|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. 9, 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, for the Attorney General.
MR. ROGERS: Before opening the proceedings this morning I want to say just a word and that is that the Board has appreciated very much the quiet and the order which has prevailed in view of the extremely crowded conditions which we have to endure, and in view of those crowded conditions and to continue the proprieties of the occasion I shall have to insist that the same good order shall be maintained, otherwise we shall be obliged to go into executive session and clear the room of spectators.
A B R A H A M L E H R, called and sworn as a witness, testifies as follows:
EXAMINED BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Where do you live? A. Gloversville.
Q. And what address? A. 131 Prospect Street.
Q. Are you connected with Dempster & Place? A. I am President of the Dempster & Place Co.
Q. Is there an organization of the manufacturers here in Gloversville? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you connected with that in an official capacity? A. Yes, sir.
Q. As what? A. Not in an official capacity; perhaps you would consider it -
Q. Are you President of that organization? A. No, sir, you mean President of the Association itself. I am not an official of the association.
Q. Is there a title to the association? A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is it called? A. The Glover Manufacturers' Association. I am not the President of it.
Q. Who is? A. Mr. Littauer.
Q. Have you been a member of the conference committee of the manufacturers? A. I have been a member of the advisory committee of the manufacturers.
Q. What is the distinction between that and the other? A. Simply that it was not given the title of the conference committee.
Q. Did it hold conferences with a committee of the cutters? A. Yes, sir.
Q. What was your capacity in that committee? A. I am chairman of the committee.
Q. And as such you had dealings directly with the cutters? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And their committee? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Will you tell us in your own words what transpired and generally what led up to the strike and the conferences, if any, what conferences were had and so on? A. What do you mean, the cause of the strike were?
Q. Yes? A. In my opinion the obvious reasons for the strike was the difference of opinion between the manufacturers and the cutters on the question of wages.
Q. Were any talks had on that subject between the manufacturers and the cutters? A. Yes, the committee of the manufacturers representing the manufacturers and the conference committee from the cutters mass meeting and in that talk a general discussion of the situation was engaged in and the manufacturers endeavored to explain to the conference committee that the present situation was so uncertain and that the future was so obscure that we could not undertake at this time to intelligently consider a change of wages for the cutters.
Q. Has that same obscurity obtained during the last seventeen years? A. I don't know.
Q. You have been here all that time have you not? A. Not continuously. I have not been a manufacturer for seventeen years.
Q. How long? A. I have been a manufacturer since 1909.
Q. And conditions have been just as chaotic since 1909 as they are at the present time? A. Not continuously, but since 1909 we have underdone two tariff revisions.
Q. What is your position on this matter, that the manufacturers are not able to pay any increases? A. Our company feels with practically no orders in hand and no immediate prospects of new business and the business of the country so depressed in our line, that notwithstanding the fact that we only two of our fifteen traveling men on the road that we have within the last ten days been obliged to recall those two because they were not able to make their traveling expenses. At the same time customers in the South are cancelling their orders and request that we hold up such orders as they were not yet willing to take definite action on; customers in Arizona complain that on account of the shut down of the copper industry they were not going to be able to use the goods; customers in Pittsfield reported that on account of the General Electric Company only employing its force part time they were not enjoying good business. In Southbridge, Mass., a customer that I can recall, sent us a post dated check explaining that it was then impossible for him to pay his bill because the industries in his town were then working but three days a week. For instance, this morning we received a letter which is a sample of about 75 or 100 similar letters that we have received since the outbreak of the war referring to the matter of collections. This man writes from Macon, Ga. I will not mention his name because obviously it would injure the customers' credit if it became public property. I have no objection to the commission seeing the letter. Dempster & Place, Gloversville, N.Y. I call Mr. McMahon's attention to the fact that this was received this morning. Owing to unforeseen conditions which have greatly curtailed our sales and therefore our cash receipts and also the fact that practically all obligations fall due in November it has been necessary that we ask our connections additional dating. But this means our account will be scattered over enough sufficient space for us to meet them when due. We ask therefore that you grant an additional 45 days on the amounts due October 5th and November 10th. Awaiting your prompt reply and thanking you in advance for this courtesy, we are, very truly yours, Blank & Blank.
In addition to that we have found that many of our customers who had placed their orders earlier in the year and who now find the conditions unsatisfactory were attempting to reduce their stock by returning goods to us for credit, admitting that there was no deficiency in the merchandise but on account of conditions they would appreciate it if we would relieve them of those goods, and, of course, invariably those goods were accepted for credit.
Q. That seems then that you are not selling your goods? A. We are not selling any goods to speak of and the depression seems to become greater as the time goes on. We all experienced a little flurry in business during the first two weeks following the declaration of war, but since then conditions are growing considerably worse so that the last ten days have probably been the worse that we have experienced at any time this year.
Q. If the strike was not in progress that condition would result in your laying off of some of your hands? A. If the strike were not in progress we probably would not - I don't know as I quite understand that - if the strike had never occurred we probably would have no cutters to speak of working now. We might have perhaps half a dozen cutters simply to take care of special orders as they might come in and need goods different from that which we carry in stock. I might add further that if our cutters were all to return today, were all to resume their employment now, we haven't enough orders in hand to keep them busy a full week cutting. If our cutters came back we probably because of the fact that they have lost time and money in the last seven weeks would do something to give them part employment but we could not keep our full force employed.
Q. Has the retail price of your product been affected by what - you have stated that the amount of business has cut down - people are not buying? A. Yes.
Q. But when they do buy, do they pay the same price that they have been paying in the past, or more or less? A. Well I can't answer that specifically. We have not sold since the outbreak of the war, we have not sold at advanced prices since the outbreak of the war, a sufficient quantity of goods to give us a profit in excess of $200, that is to give us altogether $200 more money than we would have received if those same goods had been sold at the old prices and I might state too that a part of the business that we received during the early part of August was the result of samples that had been held by our customers for their consideration and against which they did not take action until the outbreak of the war and of course all of those goods were booked at that price and today we would be very glad if we could sell the entire stock that we have in our factory at the old prices, the entire stock of manufactured gloves.
