|The Glovers of Fulton County|
A B R A H A M L E H R, recalled.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Mr. Lehr have you any additional statements you wish to make? A. No, sir, not that I can think of now.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Mr. Lehr, testimony has been given here that a glove cutter is a skilled worker, that glove cutting is a skilled trade; what is your opinion on that? A. I think that is correct testimony.
Q. That it is a skilled trade? A. Yes.
Q. This morning you stated that the manufacturers some two or three years ago voluntarily increased the price paid for cutting certain makes because you felt that the price paid for such cutting was out of proportion with the price paid on other makes; when did that take place, what was the increase? A. I believe it was in 1910 and the increase was 6½ cents a dozen on mochos and 2 cents on suedes and 2 cents on glaces.
Q. Was that followed by a decrease paid cutters for any other make? A. By decrease, no.
Q. Now aside from the increase of ten cents put into effect shortly after the Dingley law went into effect and the increase just referred to has any other increase been made to the cutters that you know of? A. I can only answer for what has happened since 1909 because I have no definite knowledge of anything that occurred in the matter of wages previous to that time. It should be remembered in that connection that this line of industry in this country practically got its start in 1897.
Q. You don't know of any other increase in the past 17 years? A. I don't know of any other adjustment of wage scale.
Q. Well, adjustments or increases, in the past 17 years, you don't know whether there has been any? A. Not to my knowledge, I can not go back prior to 1909.
Q. You stated this morning that you were in the glove business for twenty years; did you work in Gloversville all during that time? A. No, I worked in Boston for about five years after that time and part of that time I was not directly in the glove business.
Q. Well, in your opinion, has the cost of living increased, in this vicinity in the past five years? A. Yes sir.
Q. To what extent, what percentage? A. Oh, I haven't any idea.
Q. It has increased in this vicinity? A. Yes, it has increased; that is a matter of common knowledge, but I do not know to what extent the increase has been.
Q. If the original increase asked by the cutters had been granted that would mean that you would have to increase your sales price about two and a half cents a pair? A. We don't sell gloves by the pair; they are sold by the dozen.
Q. It would mean two and a half cents a pair? A. It would mean if we conceded to a 25 percent increase we would have to try to get that increase from the merchant. That would be doubtful; it is not doubtful, it is certain that we could not get it.
Q. And if an increase of 15 cents were made that would mean a cent and a quarter in the cost prices of gloves per pair? A. You mean a cent and a quarter increase in cost?
Q. Yes? A. We would feel if we granted that increase it would have to be borne by us; there would be no way of getting it back.
Q. Now is it your opinion that this increase is so great that the trade can not stand it? A. Yes, sir, it can not stand it in the present state of business.
Q. You don't think the public, the purchaser of gloves, the retailer would stand an increase of a cent and quarter increase? A. The merchandising of gloves isn't handled on that basis. There are certain arbitrary prices apparently arbitrary prices of gloves and our gloves are not build and then a price made on them; we start in at the price we can get for a certain kind of glove and see if we can build it and we have to make ninety five percent of our production to meet certain standard selling prices, running $1.00, $1.50, $2.00 and $2.50. Very few above a dollar and a half. Most of the business being done, the largest part of the business being done at a dollar and a considerable part at a dollar and a half and the remainder at various prices, depending on whether they are lined with silk or fur and so forth and so on and it is impossible in our experience of something like 36 years over there to get merchants to buy any goods to speak of at prices that are what we call odd prices. As a matter of fact the tendency on the part of the retail merchant, and it has been shown by investigations that have been held, is to pay less than $13.50 for his $1.50 glove. That was formerly considered the standard price for a $1.50 glove, but each year the pressure is greater and greater towards bringing it back as low in some cases to $11.00 and $11.50 for a glove that they are going to retail at a dollar and a half.
Q. So that it is your opinion that so far as granting any increase to the cutters, skilled cutters, that their wages will have to remain fixed; you can never increase their wages; the trade can not stand it? A. I do not say that. I say so long as present conditions continue we can not make any increase. If conditions improve and better prices could be obtained for our goods we would be very much disposed to grant an increase without a request being made.
Q. Testimony was given here that each time those committees appointed to wait upon the manufacturers called that your answer to them was just the same as you give now, conditions at those times, two years ago, did not warrant the increase? A. No committee waited upon me two years ago.
Q. Testimony was given to the effect that they waited upon the manufacturers association? A. I have no knowledge of any committee in the past five years waiting upon the manufacturers association.
Q. I remember this statement was made by a witness, a sworn witness, that he waited upon Mr. Littauer as President, a committee from the workers representing the cutters, and he stated to this effect, Littauer asked them why they did not ask them for enough, asking for ten percent is pretty small proposition, why don't you ask for more, and he stated conditions did not warrant any increase at all? A. What Mr. Littauer might have said at that time was simply an expression of his personal views. To my knowledge that matter was not taken up by the Association. I do not recall any such business in the association.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Do you recall a discussion in the Association for a ten cent increase two years ago? A. No.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. For highly skilled mechanics, such as are glove cutters, do you believe the wages you are giving now are sufficient? A. I believe that the glove cutters are getting all that the conditions will stand. If it was possible to give more we would have given it.
Q. Then according to your statement the industry could not stand any further increase more than the ten percent increase given in the past ten years? A. I don't think I can make any statement about before 1909. I am incompetent to discuss intelligently any statement that goes back before I was interested in such matters. I don't want to guess an answer. I could not give you an intelligent answer to that.
Q. What is the competition being so keen, what are the causes? A. The competition in the glove business among manufacturers ourselves?
Q. The whole subject? A. I suppose the principal reason for this intense competition is that it doesn't require any considerable amount of money to begin operating as a glove manufacturer. The proportion of the plant investment to the entire assets that might be involved is very small and consequently I would feel that if I had enough money to buy the few tools that were necessary to engage in manufacturing gloves all that it would be necessary for me to do beyond that point would be to establish credit to get material.
Q. Of all the gloves that are manufactured this community supplies 85 percent of the country? A. I refer to fine gloves.
Q. I mean the class of work these cutters are engaged in - you say supply the country - A. I don't know that.
Q. As I understand from your statement 85 percent of the fine gloves used in this country are manufactured here? A. I don't believe that I said that. You misunderstood me. I made the statement that 85 percent in my opinion, about 85 percent of the fine goods that were manufactured in the United States were made in this community. The larger part of the fine goods that are used in this country are of foreign origin, both in value and in bulk.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. What is the percentage of men's gloves sold in this country and made in this county? A. The percentage of men's gloves that are sold in this country and made in this county, the fine gloves, would be in excess of 70 percent.
Q. And the percentage is something like the reverse of that on the women's gloves? A. I should think today 90 percent of the women's gloves that are used in this country are made in Europe. Those figures are easily available through these reports of the custom houses and the census bureau. The census bureau gives our figures and the custom houses gives the others. They give the approximate figures. I mentioned this morning that so far as our prices in America were concerned, even on the men's business, which we have, our prices are not made as a general proposition by the competition between ourselves. They are made by the competition with Europe, the idea being of furnishing goods at a price which will successfully compete for the business against European manufacturers.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. I was led to believe that only the 15 percent of the fine goods that you manufactured come into this country from Europe? A. You were erroneously informed.
Q. What percentage of fine gloves that you make come into this country that would be in competition with you, the gloves made in Fulton county? A. Well all the women's gloves made in Europe are in competition with us because if we had a tariff that would permit of our cutting those gloves here, they could make them here. We consider the whole European situation is competition.
