BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
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NATIONAL RECOVERY ADMINISTRATION
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DIVISION OF REVIEW
MASON CONTRACTORS INDUSTRY
(A Division of the Construction Industry)
JOHN C. HUMPHREY
(NOT FOR RELEASE: FOR USE IN DIVISION ONLY)
THE EVIDENCE STUDY SERIES
The EVIDENCE STUDIES were originally planned as a means of gathering evidence
hearing upon various legal issues which arose under the National Industrial Re-
These studies have value quite aside from the use for which they were origi-
nally intended. Accordingly, they are now made available for confidential use
within the Division of Review, and for inclusion in Code Histories.
The full list of the Evidence Studies is as follows:
1. Antonio "bile Manufacturing Ind. 23.
2. Boot and Shoe Mfg. Ind. 24.
3. Bottled Soft Drink Ind. 25.
4. Builders' Supplies Ind. 26.
5. Chemical Mfg. Ind. 27.
6. Cigar Mfg. Industry 28.
7. Construction Industry 29.
8. Cotton Garment Industry 30.
9. Dress Mfg. Ind. 31.
10. Electrical Contracting Ind. 32.
11. Electrical Mfg. Ind. 33.
12. Fab. Metal prod. Mfg., etc. 34.
13. Fishery Industry 35.
14. Furniture Mfg. Ind. 36.
15. General Contractors Ind. 37.
16. Graphic Arts Ind. 38.
17. Gray Iron Foundry Ind. 39.
18. Hosiery Ind. 40.
19. Infant's & Children's Wear Ind. 41.
20. iron and Steel Ind. 42.
21. Leather 43.
22. Lumber & Timber prod. Ind.
Mason Contractors Industry
Men's Clothing Industry
Motion Picture Industry
Motor Bus Mfg. Industry (Dropped)
Needlework Ind. of Puerto Rico
Painting & Paperhanging & Decorating
photo Engraving Industry
Plumbing Contracting Industry
Retail Food (See No. 42)
Retail Lumber Industry
Retail Solid Fuel (Dropped)
Retail Trade Industry
Rubber Mfg. Ind.
Rubber Tire Mfg. Ind.
Silk Textile Ind.
Structural Clay products Ind.
Waste Materials Ind.
Wholesale & Retail Food Ind. (See No. 31)
Wholesale Fresh Fruit & Veg.
In addition to the studies brought to completion, certain materials have been
assembled for other industries. These MATERIALS are included in the series and
are also made available for confidential use within the Division of Review and for
inclusion in Code Histories, as follows:
44. Wool Textile Industry
45. Automotive Parts & Equip,
46. Baking Industry
47. Canning Industry
48. Coat and Suit Ind.
49. Household Goods & Storage, etc. (Dropped)
Ind. 50. Motor Vehicle Retailing Trade Ind.
51. Retail Tire & Battery Trade Ind.
52. Ship & Eoat Bldg. & Repairing Ind.
53. Wholesaling or Distributing Trade
L. C Marshall
Director, Division of Review
Foreword . , , ■ . - , ........ 1
chapter j. ■■ til:; kituhi - oe tub industry , . . . .... 2
Coae Definition. ....... 2
Nu^be :- of Members 2
Census Lata . 2
Trade Association and Code Authority
Geographical Distribution of
Census Data 3
Code Authority Data 4
Size of Establishments 5
Capital Investment 5
Census Data 5
Trade Association Data 6
Total Value of Business 6
Census Data 6
Trade Association Data 6
Competition within the Industry 6
CHAPTER II - LABOR STATISTICS 8
Number of Wage Earners 3
Census Data 8
Trade Association Data. . 8
Trade Union Data 8
Seasonal Variation in Employment 9
Number of Days Worked per Year 10
Huciber of Masons and Tile Layers by
Principal States 10
Employees Under 16 Years of Age 10
Total Annual Wages 11
Hourly Wage Rates and Annual Earnings. ... 11
Hourly Wage Rates by Zones 12
Relation of Wages to Value of Work 14
CHAPTER III - MATERIALS 15
Kind of Materials 15
Expenditures for Materials 15
Sources of Materials by Principal States . . .15
Imports of Materials 17
Types of Equipment 17
Expenditures for Equipment 17
Relation of Cost of Materials to
Total Value of Business 17
CONTENTS (Cont'd )
CHAPTER IV - PBODUCTIOH 13
Estimated Value of Business, by
Principal States 13
Value of Business Done Outside
Home State 19
Productive Capacity 19
CHAPTER V - TRADE PEACTICES 20
Unfair Trade Practices Frior
to the Code 20
Trade Practices which, Eecause of
Abusive Use, Secame Detrimental 22
CHAPTER VI - THE INDUSTRY - GENERAL INFORMATION 24
Beginnings of the Industry 24
Distribution of Masonry Work in the
Construction Industry 24
Changes in Building Construction and
Their Effect on the Mason Contracting
Financial Condition of the Industry 24
Organizations of Labor Employed by
Mason Contractors 27
Jurisdictional Disputes of Trade Unions ... 27
Effect of New Materials and New Technique
on Workers 28
Effect of New Materials and New Technique
on Employers 23
The Effect of the Code 28
Experts in the Industry 29
TABLE I - Slumber of Mason Subcontractoi s Establish-
E-.ent-s >>y 10 Principal States, 1929 4
TABLE II -■ Sxaa'c - of Mason Contractors on Code
Authority Mailing List, by 1C Principal
State,: : May, 1935 5
TABLE III - Wage Earners Employed "by 612 Masonry Sub-
contractors, by Months, 1929 9
TABLE IV - Number of Brick and Stone Masons and Tile
Layers, by 10 Principal States, 1930 10
TABLE V - Average Hourly Wage Bates, Average Annual
Hours, and Average Annual Earnings of
Masons, by Selected Areas, 1929 and 1933. . . 11
TABLE VI - Average Hourly Wage Bates of Masons and
Masons' Tenders 12
TABLE VII - Unweighted Average Hourly Wage Bates of
Masons, by 3 Zones, 1933 13
TABLE VIII - Average Hourly Wage Rates of Masons and
Masons' Tenders, by 3 Zones, 1929 and 1933. . 13
TABLE IX - Cost of Material Used by 673 Masonry Sub-
contractors, by Kind of Material, 1929. ... 15
TABLE X - Production of Chief Materials Used in
Masonry Construction, by Principal Pro-
ducing States, 1929 18
TABLE XI - Estimated Value of Business Done by 4,032
Masonry Subcontractors, by 10 Principal
States, 1929 .... 18
TABLE XII - Value of Business Bone Outside Home State
~oy 660 Masonry Subcontractors, by 10
Principal States, 1929 19
TABLE XIII - Gross and Let Income, 1929, 1931 and 1932 . . 26
TABLE XIV - Voting Strength of Trade Unions Functioning
in the Mason Contracting Industry 27
MASON CONTRACTORS INDUSTRY
(A Division of the Construction Industry)
It has not "been possible to obtain accurate
data representative of the entire Mason Contractors
Industry as defined "by the Code. Data in the Census
of Construction report, the most satisfactory source
of statistical information on the Industry, can "be
segregated only for establishments which reported masonry
subcontract work as their ma ior field of operations
in 1929. The Code, however, was assumed to embrace all
classes of contractors, general, subcontractors, and
operative builders, performing the type of masonry work
defined in the Code. As it is believed that the major
portion of the masonry work defined by the Code is done
by general contractors, practically all of the Census
of Construction data used in this report are representative
of only a minor part of the Industry.