Q. You think the prices will be reduced? A. No, - do you mean -
Q. The retail price of gloves per pair? A. I should not think they would be, no. You mean the retail price prior to the war.
Q. To the consumer yes? A. I do not believe that there is going to be any changes in prices of gloves at retail. Temporarily there is a pronounced movement on the part of retail merchants of New York to sell goods for prices lower than at any time we have known of this year.
Q. Have you any figures in your mind as to the amount of business you have been doing recently? A. You mean since the war?
Q. Yes, say since last month, September, compared with a year ago? A. Our September business as compared with a year ago actually represents a loss of 16.17 percent, and I might explain in connection with September a year ago was one of the worse Septembers in our experience, because it immediately preceded an expected revision of the tariff and naturally it being generally understood that the tariff on gloves was going to be reduced, merchants did not buy, so that the falling off in September means a great deal more than the figures would imply.
Q. Sometime during the past ten years the tariff has been reduced from about $4.00 to about $2.75 or $2.25 hasn't it? A. In the Underwood tariff the duty on men's gloves was reduced from a maximum of $4.00 to a maximum of $2.75 on unlined gloves.
Q. What effect did that have on your business, if any? A. The reduction in the tariff immediately compelled us to reduce prices that would give us at least half a chance of competing with Europe. For instance, most of the dollar and a half gloves that were sold prior to the change in tariff were negotiated at $13.50 a dozen. At the commencement of business this year, either in December or January, practically all of the houses going through the trade had to produce a glove at $12.50 to be used for that same purpose.
Q. Was there reduction to the customers made at that time? A. No, sir, there was no reduction in the cutters' wages or the wages of any other persons in our employ and I might add that there was no reduction in the cost of leather or the cost of the other material that went into making up the finished product.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Do you mean to have us infer that the reduction in price was exclusively taken out of profit? A. I mean to say that it overlapped profits and became a loss. There are many numbers in the lines of every manufacturer that are sold at a loss. We have special lot numbers in our lines that we know we are losing money on. For instance, there is an active demand on the part of merchants throughout the country in the mens' wear line for a glove known as cape glove cut from imported leather to be made up according to certain specifications and to retail at a dollar. Well, we are more or less in the position of a groceryman who reputed to sell his granulated sugar at cost or less on that proposition. We sell that glove because the man wants it and to get his other business we must supply him with that. If we do not our competitors will. Just giving to the commission the number of those gloves would not be conveying information of value to the commission because it isn't so much the number, but the number of dozens that we are obliged to make of those goods. They are important numbers with us. I would say that for instance out of the one number I am speaking of that there would be involved about 8% of our total business. We have other numbers that are in the same class. They are not important individually, but in the aggregate they would go to make up a considerable percentage of our business. It is well to bring out this point, that on the fine gloves that are made in this country we practically have our prices made and determined by our European competitors. There is of course in this country a prejudice in favor of imported goods. If, coupled with that prejudice for imported goods, there is a lower price, our opportunities for doing business are of course nil. In connection with the proposition of present prices, I have here an add cut from the New York American of September 27th, 1914, over the name of R.H. Macy & Co. "Our great glove sale at less than wholesale prices". Women's cape glove - and incidentally I would mention 25,000 pairs of those - women's kid gloves 69 cents. Prixime cape walking gloves of imported leather one class of four needle backs in three shades of tan. Now it would seem that if so large a house as Macy's felt that there was any immediate prospect of the price being higher they would not needlessly sacrifice gloves at such a price because they could sell them at a still larger price and make the sale attractive unless they were anxious to get rid of what merchandise they had. Now the next item is women's French glace gloves, twelve hundred pairs of those made in Grenoble. They have two clasps, three rows of heavy embroidery. Colors are white, self, white with black embroidery sown self, white black embroidered and gloves sewn black, 79 cents. The ordinary retail price of the gloves just mentioned would be a dollar. Here is another glove that we make in the United States, in this country, mochos gloves for women, one class, half pique, double drawn embroidery, white in bound self, three shades of gray. We could not produce these gloves of that description in our factory for less than about 90 cents a pair. Then they continue pique sewn gloves, standard price $1.35, $1.09. Women's real French glace gloves, full pique, sewn three rows of crochet embroidery, two classes, white self and white and black embroidery, black self and white embroidery and so forth and so on.
Q. Are you able from that advertisement to identify these gloves and compare them with gloves that you make in your own factory? A. Two of those four items that I have read we could compare with gloves in our own factory. They are women's cape gloves quoted at 69 cents and the genuine mocho glove for women at 89 cents. The other two gloves are goods that are made in Europe and which we can not make in this country on account of an unfavorable tariff. Our actual cost in America would be in excess of those prices if we were to attempt to make those two foreign gloves. There are here eight or nine other items but I do not suppose that there is any need of continuing that.
Q. You do not suppose that those gloves are seconds? A. They advertise here and say standard price $1.35 for the 1.09 glove and on the 79 cent glove standard price 1.00, so that whether they are seconds or not they are cheaper than the standard price and they say for some of these glove the prices are actually lower than they have ever been before and they put in bold type the prices are actually lower than they have ever been before.
Q. The sources from which those gloves were obtained is not set forth. You don't know whether that is a bankrupt stock which they purchased? A. R.H. Macy's general merchandising policy would indicate that it was not bankrupt stock because they don't buy that class of goods.
Q. Do you assume then that they are selling those goods at a loss? A. No, I do not.
Q. Can they be made by anybody cheaper than you make them? A. Oh yes, they can always be made by European manufacturers for less than we make them.
Q. I thought two of those items were made here in Fulton county? A. Yes.
Q. Then they must have been turned out at a higher cost that they were being sold for by Macy? A. Not necessarily. The manufacturer might have taken a loss on those goods on account of the depression. Some particular manufacturer might have seen the necessity for moving those goods and getting money for them and on these imported goods by explanation would be that the importers have been getting in a great many more gloves than was at first anticipated and the general depression of business makes it impossible for them to sell them at regular prices and they have sacrificed the goods. It is generally known that some importers are sacrificing prices.
