|The Glovers of Fulton County|
Oct. 14, 1914, 2:00 P.M.
MR. BAKER: I might announce, if the Board please, that so far as the manufacturers are concerned, we do not desire to offer any further evidence, except the evidence of a factory inspector who is in the city at the present and who is now taking up a certain factory referred to in the testimony of one of the so-called strikers or cutters, and to bring out by one witness who your Honor has already summoned here, a contradiction of the testimony as to the wages from the payrolls and besides that we have no desire to present anything else.
MR. McMAHON: Mr. Baker, the Board in considering your request to call the factory inspector and put him on the stand.
MR. ROGERS: Just a minute please. As long as the request by Mr. Baker was made audibly I think we had better give our opinion out in open.
MR. McMAHON: Then, for the purposes of the record, the Board decides that the question of the condition of the factory in connection with this investigation is immaterial and has no weight and that it is inadvisable and beyond the authority of this Board to call the inspector as a witness himself, that his report of the factory in question, if any, can be obtained and referred to and is on file in the Commissioner of Labor's office and the Board feels that it can not subpoena him and call him as a witness without the direction of the Commissioner of Labor, -
MR. BAKER: In answer to that, -
MR. McMAHON: (contg) And further that the President or the owner of the factory in question as I understand, is going to be here this afternoon and any testimony that we wants to put in in connection with that can be obtained from him by you.
MR. BAKER: In answer to the suggestion in regard to the Board's ruling on that point, we wish to say that we have not injected this into this case. It was in the case when we came here. We are all compelled to come here by virtue of subpoena. We did not appear here voluntarily and the testimony of each one of the manufacturers has been put on the record. We found that on the record when we came here, that one of the shops is not fit for cattle. Now, we say that in fairness to the manufacturers, that what the inspector of the factory finds, he being there in checking up the investigation and he voluntarily coming to my office, he volunteering to come to my office as soon as he gets through, it seems to me in fairness to the manufacturers and also in this regard, as bearing upon the credibilities of the witness sworn here, it should be in the record, aside from the manufacturer interested and a few of us who have looked at the building. Now this report can not be filed and won't be filed until this case is closed, because the men told me he is going away until the case is through because he has got other work. Therefore, in order that the records may be made to appear as containing both sides of the case and in all fairness to the manufacturers we ask that he be called.
MR. McMAHON: I would like to say that the evidence is only in the case because of the informal nature of the hearing and we are not bound by the rules of evidence, and we think that the evidence may be refuted or rebutted by any material evidence that the organization wants to present.
MR. BAKER: Our suggestion in that regard is that our testimony, testimony coming from an owner, not disinterested testimony. The owner is interested and his evidence could not therefore be disinterested.
MR. McMANUS: Well every one of these employees are interested, when you come to think of it. There is no disinterested testimony. Aren't there others to be called, for instance, employees?
MR. BAKER: I presume there are others but don't want to take up the time of this Board.
MR. McMAHON: Why one witness would be enough.
MR. BAKER: Oh no, it would not be a conviction, or, it would not be conclusive, that is, to the public.
MR. McMAHON: You say he is an interested party. As Mr. McManus has said, all are interested.
MR. BAKER: In view of the Board's ruling in that respect we have the testimony of Mr. L. Berliner, which reads as follows: "The foreman will say, you are a hell of a cutter. If you can not get them out, somebody else can. It is dark place to work. No place for human beings, simply a place for cattle", we ask that that be expunged from the record.
MR. McMAHON: Beginning with this "It is a dark place to work, no place for human beings, simply a place for cattle" be stricken out?
MR. ROGERS: The Board rules that the words quoted by Mr. Baker and Mr. McMAHON "That is a dark place to work, no place for human beings, simply a place for cattle" are irrelevant to the question under investigation and that they be expunged from the record.
MR. ERLICH: How is that?
MR. McMAHON: The ruling is that that testimony to the effect that the place is dark and not fit for human beings, only fit for cattle be stricken out as irrelevant and immaterial.
MR. ERLICH: Mr. McMahon, do they strike out both that the place is dark and not fit for human beings?
MR. McMAHON: Yes.
MR. ERLICH: Only that it is not fit for cattle?
MR. McMAHON: It is stricken out "that it is dark, not fit for human beings and only fit for cattle." The issue here is only as to the wages, as I understand it.
MR. ERLICH: Yes, that is the idea, the wages.
J O H N H A G E R, recalled as a witness, testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Have you some statement you want to make in rebuttal of the testimony given here? A. The testimony was made by Mr. Mandrell this afternoon, this morning.
Q. What? A. During the period in 1913, he offered testimony that I earned in the neighborhood of $17 and something over and I would like in rebuttal to that to say that in making my figures I figured 25 weeks a year from over the entire period I worked for Mr. Mandrell, extending over five years and two different times.
Q. And his average was during a limited portion of the time? A. His average was during just the 1913 period over the number of weeks that I worked I think.
Q. And you have actually drawn an average of wages that you earned during the years testified to? A. I have according to my memory. I did not have anything to figure from, I haven't the books in my possession, from year to year as I worked, I balance my wages up and drew an average for the year, and I did not testify to it positively but in the neighborhood of $14; that is, may be something over or something less. I simply answer that in view of what he said.
Q. Is there anything else you desire to say? A. Nothing that I know of now.
MR. ROGERS: That is all.
Is Mr. C. Spittenberg here?
He is not.
Is Mr. Rob.
E L L I U S R O B, called as a witness and being duly sworn, testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you work? I am employed, or I was employed prior to the strike at the factory of Danforth.
Q. What statement have you that you desire to make? A. A general statement.
Q. Is it in rebuttal? A. Yes, sir.
Q. All right.BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Are you a glove cutter? A. Yes sir, a table cutter.
Q. How long have you been at that? A. I started at my apprentice term in the Spring of 1903 or 1904. I have some newspaper clippings here that I don't think is necessary to put into the evidence, because it was testified that the Gloversville Review is not the official organ of the Association. There are some things in there that do not bear out some points from this strike. If you wish it I will show you, or read you at least one of them.
Q. All right? A. "The blame which may attach to the manufacturers in this strike is found chiefly in their long continued failure to properly treat with the human equation. The wages of cutters are a fixed rate per dozen pairs of gloves. The earnings of the workers are therefore determined as much by his efficiency and diligence as by the adequacy of the rate. The cutter that starts his work when the factory opens and pursues it diligently until its close may make a living wage and more. While another who starts his work an hour or so late, allows himself frequent interruptions and then quits before closing up time will have difficulty in making a living wage." That is the main point that I took out of that article, that if a man works from morning until night, from the minute the shop is open until it is closed, up until six or the last minute of time, he may make a living wage. Next, I will go into the testimony of Mr. Aaron, the superintendent of the Louis Meyers factory. Mr. Aaron stated that he did not ever tell the taxers to tax these skins any more than there is in them. I believe we will try to produce witnesses here this afternoon that will show that when he got out all of the gloves there was in a skin, taxed, Mr. Aaron told him he should put on the scales two to three pairs more than that called for. I believe that statement was made here last Friday and the witness gave his name and I believe the committee will try to get him on the stand this afternoon. He also stated that the fining system in the Meyers shop was not as true as it was pictured. Mr. Aaron brought a record for the past twenty months. They have been collecting fines for as far back as 1908. Mr. Nathan James, who is a relative of mine, testified that he gave $4.40. Mr. Aaron contradicted his testimony, because he only brought a statement for twenty months, and that was in 1908. He also paid damages in 1909 when he worked with my other brother-in-law as an apprentice. That is not on record. The foreman of Meyers factory at times has taken fines out and made a practice of taking it out of the pay envelopes after a man has affixed his signature to the books. They used to tear open the envelope and take out the amount that was supposed to be deducted from his wages.
Q. Leaving his receipt for the entire amount? A. Leaving his receipt for the entire amount.
Q. So the tax does not show on the books? A. No, sir, in my mind it did not. I have here evidence as far back as 1909 that I collected last Sunday, in 1910. There are various amounts from $3.50 to 35 cents, 60 and 75 cents too. Only a short while before the strike in June, 1914, out of a man who has a wife and seven or eight children, to support, there was taken out a $1.60. His name, if you wish me to, I will mention it.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Can you have that man come here to testify to that? A. Yes.
Q. Why not have him do that then, and not do it this way? A. I don't think the man is conversant with the English language and he is also afraid of his job.
Q. Yes, but you are not in a position to testify to that? A. I am not in a position to be able to testify as to that, but there is a short space of time to bring up sworn statements to that effect.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Are you a member of the strike committee. A. I am not. I am one of the strikers, but I take an active part in the strike because I think it is my bread and butter of the future.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Your testimony won't have much weight unless somebody else bears that out? A. I am bringing up the instances and if you wish to take it all right.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. I think we will have to rule that the evidence you have brought out on the matter of fines and penalties is heresay evidence on your part, and not admissible. A. You can do as you please. It is immaterial to me.