The Trade Association of the Industry, the
Mason Contractors Association of the United. States and
Canada, reported some statistics in applying for a Code
but those figures cannot be relied upon for reasons
specified in the body of this report.
The only usable data supplied by the Code
Authority, the number of mason contractors by states,
are not representative of the entire Industry because the
list does not include general contractors performing
masonry work within the Code definition.
THE EiTUHE OF THE IKDUSIEY
The Mason Contractor.; Industry is a division of the Construction Indus-
try, and is defined in the Supplementary Code of Fair Covnroetition for the
Industry, approved April I9 t 1934, as follows:
"The Term 'Mason Contractors Division' 1 , or 'this division',
as used herein means the contracting for and the erection
in the United States of America, of all types of "brick work,
rubble stone, cinder 'block masonry, ornamental terra cotta,
salt glased tile., hcllow tile, and gypsum block, including
the furnishing of any labor or materials incident thereto;
and such branches o~' sub-divisions thereof as may from time
to time be included ui.der the provisions of this Chapter,
subject to the atroroval of the Construction Code Authority
and the Administrator."
The type of work Ascribed above is done by several classes of contrac-
tors — general contractors, masonry subcontract ors, and other subcontractors
— and as the Code did nob specify the class or classes of contractors who
would come under this division of the Construction Industry it was assumed
that all contractors who did masonry work, as described in the Code, came
under the Code.
Number of I! embers
The various sources I'rcra which data in this study were drawn used dif-
ferent terais in reporting the number of members of the Industry, such as,
"establishments", "corcsms 1 ' . "firms", but for all practical uurooses these
terms are synonoraous sine: multiplant operation is practically non-existent
in this Industry.
The number of members of the Industry can not be accurately determined.
All classes cf contractors who did masonry work, as defined by the Code, were
presumably covered by the Code, but the number of establishments reported oy
each class of contractors can not be taken to indicate the number engaged in
masonry work since it is not known that all of them actually do this kind of
work. However, an indication of the aunroximat e number may be had by convoar-
ing data from various sources.
Census Data . - The number of masonry subcontractors reported in the Census
of Construction, 1929, is 4,032. This figure reoresents merely the minimum
number of the members of the Industry in 1929, since nob all establishments
engaged in construction work reported in the Census of Construction, and of
the number which did report, only those subcontracting establishments where
masonry work was the major line of business, were reuorted as masonry sub-
contractors. All other subcontractors who did masonry work during 1929, but
who reported some other tyoe of construction work as their major line of busi-
ness were not counted as masonry subcontractors. The number of such estab-
lishments cannot be determined.
In addition to that done "by subcontractors, a considerable cortion,
perhaps the major portion, of masonry work is done by general buil6.ing con-
tractors, 57,579 l/> of whom reported in the Census of Construction in 1929.
Some masonry "ork is also done by operative builders 2/, 750 oi whom reoorted
in the Census.
Trade Association an d Code Authority Data . - The trade association of
the Industry, the Mason Contractors Association of the United States and
Canada, reported in the Code amlication the number of concerns in the Indus-
try as follows: 3,500 in 1929, 2,800 in 1931, and 2,500 in 1933. These es-
timates are auoarently inaccurate since 4,032 masonry subcontractors alone
reoorted in the Census of Construction of 1929.
The former Code Authority for the Industry reported that there were
8,060 members in May 1935, but this figure also understates the actual number
since it does nob include those general contractors who oerform masonry work,
as defined by the Code.
Ge ographical Sis^ribut ion of "h? tab lis i me nts
The Industry is widely distributed throughoiit the country, being closely
related to the distribution of general building construction.
Census Data . - The distribution of the nasonry subcontractors who re-
oorted in the Census of Construction, by ten principal states, and by size
of establishment, is given in Table I.
1/ This figure derived from Tables 1 and 12 of the Census of Construction
2/ An operative builder is defined in the Census of Construction as one
who is both owner and build.er, selling a finished structure to a
purchaser or operating it himself.
Number of Mason Subcontractors Establishments,
by 10 Principal States, 1S29.
m , , Establishmen ts whose Business was
State Esta blish'.. ■" - its $£5,000 or over a/ Less than $25.000 b/
Number Per Cent Number Per Cent Number Per cent
of total of total of total
U. S. Total 4,022 100.0 £73 100.0 S.,359 100.0
New York 668 16.6 100 14.9 568 16.9
Total, 10 States C
Total, Other States
Source: Census report, Construction Industry. 1929 ; Subcontractors, "Masonry.
a/ As given in Table I of the Census Heoort.
b/ As given in Table 12 of the Census Reoort.
