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Mr. BLOOMINGDALE: Miss Hill wanted to say a moment ago that there has been no disturbance at all and those that had been in the school had done identically the same work and under the same conditions.
Miss MARY VAN KLEECK addressed the Commission:
By Mr. ELKUS:
Q. Miss Van Kleeck, will you please state your position in connection with this work ? A. I am secretary of the Committee on Women's Work of the Russell Sage Foundation.
Q. How long have you been secretary? A. Since 1909.
Q. Now you were good enough to volunteer to do some work for the Factory Commission at the Commission's request. A. Yes.
Q. What was it? A. Through a plan of cooperation with the Commission we made an investigation of wages in the millinery trade. We had already made a study of conditions in the shops and of milliners in their homes, but had not examined any payrolls. At the Commission's request we examined payrolls under the direction of the Commission's director of investigations, Dr. Woolston, and that is the material which I have to present this morning
Q. Now will you tell me who did this work, how many people ? A. It was done by the staff of the Committee on Women's Work of the Russell Sage Foundation, four members of the staff taking part in it, all of whom were regular members of the staff of the Committee engaged in investigations of industrial conditions in New York.
Q. Under your direction ? A. Under my direction, and I took part in the investigation.
Q. How long were they engaged in this work? A. In this particular work they made a study of the payrolls in the months of January and February of this year.
Q. And previous to that, of the working conditions, how long did that take you? A. The millinery investigation had been carried on concurrently with a number of other investigations during a period of some two years.
Q. Now will you tell us what you did, what your plan was
in obtaining this information, just how you got it? A. We followed the same procedure followed in the other parts of the work of the Factory Investigating Commission, namely, we went into the shops, copied from the payrolls the wages of employees and also had schedules filled out by the workers in the workrooms.
Q. Now will you tell us something of your own experience and qualifications for this work? A. Graduate of Smith College, class of 1904. Courses in economics and sociology, Columbia University, 1905–1907. I have been an investigator of industrial conditions in New York since 1905, first as Fellow of the College Settlements Association, then as industrial secretary of the Alliance Employment Bureau, an employment agency affiliated with social organizations, and since 1909 director of investigations in the Department of Women's Work in the Russell Sage Foundation.
Q. Have you yourself written some books on these subjects ? A. I have published three books, “ Women in the Bookbinding Trade," “ Artificial Flower Makers," and “Working Girls in Evening Schools.
Q. Go ahead in your own way? A. The millinery trade in New York City is a skilled industry. A study of wages in that trade is a study of the earning power of women of whom skill is required. We arė frequently told that the problem of low wages is the problem of unskilled industries. It was for that reason that we felt it important to take up the study of the millinery trade, and also because the millinery trade is numerically important in the New York City. It is distinctly women's work. About 90 per cent of the workers in the nuillinery shops in New York City are women. New York supplies hats for the whole country. We have two types of trade here, the wholesale and the retail trade. New York City is the center of the wholesale trade, and the hats are distributed through buyers, salesmen, jobbers, all over the country from Maine to Texas. It is also an important center of the retail trade, selling hats directly to customers. That there are great varieties of shops is apparent to any one who walks through the streets. There are the small wholesale shops on Division street, there are the larger wholesale shops on Broadway, there are small neighborhood shops on First, Second and
Third avenues, and there are the large fashionable retail shops on Fifth avenue.
It is also a trade which is still carried on to some extent in the homes. I refer not to the giving out of work from factories, although that is also done in the wholesale trade, but I mean that this is still a trade which can be carried on with small capital by women working at home without employees. In other words we have a number of different types of industrial organization in in the trade. As a result, our census figures on this subject are chaotic. It is almost impossible to count the numbers of milliners in this city. The census of 1910 enumerated 13,000 milliners and millinery dealers in New York City. That number includes, of course, women who worked alone and had no employees. The Industrial Directory of the State Labor Department reports 8,885 women and girls in millinery in New York City, working as employees in millinery shops. These are better figures to use in determining the scope of our investigation, because we were studying the employees in the shops.
