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Full text of "Minimum Wage Board. Hearing before the Subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia, United States Senate, Sixty-fifth Congress, second session, on S. 3993, a bill to protect the lives and health and morals of women and minor workers in the District of Columbia, and to establish a Minimum Wage Board and define its powers and duties, and to provide for the fixing of minimum wages for such workers, and to provide penalties for violation of this act. Wednesday, April 17, 1918"

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HD4919.D6A5 1918b 

Minimum Wage Board.HearIng before the Su 

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3 1924 003 821 232 











IV"- 1941 



UNITED states' SENATE^^^"-- 



S. 3993 









JOHN WALTER SMITH, Maryland. Chairman. 

HENRY F. HOLLIS, New Hampshire. 
THOMAS S. MARTIN, Virginia. 
JAMES D. PHELAN, California. 
JAMES K. VARDAMAN, MlsslsslpBl. 

WESLEY L. JONES, Washington. 
WILnkM M. CALDER, New York. 
HARRY S. NEW, Indiana. 

Clabence M. Tatloe, Clerk. 


Mr. SMITH, of Maryland. 

Mr. HoLLia, Chairman. 



wednesday, april 17, 1918. 

United States Senate, 

subcommiitee of committee on the district or columbia, 

Washington, D. C. 

The subcommittea met, pursuant to call of the chairman, at 10.30 
o'clock a. m., in room 226, Senate Office Building, Senator Henry F. 
Hollis presiding. 

Present: Senators Hollis (chairman) and Dillingham. 

Present also : Senators Jones of Washington, Sherman, Calder, and 

The subcommittee had under consideration the bill (S. 3993) to 
protect the lives and health and morals of women and minor workers 
in the District of Columbia, etc., which is as follows : 

A RILL To protect the lives and health and morals of women and minor workers in 
th« District of Columbia, and to establish a minimum wage board and define its powers 
and duties, and to provide for the fixing of minimum wages for such workers, and to 
provide penalties for violation of this act. 

- Re it enacted, by the Senate and Hoiiftr of Representatives o/ the United 
States of America in Congress assonhled. That it shall be unlawful to employ 
women in any occupation within the District of (I'lHumbia for wages which 
are inadequate to supply the necessai'y cost of livin,2; to maintain them in 
health and to protect their morals; and it .shall be unlawful to employ tQinors 
In any occupation within the District of Columbia for unreasonably low wages. 
Sec. 2. That there is hereby created a board composed of three members, 
wliich shall be known as the " minimum wage Hoard " ; and Hie word board 
as hereinafter used refers to and moans said mininiuiu wage board ; and the 
word member as hereinafter used refers to aufl means a member of said 
minimum wage board. Said members shall be ap^iointed by the Commissioners 
of the District of Columbia. The C:iramissioners; of the District of Columbia 
shall malte their tirst appointment hereunder within thirty days after this 
bill becomes a law ; and of the three members first appohited, one shall hold 
office until January tirst, nineteen liundred and nineteen, and another shall 
bold ofiSce until January first, nineteen hundred an(l twenty, .nnd the third shall 
hold office until January first, nineteeji hundred and twenty-one; and the 
commissioners shall designate the terms of each of said three first appointees. 
On or before the first day of January of each year, beginning with the year 
nineteen hundred and nineteen, the commissioners shall appoint a member 
to succeed the member whose teriii expires 'on said first day of .lanuary ; 
and such new appointee shall hold office foi' the tferm of three jeurs from said 
first day of January. Each member shall hold office until his successor is 
appointed and has qualified ; and any vacancy that may occur in the membor- 
ship of said board shall be filled by appointment by the Commissioners of the 
District of Columbia for the unexpired portion of the term in which such 
vacancy occurs. A majority of said members sjhall constitute a quorum to 
transact business, and the act or decision of such a majority shall be deemed 
the act or decision of said board ; and no vacancy shall impair the right of 
the remaining members to exercise all the powers of said board. The Com- 
missioners of the District of Columbia shall, so far as practicable, so select 
and appoint said members, both the original appointments and all subsequent 
appointments, that at all times one of said members shall represent the inter- 





ests of the employing class and one of said members shall represent the em- 
ployed class, and the third of said members shall be one who will be fair and 
impartial between employers and employees and work for the best interests of 
the public as a whole. 

Sec. 3. That the first members appointed under this act shall, within twenty 
days after their appointment, meet and organize said board by electing one o!t^ 
their number as chairman thereof and by choosing a secretary of said board ; 
and by or before the tenth day of January of each year, beginning With tMe 
year nineteen hundred and nineteen, said members shall elect a chairman ahd 
choose a secretary for the ensuing year. Each such chairman and each such 
secretary shall hoM his or her position until his or her successor is elected 
or chosen ; but said board may at any time remove any secretary chosen here- 
under. Said secretary shall not be a member ; and said secretary shall perform 
such duties as may be prescribed and receive such salary as may be fixed by 
the board. None of said members shall receive any salary as such. The board 
shall have power to employ agents and such other assistants as may be neces- 
sary for the proper performance of its duties. With the exception of the 
secretary, all employees of the board shall be a part of the classified civil 
service and shall enter the service under such rules and regulations as may be 
prescribed by tl;e board and by the Civil Service Commission. All authorized 
and necessary expenses of said board and all authorized and necessary expendi- 
tures incurred by said board shall be audited and paid as other District of 
Columbia expenses and expenditures are audited and paid. 

Sec. 4. That said board is hereby authorized and empowered to ascertain 
and declare, in the manner hereinafter provided, the following things: (a) 
Standards of minimum wages for women in any occupation within the District 
of Columbia and what wages are adequate to supply the necessary cost of living 
to any such women workers and to maintain them in good health and to protect 
their morals; and (b) standards of minimum wages for minors in any occupa- 
tion within the District of Columbia, and what wages are unreasonably low 
for any such minor workers. 

Sec. 5. That said board shall have full power and authority to investigate 
and ascertain the wages of women and minors in the different occupations in 
which they are employed in the District of Columbia ; and said board shall 
have full power and authority, either through any authorized representative 
or any member, to inspect and examine any and all books and pay rolls and 
other records of any employer of women or minors that in any way appertain 
to or have a bearing upon the question of wages of any such women or minor 
workers in any of said occupations, and to require from such employer full and 
true statements of the wages paid to all women and minors in his employment. 

Sec. 6. That every employer of women or minors shall keep a register of 
the names of all women and all minors employed by him and of all payments 
made to such women and minors and hours worked by them, whether paid by 
the time or by the piece, and shall, on request, permit any member or author- 
ized representative of said board to Inspect and examine such register. The 
word " minor " as used in this act refers to and means any person of either 
sex under the age of eighteen years, and the word " woman " as used in this 
act refers to and means a female person of or over the age of eighteen years. 

Sec. 7. That said board may hold meetings for the transaction of any of Its 
business at such times and places as it may prescribe; and said board may 
hold public hearings at such times and places as it deems fit and proper for the 
purpose of investigating any of the matters it is authorized to investigate by 
this act. At any such public hearing any persons Interested in the matter 
being investigated may appear and testify. The board or any member thereof 
shall have power to administer oaths, require by subpoena the attendance and , 
testimony of witnesses, the production of all books, registers, and other evidence 
relative to any matter under investigation, at any such public hearing or at any 
session of any conference held as hereinafter provided. In case of disobedience 
to a subpoena the board may invoke the aid of the Supreme Court of the 
District of Columbia in requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses 
and the production of documentary evidence. In case of contumacy or refusal 
to obey a subpoena the court may Issue an order requiring appearance before 
the board, the production of documentary evidence, and the giving of evidence 
touching the matter in question, and any failure to obey such order of court 
may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof. All witnesses subpoenaed 
by said board shall be paid the same mileage and per diem as are allowed by 
law to fitnesses in cwgil cases In the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. 


Sec. 8. That if, after investigation, said board is of opinion that any substan- 
tial number of women worliers in any occupation are receiving wages inade- 
quate to supply them with the necessary cost of living and maintain them in 
health and protect their morals, said board may call and convene a conference 
for the purpose and with the powers of considering and inquiring into and 
reporting on the subject investigated by such board and submitted by it to such 
conference. Such conference shall be composed of not more than three repre- 
sentatives of the employers in said occupation and of an equal number of the 
representatives of the employees in said occupation and of not more than three 
disinterested persons representing the public and of one or more members of the 
board. Said board shall name and appoint all the members of such conference 
and designate the chairman thereof. Said board shall present to such conference 
all information and evidence in the possession or under the control of said 
hoard which relates to the subject of the inquiry by such conference ; and said 
board shall cause to be brought before such conference any witness whose 
testimony said board deems material to the subject of the inquiry by such 
conference. After completing its consideration of and inquiry into the subject 
submitted to it by said Board, such conference shall make and transmit to said 
board a report containing the findings and recommendations of such conference 
on said subject. Accordingly as the subject submitted to it may require, such 
conference shall, in its report, make recommendations concerning the particular 
occupations under inquiry on standards of minimum wages for women workers 
and what wages are adequate to supply the necessary cost of living to women 
workers and maintain them in health and to protect their morals. In its recom- 
mendations on a question of wages such conference shall, where it appears 
that any substantial number of women workers in the occupation under inquiry 
are being paid by piece rates as distinguished from time rates recommended 
minimum piece rates as well as minimum time rates and recommend such 
minimum piece rates as will in its judgment be adequate to supply the necessary 
cost of living to women workers of average ordinary ability and maintain 
them in health and protect their morals ; and in its recommendations on a 
question of wages such conference shall, when it appears proper or necessary, 
recommend suitable minimum wages for learners and apprentices and the 
maximum length of time any woman workers may be kept at such wages as 
a learner or apprentice, which said wages shall be less than the regular 
minimum wages recommended for the regular women workers in the occupation 
under inquiry. Two-thirds of the members of any such conference shall con- 
stitute a quorum, and the decision or recommendation or report of such con- 
ference on any subject submitted shall require a vote of not less than a majority 
of all the members of the conference. 

Sec. 9. That upon receipt of any report from any conference, said board 
shall consider and review the recommendations contained in said report ; and 
said board may approve any or all of said recommendations or disapprove any 
or all of said recommendations ; and said board may resubmit to the same 
conference, or a new conference, any subject covered by any recommendations 
so disapproved. If said board approves any recommendations contained In 
any report from any conference, said board shall publish notice, not less than 
once a week for four successive weeks in not less than two newspapers of 
general circulation published in the District of Columbia, that it will on a date 
and at a place named in said notice, hold a public meeting at which all persons 
in favor of or opposed to said recommendations will be given a hearing; and, 
after said publication of said notice and said meeting, said board may. In its 
discretion, make and render such an order as may be proper or necessary to 
adopt such recommendations and carry the same into effect, and require all 
employers in the occupation affected thereby to observe and comply with such 
recommendations and said order. Said order shall become effective in sixty 
days after it Is made and rendered and shall be in full force and effect on and 
after the sixtieth day following its making and rendition. After said order 
becomes effective and while it is effective it shall be unlawful for any employer 
to violate or disregard any of the terms or provisions of said order or to 
employ any woman worker in any occupation covered by said order at lower 
wages than are authorized or permitted by said order. Said board shall, as 
far as is practicable, mail a copy of any such order to every employer affected 
thereby; and every employer affected by any such order shall keep a copy 
thereof posted in a conspicuous place in each room in his establishment in 
which women workers work. 


Sec. 10. That for any occupation In which only a minimum time rate wage 
has been established, said board may issue to a woman physically defective or 
crippled by age or otherwise impaired a special license authorizing her em- 
ployment at such wage less than said minimum time rate wage as shall be 
fixed by said board and stated in said license. 

Sec. 11. That said board may at any time inquire into wages of minors em- 
ployed in any occupafon in the District of Columbia and determine suitable 
wages for such minors. When said board has made such determination, It 
may issue an obligatory order in the manner provided for in section nine of 
this act, and after such order is effect '.ve, it shall be unlawful for any employer 
in said occupation to employ a minor at less wages than are specified or 
required in or by said order. 

Sec. 12. That the word " occupation " as used in this act shall be so construed 
as to Include any business, industry, trade, or branch of a trade. Any confer- 
ence may make a separate inquiry into and report on any branch of any occu- 
pation ; and said board may make a separate order alfecting any branch of any 

Sec. 13. That said board shall, from time to time, investigate and ascertain 
whether or not employers in the District of Columbia are observing and com- 
plying with its orders, and take such steps as may be necessary to have prose- 
cuted such employers as are not observing or complying with its orders. 

Sec. 14. That to assist the board in carrying out this act the Commissioners 
pf the District of Colunib a shall at all times give to said board any informa- 
tion or statistics in their possession under tlie act of Congress approved Feb- 
ruary twenty-fourth, nineteen hundred and fourteen, entitled "An act to regu- 
late the hours of employment and safeguard the health of females employed in 
the District of Columbia." ( Public, numbered sixty. Sixty-third Congress. ) 

Sec. 15. That said board is hereby authorized and empowered to prepare 
and adopt and promulgate rules and regulations for the carrying into effect of 
the foregoing provisions of this act, including rules and regulations for the 
selection of members and the mode of procedure of conferences. 

Sec. 16. That all questions of fact arising under the foregoing provisions of 
this act shall, except as otherwise herein provided, be determined by said board, 
and there shall be no appeal from the decision of said board on any such 
question of fact; but there shall be a right of appeal from said board to the 
Supreme Court of the District of Columbia from any ruling or holding on a 
question of law included in or embodied in any decision or order of said 
board and on the same question of law from said court to the Court of Appeal^ 
of the District of Columbia. In all such appeals the corporation counsel shall 
appear for and represent said board. 

Sec. 17. That any person who violates any of the foregoing provisions of this 
act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conv'ction thereof shall 
be punished by a fine of not less than $25 nor more than ,$100, or by imprison- 
ment for not less than ten days nor more than three months, or by both siich 
fine and impririonment, in the discretion of the court. 

Sec. 18. That any employer who discharges or in any other manner dis- 
criminates aga'nst any employees because such employee has served or is about 
to serve on any conference, or has testified, or is about to testify, or because 
such employer believes that said employee may serve on any conference or may 
testify in any investigation or proceedings under or relative to this act, shall be 
deemed gu'lty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punislied 
by a fine of not less than .$25 nor more than $100. 

