|The Glovers of Fulton County|
In the matter of the striking glove cutters
of Gloversville, Johnstown and vicinity.
Hearing before the
STATE BOARD OF MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION.
Council Chamber, City Hall,
Gloversville, N.Y. Oct. 7th, 1914.
P R E S E N T :
Mr. William C. Rogers, Chief Mediator.
Mr. James McManus,
Mr. P. S. Downey,
A P P E A R A N C E S:
Mr. McMahon, On behalf of the Attorney General.
MR. DOWNEY: Mr. Mansell do you wish to take the stand or make additional statements?
MR. MANSELL: Yes.
G E O R G E M A N S E L L, recalled.
The additional testimony that I wish to add in connection with the statements that I made yesterday that possible $6,000 or $6,500 would be a fair estimate of what I have made in the last ten years, that I found documents last night after searching for them which covers three years. I have the figures for those three years, which I will offer as testimony. A total for the three years, and these are solid years without any interruptions whatever, is $1990.85 and the average per year is $653.61 or a little over $12.00 per week, roughly speaking for the past three years and during that period, you can find - they paid semi-monthly, twice a month, and you will find lots of those items there $38.00 for the two weeks, $37.00 for the two weeks and you will find one item of over $40.00 for the two weeks, but the average for the whole three years, and they are three of the best years I spent with that company, Northrup Co. of Johnstown, shows an average per year of $653.61, or, as I said, a little over $12.00 a week, and I would like to offer that as testimony, or evidence, in corroboration, and I wish to say that their books will further corroborate what I say.
If you will permit I will state one thing further to give you an idea of the condition in the trade today and the time when I first became acquainted with the glove business. Fownes & Co., where I first became acquainted with the glove business, had an apprentice system, and you would find there that it was a general rule to see the sons, father and grand father all working invariably side by side in the industry and just as in professions and different other trades, it was thought good to get the boy to continue along with his father and learn this trade.
Now, coming along to this country, we find the accusations made against the imported glove cutter that he wishes to restrict the opportunity to learn this trade to his own family, to his own people, to the exclusion of the American, at that time to learn this particular trade, showing that it was considered to be an advantage to be a glove cutter.
Now, at the present moment, we find the situation is this, that the individual man working in the glove shop, does not like to put his own boy in the shop to learn the trade, and it is only as a last resort, after they find that other channels are not open for him, that he is finally compelled to teach him to cut gloves for a living.
That is the condition today, showing the conditions in 25 years ago and the condition ten years ago and the condition today, brought about by the general rot of the situation as far as the worker was concerned. That was all I wish to add today.
(Statement referred to by witness received in evidence.)
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) And this will be substantiated by the books of the Northrup Company.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. How long ago was this. Covered by those figures? A. I started in 1889 and that is 25 years ago.
Q. No, I mean those three years? A. It is dated there. We had a labor trouble here and it finished up the first of July 1904, and these figures commence from the time that we started to work after that labor trouble, you see.
Q. From 1904 to 1907? A. The first of July 1904 for the three complete years.
Q. How were conditions then as compared with conditions now? A. In what respect?
Q. As to the amount of work you can do as bearing upon the taxation of the skins and so forth? A. The taxation proposition has no bearing in this situation at all. My previous testimony was in regard to testimony that we were not in the same position at Johnstown as they are in Gloversville.
Q. I see.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Have you any estimates or items on the last three years? A. I could get my figures while I have been working for the present firm. You see the firm has no trouble with its employees at the present time, but it would be easy no doubt to get my figures from them, if you wish them. I could get a general estimate of what I have been earning, and if you wish it I will get it for you.
MR. McMANUS: We may get at it later.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. You said the conditions are not parallel here and in Johnstown? A. Not with regard to skins, that is my experience.
MR. DOWNEY: That is all, Mr. Mansell.
Will Mr. A. J. Lewis take the stand.
A L G E R O N J. L E W I S, being called and duly sworn testified as follows:
Q. Where do you reside? A. 78 West Pine Street, Gloversville, N.Y.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you work or what is your occupation? A. Table cutter.
Q. With whom? A. Perrin & Co. at the present time.
Q. And for how long have you been working there? A. Why, almost a year, a little less than a year.
Q. Before that? A. I learned my trade about 15 years at the Charles Rose co. I worked there for about eleven years. I went from there to a concern McDougal & Dewey Co., which has been thrown out of business due to the death of the head of the firm and since that time I have been working at Perrine.
Q. And they are all here in Gloversville? A. Yes, sir.
Q. You can tell it better I guess in your own way. Tell just the conditions that led up to the strike and why you went out? A. Do you wish me to go over the same detail as was gone over yesterday practically?
Mr. McMANUS: As far as relates to you?
THE WITNESS: As far as relates to me?
MR. McMANUS: Yes.
THE WITNESS: Well, as I see it, from my view point, since I have been in the glove business, a matter of fourteen or fifteen years, since a boy of 14 years, my idea is that there has been a downward trend from the viewpoint of the earning capacity of the individual cutter in the business ever since.
We had a labor trouble here in 1904, and we lost. The cause of that trouble does not enter into this, but the fact remains that we lost the strike and since that time it seems to me the lot of the table cutter has been getting worse, both from shop conditions, but mostly from his earning capacity. We find that especially within the last three or four years in the different shops it seems that owing to a number of different causes, such as they say, the increased cost of material and possibly at times where there was not such a big demand for labor, that they used that as a weapon against the individual cutter, inasmuch as there are greater - they make greater exactions on a man's skill - the skins are packed harder and higher and it takes him longer to figure it out and everything seems to retard - not exactly retard, they didn't do it to retard - but it has retarded a man's earning capacity from the point that they make it harder work on his nerves, make him work on his nerve every minute to get everything practically that is in a skin and they put them up for more than there is actually in them, so that everything in the way of losses is charged to the cutter and so forth, and at the end they come to the cutter and up until the time of this trouble there has and there is not, there has not been any organization among the worker to speak of, and for that reason everything has been kept practically to the individual man, and it seems that this did not burst out spontaneously, but every man has been nursing his own troubles individually and it has come to the point where every one must have thought at the same time that the time had come when we should make a demand for more wages and better conditions, and though I had taken absolutely no part in any controversy since 1904 and up to the present time, or in any agitation towards such a thing, I attended the first mass meeting which was called here, I think it was on the 19th or 20th of August, I believe, and I heard the conditions put up by different men from different factories, and that meeting was the result of another meeting and the result of that meeting was the resolution asking for an increase in wages or a conference, to talk over the conditions and wages with the Manufacturers Association.
The first notice which was sent received no response. The next one was an answer, a personal letter from the Hon. Louis N. Littauer, in which he stated that if the cutters of the town had any grievance, that he thought he could arrange a meeting from a Committee picked from the cutter and talk over the situation with the Manufacturers Association.
The Committee was picked, of which committee I was one, from the mass of men that morning. We met a committee of the Manufacturers Association and placed before them our demands for an increase of 25 cents per dozen on mens and boys gloves and 20 cents on ladies gloves. We put up to them our arguments there from our standpoint, both from the small earning capacity of glove cutters, the increased cost of living, that is getting to be harder every year to live on the same wages which we got ten years ago, the extreme taxation which has become a system here, which decreases a man's earning capacity and all the different shop conditions which had been brought forth at the mass meeting, and all that was put up to them as our reason for a demand for increase in wages and also the unfortunate European conditions which have arose, which practically places this industry, from our viewpoint, closing out the chance of imported competition, which has, as long as I can remember, been the argument which has been used against the increased wageshare, has been the closeness of competition from European companies, which will not allow any increase in wages.
