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tific, as impartial, as thorough-going as possible. The Commission first wished to know what the facts are; to discover the conditions underlying these facts; and then, and only then, to propose any fair or adequate methods for improvement that might naturally grow out of a study of these conditions.
The first thing, therefore, was to find out what should be the scope of such an investigation. It seemed to us to fall in the main into three parts:
First, what wages are actually paid in typical industries throughout the state, so that we might know what people receive.
Second, are these wages sufficient to maintain employees in simple decency and working condition?
Third, are the industries able to increase wages on the basis of the earning capacity of labor ?
Those were the three things that we attempted to discover.
Obviously we could not study all the industries in the state of New York with the time and money at our disposal. Consequently we were directed to select certain industries which are typical. For this purpose we took Bulletin 93 of the Federal Census, showing the earnings of people in various industries throughout the country. From this Bulletin we found that certain industries, notably canning, the making of shirts, paper boxes, confectionery, silk and knit goods were far below the average of the state.
Now inasmuch as the Commission had already reported on the canning industry, the Department of Labor was contemplating the investigation of the knit goods industry, and also because the Federal authorities had investigated the silk industry, we confined ourselves to the paper box, confectionery and shirt-making lines. The Factory Commission had also previously decided to investigate further retail stores (the department stores as they are generally called) because it had found in them a large number of women and children employed at low wages. Public attention had been turned to the matter of wages in stores from the hearings in Illinois, and because of some discussion on the report of the Civic Federation. Therefore, the retail stores were added to the list.
Q. That is the retail stores of New York State ? A. In New York State. These investigations, all of them, covered the entire
State. Miss Van Kleeck of the Russell Sage Foundation had been studying the millinery trade, and with the co-operation of the Commission, was good enough to carry her investigation further into the wages of the trade.
Mr. Roswell Skeel made a special study of the button industry. This is the field of our work.
Now what were the methods employed? What were the sources to which we applied ? First, for discovering wages and hours of labor there is no place to go except to the payrolls. That is the official source of the information. Secondly, for general information as to the condition of the trade, the efficiency of labor, seasons, etc., there is no other source but the employer who knows the business. And to him we went. Third, as the matter of trade experience, domestic conditions and age, there is no other source of information but the employees. So to them we went for these facts.
The schedules were worked out by the Assistant Director with the assistance of the authorities at Washington, and such hints as we could get elsewhere. I have a complete set of them if they are desired.
Q. Will you at some time tell us how your staff was selected ? A. I am about to come to that. Special studies were also made on the standard of living by Professor Frank H. Streightoff of Depau University; on wages and training by Mr. Wilson of the Department of Education; on the irregularity of employment and wage legislation throughout the world by Mrs. Irene Osgood Andrews of the American Association for Labor Legislation.
Having planned out the work, the next matter, as counsel suggests, was to select the staff. Out of 160 applicants some forty persons were selected by merit, mostly young college graduates or persons who had worked in similar investigations in other states. The investigation of the clothing industry at that time just ceasing, we were enabled to get many of these investigators on our staff. We must also include the advice and assistance of various welfare and aid societies, notably the Consumers League, trade societies, the .charity organizations, and other societies, as well as the State Department of Labor, the Department of Finance and the Department of Insurance. The State Department of Labor loaned us four of their expert investigators.
The time selected for this investigation was in the fall, winter of 1913 and early spring of 1914. Our purpose was to strike the industries when they were busiest, when the payrolls had the most names, when we could find out most about the people who worked in the industries. In New York City the work was carried on during the early winter of 1913. We were then delayed and were not able to finish in the up-State cities until May and June of 1914. In this investigation all the important centers in the lines that we studied were covered, all the first and second class cities and twenty third-class cities and villages. We covered in all nearly 580 establishments. Five hundred and seventy-seven precisely were scheduled, and over 104,000 employees in these establishments. Therefore I think the statistical base of the investigation is broad enough to warrant pretty definite statements.
Now as to the attitude of the manufacturers and employers regarding this investigation a word or two may be said. In general they received us in a kindly manner. I can not say they were overjoyed to see us appear for another investigation in their busy season, but in the main they were courteous and considerate.