Sec. 19. That prosecutions for violations of the provisions of this act shall be 
on information filed in the police court of the District of Columbia by the cor- 
poration counsel of said Dstrlct or any of his assistants duly authorized to act 
for him. 

Sec 20. That if any woman worker shall be paid t)y her employer less than tlie 
minimum wage to which she is entitled under or by virtue of an order of said 
board, she may recover in a civil action tlie full amount of her said minimum 
wage, less any amount actually paid to her by said employer, together with such 
attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court; and any agreement by her to 
work for less than such miuimum wage shall be no defense to such action. 

Sec 21. That said board shall, on or before the first day of January of the 
year nineteen hundred and nineteen, and of each year thereafter, make a report 
to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia of Its work and the proceed- 
ings under this act during the preceding year. 


Sec. 22. That there is hereby appropriated the sum of $5,000 per annum, or so 
much thereof as may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this 
act and to pay the expenses and expenditures authorized by or Incurred under 
this act, said sum to be payable one-half out of any money In the Treasury not 
otherwise appropriated and the other half out of the revenues of the District 
of Columbia. 

Sec. 23. That this act shall be known as " The District of Columbia minimum 
wage law." The purposes of said act are to protect the women and minors 
of the District from conditions detrimental to their health and morals resulting 
from wages which are inadequate to maintain decent standards of living, and 
the act in each of Its provisions and in its entirety shall be interpreted to eitectu- 
ate these purposes. 

Sec. 24. That tills act shall become operative six months after thg date of Its 

Senator Hollis. The subconimittee will be in order. Senator 
Trammel, do you wish to be heard noAv ? 


Senator Teammell. Mr. Chairman, I feel proud of the honor ex- 
tended me in having been requested to present to the Senate for its 
consideration what is commonly known us the minimum wage bill 
for the District of Columbia ; and, pursuing the interest which I feel 
in this subject, I appear before your committee this morning, not 
for the purpose of making any extended speech or argument, because 
I feel that the righteousness of the cause within itself is ample. It 
is a well-known fact that when the attorney appears before a court 
with a bad case, he feels that he has got to be very long on argument 
in order to make up for the weakness of his case ; but that is not true 
in this instance. 

I have been ver}' much gratified to note throughout the past de- 
cade the wonderful cha,nge in the trend of public sentiment toward 
providing a tnore suitable and adequate wage for the wage earners 
of this country. Our peoplfe, the people of America, have come 
to realize that a sufficient wage is not only in the interest of the 
person who is to enjoy the same but it is in the interest of society, 
it is promotive of better citizenship, and the entire trend is to build 
up and to strengthen the social fabric of our country. If it is true 
as it is applied to the adult male population of the country, it must 
be doubly true when we come to deal with the minors, those of 
tender age who are forced out to work, and to the womanhood of 
our country who are required to seek employment that they may 
provide sustenance and the necessaries of life for themselves and 
frequently for loved ones, children, and possibly mothers who have 
reached the age of decrepitude. 

The whole object and purpose of this bill is to provide for a com- 
mission which will iitvestigate the subject of wages for minors of 
certain ages and for women, within the District of Columbia, and 
that a minimum wage, a wage that will provide for them the neces- 
saries of life, ghall be fixed by this board. I feel that the proposed 
legislation is possessed of a great deal of merit, and that this com- 
mittee fully realizes the advantages which may accrue, as well as 

Some investigations here have disclosed the fact that quite a per- 
centage of the women and the children who have been working 
within the District of Columbia have not been getting an ample 


wage. You take $5 or $6 or $7 a week, with the present cost of 
maintenance, and we all know it is not sufficient to provide them 
with the ordinary comforts. 

Some object to the parental arm of the law being extended to 
any class of citizens. I think, however, as a rule, that is more of a 
subterfuge than it is a legitimate argument. I find that the business 
interests of this country, when conditions become distressing in con- 
nection with their business affairs, often appeal to the Government 
to exert its strong parental care, and in many instances it has ex- 
tended the^ helping hand of governmental aid, or governmental regu- 
ktion is extended, to assist in regulating and protecting the larger 
financial interests of our country. So that there can be no argument 
as to the wisdom, as I see it, or the virtue of the extending of a 
governmental policy which will go for the making up or assisting in 
providing, you might say, justice for the womanhood of our country, 
and the minor children, who are required from a matter of sheer 
necessity, as a rule, to labor for a livelihood. That is really, in a 
very brief statement, the purpose and object of this measure. 

As to the question of the constitutionality of the measure, I doubt 
^ery much whether the committee cares to hear anything upon that 
feature of it. The courts have held that measures of this kind are 
constitutional, and as to more minute details regarding the question 
of the wages here within the District, I will leave those features of 
the subject to be discussed by some one else. 

AVe have with us Mr. Charles J. Columbus, the secretary of the 
Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association of the District of Colum- 
bia, whom I desire at this time to present to the committee. He will 
make a statement to the committee, Mr. Chairman. 


Mr. Coi.uMBUs. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, 
1 appear to-day representing the Merchants and Manufacturers' As- 
sociation of Washington, formerly the Retail Merchants' Associa- 

Our association, as I explained at the House hearing yesterday, 
is made up of 33 organized lines of trade, and included among those 
units, which are known as trade sections, such as our department- 
store section, which employs about 5,000 people, are the section for 
laundries and our sections for specialty houses, for ladies' tailors, 
merchant tailors, and so on. 

Each section has a chairman, and each chairman is automatically 
a member of our board of governors. I was sent here by the board 
of governors, which unanimously voted to support this bill. 

Senator Hollis. Does your association embrace substantially all 
of the retail stores, including department stores ? 

Mr. Columbus. Our association embraces all of the department 
stores. I am coming here especially from the department stores, 
each one having spoken on this matter. 

Senator Hollis. And your association does include substantially 
all the retail stores? 


Mr. Columbus. Our association includes all the large houses. We 
elect to membership in the association, firms, and we do not elect 
individuals. We have a membership of about 200 firms. 

Senator Hollis. Do you know of any opposition to this bill in 
the District of Columbus ? 

Mr. Columbus. No, sir. 

Senator Hollis. You have not heard of any ? 

Mr. Columbus. No, sir. 

Senator Hollis. If there were substantial opposition to it, are you 
in a position to have heard it? 

Mr. Columbus. If there was substantial opposition it would have 
come from our organization. 

Senator Hollis. And if there were stores in the District who did 
object to the bill they would naturally come to you first ? 

Mr. Columbus. They would naturally come to us. 

Senator Hollis (continuing). To voice their objection? 

Mr. Columbus. Yes. 

Senator Hollis. Very well; proceed. 

Mr. Columbus (continuing). Because we differ from other or- 
ganizations here. For instance, our board of trade and our chamber 
of commerce are each made up of a mass of men and women from 
different lines, professional people and others as well, and they are 
all, including the business men, members of those organizations in a 
personal capacity. In the Merchants and Manufacturers' Associa- 
tion, as I said before, we elect the business. It is " S. Kann Sons & 
Co." on our books ; not a member of that firm. It is " Julius Gar- 
finkle & Co." on our books, and not " Mr. Garfinkle." 

We operate a credit bureau, doing all such things as will enhance 
the interest of the business; nothing from a personal standpoint. 

As an illustration, some surprise was expressed why we did not 
get baseball tickets for our members ; but we do not go into that kind 
of thing. It is matters of this kind — freight, traffic, credit, that we 
put through, and prosecute, jou might say. We have a vigilance 
committee for the false-advertisement law. We have put through a 
fake-auction law. It is things like that that we take up, wherever 
business is menaced or wherever business can be improved. 

Senator Hollis. The reason I asked my question is that it seems to 
me that the attitude of your association ought to determine the fate 
of this bill. If there are no objections to it, I can not see why it 
fhould not be adopted. 

• Mr. Columbus. As I say, we have taken it up with our department 
stores. Mr. Louis Levy, who represents the laundry interests in the 
association, said : " Why surely there is no use in opposing a measure 
of that kind." Others that I have talked to, including personal 
friends; say that they see no objection to it. In the meeting which 
we had on this, of the board of governors of the association, they 
regarded it as a good bill. We like the commission plan ; we like this 
form of arbitration, so to speak; we like this method whereby, as 
conditions change, either side can go io this commission and seek a 
rearrangement of the wage scale — that is, a minimum. 

Senator Jones. Mr. Columbus, I am not a member of this sub- 
committee, but I am a member of the Committee on the District of 
Columbia, and I am very much interested in this matter. My State 


(Washington) has adopted a minimum wage law. Do you have 
meetings of the component parts of your organization? 

Mr. Columbus. Yes. 

Senator Jones. Independent of your board of governors ? 

Mr. Columbus. Oh, yes. 

Senator Jones. Has any meeting of that kind discussed this bill? 

Mr. Columbus. No. 

Senator Jones. You have not taken it up in a meeting of the mem- 

Mr. Columbus. No; except with the department stores. Our 
people are very busy. I just came from a Liberty loan meeting, and 
I am going back to one; and it is very hard to get our people to 
come out now because they are tied up in so many directions. 

Senator Jones. We understand that. We have the same diffi- 
culties here. But have your people endeavored to arrange among 
themselves a minimum scale? 

Mr. Columbus. No. 

Senator Jones. For your employees? 

Mr. Columbus. No. Business has been put in an unfortunate 
light. Here in the District of Columbia, particularly, my people 
have been subjected to all sorts of difficulties, and I really think that 
the wage condition itself is the result not of deliberate action on 
anybody's part but a result of conditions that have grown up about 
us. Business men must have a real organization, and no man can 
have a real organization about him when his people are not satis- 
fied; and the business men of Washington want to satisfy their 
people, because unless individuals are happy in their jobs, the job 
itself or the business itself can not very well succeed. 

We considered this bill as it was introduced by Mr. Keating^ 
March 1 last — we did not have a copy of the other bill, but I am 
told that it is the same — and our board of governors sends me to 
you. I want to emphasize that we come with the full approval of 
the department stores. Those that were not there were seen in per- 
son by myself, and the cigar trade was represented there — Mr. Henry 
Offterdinger and other large employers of female help ; and this bill 
had his full approval. We figured that inasmuch as the department 
stores and the laundries were the largest employers of female help, 
they were the real ones in interest in this matter. Every member 
of our board of governors had full notice that this matter was to be 
taken up. Yesterday afternoon and last night I had quite a number 
of men tell me how pleased they were that we had taken this stand 
on the minimum wage bill. 

Senator Hollis. Thank you very much, Mr. Columbus. 

Senator Sherman. Might I ask a question, Mr. Chairman? 

Senator Hollis. Yes. 

Senator Siiekjiax. Mr. Columbus, you think from your investiga- 
tions that this bill is workable when it is applied to actual conditions 
here in the District of Columbia? 

Mr. Columbus. Yes. 

Senator Sherman. You have worked it out, have you, and studied 
it from every angle? 

Mr. CoLUJtBus. Yes ; but it altogether depends on the formation or 
the character of that board. 


^Senator Shekman. Certainly; that is so, that every law depends 
oil the good faith and ability of the men who execute it. 

Mr. Columbus. That is the idea. 

Senator Sherman. But now, conceding that that much is granted, 
you think that with fair-minded men who understand the situation 
and will investigate, this can be worked out successfully ? 

Mr. Columbus. Yes, indeed; because often those not of us can 
point out our faults and our shortcomings. 

Senator Shekman. Certainly. 

Mr. Columbus. For instance, take our advertising vigilance com- 
mittee. Wheh we were working to get that law through we named a 
committee of six of our members, known as the advertising vigilance 
commiittee of the Retail Merchants' Association, and we went to the 
newspapers and showed them that we wanted to correct abuses that 
existed in advertising here, and they gave us space. For one week 
we had a very large space in the papers, announcing that this com- 
mittee would receive and answer all complaints, but we had no com- 
plaints. Joseph Berberich, our first vice president, is chairman of 
that committee, and I told him I thought the public did not believe 
it; and so we went outside of our organization. Our committee is 
made up of delegates from the citizens' associations here, and when 
that was done we had complaints. So, you see, we brought out- 
siders into this work, and it developed in a fine way. 

We frequently have occasion to criticize our own members. We do 
not take them to court the first time, but we have a rule that if they 
offend the second or the third time we then take them; that is, we 
prepare a case against them. To illustrate the point that Senator 
Sherman made : By. bringing outsiders in we could work far better 
in that matter, and I believe that this matter of wages or a minimum 
wage can be adjusted through a fair-minded board such as is proposed 
in the bill. 

Senator Jones. Mr. Columbus, I have looked through the bill hur- 
riedly, and I do not find' any payment provided for this board. 
Wiiat is the idea about that? 

Mr. Columbus. I do not know. We did not frame the bill. I 
thought at the time, while the secretary is to be paid, this work, if 
it is to be well done, will require a great deal of time, and I am glad 
you made that suggestion, Senator, because it seems to me that the 
liieBabers of that board should be paid. 

Senator Hollis. I think some of the other speakers will state what 
is done in other States about that. 

Senator Dillingham. Is it provided in the bill that they shall serve 
tvithoiit recompense? 

Mr. Columbus. Yes. There is appropriated only $5,000, and out 
of that the secretary's, salary and all the other Expenses shall be paid. 

Senator Jones. I wanted to ask your judginent about that. Do you 
not think you are likefy to have a very inefficient administration of 
the law if people are i-equired to serve without pay ? 

Mr. Columbus. I am glad of this suggestion. Yes ; I do. 

Senator Jones. If this is a good thing and an important thing 

Mr. Columbus. Yes ; it is a very important thing. 

Senator Jones (continuing) . We ought to have the right men and 
give them compensation for the time they have to give to it. 


Mr. Columbus. Yes. 

Senator Mollis. "We will consider that later. 

Senator Trammel. Mr. Chairman, in accordance with the program, 
I believe I was to present the speakers, but Mrs. Kelley has had 9, 
great deal of experience in connection with this character of legisla- 
tion and this character of very noble work, and I will just briefly 
present Mrs. Kelley, who will take charge of the matter of intro- 
ducing the other speakers who appear before the committee and also 
will have something to say to you herself. 


Mrs. Kellei". Mr. Chairman, I speak as secretary of tiie National 
Consumers' League, which has for a number of years done what it 
could to promote the enactment of legislation of this character in 
many of the States. I think perhaps it is known to you that this 
is the organization of which Secretary Baker is president. 