MR. McMANUS: You have taken an oath.
THE WITNESS: Yes, I have.
MR. McMANUS: then don't do this, because you are under oath.
THE WITNESS: I will take the man's word for it. If he is willing to make an affidavit to that effect I should think you would take it.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. We have the testimony to that effect? A. Just as you please.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. You must remember that you have sworn to tell just what you know and no more? A. Yes. Mr. Aaron, somebody put a question to him as to who in his opinion was skilled workers and his answer is English, Germans, Italians and Frenchmen. About 80 percent of his employees are Hebrews and come from Russia. They do almost all of the work. Mr. Aaron has also testified that a man that cuts gloves is not as efficient as the man who does any other work. The only thing I have to add as to that is that he said all we have to do is to mark the skins and punch them out. I wish to state that when I was employed in Meyers factory, in the year of 1913, the first and second and third lots I handed him approximated about 14 pairs, short, which leather was pulled back. That means if I got an 8½ glove and it was supposed to be 9½ inches in a glove and only 9¼ I was given to understand that if I did not think there was 9½ inches in that glove I will get through. There are a number of Mr. Aaron's statements in his testimony that I am speaking about. It takes efficiency in these matters, no matter whether you are cutting mocho, cape, suede or anything else. It is not a fact that all a man has to do is to cut out skins and punch them out and they go through that way.
Another thing Mr. Aaron stated that he employs inspectors in their factories and the man who pulls back tranks, they are known as inspectors, and that, also should be considered and also, I think after they went through three or four hands the cutter should not be held responsible for any damages that happen to the glove. If a glove is pulled back and found sufficient leather there, the cutters' responsibility should end there. Mr. Aaron also testified, I don't know if we will be able to place that in evidence, that he doesn't know the price of gloves in his factory. A man goes to Europe and buys skins and knows the price of a European pair of gloves should certainly be able to find out what a pair of gloves costs in his own factory.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Well, still you are not going to testify that he does know? A. No, sir, but I am only putting that up to you. I have not taken down all the testimony that was given by all of the manufacturers here, but there was some of them that I was able to take down and I put them down here and I am going to refer to them.
Q. Of course, we know you have some interest in it. A. Yes, sir.
Q. All right. A. Mr. Joseph Moses, from the Bachner, Moses, Lewis concern as far as I remember, I worked my apprenticeship terms in there also, and I worked there a couple of years before I got fired from that factory, he never has been actively connected with the cutting department, and always has been charged with the making department. Mr. Bachner always had charge of the cutting department, hiring and firing. Mr. Moses also made a statement that he offered evidence to the effect that Mr. Spares, - I will let him state it. I guess he may put that in. There is conclusive evidence that the shop has been opened from six A.M. to 7 P.M. 12 years a day, and that is against the State Labor Law.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. You are volunteering that statement? A. Yes.
Q. That is not however the facts? A. It isn't?
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. How do you know that is conclusive, did you work there? A. No, sir, not from 1912 to 1914.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Do you know it is a violation of the labor law? A. All I know is that I have read the labor law and it says ten hours a day.
Q. Well, that is not the fact? A. I did not go to college and I haven't had much schooling.
Q. There is nothing in the Labor Law that prevents them from working twenty hours a day if they agree it, if they care to? A. I came here since I was 14; I am 24 now and I been cutting gloves for 10 years now and I have had no great amount of schooling in this country. As far as the other cutters are concerned I do not believe I am in a position to make my oath on that.
Q. What are your own wages, Mr. Rob? A. Now, I have no knowledge what my own wages would be. I am considered in the factory where I work a pretty fast man on that class of work that goes through there. My average wage may be around $15. I don't work ten hours a day.
Q. About how many hours do you work? A. About 8, 8½, 9, sometimes 10.
Q. How many cutters are employed in that factory? A. Between 30 and 40.
Q. How long have you worked there? A. 13 months.
Q. Up to August? A. Up to the strike.
Q. Is there any other statement that you wish to make? A. Well I have got a lot of statements to make but I don't think they can go in the evidence. I want to make one statement though, that if all the glove manufacturers in the city of Gloversville and Johnstown would treat their employees as the employees of the J.H. Danforth Co. Are they would not have any strike.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. You are satisfied with your condition? A. I was. I was treated as a man. I was give full confidence in the work, when I got a batch of skins.
Q. And you were not overtaxed? A. No, sir, never.
MR. ROGERS: That is all.
B E R T A B B O T T, recalled as a witness, testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Have you some statements you wish to make in contradiction of evidence already adduced? A. I have. Gentlemen, I would like to say this, that in my rebuttal I will touch first, as it were, the part of the Conference Committee, their few points and then some of my own personal view points. We have no lawyers to aid us but we are willing to sum up our own case and present it in a very fair manner to you.
With regard to Dempster & Place rebuttal I will say that Mr. Abraham Lehr testified that he had no orders to speak of. He admits at the same time that their salesmen are not on the road to get orders. That plea of future orders does not really affect us. We are asking for an increase on the few gloves that will be cut and not on the many that we will never be able to cut.
The first witness for the manufacturers, the statements of the first witness for the manufacturers were very weak. He first blames the tariff as being responsible for the low price on gloves. Then he admits that competition among the Fulton County manufacturers is the cause. The Conference Committee was shown a letter from a Fulton County manufacturer before the strike was declared in which they stated that a large order would have to be cancelled if he did not come to the Dempster & Place prices. Since then, that Fulton County manufacturer referred to has granted the increase and his men are working with a great degree of satisfaction.
The first witness for the manufacturers said that the manufacturers' association existed chiefly to take united action in tariff matters. The cutters believe they combine primarily to crush unionism in the glove industry. It is true that ten years ago the manufacturers starved the workers into submitting a non-union shop conditions. Since then we have been imposed upon to an extent never known in the period when 95 percent of the cutters were organized. Men have been rebuked for preaching unionism in the workshops, and since the strike began this conference committee has been told by local mediators that it is not so much a question of an increase in wages with the manufacturers as it is their opposition to anything that looks like unionism on the part of the workers, the glove workers. Unionism in this glove center has to receive a black eye, said a local mediator to the conference committee who had conferences with manufacturers and others and the committee were asked if we would pledge ourselves not to take part in anything that had for its object complete unionism of the glove workers.
The manufacturers can rest assured that they will never crush the spirit of unionism. If they are fair they can not withhold the privilege of organization from us while they continue to have their union. Of course, they call their union an association, because it sounds better.
Referring to the attitude of the manufacturers to men who are known to take an active part in anything that pertains to the cause of better wages for the workers, Mr. Stitt, who testified here yesterday for the Adler Company, within two or three hours after he had left our first conference, on this labor trouble, went into his factory and told a man whose name I have now, that Ehrlich is a treacherous man. That is the Chairman of the Conference Committee. Gentlemen, 1400 cutters in this county say that Ehrlich is true blue and we revolt against any statements as that.
Gentlemen, manager Emmons, the General Manager of the General Electric Co. In Schenectady says he prefers to deal with organized labor because it brings better results. When some of our local manufacturers get broad minded, may be we will have justice in Fulton County. The taxation system was unknown in the Dempster & Place shop a few years ago, but the heads of the firm at the time became very rich men. It was begun, said the first witness, because the men did not get enough out of the skins. I tell you that the cutters have to get all that there is in the skins or get through, or we must get out on the street. Cutters cutting gloves over proved their honesty to the manufacturers and also that no expert taxer can actually say what is in any batch of skins. Yet honest men are admonished for shortage and never are given any credit when cutting over. Men leave the shops in the Summer whenever they can because they get sick of the system they have to contend with during the winter months. The economic pressure forces the cutter to remain in the shop fifty hours a week.
The first witness asked if the old man here who testified here, and who was 73 years of age, told that he suffered with rheumatism and could not work real hard. The conference committee say that it is a crime on civilization that a man of that age should have to work in a factory, and we think this country should do as other countries have done, grant old age pensions and let old people have some rest before they shuffle off this mortal soil.
When the workers say that they were told that the time for an increase was not opportune, they were not talking unfair about the bosses but only telling the truth.
In rebutting the testimony of Mr. Aaron's of the Meyers glove concern, regarding his being fair to the cutters, I wish to say, and now I am talking personally, from my personal point of view, I wish to say that my experience in that shop covered nearly seven years and the injustices that came under my personal observation in the last year or so in that period, especially in that period, were very many.
I will admit that I was never fined for anything personally, but I can prove that they fined an Englishman a great friend of mine, a conscientious cutter for so-called damages while he was home sick in 1910.
Mr. Aaron admits that he is not a table cutter, yet I bring men here to prove if necessary that after his most expert taxer had taxed two dozen skins for sixty pairs, he, unskilled, as he is in our trade, he has erased the figures "sixty pairs" and marked it "63 pairs." The result was that a cutter with eight years experience in that shop was worried to the extreme and after two days of it went into the taxer and said, he had done his best and could only get sixty pairs.