Q. Can you tell us Mr. Lehr about the position of your association; what firms are in it and how many and under what conditions it is managed, how the opinion of the majority is ascertained, whether you have regular officers and so on? A. I haven't a list of our members.
Q. Well roughly? A. I would say that there were about 25 members in our association.
Q. How many factories are there in Gloversville? A. How many factories are there in Fulton county?
Q. Yes? A. This is the entire county, I think there are 158 manufacturers listed in the last census, yes approximately that.
Q. Is Mr. Walbersee secretary of the association? A. Yes.
Q. Perhaps he could give me the information better than yourself? A. Yes. I can give it to you. There are 25 out of some odd who are members of our association.
Q. Are the largest or the smallest firms? A. Some larger and some of the smaller. No all the larger firms are in.
Q. What larger firms are not in? A. Lewis Myers & Sons, Fownes Bros., Hallock & Stewart, J.H. Decker & sons Co., Richd. Evans, I can't think of any other big one at the moment.
Q. Louis Myers & Sons is the only firm that employs over about fifty cutters? A. All of those employ more than fifty. Fownes Bros. employ more than fifty.
Q. They do? A. I don't know that of my own knowledge, only as a matter of general understanding. Hallock & Stewart would employ approximately fifty. I think the papers state that there were forty that went back to work there. I don't know.
Q. At Fownes? A. At Hallock & Stewart.
Q. That is a local firm isn't it? A. Johnstown.
Q. I mean it is not a branch of a foreign business like Fownes? A. No. J.H. Decker & Sons Co. are a very large concern. I don't know how many cutters they employ. Richard Evans is a very large concern. They probably would rank well up.
Q. What percentage of the cutters would you estimate, and of the business done, is done by the members of your association? A. Less than half.
Q. Very much less? A. Oh, I should think it would be in the neighborhood of about forty percent.
Q. And of the members of your association how many of the larger firms do you suppose control fifty percent or more of the output? A. All the large concerns in the business in my opinion off hand control fifty percent of those in and out of the association.
Q. In your association are there two or three firms which are large enough to control the bulk of the business in the association? A. No, - just a minute - I don't know that I understand that.
Q. How is your representation in the association? A. How we vote?
Q. Each manufacturer has one vote regardless of whether he has two cutters or one hundred and fifty cutters.
Q. So that the smaller factory has the same voice in the meetings that the larger factory has? A. Oh yes.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Does not a large manufacturer have a greater weight given to his vote when there is a division? A. Not always.
Q. I mean numerical weight? A. No, the manufacturer who employs one hundred customers has no greater voting strength than the manufacturer who employs one cutter. Each firm that is a member of the association has one vote.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Have you your figures for August of this year compared with August of last year? A. On what?
Q. Dempster & Place? A. On what, sales.
Q. Yes? A. Yes. Our sales for August 1914 were in excess of our sales in 1913 by about 175 percent. That increase was due to the closing up of business which had been pending on samples that had been sent prior to August first to customers who generally place their business earlier in the year and who on account of the present conditions this year refused to anticipate their requirements as far in advance as they usually did and with the probable shortage of leather, these concerns felt that they wanted to cover themselves; some of them who placed business at that time have since cancelled a part of that business.
Q. That was an abnormal condition then, running nearly through that month? A. It did not run through the full month. We began to notice a distinct change in the attitude of the buyers along about the middle of the month.
Q. How about the previous month, have you those? A. Our business for the previous month was very much less than last year and our sales at the present time are less than they were for the corresponding period of last year
Q. How was July? A. July itself?
Q. Yes? A. What do you mean, the sales?
Q. The sales of 1913 compared with the sales in 1914? A. In July?
Q. Yes? A. Our sales at that time were a fraction over twenty percent less than they were in 1913. Oh July first our sales were a fraction over 30 percent less than they were in July 1913.
MR. ROGERS: That is for the six months?
THE WITNESS: For the first six months of the year.
Q. Is that for July or for the six months? A. I haven't the figures for July. I did not feel that there would be any interest in any specific figures prior to. We can produce them if the commission wants them.
Q. But the retail price has remained about the same; the falling off has been in the amount of goods that has been sold? A. The falling off has been in the number of dozens sold, and partially through the fact that some numbers were this year reduced in price over the past year.
Q. Has the price gone up? A. Oh yes. We reduced prices on a considerable part of our business during 1914. That is had we done the same amount of business in 1914 as we did in 1913 and had all the costs been parallel with the costs for 1914 the net result would have been that we would have had less profit in 1914.
Q. I assume you don't know what your profit is? A. No, I do not.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. When is that figured up? A. What?
Q. The annual profits? A. At the end of the year. There is no way to ascertain with any degree of correctness what a profit would be without making an actual physical inventory of the property, goods in process, leather materials and so forth.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. What is the nature of these glove companies, are they partnerships as a rule? A. Yes, the larger part of them are partnerships, either partnerships or individuals.
Q. Some corporations? A. Yes.
Q. There isn't any of their stock on the market is there? A. No, none of them are large enough to have stock on the market.
Q. No dividends are paid that you know of? A. There must be dividends paid at some time.
Q. How about Dempster & Place; how many stockholders have they? A. I think there are about seven, just a moment and I will give you that accurately. We have seven stockholders.
Q. Of those three are the managing officers drawing salaries or are there more than that - how many of those are directly interested in the help employed by the concern, drawing an income from it outside of their profits on the stock? A. There are three of us who are interested.
Q. Those are the managing officers? A. Yes.
Q. And the other four? A. I should have said eight stockholders.
Q. Then the other five? A. The other five are merely stockholders.
Q. Merely have their money invested? A. Yes, sir, the other five stockholders comprise practically the holdings of the heirs of Mr. Dempster and Mr. Place who were the founders of the business and which was formerly a co-partnership. This corporation was formed on the death of Mr. Dempster with the idea of perpetuating the business.
Q. Is eight a good average number of stockholders in the various companies or do you know? A. I don't know. I don't believe there would be any corporations in this business where there would be any more stockholders. The number of our stockholders was eight as a result of the number of heirs to the stock of the partners.
