Cornell University Library
Minimum Wage Board.HearIng before the Su
3 1924 003 821 232
U. S, CONGHESS. S3NATE.
MINIMUM WAGE BOARD.
THE LIBRARY '
NEW YORK STATE SCHOOL
INDUSTRIAL AND LABOR
■1-MliUM WAGE BOAED
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
JMMITTEE m THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
UNITED states' SENATE^^^"--
L BILL TO PROTECT THE LIVES AND HEALTH AND MORALS OF
POMEN AND MINOR WORKERS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
mD TO ESTABLISH A MINIMUM WAGE BOARD AND DEFINE ITS
'dWERS AND DUTIES, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE FIXING OF
[INIMUM WAGES FOR SUCH WORKERS, AND TO PROVIDE PEN-
ALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THIS ACT
WEDNESDAY, APRIL JjTfmf
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
PROPERTY OF LIBRARY
HEW YOBK STATE SCHOOL
WbUSTRiAL m lABOR REUTION^
COMMITTEE ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
JOHN WALTER SMITH, Maryland. Chairman.
ATLBE POMERENE, Ohio.
HENRY F. HOLLIS, New Hampshire.
WILLAKD SAULSBCRY, Delaware.
THOMAS S. MARTIN, Virginia.
JAMES D. PHELAN, California.
JAMES K. VARDAMAN, MlsslsslpBl.
WILLIAM H. KING, Utah.
WILLIAM P. DILLINGHAM, Vermont.
WESLEY L. JONES, Washington.
WILLIAM S. KENYON, Iowa.
LAWRENCE Y. SHERMAN, IlUnoU.
WILnkM M. CALDER, New York.
HARRY S. NEW, Indiana.
Clabence M. Tatloe, Clerk.
Mr. SMITH, of Maryland.
SUBCOMMITTEE ON S. 3993.
Mr. HoLLia, Chairman.
mmiMUM WAGE BOARD FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
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-
PROPERTY OF LIBRARY 3
HEW YORK STATE SCHOOL
INDUSTRIAL AND LABOR RELATION^^^^o
4 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOR DISTKICT OP COLUMBIA.
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOE DISTEIOT OF COLUMBIA. 5
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.
6 MINIMUM WAGE BOARD FOK DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
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
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOAKD FOK DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 7
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
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 ?
STATEMENT OF SENATOR PARK TRAMMEL!, OF FLORIDA.
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
8 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOK DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
STATEMENT OF MR. CHARLES J. COLUMBUS, SECRETARY OF THE
MERCHANTS AND MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION OF THE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
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?
MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOB DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 9
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
10 MINIMUM WAGE BOAKD FOR DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA.
(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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOARD FOB DISTHICT OF COLUMBIA. 11
^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
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.
12 MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOB DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
STATEMENT OF MRS. FLOEENCE KEIIEY.
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.
STATEMENT OF MR. FELIX 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
MINIMUM WAGE BOASD FOB DISTBICT OF COLUMBIA. 13
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
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-
14 MINIMUM WAGE BOARD FOR DISTRICT OP COLUMBIA,
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
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
MINIMUM WAGE BOARD FOE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 15
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
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
16 MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOB DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
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
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
MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOR DISTKICT OF COLUMBIA. 17
. 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
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.
18 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOK DISTBICT OF COLUMBIA.
Senator Hollis. What is your special branch of the law at Cam-
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
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOK DISTKICT OP COLUMBIA.. 19
STATEMENT OF PR. ARTHUR N. HOLCOMBE, CHAIRMAN OF THE
MASSACHUSETTS MINIMUM WAGE COMMISSION AND A MEM-
BER OF THE UNITED STATES BUREAU OF EFFICIENCY.
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^a-t.-ib.at.-timft 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
20 MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOR DISTKIOT OF COLUMBIA.
^°"£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
^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
►"^enptor Holi.is. 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. w.ar^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
MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOB DISTEICT OP COLUMBIA. 21
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£Sa.gea^^
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
22 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOB DISTEIOT OF COLUMBIA.
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
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 23
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
24 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOE DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA.
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
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
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
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOAKD FOR DISTKICT OF COLUMBIA. 25
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.
26 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOE DISTRICT OP COLUMBIA.
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
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-
MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOB DISTKICT OF COLUMBIA. 27
STATEMENT OF MR. EDWARD A. FIIENE, OF WM. FIIENE'S SOWS
CO., OF BOSTON; DIRECTOR UNITED STATES CHAMBER OF COM-
MERCE ; CHAIRMAN OF THE WAR SHIPPING COMMITTEE OF
THE UNITED STATES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
^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.
28 MINIMUM WAGE BOAKD FOB DISTKICT OP COLUMBIA.
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
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
MINIMUM WAGE BOAKD FOB DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA. 29
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
30 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOB DISTKICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOARD FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 31
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,
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
32 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOB DISTKICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
STATEMENT OF HON. LOUIS BROWNLOW, A COMMISSIONEE OF
THE DISTKICT 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
MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 33
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
34 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED POK DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA.
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?
STATEMENT OF BE. W. C. WOODWAED, HEALTH OFFICEE OF THE
DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOB DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA. 35
STATEMENT OF MES FRANCES AXTELL, FORMERLY A MEMBER
OF THE RETAIL STORE WAGE BOARD OF THE STATE OF WASH-
INGTON, NOW A MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYEES'
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-
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
36 MINIMUM WAGE BOARD FOB DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
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-
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 WAGE BOARD FOB DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 37
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
38 MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOR DISTEICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
STATEMENT OF MISS JULIA O'COWIirOR, PaESIDEKTT OF THE
MASSACHUSETTS TELEPHONE OPERATORS' UNION, MEMBER OF
THE BRUSHMAKERS' BOARD AND THE RETAIL STORE WAGE
BOARD, OF MASSACHUSETTS.
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.
MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOE DISTBICT OP COLUMBIA. 39
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
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
40 MINIMUM WAGE BOAED FOB DISTKICT OF COLUMBIA.
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
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-
MINIMUM WAGE BOAKD FOE DISTKICT OF COLUMBIA. 41
ber of girls who were displaced by the operation of the economic wage
■ 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.
STATEMENT OF MISS MARY O'SULLIVAN.
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
42 MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOB DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
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.
STATEMENT OF ME. WALTEE F. UFFOED.
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:^
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
MINIMUM WAGE BOARD FOB DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. 43
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.
STATEMENT OF MISS JESSIE R. HAVER, LAST YEAR A SPECIAL
AGENT FOR THE UNITED STATES BUREAU OF LABOR STATIS-
TICS, NOW EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE CONSUMERS'
LEAGUE OF THE DISTRICT.
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
month. PROPERTY OF LIBRARY
^ NEW YORK STATE SCHOOL
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44 MINIMUM WAGE BOABD FOE DISTBICT OP COLUMBIA.
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.
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.
B. F. SCHLESINGEE,
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
Minimum Wage Board.Hearing before tiie Su
3 1924 003 821 232
Manu/acluit J t|f .
eAYLORD BROS. Inc.
SyrKUM, N. Y.
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BmiSTRiAl AND LABOR RaAtiONS