I shall not waste many words in introducing the speakers, they are 
so many, and they represent so many diti'erent parts of the country 
and so many different aspects of this work. I shall call first on 
Mr. Felix Frankfurter, who has acted as counsel for the Consumers' 
League in several cases, and who appeared in defense of the constitu- 
tionality of the minimum wage law of Oregon when that was 
contested, and to whose persuasive argument we think that the favor- 
able decision of the United States Supreme Court was undoubtedly 
in large part due. 

Mr. Frankfurter, I am sure, will giAe his \ lews in regard to the 
proposed salaries to members of the commission. 

Senator Mollis. We will be glad to hear Mr. Frankfurter. 


Senator Mollis. Mr. Frankfurter, where is your home? 

Mr. Fkankfurtek. I am at the present time an assistant to the 
Secretary of War, but my home is in Cambridge, Mass., and I am 
professor of law at the Marvard Law School. 

Senator Mollis. Now, will you proceed? 

Mr. Frankfurter. May I say just a word with regard to the ques- 
tion of salaries of members of this board ? If I may suggest, I think 
that on that point more valuable testimony would come from two 
people in this room who have actually served on such boards in other 
States, and their evidence and their experience as to the amount of 
time that it takes and the advantages of having salaried as against 
per diem members, would be much more pertinent than my own 
speculation on the subject. 

Senator Mollis. Are they on the list of speakers? 

Mr. Frankfurter. Yes; they are on the list. 

Senator Mollis. Then they will give their views. 

Mr. Frankfurter. Mrs. Axtell has served on a board in Washing- 
ton, and Mr. Holcombe comes from Massachusetts, and they will give 
their actual experience with the matter you are considering. 

Senator Mollis. Very well, proceed. 

Mr. Frankfurter. The war has created a great many industrial 
problems and has intensified a number of old ones. One of the great 


questions projected in all of the belligerent countries is the place of 
woman in industry. The enormous replacements of men workers by 
women workers have created a qualitatively different problem than we 
knew of before the great war ; but the question which this bill raises 
before Congress is an old question, and the way in which it seeks 
to meet evils that have revealed themselves in the District of Colum- 
bia is an old way, and a tried way. 

Senator Trammell's bill brings to the attention of Congress an evil 
which has existed in every industrial country of the world from the 
time that women have in increasing measure entered industry, and 
the remedy which Senator Trammell proposes is a remedy which has 
been tried under substantially similar circumstances to those pre- 
sented in this country and in this District. The proposal, in effect, 
is the adoption by the Congress of the United States of a tried 
measure of social reform to remedy long-existing evil. What ici 
the problem ? It is this: That wnmpn hgiv p. P-ntjjn-ad-jjuiBwfaya^ a 
ma tter, of necessity and not ns n matteE.jQf-pleasure: that theyjrg 
w orking for wages because they have to work for wag es; and that 
too frequently they are working under conditions whictrdo not give 
an adequate return for the basic necessities of the human body. In- 
vestigations which can not be challenged have demonstrated that 
there are in every English-speaking country a surprisingly large 
percentage of women, and those minors who are permitted to work 
in industry, who get less than what is conmionly known as a living 
wage — get less than is necessary to supply the most rudimentary 
human wants. 

That is so partly because of selfishness, but more so because of 
ignorance and laziness and the persistence of human habit. Emer- 
son said somewhere that mankind is as lazy as it dares to be, and 
that is a very important and very pernicious factor in a great deal of 
our industrial system. The cost of such laziness can no longer be 
neglected. The patient and impartial investigation of science has 
revealed that to subject a large body of women and minors to the 
pressure of inadequate wages means, as it obviously must mean, not 
only a present stunted generation, but the seeds for the deterioration 
of the race. Building upon that obvious but profound truth, New 
Zealand, an English-speaking community like our own, almost 25 
years ago began to deal with the problem. How did it deal with it ? 
It laid down as an unquestioned principle that no woman or minor 
who is employed in industry should receive less than a living wage. 

What is a living wage? What is a reasonable rate? Ail those 
general priiiciples as to which we agree require administrative agen- 
cies for enforcement. Just as Congress created an Interstate Com- 
merce Conunission many years ago to apply the general principles 
of reasonable and unreasonable rates to the complicated facts of 
commerce, so New Zealand said, "We will establish a fact-finding 
body, we will establish a wage board on which will be represented 
the employer and the employee and the disinterested public" — or 
. rather, I should say, the most highly interested public — ^" and which 
shall determine what are those basic needs of food, clothing, and 
shelter which form the minimum to keep the human body going, 
fit for itself and adequate to continue a fit race," 

Senator Hollis. Will you pardon me, right there, Mr. Frank- 
furter ? 


Mr. FRANKruRTER. Certainly 

Senator Hollis. Of course, the first reply made to that statement 
is that a great many girls live at home so that they do not need as 
much wages as those who do not. Will you apply that to this 
problem ? 

Mr. Frankfurter. The answer to that, if I may put it bluntly, 
is that it is not so. The investigation of the easy theory that all these 
women workers live at home, and that these girls work only in order 
to have a few extra dollars to buy clothes and candy with, shows 
that it is not true, and that such conditions exist only in the minds of 
people who do not know the actualities of life. Investigations of the 
highest authorities have proved that a considerable percentage of 
women workers live away from home, that they have no male sup- 
porters; that they are subjected to a thousand and one vicissitudes 
of life, such as make her a girl dependent on her own earnings. 

I n many otliCT cusps whprp. wonrip.n live^at home they are, necessary 
mitoibutors JxTjthe family jnconie. Ajiotlier large percentage of 
wonieiTliave no male supporter in the family, although they live in 
the family. The sum total of the facts is that the number of girls 
in industry who work merely for this so-called " pin money " is for 
practical purposes a negligible number. That is shown by investiga- 
tions in Australia and New Zealand and England and the United 
States and by investigations made by several of the wage boards in 
the several States since they have been established. 

Senator Hollis. If it were so, would not the answer be, then, that 
the basis should be taken from those who actually Mork to support 
themselves ; that that is the basis, and that those who have some other 
means of support are fortunate in that respect, and that they should 
not be taken as the basis ? 

Mr. Frankfurter. Quite so; because the theory of the living wage 
is this : If Mary Jones works all day, the assumption is that her out- 
put is at least equal to her intake; that the amount of goods that is 
necessary to keep her going ought to be reproduced in her product. 
Therefore, whether or not she is fortunate in having a rich father — 
and I dare say that there are very few girls who work at telephone 
switchboards who have rich fathers — ^the theory is that she is giving 
that service to society, and she ought to get at least the minimum nec- 
essary to produce her output. 

Senator Sherman. That was covered by Senator HoUis's question: 
That even if there was a larger number of those so fortunate, they 
ought not to set the level from which those who have to work to 
support themselves should have their compensation fixed. 

Mr. Frankfuri-er. Precisely; because, as you suggest in that ques- 
tion, if you allow that to be done they will pull down the wage level 
or scale of compensation for all of them. 

Senator Sherman. The ones who work from necessity ought to 

Mr. Frankfurter. Yes. 

Senator Hollis. You Avere speaking about New Zealand. 

Mr. Frankfurter. Yes. New Zealand gave the answer to this. 
The fact-finding board should in the first place establish just what 
are the immediate needs of life of women in industry, and establish 
it not capriciously, not arbitrarily, but in the calm way in which 


science now establishes these facts, establish it after consultation 
with the business that is to bear the cost in the first instance, estab- 
lish it after consultation with representatives of the employees who 
know their needs and their interests, and establish it in consultation 
with representatives of the public which, in the last analysis, must 
pay the bills. 

Senator Hollis. Now, right there: Three of us have before us, as 
members of a subcommittee, the matter of rents in the District of 
Columbia. In your opinion does not that rest on just the same basis 
of inquiry and fair dealing and investigation by a commission? 

Mr. Frankfurter. If I may so, I think the only answer to all 
these complicated economic questions, the only way in which we can 
get justice and fair dealing, is by making the most painstaking 
impartial inquiry into the various constituent factors of such prob- 
lems. We can not settle questions like that by debating about them, 
because there is a general agreement about the basic principles; 
the difficulty comes in the application. That means inquiry into the 
facts just as far as human fairness and expertness can carry it. Our 
only salvation is to have a disinterested investigation before we 

New Zealand began this in 1894. From New Zealand it spread on 
to Victoria, one of the constituent States of the Australian Com- 
monwealth, and then to New South Wales, until the Australian Com- 
monwealth passed it for the whole of Australia as to all interstate 
commerce. From Australia the idea, because it had approved itself, 
went to England, and beginning with 1909, the wage-board theory 
of legislation began to be adopted and applied in Great Britain. 
Tentatively, cautionsuly, as is the spirit of Anglo-Saxon legislation, 
step by step, they first applied it to four sweating industries, the in- 
dustry where the level of squalor, the level of hardship, was most 
obvious and most severe. The law established itself in those indus- 
tries; and, after the fears and all of the Cassandra cries of danger 
were belied by experience, it was extended gradually to other in- 
dustries, so that in Great Britain it has covered a very wide field in 
all of the important industries. Moreover, in the midst of war, 
because the condition of the agricultural laborer was so severe and 
subject to such pressure, they applied the law, the minimum-wage 
idea, to the agricultural laborer in England. As Mr. Asquith, in a 
speech the other day said : 

The minimum wage, wliich under tlie stress of war conditions 1ms been given 
statutory autliority in tlie great industry of agriculture, has come to stay ; and 
It is certain, as time goes on, to receive wide and, as I believe, beneficent 
extension. • 

It is worthy of remark that the minimum-wage theory in the first 
instance, and its various extensions, have not been partisan measures 
in Great Britain. The idea of the wage board, the idea of getting 
at the facts and conditions and acting on those economic facts, is not 
a partisan or a narrow political measure at all, but is a policy of 
national necessity to maintain and to encourage basic decent stand- 
ards of human life. 

Senator Calder. How far has the minimum-wage idea for women 
extended in England ? You spoke of its being applied to agriculture. 

Mr. Frankfurter. Agriculture is the last. Senator Calder. It 
started with the clothing industry, the chain-making industry, the 


lace industry, and the pottery industry, and candy, and other great 
industries, and it has been applied to agricultue last. I mentioned 
that as the extremest instance of its application. . . 

Senator Caldee. So that it covers now practically all industries in 
England? . . t^ , , 

Mr. Feankfurtee. There is this form of legislation m Jingland. 
They specified certain industries, and then, according to the legisla- 
tive' scheme that is of course very familiar to you gentlemen, they 
provided that the Government by general orders may extend it to 
other industries without the necessity of initiating legislation by the 
Government, but merely by submitting to the House of Commons an 
executive order ; and if they do not veto it within a certain tinie it 
becomes legislation. That began in 1912 and has been in effect since. 

Senator Hollis. Does it or not cover department stores? 

Mr. Feankfurtee. I believe not. But may I, in order to be per- 
fectly accurate, turn to Miss Goldmark to answer that question? 

Miss Goldmark. No; it does not. 

Mr. Feankfurtee. But whether it does or does not, Mr. Chair- 
man, is merely a question of determination for the home govern- 
ment. They can, by administrative order, so to speak, to-morrow ex- 
lend it to any industry. 

From New Zealand and Australia and Great Britain the idea 
came to this country. The States of Oregon, Washington, Massa- 
chusetts, Arizona, Arkansas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, States 
scattered in all the various corners of the United States, having all 
kinds of differing industrial conditions, adopted this measure, indi- 
cating by such adoption that it is not something unique having ap- 
plication here or there, but it is a form of legislation common to the 
needs of all industries ; namely, that in order to prevent doing what 
Senator Sherman referred to a little while ago, in order to prevent 
the wage level from being beaten down by the minority, ignorant 
or selfish employer, the State itself should come to the support of the 
intelligent and right-minded employers, such as are represented here 
by Mr. Columbus this morning, and should prevent them from being 
unduly harassed by selfish, ignorant, or timid employers. 

Senator Hollis. That is the basis of all legislation of this sort, is 
it not? 

Mr. Fbankfuetee. Yes; precisely. 

Senator Hollis. To prevent the unjust and cruel from forcing the 
others to be unjust and cruel, also? 

Mr. Feankfuetee. Precisely. In other words, this is not a setting 
of a new standard by the State; it is adopting the sound standard 
already set in industry as the standard to which all must conform. 

This has now been not merely on the statute books as a law, but 
has been in the actual life, so to speak, of the various States, as a 
great and fruitful social measure. We do not have to speculate 
about it. We do not have to theorize about it. All we have to do is 
to turn (o the report of Senator Jones's industrial wage commission 
in Washington and just see. what it has actually done, see the evils 
that have been rooted out and the good that has been accomplished, 
and we can say in a word what Mrs. Axtell and Mr. Holcombe will 
say to you in detail, that all the fears about women unduly thrown 
out of work, new costs imposed on production, and all the other ob- 
jections have been in an overwhelming measure falsified by actual 


. Now, instead of making a daring hazard, a great new venture in 
legislation, the Congress of the United States is merely asked to 
accept the verified, the incontestible experience of nations like to us 
in industrial and legal tradition and of our own States, to take that 
experience and in a conservative way say to the District of Columbia 
that in this territory for which we as a Nation are responsible, for 
which the Congress of the United States is exclusively responsible, 
we shall have no such evil conditions as can be remedied and as are 
shown to be capable of remedy. This is a duty that confronts Con- 
gress, not only because it is responsible for the women and children 
who work in this District, but because it has the responsibility of 
setting a moral standard for the whole Nation, where we have a legal 

The law is plain and simple. You are asked to make no new 
ventures. You are not asked to enact litigation. The iogislation 
has run the gamut of litigation; it has run the gamut of the courts, 
and they have passed it. The question first came up in the Or-fjjon 
Supreme Court in two very admirable opinions which sustained the 
validity of the legislation. It then went to the Supreme Court of 
the United States. 

Senator Dillingham. Will you kindly put those references into 
the record? 

Mr. Feankftteteh. The cases are Stettler v. O'Hara (69 Oreg., 
519), and Simpson v. O'Hara (70 Oreg., 261). 

The case then came to the Supreme Court of the United States, 
where it was argued twice, and it was affirmed by necessity by a 
divided court, without opinion, in 243 U. S., 629. 