Q. There are only about 15 percent of the women's gloves manufactured here as I understand it? A. I believe that there is less than that. Of course the competition on men's gloves remains just the same, eliminating the women's glove end of it. We still have the men's glove end of it and that is the larger part of our business and we have to compete these foreign houses.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. When you had the $4.00 tariff on men's gloves did the manufacturers take full advantage of that price, in their selling price? A. Competition between ourselves fixed the price at that time. I don't know to what extent that $4.80 might have been absorbed.
Q. I have been led to believe by certain testimony given here that the cut in the tariff was based somewhat on the actual selling price of your gloves, indicating that you were not losing money on them, at your then selling price? A. We did no so understand the motives of the men who framed the present bill.
Q. Isn't it a fact that gloves were selling at least two dollars below the margin indicated by the $4.80 tariff? A. I don't believe so, I think the proof to the contrary may be found in the fact that foreign manufacturers were still able to bring into this country goods to sell in competition with us, and evidently the tariff added to their cost of production still made it possible for them to sell their goods in competition with us. That would prove that we did not have any more tariff than we needed.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Under any tariff wouldn't that part of the trade which delights in purchasing foreign made goods purchase a percentage that came in? A. Only to a small extent. If we had the encouragement that a fair tariff would give us we could very soon absorb that business.
Q. All of it? A. I can not go far enough to say that we would absorb all of it because there would always be somebody who would want to do the contrary thing, but the business that a foreign manufacturer could do would not reach a sufficient volume to be of any appreciable interest to us. If the import business of the foreign manufacturer were seriously reduced I believe that you will agree that eventually he would not have any selling organization here and it would result simply in doing such business as could be done through visits of buyers, but there would not be any occasion for buyers to go over there. The business would have to be very limited.
Q. You said this morning that some would want to buy foreign made articles? a. Some consumers.
Q. That would enable a foreign manufacturer of gloves to dispose of a certain percentage anyway unless it was prohibited? A. Suppose we take the sample of the silk industry. The silk industry has a very favorable tariff. As I saw this morning there was not any great amount of silks imported in comparison with the total volume of business in the United States in silk. There would always be some business that a foreign manufacturer would make that might be in demand by the individual consumer.
Q. Of course the wearer of these things would want some mark to show that they were imported? A. Yes, sir.
Q. So the silk trade would not gain thereby and the glove trade might? A. Well the silk generally has a mark of some kind on the selvage.
Q. That is general on the article that is worn? A. I believe it is because I have seen adds of silk linings and asking the public to identify them by certain tags and if they could not identify them there would be no purchase purpose in the maker advertising that lining.
Q. I thought from the testimony this morning they wanted to show it was a foreign article? A. No, I don't think that the merchant, the American merchant, to any appreciable extent has that prejudice. I think it is the consumer, and the demand of the consumer is always respected in the purchases of the dealer.
Q. And of course he wants something - A. He wants something that will sell. He wants something to show that it was foreign made.
Q. Now in the matter of the tariff when you had two dollars more than you have now and during all this time since the cost of living has been increased and increasing no definite increase in wages has been given and wasn't that due to competition among yourselves to a great extent? A. Well it was and a continuation of the competition with Europe and the competition with ourselves.
Q. Mostly through competition among yourselves, wasn't it? A. I don't know.
Q. When you had a high and safe rate - A. In our case, in our business as in the reports from salesmen as indicated in their letters, our competition was always with foreign houses that were always advised that such and such a house are offering such glove with an additional feature of this kind, that they were offering the same glove with a lower price or a better discount or something of that sort. We have always built our gloves to compete with the foreign market.
Q. The point I want to bring out is this, that if conditions were favorable and the price obtained such that an increase could be given, is it that it would be given; is it certain that the manufacturers would not compete again among themselves and what chance would the employees have of getting an increase at what you term an opportune time? A. If conditions were so favored by the tariff, and the entire glove business of this country depended on us for its goods, there is no question but what the demand for labor would be so great that higher prices would have to prevail because there would not be enough labor here to take care of the volume of business on hand.
Q. Your testimony this morning showed in part that the manufacturers here agreed on certain prices that they would pay for this work and while there was no penalty for violating it it would seem as though that would be the rate that they would pay all the time no matter how much they might require labor; that could be settled by action of the manufacturers alone? A. Well at the same time I pointed out that I did not believe over 40 percent of the cutting strength of the county was represented in that kind of an agreement. There is no power that they possess that would prevent the other sixty percent outbidding us for the available labor in the market.
Q. Of course as you say there is no penalty for violating that rule in your organization; outside of that they would be interested just the same as they have made a practice of doing, paying just what the manufacturers in the organization paid? A. But if there was a great demand for labor the community of interests would not be strong enough to hold and besides in my opinion if such a condition, such a hypothetical case were to become material the manufacturers of their own accord would see the necessity for establishing a new scale of wages that could be maintained.
Q. No this morning you testified that in times when there was a demand for labor that some had accepted work and so on, probably one or two, probably a little more on a certain article, but generally they paid the same price and paid the same rate? A. I do not believe I get that question, it is so noisy.
Q. This morning you testified that when there was a demand for labor, a great demand here, the only way that the employees any benefit was that the rather inferior work was accepted, the manufacturers not being as strict as they were at other times, but that they received no direct increase? A. The great demand for labor would not at all indicate a rising market of prices. The prices that are made on our goods are established the early part of January when our salesmen go out and simply because there was a greater demand we would not advance our prices because as I have tried to bring out here, the prices are always made with the idea of making the goods merchantable for a dollar. No matter how much merit there might be in a glove, no matter how much value it might have, if we made a glove $13.75 or $14.00 a dozen, no considerable quantity of them could be sold.
Q. Now how can you reconcile that statement with the statement that if there was a demand for labor wages would increase? A. If there was a demand for labor on the plan you suggest, of a wholesale increase in business the entire industry would be adjusted; we would have to adjust our own business.
Q. I do not understand how it is possible for wages to increase when the rule of the manufacturers is to pay a certain price and they adhere to that price when there is a demand for labor; and as you say if the demand for labor is great - A. Excuse me, there seems to be a misunderstanding between my statements and your questions come about in the fact that you put a different construction than I do on the great demand for labor. I consider that when we have normal times here, when we have business to the extent of the capacity that we figure on, then there is a great demand for labor. I do not mean to say that they reach periods where there is an abnormal increase of sales. At no time during my recollection has such a condition come about. I do not believe that the sales obtained in good years. The manufacturer would be glad to increase wages if he could do so. It is very difficult for me to testify Mr. Rogers because I have to raise my voice in order to make myself heard.
Q. Do you remember how long it is since wages were raised as a result of a conference between the employees and the manufacturers? I understood at one time here they used to confer as to rates of wages? A. I don't remember, no.
Q. So long as you remember the employee has nothing to say in fixing the rate of wages? A. Yes he has. For instance the action in changing the price mochos, raising the price of cutting mochos, was not justified by any increase in the sale price of our gloves. Cutters had complained that there was an inequality in that schedule and the manufacturers took notice of it and in the preparation of the schedule for the following year that point was taken care of and I think at that time it was generally satisfactory.
Q. There were a few cutters that were working on mochos? A. I might say in that connection mochos constitute with some manufacturers the greater part of their business, and I can't give any correct idea of what proportion of mochos are cut, but in our factory I should think 40 percent, say fifty percent, say forty percent of our total production. There are some factories in town where that percentage would run up as high as eighty percent.
Q. I can't get clear on the point of how there is any chance of the men getting an increase when the glove manufacturers compete among themselves keeps down the sales prices to some extent; for instance if they got an increase of wages at any time and it was shown that would cut off so much of that competition among the manufacturers they would have to go out and sell their goods knowing what the price of labor was, but if they start in - A. Unless in competition between ourselves the schedule would be fixed long before the price of goods would be fixed.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. I thought you testified that the sales price was fixed and that you were trying to make goods to fit that price? A. Yes, but Mr. McManus is taking the assumption that we control the American glove business. If we did we could adjust that.