He was then told that was all the taxer could see in the skins, but Mr. Aaron was the man who had played him the dirty trick by raising it three pairs higher than the real estimate.
Gentlemen, if you think that is fair play, I don't. The last nine weeks I worked at Meyers Make firm, records will show that I cut 31 lots, and if Mr. Aaron were present at this moment so that I could ask him whether he considered I was a fair or conscientious workman or not, I would. I have worked in four shops and I know what they have told me. They have told me many times that I did my work well, and that is the best I know.
I cut that last week, that last nine weeks in Meyers Shop 31 lots, and on four lots I gained a pair of gloves, and on 16 lots I managed to break even and on 11 lots I was 30 pair short, ranging from 1, 2, and 3 and 6 pairs and under on three special lots.
During that last nine weeks I was told I would have to cut blue line work, which is a very particular process and which the schedule rates as $1.00 a dozen, and they told me I would have to cut it for 95 cents and if I didn't wish to do it, I had the privilege of looking for work elsewhere.
Well, that struck me as being such unfair treatment that I rebelled and the cutters stuck by me and rather than force the issue at that time the firm allowed the work to go on at the former price. We won that day, and I never forgot that. But the intent to reduce our price per dozen was too clearly shown and I soon left Meyers shop and I will never go there again, until I am convinced that conditions are vastly improved.
This was all done under the high tariff, and my average wage for the last nine weeks was exactly $14.36 with no holidays to reduce my average, gentlemen.
Mr. Aaron admits that the fines this year were heavier than as against last year. Whether it is a large or small sum, that principal of fining is unjust.
Mr. Abraham Lehr, testifies that the present tariff makes the manufacturer of ladies gloves practically nil. Then Mr. Aaron comes along and says in a large factory such as Meyers that 40 to 50 percent of their business is ladies gloves. All this talk about the cutters getting more gloves from their skins in Europe is absurd. Hundreds of cutters in Fulton county have operated on both sides of the Atlantic, and they know that the European manufacturer says that he has to tax tight to compete with the American manufacturer. And the American manufacturer states he has to tax tight to compete with the European manufacturer. So you see it is the same old story on both sides of the Atlantic, and I have worked on both sides of the Ocean and I know.
We also know that in free trade England and protective France and other countries the glove cutters have received an increase in their wages, while we have been told always that the time is inopportune for an increase.
The first two witnesses said that the trade could not stand for the cutters demand. If they don't know the profits of their respective firms, gentlemen, how are they competent to judge whether the industry can be adjusted to meet the cutters demands or not.
I wish to testify that it is pretty well aired by the day help of the firm of Meyers that the firm makes from $3000,000 and upwards each year, profit. If that is near the truth, the cutters think they are entitled to a raise.
It is a significant fact in this inquiry that those manufacturers who know nothing of our draft speak very lightly of the skill required and the mental and physical strain required to cut gloves. Those men ought to be made to work on the table a few years and they would learn something.
The managers who know the craft by real experience and hard work, like Mr. Saunders, of Littauers, a man who knows the craft by real experience and hard know they are very frank to say that it is highly skilled work. Saunders admits that the average many only makes 42.70 a day, and that is 414.85 a week. You will remember that he did say $2.60 and then he said, to be just a little bit fairer, put it a little higher, $2.70 a day, as I say $14.85 for five and a half days, which is all any man should be expected to work. This proves conclusively the contention of the cutters that it is far below other skilled trades in wages, while we worked longer hours.
Gentlemen, letters from Grenoble say that factories there are used for barracks and for military purposes and English firms I know positively are on half time. I say that in refutation of Mr. Potter and some of the others who testified as to what is happening in Europe and other countries.
As one of the Conference Committee I would like to bring out certain facts that seem to be brought out in this inquiry. It simply proves that there is a very hard taxation system here, that the fining system is in effect, that in 17 years the manufacturers have increased us in the aggregate 8½ cents a dozen and taken off 10 cents a dozen on certain styles. They have also attempted in certain large shops to reduce us still more and all of this under a high tariff. A tariff that was above a competitive tariff also. I say that we have a very low wage, average wage, as it has been shown for highly skilled workers, who work from 8½ to 10 hours a day. In fact, we have less wages per year than ordinary street cleaners in the up to date cities, who only work eight hours a day.
The low wages have caused the death of little children here, as you have heard testified to, through lack of necessary nutrient and they have starved conditions of many other innocents. The low wages have caused men to offer themselves as chattel slaves, because they would be better off as chattel slaves than they are now, as industrial slaves or wage workers.
The low wages of cutters have made it necessary in 80 percent of their homes that their wives and children shall work on gloves to help pay the living expenses. We claim that it is a fact that the landlords have refused to rent houses in Gloversville to men with three to nine children, and the fathers have been forced into a position of having to buy house or rather to enter into a contract to buy that which under present conditions, they can never expect to pay for. Instead of the cutters owning houses as the manufacturers would have you believe it is the opposite, the houses own the cutters, and prove a millstone around their necks for the rest of their natural lives.
The conference committee has been twitted as strike leaders. They would have you believe that we are responsible for the discontent of the workers, responsible for causing misery to enter many homes. This is wrong. We rebel against this. We did not make the rotten economic conditions we have here in this county. We have only interpreted them for those in our ranks who needed us to speak their protest. We are acting for those who commanded us to speak their protest. As to fostering misery in our homes we wanted it known that misery has long existed there and out strike is for a living wage that will eliminate a great deal of the existing misery and drive it further from our homes.
Our duty to our home, to our families and to ourselves compels us with all its forces and vigorness to attest against the miserableness that exist in the homes of the county of the glove industry.
This strike was not brought about by flowery speeches on the part of any striker, because we are not able to make them. But, by that which is far greater in its influences on working men, namely, economic pressure and cold facts, which if not removed by the aid of arbitration will we fear, cause reason to banish and violence take its place for they have never forgotten the previous strike, the cutters here in Fulton County remember all.
Just think of it, gentlemen, in a city flooded with food, fuel, clothing, shelter and luxury, we have half starved children, overworked mothers, property worried fathers, crowded, cold and cheerless homes. If that is the action of certain individuals who cut prices that cause these miserable conditions, then we say, they are accessories to the crime of starving little children and the renewal of chattel slavery.
If these appalling conditions are due to competition and private ownership of industries, then the business system of today stands condemned and the quicker the state owns and controls the glove industry, the better for the community, for no industry has a right to exist that can not pay its employees a living wage.
We, the glove cutters will never seem to combat as best we can the unjust conditions that now confront us and which are yearly growing worse.
We will always fight against them, as long as our hearts beat and our brains continue to beat. We have our ideals of life and we will never rest content until we have what we are entitled to, an ample opportunity for our physical, mental, moral and spiritual development.
Gentlemen of this Court of Mediation and Arbitration, representing the Commonwealth of New York State, I am, as one of the workers and members of the Conference Committee, willing to leave our case with you, believing that you will always keep in mind, when considering your recommendations, the future welfare of the glove workers of Fulton county.
Gentlemen, that is all I have to say at present.
J A M E S K. E H R L I C H, recalled as a witness and testified as follows:
To the Board of Mediation and Arbitration, Gentlemen: In listening to the testimony of some of the manufacturers, it would seem to me that they do not know, or that they do not seem to know that there was a request made for an increase in wages in 1912, and for that reason I wish to place in evidence a list of communications with the then, - well it was a mass meeting, and Mr. Littauer represented the glove manufacturers' association and if you will permit me, I will read the request for a meeting or the increase and the answers to it, if that is permissible.
MR. ROGERS: That can be admitted.
THE WITNESS: This reads, WHEREAS, for the past ten years, - this is a copy of a letter that was sent evidently to Mr. Littauer from the employees, - WHEREAS for the past ten years there has been no material increase in the price for glove cutting while much greater demands have constantly been placed upon us in the manner of work, and during all of this time the cost of living has steadily increased, the fact of which is well known to all, - and whereas the manufacturers themselves realize this and promised us more than a year ago, - evidently we must have been asking for a raise before that, - and whereas we were promised that as soon as conditions in the trade would permit, they would consider our application for an increase in wages, and whereas, believing at this time that the conditions of the trade have improved and that the conditions in the glove industry were never better than they are now, and further that the manufacturers have an almost certain assurance of an increase in tariff protection, therefore be it resolved that the glove cutters of Fulton County, that these conditions be laid before the Glove Manufacturers' Association and urgently request that they grant us a substantial increase in our wages in proportion to the increased cost of living.
MR. ROGERS: Is that all, Mr. Ehrlich?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir. And here is the reply from Mr. Littauer, dated, Gloversville, July 19th, 1914 and addressed to our Secretary at Gloversville and it says, - Your letter of July 19th received just as I am leaving. When I return, which will probably be next week, I will advise you when I can meet you. Yours truly, (Sign) Lucius N. Littauer.