Since then the law has come up twice in two State courts. The 
Arkansas measure came up before the Arkansas Supreme Court in 
State V. Aker (197 Sw. Rep.), and it was decided very recently in 
Minnesota, in an admirable opinion, in the case of Williams -y. Evans 

and Williams v. (Nw. Eep., 495). So that you have this 

unanimous body of decisions sustaining the validity of the legisla- 
tion. The theory is, of course, that it is an exercise of the police 
power of the plainest character not only to safeguard health, to 
protect morals, but even as an affirmative measure to encourage the 
best resources because the most vital resources — ^the human resources 
of the State. 

Senator Jones. Would not the constitutionality of the law for the 
District of Columbia be less subject to question than it is in any 
State, by reason of the special authority vested in the Congress over 
the District of Columbia? 

Mr. Frankfurter. Yes, sir. 

Senator Jones. And in the Statesj of course, it is placed on the 
sovereign right of the State to control everything within the State. 

Mr. Feankfuetee. Quite so. The Supreme Court has spoken along 
the lines su£?gested by Senator Jones when it says that Congress, in 
dealing with the District of Columbia, may seek to -bring out and 
develop to the fullest all the resources of the community. 

Senator Hollis. That might be reached under the general welfare. 

Mr. Frankfurter. That general welfare which is becoming more 
and more a great affirmative constitutional resource. 

55910—18 2 


Senator Hollis. What is your special branch of the law at Cam- 
bridge ? 

Mr. Frankfurter. Public law. 

Senator Calder. Explain just in a moment what sort of a law 
Massachusetts has passed. 

Mr. Frankfurter. The Massachusetts law is slightly different 
from the others, the difference being in its enforcing feature. In- 
stead of saying that after the conference reports to the minimum- 
wage commission, as it is there, and the minimum wage commission 
then says that $8.65 or $9.02 a week is the minimum wage for laundry 

firls, and then providing that if the employer has refused to pay 
9.02 he shall be subject to a fine, it has a system of enforcement 
similar to that of our pure f oo'd and drug law — namely, that whoever 
disobeys shall have his name published in the newspapers. Insto,d 
of making it a misdemeanor subject to fine it relics for enforcement 
Jip6n^p«61icily7 You are, of course, very familiaf" with the effect 
such a thing has upon the offender. 

Senator Hollis. Does that work in Massachusetts? 

Mr. Frankfurter. I should appeal to Mr. Holcombe to say 
whether it works there. It works there where it would not work in 
other States, because you have a totally different tradition. It works, 
but not sufficiently, and the whole tendency there is to turn it into a 
compulsory measure. 

Senator Calder. Does it affect all lines of business there? 

Mr. Frankfurter. It affects all lines. That very variation, of 
having it not enforced by criminal enforcement was a compromise 
measure when the bill was up, and in the overwhelming number of 
States, out of the 12 Stales, in all but that 1 there is a coercive 
feasure in the law. The bill before you. Senator Trammel's meas- 
ure, follows in great detail, and I think very wisely, actual legisla- 
tion which has run the gantlet of the courts. In the theory of it — 
that is, in the establishment of a central board, and then in establish- 
ing conference boards for each industry and reporting back to the 
minimum-wage board the results of such conferences — ^in all its 
structure, in all its details, it follows on the experience of the States 
where it has been longest and most successfully in operation. 

A word more. The measure that is before you in the very truest 
sense is a war measure in that it will maintain the standards which 
in the. first instance are necessary for warfare ; a measure which will 
maintain the standards for which this war is being conducted; a 
measure which will remove evils that can be removed, and to that 
extent create barriers against unthinking radicalism. When Eng- 
land passed the law for agricultural laborers and when now, in the 
very midst of a life-and-death strus-gle. she is passing through Par- 
liament a bill for the protection of childhood by increasing the age 
limit for school children, providing for continuation schools, it shows 
her strength, it shows her fineness of spirit; and it is such a measure 
that these women to-day are placing before your committee, through 
the effective leadership of Senator Trammel!. 

Mrs. Kellet. Mr. Chairman, I am now going to call upon Dr. 
Arthur Holcombe, who has been a member of the Minimum Wage 
Commission of Massachusetts since its beginning, and he will further 
answer the questions that have been asked. 



Senator Hollis. I shall have to request the speakers to bs brief. 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, 
I have^bee p a mpmher o f- tb o M - a asa-ehHset-ts-M-iaiaaMJxuWaga-Cmnmis- 
sion.,aafi8-tli e establishment of that com mission six years ago, and 
I wanFto telTyou briefly — as your chairman has suggested — tfie ex- 
ppigenT^ft'nFIVlgsgnj^ htlSetlsT iTjdpr t b"*'' ^"' ^- I think that experience 
ought to be particularly interesting to you when considering a bill 
for the District of Columbia, not only because the Massachusetts law 
is the oldest of the laws in this country, but particularly because the 
conditions in Massachusetts are probably more nearly like those here 
in the District than those in many of the Western States where mini- 
mum-wage laws have also been in operation. 

Whfn wp first took up _the. duties of the commission in Massac hu- 
setts, wft fffi ^ndJ: b.aLJJiftgPi--wfti'ft^ sf»nnpth4nc»-4i-kft-aQ0.000 
women employed in the industries of the State, exclusive of women in 
ret airstor SS, iaui i d T'iB 5"~a:nTt"6gtablishm"ent s with le ss than $5,000 a 
year product, and" exclusive of gifls" under the a^e„of 18. The tofal 
numbeF"of"wage-earning women and girls could not be ascertained 
and is not now known, but it must have been considerably greater 
than 200,000. Of course, the total number of women and girls em- 
ployed in industry to-day in the State is very much greater than it 
was six years ago. 

Now, I want to explain the experience in Massachusetts in order 
to show that a minimum wage does accomplish the results, so far as 
the women and girls are concerned, which are desired ; and particu- 
larly in order to show the effect on business, b3cauce after all you 
have to consider the effect on business as well as the effect upon the 
employees in the business. D uring the six _yeaj,'! thnt. wp hav p_-hppn 
in operatiojiji_Masaa.Qhii setts we ha ve investigat fid-indiistries em- 
ployin'g^out 150^000 woinm: WeTTave not yet covered all the in- 
dustri^ of the State,"FiirweTiave covered most of them, and having 
made inA'^estigations, we have established wage boards and approved 
rates for industries employing about one-half of that number of 
women; so that at the present time in the State of Massachusetts 
there are something like 75,000 women and girls actually working 
under minimum-wage decrees of our commission. 

Possibly I had better describe very briefly the manner in which 
those rates are determined and then dercribe briefly the results of 
their enforcement. In our State we are directed by law to establish 
a minimum-wage board in every industry, where we have reason to 
believe that a substantial number of women and girls are employed 
at rates inadequate to cover the cost of living and maintenance in 
good health. Where we find such a condition to exist we are di- 
rected to organize a board consisting of equal numbers of represent- 
atives of the employers and employees in the occupation with which 
we are dealinff, and a limited number of impartial and disinterested 
members of the public. Th e_wage board considers the facts_of J;he 
case, and_no_board can be better q ualified torconsider tEe^acls of the 
case, consisting as'll does~foFThe most^art of 'persons primarily 


^°"£5JB£ii2^'SieindustnyJiself,jthe employers and the girls working 

Having considered the needs of the girls and the wages paid and 
the financial condition of the industry itself, the board reports to th3 
commission recommending such rates as in the judgment of the board 
are advisable. The commission thsreupon holds a public hearing, 
and if it finds no reason for disapproving the recommendations of 
the board, it stamps those recommendations with its approval, and 
puts the rates into operation. 

At this point let me for a moment take up the matter of the policy 
of ths commission since the outbreak of the war. One of the gentle- 
men of the committee inquired a moment ago whether the minimum 
wag3 could properly be described as a war measure. There is no 
question about it. There has never been a tinie when the girls in 
occupations not directly profiting by the war have been in greater 
need of the protection of the minimum wage law than at the present 

I may be permitted, perhapo, to refer to an investigation which 
was made by the United States Bureau of Eificiency, with which I 
am temporarily connected, in order to furnish information to the 
House Appropriations Committee dealing with the Federal em- 
ployees' salary increase measure. We foun d that th ? ro-^ "^ fi^rl m 
the District of Columbia had increased 30 per cent since the outbreak 
o OM~'Wgr ir3?oW.r-jt""nSail increased rajt—oiriy: ice: th"E~~Feaeral 
e mployees in Washington, who are earning„more than- the- girls in 
the retail stoiFes and laundries andjother establishments wherg^Homen 
and girls are employeH here Tn the District of Columbia, Jaut it has 
increasaiiilso for tho£e-women-an,d girls, and the wageaJiaxe not 
increase d, 
^tinator Jones. Do you mean that increase was from the time we 
entered the war or from the time the war began originally? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. From the time we entered the war. 

Senator Hollis. What was the increase, approximately, from the 
time the war started, in 1914? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. The increase from 1914 to 1917, on the whole, was 
less than the increase following that period. I can not quote the 
exact figures. 

►"^enptor Up to what date was that increase of 30 per cent? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. From the beginning of 1917. 

Senator Hollis. Up to what date? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. Up to the end of 1917. 

Ihere is no question, then, that so far as industries are concerned 
which are not directly profiting by war orders, the cost of living has 
increased at a vastly greater rate than wages have increased, and the 
need of the girls and women that work in them is correspondingly 
greater. Now,_herg^in_3ya^ngton you have industries that do not 
profithyJhe.^am£ly:,jca^il st6i-es:|ind iarmd rles, and they a fe'EKe 
industries__aboye_all.cthers_ which need the^protection of s'tfch'^an act 
iiprlpr the existing circumstances. In this District, above-^li- places, 
it is proper to describe the minimum wage at the present time as 
distinctly a war measure. 

Now-, to revert to Massachusetts, Mr. Chairman; we have approved 
rates in the following industries: The manufacture of brushes, of 


candy, the laundry industry, retail stores, including all kinds of re- 
tailing; the manufacture of women's clothing; the manufacture of 
men's clothing — that is, all kinds of outer garments, including rain- 
coats and overcoats, men's furnishings from collars to shoe strings; 
women's muslins, white goods of various sorts; women's millinery — 
the manufacture of millinery; office cleaners, charwomen, scrub 
women employed in apartment houses, and workers of that descrip- 
tion generally. For those classes of persons we have either fixed 
the rates, or, as in the case of scrub women, are now fixing rates, for 
th^. State of Massachusetts. '' 

Senator Hollis. Why have you not taken up the textile industry ? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. We have investigated the textile industry, and we 
had intsnded to establish a wage board, but the outbreak of the war 
made us deem it. wise to leave that matter for action in the same 
manner as wages in war industries are dealt with. In other words, it 
became a Federal matter, and, lest there be a conflict of jurisdiction, 
we waived — I will not say our right to deal with those things, but 
we waived — our duty to deal with that business and left it to the 
War Department to deal with it in its own manner. 

Senator Hollis. That is, you were about to enter that field when 
the war began? 

Dr. HoLcoMBE. Yes. 

Senator Holhs. All right. 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. In other words, we have kept cut of the war in- 
dustries since the war broke out, and worked in those industries 
which have been injured rather than benefited by the war. 

Senator Hollis. Yes. 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. The first industry in which a minimum wage 
wa3 put in operation was the manufacture of brushes. That was the 
one in which the lowest wages were paid among all the continuously 
operating industries of the State, at the time we went to work. _A 
year after the rate had been put in operation we made a careful in-; 
vestigation of the results. There was naturally much interest to 
know what those results would be. Employers in other occupations 
were hesitating to go ahead with the minimum wage until they were 
satisfied that those results were good. 

Co nsequently we made that investigati on wi.tli^ particular care, 
and this is wtiat_we found: That the wages of women had bpen 
grt'^gJiT;'- i n f T-pg qpri_jTiiTMWg th p. "fSav^Sa 1 1 nwi ng i h e~ir(TnpfTrm--fipr" the 
minimum wage ; that the employment of expejiencedjwomen at ruin- 
ousb^"low rTtt^-had-eemtpfetdy-cgasedj that;fE£^^ 
ting jnore than thej ]ilitfawffli=fe^-4ee¥eaee4-j-tilw>.t- thpr^.^as^a larger 
prc^orEiorToil: womenemployed in the indus try gettir g more t han the 
min imum wag e after the mihiiriuni wage.gaL p'^t i n h i isli fl d t ha .T) b efore, 
completely refPt lng t he o flg^fime'cornmon objection to the minimum 
wage, that the minimum would tend to become the maximum; and" 
finally, and to this I want particularly to call your attention, all that 
was accomplished without placing any unreasonable burden upon 
the industries themselves. Now, what was the evidence of that? 
First, that the number of brush manufacturers in the State had in- 
creased during that period ; the value of the raw material employed 
in- the industry had increased, and the value of the product had in- 
creased. In other words, the available information showed clearly 


that along with the minimum wage the industry itself had flourished, 
and the establishment of the minimum wage had been good not only 
for the employees but for all the employers in the industry who had 
been willing to give it a fair trial. , ^ .-. 4. ui • u 

Senator Dillisgham. I understood you to say that the establish- 
ment of the minimum rate had not operated to stop the advance ot 
wages in the industry. ^ , , , 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. No, sir; that was one of the most remarkable 
results that we found. 

Senator Jones. What was the minimum wage before your rate 
was established? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. I hesitate to quote figures from memory. 

Senator Jones. Just generally. 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. I will be glad to put the exact figures m the record. 

Senator Jones. Yes. 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. Speaking in a general way, about two-thirds of 
the employees in brush factories were getting less than $6 a week. 

Senator Jones. And what was the minimum that you established? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. We established a minimum for a full working 
week of $8.37. 

Senator Jones. And, after that was established, I understand you 
to say that the general trend was above that? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. I intended to say that the proportion of women 
getting more than the minimum "was greater after the minimum 
was established than it had been before, showing that not only had 
those women been benefited who were below the minimum, but also 
tho3e women who were above the minimum had profited. 

Senator Dillingham. It did not cut off the individual initiative 
for an advance? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. No. 

Senator Caldee. Did you say that the cost of living had increased 
30 per cent? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. Not the cost of living, but the cost of food. 

Senator Calder. The cost of food? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. Yes. 

Senator Caldee. In the nonwar industries of Massachusetts, has 
the minimum wage been increased for women during the past year? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. That is, have the rates previously established, been 
raised upward ? 