Q. In the event that important from Europe ceased another hypothetical condition, which will probably come to pass, then your manufacturers are in a position to adjust your prices, aren't you? A. Yes.
Q. You will control the glove market? A. Yes.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Isn't it a fact that so far as wages are concerned in the manufacture of your article, you have no competition? A. No, I wouldn't say that. I think we have all kinds of competition.
Q. In the cutting of gloves? A. I do not believe I understand what you mean?
Q. I say insofar as the cutting of gloves is concerned you have no competition among the manufacturers here, the price is set and from the testimony given here by all of these witnesses, it was 90, 95 and a dollar in all the factories here, for table cutting and the wages for pull down cutting are 70 and 75? A. You mean we manufacturers in competing ourselves as to the question of employing labor?
Q. Yes? A. I would have to say that there was competition in price. There has been times when we have needed cutters, when a certain stats of facts would be related, I just do not recall the concern that would be involved, but it would be told us that we could not get cutters, because such cutters were getting such and such a proposition at such a place, so that there is competition in that aspect.
Q. Where is there any place paying more than the scale now? A. I think a man that would be paying more than the scale now -
Q. Outside of those shops that have just settled up? A. Mr. Downey, let me ask you what justification would there be for a manufacturer when he was having difficulty with his collection, at a time when he could not sell gloves, and there was no demand for what he had, to raise wages, what justification would there be for it? The law of supply and demand does to some extent effect the labor market as well as any other commodity.
Q. The law of supply and demand in this case does not increase wages, does it? A. Why doesn't it?
Q. There is a list posted in all of the factories in this vicinity and that price applies to all of the cutters, that is according to the sworn statements made here by the cutter; no cutter ever swore he got five cents more or five cents less? A. But that does not alter the fact that some cutters who have not appeared here obtained the price; you haven't obtained every cutter; you could only bring that to a logical conclusion by bringing here every cutter in the industry.
Q. Then to your knowledge there are manufacturers here paying more than 90, 95 and 1.00 for cutting? A. No, there are no manufacturers that I know of, but I know that such conditions have existed. There has not been anything of that kind, to avoid the possibility of having you think that I am evading the question, there has not been any time in twelve months when there was necessity for competition for cutters.
Q. In the last three or four years has there been any? A. Yes there has been competition for cutters prior to that time.
Q. Any increase in wages? A. Well the competition had not reached the point where such a thing might be felt necessary to any considerable degree.
Q. In the testimony this morning you stated that when work was good that all you did was to go out on the blackboard and put up the sign, cutters wanted, and you also stated that when the men applied that the only advantage that they might get would be the taxing of the skins would not be so close but there was never any increase in wages? A. Well we don't employ the blackboard plan for getting new help, but a cutter under certain conditions has automatically increased his wages as a general proposition through forcing the manufacturer, because of his inability to get enough help to accept a lower grade of work.
Q. Have you ever known of cases where a man was taken out of your employ by another manufacturer here and offered more money to work for him? A. I know of no specific case. I do not come in contact with that end of the business in a sufficiently close way to know the details of that sort of thing.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Don't you know on the contrary that that is not done or you would know of it? A. No, I don't know that.
Q. Aren't you pretty well assured as a member of the manufacturers association that all of the cutters of Johnstown and Gloversville are getting a uniform price? A. In a large way, yes.
Q. What proportion of your manufacture in your own establishment is in mocho? A. I would think about forty percent off-hand.
Q. Do you compete with Europe on mochos? A. We have not competed with Europe on mochos until recently, but they are sending in mochos here in competition with us.
Q. Since the war? A. No, I speak when I say now competing -
Q. This year? A. Since the tariff was changed.
Q. Some mocho skins are being sent to you for manufacture? A. It is generally understood in the trade that Germany has for a year or more, longer than that, - take about half of the world's supply of mocho skins.
Q. I want to get pretty clearly in mind the relation of the European competition to this industry; I understand, to repeat briefly from your testimony, I understand that something like seventy percent or better of the men's gloves which are sold in America are made in this county? A. No, not in this county, in this country, in the United States. The larger part of that would be made here, but I am speaking of the United States. I can not get down to the detail of that because I do not know how many are made in the out of town factories.
Q. Something like 40 percent of your manufacture is made of mocho? A. In our factory.
Q. In which branch of the business you have previously had little or no competition with Europe? A. Well, mocho competition with Europe has existed in the better goods and regardless of that competition that glove had to be built to sell at a certain price, and mocho skins, because of their popularity with the public, have advanced more remarkably in price in the last ten or fifteen years than perhaps any other certain kind of leather.
Q. Can you give any estimate of the figures in importation of gloves into this country since the war started? A. No, I could not without consulting some table.
Q. Are you aware as a matter of information that the importation of finished gloves is less than one third of what it ordinarily has been? A. Unless you stated that as a fact I would not be inclined to credit it. My own opinion that importations would not be very much less than they were formerly and I believe in the record that I read this morning the importation for gloves for the month of September was greater than they were for the corresponding period, a year ago.
Q. I am not stating it as a fact, I am stating it as an impression, and wondered if your impression corresponded with mine? A. In connection with that, well I think I have covered that point.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. You represented that gloves had to be built for a certain price; now in the past wasn't that brought about by competition among yourselves more than through any other cause? A. No, I wouldn't say that because the gloves have been sold in this country probably ever since the foundation of the Republic and up until 1897 which would be considerably more than one hundred years, that Europe was supplying the gloves, and merchants established the price at which they would sell the gloves and when we entered the field the conditions were already fixed.
Q. Suppose labor conditions were such and other conditions were such that you did not sell the gloves at the same price that they had sold at before, after 1897, could the European manufacturers send in the gloves at the old price that they were sent in before? A. After 1897?
Q. Yes? A. We would have to go back of that. Before 1897 when the American manufacturer began to make goods in this country, the European manufacturer made a much greater profit than he did when he began to have some competition with the American Manufacturer and in fact better gloves are to be had at a given price today than were to be had at that time and glove manufacturers in those days used to make some money.
Q. A European manufacturer did not continue to sell them at the old price, did he, after 1897, to the trade? A. Of course, at that time, as I said before, I was fifteen years old; I can not give you any correct idea on that; I will just simply have to guess and my guess might not be right.
Q. I want to find out whether the prices was fixed by the glovers of this section or not? A. No, I intended to make that clear, that the price were not fixed by the American manufacturers - when I say fixed - I do not mean to imply that there was any meeting of people to establish prices, but I mean to say that the American manufacturer when he entered into the competition of the fine goods business, found the market already established as to trade customs, trade prices, retail prices and so forth and so forth. We were not in a position to materially influence that situation because in 1897 and in some years following that we were getting organized over here to manufacture. We were not an important factor in the business any way. There wasn't enough labor here at that time to make enough gloves to make any difference to Europe in the competition.
Q. My impression is, the manufacturers of other lines who found the trade established, but they changed them? A. That would depend upon the circumstances. For instance I don't know what your individual ideas on the subject may be, but you know that collars are sold at two for a quarter and that it would be a very difficult thing for a clerk to sell you two collars at 15 cents a piece without going through some explanation on the subject. Collars have been sold since my memory at two for a quarter and if I wanted that kind of a collar I would expect to get them at two for a quarter and there would have to be considerable of a revolution before I bought. You could get the public educated to another set of prices but a merchant is not inclined to take that education of the public. He takes the line of least resistance. He does not try to educate his market.
Q. He may not be so inclined, but if he could not sell the collars at two for a quarter what would he do? A. In the collar industry the houses are very much larger and some houses control a large part of the business. In the glove business there is no house that controls a sufficient part of the business to make his individual action compelling on the rest of the dealers.