In all previous times, for the last 17 years, numbers of requests have been made to the manufacturers for increase in wages which has invariably met with the same answer, that conditions at this time did not warrant it and that when the conditions warranted the manufacturers would take up the wage schedule and would consider giving the cutters an increase.
We went over the entire situation with them from our point and their answer was practically the same, only with more details, that it has been for the last 17 years, that the conditions of the country did not warrant it.
While they were willing to admit that the European situation has possibly closed out some of the closeness, for the important of gloves and the competition which resulted, at the same time the general conditions in this country were so unsettled from a commercial and financial standpoint that they did not warrant them at this time taking any steps towards an increase in wages, but they assured us, as they have in the past, that when conditions warranted it they would take up the wage schedule, but they would not give us any definite time when they would do so, and the argument was also brought up that they had a number of orders on their books which they would have to fill at last year's prices.
While they were willing to concede to our argument that there had been an advance or they were about to put in an advance in prices, on the prices of the finished product, but they said that that had not come to be an actual fact and that the outcome of that was still problematical, what it would be, whether they could get the business at an advance price, or whether they could not was still an open question.
That was their side of it, but whether they did or did not, they have to fill the present orders at the present time at the same prices and that would make it impossible to give us an increase at this time, and they also said that they had about the different shops from four to five weeks works to fill their Fall delivery orders.
Q. That is, those are all the orders they had to fill at the last years prices with four or five weeks work?
A. This, as I understood them, is what they call their Fall deliveries, that is the September and October deliveries, and the business from last year is on what they practically call duplicate orders, and from then on when the duplicate business is done, they start in on next year's business for early Spring delivery.
So we went back and reported the same to the Committee, and the feeling ran high at that time to strike, as the men were convinced, or we would get nothing more than we did the last 17 years, same answer and same argument.
But the more conservative element tried to hold out longer with the hope that we could affect some peaceable settlement and we talked and tried to get them, we tried to get them to consider it, to think that we may try to get another conference, and in the meantime we went around to several individual manufacturers, not associated with the Manufacturers Association, and their arguments were more or less the same, but the same thing came up that there was a certain amount of work to be filled at the old prices anyway.
And we thought it would make it just for both sides if we could get together on some compromise proposition, that the men would return immediately, that no increase wages would take effect until the first of October; that would at that time, would have given them a chance to have had work for four or five weeks at the old prices. Well, they said, that is a fair proposition, but that does not change the situation any at all. We asked what the condition will be in four or five weeks. Their only answer was that they would have to give us the same answer as previously, that we could come back to work, and if by the first of October conditions had shaped themselves they would consider the wage schedule and we reported the same to the meeting and practically without a dissenting vote they voted to strike and enforce our demands for an increase in wages.
That is the situation today with practically very little change with the exception that immediately after the strike was declared one small concern employing about ten men, conceded to the striker's full demand of 25 and 20 cents and their men returned to work immediately.
A few days later another small concern with about six cutters conceded to the 25 and 20 cents and their men returned.
Two or three weeks later a concern with twelve men done the same and a few days after that another concern with about twelve men done that.
Q. How large are these other factories, the larger factories; how many men do they employ? A. I think that Meyers is a factory which employs when they are working their full capacity I should judge around 140 to 150 cutters.
Q. And Fownes? A. And Fownes employ from 60 to 75. They have at the present time 70 cutters.
It went on for a short time with no change in the situation, except that local parties tried to interest themselves in the movement and bring about a settlement, but their successes was about the same as ours.
While to their point of view the individual manufacturers were favorable to the proposition to an increase to the men, felt that the men were justified in their demands and were entitled to an increase, they could not exactly see the situation. While they were encouraged with various interviews and conferences with the individual manufacturers, the Manufacturers Association position was practically the same as it was five weeks previous, that the time was not opportune and that they could not consider the wage schedule.
Last week Fownes Brothers offered their men 15 cents increase on all styles of gloves, glove cutting, to take effect immediately.
Their cutters came together and talked the matter over with the Conference Committee of the glove cutters and we advised the acceptance of that proposition and their men returned to work immediately. Immediately following that Mr. Hallock's shop, of Johnstown, employing around 35 cutters, followed up with practically the same proposition and his men went to work, which I think is the situation to the present point.
Q. Are conditions in those two shops, Fownes and Hallocks different from these other shops that are still holding out? A. Personally I have never worked in either of the shops, but from conversation with men who have worked there and other shops, I think the conditions are decidedly better. Hallock's shop, in fact, I understand, have always paid his men above the schedule price on a number of styles of cutting and if work was particularly poor and the men complained he allowed extra for that work which he conceded was justified, but this never to my knowledge has been the case in any other concern.
The conditions in Fownes' shop, has been, as far as the taxation system is concerned, I don't think are anywhere near as rigid as they are in the other shops.
The conditions between the men and the foreman or the manager of the concern seems to be very pleasant, and in always I think the working conditions from many standpoints both in Fownes and in Hallocks are better than in the average shop in Fulton County.
Q. But do you know anything about the business they are doing, or the conditions under which they do business to enable them to pay these better prices? A. No, I could not, of course, know anything of the inside working conditions of any of the manufacturers, I could not say.
Q. Just how they do it you do not know, but you do know they are paid better than others? A. I know the help are better paid, apparently are better satisfied than in any other.
Q. Fownes have a number of English factories? A. Fownes have factories in England and in different countries in Europe, I understand.
Q. Do you suppose the war in Europe would affect these factories, and close them down, and make it necessary for him to turn out the work at this factory at any cost, thereby making it necessary for him to give in to your demands? A. The conditions in Fownes' Factory have been just the same, as far as being better than the other factories, previous to the war in Europe, and I know his concern in this city, has inaugurated several improvements in the working conditions in the glove industry previous to this controversy over there.
Q. I see? A. Especially in the making of gloves. While the Fownes concerns in Europe are possibly cut off from manufacturing due to the conditions in those countries, those are the shops and concerns which the manufacturers in Fulton County are meeting in competition, for if their gloves are being stopped from being made and manufactured in Europe, the same thing from my point of view, would naturally follow, that the competition to the local manufacturer has been cut also to the same extent.
Q. And your organization advised the Fownes men to accept this 15 cent flat increase?
A. Yes, sir, we did.
Q. Do you think, does that apply to the other companies, do you suppose? A. My personal opinion is that the men are willing to return on a flat 15 cent increase taking effect immediately and I think that would give general satisfaction.
MR. McMAHON: That is all.
THE WITNESS: Less than that I do not think that would be satisfactory.
MR. DOWNEY: Mr. Lewis, will you tell us what your average earnings were for the last year?
THE WITNESS: My average earnings for the last year would be between $12 and $13 per week.
MR. ROGERS: Does that include idle weeks?
