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J j l J; ^/ATE TEACHEX3 COLLEGE LIBRARY
A/ /

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
BULLETIN OF THE WOMEN’S BUREAU, No. 61

THE DEVELOPMENT OF
MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE
UNITED STATES, 1912 TO 1927




[Public—No.

259—66th Congress]

LH. Ii, 13220]
An Act To establish in the Department of Labor a bureau to be known as the
Women’s Bureau

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be
established in the Department of Labor a bureau to be known as the
Women’s Bureau.
hEc. 2. That the said bureau shall be in charge of a director, a
woman, to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate, who shall receive an annual compensation of
$5,000. It shall be the duty of said bureau to formulate standards
and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women,
improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and ad­
vance their opportunities for profitable employment. The said
bureau shall have authority to investigate and report to the said
department upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of women in
industry. The director of said bureau may from time to time publish
the results of these investigations in such a manner and to such
extent as the Secretary of Labor may prescribe.
Sec. 3. That there shall be in said bureau an assistant director,
to be appointed by the Secretary of Labor, who shall receive an
annual compensation of $3,500 and shall perform such duties as
shall be prescribed by the director and approved by the Secretary of
Labor.
Sec. 4. That there is hereby authorized to be employed by said
bureau a chief clerk and such special agents, assistants, clerks, and
other employees at such rates of compensation and in such numbers
as Congress may from time to time provide by appropriations.
Sec. 5. That the Secretary of Labor is hereby directed to furnish
sufficient quarters, office furniture, and equipment for the work of
this bureau.
Sec. 6. That this act shall take effect and be in force from and
after its passage.
Approved, June 5,1920.




U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
JAMES J. DAVIS, SECRETARY

WOMEN’S BUREAU
MARY ANDERSON, Director

BULLETIN OF THE WOMEN’S BUREAU, No. 61

•

.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF
MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE
UNITED STATES, 1912 TO 1927




/V\

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON
1928




ADDITIONAL COPIES
OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE PROCURED FROM
THE SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENTS
U.S.GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON, D. C.
AT

90 CENTS PER COPY

■

CONTENTS

Letter of transmittal____________________________________
Chapter I. Origin and extent of minimum-wage activity
Relation of wage regulation in Australia and New Zealand to the
minimum-wage laws in the United States
History of legislation in the United StatesII
Limits of the field in which laws have operated_____ II
Distinction between flexible and inflexible types of laws
Procedure and problems involved in setting rates under the flexible
laws
Length of time that flexible laws have been functioning
Chapter II. Definitions of classes affected1
Industries and occupations covered_
Estimate of number of woman workers who could he included
Special classes of employees covered
Minors__ _______________________ ________
Apprentices or learners—inexperienced workers
Substandard workers________________________________
Relation of orders to size of community
Summary__________________________________________
Chapter III. Organisation of administering and enforcing agencies
Type of personnel______________________________ __I___
Representation of women on commissions as provided in the
laws______________________ __________._________
Representation of women on commissions in practice
Representation of labor on commissions required by law
Representation of labor on commissions in practice
Representation of employers on commissions as required by law
and in practice
Representation of the public on commissions
Representation of political parties on commissions
Summary!_______________________________________
Method of making appointments
Compensation provided for services on commissions
Length of term of commissions
In the law________________________ ________________
In practice
Summary______________________________
Executive officers of the commissions
Chapter IV. Investigation of conditions prior to setting a wage rate___ II
Powers of investigation outlined in laws____________
Investigations undertaken by the commissions
Rates and earnings
Cost of living
Summary_____________________'
Chapter V. Procedure in organizing for the purpose of determining wage
rates—law and practice____________
Body that sets wage rates
Provisions of laws
Method followed in practice
Procedure when wage boards are established
Organization of wage boards as provided for in the law’s
Actual membership of the wage boards
Methods of selecting wage-board members provided in the laws__
Methods actually used in selecting wage-board members
Methods used in selecting wage-board members when laws
give specific directions_________________
Methods used by the States where the law does not outline
the commission’s procedure
Methods used by commissions in obtaining new members for a
wage board if old ones dropped out




hi

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TV

CONTENTS

Chapter V—Continued.
Summary-------------------------- —•..—---------------------- ------- —
Procedure provided for when commissions are to determine the
amount of the wage-------------------------------------------------------------Procedure provided for when wage boards are to determine the
amount of the wage-------------------------------------------------------------Work laid out for wage boards in the laws---------------------------Powers granted the wage boards---------------------------------- ;——
Commissions’ power over work of wage boards---------------------Summary--------------------------------------- ------------------------------ ------ Chapter VI. Procedure used in determining provisions of decrees----------Decrees set by the commissions without wage-board procedure-------Wage boards—organization and work performed---------------;----------Instructions given to wage boards by the commissions------------ •'
Wage-boards’ methods of work--------------------------------------------Length of time wage boards have remained in session--------------Reports by wage boards and action by commissions'.---------------Summary------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter VII. Actual rates set for full-time experienced workers, com­
pared with cost-of-living figures--------------------------------- _----------------Comparison of rates with budget figures prepared specifically to
aid in formulating these rates-----------------------------------------------Comparison of budgets to determine a standard budget by which
rates can be judged---------------------------- --------------------------------Comparison of rates set at different, dates----------------------------- --­
Changing of rates within a specific group as the .cost of living
changed------------- -------------------------------------------------------------Summary----------------- ---------- ,---------- ------- -----------------------------Chapter VIII. Provisions in the decrees for workers other than experi­
enced adults working full time------ —-----------------------------------------Substandard workers--------------------------------------------------------------Apprentices or learners and minors------------------------- ----------------Method of treating apprentices or learners in various industries.
Possible methods of treating varied age groups in relation to
apprenticeship------------ -------------------------------------------------Actual methods of treating learners or apprentices---------------Decrees where no learning period was required!--------------Decrees where apprenticeship rules do not consider age___
Decrees covering women and minors but requiring varied
learning periods, according to age-------------------------------Methods used when minors were given special treatment----Decrees that provide the same experienced rate for all
ages, though apprenticeship provisions vary accord­
ing to age----------------------------------------------------------Decrees that never provide for a minor reaching the
experienced rate------------------------------------------------Summary------------------------------------------------------------------Rules as to where apprenticeship shall be served--------------------Length of apprenticeship period------------------------------------------Rates for women and minors entering industry----------------------Limitation of the number of apprentices-------------------------------Summary------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter IX. Regulations for the application of minimum-wage rates in
practice------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Relation of rates to the number of hours a woman works..----------Relation to rates of legal limitations on hours and of the hours that
a plant runs regularly--------------------------------------------------------Provisions of decrees defining full-time week-------------------------Provisions of decrees defining and regulating part-time workers.
Actual part-time rates set in North Dakota and California—
Summary---------------------- -------------------------------------------Provisions covering women working overtime------------------------Summary
Other groups receiving special treatment-----------------------------------Pieceworkers________________________
Male minors
Workers receiving bonuses, commissions, etc




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contents

Chapter IX—Continued.
Other groups receiving special treatment—Continued.
Home workers
254
Summary___________________________________ ____________
Significance of the attention paid in the decrees to special classes
of workers__________________
Chapter X. Formalities necessary before the rates aud rulings incorpo­
rated in the decrees have the force of law
258
Public hearings___________
Publishing of notices of public hearings and of the terms of the wage
orders
259
Chapter XI. Time consumed in setting decrees
261
Time elapsing between commission’s first specific act in a given
industry and date decree became effective______________________
Length of time consumed in setting first decree in each State__
Discussion of causes of delay when decrees were a year or more
in being set
Chapter XII. Enforcement of decrees
Powers of enforcement and penalties for violations
Use of special licenses in enforcing the law_______________
Provisions for posting and penalties for noncompliances found
in the laws
Records of violations, penalties, and backpay collected______________
Examples of methods of enforcement
288
Forms used in enforcing decrees in California
288
Control of the canning industry—predominantly a piece-rate
industry
298
Actual process of auditing as developed by the California
commission___________________
Forms used in enforcing decrees in Massachusetts___________
Chapter XIII. Relation of the courts (±o the minimum-wage laws______
Provisions in the laws providing for court review of decrees_______
Court action with reference to minimum-wage laws______________
Chapter XIV. Appropriations available for minimum-wage activities____
Sums for administration carried by the minimum-wage acts________
Actual sums carried in appropriation acts for the work .
Chapter XV. Changes in the position of woman workers during the period
of minimum-wage activity'
Changes in rates and earnings of woman workers
334
Arkansas______
334
California_________________________ _____________________
District of Columbia
340
Kansas__________________________________________________
Massachusetts
340
Changes in median rates and earnings as shown by the fig­
ures collected by the minimum-wage commission_________
Changes in median wages as shown by the figures collected
by the Massachusetts division of statistics_____________
Minnesota_____________________
North Dakota______________________
Oregon------------------------------------------------------------------ 365
Washington______________________________________________
Wisconsin_____________
Summary_________________________ ;
Changes in the number of learners or apprentices in California_____
Chapter XVI. Inflexible laws 374
Dates of enactment_______________________
Wage rates established by the laws'
Industries covered by the laws
376
Classes of employees covered by the laws
377
Provisions covering the treatment of experienced women______
Provisions covering the treatment of minors
378
Provisions covering the treatment of apprentices_____________
Provisions covering the treatment of substandard workers_____
Summary
337




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VI

CONTENTS

Chapter XVI—Continued.
Pace
Administration and enforcement____________ ——___________
381
Agencies concerned with law administration and enforcement___
382
Powers and duties given administering and enforcing agencies—
382
Penalties provided in the acts 383
Powers granted the administering and enforcing agencies by
their organic acts----------------------------------------------------------386
Actual work done in administering and enforcing the laws_____
389
Interpretation of laws by attorney generals
391
Court action in enforcing laws 391
Appropriations and salaries available
392
Summary of the inflexible laws 395
Appendixes:
A. Text of original laws, with amendments and other changes thereto,
in all States where minimum-wage legislation has been enacted398
B. Summary of the provisions of all decrees, by State and by year
of issuance
450
C. Provisions in decrees covering learners or apprentices. ________
531.
B. Census classifications used as basis for all figures on numbers of
gainfully-occupied women
593
II. Numbers of women on which are based median and quartile rates
and earnings 609
Index 617
TEXT TABLES
Table 1. Time elapsed between passage of law and going into effect of
first decree, by State
2. Phraseology in the laws which shows what groups of workers
may be covered by decrees, by State
3. Number of women to whom the commissions could apply mini­
mum-wage orders compared with the total number of gain­
fully occupied women, by State
15
4. Minors subject to regulation, by State
5. Grounds for granting special licenses to substandard workers,
by State
6. Organization of commissions as provided in the laws, by Stale
and year
7. Representation of women on commissions as required by law_
8. Sex of persons serving as members of the various commis­
sions, by State
34
9. Representation of labor on commissions as required by law___
10. Representation of employers on commissions as required by law_
11. Provisions in the laws regulating the selection of commission
members, by State
40
12. Number and length of service of executive officers of com­
missions, by State
47
13. Powers of commission or its authorized agents relating to the
inspection of plants, papers, etc., by State_______________
14. Powers of commission relating to the bringing before it of rele­
vant information, by State
51
15. Powers of commission requiring employers to keep registers
showing certain facts about employees, by State__________
16. Methods used by the commissions in investigations to obtain
rates and earnings figures, byState:______________________
17. Investigations of women’s wages made by commissions before
establishing rates, by State andyear
64
18. Methods used by the commissions in securing cost-of-living
figures, by State and year
77
19. Cost-of-living figures in studies made by commissions, by State
and year___
gO
20. Estimated yearly cost of living, by State and year of com­
pletion of survey________
g2
21. Action of wage boards and number of wage decrees, by State
22. Organization of wage boards, by State1______________ facing
23. Proportion of employee representatives 011 wage boards who
were women, by State
gg




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35
37

50

51
56

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86

'

CONTENTS
Table 24. Proportion of public representatives on wage boards who were
women, by State
25. Proportion of all wage-board members who were women, by
State
26. Regulations governing the reports of wage boards to the com­
missions, by State
27. Basis for setting wage rates as expressed in laws, by State28. Decrees issued by commissions without wage-board action, by
State and year
20. Industries for which wage boards were held, by State and
year----------------------------------------------- ------------------------30. Length of time covered by wage-board meetings, by State-facing
31. Comparison of minimum-wage rates with budgets adopted by
wage boards or prepared by commissions, by State and year32. Comparison of first cost-of-living budget, adjusted to conform
to changes in the cost of living, and later budgets (rates
where no budgets were given), by State and year
33. Comparison of first rate or group of rates established in each
State, when adjusted to agree with the changes in the cost
of living, and rates set at later dates, by State and year___
34. Decrees covering inexperienced workers only and the corre­
sponding experienced decrees, by State and year
35. Decrees providing that no learning period should bo required,
regardless of age of worker, by State and year
36. Decrees providing for the same conditions for women and
minors during the learning period, if any, by State and
year
37. Decrees having various apprenticeship provisions according to
age, by State and year
38. Decrees providing the same experienced rates for women and
minors though apprenticeship provisions vary according to
age, by State and year
39. Decrees providing for a flat rale for all minors in a specified
age group, by State and year___________ ______________
40. Decrees providing for varied rates for minors according to
time employed but not providing for their being paid the
experienced rate, by State and year
41. Number of decrees in which minors have been treated differ­
ently from adult women, by State and year
42. Length of service required before experienced rate must be
paid, by State and year
43. Kates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and
rate for experienced worker, by State and year
44. Beginning rates for women in the manufacturing industry and
year decree became effective
45. Proportion of apprentices allowed among the workers in an
establishment, by State and year
46. Provisions of laws limiting hours of work, by State and year47. Full-time and part-time hourly rates for experienced and inex­
perienced women and minors in California, by decree
48. Full-time, part-time, and undertime hourly rates for experi­
enced and inexperienced women and minors in California by
decree_____________________________ ’
49. Decrees that have required extra pay for women working
overtime, by State and year
50. Decrees containing special reference to pieceworkers, by State
and year__________________________________
51. Decrees specifying the percentage of pieceworkers that must
receive the guaranteed rate, by State and year
52. Time consumed in setting decrees, by State' and date of first
action_____________________________________
53. Number of permits issued to substandard workers—California,
the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts—by industry
or occupation and year
54. Number of apprentices’ licenses issued—California, the Dis­
trict of Columbia, and Washington—by industry and year—




VII
Pat-c

89
90
103
104
108
114
124
132
144
150
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166
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VIII

CONTEXTS

Table 55. Legal remedies provided for noncompliance with various
phases of the laws, by State
56. Violations, prosecutions, and cases of back pay collected, by
State, industry, and year______________________________
57. Amounts appropriated for minimum-wage work, by State and
year------------------------------------------------------------------------58. Women covered by minimum-wage decrees, by State and year.
59. Median and quartile rates and earnings in Arkansas, 1922 and
1924, by industry
335
60. Median and quartile rates and earnings in California, 1914 to
1925, by industry
337
61. Median and quartile rates and earnings in the District of Co­
lumbia, 1919 to 1922, by industry___________________
62. Median and quartile rates and earnings in Kansas, 1916 to
1924, by industry
343
63. Median and quartile rates and earnings in Massachusetts, 1913
to 1925, by industry (figures from division of minimum
wage)--------------------------------------------------------------------64. Increase in rates and in earnings of industries for which fig­
ures five years apart wereavailable—Massachusetts_______
65. Median wages of women in Massachusetts as shown by figures
collected by the division of statistics, 1910 to 1922, by in­
dustry ---------------------------------------------------------------------66. Median and quartile earnings in Minnesota, 1920, 1922, and
1923, by industry--- ---------------------------------------------------67. Median and quartile earnings in Washington, 1913 to 1920,
by industry--------------------------------------------------------------68. Median and quartile potential earnings in Wisconsin, 1921 to
1923, by industry
307
69. Number of learners’ or apprentices’ licenses issued in Cali­
fornia, 1917 to 1923, by industry ___________ __________
70. Number of learners’ or apprentices’ licenses issued in Cali­
fornia, 1917 to 1923, to 140 identical firms, by industry_____
71. Weekly wage rates established by State legislatures, by date
of enactment
375
72. Provisions in inflexible laws regulating the employment of
apprentices or learners, byState
378
73. Summary of wage rates established by inflexible laws, by
State
384
74. Court action provided for by inflexible laws in cases of viola­
tion, by State
385
75. ’Composition of bodies administering and enforcing inflexible
laws, by State-______________________________________
76. Number of inspections, complaints, and prosecutions in States
witli inflexible laws, by biennial period, 1913 to 1924_______




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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
United States Department of Labor,
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, July 15, 1927.
Sir: I am submitting herewith a report giving the results of a

research study of the effects of minimum-wage laws, covering the con­
struction and methods of their operation, the costs of their adminis­
tration, the changes in the position of women workers which they have
brought about, and the relation of the courts to such laws.
This report of the history of minimum-wage legislation should be a
valuable reference in the forming of employment policies which
would stabilize the employment of women in industry.
I very warmly appreciate the assistance given in this research
study on minimum-wage legislation by Mrs. Katherine Philips Edson,
executive commissioner, Industrial Welfare Commission of Cali­
fornia; by Miss Louise E. Schutz, superintendent, bureau of women
and children, Industrial Commission of Minnesota; by Miss Maud
Swett, director, women’s department, Industrial Commission of
Wisconsin; by Mrs. Millie R. Trumbull, secretary, Industrial Welfare
Commission of Oregon; by Miss Alice McFarland, former director of
women’s work, Public Service Commission of Kansas; and by Miss
Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commissioner of labor, Department of
Labor and Industries of Massachusetts, both in giving access to the
unpublished records of the minimum-wage commissions and in read­
ing the final report and making helpful suggestions.
The study has been made by and under the direction of Mrs. Mil­
dred J. Gordon, and the report has been written by her.
Respectfully submitted.
Mart Anderson, Director.
Hon. James J. Davis,
Secretary of Labor.




IX

THE DEVELOPMENT OF MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN
THE UNITED STATES, 1912 TO 1927
CHAPTER I.—ORIGIN AND EXTENT OF MINIMUM-WAGE
ACTIVITY

For the past 15 years an experiment in wage regulation has been
carried on in widely varying sections of the United States. Seven­
teen States 1—Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, the District
of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, North
Dakota, Oregon, Porto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington,
and Wisconsin—have passed laws with the idea of guaranteeing to
working women, in return for their labor, a sum adequate for self
support. Though this method of State supervision of wages for
women and minors alone has been tried to any extent only in this
country and in Canada, it is a direct outgrowth of the system of
wage regulation for all workers in specified industries that developed
in New Zealand and Australia at the end of the nineteenth century.
RELATION OF WAGE REGULATION IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW
ZEALAND TO THE MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED
STATES

The last decade of the nineteenth century found New Zealand
and Australia beset with labor troubles. Strikes were frequent, long
drawn out, and bitter. They were greatly injuring the development
of these relatively unsettled countries. Moreover, a concern about
sweating and a general feeling that labor, particularly woman labor,
was being exploited were becoming current. In an attempt to find
a means of adjusting the differences between capital and labor, New
Zealand in 1894 adopted a comprehensive scheme of compulsory
arbitration in labor disputes. This law created a court of arbitra­
tion with the authority to fix conditions of employment. One condi­
tion of employment was the establishing of minimum-wage rates.
In 1896 the Province of Victoria passed a law creating wage boards
to set minimum rates of pay in the sweated industries. From these
beginnings there developed in Australia and New Zealand three
types of legislation regulating wages. One type, which proved of
little importance, set a statutory minimum rate. (For example,
Queensland factory and shop act, 1900.) Two other types, as illus­
trated by New Zealand and Victoria, created bodies which had the
power to set minimum rates for all workers in specific industries.
In their original laws the Commonwealth of Australia (1904),
two Provinces—New South Wales (1901) and West Australia
(1900)—and the Commonwealth of New Zealand created arbitra­
tion tribunals one of whose duties was the setting of minimum rates.
The four other Australian Provinces—Queensland (1912), South
Australia (1900), Tasmania (1910), and Victoria (1896)—created
wage boards for the sole purpose of setting rates. Since these early
1 For the purpose of brevity, the District of Columbia and Porto Bico are referred to as
States throughout this report.




2

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

dates there has been a tendency toward combining these plans. The
laws in the United States are derived rather from the wage-board
laws than from the arbitration laws, but they have elements of both.
A brief description of the first New Zealand legislation will show
many points comparable to the action in the United States. The
colony was divided into districts with a conciliation board for each.
These boards had from four to six members, composed of an equal
number of employers and employees, elected by their respective
groups, and an impartial outside chairman chosen by the members.
From these boards there was an appeal to the arbitration court com­
posed of three members appointed by the governor—one on the
recommendation of the workers, one on the recommendation of the
employers, and one a judge of the supreme court. This organization
is very similar to that of wage boards and minimum-wage commis­
sions in the American laws and the relation of these American bodies
one to another. In the case of the Victorian wage boards there is
the same balance between employers and employees, and there is,
also, the organization of wage boards by industry or occupation
which has been so generally followed in the United States. More­
over, these boards took the initiative in setting rates, as did the
American commissions, instead of waiting for a dispute to arise in the
industry, as was the case of the arbitration tribunals.
Not only did the American laws draw largely on the AustralianNew Zealand acts for the principles on which the administering and
enforcing agencies were organized, but they included many powers
and directions as a result of the problems developed in the adminis­
tration of these foreign laws. The provisions of the American laws
relating to apprentices, substandard workers, communities of vary­
ing sizes, and so forth, wTere to cover situations shown by the
Australian-New Zealand experience as bound to arise.
With so many likenesses there still were essential differences among
the laws of these two countries, of Great Britain, which passed a
wage-board act in 1909, and of the United States. In the first place,
all the American laws apply only to women and minors. In the
second place, the great emphasis on a wage sufficient to supply the
necessary cost of proper living is American. The laws in the British
Empire clearly contemplated a setting of wage rates between
organized groups where the decision would be a compromise rather
than a result of following rules. Particularly in the case of the
State’s providing for wage boards this was true. Moreover, the rates
set, by wage boards and the industrial courts, were for all occupations,
skilled as well as unskilled. The “ living wage ” was accepted as the
principle for laborers, but there were many rates set above this
level. In a scheme such as this, compromise is permissible as it would
not be in a plan which had for its fundamental tenet that every
experienced woman worker who gave a full day’s work must receive
a living wage. Moreover, in such a scheme a carefully considered
plan for handling apprentices and minors, a series of regulations
extending perhaps over a considerable period of time, is proper, since
at the end of the period these apprentices would receive not the
“ living wage ” for laborers but the rate set for the skilled trade which
they had learned. The American States set nothing beyond the
“living wage.” They placed great emphasis on the fact that the




ORIGIN AND EXTENT OF MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITY

3

rates were to equal the cost of proper living. They dealt with groups,
women and minors, who were practically Unorganized. In practice
they often forgot these differences, based their rates on compromise,
and included in the decrees elaborate provisions for controlling
learners or apprentices, though the only rate they set was the “ livingwage ” rate which corresponded to the rate for laborers in Australia
and New Zealand.
Even this slight discussion of the minimum-wage laws within the
British Empire shows that, though historically the American laws
were a direct outgrowth, there were enough changes in principle
that the Australian-New Zealand decrees should not have been too
closely followed as models. Many of the criticisms in this report
are based on cases where the American commissions have followed too
closely their foreign models.
In the matter of incorporating rules in the decrees to aid the
executive oflices in applying the rates the American commissions
would have done well to follow more closely the Australian model.
For example, the Australian decrees contain rules on hours of labor,
so that rates can be tied up with hours worked, a most necessary
provision usually overlooked in American decrees. The conclusion
is inescapable that while the Australian-New Zealand experiment
provided the American States with almost 20 years’ experience in
setting and enforcing wage awards, the American States changed
the fundamental principles of their laws just enough to invalidate
for their use many of the points worked out for administering and
enforcing the foreign laws. Moreover, the American States often
failed to take over important provisions that would have aided
them. The minimum-wage laws in the United States are a separate
experiment in wage legislation, rooted in the system used by the
various units of the British Empire but distinct in many funda­
mentals and much of their development.
HISTORY OF LEGISLATION IN THE UNITED STATES

The first minimum-wage law in the United States was passed by
Massachusetts in 1912, the law to become effective in 1913. In 1913
eight States—California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon,
Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin—passed laws providing for the
regulation of the rates of pay of women and minors. The year 1913
was really the beginning of the American experiment. " Several
things contributed to bring about the burst of sentiment for wage
regulation. The first decade of the twentieth century saw a growing
wave of interest in women workers. The United States awoke to
the fact that it was a great industrial community, not a pioneer State.
The country began to be concerned about the conditions under which
thousands of its citizens labored for wages. To the amazement of
many it was discovered that millions of women were employed in
store and factory. This growing interest is reflected in the reports
published by the State departments of labor. In State after State
these reports change from lists of the State’s natural resources and
development to tables on rates and earnings. Private organizations,
too, began studying phases of industrial life and printing their find­
ings. Starting with modest beginnings at just about the beginning
of the century the tide grew, culminating in a great study made by



4

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

the Federal Government in 1907-1910—“ Woman and child wage
earners in the United States.” The rates and earnings disclosed by
these studies were shockingly low in the majority of cases. Public
opinion was aroused. The Progressive Party in its 1912 platform
had a plank advocating minimum-wage laws for women and children.
That the United States should have turned toward this effort
which the other English-speaking nations were making to correct
bad conditions, when it awoke to the need of putting its own house
in order, was but natural. The laws of Australia, New Zealand, and
Great Britain were well known to large groups of people who were
disturbed about the exceedingly low rates of pay that so many of the
woman wage earners were receiving. These laws seemed to have
been successful in alleviating to some extent the distress among the
lowest paid groups. They did not seem to have hurt industry. They
had been adopted not only by the frontier States of Australia and
New Zealand but by highly industrialized Great Britain. It was
true they applied to both men and women, and that their administra­
tion and enforcement in many cases was tied up to compulsory
arbitration. To the American mind State regulation of men’s wages
and compulsory arbitration were repugnant. Both these smacked
too much of the interference of government in everyday life which
it is the American inheritance to fear. Moreover, at this particular
moment the especial concern was the low wages paid to women. It was
proposed, therefore, to adapt the plan to American needs and desires.
By 1912-13 the question of some sort of wage regulation was so
prominent in people’s minds that Massachusetts and Michigan appro­
priated money for special investigations of the conditions surround­
ing woman wage earners. These investigations once more produced
startlingly low rates and earnings figures. Massachusetts promptly
passed a minimum-wage law for women and minors. Almost at
once eight other States joined Massachusetts in putting such laws on
their statute books. After this the movement slowed down, but by
1923, when South Dakota enacted a minimum-wage law, eight more
States Arizona, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Kansas, North
Dakota, Porto Rico, South Dakota, and Texas—had enacted mini­
mum-wage legislation.
During the years in which the laws have been on the statute books
they have undergone many changes. In the first place, most legisla­
tures have modified the body of the law by amendments, in some
States time and again. Usually these amendments have been the re­
sult of the activity of friends of the different laws who urged that
they be strengthened, so that their good effects would be extended,
but in some cases they were brought about by persons who thought
the laws harmful and who urged that they be so modified as to
mitigate their bad results. In the second place, the laws have been
subjected to constant court attacks, which have limited their scope
and in some cases have resulted in nullification.
In Nebraska and Texas the laws have been repealed by the legis­
latures (1919 and 1921, respectively). In the District of Columbia,
Arkansas, and Arizona the United States Supreme Court has de­
clared the law unconstitutional. In Porto Rico and Kansas the State
supreme courts have declared the law unconstitutional, basing their
decision solely on the decision of the United States Supreme Court




OMGiN

anp

Extent

op minimum-wage activity

5

in the District of Columbia case. The attorney general of Minnesota
has ruled (1925) that the provisions of the law of that State apply­
ing to adult women were unconstitutional on the basis of the District
of Columbia decision, and Wisconsin, since its law was held uncon­
stitutional by a Federal district court, has passed an entirely new law
for adult woman workers from which are possible such wide exemp­
tions as to make any rates set hardly more than standards. The
close of the period sees minimum-wage legislation not only nullified
in several States by the attacks upon it but subject elsewhere to
constant pressure that has influenced the actual powers and duties
specified in the laws and the way in which those powers and duties
have been carried out from day to day.
It is apparent that to-day many States have finished their experi­
ment in setting minimum rates for adult women. The status of
minors under most of these laws still is undetermined, but in most of
the States where the provisions for adult women have been held un­
constitutional little or no effort is being made to enforce the pro­
visions relating to minors and no new decrees are being issued.
Among the States that have had their laws declared unconstitu­
tional, Wisconsin alone has sought to find some other legislative
means of controlling the rates paid to adult women. .Instead of
enacting a law based on that of Massachusetts, which provided no
penalty beyond publication, the Wisconsin Legislature passed an
entirely new sort of law. Its great difference from the old law is
that while the first law set up the positive principle that the mini­
mum rate must provide the necessary cost of proper living, the new
law makes the negative rule that “ no wage paid * * * shall be
oppressive.” An oppressive wage is defined as “ any wage lower
than a reasonable and adequate compensation for the services ren­
dered.” Difficult as it has been to determine the cost-of-living basis
for setting minimum rates, this seems a much more ambiguous state­
ment on which to base a rate. The industrial commission is given
the power to issue orders setting forth what rates are oppressive and
unjust. In the two years the law has been in force no new orders
have been issued, though the orders for pea canning and for cherry,
bean, corn, and tomato canning have been reissued each year. The
commission has gone on enforcing the minimum rate set on the costof-living basis on the theory that any lower rate was oppressive. The
difference in wording therefore has had no significance in practice
up to this time.
In addition to changing the method of expressing the principle on
which wage rates were to be set, Wisconsin’s second law introduces
another new feature. It allows an employer to be given a license to
pay all his employees less than the rate set by the commission if he
can satisfactorily establish that he is unable to pay such rate. This is
based on the same theory as the clause in the Massachusetts and
Nebraska laws which permits the courts to grant exemption to any
employer who proves that he can not pay the minimum rate and con­
tinue to operate his business. The Wisconsin law, however, simplifies
the procedure for obtaining these exemptions by allowing the com­
mission to issue special licenses. Whether the two departures from
the standards set up by the earlier law are fundamental enough to
convince the courts that the new law does not interfere with freedom




6

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

of contract between employer and employee thus far has not been
tested in the courts.
This brief resume of the changes made by legislative and court
action during the time that minimum-wage laws have been in exist­
ence indicates some of the difficulties encountered in studying the de­
velopment of administration and enforcement when the status of the
laws themselves was so insecure and changing. In this report the
laws and their administration and enforcement have been studied
just as completely in those States where they have been repealed or
declared unconstitutional as in those States where enforcement still is
going on. In some States where the laws now are dead letters they
were in operation over a considerable part of the 15-vear period that
has included all minimum-wage activity. Particularly in the District
of Columbia and Kansas, valuable records of the work accomplished
are available. To leave out these States would be leaving out an
important phase of minimum-wage development. To treat them in
a separate section would isolate them from the other laws to which
they are closely akin. They are, therefore, treated exactly like the
“ active ” laws in all cases where their provisions are similar. Even
among the active laws a further exception must be noted. Though
the Colorado law is active in the sense that it is still on the statute
books with no adverse court decisions to hamper its enforcement, it
has never been put into operation by the issuance of a decree. Its
legal aspect may be discussed carefully, but it naturally drops from
sight when the discussion of practice under the laws is taken up.
LIMITS OP THE FIELD IN WHICH LAWS HAVE OPERATED

At the beginning of any discussion of minimum wage two very im­
portant conditions affecting any decisions must be noted. The first
is that the oldest minimum-wage law in the United States was passed
only 15 years ago and the time during which any appreciable number
of women have been affected by minimum-wage decrees is less than
10 years. It is a question whether it is fair to condemn legislation
because it runs counter to a widely accepted economic concept—the
belief that the so-called law of supply and demand operating with
no restrictions as to the contracting powers of the employers or em­
ployees is the only sound way of determining wage rates—when there
has been less than 10 years’ experience with it. If any considerable
body of public opinion supports the new theory—that to preserve
- the health of the worker the State may interfere with the operation of
the law of supply and demand by not allowing the worker to contract
to labor for less than a living wage—and if it can be shown by any­
one, as is the case to-day 2, that wages under the old system in' many
From 1920 to 1925 the Women’s Bureau of U19 United States Department of Labor
conducted state-wide studies of women’s rates and earnings in 12 States. The figures
tollowmg are the median rates for all the women reported, regardless of industry, in the
States studied. It must be remembered that the median represents a rate below which
fell oDe-ha’,. ot the rates received by the wonren reported.
Year of survey

State

1020- .................
1921_ .............
1922

Rhode Island
Kentucky
Alabama
Arkansas-,_______
Missouri........ ................
New Jersey...............




Median
rate
$15. 00
11.10
9.15
12.00
12. 80
14. 55

Year of survey

State

1922
1924_

South Carolina

1925.................... Mississippi............... .
Tennessee.......................

Median
rate
$13.85
10.10
11.60
13. 75
8. 65
11. 45

ORIGIN ANT) EXTENT OF MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITY

7

eases arc so depressed that a worker can not live in health on the re­
sults of her labor, it would seem that every effort should be made to
give minimum-wage legislation a fair trial and a long trial before
forming a final opinion about it. A lesson could be drawn from the
experience with hour legislation. It, too, interferes between the
worker and the employer. It still is strongly opposed in some quar­
ters, but after 75 years of trial its value is questioned by relatively
few people.
1 he other condition that should preclude making sweeping state­
ments is the relatively small field that has been covered. (Inly 17
States, including the District of Columbia and Porto Rico, ever have
had minimum-wage laws. According to the census of 19203 the
population 10 years of age and over of these units was 22,502,634, or
26.8 per cent of the total population of the United States—again
including Porto Rico. With the exception of Massachusetts, none of
the great industrial States have enacted such laws. In fact, the
population, 10 years of age and over, of 8 of the well-known in­
dustrial States Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New Jork, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—greatly exceeds the
population of the 17 minimum-wage States. The actual number of
women 10 years of age and over who were gainfully employed in
the several minimum-wage States—2,207,435—is less than twothirds the number of such women in the industrial States listed
above (3,548,495). If every woman wage earner in the minimumwage States were covered by decrees, only 25.6 per cent of all gain­
fully occupied women in the United States would be affected by
these laws. Moreover, in most of the States only part of the women
covered by^the laws have had rates set for their particular industries
oi occupations. Surely the relatively small numbers of women who
possibly could have been affected by minimum-wage legislation are
another reason for its opponents to use caution when they state
that minimum wage has been an unfortunate experiment. It is
questionable whether it could have had any general bad effect on
business. If it has not had such a result, its specific good effects
on the women directly affected, and its good or negative effect on
business directly concerned, should determine its value.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN FLEXIBLE AND INFLEXIBLE TYPFS OF
LAWS

The purpose of all the minimum-wage laws enacted in the United
States has been stated, with some variation of wording in each act
It is that woman wage earners shall not be paid so low a wage that
they can not support themselves in a proper and healthful manner
It has long been recognized that if large groups of the population
are paid such low wages that they can not provide for themselves
decent food, shelter, and clothing, their resulting ill health and often
ultimate dependency are inimical to the best interests of society in
general. Moreover, many studies of women’s wages have brought
pp! 45,S47BlandU12610,e CenS'1S'

60769°—28-----2




Fourteenth census; 1920, v. 4, Population, Occupations,

8

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

out time and again that large groups of women were receiving wages
below the cost of subsistence. Some one—the woman’s family, the
employer who pays an adequate wage to other workers in the family,
the general public, or the woman herself—must make up this dif­
ference. Since the State usually must step in and help such workers
in misfortune, illness, or old age, and. since the general depletion
of the woman’s health and strength is against the interest of society,
it has seemed to many people that the State, for the good of its
citizens, should interest itself in seeing that all women who do a
full day’s work get a wage adequate for their own support.
The question of how the State shall guarantee this wage to its
woman wage earners has found almost as many different answers
as there are States with minimum-wage laws. Roughly divided, the
guaranty has taken two main forms: In one group are those laws
which establish a fixed minimum sum below which women’s wages
may not fall; in the other group are the laws which create the ad­
ministrative machinery for setting such a minimum sum. The main
feature of this latter group, or the flexible minimum-wage laws, is
the wide powers given to an administrative body so that the de­
cisions of this body have the force of law. In the States which have
the inflexible laws the legislatures have delegated no powers what­
soever and have made no provision for having the minimum-wage
law so administered that it changes with varying economic condi­
tions. The minimum-wage rate itself is a law and stands until it
is changed by another act of the legislature. The opinion is com­
monly held, after more than 10 years’ experience with minimumwage laws, that establishing a rate by law and making no provision
to alter this rate to meet new conditions—except the long and un­
certain process of enacting a new law or amending the old one—does
not achieve the purpose desired; that is, providing woman wage
earners with a living wage, not only at one given date but over a
jieriod of time.
Dividing the States into groups according to the method of setting
wage rates shows that much the greater number of States have en­
acted flexible laws. Only Arizona, Porto Rico, South Dakota, and
Utah belong in the group first described. The larger group includes
the laws passed by California, Colorado, the District of Columbia
(the Federal Congress), Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska,
North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Ar­
kansas establishes a fixed minimum and also creates the machinery
for adjusting this sum as conditions change. In States where the
minimum-wage rate is set by legislative enactment the payment of
such rate of course is compulsory, and anyone who fails to pay this
rate violates a law of the State. On the other hand, in States where
an administrative body is created to establish minimum rates two
types of law exist. In the majority of cases the rates set by these
regulatory bodies have the force of law. In Massachusetts and Ne­
braska, however, the regulatory body can only recommend rates and
trust that public opinion will force their payment. Both of these
differences are in the fundamentals of minimum-wage legislation.




ORIGIN AND EXTENT OP MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITY

9

The manner of establishing the wage rate has been the cause of
wide divergencies in practice so the laws will be considered in this
bulletin in two sections, one section on the flexible group and one
on the inflexible. The great difference in the adaptability of these
two groups of laws and the somewhat more limited field usually in­
cluded in the inflexible group has meant that this type of law has not
been studied with the detail accorded the more effective flexible laws.
PROCEDURE AND PROBLEMS INVOLVED IN SETTING RATES UNDER
THE FLEXIBLE LAWS

Since it is the flexible laws that usually are thought of in connec­
tion with any discussion of minimum wage, and it is on the basis of
their work that statements are made as to its effects, it is on the actual
record made by the 13 States having such laws that minimum wage
should be judged. In these States the laws, though varying in
some of their provisions, all create the machinery for establishing
minimum rates for women and minors in practically all the industries
and occupations in the State, and for varying these rates as the cost
of living changes. The principle of having the legislature create an
administering body to set the actual amount of the minimum wage
has been accepted both in the United States and in foreign countries
as the most effective method of handling legislation that regulates
wages. The process in all cases is roughly the same. The commis­
sion investigates to ascertain whether the wages paid to a consid­
erable number of woman workers are less than the sum which the
commission feels is necessary to maintain the women in health and to
promote their welfare. In order to find out what this sum is, a costof-living study usually has been considered necessary. If any con­
siderable number of women are earning wages below this level, the
commission itself or a wage board appointed by the commission holds
a series of meetings to determine what the minimum wage shall be,
and after a wage rate is decided upon the commission holds a public
hearing before announcing its decree. The sum so determined and
announced becomes the lowest sum it is lawful to pay to a full-time
woman or minor worker. The commission thus decides when an in­
vestigation shall be started, how many women shall be included, in
investigation and under decree, what the wage rate shall be, when it
shall go into effect, and when it shall be changed. The way in which
this work is carried out determines the efficacy of minimum-wage
legislation.
To form an accurate opinion of minimum-wage legislation it is
vital to know as much as possible about the following things, at
least: How many women, in how many different occupations of in­
dustries, have had their wages regulated by law? Have the wage
rates really represented the cost of living at the time they were
issued, and have they been changed as the cost of living has changed ?
Have the rates increased the earnings of the lower-paid groups
of women without injuring the position of those somewhat better
paid? Have trade and industry in the specific States been injured
by having to pay minimum-wage rates? And all this must be




iO

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

considered in the light of the previous questions: Have these laws
covered a large enough territory, and have they been in action over
a sufficiently long period of time, for their effect to be unmistakable?
In the present report every available bit of material—in the laws
themselves, in the reports of the commissions, or in the unpublished
records of the commissions—that could be made available to the
Women’s Bureau has been collected and analyzed to see what the
official records showed on these points. In considering these prob­
lems the records vary so from State to State that it is almost impos­
sible to gain comparable information' on all the important factors,
but a careful statement of the available facts will cover at least
some of these points for all the States and all the points for a few
States.
LENGTH OF TIME THAT FLEXIBLE LAWS HAVE BEEN
FUNCTIONING

Minimum-wage legislation in the States with powerful laws has
had at the most only 14 years’ trial, for all these laws were passed
in the seven-year period from 1912 to 1919, and the law passed in
1912 did not become effective until 1913. The larger number of
laws were enacted early in the period. Massachusetts passed its law
in 1912 (effective July 1,1913). Seven States—California, Colorado.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin—passed
laws in 1913. In 1915 Arkansas and Kansas passed similar laws.
In 1918 the District of Columbia law was enacted. The period closed
by the passing of laws by North Dakota and Texas in 1919. It is
not a true picture of the situation, however, to depict the laws ashaving had from 8 to 14 years each to prove that they were good
or bad, effective or ineffective. These flexible laws had no possible
relation to the actual conditions under which business was carried
on until the commissions had acted to set rates for specific industries
or occupations. In several cases this was not done until some years
after the passage of the law. The fact is that actual experience with
minimum-wage rates has covered a much shorter period of time
than that since the date of the laws’ enactment. Several factors
have united to limit the time during which the rates have been in
operation. In almost all instances the commissions’ slowness of action
has been the first factor. The process required in all these States,
of investigation of wages, of wage-board meetings, and of public
hearings before any decree could be promulgated, necessarily was
slow; but there were striking differences among the States in the
amount of time consumed. The State which accomplished this work
in the shortest time was Oregon, where the first decree was set nine
months after the law was enacted. Four States set their first decrees
in a year to a year and a half, while some States allowed as much
as three or four years to elapse.




ORIGIN AND EXTENT OF MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITY
Tablhj

H

1.—Time elapsed between passage of law and going into effect of first
decree, by State
Date law was
enacted

Date first
award went
into effect

Arkansas1-..

Mar. 20, 1915

Sept. 1, 1920

California

Aug. 10, 1913

Apr. 14, 1916

State

Colorado_________
May 14, 1913
District of Columbia. Sept. 19, 1918

Industry or occupation affected

Mercantile industry in Fort
Smith.
Fruit and vegetable canning
industry.

Aug. 13, 1919 Printing, publishing, and
allied industries.
Mar. 6, 1915 Mar. 18, 1918 Mercantile establishments.
June 4, 1912 2 Aug. 15, 1914 Brush occupation.
Apr. 26, 1913 2 Nov. 23,1914 3 Mercantile, office, waitress,
hairdressing occupations.
Nebraska
Apr. 21, 1913
North Dakota___ _ Mar. 6, 1919 Aug. 16, 1920 3 Public house-keeping occupa­
tion.
Oregon......... __ ..
Feb. 17, 1913 * Nov. 10, 1913 Manufacturing establishments
in Portland.
Texas.......... ................ Apr. 3, 1919 * Feb. 7, 1921 Telephone or telegraph office.
W ashington
Mar. 24,1913 8 Apr. 28, 1914 Mercantile establishments.
Wisconsin_
_ _____ July 31, 1913 June 1, 1917 Pea canning industry.
Kansas
Massachusetts. __ .
Minnesota_________

Time elapsed be­
tween passage of
law and date decree
became effective
5 years, 5 months.
2 years, 8 months.
11 months.
3 years.
1 year, 7 months.
1 year, 5 months.
9 months.
1 year, 10 months.
3 years, 10 months.

1 A rate for most of the Industries and occupations in the State was set by the Arkansas legislature in
'.he minimum-wage law itself (1915).
2 Effective July 1, 1913.
3 See text following.
•
4 Effective June 3, 1913.
6 Effective June 17, 1919.
8 Effective June 12, 1913.

This table shows that minimum wage as an active force should be
considered as beginning its work not at the passage of the first law
but at a date a year or more later, when the first decree became
effective. In several States—Wisconsin, for example—the specific
period of minimum-wage activity is reduced by considerable time.
Moreover, in Minnesota and North Dakota this period of activity
has been further shortened by injunctions restraining the commis­
sions from enforcing the decrees they had issued, so that, no Minne­
sota decree was legal until March 9, 1918, and no North Dakota
decree was legal until April 4, 1921. The actual periods of time in
which any wage rates have been in effect are as follows:
Arkansas------------------------------------- Between 6 and 7 years.
California________ 11 years.
District of Columbia--------------------- Under 4 years (to 1023).*
Kansas---------------------------------------- Between 7 and 8 years (to 1925).5
Massachusetts------------------------------ Under 13 years.
Minnesota------------------------------------9 years.
North Dakota6 years.
Oregon---------------------------------------- Between 13 and14 years.
Washington13 years.
Wisconsin------------------------------------ 10 years.

Colorado and Nebraska never have entered any wage decrees, and
Texas entered a series of decrees that never were effective as they
were suspended by the commission pending action by the legislature
which repealed the law. Consequently, while there are 13 State
4 District of Columbia law was declared unconstitutional in April, 1923.
B Kansas law was declared unconstitutional in July, 1925.




12

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

laws to study, there are decrees in but 10 States. Not only is the
geographic field a narrow one, but the 13*4 years of decrees in Ore­
gon represent the extreme period possible for this studjr; an average
for all the States of about 9 years is the period which must be con­
sidered in proving the effects of minimum-wage laws as carried out
by decrees. Moreover, it must be remembered that after 1925 all
minimum-wage activity, except in Massachusetts, was very much
slowed down as a result of adverse court decisions. Whether this
is long enough for a fair valuation of such important legislation is
a point usually overlooked in discussions of minimum wage.




CHAPTER II.—DEFINITIONS OF CLASSES AFFECTED

In each flexible law the commission has been allowed a good deal
of latitude in carrying out the provisions of the act. Apparently the
legislatures have been unwilling to define all the elements that enter
into determining a fair minimum-wage rate so strictly as to hamper
the commissions in raising the wages actually paid to woman work­
ers. Nevertheless, it has been considered necessary to define certain
classes affected by the law, such as the industries or occupations that
may be included, the classes of employees that should be accorded
special treatment, and whether or not the size of a locality should be
considered in setting the rates. The legislatures have specifically
granted power to the commissions to give special treatment to groups
whose problems vary, but they have left it to the commissions to
decide what this treatment shall be. The terms of the laws are con­
sidered briefly in the following paragraphs as a background for the
discussion of the actual work done by the commissions.
INDUSTRIES AND OCCUPATIONS COVERED

Most of the flexible acts are so worded that they cover all gainful
employment. Few of the States have made any definite exceptions
to these inclusive definitions. Moreover, amendments which have
changed the meaning of these sections of the laws have either in­
creased their scope or lowered the number of exceptions. The follow­
ing table shows how slight are the variations in working from State
to State and how inclusive are all the definitions.
Table 2.

Phraseology in the laws which shows who I groups of workers may
he covered by decrees, by State
Women and minors in any—

Vocation,
trade, pursuit,
or industry

Business, in­
dustry, trade, or
branch thereof

Colorado (1917). District of Colum­
bia.
Kansas (1915).
Minnesota.
Oregon.
North Dakota.

Occupation,
Industry or
trade, or
occupation
industry

California.
Texas.
Was hi ngton.

Kansas
(1921).

Occupation

Massachusetts.
Nebraska.

Every per­
son who is
in receipt
of or is
entitled to
any com­
pensation
foi labor
performed
for any
employer

Women in
any of the
specific in­
dustries or
occupa­
tions listed

Wisconsin. Arkansas.1
C olorado
(1913).*

1 Any manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment; laundry; any express or transportation
company; hotels, restaurants.
2 Any mercantile, manufacturing, laundry, hotel, restaurant, telephone or telegraph business.




13

14

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Arkansas has the only law that lists definite industries or occupa­
tions. Colorado in 1917 gave up listing the industries or occupations
that might be included, and substituted the inclusive phrase “ any
and every vocation, trade, pursuit, and industry.” Moreover,
though Arkansas lists in section 1 of its act the specific industries
or occupations covered by all the provisions of the law, including the
inflexible rate, in section 10 it speaks of “ any occupation, trade, or
industry ” as the field within which rates may be set by the indus­
trial welfare commission. It would appear that all these laws might
be interpreted to include every kind of work done by women for
wages, unless specific industries or occupations were excepted.
The State legislatures seem to have had in mind that the laws
could include all woman wage earners, since four States—Arkansas,
the District of Columbia, North Dakota, and Texas—do provide that
wages in certain industries or occupations are not subject to regu­
lation. The most usual exceptions are domestic service and agricul­
ture. North Dakota, Texas, and the District of Columbia except
domestic service. Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas except
agriculture. Texas also excepts nurses, student nurses, and students
working their way through college, whatever their occupation. In
addition to agriculture Arkansas excepts cotton factories, but these
exceptions, remaining in 1919, are an improvement over the earlier
Arkansas law, which, in addition to excluding cotton factories, agri­
culture, and canning, granted a general exception to “ any firm, cor­
poration, or establishment of any character where three or less females
are employed and working at the same time.” In addition to these
exceptions found in the laws themselves, the attorney general of
Minnesota has ruled (December 23, 1920) that the law of that State
does not cover farm labor and domestic servants. The remaining
eight States do not provide for any exceptions, so the number of
woman wage earners who may receive the benefits of having their
wages determined by decrees is limited only by the fact that the
commissions have not covered all industries and occupations.
ESTIMATE OF NUMBER OF WOMAN WORKERS WHO COULD BE
INCLUDED

The possible scope of these laws is shown more clearly, perhaps,
by expressing them in terms of the number of women affected. The
figures on the number of women gainfully employed collected by
the United States Bureau of the Census are used for the purpose,
but the census classifications not only include employers as well
as employees but are grouped very differently from the classes
specified in the minimum-wage laws. For the present purpose every
effort has been made to exclude all employers and to use those groups
that most closely correspond to the groups specified in the laws, but
the figures from the census must be considered as only approximating
the actual numbers of woman wage earners included in minimumwage laws. The following table gives the approximate figures for
each State.1
1 For exact method used in arriving at number of wage earners as distinct from all
gainfully occupied women, see Appendix E, p. 609.




15

DEFINITIONS OF CLASSES AFFECTED

Table 3.—Number of women to whom the commissions could apply minimum-

wage o. levs compared with the total number of gainfully occupied women by
State

(1)

State

Total_______________ _________________ ____
Arkansas................................................... .......
California 2_______________ ___________
Colorado. __________ _____ _
District of Columbia 3_....................................... .
Kansas_______________________________
M assachusetts__ _____ _____________________
Minnesota............ ........._•.............. ................... .
.
Nebraska___________________________________
North Dakota.........__
_________
Oregon.._____ _ _____ ___ _ ________ _____ _
Texas _______________________ _____________ _ ..
Washington_______ ____ ______ ___________________
Wisconsin_ _______________________________________
_

Number of
women to
whom min­
im urn-wage
law possi­
bly could
be applied
(2)

2,051,118

1,258, 568

1, 080, 257

52.7

115,810
286, 047
52, 587
92, 626
92,510
503,155
164, 066
71, 789
28, 328
54, 492
303, 843
92, 900
182,365

35, 032
191,429
39, 513
60,119
56,502
422,635
86, 081
44, 249
9, 522
35,854
84, 378
62, G17
130,637

16,652
157,493
30,225
60,113
42,651
374, 940
86, 081
34,125
9, 522
29,836
84,378
52,441
101,800

14.4
54.9
48.3
64.9
46. 1
74. 5
52.5
47.5
33.6
54.8
27.8
56.4
65.8

Number of
women
gainfully
occupied

Women to whom it is
practicable to apply
minimum-wage law 1
(3)
Number

Per cent

i Number obtained by subtracting domestic servants and agricultural laborers from column 2.
1 Figure is a considerable underestimate, since t he census was taken in January, the slack season for the
State’s large canning industry. It is probable that at least 25,000 more women are employed when the
canneries are running in full force. The Census of Occupations (1020), the source of the figures in column
1, shows 5,005 women in canning and packing, but the Census of Manufactures shows 31,771 women so
employed at the peak of the season of 1910. (U. S. Census of Occupations, pp. 60, 62, and 68; U. S Census of
Manufactures, pp 112 and 118.)
s Figure is an overestimate, since it is impossible to separate the women who are clerks in the Govern­
ment service. These women could not be included in any minimum-wage decree issued by the commission,
but the census does not indicate where clerical workers are employed and they are all included in the totals
given in this table.

It is apparent at once, by comparing columns 1 and 2, that a
great number of women “ gainfully occupied ” are either employers
or in supervisory or professional positions, occupations which the
broadest interpretations of minimum-wage laws'have never covered.
It is apparent further, by comparing columns 2 and 3, that a large
proportion of all woman wage earners arc found in domestic service
and agricultural labor, two groups where the character of the rela­
tionship between employer and employee would seem to make enforce­
ment of a minimum-wage decree by a State commission difficult, if
not impossible. The women appearing in column 3, then, are those
who might reasonably be included ultimately under a minimum-wage
decree. They comprise the groups that are most commonly thought
of when woman wage earners are discussed—the women in stores,
offices, factories, and hotels and restaurants.2 An interesting fact at
once stands out: That the industrial State of Massachusetts not only
lias by far the greatest number of gainfully occupied women
(503,155), but has much the greatest proportion, 74.5 per cent, of
its gainfully occupied women in industries where a minimum-wage
rate could be applied. In all the more industrialized States a greater
proportion of gainfully occupied women are found in those employ­
ments to which the minimum-wage law most naturally would apply.
In agricultural Arkansas only 14.4 per cent of the women in gainful
occupations could be brought under decrees as a practical matter.
2 “ Hotels and restaurants ” do not include cooks, as those working in private homes
can not be separated.




16

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

This contrasts sharply with the figure for Massachusetts, and with the
54.9 per cent of California and the 55.8 per cent of Wisconsin, both
States that are partially industrialized. Again the fact is emphasized
that a minimum wage has been applied in but one of the great
industrial States where it could reach large and homogeneous groups
of women, and has been tested, rather, in States where, at its widest
application, it could cover only a small number of women both
actually and proportionately. Only three of the minimum-wage
States—California, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin—have 100,000 or
more women in employments to which the application of decrees
seems practicable. The total number of women in the 13 States who
could conceivably enjoy the benefits of a minimum-wage law is only
a million and a quarter. That the law has not actually touched
nearly so many women is shown in the section of this report dealing
with the decrees.
In addition to seeing that the laws empowered the commissions to
cover almost all gainfully employed women who could be included
practically under decrees, the legislatures in some States seem to have
been concerned with the necessity for giving the commissions power
to set special wages for small groups of women in a branch of a trade
or industry. Probably the fact that almost all the laws permit the
commissions to set rates for “ any occupation ” would give the com­
missions power to select the smallest possible units for investigation
and regulation, but some of the laws go even further, providing that
the commissions’ functions extend to any or all branches of the indus­
tries or occupations. This is true in the following States: Colorado
(1915), District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
North Dakota, and Oregon. In Wisconsin a general blanket clause
covers this point by enabling the commission to determine and fix
reasonable classifications. That this provision has proved less im­
portant than the attention given it by the legislatures would indicate
is shown in the section of this report on decrees. The tendency has
been to include larger and larger groups in a single decree.
SPECIAL CLASSES OF EMPLOYEES COVERED

Besides the concern for normal women, these laws have given par­
ticular attention to three special groups of employees—minors, ap­
prentices, and substandard workers. It has been generally recognized
that these classes of employees usually are not capable of rendering
the same sort of service as are normal adult experienced women, and
should be given a somewhat different status in the minimum-wage
scheme. In the flexible laws no legislatures have provided in detail
what this treatment shall be, but they have indicated that these
groups should have special study and should not necessarily be given
the same wage rate as the adult experienced woman worker.
Minors.
Twelve of the thirteen States have included both male and female
minors in the terms of the law. Only Arkansas confines its applica­
tion strictly to women. Moreover, most of these States place the
establishing, of rates for minors on grounds different from the estab­
lishing of similar rates for women. In describing the grounds that




DEFINITIONS OF CLASSES AFFECTED

17

make it necessary to set a minimum wage for minors, the right to
earn a sufficient sum for healthful, independent self-support is not
emphasized, though it is mentioned in every law as the reason for
establishing minimum wages for women. Wages set for minors are
to correct “ unreasonably low ” wages or they are to be “ suitable
minimum wages.”3 It seems fair to conclude'that in most cases the
various State legislatures did not feel willing to require that all
minors working full time should be self-supporting, though they felt
that adult women giving a full day’s service should be guaranteed a
living wage. Probably also it is because of this feeling that 7 of the
12 States Colorado (191 <), the District of Columbia, Massachusetts,
Nebi aska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington—have been care­
ful to keep the minors separate from the adult women in the text
of the laws and have granted the commissions special powers in
regard to minors in paragraphs distinct from those dealino- with
women.
Besides these general definitions most of the laws have defined the
exact age limits for minors, as appears in the table following:
Table 4.—Minors subject to regulation, by State
State

Sex

Arkansas....... .........................
Female_________
California_______________
Male and female _
Colorado________________
-----do__________
District of Columbia_____
---- do___................
Kansas___ ____ _________
---- do__________
Massachusetts___________
___do__________
/Female_________
Minnesota____________
(.Male___________
Nebraska________ _______
Male and female,
North Dakota......... ..............
do_________
Oregon---------------------------------- 1II "‘do
Texas------------------------------------1____ do
Washington....................................I____ do
WisconsinI____d0

Age
Not specified.
Under 18 years.
Do.
Do.
Do.
Not specified.1
Under 18 years.
Under 21 years.
Not specified.
Under 18 years.
Do.
Under 15 years.
Under 18 years.
(2)

as'imderirfeyears',y the attol'ney ge«eial or the courts, but Interpreted by the commission
p 2m“ed

gual'rliallifI,iP law as under 21 years.

Wisconsin Statutes, 1023, sec. 319.01,

Tlie only variations from the usual limit of 18 years among the
States that include both male and female minors in their minimumwage laws are Minnesota, which includes males up to 21 years among
the minor group; Texas, which calls only persons under 15 yeara
of age minors; and Wisconsin, which considers males and females
under 21 minors. It is probable that the Massachusetts and Ne­
braska laws would be interpreted as agreeing with the Wisconsin
age groups.
Apprentices or learners—-inexperienced workers.
With the exception of Arkansas and Wisconsin all these States
have provided specifically that the commissions may establish rates
tor learners (or apprentices) distinct from those established for
8 In Massachusetts and Nebraska “suitable” rates for minor alone may be set only
rates for minors
those occupations where the majority of employees are minors.
rees are minors.




18

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

experienced workers. Wisconsin undoubtedly gives the commission
this same power when it provides that the commission may classify
female or minor employees and set a living wage for each class so
established. California, Kansas,4 North Dakota, Texas, and Wash­
ington provide that special licenses may be issued to learners (or
apprentices) by the commission. Texas and California specify that
the per cent of learners in any one occupation or industry shall be
limited. California leaves it to the industrial welfare commission
to determine how many such licenses may be issued, but Texas sets
10 per cent of the employees in an industry as the greatest propor­
tion of learners allowed. This Texas limitation is the only definite
rule governing the treatment of apprentices and learners. More­
over, it is not possible to say that the commissions are required to
establish rulings that apply only to apprentices and learners. The
laws uniformly use the word “may” in dealing with the setting of
special apprentice rates. It is certainly true that the commissions,
with the exception of Wisconsin, if they choose to give special study
and attention to the group may work out with no legal restrictions
what seems to them the most effective method of dealing with ap­
prentices or learners.
In Wisconsin the situation is complicated by the fact that the
State has an apprenticeship law. The minimum-wage law (sec.
104—108) requires that the industrial commission, in carrying out its
provisions, see that minors who properly come under the appren­
ticeship law be indentured. These minors are to be paid such wages
and work under such conditions as are set forth in the apprentice­
ship law. Only learners who are not in trades where indenture is
possible are classed as learners under the minimum wage law. This
situation does not occur in any other State.
Substandard workers.
The case of substandard workers is quite different from that of
the minors or of the learners or apprentices. Both of these latter
groups are supposed to obtain the minimum after a lapse of time
which has brought them their majority, increased experience, or
both. This third group is a permanent exception, provided so that
workers who very evidently can never give the same amount of
service as can a normal adult woman will not lose their jobs, as
almost certainly they would if they had to be paid as much as a
normal worker. Every State except Arkansas has provided for
issuing licenses allowing special rates of pay to substandard workers.
As in the case of the minors and apprentices or learners, the law
merely indicates what the commissions may do if they think it
advisable. It'is not required that substandard workers be excepted.
However, the laws do indicate rather definitely what kinds of
workers may be given licenses. The causes for which licenses may
be granted are the following.1
1 Not specifically provided for in 1921 law, but inferred. The 1921 law states. “All
laws relating to the powers, authority, jurisdiction, and duties of the Industrial Welfare
Commission of this State are hereby adopted * *
The 1915 law specifically gave
the industrial welfare commission this power.




DEFINITION'S OF CLASSES AFFECTED

19

Table 5.—Grounds for granting special licenses to substandard -workers, by

State
Woman “physically defective ”

By age

Otherwise

Cause not
specified

California.

California.

North Da­
kota.

North Da­
kota.

Colorado
(1913).
Kansas
(1915).
Massachu­
setts.
Minnesota.
Nebraska.
Oregon.
Washing­
ton.

Woman “crippled"

Otherwise

Cause not
specified

Colorado
(1917).
Oregon.

Colorado
(1917).
Oregon.

Kansas
(1915).

Washing­
ton.

Washing­
ton.

By age

Wroman whose
earning capac­
ity is less than
that of normal
worker

Colorado (1917).

Any
son
sub­
ject
to this
act
Texas.

District of
Columbia.
Kansas (1915).
Wisconsin.

If the commissions do issue special licenses, they must conform to
certain principles. Seven States—Colorado, the District of Colum­
bia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Oregon—pro­
vide for special licenses only in those industries or occupations where
minimum-time rates alone are set. The remaining five States grant
their commissions power to give a special license to a woman in any
occupation coming under a minimum-wage decree. Every State pro­
vides that the commission must set the rate of pay allowed each
licensee, that rate to be commensurate with the individual woman’s
earning power. Two States—California and Texas—allow a license
to run only six months, though such a license may be renewed any
number of times. Three States have limited the number of licenses
that the commission may grant: Colorado and Minnesota set the
limit at one-tenth of the total number of employees in any establish­
ment; the Texas law based its limit on an industry as a unit and
allowed 10 per cent of the employees in a given industry special
licenses. As Texas granted the commission power to issue special
licenses to any persons subject to the act, this would seem to allow
one manufacturing establishment to have all special licenses, pro­
vided the whole manufacturing industry in the State did not exceed
the 10 per cent allowed of employees on special licenses.
The actual provisions for special licenses made in the law are im­
portant largely because they show that the legislatures wished the
commissions to give still another group special treatment. The
details required are so general that the real test of this plan comes
in the way in which the commissions have treated the special licenses,
and this will be discussed in a later section of the report.
RELATION OF ORDERS TO SIZE OF COMMUNITY

.

Since the wage orders to be issued by the various commissions
were to be based on the cost of living, and since it was generally
believed that this cost might vary from place to place in a State,
according to whether rural or urban, several of the laws have met




20

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

in the united states

this problem by giving the commissions power to vary the rates for
different localities. Four States—Colorado (1915), Kansas, Minne­
sota, and Oregon—provided originally that the commissions in set­
ting wage rates might issue separate orders for different localities if
they considered this course justified by different conditions. In 1917
Colorado tailed to reenact this provision. The Kansas law is very
ambiguous and hard to interpret. It says (1915 and 1921) “that
such board may recommend [establish, 1921] different minima hours
and standards for each class in an occupation of different localities
in the State.” This was interpreted by the attorney general of Kan­
sas, April 4, 1916, to give the commission power to vary minima
standards for the same occupation in different localities. Tn 1920,
however, the attorney general of the State ruled (March 25) that
this clause did not give the commission such power and that a mini­
mum standard established in a given occupation must be state-wide.
Between the dates of the two opinions, however, the Kansas commis­
sion had promulgated (1918) an order establishing wage rates for
the telephone industry, in which the minimum rate increased accord­
ing to the population of the community. This order was still in force
when the State supreme court declared the entire law unconstitutional.
In addition to the laws whose language expressly indicates that
orders may be varied according to the size or the location of the
community affected, Wisconsin provides that the commission may
“ determine and fix reasonable classifications,” a provision that has
been interpreted to mean a classification of localities as well as of
persons and of occupations and industries. The Wisconsin commis­
sion has taken advantage of this provision in its orders, as have
Minnesota and Oregon of the definite provisions in their respective
laws. Minnesota and Wisconsin have state-wide orders for all in­
dustries, with one wage rate for towns of 5,000 or more population
and a lower rate for towns of less than 5,000. Oregon in its first
orders differentiated all its rates according to the size of the com­
munity ; now it does so only in its telegraph and telephone order.
The remaining States have no express provisions in their laws
that give them power to classify wage rates according to locality,
but only four States—California, the District of Columbia, Massa­
chusetts, and Texas—have never made a difference in wage rates
according to the size of the community. There is, of course, no
question of rural and urban costs in the District of Columbia, the
District being practically the same as the city of Washington. In
Texas, however, the stumbling block that prevented the minimumwage commission’s putting into force its state-wide order was this
very question of varying the wage rates for different districts in t In­
state. The attorney general of Texas in two rulings (October 11,
1919, and January 7,1920) held that the commission had no authority
under the law as written to zone or district the State and to pro­
mulgate a wage by district in accordance with the cost of living in
such district as disclosed by investigation. So great was the opposi-.
tion in Texas to a flat rate for country districts and large cities that
the legislature repealed the law. California and Massachusetts, then,
remain as the only States presenting the contrast of urban and rural
communities which have not considered that wage rates should vary
with the size of the community.




DEFINITIONS OF CLASSES AFFECTED

21

In three other States—Arkansas, North Dakota, and Washington—
some decrees have provided varying terms for different localities,
though there was no express provision in the law authorizing this
step. Arkansas has made a special order for mercantile establish­
ments in Fort Smith and Little Rock; North Dakota has established
rates in its telephone and telegraph decree different for towns of
1,800 population and over and towns of under 1,800. In its tele­
phone and telegraph orders (1914-1922) Washington has exempted
minor messengers in rural communities and cities of less than 3,000
population. In Arkansas an opinion of the attorney general of the
State (July 29, 1920) held that the commission might set wage
minima varying for different localities. In Washington, however,
the attorney general of that State ruled that any order fixing a mini­
mum wage must be general throughout the State as to a particular
trade or industry affected (October 14, 1913)—a ruling that would
seem to preclude the course followed in the telephone and telegraph
order. In North Dakota no ruling has been issued on this point.
In the varying opinions of attorneys general in Arkansas and Wash­
ington, when considering essentially similar phraseology, the lack
of uniformity in the application of minimum-wage laws is illustrated.
Outside Texas, how important has been the actual question of
varying wage rates within one occupation is hard to determine,
lo-day only two States, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are using to any
extent the principle of lower rates for small communities. Wis­
consin, it is true, enacted its first “ all industries ” order (1919) with
a flat rate for the State, but this was changed in 1921 to the present
oi dei setting separate rates for large and small communities, a
reversal of procedure which suggests that the flat rate did not take
cai e of possible differences in the cost of living. The great majority
of orders setting varying rates, however, have been in telephone
and telegraph. Kansas, North Dakota, and Washington have never
applied this principle to any other group. Oregon has given up
using this differentiation for all industries except telephone and
telegraph. The two largest industrial States, California and Mas­
sachusetts, have never made a distinction in any industry between
places of varying population. The consensus of opinion in these
States would seem to be that differences in the cost of living between
communities of different size are not great enough to result in
separate orders for the small and for the large communities.
SUMMARY

The importance of the sections of the laws discussed in the pre­
ceding pages lies in the fact that they define the fields within which
the commissions may exercise their powers and perform their duties.
The scope they indicate is broad, and the division of groups which
they allow gives the commissions power to regulate dissimilar groups
with fairness to all. It is possible at any one time that the laws due
to incomplete or faulty operation, may seem to deal unfairly with
some individuals, industries, or localities, but this condition should
not be confused with inadequacy in the actual terms of the laws. All
industries or occupations are included in the laws. If it can be
proved that, in any given instance, minors, apprentices, or substand­




22

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

ard workers should be treated differently from normal adult women
and differently from each other, the laws provide for so doing. In
the face of statements advanced in some quarters to the effect that
minimum-wage laws are so drastic as to make it impossible for indi­
viduals to get work or for firms in a given locality to exist, and pos­
sible for a specific industry to be discriminated against, it should be
emphasized that the laws provide that special treatment may be given
workers who vary from the normal, that in most States communities
with certain conditions may be given special rulings if it seems neces­
sary, and that a proper administration could include without preju­
dice practically every industry or occupation in the State.




CHAPTER III.—ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND
ENFORCING AGENCIES

_ To understand the effectiveness of any minimum-wage law the
first thing that must be discussed is the composition and powers
of the body that enforces the law. In practically all these States
a new board or commission was created in the original act providing
for the .setting of rates. The membership of this body was care­
fully defined by the law, and its powers and duties were outlined
in great detail.1
As the earliest minimum-wage bodies were created, there was
a striking similarity in the membership required. During the period
in which the laws have been in force, however, many changes have
been made; the tendency in such changes quite generally has been
to do away with the commissions created specifically to admin­
ister the minimum-wage law and intrust this administration to
State commissions established to administer all, or almost all, the
labor laws of the State. This has led to a wide diversity of organ­
ization in the bodies that are now responsible for minimum-wage
administration. The following table gives in detail the membership
of these boards during the period in which the laws have been in
force.
Table 6.—Organization of commissions as provided in the laws, by State and

year
State and
year

Name of agency

Arkansas:
1915____ Minimum wage
and maximum
hour commis­
sion.

Num­
ber
Special qualifica­ Method of appoint­ Length
of
of time
tions of members
ing members
mem­
in office
bers

(1) Commissioner
of labor (man).
(2 and 3) 2 women.

(1) By the gover- I n d e termi­
on this com­
nor.
(2) Woman by the
mission
nate.
governor.
(3) Woman by the
commissioner of
labor.
Industrial wel1921
5 (1) Commissioner (1) By the gover- 2 years.. None for work
fare commis­
of labor (man).
nor; (2to 5) 1 man
on this com­
sion.
(2 and 3) 1 man
and 1 woman by
mission.
the governor, i
and 1 woman
representing em­
man and 1 wom­
ployers.
an by the com­
(4 and 5) 1 man
missioner of
and 1 woman
labor.
representing em­
ployees.
California,
Industrial wel5 1 member a woman By the governor._ 4 years.. $10 per diem
fare comission.
1913.
when en­
gaged on offi­
cial duties.
Traveling ex­
penses.
1 For the purpose of brevity the bodies that administer and enforce minimum-wage laws
though their titles differ widely (see Table 6), are called minimum-wage commissions
throughout this report.

60769°—28----- 3




3

Compensation

23

24

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 6.—Organization

State and
year

Colorado:
1913__

Nam© of agency

State wage board

Industrial com­
mission.

District of
Columbia,
1918.

Kansas:
1915.

Minimum wage
board.

Industrial wel­
fare commis­
sion.

1921___

Court of indus­
trial relations.

1925___

Public .service
commission.

Massachu­
setts:
1912___

Minimum wage
commission.

1916------ Minimum wage
commission.

1919....

Board of concil­
iation and ar­
b i t ra tio n .
(Comprises as­
sociate com­
missioners of
the
depart­
ment of labor
and indus­
tries.)




of commissions as provided in the laws, by Slate and
year—Continued
Num­
ber
Special qualifica­ Method of appoint­ Length
of
of time
tions of members
ing members
mem­
in office
bers

Compensation

(1) At least 1 a By the governor. 2 years.
Traveling and
representative of
incid e n t al
labor.
expenses.
(2) At least 1 a
woman.
(3) At least 1 an
employer of
women. .
(1) Not more than By the governor 6 years.. $4,000 per an­
1 representative
by and with the
num. Actu­
of employers.
advice and con­
al expenses.
(2) Not more than
sent of the sen­
1 representative
ate.
of employees.
Not more than
2 members from
same
political
party.
As far as practica­ By the Commis­ 3 years.. None.
ble—
sioners of the
(1) 1 represent­
District.
ative of the
employees.
(2) 1 represent­
ative of the
employers.
(3) 1 represent­
ative of the
public.
(1) Commissioner By the governor.
of labor.
(2) At least 1 mem­
ber a woman.
No relative by
blood or marriage
of the commis­
sioner of labor,
any State officer,
or any member of
any State board or
commission. No
two from same con­
gressional district.
None_______ ____ By the governor,
by and with the
advice and con­
sent of the sen­
ate.
None..
___ do.................. .

1 member may be
a woman.

By the governor,
by and with the
advice and con­
sent of the coun­
cil.

4 years. _ Traveling and
other neces­
sary
ex­
penses.

3 years.. $5,000 per an­
num.

4 years.. $4,500 per an­
num.
3 years.

(1) 1 member an ........ do...................... ...do..
employer of fe­
male labor.
(2) 1 member may
be a woman.
(3) 1 member a
representative of
labor.
(1) 1 member a
...do....
...do.......
representative of
labor.
(2) 1 member a
representative of
employers
of
labor.

$10 per diem
for each day’s

service.

Traveling
and other
expenses.
$10 per diem
for each day’s

service.

Traveling
and other
expenses.
Not to exceed
$4,000 per an­
num. Trav­
eling and
other
ex­
penses.

organization op administering and

Table 6.—Organization

State and
year

Minnesota:
1013....

Name of agency

of commissions as provided in the laws, by State and
year—Continued
Num­
ber
Special qualifica- Method of appor­ Length
of
of time
tions of members
ing members
mem­
in office
bers

North Da­
kota:
1919--.

1921.

Minimum wage
commission.

(1) The commis­
sioner of labor.
(2) 1 member an
employer
of
women.
(3) 1 member a
woman.

Industrial com­
mission.

Nebraska,
1913.

Not more than 2
members from
same political
party.

Minimum wage
commission.

(1) The governor.
(2) The deputy
commissioner of
labor.
(3) A member of
the
political
science depart­
ment of the Uni­
versity of Ne­
braska.
(4) A citizen of the
State.
At least 1 mem­
ber a woman.

Workmen’s com
pensation bu­
reau (in the
department of
agricul t u r e
and labor).
Workmen’s com­
pensation bu­
reau (in the
department of
agriculture
and labor).

1 member, the
commissioner of
labor.

Oregon, 1913

Industrial wel­
fare commis­
sion.

Texas, 1919-

Industrial wel­
fare commis­
sion.




ENFORCING AGENCIES

(1) 1 member, the
commissioner of
agriculture and
labor.
(2) insurance com­
missioner.
(3) 1 member, a
representative of
labor.
(4) 1 member a
representative of
the public.
(1) 1 member rep­
resents the in­
terests of the
employing class.
(2) 1 member rep­
resents the in­
terests of the em­
ployed class.
(3) 1 member rep­
resents the pub­
lic.
(1) Head of the
bureau of labor
statistics.
(2) Representative
of employers on
the industrial
accident board.
(3) State superin­
tendent of pub­
lic instruction.

Compensation

By the governor..

2 years.. Traveling and
other neces­
sary expen­
ses. Woman
member to
receive $1,800
per annum
for work as
secretary.
By the governor, 6 years.. $4,500 per an­
by and with the
num. Trav­
advice and con­
eling
and
sent of the sen­
other neces­
ate.
sary expen­
ses.
By the governor... 2 years.. Traveling and
other expen-

..do___________ 5 years.. $2, 500 per an­
num.
Ex­
penses.
........do......................

..do__ $2, 500 per an­
num.
Ex­
penses.

........do............... ....... 3 years.

(1 and 2) By the
governor.
(3) Elected by the
people.

(1)

2

years.

(2)

6

years.
(3) 2
years.

Necessary
penses.

ex­

None for work
on this com­
mission.

26

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 6.—Organization

State and
year

Name of agency

Washington:
1913 Industrial welfare commis­
sion.

1921........ Industrial welfare committee
(in the depart­
ment of labor
and industries).

Wisconsin,
1913.2 *

Industrial commission.

of commissions as provided in the laws, by State and
year■—Continued
Num­
ber
Special qualifica­ Method of appoint­ Length
of
of time
tions of members
ing members
in office
mem­
bers

5

5

3

(1) Commissioner
of labor.
No member to
have been a mem­
ber of a manufac­
turers’ or employ­
ers’ association
nor a labor union
in five years.
(1) The director of
labor and indus­
tries.
(2) The supervisor
of industrial in­
surance.
(3) The supervi­
sor of industrial
relations.
(4) The industrial
statistician.
(5) The supervi­
sor of women in
industry.
None

Compensation

By the governor.. _ 4 years.. Expenses.

(1) By the gover- (1) Pleasnor with the con­
ure of
sent of the senate.
gover­
(2 and 3) By the
nor.
director of labor (2 to 5)»
and industries.
(4 and 5) By the
supervisor of in­
dustrial rela­
tions with the
consent of the
director.

(1) $7,500 per
annum.
(2 to 5) »

By the governor, 6 years.. $6,000 per anby and with the
num. Actual
advice and con­
expenses.
sent of the senate.

1 Not specified in law and could not be obtained from the department.
!Dute of minimum-wage law; commission was established in 1911.

Originally only North Dakota and Wisconsin intrusted the en­
forcement of their new minimum-wage laws to bodies created to
administer and enforce other labor laws. Of the remaining 11 States,
Arkansas, California, the District of Columbia, Nebraska, Oregon,
and Texas retained specially created commissions as long as the laws
remained in existence, and Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minne­
sota, and Washington abolished similar commissions and gave the ad­
ministration to the bodies that were enforcing all or almost all the
labor laws.2 This last is a very important step, and it deserves
consideration in forming an opinion as to whether minimum-wage
administration has been strengthened during the IB years such laws
have been on the statute books by being more efficiently handled at
the end of that period than at the beginning.
There has been a tendency to subordinate minimum-wage administratic"! and enforcement to other State activities by placing it as a
subdivision of a department with multitudinous other duties. In the
five States—Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wash­
ington—that have abolished the independent commissions; in the
two States—North Dakota and Wisconsin—that never created indeendcnt commissions to handle minimum wage; and in Texas and
ebraska, which created independent commissions of three State
employees with positions in other fields requiring their full-time

S

2 The Nebraska and Texas laws have been repealed, the Arkansas, Kansas, and District
of Columbia laws have been declared unconstitutional, and the Colorado commission has
never functioned as a minimum-wage commission.