Q. But eliminating this European competition and increasing the wages paid to your cutters, necessitating an increase by you people of the retail price of your gloves so that these men that do not want to pay but $11.50 for the gloves they retail at $1.50 were forced to pay more than $11.50, they would pay it, wouldn't they? A. You are bringing about a hypothetical condition and an artificial situation.
Q. Not necessarily? A. It would be an upheaval of the entire industry if no further gloves were coming from Europe and we knew no further gloves were coming from Europe, then the thing we would have to consider is, when we would get leather enough to make the additional gloves which we might sell. The same conditions that would bring about a complete stoppage of the importation of gloves, would also force a complete stoppage of the importation of leather.
Q. But such gloves as you were able to manufacture you would control the price of? A. Yes.
Q. And your remedy then in cutting down your expenses then would be to lay off cutters than to decrease their wages? A. Yes.
Q. The public won't stop buying gloves will it? A. Well I don't believe so.
Q. They are not luxuries to such a degree - A. I think that anybody with much less discomfort could throw out of his mind the idea of buying gloves than the idea of buying shoes or other articles of apparel. So long as we have pockets gloves are the least necessary of clothing apparel.
Q. Have you any statement you would like to make? A. In connection with this present situation other conditions of course have a great deal to do with the demand for gloves, such as the weather. While normally in October we begin to expect duplicate orders on goods we had shipped earlier in the year, merchants having sold certain sizes and are out of them and want more to fill in their stock - but the present weather we have had and it seems according to the reports that the mercantile agencies send out, it seems to have prevailed throughout the country, and the actual demand for gloves has fallen off to the extent that would influence the business.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Wouldn't that bring a parallel increase to your last August increase of 175 percent which was the result of the daily orders? A. No, the merchants' orders do not necessarily affect the retail of gloves, but after we have passed through a warm winter those goods remain on the merchants' shelves and that would influence the buying of gloves next winter. For instance, it is well known that the winter of 1913, was a very mild one and consequently our experience in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and up through the North West, on whom we depend for a very large part of our lined goods business, bought in some cases nothing of us, and wherever they did buy business was materially reduced and that accounts in a measure for the falling off of business this year to some extent.
Q. Your increase last August you stated was 175% over that of the year previous? A. Yes, subject to the explanation that it was not on business that was solicited in August, the business on which the negotiations had been begun as far back in some cases as June?
Q. That sort of balances up your separate decrease in September and your prior - A. There was a decrease in September.
Q. And your decrease during the prior six months? A. To make that more simple, we felt a sales appreciation of four percent from July to October first.
Q. Whereas your 175 percent increase in August, - A. In August, the amount itself is small.
Q. August is a poor month? A. August is a poor month. So an increase of 175% on a percentage scale might be entirely out of proportion as you might see it with the gross value of business done.
Q. What is the proportion of August with the other months? A. Very slight.
Q. For instance, well would think offhand, I haven't the figures here, but I think that seventy percent of our business for the year was booked by July first so that there would only be left thirty percent for the next six months, and the bulk of that would come in October and November.
A L B E R T A A R O N, called and sworn as a witness, testifies as follows.
EXAMINED BY MR McMAHON:
Q. Where do you live? A. 48 Fremont Street.
Q. How old are you? A. 43.
Q. You are connected with - A. Lewis Myers & Sons.
Q. In what capacity? A. As superintendent.
Q. You are in charge of his factory here? A. Yes.
Q. And where are the offices of the company? A. 110 Fifth Avenue, New York.
Q. The officers are there too? A. Yes, sir, it is a co-partnership.
Q. Who are the members of the firm? A. Edward L. Myers and David F. Myers.
Q. Your firm is not a member of the Association? A. No sir.
Q. Is there an association of which it is a member? A. It is not really an association.
Q. What is it? A. The manufacturers outside of the association just met one afternoon merely for the purpose of keeping each other informed of the actual happenings during the strike, for reports have been published in the papers and spread around in the town that this, that or the other manufacturer had granted an increase, in order that the manufacturers may know what they are all doing they met and exchanged views and agreed to keep each other posted.
Q. Did they agree to hold the price? A. No, sir.
Q. Not to grant the increase in any event? A. They did not do anything of the kind. There is no committee, there is no permanent organization that has been formed at all. As a matter of fact two or three of the man present there have granted the increase since.
Q. Were they large or small firms? A. Well, one is Fownes Brothers, that is one of the large ones.
Q. Have you devolved any theory as to why Fownes granted the increase? A. It is pretty hard to tell what another man does in his own business; it is difficult to run your end without trying to figure out how another man runs his.
Q. Does it seem to you how he could figure out how to run that without losing money? A. I really could not answer that question.
Q. Could your firm grant it? A. No, sir.
Q. How do you know that? A. They told me so.
Q. You have no actual knowledge? A. No, I don't have anything to do with the selling end of the business at all.
Q. What is there about this association of manufacturers which leads some firms to join it and other firms to stay out of it? A. I am sure I don't know.
Q. Are there any dues in connection with it that you know of? A. I don't know anything of their rules or of their laws or regulations.
Q. You do not know why your firm is not a member? A. No I do not.
Q. Have Lewis Myers & Sons ever been members of it? A. I don't remember - not while I was superintendent of the factory.
Q. There were not any Johnstown firms present at this meeting at which your organization was formed? A. Yes there were a few Johnstown firms.
Q. Was that firm that has taken back these men present? A. No, sir, they were not.
Q. Were you represented in the conference committee which conferred with the strikers? A. Not when the gentlemen present with the other manufacturers, no sir.
Q. That was purely an association matter was it? A. I don't know how it came about, how the meeting came about at all.
Q. Did your firm confer with the strikers at any time? A. They did not confer with us, they simply left their work.
Q. Just got up and went away? A. That's all.
Q. Did not ask for an increase from you? A. Not a man came to the office to ask for anything or argue the matter or talk about it in any way, shape or manner, and may I add a statement?
Q. Yes? A. Mr. E. L. Myers who was in Europe during the time of the war or when the war broke out, and was on his way back to America while the question of wages was being brought up by the cutters, and I will say that he told me, he was very much wrought up and very much disappointed that not one of the men who had been working for us for twenty years to his knowledge and has been treated fairly would come to the office and would complain in any way shape or manner or take up the question of wages with him, knowing that he was not a member of the association.
Q. He did not state what he would have done if they had come? A. No, he didn't say anything about that, only he said he had always treated the men fairly and we can prove that.
Q. Your men have been paid the same rate as the other factories are, have they not? A. Yes, sir.
Q. You have some control over the taxation system in your factory haven't you? A. No, I have not, that is only in a general way. I do not do that because I am not a table cutter and I could not go to a man and tell him you have to get a certain amount of gloves out of the skin because I couldn't do it myself, so naturally we have men who are experienced table cutters and who know what they are talking about when they tell a man to get a certain number of gloves out of their skins.
Q. They are conscientious in their work? A. Absolutely, because I always tell them, not to put down on the ticket more than there is in the skin but to be fair with the men. May I say gentlemen that in the course of years my attention has been called by men right here that we are not getting the quantity out of the skins that some of the men are getting.
Q. You mean they are not getting all of the gloves out? A. That some of the men are not getting the amount of tranks or gloves that have been given to them. I have been told by men who are right here and that I can look at and do look at. I am not referring to anyone in particular because I know of several men who have told me.
Q. That is, they are not coming up to the taxation? A. Quite the contrary.
Q. Is there any chance that the taxation is unduly severe? A. No, sir. We do not mean to have it so. We intend to be fair.