Code Authority Data . - The former Code Authority submitted its mailing
list of mascn contractors, as of May 1935. This list includes a total of
8,060 mason contractors, exclusive of general contractors, located in 46
states and the District of Columbia, The number in the ten leading states,
as shown by this list is given in Table II.
Although the years covered by this table and Table I are not the same,
and although the list of states is not identical, both sets of data indicate
that there is a decided concentration of establishments in the more highly
Number of Mason Contractor?, on Code Authority Mailing
List, "by 10 Principal States, Hay 1935 a/
1 ia s on Con tractors
U. S. Total
Total, 10 States
Total, Other States
Per Cent of Total
Source: Code Authority for Mason Contractors Industry.
a/ General contractors and operative "builders doing masonry
work were not included in this list.
Size of Establishments
The size of establishments in this Industry is a factor that is con-
stantly changing. Some contractors run large establishments, and erroloy a
large force of labor, while they are carrying out a contract. But there are
periods when these same contractors have no contract and practically no
labor force. It may be useful in this connection, however, to know that in
1929, of the total number of masonry subcontractors reporting in the Census
of Construction, G73, or 17 per cent, did a business of over $25,000 that
year and 3,359, or 83 per cent, did a business of les^ than $25,000.
Census Data . - The only Census of Construction data bearing on capital
invested in the Industry are figures showing the inventory value of eqiiipment
at the end of 1929. For 604 masonry subcontractors in the "$25,000 and over"
group who reported this information, this value amounted to $2,448,000 or an
average of approximately $4,054 per establishment.
These values, of course, do not include investment in office and yard,
space, operating capital, etc.
T rc.oe Association Data , - In its Code arrplication the trade associa-
tion reported that the capital invested in the Industry amounted to
$2,500,000 in 1929 and $2, COO, 000 in 1933. The basis of these estimates
is not known and th° accuracy of the figures cannot "be ascertained.
Total Value of Busi ness
Census Data . - It has "been estimated that the 4,032 masonry subcontrac-
tors reporting in the Census of Construction in 1929 did a total value of
"business amounting to $111,828,000 in that year. The 673 establishments in
the "$25,000 and over" group re-oorted $85,023,000 of this amount and it was
estimated, on the basis rf the average value per establishment for those
establishments reporting; that the 3,359 subcontractors in the "less than
$25,000" group did a business of $26,805,000. These figures include an un-
known amount of types of masonry work ^hich were not embraced by the Code
definition of the Industry.
The value of masonry work done by general building contractors and all
other contractors was not reported in the Census of Construction. That these
contractors did more masonry srork than masonry subcontractors, however, is
apparent from Census data which show the cost of materials furnished and
used by the various classes of contractors in 1929. The combined cost of
brick, tile (fireproof ing) , concrete and cinder block, riprap and rubble,
supplied by contractors in the "$25 9 000 ana over" group in 1929 was distrib-
uted as follows:
General building contractors -
Masonry subcontractors -
Other contractors -
Trade Assoc i ation Data, - The only figure reported by the trade associa-
tion on value of business was $ 600 ., 000 , 000 for the year 1932. This figure
divided by the number of concerns in 1952 (2,500), reported by the same
agency, yields a figure of $240,000 as the average value per establishment.
This seems excessive as the average value per establishment among the
masonry subcontractors in the "$25,000 and over" grout) reporting in the
Census of Construction was only $126,000 in 1929.
The former Code Authority claimed that mason contractors do 50 per
cent of the total masonry work done, but it has supplied no data in sub-
stantiation of this statement.
Co mpetition within the Industry
Competition within this Industry occurs among the several types of
mason contractors. With few exceptions all mason work is bid upon in com-
petition, whether it is let under separate contract by owner or architect,
by general contract to be performed under the general contractor's super-
intendence, or whether it is sublet by the general contractor to a mason
Competition increased, according to members of the Industry, to a point
which forced 50 per cent of the contractors from business between 1929 and
$ r 4, ^72,973
1952. This estimate is probably too conservative. Since tactically all
worK is let to the low3st bidder and since all bids are based on estimates
of future costs ar.d conditions, and with an eye on ma, competitors may oe
linking of the future, there is, during time of industrial unemployment,
t Chance of r^cin profits except through cutting wages or beating down
material -orices below the amount b already discounted during the draftee
of estimates. U,.der tteaa competitive conditions, bid trices ^xial
orices, and wages in this Industry tend to decline more rapicly during, oer
iods of depression thar is the case in manufacturing industries.
Numbe r of *.7age Earners
Cengas D ata . - Census of Construction data are inadequate to indicate
total employment in this Industry. Figures are available only for masonry
subcontractors and the data, which show tne number of -rage earners employee"
on the 15th day of each month in 1922, cannot be accepted as representing
total employment, even in those establishments which reported. Inasmuch
as there is a constant turnover in employees in this Industry, the number
employed on any one day represents merely the minimum number of individuals
employed daring the year.
Census ox Occupations data give a better indication of the total numbei
employed in tnis Industry, although there are certain limitations to these
data also. In this Census, taken April 1930, 157,180 individuals were
classified as "brick and stone masons and tile layers", normally employed
in the building industry. However, all of these individuals were not work-
ing at the tine of the Censiis. The number of wage earners who reported
themselves as normally employed in the building industry at the above
mentioned occupations but who were out of work at tne time of the Census
was not given in the Census report. However, of the total 170,903 persons
normally employed as "brick and stone masons and tile layers" in all manu-
facturing and mechanical industries, including the building industry,
44,828 or about 26 per cent of the total, were unemployed at the time of
The number of masons' tenders and other classes of wage earners in
the Industry was not reported separately in tne Census of Occupations.