ORGANIZATION OP ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

27

attention, it would seem that this work could not fare so well as under
a body interested only in minimum-wage work. In the following
paragraphs the work accomplished by both types of commission is
summarized in an effort to see whether or not consolidation has
resulted in lessened activity.
In Colorado, for example, where no minimum-wage decrees have
ever been issued, the consolidation of the original wage board with
the industrial commission which was already busy with the work­
men’s compensation law probably was largely responsible for the
law becoming a dead letter. Both laws (1913 and 1917) carried a
provision for a minimum-wage secretary to administer and enforce
the law. Under the wage board created in the 1913 law, this secre­
tary started investigating wages and cost of living so that minimumwage decrees might be issued. The facts obtained through this work
were published in the first report of the wage board.3 Since the con­
solidation the legislature has continued to appropriate a yearly salary
for the secretary, yet the annual report of the industrial commission
shows only two instances of any work on minimum wage. In 1917
the industrial commission reported: “Since the appointment of the
[minimum-wage] secretary she has been steadily engaged in collect­
ing information and data from the other States of the Union, in all
matters which might be of value or interest to the commission in the
performance of the duties devolved upon it by this [minimum-wage I
statute. The commission, not having sufficient help to take care of
the enormous increase of business in the compensation, industrial
departments, and State fund, has been able to use all the spare time
of the secretary of the wage commission in important statistical and
listing work, necessary for its other departments.”4 Six years later,
in 1923, the commission reports that it is conducting an investiga­
tion of the wages of women and minors in all the large cities and
towns in the State and will publish the results in the annual report
for 1924.5 6 In the years between these two reports, the commission
continued to ask for more money to administer minimum wage but
reported no activity in this field on the part of the minimum-wage
secretary. Presumably her whole time was devoted to the more
pressing workmen’s compensation work, for in 1922 it was stated that
“ the commission lias not had sufficient appropriation to properly
carry on its work under the compensation law and the industrial
relations law7 and has not been able to divert any of the appropria­
tion for such purposes to the minimum-wage department.”8
The picture these, quotations make clear is a commission to whom
minimum wage is a minor job. The members of the commission are
not unfriendly, but they have a full-time job in the workmen’s com­
pensation law. to which they must add the administration of the
industrial-relations law and then that of the minimum-wage law.
Their appropriations are not large in relation to the work they must
accomplish, and the part- or whole-time services of the minimumwage secretary, who has no wage decrees to enforce, in ay be used to
good effect on the workmen’s compensation work. If the minimum8 Col ora <1 ) Slate Wage Board. First report, 1914.
* Colorado Industrial Commission. Second report, Dec. 1, 1917-Dec. 1, 1918, p. 127.
5 Ibid. Seventh report, Dec. 1, 1922-Dec. 1, 1928, p. 179.
6 Ibid. Sixth report, Dec. 1, 1921-L)re. 1, 1922, p. 178.




28

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

wage law were being enforced by a board that had no other State
work, the secretary’s full time and the board’s full time while on duty
naturally would have been used in developing this law. It seems
probable that even with such a small appropriation, a keenly inter­
ested group could have succeeded in establishing some minimum-wage
rates. As it is there is always other pressing work to be attended to
by the commission, and even the minimum-wage secretary is not free
to further minimum wage.
In Kansas the continued subordination of the minimum-wage work
(o other State activities has not caused a cessation of work as it has
done in Colorado. The history of the Kansas law after the con­
solidation probably was influenced by the impetus the law received
during the relatively long period in which it was administered by
an independent commission. For over six years (1915 to 1921) the
industrial welfare commission, handling only the women’s labor
laws, administered the minimum-wage law and covered most of the
important woman-employing industries with wage decrees. In 1921
the industrial welfare commission was abolished and the work of
administering and enforcing this law was given to the court of indus­
trial relations, which had been created a short time before. This
court had multitudinous duties. It was to hear and settle finally all
labor disputes within the State and to enforce all the labor laws of
Kansas, including the minimum-wage law. Fortunately the court
of industrial relations created a woman’s division, for which was
retained the same personnel as comprised the executive staff of the
industrial welfare commission. This division carried on enforce­
ment and investigations which led to a reissuing of three decrees
with slightly increased rates. In the four years in which the indus­
trial court was responsible for minimum-wage administration not
only were no new decrees issued, so that no more women benefited
by the law, but not even an extension of wage investigations was
undertaken in new fields. Moreover, in 1925 a further consolida­
tion took place. A public service commission was created to take
over the work of the court of industrial relations, the public utili­
ties commission, and the tax commission. If minimum wage was
only a relatively small part of the work of the industrial court, how
much smaller a part it was when compared to the remainder of
the work of the public service commission. A commission that has
to regulate all public utilities in the State, to develop plans of taxa­
tion, and to administer all labor laws can not lie expected to have
among its five members ah expert in each of these many and diverse
fields. The work is done by subordinates, who, no matter how great
their interest, have no power to advance or extend minimum-wage
rates except through their influencing the already burdened com­
missioners to take up such problems. It seems significant that no
new industries have been covered by decrees since the industrial
welfare commission was abolished.
In Massachusetts a consolidation in December, 1919, of all the
various State bureaus dealing with labor abolished the minimumwage commission and gave all its powers and duties to the board of
conciliation and arbitration, a division within the newly created
department of labor and industries. The three members of this
board are the three men associate commissioners of the department




ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

29

of labor and industries. They serve primarily as a board of con­
ciliation and arbitration. Their next duty is to act in an advisory
capacity to the commissioner on all matters coming under the jurisdic­
tion of the department. When any serious labor trouble arises,
weeks may elapse during which the board devotes its entire time to
conciliation and arbitration. Once again minimum-wage matters
must be crowded into spare minutes. They are handled by a group
none of whom were appointed to administer minimum wage, the
intention being that they should act as conciliators, and be advisers
to an executive. The records show that the board has extended
little, if at all, the field in which the minimum-wage law is operative.
The number of decrees issued since the consolidation of the several
bureaus in 1919 is 20, but only 5 of these are in industries not pre­
viously covered by orders issued when the law was administered
by an independent board. As in Kansas, the executive end of this
work has remained in the hands of the same personnel and enforce­
ment has gone on in much the same manner as before the consolida­
tion. Decrees whose wage rates no longer represented the cost of
living have been reissued, but little progress has been made in extend­
ing the minimum wage to more women.
In Minnesota the change from the independent minimum-wage
commission to the industrial commission, as the agency responsible
for enforcement, has produced a condition similar to that already
described for three States. The situation is analogous to that in
Kansas and Massachusetts, for the original minimum-wage com­
mission had established a state-wide decree for all woman wage
earners before the consolidation took place. Since that time, how­
ever, minimum wage has been administered and enforced by people
who have enforcing power but no authority to extend or alter
administrative policies. They are subordinates to a commission
whose time is taken up in administering labor laws that affect large
groups of men and women workers, such as the workmen’s compensa­
tion law particularly. Actually the work of enforcing minimum
wage is done by the division of women and children, all the em­
ployees in which are appointed by the commission, though they have
civil-service status. This division also enforces all labor laws apply­
ing specifically to women and children. As far as the industrial
commission is concerned, it has simply allowed minimum-wage
administration to go along much the same lines as previously.
Although it became effective almost five years ago, the last order
issued by the minimum-wage commission and which was reissued by
the industrial commission six months later (July, 1921) still remains
in force.
In Washington the consolidation took the form of giving the
administration and enforcement of the minimum-wage law to an
industrial-welfare committee, composed of the director of labor and
industries and four subordinates. Two of these, the supervisor of
industrial insurance and the supervisor of industrial relations, are
appointed by the director to be division heads. The other two
members, the industrial statistician and the supervisor of women in
industry, are appointed by the supervisor of industrial relations,
with the consent of the director, to aid him in the specific fields indi­
cated by their titles. Of this committee, then, only one was appointed




30

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

to look after the interests of woman wage earners. As has been the
case in the other States, the minimum wage becomes a task to be at­
tended to in the minutes that can be spared from other full-time
work. This group, which by its very composition can not be pri­
marily interested in minimum wage nor have expert knowledge of
its problems and needs, nevertheless holds the responsibility for its
administration and enforcement. The actual enforcement is done
by the supervisor of women in industry, whose position seems at first
glance somewhat better than the executive officers’ in the other States
where consolidation has taken place, since she is the only one who
is a member of the commission. However, when her responsibility
to the supervisor of industrial relations and to the director is realized
(the supervisor of women in industry is appointed as an aid to the
supervisor of industrial relations), it becomes apparent that in case
of a difference of opinion she must conform to their wishes. The
effect of this consolidation probably is shown by the fact that no new
industries have been included in the decrees; that no investigations
of wages have been made to see whether or not new orders might, be
necessary; and that the only orders that have been issued since this
committee was organized are those issued in 1921 to take the place of
war orders that lapsed when the peace treaty with Germany was
signed.
Thus in all the States where consolidation has taken place mini­
mum-wage work seems to have slowed down. Administration shows
this more clearly than does enforcement, since the commission must
be the moving force in most administrative problems. In general
it may be said that enforcement of minimum-wage decrees depends
on a good executive officer with a sufficient appropriation and reliable
assistants. An unfriendly commission can, of course, hamper this
work, but an uninterested commission does relatively little harm to
enforcement of existing decrees provided the executive is interested
and able. It is in the administrative field that so much harm can be
done.
Moreover, it is much harder under consolidation for citizens who
are interested to remedy bad conditions. Public attention can not
be focused on a commission’s failure to set minimum-wage decrees
where it is performing a multitude of other tasks, as it could have
been on an independent commission if it failed to put the minimumwage law into full operation. Nor can the commission be said to be
wholly derelict in its duty to the citizens of the State as long as it
administers effectively the workmen’s compensation law or other
labor laws intrusted to it, even though it devotes practically none of
its time to minimum wage. The considerable appropriation which
these units receive for all their work often obscures the fact that the
sum is.small when compared with the amount of work to be done, and
that in such a case the law affecting the greatest number of workers_
in all States the workmen’s compensation law—will be bound to <>-et
the lion’s share of the money. A very serious feature of this con­
tinued subordination of the group in charge of minimum-wage en­
forcement and administration is that often it leaves no one orf these
commissions who is vitally interested in minimum wage. This in­
terest, which is known to affect a relatively small proportion of
the State s citizens, and for the most part only its women citizens,




ORGANIZATION OR ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

31

is practically never represented by an advocate and expert. Thus,
both within the commission and outside it, friends of minimum wage
are hampered in their efforts to advance the principle by this form
of organization. Though at any one given time these subordinates
who enforce the law may conduct their work and make their de­
cisions in such a manner as to be in complete accord with the body
that is finally responsible, in case of a difference of opinion the group
that knows the situation is powerless, for all decisions rest in the
hands of the commission which has other full-time jobs than mini­
mum wage. As long as the executive office is content to mark time
and to enforce the orders originally issued by the minimum-wage
commissions and reissued by the industrial commissions, the weakness
of this plan is not very apparent, though there is always the danger
that the comipission may not realize how important rigid enforce­
ment is; but if an executive officer may wish to increase the rates,
or to expand the field covered by decrees, or to strengthen existing
decrees, it can only be done through the commission, whose time is
otherwise occupied. The various points of this situation, discussed
under each State that has intrusted minimum-wage administration
to commissions created for other purposes, are possible evils not only
in the specific State but in the others as well. If the personalities
of the people on these commissions and of their executive assistants
have partly overcome the situation—and this is the case in some
States—it still has inherent difficulties. A change of personnel might
absolutely stop all minimum-wage work because of lack of interest
on the part of those in authority.
Minimum-wage legislation is an experiment, and nothing is so
vital to its success as that each step taken be watched with the greatest
care and modified when the results are not those anticipated and
when economic changes produce nevr problems. It can not be suc­
cessful when it is more or less neglected and left to run itself.
In North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Texas, minimum-wage enforce­
ment, and administration wrere assigned from the beginning to busy
people. Though the records of these commissions compare favorably
with those of many of the independent commissions, there are certain
cases where lack of action on their parf may be attributed to their
concern with a multitude of other duties. Wisconsin took more than
three and a half years after the law was enacted to issue its first
decree. This delay may have been clue in part to doubt of the law’s
constitutionality, but no case was brought in the Wisconsin courts to
settle this difficulty. Even after this doubt seemingly was resolved
in favor of the law by decisions in other State courts and the United
States Supreme Court, it took the commission two years to enter
a decree covering any considerable number of women, so that five
years elapsed from the time the law was enacted until its effect was
felt by the woman wage earners. A primary cause of this delay
would seem to be the assigning of this power to a commission already
interested in, and busy with, the enforcement of every other labor
law in Wisconsin. North Dakota and Texas did enact decrees with
reasonable promptness. The immediate repeal of the Texas law
after the first decree was issued has made it impossible to judge how
this type of commission would work out in practice. In North
Dakota the number of decrees has been reduced since their original




32

Minimum-wage

laws in the united states

issuance. It seems probable that a less busy commission might have
retained all the original decrees even though changing conditions
caused them to change the substance of the decrees. There is cer­
tainly nothing strikingly good in the record of these commissions
when dealing with administration, to disprove the contention that
minimum wage loses effectiveness when assigned to a multi-func­
tioned commission. It still seems fair to say that in practically
all cases minimum wage has made its greatest advances under inde­
pendent commissions.
TYPE OF PERSONNEL

What actually has happened to the membership through these
changes is shown by an earlier chart (p. 23). Though the personnel
of the original boards changed very frequently, it is apparent that
there was an attempt made to give women, the employing group,
the employed group, and the general public representation on the
body responsible for carrying out the provisions of the minimumwage law. Moreover, the membership usually was three or five so
that the impartial woman or public member would have the deciding
vote on disputed questions.
Representation of women on commissions as provided in the laws.
Since the law applies to women, it seems particularly important to
have their viewpoint represented on the commissions controlling the
administration of the law, but the requirement that a woman should
be one of the group intrusted with the enforcement of the law is
by no means so widespread to-day as it was in 1913. The following
table shows the exact status of women as members of commissions.
Table 7.—Representation of women on commissions as required by law
Woman required
Original law.......................

Amended law....................

Arkansas.
California.
Colorado.
Kansas.
Minnesota.
Nebraska.
Arkansas.
Washington.

Status in spring of 1927... Arkansas.
California.
Nebraska.
Washington.

Woman suggested
Massachusetts.

«

Woman not mentioned
District of Columbia.
Oregon.
North Dakota.
Texas.
Washington.
Wisconsin.
Colorado.
Kansas.
Massachusetts.1
Minnesota.
Colorado.
District of Columbia.
Kansas.
Oregon.
Massachusetts.
Minnesota.
North Dakota.
Texas.
Wisconsin.

1 Two amendments to this section of the law; women lost representation on second amendment.




ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

33

In six States—Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota,
and Nebraska—the original law required that a woman be a member
of the administering body. Massachusetts stated that one member
might be a woman. The value of this, except as a hint to the gov­
ernor in making his appointments, is not apparent, as women are
not precluded from serving on those States’ commissions where they
are not specifically mentioned. In Oregon the industrial welfare
commission and in the District of Columbia the minimum-wage
board have never been required by law' to include a woman. In
Texas the commission was composed of one elected State official and
two who were appointed, with no provision that any member must
be a woman. The labor bodies in North Dakota and Wisconsin, to
whom the administration of the minimum-wage laws was intrusted,
were not required by their organic acts to have woman members.
Moreover, the question of women on the commissions has been con­
siderably changed by the process of doing away with special bodies
and including minimum wrage under general labor-law-enforcing
organizations. When this occurred in Colorado, Kansas, Massachu­
setts, and Minnesota the requirement or suggestion that there be a
woman in a position of authority on the body administering the
minimum-wage law was lost. In Washington, due to the fact that
the present law requires that the supervisor of women in industry,
who is also a member of the minimum-wage committee, be a woman,
and dhat the original law creating the minimum-wage commission
did not require that one member be a woman, the change from the
old law' to the new meant that the law provided a more established
place for women in the administration. In one case, then, women
have gained a more secure position in taking part in minimum-wage
administration; in four they have lost ground. The original position
of the States gave women a sure representation in only six States,
and they are now reduced to serving in one-third of the States that
have laws.
Representation of women on commissions in practice.
The following table shows that more women have served on com­
missions than those whose appointments were made because of a
requirement in the law. It also shows that where women have never
had a representative is the various State commissions that were
created primarily to administer general State labor laws and sec­
ondarily were assigned minimum-wrage enforcement and admin­
istration.




34

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN' THE UNITED STATES

Table 8.—Sea

of persons serving as members of the various commissions, by
State
Number of
members

State and name of commission

W omen
Arkansas:
Minimum wage and maximum hour commission.
2
Industrial welfare commission_____________ ____
2
California: Industrial welfare commission______
1
Colorado:
State wage board______ _______ _______________
2
Industrial commission_____________________ ~~~~
District of Columbia: Minimum wage board___
1
Kansas:
Industrial welfare commission__________ _______
■ 1
Court of industrial relations___________________
Public service commission. ____________
Massachusetts:
—
Minimum wage commission.
1
Minnesota-*1 °f minimilm wage (in the department of labor and industries)...
Minimum wage commission________ _____ ____ _
Industrial commission________________________
Nebraska: Minimum wage commission*_________
North Dakota: Workmen’s compensation bureau________ _______
Oregon: Industrial welfare commission_____ _______ ______
Texas: Industrial welfare commission______
_
Washington:
.............. "

1

Period of
service 1

Men

1
3
4

1915-1921
1921­
1913­

1
3
2

1917­

2

1914-1917

1918-1923

5

1915-1921
1921-1925
1925­

2
3

1913-1919
1919­

2
3

1913-1921
1921-

Industrial welfare committee..
Wisconsin: Industrial commission.

3 1919-1920
5 | 1920­
2 | 1913­
2 1919-1921

(
Industrial welfare commission.

/...........
i-------1
1

2 1913-1915
2 1 1915-1918
2 1 1918-1919
2 | 1919-1920
1 1920-1921
4 1921­
3 1913-

\
!
I

3
2
1
3
4
1

*
Vi
or ?ma" \,as servea of the same period specified;’ in other cases 1 s neriod ropre
this penofl renresents the combined terms of several membersfor the entire sex
lsom(' ™elnbSrs of commission were designated in the law, no information is available to show
that they ever performed any services as minimum-wage commissioners
13 available to show

wTi?f. Dlstrict of Columbia, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, and
V\ ashmgton all have had women members on their minimum-wage
commissions, though such appointments were not required in their
laws. As there has been no woman appointed to the Massachusetts
commission since the consolidation act of 1919, when women as mernDers ol the minimum-wage commission were not mentioned, the provisrnn m the original law for the recognition of women’s interests
was of distinct value. The fact that Texas had a woman member is
not significant, since it occurred only because the elective State school
omcer, who was designated by the law to serve as a member of the
commission, happened at the time to be a woman. In the four other
States having woman members, however, their voluntary appoint­
ment meant much. This table illustrates clearly that consolidations
that have put enforcement under agencies not primarily interested in
minimum wage have removed from authoritative positions the group
that has done the most to further minimum-wage legislation. The
various minimum-wage laws almost invariably have had the sup­
port of women s organizations, who have felt them to be vitally
necessary and who have made first their passage and then their
adequate administration the organizations’ concern. In practically
every btate some woman who has served on the minimum-




ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

35

wage commission stands out as the person whose interest and
zeal have carried the commission on to extend the law to varied
industrial groups, to change decrees as shifting living costs have
made such action necessary, and to make such decrees a real
force in the State. It is, therefore, more than the added press of
duties which has resulted in many States in a curtailment of mini­
mum-wage activities. After consolidation the women connected with
minimum wage were no longer in positions carrying real power,
nor were they able to keep in such close touch with the mem­
bers; they were subordinates now, not equals. It may seem that
undue emphasis is placed on this point, but it is an influence that
must bo considered when analyzing why some States have slackened
in their early efforts at making minimum wage a live force and why
other States have never really put their laws into effect.
Representation of labor on commissions required by law.
It has been more generally recognized that labor’s viewpoint
should have a representative on the minimum-wage commissions
than that women should have a representative. Moreover, the vari­
ous amendments doing away with specific minimum-wage commis­
sions have intrusted the enforcement to State bodies organized to en­
force other labor laws and for this reason already required to have
a labor member. The following table gives in detail the labor
representation:
Table 9.—Representation of labor on commissions as required by laiv
Labor representative
required

Chief of .State
labor bureau
required

Labor representa­
tion not mentioned

Organized labor
representation for­
bidden
Washington.

Colorado.
District of Columbia.
Oregon.

California.
Massachusetts.
Wisconsin.

Arkansas.
Colorado.
Massachusetts.*
North Dakota.
Status in spring of
1927.

Arkansas.
Kansas.
Minnesota.
Nebraska.
North Dakota.
Texas.
Washington.
Arkansas.
North Dakota.
Washington.

Kansas.
Minnesota.

Arkansas.
Colorado.
District of Columbia.
Massachusetts
North Dakota.
Oregon.

Arkansas.
Nebraska.
North Dakota.
Texas.
Washington.

California.
Kansas.
Minnesota.
Wisconsin.

1 Two amendments; the second made no change on this point.

Only Colorado, the District of Columbia, and Oregon originally
required a labor representative on the minimum-wage commission.
Though Colorado changed from having a special board to having
the law enforced by the State industrial commission, this commission
was required to have a labor member. In Arkansas, Massachusetts,
and North Dakota labor representatives were required in amend-




36

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

ments to the original law. The proportion of States requiring labor
representation seems small, however, unless there are included the
States that make the chief of the Slate labor bureau a member of
the commission. This official, who enforces the labor laws and whose
primary interest is the welfare of the wage earners, usually was con­
sidered to give them sufficient representation, so he was appointed
as the representative of labor by some legislatures that required such
a person on the minimum-wage commission. Seven States_Arkan­
sas, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas, and Wash­
ington—made this requirement in their original law. Kansas and
Minnesota have abolished this State office since the laws first were
enacted, and the bodies that now administer the minimum-wage laws
are not bound to have any representative of labor. Washington
alone, of all the Slates, considered that in order to beep its minimumwage commission strictly unbiased it was necessary that special groups
should not be represented, though the chief of the State labor bureau
was required. This prohibition, however, was dropped in the reor­
ganization. The head of the State labor department still must serve
on the commission. On the whole, labor has retained its repre­
sentation on the body enforcing the minimum-wage law better than
have women. The losses in Kansas and Minnesota have been more
than onset by gams in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and North Dakota.
Moreover, Arkansas and North Dakota now have provided for both
a representative of labor and the chief of the labor bureau on the
minimum-wage commission. Two-thirds of the States must have
labor representation on their commissions.
Representation of labor on commissions in practice.
The representatives of labor, as a group, have played a much less
active part in minimum-wage work than have women as a group
and labor has had few direct representatives on the commissions
except where the law required that there be a labor member. On
the original commissions which handled only minimum warn? their
representation usually was confined to the chief of the State labor
bureau (Arkansas 1915, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North
Dakota, lexas, Washington) or to a woman who represented both
labor and women (Arkansas 1919, District of Columbia, Massa­
chusetts, Oregon). California originally had a man serving on the
commission solely as its labor representative, but this member later
became also the chief of the State labor bureau. The presence of
woman labor representatives seems particularly desirable, since it
means that all final decisions are passed upon by a person who knows
the problems of the very group to which the law applies. In this
general movement toward consolidation the representation of the
w omen in the labor group has lost out and the representation of
labor in general has gained, as the laws show. Actually the practice
of appointing labor representatives on these commissions (both the
industrial and the minimum-wage commissions) has been general
and has increased in about the same ratio as have the requirements
of the laws. In Kansas and Minnesota labor has been represented
on the commission though these laws do not specifically require it.




ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

37

The labor representatives in office now, however, not only are less
expert in women’s problems but, due to the various consolidations,
can give only part of their attention to this phase of the work.
Representation of employers on commissions as required by law
and in practice.
The third group of individuals generally felt to be so vitally
interested in the administration and enforcement of the minimumwage laws that they should be represented on the commissions, is
the employers. The following table shows in how far the law has
assured them of this representation:
Table 10.—Representation of employers on commissions as required by law
Employer representative Employer representation Organized employer rep­
required
' not mentioned
resentation forbidden
Colorado.1
District of Columbia.
Minnesota.
Oregon.
Texas.

Arkansas.
California.
Kansas.
Massachusetts.
Nebraska.
North Dakota.
Wisconsin.

Arkansas.1
Colorado.
Massachusetts.®

Minnesota.

Status in spring of 1927.. Arkansas.
Colorado.
District of Columbia.
Massachusetts.
Oregon.
Texas.

Washington.

California.
Kansas.
Minnesota.
Nebraska.
North Dakota.
Washington.
Wisconsin.

1 Employer of female labor.
2 One must be a woman.
3 Two amendments: the first required an employer of female labor; the second made no change on this
point.
•

Five States—Colorado, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Ore­
gon, and Texas—established the principle in their original laws that
employers must be represented on the commissions. Washington,
following its idea of absolute impartiality, originally did not allow
members of employers’ associations to serve; in the present law rep­
resentation is not required but it is not forbidden. As an amendment
to their original laws Arkansas and Massachusetts provided for the
representation of employers on their commissions and Minnesota
dropped its requirement. In practice, one member of the California
Industrial Welfare Commission and of the commission in Minne­
sota and in North Dakota always has been appointed to represent
the employers. Though to-day less than 50 per cent of the minimumwage States provide by law that the employers must be represented
on the commissions, when this group is compared with the labor
group and the women group it is realized that the employers, in their
relation to the other two, have gained in representation required by
law during the years the laws have been in force. Moreover, in
only one State have the employers lost ground in the law but not in




38

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

the practice, while labor has lost its required representation in two
'States and women have lost it in four. Though these movements
seem slight, they must be noted in considering the tendencies in
minimum-wage administration to-day as contrasted with the early
days of the commissions’ existence.
Representation of the public on commissions.
A few States have felt that every commission should include a
member specifically designated to represent the public as a whole.
Nebraska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia made this provision
in their original laws. North Dakota added a public member in
amending its law. The majority of the States seem to have consid­
ered that guaranteeing this representation was less important than
guaranteeing representation to the three groups more directly con­
cerned. In practice, at least one member of all these commissions
was appointed to serve as an impartial representative of the public.
Representation of political parties on commissions.
The political affiliations of the members of the commissions usually
have not been emphasized. One of the changes that have come about
through the amendments' making the bodies in charge of all State
labor laws responsible for minimum-wage administration is the con­
sideration of political affiliation in making appointments. Two
States, Colorado and Minnesota, provide that not more than two of
the three members of their industrial commissions may belong to
the same political party. This considering appointments as political
was quite foreign to all the original laws. The real difference un­
doubtedly is that the early lawTs rarely provided any salary for the
members of the commissions, so that appointment to these positions
was not sought by persons who felt that they should be rewarded for
loyal party service.
Summary.
The rules laid down by the State legislatures for selecting the
type of persons eligible for service on minimum-wage commissions
have been subjected to considerable change during the years the laws
have been in operation. In general, women, the workers, the em­
ployers, and the public still are designated as the ones to serve.
Women, however, have lost ground; the workers have made some
gains and sustained some losses, but are about as well represented
to-day as when the original laws were passed; the employers have
held all their original appointments and gained a few others; the
public has gained one representative. The question of political repre­
sentation has been introduced. It is questionable whether the laws
to-day provide for as impartial and informed membership as they
did when first enacted. Certainly women—the group most inter­
ested in passing the laws and in seeing that they worked well, since
they were the group affected—have been the one group to lose place
on the administering bodies.
The tendency to emphasize the importance of employer repre­
sentation and to consider that a general labor representative was an




ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

39

adequate spokesman for woman labor has been even more marked
in practice than in the laws. When they were organized, 10 of the 13
minimum-wage commissions—Arkansas, California, Colorado, Dis­
trict of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas,
and Washington—had women members. Exactly half of these—
Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas—have been
replaced by men. The 3 other States—Nebraska, North Dakota,
and Wisconsin—have never had any women on their commissions.
The 10 States where women have served have produced outstanding
examples of active minimum-wage administration and enforcement
Tn Colorado, where no decrees ever have been issued, the original
minimum-wage board with its woman member had barely two years
in office. The work of investigation begun by this board was never
used nor continued by the industrial commission. In California and
in the District of Columbia (until the law was declared unconstitu­
tional) there is a record of continuous activity and one of continuous
service of a woman commissioner. In Massachusetts and Minnesota
there is a record of activity in both administration and enforcement,
followed by a period of relative inaction in administration, though
enforcement continued at as high or even at a higher level, which
corresponds to the time when there was and the time since there
has not. been a woman member on the commission. Consolidation
probably has harmed minimum-wage activities most by removing
from positions of authority the group most keenly interested in the
Jaw’s successful expansion. It has made minimum wage a minor
concern of a busy commission, a fact shown in the fewer decrees
issued and the lessened activities in investigation.
METHOD OF MAKING APPOINTMENTS

As the minimum-wage laws originally were enacted they practi­
cally all provided that the governor of the State 7 should appoint all
commission members. The only exceptions to this were that one
member of the Texas Industrial Welfare Commission was an elected
State officer and that in Nebraska the governor himself was one of
the members. In some cases, however, the governor’s appointments
had to be confirmed by an elected State body, specifically by the
council in Massachusetts and the senate in Wisconsin. As the com­
missions which attended only to minimum-wage problems were abol­
ished and their work was intrusted to general State labor commissmns, it is interesting to note that legislative influence on the ap­
pointments to these paid positions seemed more important to the
legislators. Colorado, Kansas, and Minnesota joined TVisconsin in
requiring the confirmation of appointments by the State senate. In
Arkansas and Washington amendments introduced the chief of the
7 District of Columbia members were appointed by the District Commissioners
These
State™1'1 !l posltlon ln the District roughly corresponding to that of'tiie governor in a

60769°—28----- 4




40

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State labor department as an appointing officer. The following table
shows exactly where the power of making appointments lies:
Table

11.—Provisions in the laws regulating the selection of commission
members, by State
Number of appointments made by—
State

Arkansas:
1915.......... ...................................................
1921____________ ____ ______________
Colorado:
1913____________ ______ ____________
1917______________ ____ ____________
Kansas:
1915_________ ____ _________________
1921______ ________ ____ _________
Minnesota:
1913.,
1921
North Dakota:
1919______________________
1921
Washington:
1913_______________________________
1921_____ _____ ___________________
Wisconsin______ ____ _______ __________

Total
mem bership of
com­
mission

Gover­
nor

3
5
5

2
3
5

3
3
3

i3

Gover­
nor and
senate

Gover­
nor and
council

Chief of
State
labor
bureau

Elected

1
2

3

3
3
3

3

3
3
4

3

3
5
3
3

3
5
3
2

5
25
3

3

5

3

3

3

3

1

1
1
3

1
2

1 Appointments made by District Commissioners, practically same as governor.
2 Other two members appointed by supervisor of industrial relations, one of the members of the mini­
mum-wage committee appointed by the head of the State labor bureau.

COMPENSATION PROVIDED FOR SERVICES ON COMMISSIONS

The question of salaries paid members of commissions, like the
method of the members’ appointment, is important only as it bears
on the type of person attracted to the work. Service on a commis­
sion dealing only with the minimum wage has never been considered
a full-time job, and in most cases it has been considered as service
that should be given voluntarily by interested citizens. In their
original laws California and Massachusetts provided that the commis­
sioners should be paid $10 per diem for time spent on the work.
The only other cases where all the members of the commission re­
ceived remuneration from the State were when the commissions were
responsible not only for minimum wage but for all, or almost all, the
labor laws in the State. This was the situation established by the
original laws in North Dakota and Wisconsin and brought about
by the amendments abolishing the separate commissions in Colorado,
Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington. These salaries,
however, were established in all cases, except in Massachusetts and
Washington, before the commissions were given minimum-wage en­
forcement, and these salaries were not increased when minimum-wage
enforcement was added to the duties required. In Massachusetts and
Washington the bodies enforcing minimum wage are composed of




ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

41

members of the State labor departments who are paid for their
general services.8 In Texas and Nebraska the members of the mini­
mum-wage commissions were regular State officials in widely varied
lines of wort, but they were not given any added remuneration for
their .minimum-wage services. Originally Arkansas, Colorado, the
District of Columbia, Kansas, and Oregon provided no salaries for
minimum-wage services, and Arkansas, the District of Columbia, and
Oregon have never changed this position. Many of the States have
provided that the commissioners’ expenses should be paid out of the
public treasury, but Arkansas, Texas, and the District of Columbia
made no specific provision in the law for even this payment. Min­
nesota alone in its original law provided for one paid member, who
was to be the woman member and who was to serve as executive sec­
retary of the commission. Thus, though most of the members of the
commissions administering minimum wage are paid State salaries
only California to-day and California and Massachusetts in the past
have paid salaries specifically for work on the minimum-wage law.
Possible effects of this salary situation can only be indicated. It
is impossible to prove how directly this has affected the administra­
tion of the law in the various States, but it may have had important
results. In the original laws which allowed for no salaries (Arkan­
sas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Kansas, and Oregon) and
in Minnesota, w here the law made provision for paying only one
member, the secretary, service on the commissions was voluntary
except m the case of the commissioners of labor in Arkansas, Kansas
secretary of the minimum-wage commission
of Minnesota. The citizens who gave their time to this work did
so because they were really interested. They sought not salary but
to do a service. When the commissioners who were paid salaries
are considered, it is found that with the exception of the Minnesota
minimum-wage secretary they were all forced to take on minimumvage duties whether they were interested in minimum wage or not.
f hey already had definite duties which they were paid to perform,
they received no increase in salaries because of their added mini­
mum-wage duties. Was there not, then, some excuse for their showmg no particular interest in this new work? It was difficult con­
troversial, time consuming. If the legislatures had been vitally in­
terested in this problem, would they not have been willing to pay
something for the services rendered, or would they not have given
its administration to an exclusive body with time to do the work?
Inis is only a question; however, it is a tremendously important one
,n ^ if realized that, of 13 flexible laws, only 3—Arkansas, Dis­
trict ot Columbia, and Oregon—are administered by unpaid volunataUni®tra«oSnCshoUI™n ““
of ,labor„
Industries considers minimum-wage
he does not e?en mint in thijflnitle,Work performed by the associate commissioners that

‘,VS“the lesis,ature increase the
c.tJr3in^
the fact that the work of the hoard of conciliation and arbitration ho**
createcf in^Dtcemher^iniQ™111^6 dnd in, H-s imP<>i'tonce since the department was
remafned1 th?
t’hifiwirn d the salT!f .of the Prescnt commissioners have
remained tne same, I herewith recommend that consideration lie eiven this matter




hereWith SUb“itted-

<Th" Commonwealth^ of

42

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

tary bodies, and but one other, California, by an independent group
that receives remuneration from the State only for the actual time
spent on minimum-wage administration.
LENGTH OF TERM OF COMMISSIONS

In the law.
The legal terms of office of the commissioners are given in the
statement following.
Laws in which commissioners’ term of office is—
2 years

3 years

Arkansas
(1921).
Colorado
(1913).
Minnesota
(1913).
Nebraska.
Texas (two
members).1

District of Co­
lumbia.
Kansas (1921).

California.

Massachusetts.

Washington
(1913).

4 years

5 years

6 years

Indeterminate

North Dakota.

Colorado
(1917).
Minnesota
(1921).
Texas (one
member).1

Arkansas (1915).

Kansas (1915).

Oregon.

Washington
(1921).

W isconsin.

1 State officials, who serve as industrial welfare commissioners during their term of office.

The legal terms are not particularly significant, since the term of
office of individuals has so often been shortened by resignation or
lengthened by reappointment. The value of continuity of policy
has been recognized by the law in that in most cases the members’
terms end in different years, so that it is not required that two new
members ever be appointed the same year.
In practice.
In actual practice most of the commissions have had one or more
members who have served for long terms and whose knowledge
gained by experience has been invaluable to the work. The outstand­
ing example of this is California, where three members, one the
woman member, have served since 1913, when the commission was
first organized. The following table shows those States that have
had one or more members serving for a considerably longer period of
time than a single appointed term:
Number of commissioners who have served approximately 1—
State
5 years
Arkansas ___________ _____ ___________
California_____________________ ______
District of Columbia.._______ _________
Massachusetts___ _______ _____ _________
Oregon........................ ......................... ..............
Wisconsin_______ _______ _____ _________
1 Table as of spring of 1927.

6 years

7 years

22

32
3
23

1

11 years

14 years

1
33

4
1
31

8 years

1

31
31
1
1

»2 woman members.

" 1 woman member.

With the exception of the very long term in Wisconsin and three
members in Massachusetts and three in Minnesota who have served
six and five years, respectively, all these long terms were on com­




ORGANIZATION OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

43

missions primarily interested in administering minimum wage, not
on paid commissions administering general labor laws. It would
seem that since this office carries little or no remuneration it is not
subject to such frequent changes as are those offices which are con­
sidered political favors, and that if an incumbent is interested enough
to stay in the work a long term results. This has meant that these
commissions have been able to go forward more steadily than would
have been possible if all the members had changed regularly and had
had to learn the needs and problems of this complicated legislation.
It is significant that California, which has decrees covering the great­
est number of women, has the commission with the largest number of
members serving continuously for the lojigest period of time. Nor
does this tendency show in California only. In Massachusetts the
number of industries covered bjr decrees was being steadily increased
until a commission with an entirely new personnel took over the ad­
ministration of the law; after that but two decrees in new industries
or occupations were issued in the first five years of the present com­
mission’s administration, and three new decrees in the past two years,
though only a small proportion of Massachusetts’s thousands of wage­
earning women are aided by decrees. In Minnesota the period of ex­
pansion was during the eight years in which two of its members
served long terms on an independent commission. This tendency
could be shown much more clearly if the various decrees were con­
sidered individually and their development under one group or
changing groups were analyzed, but it must be noted here as a real
factor in determining the kind of organization that seems to have
functioned best as far as the advancement of minimum wage is con­
cerned. It should not be taken as a plea for renewing terms of any
commissioner; it is mentioned simply to indicate that the type of man
and especially of woman who was willing to serve for many years in
these unpaid positions was so interested in the work itself that
minimum wage had its real period of growth under such auspices.
SUMMARY

The theory of the original laws seems to have been that minimum
wage would be best administered through the creation of an unpaid
but interested and fair-minded special commission, which would ap­
proximate in its membership the viewpoints of the various groups
that were touched most closely by the law, as in the foreign laws
on which those in this country were based. No one State phrased
its law so as to require the representation of women, the employers,
the employees, and the public on its commission, but each of these
groups was required by at least one State, and in practice most of the
States tried to appoint representatives of all these groups. Now,
however, even such requirements as were made in the original laws
have been lost, or the emphasis has been shifted, in the amendments.
The general State labor bodies which in most States are to-day en­
forcing the active minimum-wage laws are required to represent
labor and capital, but not women. Moreover, since the members of
these commissions are paid for full-time service, the question of their
positions being used as political appointments seems to have been in
the minds of at least some of the State legislatures. On the other
hand, the commission members themselves need have no feeling that



44

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

their salaries are dependent on work done for minimum wage, for
their salaries were set for the performance of other duties and they
were required to take up this additional work. To-day there seems
to be no guaranty in many of the laws that the character of the
membership required for the bodies administering and enforcing
minimum wage will cause the appointment of individuals who are
genuinely interested in seeing that minimum-wage laws are so ad­
ministered that they are successful in their purpose of protecting
woman wage earners.
EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE COMMISSIONS

It is apparent from the foregoing discussion of the personnel, terms
of office, etc., of the minimum-wage commissions as set forth in
the laws, that the State must provide assistants to carry out the
details of the work. The commissions were not expected to attend to
the routine of carrying out the law, since no State provided for full­
time commissioners, but they were to function as a quasi legislative
body determining, as their most important duty, the scope and
amount of the rates that they established under the law. Some one
was needed, who should be paid to devote all his or her time to mini­
mum wage, to look after the details of administration and enforce­
ment. Such a position has been specifically provided for in most of
the laws. In all the States except Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Minne­
sota (after the industrial commission wTas authorized to enforce the
law) the commissioners were empowered by law to engage full­
time employees, usually designated as secretaries. A few restric­
tions on the commission’s choice are found in the laws. Oregon
and the District of Columbia provide that the executive secretary
must not be a member of the commission. Minnesota, in its original
law creating the minimum-wage commission, required just the op­
posite—that the woman member of the commission serve as its secre­
tary. No other law restricted the field from which the commission
might choose this executive officer. Moreover, in most cases both the
salary and the term of office were left to the decision of the com­
mission. Texas and the District of Columbia set a maximum salary
limit—Texas $1,800, the District of Columbia $2,500. Two other
State laws set the exact salary the executive officer might receive:
Colorado in 1915 set $1,200, but raised it to $1,800 in 1917, and Minne­
sota in its early law set $1,800. None of the laws required that this
officer be appointed under civil-service rules, and Massachusetts spe­
cifically exempted the position from civil service. There is nothing in
■any law to insure that this ollice will be given to a person who has real
knowledge of the problems involved. Moreover, it is evident that the
incumbent of this position is not protected in the position by any
special legal safeguards, so that, no matter how well founded his or
her views might be, any radical disagreement with the commission
must be resolved in favor of those officials.
Since it has been possible for the secretary to be so completely
controlled by the commission, have the duties of this position been of
sufficient importance to require that the secretary be anything more
than a clerk trained to carry out instructions laid down by the com­
mission? The laws have not specified the amount nor the importance
of the work which should be transferred to the secretary. In practice



ORGANIZATION OP ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES

45

this executive, through her knowledge of the whole situation, has
been in a position to influence vitally any work that was undertaken.
In the first place, how could this secretary or executive officer affect
the administrative development of the law, as distinct from the
law’s enforcement after decrees were set? Only the commission has
power to make final decisions as to what shall be the form and sub­
stance of decrees, and so the influence of the executive officer in
shaping the very decrees themselves may be overlooked. The execu­
tive has been on the job continuously. The earlier commissions met
only when there was work to be done. When they met, the com­
missioners gave their full time and attention to the matters on hand,
but they gained a great deal of their detailed information from the
executive, who was steadily at work in the office. Similarly the
members of the industrial commissions, when they turned their atten­
tion to minimum wage, got their information from the executive in
charge of the minimum-wage office. Because minimum-wage legis­
lation is of an extremely complicated and experimental nature and
because it affects the thing most vital to woman wage earners—
their pay envelope—thorough knowledge of the economic position of
these women workers and of the general economic conditions in the
State has been necessary to administer it. This the executive has
supplied. In addition to supplying a knowledge of general con­
ditions, the executive has carried out any special investigations which
the commission has felt were necessary. Prior to the commission’s
considering the provisions of decrees, investigations of wages, cost of
living, numbers of women employed, or kinds of work done by
women have been carried out by the executive with or without a
staff of assistants. The commission then has based its decisions
largely on information collected by its executive officer. The value
of this information depends on the caliber of the executive and her
assistants. Does she know how to collect the facts in a scientific and
impartial manner? Has she the will to collect the facts in such a
manner? If she has assistants, are they properly equipped to per­
form their duties intelligently? Later discussion of the process in­
volved in setting rates will show that almost every point had to be
decided by the commission as a compromise between the conflicting
claims of the employers and the employees. In making a compromise,
their source of information has been their executive. Their depend­
ence on the executive officer therefore has been of vital importance
in deciding how the law should be administered. An executive with
ready access to a sympathetic commission quickly became a prime
factor in both administration and enforcement. This, after all, was
a desirable-thing, for it meant that the development of the law has
been directed by the person best acquainted with conditions under
which the law must operate.
In the field of enforcement the executive has been even more im­
portant, for though no one but the commission has power to make
linal decisions, the main policies of enforcement are decided when
the decrees are formed, so that an executive working along these
general lines need bring few problems to the commission. It has
been only when new information and changed conditions have
caused an executive to desire to inaugurate new policies in enforce­
ment that the commission has had to be brought in close touch with
this field. Of course, the degree of supervision over enforcement



46

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

exercised by the commission has varied greatly from State to State
and from time to time within a State, depending on the personnel
of the commission, but, on the whole, enforcement has depended on
the interest of the executive—qualified, of course, by her equipment
in assistants and money—in making inspections.
Aside from the fact that the executive officer of a commission
needs personally either the education or the training and experience
that gives her a thorough knowledge of her field, she needs enough
trained assistants to carry out the necessary investigations and in­
spections. J lie first requisite for this is an adequate appropriation
that will allow an executive to employ enough assistants and to pay
for assistants with proper training. ” Later in the report a section
will be devoted to the size of appropriation in relation to the size of
the State and the possible number of women affected by the law. It
must be said here, however, that appropriations, on the whole, have
been extremely small. The second requisite is the character of
employee demanded. Where politics can be kept out of enforcement
and out of civil service, so that through careful examinations, im­
partially given, the applicants who are best equipped to do the work
may be assured of appointment, the executive’s hands are enor­
mously strengthened in collecting accurate information and in en­
forcing the rates. The importance of people of high caliber in all
official positions is a truism, but in the controversial field of minimum
wage this is particularly time. In gathering facts for use in deter­
mining the substance of the decrees, tlie importance of having data
the reliability of which can not be questioned has been paramount.
In inspecting for compliance, the necessity for tact, knowledge of
the field, and honesty on the part of the inspectors has been vital.
I or every employer who has come in contact with the commissioners,
hundreds have come in contact with the inspectors. The number of
employees who have known the commission only through the in­
spectors has been even greater. The inspectors have borne the brunt
of any ill feeling against the law and of any attempt at evasion.
In addition they have been engaged in a constant campaign of educa­
tion as to the requirements of the law so that minor infractions would
not occur through ignorance. Therefore the caliber of the inspector—
either executive or assistant—who represents the actual point of con­
tact between the citizen and the State’s control of his activities is of
tremendous importance for the success of minimum-wage legislation.
To turn to the actual executive officers and their assistants and
the circumstances surrounding their tenure of office, Wisconsin alone
always has had its minimum-wage executive under State ciyil service.
In California, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin the executives’ inspec­
tion and clerical force all must be chosen from civil-service registers.
In Minnesota, since the consolidation which put the enforcement in
the hands of the regular woman factory inspectors, the law has been
enforced by civil-service appointees, including the executive officer.
To determine even roughly how much “being under civil service”
has meant is not within the province of this study. It would need
a special study of actual examination papers and requirements as to
experience to judge whether or not the various State civil-service
commissions have issued examinations that really would produce
satisfactory minimum-wage assistants. Moreover, to be effective,
civil-service administration must be free from politics, in most States



ORGANIZATION OP ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING AGENCIES '

47

a rule more honored in the breach than in the observance. Civil
service undoubtedly does mean longer terms of employment, but it
protects every employee who qualifies, both the interested and the
uninterested. Even to insist that civil service allow the executive
officer to outline the questions and the experience required is not
enough. This is only of value if the executive is thoroughly trained
and competent. There is, undoubtedly, great need at present for
higher civil-service standards and for less political interference with
appointments, but civil service is a step well in advance of selectin')'
employees solely for political considerations. Probably if every full"
time employee, including those executives who are not members of
the commission, were under civil service, it would mean a more fully
informed and permanent staff, carrying out a continuous policy. "
in Ai Kansas and Cal. forma, as well as in Minnesota, the executive
officer herself has gained prestige and permanency by being a mem­
ber of the commission. There would seem to be real Value in havirm
the executive officer who carried out enforcement—and who usually
influenced administration so markedly—a member of the commission
where she would be entitled to equal standing in discussions and to
a vote on decisions. Whether or not this executive is a member of
the commission, a long term in office would seem to have proved itself
a valuable thing. Length of service gives the executive a thorough
knowledge of the territory in which she has worked, of its special
problems and special prejudices, and it greatly increases her ability
to give sound advice to the commission. On the whole, even in tlie
States where this office has always been held by a paid employee
long terms in office have been the rule. The women keenly interested
in the principle of minimum wage have not been confined to members
of the commission; many executives have remained art their work for
years under all sorts of trying conditions because of a conviction of
the necessity for such State control.
The following table shows how usual has been the custom of keep­
ing one executive over a long period of time, often in spite of changes
m the personnel of the commission.
Table 12.—Number and length of service of executive officers of commissions

by State
[Executive officers are wemen unless noted to the contrary]

State

Arkansas................
California............
Colorado_______
District of Columbia-------------- ----Kansas
Massachusetts-........
Minnesota-.- _____
North Dakota.........
Oregon___________
Washington___
Wisconsin.......... .......

Length
of time
law has
been in
effect
(years)

Number whose length of service was approximatelyNumber
of execu­
~~r~i
r
tive offi­
cers dur­ I.ess
1
2
3
4
5
6
8
9 years and
ing this than year ye.ars years years
years years years
1 jear
over
time

10
12
10

4
32
2

5
10
13
12
6
12
12
12

2
2
3
3
3
. 3
35
2

i1

22
31

1 1 (ll years).
4 1 (10 years).

1
1
21
1
1

82

1

1
41
41

1
1

1

i
2

1 A member of the commission. Still in office, spring of 1927.
2 1 a member of the commission
3 1 a mas.
4 Still in office, spring of 1927.
41 a man; 1 a woman, member of the commission.




*

21

1
1

21

41 (10 years).

2i
i

41

41

48

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

All the executive officers of these commissions, with the exception
of the first secretaries in California and Washington, have been
women. Though almost a third of them have served for a year or
two, in every place except the District of Columbia (where the law
was in operation less than five years) there has been at least one
secretary with five or more continuous years in this work. This long
term of service has provided the commissions with an authority on
minimum-wage problems who has grown increasingly expert with
added experience. Unfortunately, however, when the executive officer
has been simply an employee, it has not been necessary for the com­
mission to accept her advice. For this reason the executive officer
who has been also a member of the commission has been in a singu­
larly good position to secure adequate minimum-wage administra­
tion and enforcement. Not only has she met the other members in
argument as an equal and had the right to vote on all matters decided
by the commission but her tenure of office has not been dependent
upon their good will.
The position of the executive officer is now so wholly dependent
on the commission that a separate estimate of the office is impossible.
The importance of this work would seem to be great enough to re­
quire that a member of the commission devote full time to the posi­
tion. If this method of handling the problem is not followed, it
would seem that minimum wage might benefit if this position were
filled by a civil-service appointee. The first method would insure
relatively long terms of office and an authoritative position for the
best informed and most responsible person in the scheme of minimumwage administration and enforcement. If this is impossible, civil
service would not only go a long way toward insuring an incumbent
qualified for the job but should guarantee a relatively long term of
service—a desirable thing for the person responsible for carrying
out such a complicated law7. It would also give an executive a much
firmer position in advancing the opinions formed as a result of prac­
tical experience. On the original commissions this end could be
secured by having a member act as executive officer. Under the
industrial commissions? or any other form of consolidation, the secure
and authoritative position of the minimum-wage executive officer,
though doubly necessary, becomes harder to secure. The duties of
the commissioners become so complex and extensive that no one could
expect that one of them should serve as the executive officer for carry­
ing out one small part of their multitudinous duties. In such a
situation a carefully selected employee would be preferable to an
overburdened commissioner who had no time to do the job carefully.
For such an employee, civil-service status would seem to be desirable.




CHAPTER IV.—INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR
TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

When the commissions were selected and appointed, the first step
toward establishing minimum rates was taken, but all the actual
work of determining what the amount of the rates should be, accord­
ing to the procedure outlined in the various laws, remained to be done.
In biief, each commission was to investigate the condition of woman
wage earners, determine what was a living wage for these women,
declare a minimum rate to meet this necessary cost of living, and
enforce this rate. These duties could differ from State to State only
m their details. The laws contain only rather general directions
to the commissions as to what the procedure shall be in following
these required steps, but they do contain very full and careful stated
ments of the powers granted the commissions in order that the
purpose of the law may be carried out.
Before any steps toward setting a decree could be taken, the
commission had to assure itself of the need of this step. To do this
it was necessary to know what the woman wage earners actually were
"
being paid.
POWERS OF INVESTIGATION OUTLINED IN LAWS

In every State the law provided that the commissions could at any
time initiate an investigation into the actual rates of pay and the
earnings of woman wage earners. Moreover, in seven States_
Colorado (1917), the District of Columbia, Massachusetts,1 Nebraska,1
North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington—the legislatures have taken
the precaution to specify definitely that the commissions had the
power to make special studies of minors’ wages. An investigation
of all women and minors or of the minors alone might be started by
the commission in any occupation or industry or group of occupations
or industries, as the commission chose. Moreover, in some of the
States they were required to make such an investigation in any
occupation or industry if requested to do so. The kind of request
that required action on the part of the commission is shown in the
statement following.
State

Type of request necessary

Arkansas___________ __
Colorado (1917)
Kansas (1915)__________ ------do________________
Minnesota_____
Wisconsin..................... . .

Group to be investigated
Piece workers.
Women workers.
Do.
Do.
Do.

Since the Arkansas provision applies to only one kind of employ­
ment (piece work), there have really been but. four States where there
1 Special investigations of minors’ wages could be undertaken in an industry or occupa­
tion only when the majority of the employees were minors.




49

50

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN' THE UNITED STATES

was ever any chance of forcing the commission to make a general
investigation. Moreover, in 1921 this provision was repealed in
Kansas. Responsibility for initiating or failing to initiate wage
investigations must rest largely on the commissions in all the States
and wholly on the commissions in all States except Colorado, Minne­
sota, and Wisconsin.
Actually Wisconsin has been the only State where this provision
of the law has been considered of importance. In 1918 and again
in 1920, the Wisconsin Federation of Labor, the Consumers’ League
of Wisconsin, and the Central Council of Social Agencies of Mil­
waukee petitioned the industrial commission to investigate the rela­
tion between the cost of living and the wages of employed women
and to take action to adjust the women’s rates of pay. The only two
decrees issued by the industrial commission for “ all industries ”
came as a result of these petitions.
That they may carry out these investigations the legislatures have
delegated to the commissions certain powers that should enable them
to collect accurate and representative figures on rates and earnings,
occupations of women, and so forth. Though the wording of the
laws varies, much the same kind of authority is granted each com­
mission. Tables 13 to 15, following, show how similar are the
commissions’ investigating powers.
Table 13.—Powers of commission or its authorized agents relating to the inspec­

tion of plants, papers, etc., by State

State

Right of access to
pay rolls or any
other papers re­
lating to the em­
ployment of la­
Right of Right to
make any
bor and payment
access to investi­
thereof
premises
gation
To in­
spect
X
X

Kansas:
1915__________________________________________________
1921__________ ________________________________________ _________

X

X
X
X

X

X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X

To make
excerpts

X

X

In Arkansas, Colorado (1913), and Minnesota no specific grant of
authority covered these inspection rights. As the next table shows,
the Colorado and Minnesota commissions were given the power to
demand that certain kinds of information be given the commission,
so undoubtedly they were in a position to obtain any needed facts.
In Arkansas, however, no powers to aid it in an investigation were
granted specifically to the commission. The commission must depend
on the general powers of entry, and so forth, granted the commis­
sioner of labor and statistics, who also was a member of the industrial
welfare commission.




INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

51

The following table shows lhat most laws added, to the general
powers authorizing inspections and investigations, powers roughly
equivalent to some of those exercised by a court for requiring the
production of relevant information.
Table 14.—Powers of commission relating to the bringing before it of relevant

information, by State 1
To re­
quire
any ma­
To subTo ad­
terial
poeha
minister
submit­
witnesses oaths
ted to be
verilied
by oath

State

California........................ ..............
Colorado:

To com­
To re­
To re­
pel pro­
quire
quire
duction
statement any and
of books,
of full­ all reports
papers,
time
or infor­
pay rolls,
mation
wages
or other
neede i
paid
records

X

1918_______________________ ________ _____
1917_______________________

X

X

X

X

X
X
X

X

X
X

X

[district of Columbia............ ......................
Kansas:

X

1915_________
1921_________________________
Massachusetts ............ .......
Minnesota.................................................
Nebraska_________ ________
North Dakota_____________
Oregon____________________ _____ _
Texas................ ................................._ .
Washington______________ _

X

Wisconsin___________________ ________

X

X

X

X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X

X

X

X
X
X
X
x
X
x
x
x

X

X

x

1 Provisions enforced by appeal to the courts in California, Colorado (1913 and 1917), District of Columbia
Texas, and Wisconsin.

In every State except Arkansas and Nebraska the commissions may
subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and compel the submission of
a statement of wages. Nebraska gives its commissions the first two
powers but not the third.
As a practical aid to carrying out the powers just detailed, the
commissions are given the authority to require the various employers
to keep records that will show certain facts necessary if a correct
report on the condition of woman workers’ rates of pay and earnings
is to be made.
Table 15.—Powers of commission requiring employers to keep registers show­

ing certain facts about employees, by State
Employee information to be found on register
State
Name

California_______________ ____
Colorado, 1917
District of Columbia _
Kansas, 1915
Minnesota
Nebraska
North Dakota.._____________
Oregon_____________ _______ _
Texas
Washington..................................

Address

Age

X
X
X
0)
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X

Occupa­
tion

X
X

Dates of
employ­
ment

Hours

W ages

X
X

X
X
X
X

X

2 X (1919)
X

X

X

X (1914)
X

X
X

1 Items to be decided by the commission.
* Commission can not require employer to keep a record of hours for more than a 6-month period.




52

MINIMTJM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITE!) STATES

The purpose of all these powers is, of course, the collection of
such facts as will enable the commission to decide whether the adult
women’s earnings or rates are less than “ the necessary cost of liv­
ing ' and whether the corresponding minors’ earnings or rates are
unreasonably low.” It would seem that this would presuppose
that the commission had made a study of the cost of living, though
with one exception (Colorado) the laws do not, in so many words, re­
quire such a study. However, if a commission has desired to make a
cost-of-living study, no one has ever questioned the fact that its author­
ization to establish rates based on the cost of living carried with it
the power to ascertain that cost. Moreover, certain of the general
investigatory powers could be used to cover this work; for example,
the right to make any necessary investigation granted in California,
Kansas (1921), and Wisconsin; the powers of subpoenaing witnesses
and administering oaths granted in all the States but Arkansas; the
blanket statement that the commissions are authorized and empow­
ered to ascertain what wages are inadequate to supply the necessary
cost of living, found in the laws of Colorado, District of Columbia,
North Dakota. Oregon, and Wisconsin. In spite of the fact that
the whole basis of determining what a wage rate shall be is the
cost of living, only one law, Colorado (1913), specifically directs the
commission to make such a study. This provision of course has had
no effect in practice, as the Colorado law has never functioned.
The significance of these three tables is not the differences nor
omissions in the material tabulated, but the similarity and the broad
scope of the powers listed. Moreover, most legislatures have been
so afraid that the commissions’ power to require any testimony what­
soever which was related to women’s wages might be questioned that
they have incorporated blanket authorizations in most of the laws.
One of the strongest of such authorizations is in Kansas, where, inci­
dentally, relatively few specific powers are listed. The commission
is given, however, “ all incidental powers necessary to carry into
effect the provisions of this act.”2 Moreover, these very wide powers
are found in the original acts in every State except Massachusetts,
hi en in that State the powers of investigation granted in the original
act seem to have been adequate in all respects except the ones relating
to the keeping of a register. The only change in these powers of
the Massachusetts commission was that in 1914 and again in 1919
the legislature made more specific the items that the commission
might require on this register, and removed all doubt as to the com­
mission’s power to require such registers and to inspect them by
providing a definite penalty in case the employer refused to comply
with the commission’s orders on these points. It is evident that the
intent of these laws was to give the commission authority to get at
all necessary facts. The foregoing tables, covering the main items,
show clearly that the commissions had such power. Injustices in
j ates or failure to enforce can not be traced back to a commission’s
lack of power to obtain the real facts in the case.
“Acts of Kansas.




1920—Extra session.

Ch. 29, pp. 35-47.

INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOB TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

53

INVESTIGATIONS UNDERTAKEN BY THE COMMISSIONS

The first work of practically every commission was to determine
what was the position of the woman wage earners. Two things had
to be known: (1) What the great numbers of woman wage earners
were paid, and (2) how much it cost a woman to support herself in
a healthful manner. Soon after organization the various commis­
sions had their employees collect facts on these points. Often the
commissioners themselves took an active part, holding hearings and
doing some personal investigation work.
Rates and earnings.
The commissions in all the States except Arkansas and Nebraska
have instituted studies of the actual rates or earnings received by
woman wage earners as their first work after the organization of
the commission. Even Colorado, which never entered a decree, made
an investigation. In most of the States these studies have been state­
wide and have included some women from practically all the major
woman-employing industries and occupations.
In Oregon, in addition to the small investigation made by the
commission’s agents in 1913, immediately after the law was passed,
the commission had available a state-wide study of rates and earn­
ings made by the consumers’ league prior to the passage of the law.
This was done by the person who became the first executive secre­
tary of the commission, and it served to all intents and purposes
as a commission investigation. In almost all the States it was only
after wages were known for a supposedly representative group of
women employed in the major industries that the commissions de­
cided whether to call wage boards for separate industries, for all
industries, or for selected industries. In the District of Columbia
and Massachusetts the commissions did not wait to select a single
industry in which to set a decree until they had made a general
investigation. Instead they at once chose an industry for investi­
gation, one where only a small group of women were employed in
comparison to the total number of workers. It was possible in
Massachusetts thus to limit the field before investigation because
the yearly report on manufactures published by the Massachusetts
Department of Labor (division of statistics) enabled the commission
to determine in what industries women’s wages were most depressed.
It has been felt also in Massachusetts that the provision in the law
requiring each wage board to consider the financial condition of the
industry in setting a wage rate made it incumbent on the commission
to choose industrial or occupational units of such size and similarity
that the firms’ financial problems would be alike. In the District
of Columbia a general study of women’s industrial distribution was
made, though rates and earnings were not obtained, before one
group was selected for intensive study. To judge the value of these
commission investigations it is necessary to know whether the facts
obtained could show the actual financial condition of the woman
wage earners, whether the methods that were used could produce
adequate facts, and whether a representative number of women
were investigated.




54

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In discussing the value of these investigations the first point to
be analyzed is the worth of figures on rates and on earnings when a
body such as a minimum-wage commission is attempting to get at
the actual situation of large numbers of woman wage earners. Some
commissions have sought to collect only rates, some only earnings,
and some both.
In the case of rates there are several important reasons why these
should not be used, particularly in manufacturing, as the sole basis
for determining whether or not the women working in a given indus­
try or occupation need to have a minimum-wage rate set for them.
In the first place a woman lives on the earnings she receives in her
pay envelope, and not on the rate of pay that she would receive if
she were able to work exactly her required hours and had no fines
or other deductions. In most studies of rates and earnings for an
identical group of woman time workers, earnings are less, often con­
siderably Jess, than rates. Moreover, no study of weekly rates can
include the large number of women who work at piece rates and
whose earnings are in many cases higher than those of the time
worker. These objections to the use of rates apply with much greater
force to manufacturing occupations and laundries than to mercan­
tile, office, or telephone workers. Undertime in the first two indus­
tries often is due to the management, not to the worker; in the latter
group, where undertime is more likely to be for personal reasons, it
is much less extensive. Moreover, in the latter group of industries,
where workers’ rates are based on the week or half month, there is less
tendency for the management to deduct for short losses of time than
m the industries where the common method of calculating wages is
on an hourly or daily rate. Also the group of mercantile, office^ and
telephone workers rarely if ever includes pieceworkers. For all
these reasons rates perhaps might be accepted as a dependable enough
guide in determining the financial position of woman wage earners in
mercantile, telephone, or office occupations, but they can not be relied
on to the same extent for manufacturing and laundry workers.
If earnings alone are taken there is less danger of getting an incor­
rect idea than with rates alone, but there is the possibility that if
only one pay roll is taken it will give either too high or too low
figures, depending on whether the chosen week or half month was
a rush or a slack period. Once again this difficulty applies to manu­
facturing rather than to the other groups of industries. If the pay­
roll period is selected with care for a time when there is neither
widespread undertime nor a conspicuous boom, it is possible that,
if a large number of establishments are taken, the irregularities will
so balance each other as to give a roughly correct idea of the wage sit­
uation. This is more probable where all manufacturing is investigated
than where just one manufacturing industry, such as paper-box
making, is taken, for slack and busy seasons run pretty uniformly
through an industry. If it is possible, instead of taking one pay­
roll pei'iod for each establishment, to get earnings, over a number of
weeks so that the women’s earnings can be averaged, the resulting
picture will be more nearly accurate, for seasonal fluctuation will
be taken note of. The ideal situation, of course, would be to take a




INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

55

year’s earnings and find the weekly average, for that really would
give a picture of how much the woman had to live on. If earnings
are averaged in this way for a large number of women over a con­
siderable period of time, the resulting figures should be an excellent
indication of the status of woman wage earners. If, however, only
one pay-roll period is taken, rates as well as earnings should be
secured, as the two sets of facts will check any too great exaggeration
.
in either group.
The commission’s first duty, then, was to see that the type of fig­
ures selected for collection was such as to show the real situation.
The following table shows the methods by which the commissions
sought to obtain figures and also what studies covered rates or earn­
ings, or both. The greater number of the studies covered earnings
rather than rates, but very few of them took these earnings over a
period of time.
60769°—28-----5




Table 16.—Methods used by the commissions in investigations to obtain rates and earnings figures, by State
Pay rolls copied by commissions’ employees on official forms

One pay-roll period selected by commission
Pay-roll period near­ Selected time coverest the agent’s visit ing a number of pay­
roll periods

11914
California.

21915

Mercantile................. Garment trades (1
Laundry.
year).
Manufacturing.
Telephone and tele­
“ 1916
graph.
Hotel and restau­ Laundry (1 month).
rant.

Period not reported
Form provided by
commission
“1915

U914
Canning.*
* 1917
Laundry.
“ 1919
January-May:
Mercantile.
Laundry.
Manufacturing.
July-September:
Mercantile.
Laundry.
Manufacturing.
“1922
Needle trades.
Mercantile.
Laundry.
Manufacturing.

51919

District of Columbia




Mercantile.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
“1920
Laundry.
Manufacturing.
Building cleaners.

CT>

Pay-roll information submitted by employers

«1922
Manufacturing.
Building cleaners.

Form left to em­
ployer

Source not reported
Method not reported

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

Ctt

*1920

21916

*1916

Kansas_________ ____
Manufacturing.
Mercantile.
Telephone.
Restaurant (1 year).
«
Massachusetts........... _

Manufacturing.

Mercantile.

61913-1927
All investigations.
11914

Minnesota_______

Manufacturing.
Mercantile.
21920
All occupations.
21923
All occupations.
*1919

North Dakota_______
Telephone.
Laundry.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Hospital.
Factory.

1 Rates.
* Earnings.

*1919
Mercantile.
Telephone.
Laundry.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Hospital.
Factory.

B Rates and earnings.
# Earnings; figures supplied by woman workers interviewed.

57




3 Probably earnings.
4 Covered all pay-roll periods of one season.

e 1919
. Mercantile.................
Telephone.
Laundry.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Hospital,
i Factory.

INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

6 1922
Manufacturing.
Building cleaners.
OflE.ce workers.

Table

16.—Methods used by the commissions in investigations to obtain rates and earnings figures, by State
Pay rolls copied by commissions’ employees on official forms

Cn

Continued

00

Pay-roll information submitted by employers

i

One pay-roll period selected by commission
Pay-roll period near­ ing a number of pay­
est the agent’s visit
roll periods

Period not reported

Form provided by
commission

Form left to em­
ployer

2 1921
North Dakota—Con.

2

1921

Office.
Mercantile.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Telephone.
Laundry.
Factory.

Office workers.
Mercantile.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Telephone.
Laundry.
Factory.

1912

71913

Factory.
Mercantile.
Laundry.
Office.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Telephone.

21912

Mercantile.
Manufacturing.
Laundry.
Restaurant.
Telephone and tele­
graph.

2

Mercantile.
Laundry.
Office.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Telephone.
* 1914
«




Source not reported
Method not reported

Mercantile.
Laundry.
21918

Mercantile.
Manufacturing.

81914

*1914

Hotel and restaurant.
Office workers.

Hotel and restaurant.
Office workers.

* 1920
Hotel and restau­
rant.

2 1914
Telephone.
21920

Laundry.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

Manufacturing.

81913
Wisconsin.....................
1 Kates.
2 Earnings.
8 Probably earnings.
6 Earnings ; figures supplied by woman workers interviewed.
I j;ro?a“y earnings ; Consumers’ League investigation ; figures supplied by woman workers interviewed.
* Probably earnings; figures supplied by woman workers interviewed.

%

t
31918
All industries.

59




11921

INVESTIGATION OP CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

Laundry, etc.
Office workers.
Hotel and restau­
rant.

60

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

There are but two sources for collecting wage figures: The pay
rolls of the firms and interviews with the women. In an interview a
woman may misrepresent her earning capacity, and with most wage
earners it is impossible to get their earnings over a period of time;
furthermore, one can not be sure whether they give their rate or
their earnings for a given pay-roll period. Since these facts are
down in black and white on any well-kept pay roll it would seem
that there could be no question as to which method should be fol­
lowed. Nevertheless, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and
Wisconsin at various times have collected wage figures by interview­
ing or distributing questionnaires among large numbers of woman
workers. Moreover, these States seem to have tried to collect
data on weekly earnings by this method. In most of these cases
the interviews seem to have supplemented the use of pay-roll records,
but in Wisconsin (1913) no definite mention is made of collecting
figures from any other source than from the women themselves.
In obtaining pay-roll data the method of having firms send in
their records has been a common practice. By thus saving the time
of an agent in copying it is possible to handle an enormously
increased number of pay rolls. If a form is sent to the firm and
both rates and earnings are requested it is probable that the resulting
figures are a good indication of wage levels. Of course there is
always the danger that figures on rates and earnings will be con­
fused, but this method probably would work better after being used
for a number of years, so that the management had become used to
filling out the forms and understood thoroughly what was required,
than when the first investigation is made.
The best method is to have the commissions’ agents take a trans­
script of the actual pay roll. This is such an expensive and slow
procedure that many commissions, because of small appropriations
and few employees, and the consequent inability to cover enough
women by this method, have not even considered its use. The com­
missions in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia are the only
two that have used this method in all investigations. In the District,
however, the figures thus gained were supplemented in some indus­
tries by forms sent out by mail and filled in by the employers.
California, Kansas, North Dakota, and Oregon have collected some
figures through agents’ transcripts of pay rolls but have not been
able to use this method exclusively. Only in Massachusetts have all
the investigation figures on both rates and earnings been collected
in this way, the earnings being based, in addition, on the transcripts
of a number of continuous pay rolls. It is probable that in those
States where figures were collected by interviewing the women the
agents could have obtained more accurate wage material by copying
pay rolls.
The various ways in which commissions have gathered figures show
that one great need of all these groups was a greater knowledge of
the means of securing the necessary information. They all made in­
vestigations and, as a later table shows, they covered an appreciable
number of women in practically all these studies, but their methods




INVESTIGATION' OP CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

61

of securing rates and earnings, and the fact that they sometimes do
not distinguish between rates and earnings, considerably lessen the
value of their figures. The term “ wages ” is used constantly in
these surveys, and in some States, notablv North Dakota and Wash­
ington, the wage tables are compiled from material collected in­
formally by agents from pay rolls, from personal interviews with
woman wage earners, and from material sent in by employers. This
miscellaneous mass of figures is treated as comparable and thrown
together in one table. Even in the States where all the figures came
from reports by employers there is always the danger that the tables
represent a mixture of rates and earnings.
That the commissions have failed to make more satisfactory in­
vestigations is traceable to one main factor—lack of money. All the
appropriations have been extremely small in the light of the magni­
tude of the task. It is probable, too, that there was a certain feeling
in most of the States that a meticulous investigation was unnecessary
prior to the establishment of the first wage decree in an industry.
After decrees were set the commissions based decisions largely on
the relation of the fixed minimum to the changing cost of living.
People in general had the idea that women’s wages were too low.
Studies such as the survey of woman and child wage earners made
by the United States Bureau of Tabor, 1907 to 1909, and various
studies made by State and private organizations in the decade imme­
diately preceding this period of minimum-wage legislation, had
shown thousands of cases of unbelievably low" wages. The com­
missions investigated to confirm these figures, not to produce a new
body of scientific wage material. As a corollary of this feeling of
the great need of getting a minimum-wage rate set for the woman
workers, was the desire on the part of the commissions to include all
industries. Appropriations which might have covered one small in­
dustry thoroughly were stretched to cover all outstanding groups.
At this point it is well to note that this speed was applied only to
making investigations. Due to a variety of causes, although every
State made an investigation within a few months after the time the
law was passed, it was vears before some of the decrees were set.
While lack of money, haste, and a desire to cover a great deal of
ground all combined at different times to lower the standard of these
investigations when judged solely as scientific studies of rates and
earnings, it does not seem fair to contend that these faults destroyed
the value of the studies as a basis for determining when to set a
minimum-wage rate. All that the various laws stipulated was that
a considerable number of women and minors be found with such low
wages that it was necessary to provide higher rates for them if
they were to earn the necessary cost of living. The commissions had
no difficulty in discovering large numbers of such women. As this
report shows, the commissions did include many thousands of women
in these investigations. The next table attempts for each State to
tie up with the total number of women employed in the industries or
occupations studied the number that were included in the commis­
sion’s investigations. Some such comparison is necessary if it is to be




62

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

judged whether or not the commission has carried out the law’s
directions to ascertain, before undertaking to set a decree, that
women were being paid such low wages as to endanger their health
and welfare. If the investigations did not cover at least a repre­
sentative number of women, the resulting figures on rates and earn­
ings surely could not be taken as proving that a decree was or was
not needed.
At the outset anyone trying to compare figures from the United
States Bureau of the Census (the only source for ascertaining the
number of gainfully occupied women in all the various States) with
figures collected by these State commissions is confronted with a
different grouping of figures that makes it difficult to separate from
both sources the figures for women doing the same kind of work. The
United States census groups the women by their occupation, e. g.,
weaving. The commissions usually have studied industries, e. g.,
the cotton textile industry, and the women employed therein. A brief
consideration of the problem of obtaining the number of women em­
ployed as cooks and waitresses will illustrate the difficulty of getting
comparable figures. A commission will study the hotel and restaurant
industry and give figures for all the employees, including the cooks and
waitresses but not considering them as separate groups. The nearest
approach to a figure from the census which can be compared with this
industry group is the number of women listed as cooks, waitresses,
chambermaids, and the like. However, the census does not indicate
whether a cook works in a private home or in a hotel or restaurant.
Undoubtedly most of the women who reported that they were cooks
worked in private homes, and for this reason the number employed in
hotels and restaurants is not obtainable, and cooks have been omitted
from the hotel and restaurant figures compiled from the census
report. Probably the vast majority of waitresses and chambermaids
do work in hotels and restaurants, so these have been included in the
hotel and restaurant group. Bell hops, housekeepers, stewards, and
other minor groups also have been included where it seemed true that
the great majority of fhe women so classified actually did work in
hotels and restaurants. In this way a figurejias been arrived at that
shows, as nearly as is possible, the number of women whom the census
reports as in the hotel and restaurant industry. In Appendix D of
this report a careful list of the occupations included under each indus­
try is given State by State. The hotel and restaurant industry, used
as an illustration, is the group that is hardest to compare with the
census, but it can not be emphasized too strongly that the census
figures used in the table which follows are in all cases an approxima­
tion. In most cases they are somewhat of an underestimate, since
groups have been omitted when there was doubt as to the advisability
of including them. In the States where the law covers male and
female minors the census figures always are an underestimate, be­
cause it is impossible to obtain from the census of occupations
figures on the number of male minors in specific industries or
occupations.
In Massachusetts the decree groupings are so specialized (e. g.,
men’s clothing, women’s clothing, men’s furnishings, etc.) that figures




INVESTIGATION OP CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

63

can not be obtained from the Federal census of occupations to com­
pare with most of the classifications. Instead, the statistics of manu­
factures published by the Massachusetts Department of Labor and
industries (division \pf statistics) are used, since most of these reports
gioup the industries in the same way as do the decrees, and these
figures supposedly cover all factory employees in the State.
i he table following gathers together all available information on
the number of women employed and the number of women investi­
gated in the different industries in the minimum-wage States:




05

Table 17.—Investigations of women’s wages made by commissions before establishing rates, by State and year

of

Industry or occupation investigated

Industry or occupation covered by minimumwage decree

Estab­
Estab­
lishments Women lishments Women
California:
1914...

1915.
1916.
1917.

Mercantile..______________
Laundry and dry cleaning -..
Manufacturing.........................
Telephone..............-................
Telegraph.............. .................
Hotel and restaurant_______
Eruit canning...........................
Garments—........ -...............—
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Laundry............................ .......
Fruit and vegetable canning
Laundry and dry cleaning - _
Mercantile............................—

1918.

1919January-May.. Mercantile4......... .................
Laundry and dry cleaning 4.
Manufacturing 4--------------July-September. Mercantile 4_____ ____ ____
Laundry and dry cleaning *
Manufacturing........................




20,022

Fruit and vegetable canning 8__
Laundry and dry cleaning »___
Mercantile 8____ _____ _______
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Fish canning____________ ____
Fruit and vegetable canning__
Fruit and vegetable packing ...
General and professional offices.
Unskilled and unclassified____
Manufacturing 8_____________
Mercantile----------------- ---------Laundry and dry cleaning____
Manufacturing_______________

Fruit and vegetable canning—
Fish canning...... .............................
Fruit and vegetable packing___
General and professional offices..
Unskilled and unclassified_____
Hotel and restaurant8..................

6,517
27,136
8, 238
784
17,839
(3)
7,035
29, 833
6,066
29, 833
6, 517
20,022

192
96
141

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
131
62
84
101
270
(2)

12,166
4,492
4,037
4,180
386
(2)
(2)
2,914
(2)
4,328
19,861
7,184
14' 946

1,336
0
(>)
1,606
0
0

21,627
7, 919
13,502
23,088
8, 622
18, 921

0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0

0

29, 833
1,938
29, 833
2,062
67,031
9,149
27,136
20,022

6,517
27,136
20,022

6,517
27,136
29,833
1,938
2,062
67,031
9,149
17, 839

7,315

481
674

9,219

568
917

7,983
13,302

1

_
_

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and date of in­
vestigation (when no
investigation was
made, date of decree)

Greatest number
establishments and
Total number of es­ of women appear­
tablishments and ing in rates or earn­
Estimated
number of of women reported ings tables reported
by commission
commission
women em­ byinvestigated
when total number
as
ployed in
investigated is
industry or
not reported
occupation
in 1920 1

Unclassified...................................................................
1921........................... .

1922.............................
1923.............................

Colorado:6
1914............................
Laundry................................ .......................................
District of Columbia:
1919............................
Hotel and restaurant........ ................ ........................
1920.............................

20,022 1
6, 517
27,136
29,833
1,938
2,062
67,031
9,149
17,839
2,876
29,833
(3)
20, 022
6.517
27,136
29,833
20,022
1,938
6.517
2,062
9,149
27,136
17, 839
1,918
4,140
371
2, 302
1,274
1,770
2,314
3, 647
3,339
1,248
1,913
1,929
3, 339

11
.................. I...................
_________ 1

(>)
a
o

m
n
«

8
13
102
107
1

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
720

50
109
193
33
55
37

745
4,609
2,209
1,190
533
604

________

2, 539
591
(*)

31,159
9,131
18,867

9
54
45

1,543
133
1,131
717




65

1 Hotel and restaurant and allied industries 7........
*The figures in this column were obtained as follows:
Fruit and vegetable canning and fish canning in California—from U. S. Census of Manufactures, 1920, v. 9, pp. 112, 118.
All groups in Massachusetts except laundries, retail stores, building cleaners, and public housekeeping (hotels and restaurants)—from Report of Manufactures, 1920, issued by
the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries, division of statistics.
Laundries, retail stores, building cleaners, and public housekeeping (hotels and restaurants) in Massachusetts, all groups in California except fruit and vegetable canning and
fish canning, and all groups in the remaining States—from U. S. Census of Occupations, 1920, v. 4.
See Appendix D.
1 Not reported.
• Not obtainable.
4 All investigations thus marked followed a decree. In most cases they were inspections for the established decree, but they were near enough the date of the new decree to serve
as information when the new wage rate was determined.
• First decree following general investigation of 1914.
• No decrees ever issued.
1 Investigation made in previous year.

INVESTIGATION OP CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

1920.............................

Table 17.—Investigations of women's wages made by commissions before establishing rates, by State and year—Continued

Industry or occupation investigated

Industry or occupation covered by minimumwage decree

•

Greatest number of
establishments and
Total number of es­ of women appear­
Estimated tablishments and ing in rates or earn­
number of of women reported ings tables reported
women em­ by commission
by commission
ployed in
as investigated
when total number
industry or
investigated is
occupation
not reported
in 1920
Estab­
Estab­
lishments Women lishments Women

District of Columbia—
Continued.
1921.............................

1, 248
3,647
1,913
1,929
(3)

1922.............................
Kansas:
1916.............................

6, 582
8,634
1,424
8,634
1,424
3,519
6,582
6, 582
8,634
1,424
3,519
3,734
(a)
8,634
1.424
6,582

1918........................... .
1919.............................
1920.........................

1922.......... ..................
Massachusetts:
1913.............. .............. Brushes ........... ........................... .
1914..........................
Brushes 10................
1915.............................




Cotton textiles...........................................................

..........

.

.............