Q. In the event that a man states that he is unable to get the number of pairs of tranks out of the skins what happens? A. He usually takes it up with the foreman and the foreman and he adjust a different of that kind. Now let me explain how we attend to the giving out of the skins. We send to the cutting floor approximately twenty to fifty skins all running in one run of sizes. Mens goods will use say from 7½ to 9½ and womens from 5½ to 7¼. The skins are put up on these scales by the foreman as nearly uniform as they can possibly be selected. No names are put on the tickets. The skins are sent down to the shaving room to be shaven and then they come back. The names are sometimes put on before and they are sent to the shaving room afterward. They are sent down to the cutting room, probably 15 or 20 skins at one time. Out of the 15 or 20 the firm may have complaints of five of the men not be able to get out the quantity marked on the tickets. Well, the foreman will look at the skins and give the man his opinion and out of the twenty there will be variations, but in most cases they get what is taxed and in some cases they get over and in some cases they come some short. Now, if a man persistently cuts less gloves than the foreman taxes them to get, and another man having the same class of work produces the correct quantity, isn't it natural to suppose that the man is very slack or careless in his work, so we must have some sort of record in running a large business and preventing waste wherever possible. Then you must realize that we cut in the course of a year several hundred thousand dollars worth of skins and unless we keep some sort of record our business would not be stable, we could not run it at all.
Q. There is a record in your factory of the number of men, not necessarily the individuals, we do not care about that, but the number of men who are able to come almost up to the point of taxation or who do get the number taxed and of the number of men who fall below? A. We have a record. Every ticket turned in shows the individual record. Every cutter's ticket shows the individual record.
Q. There is such a record in every factory? A. If there is not, there ought to be.
Q. Did your association when it met this one afternoon, pass any resolutions or have any suggestions of any kind in regard to the other association; did you agree to adhere to the decision of the other association as to any rates or revisos that it might make? A. Yes there was a resolution passed, I don't remember the wording of it.
Q. What was the substance? A. I don't remember exactly; it was published in a newspaper at the time.
Q. Was it to the effect that you would abide by the decision of the other association? A. Something similar to that, yes.
Q. Work with it? A. Yes.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Do you employ any pull down cutters in your establishment? A. Just about three or four; I don't think we employ any more.
Q. Are they working on the so-called A class cutting? A. Yes, sir.
Q. That is priced around 75 cents? A. 70 to 75, yes, sir.
Q. As I understand the difference those pull down cutters and table cutters have to serve an apprenticeship, is that a fact? A. It is not that alone. Now I am not a table cutter. If I was I would pull out a skin and show you the difference, but a table cutter works the skin out better than a pull down cutter, or is supposed to, besides, as you say, he has to serve an apprenticeship for two or three years. In Germany it is three years and they have to learn the different kinds of work such as doling with the hand, cutting work by revell such as kid, real kid. In this country the dolling is not done by hand. We do not get any real kid at all and the pull down cutters are cutting principally suedes and some nappas The table cutter handles his skin differently from the pull down cutter. A pull down cutter does not quite put the amount of labor on his work that a table cutter should.
Q. Does a long experience, say ten years experience as a pull down cutter, ever qualify a man to become a table cutter? A. If he gets the different classes of work to cut I see no reason why he should not become a table cutter.
Q. As a matter of fact does he ever become a table cutter? A. We have had some, yes sir.
Q. Is there any difference in the price of the finished product as to whether it has been through the one class or the other? A. They are different classes of gloves.
Q. Can you tell the difference yourselves? A. I don't know anything about prices, Mr. Rogers.
Q. From looking at a finished glove can you tell whether it is table cut glove or a pull down cut glove? A. I could tell the difference between a table cut glove and a poorly cut pull down. Some pull down cutter's work is very good, Still there is that difference. The highest grade of kissans, for instance, you would naturally not have cut pull down. Take a suede glove and you would have that cut on the pull down system.
Q. On this class of work done in your establishment does it bring the same price in selling that the table cut work does on the same grade of skins? A. You see we don't cut any one style on the table and pull down at all. They are cut to style, table cut or pull down. There seems to be an impression among the men that manufacturers pay on a certain style a certain price for table cut and for that same style a different price to the pull down cutters, 25 cents less. I do not know what other factories are doing but in our business I do know we have distinct styles cut by table cutters and distinct styles cut by pull down cutters.
Q. Do they bring a distinct price? A. They are different styles. Kid gloves we cut only pull down and don't get table cut. In some instances rather than keep the table cutters doing nothing when we had no other work for them we have given them pull down work and paid them for table cutting at the same rate. We only give the same price as we charged for pull down styles. The difference simply came out of our pockets.
Q. Do you regard the situation in regard to the glove business as at all hopeful for the future? A. The way I have it, I think it is very poor and dark just now.
Q. I mean entirely aside from this present trouble here? A. You mean disregarding the war?
Q. No, disregarding the strike? A. The war plays a great factor in the present condition of business here for the reason that skins do not seem to come over here at all. We have skins lying in Germany now that we have paid for and can not get. Skins that are colored and they can not be shipped, whereas gloves seem to come over here in pretty good sized quantities right along. As a matter of fact I saw a letter from a German glove manufacturer yesterday advising that he was preparing six cases of gloves ready for shipment, that he had twelve thousand dozen more ready to ship and he was ready to continue to do business with us.
Q. Can you explain to us what makes that alleged difference in regard to shipments, why they can ship the gloves and can not ship the skins? A. You may have seen an article in a New York paper the other day that the German Government confiscated or bought two million skins with the wool on, and in fact recalled from the front the glove cutters in order to have these skins dressed with the wool on and make clothing for the men and have the glove cutters cut the clothing. In England they are giving their men on account of not having the skins or wool they are giving them sweaters. In Germany they have got the advantage in giving this as clothing presumed due to the fact always that they are prepared to dress the skins because those concerns are not very busy just now on glove leather.
BY MR. McMANUS:
Q. Is there a system of fines in operation in your shop? A. No, I wouldn't call it fines, I say, we charge damages.
Q. How are those damages regulated? A. A man for instance turns in gloves. His batch of gloves are then brought in and they are there looked over and we take it for granted and as I told you the other day when you were in the factory, you looked at a trank - it looks good to you on the face of it and you would not think that there is anything wrong with it at all. The glove is made up. It is laid off and the layer off bring it to the office and says this glove is miscut, look, it will pull down to a string instead of there being leather across the hand as there should be. The leather is not worked out and I can lay it off. In those cases we sometimes charge a man damages, not for the sake of the few cents that are collected just for the purpose of preventing a recurrence of such things in the future.
Q. It has been testified here that some of them had to pay damages because at the cutting of the skin in order to get the amount out that they were taxed they had to scurry around the shop for pieces to match and being unable to get one that exactly matched in quality - A. No, sir, in that event, the cutter naturally in handling it so handles it that he does not cut through the edge and spoil his forchettes. Many cutters never have any trouble about their finings. Dozens of men never complain about high taxing, but we have men who always complain and sometimes after complaining managed to cut an order more than the foreman puts on the ticket.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Suppose the taxing was high on the skins, wouldn't the cutter have to cut close and lose the edges that he cuts off? A. No. We wouldn't charge a man damages for putting in a mismatched thumb; we would charge him damages for putting in mismatched gloves. When a customer receives a consignment from us and makes his first sale at this time of the year and happens to pull out a pair of gloves that is miscut, he naturally loses all confidence in the merchandise, the customer does not wish to waste the time to go all over those different gloves and on which he may make ten cents and he loses confidence in the entire line.
Q. Haven't you inspectors? A. Yes, sir, we have inspectors in different departments and many of them and still they can't see them.