His next one was ten days after, July 19th, 1912 to the same man Otto Harbrook, - Dear Sir - Having just returned will be pleased to see you at your convenience in reference to your letter of July 19th. L.N. Littauer.
August first is the next one. It is just two days afterwards. Dear Sir: I beg to advise that the communication left with me by the committee have been presented to the Manufacturers' Association.
August 8th, seven days afterwards, Addressed to the Secretary. Dear Sir: I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 7th. I have not seen the article referred to in the newspaper, - and I don't know what it refers to there gentlemen, - the announcement covering the regular action of the Glove Manufacturers' Association, and the annual revision of labor schedules. As to your further question, the Manufacturers' Association authorize me to inform you that the communications left with me have been submitted to them.
So they evidently got the request for an increase. This is August 24th, 1912. They are all the same year. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your communication of August 22nd forwarded to me, which will have careful consideration.
Then, from that time on there was evidently a lull, nothing doing until December 30th, 1912, and then we received our usual answer to a request for an increase in wages. In the meantime they had evidently elected another secretary. This is to Ralph Viscossi. Dear Sir. Your letter of December 27th is received. There will be no change made in the rate for glove cutting until the future conditions of the trade become more settled. That is in substance, gentlemen, the answer they usually made.
Q. Who is that signed by? A. L.N. Littauer. All of them are signed by Lucius N. Littauer or L.N. and that has been, it seems, for the past 17 years, or at least the last ten years, I should say, the usual answer to our request for an increase in wages. The lawyers introduced the other day some newspaper items and it would seem that some of the manufacturers take a newspaper for some authority. We don't take a newspaper for anything, but in order to even that up a little bit on the prices of those gloves, here is an add of Bloomingdales, a New York firm, I don't know where it is, this is 60th Street, but it contains a mention of women's kid gloves. It says, our exceptional facilities enable us to offer these gloves imported from France and Germany at Before War prices. Imported houses have advanced the price 50 to 75%. Now, you can take it for just what it is worth. They placed the newspaper items in, the manufacturers and we have one too here. Now that is all.
Now, it says here in the other ad, well it goes on and says, Gloves at 65 cents, German made gloves, which usually sell for a dollar a pair. Then, real French Grenoble kid gloves that retail at $1.50 at reduced prices. Now here is another one, evidently from a local firm, mens and womens' gloves, 59 cents, regular price 89 cents and 1.15. 2200 pairs of mens and womens kid gloves, known to the traded as mended, that is a glove which has a slight defect in the stitches, which has been skillfully mended, and it says here and which will give as good service as strictly stitched gloves, which is true in all respects and they too are at reduced prices. For a year, a full year, practically, I did some of that work in the sewing department, that is, I was cutting the forchettes and thumbs off, and doing the mending on some of those gloves that in the making there had been an accident, for which no one is really responsible. That is, I mean responsible for the accident. But what I meant to bring out, was this, it seems to me that if a trade or a house like I believe Bloomingdales is, I don't remember ever seeing it, although I was born in New York City, but I came here as a child, but it seems to me that if they are making a special effort to advertise a glove that has been mended and making a feature of it in an ad, why is it that they can not get good gloves.
I heard one of the witnesses for the Manufacturers' Association, that the salesmen were not out on the road. There was not any business. Well, the thought at that time came to me, well, how does he know. May be he does know. I don't know his business, all of it, anyway. But it struck me as strange, that in making that remark that there might be something in the fact that instead of the manufacturer and the table cutter not being able to agree on the price for gloves, that perhaps the manufacturers can't agree on what he is going to sell them for, and for that reason perhaps he is not sending many salesmen out.
My Employer, for whom I have the greatest respect, and by the way I have the greatest respect for every individual manufacturer, but not as a collection, he said that one of his cutters has refused 30 cents an hour, and I took it probably that he meant me, because at the first of the year I did not continue but it was not for the glove cutting that I refused it. I refused it on what is known as spare work, and in spare time, cutting gloves, which the books will show how much gloves I got and the amount of repairs that I did, evidently. I don't wish to make this statement public property, why I did not touch the rest, but it is very evident that Mr. Lehr does ont know the reason, but sometimes after this trouble comes to an end, I want a private interview with him, because somebody lied. As for that, - and he also says in this testimony that I said in his shop that rag mochos were cut by the dozen. I don't remember any such testimony. When I went on the stand I was asked as the chairman of the Conference Committee, the reasons for the strike, and I spoke of the reasons in general, in factories which has since been more or less substantiated by evidence through witnesses. But when I did get to the part as to why I was out on a strike, that is perhaps on the automobile gauntlets, but that is a mere case to go into details about it, but here is the facts. I cut some, and I took that and I divided that by a dollar and a half and they came down to a $1.45 and all that was left for that, - all that I do then for the 5 cents on the dollar and a half, was to cut that amount of binding, so I took it that binding was 5 cents for between 6 and 95 inches. Now, that is only an incident of this strike. But an individual case, the manufacturer can not take up every little individual struggle, but in the united effort it has seemed to me that what this city has needed or what this industry of the county has needed has been just such a reliable and frank method of getting before the mass of people, getting the actual conditions before the mass of people who have worked every day year in and year out for the past ten years, in our trade, taking all of these little fining systems, and these troubles and hardships and misery, here and there, was, not what you might say spurious, or in other words sporadic and individualistic and then too, we have thought of the charitable institutions and all of those things, and it would seem that some people think that all that was necessary was blandishment for the conditions, sympathy with hardships and charity for the misery.
Now, we have through a number of witnesses brought before this body of men, the conditions as the individual cutter has found it in his factory and we have collected it as a mass. Some were worse and some were better, but our contention is this, that wherever there is a good shop let us keep the good shop and when there is two bad shops let us boost the shops up to where the good shops is before the good shops come down to the poor ones.
There is one of the superintendents of one of the largest factories here, and I won't dwell on it longer than to speak to him, and he, speaking about the taxing business, he said that he was no glove cutter and that he left all of that to his foreman. There was also one thing that came to my mind as he said it, and he said this in answer to the question of how many hours is your factory open or do they work overtime, some question as to that, and he said during certain months, I don't recall just the months, his factory was open from six A.M. to six P.M., or sundown, eleven hours a day, and he added by way of contempt, in order to get them to work ten hours a day.
Now, when he said that, with his previous remarks, isn't it reasonable to suppose that if the foreman would open up his factory as he says eleven hours a day during certain months, no help would work ten hours, isn't it reasonable to suppose that he would also issue orders to his sorters or taxers or whoever does that, whoever does that business in his factory, to overtax a little bit so as to keep the cutter in doubt as to what they really wanted in the work out of the skins. Isn't it reasonable to suppose that?
And I have heard another manufacturer on the stand say in regard to the Fernandez case. He said that Fernandez had started his cutters at the full demand of the cutters, of a quarter and twenty cents and as soon as his orders were finished, why he could not pay it any longer, so he let them go. Did he let them go or did the cutters go out. Now I am in a position to know, as chairman of the conference committee the actual reasons why the cutters went out. They were told to go out. We went down there and soon Mr. Fernandez and told him the conditions under which, or I as one of the conference committee thought that his cutters could work, and we reached with them the agreement which is in possession of the state mediators, and he agreed to it before and perhaps 12 or 14 of his own cutters that he would do it. One of those things in there was that he promised that he would pay this increase for a year or until a final settlement of this strike, and he said, I will do that. We told the strikers to go on and work and then in a week or so he telephoned to me, three days before his cutters knew it and a week before the public knew it, that he wanted to see me. I go down there and he says to me, I am in a funny position. He says I can not pay these cutters this money any longer. I says, why. He says we have been advised to cooperate with the manufacturers, and the firm I sell gloves to will not pay the advance. Well, I said that is a very funny situation. I wanted to know what there was to it. Why then he showed me a telegram, gentlemen, I don't know what bearing it has on this particular situation, but this is an exact copy of the telegram. I believe through a certain process of law that if we should desire it, the telegraph company could show it. I don't know whether they can go offhand and demand it. I don't know anything about law, that is, in the technicalities. I know law is very peculiar as a whole thing, but here's an exact copy of the telegram received by John Fernandez, September the 28th, Chicago, September 28th, 1914. An exact copy. There was no punctuation marks or anything to it. Gloversville, N.Y. We advise your cooperation with manufacturers. Temporary benefit not advisable, - at cost of losing the manufacturers' respect - we will not pay the advance and it is signed by Marshall Field & Co. At 1030 A.M.