Trade Association Data . - The number of employees in the Industry
was reported, in the Code application by the trade association as follows:
120,000 in 1929, 100,000 in 1931, ana 90,000 in 1933. These figures are
apparently purely arbitrary estimates and there are no other data avail-
able with which to check them.
Trade Union Data . - The total number of members in the Bricklayers,
Masons and Plasterers International Union of America was reported as
125,000 in 1929. 1/ . This number includes Canadian members, and also
tile and mantel setters, cut stone masons, plasterers, and other minor
trowel trades, all of whom were not included in the Industry as defined
by the Code.
1/ Bureau of Labor Statistics, Handbook of American Trade Union s
(bulletin IIo. 506).
Se asonal Variation in Employment
Employment in this Industry, as in most divisions of the Construction
Industry, is strongly affected by seasonal factors. Data in the Census of
Construction, which show the number of wage earners employed on the 15th
day of each month during 1929 in the masonry subcontracting establishments
which reported, will give some indication of the extent of this variation.
The statistics are given in Table III.
Wage Earners Employed by 612 Masonry Subcontractors, by Months, 1929 a/.
?age Earners b/
Per cent of
Source; Census report Construction Industry, 1929 , Subcontractors
a/ The 612 masonry subcontractors who reported the number of wage
earners were in the group doing a business of $25,000 and over
b/ The number of wage earners employed on the 15th, or nearest
representative day of each month.
Ilumber of Days Worked per Year
In the Report of the Committee on Seasonal Operations in the Con-
struction Industry data are given which indicate that the average number of
days worked by masons in the peak construction year of 1928 was about 200.
During the years following 1928 regularity of employment was decreased
considerably. During 1933.it is probable that the average number of days
worked by masons and masons' tenders was less than 100, due to difficulties
in obtaining new work when jobs were completed and due also to the "spread
the work" idea encouraged by employers and labor organizations.
N umber o f Masons and Tile Layers by Principal States
Comprehensive figures on the number of wage earners "by principal
states are obtainable only from Census of Occupations reports which show
the number of brick and stone masons and tile layers in all manufacturing
and mechanical industries. As indicated above, these data must be under-
stood to refer to the number reporting themselves as belonging, by occu-
pation, to these industries rather than to the number actually employed.
The figures for ten leading states are given in Table IV. Data on the
number of masons' tenders and other laborers in the Industry are not
number of Brick and Stone Masons and Tile Layers,
by 10 principal States, 1930
States Number Fer Cent of
U. S. Total 170,903 100.0
New York 31,537 18.5
Pennsylvania 16,492 9.6
Illinois 14,001 8.2
New Jersey 12,706 7.4
Ohio 10,495 6.1
Michigan 8,883 5.2
Massachusetts 7,285 4.3
California 5,411 3.2
Wisconsin 4,554 2.7
Connecticut 4,348 2.5
Total, 10 States 115,762 67.7
Total, Other States 55,141 32.3
Sour cc : Census of Population, 1930, Volume IV; Occupations By States
Employees Under 16 Years of A?e
The minimum age for apprentices in the various building trades is
now 18 years, which tends to keep the number of workers in the Industry
under 16 years at a minimum. Under the Code, even the employment of
water boys, etc., under 16 years of age, was prohibited.
Total Annual Wages
There are no data available on the total annual wages paid in the
Industry. The Census of Construction reports only wages paid in masonry
work by masonry subcontractors, who, it has been pointed out, do a minor
portion of the total volume of masonry work.
Eourly Wage Rates and Annual Earnings
Hourly wage rates in this Industry are relatively high. A mason is
one of the most highly paid craftsman in the 'building trades and a mason's
tender usually receives a higher wage rate than a common laborer. However,
as employment is spasmodic and much time is lost "between jobs, the average
annual earnings per worker are not very large, prom rather reasonable
levels obtained in 1929, average annual earnings declined drastically in the
following depression years, due to the slashing of hourly wage rates and
the scarcity of work.
Some indication of the extent of the decline in hourly wage rates of
masons and the work available to them, with the consequent decline in
their annual earnings, is afforded by data compiled by the NRA Division
of Research and planning, and given in Table V.
In 1929 wage rates *.7ere somewhat stable and it was possible to
estimate average hourly wage rates and the average number of hours worked
during the year in four areas, for which data were available. By 1933,
however, wage rates had become so unstable that average rates and hours
could not be calculated, Maximum hourly wage rates and number of hours
worked — and the minimum when available — are therefore given instead.
Average annual earnings which are presented for both years indicate that
1933 earnings were only a small fraction of those reported for 1929.
Average Hourly Wage Sates, Average Annual Hours, and
Average Annual Earnings of Masons, by Selected Areas,
1922 and 1933
Average Average Average
Hourly Hours Annual
Wage Per Earnings
800 1 , 304
$75~$1.50 320-635 .'-475
a/ - 1.00 a/ -290 290
a/ - 1.00 a/ -316 316
a/ - 1.38 a/ -120 1SS
Source: Compiled by USA, Division of Research and planning, from area
a/ Minimum unknown.
= -nte* rs reported by various agencie:
Farther data on average '^J^V^ ^ ver . in Table VI for nasons ana
presenting a xdfle coverage of cxtxe ' -^^ onCealing the variant
,e coverage of cities, are given ^ ^" vrriance in the
reorubcii.ox- L , - -- c ^ v b „ 4 „ OT , hnw r/hile concealing zn.^ v. ± „„ +0 ,
nasons' tenders. The figures f J^^^ to ind icate the trend in the .ate
rates between sections of the county serv
throughout the country befeer the *e~s
Average Hourly Wage
and Masons' Tenders
Hates of Lias on s
Jtnaber of Cities
$ . 731a/
puiaber of Cities
Conoiled by HEA., Besearch
flicated in the footnotes.
Planning Division iron Sources a
S/ ^ff B AS800 i-;"° s n ' r rc. Plr.st.rsrs International Union.
a) National Association of guilders ~
;.- OT oMv among the various s
Wage rates in the Industry W^jf Seated Arta gi en
the country. The extent o this ^J«nce^B _^ ^ ^ . n ^
VII, vhich shovr the average rate paia r.
ed by several agencies.