Q. How about mismatching the thumbs or forchetts or doesn't that ever occur? A. It does happen, yes, it is not as much as you might think, but when it does happen we simply call it to the cutters' attention. If we were to charge damages for all the things that go wrong we would have to have a regular accountant. We are not as cruel as we are made out to be. It might save a lot of time I know that this matter has been brought out at the meeting of the cutters - the first meeting of the cutters - and we were hauled over the coals for it, as to the amount of damages. One of the men here testified yesterday or day before that we charged him $4.40. I looked through our payroll and I went back to 1910, five years, and during that time this man had an apprentice, his brother working with him. The usual rule is when a man has apprentice, he guarantees the apprentices work. It often happens and especially during the first year, the apprentice cuts thumbs and forchetts and the cutter, while he is supposed to watch the cutting, sometimes does not watch it, and for that reason he says he is not responsible. Well, during the four years and during the time this man had his apprentice, with him, we charged him a $1.60 we charged him a $1.05 in 1910 and $ .55 cents in 1911. I have an affidavit to which I have sown, going through our payroll books in 1913 and 1914, and paying out to the cutters - I don't want to state the exact amount - but it is well above $125,000 to the cutters along in that time. We have charged the cutters for damages in 1913, !12.80, in 1914 $19.70 or in the twenty months we charged them $32.50. I have the names and the amounts on this list and we paid over $125,000 in wages to the cutters in that time.
BY MR. McMANUS;
Q. It was also testified yesterday that apart from the fines and penalties that taxation has been so high that it has kept the men nervous all the time and made them incapable of working as rapidly as they should or could under better conditions and that when they did not get what was taxed they suffered in various ways? A. Is there any special man who suffered from nervousness; I don't know who they are.
Q. They say that most of the employees suffer through that nervousness from overtaxation; the testimony shows that in order to keep them on nerves all the while they were taxed for more then you expect to get, so that each man feels no matter how careful he is, he is not doing enough? A. I will tell you Mr. McManus in answer to that as to the nervous trouble; one man in particular told me he was unable to work in our factory, that his nerves could not stand working there. I said why? Why he said those men make such noise that it almost drives me crazy. Now I don't know whether you ever spent any time in a glove cutting shop, but I know one time in the office, the noise that is made up on the top floor through the singing and shouting and carrying on like boys is enough to drive me, to prevent me from being able to add up a column of figures. And I have had to send out to ask the men to please stop. That makes the men more nervous than the taxation.
Q. They object to the taxation? A. I don't doubt that the men would prefer to have the skins not taxed, but we have to go back to the question of competition, in particular to our competition with Europe. Now in this morning's testimony something was said about competition locally and I do not think there was enough stress laid on the competition from the other side. I have been over four times in the last four years. I know what the men are being paid over there and what gloves are there. I know what conditions they are working under how the skins are dealt out. In England they are paying 1 shilling six for cutting cape gloves. In this country they are paying 95 cents. This is a statement made by Bolton Brothers of Lee, Westbury, England. We can buy gloves for 4-10 and ladies prixime gloves which we can not begin to purchase here produce here, to say nothing of the leather -
Q. That is outside of the war conditions? A. Yes, sir. I read to you the other day an article in the German paper - trade papers, where they are accumulating thousands over there in order to be enabled to ship them. What will be the condition when the war is over and the war can not last forever. They will be dumped in this country because this will be the only country that will have money to buy gloves then and the only gloves that they will buy on the other side will be black gloves.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. You were speaking here a few minutes ago of the German men being called back to prepare winter clothing for the soldiers; to the extent they are engaged in that it will at least eliminate them from competing with us in the manufacture of gloves? A. The need of them that are at the front or engaged in that line, yes. I am giving you the information I got out of the newspaper. I do not know how authentic it is or not.
Q. Don't let me interrupt you on your remarks in regard to the taxation on skins? A. I was going to say that the skins are taxed in Europe much more closely than they are here. The fact of the matter is that the skins over there are marked, each skin, just what they should get out of them.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. In that even it is easy for the cutter to follow those marking? A. I mean just the quantity.
Q. Don't you do that here? A. Yes, but here in this country it is here a two pair skin or three pair skin or four pair skin. Over there they have four glove skins, five glove skins, six glove skins. It is more difficult over there because they have to match them up.
Q. A five glove skin over here - A. Would be cut in two pairs.
Q. There wouldn't be a six glove skin here? A. I guess not. As a matter of fact it is admitted on all sides that we don't cut the quantity out of the skins here they get on the other side because it is marvel to us how they can make gloves in Europe and as cheaply as they do because when a man can offer a glove at four-ten it is beyond our comprehension.
(Witness exhibits gloves) Here are the two gloves I have referred to. One glove is 4.10 and the other is 4.00 exclusive of duty, of course, gentlemen.
Q. What does a similar glove sell for here? A. I don't know, but I can give you a fair estimate, I should say about eleven dollars or eleven dollars and a half.
Q. What is the different in these? A. One is pique and the other is prixime.
Q. Prixime is more expensive? A. It is in this country. The prixime is cheaper in this country and the pique is cheaper on the other side. You see the question of duty and the question of importation plays a great factor in this business and it has always on the ladies' skins. I do not think Mr. Lehr brought that out prominently this morning. They have always sold in this country a glove for one dollar, a very beautiful lamb skin glove made in Germany, or Italy or France and we in order to be able to compete with the importations of those countries in that beautiful glove offer them a dollar glove which is prixime which in the beginning of our industry here was a crude article and it took us many years before we were able to interest the large department of the United States sufficiently to put our gloves in and only after our productions has reached a certain amount of perfection were we able to introduce our gloves in great quantities. I must go back to the fact that we were only able to compete with Europe on the ladies dollar gloves and making it a prixime and after the Singer Sewing Machine Co. produced a machine called the gauge machine. Before that time they had a trimmer machine. The trimmer cuts off the edge and by cutting this off edge cuts off more leather than the machine should and causes the glove not to fit. It either takes off too much on the finger or forchette or the thumb and the glove was a crude affair compared with the beautiful glove which we were getting from the other side. Not alone that, that the glove was a crude looking glove, but in making the glove on the trimmer machine, and when the glove was put on the hand and worn a short time the ends began to pull out and you would have a hole here in the fingers and a hole on the thumb. We could not sell the merchandise. The Singer Company was driven to building a machine whereby we could guarantee a fair seam and get a nice looking glove. They produced the gauge seam and then we were able to market our merchandise without great dissatisfaction. The ladies cape glove came in vogue and was popular for many years, but of late years it has fallen off again and the gloves have decreased in price simply because they didn't want to buy the cape glove, they wanted the ladies glace glove in keeping with the material that the women were wearing and the ladies were wearing the lighter class of goods and they didn't want to appear in the mannish looking glove and they wore the fancy shades, particularly white, with finished embroideries in order to stimulate the sale of the ladies cape glove they were sold for less money than they were before. Now this glove made in glace can be had for even less money. Now since the question of wages at stake -
Q. What is that? A. That is cape. That can be made for less money. Now in the first place it costs a little less to cut the glace than the cape and secondly it costs a little less for coloring the skin of glace than of cape. We are making say a certain style of glace glove approximately ten thousand dozen a year. If we had to pay more money we would not make the glove in this country. We should import them from Europe. The question here this year was whether we should make them or import them from Europe. Our importing department, we run an importing department as well as a factory end, the man in charge has no interest as to whether that glove is furnished from Gloversville or from Germany. On the contrary he likes to take his European trip and he would have less trouble about purchasing them in Europe, for here we would have to trouble him about the purchase of leather, carrying a large amount of stock, for which he is thoroughly responsible, whereas on the other side he can buy them as he wants them and have them shipped as he wants them and have them shipped at any time.