Senator Caldee. Yes. 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. No; we knew that it was a question we should 
consider seriously, whether we ought not to do it. We felt, however, 
until recently, that the duration of the war was uncertain, and that 
it was unwise to make changes for temporary reasons when the 
changes themselves might prove to be of a permanent character. 

Senator Dillingham. .Is it not also true that the demand for labor 
since the war began has been such that there was less danger to the 
women of being compelled to work at an injuriously low wage? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. The demand for labor has increased, but yet never- 
theless it is a fact, very hard to explain, that in industries not directly 
profiting by the war, wages do not increase at anything like the rate 
at which wages increase m war industries, even though the women be 
drawn from the same labor market. 


Senator Calder. And then, again, Doctor, is it not true that many 
of these industries have had a terrible struggle to get along because 
of the attitude of the Government toward them, discouraging entry 
into new business in industries not directly involved in the war ? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. That may have had its effect, Senator. 

Now, I w ant to take up next the second industry in which rates 
were f)Ut into effect generally throu ghnut. the State, an industry 
which is of particnln r interest in view of the situation here in Wash- 
ington, namely, the retail-store industry. The rates there were put 
into operation Tti-1-9 15 and again-gffsrt hev had Tpeenln operation a 
year we made a careful investigation to ascertain what the results 
had been. I will •Trot-ge~i.ntn detail -as-to-^bose-results, but I will 
summarize briefly what we found, and with your permission, Mr. 
Cha'rman, I will file with the committee for the further information 
of those who may be interested, this report in which are set forth 
in full all the findings which I am about to summarize. And with 
it, with your permission, I will file this report. It is the same thing 
for the brush industry. 

Senator Hollis. Very well. 

(Bulletin No. 7, Pi'blications of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage 
Commission — The Effect of the Minimum Wage in the Brush In- 
dustry. Bulletin No. 12, The Effect of the Minimum Wage in 
Masfachusetts Retail Stores.) 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. In the c aseof Jhe retail stores we found that wages 
had been very substanti ally mcreased as . a-i:e£iiLt-xx£-Ltie recom- 
mendatio ns made^ by tEe commis sion ; that in .208 stor es for, which 
we were able to procure the information, including all the larger 
retail "3tig reg'iTrThe~Cofflrmonwealth, the we ekly pay~rDH" had_been 
in creased $6,000. That increase went mostly to women earning, p^rior 
to the time when the rates were fixed, less than the minimum rates ; 
but also, as in the brush industry, women receiving more than the 
minimum rates had likewise not failed to recaive th3ir due propor- 
tion of wage increases. In other words, the experienc3 in the retail 
stores confirmed and strengthened the conclusions derived from the 
experience in the brush industry, that the minimum wage does not 
become a maximum wage, it does not interfere with the advancement 
of the more capable — or perhaps, I had better say, b3tter paid — 
women, and at the same time it does do for the low paid women what 
is the object of the leg'slation to do, it does secure for them the in- 
creased earning capacity. 

The next question is, What was the effect of these increased wages 
upon the business itself? I could give you a great deal of detailed 
information on that subject, but I am not going to. I am going to 
simply cite for your information evidence showing the common 
opinion of business men themselves, and business men in the best 
position to know what the result had been in the retail stores, namely, 
manufacturers of men's and women's clothing. Clothing manufac- 
turers sell their goods to the retail stores. No class of men outside 
of the storekeepers know better the condition of the stores. After 
the minimum wage had been in operation in the retail stores for a 
year, we invited the clothing manufacturers to join with representa- 
tives of their employees in establishing minimum wage boards for 
those industries. 


Now, they were not compelled to nominate their representatives. 
Under the law they did not have to, if they did not want to. Ihey 
could act voluntarily in the matter. Clearly, they would not have 
cooperated in establishing wage boards if they were convinced that 
the minimum wage was a failure, particularly if it was injurious to 
the business itself. They accepted our invitation to nominate repre- 
sentatives to serve on boards. Their representatives served on boards 
in both the women's clothing industry and in the men's c!o':hing 
industry, and the boards agreed unanimously upon minimum rates, 
which were then recommended to us for promulgation, the employers 
joining wholeheartedly with the repreientatives of the employees 
and the public in extending the principle of the minimum wage to 
the clothing industry. That, I think, is the best evidence as to the 
results of the minimum wage upon the retail-store business. 

Now, I have not time to go further into the results of the minimum 
wage in Massachusetts, but I do want to call briefly to your attention 
certain general conclusions which we have all reached who have been 
charged with the responsibility for working out the experiment — for 
it was an experiment when we first undertook the administration of 
the law. 

Two conclusions I want to call to your attention. The first is of 
a very positive nature. It is that high wages do net mean high labor 
costs to the employer. On the contrary, high wages in general seem 
to go along with low labor costs. In the retail stores particularly 
we obtained some very definite information bearing upon that prob- 
lem. Examination of the pay rolls and of the accounts of certain 
stores showed that the stores paying the highest wages for the same 
class of help engaged in the same kind of retailing had to pay the 
lowest number of cents to their selling force per dollar of goods sold. 

The second conclusion that I want to speak of 

Senator Dillikgham. Your point is that the employees become 
more efficient? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. There is no question about that, whatever. The 
payment of better wages redounds to the benefit of the management 

Now, secondly, a somewhat negative conclusion following from the 
first, low wages do not necessarily mean low earning ability or low 
efficiency on the part of the wage earner. That is particularly true of 
wage-earning women. One sometimes sees the assertion made that 
girls employed in industry are getting what they are worth, and their 
employers can not afford to pay them more than they are .worth. 
Now, I am not going to argue that question, whether they ought to be 
paid more 

Senator Dillingham. Have you available the data on which you 
are making this statement, now ? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. These are general conclusions derived frcm ottr 
general experience, and supported to a certain extent by concrete 

Senator Dillingham. You have not statistical information to sup- 
port what you are stating just now ? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. This particular statement can not be demonstrated 
statistically, but I am very confident that it is true. 

Senator Dillingham. Yes. 


Dr. HoLCOMBE (continuing). You can not assert that bacause a 
girl is paid low wages, her efficiency is low ; because the efficiency of the 
Worker,who is after all a part of a going establishment, when she is em- 
ployed — the efficiency of the worker depend 3 upon a combination of fac- 
(ois, of which her individual efficiency is only one, and of which the 
efficiency of her employer is another and an extremely important 
factor. There can be no question but that low managerial ability on 
the part of an employer will make it impossible for him to pay a 
girl what she is really worth. In other words, the same girl may be 
worth a great deal more to one employer than to another, not because 
the girl is any different, but because the employers are different. So 
that you can not conclude, because a girl receives low pay that she is 
•of low business worth. Those two conclusions, I think, are the mrst 
important conclusions derived from our experience, for persons who 
are considering whether the principle of the minimum wage should 
bo established in other places. 

Before concludirg, I want to say just one more thing. In assert- 
ing that the minimum wage has been a success in Masrachusetts, I do 
not wish to be understopd as arguing that the minimum-wags law 
of Massachusetts is the bsst type of minimum-wage law. On tli3 con- 
trary, I think that the bill before your committee is superior to our 
Massachusetts law in certain important respects, particularly in the 
manner of enforcement. As Mr. Frankfurter has explained, our law 
is net enforced by the ordinay penal methods, but by publicity. Now, 
that method has two serious rbjections, to my mind. In the first 
place, it provides a penalty which is uncertain. You do not know 
how much damage you inflict upon an employer by blacklisting him 
as unfair to his employees, and .that is practically what is meant by 
publicity in this connection. You do not know how much damage 
jcu do him. That kind of penalty, to my mind, is objectionable. 

Secondly, this much is certain, that the damage will be unequal 
in different cases, depending upon the directness with which the 
public can express its disapproval of the employer; and, to my mind, 
a penalty which bears unequally upon the same offense when com- 
mitted by different persons is objectionable. I think that if a State 
or the United States adopts a principle of law it should at the same 
time adopt such means of enforcement as are necessary and proper 
for such legislation. 

In conclusion, gentlemen, I merely wish to say that I indorse, 
without hesitation and without qualification, the measure pending 
before your committee. [Applause.] 

Mrs. Kellet. Dr. Holcrmbe, before you stop, will you not answer 
for the benefit of the other Senators, very briefly, the question of 
Sc-ator Jones with regard to the relation of efficiency to the salaries 
of the members of the commission — ^whether or net it is necessary to 
have such compensation? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. That is a question to which no general answer 
should b3 made without regard to local conditions. The commission 
is a quasi judicial body. The office force generally does practically 
all of the work under the paid secretary. I presume that the same 
conditions would prevail here. The members of our commission are 
paid a nominal compensation. 



Senator Dillingham. What do you call a nominal compensation? 

Dr. HoLcoMBE. It is a per diem— $10 a day. And the compensa- 
tion depends upon the number of days that our conscience permits 
us to charge the Commonwealth. That is nominal. 

Senator Shebman. What is the extent of that permission? What 
is the limit that they permit you to charge? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. The limit, of course, is determined by the appro- 
priation itself, which is $3,000 ; and we have never drawn the limit. 

Senator Caldee. You have how many commissioners? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. Three. 

Senator Colder. That means $3,000 for each commissioner or 
$3,000 for all the commissioners? 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. That is $3,000 for the commission. 

In the District of Columbia, I question whether compensation 
would secure a better commission than would otherwise be secured. 
After all, there are not many industries here that would have to be 
dealt with. Washington is not a manufacturing city. When you 
have dealt with the retail stores and the laundries, and as we know 
by the testimony of the secretary of their association here to-day, 
they are ready and anxious to cooperate — when you have dealt with 
those industries the job is pretty nearly done here in the District of 
Columbia, and I doubt whether compensation to the members of th& 
board would secure any different commission than would be procured 
without compensation. 

Senator Caldee. Do you know whether or not the managers of 
department stores here are agreed on this legislation ? 

Dr. HoLCOMDE. Yes; I have talked personally with several of the 
principal proprietors of stores. I ,am glad that you asked that 
question. I want to say publicly here fliat their conduct in this 
whole matter is highly creditable to them and to the sentiment here 
in the District. 

Senator Caldee. Those who purchase in the department stores 
realize that prices have gone up somewhat, and a little more would 
not make much difference, I suppose, to many of us. 

Dr. HoLCOMBE. We have never been able to see any increase in 
prices from the increase in wages. Whether anybody would ever 
know the difference I very much question. At any rate, that factor 
is so slight in comparison with the other and larger factors affecting 
prices to-day that I question whether it is of serious moment. 

Senator Hollis. Thank you, Doctor. 

Mrs. Kelley. Mr. Chairman, I wish to ask you, please, about the 
limit of time of this hearing? 

Senator Hollis. I am goicg to stay here until the last gun is fired. 
Perhaps the other members of the committee must go sooner. I 
should recommend brevity. 

Senator Dillikgham. Yes. If you can have your witnesses come 
right to the particular point that you want to impress upon us, I 
hope they will do so. 

Mrs. Kelley. Yes. sir. I am goin^ to call upon Mr. Filene next, 
who is one of the directors of the United States Chamber of Com- 



^Mr. FiLENE. I suppose the most use I can be is to stick true to my 
role of shopkeeper and tell you the practical things that I know 
about the working out of the minimum wage. 

I want to ask your indulgence, however, for just a minute, for an 
apparent digression, to emphasize what seems to me to be funda- 
mentally involved in your, committee's report. I suppose we are 
absolutely agreed that at this moment — this very critical moment — 
every red-blooded man and woman has got just one thing to do, and 
that is to help win the war, and to some of us it may seem that a 
question Ike this is a little bit apart. 

I would not have been here if it had r.ot been that this very ques- 
tion was more than ordinarily important. I understand how all 
kinds of people who are interested in special reforms drag into the 
winning of the war their special thing; but I think that this question 
is intimately involved, and I think it would be a tragedy if an 
adverse report came out from the Congress of the United States at 
this time on the question of granting a living wase to the work 
people; ard the way it appeals to me is this: I, for instance, am 
giving most of my time to expediting ships, at a tim3 when we are 
staking the lives of our boys, putting them over there without enough 
ships, to properly supply them and. at the eame time, supply the 
allies who are fighting our fight. You, gentlemen, know that this 
statement is well within the facts ; we are gambling the lives of our 
boys, in honor bound to the allies, who have been fighting our battle 
over there, who are now in critical need of men, and we are taking the 
greatest chances in sending our boys over as fast as we get them 
readv, despite the knowledge that we have not enough ships to sup- 
ply them properly. 

Last week, before the annual meeting of the Chamber of Commerce 
of the United States, I said that there are faults on the part of the 
Government in the failure to get out the ships ; but I said to the busi- 
ness men there, there are those who have been guilty of a far 
greater failure, and that is the general public, not out of viciousness 
but out of lack of imagination and out of lack of education to really 
understand that this is our war. Now, you take the average man or 
woman, especially the kind of people vi^ are talking about now, 
oppressed with daily needs, and if they are denied a living wage — 
if denied by the State legislature, that would be bad enough — ^but if 
denied by the National CongreES, which they look up to as practi- 
cally knowing more, having a broader view, they will be still less 
able to understand what really it means when we call upon them to 
make sacrifices for " making democracy safe," or " giving freedom 
to the world." Freedom is not an abstract thing, we know. Free- 
dom, as I said yesterday before the House committee, is not an eagle 
flapping his wings for us to look at on some high mountain top. 
Freedom is a great thing that must have a great foundation, and you 
can not make people understand abstract propositions. 


It often appeals to me a gccd deal, Mr. Chairman, like the inven- 
tion of conscience. I can not imagine that conscience was ever given 
us as a gift. I can not think that it was ever invented. I think God 
was always in it, to make it something that we achieve, and therefore 
will held dearly. I can not imagine that conscience was ever invented 
while these preh'sioric animals were taking up all the time of pur 
forebaars, keeping them busy in order that thej^ might keep alive. 
I thirk it was when there was time, when conditions were such that 
they had time, to think, and for right and wrong to be thought out 
that conscience first came. So, with our work people; if we keep 
them botherad and harassed and terrified with the mere thought of 
havirg to gat enough to eat and to clothe themselves, then we can 
not create people who will not poison even the better thinking of 
the world — involuntarily, it is true — as to making democracy safe. 
It becomes a vague thing, not a thing that will make them work 
harder in the shipyards, not a thing that will make them help by 
sacrifice to get out ships. I do not know whether I have made that 
very clear, but that is the only justification for my being hsra, that 
I m'ght help to get the idea" more clearly before you that in my 
judgement th:s measure is absolutely needed at this time. As I say, 
I can impglne no greater catastrophe than that now out of Congress 
should come a denial of a living wage to the working people of the 

A curious thing about the hearings on minimum wage as I have 
read them — because I have not been to many — is that it has always 
been a plea for the work people. Now, we bosses get just as much 
from the minimum wage as our people do, because a $5-a-week 
girl makes a cheap bcs3. That is literally true. You can not get 
real organ'zation out of people who are unintelligent, and people 
can not be intelligent who have not enough to live properly on. 