THE WITNESS: This last year we have been practically in work all the time with the exception of the Christmas holidays and Fourth of July week and a vacation in the summer which amounts to four weeks in the year, and I should say it was forty-eight weeks in the year.
MR. ROGERS: In getting that estimate of your average you divided your total earnings by 52 rather than by 48?
THE WITNESS: I really have not come down to dividing it down into cents. If I had divided it by 52 weeks possibly I would be below that, but from week to week my earnings have been from $12 to $14.
Q. What sort of leather do you cut? A. Mostly cape.
Q. And is that the 95 cent price? A. 95 cents per dozen.
Q. Will you explain to us the difference between the table cutting and the pull down cutting? A. Well the difference between the table and the pull down cutting is that the table cutter, - - in fact, to start out, the pull down cutter is an institution that is to my mind, to my knowledge, exists only in this country. The table cutter comes to this country from European countries, he passes through a period of apprenticeship, for which he receives indentures, an apprenticeship ranging from five to seven years, after the industry became established in this country, and an organization was in vogue, there was an apprenticeship of three years laid down for apprentices, then when business conditions warranted it, and there was not enough table cutters in the industry, and there was a cheaper line of gloves to be manufactured, and it goes back to a period of 25 years ago, and at that time the heavy work was then known as block cutting, and from that block cutting what is known today as the pull down cutter devolved.
The block cutting was made on a block of skin. It was simply drawn and blocked out with a knife and these men were somewhat conversant with the leather, and they went from there to the table and gradually worked into the work of the table cutter, and while the pull down cutter does not serve an apprenticeship of three years he serves an apprenticeship of so many months, generally according to the previous experience he might have had in a glove factory, but he gradually works up in point of efficiency, through practical experience, and today they have a number, a great many pull down cutters working for 20 cents less than the table cutters, who have worked as pull down cutters for a matter of 15 to 17 years, and in those 17 years they naturally have made themselves more efficient as years have gone on through practical experience and what they neglected to learn in their short apprenticeship they have learned in the practical experience through the course of work or the business through the matter of 15 or 17 years, and today a pull down cutter is simply a table cutter who is not required to put as much time in and skill into his work, not quite as much, but today there is so many of them, the taxing, the close exacting taxing system, which they use now more than ever before, different little exacting things which they put on both sides of the cramp, has made it so that the pull down cutter must put every bit of his efficiency into his work, and a great many of them are just as efficient as runs about the majority of table cutters.
Q. There is some difference in the speed; isn't there; a days work for instance for a pull down cutter would mean a large number of gloves than a day work for a table cutter? A. Naturally. A pull down cutter gets 20 cents, less than a table cutter, from the highest wage, and they range down as low as 55 and 60 cents a dozen. Of course the man that is on 55 or 60 or 70 cent work he naturally must cut more than a man who is getting a dollar a dozen to make any wages at all, and he does have to cut a few more gloves a day. If he did not he could not make a living at all. If a pull down cutter could only cut the same number of gloves in the course of a day as a table cutter, if he cuts that same number of 60 cents as a table cutter receives a dollar or ninety-five he could not make a living at all, and from that standpoint he does cut more gloves because he does not have to put quite as much time and skill into it.
Q. Is it your observation that the pull down cutter makes about the same wages as the table cutter? A. In a general way I should say about the same. Individually cutters may be different, but from figuring the whole industry on a general plane, I should say that there is not much difference, if any.
Q. Why is that the men seem to desire a flat increase in cents applicable to the pull down cutters as to the table cutters? A. From my point of view and my experience for the last 15 years, 12 years at least, since I have been old enough to take any interest in the industrial affairs of this county, the pull down cutters and the table cutters have been more or less at logger heads to the fact that in any labor troubles the pull down cutter has always been used as a weapon against the table cutter, and, vice versa the table cutter has been used as a weapon against the table cutter, and when this present schedule under which we are working, was brought out, some 15 or 17 years ago, the manufacturer himself drew the schedule up with no help from the cutting end of it, and he placed a difference of twenty cents between the two styles of cutting. That thing has gone on with no change in prices at all, but naturally the schedule of the pull down cutter must and has advanced, and he has come today to being nearer the table cutter than at any time in the history of this industry, and both styles of cutters have realized that, and they have come to the conclusion that at any time should the manufacturers wish he could use the pull down cutter in the place of the table cutter or he could use the table cutter in the place of the pull down cutter, and we realized that if the pull down cutter should be drawn so very far away in prices from the table cutter, under which schedule the manufacturer set them 17 years ago, that the feeling between the two cutters would be most bitter, and it would be a natural supposition that we could never get together on any one proposition which would be suicide for either side in the cutting craft, to get any betterment in their condition, and for that reason we feel, not only from a matter of self protection, but in a matter of justice to the cutter and in justice to the manufacturer and in justice to the table cutter, and particularly in justice to the manufacturer, that he is getting more efficiency out of his pull down cutter than he has ever had in the history of the glove industry and he is getting it for the same price that he got it 17 years ago, and I think it is not simply justice from any point of view that he should draw the prices farther apart, which would be the result if any increase were based on a percentage basis, which would leave the pull down cutter worse off from the standard of the table cutter than he was 17 years ago while he has improved in skill.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Am I correct in understanding that some of the larger firms do not employ any of the pull down cutters at all? A. Some of them, yes. Fownes Brothers do not employ any pull down cutters. Perrins do not employ any.
Q. Now, is it also true that on some of the cheaper grades of gloves that some of the small firms very largely employ pull down cutters? A. Pull down cutters are employed more in the small shops than they are in the larger shops.
Q. Well, that leads up to what I wanted to ask you now. On cheaper grade of pull down cutting I understand the price to be 55 cents? A. That is the lowest schedule, but there is very little 55 work done in the county today, very little of it, it is practically a dead issue.
Q. And is there some at 60 cents? A. Some at 60 cents and some at 75 cents.
Q. Well now, on a cheap grade, the 55 cent grade the corresponding price for the table cutting would be 25 cents higher or 75 cents? A. There is one class of table cutters, the manufacturer in drawing up the schedule drew up three classes of pull down work, classes A, B and C, which constituted from 55 cents to 75 cents, and as it went down the line they did not exact so much time and skill in that particular work, but in table work there is only one scale of prices, one class, which is 90, 95 and 1.00, roughly speaking.
Q. If so figuring we can estimate that an increase of 15 cents per dozen on the 90, 95 cent and dollar prices are somewhere in the neighborhood of a 15 percent increase, it is a little more than that on the ninety cents? A. Yes, a little more on the 90 cents.
Q. It is exactly 15 percent on the dollar price and a little more on the 90 and 95 cent price? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And on the 55 and 60 cent price 15 cents increase would be more than 25 percent increase in the price, and would therefore make more than 25 percent increase in the net weekly wages earned by those workers. Now, if that is going to increase the payroll of the larger manufacturer, if such a flat increase is going to increase the payroll of the larger manufacturer 25 cents or thereabouts and the payroll of the smaller manufacturer who employs pull down cutters more than 25 percent, can't you understand that that would be likely to be a discrimination against the small manufacturer?