Q. That is, if this war had not come along? A. He could have bought his gloves and had them in long before the war.
Q. This year? A. Yes, sir. The tariff was reduced from $3.30 to 2.25 and at 2.30 we had the hardest time to introduce it. At first we kept one or two cutters on and with the hardest work and plugging we managed to introduce the glove and reached the point where we can sell in large quantity at the popular price, but this year with the importers ability to undersell us we could not place this glove with the largest house and had to sell it to the trade in the country. In rare cases where our salesman may be on good terms with the buyer or they want to favor American trade we may get an order. They get orders for fifty dozen where the importer gets orders for five hundred dozen from these large houses. Here is the glove we make and here is the glove I have reference to. (Witness indicates)
Q. At eleven dollars? A. No, sir.
Q. What is that, glace? A. That is glace. If we were to pay more money for leather we could not produce the glove.
Q. What does this sell at? A. I don't know what it sells at.
Q. Per dozen? A. I don't know what it sells at.
Q. But you say it would cost about eleven dollars to duplicate that foreign glove? A. That cape glove.
MR. DOWNEY: How does your glove compare with these foreign made gloves?
THE WITNESS: We don't make one exactly like it. Another thing to which I wish to call your attention is these trimmings that appeal to the buyers of gloves in the department store. They are all fancy embroidery, spear backs and hand finished. Deep, full pique, sewn. All of those would cost a lot of money in this country whereas over there it goes in at the same price. I asked a manufacturer in Europe how much more do you charge for the embroidery. Oh he says that doesn't make any difference, whereas in this country every item has to be paid for specially and there is a price on every item.
Q. How does your glove compare with that in workmanship? A. This workmanship is very good, can't find any fault with it and ours is also. We should be very sorry to make ten thousand dozen and not stand back of them.
MR. ROGERS: It seems to me the material in these gloves is better than that by far.
THE WITNESS: Possibly.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. What percentage of your business is ladies gloves? A. I couldn't say off hand. I should say forty to fifty. When I was in Italy I was offered a ladies glove with fasteners on for ten lire or 2.00 a dozen. The cutting, the making without fasteners or anything else would cost us $3.50. They offered them for two dollars a dozen. I sent some gloves over here at the time.
Q. How long have you been superintendent in Myers Bros. A. Since 1898.
Q. What was the increase, if any, given in your factory two or three years ago? A. If I remember right, in 1897 there was a ten percent increase.
Q. But since that? A. From 1897 there was no increase until 1909.
Q. Was that a general increase? A. That was an increase of two cents a dozen on glace and 6½ cents a dz. on mochos.
Q. Was there any reduction on silk lined? A. I think the reduction on silk line was made in 1903.
MR. ROGERS: A reduction of five cents?
THE WITNESS: Yes sir, I think so, I think that was done at the time of the strike.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. What was the reduction then? A. Five cents a dozen on silk lined besides there was an increase in 1912 of fleshers on doe skins from 86 to 90 cents and from five cents to seven and a half cents on the mosquetiers which made a difference of 34 cents on sixteen dozen goods.
Q. That increase of ten percent was not given voluntarily by the manufacturers, was it? A. In 1897?
Q. Yes? A. I don't know.
Q. That was after a strike of ten weeks? A. There was a strike, but I don't recollect.
Q. And they got an increase then of ten percent? A. Yes, sir.
Q. But in 1903 there was a reduction of five percent? A. Five cents; suppose there was a reduction on silk lined gloves which probably amounts to possibly ten thousand dozens in the county.
Q. Since 1897 up to the present time except this increase given two or three years ago there has been no increase? A. None that I know of.
Q. What do you consider a glove cutter, a highly skilled mechanic? A. I think you ought to qualify that. Some men are highly skilled and others are not. Now I consider the French table cutter, German, English table cutter, Italian table cutter who can handle all classes of work and handle it well and cut a glove by hand and cut deformed gloves or anything of that sort and know how to make measurements, I consider him a highly skilled man, but a man who can only cut a cape glove, or suede glove, simply pull down the leather, measure it and pull the trank down to the pattern, I do not think he is, as highly skilled as the other fellow.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. It is true isn't it as distinguished from common laborer that he is a skilled man? A. Yes, but it is quite different from what it was years ago.
Q. Why is that? A. Years ago every pair of gloves was cut by hand by the table cutter before the die was invented by Shumway of Grenoble for whom they erected a monument. He invented the glove cutter's die and now all the glove cutter has to do is to put it on the die and put it on the press and it is cut out.
Q. There is some waste there isn't there? A. No waste, because the trank is cut exactly to the pattern.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. In your opinion has the cost of living increased in the last 17 years? A. I can only judge from newspaper reports.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Aren't you self supporting? A. I guess I am.
Q. Don't you know from your own knowledge? A. I will admit that it has.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. There has been a far greater advance in the cost of living in the last seventeen years than there has been any advance in this industry in wages hasn't there? A. If you figure in percentages I suppose there has, but I want to qualify this. I remember distinctly when the industry was first started here on fine goods our men would go on the road for the fall business after Easter because the amount of business that we would get from the retailers was so small that it did not warrant their going out before on fall orders. The consequence of it was that the cutters did not have the steady employment that they have today and they were laid off many weeks in the year for lack of orders, for lack of employment, despite of the fact that we had a high tariff. We did not get the orders because our goods were not satisfactory and it took a good deal of convincing, a good deal of talk on the part of the salesmen to introduce our merchandise. I remember the proudest day of our lives was when we received an order from a New York city house. We were glad to get them from the fellows in the country towns.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. If this increase of 15 cents a dozen was granted that would mean that you would have to increase the price at which you sell your product about a cent and a quarter a pair, wouldn't it? A. I would rather you would not ask me anything about the selling because I do not know anything about it.
Q. That is about what it would be? A. If nothing else would enter into it on the face that is the way it would look.
Q. Isn't that a fact? A. As Mr. Lehr stated this morning gloves are sold at certain prices. Now a glove is sold at nine dollars or nine dollars and a half. Now you can't say to the man I want to tell you that this glove is $9.68, because he would laugh at you.
Q. You sell them by the dozen? A. If you were to raise them from $9.60 to $9.68 you couldn't do it.
Q. Then the only way is to sell them by dollars and half dollars? A. That is the way; it never has been done any other way.
Q. Never been tried? A. I don't remember of it.
Q. How was it generally in other products; they don't make it dollars and half dollars? A. In shoes they raise them a quarter a pair, that is $3.00 a dozen, but a cutter with a pair of shears and $10.00 in his pocket could not start a shoe shop but he can a glove factory.
Q. That does not alter the fact? A. Yes it does. There are manufacturers in this town today who struck in 1903 and started manufacturing and underselling us right along.
Q. That is so in every industry? A. I think more so in the glove industry than in any other because a man does not have to have any tools of any kind to speak of in order to start glove manufacturing and he can undersell us because it does not cost him anything to sell the gloves. He makes them in one or two rooms, possibly in the back of the house and gives them outside to make and he has no expense to make.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Doesn't it cost him anything to sell them? A. Because he sells them himself, whereas we employ men.
Q. How much territory can be covered? A. I know one man in Johnstown who sells the greatest part of his product himself.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Do not many of the small manufacturers sell to the larger manufacturers? A. Yes they do that too, which goes to prove they can make them for less money than we can.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Is it your opinion that this increase is so great to the trade that it will not stand it? A. Not at the present time.
Q. When will there be a time; there has been no general increase in 17 years; now then can you tell us when the time would come that a general increase could be made? A. I think you are asking a little too much of me.
Q. So far as labor is concerned there is no competition; you pay the same price for cutting gloves as all the other manufacturers do, isn't that a fact? A. Yes, about the same. There are some isolated cases that are called to your attention occasionally but it is not the rule that the prices vary.