A working girl, worried about paying for her clolhing and 
lodging, is not going to be very ambitious, you know, to heed th3 
preachments that we bosses put onto her — burden her with. She is 
not going, as a rule, to have the ambition to try to learn how to earn 
more money. She is not going to try to do it, cr if she does try 
she fails. 

Now, when you get to where the hard pressure of mere living — 
clothing and food and shelter — disappears, then you can come to a 
point where the possibility of more intelligent action, more intelli- 
gent study, more comprehension of retail di'tribution, of the work 
they have got to do, is possible, and I might as well confess very 
frankly that retail distribution is about as lawless a thing as there 
is in the country ; I mean, from an economic standpoint. The aver- 
age thing that we handle doubles in price by the time it reaches the 
consumer; and sometimes, as I said yesterday, when I hear stories 
about cur fine store, I think how many kind.s of a hypocrite my 
associates and I must be. 

The fact that the average thing doubles in price before it reaches 
the hands of the consumer is a shame and a disgrace, and those of 
us who give our lives to it ought to be making greater progress with 
the remedies. If we do not make greater progress, direct distribu- 
tion from producer to consumer will come — through the parcel post^ 
and so forth — and it ought to come if we have not any greater 


inventive genius and no sense of our responsibility and power. The 
source of our power is in our employees. Now, the average employer 
is using the greater part of his time and the most of his energy in 
trying to keep things running smoothly between himself and his 
employees — between his employees and his executives; and that is 
due not to viciousness of the employee force, not to ill will, but 
simply to an underpaid, badly nourished, unintelligent group of 
employees; and all these things are due to the fact that we have not 
realized that the better the wag3s tha better we in the management 
are off; because, finally, as has been stated by Dr. Holcombe, even the 
best of employees are dependent in large degree upon ths freedom; 
and foresight and vision of the executive if they are really to make 
the best out of conditions ; and when the executives do think and do 
plan, and when the employees have wages enough so that they will 
not be entirely taken up with the questions of food, of clothing, and 
of shelter, which is just as if you were feeding to a steam engine coal 
all the time, and it did nothing but make steam and never turned a 
wheel — that is what we are doing with our employees — ^when we g3t 
to that point, then it becomes true that the better we pay the cheaper 
the cost of selling becomes; and that is so true in a store like ours 
that it definitely costs us half as much in percentage to sell the 
amount of goods which gets a bonus for the sales people than the 
firct cost of their regular wages. 

I do not know whether that is very clear. Let me explain. Every- 
body who sells goods in our store is told when they come in — sup- 
pose they come in at $12, then they are told that it costs us about 4 
per cent. " If you can s-U $300, then you will have paid for your 
salary, and for rent, and will have given us a fair return on our 
capital — if you sell $300 a week. Now, whatever you sell above $300, 
we will give you 2 per cent, and we will be just 2 per cent better off 
than on the first $300 you sell " ; and as a result of that, and so 
clearly is that understood, that it is for our advantage as well as for 
the advantage of our employees, that very frequently a salesg'rl will 
say to me, "I earned $5 extra this week," or "I earned $8 extra this 
week, Mr. Filene." 

That is something to boast of, because even when they do make 
extra money, in many of the stores they are afraid to talk about that 
Ibecause they think that if the employers think that the weges are 
high they will be leveled down again; but our people have learned 
(hat we are getting more out of the extra money that we pay them 
as bonuses, and the bonus is defined s'mply as an extra reward for 
extra good results, charged to salary, and our paying that illustrates 
that so thoroughly, and so practically demonstrates that a higher 
salary does pay, that they are quite fearless in tellirg us how much 
more they are getting every week ; and sometimes that " more " is a 
considerable sum. The more they get, the better we are off. High 
wages, I think, too, will to an i^^creasing degree make lower labor 
costs. It will compel more intelligent instruction on our part, and 
help to employees, both in storekeeping and in education in sales- 
manship. We find that the average man or woman is only too glad 
to respond, and can respond, and there is only a very small per- 
centage that is not effective enough to increase their value_ when 
they get a chance. Most business men see that. A minority, just as 


in every line of business, in every walk of life, do not see it, and they 
are the scabs of business. Here you have had the testimony of the 
merchants of Washington along this line, didn't you? 

Mrs. Kelley. From Mr. Columbus. 

Senator Dillingham. From the operation of this increase in wages 
do you get a higher grade of employees ? 

Mr. FiLENE. I think that they constantly grow up, grow better 
and better, and we happen to have been the first, I think, in Boston 
in our line to put in the minimum wage, and therefore it is com- 
monly said in Boston that our employees are rather more effective. 
The customers like them better. 

Senator Dillingham. What I was getting at was, when you estab- 
lished a minimum wage did you make a closer discrimination in 
selecting your employees ? 

Mr. FiLENE. You mean did we require a better type for a higher 

Senator Dillingham. Yes. 

Mr. FiLENE. I think not. The average girl that comes into a store 
is quite able to respond, if she is free from worry. We are trying 
always, for our own sake, to make our people more intelligent. We 
are trying to put in a more scientific method of buying and selling, 
and we need thoughtful people; but I do not think there is any 
greater discrimination made under a minimum wage than there was 
before. We have a feeling that we can easily get a reasonable re- 
sponse out of any girl who is well and who is free from the daily 
worries. A decent wage, then, seems to us the basis of intelligent 
work, and we feel that the minimum wage merely provides the 
machinery by which joint action is secured on the part of all in a 
trade. That is the important thing, it seems to me, that a minority 
sometimes holds out and makes impossible the good will and the 
more intelligent action of the majority. You have seen that happen 
in towns where they kept open every evening in the week because 
one or two pig-headed men would not agree with the others to close. 

Now, a minimum wage helps in this respect, at any rate, in forcing 
the general protection which the community is entitled to have. 

Now, to get down to the minimum wage as we have actually had in 
our store: In 1912 we put in a minimum wage of $8, and the best 
evidence that that has been satisfactory is that on April 1 of this year 
we increased the minimum wage to $10. Of course, looking over a 
long period of years, from 1912, with the varying things that hap- 
pened during those years, it would be presumptuous to try to ascribe 
to any one thing alone the satisfactory growth of the store, which 
has become by far the largest specialty store in the world, employing 
about 3,000 people and doing very much the largest business in this 
line. I am boasting of this because we believe that the volume of the 
business has grown as the result of this type of forward looking, 
which I can speak of with the greater freedom because in our store 
most of the work of this kind is done by our employees themselves. 
This minimum wage, the whole working out of this minimum wage 
that went into effect April 1, with all its details, was done by a group 
of employees, and not by the management. We find that the more 
satisfactory and practical way to work. But as near as we can judge 
of it, the effect of that $8. a week minimum was of the highest useful- 
ness to the store. You have got to make some allowance. 


Of course, when we were the only store giving that minimum we 
got the choice of the more thoughtful girls, and that is an advantage 
that if our competitors had been foresighted they would not have 
allowed us to get. They could have afforded to have paid $10 and 
gotten the choice of girls out of the high schools, as we got them, and 
*' bought " the biggest bargains that they could have gotten. All in 
all, we have enough evidence that the minimum wage was of the 
utmost help to us, and one of the proofs is that relatively to the other 
costs of running the business, the wage with an increased minimum 
is relatively lower than it had been before, just as with a bonus the 
percentage of the cost per dollar of sales is lower; and that is the 
only thing we are interested in, because we do not care how many 
hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs us to do business, but we do 
care whether the percentage of cost on sales has increased one one- 
hundredth of 1 per cent. 

If the expense of the business increases $1,000,000 and the per- 
centage of cost per dollar of sales decreases, then we are batter off, 
of course. 

In April of this year the minimum wage was increased to $10 ; $9 
for an apprentice. Nobody in the store starts at less than $9 a week, 
at present. But that group of employees found that $12, at present, 
was not any more than $8 would have been in 1907. I sometimes 
figure rapidly, in estimating what is happening now and what wages 
are necessary, that on this grade of wages' food practically takes up 
about 50 per cent of the income per week, and, if food has increased 
100 per cent in cost, as we are told, doubled in price, then you get 
some indication of where wages ought to be at the present time. I 
do not laiow how scientific that reckoning is, but it makes a rough 
kind of reckoning in my mind that determines what ought to be 

That grcup of employees determined that $12 would not be so 
much as $8 would have been in 1907 ; but, reckoning that we are hav- 
ing some competition in Boston at the present time, they recom- 
mended that at present, we pay only $10 as a minimum wage, and 
then increase it 50 cents a week every six months until anybody who 
had been there two years, starting at $10, would have $12 as the 
minimum wage— that is, they made it easier for themselves and for 
us, under the circumstances. When the management went over that, 
as it had to, of course, to agree to it, we came to the conclusion that 
from cur best experience this minimum wage would not increase our 
selling cost. We may prove to be wrong, but I do not think we will 
be. Of course, it is to be remembered that we do transmit our ex- 
penses. We do not pay the expenses of the shop; we are simply a 
depot on the road of transportation from the source of production 
to the consumer. 

Th3 store fails if it does not get back from the public what it pays 
out. But we feel pretty sure, and we went into this increase in wages 
with less hesitation because — well, I suppose there was some feeling 
of doubt, but also from the business standpoint because — we feel 
definitely that it will be a good thing for our business, and will in- 
crease the eiRciency of our help sufficiently so that it will be a net 


Senator Diixikgham. Is not your suggestion summed up in this^ 
that in payirg the better wages you gat better services? 

Mr. FiLEKE. I think so. We have not reached, as yet, the level 
that has been reached in many places. The Hudson Co. in Detnit 
have bsen for some time paying a $12 minimum, and the 
owner, the Webers, who are shrewd, broad-gauge, effective business 
men, are very enthusiastic on the results they have obtained. I think 
thsy have b:!en using it about two years. , . . 

I think I ought to say before finishing, bacause I do not think it is 
commonly borne in mind, that cheap wages make a vicious circle. 
Cheap wages make cheap standards in employers, and cheap stand- 
ards in us employers make cheap employees. It is a vicioui cir- 
cle that or ght to be broken and destroyed. Thank you. [Applausa.] 

Mrs. Kellet. Mr. Chairman, we have gone on the principle, in 
asking people to appear here to-day, that we would call on all those 
in the District of Columbia who will be concerned with this law, and 
upon other people who have been concerned with it in other places,, 
and I wifh to call now upon Commissioner Brownlow, Commissioner 
of tha District of Columbia. 


Commissicner Beowklow. The Commissioners of the District of 
Columbia already have transmitted to the District Committee of the 
Senate a report upon the pending measure, which they heartily ap- 
prove. I myself have not had the opportunity to make an exhaustive 
study of the details of the legislation, but I do want to take this op- 
portunity to say that the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, 
the executive government of this municipality, believe that this is 
a b'U to help them solve their problems. 

No municipality, I venture to say — although the statement is su- 
perlative — no municipality in history, has ever had as many and as 
grave problems as we now face in Washington. We are the largest 
nation in the greatest war in history. We have the smallest capital 
of any of the great nations at war. The capital of the British Em- 
pire, a city of 7 000 000, the largest city in the world, found its 
municipal facilities inaclequRte to deal with the work that was 
brought there by reason of the war. Ths housing facilities of that 
great city were not sufficient. The transportation facilities of that 
great city were not sufficient. If a city of 7,000,000, the capital of 
a country of 45,000,000 people, at war, has found its municipal prob- 
lems doubled and trebled, what are our problems here, where the city 
at the beginning of the war had only 350,000 people and is the 
capital of 110,000,000 people at war? 

I believe that the people of Washington generally appreciate their 
obligations. I believe that most of the people here, and all cf the 
thoughtful people, knew that we have increasing difficulties and a 
great many vexing problems which must be solved. I have believed 
for a long time, from discussions that I have had with men who 
knew — and I have talked many times in the past four or five years 
upon this iDarticular subject with Mr. Filene, who has just preceded 
me — that higher wages make for increased efficiency ; and if there is 


anything we need in Washington now it is increased efficiency in 
those who live here, tliose who are in the service of the people brought 
here to help win the war. The employees in the retail stores should 
be as efficient as possible, the workers in the laundries should be as 
efficient as possible, so that they can do the increased work that is 
brought upon the city without bringing in any greater number of new 
people than is absolutely necessary. 

Since the beginning of the war I assume that our population has 
increased about 90,000. A very accurate count made to the 1st of 
November, and from which hotels and apartment houses catering to 
the transient trade were eliminated, showed an increase of about 
50,000. From the number of persons who have been taken care of 
through the Central Eoom Kegistration Bureau, coming in at the rate 
of about 600 a week, and the absolute disappearance of the unoccu- 
pied houses that we had at the 1st of November, I think that 90,000 
is a conservative estimate of the additional number of persons here 
in the District of Columbia. That means, of course, a very great 
strain upon all of the people who serve, the people who serve in the 
stores, the people who serve in the matter of providing food and 
clothing, and in the laundries, and in the great service corporations, 
in which women are employed. Then, also, if the war is to go on 
very long and the problems here increase very greatly, we shall be 
faced presently with a dilution of labor whereby it will be necessary 
to bring women into occupations that are now carried on by men. 
When that is done, I believe that it would be most useful to the 
Capital, most useful to society as a whole, to have some machinery 
whereby adequate living wages may be assured. 

I do not believe that we ought to be forced to guess _ at these 
problems. I know that I am unable to make up my mind what ought 
to be done when a girl comes to my office and says that her rent has 
been raised and her board has been raised, and she is getting only so 
much money ; and then I get the employer in my office, and he says, 
" I can not possibly do my work because of labor conditions." 

The District Commissioners have not the machinery with which to 
ascertain the facts. The machinery proposed to be set up would 
enable us to substitute information for conjecture, would enable us 
to know what is the situation, and would give relief in that way. 