Q. What are the purposes of your manufacturer's association? A. The purposes are, the chief purpose is to make it possible for us to take united action in tariff matters.
Q. How long has it been in existence? A. I don't know, I believe about fifteen years or so, I believe that is about right.
Q. Was that your only object in organizing? A. I don't know, I have been a member of the association since 1909.
Q. How is the rate of wage to these employees fixed; what regulates that? A. The individual manufacturer posts a schedule in his factory which announces the prices which he is willing to pay for the various grades of work that are done.
Q. Why doesn't that vary then more or less in all factories? A. Well, it is more satisfactory to both the employee and the manufacturers to have an understood standard scale of wages for certain work to prevent argument and it is my opinion chiefly a protection to the cutter or employee because he then knows what price he can demand for his work and that prices continues uniform throughout good and poor conditions.
Q. How much a percentage of the glove business is done here in Fulton county? A. Percentage of what business?
Q. Of the glove business of the United States, is it 85 percent? A. Of the manufacturing?
Q. Yes? A. I would think that about 85 percent of all of the gloves manufactured in the United States are manufactured here in the fine goods line. Most of the heavy goods are manufactured outside of this county.
Q. There are not enough of the manufacturers located elsewhere to provide any statistics for prices or conditions? A. You mean elsewhere in the United States?
Q. Outside of Fulton county? A. New York City has a considerable number of cutters.
Q. Is there fine goods manufactured there? A. Yes.
Q. In any great amount or does that comprise the other 15 percent? A. Of course these percentages I am giving you are merely rough, I am not at all sure that I am accurate in the matter.
Q. But you have here practically a monopoly of the glove manufacturing? A. I shouldn't think so.
Q. That is a fact isn't bit? A. No.
Q. 85 percent? A. Manufacturers do not come here for any particular preference for this locality as a manufacturing center but because most of the labor in the glove business resides here.
Q. But the fact remains that you have here in Fulton county practically all the manufacturers of gloves? A. The larger part of the total number of glove manufacturers in the United States making fine goods are located in this county.
Q. They are here? A. Yes.
Q.And these cutters if they want work have to cut it here? A. To the extent of the gross amount of employment that could be had here as compared with elsewhere. I might say in that connection, that the larger part of our cutters are foreigners and they have come here from abroad, from the manufacturing centers abroad, because the conditions over here were better.
Q. That is what they thought when they started; what does the individual manufacturer who posts a schedule take into consideration when he is making that schedule what regulates that? A. How much he can afford to pay.
Q. He pays all he can afford? A. He feels that he does. Careful consideration and calculation is given to the matter as evidenced by the fact that the manufacturers voluntarily increase the price of cutting certain lengths some two or three years ago because they felt that that item in comparison with other items on the schedule was out of proportion and should be increased.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. You don't want to give us the impression that changes in this wage schedule were made voluntarily by the individual manufacturer without consulting with the other members of the association? A. No I do not. As a general proposition members of the association come together in meeting and after having the matter thoroughly investigated by a committee who has that matter in charge the whole proposition is discussed and the recommendations of the committee considered and suggestions made by members and finally the conclusion is come to that certain prices for certain work would be fair.
Q. Then common action is taken on that report of the committee? A. Common action is taken by the members of the association.
Q. And in your experience that is generally followed by other manufacturers throughout the industry whether they are members of the association or not? A. Yes.
Q. Simply by necessity? A. Yes, although in some cases manufacturers outside of the association pay less than our schedule.
Q. According as they can get help or not? A. According as they can get help.
Q. Then it is fair for us to understand that in addition to the interest of your association in the tariff matters you have a common interest in fixing and maintaining a standard scale here? A. We surely would have such an interest.
Q. In fact that is one of the principal purposes of your organization, isn't it? A. Yes, it might be considered that.
Q. You are taking common action in this controversy? A. If that were the only thing, the only object that we have in common, there would be no association.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Dempster and Place is one of those firms that take part in this discussion of the wages that are to be paid? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And gives careful consideration as to what it is able to pay? A. Yes, sir.
Q. And in doing so it knows pretty well where it stands doesn't it and the amount of business and its profits and what it is making as profits on the gloves? A. Yes, sir, although the same price is paid on gloves that we sell at less as those on which we try to get a profit.
Q. But the average is a profit isn't it? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you a rough idea of what the profit is in your business or are you prepared to state? A. I could not state accurately at all.
Q. On the whole business? A. I don't know what the actual profit is, but we would be tickled to death if we could make five percent on our gross business for any year.
Q. You are making less than five? A. Yes on the gross output of our business, on our gross sales. If on our total sales for the year we could get a net profit of five percent we would feel that we had done well.
Q. What do you suppose your profit is, about four?
BY MR. ROGER:
Q. Mr. Lehr have you read any reports of the testimony given in the taxation of skins? A. Yes.
Q. I wish you would explain the manufacturers view of that matter or your own view of the matter rather? A. Well, we did not in our factory adopt the practice of taxing skins until the early part of 1912. We were led to do that from the fact that the old method of giving skins out to cutters and having them determine how many pairs were to be had from them was not satisfactory, and that we did not get from our skins the amount of gloves that we figured we should get and of course there was no way to sustain our position when we got into an argument over the matter with the individual cutter, because we had no record of what those skins should produce. As an illustration on that point. We had a cutter working for us who was given a batch of skins, who was given several batches. He had worked for us about a week and we had not taxed him, but it was felt that he was not getting what he should have from that leather and one lot was taxed and given to him without his knowledge that they had been taxed and he fell short six pairs and when he was reprimanded for it he did not know we were taxing him. We feel that our leather represents money and we have to pay money for it and that we ought to keep as careful a record of our leather as we do of our cash, that we can not in taxing skins ask for any more from those skins than there is in them and if there is through error in judgment on the part of the foreman who taxes the skins a question as to whether the total amount fixed could be had from those skins, there is always a remedy. The cutter reports the matter to the foreman, shows him the skins and says you have this marked three pairs, for example, and I can't get three pair. The foreman must proceed to show him how he can get three pairs. If he can't naturally we have to give him another skin that will produce three pairs. I do not know of any industry where material is not measured up and we certainly have been urged by the present administration to be economical in our manufacture to prevent waste. Now years ago when leather was very much cheaper than it is now, the proposition of waste on leather was not so important an item as it is now, but all of these men who are here from abroad have come as a general proposition from factories where the taxation system was employed. I know of no important European manufacturer who does not, and in that connection I might add I read the testimony of one of our cutters on the subject of taxation and as I recall the article in the newspaper, which may have been incorrect, he considered that the system of taxation was oppressive. In the first place our manufacturers committee had with the conference committee of the cutters, that cutter stated that we were not sufficiently appreciative of the special efforts on his part, that invariably he could get from one to two pair more than the skins were taxed and he received no bonus for that. He was simply paid for producing those gloves. The full membership of the conference committee and full membership of the cutters committee were present when the statement was made; and so far as the system interfering materially with a careful worker, we have in our factory and I know that it is so in other factories, cutters who can invariably get more than the skins are taxed, because as a rule the foreman taxes the skins on an average cutters when he taxes them - and he does not know who he is putting them up for, he does not know the next man who will apply for work. The skins are sorted out for the grade of work required and a ticket is put on them for the number required. The man who takes the skins does not give them out. Another foreman gives them out. We have one of our best cutters, the cutter who makes the most money - not the most money but he is among the top notchers on our payroll, whom I am told invariably can - I don't want to put that statement too strong - but invariably he gets more than the skins are taxed and seldom has to come back for additional leather and that cutter earns good pay. In connection with that there was in the testimony I think of the cutter who was employed by us something about mocho rags and the prices of them being a dollar. In our factory and in nearly every other important factory that I know of that work is done by the day.
Q. What work? A. Cutting of the so-called mocho rag, the leather which does not run up to the average and it is not fair to ask a man to cut them at the average price by the day and he produces what he can within a given number and there is no fixed quantity that he must produce to earn that daily wage and that is usually three dollars.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. In your factory it is done by the day? A. Yes.
Q. Do you know anything about the others? A. I think that in all the important factories it is done on the same plan and I am told by Mr. Aren that that is the plan that they have in their factory of, Lewis Myers & Sons.
Q. This testimony along that line related to another factory? A. It did not relate to our factory.
Q. Well the particular testimony related to another factory? A. Oh well, also in the testimony about bindings in our factory it was stated here that 96 inches of bindings were cut for nothing. The only glove on which it would be at all possible to use 96 inches of binding is a special automobile gauntlet after idea that seemed to us to be desirable and those gloves are made in our factory by the day, no cutter cuts them by the dozen. We did some years ago cut them by the dozen, but the men complained that they could not at the trade earn enough at the price paid and it seemed to us that they were justified and we eventually had that work done by the day. The cutter who gave this testimony told me personally that when he first came to our factory and saw these automobile gauntlets he thought there was good money in them and he asked for them, but he did not want them very long and his judgment was good because they should be cut by the day. They are particular work. Now in reference to the general question of binding, that would seem to have been dwelt upon. In our factory we have cut not to exceed five hundred dozen gloves a year that are made without bindings and a deduction of five cents a dozen on five hundred dozen amounts to us to $25 each year. Now there is another schedule that these men in our factory work under, and the schedule is based on the proposition that these bindings shall be cut with the gloves but if extra binding is demanded five cents extra shall be paid. That principle establishes that five cents is the satisfactory price for cutting bindings. Where no bindings are cut at all we take the position that it is proper to subject that to an equivalent reduction. The point is not really an argument so far as we are concerned because we do not turn out over five hundred dozen gloves a year of that merchandise and it would not involve over $25 distributed among the workers in our factory. We make the reduction of five cents a dozen where that binding is not required. The way the testimony was given it would seem that there was a general movement to cut the price of cutting gloves of five cents a dozen, whereas it effects so small a fraction it is not worthy of comment.
Q. In the manufacturers association have the manufacturers ever attempted to get any uniform method of taxation; I will explain why I ask that; that is the method of taxation has caused trouble in other industries, the shoemakers have had some of the same conditions and cigarmakers have had something of the same conditions, and unfair taxation in those industries gets on the nerves of the men and diminishes their earning capacity; some of the evidence given here tended to show that it was the policy of the manufacturers [to] tax the skins and keep the man on his nerve a [?] making allowance when he came back saying they could produce for the amount taxed; now have the manufacturers attempted to get a method for fair taxation? A. To my knowledge there has never been any conference or discussion by manufacturers on the method that should be adopted on the question of taxation. So far as I know each manufacturer determines for himself what plan he is to follow in taxing these skins and as a manufacturer, speaking simply for our company, I could not say, or attempt to point the wisdom of a policy of taxation that would involve continual discussion and argument between the cutter and the foreman because of the necessity I would be obliged to have extra overseers if so much time were to be spent in determining how many pairs were to be gotten out of the skins.
Q. Suppose so many skins will be given to a workingman and he is taxed for a certain amount and the workingman comes back and does not have that amount, he suffers because he failed to get the required number? a. He suffers to the extent of the chagrin he might have experienced in not having fulfilled his task.
Q. It gets on his nerve and he thinks something will happen because he did not do as he was taxed; now does it not involve some labor; now doesn't it involve some worry if the number of gloves taxed to a skin can not be obtained from that? A. Oh yes, he would have to do the same thing as the taxer did in ascertaining how much would be produced from that skin.
Q. Then if a man is taxed for so many dozen, say he is taxed for 20 pairs and he comes back and shows that there are only fifteen pair; now is anything said to the man who taxes them for the 20 pairs for overtaxing that amount? A. He would not do it that way, he would not wait until he reached the end of his lot. In our factory each skin is marked as to whether it is expected to produce two, three or four pair and when he is working that skin, manipulating that skin that question would have to be determined whether he could get the three pair cut that they were marked for if there was a question about it and he would call the foreman or take the skin to the foreman and if the foreman could not show him how to get the three pair out he would get another skin.
Q. If the foreman did show him, there would not be anything done to the foreman, but it got on the nerves of the workman and it would get on his nerves if the workman did not get them out, and that is the evil in other industries? A. Then the man who would take that up in our factory is not the man who taxes the skin.