Q. And so far as the cutting of gloves is concerned you haven't any competition? A. We always have been able to get the gloves cut when we wanted to have them cut. I will tell you gentlemen it often happens that ads are in the papers for glove cutters but that is not always because there is a great demand for the labor. It is simply on account of conditions. Now the glove business is done in a peculiar manner and I would like to say this; our men go out to take small orders for September, October, November delivery on January first, delivery on January first. Now a concern that has ample means to buy the skins and pay for the labor will go ahead and work full force from January first as long as the order lasts. Well we have done that for years. Other concerns also send their men out but they don't start to cut their orders until May 15th or June first for the reason that it costs them too much money and they have no money and they can't afford it and they haven't the capital at the back of them. Now those men will advertise for cutters and I feel just as Mr. Lehr says that they will pay a little extra to get them out. Some won't acknowledge it. The men won't acknowledge it. That is a condition which does not affect the big shops. That is June, it is temporary.
Q. One man testified during the week, - I don't know just what day, that some of the glove manufacturers took advantage of that and reduced the price; had them cut gloves when business was good at 90 cents and reduced them when the business was slack to 70 cents? A. I don't know anything like that.
Q. But as a general proposition the wages here are uniform? A. They are.
Q. Every manufacturer here pays the same? A. About the same. As I say there are isolated cases where they pay more, but that is because they have some orders booked which they must fill at once.
Q. The glove industry is not seasonable work, the men testified that it was not? A. No, it is not. The goods are sold the counter from September to December, but they are bought by the retailer from the manufacturer at all times.
Q. Do seasons have any effect on it? A. No, general conditions of business have an effect on our trade. When business is bad throughout the United States we are dull, which was the case this year.
Q. That will effect every other trade besides the glove trade? A. Precisely, we are not immune from the poor business. The question was asked Mr. Lehr the comparative number of orders received in August and September 1913, compared to 1914 - -
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. Have you that information? A. I have and I am allowed to give it to you and I realize that I am under oath because you may think it is a false statement, the figures are so different. We received last year in August and September of 1913, a seven thousand one hundred and some odd dozen; this year we received approximately one thousand one hundred dozen and the difference about six thousand dozen which we had last year but have not had this year. It is not due to the fact that we can sell them -- and didn't try to sell them. We received a letter from Boston from one of our salesmen which said buyers have orders not to look at merchandise, price doesn't cut any figures, the merchandise man who has charge of the buying of goods has given instructions not to look at merchandise.
BY MR. DOWNEY:
Q. Have you the goods to sell? A. We have.
Q. The output of your factory I think you told me is about 400 dozen a day and there has been a suspension of about six weeks? A. Yes, sir, a difference of fourteen thousand dozen gloves and to tell you how long it takes to run merchandise through, I want to say that although the cutters have been out six weeks, we have not yet run through the gloves that were in the place before they went out.
Q. If the strike didn't take place you would be running just the same? A. We would not.
Q. Did you anticipate a lay off before the strike effect? A. We did not know how conditions would work out. That was left to the man. Things were too obscure. Nobody knew in August how far the war would affect the American trade. After the war started, in August everybody thought the merchant marine of England would be simply paralyzed. Three weeks after the contrary has been proven. There was not any quantity of gloves coming over from England. Gloves are coming over from France and Italy.
Q. One of the strikers showed me a statement to the effect that the manufacturers had agreed or would in the immediate future to raise the price of the dollar gloves to a dollar and a half and the dollar and a half glove to two dollars? A. That would be very nice if it could be done.
Q. Do you know that such a statement has been made? A. I don't know, I heard a lot of rumors and statements. There has been more rumors published in the last six weeks or two months than ever before relating to the glove trade.
Q. But this came out of your official organ? A. I have not read that at all, but I do know I have read ads of Fownes Brothers advertising their gloves at old prices and calling the consumer's attention to it.
Q. And they granted the increase? A. And they granted the increase.
Q. How do you explain that? A. Now Mr. Downey it is very important to understand - only I can say this that Mr. Bowles made the statement that he was through with Gloversville and if the men did not return to work he would shut up shop and go back to England. How do we know that he does not want the cutters just to use the leather on hand and then go back to England? Has Mr. Bowles made a false statement to me? I don't know. All I know is what Fownes advertises. Now if Fownes can afford to pay 15 cents more and run the business they are clever fellows.
Q. His trade seems to stand it? A. He has not changed his prices. I do not know what their motive is. Of course they threatened to go back to England. Maybe they will.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. If he had a small margin of profit on the face of things which enables them to grant the increase, that he was not paying the cutters all that the business would stand? A. Apparently not.
Q. Is that is the truth would that hold good all through the trade? A. No, it does not to the contrary. The manufacturers are not making the profit they are supposed to make.
Q. Do you know what your profit is? A. No I do not.
MR. ROGERS: I might say that we expect to give each of the manufacturers an opportunity at our hearing next week to go into the subject of comparative business and average wages or individual wages as they see fit and that will include yourselves. We will be glad to recall you for that purpose. I would rather not take the time today to go into that. If there is any other statement you would like to make in regard to the situation we would be very glad to hear it before we adjourn.
THE WITNESS: The method in our shop for the cutting of poorer skins which naturally took a longer time to handle than the other class of goods is by the day and in that event we pay men thirty cents an hour and to tell you candidly we very often have difficulty in finding men who are willing to work for that wage and some of them object after having worked at that for some time, to continuing and prefer to go back on the piece basis.
Q. What system of keeping back of the amount of work that a man does, have you, of that, do you know whether he is earning his thirty cents on that? A. Yes.
Q. You know that he is? A. We know that he is not but we expect to pay more for it because the work is worth more and for that reason we do not ask them to cut it at the regular price.
Q. Do they get steady work at that so that they get the three dollars a day? A. Yes.
BY MR. ROGERS:
Q. How much does that make a week? $17.50? A. It depends. If they work Saturday afternoon it makes $18.00.
Q. Do you work your shop additional hours in addition to the ten hours a day? A. June, July and August we have opened up at six o'clock in the morning.
Q. Giving them an opportunity for an extra hour a day? A. Yes sir.
MR. McMANUS: And you close at six o'clock at night?
THE WITNESS: Close at six o'clock, yes sir. I think our payroll will show gentlemen, that the average amount is beyond that testified to by several of the men on the stand here.
MR. ROGERS: We have subpoenaed actual payrolls of all the establishments and we expect for our own information to dig out from these sworn payrolls which our own experts have examined in the shops, we expect to check up the testimony of the witnesses with the amount they actually received. For your own purposes if there are any public corrections of such testimony you wish to make. I would rather not go into it today owing to the lateness of the hour, but we will be very glad to give you an opportunity to do that next week.
Monday being a legal holiday we do not expect to sit.
BY MR. McMAHON:
Q. Do cutters sometimes take work home? A. We have made exceptions and allowed men to take work home. I will explain to you. There are several men here as witnesses who had some of their family ill and we have allowed them to take the work home. How many hours they work at home I don't know. Those are isolated cases. We do not encourage it because we like to have the work done in our factory but we have done it to help the men out. A man who testified here, J. Sitrenberg, is one of them. His wife is ill. I do not know what the trouble was and he wanted to take work home. We said all right take it, and when she is well enough and he came back to the factory again as usual.
Q. Did he work at the factory during the day? A. No, he worked at home all the time.
Q. Is it ever taken home in addition to the day's work? A. I don't know anything about that. We do not encourage that sort of thing.
Q. During vacation they sometimes take it home? A. We have two vacations a year.
Q. Have you a week at Christmas? A. Well we do have ten to twelve days.
Q. And the week of the Fourth of July? A. Not always; we had this year, but not last year.
THE COMMISSION THEN ADJOURNED TO TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13th AT 10:00 A.M.