As to the general question of the establishment of the minimum 
wage for women and minors, I can say unhesitatingly that if that is 
desirable anywhere — and I think it is — it is especially desirable in 
the District of Columbia at this particular time. 

I have not anything further to say, except I heard a discussion a 
while ago, that Senator Jones had asked a question about whether 
or not the commissioners set up under this law, the members of the 
board, should be paid. If the Senators would like to hear my opinion 
on that I would be very glad to give it. 

Senator Hollis. We will be glad to have it. 

Commissioner Beowklow. I believe it would be better to estab- 
lish a compensated board. T believe we would get better service, and 
I believe that it would, without great expense, insure more careful 
attention to the details of what amounts to the judicial work which 
must come before this board. 
5E)910— 18 3 


Senator Mollis. Do you not think that the Massachusetts rate 
would be sufficient, $10 a day for actual work? 

Commissioner Brownlow. $10 a day for actual work? 

Senator Hollis. Yes. 

Commissioner Beownlow. That appeals to me as being better. I 
do not believe annual salaries should be established, because we can 
not teU in advance how much work there would be, and as there are 
very few trading and mercantile establishments in this city, that 
board ought to be able within a short time after it is in operation to 
cover the ground. I should think it would not be called upon to do 
a great deal of work; so that $10 per diem for the work actually 
done appeals to me as being a very satisfactory figure. But I do 
believe it would be better to have a compensated board. You see, 
this board is to be composed of one person representing the em- 
ployers, one representing employees, and one the public. All three 
of these persons should be on a basis of equality in their work. 

Senator Hollis. Thank you very much, Mr. Commissioner. [Ap- 

Mrs. Kellet. Is Dr. Woodward in the room? 


Dr. Woodward. After what has been said this morning it hardly 
seems worth while for me to add anything. My only function here 
this morning would seem to be to enter an appearance, so to speak, 
on behalf of the health interests of the District of Columbia — among 
the proponents who support this measure — and to ask the committee 
to do, what I know the committee will do anyhow, and that is to 
take judicial notice of the very patent facts that shelter and clothing 
and food are necessary to health, and that shelter and clothing and 
food cost money ; that the woman and child wage earners are depend- 
ent for that money upon the wages they receive, and that with an 
inadequate wage, health is bound to suffer unless aid be derived from 
some other source. The establishment, therefore, of an adequate 
wage — and that is all that this bill can possibly provide for — -to sup- 
port health in a decent and a proper way, would seem to be a very 
proper and desirable exercise of legislative power. 

It is not necessary to undertake to present figures to illustrate any 
such postulates as I have laid down. It is simply such knowledge as 
is derived from the personal obeservations of every man engaged in 
public or private life ; every man who has either had to earn his own 
living, or, if he has not had to earn his own living, has even had 
to pay his own living expenses. If, however, there is anything that 
I can say or anything that I can do in support of the measure, I 
shall be very glad to say or to do it anywhere and at any time at 
the command of the committee. 

Senator Hollis. Thank you. Doctor. [Applause.] 

Mrs. Kellet. The next speaker comes from Senator Jones's State, 
where she served on one of the boards. 



Mrs. AxTELL. I should hesitate to speak after all these eloquent 
speakers, because I am not a public speaker in any way 

Senator Dillingham. We do not care for eloquence. We want 

Mrs. AxTELL (continuing). Except that I have had the privilege 
of serving in passing and in enforcing the minimum wage in the 
State of Washington. 

Senator Dillingham. And you are now a member of a com- 
mission ? 

Mrs. AxTELL. I am a member of the United States Employees' 
Compensation Commission; and compensation and minimum wage 
are twin sisters. 

The fundamental thing back of the minimum wage, of course, is 
that we had to explode the " pin-money " theory, to show that that 
was net the proper basis for wage ; and, then, back of that is a prin- 
ciple that every industry, no matter what it does, should not only 
pay for the mechanical devices to operate it, but it should pay for 
its human machinery as well. The human mechanism must be paid 
for by that industry and not by charity or by relations. These girls 
that work in our stores, who come every morning to their work, they 
must live; in order to return to work the next day they must live, 
and if a father or a brother or some other man does not pay for 
that, they must have a wage sufficient to pay for it themselves. Now, 
these are the fundamental things back of the minimum wage. I 
might say in connection with this that these two principles are now 
so well established in the minds of the people that they are no longer 
debatable. In the State of New York the other day when a health 
bill was drawn up, which was approved by the Association for State 
Labor Legislation and ether forces interested in health insurance, 
they stipulated that they would penalize any employer who did not 
pay $9 or more a week by making it obligatory for them to pay a 
larger proportion of the health insurance. This bill is recommended 
for passage at the next session of the New York Legislature. Therein 
the employer and employee are equally responsible for health, except 
that any employer paying less than $9 a week would be penalized 25 
per cent, and any employer paying less than $5 a week would be 
penalized 50 per cent or the whole cost of the insurance. Health 
insurance is probably one of the next steps which will be urged upon 
Congress; already three States have it on their calendars for their 
next sessions of the legislature. It is one of the coming features in 
social legislation and the Federal Government should lead, not follow 
the States. In the State of Washington in 1913 we passed the mini- 
mum wage law for women, and we had no such encouragement as this 
committee has to-day, because it had not been tried anywhere in the 
United States. We could talk about Australia and New Zealand, but 
that did not seem very near home. I happened to be a member of 
that session of the legislature, and I was interested in this legislation. 
All of the people who appeared before us for hearings representing 


the manufacturers and mercantile interests were certainly very much 
opposed to this bill, but after a great deal of trouble the bill was 
finally passed. The wage for each industry could not be established 
because there was so much dissension, and no bill would have been 
passed at all if we had not eliminated the wage feature. It was 
finally passed with this provision in the bill, that we must determine 
a wage under which women could live in decency and in health. 

Senator Hollis. That is, there was no power to enforce it. You 
were merely to investigate and report? 

Mrs. AxTELL. No. That instead of establishing a wage, the gov- 
ernor should have the power to appoint, as. soon as the legislature 
adjourned, an industrial relations commission, who should ascertain 
the facts in each industry ; and they were to conduct this investigation 
for 90 days, and after 90 days the governor should have power to 
appoint. a commission in each industry consisting of three employers, 
three employees, and three of the disinterested public, to establish a 
wage for that particular industry on which a woman could live in 
decency and in health. Now, while one of the speakers from Massa- 
chusetts this morning is serving on the Industrial Relations Com- 
mission and collecting data to present to these different boards, I 
served on the commission to establish the wage for mercantile estab- 
lishments, and this was the first conference that the governor called 
in our State, as it covered more employees than any of the other in- 
dustries. The law provided that the commission must consist of three 
representatives of employees, three of the employers, and three of the 
disinterested public. I served as one of the members for the disin- 
terested public. 

The conference was besieged by manufacturers, of course, to 
present their side of the controversy. There were three employers 
on the commission, all of whom were opposed to this legislation, but 
agreed to serve on the commission as it was obligatory that the 
governor appoint. We were very anxious to bring in a unanimous 
report, because if we were not unanimous and there was any serious 
disagreement, this particular commission would be dismissed and 
another commission called, until such time as an agreement could be 
reached; so that it was very vital that we should bring in a unani- 
mous report, if possible. The commission was arranged something 
like this. The Industrial Relations Commission consisted, as I have 
said, of three representatives of the employers, three of the employees, 
and three of the disinterested public, and the State labor commis- 
sioner, who was ex officio member of the commission, was chairman, 
and he informed the three members represipnting the disinterested 
public that we were not to take part in the debate, but were to be 
present and hear the debate from the employers and employees, and 
after they had presented all their arguments, we were supposed to 
meet and decide what we considered would be a proper minimum 
wage for mercantile establishments. 

This debate lasted for two days and nights. We met every even- 
ing, because we were all of us serving for our traveling expenses, 
and we were anxious to return home. After all the debate was over 
we met and decided that $10 a week for a mercantile establishment 
was the very least that a woman could live upon in decency and in 
health in the State of Washington. I am glad to say that now the 


minimum has been raised, because the cost of living his been raised ; 
which shows that we have a very active Industrial Kelations Com- 
mission in the State. 

The committee made this proposition, that $10 per week be the 
niinimum for mercantile establishments, and the employers imme- 
diately combatted it. One employer from the city of Spokane, 
serving on our commission, said that it meant a raise of $15,000 a 
year in his stores alone; so that you see the law was very much 
needed. He used this as one of his arguments. He said, " I am not 
such a bad man. Last year I gave $20,000 to the Y. M. C. A.," and 
one of the employees hopped up and said, " Excuse me, sir ; you did 
not give it. We did." [Laughter.] That was the sentiment that 
pervaded the two ends of the conference. 

After much discussion, the employers finally decided that they 
would agree to this wage. The reason they did agree was this : The 
Industrial Relations Commission had been asked to send out a ques- 
tionnaire to all the merchants of the State, and, also, to all the 
employees of the State, the same questionnaire was sent that were 
questions such as, " How many suits does a girl need in a year to 
appear in decency and health ? How many suits of .underwear and 
how many pairs of hose does she need ? " and so on — two or three 
hundred questions; and it was obligatory that the employers and em- 
ployees fill out answers to these questions. Therefore, when they 
were all brought in, the duty of the committee was to discover what 
the employers in the State themselves regarded as a minimum wage, 
but none of them seemed to realize that purpose of the questionnaire, 
at least, the members of our commission did not seem to realize it 
and when they were combatting this $10 a week wage, the three 
members representing the disinterested public turned to their replies, 
and by dividing their totals by the number of weeks in the year, 52, 
they established their own minimum wage. The three merchants on 
the commission had all of them established a wage above $10 a week, 
and most of the merchants in the State had established a wage 
larger than the girls themselves, which proved that the girls were the 
better economists; therefore, there could not be any more argument 
with us, and they finally agreed to this $10-a-week wage. 

However, the point you want to know, of course, is how this law 
has worked in our State, and whether both parties to the agreement 
are satisfied with it. I have had the pleasure of talking with many 
of the merchants in our State since 1913, to find out how this law 
operated, and whether they were pleased with it, and I have yet 
to find a merchant who would go back to the old method. They are 
all of them not only pleased with it, but they say that it pays them 
in dollars and cents to pay their employees more wages; and of 
course it is undebatable whether the girls are pleased or not. It has 
had a very marked effect on the women of our State who work in 
these stores. The secretary of our Industrial Relations Commission 
was here last winter, and I asked her, just to satisfy my curiosity, 
to go through the stores of the city of Washington and ascertain 
what wages were paid, and we went through one or two of the 
stores together. There is a very marked contrast between the wear- 
ing apparel and the healthful appearance of the girls in the State 
of Washington and in the city of Washington, because the wage 


determines what a girl wears, and the conditions under which she 
lives, and the contrast is very marked in that, and is favorable to 
the State of Washington. 

I do not wish to take up more of your time. I know that you are 
listening to things all day ; that you are in hearings day after day 
and hear these things discussed until you are tired of them, and I 
would not urge this as a war measure, because that has been urged 
so many times, but I hope that you gentlemen will feel just like Mr. 
Filene said yesterday that he felt in testifying in the hearing before 
the House committee. He said that he had always been afraid that 
he would die in disgrace before this law was passed. I hope that 
you and all of the members of the committee will feel the same way, 
and that you will not only pass this legislation but act quickly on it 
and other legislation that is required for war times and for all times. 
I thank you. [Applause.] 

Mrs. Kelley. There is present a representative of the Woman's 
Trade Union League, Miss Julia O'Connor, who has served on one 
of these boards. I will ask her to address you next. 


Miss O'Connor. The real test of the efficacy of minimum-wage 
legislation, I suppose we will all agree, is what it will mean to the 
worker, what it means in increased wages and better conditions in the 
trade, and what it means in the ability to challenge public attention 
to the inequalities and injustices that obtained under the old system. 
My experience of the minimum-wage legislation has been in Mas- 
sachusetts wholly. I served on two boards, the brush board, the first 
board created under the act, and the retail stores wage board, two 
entirely different industries, different in character and in personnel. 
The history of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission has 
not been entirely one of achievement. Many forces and circumstances 
have militated against that. Not the least of these has been the fact 
that was brought out by Mr. Holcombe, that our law is not mandatory. 
Happily, that is not true of the law we are discussing now, so that 
nothing need be said about it here. 

There has been an organized and constant opposition of large 
groups of manufacturers, who have been consistently hostile to this 
legislation. They have passed upon it year after year in the legisla- 
ture, and have attempted to seek its repeal. 

Senator Hollis. Eight there, if you will excuse me: You find 
more active opposition from the manufacturers than from the retail 

Miss O'Connor. Yes ; I should say so. 

_ Senator Hollis. The textile industry of Massachusetts is a pretty 
difficult one to handle, is it not ? 

Miss O'Connor. I think the opposition in the textile industry has 
been extraordinarily vicious. The laundry managers and the candy 
manufacturers have made efforts against it. They ha^'e openly 
disavowed the theory that they ought to pay their own lalior costs. 


While this opposition has hampered the operation of the law, it 
has reacted, I think, in favor of the legislation itself, by causing 
the element that disapproves and disavows those tactics to favor the 
legislation, and do what they can for its success. It has caused the 
labor movement to take a more active part in advancing the legisla- 
tion, and it has caused the fair employer, who has been referred to 
so often, to take a definite stand in favor of the legislation. 

Senator Hollis. You think that on the whole the Massachusetts 
law has worked well? 

Miss O'Connor. Yes. I would like to say that I think it has 
worked very well indeed in the instances where it has been per- 
mitted to_ operate ; and, furthermore, it has had a tremendous effect 
on injustice where it has not actually been in operation. I am a 
telephone operator, myself, and we have a very strong, militant or- 
ganization, and we have been able to increase our wages ver\- con- 
siderably through that organization, and, nevertheless, I am con- 
vinced that a great deal of the success we have had in raising our 
wages has been due to the fact that there is a commission in jMassa- 
chusetts, and that public attention has been focussed on the question 
of low wages ; although probably the telephone industry would not 
be particularly hurt, because the compensation is highc-i- than in 
many other industries in the country on which a minimum wage 
might operate. 

Senator Hoijlis. My attention has been attracted to that. I think 
in this country that women have not been very successful in forming 
efficient trade-unions. Possibly the telephone operators ha\e. be- 
caus3 their means of communication are better than others. 