He then asked me what would you do, Mr. Ehrlich. I says, well, Mr. Fernandez, I don't know anything about your business, what you can sell your gloves for or who you sell the gloves to, and he says, I will say nothing to my cutters until I get a letter from Marshall Field. Three or four days afterwards on Thursday, I think it was, some of his cutters had finished up their work and he told them and they said they would not cut gloves at the old price, and so they go back out again. But in the mean time on the Friday, the Fownes proposition of 15 cent flat increase had been accepted, as a compromise basis for this conference committee, as it would be a compromise on our original offer or demand, rather, and by that time we had heard of it and he told the rest of his cutters that he would like to have them come in and work for the fifteen cent flat and then we said, how do we know you can pay it. Well, he said he had sent a clipping out of the papers, about the Fownes proposition and that he expected to hear from Marshall Field. Well, I don't know whether he has or not, but he offered his men that 15 cent flat . They come to us and we told them to suit themselves, but they asked the advice of the Conference Committee and I as its chairman and the mass of the men seemed to repose a little more confidence in me than they may be entitled to, but we thought it over and we came to this conclusion and told them, not as members of the conference committee but as individuals, that if I worked there I would not go there to be in perhaps a day or two told that Marshall Field would not pay it and then be out. In again and out again, in again and out again. In other words that he was trying to play a game of in again and out again, so these cutters are out now.
So, also I have heard on the stand, very interesting testimony in regard to the tariff, but what it has to do with me in the glove cutters strike, I have failed as yet to see. I have heard from time to time different witnesses on the stand speak of the tariff, that we had to have it in order to be able to compete with European competition. They have had all kinds of tariff since I was a boy. I worked at it 24 years. In 1897 was the first interest I took in the tariff, as I have already testified and in that time, I have worked under high tariff, medium tariff, low tariff and at present as they say, under practically an almost prohibitory tariff, and in that same time I am still getting the same amount of money. So you see, the tariff proposition does not interest us very much. I can not where the tariff interests me, only to the extent that I may have been given more work. Well, it is a peculiar situation, when you come to think of it. If we had been given more work to do, certainly the manufacturers have been placed in a position to give me more work, and for that reason I don't see how it is that I have not been given a piece of the high protective tariff on gloves. We won't go into that at very great length. It is very apparent on the face of it that it is not of interest to us. That is a matter of evidence and perhaps has no particular bearing upon this case.
But, this morning, there is a phase which has come into this evidence which to my mind a great many people have overlooked. I believe it was Mr. Ireland, for whom I also have the greatest respect, and also for all of the Johnstown manufacturers in general, the conference committee has the greatest respect. He says that previous to 1904 and 1903, in November or about November, the committee from the cutters and the manufacturers met and went over the wage scales. From 1897 to 1904 or 1903, rather, there seemed to be a very harmonious feeling between employer and employee brought about by the fact that that agreement between employee and manufacturer had been a bridge upon which they both walked. It was manner present our grievances and have it gone over, and in 1903, I think it was, the 19th of December, there was a strike. It was a close shop strike. As to merits of that we leave it to the public. From that time, 1904 until 1914, covering a period of almost ten years, the industry instead of having progressed to my mind, and instead of having good feeling between manufacturer and employee, the gap seems to have been widening, until today in this city through the fact that there was no trade agreement between employer and employee, we have got a condition in this city today where we are practically, practically all of the manufacturers are paying 95 cents per dozen each. Around that dozen, in the extras and accessories if you will pardon my stuttering, there is a difference where the actual fact is we get but 90, 95 and a dollar. In the extras, the different shop conditions, the different things that they impose upon the people, and through the lack of mutual agreement between representatives of labor and of the employer, we have got to a condition as may be known today that the man, the workman has been forced into what you might call an industrial scrap, by that I mean he has been placed in a position where he can not look forward for an increase in wages or any advancement. And that fact, as well as the fact, not particularly in our industry of long hours, but is acts on the same plan as long hours. I would say, in undermining a man's productiveness, or his productive power, and every sane man and manufacturer knows when a mans productive power diminishes one of the main factors in the glove industry is gone.
There are some employers in this industry who recognize that the only cheap labor in the market is the well fed and the well nourished, and the men who tries to do a business on the long hour plan, and a short pay plan, proves a failure, and there is no way of getting around it. There are dozens of industries perhaps that have started that and soon found it out, because, if a man is compelled to work long hours for short pay he is fatigued, he is tired and by the word tired I mean he gets tired to the extent that a nights rest will not revive him and enable him to be on the job the next morning and put in full thought and work into his work.
There was one employer, or some of them rather, that are not in what I might term, the highest civilized glass. They seem to be a semi-barbaric, in other words, one of them says, I run my own business. Good. There is another man who says work hard and earn more. Also good. And the other man that I heard said he wrote off a list of some names, of men in his factory, and he mentioned 12 or 13 weeks and his pay. It was not big for expert work, just ordinary, but then he says he was taking a risk. Well, may be he was. What was the cause of it? Perhaps overwork, speeded up to high. He was working on his nerve and he says they could not pay more. And then he took and figured out his wages, and he figured out his wages as s sick man and I believe there was something of that kind in the testimony, now, we have put that man in the class of men that humanity has nothing to do with business, where, in fact, every man realizes that humanity is the foundation of sound business, and by humanity I don't mean sympathy. I mean something far greater; a greater thing than that; and that is recognition of the fact that a man regardless of creed or race have thought and hoped for greater things in which the manufacturer believes as well as the worker.
I have not wasted any time in trying to reduce the manufacturers figures in trying to reduce the cutters figures which has been stated here. I don't know. I know, all that I absolutely know, is my own, and I believe that that thing will be righted and settled when the Board goes over the books or the records of the pay. We have the names of the witnesses who have testified here and what the figures here. I do not think that there needs to be any particular stress laid upon that point, because the books themselves will show. The men for the most part, to my mind, so far as I know, have been in a position to show their own books or pay envelopes regarding the periods that they were speaking of and I think that they struck a fairly good average of their own, a few cents one way or the other won't have any particular bearing on this case. Now, whatever the outcome of this, gentlemen, both manufacturers and cutters, I hope that whatever the outcome, we are looking and hoping to win. So is the manufacturer naturally. We are on the fence here, but let us remember gentlemen, that when the leather man comes to you and says skins have gone up a couple of cents or a couple of dollars or the silk man and the button man, remember that also before you can use that leather, silk and buttons, that there is another man who has something to sell and that man is the man that usually puts something into the actual article that you can sell, and that is the man who has only got his labor to sell. Don't forget him in averaging up the cost of the thing. The idea seems to have gotten around here that the workmen is not to be considered, that is, that he is of not very much consequence or other words, in the cost of getting up an article, and it makes no difference of how anything else around that article goes up. And these manufacturers have known that for 17 years, that for some reason or other, - now I won't attack them I don't want to, but it seems to me that they could have in 17 years to the high tariff, medium tariff and a low tariff, and now a prohibitory one, it seems to me that they could have seen some way clear to give the men an advance, at lest to meet half way the increased cost of living which every manufacturer, superintendent, outside of one and he didn't know it until he was jacked up, whether it had gone up or not, - he knows now - they all admit that it has gone up, and if they would only do that, that would make for harmony in the factory.
I also agree with the manufacturers that their system is lax. I worked in a position where I could find out, and where I worked I had my eyes open and I have seen things. It is not public property. I could tell my employer if I could call him my employer after the strike, I don't know whether he will be or not, but that does not make any difference. I am out as the head of this movement to put our side up for the strikers, but in finishing up our side from the testimony that I have heard I would like to say as chairman of the conference committee, and having been called almost anything but a gentleman, I will say that the men will stick to our decision I think until the last stitch. They have not struck in ten years. The last strike was six months and I think that the men, man for man, are in the same position, but I hope that it won't go to that stage. Not only for ourselves, but for the city at large. I am, as well as a striker, a resident of this city, who has apparently more interest in the city than some of the manufacturers who have testified here on this stand.
There is one that spoke of foreign conditions here this morning and he had received a letter from a French firm stating that men over 45 years were working in his place and if he did not place an order with them, they would have to let them go and then out of sympathy, I take it, he didn't say that, - when his own men in America are walking around trying to get a little more money.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. You heard the testimony of the employer t hat testified before this Board, have you not? A. Practically all of it, Mr. Downey.