Unweighted Average Hourly Uage Hates of Masons,
by 3 zones, 1933
Northern Central Southem
Associated G-eneral Contractors
Bricl:la;-ers, hasons and
Plasterer s I nternat ional
Builders 1 Association
National Association of
Source: Compiled ~o~j NBA, Research and Planning Division as follows:
Builders' Association d: ta — rotoprint releases published by it;
Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers Union data — special tabulation
for ERA., Research aid Planning Division;
Associated General Contractors data — as tabulated by the Associa-
tion from questionnaire sent out by it;
National Association of Builders' Exchanges data — as published in
the Archit ectural R e cord .
The e:;tent of the decline in the hourly wage rates cf nasons and reasons'
tenders in the three selected zones between 1929 and 1933 is indicated by data
compiled by the Builders Association and shown in Table VIII.
Average Hourly Uage Rates of Masons 'and Masons' Tenders,
by 3 zones, 1929 end 1933
Mas ons' Tenders
C. ± * O
Source: Builders Association.
.Re lation of 7o.ges to Value of Tfork
The percentage relation shi 3 between the amount of wages oaid and the total
value of work cone nay be estimated from Census of Construction data. The 673
masonry subcontractors in the "$25,000 and over" class who were covered in
this Census reported that the total value of their business in 1929 amounted
to $85,023,000 of which $2,634,000 was lot out by then under subcontracts.
Subtracting the value of the work sublet from the total value of business hand-
led gives a figure of $82,389,000 as representing the value of work done ^o-j the
reporting contractors' own labor forces. Of this amount, $32,749,000 or 55. 7
per cent, was paid out in wages.
Ki^d of Materials
The principal materials used in the Industry are; brick, rubble stone,
cinder and concrete bloc 1 /", gypsum block, ornamental terra cotta, salt glazed
tile, hollow tile, sand, cement and lime.
Expenditures For Materinls
Data on the total amount spent for materials by the Industry are not
available. The total cost of materials furnished and used in 1929 by 673
masonry/- subcontractor? who reported in the Census of Construction amounted to
$34,191,000, which represents merely the minimum amount spent by the entire
Industry. The distribution of the cost by principal materials used is given
in Table IX.
Cost cf Material Used by 673 Liasonry Subcontractors,
by Kind of Material, 1929
Kind of Material Cost of Specified
Material rj Per Cent of
(000' s) Total Cost
Total Cost, all Kinds $34,191 100.0
Brick (face, common, fire, paving, etc.) 14,873 43,5
Tile ( fireproof ing) 5,846 17.1
Sand, gravel, stone, slag, cinders, etc. 2,975 8.7
Cement 2,303 S.2
Lime 1,060 3.1
Concrete and cinder block 923 2.7
Tile (facing, terra cotta, floor, and wall) 821 2.4
All Other 4,390 14.3
Source: Census report, Construction Industry, 1929 ; Subcontractors, "Liasonry. 11
a/ The cost of each specified material ha.s been e stimated for the 673
establishments on the basis of data from establishments accounting for
73.6 per cent of the total cost of materials.
Sources ox Materials by Principal States
The states which are the leading producers of orincipal materials used by
the Industry are listed in Table X, which shows the total volume of each
material produced in these states in 1929. It is not known what proportion of
the total United States production, or of each state's production, is used by
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Iirroorts of Materials
The volume of imports of materials uaed by the Industry is negligible. A
small amount of coment is imported from Belgium and Denmark, and some brick are
imported from Germany and Denmark.
T:,T)es of Equipment
The equipment ased in the Industry ccnn~ises the following: hoisting
equipment, scaffolding, handling equipment , and small tools, such as shovels,
Expenditures for Equip tent
The total amount spent for equipment "by the Industry in any one year is
not known. In tne Census of Construction, 604 masonry subcontractors in the
"$25,000 and over" group reported expenditures for equipment in 1939 amounting
The inventory value of the equipment of these establishments at
the end of the year 1929 was reported as $2,448,418.
Relation of Cort of Ma terials t o Total Valu e o f Business
The approximate percentage relationship bet- e en cost of materials and
total value of business handled may bo estimated from data, furnished by
masonry subcontractors in the Census of Construction. The 673 masonry sub-
contractors in the "$25,000 and over" group covered in this Census reported
total value of business handled as $85,023,000. The cost of materials fur-
nished and used amounted to $34,191,000, or approximately 40 per cent of the
total value of business.
Estimated Value of Business, by Principal States
The "products" of the Industry r.re represented by contracts made end per-
formed and the "best available measure of total production is the value of "busi-
Llasonry work is distributed throughout the country, "being closely related
to the distribution of general "building construction, viiich is generally govern-
ed "by industrial developments, land "booms, end the like.
The total value of masonry work done in each state "by all classes of con-
tractors is not known. The value of the work done in the ten leading states
by the 4,032 masonry subcontractors who reported in the Census of Construction
has ''oeeii estimated on the bpsis of the average value per establishment for
those establishments which reported. The figures are given in Table XI.
Estimated Value of Business Done By 4,032 Liasonry Sub-
contractors, oy 10 Principal States, 1929
Pe nn syl vani a
Has sachuset t s
Total, 10 States
Total, Other States
Source: Census report, Construc tion Indu st ry, 1929: Subcontractors, "masonry, 1 . 1
a/ The values were estimated for the United States and for each state
on the basis of the average value per establishment of those estab-
lishments which reported. An unknown proportion of the values here
given represent types of work not covered by the Code for the Llason
Value of Business Done Outside Home State
The proportion of the total masonry work done by contractors outside of
the state in which the2. r ere located is indicated by Census of Construction
data, for 6S0 masonry subcontractors. Hie figures, which show the to tod anount
of business reported oy these establishments together with the amount done
outside the hone state, are given in Table XII, broken down by ten principal
states. All of the 650 subcontractors who reported this information were in
the "$r::' , : and over" grouT.