Q. In what year was that? A. In 1912 the Industrial Directory was published. Millinery includes a great many things besides hat trimming. Broadly considered, it includes the making of pressed hats, straw hats, millinery ornaments, artificial flowers and feathers and other accessories, but we limited our investigation to the trimming of hats in what is ordinarily known as millinery shops, and as this work is done almost entirely by women we limited our investigation to women and girls. We also limited our study to Manhattan, because 90 per cent of the millinery employees in New York work in Manhattan. I would say here that we made rather an intensive study than an extensive inquiry because we knew in advance that the problem of irregular employment was a very important one in the trade; therefore, instead of studying only current payrolls we copied the entire payrolls in forty shops for the calendar year of 1913. In a few other establishments, in which the records were not complete enough for so thorough a study, we transcribed earnings for the current week only. We included in the study 57 shops employing a maximum force in busy seasons of 2,550 workers, that is, about 29 per cent of the women employees at work throughout the city, 32 per cent of the trade in the Borough of Manhattan. These percentages are based on the statistics given in the industrial directory of the State Labor Department.
Q. Did you select typical establishments ? A. We made our selection by both chance and discretion. We first of all prepared a street directory of millinery firms. We drew out every fifth name in that directory. We then went through these and, in accordance with the information we then had about millinery shops, we selected establishments representing a great variety of types in the trade. We secured records from 28 wholesale shops employing a maximum force of 1,711 and 29 retail shops employing 839. The millinery trade is so chaotic and varies so from week to week that to give the figures as to the number investigated is difficult and in itself a revelation of the seasons. The records secured from current weekly payrolls numbered 1,951, while the number of individuals on the payrolls through the year was 3,893. Cards filled by employees in the workroom from which we secured data about age, conjugal condition, and experience in the trade, numbered 1,363. The maximum force in the 40 shops from which the entire payroll for the calendar year was secured was 2,016. Thus with a maximum force of a little over 2,000, the number passing through the shops in course of a year was nearly 4,000.
This might indicate, of course, frequent changes in personnel. It might show that a girl came in for a while and went out again just for a whim of her own, but a count of the actual number of girls on the payrolls week by week for fifty-two weeks in the year proved that this was not a question of the whim of the worker, but an actual change in the industry, in the number of workers who could be employed in the various seasons. With a maximum force of 2,016, the average number employed was but 1,219, while the fluctuation from maximum to minimum was very marked. In wholesale, for instance, the number retained in the dullest week of the year was but 36 per cent. of the number employed in the maximum week of the year, only thirty-six in every hundred. Thus sixty-four in every hundred must find other work or be out of work in the dull period.
Q. How long does the dull period last? A. I am coming to that in just a moment. The smaller retail shops retained only 25 per cent., and the larger retail shops which had also a wholesale trade retained 33 per cent. These seasons come at different periods in the year. The wholesale precedes the retail so that combining one with the other makes the seasons appear longer than they actually are and fluctuations less violent. Nevertheless a combined count of that kind showed that in the twenty-seventh week of the year, when the force was at a minimum, 58 in every 100 of the milliners at work in the maximum week were displaced, and that in the last eight weeks of the year the force employed never exceeds 57 per cent. of the maximum in the spring; that is, for 43 of every 100 workers there was no place in these millinery shops in the last eight weeks of the year.
These figures do not show the duration of the season. To measure the length, we estimated the number of weeks in which the force never fell below 10 per cent. of the maximum and we made another estimate of the number of weeks in which the force never fell below 25 per cent. of the maximum. There were only eleven weeks in the year in which the force in these shops did not fall 10 per cent. or more below the maximum and twenty-five weeks in the year in which the force did not fall 25 per cent. or more below the maximum. Even this brief period of employment is divided into two seasons, the spring and the fall.
As to the duration of employment for individual workers you will note that we copied the figures for the calendar year only. Therefore, we do not know from these figures how long the workers may have been employed in the shops previous to the calendar year, nor how long their employment may have continued after the period of investigation, but it is significant to note the length of time they were employed in one shop within twelve months. I think the most significant fact we discovered in the entire investigation was that only 110, or 2.8 per cent., of 3983 women employed sometime during the course of that year were on the payroll in the same shop for fifty-two weeks; only 672 of those 3983, or 17 in every 100, appeared on the payroll in the same shop forty weeks or longer, and as many as 52 per cent. were recorded eight weeks or less.
Those figures show for each worker the duration of employment within the calendar year in one shop. They do not show whether