Q. In the testimony of the manufacturer, who complained about the way the cutters worked; that they would come and go when they pleased; what have you got to say as to that? A. Well, Mr. Downey, I can say in regard to that, that that has been and I can say truthfully more or less, a pleasure which the cutter has enjoyed, but economic conditions have brought him down to a state where it has not been resorted to, the shorter hours, as it used to be resorted to ten years ago. You ask any man, when the manufacturers, when they paid by the month, there was some testified that they took opportunity of the time, formerly there was scarcely a week in the month to what the factory was closed, and we were having picnics and the manufacturers were with us. He was more democratic in those days than he is today. But through economic conditions we have been gradually forced, you might say, to work longer hours until now, that I believe if there was any way of taking it out, that the average out of the 1800, or 1500 men that are out on strike, I believe that the average hour per week would exceed nine hours per day. That is, you take it year in and year out, because there are some shops, regardless of what one man said, that only 10 or 12 availed themselves of the extra hour, and one of the firms here said that. We know that there is more than that but what are you going to do to prove it. We can not get 60 or 70 men up here and say yes, I worked that extra hour. It would be nonsense. Why, it is only an incidence in this matter. And for that reason I say that it is their business in the glove shop to take care of it. There has not been up until now any method gotten up by a manufacturer where they can see any way to compel a cutter work 10 hours, 9 hours, 8 hours or 7 hours a day. The only time they can do that is when they place a limit on his weekly allowance, say nine dozen, ten dozen or eleven dozen and then is when the man, who is a slow man will work to get out all he can. He will work like a beaver because he has got a couple of days for a rest. Of course as you know, all men are not slow and all men are not fast. We have tried here to get an honest average, with average hours and determine his average wage. I can assure you as chairman of this conference committee, who got up most of that list, and I can assure you also that there is not a citizen in Gloversville that can say that Julius Ehrlich is dishonest or ever done a dirty trick and you may go to both employer and employee. I have done my best to see that this was an honest hearing here. I want to get a reliable method of determining in this and as to the actual conditions in an industry. I have done my best to get an average here and I have tried through these witnesses to get actual conditions. I know as well as Mr. Meyer that he had a man on all of this situation and he came up here and I thought he was going to have a list about that long, of thousand dollar men or thirty dollar a week men and I have heard that on the street. When he got one that average for the year $25, pinned down to that, he aid that man had an apprentice, and if he had earned it alone, what is $25 for a skillful man, a skillful trade, and that is what two-thirds of the manufacturers have testified to. What is $25 a week on an average of nine hours a day. We are the only industry where that is the case and where there is a demand for skilled labor. We also know that this industry does not have twelve continuous months with 5½ days a week in it.
Now they have neglected through some reason or other, oversight I will take it, I will grant that, but it is a fact that there are times in the year when you can not start to work until eight o'clock in the morning, because it is dark, and there are other months when you can not work after four o'clock because it is also dark. Naturally, all factories should have power and light in them, and light up if the case is absolutely necessary. Of course, there are times when it is not necessary, but the glove cutter, the average workmen in this county is not a bear, so that he can go into a hole and sleep when he is out of work. The average man here has got to live and not sleep during the winter months. And we figure if we can earn thirteen, fourteen or fifteen dollars a week for 40 weeks or 46 weeks, we should have a right to live the other day, just the same. My rent is going on just the same and my coal and my butcher and the grocery bill and everything else. So, I took 52 weeks in the year and I struck somewheres near a pretty good average in the way of an estimate of the earnings for myself and my books will show it, in every factory I have worked in, and I have tried to give you the information out of the figures I have shown, because for a great number of years I have saved practically every envelope and every book, and kept track of every cent that I have ever got out of a manufacturer, as to what he gave me and what I done for it. And I would like at this time to advise the cutters hereafter to do the same thing, because there may be another time in the year when you will have to go through with the same thing, but I hope that you will not. I hope in the future that the manufacturer will be as broad minded a man as a collection as he is as an individual. I trust that he will have hereafter a little get-together meeting of his own, where he won't cut his own throat. As it is he is talking about one thing in one meeting and then in another meeting going out on the road and doing differently. I do not know why it is they say one thing by themselves and then another when they get together. I have seen other manufacturers free from their organization, sat that if such and such a firm and such and such a firm will agree to a thing you have got, we will agree to it and then they won't do it, and then for that reason, perhaps, we have been driven into this scrap.
C H A R L E S J. C I T T E N B E R G, recalled as a witness, testified as follows:
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Is there any statement in regard to any testimony that has been given here, that you wish to make? A. Would that include the different manufacturers' testimony, or do you just want it from one factory where I formerly worked there. If you will give me the privilege to answer to a few of them, I will be glad to do so. Of course, I leave that to the Board.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. About yourself, is it? A. Well, from Louis Meyers & Sons I would be speaking about myself but from the manufacturers that have testified here why, I have answers to it.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. If it is a matter of argument or hearsay information, we would prefer not to receive it? A. Everything would be facts, I have nothing but plain facts.
Q. Anything you can state of your own personal knowledge we will be glad to hear, but we do not want to encumber our record with a lot of hearsay evidence? A. Practically everything that I have here will be facts, that I will state here, Gentlemen, if necessary, about my former employer, Mr. Aaron. At the close of this testimony he stated, he mentioned my name personally, that the only case that he knew of where they had given out work that he had allowed the cutters to take work home, this was my case. Unfortunately my wife has been an invalid for four or five weeks following our marriage, and I had all I could do to take care of the house and also my home work, my own work in the shop and I asked Mr. Aaron if possible that he give me my work home. At that time it was very busy in the factory and in fact when it gets busy in the factory especially in Meyers, they always call upon the cutters to try and get them some help. Men will be called down in the factory office, we men who are in the factory and they will ask us to get cutters and get them over from other factories, if we do, all right, just as long as you get them. So at that time the conditions were very booming in the factory and when I asked to take work home he was satisfied to let me take my work, but he asked me to promise him if I couldn't get him a few cutters. I promised him I would do my best to get him some cutters, one or two that I might know of. I stayed home, well, three weeks, until my wife was taken to a hospital and then I closed my house and I got back to the work, in the shop. And when I did get back in the factory I found my table had been taken and the only place available was a very dark place and I had to take that because all of the rest of the place was taken up and as you probably know, when you haven't got good light in your work, it prevents you from doing good work and really handicapped me in my work. About two years after that my wife was taken sick again and I had to practically ask for the same favor from Mr. Aaron, and he again allowed me to take my work home. I stayed home three weeks and I went back to the factory. Now, furthermore, I wish to state that the foreman of the Louis Meyers & Sons Co. factory, had been very active in trying to find out what I had been doing, and I made a statement here that my average for the year of 1914, and I didn't say anything about the year 1913, because 1913 was a very busy year and the fact that they had so much work that had to send a dozen of their men home to make room int he factory for some new help on their tables. Therefore, what I stated was the facts, and I didn't mention 1913 because of it being under the conditions. But the year of 1914 started very bad with this firm. They immediately started to discriminate against the cutters, examining the work and going back to their old tactics of charging damages. Now, Mr. Aaron, stated here on the stand that for a certain length of time, which I believe was for twenty months, that there had been a few cases where damages had been collected, that the total was for only twenty three or twenty dollars of damages. Now, gentlemen, we have the facts that we can more than double that. We have the facts of a case of one man who paid over twenty dollars damages. Of course, I could not swear as to what that really was, but we have the facts if we can only get that man on the stand, that he paid over twenty dollars damages himself. Just one cutter.
Now, gentlemen, Mr. Aaron made a statement here, that to his way of thinking that the only scientific and able cutters, that he saw amongst different nationalities was, the Italian, French, German, and I think he mentioned English. Gentlemen I wish to state that 80 percent or over 80 percent of the cutting force of Louis Meyers & Sons are Hebrews and have been for the last ten years.
I will also state this, that going back to the year of 1900, when they had the exhibition in Paris, the firm of Louis Meyers & Sons were very active then, and they were going to send an exhibit to the exhibition and they called down three or four of their best cutters in the factory and made certain numbers of styles of gloves, and of that three of four cutters, we know that two of them were Hebrews, the styles of gloves were cut and one of the Hebrew cutters was called into the salesroom or the stockroom just before the gloves were to be shipped and while they were laying there on the table, he was shown what they were and they were certainly beautiful and they went to Paris and got the gold medal. That is practically what built up the firm of Louis Meyers & Sons, that gold medal. They advertised it all over the country, and the most of the those gloves, I don't say every pair, but the most of them were cut by Hebrew cutters, and those are the facts.
Now I also wish to state about the hours of work in Meyers. Mr. Aaron made the statement here this afternoon or this noon that he figured out that twelve or fifteen men availed themselves of the opportunity to work longer hours. I can say myself that being pushed, being in debt, and being that there was so much work, that I was tempted to got there at six o'clock in the morning and work until half past six or seven in the evening in order to make more money, and my payroll for the first six months of 1913 will verify my statement that I worked like a horse for eleven and twelve hours a day and average twenty dollars a week. And there was also many times where I worked Saturday afternoons, and I know of many cutters, many cutters have taken home their forchettes, where cutters have taken home their tranks, and what I mean by tranks is when a glove is blocked out we call it a trank, when it is cut out and pulled down. They have taken them home to pull down over Sunday.
I would also answer to Mr. Lewis' testimony here, that he employs expert cutters to do his taxing. We know that they detail four or five cutters in the taxing department to tax the skins. I have seen time and time again, from my own experience had with those taxers, when they have made mistakes of six, seven and eight pairs of gloves, where in purchasing his skins, as he purchases them, if he looks at the skins he could tell you at once that they would not give such a figure. Now if that is expert taxation I don't know what it is or anything about the glove business.