A. Well, Mr. Rogers, in answer to that, my argument would be, as I said, the 55 cent work is practically a dead issue. There is very little of it done and while that may look true, figured from that standpoint, it is a fact that the shops, the small shops who have acceded tot he full demands of the men at an increase of 20 to 25 cents per dozen are the very people who employ pull down cutters. The small shops, which as I have stated acceded to the full demands, employ I should say 60 to 70 percent, the four small shops which conceded to the demands employ about 60 percent pull down cutters and one shop done very cheap work but mostly it was 70 cent work, and so I don't think that seems to bear out that appearance at all.
Q. About how many pull down cutters are there? A. In the county?
Q. Yes. A. Well I can not state positively, but on that I would have to make a rough estimate, but I should say 300 to 400 maybe more, maybe less. I should say 400, 300 to 400. We have no accurate way of figuring just how many there is, inasmuch as we have no organization to base any estimate on.
Q. Is there any other statement which you would like to make in connection with this matter? A. I don't know as I have anything just now, Mr. Rogers.
Q. We would be glad to recall you, if you have.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Do you know how your wages compare with the other men who have been working near you? A. Well, some are higher and some are lower, and if I was to give a rough estimate of the earnings of the shop in which I work, I would place it about $13.00, not giving that as authentic, as I don't know, but there are some men who earn more and some who are earning less, and most of them are married men with very few exceptions. You will find in going through the glove industry today that there is a vast majority of married men cutting glove. The single men won't go into the glove business any more. It is a very hard shop to get an apprentice today, and the man who has a son, it is the last thing he will do today, put him on as a glove cutter, and if he can, he will put him in some other line of industry, or any other calling which has grown up in the last few years, and he would rather stay in Gloversville and spend his time driving a wagon around the streets for grocery stores or doing any other line of business, for any other line of business will pay them $2.00 a day, if they can get a job, and while it is not always a craft or trade that they can fall back on, yet they feel that a craft which is not worth any more than $2.00 or $2.25 a day, year in and year out is not worth the sacrifice of three years apprenticeship to be able to become a glove cutter, and for that reason they would rather go in any other line. So that you find today in the glove business that they are mostly married men who have family ties compelling them to stay at the industry in which they started as their family ties stop them from taking a chance at anything else, unless it is an assured chance.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. There was some testimony by one witness to the effect that he and his wife worked at glove cutting? A. Glove making.
Q. Do you know whether that is more or less general? A. The facts of the glove industry today is, I think that if a canvas could be taken of every glove cutter or any one who works in a glove factory and has a home, you could either find his wife working on a machine or his wife working in the same factory with him and his children being looked after by the neighbors.
MR. McMAHON: That is all.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. I just want to ask you one question in regard to your hours? Have you made any statement in regard to that? A. Why I should say I work from 9 to 9 hours a day.
Q. And how many on Saturday? A. Four. You will find, Mr. Rogers, in going around you will find a great many of the wives of the glove cutters either have their machines in their homes where their family ties reside, or you can find them going into the factory and working, and while they can not earn as much in the home as they would in the factory, they have motors installed in there which runs them, and they work on the same principle as they would with electrical power in the factory, and you will find here in the homes in Gloversville, I don't know, but I suppose you can figure it from the electric company here, as to the operation of motors they have in the homes of men living here, and I think you will find there is a great many of them.
MR. ROGERS: That is all.
Will Mr. Etman take the stand.
E D W A R D N. E T M A N, called as a witness and being duly sworn testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you reside? A. 50 Gold St.
Q. You are employed where, Mr. Etman? A. Littauer Bros.
Q. How long? A. Well, I went to work there recently, and I worked at Adlers previous to the 8th of July for eleven years and then I worked at various shops during my twenty years in glove making work.
Q. What is your business? A. I am a member of the class designated by the manufacturers as a pull down style of cutter.
Q. Pull down cutter? A. Yes, sir.
Q. What wages do you get? A. Well my average wage is about ten dollars per week.
Q. That is at how much a dozen? A. That is class "A" work, that is 70 and 75 cents a dozen.
Q. And how many hours a day? A. Well, I work on the average of abut 8 or 9 hours a day, five days and a half a week, and on Saturdays I work for perhaps four hours, Saturday forenoon. The shops are closed in the afternoon now practically the year around.
Q. And has that wage been practically in effect since you started? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is there any other change in conditions? A. Well, you mean since I have been a glove cutter?
Q. Yes? A. No, you take in the early stages of my occupation I used to earn better wages than I do now, and you take it in the business as it went along there were different conditions in the business owing to the increased taxation, more inferior quality of leather and other exacting conditions in factories, which have drawn upon all my resources to the fact that it has naturally reduced my earning capacity. The skins in the earlier stages of my cutting career, where we used to have good skins, fairly good skins, that is, you could get a batch of skins that was going to come out to be good and they were to be cut and we would go on and cut them and you could make a fairly good days wages, or weeks wages, if a man was anywheres near speedy. Of course, to be honest and candid in this testimony, I will state that I could not be classed as a swift man. But every year, for the past seven or eight years my earning capacity has gradually decreased, due to, as I stated, they have been more drastic in cutting out skins, the leather has not been as good, they are more inferior every year, and in order to meet the tax and then the man who puts up the skins, are, of course, crowded by the boss or employers, I don't say the man who owns the factories, but the man who gives out the skins is between the glove cutter and the boss, and on the one hand the man that gives out the skins is constantly driven by the boss and crowded, to crowd the skins more and more, then he in turn has to crowd, gradually crowd the cutter more and more to get out the gloves out of the skins, and the skins are constantly getting poorer and poorer, and therefore that would necessitate the wages, my wages, gradually decreasing every year.
Q. Well do you know whether the cost of those skins to the manufacturer has decreased with the quality of the skins, or can you state as to that? A. Well, it depends upon what conditions he buys his skins under. If the quantity of the leather in the skin market, is the leather is used in other grades of business, though it lessens the supply of glove leather, why, perhaps that would have a tendency to make the cost of leather go up practically. Undoubtedly the cost of leather has gone up in proportion to everything else that has gone up in the past twenty years, but whatever the increased cost of leather is to the manufacturer, it has got to be made up to him by the cutter, that is what makes our conditions so acute at this time. If the manufacturer has to pay increased prices for his skins he has got a large percentage of that through the cutter, through the increase taxation, that follows in every factory, and if a certain amount of skins is given out and given to a certain man, and he has got to get a certain amount of gloves and that conforms to that man pretty thoroughly. For instance, I will explain what I mean. There is duplicate number of skins given out the next time and if the returns from a certain cutter has been fairly up to expectations they will add on another two or three pairs on the dozen of skins, etc., and crowd the cutter all the more, and that is to get him to speed it up in regard to what amounts he can get out of the skins. They work that right along. So that the condition of the cutter today is very trying, in regard to meeting the number of pairs required and in regard to the inferior qualities and in regard to his work. Therefore they would lessen his working capacity and his earning capacity in a large extent, and that is the case with me.
Q. Do other pull down cutters earn more than ten dollars a week? A. Yes. As I said in the first place I could not be classed as a high man. I do not claim that. I mean that there are other pull down cutters that make more than I do, better cutters. Of course I am not testifying as to what the average of the pull down cutters is because I am not familiar with that. As a rule we get our pay in the shops in envelopes, and it seems to me that the cutter seems to have a desire to keep secret what amount he earns, and I could work perhaps with a man on the same table, work with him for a year and I would never know what he earns.
