizens of other States.
I do not come before you as a specialist in the problems of the textile industry but rather as an advocate of a social policy which will prevent the demoralization which has overtaken such important industries as bituminous coal and textiles in Pennsylvania. It is my understanding that the type of legislation which is being proposed here for the rehabilitation of textiles varies considerably from the legislative method employed to assist the soft-coal industry. The fundamental similarity between the Guffey bill for the mining industry and the Ellenbogen bill for the textiles is that the attack on the problem in each case is being made from a Nation-wide scale, and in each instance the special needs of the industries involved are carefully taken into account.
The demoralizing effects of the depression in the textile industry and the helpful effects of regulatory action in the industry during the N. R. A. period were quite pronounced.
Investigations of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry which are available to this committee show that prior to the N. R. A. a wholesale destruction of customary working standards took place in the textile plants throughout our State.
The Pennsylvania Legislature also conducted an investigation into sweatshop conditions in our State in 1933, which produced evidence that an intolerable state of affairs existed in many of the textile and garment factories in our State.
Despite the fact that more than a million persons in Pennsylvania were without jobs in 1932 the hours of labor per week in textile plants had been increased not only to the legal limit for women of 54 hours per week but in addition violations of the hour laws were more numerous than at any other time. Due to the increasing severity of the competitive struggle we reached a condition where mills operated night and day for short periods on rush orders and then closed down completely for weeks at a time.
Women in Pennsylvania textile mills, who earned an average of $18.20 per week in 1928, were reduced to a wage of $11.94 per week in 1932 and were obliged to work longer hours despite the lower wage. The men's wages in silk textiles dropped 37 percent between 1928 and 1932 while women's wages dropped 34 percent. In silk, hosiery, and knit goods the number of women earning less than $10 per week of 54 hours increased from 7 percent in 1928 to 24 percent in 1932. The number of men in Pennsylvania textile mills earning less than $10 a week in those industries increased elevenfold between 1928 and 1932. This wholesale collapse of wage standards was as dangerous to the economy of Pennsylvania as it was to the economy of the United States.
The rapid and quite general improvement which took place in the textile industries of Pennsylvania after the N. R. A. was enacted should be all the proof that is needed to establish the soundness of legislation setting up nationally uniform minimum standards for a basic industry such as textiles. In the hosiery industry for instance, although wage payments increased, the employment also increased and sales volume also expanded. The N. R. A. did pull the textile industry as a whole out of a disastrous economic tail spin and placed it back on the road to universal recovery.
After the N. R. A. was declared unconstitutional an effort was made to have the employers voluntarily adhere to the minimum wage and maximum hours provisions of the codes. It was soon apparent that the small minority of employers who would not conform nullified the efforts of those who did.
During the code period industry had "settled down" for a time. The migration of textile mills had been halted, as a result of the fact that a substantial equalization in competitive conditions had been temporarily achieved.
Today Pennsylvania textile manufacturers are again threatening to move out of the State to the South or other sections where local chambers of commerce offer a variety of inducements, which are in effect, opportunities for "chiseling” in one form or another. I am informed that in Philadelphia, between 1929 and 1933, 32 full-fashioned hosiery mills employing about 4,000 people left Pennsylvania for Southern States.
Can the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the city of Philadelphia offer inducements that will be sufficient to have factories remain within the State? Most certainly we will not offer to cooperate with manufacturers to cut wages nor will we connive with private detective agencies, with local authorities or the courts, to enable employers in labor to avoid their obligation to bargain collectively with their employees. The day has gone by when the Government of Pennsylvania will act as the willing instrument of feudal employing interests.
Pennsylvania seeks to increase the employment opportunities of its citizens but not at the expense of our civic integrity or by depreciating the living standards of our wage earners.
Under my administration the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will join with other progressive States in an effort to promote effective and equitable Federal legislation which will afford protection to each State Mr. SCHNEIDER. You have heard a lot of testimony of the workers where it was testified there was a lot of stretch-out effected, whereby the workers were required to do more after the codes went out than they did before, and there were looms added, and so on.
Now, do those workers work on piecework?
Mír. MUNROE. To the extent that that would be true as a general thing, they would be workers on piece work.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. As to those who are stretched out, would their hourly rate increase; let us take, for instance, one who went from 4 looms to 6, or from 10 looms to 16. Would his hourly rate be increased?