Q. There can be fairness in taxing as well as in anything else? A. The man who in our factory for instance does the taxing has been in our employ 28 years and 25 of those 28 years there was no taxing and it is proper to assume he would not be inclined to go to the other extreme of the matter.
Q. The testimony here tended to show that some had; I do not say that it was in relation to your factory, but that is an evil also in other industries? A. There can be no more produced from the skin than is in that skin. If there are a given number of pairs in a skin as a matter of economical and correct manufacturing those pairs ought to be had from there.
Q. The manufacturer though can ask for more than there is in the skin when he gives it out and make the workmen believe he has not done right because he failed to obtain what is not obtainable? A. Well as a general proposition, as I said before, no broad minded manufacturer, broad gauged manufacturer could see any profit in that sort of business. Besides there is a point it might be well to make here, that in normal times when business conditions are fair there are no more cutters in the industry than are required and there is more or less competition for help and these unsatisfactory conditions, if they exist to any appreciable extent would certainly be modified when there would be competition for help. We have to make our factory conditions - the situation in this town or in this industry rather in normal times is such that we must make our factory conditions inviting for the employees and of necessity we can not impose any intolerable hardships.
Q. It is said that the increased value of the skins of course may vary to get more out of them and that brings up this point too, that in an attempt to obtain a greater yield, men have testified that they have had to go around the factory to get pieces to put in wherever they could, to match up, and having failed to do it sometimes they were fined for not getting it, now the question is have the manufacturers made an attempt to get a fair return of that kind, for instance, if the necessary work on the skins requires so much time and the workmen would lose it from his wages by doing that, has he been recommended in any way or must he lose all? A. Mr. McManus in every industry there are certain basic customs from which all understandings or agreements must come and during the twenty years that I have had knowledge of the glove business it has always bee understood that if there was any leather in the factory that could be used to save a pair of gloves that leather was to be had and cutters have always done that. The prices we have paid in this industry for cutting were based on that understanding, that there are different things that go to make up the trade and it has always been agreeable to them to do that. This investigation is the first time I have ever heard of cutters objecting to finding pieces to save a pair of gloves, and if there are pieces left over from which to save gloves, there must have been some waste on some skins and it should be evidence that some skins at least could have been taxed to their limit otherwise there would be no pieces to come out.
Q. They might be taxed to the limit so far as cutting gloves is concerned and yet have small pieces over that could be put into a glove? A. It could be cut into fittings.
Q. Then they have got to scour the shop to find those pieces? A. This scouring of the shops could be stated in such a way as to give a wrong impression.
Q. That is what I want to find out? A. I do not imagine that in our work room which is 110 feet long that a man in the forward end of the room is going to chase to the other end of the room and down on the other side to get a couple of forchets. If he is, he is a man who ought to be rewarded.
Q. They have testified that they have done that to get a piece to match up and they have been fined for it? A. That they have been fined for it?
Q. Yes? A. I do not know of any instance in my six years that I have been manufacturing where anybody in our factory charged for a damage of that kind.
Q. I do not recall the factory but that testimony was given? A. In connection with my remarks on the inquiry of Mr. McManus, you spoke of factory articles and intended to repeat that if I had an opportunity. I do not know of any particular factory regulations that are enforced as to the cutters excepting such regulations as would be involved in the work required of them. For instance we have absolutely no way of controlling the number of hours or we have never employed any means of controlling the number of hours that cutters shall be in the building or at their bench and there is no way - we have never used any means to enforce the proposition of a cutter remaining at his bench and not spending his time visiting other cutters. Now in some of the testimony as to wages, I do not know all these cutters that have testified, and I am not in position to contradict their testimony, but for instance I do happen to know that one of the men who testified that he is working in our factory and said he was 73 years old. Well, he did not add that he had rheumatism and a bad leg and could not do the work that an average man of 73 might be able to do; and of course, his age would not make it possible for him under any reasonable wage schedule to earn what you would call or what the average person would call a satisfactory wage. I notice in the testimony of one of the cutters from Johnstown that he said he could not earn a satisfactory wage and that his wife was obliged to help him and that she earned a couple of dollars a week. Only a week ago there was an interview in the paper purporting to be given by the wife of this cutter relating her experience on a recent European trip and some of the conversation that she had had with the passengers in the second cabin. I hardly think that a man, any member of whose family is able to take several months trip to Europe is any danger of immediately applying to the poor commissioner.
Q. Do you recall his name? A. I think his name was Harper. He works in Johnstown. This man I happen to know the circumstances of, having read this interview given in the paper and these two interviews coming so soon brought this to my mind. Now as to the question of hours, it will be found as a rule that a cutter who does not earn an average fair wage does not put in the required number of hours. He may spend the hours in the factory but he does not spend the hours working at his bench. For instance we had a case of this kind that came up last year. A man had worked with us fifteen years and it became a rumor around the shop that he was going to be dismissed and it was brought to my notice and I sent to the foreman and wanted to know why a man who had been working for us for fifteen years should be dismissed. He said the cutters complain about him, that he has spent so much time talking to the customers in his vicinity that they could not do the work they wanted to do. Of course that is an extreme case and is not intended to reflect the general attitude of cutters but there is that, and naturally those cutters would not earn a satisfactory wage under any wage. Now there are also other conditions, one of the cutters who is ins our employ and who is a cutter that does not earn a great deal of money runs a chicken farm in addition to his glove trade and he does not appear at the factory until ten o'clock and he goes home at three or four. Another cutter whom we had in our employ at one time was a member of one of the bands and he did not work full time but he had extra income from his work with the band. Well there are a great many that have testified here that would be subject to further explanation if that testimony was deemed important. We would be very glad in our factory and I think nearly every other manufacturer would be glad if the cutters would be willing to have a time record kept by the manufacturers. It would eventually give us accurate knowledge as to what an average man can produce with an average amount of effort in a given number of hours. There is nothing that now interferes with a cutter not coming to work at all if he doesn't want to, or quitting at anytime to attend to personal business or fish or hunt or anything of that sort and we notice that our production per capita is materially reduced during those months that are seasonable and inviting outdoors. That is an actual record that we have made at different times to see what causes the falling off in production at the time that we need the work.