Furthermore, I would state that glove cutting is very much a season occupation or a seasons trade. We are very unfortunate in this industry. For that reason we know that the manufacturer when he receives two or three or five large orders, he immediately advertises for help, for cutters, in going into the human part of this, we will have to consider that the majority of the table cutters are married and have families. Now, if some manufacturer comes to me and says, now, look here, Cittenberg, you come to work for me and I will give you good work and I will give you steady work and you can make more money than you can at any other factory and then you go into Meyers factory or any other factory, and the consequence is, I being a working man, I always looking for more money, and regardless of the time that I work in that shop, like some people, I would not consider it. Some people would sit down and ask their wife's advice or some friend and some people thinking on the impulse of the minute would think that they would better their conditions and will take the position in the new shop. But, for the manufacturer it is a matter of dollars and cents and that is principally true with the American business man, especially when they have a lot of work to do, and when they are very busy they don't hesitate to look for twenty or thirty men. They go along and they get through with their work. Then, after it is all done, the list is sent down to the office from the foreman and which he makes out, the list of cutters names that have to go and they will immediately tell them that their services are not required any longer, but in case business picks up why, you can call around and we will see if we can do anything for you.
Now, gentlemen, it is a known fact that conditions of that kind have existed in this industry and will exist. There is no remedy for it.
In answer to Mr. Moses' statement that he made in his testimony here, that cutters have come to him at the beginning of the year of 1914 and offered to cut gloves for 75 cents a dozen, practically cutting gloves for a pull down price, I can assure you that a good table cutter can not cut pull down work, and if he takes the work at a pull down price he is doing table cutting work, and his statement is I think unreasonable, and if you look for the explanation you can find it. We know and can prove by any number of witnesses that the manufacturers have proposed that to the cutters, that if they come in there and they said well we have not got any work for 95 cents but we have got work at 75 cents, cheap work, ladies gloves and if you want to stick we will give you the 75 cent work. Now, what is that cutter to do. Is he going on and starving his family by not taking it or is he going to accept that cheap work. We haven't any industry here outside of the glove industry in Fulton county. The Manufacturers and business men have been very active to stop any other business from coming into Fulton county. Now, that is all in this respect. They don't want any other industry here because the manufacturers realize that we would have other places to work.
The cloak makers in New York City, they are the ones that make up the principal part of the cloak, they work from five to six months of the year, and the operators are situated practically in regard to work about the same as we are, the cutters. They have a seasons trade. There are cases in August and July, that period, when they only make ten or twelve dollars a week, and then there comes the rush period where any operator can make twenty five or thirty dollars a week and I can verify this statement. We are differently situated here in the glove trade. It is a different trade. If a cutter is a hard worker and a fast man he can make eighteen, twenty and twenty two dollars and some weeks he can run up to twenty four dollars, but when he tries to go over that his work is not good, and the manufacturers would throw it back on him immediately, because everything is examined and everything has to be perfect, and therefore we can not get good wages, even a fast cutter, for the gloves he turns out, because in those cases they do not suit. When it is very busy here he can make a few dollars more, but the minute it becomes slack he falls down and it runs down to two dollars a day or less.
Now, in the testimony given here by Mr. Lehr, of Lehr and Nelson, he stated in contradiction to a sworn statement made here by a cutter by the name of Spinnoch, that the rate of his wages, his average was over $20 for a number of weeks. In contradiction of that I will state that this man Spinnoch was working with an apprentice and is an able body man and I will say to him that this man in normal times by himself never makes more than thirteen or fourteen dollars a week.
I thank you, gentlemen.
G E O R G E M A N S E L L, called as a witness and testified as follows:
I understand, Mr. Rogers, that some testimony has been given today regarding Hallock & Stewart's shop. It would appear that the statements were made in a way to give the impression that the raise granted to those men is not an honest raise, that the men had in the previous year or in the past, that the men would receive over and above the schedule and that for that reason this is a fictitious increase in regard to the amount. Am I correct in saying that?
MR. ROGERS: I have not had any such impression given me by any evidence here.
THE WITNESS: Oh, then, I have been misinformed.
BY MR McMAHON:
Q. The testimony was, Mr. Mansell, that insofar as they had been receiving more than the usual price, the raise, apparently the fifteen cent raise was decreased by that amount. That is, that they had been getting a dollar instead of 95 cents and a raise was to a dollar and ten, therefore it was only a raise of ten cents in their case? A. I would like to correct that impression, Mr. Rogers, because of the great talk of the business done by Hallock and Stewart, there is a general raise of 15 cents.
Q. Is that where you work? A. Yes, sir, and I have come from my bench here and that is the reason I have not been able to follow the proceedings. That is a general raise and any statement that has been made that it is not a genuine raise is absolutely false. It may be technically true in some little insignificant incident, but regarding the factory, it is absolutely false, that is, covering the entire factory. In regard to the testimony given by so many of our friends, the manufacturers themselves, I would like to say that the evidence is so contradictory, one swears to one thing and another to another that I don't know what to think of it. We have an incidence of one man who testifies that the cost of living in Europe was as high as it is here. Another comes up and swears that $10 would cover what $16 would in another place. Really that kind of testimony is not worth talking about.
But here is the situation, gentlemen, I would like to say something on. You will remember that one of the manufacturers claimed that in times what he called good times or in other words when there was plenty of work, that is what he means, in good times, that men automatically raised their own wages. That was his own testimony, that they automatically raised their own wages. Now, that is a very peculiar opinion, and a very particular point, gentlemen, for this reason that we have arrived now at the parting of the ways, we have been trying to effect an honorable settlement of this difficulty, as honorable individuals wishing to do an honest business for the people that employed us. That is the situation that we faced heretofore. We claimed that the wages per dozen would not allow us any longer to make a decent living. Therefore we put up a proposition for an increase per dozen which would allow us to make an honorable living, but as pointed out by these manufacturers, in question, a man can automatically raise his own wages, and if an honorable settlement is denied us, there is a dishonorable settlement that will be forced on us. I am not saying, this, gentlemen, in any spirit of bravado, it is not said with any idea of threatening anyone at all, it is a case of absolute necessity. These men have got to have an opportunity to earn a decent and an honest living. The conditions have been gradually getting worse they admit to you that there has been no advance in the 17 years. To say anything to the contrary would be nonsense. They also admit that the cost of living has gone up practically gone up 40 percent. We have been placed in the position, therefore, of receiving a 40%cut during that period. There is absolutely no sign anywhere of the cost of living being reduced. Therefore we are up against the proposition that as honorable individuals we must have an increased price per dozen in order that we can do what is right to the man that employs us. Now then they claim that they can not give the raise according to the schedule of prices. I wish to point out, gentlemen, that one of the most conservative houses in New York City is not only paying this price that these men ask, but they are paying over and above the price asked of 25 and 20 cents and that is one of the most conservative houses in America, this Clark & Flagg. We have here in the city of Gloversville a representative of one of the foremost houses in Europe in the world, Fownes Bros. & Co. They are not doing business for pleasure, gentlemen. They have done business for 125 years, to my knowledge, that is not personally, but I do know it, that they have done business for that length of time, because I was brought up with the house. When I was but a little toddler, I was in Fownes factory and I know their record. That house is a business house. They do business for business purposes and if they say they will give 15 cents advance they know where that 15 cents is coming from, and they are not doing that to set off some possible misfortune that may at any time happen to them on the other side of the Atlantic. Another thing, and that is this, that the firm that I am working for, they have furnished a 15 cent increase. So for them to come to you and say to you that they are not in a position to grant at the present time an increase of 15 cents is absolute poppy cock, gentlemen.
Now, to revert back to this proposition of the parting of the ways. That is where we have arrived at. It is a question of can we go on honorably or not. We have got to live and gentlemen, we are going to live. We as men ask for an honorable settlement and we do not wish to be placed in a dishonorable position to have the manufacturers force us into that position, and the very fact, gentlemen that we have to support ourselves, and to exist, which is natural, it will compel us to do these things that we do not wish to do. That is all that I have to say.
I S A A C M O S E S, recalled as a witness, testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. What is the name of your firm? A. The Elite Glove Co.
Q. Employing how many cutters? A. Around 50, on an average.
Q. About 50? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is your firm able to pay the increase asked by the cutters? A. No, sir.
Q. Has the price of your raw material risen? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And what are the tariff conditions? A. Very bad.
Q. What is the condition of local competition? A. Very strong.
Q. Does that have quite a little weight in regulating the price that you are forced to pay your cutters? A. No, sir.
Q. Does it have nay weight? A. No, sir.
Q. What regulates that price? A. The supply and demand and the cost of material.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Do I understand you that the pay that you given to the cutters is regulated by the, - A. No, sir, but that is what it is made up. It is made up in the cost of the glove. We can get a certain amount for a certain glove and we can not get any more than that. That is supply and demand.