Q. Do you believe that pull down cutters, as a rule, as a general rule, earn about the same amount of money per week as table cutters? A. No, I don't think they do, but if that rule would follow in a great many cases, it would simply be because a pull down cutter, it would be necessary for him to speed himself up in order to make the same amount of money as a table cutter.
Q. His work is faster, isn't it? A. Well, in Class A work which is the highest grade of pull down cutting there is practically no difference. The manufacturers themselves allow there is no difference in the grade, and he does not designate it as any bit different. Therefore the pull down cutter, the Class A workers in Littauer's factory, he has the same skins given him under practically the same identical conditions and he has to cut the same number of pairs and has got to produce as good a quality of gloves, and when that glove is given out it is sold for the same price as the table cut glove. Now, if he produces more gloves, naturally to bring his wages up to somewheres near the table cutters, he has got to work harder to do it. If his gloves do not show up as good as the table cutter's gloves they come to him if they do not. His gloves have got to show up as good, or he has got some kick against him. That is the Class A pull down cutter and the table cutter, I am speaking of, and today seventy five percent of the glove work is Class A work.
MR. ROGERS: Are you a married man?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
MR. ROGERS: How many children have you?
THE WITNESS: Two.
MR. ROGERS: I think that is all. I thank you.
We will now call Mr. August Willmer.
A U G U S T W I L L M E R, called as a witness and being duly sworn, testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you reside? A. 9 Washington St., Gloversville.
Q. Where do you work? A. In Adler's.
Q. In Adler's Glove Factory? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you always worked there? A. Some times I went down to New York and worked in New York. I started here the first time, I guess it was in 1898.
Q. Here? A. Yes, sir, and for the last time I guess I worked here for four and a half years steady.
Q. And between those two periods you were in New York? A. Yes, several times.
Q. And you are a table cutter? A. Yes.
Q. At how much per dozen, 75 cents? A. Well, different, I don't cut any cape.
Q. You don't? A. No, 90 cents cape, damaged 86 cents a dozen.
Q. And you make? A. About $13.50, the average for 52 weeks.
Q. What work did you do in New York? A. I worked in the same business.
Q. At the same wages? A. At the same wage. I worked for Fisk, Park & Co. largest firm in New York, and we have got to shave all the skins and they pay us $1.76 for a cape glove, have got to do own shaving.
Q. What effect does that have on your week's work; what is the effect on your salary? A. Well, it is easy to make money. It is easier to make money at $1.76 a dozen than it is at 95 cents a dozen.
Q. But you have to shave your own skins? A. It is thirty cents a dozen here in Gloversville, and it is all figured in together in New York City.
Q. How much did you make in New York City? A. Well, I got down there, eighteen, nineteen and twenty dollars a week, more or less.
Q. That was four weeks ago? A. Oh, it is long ago, yes I was down there four an half years ago, after I left Gloversville.
Q. How long did you work there a day? A. Nine hours and a half steady, per day.
Q. You feel that you are not getting as much as you ought to? A. Yes, I feel that way. I will tell you the reason too. The first time I started in adler's in 1898, and you get a batch of skins, why, it was 27 skins to five dozen gloves, and I always try my best to get out what I could. It happened very often that I was caught with six pairs shy, never said a word, and today it is different, and they want to give you a lot of skins there then you start out and say that there is more than three or four pairs shy in t hem, they want you to turn them back, time that is taken in sorting them over is taken from a man and it takes sometimes, two, three, four hours to do nothing and you have to wait until the skins come down again, and your time is lost in trying to get the right sort of skins. That is a matter that happens on simply special orders. It happens this way. Sometimes to do your work and you get your skins damaged and when you start, sometimes blocking a foreman comes down and gives you a special order for six pairs and calls you away from your work and you put your work aside and start the new order and in the meantime he comes with another one, three or four small orders, special orders, and in that time your skins get dry, and you have to do the work over and in that way you lose the time each day.
Q. Are you married? A. No. I can not afford it.
Q. Are you able to get along on the amount of money you earn now as well as you could a few years ago? A. A few years ago I was able to save a few dollars. I am getting older each day, every day and I would not like to land in the poor house, and I try to get a dollar or two on the side, so when I am old and all alone here in this country.
Q. Well, are there other conditions; does your cost of living increase? A. Yes. Last week the people where I board raised the meal ticket a half a dollar. Before I used to have rooms here a dollar and a quarter a week, and a decent room, and now in order to get a decent room I have got to pay two dollars today a week.
Q. While your salary remains the same? A. Yes, it is lower.
MR. McMAHON: That is all.
MR. ROGERS: That is all.
We will call Mr. Arthur Day.
A R T H U R D A Y, called and sworn as a witness testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you reside? A. 2 Yost St., Johnstown.
Q. Where do you work, Mr. Day? A. I work at Evans, Johnstown.
Q. And have worked there how long? A. I commenced there the first of this year. Previous to that I was employed at Little's and Davis & McIntrye Co.
Q. And they are in Johnstown? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you a table cutter? A. No, I am a pull down cutter.
Q. What do you get? A. Seventy five cents for my best work.
Q. Is that the work you do mostly? A. Yes, sir.
Q. That compares how with the table cutting? A. They get 90 and 95 cents, I believe.
Q. And as to the work you turn out? A. The number.
Q. No, the quality of work that you turn out? Is that practically the same as table cutting? A. We don't do any table cutting in that shop only on buckskin.
Q. How much do you make a week? A. Why since I have been at Evans, my wages would not average nine dollars, but it has been slack work. I could make something if I had the work.
Q. Nine dollars a week? A. Yes, sir. Some days we would get all we could do and other days we could not get half as much.
Q. In previous years? A. I have not been in this class of work probably three years. Previous to that time I worked on other grades of work, block cutting.
Q. And block cutting is not a factor in this county? A. There is not a factory in this town.
Q. And did you notice a change in conditions in the last two or three years, the quality of the skins? A. They run, the quality of skins runs poor, and it has been harder to make wages than when I first commenced, that is, and of course, my experience only runs over as I told you, about three years, and one of those, of course, don't serve the apprenticeship the same as the table cutter, but I gradually educated myself to this class of cutting.
Q. How do you feel about this condition, the flat increase on both lines of work; would it increase your earning capacity out of proportion to that of a table cutter? A. No, I don't think it would. I think in fact that the pull down cutter has to be a more faster man because he has got to cut more dozens in order to make a living.
Q. You think he earns less per dozen so he turns out more dozens? A. As a rule, yes.
Q. So 15 dozen per week would be over twelve dollars per week? A. No, we cut out more, 18 to 20 dozen.
Q. Whereas a table cutter, -- A. A good fast man could do that.
Q. How do you find the cost of living? A. The cost of living has certainly increased faster than the glove cutters wages in Fulton County.
Q. There has not been any changes in the wages at all? A. Yes, there has not, and as far as I am concerned, if it was not for the money my wife earns, I would not be able to support my family at all.
Q. What does she do? A. She makes gloves at home, and she takes care of two children.
Q. How much does she make a week? A. She won't average better than five dollars and I don't think she would average that.