Mr. MUNROE. Let me answer it in this way. Where mills have organized their work assignments—and that is a sort of thing which is referred to here as the stretch-out, because of the abuse in some cases. Where that sort of thing has been done reasonably and equitably the worker is given more machines to tend; but all except the skilled duties are taken away from him and helpers are provided who do the unskilled portion of the work. And in setting up a regime of that sort it has been my practical experience that almost without exception the skilled workers' average rate is advanced somewhat so that he shares, to a certain extent, in the saving that the mill makes. That is the fair, the equitable way of doing it. And I believe that is the way the majority of the mills undertaking to establish an economical system in their mills have undertaken that sort of procedure. And I think it is a misnomer and an exaggeration to call that sort of thing a stretch-out unless it is poorly and unscientifically done. There are plenty of situations where it is done ignorantly, where it is done without preparation and without much foresight. The management just does not look before they leap and the help gets a load which is excessive. But I think they are greatly in the minority.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Whenever the stretch-out is applied the employer gets more work from the worker, at lower cost; that is always scientific, isn't it?
Mr. MUNROE. That is not the point.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. That is an important point in connection with this argument.
Mr. MUNROE. It does not mean, by any means, that when you increase the number of looms you assign to a weaver that you are going to put any heavy burden on him, for the reason that I explained, that when that sort of thing is done properly he is given sufficient help in the laborious, tedious, unskilled tasks, so that it may well be that tending 50 more machines with the selected scientific duties that he is then performing, he has less of a work load than he had before with only two-thirds as many machines. And it is the same thing as with the automobile people. They put on a man to do one particular thing and they take a skilled man to do it, and then they pay him a higher rate, and they give him helpers to do the unskilled part of it.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. When they speed up the machine he does not have to go any faster? His helper does that? Is that it? Are you trying to tell us if a man is operating a certain machine and it is making a certain speed and he has to be there every minute of the day and be alert and work faster and under that strain that goes with it, that if that machine is speeded up, that he does not have any more responsibility and strain, that somebody else assumes that?
Mr. MUNROE. No; I am not trying to tell you that. That is assuming I am trying to tell you something that I am not trying to tell you. A good manufacturer, a well-managed mill, an efficiently managed mill, does not overload the help. It is only the poor folks who don't know how to run a mill properly who do that.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. I presume all of the manufacturers are efficient?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. They all claim to be. I never met a manufacturer any place at any time who did not claim that he was the best in the industry and that he treated his help just a little better than anybody else treated their help.
Mr. MUNROE. Doesn't that apply to all of us? Don't all of us think that we are pretty good?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. You are trying to tell us here now about the inefficient fellow. And the manufacturers do not admit that there is anybody like that in the industry. They are all speeding up, exacting more from the workers and reducing labor costs.
Mr. MUNROE. I do not say that getting all the work you can out of a man is scientific. And I do not believe that any enlightened manufacturer does that.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. How many of these highly skilled workers are there in the industry who tend looms and also perform menial, unskilled labor.
Mr. MUNROE. That depends upon the mill. Now, let me explain about the loom, if you want to take the time. I think I can tell you what I mean. And I think you have a misunderstanding of it now.
Your loom has to have a warp put in it, which consists of a good many threads of yarn wound on a roll. That warp may contain as few as 800 threads and in some cases it may contain 5,000 threads, depending upon the fabric you are weaving. Those threads are drawn through the loom automatically, and, as they are, a shuttle passes through with what they call filling yarn. As the filling yarn is passed through, it is then beaten into place. That forms an interlacing which up to that point, has made cloth. That cloth is gradually wound up on a roll at the front of the loom.
In the old days, back before 1900, let us say, or perhaps even further back than that, it was a weaver's job to do every single detail of duty about that loom. He swept the floor around it; he cleaned it off; he repaired it if it got out of order; he put the warp on at the back; and he put the warp in place; and he filled the shuttles by hand with bobbins of filling; and he had to suck the thread in that bobbin through a little hole in the shuttle. I used to have to do it myself, 25 years ago.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Tell us just what he is doing today. I know what he used to do.
Mr. MUNROE. I have not finished all of the duties he had then.
Mr. MUNROE. He had to take the cloth off. A large part of what he had to do was putting the bobbins in those shuttles. The bobbins would run out in 3 minutes, or, on some classes of goods, in about a minute and a half.
About 1900 an automatic loom was invented which put the bobbins in the machine automatically without the loom missing a thread. But