742
1,628
7,491
3,784
20,537
742
3,448
5.424
54,939

30
24
193

338
329
2,108
(2)
(2)
900

(2)
0
(*)

77
132
54
27

0

837
2,388
(2)

24
36

m

2,198
2,095

505

32
8
14
36
26

0

2,649
2, 264
932
938

80

0

3,326
2,961
9,465

8
(>)

0

2,178
1,961
9,190

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and date of in­
vestigation (when no
investigation was
made, date of decree)

05

(3)
(»)
27
4,219
100
2,318
3, 784
2,748
40
3, 218
Men’s furnishings_____________
1016
(2)
(3)
51
36
Muslin underwear____________
! Hotel and restaurant-...................
265
9,408
24,436
Millinery—wholesale and retail.
421,619
190
2,404
Retail store 11..............
20,537
86
52,907
1917
Cotton textiles________________
54, 939
Building cleaners............................
201
1,763
1,718
5', 424
Women’s clothing
(3)
Restaurant (supplementary)...... .........
70
1,624
1918.
Wholesale millinery 8.
Wholesale millinery (supplementary)
1,619
7
108
Canning and preserving.......................
435
976
22
7,491
7
Candy........................................................
1,675
Men’s clothing and raincoats 43.
4,219
Men’s furnishings 8.....................
2,748
(3)
Muslin underwear 8__________
Retail millinery 8....... .................
(3)
Canning and preserving (supplementary)
435
(2)
20
21
1919.
Paper boxes.__________ ______________
3, 448
1,301
16
Corsets.................. ............................................
1, 628
1, 623
10
Knit goods__________ ______ ____ _____ _
(2)
8, 826
8
344
(3)
(2)
Loom harness........................................ ...........
4
Minor lines of confectionery...... ..................
555
42
861
Men’s clothing 4_____ ______ ___________
4, 219
m
«
23
Office and other building cleaners 14
1, 718
Druggists’ preparations_____
1,486
51
2,180
1920.
Women’s clothing.
Women's clothing 4_________
5,424
(2)
22
16
Stationery goods----------------3, 268
2, 279
26
Office and building cleaners 4.
1,718
207
1,353
Candy 15......... ......................
7,491
Canning and preserving 18
435
Corsets 17____ ___________
1,628
Men’s clothing 18.................
4,219
Knit goods 49_.......... ............
8,826
Paper boxes 19_.....................
3,448
11 Investigation made in 1914.
* Not reported.
12 Underestimate; figure for wholesale only, retail not obtainable.
3 Not obtainable.
13 Investigation made in 1915.
4 All investigations thus marked followed a decree. In most cases they were inspections
44 Investigation made in 1917.
for the established decree, but they were near enough the date of the new decree to serve
15 Investigations made in 1913 and 1918.
as information when the new wage rate was determined.
18 Investigation made in 1918.
7 Investigation made in previous year.
47 Investigations made in 1913 and 1919.
6 Investigation made in 1916.
48 Investigation made in 1919.
Investigation made in 1920.
49 Investigations made in 1915 and 1919.
10 Investigation made in 1913.

3,460

Laundry n..

2,481

345
344
139
464
232

67




Hosiery and knit goods.
Men's clothing-----------

INVESTIGATION OP CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

1

Table 17.—Investigations of women’s wages made by commissions before establishing rates, by State and year—Continued

Industry or occupation investigated

Industry or occupation covered by minimumwage decree

Estab­
Estab­
lishments Women lishments Women
Massachusetts—Contd.
1921 _ ................... .

26,911
(3)
3,448
1,718
243
(3)
3,784
5,924
2,748
20, 537
3,448
2,748
3,651
2,297
742

1922.............................

1923...........................
1924........................

Canning and preserving and minor lines of con­
fectionery.......................... .......................................
Millinery—

Canning and preserving and minor confection-

1926.............................




44
21

0

2,653
1, 295

0

990

1925.............................

1927.............................

0

(>)

Toys and games.................... ......................................

«

0

41

435

1, 619
(3)
1,366
1,486
7,491

(>)

0
0
0

48
83
15

1,078
407
837

678
12 1,619
2, 297
3,268
7,491
3,651
1,366

0

25

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and date of in­
vestigation (when no
investigation was
made, date of decree)

Greatest number of
establishments and
Total number of es­ of women appear­
Estimated tablishments and ing in rates or earn­
number of of women reported ings tables reported
by commission
women em­ by commission
as investigated
when total number
ployed in
investigated is
industry or
not reported
occupation
in 1920

Mercantile............................................................ .........

1918.............................

1919.............................
1920 ............................ All4.............................................................................. .
1921.............................
North Dakota:
1919............................. Mercantile......................................................................
Telephone............................................. ......................
Laundry.................................................................. .
Hotel and restaurant..................................................
Hospital_________________ ______________
Manufacturing...........................................................
Office..............................................................................
1920.............................

Telephone and telegraph...........................................
Laundry and dry cleaning
Lunch work, restaurant and hotel..........................
Office......................................................
Waitress............................................... .......................
Hairdressing (experienced workers)
Any (learners and apprentices). Included under
“experienced”_______________ ____ ________
Any other (experienced workers not covered in
1914)............................................................__............

17,678
5,120
1,979
7,172
10,324
37,472
4,330
521

(>)

m

1,485
86,081
86,081
86,081

(’)

8,377

550

24, 531

w

1,896
127
754
27
©
213
18
2,658
125
(*>
(2
3)
10
(*)
498
5
«
(2)
3,217
w
2,687
Personal service 18........................................................
309
Office__________ _______________________ ____
3, 217
Manufacturing 18
498
Laundry 18.......................... ..........................................
213
(3)
Mercantile 18................................ ................................
1, 896
Telephone18. ...... ............ .....................................
754
1921.............................
498
O)
47
(!)
Mercantile 4_.................................... ...........................
1,896
171
(>>
Laundry 4_....................... ............... .........................
(!)
«
213
94
Hotel and restaurant4.................................... ..........
2,658
(!)
»
124
Office 4-_.......................................... ............... ...........
3,180
(!)
(!>
45
Telephone 4............................................. ............. .......
754
(!)
113
1922.............................
2,687
Manufacturing 22...................... .......^
498
Mercantile 22..................... ...........................................
1,896
Laundry 22......................................................................
213
Telephone22. .............................................................
754
■ .
2 Not reported.
12 Underestimate; figure for wholesale only, retail not obtainable.
3 Not obtainable.
18 Investigation made in 1919.
4 All investigations thus marked followed a decree. In most cases they were inspections
20 Investigation made in 1924.
for the established decree, but they were near enough the date of the new decree to serve
21 Investigation made in 1923.
as information when the new wage rate was determined.
22 Investigation made in 1921.
9 Investigation made in 1920.

c)

i
m

69




5,940

INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

Minnesota:
1914............................ M anufacturing........ ....................................... .

Table 17.—Investigations of women’s wages made by commissions before establishing rates, by State and year—Continued

Industry or occupation investigated

Industry or occupation covered by minimumwage decree

Greatest number of
establishments and
Total number of es­ of women appear­
Estimated tablishments and ing in rates or earn­
number of of women reported ings tables reported
by commission
women em­ by commission
as investigated
when total number
ployed in
investigated is
industry or
not reported
occupation
in 1920
Estab­
Estab­
lishments Women lishments W omen

Oregon:
1912 «.........................

1913_...........................

1914_ ................... .
1916.......................

Factory.........................................................................
Printing. ________ _____ _______ ______
Hotel and restaurant..................................................
Office____________ ______ ______ _____ ___ _
Telephone....... ......................... .................................. .

......

All (adults)—except those covered by 1913 decrees.

Office
1917_......................... .
1918............................




Laundry ___________________________ _____ _
Public housekeeping ...............................................
All (minors)....... ...........................................................

4,791
5, 363
1,121
249
4,147
10,863
1, 839
<*>
3, 320
3, 322
7,171
14,868
5, 363
4,791
309
1,121
2,070
10,863
4, 633
(24)
461
5,363
4,791
309
1,121
2,070
10,863
4,633
(24)

©
©
©
©
©
©
©

1,306
2,281
259
213
363
1,785
570

©
©
©
0
0

©
©

t
1
i
j

•
1
i
:::::::: ................. ..................i..................

...

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and date of in­
vestigation (when no
investigation was
made, date of decree)

“4
O

Telephone and telegraph

5,363 ................-|------------..................r:..::....
4,791
i
3C9 ..................1...........
|
1,121
2.070
10, 863
4,633
(24)
461
84, 378
84, 378

0

All22

7, 613
9, 715
2,115
2,981
19, 727
7,715
9, 715
7, 613
2,115
3, 327
19, 727
4,041
2,981
(3)
52,441
8, 586
7, 613
2,191
8,586
8,586
2,115
3, 327
9, 715

(*>

Manufacturing_______________
Personal service________ ...

60769

.
1922._____________
Texas:
1919............................. All__________ ________ _______ _______________
1921.............................
Washington:
1913-......................... Factory........ ..............________ _________________
Mercantile_______ _______ ____ _
Oi
Laundry..____ ___________ __________ _______

1914..____________

Office____ ________ ____ _ ..
Hotel and restaurant ____________ ___________
Manufacturing 10_ ........ ...............................
Telephone and telegraph (adults)10________
Office

1915............................
1917_....................... __
1918.......... .................
1919
1920. ..........................

All industries or occupations listed above (minors).

Laundry and dye works 4___ __________
1921........................... .

1922—
Any occupation other than public housekeeping
(minors).
Any occupation other than public housekeeping
(minors).
1 Not reported.
.
3 Not obtainable.
4 All investigations thus marked followed a decree. In most cases they were inspections
for the established decree, but they were near enough the date of the new decree to serve
as information when the newr wage rate was determined.
10 Investigation made in 1913.
18 Investigation made in 1919.

0
(!>
«
0

«
87

0
0
0

.

0
0
0
0
0
0

3, 011
5,323
2,304
1,884
(2)
(2)

0

830
991
739

0

0
7,613
(*)

22 Investigation made in 1921.
23 Consumers’ league study; commission made small supplementary study about
June and July, 1913, for which no figures are available. It covered fruit canning in ad­
dition to the groups included in the 1912 study.
24 Not separable from adult figures.
28 Investigations made in 1912 and 1913.
>

71




0
0
0
0
0
0

0

0

0

16,316

INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

1919._____________ _______ ______ _____________________

Table 17.—Investigations of women’s wages made by commissions before establishing rates, by State and year—Continued

Industry or occupation investigated

Industry or occupation covered by minimumwage decree
*

Estab­
Estab­
lishments Women lishments Women
Wisconsin:
1913............................ au...................................................................................
1917________ ____
1918. ....................... . All....................................................................................
1919__....................... .

1920-__.......................

1921 — ...................... . All 4___________ ______________ ________ _____

1922.................. ..........
1923.

_____ ______

1924............................
1925.......... ............
1926_________
1927.......................

All—........ ............................................. ......................

All.......... —.........

101,800
P)
101,800
P)
P)
4,326
P)
101, 800
P)
P)
P)
402
P)
101, 800
P)
P)
P)
P)
P)
P)
<*>
P)
P)
P)
P)
P)

448

23,127

p)

p>

p)

p)

p>
p)

p)
p)

p>
p>

p)
p>

(2)

516

32,689
1,161

p)

* Not reported.
8 Not obtainable.
4 All investigations thus marked followed a decree. In most cases they were inspections for the established decree, but they were near enough the date of the new decree to serve
as information when the new wage rate was determined.
lfi Investigations made in 1913 and 1918.
*8 Investigation made in 1919.




MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and date of in­
vestigation (when no
investigation was
made, date of decree)

Greatest number of
establishments and
Total number of es­ of women appear­
Estimated tablishments and ing in rates or earn­
number of of women reported ings tables reported
by commission
women em­ by commission
as investigated
when total number
ployed in
investigated is
industry or
not reported
occupation
in 1920

INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

73

The first general point brought out by this table is the care with
which the commissions have made some sort of an investigation of
rates and earnings before setting minimum-wage rates. Except the
office decree in North Dakota, the first decree in every industry or
occupation, in every State, followed an investigation. Even in
North Dakota records for a few office workers’ wages were obtained
from those who did clerical work in manufacturing and mercantile
establishments.
It is much more difficult to judge whether the investigations were
extensive enough to give a true idea of the wage condition of woman
workers prior to the establishment of a decree. As was pointed out,
the figures taken from the Federal census are only approximate.
Nevertheless, the number of women investigated usually runs so
large in the light of the number of women in the whole industry
that even if the census figures are an underestimate it is still possible
to say that the commissions, in almost all cases, made adequate
studies. Only in North Dakota, of the States for which figures are
reported, do the investigations cover such a small number of women
that their value is questionable. For 1919 the records do not show
how many women were investigated, but the number of establish­
ments may give representative groups, when it is considered what a
relatively small population lives in North Dakota. Moreover, as in
all other States, every main industrial group was covered. For 1921,
however, the figures are given and seem very inadequate, but it must
be pointed out that this was an investigation after a decree had been
set, though, due to an injunction, no rates actually were in effect.
This investigation may have been considered simply as supplement­
ing that of 1919.
When investigations before changing or renewing a decree are
considered, the situation is very different. In seven States—Cali­
fornia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washing­
ton, and Wisconsin—after a decree was entered for the first time in
an industry, special figures on rates and earnings were collected by
the commissions. These figures therefore were available before this
decree was amended or a new one was issued. Such data in most
cases have been collected occasionally, rather than regularly. They
serve primarily, of course, as a test to show whether or not the rate
set really was being paid, and in consequence they are inspection
figures rather than an investigation looking toward altering an exist­
ing rate. The collection of this considerable body of material at one
time is, however, quite different from ordinary inspection for non­
compliance. Moreover, the figures put into the hands of the com­
mission evidence not only of whether employers are complying with
the order but of how the wage rate is working. It is always possible
for earnings to fall below rates to such a degree that the rate must
be increased before earnings can cover the cost of living. Earnings
may run ahead of the rate in one industry and fall behind in
another. Kate tables may show that the minimum-wage rate is lag­
ging behind even the figure most commonly used as an entrance rate
in a given industry. With all these points in mind, it would seem
that each commission or its wage board would need figures on cur­
rent rates and earnings when a decree is to be amended. In most




74

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

States these figures are not considered so necessary that a special
study is made to obtain them. The rate already established is con­
sidered in relation to changes in the cost of living since it was put
into effect, and is raised or lowered by this scale. It is of special
note, therefore, that for at least some of their amended decrees these
seven States had available actual rates and earnings figures.
Besides the investigations that either preceded original decrees
or were available when decrees were amended a few investigations
were made in industries for which no decree ever has been issued.
California made two such investigations—in the telephone and tele­
graph industry and in the garment trades. The second group was
covered in the general manufacturing order issued in 1919, but tele­
phone and telegraph workers remain the only considerable group
of wage earners in California, except domestics, who have never been
included in a mimimum-wage decree. In the District of Columbia
the Supreme Court decision declaring the minimum-wage law uncon­
stitutional was made before any action had been taken on the investi­
gations in manufacturing and the office-cleaning occupations. In
clerical occupations the rates disclosed by the investigation were so
high that the commission decided that action on its part was unneces­
sary. In Massachusetts the failure to follow with decrees the investi­
gations in the cotton-textile industry and the hotel and restaurant
industry is of great interest, since both of these industries employed
large numbers of women and in every year studied showed very low
rates and earnings. (The manufacture of cotton textiles employed
54,939 women and hotels and restaurants employed 24,43G women in
1920. Median rates in cotton textiles were $6.35 in 1915 and $8.90
in 1917. In hotels and restaurants median rates, not including lodg­
ing nor any meals, ran under $5 in 1916, $7.20 in 1918, and $7.60 in
1921. Earnings in both these industries were lower than rates.) The
reasons for inaction in these instances are somewhat complicated. In
both industries some branches were much better paid than were others,
so that the question arose how to select the groups which, according
to law, were eligible for minimum-wage awards. Also the commis­
sion felt that the general rise in women’s rates which was going on
through most of the period in which the investigations were made,
was advancing the rates in these industries as rapidly as, if not more
rapidly than, the cost of living increased, so there was a difference of
opinion as to whether action by the commission was necessary. Before
these points were definitely settled—in fact, a second check-up of the
wage situation in the cotton-textile industry had been started—the
consolidation act brought about a complete change in the personnel of
the commission. No further action was taken with respect to cotton
textiles, and, though another investigation was made in 1921, no wage
board ever was organized for hotels and restaurants.
Each group, then, that starts to set a wage decree must learn two
fundamental things: What are women now receiving? What does
it cost to live, frugally but decently? If it is a matter of amending
an old decree, the group should know how the cost of living has
changed since the rate was set. It should know whether or not the
rate truly represented the costof living when it was set, and it should
have rates and earnings figures to show how the rate affected the




INVESTIGATION' OP CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

75

practical situation. All these data should be furnished by the imthe commission. All these facts the commissions have
tried of supply,
Cost to living.
At the same time that the commissions investigated the wages of
women, in many cases they studied their cost of living. The two
most common methods of conducting a cost-of-living study were
these: (1) To obtain from the employed women information concern­
ing what they actually spent, and (2) to have the commission’s in­
vestigators price actual articles and build up a theoretical minimum
budget. Often the second method included the first, for the inves­
tigators would seek budgets from employers, the public, and the
working women, on what was actually spent or on what was con­
sidered necessary, in order that their theoretical budget might repre­
sent truly the needs of the workers. Nevertheless, anyone wishing
to differ from a budget, secured by either method, could find so many
flaws in these studies that the main point of dispute in all minimumwage conferences has been what a working woman actually must pay
in order to secure the necessaries of life.
The question of what is a proper budget for a working woman can
only be touched upon in this report. A discussion of this subject
would comprise a study in itself. The main controversial points
must be mentioned, however, to realize the difficulties that beset a
commission or wage board in determining a cost-of-living minimum.
One thing that seems to have been agreed on in all minimum-wage
work is that a worker should receive enough money to support
herself when living independently of her family. No allowance is
to be made, on the one hand, for the fact that she may support others,
nor on the other hand for the fact that she may receive assistance
from her family. Even this agreement has been reached and main­
tained only by a determined effort. Employer groups in all the
States have persistently urged that the majority of their workers
live at home and that family economies reduce their cost of living
far below that estimated for the independent woman. Employees
and the public usually have stood together in answering that the
family should not be required to make up part of the working
woman’s expenses, and budgets have been made on the basis of inde­
pendent self-support. Nevertheless rates often have been set below
the reported cost of living. It seems probable that constant repeti­
tion of the phrase “economies of family life” has influenced these
determinations, even when official statements maintain that all work­
ers should be self-supporting. In making cost-of-living studies, how­
ever, the commissions have applied the theory of self-support.
If this theory is applied, the budgets collected by the first method—
actual expenses of working women—at once become questionable.
It is hardly possible to find any considerable group of working
women who live independently and neither give nor receive financial
aid. Moreover, what one woman succeeds in living on can not be
accepted as a criterion for thousands. For example, it is only when
large numbers of women report approximately the same figure as
the cogt of room and board that such a sum can be accepted as




76

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

a standard for all working women. Furthermore, what these women
spend is determined by what they earn. They may be self-support­
ing only because they deny themselves proper food, clothing, or
shelter. Moreover, the wage earner who knows just how much of
each week’s earnings goes for the many items of living cost is a
rara avis. Therefore, on the ground of the insufficient number of
women who meet the condition of independent self-support, the
fact that even these workers are not necessarily living in a health­
ful manner, and the question of whether or not it is possible to
get accurate reports from so depressed a group, anyone who dis­
agrees with the figures obtained by this method hafs little difficulty
in casting doubt on their value or even in thoroughly discrediting
them.
The budget that results from first-hand investigations and inter­
views with persons cognizant of living costs, though conducted by
the impartial agents of the commission, i,s open to one fundamental
attack. It is theoretical. No woman can be pointed out who wears
just the articles of clothing priced and listed. Everyone knows,
for example, that some people are harder on shoes than are others,
but the theoretical budget can not take any individual variations
into account. Particularly as far as clothing and incidental expenses
are concerned, there may be a,s many opinions of what are necessaries
as there are people consulted. No one can prove his point. More­
over, the claim can always be advanced that the territory covered
in obtaining the figures was not inclusive enough, or was badly
selected and did not represent places frequented by wage earners.
In spite of all this the commissions have in most ca,ses felt the
necessity of making out a theoretical budget. It served as a means
of telling when wages were too low for healthful living and what
sum should be established as a wage rate. To try to meet the
objection of the budget’s impracticability the agents usually have
obtained detailed estimates of the necessities of living from em­
ployers, employees, and representative citizens, and have selected
for their budget the items appearing on the majority of these esti­
mates. They have then obtained the prices of these items by personal
visits. In some cases the prices themselves in the budgets submitted
have been modified in the light of budgets of actual expenditures.
The following table show.s the care with which the various com­
missions, in most cases, have made the cost-of-living studies.




By commission or its agents
State and year
Study by agents in
given locality
California:1
1914........................... San Francisco.................
Los Angeles.
Oakland.
Sacramento.
San Diego.
1918........................... San Francisco............ .......
Oakland.
Los Angeles.

1920........................... San Francisco...................
Oakland.
Los Angeles.

Interviews with persons
or organizations familiar
with field

Budgets submitted by woman workers

Use of secondary material

Y. W. C. A.........................
Other organizations.

1,000

Locality

Entire State.

San Francisco.
State.

Laundry.

San Francisco.
Los Angeles.

Any.

Not reported.
Do.
State.

Settlement workers.
Personnel directors.

77

Merchants, dentists, oc­
ulists, physicians, club
tistics.
women.
Groups of employed wom­
en.
1 California Industrial Welfare Commission. Fourth biennial report, 1919-20 and 1921-22, pp. 13-27.
* Kansas Industrial Welfare Commission. First biennial report, 1915-17, p. 46.
8 Kansas Commission of Industrial Relations. Cost-of-living survey, pp. 7-42.




Industry

Y. W. C. A........................
Cafeteriasandlunch rooms
tistics.
catering to women work­ University of Washington.
National Industrial Con­
ers.
Los Angeles Apartment
ference Board.
House Association.
Prof. M. E. Jaffa, of the
University of California.
Workers
Department of Home
Y. W. C. A.
Economics of the Uni­ Not reported.
Hotel and Apartment
versity of California.
Home Association.
Retail Dry Goods Asso­
ciation.

1922—April............. Not reported....................
December.._ San Francisco.................... Y. W. C. A_____ ________
Oakland.
Cafeterias andlunch rooms
Los Angeles.
catering to women work-

Kansas:
1915 2........................ State-wide____________
19218........................ 38 cities and towns
throughout the State.

Number

INVESTIGATION OP CONDITIONS PEIOE TO SETTING A WAGE BATE

Table 18.—Methods used by the commissions in securing cost-of-living figures, by State and year

Table 18.

00

Methods used by the commissions in securing cost-of-living figures, by State and year—Continued
By commission or its agents

Study by agents in
given locality
Massachusetts:
3reier

Interviews with persons
or organizations familiar
with field

Budgets submitted by woman workers

Use of secondary material

Number

Industry

Locality

iTriSt £“?mJs®0.n u™al]y supplied each wage board with some materia] on the cost of living. Thi
Aims
artU4“ “neeted by m ^ °’the "ssi“- ujuuucu uuugew uuxu outer oiaies,
These original investigations by the

afjBnts most" comjmmiy “’some^p^es on
Minnesota (1914)4
North Dakota:
19195................

1921•............... .

Oregon:
1912 7......... .
1917-18«...........

Texas (1920)
Washington:
1914 io........




Minneapolis____ _____
St. Paul (room and
board).
State-wide____

State-wide (27 towns)...

Portland...........................
Not reported____ _____

State-wide (40 cities and
towns).
State-wide__ ____

2,303 (earning less than
$12.50 a week).
Workers..............
Employers.
Persons furnishing neces­
saries to the public.

U. S. Bureau of Labor Sta­
tistics.
30 (incidentals).
National Consumers’
League.
594
Original investigation by
U. S. Women’s Bureau.

Employees.................... .......
Rooming and boarding
house keepers.
Chamber of Commerce.
Portland merchants.
Paul H. Douglas, professor
of Economics at Reed
College.
Employers_________ ..

U. S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics.
Macy Commission.

Employers......................

Budgets prepared by eonferences of employees,
employers, and public.

‘.........

112.
27......................................

St. Paul.
Minneapolis.
Duluth.
Not reported.

Hotel and restaurant,
telephone, laundry,
factory, office.

181 (room and board)___
509 (clothing and inciden­
tals).

439.........................
2,750.

Employees__________
Employees.......................

'

27 towns.

Portland.
Do.

All....................................

40 cities and towns.

Mercantile, factory,
aundry, miscellaneous,
office, telephone, etc.).

Not reported.

Mercantile, factory,
laundry, telephone
and telegraph, hotel
and restaurant, office.

Do.
Do.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and year

_____________

Wisconsin:
1913-14 I2.................

tistics.

Y. W. C. A........ ...............
serving working women.
Store price lists.

1921 i«

Do.
Do.
Do.

.............
__________

State-wide (24 villages,
towns, and cities.)

128 73....................................
i
1,993.....................................

Store men.
Restaurateurs.
Landowners.
* Minnesota Minimum Wage Commission. First biennial report, 1913-14, pp. 23-37.
5 North Dakota Workmen’s Compensation Bureau. Bui. No. 1 under minimum-wage act, 1920, pp. 9-11.
6 North Dakota Workmen’s Compensation Bureau. Cost of living, 1921, pp. 1-2 (mimeographed).
7 Oregon Consumers’ League. Report of the social survey committee on wages, hours, and conditions of work arfd cost and standard of living, 1913, pp. 57-67.
8 Oregon Industrial Welfare Commission. Third biennial report, 1917-18, pp. 10-12.
* Texas Industrial Welfare Commission. Report, 1919-20, pp. 5, 6, and 9.
70 Washington Industrial Welfare Commission. First biennial report, 1913-14, pp. 18-23 and Appendix A, pp. 47-65.
h Washington Industrial Welfare Commission. Fourth biennial report, 1919-20, p. 51.
.
ii Wisconsin Industrial Commission. Cost of living of wage-earning women in Wisconsin, pp. 2-29.
i* Schedules for these budgets supplied by industrial commission.
Wisconsin Industrial Commission. Cost of living study, 1921, p. 1 (typewritten).

79




Milwaukee.

INVESTIGATION of conditions prior to settin g a wage rate

____ r______

213........................................
342.
223 .

1919-20 11 -

80

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The foregoing table is presented to show the sources of the costof-living information used by the various commissions in determining
the sums necessary for healthful self-support. It is interesting to
note that, except for a small investigation in Kansas in 1915, every
commission that has made a cost-of-living study has had its agents
conduct a first-hand study and has supplemented this information by
schedules of actual expenses made out by working women. More­
over, as appears in the table next presented, the majority of the costof-living budgets submitted have been theoretical, worked out by the
commission’s agents from all available material. In the few cases
where budgets from interested groups are presented, they merely sup­
plement the composite budgets.
The following table gives the actual amounts found by the cost-ofliving studies. Incidental items vary so that they have been lumped
in this table. The expenses most commonly included under this
head are laundry, car fares, doctors’ bills, church, charity, and
recreation.
Table

19.—Cost-of-living figures in studies made by commissions, by State
and year
•
Total

State and year

Clothing

Incidentals

Source of budget
Per
Per year week1

California:
1914 2.............

Room and
board

Industrial welfare commission.

19J9 1...............

Per
year

Per
week1

Per
year

Per
week1

$500. 45 $9.63 $300. 00 $5.77 $112. 25 $2.16
705. 95 13.67

429. 00

8.25

170. 75

3.28

Per
year

Per
week1

$88.20

$1. 70

106.20

„ „,
mission.
1920 1................ Industrial welfare com837. 95 16.11 560. 55 10. 78 156. 40 3.01 121.00
2. 33
mission.
1922—
April3___ * Industrial welfare com** 7
779. 80 14. 99 645.00 10.48 113. 80 2.19 121.00
2. 33
mission.
December2 Industrial welfare com836.30 16.08 573.00 11.02 142. 30 2. 74 121.00
2. 33
mission.
Kansas:
1915 «
379. 49
.84
1921 *................ Court of industrial re880. 57 16. 93 507.00 9.75 172.33 3.31 201.24
3. 87
lations.
Minnesota, 1914«. Wage boards:
Mercantile (Twin
449. 80 8. 65 249.60 4.80 104.00 2.00
96.20
1.85
Cities).
Manufacturing
458.64 8.82 260.00 5.00
99.84 1.92
98.80
(Twin Cities).
Duluth
451.88 8.69 254. 80 4.90 104.00 2.00
93.08
1. 79
Average of three above. 453. 44 8. 72 254. 80 4.90 102. 61 1.97
96.03
1. 85
Minimum-wage com302. 20 6. 81
mission.
Employees............... .
434. 72 8. 36 229. 32 4. 41
89. 96 1.73 115. 44
2. 22
North Dakota:
1919
............ Workmen's corapensa845.00 16.25 481.00 9.25 208.00 4.00 156.00
3.00
tion bureau—Minimum - wage department.
1 In some cases the result of dividing by 52, so details and total do not always agree.
1 California Industrial Welfare Commission. Fourth biennial report, 1919-20 and 1921-22, pp. 13-27
3 California Industrial Welfare Commission. Mimeographed budgets.
1 Kansas Industrial Welfare Commission. First biennial report, 1915-1917, p. 46.
1 Kansas Industrial Court. Cost of living study, Aug. 31, 1921, pp. 40 and 41.
• Minnesota Minimum Wage Commission. First biennial report, 1913-14, pp. 26, 30, 37, and 39.
7 North Dakota Workmen's Compensation Bureau. Report by secretary and special investigator of
the minimum wage commission from Aug. 4,1919, to Dec. 31,1919, p. n.




INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

81

Table 19.—Cost-of-living figures in studies made by commissions, bp State

and pear—Continued
Room and
board

Total
State and year

Per
Per year week1
North Dakota—
Continued.
19218

Oregon:
1912* .............

Clothing

Incidentals

Source of budget

Workmen's compensa­
tion bureau—M i n i mum - wage depart­
ment.

Per
year

Per
week1

Per
year

Per
week1

Per
year

$949. 52 $18.26 $508. 04 $9.77 $277. 68 $6. 34 $163. 80

527.23
Consumers' league in­
545.00
vestigators.
1917-18 18......... Industrial welfare com­
604.24
mission.
Texas, 192011........ Industrial welfare com­
704.60
mission.
786. 24
Washington:
1914 ™...............
507. 69
Employers
535.10
Mercantile—employees... 558. 28
1919-20 18_....... Industrial welfare com­ 1,175.17
mission.
Wisconsin, 1913- Industrial commission... 494.00
14 44
Employees...................__ 439.22

10.14
10. 48

266. 34
300.00

11. 62
13. 55
15.12
9.76
10.29
10. 74
22.60

Per
week1

$3. 16

5.12
5. 77

153. 03
130.00

2. 94
2.50

107. 86
115.00

2.07
2.21

326 56

6.28

157.04

3.02

120.64

2. 32

607.00

9. 75

92.66

1.78

105.04

2.02

284. 21 5. 47
331. 67 6. 38
287. 56 5. 53
566.24 10.89

140. 02
118.17
131. 80
337 60

2. 69
2.27
2. 53
6. 49

83. 46
85.26
138. 92
271.33

1. 61
1.64
2.67
5.22

9.50

338.00

6.50

98.80

1.90

57.20

1.10

8. 45

196. 36

3.78

108.88

2.09

133. 98

2.58

8 North Dakota Workmen’s Compensation Bureau. Minimum wage department. Cost of living sur­
vey, 1921. Mimeographed; not paged; tables not numbered.
9 Oregon Consumers' League. Report of the social survey committee on the wages, hours, and conditions
of work, and cost and standard of living, of women wage earners, 1913, pp. 61-67.
10 Oregon Industrial Welfare Commission. Third biennial report, 1917-18, pp. 10-12.
11 Texas Industrial Welfare Commission. Report June, 1919-Aug. 31, 1920, pp. 11 and 23.
18 Washington Industrial Welfare Commission. First biennial report, 1913-14, Appendix A, pp. 51-65.
18 Washington Industrial Welfare Commission. Fourth biennial report, 1919-20, p. 51.
14 Wisconsin Industrial Commission. Cost of living of wage-earning women in Wisconsin, pp. 19 and 29.

As in the case of the investigations of wages, the commissions have
been particularly careful to make cost-of-living studies before estab­
lishing their first decree. The revised decrees in some cases have
been preceded by complete cost-of-living studies—in California this
was done before each new group of orders—but the more usual pro­
cedure has been to raise or lower rates according to changes in the
cost of living while the original budget remained the basis on which
the changes were calculated. Moreover, the budgets presented are
only those made by the commissions prior to calling wage boards.
Almost every wage board did some work on this question. If they
accepted a previous study of the commission or of another wage
board, they estimated changes in the cost of living to bring their
studies up to date. The basis most commonly used for these estimates
was the cost-of-living study of the United States Bureau of Labor
Statistics. The first cost-of-living study, therefore, was much the
most important one, since when once a budget was established the
means of altering it as conditions changed was available.




82

minimum-wage laws in the united states

To bring out the differences in these budgets due to date and local­
ity, the following table showing cost of living for the total year is
included:
Table 20.—Estimated yearly cost of living, by State and year of completion of

survey
State

Source of budget
Industrial
mission.

welfare

1912
com­

1914

Washington..-

Industrial
mission.

com­

welfare

1919

com­

1921

$705. 95 $837. 95

1922
1 $779.80
2 836. 30

$880. 57
434. 72
845.00

949. 52

$545. 00
527.23

com­

welfare

1920

$379. 49

North Dakota. Workmen's compensation
bureau—Minimum wage
department.
welfare

1918

$500. 45

Court of industrial rela­
tions.

Industrial
mission.
Industrial
mission.

1915

$604. 24
704. 60
786. 24

507.69
535.10
558. 28

1,175.17
494.00
439.22

1 April.

2 December.

In the studies completed in the years 1912 and 1914, the total
cost in all the estimates runs surprisingly the same; $500 to $550
is roughly the sum that these studies present as their conclusion.
The only two figures that fall considerably below $500 are $434.72
in Minnesota and $439.22 in Wisconsin. These two figures and the
one submitted by women in mercantile stores in Washington are the
only ones that represent women’s expenditures based on their actual
earnings. They do not necessarily show a healthful standard of living.
If these two sums are considered as the smallest amount on which
a self-supporting woman can exist, their agreement, as well as their
falling below the sums estimated as the cost of decent living, is
explained. The only figure that runs over $550 is the average budget
of 27 girls employed in mercantile stores in the State of Washington.
It runs so slightly over $550 that the difference is not significant. It
is important, though, in its relation to the employee budgets from
Minnesota and Wisconsin, for it runs $120 higher than these. The
small sums in these two budgets and in the 1915 Kansas budget are
convincing arguments for the need of establishing a minimum-wage
rate. They fall far below the impartial investigations by commis­
sions in two States and the theoretical minimum budgets submitted
by either employers or employees.
.
The budget studies completed after 1915 show a steady increase
in the cost of living, but they do not produce figures that are approxi­
mately the same in all the States. In 1919 studies in two States
showed a range of $140 in the estimated cost of living. In 1920
California and Washington were almost $340 apart in their esti­
mates of the cost of living—a tremendous difference when the small
size of even the larger sum is considered—and Texas arrived at




INVESTIGATION OF CONDITIONS PRIOR TO SETTING A WAGE RATE

83

an estimate $133 below that of California. It must be that in some
States items have been considered necessaries that in other States have
been omitted. The 1920 figures in Table 19 show that there is less
than $6 difference in the sums estimated as the cost of room and
board in California and in Washington ($560.55 and $566.24, respec­
tively). The Washington estimate for clothing is more than $180
higher than the California estimate ($337.60 and $156.40, respec­
tively), and for incidentals the Washington figure is $150 higher
(California, $121, and Washington, $271.33). It is in clothing and
incidentals that opinion as to what are necessaries plays the greatest
part. It would appear that the commissions were making inde­
pendent lists of necessary articles and that in some States these
lists were much more inclusive than in others. If commission figures
can be so far apart it is easy to see why it is so hard for wage boards,
where conflicting interests are represented, to agree on what the cost
of living really is.
Summary.
The importance of these investigations by the commissions can not
be overemphasized. They show how uniformly the commissions
have studied the wage situation before instituting any wage boards
or taking action on rates themselves. All the investigations could
have covered more territory, more women, more places of business,
but a comparison of the number of women investigated and the
approximate number employed proves that the commissions included
a substantial proportion of the woman wage earners in their studies.
Though their methods of obtaining these figures are not in most
cases the ones considered most careful and accurate, some States
have used the most approved methods and most of the States un­
doubtedly have secured figures sufficiently good to fulfill the require­
ment of the laws that it be ascertained before the setting of a decree
that a large number of women and minors need this aid. More­
over, the table giving the methods employed in making cost-of-living
studies shows that a very real effort was made to do this part of the
work thoroughly. It is undoubtedly true that after the first series
of wage boards was established the commissions, in most States, did
not make so careful investigations before reconsidering rates as they
did before the original rates were set. In some States, however, their
methods of making investigations improved. Though continued in­
vestigation of wages and living costs may have been desirable, it
was not strictly necessary after a budget was accepted and a rate
was set. All revisions of the rate could be according to changes
in the cost of living. It is probable that most of the commissions,
when once they had some rates to enforce, lacked money to look after
enforcement and to institute new investigations. That continued in­
vestigations would have been extremely valuable is not denied. The
original budgets were far from perfect and continued study would
be likely to lead to a better balance among items and the inclusion
of those things that were really vital to the worker. Moreover, in­
vestigations that enabled the wage boards and commissions to see
what were the results of earlier decrees would be of great value in
determining how those decrees should be changed.




CHAPTER V.—PROCEDURE IN ORGANIZING FOR THE
PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WAGE RATES—LAW AND
PRACTICE

To return to the mechanics of setting the decree: If an investiga­
tion discloses such low wages that the commission determines to
establish a wage rate, its method of procedure in determining this
rate is carefully set forth in the laws. To carry out the express
purpose of these laws it is necessary that someone should study care­
fully the relation between the wages received and the cost of living
and determine what is the lowest wage that will provide the woman
worker with a decent, if frugal, livelihood. This effort to set a rate
to conform to actual conditions is the fundamental point in these
laws. The legal provisions that arrange for a body to do this work
and give this body certain powers set up a scheme that necessitates
every other provision in the laws. All acts authorized in the laws
are either in preparation for the work of this group or to enforce
the rates it sets.
BODY THAT SETS WAGE RATES

Provisions of laws.
Whether the commissions shall undertake this important work
themselves or shall delegate it to bodies organized for the purpose,
which will report their decisions to the commission for final accept­
ance or rejection, is carefully considered in the laws. The follow­
ing statement shows which body is required by law to determine
the amount of the minimum wage:
Commission that administers
law

Wage board appointed specifically
to determine this amount

Arkansas.
Colorado (1913).
Kansas (1921).
Texas.

California (1921).1
District of Columbia.2
Kansas (1915).
Massachusetts.2
Nebraska.2
North Dakota.2
Oregon.2
Washington.2
Wisconsin.3

Commission itself or a wage boarddecision as to method to rest
with commission

California (1913).
Colorado (1917),.2
Minnesota.

.

1 Board only recommends amount to commission.
2 Rates may be set for minors by commission without wage-board procedure.
* Called “advisory" board by the law and meets with commission to determine amount.

The principle of having a group of citizens, in no way connected
officially with carrying out the law, determine what is a fair rate to
pay woman workers, has been the most common solution of how this
difficult task shall be accomplished. This gives the commission the
84




85

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE RATES

opportunity to judge a completed piece of work and means that the
rate is the result not only of the best judgment of the wage board or
conference but of the review by the commission.
Method followed in practice.
In the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and
Oregon no decrees ever have been issued except through the process
of organizing wage boards to determine the amount of the rate. In
Kansas all decrees issued under the regime of the industrial welfare
commission followed the holding of wage boards. In Washington
all decrees for adults and the original decrees for minors in each
industry have been issued after wage boards were held.1 In Wiscon­
sin the two important decrees for all industries were issued following
meetings of the advisory wage board. The table following shows the
number of wage boards held and their relation to the number of
decrees issued.
Table 21.—Action

of

wage boards and number

wage decrees, by State

of

Number of boards that—

State

Recom­
mended Were recon­
rates for an vened to re­
industry adjust rates
that had that they
never been had pre­
covered by
viously
a mini­
recom­
mum-wage mended
rate

California________ _____

7
i4

25

Massachusetts..................
Minnesota............................

8 23
4

Oregon____________ ___
Washington...................
Wisconsin..........................

1

Total

Original Reissued

Total

7

15

11

29

40

1
8 6

42

21

413

34

,5

11
12

17

12

46

813

67

3

Recom­
mended
rates for an
industry
that had
previously
been cov­
ered by a
minimumwage rate

Number of decrees

68

1

1 First laundry board reconvened before any decree was issued.
3 Second laundry board organized before any decree was issued.
8 Second boards in corset and paper-box industries before any decree was issued; three boards in candy
before any decree was issued; original boards reconvened in muslin underwear and office-cleaners’ occupation
before any decree was issued; two boards, one reconvened and one new, in brush industry before a revised
decree was issued; one board in men’s clothing without a decree being issued.
4 Two reissued decrees took the place of four original ones.
4 Two cannery boards before decree was issued; war board held no decree entered; boards from 1916 on
were held for “all industries” but decree issued for various occupations or industries.
6 Two laundry boards organized before any decree was issued; two manufacturing boards organized before
decree was reissued.

Wage boards have been held to consider three phases of this prob­
lem of setting rates. As the table shows, they have been called to set
rates for an industry never before studied; they have been called to
adjust their own rates to accord with changes in the cost of living;
and they have been called to revise rates set by an earlier wage
board or by the commission. Of these three kinds of boards, the board
in an industry that had had no previous consideration had, of course,
the most difficult and responsible work to perform. This is the sort
Wage boards reported on adults only (see Washington law), but minors were discussed
and decrees for minors were issued at the same time as those for adults, immediately
following each wage board.




86

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

of decree for which the greatest number of wage boards have been
called.
Only in California and Minnesota has it been customary to issue
decrees without holding a wage board. Even in California wage
boards were held before 7 of the 11 original decrees were issued, but
the reports of these wage boards were much less formal than those
in the States where the laws required the boards to recommend the
actual rates. Minnesota has issued no decrees based directly on
recommendations of wage boards. Before any original decrees were
issued in Minnesota, four wage boards were held, but they were local
gatherings. Two were held in Duluth—one for the manufacturing
and one for the mercantile industry—and two in the Twin Cities,
St. Paul and Minneapolis, one each for the same industries. No
state-wide boards were held, and though the recommendations of the
local boards were given careful consideration by the commission they
were not accepted as a whole. In Kansas the amended law of 1921
provided that the rates should be set directly by the industrial court;
consequently the last three decrees were issued in this way. In
Arkansas and Texas all the decrees have been issued by the
commissions.
PROCEDURE WHEN WAGE BOARDS ARE ESTABLISHED

Organization of wage boards as provided for in the laws.
When a commission decides to organize a wage board, it finds its
procedure carefully outlined in the laws. The table following shows
the provisions in the laws under which the commissions must work.




Table 22.—Organization

of wage boards, by State

[From the minimum-wage laws]

Commission to act
as wage board

Method of selection

Composition of wage board

Special
qualifications

State
Shall
Arkansas...
California:
1913—
1921___

May

Equal number (3).

Equal numbers (not more than 3 of
each).

1921_______
Massachusetts:
1912..............

Equal number (6)..

Some one to represent com­
mission if desired.
Not more than 3. 1 or more
members of the board.

1914.

Equal numbers.

1919..
1920..

Equal numbers.
Equal numbers.

____do
........do

North Dakota..
Oregon_______
Texas______
Washington..

Wisconsin, 1913.




Equal number (3—10).

Equal number (3).
Equal numbers (not more than 3 of
each).
Equal numbers (not more than 3 of
each).
Equal numbers.

Elected by the employers of
the State in so far as this is
possible; approved by com­
mission.

Appointed by commission..

Elected by the employees of
the State in so far as this is
possible; approved by com­
mission.
Board shall name and appoint.

fMember of commission serv( ing on board.

Employers and employees
selected must be in the occu­
pation, trade, or industry in
question.

5 per diem and necessary trav­
eling expenses.

Selected by commission..

Employers and employees
selected must be in the occu­
pation in question.

Same rate as jurors in counties
of record, plus necessary
traveling and clerical appro­
priation.

----- do_____ _ _____ ___ ____
_

1 or more but may not exceed
the number of representa­
tives of either party. One
member a woman.
The 3 appointed members of
the commission.
Not more than 3. 1 or more
commissioners.
Not more than 3. 1 or more
commissioners.

1 or more but may not exceed
the number of representa­
tives of either of the other
parties, and member of com­
.
mission.
Commission decides on fair representation________ ____ _________

Selected by commission from
representatives of public.

Appointed by commission.

Nominated by employers and employees, respectively, within Appointed by Commission10 days of notification by commission. Selected from these
lists by commission.
Vacancies on board filled by commission..........................................
Nominations must include twice as many names as there are to
be representatives on the wage board. Commission must
select one-half the names submitted. May appoint remain­
ing members directly.
One-fifth of Elected by the employers of Elected by the employees of Appointed by commission..
the State in so far as this is
the State in so far as this is
membership.
practicable.
practicable.
The three appointed members
of the minimum wage com­
mission.

Appointed by commission.
Named and appointed by the workmen’s compensation bureau.

Named and appointed by commission.
Appointed by commission.

Same rates as jurors in civil
cases in the district court;
necessary traveling and cleri­
cal expenses.

-do..

Commission shall appoint.

1 or more but may not exceed
one-half of the number of
representatives of either of
other parties.
........do

3-10

1 member of
each group.

Payment

Chairman

Selected by commission..

Left to the industrial-welfare commission.

Equal number (3)..

Nebraska..

Public

Employees

Employers

I

Kansas:
1915..

Minnesota.

Women

Equal numbers.

Colorado:
1913...
1917-

District of Columbia.

Public

Employees

Employers

-L

-do_.
-do..
_do_.

Chairman of the commission.

Persons selected to represent Same rate as jurors; necessary
traveling and clerical ex­
the employers and the wom­
en employees must be in
penses.
the occupation in question.
Do.
___ do....................... .....................
-do..
Persons appointed by com­
mission to be employers and
employees in the occupation
in question.
Employers and employees
selected must be in the occu­
pation in question.
----- do..................... ............ .........

Designated by bureau..........

Without pay.

Same rates as jurors in district
courts; necessary traveling
and other expenses.

-do..

Designated by commission.

Do.
Do.

_do..

Member of commission..

Employers and employees
selected must be in the occu­
pation in question.

Appointed by commission.

J______________ L
60769°—28.

(Face p. 86.)

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE RATES

87

The laws in Arkansas and Texas do not provide for wage boards.
In every other State except California the law provides that the
membership shall represent the employers, the employees, and the
public. The relation among these groups is specified in all the laws
except that of Wisconsin. Many of the laws even specify the numher of representatives who are to be appointed, The number of
employer and employee representatives varies, though the most
usual number mentioned is three of each, but whatever the actual
number these two groups always are equal. The Wisconsin law
specifies that employers, employees, and the public shall be repre­
sented, but leaves the number of each group and their relative size
to the commission. Seven States—California, Colorado (1917), Dis­
trict of Columbia, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wash­
ington provide for the participation of the commission in the
work of the wage board. In all these States except California the
commissioners are to serve as part or all of the public group. In
California the member of the commission who serves on a wage board
is to serve as the commission’s representative, reporting to that body
on the work. In Nebraska the three appointed members of the com­
mission are to compose the entire public group on each wage board.
In all the other States except California and Nebraska any commis­
sion member serves in addition to a public group appointed by
the commission. In Colorado whether or not a commissioner serves
on a wage board is optional with the commission. Though these
boards are to deal almost wholly with women, only two States, Colo­
rado (1917) and Minnesota, definitely provide that some of the
board members must be women. The Colorado la w specifies that one
member of each of the three groups be a woman and Minnesota that
one-fifth of the board’s total membership be women. Thus, all the
laws emphasize the representation of the two economic groups that
will be directly affected by the decree and almost all of them empha­
size the presumably impartial group, the public.
Actual membership of the wage boards.
Consideration of the personnel of the boards appointed to do
the work of setting wage rates is discussed here in connection with
the foregoing section on the requirements of the laws, though it
would be interesting to discuss it in connection with the rates set.
There is, however, one point about the membership of these wage
boards that is of interest in its relation to the membership of the
commissions themselves—that is, the participation of women. In the
organization of the commissions women have played such an impor­
tant part that it is pertinent to see what part they have taken in
this fundamental work of setting wage rates. The tables that follow
show the proportion of women in each representative group and on
the entire board. When it is realized that these boards were en­
gaged in determining how much it costs working women to live, it is
amazing that a task whose problems were those of most women should
have been given so largely to men. Women form the vast majoritv of
buyers in all walks of life, so that in general they are more familiar
with pi ices and the utility of articles than are men, and as it was
60769°—28------ 7




88

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

their own needs that were being considered it is hard to see on what
basis men were supposed to be better fitted to decide their cost of
living.
In all the States the preponderance of men as owners or executives
in business has necessitated that the employer group should be com­
posed almost wholly of men. Only four women ever have served
as employer representatives on a wage board. In three cases in
Massachusetts—the second women’s clothing board (1922), the re­
convened muslin underwear board (1922), and the millinery board,
reconvened and combined (1925)—and in one case in Washington—
the mercantile board (1921)—one member of the employer group in
each case was a woman.
If there is a logical reason for having so few women as em­
ployer members, theoretically it is hard to see why men should ever
be appointed to represent the women employees; yet this has some­
times been the case. Three States—Kansas, Massachusetts, and Wis­
consin—have organized one or more wage boards with men serving
as representatives of the woman workers. The only possible ex­
planation of this seems to be the great difficulty which the commis­
sions have sometimes encountered in getting people to serve as em­
ployee representatives. The table following shows the proportion of
women serving as employee representatives on wage boards.
Table 23 —Proportion of employee representatives on wage hoards who were

women, by State
Number of wage boards on which women formed, of the employee repre­
sentatives—

State

Total
number
10
Un­ and
of wage
boards 1 None der under
10
20
per
per
cent cent

All States__
District of Colum-

99

"V-

3

20
and
under
30
per
cent

30
and
under
40
per
cent
1

40
and
under
50
per
cent

50
and
under
60
per
cent
2

60
and
under
70
per
cent
11

70
and
under
80
per
cent

80
and
under
90
per
cent
5

13
25
6
338
1
12
11
12
1

90
and
under 100
per
100 cent
per
cent
77
13

3

1

1

3
8

5

5
3
20
1
12
11
12

1

1 Includes all wage boards for which a report on the membership could be obtained.
2 Reconvened laundry board had same membership as first board and does not appear in this table.
3 Original boards in muslin underwear and office and building cleaners, reconvened before any decree was
issued, appear only once in this table. Membership of 2 boards (candy 1914 and corset 1915) not available.

In most of the States the practice has been to appoint employee
groups composed entirely of women. Wisconsin is the only State that
has always had some men as representatives of the woman workers.
Moreover, though Wisconsin appears in the table as having had
only one wage board, this same group has been called together
three times so that both wage decrees for “ all industries ” issued
in Wisconsin have embodied the results of its recommendations.




PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE RATES

89

The third group, usually called the public but intended to be an
impartial group rather than to represent any special viewpoint,
also has had a majority of men. The following table shows the
proportion of women serving in the public group:
Table 24.—Proportion of public representatives on wage boards who were

women, by State
Number of wage boards on which women formed, of the public
representatives—
State.

Total
number
of wage
boards 1

All States_
_

86

District of Colum­
bia____________
Kansas
Massachusetts........
Minnesota
North Dakota........
Oregon.
Washington............
Wisconsin

25
6
3 38
1
12
11
12
1

None

17

10
20
Un­
der and and
10 under under
20
30
per
per
cent per
cent cent
2

40
and
under
50
per
cent

50
and
under
60
per
cent

60
and
under
70
per
cent

1

1

59

5

4

3
13
1

30
and
under
40
per
cent

1
1

24
11
10
10

70
and
under
80
per
cent

80
and
under
90
per
cent

90
and
under 100
per
100
cent
per
cent
3

2
1

1
2

' Indudes all wage boards for which a report on membership could be obtained.
■ Reconvened laundry board had same membership as first board and does not appear in this table.
Original boards in muslin underwear and office and building cleaners, reconvened before any decree
was issued, appear only once in this table. Membership of 2 boards (candy 1914 and corset 1915) not
available.

In the District of Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, where the
wage boards were organized with three public representatives, one
wage board in the District of Columbia and in Oregon and two wage
boards in Washington were organized with two women in the public
group. In Kansas, on two wage boards, a woman served as the
only public representative, and on another board, with three public
members, two women served. In Massachusetts one wage board had
a woman as its single public representative. In addition to the
public members in the foregoing table, a woman represented the Cali­
fornia commission on each of the 13 wage boards held in that State.
This representative of the commissioners served as the referee be­
tween employers and employees and held the balance of power be­
tween them, just as the public members did in the other States. Her
function was so analogous to that of a public member that she is
included in this discussion. Including California, only 21 of the 99
wage boards had a majority of their disinterested members women,
and 13 of the 21 were cases where this member represented the com­
mission (California). Seventeen wage boards, 13 of which were in
Massachusetts, had no women whatsoever serving on the public group.
With almost no women representing the employers, with men
sometimes representing the woman workers, and with the majority of
the public representatives men, the following table, showing the per­
centage of women on the entire wage boards, is hardly necessary ex­
cept to emphasize that most of the boards have been controlled by the
men members.




90

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 25.—Proportion of all wage-hoard members who were women, by State
Number of wage boards on which women formed, of all members—

State

Total
10
Un­ and
number
der under
of wage
boards 1 None 10
20
per
per
cent cent

District of Colum-

13
25
6
338
12
11
12
1

30
and
under
40
per
cent

40
and
under
50
per
cent

6

8

50
and
under
60
per
cent

58

60
and
under
70
per
cent

21

|
1
4

2
3

1

90
and
under 100
per
100 cent
per
cent

1
2
3

11
10
9
1

80
and
under
90
per
cent

2

4
2
22

6
1
1

70
and
under
80
per
cent

2

11

4

99

All States_
_

20
and
under
30
per
cent

1
3
1

1Includes all wage boards for which a report on membership could be obtained.

2 Reconvened laundry board had same, membership as first board and does not appear in this table.
2 Original boards in muslin underwear and office building cleaners, reconvened before any decree was
issued, appear only once in this table. Membership of 2 boards (candy 1914 and corset 1915) not
available.

Two California wage boards have had as much as two-thirds of
their membership women, but each of these boards consisted of five
members, three of whom were women, the balance being held by the
woman commissioner. The real situation appears when it is noted
that of 99 wage boards 23 have had a bare majority of women.
This analysis of the part taken by women in general in setting
wage rates for themselves as workers may seem to inject into the
minimum-wage question a new and unimportant element of con­
troversy ; that is, whether there is any real reason for giving women,
as women, a larger share, or, through majority representation of the
public group, the deciding voice, in determining the amount on which
a working woman can support herself, when the field is already
filled with other questions on which there are differences of opinion.
It is, however, because of the fact that all the State laws direct that
wage rates be set so as to approximate the cost of fiving, and that
rates often have been set beknv such a sum, that the choice of so
many men for wage-board duty can be questioned. It is possible
that one cause of these discrepancies between cost-of-living figures
and rates may have been the lack of knowledge on the part of the
men as to just what it does cost a woman to live. It is hard to see
how the statement made a little earlier in this report that women
on the whole know all living costs better than do men. and their
own needs much better than men can know them, can be refuted.
It can only be urged that there are other and more pressing reasons
for appointing men. Undoubtedly two factors have contributed
largely to the selection of so many men. The first is the feeling that
the more prominent were the wage-board members the more weight
would their decisions carry with the general public, and that in so
new a field it was necessary that persons of standing should make
the decisions, particularly the decisions of the. public group which
in most cases swung the balance toward the employer or the employee
group. As communities are organized at present there are many




PROCEDURE POE DETERMINING WAGE RATES

91

more such men than women. Second, in many cases there has been
a feeling on the part of the employers that men, more than women,
would appreciate the importance of general business prosperity and
expansion, and would not allow rates to be set that would be greater
than a marginal concern could afford to pay, even though the lower
rate might in no way approximate the cost of living. It may be
recalled that only in Colorado (1913), Massachusetts, and'Nebraska
did the laws require that the wage boards or the commissions con­
sider the financial condition of the industry in setting wage rates,2
and the very serious ethical question involved here—of whether or
not any industry should expect to go on functioning and paying a
return to its owner or owners if it can not pay its workers a living
wage—tacitly has been decided in favor of paying a living wage
by the very enactment of the laws themselves. It would seem, there­
fore, that the appointment of people because they held the opinion 1
that the financial condition of the industry should be considered was
almost equivalent to the appointment of people who were not strictly
impartial; that it was, moreover, not truly in the spirit of the
majority of the laws; and that the laws would be best carried out
by that group in the community who knew the most about how much
it actually costs to live.
”
,
Methods of selecting wage-board members provided in the laws.
How to select wage-board members who can perform their difficult
tasks well and who are acceptable to the many people affected by
their decisions has been one of the hardest problems that have con­
fronted the minimum-wage commissions. Most of the laws have
given the commissions a free hand in selecting the people who shall
serve. In every State the members of the important public group are
to be selected and appointed directly by the commission. Only in
Colorado (1917), Massachusetts (1914), and Minnesota do the laws
provide that the employer and employee members are to be suggested
by the groups they are to represent.
The laws of Colorado and Minnesota, however, provide that the
commissions need organize wage boards from persons elected by the
employers and employees only so far as this is practical. The boards
could be completed by the commission itself, so that the efforts of
these States to obtain proper wage-board members probably need
not have been any more restricted than were those of the States
where the commissions were allowed to obtain members in whatever
way seemed best. In Massachusetts, though, a situation developed
that for a time permitted the commission to exercise only a limited
control over the personnel of the wage boards. The original Massa­
chusetts law (1912) gave the commission the power of selecting these
representatives, but this section of the 1 aw has been changed three
times since it was originally enacted. The first amendment, in 1914,
provided that the commission was to select the representatives of the
employers from nominations made by the employers in the trade
or occupation under consideration, and the representatives of the
employees in a like manner from nominations made by the em2 Tlie Massachusetts law was tile only one o£ the three that ever functioned, so this
arose as a practical question in only the one State.




92

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

ployees, unless no nominations were sent to the commission within 10
days after the two groups were notified to make nominations. This
really worked out so that these nominations could be equivalent to
an election, since either group by nominating only the specified num­
ber of representatives set by the commission could force the appoint­
ment of all its nominees. In 1920 the law was again amended by
providing that the commission need choose for service on the wage
board only one-half of the persons nominated by the employers and
employees, respectively. In case the employers or employees did not
submit twice as many names as the commission had announced there
would be wage-board representatives, the commission could choose
directly the remaining members necessary to complete the panel.
Meanwhile, in 1919 another amendment had given the commission
the power to fill any vacancy that might occur on a wage board
’ caused by a representative’s dropping out after it was organized.
Thus, after having had the power to select wage-board members as
it thought best, the commission, through the 1914 amendment of the
law, found itself in a position where it had such limited power that
other agencies could control the choice of wage-board members. At
present, however, while the employers and employees are guaranteed
some voice in the selection of wage-board members, the commission is
given enough power, through the amendments of 1919 and 1920, to
organize a -wage board without the cooperation of these groups, as
units, if for any reason it is impossible to secure their help. In the
other 10 minimum-wage States, the difficulties inherent in carrying
out this part of the law have been dealt with by the commissions as
they thought best. The laws simply declare the kind of representa­
tion required on the wage boards and the commissions must obtain
members that meet these specifications.
Methods actually used in selecting wage-board members.
It has been an extremely difficult task in all the States to get suit­
able wage-board members. The employee groups are the most diffi­
cult to obtain. Often the woman workers themselves are afraid to
serve on wage boards for fear they will incur their employers’ dis­
pleasure, thinking that, if not discharged, they certainly will be dis­
criminated against.
Even when a woman is willing to serve, such practical considera­
tions as lack of time, living at a distance from the locality where the
meetings are being held, and sometimes such financial stress that the
woman can not afford to serve, may prevent participation in wageboard activities. Some States have tried to provide sufficient pay for
wage-board members to remove the difficulty last mentioned. Never­
theless, the majority of the 11 States where wage boards may be
held—Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin,
and the District of Columbia—do not provide any remuneration for
wage-board work. In the next place, it takes exceptional workers to
have the personality and knowledge needed to present the employees’
case convincingly. Among, the hundreds or thousands of workers in
an industry or occupation scattered throughout a State the task of
finding such workers is difficult indeed.
As far as the employers are concerned, it is often very hard for
busy men to find the time necessary for the wage boards, so that




PEOCEDTJBE FOB DETERMINING WAGE BATES

93

they are loath to undertake the work. There is also the need, par­
ticularly as far as the members of the employer and the public
groups are concerned, that they know something about general living
conditions and costs so that they can give intelligent service. The
great difficulty in the way of getting good public members is to find
people who know enough about the workers1 needs, general economic
conditions, and the specific problems of the trade or industry under
consideration, to be of value and yet at the same time to be impartial.
Whether the methods of securing wage-board members provided in
the laws or worked out by the different commissions have been such
as to obtain the best possible wage-board members is hard to answer
decisively. Among the various States all sorts of schemes have been
tried, some at one time and some at another, but the difficulty of get­
ting people, particularly the employees, to serve has forced most com­
missions to exhaust all possible sources as each board was organized,
and in the end, as a member of the Washington Minimum Wage
Committee said, “ almost to draft the employee members to get them
in.” This situation makes it impossible to discuss the relative merits
of the plans tried. They can only be summarized to show just what
they have been.
Methods used in selecting wage-hoard members when laws give
s-pecifie directions.—Since Colorado (1917), Massachusetts, and
Minnesota have specifically stated in their laws how wage-board mem­
bers are to be secured, the way these directions have worked out will
be the first point considered. Colorado has never held a wage board.
Minnesota held a series of wage boards in 1913, prior to setting
the first decrees in the State, but most of the records of these boards
have been destroyed, so the information concerning them is too scant
to make a discussion of them profitable. However, it is known that
the commission had the usual difficulty in securing employee repre­
sentatives. The first biennial report of the commission makes the
following statement:
The commission was not successful in finding employees who would or could
serve on advisory boards in Minneapolis and St. Paul. At the final meeting of
the Twin City mercantile advisory board, three employees were still members
of the board, and, of these, two failed to attend the meeting. One employee
was found willing to serve on the Twin City manufacturing board, but she at­
tended only the first meetings of the board, and although especially urged to
attend the final meeting, she refused. The experience in Duluth was better.
The eight employees on the board attended a majority of the meetings, and
four of the mercantile employees voted on the recommendation on the cost of
living.3

Not only was the organization of the Minnesota wage boards in­
formal, but they served merely in an advisory capacity, while in
Massachusetts the wage board’s recommendations, if accepted, formed
the decree of the commission. Of the States whose laws direct how
the wage boards are to be formed Massachusetts is the only one for
which the methods of obtaining wage-board, members are known in
detail.
When the Massachusetts Legislature in 1914 amended the mini­
mum-wage law to require that wage-board members be selected from
nominations made by the employers and employees, respectively, it
was simply incorporating in the law the procedure already followed
3 Minnesota Minimum Wage Commission.




First biennial report, 1913-14, p.

4.

94

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

by the commission. In discussing the formation of the brush wage
board, the first held in Massachusetts, the commission stated: “ It
was the policy of the commission to appoint the members of the wage
board in such a way that it might be as widely representative as
possible. To this end, every manufacturer [of brushes] in the State
was asked to make nominations. Nominations were also called for
from the workers, and an effort was made to secure representatives
from the different groups and nationalities among them.”i Before
the formation of the second wage board (the candy industry) was
completed the law was amended to require nominations from the
employers and employees, and the State’s attorney general ruled that
this board was not legal, since it was completed by the commission
without nominations from these two groups.5 Thus practically all
the Massachusetts wage boards have been organized from groups
nominated by the employers and employees, so a study of how these
nominations were obtained for one board will show the usual pro­
cedure.
Three ways were used by the commission to obtain nominations.
The first step was to advertise in the newspapers the intention to
hold a wage board, and to request employers and employees to send
nominations. The following form shows the advertisement used:
commissioner’s

notice

(Advertisement)

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, department of labor and industries—divi-

vision of minimum waye.—The minimum-wage commission of the department
of labor and industries hereby gives notice that it has voted to form a new
wage board for the paper box occupation. This action is taken in accordance
with the provisions of section 5 of chapter 151 of the general laws.
This board is to consist of 15 members, 3 representatives of the public to be
appointed directly by the commission, 0 representatives of employers, and 6
representatives of employees.
The occupation includes the manufacture of set-up, folding, and corrugated
boxes, both those produced by consumers’ plants and those manufactured for
the trade. It is desired that the nominations submitted for the board should
represent the various lines to be considered.
Employers and employees in the occupation are requested to submit to the
commission nominations for their representatives on this board. Nominations
must be made in writing and submitted to the minimum-wage commission at
its office, Room 473, Statehouse, Boston, not later than December 5, 1921.
The law provides that in case less than twice the number of names required
for representatives of employers or employees are submitted within the time
specified, that the commission may appoint directly employers or employees
as the case may be to fill one-half of the positions. In case nominations are
not submitted before the date for filing expires, the commission is authorized
to appoint directly all of the representatives of employers or employees.
Minimum
t

Wage

Edward Fisher,
Samuel Ross.

Commission.

Chairman.

Letters were sent also to every employer in the trade so far as the
commission knew of the existence of the establishment. This list of
firms usually was a very complete one, since the industry had been
investigated by the minimum-wage commission’s agents to obtain
data on wages and the commission had at its disposal the names of* 6
4 Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission.
6 Attorney general’s opinion, June 30, 1915.




First annual report, 1913, p. 11.

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE RATES

95

supposedly all the firms in the State, as they were regularly sending
information to the division of statistics in the department of labor
and industries. The following letter used for the minor confection­
ery wage board shows the type of letter sent to employers.
LETTER TO EMPLOYERS
Gentlemen : An investigation into wage conditions of women employed in the
establishments manufacturing food preparations and minor lines of confec­
tionery in the State has recently been completed by the commission. Since the
result of this inquiry indicates, in tiie opinion of the commission, that a sub­
stantial number of women are receiving wages below the cost of living, the
commission, as required by law, is proceeding to establish a wage board for the
occupation.
It is the intention of the commission to form a board of 15 members, con­
sisting of 6 representatives of employers, 6 representatives of employees’, and
3 representatives of the public, one of whom will act as chairman. The board
is to cover in its determinations establishments manufacturing food prepara­
tions including soda fountain supplies, macaroni, potato chips, peanut butter,
maple sirup, prepared flour, gelatine, etc.; and minor lines of confectionery in­
cluding blanched and prepared nuts, nut brittle, stuffed fruits, popcorn balls,
chewing gum, and similar products. It is desired that the nominations shall be
representative of the various lines to be included.
.
You are invited to nominate representatives of employers to this board by
submitting names to the division within 10 days after a public notice which
will appear on June 10 in the following newspapers: Boston Herald and the
I.owell Courier Citizen. The name, address, and business affiliation of nominees
should be given, also a brief statement regarding their qualifications for wageboard service.
The commission also asks for nominations from employees for their repre­
sentatives on this wage board. In accordance with the provisions of chapter 77
of the General Acts of 1919, the commission requests that you post the accom­
panying notice in a conspicuous position in your establishment where it may
readily be seen by all your women employees, and that you maintain it until
the final date for submitting nominations, June 21, has passed.
Your cooperation in forming the wage board and in supporting its work is
invited.
Very truly yours,
Division

of

Minimum Wage,

Assistant Commissioner.

Letters were sent also to a number of women employees in the
State, but this group naturally was not covered so completely by let­
ters, due to the much greater number of people involved and also to
the fact that their addresses in any number were hard to obtain. To
obtain as many such addresses as possible, when an investigation of
wages was made every employee in the firms visited was asked to fill
out a card giving some personal information, including her address.
A letter requesting wage-board nominations was sent to every such
woman. A copy of a typical letter follows.
LETTER TO EMPLOYEES
Dear Madam : You are invited to send to this office the name and address of
tiie person you would like to have represent you on a wage board this commis­
sion is forming to determine a minimum wage for women and girls who work in
paper-box factories.
Any woman in Massachusetts who is a paper-box worker may send in a
nomination for this board. From the names received the commission will choose
six to look out for the interests of the employees. There will be also six people
to represent the employers, and three to represent the public, one of whom will
be chairman.




96

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The workers on this board will have to help decide what is the least on
which a self-supporting girl can live decently and keep well; whether the fac­
tories can stand a living wage at this time; and then, in view of the situation,
what is a suitable minimum wage for the girls in the factories.
As the persons selected to represent the workers -will not only represent you
and the other girls in your factory but all the women and girls in the State who
work in paper-box factories, it is important that you name the best people
you know for this place.
Names may be sent to this office up to December 5, 1921. The letters should
be addressed, Minimum Wage Commission, Room 473, Statehouse, Boston. In
making the nominations, please give your name, address and occupation, and the
same information for the person you nominate. A form for this purpose is
inclosed. Only the names of those selected to serve on the wage board will be
made public. The names of the persons who make the nominations are not
published.
.
The State tries to protect workers who serve on wage boards, by providing
that any employer who can be proved to have discharged or in any way dis­
criminated against an employee because that employee has served, or is going
to serve, on a wage board shall be punished by a fine of from $200 to $1,1X10.
As the wage board almost always meets in the evening, employees who serve
on the board do not have to lose their day’s work. They are paid $4 for every
meeting they attend and in addition are allowed their necessary traveling
expenses.
Will you please give this notice to your fellow workers? The board .is
intended to help you. Will you do your part in helping to form this board?
Very truly yours,
Assistant Commissioner.

By means of these letters a large proportion of the women in the
occupation were reached, but additional steps were taken in an effort
to have the employees participate fully. The commission sent to
every employer a notice that wage-board nominations were desired,
which was to be posted where the employees would see it. The
notice following is a sample of the notices sent out.
Notice to Women Employees

Regarding establishment of wage board for the--------Purpose of board.—The minimum-wage commission is forming a wage board
to determine minimum rates in this occupation.
Duties.—The wage, board will have to consider the cost of living for women
workers, and the financial condition of the industry, and then decide what is a
suitable minimum wage for women engaged in this work.
Members.—This board will consist of an equal number of representatives of
employers and of the employees in the industry, and a certain number of per­
sons chosen to represent the public, one of whom will he chairman.
Selection of members.—The representatives of employees will be selected from
names submitted by the women workers, provided they are sent to the commis­
sion within 10 days.
Qualifications.—The persons nominated should be well informed about condi­
tions in the industry, and should be such that the entire body of women em­
ployees may confidently expect from them the fairest and ablest treatment of
their interests.
.
Protection.—The law provides for the protection of representatives of em­
ployees in connection with their work on the wage board, and makes it a pun­
ishable offense for an employer to discharge or in any way to discriminate
against an employee for such work.
Compensation.—Members of the wage board are paid $6 for each day s serv­
ice. They are also allowed their necessary traveling expenses.
Information.—Further information concerning the work of the wage board
and the nominations may be secured by addressing the minimum-wage commis­
sion or by coming to the office, room 473K, Statehouse, Boston.
Form for nominations.—Nominations for the wage board may be made m the
following way. The form given below is a suggestion for your convenience. It




PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE RATES

97

Is not necessary to use this. All that is required is the name, address, and oc­
cupation of the person you wish to nominate, the firm by which she is employed
and the same information for the person making the nomination. This should
be sent to the Minimum Wage Commission, Boom 473, Statehouse, Boston, not
later than _____----------- ——----- Additional nomination blanks may be secured
at the commission office.
By order of the minimum wage commission.
Ethel M. Johnson,

Assistant Commissioner, Acting Director.
WAGE BOARD NOMINATION FORM FOR EMPLOYEES

To

the

Minimum Waqe Commission,

Boston, Mass.
I wish to nominateof___
(Name of person nominated)

(Address" of”person nominated”)'

who /is employed ”
'
.......... " as
lhas been employed as
by

(Give occupation, present or former, if person is
not now employed)

------------------- -------------------------------to
(Name and address of employer)

employees on the_

represent the

wage board, because-

_

(State qualifications of nominee)

.

(Town or city)

I am a resident of--------------------------------------------------------------is--------------------------------------Date

My occupation

X am employed by

(Name and address of employer)

(Signature)

form of nomination at the bottom of this notice is similar
to that sent out in each letter to the individual employers and
employees. Moreover, if the number of nominations sent in response
to the letters, posters, and advertisements was not sufficient, meetings
at the statehouse for the purpose of securing nominations often were
held. This step frequently was necessary in securing employee mem­
bers, for this was the group least inclined to interest itself actively
m the formation of the wage board.
In the early days of the Massachusetts commission, those engaged
m an industry, either employers or employees, could nominate whom
they pleased. In this way a number of members of the early wage
boards, and more particularly the employee members, were not con­
nected with the industry under discussion. This may have been of
advantage, especially for the employees, in that people could be
obtained who were not afraid to say what they thought and who were
more articulate than the average woman wage earner. It had the
disadvantage, however, of bringing in people who were not thoroughly
familiar with the problems under consideration. If this rule was to
aid in obtaining a large number of nominations for wage-board mem­
bers it failed of its purpose. It was practically abandoned after the
consolidation, and most of the employer and employee members of
the later wage boards were connected with the industry involved.
In spite of the many ways of soliciting nominations and the care
with which the plans were carried out, the commission was not alto­
gether successful in getting a sufficient number of nominations from
either group, since an amendment to the law passed in 1920 gave the




98

minimum-wage laws in the united states

commission power to complete wage boards for which there were not
twice as many nominations as the number of places to be filled.
This would mean that the commission’s experience had been that
fewer than 12 nominations were made by each group. Undoubtedly
there was no definite attempt to control wage-board memberships
through making so few nominations that the commission could exer­
cise no choice in its appointment of wage-board members, but rather
the lack of nominations resulted from inertia. The Massachusetts
experience, therefore, has been that it is extremely difficult to secure
employee members for the wage boards, and that even in the employer
group* the response has been less than was needed to carry out the
original plans of the commission as enacted in the 1914 law.
Methods used by the States where the law does not outline the com.mission’s procedure.—In only five States—California, the District of
Columbia, Kansas, Washington, and Wisconsin—are any reports
available as to how wage boards were organized by the commissions.®
The District of Columbia is the only one of these that has followed
in detail the plan of nominations by employers and employees set
forth in the Massachusetts law. Before its first wage conference was
organized, the District of Columbia Board (the commission) issued
the following rule:
The employers in the industry under investigation shall he asked to nominate
as their representatives six of their number; the employees in that industry
shall he asked to nominate as their representatives six of their number; each
member of the board shall nominate three representatives of the public. The
board will, in so far as is possible, name and appoint the members of the
conference from the persons so nominated, and designate the chairman thereof.
The board will fill all vacancies on a conference, if possible, from the remain­
ing nominees.*
7

To secure these nominations the District Minimum Wage Board
(the commission) used any employers’ organizations that existed
and only resorted to the Massachusetts plan of getting in touch with
the individual employers in trades where there was no organization.
When this latter plan was used, the small size of the territory al­
lowed the commission to call the individuals together for a meeting,
where nominations were made. To obtain the employee members
meetings always were held. Attendance was secured through news­
paper notices and posters in the places of employment. In organiz­
ing wage boards the fact that the law applied to a territory less than
10 miles square was important and made the District of Columbia
situation very different from that faced by the States. Particularly
in obtaining employee representatives, the commission was able to
have its agents get in touch personally with practically all the women.
Also, if a meeting was held, everyone in the occupation or industry
that it was proposed to cover by the decree could attend at .small
cost and with little effort. This resulted in an unusual response on
the part of the employees.
In the first two boards, the printing and publishing and the mer­
cantile, representative groups of employees met and nominated the
members of the employee group on the wage boards. The employers
0 No wage boards ever were held in Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Texas,
bureau has no information on methods of selection in Oregon and North Dakota.
7 District of Columbia Minimum Wage Board. Second annual report, 1919, p. 9,




The

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE BATES

99

in the trade also nominated their own representatives. The com­
mission found impartial and representative citizens willing to serve
as the public members. The practical application of the law prob­
ably approached more closely the theory of minimum-wage laws
than that in any other State. This situation, however, did not hold
so true for the next two wage boards—the hotel and restaurant board
and the laundry board. The employer and public groups were as
representative as in the first two cases, but it became increasingly
hard to obtain adequate employee representation. It was not only
more difficult to get the women to serve originally, but they dropped
out after one or two meetings and new ones had to be found to take
their places.. This was particularly true of the laundry board. It
may be possible to explain this change on the ground that the first
two industries employed large numbers of skilled and very able
women, a type necessary for the work required. This provided an
unusual group which took a much greater interest than could nor­
mally be expected among week workers and among whom there
was an exceptionally high proportion of women capable of serving
efficiently on a wage board. It is also true that in the laundry in­
dustry, where the greatest trouble with employee representatives
was experienced, the vast majority of the women were negroes and
formed probably one of the most inarticulate working groups in
the city. It is true further that employers’ opposition to the mini­
mum-wage law was much more pronounced in the hotel and
restaurant group and the laundry group than in the others. The
most opposition to the law was round among the laundry owners.
How much this accounts for the difficulty of obtaining employee rep­
resentatives in the occupations can not even be estimated, but it is
too interesting a fact to be overlooked, particularly in the light of
the very successful cooperation of all groups in the forming of the
first two wage boards.
The only other State that has ever had unorganized employees
nominate wage-board members is California. This plan, however,
was never used there to anything like the extent to which it was used
in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. The following
notice, posted in the establishments, shows how these nominations
were secured:
To the women employees in the mercantile industry:
After completing extensive investigations in the mercantile industry of Cali­
fornia, the Industrial Welfare Commission is now prepared to proceed to its
next duty: The fixing of a minimum, or lowest, wage to be paid to women and
minors. It is the duty of the commission to call into existence a wages board, or
conference of employees and employers.
On Tuesday, March 20, the women employed in this establishment are re­
quested to select their representative to sit on the wages board. This board
consists of employers and employees, whose duty it will be to recommend to
the Industrial Welfare Commission a minimum wage for women and minors,
the proper wage for apprentices, minor and adult learners, and the method for
their promotion and advance. This selection of representatives will be as
follows:
(a) No woman can be selected who has not had at least two years’ experience
in the industry. A woman of experience and good judgment is desired.
(&) Women who are buyers, heads of departments or office employees are not
eligible.
(o) The election is to be by secret ballot, and all women employees in the
establishment are requested to thus show their preference for their repre­
sentative.




100

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

(d) The woman receiving the highest number of votes will be eligible to the
conference of employees’ representatives, which will be held in the office of the
Industrial Welfare Commission on call. From this conference the Industrial
Welfare Commission will make its choice of three or five women for the wages
board.
The law provides that for the few days the wages board is sitting a fee of $5
per day and necessary traveling expenses will be paid.
Industrial Welfare Commission

Union League Building, northeast eorner Second and Hill Streets, Los Angeles,
Calif.
525 Market Street, San Francisco, Calif. Sutter 2538.