Q. It is not competition? A. No, sir.
Q. Why, if the demand could not be supplied below a certain price don't you suppose the purchasers would pay that price? A. No, sir, they would look elsewhere to get it.
Q. I mean if the price were universal? A. There is a set price on those gloves and there has been very little raise on those gloves.
Q. That is a matter of the habit with the customers? A. Perhaps.
Q. Wouldn't it be possible to break them of that habit? A. We have failed to do it in a number of years.
Q. Have you tried it? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you a member of the Manufacturers Association? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And as such do you adhere to the prices that the Association pays for its cutters? A. Yes, sir.
Q. That is one of the objects of the Association? A. No, sir.
Q. Do you ever deviate in any way from the prices charged by members of the Association? A. If we ask for extra work on certain gloves we pay for it.
Q. That is a matter of individual choice? A. A matter of individual choice.
Q. Assuming that this increase in the price of your raw material persists and you are employing cutters and the strike is not in existence would you have to reduce their wages? A. Just give me that question again.
Q. If the raise continued in the price of the raw material, would you be forced to reduce the wages of your cutters? A. It never has been.
Q. Has it ever been as high as now, the raw material? A. Yes, I will give you an illustration.
Q. Yes sir/ A. Some years ago we sold a ladies make of glove at $9.50. That skin has gradually gone up until it quits high today and it is only through manipulation that we can keep above water in that case, but the price is the same for the same glove as it has been for the last ten years.
Q. The retail price? A. The job price.
Q. The jobbing price? A. Yes.
Q. The price at which you sell? A. Yes, sir.
Q. What do you mean by manipulation? A. Why, getting better gloves out of a certain grade of skins in order to equalize the price.
Q. Do you increase the taxation? A. No sir, you can not tax the skins over what it will bring.
Q. Do you pay your table cutters 95 and a dollar? A. For what?
Q. Where it is, the cape 95 and the mocho a dollar? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And your pull down cutters are twenty cents below that? A. We only have one class of cutters up there.
Q. You have pull down cutters? A. We have one class, cape, and that is 95.
Q. Do you know whether when work was slack and there have been certain conditions in your factory or in any of the factories, that there have been offers made to a cutter to do table cutting work at pull down prices? A. No, sir. I will cite the instance if you wish it. At one time we had a considerable amount of pull down cape work, we had no table cutting work. I recalled four or five of the poor cutters, the very poorest we had, and asked them if they would cut the pull down work at pull down prices, the prices for pull down work, as we had no table cutting to do, and that rather than employ pull down cutters for the work I would be glad to give them the work.
Q. I see.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. How long ago was that Mr. Moses? A. I can not remember. But one other thing that would bear me out and that is that some of those very men send their wives to plead on their knees to give them work. That was the only work I could give them. I can not remember. It is possibly four years ago, four or five years ago.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. You say the law of supply and demand regulates the price of gloves? A. The law of supply and demand certainly regulates it. The law of supply and demand would regulate the price of the leather and the silk and so forth.
Q. And the price of the gloves has remained pretty uniform in spite of that? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Has the law of supply and demand in that time been so active as to sort of balance each other? A. Very nearly, yes.
Q. Has there been a time when the cause of a less demand for a glove, when the supply was short and a greater demand for gloves when the raw material was greater? A. What is that question?
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Doesn't the supply of leather and gloves that are in the market effect the price? A. Oh yes.
Q. And does the demand at times decrease? A. Yes, sir, it does vary.
Q. So that the price of gloves does not rise? A. Well we have a very good season in a certain grade of goods, and it doesn't make any difference, you see, whether they are low or high.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Aren't there other economical laws that effect the price besides that of supply and demand? A. Not that I know of.
Q. Other witnesses before you have testified that the dealer has fixed the price, that it has become a custom, and that the price has never been raised above that price, independent of any law of supply and demand? A. I just mentioned that here. The custom of the trade has a lot to do with it.
Q. That has nothing to do with the selling price of the glove? A. It is not the cost of the glove in this case but the price at which we can make the glove and sell it at a profit.
Q. Well, has it anything to do with the labor? A. No, sir.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. The price paid to the labor is regulated how, did you say? A. Well, as far as I can say, I never knew how it was regulated. These are set prices, the prices that have been paid. It is regulated according to, I suppose to, well, I don't know just how you would term the regulation.
Q. Well, by the Schedule Committee of the Association? A. No, sir.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. If your firm a member of the Association? A. Yes, sir.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Did you ever have a strike in your mill Mr. Moses that was not general throughout the town, that is, that was confined to your mill? A. Why, we had one, not alone in our own place; no.
Q. Well it was confined to you and perhaps a few other mills? A. Yes.
Q. But not general? A. Not a strike that lasted long. They asked for a classification.
Q. What is that; is that in the nature of an increase? A. It is in the nature of an increase.
Q. And when was that? A. In February 1912.
Q. And what was the outcome of that strike? A. They got from 4 to 34 cents advance.
Q. Does that put the price what you are paying above that which the other manufacturers are paying, or did it bring you up to that price? A. Why, it was a matter of classification.
Q. Well, there was a general advance from 4 cents; that was the lowest increase, was it? A. Yes, sir.
Q. So you have a general increase of at least 4 cents? A. Four to thirty four cents.
Q. Prior to the classification were your prices or wages the same as those paid by the other manufacturers or employers? A. I believe so.
Q. So that you are now paying more? A. No, every one paid the same after that.
Q. Well, these manufacturers which were not involved in that strike, came in on that strike? A. Automatically.
Q. What do you mean by that, automatically? A. They could not get cutters to work on that class of work that we were paying more for.
Q. Unless they paid for it? A. Unless they paid that price.
Q. Did this strike which is now in force break out earlier in your factory than in the rest of the town? A. I don't think so.
Q. You don't know? A. No, I do not know.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. How do your sales this year in August and September correspond with your sales last year? A. In September our sales were a trifle larger, owing to the fact of a great quantity of foreign goods we had on hand, which we sold almost all in August and in September it was below our - what it was last year.
Q. How much below? A. I can not give exact figures but I think about 20 percent.
Q. Have you made any advance in the selling price of your gloves since the War began? A. No, sir. We have eliminated such gloves as we never made any money on. That is the only advance that we have got.
BY MR. McDONALD:
Q. Where did you get those?
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Have you made any difference in your discount, or your net method of collection of your bills, which amounts to an advance in price? A. Only in that case, the same as the others, the ones that we have not made any money on. The gloves that we have always sold at fair cost, as I have said.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Do you import, Mr. Moses, sometimes, do you? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is it a very large proportion of your output? A. No, not a large proportion. We have just gone into it since the tariff started.
Q. Are those cheap or fine gloves? A. Both.
Q. Both? A. Yes.
BY MR. BAKER:
Q. How much have you imported this year; that is, the relative amount, approximately? A. Well, around two thousand dozens.
Q. Were they the kind of gloves that you formerly made up? A. Some of them.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Where do your imports come from? A. France and Germany.
Q. Have you any information since the War started as to what extent these factories are now running? A. We are just getting information now, that the factories are resuming their work, and that they will be able to ship by November 1st to 15th.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Have you a statement that you desire to make? A. Yes, Sir. I wish to state that the one man who worked for us, his name was Berlina, testified that he earned from $11` to $11.50 per week. He worked for us about 15 weeks. The first week he came in the middle of the week. One week I believe he worked part week as he went away and got married. He went away to be married, and leading out the one week that he only came in the middle of the week, his average was $12.68. And I also wish to say something regarding the taxing of skins. One of the men that are now on a strike, now striking, at one time I was looking around for a man to sort skins and he being a Frenchman I thought he would be a good man on Glace goods, and I took him up in the sorting rooms, to sort skins and he came to me and he said Mr. Moses, you are losing money every day in this factory on certain grades of work. I said what do you mean? Why, he says, you are not taxing your skins high enough. He said he can not get more on every scale than is taxed and you let me do the taxing and he is now on a strike. I also wish to state that we had about 100 lots put up when the strike went into effect. Those gloves have since been cut and on over 90 percent we have got more than the taxation. That is all.
Q. Anything further? A. No, sir.
MR. ROGERS: Is there any further statements to be made at this time before the Board? The Board does not wish to take an adjournment because it may be advisable or necessary for us to come back again, and we will at least take a recess in the matter of taking testimony at this time, and I am free to say that it will not be necessary for us to resume any formal public hearing.
At the earliest possible moment, when we have had a chance to go over as quickly as possible the testimony taken, and the information obtained by our representative and furnished us in affidavit form by the manufacturers, we shall public our digest of the existing situation and recommend patience based upon our study of the situation. I can only say in regard to that that I earnestly hope we shall be able to make that public by Saturday of this week. I can not promise that that will be done because it will depend very largely on the speed with which we can accomplish the review of the testimony and the study of the statistical data which is in our possession, and therefore we will recess until such time subject to the circumstances which may arise and we will resume if this is deemed at all necessary.