Q. And the total income in your family is about fourteen dollars a week? A. It has been this year.
Q. And the taxation on skins has increased in Johnstown? A. Yes, sir, it has. The shop where I work is more severe than they have ever been before, the fellow was telling me the other day --
Q. What effect has that; does it slow up your work? A. It slows it up, yes, you work and you work harder and you have to stand the worry.
Q. You are not able to turn out the same number of dozens that you otherwise could? A. The harder taxation the smaller wages you make and you are compelled to work and run around and hunt up fittings and so forth.
Q. What effect has that on the income of the manufacturer? A. Well, the more gloves you get out of the skins the better it is for him. If you can get one extra pair out of a skin, it means a dollar to a dollar and half to him.
Q. Do you know whether or not the number of skins has gone up, the price of skins I mean, the price of skins has gone up to the manufacturer, that he is forced to demand this extra fare out of the skins? A. No, I do not.
MR. McMAHON: That is all.
MR. McMANUS: Any other statements?
THE WITNESS: No, I think not. I might take the statement, the question has been asked to other witnesses as to why we struck and my opinion is that I was compelled to strike to make a living, and to make a living under conditions so that it would be possible for me to make a good living and not compel my wife to help, and I do not think that a wife ought to do that, to be a partner with me in the factory. Under conditions today in this country it is absolutely necessary for to do that as it is.
MR. McMANUS: Are you able to get along under those conditions? Weren't you, with her help, getting along before the strike?
THE WITNESS: Well, it is pretty hard.
MR. ROGERS: It has been suggested that some witnesses who have been subpoenaed here have a little delicacy or hesitation about testifying in fear that the publicity might affect their future employment. I want to say that the State Board of Arbitration will assure the witnesses that inasmuch as they are brought here under compulsion, under a heavy penalty of the law, to make it a failure to respond to the subpoenas of the Board, that we will do our utmost to protect them in every way, in regard to any testimony which they may give and I think if the witnesses respond to our questions in relations to their wages and their working conditions, that they may fear absolutely no ill results from their testimony.
We will call Charles Kuehnel.
C H A R L E S K U E H N E L, called and sworn as a witness, testifies as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you reside? A. 74 East Pine Street.
Q. Where do you work, Mr. Kuehnel? A. I worked in Mr. Meyers for the past year.
Q. And before that? A. I worked in Bachner - Moses and Lewis Company, Dempster & Place Co. and Adlers.
Q. Are you a table cutter? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And doing what class of work? A. All kinds, whatever is around the factory, all kinds of work, most of the time I cut cape.
Q. What does that pay? A. 90 cents a dozen.
Q. What do you make a week as an average? A. An average of about twelve dollars.
Q. Twelve dollars? A. Twelve dollars and a half.
Q. Twelve dollars and fifty cents? A. Yes.
Q. And has that always been that, what you have earned? Have you always earned that during the last several years? A. For the last seven years I worked in this county.
Q. Have you earned $12.50 during all of that time? A. Yes, of course the last time I earned more, before that something more, but the last does down to about a dollar or a dollar-fifty.
Q. And how long has that been? A. For the last year.
Q. Last year? A. Last year I made better money and two years ago I made better money than I have for the past five months.
Q. Plenty of work? A. Yes, for the seven years I have had steady work.
Q. And how do you find the change in taxation on the skins? A. It gets worse for the last few months, it gets worser.
Q. The last few months? A. Yes, I remember I had in the last few weeks, I had some good gloves, I was short in a week or so about thirteen or fourteen pairs, and I tried to do my best and I could not get them.
MR. ROGERS: Will you please talk so that we can hear you?
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Are you married? A. Yes, I am married and I have four children.
Q. Does your wife work? A. She works a little bit, and she makes about a dollar or a dollar-fifty a week on hand work.
Q. Well, tell us how you feel about this strike; why you struck? A. I don't know what I say and I don't know what I shall say. I want to better my conditions and therefore I be out on a strike, because I think I have to explain to you in my own way, that I can't get along with the money, I have four children, and I have therefore gone out on a strike.
Q. Do you make as much or more than other men doing the same work that you do, do you think you do? A. There are some that make less and there are some that make more.
Q. This is a good average? A. It is about a medium, for average, that all the cutters, it is about twelve dollars.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. How many hours do you work? A. I work steady from seven o'clock, -- I work so fast, so long, as I can; I know sometimes we start at six o'clock and sometimes work until six o'clock at night.
MR. McMAHON: Eleven hours?
THE WITNESS: Yes, eleven hours.
Q. You take an hour for dinner some times? A. Yes, and if it is an hours time, I work an hour overtime, and there are some times I make a little bit more, but the average is no more than I say before.
MR. McMAHON: That is all. Thank you.
We will call John Compipiano.
J O H N C O M P I P I A N O, called and sworn as a witness testified as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you reside? A. 10 Woodside Avenue.
Q. How old are you? A. I was born September 10th, 1884. I am about thirty years old. I don't explain myself right, because I could not talk very correctly the English language.
Q. Take your time? A. I try to make you people understand what I want to say.
Q. Where do you work? A. I work at Meyers' shop.
Q. How long have you worked there? A. Well, I started, I haven't learned my trade over in Meyers since I landed in this country, in 1906 and I worked in the city and learned table cutting, on the other side, about two years, and then my brother he send some money over to me to come over here, he says, --
Q. You started to work in this country in 1906? A. I started to work in this country in 1906.
Q. As a table cutter? A. Yes, sir.
Q. How much do you get per dozen? A. Well, we used to get 95 cents on cape, cape gloves, because I put in most of my time doing the work down there and they cut five cents off and after that we get 90 cents, and before that we got 90 cents and we have gloves two inches long, and have the thumb hole and had to put binding on, and after that they started a new thing up there, they came around and tell the people you want to cut gloves three inches long on top, three and a quarter and three and a half and we pay instead of 95 cents only 90 cents. We say what for, and they say because you don't cut any more bindings. We get along just the same before when we got 95 cents a dozen and we used to do the less work than we have got to do now, for ninety cents, because we used to cut them only three inches and two and three quarter inches, and now they say three and a half inch and they say now we have got to cut no bindings and now we have to to cut the bindings and now they make it three and a half inches, and you have got to cut bindings. Then we say, what for. Then they say, you have go to do it, and if you don't, all right. Well we want to live, and we have got a family and we say, all right.
Q. Have you got a family? A. Yes sir.
Q. Any children? A. Yes, sir, one child.
Q. And you make how much a week? A. Well, I make about fourteen or fifteen dollars a week.
Q. How many hours a day? A. Well, I work overtime and sometimes 11 hours a day, and sometimes I take fringes home and just as soon as I finish my supper, because a workman's supper won't take just a few minutes, and I start to cut fittings, so that when I get to the shop the next morning, it is after I work until eleven or twelve o'clock at night.
Q. Fourteen or fifteen dollars a week you earn, that is more than the average? A. I beg pardon, you are supposed to work ten hours a day but I work lots of times 11 hours a day, sometimes the shop men come around early and this morning we started at six o'clock, and sometimes work over six and half past six in the morning, you see, and I make more money, because one week I earned eighteen dollars and sometimes I make fourteen and a half, and sometimes I earn twenty or twenty one, but I have got to make it all the week round, all the year around. We got to turn our work out at twelve o'clock Friday and after twelve o'clock they won't take any more work and sometimes we have five or six dozen gloves cut and when the times comes to finish my work, maybe I have got only forty pairs and fifty pairs instead of sixty as I have been taxed and I haven't got them in, but they go until the next week, and that is the reason we get more some weeks, and a man that works more than his time is supposed to get more money.