In California, as in the District of Columbia, a departure was
made from the Massachusetts procedure in that nominations for the
employer members were secured if possible from the employers’ or­
ganizations in the industry. California also asked for nominations
from any unions existing in the industry under consideration. Any
one wage board, therefore, would be composed of members selected
by the commission from nominations made by organized employers
and employees and by unorganized employees, and members chosen
directly by the commission. Kansas, Washington, and Wisconsin all
sought at different times to have the nominations for wage-board
members made by the organized employers and employees, respec­
tively. In Kansas, to secure members, the rule was made that the
employee representatives need not be workers in the trade in ques­
tion. The commission originally selected these representatives, but
for the later wage boards they sought nominations for the employer
and employee members from the organizations in these groups and
selected only the public members. Washington has perhaps experi­
mented more than have most of the States m trying to find the best
way to obtain good wage-board members. Originally “ each member
of the commission nominated three or more persons they knew per­
sonally or by reputation, or with whom they had come into contact
during the preliminary work, for each place in each conference.”8
To get iheinbers for the series of wage boards held in 1914, the com­
mission considered for each conference between 50 and 60 people,
whose qualifications they investigated personally. In some of the
later wage boards, nominations were secured from employers’ and
employees’ organizations, but ultimately the commission returned to
their original plan of “hand picking” the wage-board members.
Wisconsin departed somewhat from the plan of having the commis­
sion select the public members, when it conferred with the employer
and employee representatives, nominated by the various organiza­
tions among these groups, before appointing the public representa­
tives. The three main plans—action of individual employees and em­
ployers, action by organizations of employers and employees, and
direct action—all have been tried by the various commissions. All
have met the same difficulty in getting people who are equipped to
serve and willing to do so.
Methods used by commissions in obtaining new members for a
wage board if old ones dropped out.
In most of the States the commissions have assumed that if one
member dropped out the commission then could appoint a substitute
Washington Industrial Welfare Commission.




First biennial report, 1913-14, p. 51.

.

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMININ'G WAGE RATES

101

to take his place. This substitute had the same powers as the origi­
nal member. In Washington there seems to have been some doubt as
to whether the commission could thus fill vacancies. The difficulty
was surmounted by the commission’s appointing three alternates for
each group, with the understanding that they were to become regular
members if the original appointees dropped out. In some of the States,
if only one member dropped out the board continued its deliberations
with the unbalanced membership. This was true, for example, in
Minnesota, where, since the board was only advisory, it was not felt
that it was vital to maintain the balanced relation among groups.
Though there is no record of a decision on this question, it must have
been held that if the board was organized with a balanced member­
ship the provisions of the law were executed. In Massachusetts,
however, the question of the commission’s power to fill vacancies
occurring on wage boards proved a very vexatious one. Soon after
the corset board was organized in 1915 a member dropped out. When
the attorney general was asked what was the proper procedure for
filling a vacancy on a duly organized wage board, he replied that
“ there is nothing in the act giving specific authority to your com­
mission to fill vacancies upon a wage board. * * * I think
it is extremely doubtful if your commission has such power. * * *
I think it unwise for your commission to attempt to fill vacancies
until such time as you may receive further legislative authority.”
lie then went on to point out that if the unbalanced membership
resulted in recommendations unfair to the group that had been
reduced in membership, the commission always had the power to
reject such recommendations.9 The chairman of the corset wage
board felt very strongly that any recommendations made by an in­
complete board probably would be invalid. In this dilemma the
meetings of the corset board were suspended, and several years later
a new investigation was made and a new wage board was organized;
but in the meantime over six years had passed between the time that
the commission made the investigation and determined the need of a
minimum wage in the corset industry and the time that the decree
became effective. In the face of possible recurrences of this impasse,
the commission advocated an amendment to the minimum-wage law
giving it the specific power to fill vacancies on wage boards. In 1919
the legislature passed this amendment.
Though in most States this question of vacancies on wage boards
has caused no trouble, other than the inconvenience of trying to dis­
cover some one else willing to perform the service,'the situation that
arose in Massachusetts caused a serious delay in the functioning of
one wage board and was a constant threat to the others. Moreover,
the varying interpretation of the two clauses in the laws is extremely
interesting. Only in Massachusetts was there a definite questioning
of the commission’s powers to fill vacancies, or of the power of a
properly organized wage board to function if its membership lost
the balance between employers and employees through resignations.
The situation has been described at length not alone because of these
specific points but to illustrate how hampered a commission may be
by not having express powers granted to it. Implied powers may
• Attorney general’s opinion, Oct. 5, 1915.




Typewritten copy.

102

MINIMUM-WAGE

laws in the united states

always be questioned. The detail of all the minimum-wage laws seems
extremely burdensome, but there have been so many questions raised
as to the laws' interpretation which have balked their effective func­
tioning that only the care with which the commissions’ powers are
listed has prevented serious curtailment of their activities.
SUMMARY

At the risk of overmuch repetition, it seems wise to summarize
here the exact place held by the commissions and the wage boards in
the determination of rates.
I.

Commissions required to determine rates:
Arkansas.
Colorado (1913).
Kansas (1921).
Texas.
II. Calling of wage boards, to determine rates, optional with the commission:
California (1913).
Colorado (1917).
Minnesota.
III. Commission required to call wage boards:
A. Formal report on amount of wage by wage boards as a basis for
tlie decree—
District of Columbia.
Kansas (1915).
Massachusetts.
Nebraska.
North Dakota.
Oregon.
Washington.
B. Wage boards recommend rate to commission—
California (1921).
Wisconsin.
IV. Report of wage board on amount of wage only to aid commission in
determining rates:
California.
Minnesota.
Wisconsin.

PROCEDURE PROVIDED FOR WHEN COMMISSIONS ARE TO
DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF THE WAGE

Under the powers of investigation granted the minimum-wage
commissions in the laws and discussed in an earlier section of this
report, the commissions have ample authority to gather all the facts
they feel it is necessary to have in order to decide what the minimum
rate should be. Instead of turning this information over to a wage
board, they are required in Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas, and origi­
nally were required in Colorado, to determine for themselves* how
much it is necessary to pay a woman for her to be self-supporting.
In California and Minnesota they could set the decree with or with­
out the assistance of a wage board. None of the laws specified how
the decision as to the amount of the rate was to be reached other than
to say that the decision of the majority should be the decision of the
commission. By this method the possibility of various time-consum­
ing disagreements on the part of the wage boards is avoided, and
the commission, which must assume responsibility for the award,
takes all the steps leading up to setting the rate.




PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE RATES

103

PROCEDURE PROVIDED FOR WHEN WAGE BOARDS ARE TO
DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF THE WAGE

In most of the States the commission is required to call a wage
board to determine the amount of the rate. It is, of course, in these
States, where the work of the wage boards is most responsible, that
their powers and duties are most carefully outlined in the laws.
Though no instructions, or only very general instructions, are given
the commissions as to how they shall proceed in determining the
amount of a rate, the procedure of the wage boards when doing this
same work is rather carefully defined.
Work laid out for wage boards in the laws.
The only duty of the wage board is to determine the amounts of
various rates that are to appear in the minimum-wage decrees, more
particularly the amount which represents the cost of living for an ex­
perienced woman worker. It has no responsibility for administration
or enforcement, but can concentrate on this one point. In all the States
it has been the rule to interpret this cost of living as the cost for a
single woman living away from her family and having no aid from
any source. In every State except Colorado (1913), Massachusetts,
and Nebraska the law gives the wage board power to find this mini­
mum rate without any reference to the ability of the industry to pay
the rate set. In Colorado (1913), Massachusetts, and Nebraska, how­
ever, the wage boards, after determining the minimum cost of living,
were directed to consider the financial condition of the industry
before recommending a rate. In all the States the report of the
wage board is complicated further by the fact that the laws clearly
contemplate the possible establishment of different rates for experi­
enced and inexperienced workers, for adults, and for minors.
Whether the wage board is to report simply on the rate which will
represent the cost of living for adult experienced women or for all
the various age and experience groups in an occupation or industry is
indicated in the laws.
Table 26.—Regulations governing the reports of wage boards to the commissions,

by State
To report on—

State

California......... .............
Colorado (1917)_____
District of Columbia _
Kansas (1915)______

Estimate
Time
of mini­
rates for
mum
women
wage
and
rate for
minors
women

Piece
rates for
women
and
minors

Rates for
learners Rates for Reasons
lor
and ap­
minors
decisions
prentices

Vote needed for
official report

X
X
X
X
X

Minnesota__________
North Dakota______
Oregon_____ ____
___......
Washington.............. 1
X
Wisconsin____ ____ _
X
—

60769°—28------ 8




X
X
X

X
X
X
X

x
x
X
x

X
X
X

v

Majority.
Majority.
Majority.
Two-thirds (1912)
majority (1913).
Majority.
Two-thirds.
Two-thirds.

104

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

This table shows the different groups of workers which the laws
require a wage board to consider and for which it must recommend
rates. It is possible for a commission to request a board to set rates
in greater detail than is specified in the law. As a usual thing, how­
ever, the commissions have preferred settling the details themselves,
unless the law specifically inquired this of the wage boards. In
California few wage boards have handed in a formal report. They
have offered suggestions on points that were particularly in dispute
and sometimes have referred two sets of rates to the commission,
when they could not get a majority for one grouping. Their whole
attitude has been that they were there to talk things over, so that
the record of their meetings, showing their viewpoints, could be a
guide to the commission when it determined the rates. In Wash­
ington, where the legal requirement as to the type of report is very
similar to that in California, the wage boards have given the commis­
sions a formal report on the rate for adult experienced women but
the commission has worked out the rates for apprentices and minors.
In Wisconsin the advisory wage boards’ reports have been closely
followed by the commission in its orders, but in this case the various
members of the commission have participated fully in the work
of the wage board and aided it in forming its determinations. In
the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Oregon
it has been customary for the wage boards to hand in formal reports
covering all the points required by the law and sometimes such other
questions as the commission might request.
While most of the laws have indicated clearly that different rates
should be considered according to the method of payment and the
age or the experience off the worker, a majority of them have been
particularly careful to express a special attitude toward rates of pay
for minor workers. The following table presents a detailed analysis
of the phrases used by the laws in discussing the principles that shall
guide the wage boards or the commissions in determining wage rates
for minors. The real difference in principle between setting rates for
adults and setting rates for minors is clearly brought out.
Table 27.—Basis for setting wage rates as expressed in laws, by State
Same for women and minors

State

California........................... .........
Colorado:
1913.................. ..................... .
1917_______________ ____

X
X
X

X

X

X

Minnesota............. ....................... .
Nebraska_______ ____________
North Dakota.......................... .




For minors

To supply Reason­
able
Suffi­ To supply Suitable
Separate
necessary wages and cient for necessary for female Suitable procedure
cost of not detri­ living
cost of employee
for
by com­
minors
proper
proper
mental
over 18
mission
living to health wages
living

Kansas:
1915.............. .......................... .
1921_____________________

Texas...............................................
Washington__________________
Wisconsin.................................... .

For women

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X

X
X

x

X
X

X

x

X

X
X

X
X
x

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WAGE RATES

105

Five States—California, Kansas (1921); Minnesota, Texas, and
Wisconsin—seemingly treat adults and minors on the same basis,
expressing the principle that a living wage should be obtained by
the rate set for all women or minors. Washington speaks of a rate
to supply both groups with the necessary cost of living, but provides
for having the commission determine the rate for minors without
any wage board. Six other States—Colorado (1917), the District of
Columbia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oregon—
have a similar provision permitting the commission to set rates for
minors directly. The phrase most commonly used in describing the
rate to be set for minors is “ suitable wage,” which is certainly far
from synonymous with “ living wage.” Moreover, in several of the
States (see Table 26) the law does not specify that the wage boards
shall make any report whatsoever on minors, thus tacitly leaving this
determination to the commissions. With respect to learners or
apprentices a study of the two foregoing tables (26 and 27) shows
how definitely the laws contemplated that they should receive special
treatment in either the wage board’s report or the commission’s
decree. These differentiations are worth considerable attention,
because they show clearly that the laws never even contemplated a
sweeping determination establishing a rate that would cause women
either to lose their jobs or to be paid more than they were worth,
but that instead they contemplated a series of minimum-Avage rates
according to the kind of worker affected. In most of the States the
wage boards were to play a large part in determining just how great
these variations were to be. From the relatively clear proposition
with which this discussion began—that they were to determine the
cost of living for an adult experienced woman—it is now realized
that once this was done they might be called upon to determine what
proportion of this sum should be paid a minor worker, and what
should be the relation between the amount received and the length of
time the worker, Avhether an adult or minor, had been in the industry
or occupation. The final report of a wrage board whose recommenda­
tions were to form the basis for a decree might be simply a rate for
adult experienced women or it might be something like this:
I. Rate for experienced adult.
II. Rate for experienced minor.
III. Rate for inexperienced adult.
A. Rate for no experience whatsoever.
B. Rates for varying degrees of experience.
IV. Rate for inexperienced minor.
A. Rate for no experience whatsoever.
B. Rates for varying degrees of experience.

In those States where the wage board reported only on the rate
for adult experienced women, the commission filled in the other items
in what it considered was a proper relation to the rate recommended
by the board.
Powers granted the wage boards.
That the boards may have all the facts necessary to reach tenable
conclusions, the laws usually have given them definite powers of
investigation. Only California, Washington, and Wisconsin have
not felt the necessity of giving their boards special powers. This
probably is due to the fact pointed out earlier in the report that the




106

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

boards in these three States are either advisory or required to make
only very general recommendations. In all the other States either
the boards have full power to investigate any necessary subject or the
law orders the commission to furnish the boards with any informa­
tion they may need.
Commissions’ power over work of wage boards.
Earlier sections of this report have discussed in detail the com­
missions’ powers with respect to calling wage boards and filling va­
cancies in membership that occur during the boards’ deliberations.
Besides the power to call and appoint the boards, the commissions
are, in most States, given a large measure of control over the boards’
activities. In all the States where wage boards may be called, except
Colorado and Wisconsin, the commissions determine the mode of
procedure. In addition, in six of the laws—those of California,
Kansas (1915), Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Washing­
ton—the commissions are made the sole judges as to what is valid
procedure by the wage board and what are valid recommendations
for it to make. Not only is each step taken by the wage board under
control of the commission, but the final report of a specific wage
board imposes no obligation on the commission. In all the laws
where the rate set by the wage board must be the basis of the decree
issued by the commission (those of Colorado 1917, District of Colum­
bia, Kansas 1915, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon,
and Washington) the commission has the power to accept or reject
any of or all the wage-board recommendations. In all these laws
except that of Nebraska the cortimission is given specifically the fur­
ther power to recommit the subject to the same or a new wage board.
The commission therefore not only may guide the wage board in its
deliberations but may refuse any number of wage-board decisions.
That the commission alone is considered to be responsible for the
rate set is clearly shown by the extent of these powers. The next
section of this report, on the actual work of the commissions and the
wage boards, will show that the commissions either have set the rate
themselves or have accepted the responsibility for the final result,
and that they not only have guided the wage boards with care but
in some cases have refused to accept wage-board reports of which
they did not approve.
SUMMARY

Up to this point in the report, the organization of the commission
itself has been discussed, both as to the laws’ requirements and as to
the ways in which the actual commissions have been constituted and
have conducted their work of investigation before the setting of a
wage rate. This and the next chapter take up the steps necessary to
bring about, legally, the establishing of a minimum-wage decree.
This chapter has dealt with the powers given both the commissions
and the wage boards in the laws and the actual organization of the
specific wage boards, this latter having been done for the commissions’
organization in an earlier chapter. The chapter following describes
how the minimum-wage decrees were established in practice, whether
directly by the commissions or through wage boards, and prepares the
ground for a discussion of the provisions of those decrees.




CHAPTER VI.—PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING
PROVISIONS OF DECREES
DECREES SET BY THE COMMISSIONS WITHOUT WAGE-BOARD
PROCEDURE

Seven States—Arkansas, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas,
Washington, and Wisconsin—have set some of or all their decrees
through commission action without the organization of wage boards.
The California commission has set 32 of its 40 decrees directly. Min­
nesota had advisory wage boards only before the six decrees set in
1014. Wisconsin had no wage boards organized solely for the in­
dustry under consideration before its orders for pea canning and for
cherry, corn, bean, and tomato canning. The table following shows
the orders set by the commissions without wage-board recommenda­
tions. Washington lias been included in the table because it has in­
corporated its special provisions for apprentices and for minors in
orders distinct from those covering experienced adults, and in ac­
cordance with its law has established these rates without wage-board
procedure.




107

Table 28.—Decrees issued by commissions without wage-board action, by State and year
State and industry

Year
Arkansas

California

Kansas

Minnesota

1917...........

Fruit and vegetable canning.
Fish canning.

1918...........

Fruit and vegetable canning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
General and professional of­
fices.
Unskilled and unclassified.
Manufacturing.

1919...........




Fruit and vegetable canning.
Mercantile.
Fish canning.
Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
General and professional of­
fices.
Unskilled and unclassified.
Manufacturing.
Hotels and restaurants.

covered in 1914.

Washington

Wisconsin

Mercantile occupations (minors)1.
Manufacturing occupations (mi­
nors).1
Laundry and dye works occupa­
tions (minors).1
Telephone and telegraph industry
(minors).1
Telephone and telegraph industry
(minors).
Office employment (minors) .4
Hotel and restaurant occupations
(minors) A
Mercantile occupations (appren­
tices).3
Manufacturing occupations (ap­
prentices) .3
Laundry and dye works (appren­
tices) .3
Telephone and telegraph (appren­
tices).3
Office employment (apprentices) .3
Mercantile, manufacturing, print­ Pea cannings
ing, laundering or dye works,
sign painting, machine or repair
shop, parcel delivery service,
telephone or telegraph, office,
hotel and restaurant (minors).
Pea canning.
Mercantile industry (appren­
tices).3
Laundry (apprentices).3
Telephone and telegraph (appren­
tices).3
Office (apprentices) .3
Mercantile industry (apprentices)4. Pea canning.4
Manufacturing industry (appren­ Any occupation, trade,
tices).4
or industry—
Office occupations (apprentices).4
Home workers.5
Transient milliners (apprentices).4 Any occupation, trade,
or industry—
Intermittent
workers.4

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

1914-15"..

Texas

1920........... Mercantile (Fort
Smith).

•

Manufacturing.
Mercantile.
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Unclassified occupations.
Manufacturing.
Hotels and restaurants.
Nut cracking and sorting.

— All industries. Public housekeeping (minors)........ Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Tobacco stripping.
Beauty parlors.

Public housekeeping (minors)___
All occupations and industries
other than public housekeeping
(minors).
,
All occupations and industries
other than public housekeeping
(minors).

Pea canning.8
Cherry, bean, com,
and tomato canning.8
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, com,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, com,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, com,
and tomato canning.

1 Issued at the same time as the decree for adults in this occupation. Though the wage board did not report on minors, they were discussed, and it may be said that the decree
for minors is, at least in part, the result of wage-board deliberation.
3 Exact date uncertain, but probably issued at this time.
3 Circular or schedule, but having the force of a decree.
4 Circular or schedule, but having the force of a decree. Date uncertain, but probably issued at this time.
8 May be considered as following the general wage board held in this year. No specific wage board for this group alone was organized, the rates established by all orders from
1919 on being the rates worked out by the commission.

109




PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OP DECREES

Mercantile (Fort
Smith and Lit­
tle Rock).

Any industry-

Fruit and vegetable canning.
Mercantile.
Fish canning.
Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
General and professional of­
fices.
Unclassified occupations.
Manufacturing.
Hotels and restaurants.

110

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In California, Kansas, and Texas methods have been worked out
whereby a series of public hearings and conferences brings before
the commission the opinions of the groups affected by the law, with
the idea that this serves as a substitute for wage-board meetings
and investigations. In Arkansas and Minnesota public hearings
have been held before the decrees have been announced, but only one
public hearing has preceded each decree. The Arkansas law provides
for a flat rate for various industries and occupations and then gives
the industrial welfare commission the power to raise or lower this
rate. The commission exercised this power to issue the two mer­
cantile orders. It had before it the records obtained in enforcing
the flat rate and in 1920 it also had a budget, but the source of this
cost-of-living material is not given. In addition any one could pre­
sent material at the public hearing. In Minnesota the rate was
revised on the basis of the increase in the cost of living since the
1914 decrees were established. It is difficult to see how a decree set
with so little reported consultation with the groups most closely
affected could avoid the danger of being theoretical or based on the
experience of too small a number of persons. It is undoubtedly
easier, though, to use this quick method in revising decrees, as was
done in Arkansas and Minnesota. The procedure in both these
States was so brief that it is hardly comparable to the procedure
developed in California, Kansas, and Texas.
In Washington and Wisconsin the decrees issued directly by the
commissions all cover groups of workers or industries that present
special problems, such as minors and apprentices in Washington and
canning in Wisconsin. The Washington commission was authorized
in its law to set rates for minors and for apprentices without wageboard procedure. There was no legal prohibition that prevented the
wage boards from considering these two special groups if the com­
mission so desired. In the first Washington boards, held in 1914,
the discussion of these groups formed an important part of the wage
boards’ deliberations, but the commission pointed out to the boards
that too much time must not be spent on these points, since no report
on them was to be made. After 1914 no board seems to have con­
sidered these groups. Indirectly, however, their rates were the
result of wage-board procedure, because the commission established
its rates for minors and apprentices to fit into the scheme of rates
recommended by the wage boards for adult women. Moreover,
the special studies or efforts of any sort made by the commission
to get information about these groups were with the view of fitting
their rates into their proper relation to those of the adult women.
The Wisconsin commission has had its agents make special studies
of the industries or occupations for which it has set decrees with­
out wage-board procedure. The commissions have based their rul­
ings on the findings of these investigators. In Wisconsin, after a
general wage rate for all industries was issued in 1919, following
wage-board meetings and public hearings in a number of cities in
the State, the commission’s effort in all these special decrees was to
establish a wage rate that would work out to equal the general rate
but would meet the peculiar problems of the group in question. In




PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OP DECREES

111

both Washington and Wisconsin, therefore, this is a method of sup­
plementing wage-board procedure by having the commission deal
with special problems, rather than a substitute for wage boards. It
is not the same sort of substitution as took place in all the other
States.
California is the main exponent of having wage rates set directly
by the commission without wage boards. Not only has California
issued by far the greatest number of orders by this direct method
but it has worked out the most careful and uniform procedure. In
every year in which a number of decrees have been issued, except 1918,
the commission, through the investigations of its agents, has collected
a body of material on living costs for the independent woman and on
current rates and earnings before attempting to consider at what
sum a wage rate should be set. In all cases before setting a rate a
series of conferences has been held by the commission as a whole or
by one or more of its members to discuss with employers and em­
ployees in the occupations in question not only how much the rate
should be but the details of interpretation in regard to minors, appren­
tices in different occupations within an industry, etc. In most cases
the conferences were presided over by the one woman member of the
commission, who also was its executive officer. Employers were in­
vited to one session, employees to another. Often a group within an
industry that had special problems would be invited to a special
conference; for example, the citrus-fruit packers, who had a special
conference before one of the general decrees for fruit and vegetable
packing was issued. Sometimes these special conferences produced
problems that could not be taken care of under the general decrees
and special decrees were issued, as the 1923 decree for nut cracking
and sorting. In addition to the conferences with industrial groups
selected by the commission, at least one public hearing was held
before a decree was issued, at which anyone interested could appear
and present evidence on any relevant point. Stenographic notes were
kept on all important points brought out by the conferences and
hearings, and the commission had access to this material as well as the
material collected by its agents when it made a final decision on a
wage rate.
In Kansas a series of public hearings was held throughout the
State before the 1922 decrees were set. The full court of Industrial
relations presided at these hearings, at which anyone might present
testimony on living costs, business conditions, etc. Though the meet­
ing was open to anyone, the court’s agents always attempted to seek
out people who could give valuable testimony, both employers and
workers, and have them attend the hearings. A stenographic tran­
script of the hearings was kept for the future use of the commission.
Besides the widely varied material presented at these hearings, the
commission had a study of women’s rates and earnings under the
old decrees, made by their agents and the Women’s Bureau1 of the
United States Department of Labor, and a cost-of-living study also
made by the commission’s agents. It was on the material from
these three sources that the Kansas Court of Industrial Kelations
based its decisions.




112

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In Texas, before the commission set its one wage rate, a state­
wide study of wages and cost of living was made by the commis­
sion’s agents. In addition, public hearings were held in many cities
and towns to obtain information and opinions. The procedure of
having formal public hearings in order to supplement material
gathered by the commission’s agents was much like that followed
in Kansas.
Practically, the methods used in these three States were similar—
commission investigations, supplemented by testimony from those
persons so affected by the proposed decree or so interested in the law
that they gave their information and opinions. In holding public
hearings the great drawback was that it was necessary to wade
through a great deal of chaff to get at a little valuable information.
California, the only one of these States that had had several years’
experience with the commission’s setting rates without wage-board
action, relied much more on the conferences than on the public hear­
ings for worth-while information. The people who were requested
to attend these conferences knew the field they were discussing.
They could speak more freely than at a public hearing. Moreover,
undoubtedly there were many people who would come and testify
at the commission’s request who would not take the trouble, or who
would not have the courage, to go to a public hearing.
The Kansas attempt to invite certain people to the public hearings
sought the same end as did the conferences in other States, but in
finding substitutes for wage-board procedure it seems reasonable
that more than public hearings are necessary. The great difficulty
of getting employees to serve on wage boards has been described in
detail. This group was, if anything, even more loath to appear at
public hearings. Probably the conference between the commission
and employees alone would produce franker statements of difficulties
than would any other method. Whatever means of obtaining infor­
mation was followed by the commissions, the aim df all was to get the
reactions and information of .all interested groups. Whether this
was possible without wage boards is a point still under dispute.
WAGE BOARDS—ORGANIZATION AND WORK PERFORMED

The wage boards organized under these laws always have aroused
a great deal of interest. Under the auspices of the State, employers,
employees, and the public were to decide wage rates for woman
workers. The plan has been attacked as unworkable. On the other
hand, it has been lauded as a means of bringing together unfamiliar
and opposing groups, getting them acquainted, educating them in
each other’s problems, and thus providing a way to solve rationally
problems vital to the Nation.
In considering in detail the work performed by the wage boards
it must be kept steadily in mind that such boards have been held
in but 9 of the 13 minimum-wage States (California, District of
Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon,
Washington, and Wisconsin), and that 2 of those 9 States, Cali­
fornia and Minnesota, required no formal reports from their wage
boards on which actual decrees were to be based, but rather had




PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OP DECREES

113

them report on various perplexing questions that varied from board
to board. It is the work of the boards in the District of Columbia
Kansas (prior to 1921), Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oregon,
Washington, and Wisconsin, with California and Minnesota included
wherever the material is comparable, that will be studied in as
great detail as available records make practicable. Whether it is
possible to make any final judgment of the value of wage boards,
when they have been so few, is open to* question.
The table following shows the wage boards held in the various
otates:




Table 29.—Industries for which wage boards were held, by State and year
—

.

^

Industry or occupation i

Manufacturing

1913
Massachusetts.
Oregon----------

Brush.

1914
Massachusetts.
Minnesota___
Oregon_______
Washington__

Mercantile

Candy (two boards)
XX.
Canning.

1915
Massachusetts.
1916
California_
_
Kansas______
Massachusetts.
Oregon______

Oregon.
1918
Kansas______
Massachusetts.

Telephone

Fruit and vegetable
canning.

Public house­
keeping

Fruit
and vege- All in­
table
dustries
packing

X

Laundry and dyeing (two boards) .2

Telephone and telegraph.2

X2

Hotel and restaurant.2

Retail stores.

X

XX

Women’s clothing.

X
X

Laundry and dry
cleaning.

Men’s clothing.
M en ’ s fur ni shi n gs.
Muslin underwear.3
Canning.
X
........ ............................................................
Retail millinery
Wholesale millinery.

X

Office and building
cleaners.3

Oregon--------- --------Washington________
1919
District of Columbia. Printing and pub­
lishing.
Kansas
X




Student nurses

X

X2

Corset____
Paper box.

Office

X

X

1917
California____
Massachusetts.

Laundry

X

Hotels and restau­
rants.

XX
X

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and year

Massachusetts.

X

Oregon.........................
Wisconsin

X

Canning and pre­
serving.

1920
District of Columbia.
Minor confection­
Massachusetts
ery.
Paper box.
Women’s clothing.
Men’s furnishings.
North Dakota.
Washington-..
1921
California.........
Massachusetts.
North Dakota........ .
Washington
Wisconsin........ .............

Attendants in san­
itariums.

XX

Office and building
cleaners.

X

X

Garment trades........
X
Needle trades.
X
District of Columbia. .
Brush____________________________
Massachusetts
Muslin underwear—.
Paper box.
Oregon..........
Canning.

Massachusetts.

Fish canning........... .
Needle trades.
X
Druggists’ prepara­
tions.

X

Retail stores.
X
X

X
X

1922
California___ ____

1923
California_
_

Public housekeeping
and personal serv­
ice.
X

X

Fruit and vegetable
canning.
Brush
Women’s clothing.
Men’s clothing.
X
X

X

X
X

X
XX

X

Laundry and dry
cleaning.

Telephone and tele­
graph.




115

1 Column contains a cross (X) or crosses when one or more wage boards were held for approximately the group designated by the heading. If only part of the group covered by
the heading was considered, or if other groups were added to the group covered in the heading and the whole was treated as a unit, the actual name of the decree has been inserted.
2 Separate decrees for minors were issued at the same time. The wage board did not report on minors, but they were discussed, and it may be said that minors’ decrees also were
issued after wage-board deliberation.
3 Wage board reconvened immediately after reporting to commission to modify report. Constituted only 1 board, as practically no time elapsed before reconvening and few
additional meetings were held.
•

PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OF DECREES

CaDdy.
Corsets.
Men’s clothing.
Knit goods.

Table 29.—Industries for which wage boards were held, by State and year—Continued
O
Industry or occupation

Manufacturing

1924
Massachusetts.

1925
Massachusetts.
1926
Massachusetts.




Mercantile

Laundry

Telephone

Office

Minor confectionery
and food prepara­
tions.
Bread and bakery
products.
Wholesale and retail
millinery.
Stationery goods.
Candy.
Jewelry.
Toys and games.

4

Public house­
keeping

Student nurses

Fruit
and vege­
table
packing

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and year

PROCEDURE USED 1ST DETERMINING PROVISIONS OF DECREES

117

Instructions given to wage boards by the commissions.
In every State where the wage boards met independently of the
commission, the commission adopted the practice of presenting
specific questions for the board’s consideration; also, it usually drew
up formal statements as to how the board was to conduct its delibera­
tions, or, in the absence of formal instructions, a member of the com­
mission indicated at the initial board meeting the methods that
it was desired should be followed. In addition, the commission
usually presented to the board a body of data showing the informa­
tion available on the subject under discussion. If the commission
had investigated rates and earnings and cost of living, these figures
were given to the board. Other pertinent material collected by
authoritative bodies, whether State, Federal, or private, was added
in many cases to the commission’s own data. The thoroughness with
which this preliminary work was done varied greatly from State
to State. It varied also from year to year within a State, though
in most cases the longer the commission functioned the more care­
fully it prepared this material for the wage boards.
To acid to the difficulty of discussing this important work of the
minimum-wage commissions is the fact that the earlier questions,
rules, and lists of material are no longer available. The material
that still exists has been carefully studied, and it is possible to say
that the samples presented from Massachusetts and Washington are
typical of the best practice in all the States. If mimmurn-wage laws
continue to function, undoubtedly this is one of the ways in which
the commissions can aid in securing more intelligent and fairer
recommendations from the wage boards, by making sure that each
board has comprehensive and accurate information and proceeds
in an orderly and thorough way to consider the important points at
issue. Only those who have worked with wage boards can realize
how much time can be spent discussing nonessentials, how much
inaccurate material must be waded through if the commission does
not supply the board with adequate data, and how unrelated to the
main issues some of the boards’ recommendations have been.
The material reproduced from Massachusetts and Washington
was presented to boards that met after the commissions had had
some years’ experience dealing with wage boards. It represents the
sort of instructions and information that time had shown to be neces­
sary. The Massachusetts commission submits a more complete body
of material than does any other State. The information pertains,
of course, to the special industry or occupation to be discussed by
the wage board to which it is given, but the same type of information
is given each board. The following outline, showing what this ma­
terial covers, is given each member of the board:
OUTLINE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED BY COMMISSION TO A WAGE BOARD

Kindly return to the commission at the last wage-board meeting all papers
submitted with the exception of those in group “ general instructions ” and the
minutes.




118

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
TO THE CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE —-------- WAGE BOARD

The commission herewith submits to you the rules of organization and
procedure for your board, together with various papers for your consideration
in fulfilling your duties according to law.
Respectfully submitted.
Minimum-Wage Commission,

By Ethel M. Johnson,
Assistant Commissioner, Acting Director.
papers

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

1

General instructions
List of papers.
List of members of board.
Rules of organization and procedure.
Suggested form for reporting determinations.
Handbook of information for wage-board members.
Minimum-wage law.
Material on cost of living

7. Itemized cost-of-living budgets adopted by other boards.

8. Outline on cost of living for working girls in Massachusetts cities.

[Not
a complete study comparable, for example, to those made in California, but a
series of price lists, principally for room and board.]
9. Estimate of change in cost of principal items in budget.
10. References on wages and cost of living. [Many from other minimumwage States.]
* Material on wage conditions in industry
11. Statement and decree concerning the wages of women in the----- industry
in Massachusetts. [Submitted in the case of reconvened or second boards in
an industry.]
12. Tables based on inspection reports. [In an industry that had never had
a rate set, tables would be based on an investigation.]
13. Report of wage determinations of other Massachusetts wage boards.
14. Summary of decrees entered by the commission to date.
15. Provisions of recent wage decrees in other States.

In the group called “ General instructions ” three things are of
interest—the rules of organization and procedure, the suggested form
for reporting determinations, and the handbook of information for
wage-board members. The first two of these are presented here.
RULES OF ORGANIZATION AND PROCEDURE FOR TOYS, GAMES, AND SPORTING GOODS
WAGE BOARD

1. Jurisdiction of commission.—Under the law the commission is authorized to
make rules and regulations governing the procedure of the wage boards and to
exercise exclusive jurisdiction over all questions arising with reference to the
validity of the procedure and of the determinations of the boards. •
2. Name.—This board shall be known as the toys, games, and sporting goods
wage board.
3. Organization.—This board shall consist of three representatives of em­
ployers in the occupation, three representative's of employees, and one disinter­
ested person to represent the public, who will act as chairman of the board.
4. Secretary.—The assistant commissioner of the department of labor and
industries or her representative shall be the secretary of this wage board. Any
additional clerical assistance necessary shall be provided by the assistant com­
missioner, subject to the approval of the department. No member or members of
the board will be permitted to employ a stenographer or other clerk to attend
meetings to take a record of the proceedings thereof.
» Comments in brackets supplied by report writer of Women’s Bureau,




PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OF DECREES

1]9

5. Scope.—The scope of the occupation includes the manufacture of toys,
games, kindergarten supplies, and sporting goods, such as tennis, golf, foot and
base balls, tennis racquets, fishing lines, artificial flies, catching gloves, and mits
6. Duties.—It shall be the duty of this board to consider—
'.
(1) The cost of living and maintenance in health of a self-supporting woman
employed in the occupation in question in Massachusetts.
w J:lle financial condition of the occupation in Massachusetts and the prob­
able effect thereon of any change in the minimum wages paid.
(3) To determine the suitable minimum rate for a female of ordinary ability
in this occupation.
(4) In case the board considers age and experience necessary qualifications, to
determine suitable minimum rates for learners and apprentices and for minors
below the age of 18 years.
(5) When a majority of the members of the wage board shall agree upon
minimum-wage determinations, it shall be tlieir duty to report such determina­
tions to the commission, together with the reasons therefor and the facts relating
thereto.
7. Meetings.—The board shall m«et for organization upon a date fixed by the
assistant commissioner and shall arrange for regular meetings thereafter the
time and frequency of the meetings to be determined by the members.
8. Report.—This board is required to submit its report within two months
trom the date of the first meeting unless extension of time is authorized bv the
commission.
9. Compensation.—'The members of the wage board shall receive the compen­
sation authorized by law ; that is, $6 for each day’s service.
10. Investigations.—Any investigations or studies which the wage board
wishes to undertake, if they involve expense to the Commonwealth, must be
authorized by the commission.
11. Expenses.—Members who have to remain in town for meals on account of
the wage-board work will be alloived for meals the actual amount expended, not
exceeding 75 cents each. In the case of those who come from a distance and
are obliged to stay overnight at a hotel the actual amount spent shall not exceed
$1 per meal. Hotel bills must be accompanied by vouchers.
Kills with attached vouchers must be in the office of the commission by the 1st
of the month.
THE SUGGESTED FORM FOR REPORTING DETERMINATIONS

1. Rate of wages recommended for female employees of ordinary ability
whether time or piece-rate workers.
2. Rate or rates recommended for learners and apprentices and for minors
under 18 years of age, provided it is felt necessary to fix a lower rate for these
groups instead of a flat rate for all women employed in the occupation.
3. Definition of “ experienced ” worker in case apprenticeship period is
required. (It should be noted that the term “ experienced ” is used merely to
distinguish the employee of ordinary ability from the learner or apprentice.)
4. Definition of unit on which “ experience ” is to be based, as “ season,”
month, “ year.”
5. Definition of “ full-time work.”
6. Date recommended for determinations to become effective.

It is interesting to see that for all the care with which the com­
mission instructed the wage boards, it did not desire to shut out
special action that a board might feel was necessary; for example,
the commission evidently realized that the need might arise for inde­
pendent wage-board investigations, for in paragraph 10 of “ Rules
of organization and procedure ” it takes notice of this possibility
and provides how it shall be handled. Many wage boards have felt
the necessity of doing some personal investigation of the cost of
living when the differences of opinion among the members have been
so wide that it was hard to attain a compromise. Another rule of
particular interest is No. 8, on the length of time the board may
deliberate. This provision is a recent one, added after it became
' 60769°—§8----9



120

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

apparent that the whole purpose of the law could be defeated by a
wage board that indefinitely postponed coming to any conclusions.
The material submitted under “ material on cost of living ” and
“ material on wage conditions ” is, of course, varied somewhat for
each board. The only part that usually is the same from board to
board is the suggested form for the estimate of a cost-of-living
budget, which follows:
FORM FOB ESTIMATE OF COST-OF-LIVING BUDGET1

Minimum required to maintain a self-supporting woman in health and decency
Items

.

Amount (per week)

1. Board and lodging------------------------------------------------------------ $
-----2. Clothing23___________________________________ _____ ?---------------------3. Laundry<$--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4. Doctor, dentist, and oculist2---------------------------------------$-------------5. Car fares$--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6. Church?-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------7. Self-improvement, including newspapers and magazines *--------- .$--------------8. Vacation2______________________________ _______ $---------------------------9. Recreation$---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -—
10. Reserve for emergency 5 6 7---------------------------------------------------- $-------------11. Mutual association dues8i-------------------------------------------------- $--------------12. Insurance1__________________________________
$-------------13. Incidentals3___________
4
■$-------------Total$----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Massachusetts is the only State that has had its wage boards
regularly take this formal action on a budget. In most States lump
sums have been approved, probably to avoid too much time being
spent on the discussion of small items in the budget.
In Washington, also, the commission adopted careful rules and
regulations to govern the selection and procedure of the wage boards.
The following paragraphs from “ Rules and regulations governing
the manufacturing conference ” [1920] are typical of those in use
for any board held at that time. The first part of the rules deals
with the methods of selecting wage-board members and has been
fully discussed in an earlier section of this report. The part dealing
with the procedure of the boards is given here.
RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE MANUFACTURING CONFERENCE

Sec. 6. The first day of the conference shall be open for general discussion.
When the conference is called to order by the chairman it shall deliberate
under parliamentary law and no question shall be discussed that is not ger­
1 This form1 represents the items recommended for inclusion in a cost-of-living budget by
the representatives of the public on the reconvened wage boards.
2 For items like clothing, doctor and dentist, and vacation, take estimated expenditure
for year and divide by 52.
3 To estimate clothing budget for year, make list of necessary articles with approximate
cost. If any item, as coat or suit, is intended to cover expenditure for two years, one-half
of the cost should be entered on present budget.
4 Self-improvement represents educational work, as fee for night-school courses, corre­
spondence courses, lectures, books, concerts, etc. The recent boards have included news­
papers and magazines under this heading.
.
.
5 Reserve for emergency represents sum for meeting emergencies that arise during the
year, as accidents, illnesses, losses. One board classed this item as “ reserve for
deficiency
another, “ contingent funds.”
.
6 Mutual association dues covers membership in employee benefit associations, borne
boards representing industries that are partially organized included in their budgets pro­
vision for organization dues. More recent boards have substituted membership in mutual
benefit associations.
,
. u.
*
7 Insurance usually covers industrial insurance; that is, death benefit. In the case of
some boards provision lias been made for sickness insurance.
8 Incidentals includes miscellaneous items which are not represented m other sections ot
budget, such as toilet articles, tooth paste, brushes, combs, shoe blacking, stationery,
postage, etc.




PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OP DECREES

121

mane to the conditions of labor or cost of living of working women No
member of the conference shall be entitled to speak more than twice oil any
subject, or more than five minutes at a time, except by unanimous consent of
the conterence.
Sec. 7. The conference in its deliberations shall proceed on the principle
established by the commission that a minimum wage or condition of labor
of women shall be general throughout the State as to the occupations in the
manufacturing industry.
Sec. 8. After proper deliberation and discussion of questions that have been
presented to the conference by the commission, the conference shall then upon
request of the commission, proceed to make recommendations upon’ such
questions as the commission may designate.
Sec. 9. The secretary of the commission or office assistant shall be present
at each conference and shall record the minutes of the meetings, and shall
be ex-officio secretary of said conference.
Sec. 10. The commission may amend, modify, or suspend, by a two-thirds
vote, any ot the foregoing rules and regulations.
Sec. 11. Roberts’ rules of order shali govern

swswrawwcaM * “■ felt the need of controlling
*>« s.i!
As in Massachusetts, the commission has
unrestrained discussion. Paragraph 6 does not seem to be so wise
as the Massachusetts scheme of setting a time limit when recom­
mendations must be handed in by the wage board.
The lists of material furnished the wage board and the questions
on which the board was to report are not available for the manufac­
turing board, but the material used by the hotel and restaurant board
corresponds to that prepared for the manufacturing industry. Pub­
lic housekeeping conferees were furnished with the following infor­
mation by the industrial welfare commission:
Portland°f(R-egeial report of cost of llvins- giving prices in Seattle, Wash., and
A brief review of ail minimum wages in other States and Canada.
Copy ot report of Washington, D. C„ hotel survey.
the°time°f industl'ial welfare commission Orders No.' 18 and No. 19 in effect at
Report of public housekeeping survey.
Orders in effect in California, Oregon, and British Columbia,
conference °ccupations and establishments covered in public housekeeping
Copy of questions to be considered.
Cost-of-living blank to be used in discussions.

For this particular board the commission does not seem to have
study. In most cases it did some work in this
held With this exception, the kind of material submitted is very
similar to that, listed for Massachusetts.
the questions submitted to guide the board in making its report
show a very interesting divergence from those used in Massachusetts.
I he 'W ashington wage board was not required to take notice of
apprentices or minors. This was because the Washington law gave
the commission power to determine these points without wage-board
procedure. Among questions to be considered by the conferees were
the following:
f,at
miniTm, 'va"e re(luired to supply the necessary cost of living
d to maintain, in health, a self-supporting woman emploved in any of the
occupations of public housekeeping?
Month------------ Week------------ Day________ Hour




122

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

What wage shall part-time workers receive?
3 hours or less_,---------- 1---------- 6 to 8 hours----------- —— ------When a uniform is required, who shall pay for it? Who shall launder it?
If the employee, how much shall she be allowed per week for it?
When board and room are furnished, how much may be deducted from the
WclgG ?

Room and board________ Room------------ Meals (3)-----------Breakfast__ Lunch-------------------------------- Dinner----------------

From these samples and lists a good idea of the material with
which the wage boards started work is obtained. Their main sources
of information usually were the studies made by the commissions and
discussed in this report under the work done by the commissions.
With a knowledge of what women were being paid and, in most cases,
of what they should receive in order to live decently, the board was
to arrive at a sum of money which was to be the minimum wage. It
would seem that the board could have accepted in entirety the com­
mission’s cost-of-living studies and adopted the sum, but, though
this was the theoretical basis for setting the wage, in most cases it
was not possible in practice to carry out the idea that the rate should
equal exactly a cost-of-living schedule. As is said repeatedly in this
report no one can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how much it
costs a self-supporting woman to live. On this question some wage
boards have argued for months, and others have never been able to
agree. importance of thorough and inclusive studies by the commis­
.
The
sion so that the various elements on the board all would accept the
facts presented by the commission as authoritative can not be over­
emphasized.
Wage-boards’ methods of work.
In general, wage boards have held frequent round-table discus­
sions. To these discussions the employer and employee members
have brought their special knowledge of business problems and living
difficulties. The two sides usually have presented cost-of-living
estimates based on what they have considered to be a working wom­
an’s needs. The public members often have made similar budgets.
In a few States committees have been appointed from the board
membership to study the cost of living. At times witnesses have
been brought before the board by one group or another to prove or
disprove points that have been advanced. All this gathering and
producing of material has been in addition to that supplied by the
commission. An effort usually has been made to discuss one item,
such as clothing, and to get rid of all differences of opinion before
going on to the next item; sometimes it has seemed better to leave
a hotly contested point and go back to it later. The decision as to
whether it was necessary to take a vote usually has been left in tbe
hands of the individual wage board. There was no legal reason why
the board should not record its opinion on every small item, such as
whether a woman needed six or eight pairs of stockings a year.
Usually, however, a whole budget has come to a vote, or certainly
only its major divisions, such as food, clothing, and incidentals, have
done so. Though a majority vote on any given point has settled
that question, all the boards have made a real effort to have decisions
unanimous or subscribed to by the great majority of the members.




PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OP DECREES

123

3 liis often has meant almost endless bickering and compromises that
have satisfied no one.
These round-table discussions have been the uniform method of
wage-board procedure, but it seems superfluous to point out the in­
finite variety of detail that lias been possible. No one board has
conducted itself exactly like any other. The general picture of their
work is all that can be given. Some of their special problems will be
discussed under the reasons that have caused wage boards to delay
J
coming to a conclusion.
Length of time wage boards have remained in session.
It has been pointed out earlier in this report that in some States
the time during which minimum-wage laws have been in effect has
been shortened by the decrees not being issued until years after the
law was passed. In many cases the commissions have moved slowly
in establishing wage boards, but in others the wage boards have held
up the proper working of the law by protracted discussion. Whether
or not delay on the part of the boards has been a main cause of re­
tarding the day when rates went into effect can be judged from the
following statement, which shows the length of time covered by the
meetings of the wage boards.
Number of boards whose meetings extended

over—
State

Total i
1 or 2 days

All States. _* __ __
District of Columbia
Kansas ____
Massachusetts
Minnesota__
North Dakota _
Oregon ________
Washington. ______
Wisconsin. __ _

_______ _____
1 Includes all wage

__

96

30

6
6

More than More than
More than
3 and
including
6 months
3 months
6 months

2including
days and

2

40
4

12
10

15
3

41

16

5

1
2
8

26

3

12

3
13

9

1

7

2
1

2

boards for which information was available.

California is omitted from this table because its wage boards were
organized on a very different basis from those in the other States,
where most boards held a series of meetings over a considerable
period of time and carried on a more or less continuous discussion of
the problems involved in determining a wage rate. Even those
boards which met for only one or two days discussed the whole prob­
lem and gave their recommendations to the commission. In Cali­
fornia, however, a series of wage boards and wage conferences was
held, with no rule that the membership or problems discussed should
be continuous. In fact, varied membership usually was sought, so
that the opinions of as many people as possible could be ascertained.
Conferences differed from wage boards in that their organization
was less formal (members usually were invited by the commission to




124

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

attend for a specified period of time) and that they represented only
one group, either employers or employees. In both cases the purpose
of the meetings was the discussion of some subject that was proving
perplexing to the commission, and a single meeting usually sufficed,
though in a few cases the wage boards have met two or three times on
consecutive days. The conference or board then disbanded and met
again only if revived by the commission. Moreover, no conference,
and only one or two early wage boards, handed in any formal recom­
mendations to the commission. The commission set the rates, aided
by the information and advice received through wage boards and
conferences. Thus it was not possible for California wage boards
or conferences to delay minimum-wage machinery by protracted dis­
cussions, nor would a disagreement among the members disrupt the
machinery of setting the rate. Since the other States formally
organized their wage boards and awaited action by them as the
next step toward setting a decree, delay by these boards was a serious
matter.
In all States holding wage boards but California it has been pos­
sible for the wage boards to postpone indefinitely the setting of a
rate by protracting their meetings. The powers given the commis­
sions probably are so drastic that boards could be required to report
after a given period of time, but usually the commissions have pre­
ferred to keep their hands off when once a board was organized.
That wage boards on the whole have conducted their work expedi­
tiously is one indication of the willingness of the groups concerned
to carry out the law. Three months may seem a long time for a
wage board to remain in session, but it may be excused when the
difficulty of getting busy members together from various parts of
the State is considered,' and when it is realized that considerable
time must elapse between sessions while necessary material is being
gathered. Three-fourths of the wage boards (74 per cent) have
consumed three months or less in their meetings, and one-third of
them (32 per cent) have taken only one or two days. Time longer
than three months would seem to need some explanation. In the
District of Columbia—where an entire budget was given minute
attention, where the boards were composed of very busy people, and
where there were serious differences of opinion to be smoothed out—
only one board took more than two months for its deliberations. In
the States where distances are great, undoubtedly some additional
time, due to the difficulty of getting members together, was justi­
fiable. The following table shows that the great majority of the
boards have gone ahead and finished their business expeditiously, but
it also shows that some boards have spent long periods of time
struggling to reach an agreement. Since one of the greatest prob­
lems in connection with these laws has been the proper functioning
of the wage boards, some of the problems that so delayed these
boards or that prevented them from reaching and reporting a con­
clusion will be discussed. These problems have been serious ones
and they constitute some of the difficult points in setting rates that
have never been authoritatively settled.
Of the boards that have had unduly protracted meetings, only
those of Kansas and Massachusetts present extremely long delays.




Table 30.-—Length of time covered by wage-board meetings, by State
Wage boards which met for—
State and date of first
specific act leading
toward a decree

Under 1 month 1

District of Columbia:
1919
..............

Over 2 and under
3 months

Over 1 and under
2 months

Printing and publishing.
Mercantile.
Hotel and restaurant.

Over 3 and under
4 months

Laundry (second).

Over 4 and under
5 months

Over 5 and under
6 months

Over 6 and under 7
months

Over 7 and under 8
months

Over 8 and
under 9
months

Over 9 and
under 10
months

Over 10 and
under 11
months

Over 11 and
under 12
months

Over 1H and
under 2 years

Mercantile (reconvened).
Laundry (second).
Mercantile.

Kansas:*
Manufacturing.
1918........................... Telephone (X).
1919........ .................. Manufacturing (X).
Massachusetts:
1913.......................... Candy (second) *.............

Over 1 and under
years

Corset (first)4. Candy (first) .3

Brush..........«......................

Candy (third) 3__............ Corset (second) 4.............
Women’s clothing.

Knit goods,-.....................
Paper box (second).4

Muslin underwear.8
Office and building
cleaners.8

1918 .......... ............

Canning and preserving.

1920...... ....................

Druggists’ compounds... ............................
Office and building
cleaners.
Brush (first)..................... Retail stores.
Brush (second).
Women’s clothing.
Men’s clothing.
Paper box.

1921

_______

1922

................ -

Laundry.
Bread and bakery prod­
ucts.

1924
1925

Minor lines of confectionery.

Men’s furnishing!.

Jewelry.
preserving,
Toys and games............ . Canning,
and minor lines of
confectionery.
Candy.

Wholesale and
millinery.

retail

Mercantile (Duluth)»... Mercantile
Manufacturing (Duluth
Cities).*
and Twin Cities).8

(Twin

North Dakota:
1920_______ _____

1922

Public housekeeping (X).
Office (X).
Manufacturing (X).
Laundry (X).
Student nurses (X).
Mercantile (X).
Telephone (a).
..................... Public housekeeping (X).
Mercantile (X).
Manufacturing (X).
Laundry (X).
Telephone (X).

Oregon:
19137 .......................

1916
1917.......... ................
1919

___

Mercantile.
Office (X).
All (X).
Fruit canneries (X).
Canneries.

___ All industries.

,

All industries.
All industries.
Ail industries (war).
Canneries.

Washington:
1913........................... Mercantile (X).
Factory (X).
Laundry (first) (X).
Laundry (second) (X).
Telephone (X).
Office (X).
Hotel and restaurant
(X).
1918......................... Any occupation (war).
1919........................... Public housekeeping (X)
1920........................ Manufacturing (first)
(X).
Manufacturing (second)
(X).
Laundry (second) (X).
1921.......................... Public housekeeping (X)
Telephone and tele­
graph.
Mercantile (X).
Wisconsin:

All (second).4
Ail.

.........r
‘ Boards marked X met tor 1 or 3 days only,
i Other decrees were set without wage-board procedure.
* First board illegally organized; meetings of second board suspended.
* Wage'toard reconvened immediately after reporting to commission to modify report.
* Estimated to have met for this period.
r Wage boards for manufacturing, but time consumed not. reported
i Wage board for hospitals and sanitariums, but time consumed not reported.




Constituted only 1 board, as practically no time elapsed before reconvening and few additional meetings were held.
60769°—28.

(Face p. 124.)

PROCEDURE USED IX DETERMINING PROVISIONS OF DECREES

125

In Kansas the first wage board organized after the law was passed
was one for the laundry industry. About six weeks later one was
organized in the mercantile industry. The laundry board bickered
for between four and five months and then failed to hand in any
recommendations on wages. A little more than a month after this
board was dissolved the commission organized a second laundry
board, which had meetings for more than a year before it agreed
on a wage recommendation. In all, slightly over two years were
consumed by wage-board meetings. The mercantile board" had meet­
ings for a year and four months before it handed in a recommenda­
tion a^ to the amount of the wage rate. Three other wage boards
were held, two of which met for only a couple of days and one
which had meetings for between four and five months. Apparently
the long delays of the first boards seemed particularly undesirable
to the commission, and it favored a change m the law whereby the
representative boards were entirely abolished, this being “in the
interest of efficiency, as the representative boardg had proved a
clumsy arrangement and had often been able to block all legislation
because of disagreement.” 1
According to the State reports, there seems to have been no justi­
fication for these great delays; instead, they resulted from the active
effort of some members of the wage boards to postpone as long as
possible the time when this legislation should go into effect. Since
only one other State has experienced a like problem and this State
ha,s met it with at least a moderate degree of success, it would seem
that the Tvansas action in abolishing wage boards was unneces­
sarily drastic.
In Massachusetts, five boards—candy, laundry, muslin underwear
minor lines of confectionery, and corset, the last named not followed
by a decree at this time—met for 7 to 10 months, and one boardmen’s furnishings—continued its meetings for over a year and a
half. One great point of disagreement in these boards was whether
the cost of living should be estimated for the woman who was livinoindependently or for one who lived at home. On the basis that the
majority of their woman employees, lived at home, the employers
brought m recommendations for wage rates that were so far below
those proposed by the employees or the public that a compromise
was difficult. It is evident from the reported proceedings of these
various boards that they failed to realize the need for conducting
their work expeditiously in order to afford relief to the woman
workers. The minor-lines-of-confectionery board actually adjourned
for two and one-half months, until cost of'living and of manufacture
became more stable. The men’s furnishings board appointed a com­
mittee to investigate the cost of living further, and this committee
took tour months to hand in a report. Another cause that led to
extended dispute was establishing rates for apprentices and minors.
Often, when an agreement could be reached on the rate for ex­
perienced adults, it was very difficult to obtain a compromise for
these supplementary rates. This element of delay was not present
m many of the other States, where the only formal report required
1 Kansas Court of Industrial Relations.




Second annual report, 1921, p. 88.

126

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

from the wage boards was on experienced adult women. Still an­
other factor delaying reports was that many of the wage boards
believed that the commission desired at least one member from each
group to sign the majority report. In the report of the men’s
furnishings board, after months of contention, no employer would
sign the recommendation for a rate for experienced adults, though
two of them agreed to the rates for apprentices. An additional
factor that caused the boards much concern was the provisions of
the Massachusetts law that wage boards should take into considera­
tion the financial condition of the industry. How far below the
estimated cost of living a wage board might recommend a rate and
be justified in such action, and how to judge what an industry could
really afford to pay, have led to lengthy differences of opinion.
Nothing could snow more clearly than this experience in Massa­
chusetts how impossible it was to have figures presented by the com­
missions on the cost of living accepted by the various groups on
the wage boards. How much leeway a board should be given in
determining such facts for itself and m resolving its differences, is a
difficult problem. The Massachusetts commission certainly felt that
too great freedom had been allowed these boards if it resulted in
such long delays. In 1922, shortly after the men’s furnishings board
handed in a report, the commission called a meeting of all persons
who had served as public members of the various boards and asked
them to make recommendations as to how certain points that had
proved particularly difficult could be adjusted with fairness to all.
The recommendations which are here presented apply specifically
to reconvened boards, but all the points except No. 4 are equally
applicable to original boards. A comparison of this list with the
instructions which the commission now gives to the boards shows
how closely the commission has adhered to these recommendations.
A paragraph corresponding to No. 4 has been incorporated for
original wage boards.
These problems, which have delayed the Massachusetts boards,
have been stumbling blocks everywhere. How to avoid, on the one
hand, too great delay or failure to agree, and, on the other hand,
too costly compromises by the weaker group, has been constantly in
the mind of every interested commission and wage board. The time
consumed by wage boards in meetings, on the whole, has not been
excessive. Whether they have compromised on too low rates may
be judged by a comparison of cost-of-living studies with the rates
recommended. The Massachusetts commission also has emphasized
to the later wage boards that if employer members wish to have
a rate set below the cost of living because of the financial condition
of the industry, the burden of proof must rest on the employer.
These efforts on the part of the commission to reduce the time wasted
by wage-board delays have resulted in seven of the eight boards
organized since 1922 reporting in three months or less, while the
other board took less than four months.
MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIES----RECONVENED WAGE BOARD
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PUBLIC TO THE MINIMUMWAGE COMMISSION

The following recommendations are submitted to the commission as express
Jug the attitude of the representatives of the public on wage boards.




PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OF DECREES

127

Regarding a fair basis for the cost-of-living budget:
1. That the fact that a girl lives at home is not to be considered in fixing
a minimum rate.
Regarding the financial condition of the industry:
2. That the minimum should not be reduced below the standard fixed as the
cost of living except under serious and unusual conditions established by evi­
dence presented by the employers; and in case any board recommends a
minimum rate below the cost of living, that the representatives of the public
on the board should be responsible for seeing that a petition is presented for
reconvening the board at an early date.
Regarding the wage board procedure:
3. That the wage board should follow as closely as may be possible the
order of business recommended by the commission in the Rules of Organiza­
tion and Procedure and the Handbook of Information for Wage Board Mem­
bers.
Time for completing work:
4. That the reconvened wage boards should submit their determinations
within two months from the date of their first meeting, if possible.
Regarding date for decree to become effective:
5. That not more than three months should intervene between the date of
the wage board’s determinations and the date the decree should become
effective.
•
Regarding the cost-of-living budget:
6. That the following items should be included in the cost-of-living budget,
in the order and under the terminology specified—
1. Board and lodging.
8. Vacation.
2. Clothing.
9. Kecreation.
3. Laundry.
10. Reserve for emergency.
4. Doctor, dentist, and oculist.
11. Mutual association dues.
5. Car fares.
12. Insurance.
6. Church.
13. Incidentals.
7. Self-improvement (including
newspapers, etc.).

Reports by wage boards and action by commissions.
Though wage boards have followed the practice of handing in
wi itten recommendations to the commissions, these reports usually
have not been formal nor have they been uniform even within one
State. Whether the boards reported on more than a rate for adult
experienced women could depend on the wording of the law, the di­
rections of the commission, the inclination of the board itself. Since
the actual sums recommended for adult experienced women were the
only ones that were always reported on, and since these were adopted
in practically all cases by the commissions, the main results of the
wage-boards5 work will be evident when the rates themselves are
studied. In Massachusetts alone were the boards required to report
regularly on rates for apprentices and minors. The only wage-board
iycommendations that are reported as modified by a commission are
four in Massachusetts, and in every case the changes deal with recom­
mendations on rates in their relation to age or to experience in which
the commission did not approve all the classes of rates. Five States—
Kansas, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and the District of
Columbia—have rejected the recommendations of certain wage
boards. This has occurred four times in Massachusetts, twice in
‘Recommendation of subcommittee appointed by the full committee.




128

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Washington, and once in the District of Columbia, in Kansas, and in
Oregon. In the District of Columbia (laundry wage board, 1920)
and in Massachusetts (men’s clothing board, 1921, and brush board
reconvened, 1921) decrees were rejected because they recommended
rates so different from other wage-board determinations of relatively
the same date that they appeared unacceptable. In the District of
Columbia the rate was below the others; in Massachusetts, above.
The Kansas situation is unique, for the board in its report said—
* * * we very much doubt the desirability of a minimum-wage law in
Kansas at the present time. In some States it might temporarily alleviate a
bad situation. The law of supply and demand will override any legislator’s
flat as to wages. It seems reasonable to suppose that a minimum-wage law
would cause the discharge and destruction of those who do not earn the
minimum wage.
Let us first direct legislation toward making the employee more fit and able
and strong individually and nationally, that we may accomplish something for
both employer and employee.2

This is the only case of a wage board which refused to carry out
the purpose for which it was created. In Washington the laundry
board (1913) reported a rate below the estimated cost of living,
which the commission rejected. The decision of the Massachusetts
building-cleaners board (1918) was simply referred back to the same
group in an effort to get a more nearly unanimous report, and that of
the candy board (1925) for a revision of a few details, so this action
was not in either case a rejection in the same sense as the final action
just described. The reasons for rejection in the cases of the other
wage boards—Washington, manufacturing, 1920, and Oregon, can­
ning, 1914—are not reported. Rejection by the commission is most
serious in relation to the time element. Either the old board holds
another series of meetings or a new board is organized and holds
many meetings. The result may not be any more satisfactory than
the first report. These considerations undoubtedly have led com­
missions to accept recommendations that were far from satisfactory
to them. They have adopted the principle that if the rate recom­
mended was such as to improve conditions as shown by the rates and
earnings studies, even though it did not bring them up to the level
set forth in the cost-of-living study, it was better to accept this rate
than to have no regulation for a longer period of time, since the
second set of recommendations might be no nearer the cost of living
than was the first. Nine rejections of wage-board awards, when 92
such boards have met, constitute a very small percentage.
Summary.
Though the work of the wage boards has the most important
weight in determining what the amount of the rate shall be and should
be thoroughly understood, it is extremely difficult to discuss in any
sort of condensed form. Each wage board was very different from
all other wage boards. Under instructions from the commissions
they tried to determine the cost of living. Some of the difficulties
of this were the following: (1) Should it be for a woman living at
home or independently? (2) Should a woman be required to make
her own clothes, cook her own food, and keep her own room clean,
a Kansas Industrial Welfare Commission.




First biennial report, 1915-1917, p. 25.

PROCEDURE USED IN DETERMINING PROVISIONS OF DECREES

129

or should her day’s work pay enough for her to be relatively free
from tasks outside business hours? (3) What articles of clothing
does a working woman need ? How long should they last ? (4) How
much recreation should be allowed? (5) Should a woman earn
enough to save a little money against sickness, unemployment, etc.?
Besides these more obvious difficulties, there were many, many
others. Some boards had trouble with one point, some with' another.
Over all discussions hung this major difficulty: Should the board
seek to establish a rate that almost exactly met the cost of living, or
should it set a rate which would be somewhat of an advance on the
rates in effect but not so high as was necessary to approximate the cost
of living? The question of unanimous reports also was important.
The awards were valueless unless they could be enforced. Good feel­
ing among the employers would greatly facilitate enforcement. If
the public group joined with the employee group to force a rate that
all employer representatives were opposed to, it would cause a great
deal of hard feeling. This would react on the commissions when
they came to adjust noncompliances. Undoubtedly many concessions
have been made to the employer group for this reason. All these
perplexing points have made wage-board work extremely difficult.
It is really, on the whole, a remarkable record that they have made.
The great majority of them have worked expeditiously and have suc­
ceeded in reaching conclusions that were acceptable to the commis­
sions. If they have been unable to set rates that would give every
woman a proper standard of living, they certainly have improved
conditions.







CHAPTER VII.—ACTUAL RATES SET FOR FULL-TIME
EXPERIENCED WORKERS, COMPARED WITH COST-OFLIVING FIGURES

Since the fundamental direction of all minimum-wage laws is
that the rates should supply the women workers with the sum neces­
sary for proper living, a comparison of cost-of-living estimates and
rates established on the basis of the cost of living is very important.
It has been emphasized how frequently wage boards were forced to
compromise in order to reach a decision that all or even a majority
of the board members would support. In the rates set by the com­
missions the same forces that necessitated compromise on the part
of the wage boards were at work. One of the most important parts
of the study of minimum wage is the attempt to discover whether
the compromises that were considered necessary to get support for
orders were such that they tended to destroy the command of the
laws to set rates that represented the necessary cost of proper living.
The following table shows the amounts estimated as the cost of living
and the rates set.




131

132

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
Table 31.—Comparison of minimum-wage rates with budgets adopted
[See note at end
Cost of living and rate established by—

Industry or occupation and
year decree was set

Arkansas

Cost
of
living

Rate

California

Cost
of
living

Rate

District of
Columbia
Cost
of
living

Rate

Kansas
Cost
of
living

Rate

Massachu­
setts
Cost
of
living

Rate

1913

1914......................

$9.63
$8. 71 2 $8. 37

1915......................

$7. 30

4 8.89
8. 75

8.50

Hotel and restaurant..............
1916___________
Fruit and vegetable canning.

* 11.05

8.00

8.50

4 10. 00

8.98

8.75

Personal service................... .

Telephone and telegraph___
1917.......................
Mercantile___ _ _________
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Laundry....................................
Fish canning............................
Men’s clothing. __________
Men’s furnishings...................
Pea canning........ ......................

4 13. 30

4 12. 05

$10.00
(51)
10.00
8 10.00

10.00

10. 45

9.00
9.00

.......
1 Monthly Labor Review, February, 1928, p. 218.
3 Only hourly rates established by wage boards, but these are potential weekly rates if the full number of

hours allowed by law are worked.
3 Covers “mercantile, office, waitress, hairdressing" and “manufacturing, mechanical, telephone and
telegraph, laundry, dry cleaning, lunch room, restaurant and hotel.”


http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/
<
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

133

COST OS' LIVING AND THE RATES SET

by wage boards or prepared by commissions, by State and year
of table, page 138]

Cost of living and rate established by—
Minnesota
Cost
of
living

Rate

North
Dakota
Cost
of
living

Rate

Oregon

Cost
of
living

Texas

Rate

Cost
of
living

Washington

Cost
of
living

Rate

Rate

Wisconsin

Cost
of
living

Rate

•
Index
figure
showing
changes
in the cost
of living
(Bureau
of Labor
Sta­
tistics)1

J$10.14 ) $8. 04
f 10.14 ) 9.25

J
/
/ 10.14 j 8.25

100.0

f 10.14 \ 9.23

l 10.48

f $9.65
/ $9.50
•j 9.76 1
l 10.29 I........ 1 8.45 /---------

f $8.72 }______
l 8.36
( 3 $8.00 1.........
< to
9.00 1
( 3 8. 00 I......
1
to
l
8.75 f

10.74 $10. 00
103. 0

9.00
9.00
10.00

(
J
|
(

45
9.85
4 9.96
4 10. 50
4 10.96

l
1

-

105.1

9.00
f4 12.00 l
V 12.40 J
?
l
/
l
f
l
/
\
J
\
/

...
9.25
8.25 J..........
8.64
8.25 J ........
8.64
8.25 J------8.64 )
8.25 J........
9.23 )
8.25 V........
8.64

.

118.3

J-----J 8.64
\ 8.25 /------

(>)
4 These figures are estimates, calculated by applying to the first budget prepared in each State the change
in cost of living as shown by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics index numbers. (See right-hand column.)
5 Only hourly rates established by wage boards, and since an exact maximum of weekly hours in this
industry is not set by law it is impossible to calculate potential weekly rates.
8 Rates were set directly by the commission.




134

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE tJNITEt) STATES
Table 31.—Comparison of minimum-wage rates with budgets adopted
[See note at end
Cost of living and rate established by-

Cost

of
living

1918-

Rate

Cost
of
living

Rate

Massachu­
setts

District of
Columbia

California

Industry or occupation and
year decree was set

Cost
of
living

$16.00

$16. 29

Rate

Cost
of
living

Cost
of
living

Rate

$14. 75

4 $12.12

$8.50

Mercantile________________
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Laundry........... ......................

$10.00

8.50
7.00
to
9.00

TelephoneMuslin underwear.................
Retail millinery______ _____
Wholesale millinery_______
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Manufacturing..------ --------Unskilled and unclassified...
Personal service------ ---------Telephone and telegraph----Office.........................................
Public housekeeping...............
Pea canning........ .....................
All (not covered in 1914)----1919Printjng and publishing----Mercantile. ______ ________
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Manufacturing________ ___
Building cleaners................. .
Hotel and restaurant______
Canning and preserving___
Pea canning........................... .
Candy............. .........................
Men’s clothing..................... .
Corset.......................................
Fish canning............................
Personal service......................
Laundry__________________
Telephone and telegraph___
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Unskilled and unclassified..
Office..........................................
Public housekeeping...........
Cannery............... ................. .

Rate

9.65
11.64
12. 50

$9.00
10.00
11.00

(6 8)
>10.00

6 9. 60

4 13. 85

4 18. 61

13. 57 613. 50
13. 57 613. 50
13. 57 613. 50'

4 16.86

16.01 $15. 50 .
16.50.
ll.«54 * 14. 40
212.48

6 13. 50;.

11.00

11.00

12.50
15.00
13.00

12.50
15.00
13.00

613. 50.
13.57
13.57 6 13.50
13.57 a 13. 50
13.57 e 13. 50

Any..

1920..

418. 72

4 13.93

16.95

16. 50
16.11 «16. 0 J
Hotel and restaurant----------Fruit and vegetable canning.
16.11 616. 00
Laundry.................................
16.11 816. 00
16.11 «16. 00
Fish canning______________
11. 00
16.11 816. 00
Manufacturing____________
Fruit and vegetable packing.
16.11 816.00
13. 75
Knit goods-----------------------Unclassified-------------- ------ 16.11 616. 00
15.25 15.25
Women’s clothing_________
16.11 616.00
Agricultural
.............
15. 50
Paper box...... .........................
Beauty parlor.............. ...........
15. 40 15. 40
Building cleaners.....................
1 Only hourly rates established by wage boards, but these are potential weekly rates if the full number
of hours allowed by law are worked.
.
4 These figures are estimates, calculated by applying to the first budget prepared in each State the change
in cost of living as shown by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics index numbers. (See right-hand column.)




135

COST OT LIVIN'0 AND THE RATES SET

by wage boards or prepared by commissions, by State and year—Continued
of table, page 138]
Cost of living and rate established by—
North
Dakota

Minnesota

Cost
of
living

Rate

Cost
of
living

Rate

Oregon

Cost
of
living

Rate

‘ $17. 68 \
4 18. 28 J..........

f‘$14. 77
{4 14.16

Texas

Cost
of
living

Rate

W ashington

Cost
of
living

Rate

Wisconsin

Cost
of
living

Rate

Index
figure
showing
changes
in the cost
of living
(Bureau
of Labor
Sta­
tistics)

[4 $16. 34 )
J 1 16. 53
1 4 17. 42 r~
l 4 18.19

11.10 $11.10

11.61

11.61

174.4
11.61

« 7 $8.00
J ‘ 16.88
\ * 16.18

11.61

11.61
11.61
11. 61
11.61

11.61
11.61
11.08
11.61

___

$13. 21)

(i«)

4 20. 21 \
1 20. 89 /..........

...

13.20
13.20

\
/"........

«
199.3
13.20
13.20
13.20

------

13. 85
13. 20
(4)

( 0 10.25 1 ....
•j to
l 6 11.00 J

f‘$18.38
V16. 35 1 $12.10
f ‘18.78 l
$15. 12 1— J ‘19.00
1 ‘20.02 1..........
13.55
l ‘20.90

/ * 16.97
{ * 16. 27

$16. 25 $16. 50
16.25

16.50

200.4

(‘ «)
______
* Only hourly rates established by wage boards, and since an exact maximum of weekly hours in this
industry is not set by law it is impossible to calculate potential weekly rates.
6 Rates were set directly by the commission.
7 Except those covered by 1914 decrees.

60769°—28----- 10




136

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 31.—Comparison of minimum-wage rates with budgets adopted
[See note at end4 5 6
.

Industry or occupation and
year decree was set

Arkansas

Cost
of
living

Cost of living and rate established by—

California

Cost
of
living

Rate

Rate

District of
Columbia
Cost
of
living

Rate

Kansas

Cost
of
living

Rate

Massachu­
setts
Cost
of
living

Rate

Public housekeeping_______
Any_________________
Personal service...................
Pea cannirr . ........ .............
Office_____ _
Cherry, bean, corn, and

$10.11 <$16. 00

Mercantile. _ ____
$13. 25 6 9 $13. 25
Tobacco stripping _ ............. .
Telephone............................

16.11 •10.00

1921..................... .

416.28

Cherry, bean, corn, and
tomato canning__________
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Pea canning
Mercantile______
Minor lines of confectionery.
Laundry__________________
Telephone and telegraph___

4 $16. 00

4$12.11

• $14. 75

16.00
13.50 $12. 00

$15.00

Any...............................
Manufacturing____________
Public housekeeping___
415. 83 ____ ! 415. 56

1922___________ 411. 20
Needle trades..___________
Paper box_________
Women’s clothing___
Muslin underwear___
Men's furnishings___
Retail store___
Laundry________
Manufacturing______
Pea canning____ ____
Public

■

14.99

15. 00

.......

i

411. 78

414. 34

16. 93 $11.00
16. 93 11.00

13.50
13. 97
13. 75
15.69
14.00
13. 50

13. 50
14. 00
13. 75
13. 75
14.00
13. 50

housekeeping..........

Cherry, bean, corn, and
tomato canning__________
Mercantile................... .

•till. 00

16.08 616.00

16. 50

16. 93

10.50

Telephone.................
Cannery................... .
4 These figures are estimates, calculated by applying to the first budget prepared in each State the change
in cost of living as shown by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics index numbers. (See right-hand column.)
5 Only hourly rates established by wage boards, and since an exact maximum of weekly hours in this
industry is not set by law it is impossible to calculate potential weekiy rates.
6 Rates were set directly by the commission.
8 This rate must be paid for 48 hours' work, and 25 cents an hour must be paid for all work above 48 hours.
• Fort Smith.




COST OF LIVING AND THE RATES SET

137

by wage boards or -prepared by commissions, by State and year—Continued

of table, page 138]
Cost of living and rate established byMinnesota

Cost
of
living

Rate

North
Dakota
Cost
of
living

Oregon

Cost
of
living

Rate

Texas

Cost
of
living

Rate

1

16. 25

Rate

$18. 00

Cost
of
living

Rate

20. 0C

17. 5(

16.25

Cost
of
living

17. 50

16. 25

W iscomsin

$22.60

Rate

($16. 7C 1........
$16. 25 { to
l 17.50
f8 8$10. 25
i to
I
l ® »12. 00 )16.25

Washington

Index
figure
showing
changes
in the cost
of living
(Bureau
of Labor
Sta­
tistics)

16. 50

...

8 $12.00

200.4

[ 416. 33
1 416. 52
['$10.08
417. 41 f-........ \414. 3C
l 418.18

1
J

1

13.20
13. 20
13. 20

174.3

( $12.10
11013. 75

13.20
14.50
I

413. 75

|

18. 26
18.26

14.00
14.00

18.26

( 14.20
to
l 14. 90

18.26
18. 26

L.J__

14. 50
f 12.00
to
l 14.00 i

L...

(■)

w Only hourly rates established by the wage board, but these are potential weekly rates if the full number

!■£ i!E? workindustries ^re werewas issuedcommission considered thatcommission is according tothatsize of
^orked. Information basedthe Wisconsin
to the effect
when
tne lyzi all j
order
it was from on the knowledge that the most common weekly
hours of
in the State
50. The
$11 to $12.50,
the

the community, equaled the cost of living in 1921, and that any woman who worked more than 50 hours
should receive more than the cost-of-living minimum.
11 Little Rock and Fort Smith,




138

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
Table 31.—Comparison of minimum-wage rates with budgets adopted
[See note at end
Cost of living and rate established by—

Cost
of
living

District of
Columbia

California

Arkansas

Industry or occupation and
year decree was set

Cost
of
living

Rate

Kansas

Cost
of
living

Cost
of
Rate
living

Rate

Rate

Massachu­
setts
Cost
of
living

Rate

<$14. 65

<$16.18
16. 08 $16.00
16.08 16.00
Cherry,

bean,

corn,

and
16. 00
(‘6)

J

16.08 616.01
16.08 616.00

1

16.08! «16.00
16.08! 616.00

_____ 1______
!

16.08
16.08

Fruit and vegetable packing.

. .!

f

i

1

1

13.92 $13.92

|

13. 20

i

<14. 59

7 '$g

13. 50

i

Cherry, bean, corn, and
tomato canning................

13. 20

13.00

!

i

< 15. 05

:

13. 00
Wholesale and retail mil-

...
Cherry,

bean, corn,

.

13.00

13. 90
13. 75
13. 00

|-

13. 00
13. 75
13.00

.....

1

and

< 14. 86
14. 95
13. 50

1

'

14.40
13. 60

1927
Cherry,

bean, corn,

and 1
1

i

i

1
1

i

1 These figures are estimates, calculated by applying to the first budget prepared in each St ate the change

cost of living as shown by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics index numbers. (See right-hand column.)
Note.—The rates shown in this table are those which were actually put in force
through the procedure specified in the law. The figures marked with reference 6 are
rates set directly by the commissions. All other figures in the rate columns are rates
determined by wage boards. Two cost-of-living figures are shown; that on the same
line with a rate is from the budget prepared specifically as a basis for that rate (in a
few cases the budget was announced a short time before the rate, so it appears in the
cost-of-living table for a date earlier than the one used here) ; that which appears op­
posite the year is in some cases a budget or budgets prepared specifically as a basis for
wage rates and in other cases is an estimate, calculated by taking the first budget
prepared in each State and increasing or decreasing it according to the changes in the
cost of living as shown by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Index numbers.
All such estimates are Indicated.

COMPARISON OF RATES WITH BUDGET FIGURES PREPARED
SPECIFICALLY TO AID IN FORMULATING THESE RATES

The first question to be considered is whether or not rates equaled
the budgets that were prepared specifically to sustain a given rate.
These budgets fall into two subdivisions; Budgets formally accepted




139

COST OF LIVING AND THE RATES SET

by wage boards or prepared by commissions, by State and year—Continued
of table, page 138]
Cost of living and rate established by—

Minnesota

Cost
of
living

Rate

North
Dakota
Cost
of
living

Oregon

Cost
Rate
of
living

Rate

Washington

Texas

Cost
of
living

Cost
of
living

Rate

■

Rate

"Wisconsin

Cost
of
living

Rate

Index
figure
showing
changes
in the cost
of living
(Bureau
of Labor
•Sta­
tistics)

r
- Ijmi
1

!