Value of Business Done Outside Hone State ay 660 Masonry
Subcontractors, by 10 Principal States, 1929
Statu Number of
Es tabli shiaent s
Value of Business Done
Outside Hone State
Per Cent of
U. 3. Total
Total, 10 States
Total, OtherStktes 135
Source: Census report: Construction Industry, 1929 ; Subcontractors,
a/ The establishments reporting were in the group doing a business of
$25,000 and over in 1923.
Productive Capaei ty
The -oroductive capacity of this Industry is limited only by the amount
of capital and labor available for operations. At no time has the scarcity of
these two items held up the performance of work materially. During the period
from 1924 to 1929 there was a scarcity of skilled workers in certain locali-
ties but the condition './as not general and never be came acute.
rational advertising by the Industry is negligible in to teal amount and is
confined, in general, to magazines and newspapers. A small amount of adver-
tising is done locally by radio. .
Unfair Tri.cle Practices Prior to the Code
Examples of unfair trade practices that existed prior to the Code are:
( 1 ) Th e Taming? o\xt "by Architects or Engineers, in Corn-petition with
other Architects, Engineers or Public Officials, of Deficient Flans or
Sp ecif i cat ions. - Contractors were forced to base their bids on these plans,
and this frequently resulted in losses to contractors or to owners.
(2) The Call ing ^or an Excessive Punter of Alternate Bid Proposals. -
This greatly increased the cost of preparing "bids, and may have been a device
to beat down bid prices.
(3) Ei d Peddlin g. - A contractor war considered to be "peddling" his
bid if, after having already submitted an original bid on a project, he
learned what the low bid on the proje ct was and offered by some means or
other to reduce his bid below the low bid, or if by other devices he lowered
his original bid. The result of the practice was to lower prices and
standards in the Industry.
(4) 3id Shopping. - An awarding authority was considered to be
engaged in !, bid shopping" when it rejected all original bids on a project,
often revealing the low bid, for the purpose of calling for new bids at
still lower prices, or when it by other devices sought to induce a low
bidder to reduce his price. The effect upon the Industry was the same as
that of "bid peddling."
(5) The Withhold i ng by General Contractors of Payments Trie to Sub-
Contrac tors or Material Supply D ealers. - Contractors hoped to utilise
the funds withheld to finance other projects for which, because of financial
stringencies, they were having difficulty in obtaining necessary money.
(5) Excessive Bach- Chargi ng. - This practice was first used on
large projects. When a subcontractor had performed his share of a job, he
would be presented with a bill from the general contractor calling for the
payment of excessive fees for having used some of the contractor's equipment,
such as scaffolding or hoists.
(7) Substitution of Inferior hater ials. - Intense competition giving
rise to the practice of bid peddling and bid shopping, and resulting in
prices which were unreasonably low, often forced general contractors and
subcontractors to substitute cheap and inferior materials in order to save
themselves possible losses on projects where prices had thus been cut.
Desire for greater profit also resulted in the substitution of inferior
(8) Unbalanced Bidding. - This was a practice in which contractors
in heavy and highway construction ordinarily engaged. On many projects,
bids were based on numerous and different units, such as per cubic yard of
dirt or rock to be removed, or per thousand feet of lumber or per thousand
brick or tile to be used. By taking advantage of their own findings on
the number of units and their costs, as against the specifications of an
awarding authority's engineer, contractors regulated the specific bids on
units of work so that the total of their bids for all units would be low
and at the same time might have brought high profits on certain units of
the work which they suspected would be more numerous than the awarding
authority 1 s engineer had estimated. Likewise, by quoting high prices on
units of work which would be completed in the early life of a project and
keeping the units performed near the end at a low price, a contractor was
able to force an owner to bear a large portion of the financing costs
through the greater part of the life of the project while keeping his total
bid sufficiently lor;. The unbalancing of bids, of course, assumed many
( 9 ) P.e ducing Wages , Lengthening working Hours and Debasing Other
Conditions of work m en. - These practices arose from accentuated depression
conditions. They broke down the foundation upon which the competitive
standards, such as they were, had been maintained and helped plunge the
Industry into the condition existing in 1933.
(10) Inequities Ar is ing from Loose Credit Practices . - Lien laws
made and still make owners, as well as contractors, responsible for the
payment of material and other billso As a result, credit often was loosely
extended to irresponsible contractors, who would finish projects and leave
debts for materials, etc., to be paid by owners. The ability to employ
this method to defraud owners naturally resulted in loose bidding by ir-
responsible contractors, often cutting bid prices below anticipated costs.
Contractors thus performing contracts at a loss were enabled to thrive,
especially during the period immediately preceding the depression.
(11) T he Kick-Back J acket. - To avoid the payment of wage scales
required by Union agreements or otherwise, there developed what became
known as the "kick-back racket." In order to undercut the required rate,
some contractors would pay the required scale to their employees in full.
Thereupon, the employees, immediately upon the receipt of their pay checks,
would be forced by the contractors (under the threat of losing their jobs,
etc.) to give back, or "kick back" a portion of their daily or weekly
(12) The Lumping or Subletting of Labor. - When a contractor obtain-
ed a contract for a r>roject from an owner, he might undertake to furnish
only the materials for the job and to let out to a sub-contractor or a
journeyman the responsibility of providing the necessary labor for the job
at a specified price. Such subcontracts calling for the providing of labor
alone were usually negotiated at low prices, at which the contractor who
provided the material was safeguarded against loss, while the profit of the
sub- contractor or labor gang foreman ordinarily depended upon his ability
to hire as little labor at as low wages as possible, and to exploit the
labor thus employed. The imposition of such conditions upon a sub-contractor
or a journeyman gang-foreman sometimes resulted in the degradation of labor
conditions and of the laborers thus hired. The results were then the de-
basement of labor standards for whole communities, the unsettling of competi-
tive conditions and hurried, slipshod work, causing dissatisfaction among
project owners and injuring the reputation of the original contractor.