Q. You can get along on fifteen dollars a week? A. No sir, I can not.
Q. It costs you more than that to live? A. Yes, sir, and I just happened down to the coal yard to order some coal.
MR. ROGERS: What is that?
THE WITNESS: Just before I come here, I been down to the coal company, order coal, and I got none down in the cellar and he says to me $7.35 or I think for some coal, $8.00 and some more than $8.00 and I have got to have coal because I can not live without coal in the home, and I got a little boy, and a wife and have got to have heat, and I said I want four tons of coals, because I say I use more than four tons, because I use seven tons here and I could not pay you and I pay you for two tons and I want four tons and I pay you two now and two the latter part of November, the same as last year . I paid for three tons and I paid the last part in the last part of October. He says, all right, you all right, you pay, you get four tons and you want some more and I give you some more. I say, no, I want four tons, because I got to figure and I pay for two and I said you send my a bill and I want to come here and pay my debt.
Q. Do they tax the sins any heavier now than they did before? A. Yes, certainly.
Q. What effect does that have upon your work? A. Well, I used to make more money; more, I used to make more than that.
Q. You used to turn out more gloves? A. Yes, sir.
Q. You can't turn out as many pairs now? A. No, sir. When I go to teh shop they give you skins, before, you received the skins, a pack, they taxed you so many pairs, and it a burden not only under the tax scale but in a glove you have got to look out for fittings, opening of the skins, and something of that kind, which is damaged, something like that, and supposed to get a regular size under the scale and the same product what is assigned to me and you have got to look over the skins and sometimes you see their claim, and here, there should be twenty skins for 63 pairs and 65 pairs and 70 pairs, depending on what kind of gloves it is, then you start in and get your lot, and look over the skins and we see plainly we can not get what it calls for. Well, you call one of the fellows that taxes the skins and you say, can't we raise this up and he says, what is the matter, and I says, cause I get not get out the tax, what is put on there, and he says, what is the matter, you don't understand. Well, I said, I never had any trouble, and he says you work here for long and we knew you. All right, and I try to do the best I can for him, and cut all the gloves I can and do the best I can. After a while he calls me and maybe two or three or four pairs and he marked them on the book so and so on the books and then a date, and put a date on, and maybe a couple of pairs, or four maybe. You have got anther one, the same, and put them on and it figures five or six or ten pairs, no matter what it is and he calls the people in and he says what is the matter with you. You bring them in and put in so many pair and I says well before I took them I called the fellow's attention to them and I show him, and he says all right go and try the best you can. He trusts you and knows you and he says try and do the best you can. Now you call me, it is not my fault. Well, he says, you don't look out, and if you do it again, we will give you bounce and send you home.
Q. Does your wife work? A. She has got to work.
Q. How much does she make a week? A. Well, she could not earn not more than three dollars a week anyway, and sometimes not that, because I got one child and got to take care of child, but she is forced to work late in the evening.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Will you tell us about the work you do home, that you spoke of? A. Yes.
Q. How is that arranged? A. I will tell you. You are supposed to do sometimes, - - sometimes come down to the shop and you tell you want to take a lot home and work after the shop is closed. The work may be Saturday and Sunday or in the evening and somebody may be in the family wants to work, some other people like myself, lots of time I take fringes home and work late in the evening, and I suppose after this labor of eight or ten hours, that I have time for meal, time to read and maybe talk to his own family, get out on teh street and take a little fresh air, you see, but other times he could not, because the high cost of living is so much, and I think the way I have been reading a little out in the English, and I try to read as little as I can, and since 17 years the cost of living has increased 35 cents, and 17 years ago used to learn living by day time. I have been down the grocer and I buy some sugar. I used to go there before, buy some five cents a pound, now he charged me eight cents a lb. and now he charge me eighty cents for ten pounds of sugar. And after that I pass there and he put sign on window 7 and I say what the matter, and he says the price come down today. All right. I go to buy a piece of meat Saturday, and he charged me $1.40, and it got to last me over Saturday and Sunday, charged me $1.30 or $1.35 and give me no nice piece of meat, full of bones, grease and I couldn't say nothing, it is so and so. I couldn't say anything, I have got to buy because I need the meat. But I couldn't get what we need. Sometimes we have got to buy what is on the table, because I could not afford to buy any good meat
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Is it permissible to take work home to do at night; does the manufacturer allow you to do that? A. Sometimes he call the people apart and he says I give you a lot to take home and work overtime and if you want to do that and if it is needed to be done he takes it.
Q. He encourages you to take it home? A. Yes, sir, and often I take on the sly some fittings out, don't say anything to anybody, and I take them on the sly, probably they kick if they know. Sometime I want to get black and white and everything that matches I take them, I take them home and get along and I get the black and the white. Very seldom you find any different colors.
Q. And how many hours do you work at night at home? A. Well, I go out nights after supper. I take time and go out on the street and do a little reading, or having got the supper done do something around the house because my wife works late in the evening and after I get through with my business and then I work and sometimes half past ten or eleven o'clock, then I go to work the next morning.
Q. In fact you do eleven hours work in the shop? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And three or four hours in the evening? A. Not every night.
Q. Well, about how often? A. Well, maybe once a week or something like that, work in the evening, cause you know, everybody can't work on white and black, because we couldn't take a tan color, because each skin has different shades and that goes against the franks, you got to get the fringes, and all of that, and have got to get them together and put them up.
Q. Answer me this. When you knock down a big week you make eighteen or twenty dollars? A. Yes.
Q. Twenty two? A. Yes.
Q. Generally every day in the week you work, - A. (Int) Yes, on black and white.
Q. And work home at night? A. Yes, sir, work at night.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Has the fining system been in vogue since you work there? A. What?
Q. Has anybody been fined? A. Well, not to me.
Q. You never have? A. Not me.
MR. ROGERS: We will call Mr. James.
N A T H A N J A M E S, called and sworn as a witness testifies as follows:
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you reside? A. 12 fox Street.
Q. How old are you? A. I am thirty years old.
Q. Where do you work? A. At Meyer's shop.
Q. Table cutter? A. Table cutter.
Q. How long have you worked there? A. Since 1907.
Q. 1907? A. Yes.
Q. How much do you make a week? A. Oh my wages, average wages, would be about $13.00 a week.
MR. ROGERS: What is that. Speak so we can hear you.
THE WITNESS: My wages, my average wages would be about thirteen dollars a week.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Is that class A work? A. Class A work, what we call it.
Q. Have your wages been $13 a week for the past seven years? A. Not exactly that, but previous years I made more, sometimes $15, $17, $18, sometimes $12, but the average would be a little more than $13.
Q. How many hours a day? A. Generally work nine hours a day.
Q. Are you married? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Does your wife work? A. My wife is working.
Q. At glove making? A. Well, she is doing gloves.
Q. How much does she make? A. Why, she makes around the house, on the electric power we have got fixed in the house, she makes four or five dollars, six dollars, sometimes three dollars a week.