1

•

173.2

|

1

172.5

1
(»•)

(5 6)
(b 6)

1

177.9

(••)
(*«)
(•«)

i
|
I

___

(!»)

j

(*«)

|

172.0

(»«)
•Only hourly rates established by wage boards, and since an exact maximum of weekly hours in this
industry is not set by law it is impossible to calculate potential weekly rates.
6 Rates were set directly by the commission.

by a wage board or commission as representing the cost of living,
and budgets presented by persons in authority—for example, hy
the commissions to the wage boards—as legitimate estimates on
which a particular rate might well be based. To consider the first
type, it is interesting to note the cases where commissions or wage
boards formally announced that they had decided that the cost
of living was a certain amount per week and then set a rate sub­
stantially below this amount. This has occurred in relatively few
instances. The only States in which it has happened are Massachu­
setts and Texas. No explanation is made of why the difference
occurred in the case of the one wage decree in Texas, but the Massa­
chusetts law requires wage boards to take into consideration the




140

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

financial condition of the industry. Of every five Massachusetts
wage boards approximately two have recommended a rate below
their own estimate of the cost of living, and the commission has
accepted this rate. Of the 34 rates set, there are 18 where the exact
sum of the budget was adopted as the rate, 2 where the decree was
greater than the budget, and 14 where it was less. The two where
the budget was greater can be disposed of quickly; in one case the
difference is only 3 cents; in the other an hourly rate was set for
office and building cleaners to compensate for the short work week
customary in this occupation. The figure shown in this table is
for the full week allowed by law. Therefore there are, practically
speaking, no rates which are greater than the budget estimates. As
far as the wage boards that set rates below the cost of living are
concerned, not only are they numerous but the cuts in many in­
stances are considerable, ranging all the way from 23 cents to $1.94.
The average cut is $1.07. When it is considered that the budget is
supposed to represent the absolute minimum cost of proper living
and that the highest budget ever issued was $15.69 (in 1922) this
is a serious reduction. Moreover, when the Massachusetts estimates
on the cost of living are compared with those of like date in other
States, it is at once evident that they are below rather than above
the average. It would appear that the Texas decree and all these
Massachusetts decrees set below their own estimated budgets cer­
tainly must be considered as among those which fail to establish
a rate commensurate with the cost of living. In Texas the com­
mission alone made the determination; in Massachusetts the original
low rate was recommended by the wage boards and was approved
by the commission.
The second type of budget comprises cost-of-living studies made
by the commissions’ agents and presented to the wage boards or
used by the commissions as an authoritative estimate on which to
base a rate; or studies made by the wage boards and recommended
to the commission as correct indexes of the cost of living. For States
other than Massachusetts this is the most common kind of budget
figure appearing in this table. All the California cost-of-living
studies belong to this group, as do the 1918-19 District of Columbia
figure and those of Arkansas 1920, Kansas 1921-22, Minnesota 1914,
North Dakota 1920 and 1922, Oregon 1913 and 1918, Washington
1914 and 1920, and Wisconsin 1914. In California there has never
been more than a few cents difference between this estimated cost
of living and the rates set at the same date. Arkansas (1920) and
Oregon (1918) set rates that corresponded exactly to their budget
estimates. Minnesota, by setting rates of $8, $8.25, $8.50, $8.75, and
$9 for different occupations and for communities of varying popula­
tion after the wage boards had recommended $8.75 as the necessary
cost of living, roughly equaled the budget.
North Dakota in 1920 set rates above the recommended budget
estimate of $16.25. These rates ranged from $16.50 to $20. They
represent an effort on the part of wage boards and commissions to
recognize the higher standards of living required of such groups
as office workers. This is the only case where rates have been greater
than the budgets. In the other cases—the District of Columbia,




COST OP LIVING AND THE RATES SET

141

Oregon (1913), Kansas, North Dakota (1922), and Washington 1—the
rates set were below the estimated budgets. In the District of Colum­
bia the difference of $0.50 is not a drastic cut. In Oregon (1913)
and Washington (1914 and 1915) an average of the budgets pre­
sented shows a cost of $10.31 and $10.26 respectively. The Washing­
ton rates, which run $8.90, $9, and $10, are a real reduction in the four
industries with rates set below $10. The Oregon rates, running
$8.25, $8.64, $9.25, and $9.33, are serious cuts in every industry. If
$10.31 is advanced as the minimum estimate for Oregon, it is certainly
not carrying out the law to set rates that are $1 and $2 below that
estimate.
As has been noted earlier, these Oregon budgets were based on
investigations of the Oregon Consumers’ League, but the work was
done by the person who became the first secretary of the industrial
welfare commission and the report was used so extensively by the
commission as to justify considering its budgets as at least semi­
official. It is only fair to note that, the wage boards reported that the
rates they set represented the minimum cost of living. However,
they do not record any authority or report any first-hand investiga­
tion on which this figure is based. The estimates are open to question
when compared with the $10.31 consumers’ league figure, which was
formulated after an extensive investigation, and the $10.26 figure in
the neighboring State of Washington, also the result of a field study *
In the three other States—Kansas (1922), North Dakota (1922), arid
Washington (1920)—the differences between the cost-of-living figures
and the rates are striking. Kansas set rates running from $6~to $6.50
less than the estimated cost of living. As a reason for this, it was
said that the cost of living was falling, but the United States Bureau
of Labor Statistics cost-of-living index fails to showr a drop in any
way commensurate with this cut. North Dakota cut the budget
figures from $3.76 to $6.25 when rates were established, and if these
rates are compared with the first rates established in North Dakota in
1920, all of which were greater than the estimated cost of living, it
would seem to prove that compromise was necessary in -order to
help enforcement. The Washington rate is $4.80 less than the aver­
age of the budget study. All these budgets are for relatively the
same period of time (1920-1922), and in North Dakota and Wash­
ington they are somewhat higher than any other budgets that had
even partial official sanction. It is apparent that both wage boards
and commissions felt that they were too high. Whether or not this
was. a correct decision will be discussed when increases in the cost
of living are analyzed. This wdiole group of States shows that, as in
the first group considered, barely more than half the rates set equaled
the sums announced by authoritative sources as the cost of proper
living. One State (in the first year of its law) set rates higher than
its budget, seven equaled the budget, one set a series of rates whose
average roughly equaled the budget, and six set rates below the
budget.
1 Washington (1914) set rates below the budgets presented by the commission but
corresponding exactly to budgets worked out by the wage boards. The commission’s
figures represented figures submitted in the course of its investigation by a group of
employers and two groups of employees. The wage boards made no independent survey
but issued their budget to show that the rate set supplied the necessary cost of living.




142

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

For some States budgets were not made after the early years; in­
stead, cost-of-living estimates were used to adjust the totals and
items of the existing budgets to the conditions prevailing when it
was proposed to set a new rate, jor local cost-of-living studies were
made to determine the current cost of items in an old budget. This
Avas the case in Arkansas (1922), the District of Columbia (after
1919), Minnesota (after 1914), Oregon (1916 and 1919), Washing­
ton (1918 and 1921), and Wisconsin (after 1914). It is impossible
in these instances to discuss the relation between any specific budget
and a Avage rate set as a result. For present purposes the rate must
be accepted as being the Avage board’s or commission’s estimate
of the cost of living. If this is done, it can be said that the ma­
jority of rates set have equaled the announced cost of living. Ex­
cepting Massachusetts, no State Avith a really active law has an­
nounced one sum as the cost of living and set a lower rate. In Mas­
sachusetts, of course, the requirement that the wage boards consider
the financial condition of the industry puts these acts in a some­
what different light. Where the setting of rates beloAV the announced
cost of living has occurred in other States the budgets have been
only semiofficial; where they were presented by the commissions
the Avage boards have refused to agree to them, or vice versa. The
tendency to cut rates below the announced cost of living is suffi­
ciently widespread to justify looking further and seeing Avhether oi
not the budgets in all cases were adequate. It may be that the com­
promise with the forces that sought to hold down minimum-wage
rates was made before the budget Avas announced.
COMPARISON OP BUDGETS TO DETERMINE A STANDARD BUDGET
BY WHICH RATES CAN BE JUDGED

As remarked earlier in this report, it Avas not the province of this
study to discuss a budget article by article, to see whether or not it
included the real necessaries, or to judge Avhether methods of col­
lecting facts for the budgets were adequate. HoAvever, if there is
a substantial agreement as to the total weekly cost of living
among a considerable percentage of the many budgets available,
it would seem as if this sum might be accepted as a fair
estimate of the cost of living and other budgets be judged
in their relation to this figure. Moreover, in every State it has
been interesting to take the earliest budget made and see what that
budget would have cost during the war years and the years imme­
diately following the war. This is done because there is some rea­
son to feel that as wage boards and commissions became more familiar
with the difficulties of enforcing minimum-wage rates which en­
tailed substantial increases over the average wages in existence, these
boards and commissions became more and more inclined to allow
budgets to be approved that perhaps did not really provide for the
increases in the living costs, or for the same reasons to follow less
rigidly theoretical budgets submitted by agents who made field
studies; to a\Toid announcing one figure as the cost of living and a
loAver figure as the minimum rate, budget estimates Avhich were an­
nounced as the basis of the rate were reduced. If this is the case, the
early budgets of the commissions, when raised to correspond to the
increases in the cost of living, would offer a means of judging not




COST OF LIVING AND THE RATES SET

143

only whether the commissions and wage boards had maintained the
same standards in all budgets but to some extent the adequacy of
the later budgets.
There is one bit of internal evidence that seems to corroborate
the theory that the earlier budgets were more truly representative
of actual living costs; it is their greater agreement from State to
State as to the sum necessary for proper self-support. In 1913, 1914,
and 1915, before the rapid war-time rise in the cost of living, seven
States—California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon,
Washington, and Wisconsin—prepared and made public one or more
cost-of-living studies. In all, figures for 16 different budgets of
these dates are available. The lowest figure was a $7.30 estimate
in Kansas, but the inclusion of this budget in the table is
ojien to question, since it was the average actual expenditures
of a group of woman mercantile and laundry employees who were
not under any minimum-wage decree and many of whom were
living below the standards advocated by the law. The next lowest
budgets were $8.36 in Minnesota and $8.45 in Wisconsin, budgets also
derived from actual expenditures prior to establishing any wage
rate. Of the remaining 12 budgets, four were estimates of from $8.50
to $9, four of from $9.50 to $10, three of from $10 to $10.50, and
the highest one was $10.74. On the other hand, in the years 1919
and 1920, seven States—Arkansas, California, the District of Co­
lumbia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Washington, and Texas—
reported budgets, and four other States—Kansas, Oregon, Minne­
sota, and Wisconsin—established rates based on the cost of living.
The estimates of the cost of living range from $10.25 as expressed
by the lowest rate, in Minnesota, to $22.60 in the Washington budget,
a spread of $12.35, or more than the sum set in Minnesota as the
total cost of living. Of course there are reasons for some variations
in the minimum cost of living, but this is an amazing difference.
Although the other 21 rates are pretty well spread out, no rate
comes within $6 of the high Washington estimate; nevertheless, the
estimates without either the high Washington budget or the low
Minnesota rate show a spread of $6.25, with the largest number of
estimates falling in a $3 group from $13 to $16.2 Even at that,
this group forms less than 50 per cent of the total number of budgets
submitted, while in the earlier years practically 80 per cent of the
budget showed a range of a little over $2. The following table is
arranged with the theories in mind that if there is substantial
enough agreement among a number of States as to the co,st of living,
some figure can be reached that it is possible to accept as representing
a real minimum budget and that may be used as a basis for judg­
ing other rates; and that the latter-day cost-of-living budgets in many
cases were forced down by the knowledge that to establish a wage a't
the real cost of living would arouse opposition so that it would
be difficult to obtain the necessary cooperation in enforcement. The
table shows budgets or rates announced from year to year, compared
with what the cost-of living estimate would have been if the earlier
budgets had been raised or lowered to conform to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics figures.
•This includes the higher Wisconsin figure based on the greatest possible number ot
hours a woman could work legally. Both budgets were below $13 on tile practical basis
accepted by the commission.




144

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 32.—Comparison

of first cost-of-living budget, adjusted to conform to changes
and

[Note.—The year 1913 is taken as the base for the budgets as well as for the Bureau of Labor Statistics

sidered as corresponding to the Bureau of Labor Statistics index number for that

$9.34

$6.61

1913______________

1914............................

a

3

a

co
w
$9.17

$9.63

1915......................... __

T3
©
03

'd
CG

a

3
$6.95

9.45

9. 82

9.64

11. 05

191G-

Massachusetts

IS. 06

2 10.00

13. 30

1918.............................

2 9.60
210. 00

16. 29

$7.30

213.67

1920.......................... 2 $18.25

18.61

$8.46

8.89

8. 22

8.98

10.00

9. 90

10. 00
10.45

12.05

2 7. 00
2 8. 50

12.12

9. 65
11. 64
12. 50

14.75

18. 28 211. 00

13.85

11.00

11. 54
12. 50
13. 00
15. 00
15. 25
15. 30
15. 40
15. 50
13.50

$16.00

16.01

a
3

8. 75
2 8. 50

*9. 00
1919...........................

T3
©

$8. 71

10.86

1917............................

Budget or rate
announced

a

3

TJ
©
CG

Kansas

Budget or rate
announced

03

District of
Columbia
(standard,
see p. 146)

Budget or rate
announced

T3
©

California

Budget or rate
announced

Year

Budget or rate
announced

Arkansas

16. 86

18. 72 2 16. 50

18.88

211.00

13.93

11.52 2 16.00

16. 28

2 15. 00
2 16. 50

15.98

16.93

12.11

11. 20

14. 99
16. 08

15.83

2 16. 50

15.54

16. 93

11. 78

1923 ..........................

11.45

16. 08

16.18

15.88

12. 04

1924 .............................

11.40

16.11

15.82

11.99

13. 50

14. 59

1925. ................. .........

11.76

16. 62

16.81

12. 36

15.05

1926......................... .

11.61

16. 40

16.10

12.20

13. 00
13. 90
13. 75
13.00
14. 95
13. 50

1921_____

1922....................... .

2 11. 00

16.11

1 Monthly Labor Review, February, 1928, p. 218.

* These are rates but are supposed to equal the minimum cost of living.




13. 50
13. 75
13. 97
14. 00
15.69
13. 20
13.92

16.95

14. 75

14. 34

14.65

14.86

COST OP LIVING AND THE RATES SET

145

in the cost of living, and later budgets (rates where no budgets were given), by State
year
cost-of-living index. Where the first budget is later than 1913 (as is true of all States but Oregon) it is conyear and all estimated budgets are computed on the theoretical 1913 budget. |

I

$8. 47

$8.72
8.36

10. 02

2 8. 25
2 8. 64
2 9. 25
2 9. 23

9. 61
12.06
11. 56

8 12.00

to
w
$7. 54
6. 76

12. 40

14. 44
14. 92
11.10
11. 61

17.68
18. 28

16. 88
16.18

2 13.20

20.21

13.85

20. 89

16.97
16.27

$16.23

............

—

3

T3
D
S
tl
w

$9. 37
9. 48
9.99
10. 43

$9. 22 |
8.20

$9. 65
$9.50
9. 76
8. 45
10.29
........ . j
10.74
2 9. 00
9. 85
9. 69
9. 96
8.62
10.50
10. 96
~ “lO.Of
11.08 "
11.21
9.71
11. 82
12. 34
13. 34 — 13.13
13.50
11.68
14. 23
|
14. 85
2 13. 20
16.34
16. 08
16.53
14. 31
17. 42
18. 19
18. 67 2 12. 10
18. 38
18. 89
. 16.35
19.91
20.79

12. 00

14. 77
14.16

n
<o
a
f

“22760"

20. 32 $15.12
13.55

21. 00

18. 78
19. 00

18. 48
16. 44

20.02

14. 76
14.15
14. 36
13. 76

14.14

18. 26

17. 67
18. 27

13.14
11. 78

13. 75

17. 19
17. 76

20. 90
16. 33 <li7oo
16. 52 * 12. 50
17.41
18.18

12. 78
11. 46

2 13.20
214. 50

Index
figure
showing
changes
in the
cost of
living
(Bureau
of Labor
Statis­
tics) 1

Wisconsin

Budget or rate
announced

a

Budget or rate
announced

T3
o

10. 66
11. 01

8.53

a 10.25

Washington

$10. 44
10. 79
8. 90

* 10.25
11. 00

02

W

$8.11 $10.14
10.48

8.12

*8. 00

T3
<a
nJ
8

Texas

Budget or rate
announced

w
H

Budget or rate
announced

6

'

3

ro
a>
te

Oregon

|

a

!

03

!

Budget or rate
announced

North Dakota

■g

1

!

Budget or rate
announced

Minnesota

J

14.05

17. 56
18.15

142. 4

174. 4

199.3

j

16 08" |
14.30

13. 99

15. 07
14.45
14. 87
14. 26

13. 01
11. 66

14. 43

18. 04
18. 61

1121

13. 41
12.03

14.24

17.81
18. 40

174.3

169. 5

11.71

17. 49
18.08

200.4

13. 90

173. 2

17. 30
18. 06

14. 61
14.01

103.0
105.1

118.3

17. 68
14.67
14. 06

100.0

■
16. 35
17.23
17.99

14.15

172. 5

14! 59
\

177.9

14. 40 \

175.6

18. 55
-

13. 24
11.87
17.54
18.32

•

3 These rates, based on a 48-hour week, are supposed to equal the minimum cost of living.
All hours
worked in excess of 48 must be paid lor at the rate of $0.25 or $0,215, depending on the size of the community.
1 According to the Wisconsin Industrial Commission the rate for 50 hours of work was considered equal
to the cost of living in 1921.




146

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

It is interesting to look at these budgets as calculated on the basis
of their value in 1913. The total spread is from $6.61 to $10.31 (the
average of the Oregon budgets). Seven of the 11 States, however,
have figures that range from $8.11 to $9.37 (the average of the
budgets used by the Washington wage boards in determining the
rates). Thus, in addition to the fact that the original budgets for
1913, 1914, and 1915 show a smaller divergence from State to State
than do the original budgets worked out in later years, this table
shows that practically all first budgets, whatever their date, are more
in agreement when they are reduced to similar terms than is a first
budget in one State compared with a second budget in another State
for the same year. It seems reasonable to say that about $9 equaled
the minimum cost of living for a single independent woman in 1913,
based on an average of the decisions of the commissions in the mini­
mum-wage States. Since the budget worked out by the District of
Columbia commission in 1918 ($16)3 when expressed in the terms of
1913 values was $9.17 per week, thus being the budget nearest the
$9 average, it may be used as the standard in each year against which,
for the present purpose, other budgets may be listed. This standard
budget runs as follows:
1913.
1914.
1915.
1916
1917
1918.
1919.

$9. 17
9. 45
9. 64
10.85
13. 06
16. 00
18. 28

1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926

$18. 38
15.98
15.54
15. 88
15.82
16. 31
16. 10

.
_
_
.

The table then affords the very basis 'for comparison that is neces­
sary if an effort is to be made to judge the adequacy of the budgets
themselves. It gives an average budget with which the first budgets
in five States were in substantial agreement. California, Washing­
ton, and Wisconsin all announced budgets in 1914 that closely ap­
proximated the standard. Massachusetts and Minnesota announced
budgets that were near the standard. In 1919, when the cost of living
had practically doubled, all these States announced a budget or set a
rate, except Washington, which had set a rate in 1918. The following
summary shows how far below the standard some States dropped:
1918

Standard.
_....
...
_
California
____ _ _____ ______
______
Massachusetts_____________
__________
Minnesota __ _ __ _
___ ____________
_________ _ _
Washington _
Wisconsin..__ ____ _ __ __ ._
__ _

$16. 00

13. 20

1919

$18.
13.
11. 00 to 15.
10. 25 and 11.

28
57
00
00

1 12. 10 (11. 00)

1 The 1919 Wisconsin figure was based on a 55-hour week; that for 192! tvas base 1 on a 50-hour week,
since the commission states that it used this basis in determining a rate equal to the cost of living. In
1921 a woman could earn as much as $13.75 if she worked the full number of hours allowed by law, but
so few plants ran these hours that the commission based the rates on the most usual hours of work, 50.

Again in 1921 when the cost of living had dropped from the peak
of 1919-20, most of these States announced budgets or set rates.
The following summary compares these with the standard:
■This budget was announced as of Jan. 15, 1919. The nearest Bureau of Labor Statis­
tics cost-of-living index number is for December. 1918.




COST OF LIVING ANb THE RATES SET

147

1921

Standard$15.99.
California$16.00.
District of Columbia$15.00 and $16.50.
Massachusetts$13.50.
Washington$13.20 and $14.50.
Wisconsin---------------------------- $11.00 to $12.50 ($12.10 to $13.75).*

With the exception of the District of Columbia and Massachu­
setts all these States have raised their estimates, at least slightly,
since 1919 and are somewhat nearer the theoretical standard than in
that year. It seems from a close study of the whole table, as illus­
trated by the two summaries, that most wage boards and commis­
sions were unable to raise their estimates fast enough to keep up
with the cost of living. Thus again in 1921 they were standing behind
budgets that did not meet the requirements they had set up for them­
selves in 1913-14. Moreover, their estimates of the cost of living were
beginning to vary widely from State to State. Among the States that
issued first budgets at this later date, two, Arkansas and Texas, fell
far below the standard, and North Dakota, though nearer, failed to
more than approximate it. It is impossible to take up each State in
detail, but a study of the individual States in the table is well worth
while. To illustrate how the States generally failed to approximate
not only the standard but their own early ideas of what were proper
living costs, the following States—California, Kansas, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, and Wisconsin—will be discussed in some detail.
In 1914 the California commission made a cost-of-living study and
published as its conclusion a budget that totaled $9.63 per week.
No new study is reported before the 1917-18 wage decrees. These
rates are set at $9.60 and $10 per week, though the commission’s
original budget brought up to date places the cost of living at $13.30
in 1917 and $16.29 in 1918. By the time the commission had made
out a new budget of $13.57 (1919) the earlier budget would have
come up to $18.61. When the commission next made a cost-of-living
study (1920), its estimate was $2.61 less than the 1914 budget brought
up to date. An analysis of the Minnesota situation shows that the
budget used for estimating the cost of living ($8.72) is an average
of those recommended by the three wage boards which met in 1914.
On the basis of this adjusted budget the only rates set—in 1918,
1919, and 192(B—were far below the cost of living. The 1920 rates,
however, did not work out to be quite so far below if it was con­
sidered that their provision guaranteeing overtime for all hours over
48 per week affected woman workers in general. In Kansas the
rates set in 1922 (see table following) not only were far below the
budget presented by the commission’s own investigators but were
below the cost of living estimated with the $7.30 budget (1915) as
a basis. This sum, it will be recalled, was the average expenditures,
before any wage rates were set, of a group of woman mercantile and
laundry workers, for whose aid the law was enacted. In Wisconsin
(1919 and 1921) and Massachusetts (1919) striking differences occur
between their budgets for these years and the budgets estimated from
their own early cost-of-living figures. It is evident from compari­
sons within the States, from State to State, or with the standard
rate, that as the cost of living rose it became increasingly difficult to
advance estimates of living costs with equal rapidity.
4 See footnote under preceding table.




148

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

It is not unfair to say that after the very early years of minimumwage laws, when cost-of-living estimates in some cases were not
followed by decrees, cost-of-living estimates as well as rates them­
selves began to be subjects of compromise. Not only when compared
with the standard budget, but when compared with their own early
budgets, commissions and wage boards tended generally to cut their
estimates more and more.
There are two possible explanations of these discrepancies: Either
original budgets were submitted that were above the true minimum
cost of living or the commissions have not carried out the express di­
rection of the laws that rates established must equal the cost of living.
Judged in the light of the standard budget the first statement is
not true. Up to 1920 there was only one case of a budget above the
standard and this was the 1913 Oregon Consumers’ League study,
not an investigation conducted by a State agency. From then on
there were a few cases, as shown by the following summary:
Year

1920___________________________________
1921____
1922_____________________
1923__________ _________________ _____
1924..................... ............................. ...................
1925.____________ ______ _______________
1926

Stand­
ard
$18.40
16.00
15.56
15. 90
15. 84
16. 33
16.12

Wash­
ington

Kansas

Cali­
fornia

Massa­
chusetts

North
Dakota

$22.60
$16. 93
16.93

$16.00
16.08
16.08

$15. 69

$18.26

Since the excess in estimate in California and Massachusetts is so
small, there are really but three States that ever have issued officially
sanctioned budgets substantially above the standard. Moreover, there
is evidence in several States to show that some of these budgets were
introduced to correct a bad situation, for there were cases where the
commissions, at least temporarily, had been unable to establish a rate
that would supply a woman with the means of independent self­
support and were seeking at a later date to remedy this situation.
In California, when the cost of living began to fall in 1920, an effort
was made to lowTer the wage rate. During the time that this was
under discussion, the fall in prices was checked and a slight rise in
living costs took place. If the $16 rate established at the peak of
prices in 1920 was a true expression of the cost of living, a lesser
rate should have sufficed in 1921-22, but if the true minimum cost was
that based on the 1914 budget, the $16 rate of 1921-22 becomes a close
approximation of what it really cost an independent woman to live.
The fact that the commission held the $16 rate looks as if it really
recognized its first budget as the better one, and places the commis­
sion in agreement with the standard budget. In Massachusetts, too,
there are some indications of realization by the wage boards that they
had not maintained the earlier standard. The highest budget ever
proposed was in 1922 ($15.69), though the cost of living had fallen,
and this budget was not only equal to the standard but exceeded the
first Massachusetts budget as raised to the 1922 cost-of-living level.
No other Massachusetts budget equaled the standard, but in 1926 a
budget of $14.95 was proposed, which exceeded slightly the estimate
as based on the figure of the first Massachusetts wage board. Wiscon­
sin, though it never approached the standard after its 1914 budget,




COST OF LIVING AND THE RATES SET

149

raised its rates after the cost of living began to fall. The commis­
sion, however, seems to have been more concerned with setting rates
to conform to the most usual hours of labor which were less than the
legal limit, and so holding the standard established in 1919 on the
basis of the legal hours, than with raising weekly rates.
The discussion up to this point has been of budgets. It has been
asserted that while most rates equaled some official pronouncement as
to living costs, a considerable number fell below these official figures.
It has been asserted that in f hose States where rates equaled budgets
the budgets have rarely equaled the cost of living as established by the
commissions in 1913—14 and adjusted to the date of the budget, and
that the discrepancies between the standard budget and the various
State estimates were particularly marked when the cost of living was
the highest. To illustrate how the first budgets rarely were followed
in setting wage rates, and how the later ones that were followed fell
below the standards set originally, the following summary of first
budgets and first rates, each reduced to a 1913 basis, is given.
-

State

Arkansas..... ............................ .
California............... .....................
District of Columbia...... ..........
Kansas..........................................
Massachusetts............................
Minnesota........ .........................

Average
budget

Average
rate

$6. 61
9.34
9. 17
6. 95
8. 46
8. 47

$6. 61
7.02
8.03
4. 68
8. 13
8.34

State

Average
budget
$8.11
10.48
6. 76
9.37
9. 22

Average
rate

8. 87
5.99
9.03
6.07

To avoid the misapprehension that this summary, showing all
rates except Arkansas and North Dakota lower than the budgets,
contradicts the statement made earlier in the report that the majority
of the rates equaled the commissions’ or wage-boards’ budgets or
announced cost of living, it must be emphasized that this is a com­
parison of the first rate set with the first budget. Sometimes the rate
was set immediately after the budget; sometimes a number of years
elapsed; sometimes^ a new budget was worked out and the rate was
set to equal it. Whatever happened, the standard was lowered in
all but two cases. This summary further emphasizes the point made
by comparing early and late budgets, that almost every rate set was
a compromise, not an absolute figure equaling a theoretical budget.
COMPARISON OF RATES SET AT DIFFERENT DATES

Another question that must be considered in this discussion of
the adequacy of minimum-wage rates in relation to the cost of liv­
ing, is whether all rates maintained relatively the same position as
the cost of living changed. After the commissions had set the first
rates, when in most cases they agreed to a compromise somewhat be­
low a theoretical cost-of-living figure, did they in their later decrees,
as the cost of living rose and fell, at least maintain a wage rate
that would have purchasing power equal to that of the original
sum ? The following table accepts the first wage rate in every State
as the commission’s cost-of-living figure, though in many cases it was
below the proposed budget, and shows what this rate would have
been had the commission adjusted it according to the changes in
the Bureau of Labor Statistics cost-of-living index figures,




150

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table

“AS.—Comparison of first rate or group of rates established in each State,
dales, by State
Arkansas

Year
Rate

Esti­
mated
figure

California

Rate

$6.61

1913 ......................... .

Esti­
mated
figure

District of
Columbia

Rate

$7. 02

Esti­
mated
figure

Kansas

Rate

$7. 78
8. 28

Esti­
mated
figure

Massachusetts

Rate

$4. 01
4.87
5.16

Esti­
mated
figure
$8.13

$8.37

1914

1915

8.00

______

8.54

8.50
8. 75

1917

1918

10. 00

$7. 00
8. 50
9.00

12. 24

9. 60

11. 58

9. 00

$10. 00

9.62

9.00

1916

14.18

10.00

11.00

1919

13. 50

13. 99

$15. 50
16. 50

1920............................. $13.25

16. 00

14.07

16. 50

15. 59
16.59

16.00

12. 24

16. 50

13.56

6.99

15. 00

14.43

8. 49

11. 52

1921................ ...........

11.00

7.99
9. 71
10.28

11.00

8. 04
9. 76
10.34

11.00
12. 48
12. 50
13.00
IS.'OO
13. 75
15. 25
15. 40
15.50

16. 20

16.29

12.00

14.17

6. 80
8. 25
8. 75

13. 50
13. 75
14.00

13. 78

13. 20
13. 92

14. 08

13.00

14. 02

8.99
16. 50

13.19
14. 03

11.00
10.50

11.20

15.00
16.00

11. 90

1923

11.45

16.00

12.16

13. 47
14. 34

6. 95

1924

11. 40

12.11

13. 42
14. 28

6. 92
8. 40

1922.............................

1925

.....................

1926

11.00

8.43
8.94

8.90

11.76

12. 49

13. 84
14.73

7. 13
8. 66
9.18

13. 00
13. 75

14.46

11.76

12. 33

13. 66
14.54

7. 04
8. 55
9.06

14. 40
13. 50

14. 28

i The 1919 rate in parenthesis is reckoned on a basis of 50 working hours per week; the 1921 figure in paren­
thesis is reckoned on a basis of 55 working hours per week. Figures not in parenthesis are reckoned on a
55-hour basis for 1919 and on a 50-hour basis for 1921, since these were the hours used by the industrial com­
mission in arriving at a weekly rate equal to the cost of living. This shift in basis was made by the com­
mission because it was felt that, though legally a woman could work 55 hours a week, in practice very few
firms offered more than 50 hours of work, so that a fairer basis for the weekly budget was 50 hours.




COST OF LIVING AND THE RATES SET

151

when adjusted to agree with the changes in the cost of living, and rates set at later
and year
Minnesota

Rate

North
Dakota

Oregon

Esti­
Esti­
mated Kate mated Rate
figure
figure
$7. 77
8. 50
8.74

$8. 23
8. 33
8.73
9. 98

8. 17

8.93
9.19
8.25
8.64
9.25
9.23

11. 06
12. 10

12. 45
13. 55 _____
14.82 _____
15.24 ........ .
10. 25
11.00

210. 25
212. 00

11. 10
11. 61

15. 49 _____
16. 94
17. 42

13. 20
13.85

15. 57 $16. 50
17.03 10. 70 -..........
17. 51 17. 50
20. 00

Esti­
mated Rate
figure

$8. 25
8. 64
9. 25
9. 23

$8. 00
8.75
9. 00

9.19
10.06
10. 34

.....::

Esti­
mated
figure

100.0

103.0

is. oo

15.22
17. 40
13. 95
14. 12
14. 80
16.92
14. 25
14. 43
15. 12
17. 29
14. 20
14, 37
15. 06
17. 22
14. 64
14. 82
15. 53
17. 75
14.45
14. 63
15. 33
17. 52

16. 12
16. 09
13.98
14. 64
15. 68
15. 64
14. 29
14. 96
16. 02

13. 64
14. 93
15.35

}

J

10. 53 $12. 00~
17.3!
18.54 _____
___
18.50 L_........

15.23

13. 82
15. 12
15. 55

$6.07

1

9.00

14. 23
14. 90
15. 96
15. 92
14. 68
15. 37
16. 46
16. 42
14. 49
15. 17
16. 24
16.21

9.08
9. 19

105.1

10.21
10.22

10.34
11.49

10.44

13. 20
14. 50

10. 15

10. 37

10. 33

10.66

10. 52

142.4

15.07
15.24
16.93

174. 4

17. 22 $12. 10
17. 42 ’(11.00)
19.35

13. 20

118. 3

12. 30
12.45
13. 83

15. 06

13.40
14. 66
15.08

$8.64
8.74
9.71

J

14. 52

13. 46
14. 72
15. 14

Rate

10.00

14. 82

12.00

Esti­
mated
figure

$8.90
9.00

14. 38

14. 50
14. 20

Rate

Index
figure
showing
changes
In the cost
Esti­ of living
mated (Bureau
figure of Labor
Statistics)

Wisconsin

$8. 50
8. 90
9. 53
9. 51
8.67
9. 08
9. 72
9.70
9. 70 j........ .
10.22 _____
10.94 '_____
10.92 !............
11. 75
12. 30
13. 17
13. 14
14. 39
15.07
16. 13
16. 10
16. 44
17. 22
18. 44
18. 40

14. 34

13. 17
14. 41
14. 81

Washington

$5.99

13. 54

___

Texas

199. 3

17. 31
17. 51
19.46

f 11.00
to
I 12.60
|» (12.10
15. 23
to
113. 76)
16.92
15.06

12.16

........

200.4

1
[

10.58
174. 3

1

14. 64
14. 81
16. 46

10. 29

14. 96
15.14
16. 82

10. 51

14. 90
15. 08
16. 75

10.47

15. 37
15. 55
17. 27

10.80

15.17
15. 35
17.05

10. 66

•

169.5

173. 2

172. 5

177. 9

175. 6

2 This rate must be paid for 48 hours’ work. All hours worked in excess of 48 must be paid for at the rate
of $0.25 or $0,215, depending on the size of the community.

60769°—28-----11




152

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Two opposite tendencies among the States are shown in this table.
California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, and Wisconsin seem
definitely to have felt that as their original rates did not equal
the theoretical cost of living, rates must be increased faster than
the cost-of-living index rose or, in a time of falling prices, rates
must be held or raised until they equaled the theoretical budget.
Not all these States reached their goal, but all worked toward it.
On the basis of both the standard budget and their own first budget
California and the District of Columbia reached it. A study of the
California figures will illustrate this complicated statement. The
increase in the California rate for 1920 over the rate for 1919 was
necessary only on the supposition that the 1919 rate did not provide
an amount adequate to meet necessary expenses. The reenactment
of the 1920 rate in 1923 was justifiable only if even the jump from
1919 to 1920 had provided a rate below the cost of living. It will
be recalled that by maintaining the $16 level in 1923, California
became one of the four States that succeeded at any time in setting
rates that equaled their original cost-of-living estimates. All the
Kansas and Wisconsin rates are far below any cost-of-living esti­
mates, but the commissions did recognize that the early rates were
too low, though they have not recognized that the later ones also
were too low.
Most of the other States have failed to set rates in the later years
equal in purchasing power to those set at first; that is, in Massachu­
setts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington, no matter
how much of a compromise the original rates were, most of the later
rates are even more drastic cuts below the theoretical cost of living.
Moreover, if some few rates do equal the standard set in the first
decree, they seem to be the result of chance rather than of a sustained
effort to at least get back to the early level. For example, the highest
rate ever set in Massachusetts was $15.50 in 1920, but the rate would
have had to be $16.29 to equal in purchasing power the first rate set
by this commission in 1913. In 1922 and 1923 the rates roughly
equaled the sum of the first rate adjusted to the cost-of-living changes,
but by 1924 and 1925 there was again a considerable gap between
the actual rates set and the estimated rate. Of the two rates set in
1926, one exceeded the standard set in the first rate by 12 cents, the
other failed to reach it by 75 cents. These rates, of course, represent
the ideas of various wage boards, not of the commission, so their
differences within a given year have not the same significance as in a
State where the commission had more control; but the commission
accepted these widely varied and inconsistent estimates. In Oregon
the highest rate was $13.85, for offices in 1919, but the original pffice
rate of $9.25 in 1913 would have equaled $18.44 in 1919. The one
exception is the $18 rate in Washington, 1920, for hotels and restau­
rants, for, on the basis of the original 1914 rate, $17.51 should have
been sufficient to meet the cost of proper living, according to this
general method of estimating.




Cost of Living and the rates set

153

CHANGING OF RATES WITHIN A SPECIFIC GROUP AS THE COST
OF LIVING CHANGED

The last point to be considered is how well the commissions kept
rates at the cost-of-living level when once they had set a decree
tor a^ given industry or occupation. This is not so much a question
or actual rates as of how often decrees were revised and of how Iona; a
rate was allowed to remain in effect in spite of changes in the cost of
living. A discussion of this point necessitates a summing up of the
powers of the various commissions that relate to the reopening of
decrees.
^
It would seem that the duty of the commission to set rates com­
mensurate with the cost of living was meant, to apply in fields where
rates had already been set and had become insufficient as well as
in fields never covered by a decree. In Arkansas, District of Colum­
bia, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wisconsin the laws took no par­
ticular notice of this point. In practice the ability of the commis­
sions to change rates if the cost of living changed materially was
never questioned. The laws of the eight other States all took some
notice of this problem: Five laws—those of Colorado (1917) Kan­
sas Massachusetts (1912), Nebraska, and Washington—provided
that, on petition by the employers and employees, a decree could be
leopened, three States originally—California. Minnesota, and
iexas—and Massachusetts after an amendment to the law in 1920
provided that decrees could be reopened either as the result of a peti­
tion or on the commission’s own motion.
The laws which provided for reopening decrees onlv on peiition
are open to two interpretations; first, that this provision is in addi­
tion to the general powers of the commission to set rates to conform
to tlie cost ot living and an added safeguard to employers and em­
ployees in case the commission did not take action; second, that by
this piovision the commission is so limited that it can not reopen a
decree on its own motion, no matter how ridiculously out of date the
rates may become. As Colorado and Nebraska never entered decrees
this question did not concern them. Kansas and Washington inter­
preted the law as first described and revised decrees when they
thought necessary. Only in Massachusetts was the law interpreted
to hamper the commission, and so serious was this limitation that the
law was amended in 1920 to give the commission the specific power
to revise decrees.
1
Another isolated case of limiting the revising of decrees is found
m Washington, where the law provided that a decree could not be
revised within one year after it was set. In practice this proved a
slight handicap, but the only commission that can claim to have been
seriously hampered is that of Massachusetts. Moreover, this in no
way affected the point discussed in this chapter—that most rates
when set did not equal the cost of living. It did make the discrepancy
more serious, however, since when once a rate was set it was a lone
time before it was changed.




154

minimum-wage laws in the united states

The following statement shows the number of times that the decrees
based on the cost of living (decrees for adults only or for adults and
minors) have been revised since they were originally enacted.

State

Kansas---- ------ ---------------------------

Washington...........................................
Wisconsin

Total
number
of decrees
included
in table
2
40
i5
8
34
M2
13
MO
1
4 5 18
17

Number of decrees revised—

Twice

Three
times

2

Once

6
*1
1

Eight
times

Six
times

6

1
11
2
12

Five
times

Not at
all

3
3
1
7

1

1
1
23

3

1

37

54

1

1
1 .........

!

1

1 One mercantile decree ieconsidered but no formal revision issued.
a Minnesota issued 9 decrees to cover all industries 1914-1918, 2 decrees to cover all industries 1919,1 for all
m^Oregonissued 4 separate decrees in 1913-14, 14 in 1916, 10 in 1918, 9 in 1919, to cover the same group of
7 ^Washington issued 1 separate decree in 1915 and revised part of a general decree, 1918. No apprentice­
ship rulings are counted in this total.
______
, , .
.
* Washington issued 8 separate decrees in 1914-15, 1 decree in 1918, and 4 in 1921, to cover the same 4
industries.

Though several States show a number of decrees that never were
revised, this column is of little real significance. Most of these
decrees are of recent date or inactive. Of the decrees appearing
in this column California dropped two and North Dakota dropped
three; the District of Columbia law was declared unconstitutional;
the Texas law was repealed; one California decree and five Massa­
chusetts decrees were established in 1923 or later. The Kansas de­
cree for telephone establishments, however, was kept in force from
1918 to 1925 and two Massachusetts decrees (corset and knit goods)
have been in force from 1919 and 1920, respectively, to 1921. Among
the decrees that were revised only once are some of the earliest de­
crees ever set. This meant that in many cases long periods of time
elapsed before these decrees were adjusted to meet changes in the
cost of living. One Massachusetts decree (brush) was not revised
for nine years, five others remained in effect for seven years, two
others for five years, and still two more for four years. Two Kan­
sas decrees were in effect for over four years. Decrees that remained
in force for three years were very common.
How often the commissions should have revised their decrees is
hard to detei'mine. The quick rise in prices, due to the war, made
this question of much greater importance during the actual period
of operation than it would be during a normal sequence of years.
The fact that in practice revision often proved to be a slow process,
due both to legal and to practical considerations, had a distinct
bearing on the rate established by any specific decree. The com­
promises made in any one decree take on an appearance of having
more far-reaching consequences. California, which issued a moder­
ate number of decrees and revised them at frequent intervals, was
perhaps more justified in establishing the first rate at a low level
and trying to raise the rates in successive decrees until the cost of




COST OB' LIVING AND THE .RATES SET

155

living was reached, than was Massachusetts, where at first the inter­
pretation of the law, and later the great number of different decrees
to be adjusted, combined with some slowness of action on the part
of the commission, caused a rate once set to stand for a long time.
I n consider mg the fact that most of the decrees have been shown to
tall below the cost of living, it is important to remember that this
was particularly disastrous if they remained in force unchanged
during a time of rising prices. The tables have shown that the re­
vised rates often did not keep pace with rising living costs. Hard
as this was on the woman worker, conditions were worse when
decrees were not revised, or were revised only after long periods of
time so that the rates over a period of years fell so far below costs
as to be practically inoperative. The table immediately preceding
has shown that this occurred in enough cases to have been a real
factor in reducing still further the actual number of women to whom
minimum-wage rates guaranteed a wage commensurate with the
necessary cost of proper living.
SUMMARY

This entire discussion of budgets and rates in their relation to the
cost of living is to emphasize primarily a situation recognized by all
persons closely associated with minimum-wage laws, that is the
necessity found by all commissions of making progress at a ’slow
rate. A picture of mmimum-wage legislation that indicates a
sweeping change as soon as the laws were passed is not true, for in
some cases it was years before any decrees put into active use the
powers inherent m the law. Nor, as a usual thing, were all women
benefited at once through decrees. In some States most of the
women by degrees, came under some decree; in other States, never
more than a fraction. To these modifications of an offhand opinion
of the minimum-wage law must be added the further facts that no
original rate quite equaled the official cost-of-living figures, that these
rates soon became far below the cost of living as prices rose and
that m many States later rates lagged still farther behind this
theoretical cost-of-living basis.
Since the basis of the whole minimum-wage idea is that the rates
shall equal the cost of living, this is a very serious situation, possible
of two interpretations. Either commissions have not carried out the
directions of the law or they have felt that the ultimate success of the
law depended on putting it in force gradually and educating people
to its value and to the women’s needs during the early days of its
existence. Though there is reason to feel that some commissions did
not make the proper sustained effort to carry out the law—particu­
larly when the administration was put in the hands of commissions
created for other purpose? and busy with such work—there is also
reason to feel that in most cases the commissions proceeded slowly
when setting rates because it seemed to them the only possible means
of getting such a new thing introduced in a favorable way. In fact
many commissions have recognized and stated that their minimum
rates established the best practice in the industries or occupations
under consideration rather than a sum based solely on the cost of
living. .This goes back to the feeling on the part of the commissions




156

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

that the rates established must command support from employers and
public as well as employees. It has been emphasized before that it is
impossible to prove that a theoretical sum is the exact amount required
to meet the cost of proper living. If employers and public or em­
ployers alone think a proposed rate too high, compromise often is the
only solution. Unfortunately, if employees have felt a rate was too
low they rarely have been well enough organized to force the adop­
tion of their view, and have had to content themselves with the
thought that they had bettered somewhat the position of the worst
paid of their number.
.
.
The fact that in the same year (1920) rates set m nine states
ranged from $10.25 to $20 would look as if some commissions had
fought harder than others to have the rates set high enough to
equal the minimum cost of living. Also, it lias been pointed out,
in a few cases the commissions improved their rates in relation to
the cost of living, but, though this did occur, other rates fell farther
and farther behind and still others were allowed to remain un­
touched in spite of the increasing living costs. If the commissions
took the stand that early rates could not be enforced if they took such
large jumps as would be required for them to equal the cost of liv­
ing, it would seem to be incumbent on them to advance rates until the
purpose of the law was carried out. Probably this could have been
more nearly achieved if it had not been for the amazing rise in
the cost of living that began within two years of the passage of the
first law. It was difficult to advance rates fast enough to maintain
their purchasing power, let alone to increase it. Since any decrease
in the cost of living lasting over a number of years came only when
court decisions had at least partially destroyed the power of the
commissions, so that the only State continuing to issue decrees is
Massachusetts, where the law is nonmandatory and rates are to
take into consideration the financial ability of the business to pay
the proposed rate, it is impossible to judge whether or not the com­
missions would have been able to attain a more exact minimum in
a time of falling or stationary prices. In concluding this discussion
all that can be said is that, if the cost-of-living studies of those
very commissions and wage boards are relatively accurate, only two
units—California in all its decrees and the District of Columbia
in half of its decrees—had, after several years of experience, con­
firmed minimum rates that seemed to carry out the precept of the
law that rates were to furnish the necessary cost of proper living.
Massachusetts in 1922-23 sought to raise some rates, hold others,
and lower others so slightly, while the cost of living was falling,
as to lessen the discrepancy between the rates and living costs. In
these years and for one industry in 1926 they approximated the
standard established by their own first rate. They never reached
the standard established by their own first budget nor the arbitrary
standard used in this report.




CHAPTER VIII.—PROVISIONS IN THE DECREES FOR
WORKERS OTHER THAN EXPERIENCED ADULTS
WORKING FULL TIME

All the discussion of the work of the commissions and their agents,
the wage boards, up to this time has been based on the \york they
performed in setting a rate for the experienced full-time worker. In
addition the decrees usually took notice of the various groups which
were indicated in the laws as requiring special treatment. These
were primarily the minors, the apprentices or learners, and the sub­
standard workers. Also to be considered were pieceworkers part­
time workers, workers receiving bonuses and commissions, and other
small groups, such as home workers. Many of the laws gave the
commissions some definite powers relating to minors or learners, or
substandard workers, but they granted no special powers for handling
the other groups, though they sometimes indicated that special treat­
ment was necessary. The general powers of the commissions, how­
ever, were so broad that they had ample power to incorporate in the
decrees rules for enforcing the rates set as applied to all these special
groups. It is perhaps important to repeat at this point that the
laws have never required that all woman workers must receive a
minimum wage based on the cost of living. Though such rates are
the only ones that figure in most discussions of the problem, they
by no means represent the whole field of regulation undertaken by
the commissions. If the commissions thought that the nature of the
work covered by any given decree was such that youth or lack of
experience would prevent a worker from performing an average
day s work, they could set lower rates for such minors and learners.
If the commissions had had enough experience to realize how diffi­
cult was the adjusting of the relation between hours of work and
minimum-wage rates, or between methods of payment and these
rates, they had ample power to make rules reconciling these factors.
The provisions of the laws that al low the commissions to make
special rulings for workers who are not considered capable of
earning a rate which provides independent self-support, or who
under varied schedules of hours or methods of payment, are
vital m the scheme of these laws. One of the greatest points urged
m favor of this experiment in legislation wa^ its flexibility. It
recognized that treating all young or inexperienced workers, or all
incapacitated or aged workers, or workers whose hours of work are
irregular, on the same basis as the healthy experienced adult woman
working full time, would justify many of the criticisms expressed
u u new PrincT^e! that is, of the principle that a normal woman
should receive as a minimum wage for full-time work an amount
sufficient to enable her to support herself in a decent manner.
Though this provision for treating different groups of workers
m a way to correspond to their earning capacity was so important,




157

158

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

it added greatly to the difficulty of setting acceptable rates. In the
first place it was necessary in the case of minors, learners, and sub­
standard workers to decide for a particular decree whether or not
any-deviation from the cost-of-living minimum was either necessary
or desirable. If it was granted that rates for these groups should
be lower than the cost-of-living minimum, a whole new series of
problems was opened for compromise. The law which said that
the experienced minimum rate was to provide the necessary cost of
living gave no standard whatsoever to guide a commission in deter­
mining the relation between these exceptional groups and the
experienced worker. It did not even require the commission to set
any separate rates; it simply gave the commission such power in
case it so desired. The result was that everyone touching these
problems has had a different idea of how they should be handled.
Practically every State provided that the commissions, not the
wage boards, were to handle these questions, but it is impossible to
trace any consistent plan of action even within one State.
SUBSTANDARD WORKERS

The group of substandard workers is, of course, much smaller than
either of the others and therefore it is much easier to handle. In
all the States it has been considered a group composed of individuals
who should be given special permits exempting them from the de­
crees, rather than a group requiring special treatment as a group
under the decrees. No uniform plan other than the consideration of
each application for a permit has been necessary. In most of the
States many requests are made for permits to work certain women
as “ special license ” types, but investigation of each applicant has
greatly reduced the numbers who genuinely were crippled or other­
wise incapacitated, so the problem has been adequately handled by
issuing individual permits setting forth the specific terms under
which the woman could be employed.
APPRENTICES OR LEARNERS AND MINORS

Minors and apprentices or learners are much too numerous to be
handled case by case. They form, at any given time, a substantial
percentage of the gainfully-occupied women. In 1920, 11.2 per cent
of all gainfully occupied women were under 18 years of age.1 Infor­
mation as to the relation that the number of newcomers in a given
industry or occupation bears to the total is not possible to secure, but
the usual run of woman labor probably would show a high percent­
age of inexperienced workers. Many are young, and in industry
for only a few years, causing a large number of replacements; and
women generally have access to the less-skilled jobs only, and change
of occupation may be made with little hazard. This means that the
treatment accorded these groups affects such a large percentage of all
woman workers that it goes a long way toward determining the ade­
quacy of any specific wage decree. It is possible for decrees to set
1 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
tions, p. 375.




Fourteenth census : 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupa­

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

159

an adequate rate for the experienced worker and to deal with the
inexperienced in such a way as to reduce greatly the effectiveness of
the decree.
For the purpose of this study minors and apprentices or learners
will be discussed at the same time, so far as the material permits
in theory these groups are to receive less than the minimum because
they can not qualify as experienced. Sometimes they lack the age to
qualify, sometimes the experience, sometimes both; but the reason
for their special treatment is the negative one that they do not
meet the requirements for experience. However, if there is this
common reason for special treatment, there is no uniform principle
ehind the kind of special treatment to which these groups are sub­
jected. Workers of all ages who are new at their job are one prob­
lem; minors are another. Minors nevertheless represent two kinds
of workers—the experienced and the inexperienced—and learners
represent both minor and adult beginners. Whether the commis­
sions have considered all inexperienced workers together or separated
them according to age, they have had to try to devise decrees that
would give both newcomers and the very young in industry a fair
worker
W°uM n0t harm the status of*the experienced mature
The very terms “learner” and “apprentice” indicate that such
a person is still preparing for her greatest usefulness. The commis­
sions were to decide how long it was necessary for such persons to
i. iraini?g !n, ?n-v industry or in a given industry, and what
rates they should be paid during this period. It was not within
the province of commissions to see to it that beginners really were
given a trade education, but it was hoped that, since apprenticeship
was allowed to extend over a considerable period of time, during
which rates of pay usually had to be increased when the employees
had worked a specified number of weeks or months, the employer
would find it to his own advantage to see that these beginners re­
ceived instruction m the job. Even without touching the enormous
question of trade education, the commissions in dealing with learners
had to try to avoid many pitfalls. Decrees had to be so constructed
that employers would not be tempted to employ a very large number
of learners because of the lower rates. Moreover, the commissions
had to guard against women being kept during their apprenticeship
and discharged just as they qualified for the experienced rate. Too
great a gap between the rates for learners or apprentices and those
for experienced workers might have caused that. These were gen­
eral problems that applied to all apprentices or learners. In addition
there were special problems because of the different age groups and
the different industries covered by the decrees.
Method of treating apprentices or learners in various industries.
On the whole, commissions have followed the same subdivisions
of industry in dealing with learners as were followed for experiencecl workers, and have issued very few separate decrees. Of 232
decrees, only 18 are for inexperienced workers alone. When sepa­
rate decrees have been issued, however, a method of grouping indus­




160

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

tries different from that in the decrees for experienced workers
usually has been followed. The table next presented shows the
decrees that have been issued for learners or apprentices only.
Table 34.—Decrees covering inexperienced workers only and the corresponding

experienced decrees, by State and year
Decrees covering—
State and
year

Experienced workers

Inexperienced workers

Women

Mi­
nors

Women and
minors

Women

Minnesota:

Mercantile.
Manufacturing.
Any occupation
not previous­
ly covered.
Office.

Any occupa­
tion.
Washington:
1914

Manufactur­
ing.
Laundry.
Telephone
and tele­
graph.
Office.
1919......... Mercantile.
Manufactur
ing.
Office.
Transient
milliners.

Women and minors

Mercantile,
office,
waitress, hairdress­
ing occupations.1
Manufacturing, me­
chanical, telegraph,
telephone, laundry,
dyeing, dry clean­
ing, lunch work,
restaurant, hotel oc­
cupations.1
All occupations not
covered in 1914.
Any occupation.

Any occupa­
tion.2
Any occupa­
tion.
Oregon:

Minors

Mercantile-. Mercantile........ Mercantile.
Manufactur­ Manufacturing. Manufactur­
ing.
ing.
Laundry.
Laundry---Telephone Telephone and Telephone
and tele­
telegraph.
and tele­
graph.
graph.
Office------------- Office.
Telephone and tele­
Any occupation
graph.3

1 Three decrees for communities of various sizes.

* Two decrees for communities of various sizes.
8 Four decrees for communities of various sizes.

Only three States have issued separate decrees for inexperienced
workers, and two of these—Oregon and Minnesota—have aban­
doned that method after longer or shorter trials. In these States
the industrial groups covered by the two kinds of decrees have
varied considerably. In Minnesota (1914 and 1918) and in Oregon
the apprentice decrees have been more inclusive than those regu­
lating experienced workers. In 1919 Minnesota, though issuing




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

161

separate orders, used the same industrial division in the decrees
for both experienced and inexperienced. Technically Washington
too has ceased to issue separate apprenticeship decrees, but actually
the present manufacturing decree contains schedules of rates for
learners on a basis of industrial grouping ditferent from that of
the experienced rate. In Washington, though the names of the
earlier decrees were the same, the decrees covering apprenticeship2
were broken up so that the rates applied to many small groups work­
ing on particular processes or in particular occupations. For ex­
ample, the first manufacturing apprenticeship schedule showed 11
different rates for various occupations, though the experienced decree
showed but one rate for all. The latest decree covers both experienced
and inexperienced and reveals a shift to a series of general schedules
which the enforcing officer applies to specific cases. This in effect is
the same method of considering that apprenticeship rates should be set
for individuals or small groups.
In all the other decrees apprenticeship rules are. part of the decree
that establishes the experienced rate, and they cover, with one excep­
tion, the same industry or occupation. Millinery-workroom employ­
ees in California and employees in millinery workrooms and dress­
making establishments in Kansas come under the general manu­
facturing and mercantile decrees and have the same experienced
rates, but they also have special learners’ rates. On the whole,
however, there has been little effort to treat individual industries
or occupations in setting rates for learners.
Though most of the States have not struggled with the question
of adapting apprenticeship rates to each occupation, there was much
more reason for a careful subdivision of jobs in dealing with learners
than in dealing with experienced workers even, and some States,
notably Massachusetts, have felt that small industrial groupings
were necessary in any of these problems. After all, the experienced
minimum was supposed to represent the cost of living for an inde­
pendent woman, and it could not do this for all women if it varied
greatly from industry to industry. Apprenticeship rates, on the
other hand, were supposed simply to be fair to the employer and to
provide the employee with as rapid as possible advancement to the
experienced rate. An apprentice in a job relatively easy to master
might be of considerable use on beginning work, whereas a novice
at a technical process might be worth almost nothing. The length
of time before a promotion was required also would depend on the
job. An illustration of the complex problem is found in the
manufacturing industry, where apprenticeship was extremely diffi­
cult to handle. A commission could treat all processes and occupa­
tions the same or it could split them up, giving special attention to
each. The division could be by industries—for example, textiles,
clothing, boots and shoes—or it could be by occupations, as chocolate
dipping, weaving, punch-press operating, and so forth. Massachu­
setts has used the method of issuing all decrees for special industries—
candy, paper box, etc. Washington has issued its apprenticeship
circulars on a mixed basis of industries and occupations—candy ex­
cept chocolate dipping, tailoring, paper box except berry box, etc.1
1 Called “ apprenticeship circulars.” •




162

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Undoubtedly this attempt at specialization of apprenticeship sched­
ules involved an enormous amount of work if the specialized groups
were to be handled adequately, and added greatly to the number of
debatable questions since the various interested groups had to uphold
their ideas when each small unit was considered. It also compli­
cated enforcement, as it was possible for one plant to have workers
on a dozen different schedules. It was, nevertheless, the only de­
fensible method theoretically.
Practically, however, little can be said for such an expensive and
complicated series of rulings. If it was evident that adequate ap­
prenticeship rules required that each small subdivision of industry
have specialized expert treatment, it was equally evident that no
minimum-wage commission was in a position to supply such rules.
If the commissions had had unlimited appropriations and had not
needed the good will of the employer in order to enforce the law,
they could, of course, have made a study of each occupation and set
scientific apprenticeship rates whose application they could have
supervised with great care. But when there is considered the result­
ing confusion, the enormous amount of trouble caused employers in
trying to follow so many minute directions, and the undoubted hard
feeling that would arise from such a vast amount of State control,
its value is questionable. Moreover, though it is interesting to specu­
late how an adequate system of apprenticeship control that would
have worked for the good of all classes in industry might have been
established through minimum-wage legislation, it could be argued
strongly that this was not a proper province for these commissions
to invade. The minimum-wage law wTas created to establish for
the average experienced worker a rate of pay based on living cost.
Learners were to be dealt with separately only to the extent that the
law might not impose undue hardship on the employer nor hamper
the woman from entering any new field of work. After all, the
experienced rate to^be set was a subsistence minimum to which any
average worker was entitled, not a rate for skilled workers who
naturally commanded more than the minimum.
Due to the practical aspects of the situation the commissions in
most of the States did not even attempt any scientific regulation of
apprenticeship. Lower rates were granted to apprentices usually
and to minors in some cases, without much regard to the kind of
work covered by the decree; often, in truth, because employers were
so insistent that some concessions be made. The industrial group­
ings, with the few exceptions in Minnesota, Oregon, and Washing­
ton, were selected for the experienced worker and then were applied
also to the learner. If it is the province of minimum-wage commis­
sions to regulate apprenticeship in such a way that the woman may
qualify as experienced in skilled or semiskilled trades, the theory of
the Washington plan was excellent, even though its practical applica­
tion is questionable. There seems to be no reason for a blanket ap­
prenticeship ruling, as in the two other States, except the considera­
tion of time and trouble saved.
The other reason for paying workers less than the minimum, that
they are under age, has not led to any extensive issuing of special
industry decrees. Only Oregon, Washington, and the District of




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

163

Columbia ever have issued separate decrees for minors. In the
District of Columbia the only minor decree ever issued amended the
mercantile decree for women and minors. In Washington the first
minor decrees (1914 and 1915) followed the exact industrial group­
ings used for experienced adult decrees and for the apprenticeship
circulars. Later decrees in Washington and all the Oregon decrees
have thrown all minors together, though the women’s decrees are
for specific industries. Where there has been a differentiation in
industrial grouping the orders for minors have followed, in every
instance, tire rule followed in most cases for separate apprenticeship
orders, and have combined industrial groups rather than subdivided
them further. If these decrees have any significance it is that some
few commissions have felt that any minor regardless of the type of
job was worth to the employer some definite amount, though her
value did not equal that of an adult with a similar degree of expe­
rience.
Possible methods of treating varied age groups in relation to
apprenticeship.
In considering what must be done with learners or apprentices of
different ages, commissions have had to deal with a very large and
diverse group of people as well as with diverse industries. Several
major problems had to be faced because of this. Should all learners
or apprentices receive the same treatment, regardless of age, so that
a given industry had two rates—one for experienced and one for
learners and apprentices ? Should the division, on the other hand, be
on the basis of age, with one set of rates for minors, as learners and
experienced workers, and another set for the corresponding divisions
among the adult women? Should all minors be given a rate based
solely on their age, and the question of experience be raised only in
regard to adults, or should a combination of the methods be used,
as, for example, the same experienced rate regardless of age but
learners’ or apprentices’ rates differing with the age of the employee?
If minors and adults were treated in the same way there might be
several bad results. It might cause hard feeling among employers,
who could claim that the wording of the laws did not anticipate the
payment of a wage supposed to represent independent self-support
to children. It might work against a young girl’s chance to gain
experience in a given line, since even a less capable adult, because of
maturity or experience in other kinds of work, might be preferred as
an employee. It might force the commission, in its effort to carry
the minor along with the adult, to effect a compromise that involved
very low inexperienced rates and unduly long apprenticeship or
learning periods for the adult woman.
If two sets of rates were worked out according to age, various other
sets of problems would present themselves. Should the experienced
rate be the same for adults and minors, with varying terms of ap­
prenticeship, such as allowing the minor to work for lower rates
and to remain an apprentice for a longer time than the adult? Or
should the minors have not only special apprenticeship terms but an
experienced rate (for the purpose of this discussion called “pseudo”)
which is analogous to the true minimum, since it is the highest rate




164

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

required for a given age group and can only be obtained after a
specified period of service at a lower rate, but in practice is always
lower than the true minimum paid adults? Moreover, under these
different methods of procedure what would happen to minors on their
eighteenth birthday? Would they begin to serve a new term of
apprenticeship as if they were entering industry at 18 years of age?
If adults and minors had varied terms of apprenticeship would the
latter be required, when reaching 18, to continue serving out the terms
imposed on them as minors, or would thejT go at once to the adult
rate required for their specific length of service as if they had entered
industry at 18? Or would their length of service be calculated on a
definite scale, so many weeks or months as a minor learner being equiv­
alent to so many months as an adult learner? The States have tried
every one of these methods at one time or another, but few commis­
sions have realized all the possible contingencies and dealt with them
clearly and consistently.
It is certain that there are just as many evils in allowing too great
a difference in the way adults and minors are treated as in treating
them alike. In the first place, if minors’ rates, either during a desig­
nated period as apprentices or learners or during their entire minor­
ity, are much below those required for adult women, it may encourage
child labor or, more particularly, it may encourage the employment
of girls of 16 to 18 years, who otherwise might remain in school.
As a complement this might throw out of work older women. It also
could result in a real injustice being done to girls approaching 18
who had entered industry so young that they had two or three years
of experience behind them but would have to continue to work for
a rate below the minimum. There is the further possibility of its
causing laxness in the training given to minors. A relatively short
period of apprenticeship and relatively good rates during this time
may give the employer just the necessary incentive to train his em­
ployees so that they are worth the minimum to him when the time
comes that they must be paid this rate. All the difficulties must be
kept in mind in analyzing the actual treatment of minors and learners
or apprentices in the decrees.
Actual methods of treating learners or apprentices.
Before considering the decrees, the terms “learners” and “ap­
prentices ” should be discussed. The persons so classed are without
the experience necessary to enable them to command the minimum
rate. They may be too young also, but all of them, after a longer
or shorter period of time, will achieve the qualifications that entitle
them to receive the minimum. They are of all ages and have all
degrees of service behind them. They are called in some cases
learners, in others apprentices, in others inexperienced. Only in
Wisconsin does there seem to be any difference in meaning among
these three terms as they are used by the minimum-wage commissions.
Wisconsin has a law carefully defining an apprentice and considering
such a person a minor who is indentured to learn a trade. This law
provides in detail what conditions must be met by anyone employing
such a worker. The minimum-wage law provides (sec. 104.08) that
all minor workers in the occupations affected by this apprenticeship




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

165

law shall be controlled by its provisions and exempted from the pro­
visions of the minimum-wage law. As a result of this the Wisconsin
commission always refers to the inexperienced workers coming under
its minimum-wage decrees, whether minors or adults, as “ learners.”
In the other States the training for a skilled trade usually implied
in the use of the word apprenticeship does not strictly hold true,
since the decrees do not specify that any particular course of train­
ing must be given during the time set aside and called the learning
period. Probably the most accurate title for this group that has set
for it a rate lower than the minimum is “ inexperienced.” The inter­
nal evidence of the decrees themselves shows, however, that the com­
missions or wage boards often made concessions in rates and length of
apprenticeship that could only be justified because they were thinking
of this period as providing a woman with training in a skilled trade!
For the purpose of this report the three words will be used as having
the same meaning, unless specially limited by definition when used.
To turn to the actual decrees, the ways in which these orders have
been issued have varied so from State to State and year to year that
it is extremely difficult to discuss methods so as to leave a clear picture.
In the first place 232 decrees have been issued by the various com­
missions. They may deal with experienced workers only, or with
experienced and inexperienced together, or with inexperienced alone.
Thev may deal with adult women only, with minors only, or with both
adults and minors. If they deal with adults and minors, they may
either consider them as one unit or treat each specified age group in
a different way.
DECREES WHERE NO LEARNING PERIOD WAS REQUIRED

Before the commissions worked out iust how learners should be
treated, they had to decide whether, after all, any learning period
was necessary in the particular industry in question. In almost all
cases the decision was that some allowances in the matter of rates
should be made the employer who hired a beginner. The decrees
which took no notice of learners must not be confused with the situa­
tion that sometimes occurred when a decree or decrees set rates for
experienced workers and totally separate decrees took care of the
learners. In the decrees first mentioned a flat rate was set for all
workers. The following table shows that 27 decrees and parts of 7
others of 232 decrees issued, definitely required that the beginner
industry, irrespective of age, must receive the minimum rate.
California required no learning period for adult pieceworkers in
fruit and vegetable canning, and Washington made this same provi­
sion in three decrees for adult women—the hotel and restaurant
decree of 1915 and the public-housekeeping decrees of 1920 and 1921




166

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 35.—Decrees providing that no learning period should be required,

regardless of age of worker, by State and year
Year decree
became effective

California

District of
Columbia

Massa­
chusetts

North Dakota

1916....................... Fruit and vege­
table can­
ning.1
1918

Pea canning.

Fish canning.
Hotel and res­
taurant.
(3)
taurant.
Agricultural
field.
(a)

taurant.
Nut cracking
and sorting.1

Wisconsin

(?)

Building
cleaners.
Personal service
(ticket sellers
and ushers).

Hotel and
restaurant.
Building
cleaners.

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
(2)
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.

i Seasonal industries which were included in the “all-industries” decree had no learning period. T
pieceworkers only.
,
. , In
1919, however, the decree did not become effective until Aug. 1, so the pea-canning order for 191J, which
required one season’s experience, governed that industry.
3 Preparers on piecework in fruit and vegetable canning have no learning period.

Nineteen of the unqualified decrees and four of the seven decrees
that required no learning period for part of the workers included,
are in branches of the canning industry, and in most of the cases it
was in one State—Wisconsin—that canning workers were not re­
quired to serve a learning period. In the case of those seasonal in­
dustries for which no special decrees were issued as they were for
canning, Wisconsin also required no learning period. California,
where almost all the other canning decrees occur, has been more
inclined to provide for a short learning period. In the fish-panning
industry California started out to require no learning period, but
changed in later decrees (1920 and 1923) to requiring a short one.
In its main canning industry—fruit and vegetable canning—Cali­
fornia has always required a short learning period for day workers.
For pieceworkers, who form the bulk of the employees in canneries,
the decrees originally required no learning period, but by the time
the third canning decree was issued (1918) a different rate in the case
of beginners was provided for some groups of pieceworkers and this
system was continued in all the later orders. Nevertheless, with a




WORKERS OTHER THAN EULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

167

i
knowledge of where the large groups of workers are employed, it is
apparent that the majority of the workers under any fruit-andvegetable-canning decree were not allowed to serve an apprentice­
ship. The other States that have issued special decrees for the can­
ning industry—Massachusetts and Oregon—have considered that
some time should be allowed in which the new worker might learn
the trade. T. ho two States that have employed large numbers of
women in canning—-California and Wisconsin—have experimented
with learning periods but in most cases have not used them.
In the table the only other industrial group which appears under
more than one State is hotel and restaurant. Opinion in the States
seems to be about evenly divided as to whether or not this industry
needs a learning period. In contrast to the States shown in this
table, Oregon and North Dakota have required, respectively, one year
and six months of experience in their public-housekeeping orders,
and Minnesota and Texas have included this industry in their orders
for all occupations and industries -where learning periods are re­
quired. Of the other decrees listed in the table not enough have been
issued to determine the views of the various commissions. Massa­
chusetts is the only State that has orders covering office and other
building cleaners and no State but California has an order covering
agricultural field occupations. Oregon, as well as North Dakota, has
personal-service decrees, but only in the latter is a learning period
required of any of the workers. It is true, then, that there is not even
a majority opinion among the commissions for requiring these few
industries or occupations to pay the minimum rate to workers enterin'*
industry.
DECREES WHERE APPRENTICESHIP RULES DO NOT CONSIDER AGE

The next decrees to be considered are those which treated adults
and minors on the same basis when taking up rates and length of
learning period. This group of decrees is not exclusive of the
group just discussed, since all the decrees that do not require any
period of employment before the experienced rate must be received,
with the exception of part of the California fruit-and-vegetable­
canning decrees and the Washington hotel-and-restaurant and other
public-housekeeping decrees, apply to all ages. The table following
shows the decrees where the required learning period has not been
based on the age of the worker.
60769°—28-----12




Table 36.—Decrees providing for the same conditions for women and minors during the learning period, if any, hy State and year

Oi
00

Year

Arkansas

California

District of
Columbia

Kansas

Massachusetts

North Dakota

Oregon

Texas

Washington

Wisconsin

Fruit and vegetable
canning.

1916...

Laundry.
Fruit and vegetable
packing.
Laundry.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
(*)
.
(5)
Laundry.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
0
<*>

Printing and
publishing.

Hotel and res­
taurant.

Canning.

Manufacturing. Building clean­
ers.

Men’s clothing.
Knit goods.




Do. (»)

<*>

Canning.
(Fort Smith).

Telephone

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato canning.

Public housekeep­
ing.8
Personal service.8
Office.8
Manufacturing.8
Laundry.8
Student nurses.8
Mercantile.8
Telephone.6

Building clean­
ers.

1922...

Pea canning.
Do.

Canning.
Mercantile J___ Men’s furnish­
ings.
Laundry.
Telephone.

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean,
and tomato
ning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean,
and tomato
ning.

corn,
cancorn,
can-

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

ManufacturingLaundry.
Telephone.
Office.
Telephone.1

1923-.-

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, com,
and tomato can­
ning.

1924...

1925...

(Fort Smith).
Mercantile. __ .
(Little Rock).
i

1926-.

1927...
•

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.

1 This represents four decrees, each giving a different schedule. The commission selects any one decree to apply to a given locality.
1 Minor cash girls and bundle girls have a separate apprenticeship schedule.
* The '‘all-industries” decree treats all seasonal workers on the same basis regardless of age.
4 Millinery workers under the manufacturing decree have one set of rates regardless of age.
* Preparers on piecework in fruit and vegetable canning have the same rates regardless of age.
* In general, rates apply regardless of age, but commission may arrange for minor apprentices to work under special conditions.
7 Millinery workers under the mercantile decree have one set of rates regardless of age. Piece rates in cutting and pitting fruit under agricultural-field-occupations decrees are set
regardless of age.
8 Rates for workers in cherries apply to adult women only.
9 Elevator operators under the mercantile decree have one set of rates regardless of age.
w Time workers in fruit and vegetable canning have the same rates regardless of age.

169




WOBKEBS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Fish canning.
Laundry.
Fruit and vegetable
packing.8
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Nut cracking.
•
(•)
(10)

170

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In 81 decrees the commissions have established the same require­
ments for the majority of the women and minors entering the par­
ticular industry. The only exceptions, and these are explained in the
footnotes to the table, are minor cash girls and bundle wrappers
under the mercantile decree in Kansas and all minor learners in
North Dakota, where the commission has retained the powTer to issue
individual permits to work under special conditions. Furthermore,
Minnesota, in eight additional decrees that apply to experienced
workers only, has treated women and minors on the same basis.
Naturally these decrees are not included in this table, since they do
not control the learning period'. This method of establishing a uni­
form experienced rate in one set of decrees and varied inexperienced
rates in another set accomplishes the same end that most of the other
States have attained through one set of decrees. These decrees are
noted here because the basis for dividing the decrees under discussion
is whether or not they have differentiated in their treatment of adult
women and minors, but they are omitted from the table because they
give only half the picture, and the other and more important half,
from the viewpoint of this table, belongs in another group. Some
California and Wisconsin decrees have treated women and minors
separately in most instances but identically for small groups. This
would add parts of nine other decrees to this list. In California they
apply to timeworkers in the fruit-and-vegetable-canning order of
1923 and to preparers on piecework in those of 1919 and 1920; to mil­
linery workers under the manufacturing order of August, 1919, and
under the mercantile order of 1920; to piece rates in cutting and pit­
ting fruit under the agricultural-field-occupations order of 1920;
and to elevator operators under the mercantile order of 1923. In
Wisconsin the same rules apply to all seasonal industries coming
under the “ all-industries ” decrees for 1919 and 1921.
Among the 81 decrees are found a wide variety of industries and
occupations. Practically every kind of decree ever issued is repre­
sented. At some time and in some State the conditions required
have been the same for women and minor learners, in the manufac­
turing, the laundry, the mercantile, the hotel-and-restaurant, and
other industries. More consistently than in any other one industry,
no difference on account of age has been made for laundry workers.
Perhaps it was felt that most laundry workers -were mature women
and the young workers in the industry were so few as not to warrant
special rates which required added study to set and increased the
complexity of enforcement. Or perhaps the scattered commissions
all felt that age had nothing to do with efficiency in this line of work.
In no other line of industry, however, is there any uniformity of
treatment. Washington treats women and minors alike in its first
manufacturing apprentice circular, but later puts minors on a special
schedule. California, on the other hand, differentiates in the first
three manufacturing orders and treats the classes alike in the fourth
and latest order.' Massachusetts treats women and minors alike in
one men’s-furnishings decree and separately in the next. Not only
may one State be inconsistent in its treatment of minor learners, but
a State that seems to have an established policy may be exactly op­
posed in this respect to another State. Oregon and* Wisconsin have




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

171

felt that only in canning should women and minors be considered on
the same basis and in all other industries and occupations covered
by their orders the two age groups consistently receive special treat­
ment. On the other hand. North Dakota and Texas in their decrees
covering practically all industries have treated the women and
minors alike. The basis on which the commissions have determined
their method of treating minors, if anything more than opportunism,
evidently was not clearly defined in their own minds.
DECREES COVERING WOMEN AND MINORS BUT REQUIRING VARIED LEARNING
PERIODS, ACCORDING TO AGE

The next group of orders to be considered—orders covering women
and minors but varying the apprenticeship provisions for each age
group—may include some orders discussed in group 1 (no learning
period required) but group 2 (apprenticeship rules do not consider
age) and this group are mutually exclusive except for those orders
listed in the discussion of group 2 as treating some kinds of workers
on one basis and some on another. The following table shows in
what industries or occupations the method has been to require treat­
ment varied according to age, section A presenting the decrees which
apply to both women and minors and section B the decrees issued
separately for the two classes.




Table

37.—Decrees having various apprenticeship provisions according to age, by State and year

bO

A. APPLYING TO BOTH WOMEN AND MINORS

1916..
1917..
1918-

California

Mercantile_________________
Fruit and vegetable canning. _
Office.
Unclassified.
Manufacturing------ -------------Fruit and vegetable canning.3
Mercantile.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Office.
Unclassified.
Manufacturing.4
Fruit and vegetable canning 3.
Mercantile.4
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Office.
Unclassified.
Manufacturing.
Fruit and vegetable canning. _

1919..

Kansas

Massachusetts

Mercantile (bundle and
cash girls).

District of Columbia

Retail store.
Women’s clothing.
Men’s clothing...................
Muslin underwear.
Retail millinery.
Wholesale millinery------Canning and preserving.

Mercantile 2

Any.1
Any_.

Fruit and vegetable canning.®
Mercantile.8
Unclassified.
1924-_---------------------------------------1925_________ _______ ____ ____ -

Minor lines of confection­
ery.
Paper box.
Women’s clothing.
Muslin underwear.
Men’s furnishings.
Retail store.

Any—
Telephone.
Sanitarium attendant.
Home worker.
Intermittent worker.
Tobacco stripping.
Beauty parlors.

Corset-----------Women’s clothing.
Paper box.

ManufacturingMercantile.

Wisconsin

Minnesota

Any..

Any.

1923.

1926.
1927.
1 2 decrees, 1 for cities and 1 for small towns and rural communities.
2 Never went into effect for minors. Provisions superseded by order for minors only.
3 Does not include preparers on piecework.




Druggists’ preparations.
Canning and preserving.
Bread and bakery.
Millinery.
Stationery.
Jewelry.
Toys and games.
♦ Does not include millinery apprentices.
* Pieceworkers only.
8 Does not include elevator operators.

MINIMTJM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Year decree became
effective

B. APPLYING TO EITIIER WOMEN OR MINORS

Minors

Adults

1913

Adults

Minors

Manufacturing
(Portland).
Mercantile (Port­
land).

Minors

A n y—Manufactur­
ing or mercantile
establishment,
millinery, dress­
making, or hair­
dressing shop,
laundry, hotel or
restaurant, tele­
phone or tele­
graph establish­
ment or office.

•

Office (Portland)
Any not previously
covered.

1916.. .

Any.

Mercantile
Manufacturing.
Laundry.
Telephone and
telegraph.

Minors

Mercantile.
Manufacturing.
Laundry.
Telephone and
telegraph.
Telephone and
telegraph.
Office....................... Office.
Hotel and restau­ Hotel and restau­
rant.
rant.

173




Mercantile (Port­
land).
Mercantile (State at
large).
M anufacturing
(Portland).
M anu facturing
(State at large).
Personal service
(Portland).
Personal service
(State at large).
Laundry (Port­
land).
Laundry (State at
large).

Adults

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Adults

Washington

Oregon

North Dakota

California
Year decree became
effective

Table

37.—Decrees having various apprenticeship provisions according to age, by State and year■—Continued
B. APPLYING TO EITHER WOMEN OR MINORS—Continued
North Dakota

Oregon

Adults

Minors

Adults

Minors

1916—Continued____

Telephone and tele­
graph (Portland).
Telephone and tele­
graph (State at
large).
Office (Portland).
Office (State at
large).
Public housekeeping
(Portland).
Public housekeeping
(State at large).

1917.............................. .
1918................................

•

1919................................




Adults

♦

Mercantile (Port­
land).
Mercantile (State at
large).
Manufacturing.
Personal service.
Laundry.
Telephone and tele­
graph (Portland).
Telephone and tele­
graph (State at
large).
Office (Portland).
Office (State at
large).
Public housekeep­
ing.
Mercantile (Port­
land).
Mercantile (State at
large).
Manufacturing.
Personal service.
Laundry.

Washington
Minors

Adults

Minors

Any.

All (experienced).
Inexperienced:
Mercantile.
Manufacturing.
Laundry.
Telephone and
telegraph.
Office.

All.
Do.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

California
Year decree became
effective

Agricultural field 7„.

Public housekeep­
ing.

1921................................

1922................................

1923.............................

o—.........................

Manufacturing.
Mercantile.
Laundry.
Telephone.

Public housekeep­
ing.
Do.

Laundry.
Telephone and
telegraph.
Mercantile.
Manufacturing___ All except public
housekeeping.
Public housekeep­
ing.
housekeeping.
Public housekeep­
ing.

7 Minors are*included in the rates set for pitting and cutting fruit.
1 The fruit and vegetable packing order, 1923, for work on cherries, covers only adults

175




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

1920................. ..............

Telephone and tele­
graph (Portland).
Telephone and tele­
graph (State at
large).
Office.
Public housekeep­
ing.