( 13) Setting Bid Prices Below Cost -ith the Expectation of Grinding
Profits out 01 Subcontractors , or of Profiting "by not Faying Material Bills.
By this ore.ctice a contractor submitted his "bid on a project below his own
estimated cost, expecting to take advantage of competition among sub-con-
tractors in order to recoup not only the losses but also perhaps some profit,
Bound up with this practice were the practices of bid peddling and bid
Trade Practices which, Bec a use of Abusive Use, Became Detrimental
Many of the unfair trade oractices in the Construction Industry are the
outgrowths of normal practices, and their unfairness depends often upon the
degree in which, and the purposes for which, the normal practices are engaged
(1) Calling for alternate bids may be justifiable to give the bidding
contractors a clear leeway to suggest new and perhaps cheaper and more ef-
ficient designs and to provide an idea of the relative costs of designs.
Only when an excessive number of alternate bids are required and the purpose
is to beat dorm prices, does this practice become unfair.
(2) An awarding authority may be justified in calling for new bids
upon discovering that true competition has been absent, or upon discovering
that the specifications upon which bids have been received will prove to be
beyond the financial means of the awarding authority. I7hen new bids are
repeatedly called for in order to beat do<-'n prices, however, an unfair trade
(3) C-eneral contractors and owners have, by contract requirements,
usually withheld 10 or 15 per cent of the monthly amounts owing for work per-
formed, usually to be paid upon the completion of a job or upon the receipt
of the final payment from an owner. The practice becomes unfair, however,
when the amounts withheld are excessive or are withheld for devious purposes
without the consent of the creditor and in excess of amounts as provided in
(4) It is considered ethical for a sub-contractor of his own accord to
pay reasonable fees for the use of a general contractor's equipment. General
contractors, however, have been known to force subcontractors to use their
equipment in order to overcharge them for it. And often, although not provided
in contro.cts, general contractors will submit to sub-contractors bills demand-
ing excessive -oayments for the use of the general contractor's equipment and
general services. Under the latter conditions, the practice becomes unfair
and is known as "excessive back charging."
(5) Inferior materials, if agreed to "oy the owner, may be substituted
justifiably on a project for the sake of expediency, or for other reasons.
The substitution of inferior materials without the knowledge of an owner, how-
ever is regarded as unfair.
(6) Unbalanced bidding may be justifiable if the owner of a project
is informed of it and consents, because he is able to secure finances more
cheaply than the contractor, and therefore, by unbalancing the unit price
bids so that the owner, and not the contractor, will carry the heavier
financing costs during most of the life of the project, a saving is achieved
on the total costs. Unbalanced bidding, however, may serve as a means for
contractors to take advantage of unforeseen circumstances (foreseen "by the
contractors tut not ty the engineers who prepared the plans and specifica-
tions upon which the estimates are based), by which certain units which are
bid at a high price per unit are found upon performance to exceed the number
of units which were estimated, thereby enabling the contractors to profit
unreasonably at the expense of owners.
(7) There are Mason Contractors in many cities and towns whose work
consists largely of performance of labor contracts under which only mortar
materials, scaffolding, etc, , are furnished. T!hen they secure contracts, they
go into the field and hire the necessary skilled labor, while they furnish
the mortar materials. Under these circumstances, therefore, the lumping or
subletting of labor may be justifiable, but under other circumstances, this
practice may be considered unfair both to labor and to competitors.
Of course, there may be found peculiar circumstances when some of the
other practices listed as unfair may be justifiable, but, as stated, the
determination of whether practices are unfair must be based upon the purpos-
es of the practices and the degree of their use, as well as upon the prac-
THE INDUSTRY - GENERAL INFORMATION
Beginnings of the Indus try
The mason contracting industry is probably the oldest branch of the
construction industry, dating back many years B. C. when masonry was prac-
tically the only type of construction. Almost all of the old monuments and
temples that are in existei.se today pre entirely of masonry construction,
such as the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Great Wall of China, the Catacombs of
Rome, the Coliseum of Rome, and many others.
The general contract system had its beginning about the year 1834,
Prior to that time practically all masonry contract work was done by special-
ized masonry contractors on separate contracts, signed direct with the owners
and executed under the direction of the architect or master builder who
served the owner as designer and supervisor of the work.
Distribution of Masonry Fork in the Constru cti on Industry
In the building field the majority of the general contractors developed
from masonry and carpentry contractors and they generally elected to construct
either the masonry or carpentry work or both, with their own forces. As a
result of this evolution, mason subcontractors have handled a declining per-
centage of masonry construction work, although this tendency has occasionally
been reversed for periods of several years, when the "broker" type of general
contractor, or speculative builder, was active.
For the above reasons, masonry construction is scattered through many
divisions of the construction industry, where varying business methods of
handling it have developed. The mason contractor, has, however, ordinarily
remained in the building division of the Industry, where he takes separate
contracts direct from the owner, or subcontracts from the general building
contractor. Mason contractors quite generally develop from 'skilled mechan-
ics; hence there is considerable disparity between the older and larger mason
contracting firms and the many hundreds of small mason contractors whose
credit is limited and whose volume of business is very small.
Chance s in Building Construction and Their Effect on the Mason Contracting
The rapid expansion of the building industry and the consequent increase
in demand for building materials have greatly accelerated the mechanization
of the industries producing materials and the development of new fireproof
In recent years the development of structural steel, concrete, load
bearing hollow tile, partition tile, gypsum products, cast stone, terra cotta,
and many other materials has greatly changed the methods of construction and
the types, height, and general design of buildings.
Prior to the development of steel and reinforced concrete frames, masonry
wall construction was a limiting factor in the height of buildings. The
masonry form of construction necessitated nassive walls to support the
structure above the first floor and consequently the rentable space on the
lower floors, the highest rent producing space, was somewhat reduced. Econ-
omy of space was a potent incentive in the search for new "building materials
and methods. With the advent of the steel frame and reinforced concrete
construction, the massive masonry walls were eliminated, light masonry cur-
tain walls taking their place. Interior wood partitions were replaced "by
light, non-bearing tile partitions, thereby eliminating great fire hazards.