Q. Are you able to live on that? A. We use up all that we earn.
Q. How many children? A. One.
Q. Now about the taxation of skins? A. The taxation is pretty close now; little close. When I began to work at Meyers we never had any trouble from the tax and we always made the gloves that we were taxed for, or scheduled for, the quantity and the quality, but after they taxed us we were always short; always short of gloves. Sometimes we have got to look around for pieces on tables for other cutters or go in and ask for some pieces to fill out gloves we made, that we turned in the lot, three or four pairs short. They generally keep a record of the table cutters that are short in gloves, and lately it happens so that they called in some cutters in the formers room, what they call it, and the superintendent came up and said, your average shortage would be about 100 pairs since January, or 87 pairs or 80 pairs and you can't go on with a thing like that, and he says you have either got to come up to the tax, or otherwise if you can not you will have to look for another job, so, it happened at Meyers and some had to get out of the shop on account of the tax, they could not make the gloves and they had to go and look somewhere else for work.
Q. How about the quality of the skins? A. Why the quality of the skins is almost, sometimes, considering the tax and the quality it is like this, a certain lot is taxed for about five or four dozens of gloves. You have got to make these four or five cozen as they demanded and if you don't make those four or five dozen gloves, of course you are short and they keep a record, and sometimes when you do the best you can, they don't take it into account at all, the quality, and when they have a glove that is not right there is another shortage; if a glove is not right, doesn't match, and it is not exactly the same color, you have got to go around, if it can be done, you have got to go around and make the glove right, if it is where you can fix it all right,and if in some cases the glove you can not, there are damages, hard to fix it, you can't, they charge you damages, and it has happened to mae many times. I had lots to cut and couldn't make the tax. When I cut it, it was short, and I had to put some poor pieces of leather into the gloves, poor thumbs and they got it, brought it to me, and they say they don't want it, and I said the tax is so high it is hardly possible to make a glove. They said, we don't care about the tax, we are not talking about the tax now, but we are talking about the gloves. That is a question of facts and that is different. I said I have got to make the gloves out of a certain amount of leather you give out and we find we can not make it. We can not make the gloves perfect with everything. They would not listen very much to that, and of course they charges us with damages.
Once I had to pay $4.40 damages. Once I had to pay a dollar and I don't remember any other. I did not keep any record. I know I had to pay damages and I know that others had to pay too.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Do you regard the question of damages as a grievance against the system? A. In regard to the damages it would not be so bad, the charge, it would not be so bad, I suppose, it would not be much damage, if it would be as it was in previous years, but in fact, the taxes come on the way it is now, why they could not help it, having two gloves, two pairs of gloves short on account of the quality of leather they give out now. They have got to expect bad gloves. For instance, you have got a skin, there are some places in the skin is pretty good and you get pretty good gloves, and some parts of the skin like the edges of the skin, got to put in the gloves, where in the previous years we did not put it in. We simply threw it away as a poor piece of leather. They are putting it in now on account of taxes and afterwards when they look at the gloves and the gloves don't suit them, they come out and simply show it to you and tell you that you should not make gloves like that, and in some cases they charge damages against you.
Q. Do you have some pull down cutters in Meyers? A. Some, not many of them.
Q. What are they on, what class of work? A. As they call it, first class work, what it is called around there.
Q. They get about 70 cents a dozen? A. Something like that, I don't know.
Q. You don't know what they make? A. I could not tell you how much they earn a week. Of course, that is out of my line.
MR. McMAHON: That is all.
MR. ROGERS: That is all. Wait I have another question.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. How many hours a day do you work? A. I generally work nine hours a day.
Q. How much on Saturday? A. 4, or sometimes a full five hours.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Do you ever take any material home to work on nights? A. I never did that at night; I am glad when I get through with a day's work.
Q. Do you know that to be a kind of custom in that shop to take work home with you? A. A certain class of cutters, a certain nation, I couldn't describe them exactly. They do take work home after working hours right along. For instance we had our vacation in July and there were a certain party or number of cutters that took lots home and of course I could not state it exactly, but they took out sixty lots home, and they did it home, and that amounts to almost five dozen lots, to make out the time that they lost in the time of their vacation.
MR. ROGERS: Tony Compo, is he in the room?
J U L I U S K. E H R L I C H, recalled.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Mr. Ehrlich, I understand you to say, you wish to make some correction in certain testimony you gave yesterday? A. Gentlemen, I do. It is just a slight correction, if you might term it that, and it is this. I stated in the course of my testimony that after 1910 when they gave us two cents increase in wages per dozen of gloves on kid and suede and 6 cents on mochos, that immediately after that they reduced it five cents on silk lining, that is where I wish to make the correction. The reduction on silk lining was made between our last strike of 1904 and 1910, which was made previous to the increase of two cents. That is all the correction I wish to make, instead of happening after it happened previous to that. That is all the correction.
THE WITNESS: Do you wish that that resolution?
MR. ROGERS: Yes.
THE WITNESS: I have a copy of it.
(Copy of resolution received)
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Mr. Ehrlich? A. Mr. Downey.
Q. A great many witnesses, possibly members of the conference committee, I think testified something as to the facts of the strike of 1904, and from their testimony it seems the conditions of the shops are worse than they were previously to that time; for instance, the taxing system has been imposed upon the men? A. That seems to be, from my experience and my opinion, exactly the case. Previously to 1903 and 1904, the strike as I say was called in December of 1903.
Q. Will you just tell us what that strike was; just what you struck for in 1903 and 1904? A. Do you mean what was the reason of the strike?
Q. Yes? A. Yes, we had an organization then, and we had practically 98 percent of the glove cutters in Gloversville belonging to the Union at that time. Now at that time the pull down cutters were not so thoroughly organized.
Q. What I want to get at is this. During the time that the organization here had 98 percent of an organization in the shops, the conditions were different so far as the workers were concerned, that is when the cutters were organized? A. They certainly were. At the time of the organization there was many and many a man who hesitated to put anything through because of the fear of the organization, and because we had one, they did not impose on the men. Now in regard to the fining system, you scarcely know if the man next to you gets the same price as you any time since that time, because when we had the organization, if there was a grievance at one or two shops, we would go the firm and say that we don't think that this is right and we would take it up and most invariably it was always settled agreeably to that factory which had the grievance, but since that strike and the loss of an organization, we are in a position that each shop has its own particular cause for grievance, and each case is different from that of the other shops. As you have perhaps heard here from one shop, you have not heard from all. This particular shop has a fining system, a harder taxation system, and another shop has another thing. And everything in every shop seems to be a little different from the other one, except the 95 cents a dozen for gloves. The prices for cutting gloves is practically universal for gloves in Gloversville, that is, table cut gloves. There is a shop once in a while, like the Elite, and they have a slow season and they tell the men they haven't got as much work, and if you want to work for 75 cents a dozen we will give you the work, sometimes they do that and sometimes they do not. Now, if we had an organization that would not go on. But I can state that since the result of the strike in 1904, the condition of the glove cutter in Fulton County has been gradually growing worse until now we have got to a place where we think we have gone the limit.
MR. DOWNEY: That is all I wanted to ask you.
MR. ROGERS: We will adjourn until two o'clock in this room.
(Adjournment taken until 2:00 o'clock, same date and same place)