176

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
METHODS USED WHEN MINORS WERE GIVEN SPECIAL TREATMENT

Table 37 seems to necessitate a recapitulation of the whole sub­
ject of how minors are to be treated under decrees if they are sepa­
rated from adult women. The first question is whether a minor ever
should receive the experienced rate. This may not seem part of a
discussion of apprenticeship, but in reality the setting of one rate
for experienced adults and a lower rate for minors who may have
worked for a period of time equivalent to that which yields the
adult the experienced rate is the same in effect as extending the
period of apprenticeship to the eighteenth birthday. The next step
then will be to see howT many of the decrees listed in sections A and B
of the table provide that minors, though having to fulfill apprentice­
ship requirements that differ from those laid out for women, may re­
ceive the experienced rate prior to reaching 18 years of age.
Decrees that 'provide the same experienced rate for all ages, though
apprenticeship provisions vary according to age.—This occurs in only
four States—California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington.
Though Massachusetts issued 23 decrees that treated minor appren­
tices differently from adult apprentices, only two require an experi­
enced Tate regardless of age. In Minnesota, on the other hand,
it was the invariable practice to establish one rate for all experi­
enced workers, regardless of differences in apprenticeship rules
because of age. Washington after 1917 regulated all minors’ ap­
prenticeship so that their obtaining the experienced rate depended
on their length of service. California has followed this practice
in 16 of the 21 decrees having separate provisions for adults and
minors in at least one occupation. The table following shows the
decrees where one experienced rate obtainable at any age occurs
though apprenticeship provisions vary according to age.
Table 38.—Decrees providing the same experienced rates for women and minors

though apprenticeship provisions vary according to age, by State and year
Year decree be­
came effective

1918

California

Massachusetts

Washington

Mercantile, etc.1
Manufacturing, etc.1
All other.1

All3
(2)

Any.

1919

Fruit and vegetable
canning.4
Mercantile.
Office.
Fruit and vegetable
packing.
Manufacturing.5
1920..................... Fruit and vegetable
canning.4
Mercantile.
Fruit and vegetable
packing.
Office.
Manufacturing.
1921 ................ Fruit and vegetable
canning.4
1922..................
1923 ..

Mercantile.

1925.....................

Minnesota

Public
ing.

housekeep­

Public housekeep­
ing.3
All • except public
housekeeping.3
All except public
housekeeping.3

Any.

Bread and bakery
products.

1 There were 7 decrees for experienced workers, but in 1918 an apprenticeship decree for any industry was
issued.
3 Fruit-and-vegetable-canning order treats preparers on piecework in this way.
3 Separate decrees for adults and for minors, in each case, but same experienced rat«,
* Time workers only.

• Poes not include millinery.




WORKERS OTHER THAU FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

177

These provisions meant that a woman’s experienced rate was based
almost wholly on the amount of work she had done. She was re­
quired to serve a somewhat longer apprenticeship or to work for a
somewhat lower rate of pay if she entered industry under 18 years
of age. For example, office workers in California in 1918 had the
rates following:
Beginning rate
(per week)
Adults..____ ______________ _____

_____

Length of
apprenticeship
(months)

$8

12
18

Experienced
rate (per week)

$10
10

When this method of treating minors was used, allowance was
made for their youth and probable lack of experience in any line of
work, but the differentiation between adults and minors was not so
great as to encourage the employment of an unduly large proportion
of minors. In Massachusetts the difference was in rates only, the
length of apprenticeship required being the same for all ages. Cali­
fornia, Minnesota, and Washington allowed lower rates and longer
terms for minors, but in no decree is the difference excessive.
In every decree dealing with minors separately, what happens to
the girl who enters industry shortly before her eighteenth birthday
must be considered. It is constantly evident that the commissions
did not consider, particularly in the "early decrees, every eventuality
that might arise. This question of the girl who reached 18 while
serving her apprenticeship often was overlooked. The group of
decrees under discussion, however, worked no great hardship on
her if she was required to serve the full time of a minor apprentice.
California, nevertheless, added to its later decrees the following pro­
vision: “A minor girl who is still a learner upon reaching the age
of 18 years shall be paid not less than the rates specified for adult
learners.” In other words, any girl who entered an industry shortly
before her eighteenth birthday was considered an adult learner,
and while she might start at minor rates she jumped to adult rates
on reaching 18. Fairly enough her position was midway between
the true adult and the true minor. Without defining what was to
occur as clearly as California has done, most decrees with special
apprenticeship rules for minors have been interpreted to mean that
on reaching 18, the girl would go to whatever adult rate her length of
service entitled her. Even this would hardly seem necessary if the
differences between the conditions laid down for adults and those
laid down for minors were not too marked.
Apprenticeship, then, in this group of decrees is controlled by the
entering age, but the experienced rate is irrespective of age. At 18
a girl in some cases goes under the adult decree, in others she serves
out her minor apprenticeship. In all cases she comes ultimately, in
spite of age, to receive the experienced rate. While it is easily
understood that a minor might take longer to learn a job, or might
not be worth so much when a raw recruit as an adult, it is hard to
justify her never receiving the experienced rate. If the commission




178

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITE!) STATES

was convinced that different treatment for adult and for minor ap­
prentices was necessary, the methods followed in these decrees pro­
vide a way for getting all woman workers with an adequate amount
of experience on the minimum rate.
Decrees that never ■provide for a minor reaching the experienced
rate.—Many decrees do not require that a minor ever be paid the
experienced rate. There are several ways in which minors are
treated, all with this result.
The table following shows the decrees that provide for the same
rate for all minors in a specified age group.




Table 39.—Decrees providing for a flat rate for all minors in a specified age group, by State and year
California

Massachusetts

Oregon

1913—............1..........1.
!

1914.............................

1916.

1918.

Retail store 2—-under 17 years; ' Any—16 and 17 years.1
17 years.
Women’s clothing—under 18 __________________
years.2

1919.
1920.
1921.
1922.
1923.
1927.

Unclassified—under 18 years.._ Muslin underwear—under 18
Fruit and vegetable canningyears.
under 18 years.4
(*)•—.........-........................ r— Canning and preserving—under 18 years.
(6)............. --.............. ................................................ Corset—under 17 years.
Women’s clothing—under 18
years.
(7)

(8)

Any—14 years; 315 years.

Mercantile—under 18 years.
Manufacturing—u n d e r 18
years.
Laundry—under 18 years.
Telephone and telegraph—un­
der 18 years.
Telephone and telegraph—un­
der 18 years.
Office—under 16 years; 16 and
17 years.
Hotel and restaurant—under
18 years.
All—under 16 years.3
Hotel and restaurant—16 and
17 years.

Any—14 years, 3 15 years.

Women's clothing—under 18
years.
Retail store—under 18 years.*
Jewelry—under 20 years.
Toys and games—16 and 17
years.®

1* Commissionbefore issue specialyears of age apprentices, allowing them to work for lower rates
may reaching 18 permits to does not count toward apprenticeship.
orf done

Any—14 and 15 years.*

179

1
i d rates take care of ttiese gr0UPs until they reach their eighteenth birthday. (See next table )
. Adult preparers on piecework in the fruit-and-vegetable-canning decree also have the same rate at all times.
* Canners and labelers on piecework in the fruit-and-vegetable-canning decree are treated in this way.
! Canners and labelers under 16 years old on piecework are treated in this way in the fruit-and-vegetable-canning decree
c pLe£!IeAaDd ca“nefs °? piecework and labelers under 16 years old on piecework are treated in this way in the fruit-and-vegetable-canning decree
* Pieceworkers in the fruit-and-vegetable-canning decree are treated in this way.
6
K
6 Minors who enter at these ages are treated in this way. For minors who enter at under 16 years, see next table.




Wisconsin

Any manufacturing, etc.—16
and 17 years.1

1915.

1917.

W ashington

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Year decree became
effective

iSO

minimum-wage

Laws in The united states

There appear in this table 25 entire decrees, part of one of these
brought out separately where rates are different (Washington, hotel
and restaurant, 1917), and parts of four other decrees (California,
fruit and vegetable canning, 1919, 1920, 1921, and 1923) where only
certain occupations are treated in this way, making 30 entries. The
main fact about these decrees is, of course, that for none of the workers
in the specified age groups can the minimum wage be required, no
matter what their experience in relation to the experience required
for adult workers. Generally a minor stays on a flat rate until she
is 18 and then goes to whatever rate in the adult decree her length
of experience entitles her. In most cases a flat time rate has been
set, but in the California canning decrees the minor frequently has
been allowed to work for piece rates without any of the guaranties
provided the adult. In Massachusetts, in the corset decree, 1920, 17
years is used as the dividing line; in jewelry, 1920, 20 years is used-.
Another slight differentiation is found in Washington, in the office
decree, 1915, and in the hotel-and-restaurant part of the “all-indus­
tries ” decree, 1917; also in Massachusetts, in the retail-store decree.
1916. In these three decrees a flat rate is set for two different age
groups, the older minors getting somewhat more but no account
being taken of, length of service. There remains a small group of
four decrees—California, fruit and vegetable canning, 1920 and 1921;
Oregon, “any industry,” 1918 and 1919; Washington, “all indus­
tries,” 1919; and Wisconsin, “ any industry,” 1919—where a flat rate
is set for minors under 16 years dependent only on their age, but for
minors of 16 years an entirely new basis of promotion, based on a
combination of age and experience, is the rule. These minors after
becoming 16 years of age will be discussed in the next table, but the
younger groups belong here, since for these ages the decrees really
are part of this group which require advancement with age only.
There is, in addition, a curious situation in the Massachusetts toysand-games decree (1927). Minors who enter industry at 16 or 17
receive no increase in rates until they become 18. Minors who enter
at less than 16 receive an increase after one year’s experience (see
the next table). Moreover, in this table there are three decrees in
which not only is it impossible for a minor under 18 years to obtain
the experienced rate, but her time spent at the work does not count
as experience. In these three Massachusetts decrees, retail stores,
1916 and 1922, and women’s clothing, 1917, a woman must serve her
apprenticeship or learning period after her eighteenth birthday. As
the next table shows, California for mercantile establishments in
1917 made the same requirement, though a girl got some increases in
rates due to length of service before her eighteenth birthday. It is
hard to see how this situation ever arose, since it places such tre­
mendous emphasis on age. All these are early decrees except that of
Massachusetts in 1922. Moreover, with the exception of this one
Massachusetts decree (retail stores) later decrees changed this pro­
vision. It seems impossible to defend a decree that forces a girl of
18 years with possibly four years of experience in a given industry
to receive the same treatment as a girl beginning her working life
at that age.




STATE TEACHERS COLLEGE LIBRARY
WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

181

In all these decrees, but particularly in the last three, the whole em­
phasis of the rules would seem to be based so firmly on age as to lose
sight entirely of the difference in value between an experienced and
an inexperienced worker. It would seem also that these decrees might
tend to encourage the employment of children, since there would be
a possibility, for example, of employing a girl of 16 with two years’
expei ience for less than one could employ a girl of 18 years or more
with little or no experience. Then, too, these decrees would permit
girls to work for such long periods of time for less than the minimum
that the employer might not feel the need of giving them any train­
ing for their job, and might even, when the sudden Jump to the mini­
mum occurred, seek to drop the 18-year-old girls and take on other
young workers. That some commissions and wage boards have felt
that a flat minor rate was unwise probably is indicated by the fact
that in an almost equal number of decrees where minors never could
receive the experienced rate they could, nevertheless, require certain
increases in pay based on their length of experience.
The table following gives those decrees under which a minor girl
obtained regular increases in pay based on her length of service as
well as her age.




Table 40.—Decrees

California

District of Columbia

Kansas

Massachusetts

Oregon

Mercantile — under
18 years.1

1917.

Mercantile
(bundle
and cash girls)—un­
der 18 years.

1918.

Unclassifled—under
18 years.
Do.

1919.
1920.
1921.

Mercantile — under
18 years.

Manufacturing—un­
der 16 years.
Mercantile—under 16
years.
1924.
1925.

1926.
1927.

Men’s clothing—un­
der 18 years.
Retail millinery—18
years; under 18
years.
Wholesale millineryunder 18 years.
Minor lines of confec­
tionery—under 16
years.
Paper box—under 18
years.
Muslin underwear—
under 16 years.
Men’s furnishings—
under 16 years.
Druggists’ prepara­
tions— under 18
years.
Canning, preserving,
and minor lines of
confectionery—16
and 17 years; under
16 years.
Millinery—under 19
years.
Stationery goods—16
and 17 years; under
16 years.
Toys and games—un­
der 18 years.3

1 Work done before reaching 18 years of age does not count toward apprenticeship.
* Flat rate takes care of workers 14 and 15 years old. (See preceding table.)




Any—16 and 17
years.2

-do.2-

Wisconsin

Washington

All except hotel and
restaurant—16 and
17 years.2

Any—16 years.1
Any—under 17
years.

a Workers entering industry under 16 years of age.

00

to
MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Year decree became
effective

providing for varied rates for miners according to time employed but not providing for their being paid the experi­
enced rate, by State and pear

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

183

One contrast with the table next preceding is at once apparent—■
these decrees on the whole are of a later date. Also, where the dates
are the same a given State—Massachusetts, for example—has more de­
crees in the second table than in the first. This would seem to indicate
a growing tendency not to base minors’ rates solely on their age.
In all these decrees a beginner follows a definite progression of
rates, the increases being based on length of service, until the pseudo
experienced rate is reached. No further inci'eases of pay are required
until the minor reaches the specified adult age (usually 18 years)
which puts her under the adult decree. On her birthday she goes
to whatever rate in the adult decree is required for one of her length
of service. In all the States except Oregon and Washington the
advances given these minors are set forth in the decrees. For
example, in Kansas, mercantile, 1922, the rates run: First two
months, $6 per -week; next four months, $8 per week; thereafter to
16th birthday, $9 per week. In Oregon and Washington, however,
an entirely different method of advancement is used, for after every
six months of service the minor must receive an increase. The amount
of the increase is $0.50 per week in the early decrees and $1 in the
later ones. The increases are so arranged, however, that the minor
does not advance to the adult experienced rate until she becomes 18.
Either of these methods does away with the main criticisms of the
flat rate, but even under these systems of advancement it seems pos­
sible that minors might be required to serve unnecessarily long ap­
prenticeships.
SUMMART

To sum up methods of grouping apprentices or learners before dis­
cussing the actual provisions of the apprenticeship schedules: First,
there is a small group of decrees where neither adults nor minors are
required to serve any apprenticeship whatsoever; second, there is a
very small group of decrees where adults only arc not required to
serve an apprenticeship; and, third, three kinds of decrees specify
that all beginners in industry may work for less than the experienced
rate.
There arc three ways in which these lower rates for beginners are
handled: The first way is to set straight apprenticeship schedules for
beginners in industry, regardless of age; the second way is to set
apprenticeship schedules which vary as to rate and length of learning
period according to the age of the beginner but lead to the same expe­
rienced rate; and the third way is to set decrees which have separate
rates throughout for minors and for adults. The great majority of
the decrees issued have been treated in the last two "ways.
A general line of policy was adopted by most of the States—
sometimes for all industries or occupations, sometimes for specific
ones—as to which to follow of the three ways of handling rates estab­
lished for beginners. California used the first two methods quite
consistently; for example, treating laundries according to the first
and general and professional offices according to the second, and using
60769°—28-----13




184

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

the third method only for the earliest of the mercantile decrees. Mas­
sachusetts, on the other hand, has divided its decrees pretty evenly
among all three methods, usually handling a reenacted decree in the
same way as the original. Oregon has consistently followed the
third method of treating beginners’ rates for all industries. Wash­
ington has experimented with all three methods.
The following table shows how many decrees were issued with a
distinction between adult women and minors.




Table 41.—Number of decrees in which minors have been treated differently from adult women, by State and year
All years

Mi­ To­ Wom­
Mi­
To­ Wom­
en
nors
en
nors
tal
Mi­ only
only To­ Mi­ only tal only
To­ nors
nors
tal sepa­
tal sepa­
rate
rate
232

Arkansas
District of Columbia..
Kansas

W omen
and
minors

3
40
5
8
34
12
13
44
1
45
27

65
1

5
37
22

149
3
39
4
8
34
12
8
3
1
10
27

59
21
1
2
23
4

18

5

22

6

1
6

5

3

2 ___

1
6

2

1

1

2

6

2

1

17

14

2

4

35

16

17 |

41

13

15
4

5

1

6

6

1

3
4
3

*3
4
3

9 ,

2

1919
8

2

3
3
2

10
3
1
3
2

1

26
10
2
1
3

2

5

2

34

1

1
10
1
1
6

23 7
1
2
1

8

2
41

31

14

13

4

1
3 9
1
1
6
*8

1
1

2

1920
16

1

1

1

1

1

1921
11

1

8

4

16

1
1

1
1

1

3

2
1

2
1

1

1
1

185

1
11
10
1
11
9
1
1
......
1
1
7
1
1
6
1
5
1
4
1
2
1
1
5
4
Wisconsin...................
76
73
1
1
1
1
6
1
5
4
4
3
2
1 In Washington apprentice circulars are issued. They serve the same purpose as apprentice decrees in other States and are treated as decrees in this table.
* In manufacturing (1919) and mercantile (1920), rates for millinery apprentices are the same for all ages.
* In fruit and vegetable canning preparers on piecework receive the same treatment regardless of age.
*
4 Under agricultural field occupations decree piece rates are the same for women and minors in cutting and pitting fruit. Otherwise the order applias only to adult women.
• Minor cash girls and bundle girls have separate rate schedules.
• Commission may issue permits for minor apprentices to work under special conditions. Otherwise they must be treated the same as adults.
7 Seasonal industries under “all industries" decree have same rates for all ages.




1

2

10

1

Arkansas___________
2

Mi­ To­ Wom­
Mi­
To­ Wom­
en
nors
en
nors
Mi­ only tal
tal only
only To­ Mi­ only
To­ nors
nors
tal sepa­
tal sepa­
rate
rate

2

13

1

13
1918

2

11

W omen
and
minors

1

1917
6

1

2

Mi­
To­ Wom­
en
nors
tal only
Mi­ only
To­ nors
tal sepa­
rate

1916

W omen
and
minors

1

4
8

3

1915

Women
and
minors

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

State

1914

1913

Women
and
minors

Table 41.—Number of decrees in which minors have been treated differently from adult women, by State and year—Continued

o*

1922

1923

1924

1925

1926

Women
and
minors

Women
and
minors

Women
and
minors

Women
and
minors

Women
and
minors

6

i

1

2

2

2

_____

4

2

_____

j

M inors only

2

M inors separate

2

W omen only

4

Total

1

M inors only

4

W omen only

2

3

Total

2

5

M inors only

3

M inors separate

—

8 » 9 10113

4

—

........
—

2
1

5

Women only

3

Total

1

M inors only

Women only

5

Total

3

1

1

1

2

2

2

2

• |

1
2
2

I In Washington apprentice circulars are issued. They serve the same purpose as apprentice decrees in other States and are treated as decrees in this table.
* In fruit and vegetable packing rates for workers in cherries are set only for adults.
9 In manufacturing women have higher part-time rates than have minors.
10 Elevator operators in mercantile establishments have same rates for all ages.
II In fruit and vegetable canning timeworkers have the same rates for all ages.




2

5

3
2

9

1

Total

3

3

M inors separate

3
5
1

3

Total

1

Women
and
minors

Total

2
1

6

12

J

Women only
_____

M inors only

Total
12

M inors separate

M inors only
2

Total

M inors separate
7

|

Total
15

M inors separate

Texas______ _____
Washington 1_____
Wisconsin

6

2
1

Total

Massachusetts
Minnesota...... .............
North Dakota

23

| Women only

Total
All States

1927

2

2

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

Arkansas............... .......
California_____ ____
District of C olumbia..

00

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

187

Sixty-five decrees have covered adult women only; 18, minors
only. Fifty-nine decrees have covered both women and minors but
have made different provisions for them, and 90 decrees have cov­
ered women and minors on the same basis.
Rules as to where apprenticeship shall be served.
When the commissions had decided how they would handle the
questions of occupation or industry and of age in relation to ap­
prenticeship, they had barely made a beginning on this part of the
decree. In fact, they had not even reached the problems usually
thought of in relation to apprenticeship. How long a period of
apprenticeship should be required? Should such service be continu­
ous? Should it be with one employer? Should it be in the par­
ticular occupation, or would service in the particular industry, or
even service in industry in general, be sufficient? Should length
of service suffice if no regular instruction is provided ?
The last question the commissions have not attempted to handle
through definite provisions in the decrees, though they have had it
constantly in mind. California, for example, in all its decrees,
defines a learner as a “ woman or minor whom the industrial welfare
commission permits to work for less than the legal minimum wage
in consideration of the provision by the employer of reasonable facili­
ties for learning the industry.” Reasonable facilities are not defined,
and the only spur to the employer, unless the time-driven inspectors
make personal inquiries, is that every few months he must increase the
learner’s pay until the minimum is reached.
The commissions have tried to cover all the other questions. The
length of the learning period, of course, is carefully set forth in each
decree. The variation from State to State and decree to decree is
exceedingly great, as a later table will show. The questions as to con­
tinuity and kind of service often are not touched in the decrees,
though they had to be settled in enforcing the rates. Many com­
missions seemed to feel that if they set a year, for example, as the
length of the learning period under a given decree, they had done
all that was necessary. If the commissions tried to define the kind
of service, they usually failed to foresee all possible complications,
just as in the case of rules intended to take care of differences due to
the age of the worker. To illustrate from a decree covering the
manufacturing industry: The length of the learning period is to be
one year; a woman may come to work as a weaver in a woolen mill:
what experience must she present to show that she is entitled to the
experienced rate?
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)

One
One
One
One

year’s
year’s
year’s
year’s

experience in any manufacturing industry?
experience in any occupation in a woolen mill?
experience in weaving in any textile mill?
experience in weaving in a woolen mill?

If she can not get full credit for a year spent in groups 1, 2, or
3, should she get some credit for this experience? Or (5) no matter
what her background, must the woman work a year with this new
employer before she is experienced? If instead of having worked
a year the woman had changed employer at the end of six months,




188

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

how much credit should she get from a new employer under the con­
ditions set forth in each group?
The answer to all this is that really each woman is an individual
problem. The commissions could not, however, for the most part,
take up each case. They must lay down some general rules to guide
the executive enforcing the law. These general rules fall into certain
main groups that correspond roughly to the illustrations (1) in any
industry, (2) in the particular industry or in the specific branch of
a particular industry, (3) in the occupation, (5) in the establishment.
Only (4), requiring experience in the particular occupation in the
particular industry, never occurs.
The following list gives the decrees that have had any definition
of the kind of service required in order that a woman may qualify as
experienced:
State and kind of experience

California :
“ In an occupation

Name of decree and date effective

Unskilled and unclassified occupa­
tions, 1918, 1923.
“ In an establishment ”
Unskilled and unclassified, 1919,1920.
Fruit and vegetable canning, 1919,
1920, 1921, 1923.
Fish canning, 1920, 1923.
Nut cracking, 1923.
In a branch of the industry.
Fruit and vegetable packing, 1918,
1919.
Needle trades, 1922.
Manufacturing, 1923.
In an industry (industry equals Fruit and vegetable packing, 1920,
branch).
1923.
In the industry
Laundry, 1917.
Fruit and vegetable canning, 1918.
Manufacturing, 1918.
“ In the said industry”.
Fruit and vegetable canning, 1916, 1917.
Mercantile, 1923.
Laundry, 1923.
“In the----- -— industry”
Laundry, 1919, 1920.
Mercantile, 1920.
“In general and professional Office, 1920.
offices.”
“In any manufacturing industry”. Manufacturing, 1920.
No definition
Mercantile, 1917, 1919.
Office, 1918, 1919.
Manufacturing, 1919.
District of Columbia:
“In the industry”.
Printing and publishing, 1919.
Mercantile, 1919.
Laundry, 1921.
Kansas:
“In laundry work”
Laundries, 1918.
“ With the same employer or others Manufacturing, 1922.
in the same character of in­
dustry.”
No definition
Mercantile, 1918.
Telephone operator, 1918.
Manufacturing, 1919, 1920.
Laundry, 1922.
Mercailtile, 1922.




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS
State and kind of experience

189

Name of decree and date effective

M assachusetts:
“In the industry,” or “In the Brush, 1914.
---------industry.”
Women’s clothing, 1917, 1920, 1922.
Men’s clothing, 1918.
Men’s furnishings, 1918.
Candy making, 1920.
“In the occupation,” or “In the Druggists’ preparations, 1924.
---------occupation.”
Retail millinery, 1918.
Wholesale millinery, 1919.
Canning and preserving, 1919.
Men’s clothing, 1920.
Corset, 1920.
Knit goods, 1920.
Paper box, 1920, 1922.
Men’s furnishings, 1922.
Laundry, 1922.
Brush, 1923.
Retail store, 1922.
Bread and bakery products, 1925.
Millinery, 1925. '
Jewelry, 1927.
ToySjjmd games, 1927.
“In the occupation, provided half Muslin underwear, 1918, 1922.
the time is with the specific
employer.”
In a particular lino
Minor lines of confectionery, 1921.
In a given factory
Canning, preserving, and minor lines
of confectionery, 1925.
In the particular plant
Stationery goods, 1926.
In laundries
Laundry, 1915.
In retail stores
Retail store, 1916.
In a candy factory
Candy, 1926.
Minnesota:
In the particular industry
All occupations, 1918, 1919, 1921.
North Dakota:
“With the same employer or any Public housekeeping, 1922.
other employer in the same
occupation.”
No definition
Office, 1920.
Personal service, 1920.
Mercantile, 1920, 1922.
Laundry, 1920, 1922.
Telephone, 1920, 1922.
Manufacturing, 1920, 1922.
Public housekeeping, 1920.
Oregon:
No definition
All decrees.
Texas:
“ In any occupation”
Telephone, telegraph, office, mercan­
tile establishment, laundry, or factory.
Washington:
“In operating a telephone ex­ Rural telephone exchanges (Orders No.
change. ”
14 and 15), 1915.
No compensation until able to Small telephone exchanges, 1919.
take charge of switchboard
unassisted.
At the particular work
Manufacturing, 1922.
No definition
All other decrees.
Wisconsin:
“ In the trade or industry, whether All, 1919, 1921.
for the same employer or for
different employer.”




190

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN' THE UNITED STATES

The great number of these decrees require that experience be
gained by service in a particular industry. That this is the most
usual procedure is obscured somewhat by the fact that there is so
much confusion in the way the words “ occupation ” and “ industry ”
are used. In only one case—California, “unskilled and unclassified
occupations,” 1918 and 1923—is the word occupation used to denote
a particular process or trade; in every other case it is synonymous
with industry. For example, in the decrees for laundries, the fol­
lowing definitions are found: California and District of Columbia,
“in the industry”; Kansas, “in laundry wrork”; Massachusetts,
“ in the occupation ” 1922, “ in laundries ” 1915. In every case the
requirement is for service in the laundry industry. In Minnesota
and Wisconsin, though the decrees are for all industries or occupa­
tions the apprenticeship requirement clearly is for service in a par­
ticular industry. In this case, however, it is not clear what would
be considered an industry, as is the case in decrees covering smaller
units. This rule might correspond to the California rule for a
“ branch ” or that of Massachusetts for a “ line ”; that is, experience
might be required in a woolen mill rather than in a textile mill. This
same problem of defining industry holds true where a decree covers
all manufacturing, as in California. That the California commission
realized this problem is shown by its changing requirements in the
manufacturing decrees:
1918, “ in the industry.”
1919, no definition.
1920, “ in any manufacturing industry.”
1923, “ in a branch of the industry.”

Though this problem apparently met with so little attention, it
was a tremendously important one if commissions were to handle
apprenticeship. In enforcing the law the executives of the commis­
sions constantly had to decide whether or not a given woman was
experienced. In so doing they had little or no guidance from the
decrees. Where the apprenticeship period was long, the requirement
that all of it be served in a special branch of an industry, with no
credit for general industrial experience, worked a real hardship on
the worker; the requirement that it be served in one establishment,
regardless of past experience, an injustice to the worker. On the
other hand, it is hard to see how work in a textile mill could help
toward being an experienced chocolate dipper. This last is, of course,
an extreme example, but there were thousands of borderline cases,
extremely hard to determine, as for example, a shift from one skilled
process in a shoe factory to another. General familiarity with the
making of shoes should count for something, but for how much was
a problem indeed. This whole problem goes back, in reality, to the
size of the industrial group governed by an apprenticeship decree.
Once more it is apparent that if each industrial decree were divided
into as small units as those issued originally by Washington, the only
problem would be the relation that experience must bear to service in
the establishment. The arguments against this method have been
gone over earlier in the report.




WORKERS OTHER THAN FUEL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

191

Length of apprenticeship period.
It is impossible to say from the decrees just where apprenticeship
must be served, but every decree gives a period of time that must be
worked before the experienced rate must be paid. The discussion pre­
ceding, of the kind of service required, shows how little this term
means. It was practically useless to say one year’s experience was
required without a careful definition of where such experience should
be served.
The table following gives the length of the experienced period
required in each decree. In using those sections of the table relating
to minors, it must be remembered that child-labor laws prohibit
certain groups of minors from working at all. However, unless the
table indicates that only minors of given ages are covered by the pro­
visions of the decrees, the commissions have drawn up their orders
without any special reference to child-labor laws.




Table 42.—Length of service required before experienced rate must be paid, by State and year

SO

to

[The experienced rate is the highest rate required for a given age group]
ACTUAL TIME PERIODS SPECIFIED IN DECREES 1
1913
Irregular
Any—16 an£ 17 years.* 3
1014

State

12 weeks

3 months

Manufacturingbindery, fold­
ing and gath­
ering.

6 months

Mercantile— man­ Mercantile—florists; ice
icuring.
cream.
Manufacturing— Manufacturing—broom;
tent and awning and
pie; berry box;
mattress; candy, ex­
cord repairing.
Laundry and dye
cept chocolate dip­
ping; bag i. e. clipping,
works — mend­
turning, folding, feed­
ing.
ing, packing; paper
box, except berry box.
Laundry and dye works.

1 year

8 months

Manufacturing—
bags sewing;
cap, pennant,
and glove.

Manufacturing—
hair; garment.
Telephone.

None

Brush.
Any—adults.
Mercantile—s alesmanship, millinery and dress­
making; manicuring and
hairdressing.
Manufacturing — engrav­
ing and hand emboss­
ing; bindery, except
folding and gathering;
chocolate dipping;brush;
tailoring; alteration and
furrier occupations; pho­
tography.
Telegraph.

Mercantile — under 18
years.*3
M anufacturing— under
18 years.*3
■
Laundry and dya
works—under 18
years.*3
Telephone and tele­
graph—under 18
years.* 3

9 months

1915

State

Washington..........




3 months

6 months

9 months

Office—stenography and bookkeeping—. Office—general------- -------- Telephone *

1 year
Laundry.
Laundry------------------

None

Office—under 18 years.* 3
Hotel and restaurant, except waitresses.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

1916

1 year

3 weeks

Irregular

None
Fruit and vegetable canning—piece
workers.
Retail store—under 18 years.*

Fruit and vegetable canning—time
workers.
Mercantile, manufacturing, personal service, laundry,
telephone and telegraph, office, public housekeep­
ing-adults.

Any—16and 17 years.*2

1917

State

2 years

None

Mercantile—20 years and over.

Fruit and vegetable canning­
time workers.

Mercantile—18 and 19 years.

Fruit and vegetable canning—
piece workers.
Women’s clothing—under 18
years.*

Mercantile—under 18 years.

All—under 16 years.*
Hotel and restaurant—16 and
17 years.*

All, except hotel and restaurant—
16 and 17 years; periodic raises
until minimum or 18th birth­
day is reached.*

Women’s clothing—18 years
and over.®

Canning.

•

i

Pea canning.

1 * See note on p. 202.
2 To be determined by commission.
3 Minors came under th«.se special orders unless an employer chose to register a minor as an apprentice and his application was approved.
4 Set in 1914; experienced rate modified in 1915.
8 Apprenticeship must be served after eighteenth birthday.

193




Irregular

1 year and 6 months

3 weeks

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

State

o
Table 42.—Length of service required before experienced rate must be paid, by State and year—Continued
1918

1 week

3 weeks

Fruit and vegetable
canning — piece
workers (18 years
and over).

3 months

4 months

Fruit and vegetable
canning—time work­
ers (18 years and
over).
Fruit and vegetable
packing.
U nclassified—18 years
and over.




6 months

7 months

8 months

Laundry.
Men’s clothing—
under 18 years.*
t
Mercantile (adults)—
ice cream; confecfectionery; florist;
bakery.
M anuf acturing
(adults) all occupa­
tions not specifi­
cally listed else­
where.
Laundry—adults.

Manufacturing
(adults)—chocolate
dipping.
Office—adults.

Telephone
and
telegraph —
adults.

Any (State, outside
cities)—minors.
M ercant i le—adults.
Mercantile (adults)—
salesmanship; mil­
linery; beauty par­
lor; alteration.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

State

9 months

1 year

1 year and 3
months

Mercantile.
Telephone.
Men's clothing—18 years
and over.
Men's furnishings.
Muslin underwear—18
years and over.
Any (all cities)—minors.
Manufacturing, personal
service, laundry, tele­
phone and telegraph,
office, public housekeep­
ing—adulis.
Washington.— Manufacturing (adults)—
garment; tailoring; dress­
making; fur; engraving
and hand embossing;
hair; brush; printing.

• See note on p. 202.

18

Irregular

Fish canning.
U n c 1 a s s i f i e d—under 18
years.*
Fruit and vegetable can­
ning—under 18 years.
Muslin underwear—under
18 years.

Retail millinery—4 seasons of 12
weeks each, including 16 weeks
in a fall season or seasons and 16
weeks in a spring season or
seasons.

Any—14 and 15 years*........

Any (16 and 17 years)—periodic
raises until minimum or eight­
eenth birthday is reached.
All (minors)—periodic raises until
minimum or eighteenth birth­
day is reached.
Pea canning—one season.

195




Office—under
years.

None

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Office—18 years and over.. Laundry and dry
cleaning.

1 year and 6
months

Table 42.—Length of service required before experienced rate must be paid, by State and year—Continued

CD

1919

State

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks

8 weeks

3 months

Wisconsin.




7 months

Manufacturing«—18 years
and over.
Laundry and dry
cleaning.
Office—18 years
and over.
Manufactur­
ing®—18 years
and over.

District of
Columbia.
Kansas____
Minnesota..
Oregon____
W ashington.

3 months

Manufacturing.
Any—adults.

Canning.
Manufacturing
(adults)—sorters
in paper mills;
finishers in
brush.
Transient milliners.

Manufacturing
(adults)—draw­
ers in brush.

All—minors of
16 years.*

Office (adults)— Office (adults)doctors’ and denGeneral,
tists’ workers; 1
toll, bill, and addressograph
clerks; addingmachine opera­
tors; cashiers in
motion - picture
theaters.
Mercantile
(adults) — ice
cream; confec­
tionery; florist;
bakeries;
gro­
cery; drug
stores;
music
houses.
Manufacturing
(adults)—all oc­
cupations not
specifically
listed elsewhere.
All—adults and
minors over 17
years.

Mercantile—
18
years
and over.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

California... Fruit and vege­ Fruit and veg­ Unclassified..
table canning:
etable pack­
Time workers.
ing.
Piece workers.
Canners and
labelers —18
years and
over.

4 months

State

8 months

9 months

Printing and pub­
lishing.
Mercantile6—
under 18 years.
(Never in effect.)
Canning and pre­
s e r v i n g—1 8
years and over.

District
of
Columbia.

Massachu
setts.

Minnesota.
Oregon-----

Any—minors.
Mercantil e—
adults.

Manufacturing,
personal service,
laundry, tele­
phone and tele­
graph office,
public house­
keeping—adults.

Washington.. Mercantile
(adults)— sales­
manship; milli­
nery;
beauty
parlor; altera­
tion.
Wisconsin.

* See note on p. 202.
, .
.
.
• 2 decrees in this industry, the second a revision of the first.

3 years

None

Irregular

Mercantil e—
18 and 19 years.

Mercantil e—
under 18 years.

Fish canning.
Hotel and restau­
rant.
Fruit and vege­
table canning:
Preparers—18
years and
over.
Piece work­
ers — under
18 years.

Manufacturing.
Millinery
appren­
tices — 24 weeks,
comprising 2 sea­
sons.

Building cleaners.
Canning and pre­
serving— under
18 years.

Wholesale milli­
nery—4 seasons, in­
cluding 12 weeks in
each of 2 spring
and 2 fall seasons.

Any—14 and 15
years.*

Any (16 and 17
years) — Periodic
raises until mini­
mum or eighteenth
b irthday
is
reached.

All—minors of 14
and 15 years.*

Pea canning—one
season.

Mercantile6—
under 18 years.

Wholesale milli­
nery
(nonseasonal).

197




2 years

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

M anufacturing6—under 18
years.
Office—under 18
years.
Manufactur­
ing 6—under 18
years.

California.

1 year and 6 months
Mercantile—
20 years and
over.

1 year

Table 42.—Length of service required before experienced rate must be paid, by State and year—Continued
CO

1920

State

2 weeks

Fruit and vegetable
canning:
Time workers.
Piece workers—
Canners and la­
belers — 16
years and over.

Fruit and vegetable
packing: All fruit
packing not in 4-weeks
group and all vege­
table packing—
Time workers.
Piece workers—18
years and over.

North Dakota..........

3 weeks
Unclassified

4 weeks

2 months

3 months

4 months

Fish canning.
Fruit and vegetable
packing: Citrus in­
dustry; dried fig and
layer raisin packing—
Time workers.
Piece workers—18
years and over.
candy and biscuit.

Wisconsin.................
and 15 years.*

State
Arkansas.
California

6 months
Mercantile (Fort
Smith).
Laundry and dry
cleaning.
Office—18 years and
Manufacturing—18
years and over.

District of Columbia.
Kansas
Manufacturing.
Massachusetts...........




9 months

1 year

1 year and 6
months

3 years

ing.
Laundry.

16 and 17 years.*7
Beauty parlor—16 and
17 years.*

None

Irregular

Mercantile—18 years Mercantile—under
and over.
18 years.
Office—under 18 years.

Hotel and restaurant. Merc antile—milli­
Agricultural.
nery apprentices: 24
Fruit and vegetable can­
weeks, comprising 2
ning: Piece workers—
seasons.
Preparers.
Canners and labelers—under 16 years.
Fruit and vegetable pack­
ing: All fruit packing
not in 4-weeks group
and all vegetable pack­
ing—Piece workers—
under 18 years.
Hotel and restaurant.

Men’s clothing.......... . Women’s clothCorset—17 years and
ing—18 years
and over.
over.

Corset—under 17 years.*
Women’s clothing—un­
der 18 years.

Manufacturingunder 18 years.

Paper box.

Candy—67 weeks with­
in a period of 78
weeks.
Knit goods—40 weeks.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

1 week

oo

Telephone.

Student nurse-1 Personal service—ticket
sellers and ushers.

Public housekeeping—
adults.

Public housekeeping
(minors) — periodic
raises until mini­
mum or eighteenth
birthday is reached.

Cherry, bean, corn, ami
tomato canning.
Pea canning.

Tobacco strippingadults and minors
over 17 years.
Beauty parlor—adults
and minors over 17
years.
1921
State

2 weeks

3 months

Fruit and vegetable
canning:
Piece workers—
Labelers — 16
years and over.
Time workers.
District of Columbia.

6 months

Laundry.
Minor lines of con­
fectionery — 16
years and over.

Any—adults.

9 months

None

1 year

Irregular

Fruit and vegetable can­
ning: Piece workers—
Preparers and canners.
Labelers—under 16
years.
Minor lines of con­
fectionery-under
16 years.*
Any—minors.

Building cleaners.

All.

Public
housekeep­
ing (minors)—peri­
odic raises until
minimum or eight­
eenth birthday is
reached.

i Minors under 16 may not be employed in any tobacco warehouse, cigar or other factory where tobacco is manufactured or prepared.- -Wisconsi
103.05, sub-sec. 3, paragraph C, item 20, p. 1107.

Statutes, 1923, Section

All—16 years and
over.




All—14 and
years.*

15

199

Public housekeepingadults.
Laundry—adults.
Telephone and tele­
graph-adults.
Mercantile—adults.
Cherry, bean, corn, and
tomato canning.
Pea canning.

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

60769°— 28 ------ 14

Personal service, ex­
cept ticket sellers
and ushers.
Manufacturing—book­
binding and job
press feeding.
Mercantile.

Table

to
O
O

42.—Length of service required, before experienced rate must be -paid, by State and year—Continued
1923

1 week

4 weeks

4 months

5 months

Arkansas______
California.........
Kansas................

Massachusetts..

L a u n d r y—
adults.
Public housekeeping—adults.. Laundry—
adults.

North Dakota...
Oregon................ Canning.
Washington... .

State

Manufacturing
Schedule E.

9 months

Kansas................
Massachusetts ..

North Dakota... M anu fa ctu r in g—c a n d y
and biscuit.
Telephone
Washington____

Wisconsin...........




(adults)—

Manufacturing (adults)—
Schedule D.

1 year
Manufacturing: Millinery and
dressmaking.
Mercantile—16 years and over.
Paper box___
Muslin underwear.
Men’s furnishings.
Retail store—18 years and over.
Manufacturing—bookbinding and
job press feeding.
Mercantile.

6 months

8 months

Mercantile (Fort Smith, Little
Rock).
Needle trades.
Laundry.
Manufacturing, except millinery
and dressmaking.
Mercantile—under 16 years.

Manufacturing (adults)—Sched­
ule C (24 weeks).

1 year and 6 months

None

Women’s clothing—18 years
and over.

Manufacturing (adults)—
Schedule B.

Women’s clothing—under 18
years.*
Retail store—under 18 years.*

Manufacturing (adults) — Sched­
ule A.

Cherry, bean, corn, and to­
mato canning.
Pea canning.

Irregular

All other than public house­
keeping (minors) 8—periodic
raises until minimum or
eighteenth birthday is
reached.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

1923

State

California _____ Fish canning, other than
fancy packers.

4 weeks

3 months

Fruit and vegetable canning—
time workers.
Fruit and vegetable packing:
Green fruit and vegetable pack­
ing other than in cherries—
workers 18 years and over.

Unclassified
Nut cracking and sorting—
time workers.
Elevator operators.
Fish canning—fancy packers.

Fruit and vegetable packing,
other than green fruit and
vegetable packing and citrus
packing.

Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable packingcitrus packing.

6 months

State
California

3 weeks

1 year

Manufacturing___ Mercantile, except elevator
operators—18 years and over.

Massachusetts.
Wisconsin........

Irregular

None

2 years

Mercantile, except elevator Hotel and restaurant
operators—under 18 years.
Fruit and vegetable canning—piece­
workers. Nut cracking and sort­
ing—piece workers.

Brush.

Fruit and vegetable packing: Green
fruit and vegetable packing—
cherries, 1 season (18 years and
over).

Cherry, bean, corn, and tomato can­
ning.
Pea canning.
1924

State

1 year

6 months

Massachusetts.. Druggists’ preparations—under 18 years.

Druggists’ preparations—18 years and over.

None

Cherry, bean, corn, and tomato canning.
Pea canning.

.
1925

State

6 months

Massachusetts.. Canning and preserving and minor lines of confec­
tionery.
Bread and bakery products.




Irregular

each, including 2 spring and 2 fall seasons.

201

* See note on p. 202.
8 Two identical decrees in the same year.

2 years

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

2 weeks

1 week

s
to
o
to

Table 42.—Length of service required before experienced rate must be paid, by State and year—Continued
1926

1 year

Massachusetts.. Stationery goods.
Candy.
Wisconsin........ .

None

Cherry, bean, corn, and tomato canning
Pea canning.
1927

State

6 months

1 year

Massachusetts.. Jewelry—20 years and over.............................................
Wisconsin..........

18 years and over.
Under 16 years.*

None
Jewelry—under 20 years.*
Toys and games—16 and 17 years.*
Cherry, bean, corn, and tomato canning.
Pea canning.

In all the occupations or industries marked with an asterisk the minors within the indicated age limits never can receive the rate paid adult experienced women, but must
receive a specified rate below the experienced rate until they become old enough to be classed as adults. In some cases where the length of experience required of adults and minors
is the same, certain groups of minors who never can receive the adult experienced rate, no matter what their experience, do not appear separately. This is the case in the followingCalifornia, unclassified occupation (under 18 years), 1919 and 1920. Kansas, manufacturing (under 16 years), 1922. Massachusetts, wholesale millinery (under 18 years), 1919paper box (under 18 years), 1922; muslin underwear (under 16 years), 1922; men’s furnishings (under 16 years), 1922; wholesale and retail millinery (under 19 years), 1925. Wisconsin

fill flfi and 17 voarul 1 Q*)1




" '

*

'’

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

203

The outstanding fact in this table is that the decrees seemed
never to set the same length of experience twice. The great di- .
vei'sity in the length of experience required shows clearly how small
was the scientific basis for setting a learning period and how im­
portant was the spirit of compromise. It has been pointed out pre­
viously that, particularly in manufacturing, a really scientific learn­
ing period could be set only for such small and specialized occupa­
tional groups that the administration of such rates became almost
impossible. In the table just presented the length of experience
for decrees covering all manufacturing or specialized branches of
manufacturing runs from four weeks to a year and a half. Both
the longest and shortest periods are for specialized branches. Mani­
festly there has been an effort in all the States to meet the question
of the varied requirements in different manufacturing occupations,
but there has been no established principle of procedure. There is
no uniformity from State to State, either for all manufacturing
or for identical branches. For example, the decrees for all manu­
facturing require in Kansas and California six months of experi­
ence and in Oregon one year, but paper box requires in Washington,
1914, six months of experience, in Massachusetts, 1920, nine months,
and in Massachusetts, 1922, one year. Candy in North Dakota in
1920 requires a three-months’ learning period; candy, except choco­
late dipping, in Washington, 1914, requires six months, while choco­
late dipping requires one year; in Washington, 1918, chocolate dip­
ping requires six months. In 1922 North Dakota increases the time
required for candy to nine months. Massachusetts in 1920 set 67
weeks of actual work out of 78 weeks as the learning period for
candy. In canning, in California, Wisconsin, and Oregon, almost
all the decrees require no learning period for at least some occupa­
tions. Most of those that require a learning period specify from one
to four weeks, and two Wisconsin decrees require one season. Mas­
sachusetts, on the other hand, required in 1919 a year of experience
and in 1925 six months. The greatest number of manufacturing
decrees that have required the same length of experience have speci­
fied one year. This occurs 21 times out of the 63 in which a learning
period is set. Moreover, these 21 cases all affect adult women,
while 10 of the total 63 affect minors only. When one year is set
as the necessary length of experience in such diverse decrees as
“ any occupation,” Oregon, 1916, 1918, and 1919; millinery and
dressmaking, Kansas, 1922; book binding and job-press feeding,
North Dakota, 1922; brush occupation, Massachusetts, 1914 and 1922,
etc., and when every one of these groups is given a different length
of experience in some other State or at some other date, the lack of
any uniform basis for these decisions becomes apparent.
The complexity of the manufacturing industry made this by far the
most difficult to handle when the length of the learning period was
set, but even in less complicated industries, such as laundries and
mercantile establishments, wide differences occur. When all ages are
considered, the mercantile decrees actually require from no learning
period at all up to three years. For adults they require from no
learning period at all to a year and a half. One year is again the
most common term. Laundry decrees require from no learning




204

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

period at all to a year and three months, with six months as the most
. common learning period. Hotel and restaurant decrees and office
decrees show equally many variations.
There are many extenuating circumstances as far as the confusion
existing in the length of the learning period is concerned. Undoubt­
edly it is true that no differences of geographical location could be
influential in the matter of how long it took a woman on a particular
job to become experienced. Differences in plant management, which
undoubtedly had some influence, could not be taken into considera­
tion by the commissions in setting a state-wide rate. Minute sub­
division of jobs was equally impractical. Moreover, even if it had
been possible to set the length of experience for each operation, there
is room for honest difference of opinion as to how long it might take
a woman to learn a specific thing such as candy dipping. "Due to
the differences in human beings, no one can prove his point, any
more than anyone can prove what it costs a woman to support her­
self. These learning periods had to be decided by compromise.
Probably greater knowledge of what other commissions and wage
boards were doing—an interchange of any knowledge, experience,
or even theories—would have been highly desirable.
It is also worth considering whether this whole elaborate concern
with apprentices was not based on a false theory. To serve an ap­
prenticeship of any length presupposes that the worker graduates
from this service a skilled person able to command pay above the
average, Minimum-wage laws were not created to take care of such
cases. Their purpose was to provide a living wage for those women
doing work in which little or no skill was required, who, though they
worked faithfully, could not command much money, simply because
they were so easily replaced. It is true that even on the least skilled
jobs a woman with some experience is worth more than a person who
sees the inside of a workshop for the first time. The minimum-wage
laws were right in providing that some concessions should be made
to an employer who took on a perfectly green girl. The question
arises, though, as to whether the commissions did not go astray when
they interpreted minimum-wage apprenticeship to mean such' a long
learning period that it should produce not a minimum worker, not an
experienced worker, but a trained worker. When it is remembered
that few clear definitions exist as to where the learning period should
be served, and that practical considerations of enforcement made it
almost impossible to be sure that every woman got credit for all her
experience if she changed from one establishment to another, the argu­
ment for a short learning period in every industry is strengthened.
Every employer might be allowed a few weeks to see whether or not
he wanted to keep a woman; to see whether, when she became adjusted
to her surroundings in his particular establishment, she was worth
the subsistence minimum. If she had the makings of a skilled worker,.
if the employer had use for her on a skilled jobj this training should
come after she obtained the subsistence level, or some scheme should
be worked out like the Wisconsin apprenticeship rules for minors
where a woman learning a recognized skilled trade should be, as far
as minimum wage is concerned, in a special category during her
apprenticeship at this trade. In practice, with the modern sub-




WORKERS OTHER THAH FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

205

division of industry, with the passing of the all-around trained
worker, with the knowledge that the great bulk of woman workers
are on unskilled or semi-skilled jobs, there would seem to be no
real hardship in applying to all women the theory that minimumwage apprenticeship meant only enough time to enable the employer
to judge whether a green girl was worth the minimum to him.
Rates for women and minors entering industry.
Since most of the decrees have provided for women and minors
working as learners over a considerable period of time, the rates that
they must be paid during this time are of real importance. The
decrees set a rate for women entering industry and usually provide
for periodic increases in this rate, based on length of service, until
the experienced rate is reached. The table following compares the
entering rate with the experienced rate:




Table

43.—Rates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and rate for experienced worker (in italics), by State and year

[Where there is an experienced rate in this table but no corresponding inexperienced rate, no learning period is required and the worker entering industry receives the same rate
as the experienced worker]

to

O
C5

1913

$6 and under $7

$9 and under $10’

$8 and under $9

Mercantile—18 years and over A
1914

State

$1 and under $2

$2 and under $3

Oregon . ............
Washington____ Mercantile—man- Mercantile—manicuring and hair­
icuring.
dressing.

State

$7 and under $8

Massachusetts.
Minnesota__
Oregon...........................................................
Washington____ Mercantile—ice cream
M anufacturing—cord repairing.




$3 and under $4

$4 and under $5

Mercantile—millinery and dress­
making.
Manufacturingphotography.

Manufacturinghair.

$5 and under $6

$6 and under $7

Brush.1

$8 and under $9

$9 and under $10

BrushA
Manufacturing, etc.8.................... Mercantile, etc. (in cities of
Mercantile (outside cities of
first class).6
first class) ,6
Any.
Office—18 years and over*
Manufacturing—adults
Laundry—adults _ _.....................
Telephone and telegraph—
adults.

Any.
Mercantile—salesmanship; florist.
Manufacturing—engraving and hand embossing; bindery;
pie; berry box; brush; tailoring; alteration and furrier;
bag sewing; cap, pennant, and glove; broom, tent, and
awning; mattress; candy; clipping, turning, folding,
feeding, and packing of bags; paper box (except berry
box); binding (folding and gathering).
Laundry and dye works.
Telephone and telegraph.4
Mercantile—minors.
Manufacturing—minors.
Laundry—minors.
Telephone and telegraph—minors.

$10 and under $11

Mercantile—adults.

Piece rate (no minimum
guaranteed)

M anufacturing
ment.

(adults)—gar­

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

1915

$5 and under $6

$6 and under $7

Washington........

Telephone—night oper­
atorsJ

Telephone—day operators.7
Office—under 16 years.

Hotel and restaurant—min­
ors.
Office—16 and 17 years.
Office—adults: General.

$8 and under $9
Laundry.
Office—adults: Stenography
and bookkeeping.
Telephone—day operatorsJ

Hotel and restaurant—
adults.

$10 and under $11

$9 and under $10

$7 and under $8

Office—adults.

1916

State

$o and under $6

-

$6 and under $7

$7 and under $8

$8 and under $9

$9 and under $10

Specified piece rate or
hourly rate (can not
be reduced to week­
ly basis)
Fruit and vegetable
can n i ng—time w orkers, $0.13 per hour.
Fruit and vegetable can­
ning-time workers,
$0.16 per hour.

Massachusetts.-

der 17 years.




Retail store—18 years and
over.
Mercantile—18 years and
over (State outside Port­
land).
Manufacturing—18 years
and over.
Personal service—18 years
and over.
Laundry—18 years and
over.
Telephone and telegraph—
18 years and over.
Office—18 years and over
(State outside Portland).
Public housekeeping—18
years and over.

Mercantile—18 years
and over {Portland).
Office—18 years and
over {Portland).

Fruit and vegetable
canning—p ieceworkers.
•

207

Footnotes on p. 219.

years and over.
Mercantile—18 years and
over.
Manufacturing—18 years
and over.
Personal service—18 years
and over.
Laundry—18 years and
over.
Telephone and telegraph—
18 years and over.
Office—18 years and over.
Public housekeeping—18
years and over.
Any—16 and 17 years.9

Piece rate (no
minimum
guaranteed)

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

State

Table 43.—Bates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and rate for experienced worker {in italics), by State and year—Contd.

___1917
State

Massachusetts. _
Oregon.................

Mercantile — under
years.

$7 and under $8
18

18 years and over.
Under 18 years.

Women’s clothing—under
18 years.

Washington.!... All, except hotel and restau­
rant—under 16 years.
Wisconsin_____

$8 and under $9

Women’s clothing—18 years
and over.

Hotel and restaurant—under
16 years.
All, except hotel and restau­
rant—16 and 17 years.8

$10 and under $11
Mercantile—18 years
and over.

Women’s clothing—18 years
and over.

Hotel and restaurant—16 and
17 years.

Specified piece rate or hourly
rate (can not be reduced
to weekly basis)
Fruit and vegetable can­
ning—time workers:
$0.13 per hour.
$0.16 per hour.

Fruit and vegetable
canning — piece
workers.

Pea canning—$0.15 per hour.
1918

State

$3 and under $4

$4 and under $5

$5 and under $6

$6 and under $7

Mercantile—cash and
bundle girls
(minors).
Massachusetts..

Retail millinery... Retail millinery—
under 18 years.

Minnesota_____
Oregon.................




Mercantile—all other.
Laundry.
Telephone.
Mercantile—cash and bun­
dle girls (minors).
18 years and over.
Under 18 years.

$7 and under $8

$8*and under $9

Unclassified:
18 years and over.
Under 18 years.
Telephone—places of less than 5,000
population.

Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable pack­
ing.
Office—18 years and over.
Mercantile—all other.
Laundry.
Telephone—places of from
5,000 to 20,000 population.

Men’s clothing—under 18 years.
Retail millinery—18 years.

Mercantile—18 years and over.
Manufacturing—18 years and over.
Personal service—18 years and over.
Laundry—18 years and over.
Telephone and telegraph—18 years
and over.
Office—18 years and over.
Public housekeeping—18 years and
over.
Any—16 and 17 years.

§

Piece rate (no
minimum
guaranteed)

Canning:
$0.13 per hour.
$0.16 per hour.

California.........

M

All occupations not covered
in 191\.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

California

$6 and under $7

'

$9 and under $10

State

$13 and under
$14

Laundry and dry clean­
ing.
Fruit and vegetable
packing.
Office.

Specified piece rate or hourly
rate (can not be reduced to
weekly basis)

Piece rate (no minimum
guaranteed)

Fruit and vegetable canning:
Time workers—18 years and
over, $0.16 per hour.
Piece workers—18 years and
over, $0.16 per hour.
Fruit and vegetable canning:
Time workers—18 years and
over, $0.20 per hour.
Under 18 years, $0.16 per
hour.
Piece workers, 18 years and
over—
Canners and labelers, $0.20
per hour.

$11 and under $12

Fruit and vegetable
canning:
Piece workers, 18
years and over—
Preparers.
Piece workers —
under 18 years.

Telephone—places of over
20,000 population.
Massachusetts. _

and over.
Men's furnishings.
Muslin underwear—18
years and over.

Manufacturing—adults
(except garment).
Laundry—adults.
Telephone and tele­
graph—adults.
Office—adults.
All—minors.




Mercantile—18 years and over.
Manufacturing—18 years and
over.
Personal service—18 years and
over.
Laundry—18 years and over.
Telephone and telegraph—18 years
and over.
Office—18 years and over.
Public housekeeping—18 years
and over.
Any—16 and 17 years.

Manufacturing (adults)—
garment.

All..................-

Pea canning:
$0.15 per hour.
$0.18 per hour.

209

Footnotes on p. 219.

Men’s clothing.
Men’s furnishings.

years and over.

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Unclassified — 18 years
and over,

$10 and under $11

Table

43.—Rates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and rate for experienced worker (in italics), by State and year—Contd.

to

1919

State

and under $7

District of Co­
lumbia.
Kansas_______
Massachusetts.

Manufacturingunder 18 years.111

$8 and under 3

Manufact uring—18 Mercantile—18 and 19
years and over.10
years.
Mercantile—under 18 Office—under 18 years___
years.
Unclassified—under 18
years.

Man ufacturing—
millinery ap­
prentices.11

Wholesale
nery.

milli­

Minnesota..

Any (in places of
less than 5,000
populationminors.

Oregon.

Any—H years.

Washington .




Manufacturing.

) and under $10

Printing and publish­
ing.
Canning and preserv­
ing—18 years and
over.
Canning and preserv­
ing—under 18 years.

Any (in cities of Any (in cities of5,000 or
5,000 or more popu­
more population)—
lation)—minors.
18 years and over.
Any (in places of
less than 5,000 pop­
ulation)—18 years
and over.
Any—15 years______ Any—16 and 17 years.

Manufacturing,
except
millinery—under
18
years.11

$10 and under $11
Mercantile—20 years
and over.
Laundry and dry
cleaning.
Office—18 years and
over.
Unclassified—18 years
and over.
Manufacturing.10
Unclassified—under 18
years.
Manufacturing, except
millinery—18 years
and over.11
Mercantile—under 18
years.

Wholesale millinery—under
18 years.

Any (in places of less
than 5,000 popula­
tion).

Mercantile—18 years and
over.
Manufacturing—18 years
and over.
Personal service—18 years
and over.
Laundry—18 years and
over.
Telephone and telegraph18 years and over.
Office—18 years and over.
Public housekeeping—18
years and over.
Mercantile—adults.
Manufacturing,
except
garment making.

$11 and under $12

Manufacturing.
Wholesale millinery—
18 years and over.
Ca nning and preserv­
ing—18 years and
over.
Any (in places of
5,000 or more popu­
lation).

$12 and under $13

M e r c a n t i 1 e—18
years and over.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

California.

$7 and under 3

Wisconsin

$14 and under $15

$13 and under $14

State

$15 and under $16

$16 and under $17

Printing and publishing.

District of Co­
lumbia.

Building cleaners—
day work.1
.
Manufacturing—18 years and over.
Personal service—18 years and
over.
Laundry—18 years and over.
Telephone and telegraph—18 years
and over.
Office—18 years and over.
Public housekeeping—18 years and
over.
Any—lf> and 17 years.

Piece rate (no
minimum
guaranteed)

Rate not
specified.

Mercantile.
Building cleaners—
night work.1

Canning:
$0.22 per hour.
$0.27% per hour.

M anufacturing,
(adults)—gar­
ment making.
\

Pea canning:
$0.18 per hour.
$0.22 per hour.

Telephone.

211




Specified piece rate or hourly
rate (can not be reduced to
weekly basis)

All—17 years and
over.1

Fruit and vegetable canning:
Time workers—under 18
years, $0.18 per hour;
18 years and over, $0.21
per hour.
Piece workers—Canners Fruit and vegetable
and labelers, 18 years
canning:
and over, $0.21 per hour.
Piece workers—
Preparers, $0.28 per hour.
canners and
labelers under
Fruit and vegetable canning:
Piece workers, except can­
18 years.
ners and labelers under
18 years—$0.28 per hour.

Fruit and vegetable canning—time
workers.
.
Mercantile.
Fish canning.
Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Hotel and restaurant.
Office.
Unclassified—18 years and over.
Manufacturing A1
•

Footnotes on p. 219.

All—16 years K

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Office (adults)—doctors’
and dentists’ workers;
toll, bill, and addressograph clerks: addingmachine operators; cash­
iers in motion-picture
theaters.
Transient milliners—
adults.
All—14 and 15 years 1-------All.1

Table

43.—Rates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and rate for experienced worker (in italics), by State and year

Contd.

to
to

1920

$7 and under $

5 and under $9

) and under $10

$10 and under $11

Mercantile (Fort
Smith).

Arkansas..
Mercantile, except milli­
nery—under 18 years.
Fruit and vegetable pack­
ing—time workers, un­
der 18 years.
Office—under 18 years.
Unclassified—under
18
years.
Manufacturing—under 18
years.
Fruit and vegetable can­
ning—time workers, un­
der 18 years.

Mercantile—Mil­
linery appren­
tices.

California.

Kansas...........
Massachusetts.

$11 and under $12

ManufacturingMen’s clothing and Candyj Paper box—under
Knit goods.
I 16 years.
raincoat.
Cor set—under \
17 years.

North Dakota12

Washington.
Wisconsin...




Beauty parlor—14
and 15 years.1
Tobacco strip­
ping—16 years
and over.113

Corset—17 years and over.
Women’s clothing—under
18 years.

$12 and under $13

$13 and under $14
Mercantile
Smith).

(Fort

Mercantile, except milli­
nery—18 years and over.

Fish canning.

Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable pack­
ing-time and piece
workers, 18 years and
over.
Office—18 years and over.
Unclassified—18 years and
over.
Manufacturing—18 years
and over.
Fruit and vegetable can­
ning-time workers, 18
years and over.
Unclassified— under
18 years.
Manufacturing.
Paper box—16
years and over.

Women’s clothing—18
years and over.
Candy.

Corset—17 years
over.
Knit goods.

ManufacturingLaundry.
Mercantile.
Telephone.

Public housekeepingchambermaids and
kitchen help.
Personal service—man­
icuring,
hairdress­
ing, barbering, etc.

Public
housekeepingminors.
Tobacco stripping— Tobacco stripping—17 years
and over.113
16 years.113
Beauty parlor—16 Beauty parlor—17 years and
over.1
years.1

and

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

State

$14 and under $15

$16 and under $17

$17 and under
$18

$18 and
under $19

$20 and
under
$21

Fruit and vegetable can­
ning—time workers.
Mercantile.
Fish canning.
Laundry and dry clean­
ing.
Fruit and vegetable pack­
ing:
Time workers—all.
Piece
workers—18
years and over.
Office.
Unclassifed—18 years
and over.
Manufacturing.
Hotel and restaurant.
Agricultural, other than
cutting arid pitting of
fruit for drying—18
years and over (time
and piece workers).
Hotel and restaurant.

Specified piece rate or
hourly rate (can not
be reduced to weekly
basis)

Rate not
speci­
fied

Fruit and vegetable
canning:
Piece workers—
Canners and
labelers un­
der 16 years.

canning:
Piece workers—
Canners and lab­
elers, 16 years
and over, $0.25
per hour.
Preparers, $0.33}^
per hour.
Fruit and vegetable can­
ning:
Piece workers—
All except canners
and labelers un­
der 16 years,
$0.88}4 per hour.

lumbia.
Women's cloth­
ing—18 years
and over.
Paper box.
Public housekeep­
ing—waitresses
and counter
girls.
Office.

Public housekeepingchambermaids
and
kitchen help.
Manufacturing.
Laundry.
Telephone.

Office.
Personal serv­
ice.
Public housekeep in g—
waitresses
and counter
girls.
keeping.




Beauty
parlor.

213

Footnotes on p. 219.

Cherry, bean, corn, and
tomato canning—$0.22
per hour.
Pea canning—$0.22 per
hour.

Piece rate (no
minimum
guaranteed)

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

$15 and under
$16

1921

State

$6 and under $7

$7 and under $8

$8 and under $9

$9 and under $10

Minnesota

Any (in places of less
than 5,000 popula­
tion)—minors.

Texas_____________
Wisconsin.................. .......... ...................... .........

1
State

California.

Any (in cities of 5,000 or more
population)—minors.
Any (in places ofless than 5,000
population)—adult women
and male minors 18 or over.

.................................

$12 and under $13

Laundry.
Minor lines of confection­
ery—under 16 years.
Any (in cities of 5,000 or
more population)—
adult women and male
minors 18 or over.

Minor lines of confection­
ery—16 years and over.
Any (in places of less than
5,000 population).

All A
All (except pea, cherry,
bean, corn, and tomato
canning).1

$14 and
under $15

$15 and under
$16

Fruit and vegetable can­
ning-time workers, 18
years and over.

District of Columbia.
Massachusetts
Minor lines of confection­
ery—16 years and over.
Minnesota................... Any (in places of 5,000 or
more population).
Texas.................. ......... All.




$13 and under $14

Minor lines of confection­
ery—under 16 years.

Fruit and vegetable can­
ning—time workers un­
der 18 years.

All—under
years.1

$16 and under $17

Fruit and vegetable
canning—time
workers.

Laundry.
Building cleaners.

17

Specified piece rate or
hourly rate (can not be
reduced to weekly
basis)

Piece rate (no
mininimum
guaranteed)

Fruit and vegetable can­
ning:
Piece workers—Pre­
parers and canners,
$0.33^ per hour.
Labelers, 16 years
and over, $0.25 per
hour.
Fruit and vegetable canning:
Piece workers—All ex­
cept labelers under 16
years, $0.33$i per
bour.

Fruit and vegetable
canning:
Piece workers—
Labelers un­
der 16 years.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

District of Columbia.

$11 and under
$12

$10 and under $11

California_________

214

Table 43.—Rates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and rate for experienced worker (in italics), by State and year—Contd.

Wisconsin.

All (in places of less than
5,000 population)—17
years and over.1

$6 and under $7

State

Laundry and dye works.. Public houseTelephone and telegraph.
keeping.
Mercantile.
All (in cities of 5,000 or ________ ____
more population)—17
uears and our.1

$7 and under %

S and under 3

Cherry, bean, corn, and to­
mato canning:
In places of 5,000 or
more population—
$0.22 to $0.25 per
hour.1*
In places of less than
5,000 population—
$0.22 per hour.
Pea canning—$0.22 per
hour.

) and under $10

Arkansas..
California.
Kansas___

Manufacturing — milli­
nery and dressmaking
and piece workers.
Mercantile—under 18
years.

Massachusetts.

North Dakota.

Washington..




Manufacturing—under 16
years.
Mercantile—under 16 years.

$11 and under $12

Mercantile (Fort Smith
and Little Rock).
Needle trades—timeworkers.
Mercantile—16 years and
over.

Mercantile (Fort Smith
and Little Rock).
Laundry.
Manufacturing—16 years
and over.

Paper box—18 years and
over.
Retail store—under 18
years.

Women’s clothing—18
years and over.
Laundry.

Telephone—adults (in
Manufacturing—adults.
Mercantile—adults.
places of 1,800 or more
Telephone—adults (in places
population).
of less than 1,800 popula­
tion).
Manufacturing—adults.
All except public housekeep­
ing-minors.
All except public housekeep­
ing-minors.

Public housekeepingadults.
Laundry—adults.

Men’s furnishings—16 years
and over.
Women’s clothing—under 18
years.

215

Footnotes on p. 219.

Laundry--------------------Manufacturing—except
millinery and dress­
making and piece
workers.
Mercantile—18 years
and over.
Muslin underwear—un­ Paper box—under 18
der 16 years.
years.
Muslin underwear—16
years and over.
Men’s furnishings—un­
der 16 years.

$10 and under $11

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Public housekeepingminors.

60769°—28-

Washington

1922—Continued

State

$12 and under $13

$14 and under $15

Paper box—18 years and over.
Muslin underwear—16 years
and over.
Men's furnishings—16 years
and over.
Laundry.

$15 and under
$16

Specified piece rate or hourly
rate (can not be reduced to
weekly basis)

Women's clothing—18 years
and over.
Petail store—18 years and over.

California..........
Massachusetts. Retail store—18 years and
over.
Paper box—under 18 years.
Muslin underwear—under 16
years.
Men's furnishings—under 16
years.
North Dakota. Telephone—adults (in places of
less than lr800 population).

Washington___
Wisconsin___




Needle trades—
piece workers.

Manufacturing—adults.
Public housekeeping—adults.
Mercantile—adults.
Laundry—adults.
Telephone—adults (in places of
1,800 or more population).

Oregon..........
Manufacturing—adults.
All, except public housekeep­
ing—minors.

Piece rate
(no minimum
guaranteed)

$0.22 per hour.
$0.27Yi per hour.

canning:
In cities of 5,000 or more
population, $0.25 per
hour.
In places of less than 5,000
population, $0.22 per
hour.
Pea canning:
In cities of 5,000 or more
population, $0.25 per
hour.
In places of less than 5.000
population, $0.22 per
hour.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

$13 and under $14

216

Table 43.—Rates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and rate for experienced worker (in italics), by State and year—Contd.

1923

$10 and under $11

$12 and under $13

Mercantile, except
elevator opera­
tors—under 18
years.
Unclassified —un­
der 18 years.

$13 and
under $14

Mercantile,
in­
cluding all ele­
vator operators
—18 years and
over.
Unclassified—18
years and over.

$14 and
under $15

Laundry and Mercantile
dry cleaning. Laundry and
dry
clean­
ing.
Unclassified.
Manufactur­
ing.
Hotel and res­
taurant.

Brush.

Massachusetts

$16 and
under $17

Specified piece rate or hourly rate
(can not be reduced to weekly basis)

Piece rate (no mini­
mum guaranteed)

Fruit and vegetable canning:
Time workers, $0.25 per hour.
Fruit and vegetable canning:
Time workers.
Piece workers—18 years and over,
tO.SSH per hour.
Fish canning: $0.28 per hour.
$0.S3per hour.
Fruit and vegetable packing: $0.25
per hour.
$0.33}4 PM hour.
Nut cracking and sortinf:
$0.25 per hour.
fO.SS^i per hour.

Fruit and vegetable can­
ning:
Piece workers under
18 years.

Cherry, corn, bean, and tomato canning:
In cities of 5,000 or more population,
$0.25 per hour.
In places of less than 6,000 popula­
tion, $0.22 per hour.
Pea canning:
In cities of 5,000 or more population,
$0.25 per hour.
In places of less than 6,000 popula­
tion, $0.22 per hour.
1924

State

$9 and under $10

$10 and under $11

Massachusetts... Druggists’ preparations— Druggists' preparations—
under 18 years........... .




$13 and under $14

--------- -------

Druggists' preparations—
18 years and over

Specified piece rate or hourly rate (can not be reduced
to weekly basis)

Cherry, bean, corn, and tomato canning:
In cities of 5,000 or more population, $0.25 per hour.
In places of less than 6,000 population, $0.22 per hour.
Pea canning:
In cities of5,000 or more population, $0J25 per hour.
In places of less than 6,000 population, $0.22 per hour.

217

Footnotes on p. 219.

$11 and under $12

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

$9 and
under $10
Manufac­
turing.

State

43.—Rates at which learners or apprentices enter employment and rate for experienced worker (in italics), by State and year—Contd.
1925

$6 and
under $7

State

Millinery Canning and pre­
occupation.
serving and
minor lines of
confectionery —
under 16 years.

$9 and under $10

$10 and under $11

$11 and under $12

$12 and under $13

$13 and under $14

Bread and bakery
products— u n der 16 years.
Canning, preserv­
ing, and minor
lines of confec­
tionery—u n der
16 years.

Canning, preserv­
ing, and minor
lines of confec­
tionery—16 and
17 years.

Bread and bakery
products—16
years and over.
Canning, preserv­
ing, and minor
lines of confec­
tionery—16 and
17 years.

Canning, preserv­
ing, and minor
lines of confec­
t i o n e r y—18
years and over.
Millinery— under
19 years.

Canning, preserv­
ing, and minor
lines of confec­
tionery—18 years
and over.
Millinery—19 years
and over.
Bread and bakery
products.

Wisconsin ----

Specified piece rate or
hourly rate (can not
be reduced to weekly
basis)

Cherry, bean, corn, and
tomato canning:
In cities of 6,000 or
more population,
$0.25 per hour.
In places of less than
6.000 population,
$0.22 per hour.
Pea canning:
In cities of 5,000 or
more population,
$0.25 per hour.
In places of less than
5.000 population,
$0.22 per hour.

1926

State

$9 and under $10

Massachusetts.. _ Stationery goods—under 16
years.
Candy.
"Wisconsin............




•

$11 and under $12
Stationery goods—16
and over.

years

$12 and under $13

$13 and under $14

Stationery goods—under 18
years.

Specified piece rate or hourly
rate (can not be reduced to
weekly bads)

Stationery goods—18 years and
over.
Candy.
Cherry, bean, corn, and tomato
canning:
In cities of 5,000 or more
population, $0.25 per
hour.
In places of less than 5,000
population, $0.22 per
hour.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Massachusetts

$8 and under $9

218

Table

1927
State

$10 and under $11

M assachusetts _ _. Toys and games—under 16
years.

$12 and under $13

$13 and under $14

$14 and under $15

Jewelry.......... ................ ..............
Toys and games:
18 years and over.
Under 18 years.

Toys and games—18 years and
over.

Specified piece rate or hourly
rate (can not be reduced to
weekly basis)

Jewelry..... ...................... -.............
Cherry, bean, corn, and tomato
canning:
In cities of 5,000 or more
population, $0.25
per
hour.
In places of less than 5,000
population, $0.22
per
hour.
Pea canning:
In cities of 6,000 or more
population, $0.25
per
hour.
In places of less than 5,000
population, $0 n2
per
hour.

1 Rates set in decree reduced to weekly basis.
2 Commission could set a special rate for a learner or apprentice.
® Apprentice rates were not set until 1914.
..
......
*
■
4 F0r farmers' lines the commission may grant special apprenticeship permits with reference to existing conditions.
8 Apprentice rates were not set until 1918.
6 Apprentice rates were set later in 1914. See “any
7 Experienced 1914 rates modified for rural communities and small towns. Commission may decide which of these rates shall apply in a given community
8 For experienced rates see rates for adults in 1914.
9 For some experienced rates see 1914.
.
.
i° Issued early in year and later revised to agree with other rates, (bee note n.)
» Barrau'inayLssucsIleeial'perimts't'o iSnofapprentices to work for lower rates. Rates also set for student nurses-$4 per month the first year, $6 per month the second year,

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Pea canning:
In cities of 6,000 or more
population, $0.85 per
hour.
In places of less than 5,000
population, $0.28 per
hour.

18 p» Mtaore Stole years may not be employed in any tobacco warehouse, cigar or other factory where tobacco is manufactured or prepared. (Wisconsin Statutes, 1923, sec. 103.05,




219

subsection 3, paragraph C, item 20, p. 1107.)
u Rate changes Aug. 1.

220

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In an earlier discussion of the rates for experienced women, which
the laws specified were to be based on the cost of living, it was pointed
out how lacking in uniformity were the rates set by different States
in the same year. Since there was no principle expressed in the
laws on which to base the entering rate, it followed that there was
even greater diversity in any one year than there had been in the
case of experienced rates. The real importance of the table just
presented is to show this diversity. The rates are so scattered that
it is almost impossible to trace any underlying tendencies to explain
either changes in the beginning rates or changes in their relation to
the experienced rate.
Using the manufacturing decrees as illustrations, the following
table shows the adult beginning rates for all cases where manufac­
turing as a whole or any branch of manufacturing has been the
subject of an order.




Rate

1918

1916

.do_

$6

Massa­
chusetts.

Massa­
chusetts
(2).

Oregon.

$8 and under $
$9 and under $10.

$10 and under $11.
$11 and under $12.
$12 and under $13.

Washing ton.

California.
Massa­
chusetts.
Kansas___ Kansas.
Massa­
chusetts.
California. Massa­
District of
chusetts
(2).
Columbia.
Massa­
chusetts,
Ore gon. Wisconsin.
Washing­
ton.
California. Massa­
chusetts.
.do..
California.
M assachusetts.
North
Dakota.

Massa­
chusetts.

Kansas .
...do___

Massa­
chusetts.

...do.......... .
North
Dakota.
Washing­
ton.
Massa­ California.
chusetts. Massa­
chusetts.
...do______

Massa­
chusetts.

California. Massa­
chusetts.
Massa­
chusetts.

Massa­
chusetts,
...do.........

Massa­
chusetts.

Massa­
chusetts
(2).‘

221




1927

Massa­
chusetts,

$3 and under $4... Washing­
ton.
$4 and under $5-. ...do...........
$5 and under $6.._ Massa­
chusetts,
Washing­ Oregon..
and under $7...
ton.
$7 and under $8— ...do..........

1926

1924

1921

1919

WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

Table 44.—Beginning rates for women in the manufacturing industry and year decree became effective

222

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

This table shows that in the year 1919, for example, beginning
rates ranged from $6 and under $7 to $10 and under $11. Curiously
enough, both the lowest and highest rate were in California. The
low rate is for millinery only, the high rate for all other manufactur­
ing. This brings up the point that in many cases the commission
has set lower rates for those occupations where the greatest amount
of training is necessary for the worker to become proficient. Under
the manufacturing decrees this was done for millinery in Kansas,
Massachusetts, and California, and for the manufacture of hair
goods in Washington. The theory seemed to be that since all the
work was so technical, a beginner was worth little or nothing to an
employer, and the fear was that new girls would not be hired and
trained unless they wTere allowed to work for an exceedingly low
rate. The whole basis apparently was the question of labor value,
not the application of the minimum-wage theory of a full day’s work
being worth enough to enable a woman to support herself. It is fur­
ther evidence of the confusion existing in the commissioners’ minds
between sufficient training to enable a woman to earn the experienced
minimum rate and sufficient training to enable a woman to become ex­
pert in a skilled trade. The diversity can not be wholly explained by
such special cases, however, for in 1920, when the rates range from
$7 and under $8 to $12 and under $13, both the lowest rate, in
Kansas, and the highest rates, in California and North Dakota, are
for all manufacturing.
These rates seem to bear no exact relation to the experienced
rates. It would be reasonable for them to show the same upward
tendency as the experienced rates from 1914 to 1920, during a time
of rising prices, and then be more or less stationary or follow the
experienced rates in a slight decline. Instead, although they do rise
till the highest beginning rate is found in 1920, the year of highest
experienced rate, they immediately begin dropping back again. The
experienced rates in Massachusetts and North Dakota show a drop,
but those in California and Kansas remain stationary; yet the in­
experienced rates in these latter States are lowered from $2 to $3
per week.
In the other groups of industries covered by decrees—mercan­
tile establishments, for example—fewer decrees have been issued and
not so many States can be compared for any one year, but the tend­
ency still is for inexperienced rates to be scattered. In 1919, for
instance, there are four mercantile decrees—in California, the Dis­
trict of Columbia, Oregon, and Washington. The beginning rates
run from $9 and under $10 to $12 and under $13.
If the table is not taken up industry by industry, but instead
it is considered that all beginning rates in minimum-wage decrees
should run slightly below the experienced rate, and that the expe­
rienced rates should all be roughly the same since they must all supply
the cost of living, the diversity of this table is amazing. The rates
range as follows;




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS
Year

Inexperienced rate

1913!_____________ ill _ _
1914_-........
1915........ .
1916
1917-..........
1918_..........
1919........
1920-..........
1921.......... .
1922
1923..........
1921......... .
1925
1926............
1927

223

Experienced rate
$6 and under $7 to $9 and under $10.
$6 and under $7 to $10 and under $11.
$5 and under $6 to $10 and under $11.
$5 and under $6 to $9 and under $10.
$6 and under $7 to $8 and under $9.
$4 and under $5 to $11 and under $12.
$6 and under $7 to $16 and under $17.
$8 and under $9 to $20 and under $21.
$9 and under $10 to $16 and under $17.
$9 and under $10 to $15 and under $16.
$13 and under $14 to $16 and under $17.
$9 and under $10 to $13 and under $14.
$9 and under $10 to $13 and under $14.
$12 and under $13 to $13 and under $14.
$12 and under $13 to $14 and under $15.