The retail merchants had promised their assistance from the beginning. In the fall of 1913 union agitation becoming rather evident, they decided it would not be good policy to have the names and addresses of their employees given for fear these might somehow fall into the hands of unionizers. Although it is very much more difficult to identify persons by numbers than by names where a shifting force is concerned, this concession was made to the merchants rather than antagonize them.
As to the attitude of employees, they were in general very willing to give us what we asked of them. Several of the women objected to stating their ages at first, and some of the people were uncertain as to the details of their personal expenditures. The information was given, however, and usually, as soon as the percons understood what the purpose was, they were very glad to supply us with the facts. It was extremely difficult in some cases to get information as to overtime and fines, because some of the interviews were carried on in the presence of the firm. Again, the retail merchants insisted upon this method in New York, and
also the same attitude was adopted in Buffalo. With these exceptions the investigators were very satisfactorily received.
Now this information was tabulated first by firms, then by classes of establishments, then for each locality and finally for the whole industry throughout the state. For each establishment we tabulated rates and earnings for each sex according to their occupation, age, experience, conjugal conditions, and nativity. We also studied the days and hours of work, the weeks worked per year, and the annual earnings where they could be discovered. For each trade we tried to find the seasonal fluctuations, the fines and the commissions that were received, the piece rates, the home work, and for all the workers, the character of their residence, their family relations and income.
I have spent time trying to outline the investigation in order that you may understand what we attempted to do and how we started out to do it. Now what kind of people did we find in the trade? In the main they were young men and girls. Three-fifths for whom I have returns were females. The proportion varies in different trades, from 59 per cent, in the stores to 77 per cent. in the shirt making industry. This has an important effect upon wages, women being paid generally less than men.
In the next place, as to their age, we found that over 60 per cent. were adults, about one-third between 16 and 20, and + per cent. were children, that is under the age of 16. These proportions vary in the different occupations. For example, whereas twothirds of the employees in the stores are adults, one-half of all in the box making trade are minors. The matter of the age of the persons is another important factor with regard to wages because that affects their rate of earnings.
Next as to the nativity of the persons. We found that about 30 per cent. of all were foreigners. Again the proportion varies in the trades. In the shirt and candy making industries, especially in New York city, about one-half are foreigners. In the stores the small proportion of foreigners are mostly English speaking persons; but in the industrial lines, in candy for instance we find the Italians composing over one-third of the employees, and in paper boxes the Russians constitute about 16 per cent. This is another important fact with regard to wages, because as a general thing the foreigners enter the least skilled lines and are paid accordingly. We find also that the majority of foreigners are older than the natives. That is there are comparatively few foreign born children. We also found the proportion of foreigners living in New York City much greater than the up-State cities.
In the last place, regarding the conjugal conditions of these people, we found that nearly three-fourths of them were single persons, about one-fifth married, and about five per cent. were widowed or divorced. Of course these proportions vary between the sexes. Eighty-six per cent. of the women were unmarried, largely because of their younger age. Nearly half of the men were married. Please bear this in mind in discussing wages. Six per cent. of all the female employees are widows or divorced. So much as to the personnel, the kind of people we found. They were young people, mostly women, with a large proportion of foreigners and the majority single persons.
Now then what did these people get? Of 91,000 persons for whom we have returns by rates, 11 per cent. ordinarily received I am now quoting rates — ordinarily received less than five dollars a week.
Q. Doctor do you mind if I interrupt you? A. Please do, Mr. Elkus.
Q. I would like to get for the record whether any other commission which you know of, and I know you have studied the subject, has ever gone into the facts as you have done for this commission, obtained these exact facts? A. I think many commissions have obtained much the same facts, Mr. Elkus, but I do not believe any commission has obtained so many facts.
Q. Or taken so many people? A. No, of that I am sure.
Q. Go right on?. A. It has been suggested that the distinction between rates and actual earnings, which will later be quoted, ought to be made absolutely clear. The rate is the amount that is fixed for a person, which he may hope to earn if he works steadily completes the allotted task within the period for which the rate applies, say seven dollars a week. That is if one works six days a week and for the full time. I am now quoting rates.
Q. And no deductions ? A. And no deductions. I said that 11 per cent. of all the persons for whom we had returns on rates