Q. Do you think that that would give you an accurate idea of what a man could produce by keeping an account of the hours he works, piece work for instance, as in the cases of places where piece work is in vogue that the fast man will speed up and speed hard and they will crack under the strain whereas the only accurate average you get is the man who just plugs along, at a moderate pace, who works steadily in other words; you wouldn't get any more from the punching of a time clock than you do now; that doesn't apply to the glove industry does it? A. Why could you not strike an average?
Q. Take a man who works on his full speed say for five weeks and then he cracks and he is out two weeks recuperating or three weeks, if he had worked at an average speed for five weeks he would not earn the same? A. I am not figuring on the cutter being so pressed with work that if he works five weeks he would take a week off to recuperate. I don't know of any proceeding in the industry to make that necessary.
Q. In every industry where piece work obtains happens to some? A. But it is not the case in this industry. Some idea of what a cutter can earn may be found in the fact that lots of cutters refuse to work at thirty cents an hour. We have a case of one of our customers who has testified here who worked for us for thirty cents an hour and who refused to continue to work at thirty cents an hour this year and preferred to work on piece work.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. What have been the average conditions affecting you the past ten years, what can you state, what was the tariff prior to 1904? A. I don't know. We have never had a tariff in this country that made it possible for us to successfully compete with Europe on women's goods. The tariff on mens' goods during my connection with the business has never been sufficiently adequate for us to entirely disregard European competition or to f eel easy in regard to it.
Q. Was there a tariff increase in 1906? A. What bill was passed in 1904?
Q. I don't know, was there any? A. There has been no particular change in the tariff from 1894 until 1909. My memory is not very good on that. 1897 gave us the maximum tariff that we have ever had. It was first reduced in 1909 and drastically cut in 1913.
Q. In 1897 that marks the time of the last increase in the cutters wages doesn't it? A. No, in 1910, we increased the cutters on certain grades of work.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Was there any strike at that time? A. No there has been no strike in the industry since 1904.
Q. I understood that there was a strike in 1910? A. There was no strike that I know of; we were not involved in any strike.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. The statement was made here yesterday that during the time of the increased tariff on gloves that it was charged by the manufacturers that if the tariff at that time passed that they would get an increase in wages? A. In connection with what bill.
Q. I think it was Mr. Taylor who made that statement, the Dingley bill I believe it was in 1897 and at that time when the committee of the men went to the manufacturers and asked for the increase that they were promised which they claim was promised by Mr. Littauer and others - you can find that statement in the records, that they told them that they did not intend to grant them an increase but that they were going to give them more work, that they went out on strike and after ten weeks on strike they secured a ten percent increase on some work? A. I don't know anything about that Mr. Downey. At that time I was an errand boy in a glove factory and I didn't know anything about the deals that were had between the men and the manufacturers.
Q. That was the statement that was made? A. I don't know anything about that Mr. Downey, I can not give you any enlightenment.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Was the last increase that was made amounting to as much as ten cents or ten percent was the result of that last strike previous to the strike of ten years ago? A. I could not answer that question Mr. Rogers. That antedates my experience as a manufacturer.
Q. Since you have been a manufacturer have you ever know of anything more than an adjustment of prices, has there been any increase of a given percentage all the way through? A. Not during my experience has there been any percentage increase.
Q. Has there been any flat increase all the way through? A. Not all the way through.
Q. Just on certain qualities? A. Yes, whenever we felt there was an injustice in the then rate. I might say in this connection that following the questions asked by Mr. Machon in connection with schedule that you know that there is no penalty attached to the case of any manufacturer in increasing or decreasing his own prices from that schedule.
Q. You don't fine a member who does not do as you wish? A. There is no way of enforcing it.
Q. Do you have any system of fine on members who do not comply with the wishes of the association? A. No.
Q. Have you, as a matter of fact, knowledge of any firm that does not comply with the schedule excepting those two or three plants who have settled with the strikers on an increased basis; they of course are not complying with the old schedule, but besides that do you know of any firm that is paying less than the schedule? A. No. I do know that it is generally understood in the industry that gloves can be had in New York for less money than they can up here at times when there is a business depression.
Q. In arranging this schedule of wages of late years since you have been a member of this Association, has it been revised or changed or continued after conferences with the employees or is it just fixed by the manufacturers alone? A. Well there has not been any official conference with employees on that subject, but the manufacturer - you must keep in mind all the time that in discussing the schedule that there has nearly always up until this year and for at least the last five years been a condition here where there was competition for labor. There were two columns of ads, wants ads, by manufacturers in the newspapers at one time and on that account manufacturers would naturally be sensitive to any suggestion that were reasonable on the part of their people, and in the discussion of a subsequent schedule these matters would be thoroughly gone over.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. When they are advertising a general rate of wages had been set and where there was no penalty they were expected to adhere to that rate, the rate of wages in obtaining help and no man was expected to give more than any other man at that time. A. He was not expected to.
Q. There was no penalty? A. He was not expected to but in a good many instances it was done.
Q. Was it done openly in advertising for them? A. No, I don't remember of any particular ad that openly advertised for cutters at highest prices but in the competition for help I have seen manufacturers advertise for makers, mentioning prices that were considerably above the standard prices adopted in the community.
Q. Members of the association? A. No.
Q. No member of the association did anyway? A. Not to my knowledge.
Q. While they were competing for help? A. Not to my knowledge.
Q. Then the fact that there was a shortage of help at any time would not tend to increase wages so far as the association was concerned? A. Excepting to this point, that the market for labor being tense and keen a manufacturer, driven by a demand from his trade for deliveries of certain orders that he had contracted for, then the cutter realizing that there were other jobs open to him if he did not like the job he had might have human inclination not to be so careful with his work and automatically raise his wages.
Q. In that way? A. Yes, and that was considered as quite a serious proposition at one time.
Q. When? A. I think it was in 1912 - back of that. I don't know just the particular year. These things have been discussed.