The fact that in some cases the experienced rates begin at lower
sums than do the inexperienced (1915 and 1916) is due to the special
rates that were set for minors. The range in all the other cases is
caused by lack of uniformity from State to State within a year and
even from decree to decree within a State. In Massachusetts in 1920,
for example, the inexperienced rates for adults ran as follows: Men’s
clothing, $7 and under $8; candy and knit goods, $8 and under $9;
corset, $10 and under $11; paper box, $11 and under $12; women’s
clothing, $12 and under $18. On the other hand, three of these de­
crees—men’s clothing, women’s clothing, and paper box—have ex­
perienced rates of $15 and under $16. Some States—-for instance,
California—tried to keep all experienced and all inexperienced rates
relatively uniform.
The whole problem of what is a fair beginner’s rate is influenced
by the length of time a woman or minor must remain at that rate.
Once again, it can only be said that no general plan has been fol­
lowed. (See Appendix C.) Massachusetts goes to the extreme when
it requires one and a half years of service at the inexperienced rate
and then jumps its workers immediately to the minimum. This
occurs in the women’s-clothing decrees for 1917, 1920, and 1922. A
good many other Massachusetts decrees follow this plan for a one
year’s apprenticeship. The decrees having one rate for the entire
apprenticeship, particularly if this rate were considerably below the
experienced rate, might open to employers the temptation of dis­
charging workers when they had worked long enough to qualify for
the minimum, so that these employers need not suddenly pay a con­
siderable increase to workers whom they had grown accustomed to
employing at a lower rate. In all the other States no decree pro­
vides for more than six months of work without a raise in pay. After
three months is the most common time for increases in rates, though
a four-month period also is frequently used. Sometimes one decree
will combine several time periods. Extreme instances of this are
found in two branches of manufacturing as regulated by the Wash­
ington apprenticeship circulars. In tailoring pay raises after 1
month, 2 months, and 3 months in a 9 months’ total apprenticeship
are provided; in garment making changes after 1 month, 3 months, 2
months, and 1 month in a 9 months’ apprenticeship are provided. A
more common type of irregularity is that found in the mercantile
decree of the District of Columbia (1919), where a raise comes after
3 months and again after 4 months of experience.
In the case of the inexperienced rates there have been few attempts
to work out a theory as to how frequently a woman worker should




224

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

receive increases in pay. As far as the experienced rates were con­
cerned the laws specified that the sum should supply the cost of
living. In considering the total length of the learning period, the
commissions all tried to go on the principle of allowing a woman
to work at a lower rate for such time as would enable her to become a
trained worker at her special job. As a usual thing the only theory
that controlled beginning rates and frequency of raises was the nega­
tive one that if these rates were too far below the experienced rate,
and if few or no raises were provided for until the experienced re­
quirements were fulfilled, it might lead to the discharge of workers
whose employers were unwilling to meet the sudden increase in the
rate for which their minds had received no preparation. Wisconsin
in one decree (1921) did increase the amount of the first raise in all
industries over that required in the 1919 decree, on the theory that it
would give added incentive to the worker to do her best work. It
is, however, hard to see what firm basis there is on which these two
closely related questions—beginning rates and frequency of raises—•
could be decided. About all the commissions could do was to watch
the rates they had set and try to make intelligent changes if the
results of the first rates were not satisfactory. It is true that in
practice both questions are enormously important to the workers,
since thousands of them work at the lower rates. Is not this lack
of any definite plan or aim another illustration of the falsity of the
theory that sets such a long learning period that the rate for this
period is of vital concern? If learning periods lasted only a few
weeks, the whole question of raises within this period could be ig­
nored. The question of the rate still would be important, but not the
vital point that it is when dozens of decrees permit women to be paid
these lower rates for a year or a year and a half.
Limitation of the number of apprentices.
Since this whole group is outside the basic theory of a living wage
for a full-time job, it is of great importance to determine whether
these special rules permit such large numbers of women legally to
receive less than a living wage as to affect seriously the purpose of the
law. The commissions in most cases have realized that the whole
law could be broken down by these exceptions unless one of two things
could be done. If the commissions could work out the means for
following each individual woman and seeing that she got credit for
all previous experience each time she changed her work, these rules
would not affect disastrously the enforcement of the cost-of-living
minimum rate. The expensive and controversial field opened up by
this procedure is enormous. It will be remembered that whether
experience must be gained by service in the broad industrial group,
in the industrial branch, in the occupation or on the exact process,
or in the establishment has never been determined. Nor are there
any rules for how much credit shall be given to a woman who has
fulfilled some requirements for her apprenticeship. The difficulty
of settling each worker’s case is such that no commission has been
equipped to undertake it. There was, however, a means of bringing
this problem within such bounds that a commission might conceiv­
ably follow each case. That was to limit the number of apprentices
that a firm could employ at any one time. For those workers for
whom the firm legally could claim apprenticeship rates, the commis­




WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

225

sions would undertake the follow-up work necessary to see whether or
not the women were truthful in their statements of experience. But
of the 12 States that have set any decrees, just half—California, the
District of Columbia, Kansas, North Dakota, Washington, and Wis­
consin—have limited the number of apprentices.
The following table shows the proportion of apprentices among all
workers allowed any one establishment.
Table 45.—Proportion of apprentices allowed among the workers in an establish­

ment, by State and year
17 per cent

State and year

20 per cent

25 per cent

1914
Laundry.
1917
Mercantile.
1918
Laundry and office.
Any occupation.1
1919
Manufacturing (January)
Printing and publishing.

Any occupation.

1920
Public housekeeping.
Personal service.
Laundry.
Mercantile.
1921
Laundry.
Any occupation.

I
1922
Mercantile.

Laundry.
Manufacturing.
33H per cent

State and year

3.5 per cent

40 per cent

1919
Laundry.
Offices.
Manufacturing
(August).
1920
Laundry.
Office
Manufacturing.

Manufacturing.

1922
Manufacturing.
1923
Laundry.
Manufacturing
125 pet cent minors and apprentices allowed.




226

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

J&2
.
Of tlie 226”decrees, only 34 have included in their provisions a
limitation of the number of learners. In the six States that ever
have considered this problem 121 decrees have been issued, so even
these commissions did not always take care of this point. If decrees
are to be constructed with elaborate provisions for apprentices, limi­
tation of the number of these workers would seem wise if the law is
to be enforced. While from an employer’s viewpoint there might be
some serious objections, these can be taken care of without invalidat­
ing the principle of limitation. The most serious is the question of
a new firm or a new process in an old establishment. It may be
that, in addition to the impossibility of having any workers with
expei'ience under the firm in question, it is not possible to obtain a
sufficient number of workers with any experience along the line
desired. Another problem is the firm with a rush order, in a rush
season, that takes on more new workers than the proportion of
learners allowed by law. Any such problem, however, could be met
by the decrees providing that the commission could grant exceptions
to the rule in cases of proved emergency. This was done in both
the North Dakota manufacturing decrees.
If the limitation of numbers provided for this flexibility, the actual
percentage allowed need only be such as would take care of routine
business. Sixteen decrees in five States have set 25 per cent as the
proper proportion. California, which originally set 25 per cent, has
allowed 33Vs per cent in 11 decrees. North Dakota allows as high
as 40 per cent apprentices in manufacturing. Just what is a fair
limitation is not capable of proof. If the California decrees are not
allowed to overbalance the table, it seems accurate to say that in
the States where limitation of apprentices has been considered the
commissions have been overwhelmingly for 25 per cent as a fair
limit.
Summary.
The whole discussion of the wage-decree treatment of minors and
apprentices is a record of confusing diversity. Not only are the
States far apart in their treatment of these groups, but decrees within
a State provide absolutely different treatment for the same kinds of
workers. If apprenticeship or learning period was to be of such
length that it formed an important part of a woman’s working life
under the minimum-wage law, the rules covering this period, if
they were to be enforceable—in fact, if they were to be worth en­
forcing—should have been most carefully thought out and set down
in elaborate detail.
The first point to be considered is the confusion on the part of the
commissions and wage boards as to how these special groups should
be treated. One problem was the actual industrial group for which
a rate should be set. If the rules were to be truly scientific, the
sweeping way in which one set of rates was set for all apprentices
in any industry in a State, or even for all manufacturing, could not
be followed. To fail to set specific rules for each small industrial
unit was in effect to subscribe to the theory that the apprenticeship
provided for in minimum-wage decrees really was what might bo
called a probation period, to enable a woman to gain enough ex­
perience to be worth the minimum wage, and not a period in which
to gain sufficient training to become a skilled worker; yet the very



WORKERS OTHER THAN FULL-TIME EXPERIENCED ADULTS

227

decrees that lumped all workers set long enough periods of appren­
ticeship and low enough rates to justify the supposition that thenpurpose was to enable a woman to become really a trained worker.
The decisions then with regard to the industrial group a decree
should cover, the rates that should be paid that group, and the length
of time that must elapse before the group could obtain the cost-ofliving minimum were unscientific primarily because the commissions
had never clearly defined and announcer! just what this learning
period was to represent. In fact, it represented the best efforts of
changing groups of individuals who were relatively uninformed in
respect to these technical matters and from whom the employing
groups on the commissions and wage boards sought to obtain as great
concessions as possible.
Since the theory is confused, naturally the provisions of the decrees
are confused. The diverse rates and length of experience in the same
industrial group show this. So do the varied industrial groupings.
The greatest apparent confusion exists, however, when the decrees
have attempted to define where apprenticeship should be served—in
the industry, the occupation, the establishment.
Another "place in which great confusion exists is the relation of
age to experience. Fundamentally this is due to the same lack of a
concrete definition of apprenticeship, its aims, and its expected results.
In the form of the orders this second problem is more apparent than
the first, though it is of less importance. On the surface, one great
cause of the confusion in the treatment of learners is the experimental
way in which the various States have switched from treating all
minors the same, as distinct from adults, to treating all experienced
workers the same, regardless of age, and so on. The importance of
these conflicting rules and regulations is not alone their effect on the
group of workers whose rates they control, but is in what they show
of how well or how badly the purposes of the laws have been carried
out.




CHAPTER IX.—REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF
MINIMUM-WAGE RATES IN PRACTICE
RELATION OF RATES TO THE NUMBER OF HOURS A WOMAN
WORKS

Earlier in this report it has been said that the minimum-wage rate
was to supply to the experienced full-time worker the amount neces­
sary for proper living. The specific meaning of the words full time
in relation to minimum-wage rates is of tremendous importance, but
in many of the decrees it has received either inadequate attention or
no attention at all. Every decree that established a minimum wage
on a weekly basis should have carried also, to be perfectly clear, a
definition of what would be considered a full-time week and what
relation to this full-time week various longer or shorter work periods
would have. Though the commissions often overlooked this in pass­
ing the decrees, they could not escape making some decisions, informal
if not formal, on these points, for the problem arose constantly in en­
forcing the decrees. Before discussing the provisions of the various
decrees that deal with the connection between the hours that a
worker is employed and the minimum-wage rates, it is important to
determine what are the possible solutions of the problem.
To begin with a definition of the various expressions used to
designate the time a worker is required to give to the job, there arc
three main groups—the full-time worker, the part-time worker, and
the worker putting in overtime. Full time means employment regu­
larly for a standard day or a standard week; that is, the hours
within which the normal day’s work or the normal week’s work, as
agreed upon between employer and employees, is to be performed.1
With relation to minimum wage the definition of full time must be
modified somewhat. It is possible for full-time employment to
mean the greatest number of hours legally possible for a woman to
work; that is, a standard for the whole State rather than a different
standard for each plant. If an employee is hired to work regularly
on a shorter schedule than the establishment’s standard week, such
an employee is a part-time worker. Voluntary absences from work
on the part of the employee, or the shutdown or curtailment of work
by the employer for short and irregular periods, do not make a
worker a part-time worker in the sense in which the word is used in
the minimum-wage decrees. Overtime, on the other hand, is time
worked before or after standard time, whether such employment is
scattered and irregular or regular over a period of days, weeks, or
months. The commissions therefore had to define what a full-time
week should be, not only to show the relation of hours worked to the
minimum rate but to be able to apply any special rates that they
1 Harvard University. School of Business Administration. Bureau of Business Research.
Bulletin No. 26, “ Labor terminology,” Cambridge, 1921. Pp. 30, 60, and 80.
228




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

229

might care to make for part-time work and overtime work. In the
following discussion all references to rules for full time, part time,
and overtime are for workers who meet the foregoing definitions.
In a very few cases decrees also have considered how women should
be paid when they worked “ undertime,” due to holidays, stoppage
of machinery, etc. This, however, was to deal with an occasional
situation, not a regular work period.
RELATION TO RATES OF LEGAL LIMITATIONS ON HOURS AND OF
THE HOURS THAT A PLANT RUNS REGULARLY

Since there is no absolutely accepted definition of full time, the
problems that would arise if the commissions interpreted it to mean
the greatest number of hours that it was lawful for a woman to
work will be considered first. All these minimum-wage States had
either a law passed by the legislature or orders issued by an industrial
welfare commission limiting the number of hours per day or per
week that a woman was allowed to work. These laws or rulings did
not necessarily cover every industry in the State, but in all cases they
covered a majority of the women workers and set a standard for all.
At first thought it would seem eminently fair to say that the rate
was set on the basis of a woman’s working these hours. If, however,
the minimum wage were to be paid only for the full legal hours,
certain difficulties would at once arise. In the first place there would
be the question of those plants which never worked as long hours as
the law permitted. Why should the woman who worked as long
as the employer required fail to earn the minimum? For example,
the law might permit a 54-hour week but there might be a consider­
able number of plants that ran only 48 hours. If the commission
had decided that the cost of living was such that a woman must
earn $16.20 a week to be self-supporting, these 48-hour plants would
be paying her $14.40, considerably less than the weekly minimum.
Moreover, some State laws set different hours for communities of
different sizes or for different industries, so women in one town might
have to work 58 hours to obtain the minimum which women on the
same work in another community were receiving for 54 hours’ work.
The following table shows the weekly hour law in each of the States
at the time the minimum-wage law was passed and any changes in
that law up to the present time:




Table 46.—Provisions of laws limiting hours of work, by State and year1
Daily
limit

Weekly
limit

1913

Hours

Hours
48

California___

8

Occupations or industries specified

Overtime provisions

Manufacturing, mechanical, mercantile, laundry, hotel, public lodging
house, apartment house, hospital, place of amusement, or office, or by
any express or transportation company, restaurant, telegraph or
telephone. Exceptions—harvesting, curing, canning, drying of any
variety of perishable fruit or vegetable; graduate nurses in hospitals.
Seasonal industries may work 58 hours per week if average Any factory, workshop, manufacturing, mercantile, mechanical estab| lishment, telegraph office, or telephone exchange, or an express or
weekly hours for the year do not exceed 54.
! transportation company. Exceptions—public service or businesses
! in which shifts may be required in extraordinary emergencies.
30 minutes daily to make up for time lost due to stoppage Mechanical or manufacturing establishment, and in telephone or tele­
of machinery. In order to get one short day per week,
graph establishment in cities of the first and second classes. Excep­
overtime is permitted if the maximum weekly hours are
tion—canning or preserving of perishable fruits, grains, or vegetables
not exceeded.
in establishments operating not more than six weeks in a year.
11 hours on Saturdays permitted in mercantile estab­ Mercantile establishment, restaurant, lunch room or eating house, or
lishments. In order to get one short day per week,
kitchen operated in connection therewith in cities of the first and sec­
overtime is permitted if the maximum weekly hours are
ond classes.
not exceeded.
30 minutes daily to make up for time lost due to stoppage Manufacturing or mechanical establishments outside of cities of the
of machinery. In order to get one short day per week,
first and second classes.
overtime is permitted if the maximum weekly hours
are not exceeded.
Mercantile establishments outside of cities of the first and second classes.
Manufacturing in Portland.
Mercantile establishments in Portland.
Any industry.
Manufacturing, mechanical, mercantile establishment, laundry, hotel,
restaurant, telegraph or telephone office or establishment, or express
! or transportation company. Exceptions—harvesting, packing, curing,
i canning, or drying of any variety of perishable fruit, vegetable, or fish.
1 Any mechanical or mercantile establishment, laundry, hotel or res­
; taurant. Exceptions—harvesting, packing, curing, canning, or drying
perishable fruits and vegetables; canning fish or shellfish.
Any place of employment or at any employment, i. e., manufacturing,
mechanical, or mercantile establishment, laundry, restaurant, con­
fectionery store, or telegraph or telephone office or exchange, or any
express or transportation establishment .
i
!
!

Massachusetts.

10

54

Minnesota.

54

10

10

Oregon.

58

5S

58
54
50
54
60

9
8X
lb"

Washington..
Wisconsin....

1915

Arkansas.......

Washington___

54

9
....




(’)

<*>

Overtime may be permitted by the commission on not to Any manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment, laundry,
exceed 90 days a year, provided it can be shown that j or any express or transportation company. Exceptions—establishthis is necessary to prevent irreparable injury and time ! inents employing three or less women at the same time; establishments
employing three or less employees at. the same time on the same work;
and a half is paid for all hours over 9 per day.
cotton factories; preservation of fruits and perishable farm products
I or gathering the same.
' Rural telephones.

o
MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State

to

CO

8M

50
54
51

1917
California___

8

a

48

Kansas____
Washington.

9
8

54
3 48

1918
District of Columbia.

8

Any manufacturing establishment. Exceptions—woolen mills; fruit
and vegetable drying, canning, preserving, and packing establish­
ments. Mercantile establishments (State at large), telephone or
telegraph establishments; any laundry establishment; any public
housekeeping establishment; any personal service establishment.
Mercantile establishments in Portland.
Office outside city of Portland.
Office in Portland.

54

48

69109

9

Kansas.

9
8

Massachusetts.

10

1919
Arkansas..
Kansas_
_
Massachusetts.

Manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment, laundry,
hotel and restaurant, telegraph or telephone establishment, office,
express or transportation company.
Laundries.
Public housekeeping occupation.

54
54 (6 days)
54 (7 days;
54
In case of business emergency, commission may issue
special license to employ adult women beyond the regu­
lar legal hours for the duration of the emergency, if time
and a half is paid.

Oregon.

Washington

Telegraph or telephone. Exceptions—harvesting, curing, canning, or
drying of any variety of perishable fish, fruit, or vegetable; graduate
nurses in hospitals.
Mercantile establishment.
,
Minors in any mercantile, manufacturing, printing, laundering, or dye
works establishment; sign-painting, machine, or repair shop; parceldelivery service.

8

8 (basic)
9

• 48

55
48

North Dakota..

48*

Oregon.

48

Daily overtime in case of emergency if time and a half is
paid.
Seasonal industries may work 52 hours per week if average
weekly hours for the year do not exceed 48.

Elevator operators in buildings occupied in whole or in part by indus­
tries included in hour law, or in any office building.
Mercantile establishment, manufacturing establishment, personal
service occupation, laundry establishment, telephone or telegraph
establishment, office occupation, public housekeeping establishment.
Any minor covered by hour law. (See 1913.)
Exceptions—cotton factories; gathering of fruits or farm products.
Any factory.
Any factory, workshop, manufacturing, mercantile, mechanical estab­
lishment, telegraph office, or telephone exchange, or any express or
transportation company.
Manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment, laundry,
hotel and restaurant, or telephone or telegraph establishment or office,
or in any express or transportation company. Exceptions—rural
telephone exchanges or in villages or towns of less than 500 population.
Mercantile establishment, manufacturing establishment, personal
service occupation, any laundry establishment, any telephone or tele­
graph establishment, any office, any public housekeeping establishment.




231

i Except in the case of Kansas, the year under which a State first appears is that in which its minimum-wage law was passed
For Kansas the earliest date is that of the
first mininum-wage order, which carried also the State’s first hour regulation. All later dates indicate that the hour law was amended at that. time.
i Women and minors must be relieved from work on Sundays. No daily or weekly limit.
8 Minimum-wage orders allowed only a 6-day week.

REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

1916
Oregon...........

Table 46.
State

Weekly
limit

Hours

Hours

9
8

^ 48

8

3 48

Factory, mine, mill, workshop, mechanical or mercantile establishment,
laundry, hotel, restaurant or rooming house, theater or moving picture
show, barber shop, telegraph, telephone, or other office, express or
transportation company, State institution or any other establishment
institution, or enterprise where females are employed. Exceptions—
stenografjhers; pharmacists; telephone and telegraph companies; and
mercantile establishments in rural districts and in cities of less than
3,000 population.

48

Washington.................

Occupations or industries specified

Laundries in cases of extraordinary emergencies, provided
consent of employee is secured, may work 2 hours over­
time per day, provided weekly maximum is not exceeded
and double time is paid for all hours above 9 daily.
Woolen and cotton mills one hour daily, 6 hours weekly,
if double time is paid for all hours above 9 daily.

1920
Massachusetts............

Overtime provisions

1922
Kansas.........................
Washington.................

49M

1923
Minnesota..................

Any Jaundry, hotel, manicuring or hairdressing establishment, motion
picture theater; or as an elevator operator or as a switchboard operator
jn a private exchange.

2H hours overtime weekly, if time and a half is paid and
if daily hours are not exceeded.

H

North Dakota.......

8X

48

Wisconsin...............

8

50

10

55

10 hours daily, 7 days per week, permitted in emergencies,
provided permission is obtained from authorities en­
forcing hour law and weekly hour limit is not exceeded.
Emergency is defined as sickness of more than one female
employee, the protection of human life, banquets, con­
ventions, celebrations, sessions of the State Legislature
reporters in any of the district courts of the State.

—___________________________________
1 Minimum-wage orders allowed only a 6-day week.




Laundry.
Any minor covered by hour law (see 1913) other than those employed
in public housekeeping. Adults in manufacturing.
Any business or service whatever. Exceptions—domestics in the homeperson engaged in the care of the sick or injured; cases of emergency
in which the safety, health, morals, or welfare of public may otherwise
be affected; night employees whose total hours at their place of em­
ployment do not exceed 12 and who have the opportunity for at least
4 hours sleep; telephone operators in municipalities of less than 1,500
inhabitants.
Mechanical. Exceptions—villages or towns of less than 500 population,
small telephone exchanges if workmen's compensation bureau sus­
pends act.

Any place of employment, i.e., manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile
establishment, laundry, restaurant, confectionery store, or telegraph
or telephone office or exchange, or any express or transportation estab­
lishment.

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

1919—Continued
Texas..........................

Daily
limit

Provisions of laws limiting hours of work, by State and year—Continued

REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

233

It is apparent from this table that an identical weekly wage in all
these States still would have allowed real differences in the require­
ments that a woman must comply with to earn enough to meet the
necessary cost of living. These differences in the hour laws have
affected the woman workers’ wages in many ways not usually thought
of in considering minimum-wage problems. Whenever a State which
based its minimum wage on the legal work week lowered the number
of hours that a woman was permitted to work, as Massachusetts did
in 1919, it automatically increased the hourly minimum-wage rate
and might bring actual pay increases to those women whose emplovers
did not run their plants the full number of hours allowed by law.
To take a hypothetical example: If the Massachusetts decree for the
clothing industry had set a rate of $13.50 per week prior to 1919, a
woman working in the clothing trades 44 hours per week after the
hours were lowered in 1919 would have received $12.36 on the 48-hour
basis as contrasted with $11 prior to 1919 on a 54-hour basis. On the
other hand, when a State like Wisconsin, which set its minimum-wage
rate on an hourly basis, reduced its weekly limitation of hours from
55 to 50, it reduced the amount that it was possible for a woman to
earn in one week.
For Minnesota in 1914 there existed a most peculiar situation,
for while the minimum-wage rates in Minnesota always have been
lower for small communities, the hour laws permitted longer hours
in these same communities, so that women employed there had to
work 58 hours for $8 when women in the same occupations in a city
of 20,000 or more inhabitants worked 54 hours and earned $8.75.
In States like California, where the weekly limit was as low as
48 hours, there were not many firms whose hours were less than the
legal limit. In States like Wisconsin (prior to 1923) and Minnesota,
however, a rate set on the legal hours might work out so that a great
majority of the women in the State legally could be paid less than
the sum necessary to supply them the cost of living. To avoid the
bad features of having the legal work week equal the time required
to earn the minimum wage, some States have enforced the wage
on the basis that whatever hours were worked regularly by an
establishment were the hours for which the minimum must be paid.
This would mean, however, that two women might be on exactly the
same kind of work in two different establishments and the State
would sanction their receiving the same minimum rate though one
worked 44 hours a week and the other worked 55. There would be
complications also if this plan were followed in a plant whose
scheduled hours were less than the legal week. In such a case, a
woman working under a decree that set both weekly and hourly
rates if absent a few hours would have her pay reckoned on the
actual number of hours worked, and, since all hourly rates worked
out in the decrees are reckoned on the basis of the legal week, she
would be penalized by losing pay for just as many hours as the
plant ran less than the legal hours. For instance, a woman might
work in a plant that ran 44 hours a week though the legal limit was
48. She would receive $14.40 for 44 hours, but if she were absent
one hour she would be paid for each hour worked only -fa of her
weekly rate, or $12.90 per week. In other words, she would lose five
hours’ pay instead of one. This would not happen in States where




234

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

no hourly rate was set, but where instead the woman received the
hourly rate based on the plant’s scheduled hours.
There is, however, another real problem involved in the question
of what figure is to be accepted as the plant’s regular scheduled hours.
Should it be an average for all weeks actually worked during the
year ? A firm might work 48 hours regularly during its busy season
and 36 hours regularly during its slack season, these hours holding
true for weeks at a time in each case. Can such a firm claim that
48 are its regular scheduled hours and pay the women for only
the 36 hours actually worked? Could a commission, on the other
hand, bring foi-tli the contention that each week should stand alone,
and that whatever hours a firm runs during a week are its standard
hours for that week, so that any woman who avails herself of all
the employment offered is due the minimum rate? When there is
considered the difficulty of deciding what are the standard hours in
the cases where business exigencies often cause varied weekly sched­
ules, it becomes apparent why some commissions have adopted the
scheme easier to define—that the legal hours represent the standard
or full-time week. There are probably fully as many drawbacks
to a sweeping decision that regular plant hours shall equal the
length of time necessary to earn the weekly minimum-wage rate as
there are to having the legal limitation of hours the basis of
computation.
Provisions of decrees defining full-time week.
In the decrees several States have tried to meet this problem. The
Wisconsin commission undoubtedly chose the easiest plan to admin­
ister when it seemingly waived the whole problem and set only an
hourly rate. It would seem that this method was accepting* the
principle that to earn the cost of living a woman must work the full
number of hours allowed by law, for if the hourly rate set in 1919
were multiplied by the legal limit of 55 hours per week it produced
only $12.10 as possible weekly earnings, a sum so low as to be almost
at the bottom of rates set or in effect in the flexible States at this
time. Only Minnesota rates and those in a few Massachusetts
decrees which have since been raised were as small as this. If a
woman worked the 44, or 48, or 50 hours that a plant might require,
her weekly earnings would be correspondingly reduced. This plan
could work out to the great disadvantage of the workers. For in­
stance, a scheduled week of 44 hours is found often enough to de­
serve consideration. Under the Wisconsin plan a woman working in
a 44-hour plant in 1919 would have to be paid only $9.68 a week, yet
so much of her possible working time would be gone that it would be
practically impossible for her to find other work to eke out her
income. Though such a situation usually has been condemned by
those commissions which have given it consideration, the Wisconsin
commission considered this result and approved of iff Instead of
accepting the legal hours as full-time hours, it considered whatever
time the individual woman actually worked for the week in ques­
tion to be her full-time week. In a statement preliminary to its first
decree the' commission says:
The recommendation of the advisory wage board that the minimum-wage
rate should be upon an hourly basis is supported by testimony that many items
in the cost of living of female and minor employees vary directly with the




REGULATION’S FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

235

number of hours they are required to work. Employees who have short hours
of labor can without injury do much work for themselves which female and
minor employees who work longer hours must hire others to do for them.
This has reference especially to laundry, the repair and upkeep of clothing, and
the making of some articles of clothing. Longer hours of labor, moreover,
unquestionably mean increased fatigue, and it is now well established that
fatigue is an important cause of sickness. Female and minor employees who
work longer hours on the average will lose more time from work because of
sickness. The shorter-hour workers on the average work more days during
the year because their morbidity rate is lower. For these reasons the com­
mission agrees with the advisory wage board that the living wage should be
established upon an hourly basis rather than at a definite figure per week
which disregards the hours of labor.

Though strictly speaking this pronouncement should not be con­
sidered here, since it is not incorporated in a decree, it is too wide a
departure from the usual reasoning on cost of living, and therefore
too important, to be ignored. There are two great fallacies in the
statement quoted. In the first place the wage set is supposed to be
the sum which represents the minimum amount required for decent
subsistence. Any deduction from it means loss of necessaries. If the
Wisconsin commission had set a comfort wage, there would be a pos­
sibility of the woman or minor making up by her own work what she
lost in earnings. However, if a commission sets so low a rate that
$12.10 per week is the highest possible earnings, it is extremely ques­
tionable whether a woman is not already doing so much of her own
laundering, sewing, and repairing that there is little more she can
accomplish in the way of economizing. The commission seems to
have overlooked that it was supposed to set a minimum rate only and
how low was the actual rate it was establishing. The second mistake
was in presupposing that there were no alternatives except an hourly
rate or “a definite figure per week which disregards the hours of
labor.” It is possible, as the following discussion shows, to tie up
rates to weekly hours of labor. Some States have done a good deal
along this line, and in the light of their attempts it is possible to say
that this problem can be met in other ways than by allowing the
worker to take the whole brunt of undertime.
The procedure of relating hours of work to rates has been at­
tempted by the States in various ways. California has based all
weekly rates on the 48 hours allowed by law, with careful special
rates for part-time workers, overtime workers, day workers, and
the rest. The fact that the weekly limitation is so low that not
many industries work a shorter week and that so many rates havebeen set for special groups makes this the best example of how it
works out to accept the legal week as the standard week. In Kansas
and Oregon all the decrees contain provisions limiting the hours
that a woman may work, and by inference the legal limit is the
period of time on which the minimum rate is based, but with
the exception of one general statement in Oregon concerning part­
time work, these decrees contain no directions as to how the rates
are to be applied. Massachusetts has included in every decree the
following ambiguous statement: “ These rates are based on full­
time work, by which is meant the full number of hours per week
required by employers or permitted by the laws of the Common­
wealth.” Only in the case of “ office and building cleaners ” has
the commission been more explicit. In this decree, where the



236

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

majority of the women under discussion worked considerably less
than the legal 48 hours, the commission set up a standard of its
own, declaring that “ full-time employment means 42 hours or more
a week.” In addition to this one definite statement, there are three
decrees—men’s furnishings (1918), retail millinery (1919), and
wholesale millinery (1919)—in which the wage boards have speci­
fied that for the purposes of computing a woman’s experience a
week’s work shall consist of not less than 36 hours. Since the
Massachusetts commission has approved these efforts of the wage
boards to relate hours worked to rates of pay, it would seem that it
must be fully cognizant of the interrelation of hours and rates, but
it has not chosen to amplify and clarify the. definition of “ full
time ” in the decrees-. One other State, Washington, has at least
considered the time element in a number of its decrees. Four de­
crees covering adults only—any occupation (1918), laundry, tele­
phone and telegraph, and mercantile (1921)—provide that the
minimum rate is to be paid for a week of 48 hours in the first case
and for a week of 6 days in the other three. Three decrees for rural
telephones (Nos. 14, 15, and 16) establish a full-time day, from 6
to 9 hours in the first case and 10 hours in the other two. Public
housekeeping (adults), 1921, establishes a full-time day of 8 hours.
By inference the full-time week in other cases is that established
by the hour law and modified by the decrees. (See Table 46,
p. 230.)
In Arkansas, the District of Columbia, and Texas the decrees are
silent on this problem. Only Minnesota and North Dakota have
definitely made general rules in the decrees to cover this problem
carefully. In both States, after issuing decrees that did not take this
problem into consideration, the commissions in later decrees have
covered this particular point with care. They seem to have felt that
it was impossible to set a single standard of hours as, for example,
Massachusetts did for building cleaners; instead they have set certain
limits of hours within which the minimum must be paid. In most
cases any woman working on a schedule of from 36 to 48 hours per
week is entitled to the full weekly rate. This is the case in “ any
occupation ” in Minnesota and in public housekeeping, mercantile,
and laundry in North Dakota. North Dakota also sets a limit of
from 40 to 48 hours in manufacturing and of more than 40 hours in
telephone. This method is based, of course, on the theory that if an
establishment takes 36 hours of a woman’s time it should pay for a
full week’s work because, since it will be extremely difficult to find a
short-time job for the remaining hours that she can work legally, this
establishment is in effect giving her full-time employment and should
be required to pay on this basis. These two States have disregarded
both the actual hours an establishment chooses to run and the legal
hours it is allowed to run and have set up a definite range of hours
that permits of no misunderstanding as to what is a “ full-time week.”
By allowing a variety of scheduled hours within defined limits they
have allowed for fluctuation in the firms’ working hours and pro­
vided for flexibility that would seem to enable the provisions to be
administered without undue hardship to either employer or employee.




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OP MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

237

Provisions of decrees defining and regulating part-time workers.
Closely bound up with the question of the full-time week is the
question of the definition of the part-time worker. In order to deter­
mine who are part-time workers it is necessary to know who are
full-time workers. Every State except Minnesota, North Dakota,
Massachusetts in the single case of building cleaners, and Washing­
ton in 7 of its 31 decrees has indicated that the full-time worker is
a woman who is regularly employed the full number of hours allowed
by law. Every State except Minnesota and North Dakota has either
stated or implied that there was an exact standard that equaled a
full-time week.2 Either the decrees set up a definition of this group
or it was inferred that anyone who was employed regularly less than
the full-time standard was a part-time worker. If interpreted liter­
ally this could lead to a ridiculous situation in which whole plants,
working 44 hours in a State with a 48-hour limit, could be said to
employ only part-time workers. Wisconsin contemplated this sit­
uation and apparently countenanced it. As most part-time rates
found in the decrees are set on an hourly basis and are somewhat
greater than the regular hourly rate, it is clear that decrees not only
should set special part-time rates but should define part-time work
wTith care if they are to be interpreted literally and still achieve a
fair and sensible result.
California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington,
and Wisconsin have attempted in one or more decrees to define part­
time workers. Not all these States have set special rates for such
w'orkers. The following list gives the decrees where such rules are
found and the hours that are considered as constituting part-time
work:
CALIFORNIA

Hotel and restaurant, 1919 and 1920__ 6 hours or less per day.8
Unclassified, 1923___________________
Do.8
Mercantile, 1917,19198,19203, and 19233- Less than 8 hours per day.
Laundry, 1919, 19203, and 19233_______
Do.
Office, 1919 and 1920________________
Do.3
Unclassified, 1919 and 1920__________
Do.8
Manufacturing, 1919,1920, and 1923___
Do.8
MASSACHUSETTS

Building cleaners, 1921Any employment less than 42 hours
per week.3
MINNESOTA

Any occupation, 1921 Any employment less than 36 hours
per week.
NORTH DAKOTA
Group I

Public housekeeping, 1922
Manufacturing, 1922____
Mercantile, 1922________
Laundry, 1922__________
Telephone, 1922________

30 to
35 to
30 to
32 to

34
40
35
38

hours.3
hours.8
hours.3
hours.3 * *

Group II

Under
Under
Under
Under
Under

30
35
30
32
40

hours.
hours.
hours.
hours.
hours.

“Washington in Order No. 14 (rural telephones, class U) established a full-time day of
from 6 to 9 hours.
* Special part-time rate established which is higher than regular full-time hourly or
dally rate.




238

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
WASHINGTON

Rural telephones, class B, 1915____ _ Less than 6 hours per day.3
_
Rural telephones, class C, 1915Less than 10 hours per day.3
Rural telephones, class D, 1915----------Less than 10 hours per day.3
Public housekeeping, 1921------------------ Less than 8 hours per day, or 1 or 2
days per week.3
WISCONSIN

All: Order effective August 1, 1919.
Telephones:
For day period—
Under 200________
Hourly minimum for H time on duty.
200 to 219______ _
Hourly minimum for ff time on duty.
220 to 239____
Hourly minimum for H time on duty.
240 to 259
Hourly minimum for ^ time on duty.
200 to 274
Hourly minimum for -J-| time on duty.
275 or more
Hourly minimum for time on duty.
For night period—Under 300
Hourly minimum for -f- time subject to call.
300 to 499__________ Hourly minimum for ~f- time subject to call.
500 to 624
Hourly minimum for
time subject to call.
Hourly minimum for -j- time subject to call.
625 to 749
750 to 874
Hourly minimum for-1- time subject to call.
875 to 999
Hourly minimum for -J- time subject to call.
1,000 or more__1
Hourly minimum for time subject to call.

As this list shows, only California and North Dakota really have
tried in a number of decrees to define part-time work and to meet,
by guaranteeing her a somewhat higher hourly rate, the problem of
the woman who is not offered enough hours of work to enable her
to earn the regular minimum-wage rate. Massachusetts in one decree
and Washington in four also have followed this plan. In Wisconsin
a complicated schedule is worked out for the telephone industry,
based on the relation between the number of telephones on the
switchboard and whether the work is day work or night work and
whether the operator is on duty or only subject to call.
In addition to these decrees that offer some sort of a definition of
part-time work and set rates for the groups so designated, a few
decrees set rates for part-time workers without defining what con­
stitutes such work. Oregon provided that part-time workers were to
receive the regular hourly rate. Texas provided that all part-time
workers, irrespective of experience, were to receive 25 cents per hour,
the rate for experienced full-time workers. Washington established
rates for part-time workers in three decrees—telephone (1919), all
industries (1918), and public housekeeping (1920). In telephone
(1919) this is the onlv rate set. The others are simply the regular
experienced full-time hourly rate.
Actual part-time rates set in North Dakota and California.—It is
only, then, in California and North Dakota that actual rates and
definitions exist in any number. North Dakota has dealt with the
problem in a more general and simple manner than has California
and will be discussed first. The statement following shows the part­
time hourly rates required by the North Dakota decrees of 1922.•
• Special part-time rate established which is higher than regular full-time hourly or daily rato.




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

239

Proportion of weekly rate 1 to be paid a woman who works regularly during
Decree
30 to 34
hours

Public housekeeping.

30 to 35
hours

32 to 38
hours

A
A

35 to 40 Under 30 Under 32 Under 35 Under 40
hours
hours
hours
hours
hours

A
A

fit :J ■'

A

A

A
l
YX

g$0. 29
\
. 22

1 Rates are expressed as fractions of the full-time weekly rate established for the occupation in question
as well as on a straight hourly basis.
2 Rates vary according to size of community and length of experience.

With the exception of telephone every decree has ruled not only
that full time should cover varied hours of work ranging from
36 and 40 to 48 hours per week, but that certain shorter hours of
work should be paid for at an increased part-time rate. This has
been done on the theory that any establishment that took so much of a
woman’s time that she would have difficulty in finding other regular
work, but not enough of her time to enable her to earn the full-time
minimum rate, should be required to help somewhat toward making
up this difference. If a woman worked such short hours that obvi­
ously she could do other work or was merely a casual laborer, an
establishment was allowed to pay her the regular full-time hourly
rate for the number of hours worked. As the statement shows, the
actual part-time rate and the hours for which it must be paid varied
from industry to industry. The plan, taken together with the careful
definition of full-time hours, is comprehensive. It is easy to express,
to understand, and to apply. The reasons for dealing with hours in
these three groups are ones that command support. The spread of
hours within each group is wide enough that most fluctuations in
firms’ hours can be covered without employees passing from one
group to another. Moreover, the method is all inclusive. Every
worker fits into some group.
California, too, has covered the whole field at one time or another,
and has achieved by different methods much the same results as has
North Dakota. Not even' decree takes care of all contingencies, but
the commission has been alive to the relation of hours and rates and
has tried to set particular rates to fit the conditions of employment
found in industry. All the decrees that set special part-time rates
designate these rates under a special heading for part-time workers
except the manufacturing decree for 1919, which includes part-time
workers in the general statement that “ if an employer does not
provide the full 48 hours of employment during any one week he
must pay not less than-------- for the hours worked.” Two defini­
tions of part-time workers occur. In the hotel-and-restaurant
decrees, 1919 and 1920, and in the unclassified decree, 1923, a part­
time worker is defined as a “ worker on an hourly basis for six
hours or less per day ”; in the other decrees the basis is less than
eight hours, With the exception of the hotel-and-restaurant decrees




240

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

in 1919 and 1920, any part-time worker receives the same hourly rate
whether she works one or two hours a day or seven. The two hoteland-restaurant decrees set a somewhat higher hourly rate for
women who work three hours or less per day than for those who
work four hours or more. This is the opposite of the policy followed
in North Dakota, where the higher part-time rates were for those
women who most nearly worked the full-time hours. Whereas North
Dakota always provided that what might be called casual workers
should receive the regular hourly rate, California never made any
distinction according to the hours worked except those two in favor
of the woman on an extremely short schedule in hotels and restaurants.
California also differs in not allowing for any spread of hours in
the definitions of full-time work, in basing part-time on daily rather
than weekly hours, and in setting for part-timers a definite hourly
rate rather than an amount proportionate to the weekly rate.
The following table shows all the hourly part-time rates found in
the California decrees.
Table

47.—Full-time and part-time hourly rates for experienced and inex­
perienced women and minors in California, by decree
Adults

Minors

Decree
Experience status

Full
time

Part
time

Experience status

Full
time

Part
time

Manufacturing, January, 1919. Inexperienced........ $0.166 $0.21
Inexperienced........ $0. 156
$0 20
Experienced
.208
.25
Experienced
.208
.25
Mercantile, 1919.............. ........... 18 and 19 years
old:
Inexperienced...
.187 > .35
Inexperienced........
. 166
.25
Experienced___
.281
1.35
Experienced
.281
.35
20 years and over:
Inexperienced...
.208 i .35
Experienced___
.281
‘.35
inexperienced____
Office, 1919.................... .............. Inexperienced........
.208 i .35
.187
1.25
Experienced..........
.281
i .35
Experienced
.281
1.25
Unskilled, 1919.......................... . Inexperienced____
.208 i .35
Inexperienced........
. 166
i .25
Experienced
.281
1.35
Experienced.. ...
.208
i .25
Manufacturing, August, 1919.. Inexperienced........
.208 1.35
Inexperienced_
_
. 187
i .25
Experienced
.281
1.35
Experienced
.281
l .25
f *.35 }----------- ------------f *.40
Hotel and restaurant, 1919
.281 l3 • 32H
.333 l 3.38
Mercantile, 1920_________
Inexperienced.
.25
1.40
Inexperienced____
.208
.30
Experienced __
.333
i .40
Experienced
.333
.40
Laundry, 1920......................
Inexperienced.
.25
i .40
Inexperienced____
.25
i .40
Experienced..
.333
i .40
Experienced
.333
i .40
Office, 1920...................... .
Inexperienced.
.25
i .40
Inexperienced____
.208
1.30
Experienced..
.333
i .40
Experienced
.333
1.30
Unclassified, 1920.. ...........
Inexperienced.
.25
i .40
Inexperienced........
.22
».30
Experienced. .
.333 1 .40
Experienced. ___
.25
1.30
Manufacturing, 1920_____
Inexperienced.
.25
i .40
Inexperienced____
.208
1.30
Experienced __
.333
1.40
Experienced..........
.333
1.30
/* .40 }—------- ------------/ 3.40
Hotel and restaurant, 1920.
.333 l3.38
.333 l 3.38
Mercantile, 1923.................
Inexperienced.
.25
1.40
Inexperienced........
.208
1.30
Experienced..
.333 1.40
Experienced
.333
i .30
Laundry, 1923......................
Inexperienced.
.291
1.40
Inexperienced...
.291
1.40
Experienced. _
.333
1.40
Experienced
.333
*.40
Unclassified, 1923________
Inexperienced.
.25
1.40
Inexperienced........
.22
1.30
Experienced..
.333
1.40
Experienced
.333
1.30
Manufacturing, 1923_____
Inexperienced.
• 18M 1.40
Inexperienced........
.18 %
1.30
Experienced._
.38
1.40
Experienced
.38
'.30
Hotel and restaurant, 1923.
.333
.38
.333
1.38
1 Only part-time rate set. Experience qualifications not mentioned.
J Three hours or less per day.
1 More than 3 hours per day.




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OE MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

241

These rates really cover every industry in California where part
time on a time-rate basis is a problem. The decrees for canning,
packing, nut sorting, etc. which have no part-time rates set are largely
for piece-rate industries. On the whole the part-time rates are higher
than those for full time, but in seven decrees—office, 1919 and 1920,
manufacturing, 1919, 1920, and 1923, mercantile, 1923, and unclassi­
fied, 1923—the part-time rate for experienced minors, if there hap­
pen to be any, is less than the full-time rate. It is apparent also that
some of the part-time rates are so much higher than the full-time
rates that a part-time worker with hours only slightly less than the
full-time hours could earn more than the minimum if paid at a
straight hourly rate. For example, a woman working 7 hours a day
or 42 hours a week, at 40 cents an hour, would earn $16.80 per week.
If it was understood, as is probably the case, that the $16 rate need
not be exceeded,4 these decrees work out to provide a spread of full­
time earnings covering the hours from 40 to 48. They accomplish for
all adult women the same end that North Dakota accomplished by its
more general rules.
California has not stopped, however, with setting hourly rates for
part-time workers. In some few decrees it has set day rates as well.
The statement following gives the day rates for women and minors in
California, by decree:
Women

Decree

Minors

Both women
and minors

$1. 67
Mercantile, 1919:

$1. 50
2. 25

Mercantile, 1920:
Office 1920

2. 00
2. 66%
2. 66^

$2. 66 %

> 2. 00
2. 00
2. 66?^

> Special day rate tor minors working 8 hours on Saturdays or holidays.

With the exception of the two minors’ rates in manufacturing,
1920, and mercantile, 1923, these rates are simply one-sixth of the full
weekly rate. These two exceptions allow minor day workers to be
employed for a somewhat lower sum than the regular worker is paid
per day. The decrees give extremely varied definitions of the groups
that are to be paid these day rates. They are defined as—
(1) One who works less than 6 days per week. Mercantile, 1917 and 1919.
(2) One who is employed on a full day’s basis for less than 6 days a week.
Mercantile, 1920.
(3) One who is employed on a full day’s basis for 3 weeks or less. Mercantile,
1923
(4) One who is employed on a temporary basis for less than 2 weeks. Office,
1920.
‘Two hotel and restaurant decrees. 1919 and 1920, specify that either the part-time
hourly rate or the weekly full-time rate shall be paid.




242

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

(5) One who is employed for 8 hours on Saturdays or holidays. Manufactur­
ing, 1920.
(6) One who is employed on a full day’s basis for less than the standard week.
Laundry, 1923.

The lack of an underlying principle in these definitions and the
fact that there are so few day rates show that the commission was
endeavoring to meet special situations in the industry under con­
sideration. Its concern with the mercantile industry in particular
justifies this contention, for here would be employed special workers
for Saturday work and work before Christmas. The change in the
definition of “ special ” in these orders to take care of the Christmas
extras as well as the Saturday extras is interesting.
In the light of all these highly specialized rates which California
thought it necessary to set to take care of part time, and the carefully
inclusive rules of North Dakota, the unconcern with this problem
on the part of most decrees is rather surprising. The thought of the
great majority of commissions and wage boards was to pay anyone
who worked less than the full-time week for the actual number of
hours worked, with no distinction because the short time was involun­
tary rather than voluntary.
To complete the picture of the attempt by the various commissions
at making rules for all women involuntarily working less than the
full-time week, the question of irregular undertime also arises. It
lias been pointed out that for many cases a spread of full-time hours
took care of this. In addition, four States have given some phase of
it a measure of special attention. Kansas and Washington have been
concerned only with the problem of the woman who reports for work
and receives none. In Kansas the 1918 telephone order provided that
an operator called for duty on a Sunday or holiday and then excused
for all or part of the day must be paid for the full basic day. Wash­
ington in a laundry order (1921) provided that a woman who was
not notified that she need not report must be given half a day’s com­
pensation. In three other Washington orders, for “ any occupation ”
(adult women, 1918, and minors January and August, 1922) it was
ruled that in case full-time work was not provided the correct
schedule of hours must be posted by at least noon of the day before
such undertime was to start. Oregon in one decree (special regula­
tions) provides that where full-time employment is not provided
part-time employment must be so arranged that each employee may
have an opportunity to secure such additional employment as would
make a full week. 'These are very small special cases, but the third
State—California—has set actual rates in 12 decrees for women
working undertime.
_
The following table compares the actual undertime rates with the
hourly full-time and part-time rates.




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF) MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

243

Table 48.—Full-time, part-time, and undertime hourly rates for experienced and

inexperienced toomen and minors in California, by decree
Minors

Women
Decree

Experience
status

Experienced___
January, 1919.
Mercantile, 1919— 18 and 19 years:
InexperiencedExperienced-20 yoars and
over:
Inexperienced.
Experienced. Unskilled, 1919..-- Inexperienced...
Experienced___
Manufacturing, Inexperienced-..
Experienced.......
August, 1919.
Hotel and restau- \
/.............................
rant, 1919.
Laundry, 1919.....

Experienced----Mercantile, 1920... Inexperienced. -.
Laundry, 1920___

Inexperienced.-.
Experienced___

Office, 1920.............
Unclassified, 1920.. Inexperienced...
Experienced----Man ufacturing, Inexperienced — .
Experienced.......
1920.
Hotel and restau- \
rant, 1920.
J..............................
Fish canning, 1920. Inexperienced...
Needle
1922.

trades,

Time workers:
Inexperienced-

Experienced _ _
Laundry, 1923___
Experienced.......
Unclassified, 1923.. Inexperienced...
Experienced___
Manufacturing, Inexperienced.-Experienced.......
1923.

$0.166
.208

$0.21
.25

. 187
. 281

i.35
i. 35

.208
.281
208

i.35
i.3o
i.35
i. 36
$0.25
1.35
. 32H
1.36
1.35
.25
■ 32H
1.35
2. 35
>.32 A 1
.32 Yl
.25
• 32)4
1.40
1.40
.30
1.40
.38
‘.40
1 40
i. 40
.30
1.40
‘.40
.38
.30
i.40
.38
i. 40
2.40 )......
/
>.38
.30
.38

.208
.281
. 208
.281
.281
.28
208
.281
.25
. 333
.26
. 333
. 333
25
. 333
.25
.333
.333
.25
. 333

/
l

/
\

Experience
status

$0.156
.208

$0. 20
.25

. 166
.281

.25
.35

. 187
.281
. 166
.208
. 187
.281
.333
.28
.208
.281
.208
.333
.25
.333
. 208
.333
.22
.25
.208
.333
.333
.25

i. 25
i. 25
i. 25
i. 25
i. 25
i. 25
/ 3.40

Inexperienced..
Experienced___
Inexperienced..
Experienced—

Experienced—
Inexperienced..
Inexperienced..
Experienced—
Inexperienced..
Experienced_
_
Inexperienced -.
Experienced_
_

Inexperienced..
Experienced
Time workers:
Inexperienced
.22'A
. 34
Piece* workers:
• 20i 6
Experienced.
• 28H

.21
.31H
1834
.26'
. 291
.333
.25
.333
. 18%
.333
.333

Under
time

Part
time

Inexperienced..
Experienced —

Part
time

Full
time

Experienced_
_

Full
time

i 40
i. 40
i.40
i.40
1.40
i.40
1.40
1.40
.38

.30
.38
.30
.38
. 20 h
.38

Inexperienced..
Experienced—
Inexperienced..
Experienced_
_
Inexperienced..
Experienced_
_

. 333

Under
time

$0.21
.25
.23
• 32 H
}
J

. 32 H
.25
• 32H .........
.30
.40 __^T___
1. 40
.30
1.40
.38
*. 30
1.30
i. 30
.25
1.30
.30
i.30
.25
i. 30
.38
/ >.40 }
J
.30
______
.38

.21
.31)1

. 22 H
.34

. 18®4
.26
. 208
.333
.291
.333
.22
.333
.1851
.333

. 2014
1.30
i. 30
i.40
1.40
i.30
i.30
1.30
i. 30

.30
.38
.24
.38
.20 H
.38

rant, 1923.
1 Only part-time rate set. Experience qualifications not mentioned.
* Three hours or less per day.
3 More than three hours per day.

The decrees speak of these rates as provisions for higher hourly
rates “ where less than a full week’s work has been provided.” In
the earlier orders, in 1919 and 1920, these rates are to be paid when
a plant fails to provide its usual weekly schedule of hours, except
when such undertime is caused by a legal holiday. In 1922 and 1923
the reason for paying these higher rates is exactly reversed, and
establishments are required to pay them for those weeks where they
worked undertime due to a legal or religious holiday.
Like the part-time rates, these undertime rates are all slightly
higher than the regular hourly rates. However, they bear no uni­




244

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

form relation to the part-time rates, though the reason for both is
the same—to guarantee to the woman who, through no fault of her
own, is not given full-time employment, a rate that will enable her
to earn a sum commensurate with the cost of living. In all cases the
part-time rate for adult women is higher than the undertime rate.
In all cases except the unclassified 1919 decree the part-time rate for
minors is lower than the undertime rate. In this one decree the rates
are identical for experienced minors. The decrees where these under­
time rates occur, manufacturing in its various forms, laundries, and
unclassified work, are those occupations where irregular undertime
would be most likely to occur. Though these rates are extremely
interesting, because the only case where a commission has set special
rates for undertime, they are not based on a consistent theory. They
represent again the California effort to do by rates what some of the
other States, notably Minnesota and North Dakota, have done by
defining a full-time wTeek and incorporating a spread of hours in
this definition. They show once again that the California commis­
sion felt that there should be no differentiation in the treatment of
part-time or undertime workers because of their hours approaching
or failing to approach the regular full-time hours.
Summary.—These various provisions for women who work less
than the full-time week cover the entire field when all States and all
decrees are considered. How well any one decree handled this situa­
tion is another question. To be on the safe side and enable the
enforcing officers to meet all contingencies, each decree should define
full time, part time and whether all part time is to be on the same
basis, undertime, and any groups of special workers found in the
industry under discussion. If North Dakota may be considered to
believe that undertime should be treated as part time, or as coming
within the spread of full-time hours, or as casual work, depending
on the number of hours involved, the 1922 North Dakota decrees
cover this whole situation. Some few California decrees that set
rates for part time, special workers, and undertime really cover the
whole field, but they lack the definitions of a full-time week which
would insure uniform interpretation of their rules. Until the Cali­
fornia decrees make it absolutely clear that a full-time week is the
legal hourly limit, or that it is whatever the firm’s scheduled hours
may be, their rules are difficult to apply.
Provisions covering women working overtime.
One other group of workers whose hours affect their pay remains
to be discussed: The women who earn added compensation by work­
ing overtime. In one sense this is not a minimum-wage provision,
for rates are supposed to be set so that a woman can earn the costof-living minimum in her regular hours. This work beyond the
regular hours, usually for increased pay, takes her out of the class
of the marginal worker. The main purpose of overtime provisions
is to discourage work beyond the usual hours by increasing its cost.
These provisions, then, are fully as much hour regulations as they
are wage regulations. The justification for discussing them here
is that they complete the picture of the vital relation between hours
of work and rates of pay. Overtime in this connection is all employ­
ment beyond a certain arbitrary number of hours per day or week
or days per week set forth by the commissions in their decrees.




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OP MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

245

California, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Wiscon­
sin have issued some decrees containing such provisions. It will
be remembered that in all these States, except Kansas, laws distinct
from the minimum-wage laws forbid the employment of women in
certain specified occupations for longer than a fixed number of hours
per day or per week, or in some cases on more than a specified num­
ber of days per week. Any provisions appearing in the decrees must
improve or repeat the standards set forth in the laws, as these com­
missions have no power to abrogate any provisions of the hour laws.
The provisions in the decrees sought either to control hours of work
in industries not covered by the laws or to establish shorter hours
than those specified in the laws. Their method of securing a limita­
tion on the number of hours worked was the indirect one of requir­
ing increased rates for women working more than a specified number
of hours or days. Where this limitation was established in indus­
tries not covered by the hour law, the hours specified usually were
the same as the hours- allowed by the lawT. In Kansas the commis­
sion has had the power to enact all hour regulation, so the provi­
sions linking wages and hours were part of the only scheme of hour
regulation authorized by the legislature. The following table shows
the decrees that require extra pay for women who work more than
a specified number of hours per day or per week or more than a
specified number of days per week:
Table 49.—Decrees that have required extra pay for women working overtime,'

by State and year
Year

California

Kansas

Minnesota

Oregon

1916.. Fruit and vegetable canning.
1917.. Fruit and vegetable canning.
Fruit and vegetable canning.. Tele1918
Fish canning.
phone.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
All*...........
1919
Fish canning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Office.
Hotel and restaurant.
Fruit and vegetable canning..
1920
turing.
Fish canning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Office.
Hotel and restaurant.
Agricultural.
All.............
1921

1923

Pea canning.
Attendants in sanitariums.
Pea canning.

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn, and to­
mato canning.

Canning.

1922..
Fruit, and vegetable canning..
Fish canning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Nut cracking and sorting.

1924
1925..
1926..
1927..

taring.

Wisconsin

Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn, and to­
mato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn, and to­
mato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn, and to­
mato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
mato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
mato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
mato canning.
Pea canning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
mato canning.

and to­
and to­
and to­
and to­

i Longer than a specified number of hours per day or per week or on more than a specified number of days.
* Two decrees in 1919—one for experienced workers and one for inexperienced.




246

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In the great majority of cases these decrees represent an attempt
to regulate branches of the food-preserving industry. Besides the
Kansas and Minnesota decrees there are only four-—California, hotel
and restaurant (two) and office (two)—that regulate any other type
of industry. The hotel-and-restaurant, office, and nut-cracking-anclsorting decrees require that time and a quarter be paid for all work on
the seventh day of the week, though the hour law does not include
offices and permits a woman to work every day in the other two
industries provided her daily hours do not exceed 8 nor her weekly
hours 48. The one canning decree in Oregon simply restates
the terms of the hour laws. All the other decrees invoke the power
of the commissions to regulate industries not covered by any hour
law. Every one of these decrees requires that a woman working
over the specified number of hours or days must be paid at the rate
of time and a quarter or time and a half. Four other decrees—
Minnesota, all occupations, 1919 (two) and 1921, and Wisconsin,
attendants in sanitariums, 1919—provide that the minimum wage is
to be paid for a certain fixed number of hours of work and that all
work beyond this point is to be paid for at the regular hourly rate.
All these punitive rates are set with the idea of limiting hours of
work. The Minnesota hour limitation, however, is done with the
purpose of defining full-time hours and securing a uniform enforce­
ment of minimum-wage rates. Except that these overtime provisions
show additional efforts on the part of the commissions to round out
the field covered by minimum-wage rates, so that it includes all
special groups, their interest lies in the limitation of the hours rather
than in the establishing of rates, for in all these decrees overtime
meant rates in excess of the minimum.
Summary.
The problem of the relation between hours and rates of pay has
been discussed in great detail because usually it is so imperfectly
understood even by the commissions themselves. That earnings are
in most cases closely tied up with the number of hours worked is
recognized even by persons unfamiliar with employment conditions.
The relation between rates of pay and hours of work in the case of
minimum-wage decrees is not so clear. The underlying reason for this
relation is that the State through the law has guaranteed its women
workers a living -wage. One of the first questions to be answered is:
How long shall they be required to work to earn the sum that the
commission has determined was necessary to supply the cost of
living? By common consent the week seems to have been adopted
as the basis in the majority of the cost-of-living studies and for
most of the minimum-wage rates. Since a woman must live every
day in the year, it would seem most equitable to set a yearly sum for
the minimum wage, but that has never been attempted. If a woman
lost weeks of work through unemployment, this was not considered
to be the province of the minimum-wage law. The fact of setting a
weekly rate, however, meant that the decrees must show some con­
cern with weekly hours.
The ways in which this problem could be handled were legion,
and most of them have been tried. The methods indicated in the
decrees have been discussed at length. They comprised variations of




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

247

three main plans: (1) Setting an hourly rate only, in which case
the workers were not even guaranteed the weekly cost of living;
(2) setting a weekly rate only and allowing the enforcing officer to
decide whether this rate was to be paid only to these women who
worked the full number of hours allowed by law or to all women who
worked the full number of hours provided by the firm that hired
them; and (3) setting both weekly and hourly rates, the hourly rates
representing the proportionate fraction of the weekly rates if the
legal hour limitation was considered the full-time iveek. If the
second method was chosen there arose the difficulty of deciding what
constituted a firm’s full-time hours. If the third, the great question
was what to do with the plant whose regular hours were less than
the legal limitation.
Within these three plans some States, specifically North Dakota,
set general rules, and others, such as California, handled each prob­
lem separately. On the whole, the problem rarely was covered ade­
quately. This undoubtedly is due to the fact that it was a problem
of enforcement. A decree could be drawn up that looked most com­
plete on the surface but failed to cover any of the relations between
hours and rates. Particularly in the early days of the commissions
this problem was not realized. In California, Minnesota, and North
Dakota it is apparent that with experience the commissions realized
this problem and sought to meet it by more careful phrasing of
decrees. In Wisconsin they recognized that such a problem existed
in their first decree, but failed to see the various methods that could
be used to meet it. In some of the other States the problem may
have been handled adequately by the enforcing officer so that a habit
grew up of leaving it to that officer. This seems to have been true,
for instance, in Massachusetts. The trouble with this means of deal­
ing with the problem, however, was that it left room for a great
variety of interpretation as personnel changed. It also might cause
more hard feeling if a person disagreed with a law-enforcing agent
in her interpretation than if the officer simply was requiring com­
pliance with a clearly stated and easily understood provision of the
decree. If the principle is accepted that there is a spread of hours
that can be called full time, or that part time in certain situations
should command a slightly higher rate than full time, or that under­
time and part timejjhould be treated differently, only the commission
has the powei;, through its decrees, to order that rates should be
raised to meet these different conditions. It is not possible to en­
force minimum wage without deciding these questions on working
time. The best place for announcing those decisions clearly and
carefully is the decree, and this is the only place where different rates
to meet these conditions can be set.
OTHER GROUPS RECEIVING SPECIAL TREATMENT

In addition to the apprentices, minors, and substandard workers
who have received special treatment, and to the detailed rules for
applying the rates to different time schedules, various commissions
have included in some decrees provisions for other diverse groups,
such as male minors, pieceworkers, workers receiving bonuses or com60709°—28---- IT




248

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

missions, and home workers. Though most of the groups have
received only occasional notice, the very fact that all of them have
received some degree of attention indicates how many different kinds
of problems had to be met in applying these laws. Not many decrees
might contain definite rules for these groups, but every State had
to deal with them, a fact which greatly extended and complicated
the field of minimum-wage administration and enforcement. Like
the questions of hours of work, though by no means so fundamental,
these questions did not become apparent until the enforcing officer
began to apply the minimum-wage rates to the infinite variety of
industries.
Pieceworkers.
In general all workers, whether paid by time, by piece, or by bonus
or commission, were supposed to have rates that would enable them
to earn at least the minimum rate if they worked full time. When a
decree did not carry special piece rates—and this was true in the vast
majority of decrees—the problem of interpreting time rates in terms
of piece rates was a complicated one. It arose extensively in manu­
facturing and canning decrees and sometimes in laundries. Piece­
workers often work very irregularly by choice, but probably just as
often they are offered only irregular employment. The problem of
whether they should be guaranteed the weekly time rate if they were
present in the factory a specified number of hours or should be guar­
anteed a proportionate hourly rate for the actual number of hours
worked, had to be decided by the enforcing agent. Moreover, to
determine whether the piece rates of a given factory were such as to
yield the minimum to the average worker was another difficult study
that had to be dealt with in enforcement. Either the commission or
its agents had to decide how large a percentage of the workers must
earn the minimum to prove that the piece rates were adequate. They
also had to decide whether the workers must earn the time rate in a
given week or hour, or every week or hour, or whether a number of
weeks or hours could be averaged. Every commission, of course, has
had to work out a policy for handling this problem, but, on the whole,
pieceworkers have received very incomplete attention in the decrees,
so that wide variation in the policy of handling these workers was
possible within a State if the personnel of the enforcing agency
changed. Most of the States have a few decreesThat take special no­
tice of pieceworkers. Only Minnesota and the District of Columbia
have never in any decree considered the question of piece rates. Of
127 decrees in the other States, covering all industries, manufacturing,
laundries, and canning (the groups where piece rates are a problem),
only 51 have even mentioned pieceworkers. Massachusetts, with 32
decrees in these industries, has mentioned pieceworkers only twice.
California has been the most interested of any of the States in the
problem, and of 26 decrees 22 have provisions for handling this group.
In addition, in California, four decrees in industries other than
manufacturing, canning, and laundering—three unskilled and unclas­
sified and one for office workers—contain provisions to take care of
pieceworkers. The following table shows the decrees that have con­
sidered this problem:




California

Year

containing special reference to pieceworkers, by State and year
Kansas

Massachu­
setts
Brush.

North
Dakota

Oregon

Washing­
ton

Texas

Wisconsin

Arkansas 1
All.

Manufacturing.
Laundry.

1916....
1917.... Fruit and vegetable canning.
1918....
Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Unskilled.
Office.
1919....
Fruit and vegetable canning.
Fish canning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Unskilled.
Manufacturing.
1920-—
Fish canning.
Laundry and dry cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Unclassified.
Manufacturing.
Agricultural.
1921___

Canning.
Manufacturing.
Laundry.
Wholesale
millinery.

1924

All-..




Manufac­
turing.

Canning_____

..

Manufac­
turing.

All.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.

249

1 Provided for in the law, not by decree.

Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning.
Tobacco stripping.

Manufac­
turing.
Laundry.

Manufac­
turing.
Fish canning.
Fruit and vegetable packing.
Manufacturing.
Nut cracking and sorting.

Laundry.
Canning.

REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

Table 50.—Decrees

250

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The majority of the provisions of these decrees (25) and the
Arkansas law have simply stipulated that piece rates must yield
the guaranteed minimum, without specifying hourly or weekly rates.
That piece rates must yield the guaranteed minimum time rate was
so taken for granted in all minimum-wage work that the specific
statement of it in the decrees was of no additional help. Kansas
has tried to handle the problem of irregular work by providing that
the pieceworker must receive the weekly minimum only if she has
availed herself of all work offered and her service has been subject
to the demand of the employer at least five days a week. This is
the only case where a decree takes notice of the serious problem
of the worker who is held in the establishment but is not provided
with work. Indirectly, several decrees try to meet the problem of
determining a pieceworker’s rates in relation to hours of work—a
difficult situation created by irregular attendance and irregular
runs of work—-by setting the actual piece rates. With the exception
of tobacco stripping in Wisconsin, all actual piece rates found in
the decrees are in the canning or affiliated industries. California
has issued eight decrees setting forth the rates in the most usual
canning operations; Oregon has issued three and Wisconsin two
(cherry, bean, corn, and tomato canning). The problem of the
method of judging whether a rate is adequate or inadequate also has
been touched in some decrees by specifying the proportion of women
who must make the rate. This varies greatly from State to State,
and in California, where the whole piece-rate problem has had the
most attention, the rule has been to reduce the percentage of
women required to make the minimum in order to prove the piece
rates adequate. The following table shows the per cents required:
Table

51.—Decrees specifying the percentage of pieceworkers that must receive the
guaranteed rate, by State and year

State and year

50 per cent

66% per cent

75 per cent

ou per cent

1916
Oregon...

Manufac­
turing.
Laundry.

1917
California.

Occupations in
fruit and vege­
table canning
where no piece
rate is fixed.

1918
Oregon___

Manufac­
turing.
Laundry.

1919
California.
Oregon

Fruit and vege­
table canningpreparation.
Manufac­
turing.
Laundry.

1920
California.




Fruit and vege­
table canningpreparation.

REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

251

Table 51.—Decrees specifying the percentage of pieceworkers that must receive the
guaranteed rate, by State and year—Continued
State and year

50 per cent

66K pei’ cent

75 per cent

80 per cent

100 per cent

1921

Wisconsin_____

Fruit and vege­
table canning­
preparing and
canning.
All, unless 75 per
cent of all experi­
enced women and
minors (17 years
and over) on piece­
work receive 3
cents more per
hour than the pre­
scribed minimum.

1922
Manufac­
turing.

Cherry, bean, com,
and tomato can­
ning—unless rates
yield 3 cents per
hour more than
minimum to 75
per cent of all
under 50 years.

1923
Fruit and vege­
table canningAdult women.
Nut
cracking
and sorting.

Fish canning.

Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning—unless rates
yield 3 cents per
hour more than
minimum to 75
per cent of all
under 50 years.

1924
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning—unless rates
yield 3 cents per
hour more than
minimum to 75
per cent of all
under 50 years.
1925
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning—unless rates
yield 3 cents per
hour more than
minimum to 75
per cent of all
under 50 years.
1926
Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning—unless rates
yield 3 cents per
hour more than
minimum to 75
per cent of all
under 50 years.
1927




Cherry, bean, corn,
and tomato can­
ning—unless rates
yield 3 cents per
hour more than
minimum to 75
per cent of all
under 50 years.

252

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The whole problem of piece rates is so largely a question of en­
forcement practice that perhaps it should have been discussed under
enforcement, but, since some decrees have specifically legislated on
this point, at least this part of the problem must be discussed here.
It is apparent, however, from the foregoing table and discussion that
no decree gave complete and detailed instructions as to how piece
rates were to fit into the scheme of time rates. For instance, the
setting of actual piece rates could not guarantee the minimum, for
they were too rigid and took no notice of varying runs of material.
The mere saying in a decree that piece rates must yield the guaran­
teed minimum does not help in the least to show on what basis the
time rates are to be enforced. No commission has stated, in its
decrees,5 rules on the following necessary points: (1) Shall the piece
rates be such as to yield the minimum time rate for each hour worked,
each day, each week, or each pay-roll period, whatever its length
may be? (2) Must the time rate for the selected time period (hour,
week, etc.) be earned each time a pay day is reached, or may a number
of these units be averaged? (3) Shall every pieceworker be guar­
anteed the selected time rate? (4) Instead of guaranteeing the
time rate to each individual worker, shall it be considered that the
piece rates are adequate if the average earnings of the group as a
whole equal the time rate for the selected period or series of periods?
(5) Shall a certain percentage of the pieceworkers earn the time rates
for the selected period as individuals ? Only those decrees which give
the per cent of women who must earn the time-rate minimum when
working on piece rates in order that the piece rate may be considered
satisfactory, are touching the real problem—enforcement.
Male minors.
At least one decree in every State has included male minors. In
most cases the male minors receive exactly the same treatment as the
females. Four California fruit and vegetable canning decrees, 1919,
1920, 1921, and 1923, set separate rates for male minor time workers,
since these workers are not employed on the same processes as the
women. The rates for male minors did not differentiate according to
experience. The following statement compares these rates with the
rates for women and female minors:
Hourly rates for—
Year

1919
1920
1921
1923_-

Women

$0.
.
.
.

Female minors

21 to $0. 28

25 to
25 to
25 to

Male minors’ rates

. 333
. 333
. 333

$0.
.
.
.

18
22
22
25

to $0. 28
to . 333
to . 333
to . 333

Hourly

$0 25
. 30
. 25
. 25

Weekly

$14. 00
12. 00

6 The California officials consider that the wording of their decrees, “ Every person
firm, or corporation making payment of wages upon a piece-rate basis shall guarantee
to all women and minor employees not less than the minimum-time rates for the wage
groups in which they belong, means that if a woman works by the day she must be paid
not less than the daily rate, if she works by the week the weekly rate, and if she works
only part of a day her guaranteed hourly rate for the number of hours worked on piece
rates. In other words, they feel that their decree savs that the time rate is guaranteed
a certain proportion of (he individual workers, and that she must receive the time rate
for each unit of time, not make it on the average. Moreover, though the Wisconsin
decrees do not touch this piece-rate problem, the commission has issued a statement that,
on the basis of the pay-roll period, each woman’s earnings must be such as to give her an
average for each hour equal to the minimum hourly rate for the class to which she belongs.
The only case in which every woman need not have her rates adjusted to this standard 1b
when 75 per cent of the experienced women earn 3 cents more per hour than the hourly
minimum time rate.




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OF MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

253

Until 1921 the male minor without any experience was paid more
than the inexperienced adult woman. By 1923 all three groups had
the same entering rate.
Workers receiving bonuses, commissions, etc.
In enforcing minimum-wage rates, another question of enforce­
ment that arose was how to treat money that was paid the woman
as a bonus or commission. If such payments counted toward the
woman’s earning the minimum-wage rate, her regular rate, whether
time or piece, could be somewhat below the minimum required by
law, the bonus or commission making up the difference. Should
money paid as bonuses or commissions be counted in when comput­
ing whether a given woman earned the minimum? These sums
might be rewards for high output or for regular attendance, for
selling slow-moving commodities, or for any of a number of varied
and unrelated acts. How these bonuses or commissions were to be
treated depended primarily on the sort of reward that the ivord
represented, yet no minimum-wage decree defines the words “ bonus ”
or “ commission.” If this special payment was an irregular and
very occasional affair, its inclusion as part of the minimum wage
would be hard to justify; however, if the commission or bonus was
paid regularly and was based on fair conditions, there would be some
cause for claiming that any woman who earned the full minimumwage rate by means of the additional money in her bonus or com­
mission was being treated in conformity with the terms of the law.
If a bonus or commission was allowed to count toward the minimum,
the commissions had to make rules, similar to those needed for piece
rates, as to whether each week was to count as a separate unit or a
number of weeks could be averaged, whether the minimum must be
met for each hour worked or for each week, and so on. Though these
problems were met constantly in applying the commissions’ decrees
and had to be settled either by commission or by enforcing officers,
only a few of the decrees had any rules whatsoever covering the pay­
ment of bonuses or commissions. California and Wisconsin have
made rules for bonus or commission workers in some of their decrees.
The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota,
and Washington have made informal rules that appear in their
annual reports. With the exception of Minnesota, the theory of all
these rulings is that the bonus or commission may count toward the
woman’s earning the minimum-wage rate. Minnesota forbids includ­
ing a bonus when reckoning to see whether or not a woman’s pay
meets the minimum-wage standards. In the final analysis, these
rules do little more than reiterate the point that, no matter what
method is followed in paying a woman, her weekly earnings must
equal the minimum-wage rate or the law is not being obeyed.
When it comes actually to determining the way in which bonus
or commission payments shall be counted, great confusion exists.
In no case does a ruling specify whether each week or hour shall
be a unit and whether the earnings including the bonus may be
averaged over a period of time. The two States that have set
rules in their decrees do little more than affirm that women paid by
this method must receive the minimum. In California 21 decrees
have contained provisions on this point, some of which have in­
cluded part of the necessary definitions. The 1917 mercantile order




254

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

contains a rule for reckoning bonuses or commissions which reads:
“ When payment of wages is made upon a commission or bonus
system wages shall be computed weekly and the time wage plus the
bonus or commission shall be not less than the minimum rate for
the wage group in which the worker belongs.” A year later two
orders—fruit and vegetable packing and unskilled and unclassi­
fied—provided that “ where payment of wages is made upon a
* * * bonus or commission basis, the worker shall be paid not
less than the minimum time rate for the number of hours employed.”
None of the other decrees (all of which are for 1918 or later6)
specify even to this degree the relation among the time the woman
works, the bonus or commission she receives, and the amount she
must be paid. In the 1923 orders, even the provision that the bonus
or commission workers must receive the minimum is dropped. In
the Wisconsin orders, all that is required is that workers paid by the
bonus or commission method be paid as much as the minimum rate.
There is really no reason why this provision should be included
unless it gives careful rules as to how the bonus and commission
payments are to be reckoned. If a decree provides that all women
must receive the rates of pay there set down, there is probably no
need of mentioning special cases except to make rules for applying
the rates to those cases. Workers on a bonus or commission basis
undoubtedly needed special treatment, but the need of rules for
applying the law to these workers was overlooked in drawing up
the various decrees.
Home workers.
As in the case of workers on piece rates and those on a bonus or
commission basis, home workers are a group of which, were the
decrees silent, the supposition would be that they were guaranteed
the minimum rate. The important reason for giving them special
attention in the decrees is to issue rules for the application of the
rates to a group whose conditions of employment vary so greatly
from those of the ordinary factory operative. Two States, Cali­
fornia and Wisconsin, have issued a few rules for home workers.
In California every manufacturing order-—-1919 (Jan. and Aug.),
1920, and 1923—has provided that home workers must be registered
with the commission. The first three decrees attempt to establish
rates for home workers by specifying how their piece rates must be
set. The method by which this rate is to be determined is interest­
ing. It is to be a piece rate which will yield to a specified percen­
tage of the factory workers not less than a specified hourly rate.
The rates and percentages are as follows:
Date of decree

1919, January . ____ _ ______ _____
1919’ August. .. . _ ____ ______
1920i__ ___________ ___
.

Hourly rate

$0. 21
. 28
. 333

Per cent of
women who
must earn this
rate per hour

75

66%
66%

0 Laundry, 1918, 1919, 1920; office, 1918, 1919, 1920; manufacturing, January, 1919,
August, 1919, 1920 ; fruit and vegetable packing, 1919, 1920; unskilled and unclassified,
1919, 192C ; hotel and restaurant, 1919, 1920; fish canning, 1919; agriculture, 1920;
mercantile, 1920.