Financial Condition of tfc e I ndustr y
There are no data available en the financial condition of the Industry.
The Code Authority without furnishing any figures to substantiate the state-
ment, stated that in 1935 the financial condition had improved considerably
over 1931, but was worse than it was in 1929.
A somewhat rough indication of the trend in gross income and net income
in the Industry between 1929 arid 1932 may be had from a study of income tax
reports made to the Bureau of Internal Revenue by all classes of construc-
tion contractors. Data from this source for 1929, 1931, and 1932 are given
in Table XIII.
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Or ranizations of labor Employed "by Mason Contractors
Pour principal classes of workers are employed by mason contractors —
bricklayers, carpenters, hod carriers, and hoisting engineers — and each oi
these classes is organised in a separate union. The total voting strength
of each union, as reported at the annual conventions of the American federa-
tion of Labor in 1929 and 1933, is given in Table XIV.
Voting Strength of Trade Unions Functioning in the Mason
Voting Strength Percentage
Reported Decline in
Union 1 Voting Strength
1929 1933 1929 to 1933
Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers
International Union of America 90,000 45,800 -49
International Hod Carriers, Building,
and Common Laborers Union of America 91,700 52,100 -43
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and
Joiners of America 322,000 205,800 -35
International Union of Operating
Engineers 33,000 35,000 *• 6
Source: Reports of the proceedings of the annual conventions of the American
Tederation of Labor in 1929 and 1933.
Jurisdictional Disputes of Trade Unions
The development of reinforced concrete encroached upon the work done by
members of the Mason Industry. Luring the early years of its introduction,
jurisdictional disputes and regulations seeking to resist its use existed
all over the country. Soon after 1900 the powerful Bricklayers, Masons, end
Plasterers International Union began to feel the seriousness of the intrusion
of concrete. Flans were made to thwart its popularity as a building material.
The 1904 convention of the union considered a resolution instructing the in-
coming executive board to send to each local a notice to report all instances
in its vicinity where concrete construction showed defects of cracking,
breaking, total or partial collapse.
The journal of the masons' union, during the succeeding years, carried
editorials, articles, and advertisements describing the collapse of concrete
structures and sounding warnings as to the deficiencies of the material and
the danger of using it. The union also contended that the adoption of the
various concrete systems used in construction were experimental and uncertain
at their best; that the ^ork required the most skillful mechanics; and that-
all the concrete systems taking the form of masonry construction came under
the skilled mechanics' jurisdiction. They further maintained that bricklay-
ers and masons wore best fitted to do the work.
Pinally the futility of dictating methods of construction and technical
processes to the Construction Industry "became apparent to the union and
other tactics were adopted. By 1910, when the use of concrete was already
well established, it was decided the better policy would "be to encourage the
use of concrete, but irrespective of this new attitude, the masons' union
never succeeded in getting full control over concrete construction.
While the masons were wavering between a policy or opposition and one
of endorsement, the cement finishers organized themselves into a separate
union, the Brotherhood of Cement Workers, and claimed control of concrete
construction in a number of cities. This resulted in jurisdictional dis-
putes between the new union and the Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers
Union. The stone masons were probably hardest hit, since concrete displaced
more stonework than brickwork,
Prior to the use of concrete, foundations were built of stone. Concrete
or cement blocks are now more frequently used and wherever the bricklayers'
union controlled this work they permitted the stonemasons to put in the
foundations. Later the union also permitted stonemasons to lay terra cotta,
primarily to make up for the reduction in the amount of their work occasioned
by the widespread use of concrete.
Effect of Hew Materials and New Technique on Workers
Hew materials have produced new specializations and new unions, thus
intensifying competition for work and making the problem of reducing season-
al unemployment more difficult. The use of machinery to dress stone and of
substitutes for stone have made it difficult for the stone cutters to secure
work at their craft. The Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers Union met
this condition by permitting the stone cutters to lay bricks with improvers'
cards until they could qualify to join the bricklayers union.
The bricklaying craft seems to be relatively safe from an encroachment
of machinery, although the operations have been mechanized to some extent
by mortar mixing machines and hoisting devices.
For a majority of the building trades unions, the monopoly of skill is
slowly becoming of less significance. Jurisdictional definitions and the
closed shop are practically their sole means of protection from semi-skilled
workers outside of the unions.
Effect of Hew Materials and New Technique on Employers
Technical changes, new processes, and new materials have affected not
only the organizations of workers, but also the organizations of employers.
The invention of new materials has developed "specialist" subcontractors,
who, in turn, have created other problems. Specialization has presented the
same type of problem to the employer as to the workers.
The Effect of the Code
The effect of the Code upon the Mason Contractors' Industry, as in the
Construction Industry as a whole, is believed to have diminished to an un-
known degree the number of members regularly engaged in unfair trade prac-
IIo data are available to determine the extent to which the Code helped
to maintain Did prices above costs, although it is believed that the general
influence of codification upon wage levels and trade practices in the Indus-
try may have helped to maintain bid prices among the members.
Wage rates, cited previously, indicate that the average hourly rates
for masons and masons' tenders declined from 1929 to 1933, but show an in-
crease in 1934 over 1933
Experts in the Industry
The Code Authority submitted the names of the following individuals who
are, because of their training and experience, thoroughly familiar with con-
ditions in the Industry:
William p. Krahl
211 H. LaSalle St,, Chicago, 111,
President, Mason Builders. Chicago, 111.
President, Mason Builders, New York City
77 Summer St., Boston, Massachusetts
William R. Chapman
Medical Arts Building, Philadelphia, Penna.
D. De Sabatino
839 Tatueel St., Wilmington, Del.
Albert G. Weist
622 Broadway, Lakewood, Ohio
Carter G. Lyon