Q. But it was not considered wise to actually make the increase at that time? A. It was considered possible to do so without impairing to an unwarranted degree the possibility of merchandising our goods successfully.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. The point I want to bring out is that even if there were great demands for labor, a very great demand for labor, it would not result in an increase in wages so long as the manufacturers were agreed as to the present rates they would pay? A. No matter how bad they were wanted if no more than a given price could be obtained for merchandise, the manufacturer could not pay any more.
Q. He would be under obligations not to pay more if the rate was set by the organization? A. More than 60 percent of the cutting men are people employed outside of the association. There was at least opportunity for majority action in either direction.
Q. If the great bulk of manufacturers take a decided stand on matters of that kind the others would fall in line? A. Not necessarily; it has not in this issue.
Q. The demand for labor had no affect on wages in the face of action by the manufacturers? A. It did not have visible effect but the customers have earned better money.
Q. When there is a rush they do in all industries and you, accept inferior work? A. Yes, they were making the same amount of money with less effort.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Is there a firm Hallock & Stewart? A. There is.
Q. That is a local firm? A. Yes, Johnstown.
Q. Is it in the association? A. No.
Q. That firm has taken back its employees, hasn't it? A. This was reported in the press, I don't know of my own knowledge.
Q. Do you know of any conditions peculiar to that firm which conditions are not shared by the other manufacturers which would make it necessary or advisable for Hallock & Stewart to take back their employees and grant the raise, any condition which does not affect your people? A. I do not know anything about their business. I do not know enough about their business to be able to form anything like a satisfactory opinion in the matter. I could not tell what might influence them.
Q. They are not any larger or any smaller than the other firms are they? A. Yes, they are larger than some and smaller than others.
Q. But they strike a fair average? A. Yes.
Q. There isn't anything about them that sets them apart from the other firms in Johnstown and Gloversville, that makes them unique, that you know of? A. No, no particular point that I know of.
Q. You haven't any reason in your own mind for their taking their men back again? A. I can understand -
Q. Can understand why they should? A. I can't understand why they should unless special conditions effect them and I believe they must have been influenced by such special conditions, but I have not the least idea what those conditions might be. I have an idea of what theories or conditions might affect somebody to give in but I have no knowledge what could affect that particular concern to give in.
Q. As to Fownes & Bros? A. Of course I don't know, but it is easier for me to conjecture there. If we had a plant in England and we had some orders to get out and we did not know when there would be any more after that and we had a few cutters working over here and it was difficult to get our labor back on the other side I might for the sake of a temporary arrangement have those few gloves cut at any prices that would be anywheres within reason that would not involve an unwarranted loss.
Q. This raise is within reason? A. I don't know. I know though if I were a foreign manufacturer I would be inclined to grant the American cutter an increase in wages simply because of the fact that I would be handicapping my American competitors to the extent of that increase; in other words I would be automatically reducing the tariff to the extent involved in the wage increase. If I were placed in the position of a foreign manufacturer I would think that was a pretty clever piece of business.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Do you know how the importation of finished gloves to this country compares with the importation before the war? A. I couldn't give the figures off hand. I know that upwards of six hundred cases of gloves have been received within the last three weeks and I know that importers are filling their orders and that Dreyfus & Co. one of the largest foreign manufacturers and makers of a very high product are now out soliciting orders for next spring at lower prices and guaranteeing delivery. That is generally known here. That same house is also known to be delivering in full their present orders. I know that one manufacturer here who buys goods abroad yesterday or the day before received a cable that all of his orders were completed and unless more orders were forthcoming the factory would have to shut down. This foreign manufacturer depending upon the American manufacturer to merchandise goods for him. I can not see any immediate stoppage of importation. Here is an article from the New York Commercial of October 3rd, Dry Goods Imports Gained Despite European War. Figures for week of September 26th very heavy, increase of $760,000 over the same week of last year in goods entered for consumption. The articles that show gains, and losses in silk and knit goods. Then come down here - big items and their amounts were as follows: wool clothes $150,000; wool dress goods $47,270; wool yarns $10,117; cottons $62,000; colors $75,000; cotton laces and embroideries $408,000; silk velvets $70,000; linens $365,000; linen handkerchiefs $87,000; leather gloves $257,797. In every instance they show a gain over last year. This is a clipping from the Journal of Commerce under date of October 5th.
Q. Still there are no orders coming in? A. No, naturally these importations have a depressive effect on the situation in view of the general depression of conditions of the country.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Isn't it the general practice when a strike is on to call in agents and not solicit business? A. It is if the manufacturer is short of merchandise. We have merchandise to sell and would like to sell it, goods that are completely made up.
Q. If you had all of your agents out doing business to furnish the trade? A. If all of our agents were out doing business now I do not think they could possibly sell, judging from their ordinary work, within less than four weeks, of active work, the goods that we have on hand, and some of the manufacturers are even proportionately better situated on stock. I judge that simply from heresay.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. You have been a member of this Association, this Manufacturers Association, did you say five years? A. I became a member in March 1909.
Q. How often since you have been a member of this Association has a demand been made on the employers for an increase in wages by any of the cutters? A. I do not recall any particular time that was received at any meeting that I attended excepting on instance and I think that came about the time that the Payne-Aldrich bill was passed, but my recollection of that is not clear.
Q. What was the demand then, what increase? A. There was no specific demand made as I recall it, simply the suggestion. It was not a demand as I recall it. It was a suggestion or request that an increase be granted.
Q. It was testified here yesterday that a committee waited upon the manufacturers association and suggested to them an increase in wages at that time, two years ago or thereabouts? A. At that time we were not members of the association, I don't know.
Q. Two years? A. We were not members of the association for a short period.
Q. Then you do not know anything about that? A. I don't recall any such business.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Have you personally served on the manufacturers schedule committee which fixes the changes in prices? A. No. I think I did one time - I was appointed on a special committee that had under consideration the wage that was to be established for the work that was done on a new sewing machine but it was not an item that was imported.
Q. Have you any other statement that you would like to make for our information at present? If so, you may return at two o'clock Mr. Lehr and you be here also Mr. Aaron.
RECESS UNTIL 2:00 P.M.