Miss O'Connor. Their means of communication on the job, I have 
no doubt. Of course, as Mrs. Axtell says, nothing is more certain 
than what we earn determines how we shall live. Better wages mean 
better food and clothing and education, and more opportunity and 
books. John Mitchell said, " The world does not owe us a living, 
but we owe it to ourselves." Mr. Mitchell spoke out of the power of 
a great organization. I repeat that I believe the best effect comes 
from the splendid moral force which is exerted. The more that is 
said about low wages the less that needs to be done from the outside. 
The more employers who will ask themselves, "What does it cost 
to live," rather than " How little can you live on," the more girls 
that will refuse to hold themselves cheaply and that will demand 
more of life. 

My experience on two wage boards in Massachusetts has been 
illuminating. I am a trade-unionist, of course, and can plead no 
neutrality in the matter. Minimum-wage legislation was looked 
upon, and perhaps still is by some trade-unionists, as experimental. 
In fact, it is regarded' by some as a detriment to organization. I do 
not so regard it. I do not believe that it ought to be a substitute for 
organization, of course. I believe it ought to be a supplement to 
organization. The formation of the wage boards and their methods 
and operation in Massachusetts, at least, and I believe that is the 
\»'ay the law will be enforced here, is in the form of collective bar- 
gaining. It is true that the employers on the one hand have no 
force of a union behind them to instruct their representatives in the 
first place, and in the second place to enforce the decree when it is 


made, but at the same time it is a practice for them to develop and 
bring about in their respective industries such conditions as they 
might under more fortunate circumstances be able to bring about 
under trades-union organizations. 

The brush board was established in 1914, I believe. It is a very 
old Massachusetts industry, a very poorly paid industry; a small 
industry, of course. The wages, I think Mr. Holcombe said, aver- 
aged about $6 a week when the board began to sit. As the result of 
the findings of the board a minimum of $8.60 was established. 

In the retail-stores industry, of course, the conditions were diflfer- 
ent. On the brush board the manufacturers voted against the decree. 
The majority, when the decree was voted, was made up of the rep- 
resentatives of the workers and the public. On the retail-store board, 
however, the representatives of the employers voted for the decree, 
which was $8.50 at that time. I am sure if the board was to vote 
now it would bring in an entirely different figure, but that was three 
years ago. The sole representative of the employers who voted 
against that decree was the gentleman representing the 5 and 10 
cent stores. 

In the very industry where the need of the operation of the mini- 
mum-wage law is most apparent, in the very industry in which wages 
are lowest, there Avas this resistance from the employers. You speak 
of the textile industries, Senator HoUis; I think that is so there. 
The decree went into effect of the retail stores wage board. I think 
it is only fair to say that one reason, perhaps, why those employers 
on the retail stores wage board opposed it was the fact that such 
penalty as the commissioners had in Massachusetts would be more 
effective in the case of the retail stores than with anybody else, and, 
of course, the 5 and 10 cent store man does not care so much about 
the publication of the facts in the case as would a department store 
of the higher grade and class, and so that condition had its bearing 
on the question of the unanimity, or the degree of unanimity, with 
which the decision was reached. 

That condition is true also of another board, and that was the 
clothing board. There is now a fairly good organization of the trade 
on the employees' side, and that decree was also a unanimous one, the 
union, of course, being in a position to enforce it, and the employers, 
possibly, foreseeing that and preferring to do the right thing of them- 
selves, as they would otherwise have to'do anyway. 

A great deal has been said, not particularly at that hearing but at 
other times, by the opponents of the wage legislation, about the in- 
sidious effect of legislation in displacing workers who are not able, as 
they say, to earn the rate. I have here a reprint from the Boston 
Transcript of an investigation made after the decree went into effect 
in the retail stores, and it summarizes very effectively the effect of 
that decree, and I will file it with the committee and will not take 
your time in reading it now. 

Senator Hollis. Very well. You might state the drift of it. 

Miss O'Connor. The drift of it is that the number of girls who are 
displaced is insignificant. There are some periods of unemployment 
which must be subtracted, times when the girls stay at home because 
they prefer to spend the time on work there or to waste the time rather 
than to work; but the total result is that is was an insignificant nura- 


ber of girls who were displaced by the operation of the economic wage 
law. [Applause.] 

■ Mrs. Kelley. I should like you to hear next, Mr. Chairman, a rep- 
resentative of the "Women's Trades Union League of the District of 
Columbia, Miss Mary O'SuUivan. 


Miss O'SuLLivAN-. Mr. Chairman, I am about to tell you in a few 
words how I lived on $7 a week at one time. It is a very poor 
story, but it may help you to see the very great necessity for the mini- 
mum wage, at least in the District of Columbia. 

In 1915 I started to work in a department store, not through choice 
but. through necessity — it being impossible to secure any other posi- 
tion or job of any kind — at $5 a week, and after working for six 
months for this wage I pleaded with my employer, and was granted 
a $1 a week raise. 

At that time I lived with an aunt. She died, and other friends I 
had left the city, and therefore I was thrown completely on my own 
resources ; and being dependent on myself, I had to live on that $6 a 
week for six months. It is a time I do not care to speak about. It 
meant walking home from the down-town section in the warm even- 
ings, doing without lunch and other necessities. It meant a very 
meager sort of boarding house and it meant hardships of mind and 

Senator Hollis. Tell me, how much did you have to pay for your 
actual food, to eat, during that time? 

Miss O'SuLLivAN. I paid $18 a month for room and board. 

Senator Hollis. Eighteen dollars a month. Thank you. 

Miss O'SuLLivAN. That was in 1915. After living on this wage 
for about six months, I interceded again with my employer and 
was granted a $1 a week increase of wage, after six weeks' appeal. 
Then, living was becoming hard, and I could not possibly exist in 
the town on that same board that I had been paying, so I moved 
to the suburbs, where I was happy enough to fall in with a family 
who were so charitable as to give me a room and board for $21 a 
month. I earned $31 a month. I had to pay car fare, living there. 
and I had to dress myself, and, of course, having no ready cash to 
pay out, I had to avail myself of credit with the store. The stores 
give us girls what they call "charges." That was $2 a week, 
about $8.50 a month, which, with my board, made $29.50 a month, 
which left me $1.50 for amusement, church collection, and the life 
insurance which I had to carry. That is just how I lived on $7 a 
week until I could get a better position. 

My case is only one of thousands in the stores. There are women 
to-day in the stores who are supporting families on $7 a week. The 
employers might argue, and the employers' great argument is at 
present that they are paying a war wage this last year. That is 
because hundreds of employees have left to fill more lucrative 
positions, and left the more lucrative positions to be filled by 
others, and lots of those better jobs have been gotten by these 
girls who will hold them just during the period of the war. A 
shott while ago one of these employers in one of the larger depart- 
ment stores threatened that after the war was over we would be 


glad to return to the old conditions again and return to the $i or $5 
or $6 a week. Now, in this position we would ask the gentlemen 
of the Senate to relieve us, to help us get a minimum wage m the 
District, and a wage board so that the women would not have to 
work as thousands now work, giving seven or eight years of service 
for $7 or $8 a week wage, which is considered a maximum wage by 
the employers who employ us. In these conditions we would ask 
you to help us to get better positions in business. 

Senator Hollis. At what age did you leave school ? 

Miss O'SuixiVAN. Twelve years. 

Senator Hollis. What school were you a graduate of? 

Miss O'SuLLivAN. No school in this country, you know. 

Senator Hollis. Oh, not in this country ? 

Miss O'SuLLivAN. No; I came from Ireland. 

Mrs. Kelley. Mr. Chairman, I shall call on Mr. Walter S. Uflord 
for a few words. 


Senator Hollis. What organization do you represent? 

Mr. UrroED. Mr. Chairman, I have been asked to speak for the 
Monday Evening Club. I had asked Mr. McKelway to attend this 
hearing, but he is not here and has not been here this morning, I 
believe. Am I right? 

Mrs. Kelley. Yes. 

Mr. Uffokd. The Monday Evening Club voted to send a repre- 
sentative here to assure this committee that they were in thorough 
sympathy with this legislation. My position is that of secretary of 
the Associated Charities. 

Senator Hollis. In your opinion, could we get good service on this 
commission if we paid, say, $10 a day for actual service for each 
member instead of a salary ? 

Mr. Ufford. I believe you could ; or, if you paid nothing. 

Senator Hollis. Of course your association is a very unusual one 
and has done splendid work in the District without compensation. 
I know that. But in a matter of this kind do you not think you 
would be more likely to get the work that we would need out of the 
members of this board if they were paid salaries than if we were to 
pay a per diem compensation ? 

Mr. Ufford. As Commissioner Brownlow says, coiiipensation puts 
everybody on an equality, and that is the great argument for it. 
I think I may say, Mr. Chairman, that as social workers we are very 
much more interested in the coming of social justice and in preventive 
measures than we are in the mere giving of alms. The sooner we 
get away from the necessity of giving alms, even if we put ourselves 
out of business, the sooner we will feel that we have accomplished 
our purpose, and this has a very direct bearing along the lines o:^ 
preventive measures. 

As I said yesterday, briefly, we have found that under the present 
continuous employment conditions prevailing in Washington, our 
work last winter, notwithstanding the extreme cold, and a good deal 
of illness, has been reduced so far as the number of families coming 
to us is concerned, and we account for that from the fact that em- 
ployees are at a premium ; not necessarily that wages are where they 


should be, but the continuity of employment and the abundance of 
it causes exerybody to be needed who is able to work, and gives them 
an opportunit}' of finding that work. In the preparation of our 
fa,mily budget, in determining how much should be allowed to a 
family when conditions have become subnormal on account of ill- 
ness or neglect on the part of the wage earner, we have found that 
the eai-nings of the collateral members of the family, the young peo- 
ple, have been very much less than was necessary for their own sup- 
port, and this is true also of the earnings of the women, particularly 
in the laundries. 

I do not know that this bill would have any effect on domestic 
employment, but we do know that the wages that have prevailed 
in Washington have been, before the war, comparatively low. I 
only want to add our testimony, Mr. Chairman, as social workers, 
to the effect that we would welcome legislation of this character, and 
believe that it is along the lines of social justice. 

Mrs. Florence Kellet. Yesterday Commissioner Meeker, of the 
Bureau of Labor Statistics, appeared before the House committee, 
and he called attention to the results of his bureau's investigation. 
He is incapacitated from speaking to-day by reason of the condi- 
tion of his throat, and begged to be excused from coming before the 
committee, but he will file with the committee the figures he gave 
yesterday, if you wish to have them. 

Senator Hollis. Very well. 

Mrs. Kelley. Mr. Chairman, I should like to have you hear for 
a few minutes, if you will, Miss Haver, one of the investigators, who 
will be the last speaker. 

Senator Hollis. Very well. 


Miss Haver. The figures which were gathered for the United 
States Bureau of Labor Statistics covered 600 wage-earning women 
in the District of Columbia, and revealed several unusual and rather 
startling facts. The first was that 72 per cent of these 600 women 
were 21 years of age or over, so that they were not all, by any means, 
young, inexperienced wage earners. 

Forty-six per cent, nearly one-half, of them were getting less than 
$8 a week in April, 1916.' 

We have a statement from Mr. Hege, of the room-registration 
bureau, which corroborates a statement made by Mr. Baldwin before 
the subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia of 
the Senate, in which he says that board and lodging can be secured 
now by girls in Washington for $35 a month. 

Senator Hollis. The exact statement was made in reply to a ques- 
tion by me whether a respectable boarding place with wholesome 
food could be secured by a woman in Washington for less than $35 
a month, because there is a great difference between living in a re- 
spectable place with wholesome food, and living in many other places 
with very poor food. 

Miss Haver. Yes. We found that 46 per cent of these 600 women 
in 1916 were getting less than $8 a week. That is not quite $35 a 


mmmi and labor relations 



In Washington 31 per cent of girls were found to be living away 
from home. Forty-five per cent of the total number of 600 v^omen 
investigated were in receipt of outside assistance. 

Twenty-one per cent of the 600 women had dependents. That is, 
one-fifth of the women investigated had people who were dependent 
upon them for some assistance. 

We found that 53 per cent of the women investigated were earning 
less than $9 a week, and of these, one-half had been working for five 
years and more, thus proving that they were not inexperienced 

Then the final thing which was of interest was the question of 
clothing. You so often hear it said, " If these women are getting 
such low wages, how can they wear silk stockings and high-heeled 
shoes ? " Judgments based on personal observations are often mis- 
leading, because you see the girls in high-heeled shoes but you sel- 
dom notice the vastly larger number who are not so well dressed. 

Some years ago $88 a year was named by the New York State 
Factorj' Investigating Commission as the lowest expenditure on 
which a woman could dress herself and be respectable in 1915. Forty- 
two per cent of these women were spending less than $88 in the year 
1916. In 1916 a $100 standard was proposed by the New York State 
Factory Investigating Commission as the amount necessary, and we 
found 52 per cent of these 600 wage-earning women in Washington 
who spent less than that $100 a year. 

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics themselves set a 
standard in 1916 of $125 as prices were last year and 68 per cent of 
the women in Washington spent less than $125 for their clothes in 

Mrs. Kellet. That concludes what we have to say, Mr. Chairman, 
but I should like to have included in the record a very cordial tele- 
gram received from one of the largest department stores on the Pa- 
cific coast — the Emporium, in San Francisco. I will file a copy of 
this telegram with the reporter. 

Senator Hollis. Let it go in the record. 

Mrs. Kellet. This telegram is as follows [reading] : 

San Peancisco, Cal., April 13, 19J8. 
Josephine Goldmakke, 

Stoneleigh Court, Washington, D. C: 
At the request of the Industrial Welfare Commission of California we are 
glad to assure you that we have operated under the minimum-wage law for 
women for the past six months and find it not only beneficial for our employees 
but for ourselves as well. We feel that the mercantile community In the East, 
when its operation is better understood, will agree with the majority of the 
merchants here that it is wise and progressive legislation. 


General Manager of the Emporium. 

Mrs. Kellet. That is all wc have, Mr. Chairman. 
Senator Hollis. You have not anyone to call in opposition? 
Mrs. Kellet. No ; we have not. 

Senator Hollis. Then we will call the hearings closed, and thank 
you for coming. 

(At 1.15 o'clock p.m. the subcommittee adjourned.) 

Cornell University Library 
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Minimum Wage Board.Hearing before tiie Su 

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