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OP MINIMUM-WAGE RATES

255

The employer is allowed to set the piece rate paid home workers
but it must be one to yield these results. In all the decrees the hourly
rate is the same as the regular hourly time rate for the experienced
adult woman. In 1923 no rate is specified. In addition, beginning
with August, 1919, the decrees forbade the employment of factory
workers on home work. In 1919 and 1920 this was forbidden for
full-time workers only; in 1923 it was forbidden in the case of any
worker for the same employer. These few provisions for home
workers show a recognition that this was a problem of enforcement
as well as of actual rates of pay, for the earlier decrees give exact
directions as to how the minimum rates were to be applied to home
workers. That this was abandoned in their latest order is peculiar.
It may be that this relation between factory workers and the rates
paid home workers had become the rule in enforcement, and was no
longer considered a necessary part of the decree.
In one special Wisconsin decree (all industries, 1919) the following
rule for applying the minimum-wage rates to home workers appeared:
“ Home workers are to be paid such piece rates which will yield the
women and minor employees of the same employer who are of aver­
age ability and are employed in the factory the rates prescribed in
Order No. 1.” Though only California and Wisconsin have given
any special attention to home workers in their decrees, both these
have recognized that the problem was how the enforcing officer
should apply the minimum-wage rate to this group.
Summary.
Whether or not decrees should contain special directions as to
how the enforcing officer must apply to the workers the provisions
of the decrees is perhaps open to argument, as far as these groups
are concerned, though there seems to be a preponderance of weight
on the side of the necessity for incorporating in the decrees rules
showing the relationship between various hours of work and rates
of pay. Certainly in the early days of minimum-wage orders it
would have been next to impossible to incorporate in the decrees
workable rules for enforcement, for often it has needed years of
experience to determine how to apply the decrees in a practicable
and fair way. Moreover, the enforcing officer, in nearly all cases a
woman, has been the person who has met these difficulties and the
only person so familiar with the pitfalls that she could conceive rules
to fit all contingencies. If, therefore, the commissions have wished
to have these and similar points covered in the decrees, they really
have had to accept verbatim what the enforcing officer has suggested.
Since these rules would simply incorporate the practice of the en­
forcing officer, they may have seemed unnecessary. Some commis­
sions may actually have felt that it was best not to make such defi­
nite rules in the decrees but to allow the enforcing officer to take the
responsibility for putting in force the rates determined by the com­
missions. The decrees’ silence on these problems does not mean that
they have not been adequately handled; it does mean, however, that
the commissions themselves may never have had to make decisions
on these points. That would seem to be one bad feature of not
incorporating rules on enforcement in the decrees. The commis­
sions needed the knowledge of just what problems their enforcing
officers had to meet. The fact that the rule had the force of the



256

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

commissions’ written word behind it, must have given strength to
the agents who were in direct contact with the employers. It also
has assured uniform administration from firm to firm and from year
to year in spite of changes of personnel. If some flexibility has been
lost, weight of authority has been gained. It is perhaps of impor­
tance that California, where the enforcing officer has been a voting
member of the commission and therefore in the best position to have
the commission incorporate in the decrees whatever helps have been
necessary for satisfactory enforcement, has dealt in more detail in
its decrees with enforcement problems than has any other State.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ATTENTION PAID IN THE DECREES TO
SPECIAL CLASSES OF WORKERS

From the space occupied in this study by the discussion of the
provisions of decrees that cover all those workers who do not meet
the requirements for the cost-of-living minimum rate, and of those
rules that are concerned with the application of all rates, the real
importance of these rates and rules may seem to be overemphasized.
The decrees themselves, however, devote necessarily much more space
to these questions than they do to the simple straightforward mini­
mum rate based on living costs. Outside attention has focused itself
on the main point of the law—the experienced rate. As a result, the
complexities and difficulties of minimum-wage administration and
enforcement usually have been seriously underestimated. If mini­
mum wage in this country is to go on, it must be better understood.
People should cease to think that a commission’s job is done when
it has set a rate of pay for a week’s work and turned over the enforce­
ment to a small staff, in many cases untrained. Future decrees should
be drawn up in such a way that all classes of workers are taken care
of in each decree. If commissions do not wish to fill the decree with
the numerous provisions as to how it shall be applied to each kind of
worker, a special set of rulings on the relation between the sums of
money incorporated in the various decrees on the one hand, and the
hours of work, methods of payment, and so forth, on the other hand,
should be issued. All decrees, either within one State or from State
to State, can not be alike; they need, to be sure, to take account of
differences in the kind of work performed. But the present diversity
is beyond all reason. Certain fundamental relations are the same
whether a decree is issued for mercantile stores or for paper-box
factories. Seemingly every possible phase of these problems of the
application of decrees has been handled by some decree. If the
commissions thus are shown to have a knowledge of the existence of
these problems, they should take care of them for each decree.
In the field of rates for inexperienced and minor workers, it would
appear that the commissions should ask themselves what they are
trying to do. The theories on which these widely varied rates are
set are hard to discover. The decrees do not go into enough detail
to guarantee a worker sufficient training to become skilled; yet the
only possible explanation of some of the rates and rules for minors
and apprentices is that they were considered as groups unable to
earn a skilled minimum wage. Here again is a case where diversity
of treatment may be necessary in some cases. The diversity in the




REGULATIONS FOR THE APPLICATION OP MINIMUM-WAGE RATES 257

existing decrees, however, seems to be the result of accident or
compromise.
It is important that decrees should be issued in such a way as to
avoid certain possible bad effects, such as the discharge of workers
when they qualify for the cost-of-living minimum, the substitution
of children for women, and so forth, and it would be interesting to
analyze specific decrees as to their possible effects, but the result
would Be merely an expression of personal opinion. Moreovor, the
surface tendencies might be completely changed by a change in
economic conditions. These decrees for the most part were applied
during the chaotic conditions of war and recovery from war. Their
general results as shown by their own figures on actual rates and earn­
ings will be discussed later in the report; their specific and immediate
effects can not be known. The significant fact about these decrees is
that, taken en masse, grouped as much as their diversity will allow,
and analyzed, they show such a lack of understanding in most States
of the problems involved in setting and applying minimum-wage
rates.




CHAPTER X—FORMALITIES NECESSARY BEFORE THE
RATES AND RULINGS INCORPORATED IN THE DE­
CREES HAVE THE FORCE OF LAW

In the lengthy discussion of actual investigations and actual rates,
the fact that all these steps taken were based in most cases on specific
clauses in the laws, and in only a relatively few cases on implied
powers, may have been lost sight of. The laws, however, did not
stop with the provisions that made possible the elaborate form of the
decrees; they expressly provided the course of action that was neces­
sary to give these decrees the force of law. In general the idea was
that the public should have a chance to express its opinion of the
decree before it became part of the law of the State. To make this
possible, public hearings and the publication of decrees were required.
Usually it was provided also that a certain period of time must
elapse between the adoption of the decree and its going into effect.
PUBLIC HEARINGS

The laws of every State, except Wisconsin, provide that public
hearings are to be held before the decree actually goes into effect.
Two types of public hearings are indicated in the laws: One prior
to the announcing of the wage rate, at which any interested persons
may appear and present facts; the other after the amount has been
announced, so that protests may be recorded before the decree finally
is promulgated. Some States provide that both types of hearings
may be held. The following statement shows which State laws
provide for these particular kinds of hearings.
Public hearing prior to determining
amount of award:
Arkansas.
California (may hold).
Colorado, 1917 (may hold).
Kansas, 1915 (may hold).
Kansas, 1921.
Minnesota.
North Dakota (may hold).
Oregon (may hold).
Texas (may hold).
Washington.

Public hearing prior to establishing
rate as law:
Arkansas.
California.
Colorado, 1913.
Colorado, 1917.
District of Columbia.
Kansas, 1915.
Massachusetts.
Nebraska.
North Dakota.
Oregon.
Texas (may hold).

The laws seem to express quite generally the principle that while
a public hearing must be held prior to announcing a rate as law, it
is by no means so vital to have such a hearing before the rate is deter­
mined. In Kansas (1921), Minnesota, and Washington the law re­
quires that hearings must be held before the rate is determined, but
no hearing is required afterwards. Arkansas is the only State that
requires a public hearing both before a rate is determined and before
it comes in force. The commissions in California, Colorado (1917),
Kansas (1915), North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas have power to
hold public hearings before rates are announced if they so desire,
258




FORMALITIES BEFORE RULINGS HAVE FORCE OF LAW

259

but they must—in the case of Texas, may—hold such a hearing before
the decree becomes effective. Wisconsin is the only State that can
promulgate a decree without ever having a public hearing.1 The
formality of public hearings, of course, has been complied with when­
ever decrees have been issued. It has not, on the whole, formed a
very vital part of minimum-wage work. Kansas and Wisconsin, by
holding public hearings before announcing any wage rate, used these
hearings as a means of collecting information with a fair degree of
success. The type of material thus collected in Kansas lias been dis­
cussed in an earlier section of this report. As far as the public hear­
ings to take care of complaints are concerned, the public, even the
interested employer and employee groups, have taken little interest.
In most cases any protests the employers or employees had to make
were made by their representatives in the wage boards’ meetings or
the commissions’ meetings. The public rarely has been interested
enough to study the question and attend the hearings so informed
as to ask questions and make suggestions.
PUBLISHING OF NOTICES OF PUBLIC HEARINGS AND OF THE
TERMS OF THE WAGE ORDERS

It is evident that in planning the steps to be taken in setting decrees
the legislatures were anxious to have the decrees given the widest
possible publicity. This served two purposes. It allowed anyone
interested to make inquiries or protestations before the decree actually
went into effect, and it took away from violators of the law the excuse
of ignorance. The first step in the laws’ program of publicity was
the public hearing, but they went further and provided for various
other kinds of publicity—first for the public hearing at which the
decree would be discussed, and next for the decree itself. One ele­
ment in this was that enough time was to be allowed to elapse after
the publicity to enable people to make any criticism or comment
desired.
In California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massa­
chusetts, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas the laws spe­
cifically direct the commissions to advertise public hearings. The
notice must be published a definite number of days, specified in the
law, before the hearing is to be held. This period varies from 10
days in Texas to 30 days in Nebraska. The most common provision
is that it must be published once a week for four successive weeks
before the hearing (the District of Columbia, Kansas, North Dakota,
and Oregon). In seven States—California, Colorado, the District
of Columbia, Kansas, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas—the laws,
to make sure that an entire district is notified, also specify definite
localities where the advertisement of the public hearings is to be
placed. The California law and the Texas law, the latter modeled
on that of California, require that a notice of a public hearing be
mailed each county clerk. California, Kansas, North Dakota,
Oregon, and Texas also specify the information to be included in
the notice. The minuteness of these directions shows that the legis­
latures laid great stress on this step in procedure. Experience has
1 The regular policy of the Wisconsin Industrial Commission was to hold public hearings
before issuing any order.




260

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

shown that this supposed safeguard of everyone’s interests has been
little used, since public hearings usually have drawn scant attendance.
The publicity to be given to the order itself is an extremely im­
portant point. California, Colorado (1913), Minnesota, Texas, and
Wisconsin have provided for publication of the order in such speci­
fied localities that the State is covered. Colorado (1917), the District
of Columbia, Kansas, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington hav«
provided only that a copy of the order should be sent, as far as prac­
ticable, to each employer in the occupation in question. California,
Colorado (1913), Minnesota, and Texas made this requirement in
addition to the one of publication. California and Texas required
that part of the publicity be the mailing of a copy of the order to
each county recorder. Massachusetts and Nebraska provided for the
publication of a summary of the findings and recommendations of the
wage boards. Only Arkansas failed to direct the commission to bring
the terms of the decrees before large groups of the State’s citizens
before the decrees became effective.
The period of time that must elapse after the decree is announced
and before it becomes effective also is decided in most of the laws.
Sixty days must elapse in California, Colorado (1913), the District
of Columbia, Kansas, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, and Washing­
ton; 30 days in Colorado (1917), Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Arkan­
sas, Massachusetts, and Nebraska allow the commissions to determine
for themselves the period of time that is to elapse between a decree’s
being announced and its going into effect. Wisconsin allows the
commission to determine this time period for special orders, and also
provides for a course of procedure if an individual or corporation
wishes to apply for an extension of time before the decree is enforced
in relation to a specific case.
When these necessary formalities have been complied with and the
specified time has elapsed, the rates and the rules for their applica­
tion have become in every State, except Massachusetts and Nebraska,
just as much the law of the State as if they had been enacted by the
legislatures. In Massachusetts and Nebraska they could be enforced
only by publishing the names of those persons who failed to observe
the decrees. The commissions were ready to turn their attention to
enforcing the decrees.




CHAPTER XI.—TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

Since the actual passing of a flexible law, as pointed out early in
this report, did nothing but declare the legislature’s purpose to have
established rates of pay for woman workers based on the cost of
living, the law began to affect the women only when the com­
missions issued decrees setting specific rates for designated indus­
trial groups. Unless the commissions performed this work expe­
ditiously the law remained a dead letter. The Colorado commission,
for example, nullified the act of the legislature by never passing
a decree. In most States, due to delays in establishing rates, the
actual time the law has been an active force is considerably less than
the time elapsing between its passage and the present time. Even
after the ice was broken by establishing one decree, many commis­
sions continued to move very slowly toward including other indus­
trial groups or toward revising established decrees. The foregoing
discussion of all the many problems that arise and must be met before
a minimum-wage decree can be issued shows such an overwhelming
number of disputed questions that there would seem to be ample
reason for wage boards and commissions to prolong indefinitely
their studies and deliberations, but to allow such delays was to defeat
the law.
TIME ELAPSING BETWEEN COMMISSION’S FIRST SPECIFIC ACT IN
A GIVEN INDUSTRY AND DATE DECREE BECAME EFFECTIVE

It is interesting to see just how long it did take to set each mini­
mum-wage rate. Such facts are available for almost all decrees.
It is necessary, however, to determine what shall be called the first
specific act; the close of the period will, of course, be the date the
decree went into effect. For the purpose of the following table it
bas been decided to consider that the decree was in process of being
set from the first reported act of conference or investigation in the
field afterwards covered by the decree. This decision may be chal­
lenged, because sometimes a conference was not followed up for
years, or an investigation was made but no conferences were held
nor wage boards organized for a long time, when the whole project
would be revived and carried through to a relatively speedy con­
clusion. It is possible to argue that only the acts immediately pre­
ceding a decree should be considered, but to do this is to overlook
many important incidents in the development of minimum wage.
The longer time has been decided upon because it appears that the
act of investigating or holding conferences showed that the com­
missions felt at that time that it was desirable to set a wage rate and
it is important to enumerate the more important causes that forced
some commissions to take years before they finally completed their
work and put a rate into effect.
The following table shows how much time elapsed between the
first specific act of investigation or conference in a given industrial
field and the setting of a decree covering the group studied:




261

Table

IO
05
to

52.—Time consumed in setting decrees, by State and date of first action

[From time of first specific act of investigation or conference to time decree became effective]

Arkansas:
1920 _________

3 months and
under

Over 3 and under
6 months

6 and under 9 months

9 and under 12
months

1 and under 124 years

2 and under 2>4
years

Mercantile, Fort
Smith.
Mercantile, Fort
Smith and Little
Rock.

1922

California:

.........................
Fruit and vege­
table canning.

1916 __________
1917

1 Vi and under 2
years

Fruit and
packing.
Offices.
Unclassified
tions.

.

1918 _ .......... .........

1010




Fruit and
canning.

vegetable

vegetable
occupa­

Fruit and vegetable
packing.
Offices.
Unclassified
occupa­
tions.
Mercantile.
Laundry.
Fruit and vegetable
canning.
Manufacturing.

Fish canning.

Unclassified occu­
pations.
Agricultural field
occupations.

Manufacturing.

Fruit and vege­
table canning.1

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

State and date of
first action

Fruit and vegetable
canning.
Fruit and vegetable
packing.
Fish canning.
Hotels and restaurants.
Offices.
Mercantile.
Laundry.

1921

....................

Fruit and
canning.

Fruit and
canning.

1922........................

State and data of
first action

Fish canning.
Manufacturing.1

vegetable

2A and under 3
years

3 and under 3A
years

California:
1914...

3A and under 4
years

vegetable

4 and under
years

Laundry

4H and under 5
years
Manufacturing

5 and under f>A
years

6 and undor 7
years

oA and undor6
years

Printing and book­
binding.*

Hotels and res­
taurants.

Mercantile.
Laundry.1
Fruit and vegetable
packing.1
Unclassified occupa­
tions.
Hotels and restau­
rants.
Nut cracking and
sorting.

1921.

State and date of
first action

3 mouths and
under

District of Columbia:
1919 __

Over 3 and under
6 months

6 and under 9 months

9 and under 12
months

Printing and publish­
ing.1
Mercantile.1

Hotels and restau­
rants.1

1 and under 1A years

1A and under 2
years

2 and under 2A
years

TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

____

60769

1929

Laundry.1

1920
1 Decree set by wage board.




2 Tims consumed estimated.

* Issued as part of the manufacturing decree, 1919.

to

o
CO

State and date of
first action

3 months and
under

Over 3 and under
6 months

1 and under \A years

IA and under 2
years

Telephone.1

1919...................... .

Factory.1

1920........................

State and date of
first action
Kansas: 1916...............

State and date of
first action
Massachusetts:
1913_____ _____ _

Laundry.
Manufacturing.
Mercantile.
2A and under 3
years

3 and under 3A
years

Laundry 4
Mercantile.4

V/i and under 4
years

4 and under 4H
years

4>£ and under 5
years

5 and under 5A
years

oA and under 6
years

6 and under 7 years

1 and under 1A years

IA and under 2
years

2 and under 2A
years

Manufacturing.4

3 months and
under

Over 3 and under
6 months

9 and under 12
months

6 and under 9 months

Brush.1

i

1914___________
1915........................

Ret
•

i

Laundry.1
Women’s
ing.1

cloth­

1916.................... .

1917........................




2 and under 2A
years

Men’s clothing.1
Men’s furnish­
ings.1
Muslin under­
wear.1
Wholesale milli­
nery.1

Office-building
cleaners.1

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Kansas:
1918.......................

9 and under 12
months

6 and under 9 months

264

Table 52.—Time consumed in setting decrees, by State and date of first action—Continued

Canning and
serving.1

pre­

:V

Minor confection­
ery.1

Women’s clothing 1
Office-building
cl ean-

Men’s furnish­
ings.1

.1

GTS

Women’s clothing 1......... Retail store 3 1................... Brush.1

1922

Paper box.1
Muslin underwear.1
Laundry.1

............... .

i
Bread and bakery
products.1
Canning, preserving,
and minor confection­
ery.1
Millinery.1

1924

Candy.

1925
State and date of
first action

2H and under 3
years

•
V/i and under 4
years

3 and under 3H
years

4 and under 4>6
years

4Vi and under 5
years

5 and under 5^
years

5}4 and under 6
years

Massachusetts:

Corset.1
Candy.4
Knit goods 1...........

1915..................... .
Druggists’ com­
pounds.1

Paper box.1
Stationery goods.

Jewelry.

1923--............... 1924____________ Toys and games.




6 and under 7 years

TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

1921.................. —

1

• Decree set by wage board.

* Decree set by wage board; time consumed estimated.

to

OS

266

Table 52.—Time consumed in setting decrees, by State and date of first action—Continued
State and date of
*
first action

3 months and
under

Over 3 and under
6 months

6 and under 9 months

9 and under 12
months

134 and under 2
years

2 and under 234
years

534 and under 6
years

6 and under 7 years

Mercantile, office,
waitress, hairdress­
ing.6
Manufacturing, me­
chanical, tele­
phone, telegraph,
dyeing, etc.5

1919........................ Any occupation.6
Any occupation.2

1920........................
State and date of
first action

234 and under 3
years

3 and under 334
years

334 and under 4
years

4 and under 4J4
years
*

434 and under 5
years

5 and under 534
years

All occupations—
learners and ap­
prentices.7
All occupations
except mercan­
tile, etc. and
manufacturing,
etc.2
State and date of
first action

3 months and
under

Over 3 and under
6 months

6 and under 9 months

North Dakota:
1920.....................




1 and under 134 years
Public housekeep­
ing.1
Office.1
Manufacturing.1
Laundry.1
Student nurses.1
Mercantile.1
Telephone.1

9
1922___ ________

9 and under 12
months

Public housekeeping.^
Mercantile.1
Manufacturing.!
Laundry.1
Telephone.1

•

134 and under 2

2 and under 234

years

years

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Minnesota:
1913........................

1 and under 134 years

Oregon:
1913

Manufacturing (Port­
land)—adults.4
Mercantile (Portland)—
adults.4
Office (Portland) —
adults.1
All—minors.1
Mercantile—adults.8
Manufacturing—adults.8
Personal service —
adults.8
Laundry- -adults.8
Telephone and tele­
graph—adults.8
Office—adults.8
Public housekeeping—
adults.8
All—minors.1

1918.

Mercantile—adults 8___
M anufacturing—adults.1
Personal serviceadults.1
Laundry—adults.1
Telephone and tele­
graph—adults.8
Office—adults.8
Public housekeepingadults.1
All—minors.1

State and date of
first action
Oregon: 1913...............

2}4 and under 3
years

3 and under 3)4
years

324 and under 4
years

Mercantile—adults.8
Manufacturing —
adults.4
Personal serviceadults.4
Laundry—adults.4
Telephone and tele­
graph—adults.9
Office—adults.4
Public housekeep­
ing-adults.4
All—minors.4
Canning.1

4 and under 434
years

424 and under 5
years

524 and under 6
years

6 and under 7 years

Canning.4

1 Decree set by wage board.
2 Time, consumed estimated.
4 Decree set by wage board; time consumed estimated.
.
, ..
. ,
i 3 decrees, for communities of various sizes, issued simultaneously. Set by wage boards; time consumed estimated.
8 2 decrees, for experienced and inexperienced women, issued simultaneously. Time consumed estimated.
7 2 decrees, for communities of various sizes, issued simultaneously. Time consumed estimated.
8 2 decrees—1 for Portland and 1 for State at large. Set by wage board.
9 2 decrees—1 for Portland and 1 for State at large. Set by wage board; time consumed estimated.




5 and under 524
years

TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

1916.

All, adults.4

to

^3

State and date of
first action

268

Table

52.—Time consumed in setting decrees, by State and date of first action—Continued

3 months and
under

Over 3 and under
6 months

6 and under 9 months

9 and under 12
months

1 and under 1H years

1Yi and under 2
years

2 and under 2%
years

Washington:18
1913

M anufacturing.11
All.11

1918
1919___________

Public housekeeping.13
Minors—all except
public house­
keeping.
Manufacturing—
adults.1
Laundry—adults.1

1920

1921........................ Public housekeep­
ing.13
Telephone and tel­
egraph—adults.1
M er can til e —
adults.1
1922........................ Minors (any occu­
pation other than
public house­
keeping) .




Hotel and restau­
rant.11

Telegraph and tele­
phone.12

All.4

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Telephone and
telegraph com­
panies, mercan­
tile establish­
ments, laundries,
and factories.

Over

and under
3 years

3 and under 3H
years

33^ and under 4
years

4 and under 4H
years

4H and under 5
years

5 and under 5H
years

hl and under 6
A
years

6 and under 7 years

All4....... .............. -

State and date of
first action

Telephone.
Tobacco stem­
ming.

in 1919, 5 apprenticeship circulars issued in 1914, 5 issued in 1918, and 4 issued in 1919.
ii 2 decrees issued—1 for adults and 1 for minors. Set by wage board; time consumed estimated.
12 3 decrees issued—1 for adults and 2 for minors. Set by wage board; time consumed estimated.
i« Wis^sin^hasIssued^T^crees fnVlL ^or 23 oAheS-^S Mnnfng, 1 beauty parlor, 1 attendants in sanitariums, 1 intermittent workers, and 1 home workers—length of time
and course of action are unknown.




TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

i Decree set by wage board.
i^nform^tfo^fo^Jtf decrees not available64 T^eselnclude 4 telephone and telegraph decrees issued in 1915, 1 decree for minors issued in 1917, 1 telephone decree probably issued

to
o
co

270

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Eighty-eight full decrees and the printing and publishing industry
in California, which was part of a manufacturing decree, took one or
more years to be set. This meant that in 38.!) per cent of all full
decrees ever issued more than a year was spent working on these
problems. A small part of this time in every case was taken up by
formalities required by the laws, such as allowing specified periods
of time to elapse between certain acts. These necessary delays, how­
ever, could never occupy more than three months. The reasons for
continued delay were not to be found in the laws’ requirements, but
in the practical conditions the commissions had to meet. It has been
said before that to get the law to functioning for the first time was
difficult. In many States uncertainty as to the courts’ attitude
toward the law caused the commissions to move very slowly in the
early days. The delays due to causes other than legal questions, how­
ever, applied not only to the first decree issued in each State but to
the original decree for any industrial group set at any time there­
after. Curiously enough there were just 88 original decrees issued,
which 61 (69.3 per cent) took a year or more to be formulated.
Of the decrees taking three years or more, all were original decrees.
Length of time consumed in setting first decree in each State.
I he majority of States consumed a year or more in setting the
first decree. The following is a list of the States, with the name of
the first decree and the. length of time consumed in setting this rate:
State
Arkansas____
California________
District of Columbia___
Kansas__________
Massachusetts___
Minnesota.............
North Dakota_______
Oregon________
Texas______________
Washington... ______
Wisconsin___

Name of decree
Mercantile establishments (Fort Smith)
Printing and publishing______
Mercantile establishments..............
Brush..____
Mercantile, etc____
Public housekeeping................. ............
Manufacturing (adults in Portland)...
Telephone, telegraph, etc...............
Mercantile (adults)__
All............................

Time elapsing
.

3 months and under.
2 and under 2K years.
6 and under 9 months.
2M and under 3 years.
1 and under IK years.
Do.
Do.
Over 3 and under 6 months.
Do.
IK and under 2 years.
9 and under 12 months.
Not reported.
5K ana under 6 years.

Early in this report the time that elapsed between the date of
the law’s enactment and the date on which a decree became effective
was discussed, and these were the decrees considered. For such
discussion it was possible to include a period of inaction between
the date on which the law was passed and the date of the first specific
act looking toward setting the decree, a delay that might have been
due at least in part to the act’s not becoming effective for some time
after it,s passage or to slow action in appointing the commission.
All the present discussion is based on the time elapsing after the
commission made some move toward setting a rate. Arkansas, the
District of Columbia, Oregon, and Washington took less than a
year. Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Texas took
from one to two years. California and Kansas took from two to
three years, and Wisconsin, though it had previously set a pea-can­
ning decree in a nominal period of time, took nearly six years for
its first formal decree. Roughly, 75 per cent of these first decrees
were one year or more in being set.




271

TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

In the case of reissued or supplementary decrees only 27, or 19.7 per
cent, took over a year to set, so the proportion of decrees involving
delay decreased steadily, showing a slight drop from the very first
decree issued in each State to the original decrees in various in­
dustries, and a very large drop to the reissued or supplementary
decrees. Some causes for these drops appear from State to State.
The most important of these is the fact that, before first decrees
could be set, certain questions as to the constitutionality of the laws
and as to the interpretation of certain parts of the laws, granted
their constitutionality, had to be settled. In other cases delay has
been due to local causes.
Discussion of causes of delay w hen decrees were a year or more in
being set.
The following statement shows the decrees that took a year or
more to formulate. It enables the causes of delay to be discussed
for each State.

State

Total................................................................................ ....
Arkansas............................................ .........
District of Columbia___________________
Kansas____________________________________ ...

Oregon__________ __________ __________________
Texas___ ____________________________________ _______

Decrees taking a
Number year or more to set
of decrees
issued
Number Fer cent
232

188

i 37.9

3
40
5
8
34

1

20. 0

13
44
1
45
27

1
12
11.1

1 The printing and publishing industry as part of a manufacturing decree in California also took more
than 1 year to set.

According to the commissions’ reports, the question of constitu­
tionality seriously retarded the work of setting the first decrees in
California and Wisconsin. This delay was not caused by cases
within these two States but by the suit brought against the Oregon
Minimum Wage Commission to enjoin it from enforcing the decrees
already established on the ground that the States had not the power
under the Constitution to pass a law regulating wages anti thus
destroying freedom of contract between employer and employee.
In Oregon itself the enforcement of the law was not interfered with,
since every State court that heard the case declared the law consti­
tutional. Nor did the Washington commission, which went ahead
and set rates during the time that the Oregon case was in court, feel
itself handicapped. It wuis not until 1916, however, that California
felt secure enough to set its first decree. Though the Federal Su­
preme Court had not yet handed down a decision on the Oregon case,
the enforcement of the California decree (fruit and vegetable can­
ning) was not questioned, the decree being based on an agreement
between the canners of the State and the commission. Nevertheless,
it took from two to four years more for California to cover all the
other industries and occupations. Particularly in the case of the first




272

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

laundry, mercantile, and manufacturing orders was the progress very
slow. Conferences would be held; then, after a considerable period of
time, investigations of rates would be made. Two investigations were
made in the fruit and vegetable canning and in the laundry industry
before a decree was set. There were no unduly prolonged investi­
gations, no drawn-out wage-hoard sessions, but just weeks and months
allowed to slip by after each reported act. In Wisconsin, after an
investigation and the organization of a wage board, the whole mat­
ter was dropped for years. Even in 1917, when an evenly divided
United States Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Supreme
Court of Oregon sustaining the constitutionality of the law of that
State, the commission set a rate for only one small group, pea can­
neries. It was two years more, or nearly six years in all since their
first act of investigation, before their first decree set through wageboard procedure, an all-industries decree, was completed.
Later decrees in these States were not subjected to long delays
without a special cause. Wisconsin never took more than a short
period of time to set its later decrees. California in 1921 held a
series of public hearings with the intent of revising all its decrees.
This revision was not completed for over a year for mercantile es­
tablishments and for over two years in fish canning, manufacturing,
laundry and dry cleaning, fruit and vegetable packing, unclassified
occupations, and hotels and restaurants. Once again court action
was responsible, though this time it was direct. An injunction was
obtained against the first order issued as an aftermath of these 1921
public hearings. In studying the situation caused by this injunction
it was discovered that the original public hearing had not been held
exactly as required by law, so the commission had to start all over
again. It was necessary for the commission to begin at the very first
step and to reinvestigate as well as to hold a new series of public
hearings. When at last all this ground had been gone over again,
a long period of time had elapsed.
The following dates for one California decree—the mercantile—
show just where the time went.
November 9, 1921: Conference to consider revising order.
November 21, 1921: Public hearing.
March, 1922: Pay-roll call to determine rates and earnings.
December 14, 1922: Public hearing.
December 27, 1922: Wage-board meeting.
December 29, 1922: Decree announced.
April 8, 1923: Decree effective.

(Investigation.)

Minnesota set about forming its earliest decrees in a leisurely
fashion, taking about three and one-half months to investigate and
about seven months for wage-board meetings, so that it worked on its
first decrees for a little more than a year. As soon as these first de­
crees were issued an injunction was obtained forbidding their enforce­
ment. The result of this case was the opposite of the Oregon ac­
tion, because the lower court in Minnesota held the law unconstitu­
tional and enforcement of the decrees was impossible until this de­
cision was reversed by the supreme court of the State. Work on
other decrees was resumed immediately, and in three months after
the court’s final action orders were issued completing the work of
bringing all women under some decree. The court action, however,




TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

273

had meant that almost five years elapsed before the commission com­
pleted the work it undertook immediately after the passage of the
act.
One other commission, that of Massachusetts, found itself delayed
in its work by appeals to the courts. An action questioning the
constitutionality of the minimum-wage act was started late in 1915 and
not finally settled-until 1918, when the superior court of the State held
the law constitutional. Work on some of the decrees went ahead
uninterruptedly, but if any wage-board member cared to raise the
question of constitutionality the commission was unable to force
the work to go forward. Before the first candy decree and the first
paper-box decree were issued finally, wage-board organization was
held up for over three years, in each case because the employer
members refused to serve until the question of the law’s constitu­
tionality was decided. When this point finally was decided so
much time had elapsed that the work had to be done again, begin­
ning with a new investigation. In the remaining States, though
there has been frequent recourse to court action, it has not taken
such form as to delay the formation and issuance of decrees.
Other causes of long delays in setting wage rates were long-drawnout wage-board procedure and wage-board awards which the com­
missions could not accept and which had to be recommitted either to
the same wage board or to a new wage board for further considera­
tion. These cases have been discussed in detail in the section of this
report in which the whole organization and work of the wage boards
was under consideration. The statement following shows those de­
crees among the 88 that took a year or more to set where long-drawnout wage-board procedure was a contributing cause.
Reasons for delay
State

First recommendation unsatisfactory
Long session of wage board
New board

District of Columbia:
1920____________

Recommitted

Laundry.

Kansas:
1916.......................-

Massachusetts:
1913.........................

Laundry, first (4 to 5 months).
Laundry, second (1 to V/^ years).
Manufacturing (4 to 5 months).
Mercantile (1 to 1^ years).

Corset.

1914_______ _____
1915..........................
1916____________
1917....................
1919____________
1920......................
1921......................
1925....... .................




Muslin
under­
wear.
OfTice-buil ding
cleaners.

Candy, first (9 to 10 months).
Brush (5 to 6 months).
Laundry (8 to 9 months).
Retail stores (4 to 5 months).
Knit goods (3 to 4 months).
Women’s clothing (5 to 6 months).
Men’s furnishings (3 to 4 months).
Muslin underwear (7 to 8 months).
Office-building cleaners (4 to 5 months).
Minor lines of confectionery (7 to 8
months).
Men’s furnishings (1 to V/v years).
Brush, second (3 to 4 months).
Stationery (3 to 4 months).

274

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
Reasons for delay—Continued
State

First recommendation unsatisfactory
Long session of wage board
New board

Recommitted

Minnesota:
1913.........................

Washington:
1913.... ................
1920

Wisconsin:
1913................ .

Mercantile (6 to 7 months).
Manufacturing (5 to 6 months).

Laundry.
Manufacturing.
Laundry.

All______

All (5 to 6 months).

Of all the 88 decrees consuming a year or more, 72 involved wageboard procedure, but only 25 of these wage boards delayed the
setting of the decree. Twenty-seven of the wage boards were held in
California, North Dakota, and Oregon, three States which, with Texas
as a fourth, never were delayed by prolonged wage-board action or
inability to accept wage-board recommendations. Twelve other
decrees based on wage-board action are found in Washington and
the District of Columbia, where the commissions were obliged to
refuse wage-board recommendations in four cases but where the wage
boards held no unduly prolonged sessions. There remain Kansas,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, where at least some part of
the delay in setting rates was due to prolonged wage-board delibera­
tions. The table records only 25 cases where any delay in formulat­
ing decrees was caused by slow action or disagreement on the part of
wage boards.
If legal action of various sorts and slowness or disagreement among
wage boards account for a considerable amount of delay in setting
rates, these two causes are by no means responsible for all the lost
time. A third and very common cause is slowness of action by the
commissions. This is such an indefinite thing that it eludes analysis.
It has been pointed out in California, for instance, that even after
the legal doubts were settled, so that a fruit-and-vegetable-canning
decree had been set, action on the remaining original decrees con­
sumed over a year, though the commission had had four years in
which to make any necessary investigations. In Massachusetts the
time allowed to elapse between the investigation and the calling of a
wage board often was very great. In 20 of the 34 Massachusetts
decrees discussed in this report, from six months to three and onehalf years elapsed between these two acts. In the case of stationery
goods five years elapsed between the investigation and the holding of
a wage board. In Kansas, Oregon, and Washington similar delays
occurred for a few decrees in each State. Moreover, though the laws
usually required only a 60-day interval between the issuance of the
decree and the date on which it became effective, additional time was
lost in all the States by allowing more than this period to elapse.




TIME CONSUMED IN SETTING DECREES

275

The reasons for these delays rarely are given. In four Massachu­
setts decrees—knit goods, muslin underwear, wholesale millinery, and
office-building cleaners—the figures shown by the first investigations
were not considered sufficient for a variety of reasons, and further
investigation was undertaken before a wage board was called. One
of these additional investigations was due to a change in the per­
sonnel of the commission; another included a somewhat more limited
group of workers than the first, in an effort to get the facts about the
lowest-paid women in the occupation. The long delays in setting the
latest manufacturing and laundry decrees in Washington were due
to the resignation of the entire membership of the commission and
a reorganization of the whole administrative agency. Undoubtedly,
reasons for other delays were distributed among widely varied causes.
The causes were purely local also. Some of them may have been
unavoidable, but when long periods of inaction occur it looks as if
the commissions had failed to recognize how important it wras to
keep steadily at work on the decrees. Even a few weeks’ delay
between steps soon counted up, causing considerable postponement
of the actual carrying out of the law. The commissions should exert
every effort to push through decrees with all reasonable speed, and
they could compensate in some degree for the time necessarily spent
on investigations and wage-board meetings by making sure that just
as soon as one step toward a decree is finished the next step follows
immediately.




CHAPTER XII.—ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

No attempt has been made to judge whether any one State enforced
its decrees well or ill. It may be possible to gain some idea by notic­
ing the size of the appropriation and statf available in relation to
the size of the State and the number of women covered by the decrees.
The care with which the decrees were drawn up, the powers and
penalties in the laws themselves, all show whether or not the
executive officer was so equipped that she could hope to enforce the
law. The actual pay-roll inspections necessary to say authoritatively
whether or not the decrees were being 100 per cent enforced ob­
viously are not within the province of a Federal bureau. In a later
section of this report, where the States’ own figures on rates and
earnings are reproduced, a good idea may be gained of some general
results—results that could not have been obtained if the law had been
allowed to become a dead letter. The purpose here is to show
the powers and penalties in the law and to illustrate methods of
enforcement.
POWERS OF ENFORCEMENT AND PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS

Most of the States specify that the commissions administering
the laws are to enforce them also, but strangely enough the laws in
Arkansas, Colorado, and Washington do not say that general en­
forcement is a duty of the minimum-wage commission. Originally
the California law did not designate the agency that was required
to enforce the law, but in 1919 an amendment specified that the in­
dustrial welfare commission was to assume this duty. California,
Colorado (1917), Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin require the
commissions to enforce the law whenever they receive a complaint
that it is being violated. In practice all the commissions that have
entered wage decrees have assumed that they were responsible for the
enforcement of these decrees, and have worked out a plan of en­
forcement through pay-roll inspection.
To aid the commissions in the routine of enforcement the laws,
in addition to general grants, such as the authority “ to take all pro­
ceedings necessary to enforce the payment of a wage not less than a
living wage,” 1 have mentioned specifically certain powers that the
commissions might exercise. In all the States except Massachusetts
and Nebraska the purpose of these grants of power is the absolute
enforcement of all rates. In Massachusetts and Nebraska the pur­
pose is the giving of publicity to the names of all persons who do
not obey the decrees.
In the first place the commissions are given power to issue licenses
to certain groups of workers who need not be paid the experienced
rate. The records of these special cases enable inspectors to know
those persons who legally are receiving less than the minimum. The
statement following shows the exact groups for which each State
may issue special licenses, setting forth a rate, below the experienced
minimum, -which it is legal to pay the licensee.
1 Wisconsin law.

276




ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

277

Power to issue licenses to—
State
Physically
defective

California. ________
Colorado1913__________ .
1917____________
District of Columbia.
Kansas (1915) .............
Massachusetts______
Minnesota_________
Nebraska__________
North Dakota______
Oregon_____________
Texas............................
Washington________
Wisconsin__________

Learners
and ap­
prentices

X

Any per*
son unable
to earn the
minimum1

X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X

Minors

X

X
X
X

1 See text following.

If the phrase found in the Wisconsin law “unable to earn the
living wage is interpreted to mean those sjiecial cases where age or
mnimity handicaps a worker, all the laws except the one in Texas
have provided for special licenses for the substandard worker. Texas
has provided for issuing a license for anyone to work for less than the
minimum if the case is believed to deserve special treatment. This
then, is the only one of these groups where all the legislatures have
either directly or indirectly provided for special licenses. Some few
States have thought apprentices might need this sort of treatment
and Kansas has included minors. Since the general powers of the
commissions are such that most of them could institute a licensing
system if they so desired, these specific grants may? seem unimportant.
Minnesota, without any? definite grant of power, did institute a system
of issuing learners’ certificates. On the other hand, Massachusetts,
where there was no specific mention of apprentice or learner licenses,
at one time felt the need of some such specific grant of power In
one of the commission’s reports it is stated that, “ The experience of
the commission m enforcing its determinations * * * has shown
the necessity of legislation enabling the commission to issue special
licenses to learners or apprentices.” 2 This brings out once again
that minimum-wage laws are still in the experimental stage. It is
extremely difficult to discuss the exact powers of these commissions
when the laws themselves have been interpreted so differently from
State to ‘State. On the whole, all the commissions and their State
legal advisers generally have interpreted the laws to include all the
implied powers necessary to carry out the law. Massachusetts alone
has eonsideied that the commission had no general poiver of carrying
out the law? but had only those specific powers set down in the law.
I his has resulted m the frequent amendment of the Massachusetts
law, as experience show?ed the commission’s need of specific powers.
Use of Special licenses in enforcing the law.
As is the case in discussing, most of the problems of enforcement
material on the actual number of licenses issued often was difficult to
obtain. Seven States—California, the District of Columbia, Kansas
2 Massachusetts Minimum-Wage Commission.




Fifth annual report, 1918, p. 40

278

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin—have issued
special licenses to substandard workers. California, Minnesota,
Washington, and the District of Columbia have issued special licenses
to apprentices. Every commission issued special licenses to substand­
ard workers only after an investigation of each case, setting a special
rate in each license. The following table show's the number of special
licenses on record in California, the District of Columbia, and Massa­
chusetts, by year and industry. In addition, Kansas reports one
special license in manufacturing in 1924, Minnesota reports 6 in all
industries from 1921 to 1924, and Washington reports about 50 in
all industries from 1914 to 1921. No numbers are available in
Wisconsin.
53.—Number of permits issued to substandard workers—California, the
District of Columbia, and Massachusetts—by industry or occupation and
year
CALIFORNIA
Hotel and restau ­
rant

Office

Fish packing

Fish canning

Sorting and pack ­
ing nuts

105

41

493 1,669

22

10

6

1

1

41
11

62
43

28
13

336
157

814
855

18
4

6
4

5
1

1

186
186

6
6

24
24

1
1

155
155

395

10

16

7

117

231

9

1

4

346
49

8
2

12
4

7

74
43

231

9

1

4

360

10

16

6

51

270

3

2

2

191
169

9

7
9

3
3

10
41

156
114

3

2

1
1

444

9

18

7

61

345

2

2

222
222

7
2

9
9

3
4

31
30

169
176

2

1
1

430

7
■
4
3

18

3

82

314

3

3

189
241

9
9

2
1

58
24

113
201

1
2

2
1

318

5

7

9

26

264

4

1

94
224

5

7

6
3

8
18

71
193

3
1

1

267

5

6

8

1

245

1

1

3

1
5

6
2

1

74
171

1

1

Unclassified

M anufacturing

Laundry

52

Total

table packing

M ercantile

2,400

1,311
N«w
Renewals______________ _______ 1,089

Year

F ruit and vege­

All industries

Table

1

3918
New--------------------------------------1919
New
1920
New
1921
Maw
1922
New
Renewals.......................................
1923
New

1

1

1

1

1924
New




83
184

J

-

279

ENFORCEMENT OE DECREES

Table 53.—Number of permits issued, to substandard workers—California, the

District of Columbia, and Masssachusetts—by industry or occupation and
year—Continued
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
All indus­
tries

Total.................................................
1919_________________
1920........ .................. ...........
1921______________________
1922_____________

Mercantile

Printing and
publishing

87

65

5

17

23

Year

6

1

16

6

Hotel and
restaurant

1

.
MASSACHUSETTS

Total__

122

In California and the District of Columbia these tables represent
every woman whom the commissions have allowed to work for less
than the minimum. In Massachusetts, however, the inspectors often
allowed women who were special license types to work for a sum
a little below the minimum rate without requiring them to obtain
licenses. Only cases that were clearly substandard were treated in
this way. Any borderline cases, or cases where the inspector and
employer could not agree as to pay, were required to obtain a permit
from the enforcing officer. This means that in Massachusetts several
times as many women were receiving rates granted to substandard
workers as are shown by the table. Even granting that perhaps 600
or 700 women are rated as substandard workers in Massachusetts,
this is an extremely small proportion of all the women covered by
the decrees. In the District of Columbia four years of minimumwage experience resulted in only 87 special licenses. In California
the numbers run larger for two reasons: the much greater number
of women included in the decrees and the fact that the licenses in
California have to be renewed every six months. The total of new
licenses is only 1,311 for seven years. Though this material, when all
the States are considered, is so incomplete, it is probably true that
the commissions have used this provision in the laws often enough
to show that they recognized its importance but have not granted
60709°—28----- 19




280

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

licenses in such a wholesale way as to exclude large numbers of
women from the benefits of the law.
Though the decrees have devoted so much time and attention to
the treatment of apprentices, the commissions in most of the States
have not worked out any special method of checking up these workers.
In California, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and Washington
a system of issuing special licenses, on application from employer
or employee, has been developed. This system as developed by Cali­
fornia will be described in detail, as illustrating how one State
arranged for the enforcement of these clauses in, the decrees. At this
point it is interesting, however, to try to determine how largely these
provisions have been taken advantage of by the employers. Any such
discussion narrows down to the records available in California and
the District of Columbia. Not only are there no figures available for
Minnesota, but the industrial commission states that “ the commission
decided to discontinue the practice of issuing apprentice certificates,
due to the fact that they were issued mechanically in the office with­
out any accurate knowledge being available as to the actual past
experience of the employee involved and the further fact that there
is no provision of law authorizing or requiring such practice.”3 In
Washington the figures are fragmentary, covering scattered periods
of time. Moreover, in the last period for which some figures are
available the report shows 1,146 apprentices in manufacturing for the
year ending in 1923, but lists licenses separately, with none for manu­
facturing. The report does not explain the discrepancy, but this
omission indicates that Washington is no longer licensing all appren­
tices. The situation probably is explained by a statement that a large
telephone company has been permitted by the industrial welfare com­
mittee to report each month the number of apprentices and minors
in its employ instead of taking out a permit for each individual.4
The Washington figures are shown in the following tables, as are
the figures from California and the District of Columbia.
California has issued 26,223 licenses in seven years of minimumwage experience. The numbers issued reached a peak in late 1919
and were less than one-third as great in the last year reported
(1923). Although the District of Columbia law was in force over
only four years, the number of licenses also had dropped far below
the peak year of 1920 when the law was declared unconstitutional
in 1923. Later in this report an analysis of these figures in relation
to the time that various decrees went into effect shows that a decree
in a new field or a substantial raise in rates in an old one probably
was to be followed by an increase in the number of apprentice licenses
applied for, but that as an industry grew accustomed to working on
the wage basis set forth in the decree, smaller numbers of apprentice
licenses were requested.
3 Minnesota Industrial Commission.
Second biennial report, 1923-24, pp. 109-110.
* Washington.
Department of Labor and Industries. Second report, 1922-23, pp. 116
and 117.




ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

281

Table 54.—Number of apprentices’’ licenses issued—California, the District of

Columbia, and Washington—by mdustry and year
A. CALIFORNIA AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
All industries
Year
California

Total..................

26, 223

1917....
1918______ __________
1919 1 __

4,037
1,303
1,901
6,876
4,311
2,813
2,969
2,013

1920___
1921..................... ...........
1922...............................
1923...

Laundry

Manufacturing

Mercantile

District
District
District
District
California
California
California
of
of
of
of
Columbia
Columbia
Columbia
Columbia
6,294

985
2,304
1,621
1,384

3,985
1,828
792
177
327
373
166
143
179

81

9,905
2,209
511

41
40

3,492
1,598
903
701
491

6,038

12,333

975

1,724
3, 057
2,340
1,744
2,125
1,343

2,195
1,553
1,315

175

210

_

2109
2 27
2 29

B. WASHINGTON
Tele­
phone

June 27,1914, to Dec.
1,1916
Aug. 13,1919, to Aug.
13, 1920 ...
June 30,1922, to June
30, 1923

All in­
dustries

Box
making

Factory

Laundry

Mercan­
tile

10,824

Year

48

4,148

503

2,650

68

3,395

7,997

48

2,731

503

2,393

41
20

1,106

7

Tele­
graph

2,281

169

8

2, 724
103

1,417

88

Office

12

12

11919 was kept as 2 separate time periods, due to change in minimum rates in this year.
2 Printing and publishing only.

Provisions for posting and penalties for noncompliances found in
the laws.
One other important aid to enforcement is in every law: The
employer who is affected by any decree must post a copy of the
decree” in his place of business. The purpose of this, of course, is to
familiarize the employees with the decree so that they will know
their rights and will report violations to the commission. In addi­
tion, the Massachusetts commission may require the employer to post
notices of public hearings and the nominations for wage boards.
These requirements are of no value unless the law provides ade­
quate penalties for noncompliance. Every law has carried some sort
of penalties, but, as the following table shows, these have varied in
kind and in the completeness with which they back up the require­
ments set forth in the law.




282

Table 55.—Legal remedies provided for noncompliance with various phases of the laws, by State
Provisions covering—

Penalties for major violations

Type of offense

Mini­
mum

Maxi­
mum

Violating any provisions
of this act.

$25

$100

Misdemeanors: Pay­
ment of less than
minimum wage (1913).
Violating any provi­
sions of this act or of
any order (1915).
Misdemeanor: Paying
less than minimum or
violating any other
provision.

50

Misdemeanor: Pay­
ment of less than mini­
mum wage.

25

100

Misdemeanor:
Viola­
tion of any provision
of the act.

25

100

25
5

100
50

Remarks

100

Viola­
District of Columbia.. Misdemeanor:
tion of the act.

Mini­
mum

Fine and im­
prisonment




Misdemeanors: Refus­
ing to keep register of
hours and wages or
refusal to allow inspec­
tions (1919).

Maximum
Each day of noncompliance
a
separate offense.

30 days..

May be both

Each offense a
misdemeanor.

100

10 days..

Recovery of wages

do_____

Each such offense
a misdemeanor.

Discrimination against em­
ployee who gives testi­
mony

Civil action by employee may recover
full amount plus
cost.

Discharge or threatened discharge a misdemeanor,

Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
costs and lawyer’s
fees allowed by
court.
Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
costs of suit.
Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
attorney’s fees al­
lowed by court.
Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
costs and lawyer’s
fees allowed by
court.

Discharge or threatened dis­
charge a misdemeanor.
Fine of $25 on conviction*

Discharge or threatened dis­
charge a misdemeanor.
Fines $200 minimum,$1,000
maximum, on conviction.
Discharge or discrimination
a misdemeanor. Fines $25
minimum, $100 maximum,
on conviction.
Discharge or discrimination
a misdemeanor. Fines $25
minimum, $100 maximum.

Discharge or discrimination
a misdemeanor; $25 fine
(1912). Fines $200 mini­
mum, $1,000 maximum,
for each offense, on convic­
tion (1913).

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Imprisonment

Fine

State

Minnesota

Refusal to post no­
tices of hearings,
nominations for
wage boards, or
decrees (1919).
Newspaper refusing
to publish names
of violators (1912).i
do....... .........................

Oregon.
Texas..

100
10

___ do__________ _____ _
Misdemeanor: Paying
less than minimum.

Nebraska.

Washington.

Wisconsin (1913)

do

Violating any order or
failing or refusing to
perform any duty.

_do_
10 days.. 60 days..

100

25

Each offense
misdemeanor.
3 months. _ May be both

100 --.do_-100

25

100 i 10 days.

3 months.
30 days...

Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
attorney’s fees al­
lowed by court,
do
Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
costs and attorney’s
fees set by court.

.do.
_do.

100

100

Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
costs and attorney’s
fees allowed by
court.

Each day during
which less than
the minimum is
paid a separate
offense. Every
day of noncom­
pliance a sepa­
rate offense.

Civil action by em­
ployee may recover
full amount plus
costs and attorney’s
fees allowed by
court.

Unlawful to discharge or
discriminate.

Discharge or discrimination
a misdemeanor. Fine of
$25 on conviction.
Discharge or discrimination
a misdemeanor. Fines $25
minimum, $100 maximum,
on conviction.
Do.
Discharge or threat of dis­
charge or discrimination a
misdemeanor. Fines $10
minimum, $100 maximum,
imprisonment for not more
than 30 days, or both fine
and imprisonment, on con­
viction.
Discharge or discrimination
a misdemeanor. Fines $25
minimum, $100 maximum,
on conviction, for each mis­
demeanor.

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

North Dakota.

Misdemeanor: Newspa­
per refusing to pub­
lish names of violators
Misdemeanor: Violating
any of the provisions
specified.

_do_

Discharge or threatened dis­
charge or discrimination a
misdemeanor. Fine of $25
for each offense on. convic­
tion.

1 Declared unconstitutional by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 1924.




to

GO
CO

284

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Colorado (1917), Texas, Washington, and California before the
law was amended in 1915, provided penalties for two offenses, “ pay­
ment of less than the minimum wage ” and “ discrimination against
an employee for giving testimony.” Seven laws—Arkansas, Colo­
rado (1913), District of Columbia, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota,
and Oregon—-have provided penalties for violating any provisions
of the minimum-wage act. California (1915) and Wisconsin have
provided penalties for any violation of the act or orders. In the
States in the two latter groups most of the laws also have included
penalties for discriminating against an employee who gives testi­
mony. The importance attached by the legislatures to discrimina­
tions against such employees is interesting and necessary. It was
thought that the whole basis of wage-board structure would fall down
if employees could be intimidated so that they dare not serve. Also
the commissions depended on complaints to aid them in enforce­
ment. As far as the general penalties for noncompliance with the
legal provisions are concerned, the laws that provide penalties only
for failure to pay the minimum rate fall far short of covering all
possible important violations. Massachusetts, for instance, though
there is no penalty other than publicity for failure to pay the actual
minimum rate, has numerous compulsory features to its law that
seemingly are lacking in these laws that make the payment of the
minimum wage mandatory. If the Washington law were interpreted
literally it would seem to be just the reverse of the Massachusetts
situation—a penalty for actual nonpayment of an established rate
but no penalties for any of the many cases where refusal to work
with the commission would make administration and enforcement
almost impossible. Obviously the third form—a penalty for any
violation of the law or of the orders—is the clearest, the most inclu­
sive, and therefore, from the commission’s viewpoint, the safest.
The actual fines and terms of imprisonment provided in these laws
vary considerably. In Colorado (1917) and Massachusetts the fines
for discriminating against an employee who testifies run very much
higher than any other penalties in the law—$200 to $1,000 in each
State. Moreover, Massachusetts seemed to feel the need of this
very high penalty, for its original law carried only a $25 fine, which
was raised to the larger amounts in an amendment. For other
offenses $100 is the maximum fine in most cases. Imprisonment
for violation of this law is possible in seven States—California, Colo­
rado, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon,
and Texas. In all these States except Minnesota such imprisonment
may be in addition to the fine.
Finally, most of the States provide that an employee who has not
received the minimum rate may sue to obtain the back pay due to her.
The laws aim to make this possible for women of no financial means
by assessing all the costs of the suit, even to lawyers’ fees in some
States, against the employer who has violated the law.
This discussion of penalties is presented only in an effort to show
the obvious teeth in the minimum-wage law. No study has been
made of how far the courts were willing to go in enforcing the laws.




285

ENFOBCEMENT OF DECKEES

RECORDS OF VIOLATIONS, PENALTIES, AND BACK PAY COLLECTED

In enforcing the laws the commissions have relied much more on
gaining compliance through setting rates that would command gen­
eral support from the employers than on forcing obedience through
widespread prosecution of noncompliance. When cases of noncom­
pliance have been found, every etfort has been made to adjust these
cases informally between the employer and the commission’s agents.
The result of this has been that the executive office, in all States
pressed for time, has made no great etfort to keep detailed records of
violations and prosecutions, and has been only a little more concerned
with keeping records of back pay collected. For the purpose of this
study every effort has been made to collect all the material printed
in the reports of the commissions and each executive office has been
asked to complete the following table from unpublished material in
its files, but the result of this search has been fragmentary data
indeed. The table shows all available figures on violations, penalties,
and back pay collected.
Table 56.—Violations, prosecutions, and cases of back pay collected, by State,

industry, and year
(From published and unpublished records of the minimum-wage commissions)
CALIFORNIA
Back pay col
lected (with
or without
prosecutions)

Industry

Year

1918-1920............. ........................................... ..................
1920-1922_
_
1922-1924_
_

1 $230,000.00
1 257,043.00
20,656.86

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Year

Industry

Prosecu­
tions-Number
of estab­
lish­
ments
affected

Back pay collected (with or
without prosecutions)

Amount

Number Number
of estab­
of
lish­
workers
ments
affected
affected

316

122

34
2
14

66
2
54

2 8, 589.74

99

341

68
3
28

116
7
218

2,427. 21

75

125

1,724.14
146. 70
556. 37

1922...............................

3

50

4, 266. 58
65.10
2 4,258.06

1921........................... .

3

$2, 962. 98
1, 539. 54
25. 66
1,397. 78

1920...............................

50
5
20

79
6
40

1 Part of this sum represents the adjustments paid as a result of the canning audit. The 1918-1920 can­
ning audit was $200,000; the 1920-1922 canning audit was $223,299.07.
2 Excludes $458.60 collected by two employees in a restaurant in a civil suit.
3 These cases were filed but never brought to trial owing to the adverse decision on the constitutionality
of the law.




286

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 56.—Violations, prosecutions, and cases of back pay collected, by State,
industry, and year—Continued
KANSAS
Back pay collected (with or
without prosecutions)

Complaints

Year

Industry

Number Number
of estab­ of indi­
lish­
viduals
ments
affected affected

1922.................... _

24

Number
of estab­ Number
of
lish­
workers
ments
affected
affected

$1, 570. 67

24

193

10.00

1

1

69
124

1
1

1923.......................
1924___________

193

4
20

Amount

3
2

MINNESOTA
Back pay collected (with or
without prosecutions)

Prosecutions
Year

Industry

Number Number
of estab­ of work­
lishments
ers
affected affected

1919-1921

2

1921-1922........ .
1922-1924.....
1924___________

3

1
1

Amount

Number Number
of estab­ of work­
lishments
ers
affected affected

$18,382. 21

1
2
1,859. 76
30. 315. 28
« 4, 702. 28

41
i

663

36
126

66
1,961
298

NORTH DAKOTA
Prosecutions
Year

Industry

Number Number
of estab­ of work­
lishments
ers
affected affected

1922-1924_________________

1

6

OREGON
Back pay collected
(with or without
prosecutions)

Complaints
Year

Industry
Number
of estab­
lishments
affected

1918-1920
1920-1922......................




Number
of indi­
viduals
affected

22

$1,370. 94
101

* Case dropped.

Amount

5 6 months only.

Number
of estab­
lishments
affected
17
38

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

287

56.—Violations, prosecutions, and cases of back pay collected, by State,
industry, and year—Continued

Table

WASHINGTON

Year

Prosecu­
tions,
number
of work­
ers
affected

Industry

1914-1916—.................

10
Laundry..................
__
Hotel and restaurant. _.
Mercantile.. ............... .
Manufacturing___ _________
Office_____________
Telephone and telegraph............... .

3
3
3
1

1916-1918.....................
Laundry. ........ ..........
Hair dressing____________
Office__________
Mercantile........ ............ .
Manufacturing___
Telephone and telegraph..............
1918-1920_____ _____

All industries........... ..........
Laundry________ ______
Hair dressing. ______
Office... _ _____
Mercantile............... ..........
Manufacturing_______
Telephone and telegraph_________

1920-1922................
All industries____________
1922-1924....... .............. ____do______ ______
1924........................... ........do.._________ _____

Back pay collected (with or
withot t prosecut Ions)

Amount

Number Number
of estab­ of work­
lishments
ers
affected affected

$6, 686. 79
78. 96
578. 72
2,813.64
1, 587. 38
1,414. 75
213. 34

224
7
32
102
58
20
5

11,046.24
139.25
719. 97
1, 428. 62
4, 339. 53
2,988.00
1,430.87

209
8
17
21
105
46
12

463
12
26
25
131
245
24

5, 251.34
71.18
523.43
560.91
1, 541. 73
2, 298. 38
255. 71

175
7
24
21
66
49
8

253
11
29
27
76
92
18

4,179! 47

522
131

WISCONSIN

Year

Industry

Back pay collected
(with or without
prosecutions)
Amount

1918-1920.

Number
of workers
affected
1,716

5, 564. 76
22, 439. 23
1,284. 63

1,442
206

All industries___

10, 483.14

498

2,397. 74
4,892.11
439. 63
772.00
115. 45
933. 29
92. 86
476. 57
274. 62
88.87

106
141
19
43
28
134
4

All industries___

14,979.17

753

Tobacco stemming........
Miscellaneous________
Mercantile___________
Hotel and restaurant...
Manufacturing 6______
Textile and knitting.
Candy_____________
Shoes______________
Printing and binding
Drug stores...... ..............
Laundry........ .................

1922-1924.

$29, 288. 62

Miscellaneous.................
Mercantile___________
Hotel and restaurant...
Manufacturing 6______
Textile and knitting.
Candy.........................
Shoes___ ___________
Printing and binding.
Drug stores...................
Laundry_____________

1920-1922.

All industries
Tobacco stemming.
Telephone_______
Miscellaneous____

7 3,002. 50

7 371
814

• Other than those branches following.




« 476.15
5,485. 43
1, 531. 45
2,053. 77
734. 53
209. 90
618. 40
548. 84
237. 19
81.01
7 Not complete; estimate.

68

8
6

9

143
22
101

.

e Contains telephone.

52
4
32
9
2

3

288

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Even with the knowledge that in relatively feiv violations was
there a resort to prosecution in order to gain compliance, this record
seems very meager. However, it does show considerable sums of
money collected for the women who had been working for less than
the minimum. Very evidently it is no guide in trying to judge the
quality of minimum-wage enforcement.
EXAMPLES OF METHODS OF ENFORCEMENT

If there is no available material on which a dependable estimate of
enforcement can be based, the most valuable discussion of this subject
would seem to be from the viewpoint of the methods used. The
methods of each State are not discussed in detail, for, though there
is wide variety in the forms used and in the details of procedure,
there are no striking differences in fundamentals. Such differences
as occur seem largely traceable either to chance—whereby a similar
end is sought, though the exact wording of the forms used to gain
this end may vary—or to the fact that lack of funds has prevented
some commissions from developing the mechanics of enforcement
with the same detail as have other commissions better financed. Since
an analysis of the forms and methods of each State would involve
reproducing a great mass of material whose differences are not signifi­
cant, California and Massachusetts have been selected as illustrating
the enforcement of the mandatory and nonmandatory types of laws.
Among the States with mandatory laws, California has been chosen
because it has developed a method of enforcing apprenticeship rules
and a method of applying the minimum-wage rates to piece workers
in more detail than have the other States, because it has as complete
a system of records and forms as has any other State, and because
material on all these points is more available and more complete than
in any other State.
Forms used in enforcing decrees in California.
California uses three methods to discover noncompliances: The
commission agents investigate all complaints; they go regularly from
place to place throughout the State inspecting pay rolls; they require
all employers to submit complete pay-roll data on request from the
commission. The first two of these methods have been in general
use throughout the minimum-wage States; the third method has been
used to some extent in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but nowhere else
has it been developed as such an integral part of enforcement as in
California.
The complaints form the smallest part of this check and can be
quickly discussed. If any woman comes to the commission’s office to
make a complaint, her information is recorded on a regular printed
form, with these headings: Date; order number; against; complain­
ant; and statement. On the other side of the card is room for the
report of the inspector who follows up the case and the record of its
final disposition. Such records are kept in the office on file by years
as a detailed record of complaints. In addition, a record is kept
which sums up all complaints received during a given year, with these
headings: Name; male or female; age; length of time in establish­
ment; number of hours worked; amount earned; and number of
learner’s certificate. The record of the complaints handled by an




ENFORCE ME N'T OF DECREES

289

individual agent is on her monthly reports. The office thus has at
any one time a complete record of the complaint and how it was
handled, and a summary of the important facts involved in all
complaints received during the year.
The second method of checking on compliance is the one usually
thought of as most reliable, and it has been used in each State, so far
as the size of the executive’s staff allowed, as the main method of
gaining compliance. The commission’s agents visit a factory, go over
the pay roll, and note any infractions of the law. In California the
field agents usually work according to industry, except in the case
of very small towns where one agent may cover all establishments.
When the appropriation is adequate, the work is divided into
(1) manufacturing, (2) mercantile, (3) laundry, and (4) the canning
industry, with an agent in charge of each division. Office workers
are covered by the agent for the particular industry where they are
employed. The inspectors hand in a report on each establishment
visited. The following is the form used.
Investigator.
Date.
Name of firm.
Address.
Superintendent.
Person interviewed.
Number of females employed.
Number of experienced females.
Number of female learners.
Limitation of apprentices observed.
Employees paid in accordance with ex­
perience.
.
Number of males employed.
Number of male learners.
Names of employees on record.
Addresses of employees on record.

Minors marked.
Record of hours kept.
Pay-roll inspection made.
Registration for all learners on file.
Part-time workers registered.
Part-time rates paid.
Special workers employed.
Legal rate paid special workers.
Increased hourly rate for short week.
Orders posted.
Standard week (hours).
Permits for elderly and infirm.
Does this firm do welfare -work.
Deductions made for absences.
Pay for holidays.
Sanitary inspection made.

The main interest of this schedule is the number of points on
which a report is made. It reflects the fact that the California
decrees specify in detail how all sort of situations encountered in
applying the decrees must be met. In such items as “ part-time
workers registered ” the schedule covers a field not touched by the
report sheets used in the other States. While it gives a very complete
picture as far as the inclusion of all items is concerned, it provides
no space for detailed records of violations. The various firms have
to keep very excellent records to supply the information demanded.
To supplement this schedule an adjustment notice is used. On
this form the agent writes out the exact changes that are necessary if
a given firm is to comply with the law and specifies the date by which
such adjustments must be completed. One copy is left with the
employer, one the agent keeps. On her return to the office the agent
confirms, by letter, the adjustments required. The inspection divi­
sion then follows up the particular firm until compliance is gained.
The final form used in connection with these general inspections
is the agent’s monthly report, drawn up under these headings: Firm
name and address; date; order; reason, whether complaint or routine;
type, whether pay roll, sanitary, or reinspection; time required;
and calls.




290

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The third check on compliance, the calling for certified pay rolls,
has been used systematically in California only. It was not so abso­
lutely reliable as first-hand investigation of pay rolls by the com­
missions’ agents, which Massachusetts in particular used extensively,
but it offered a means of conducting a State-wide survey of all
workers, whereas the time required for the agents’ inspection of
all pay rolls would make it impossible to carry on the routine work
of the office and make personal inspection of all pay rolls. As soon
as California had set decrees for large groups of women in manu­
facturing, mercantile, and laundry occupations, requests were sent
to all employers in these industries to submit two complete pay rolls
for all women and minor employees—one for a date prior to the
date on which the minimum-wage decree became effective, the other
after it went into force. Periodically thereafter similar calls were
issued, so that the commission has secured figures on rates and earn­
ings for a period preceding, and a period following, each decree.
To secure uniform reports the commission has sent out forms for
the pay-roll material. The forms following were those in use in 1924,
substantially the same as those used in all pay-roll calls, though
in the later forms increased efforts have been made to get all the
facts on hours of work so that rates and earnings could be studied
in their proper setting.




291

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES
PAY-ROLL REPORT OF WOMEN AND MINORS

(Bo not report males over 18 years)
Sheet No.
Firm name__
Street address
City--------------

Industrial Welfare Commission, State
of California,
Flood Building, 870 Market Street, San
Francisco;
931 Pacific Finance Building, Los
Angeles.
Office department

General mercantile

Number of experienced females
Number of female learners

Number of experienced females.
Number of female learners____

Restaurant and fountain

Millinery workroom

Number of female employees

Number of experienced females.
Number of apprentices_______

Total number of females employed___

In “ Classification ” column, mark adult part-time workers “A Pt.”; adult
special workers “A Sp.”; minor part-time workers “ M Pt.”; minor special
workers “ M Sp.” ; office workers “ O ” ; millinery workroom employees “ M ” ;
restaurant and fountain workers “ R ”; elevator operators “ E ”; errand boys
“ Errand.”
Employees names (give
name in full)

Classifica­
tion

Rate
of
pay
$

Number
of days
worked

Salary

$

Commissions
and P. M.’s
$

Total
salary
$

How many hours per day are women and minors regularly employed in this
establishment 7 Answerhours.
IIow many days per week are women and minors regularly employed in this
establishment 7 Answerdays.
----------------------, the undersigned, hereby certify the foregoing to be a
lull, true, and correct pay-roll report of all women and minors employed by
this firm for the week ending
(Firm name) _
____




By--------------------------------

Manager or superintendent.

292

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
PAY-ROLL REPORT OF WOMEN AND MINORS 1

For week ending.

Sheet No.___

(Do not list names of males over 18 years)
Firm name_______________
Street addressCity.

Industrial Welfare Commission. State
of California; 328 Flood Building,
870 Market Street, San Francisco;
931 Pacific Finance Building, Los
Angeles.

Factory
Number of experienced fe­
males
Number of female learners__

Office department
Number of experienced fe­
males___________
Number of female learners__
Total number of females em­
ployed
Number of male learners
Total number of adult male
employees

Rate of Hours worked
Employee’s name—Mark
during week
male minors “M”, female Kind pay of
minors “F”, office employ­ of work time
work­
ees “0”.
Time
Piece
ers

Earnings for
week
Bonus
Time

Piece

Total
earn­
ings

Re­
marks

----------------------------, the undersigned, hereby certify the foregoing to be a
full, true, and correct pay-roll report of all women and minors employed by
this firm for the week ending
(Firm name)
By
Manager or superintendent.
1 Fo{,

manufacturing industry. In 1919, form used carried two sections, one for
the $13.50 wage rate and one for pay roll after this decree went into effect.
In 19.20, 1922, and 1923 a pay roll only for a date following a decree was requested.




293

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

The laundry pay-roll form is not reproduced because it so nearly
agrees with that of the factory. Only the items “ kind of work,”
“ bonus,” and “ remarks ” on the factory form as reproduced here
are omitted from the laundry form.
To make perfectly clear what information was required, a letter
of explanation accompanied each pay-roll form. The one used for
mercantile stores in 1923 is given here. It is typical of all.
Industrial Welfare Commission

of the

State

of

California

To the mercantile industry:
Inasmuch as the industrial welfare commission has had no general pay-roll
report of women and minors employed in the various industries of the State
since March, 1922, this department deems it necessary at this time to call for
complete puy-roll reports from all industries. For the purpose of compiling
statistics, it is necessary to secure this information for the same period for all
establishments.
You are requested to fill out the inclosed pay-roll report blank, giving the
names, kind of work performed, rate of pay, days worked, and actual earnings
of all women and minors in your employ during the week ending May 19, or
the half month ending May 15, or the month of May, 1923. Do not give the
names of any males over the age of 18.
This report is to be filed with the commission at its office, 328 Flood Building,
not later than June 15, 1923. Be sure the report is signed by the manager or
superintendent.
You should have in your possession blue certificates issued by this commis­
sion for each woman and minor in your employ whose rate of pay is less than
$10 a week. If you have not, applications for certificates should be filled out
jointly by you and all such learners and sent in with the pay-roll report—
brown application forms for office learners and white applications for general
mercantile learners.
If an employee receives any meals, please state how many meals a week
and which meals (breakfast, lunch, or dinner).
In the column headed “ Commissions or P. Ms.” give the exact amount for
the period covered by the pay-roll report.
In the case of employees earning over $130 a month, or $30 a week, it is
not necessary to state the exact salary received. You may enter the state­
ment “ over $130 a month.”
The commission will be glad to give any further information you may
require as to the proper manner of making this report. We appreciate the
work that this request entails, and are very grateful for your continued
cooperation.
Yours very truly,
Industrial Welfare Commission, State of California.
Katherine Philips Edson, Executive Commissioner.

About three weeks usually was allowed for getting in pay rolls.
At the end of this time foliow-up letters were sent. The pay rolls
as they were received were checked for noncompliances. Any rate
which fell below the minimum was checked with the file of per­
mits allowing apprentices or infirm workers to work for lower rates.
If the person who was paid this lower rate was not found to have
one of these two kinds of permits, the case was listed as a non­
compliance and was taken up with the employer for adjustment.
Thus, through investigation of all compiaints, through constant
visits, even if limited in number, of the agents, and through allinclusive, if occasional, pay-roll calls, the California commission
sought to gain compliance with every rule on its decrees. If it is
remembered that some States had occasional inspections that roughly
corresponded to pay-roll calls, when they concentrated the field




294

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

agents on copying practically all pay rolls in one industry or a sub­
stantial number of pay rolls in each industry covered by the decrees,
the California methods represent those used in all the States. In the
section of this report giving actual figures on rates and earnings as
shown by these inspections and pay-roll calls it may be seen how often
the individual States made these inclusive inspections and how many
women they covered each time.
In the discussion of the general enforcement methods and forms
in California, mention was made of the registration of apprentices,
but no explanation has been made of how this special phase of en­
forcement was carried out. From the discussion in a previous sec­
tion of the multitude of rates set according to the age and experience
of the workers, it is evident that any given pay roll sent in to the com­
mission’s office or inspected by an agent could show a considerable
variety in its rates of pay and yet comply with the law. In order to
determine wTho these special workers were and what rate they
legally could receive, several States instituted a system of requiring
the registration of apprentices. Thus, seeming violations of a decree
might prove to be due to the employer’s failure to register appren­
tices and not to his paying a lower rate than the one to which the
woman was entitled. Since California has developed a system for the
control of apprenticeship in great detail, the description appearing in
the commission’s report for 1919-20 and 1921-22 is reproduced.
2. Control of apprenticeship through registration.—The commission is of the
opinion, after five years’ experience, that a system of registration or licensing
of learners is the only adequate method of controlling apprenticeship in in­
dustries in which the nature of the work necessitates an extended learning
period. Underpayment of apprentices might not always be the result of the
employer’s desire to evade the law; it might easily come through neglect in
keeping the dates on which increases are due in some sort of follow-up system
which would automatically bring the increases to the employer’s attention.
While women workers are generally familiar with the amount of the legal
minimum wage for experienced workers, they are not so familiar with the
minimum rates for apprentices, and, as a rule, they have no particular interest
in the legal limitation of the number of apprentices, as they do not understand
that this regulation is one which affects their wages directly. Therefore, the
commission has established a complete registration or license system in the mer­
cantile, laundry, and manufacturing industries, insuring apprentices of the
periodic increases in wage required by the law, crediting them with their
previous experience in other establishments and enforcing the legal limitation
of the number of apprentices employed in each establishment. All other in­
dustries have apprenticeship periods of such short duration that registration
is unnecessary. The registration system is designed to protect the apprentice
throughout her entire period of apprenticeship whether she has worked in one
or more establishments in the same industry.
a. Certification of learners in the mercantile industry.—In the mercantile in­
dustry an employer is required to register with the industrial welfare com­
mission every woman and minor who is being paid less than the legal minimum
wage. The following blank, filled out jointly by the employer and the employee,
must be filed three weeks from the date of employment:




295

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES
Industrial Welfare Commission, State

of

California

620 State Building, Sail Francisco; 931 Pacific Finance Building, Los Angeles
APPLICATION

FAIR

REGISTRATION

AS

A

LEARNER

IN

THE

GENERAL

MERCANTILE

INDUSTRY

This blank is for the registration of full-time workers only, and should be
filed at tlie end of three weeks’ employment
To the Industrial Welfare Commission of the State of California:
I, the undersigned, desiring employment as a learner in the general mercantile
industry, do hereby make application to your commission for a Learner’s Certifi­
cate of Registration in the establishment of t
located at
Street,
,------------------------------------------------------------- (City)
ployed in this establishment since, at $a week.
(Month

Day

(Name of firm)

I have been em­

Year)

I have had previous experience in the general mercantile industry with the
following firms:
Firm name and address:
Time employed :
.
------------------------------------------- fromto•
(State whether office or sales force)
(Month Day Year)
(Month Day Year)
------------------------------------------- fromto(Month
(State whether office or sales force)
(Month Day Year)
Date of birth--------------------------------- Present age
(Month

Day

Year)

Day Year)

(Years and months)

Signature of applicant

(Give name in full)

Date of making application AddressCity.
employer’s agreement

--------hereby subscribe to the foregoing application, recognizing the previous
experience above listed, and request that a certificate of registration as a
learner in the general mercantile industry he issued by your commission to
—— ------------------------------------ , agreeing to provide h___ with reasonable
facilities for learning the general mercantile industry. Salary to be paid
this employee, $
Certificates will not be issued unless the following pay-roll report is fur­
nished in full:
Report of total number of female employees (do not include special workers
or part-time employees) on pay roll of(give date of pay roll
(Date)

nearest the date of filing this application).
Superintendent or Manager.
Totals are to be given separately for each of the following
divisions

Number of
Total num­
experienced Number of ber of fe­
female
female
male em­
learners
employees
ployees

General mercantile_____________
Office_______________ _______

1

Millinery work-room..................... ............
Total............... ............................ ...........

The cooperation of the employer is requested in seeing that this application
is filled out in full before it is sent to the office of the industrial welfare
commission.
60769°—28----- 20




296

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Upon receipt of such application by the commission, the record of the worker
is checked against the registration records on tile in the commission office so
that the worker may be given full credit for her previous experience. If the
statement on the application blank shows that an employer is exceeding the
legal per cent of apprentices at the time of making application, this violation
is at once corrected through the following procedure: The employer is required
to raise the wages of a sufficient number of women to the minimum so that
33% per cent of the women will receive at least the minimum. The women
whose rates have been so raised must be paid the difference between the weekly
amounts they have received and the minimum wage, retroactively, until all
pay rolls on which an excess number of women were paid as learners have been
adjusted. After the application of the worker has been checked in this manner,
a certificate of registration is issued. The original and duplicate copies are sent
to the employer with instructions to give the original copy to the worker so
that she will be informed as to the legal minimum rates due her, and the third
copy is retained for the commission’s files.
State of California, Industrial Welfare Commission
[seal.]

620 State Building, Civic Center, San Francisco

■

No. -----

learner’s certificate of registration

This is to certify that----------------------------has been registered as a learner
in the mercantile industry, to be employed byin the city
of, California. The above learner shall receive a wage of not
less than the following:
From,
19—, to--------------------, 19_, $per week.
From,
19—, to--------------------, 19_, $per week.
And thereafter shall be deemed an experienced worker and shall be paid not
less than the minimum wage for experienced workers in said industry.
Dated at San Francisco, Calif., thisday of, 19________
Industrial Welfare Commission,
By Katherine Philips Edson,

Previous experience,years_____ months.

Executive Officer.

When an apprentice leaves a firm or completes the period of apprenticeship,
or is raised to the minimum before completing the apprenticeship period, the
employer is required to return the duplicate of the certificate, making a report
of one of these conditions on the reverse side of the certificate. This copy of
the certificate then replaces the third copy of the certificate which has been
kept in the commission’s files, so that the worker's record of experience is con­
stantly up-to-date. The control of apprenticeship is further strengthened by a
monthly follow-up system whereby each employer of apprentices is notified
once a month of the date and the amount of increase due any learner in that
month.
Learners’ certificates are also used in the following manner by the agents
of the commission during plant inspections: The agent must see that the firm
has on file a certificate of registration for every woman and minor who is paid
less than the legal minimum wage, and each certificate must be checked
against the pay roll to assure the payment of whatever apprentice rate is due.
ft. Registration of learners in the manufacturing industry.—Because of the
fact that the apprentice period is considerably shorter for both adult and minor
workers in the manufacturing than in the mercantile industry (six months
for adults and nine months for minors in the manufacturing industry as
against a year and a half for minors and one year for adults in the mercantile
industry) the commission employs a system of registration of apprentices in­
stead of the more elaborate system of certification which is in effect in the
mercantile industry. Manufacturing establishments are supplied with pads
of registration forms, which are printed in duplicate. An employer is required
to register each woman and minor who is paid less than the legal minimum
wage at the end of two weeks’ employment. The registration blank is filled
out jointly by the employer and employee—the einjiloyer sends the original
copy to the commission and retains the duplicate copy. As in the case of the
mercantile applications, upon the receipt of each registration blank by the
commission the record of the worker is checked against the registration records
on file, so that the worker may be given full credit for her previous experience,




297

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

but no certificate Is issued. If the report on the number of employees shows
that an employer is exceeding the legal number of apprentices, the violation
is at once corrected. When an apprentice leaves a firm or completes the period
of apprenticeship or is raised to the minimum before completing the period
of apprenticeship, the employer is required to return the duplicate of the regis­
tration form, making a report upon it of one of these conditions. This copy
of the registration form then replaces the original copy filed with the com­
mission. A monthly follow-up letter advises employers of increases due their
apprentices as in the case of the mercantile industry. The form used in
registering manufacturing apprentices follows.
[Original *—To be filed with industrial welfare commission at end of two weeks’ employment]
Industrial Welfare Commission, State of California

620 State Building, San Francisco; 931 Pacific Finance Building, Los Angeles
REGISTRATION of learner in the manufacturing industry

Employee’s Statement
I, ----------------------------, have been employed in this establishment since
(Name of employee)

-------------- at $a week as a
(Date)

(State kind of work)

Previous experience in the manufacturing industry :
(Give names and addresses of former employers and length of previous
employment and kind of work done.)

---------------------------------------------- ,

(Signature of employee)

(Address)

Date of birth if under 18 years,
Employer’s Agreement
I, , hereby subscribe to the application of
(Firm name)

(Address)

I recognize the previous experience as listed and agree

(Name of employee)

to provide h___ with reasonable facilities for learning the manufacturing
industry.
Dute Salary to be paid, $
(Beginning date of employment)

(A week)

Report of total number of female employees on pay roll of
.

(Date)

(Give date of pay roll nearest the date of filing this application.)
num
Number of Number of Totalof fe­
her
experienced
female
male em­
females
learners
ployees

Total.................................. ........... .......................................................

--------------------------------------------------------- —--------- 1

Superintendent or Manager.
* In the commission’s report the duplicate form also is reproduced. Only the heading, which explains that
the duplicate must be retained by the employer and returned to the industrial welfare commission when
the employee leaves or is raised to the minimum, and the final direction, to the effect that when the employee
has been raised to the minimum or has left., the registration blank must be returned to the industrial welfare
commission, vary from the form as reproduced here.




298

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

c. Registration of learners in the laundry and dry cleaning industry.—The
process of registering learners in the laundry and dry cleaning industry is
identical with the registration system in effect in the manufacturing industry.
The length of the apprentice period is six months for both adults and minors
in the laundry industry.*

The foregoing description gives a very complete picture of how
California inspects for the apprenticeship provisions in its decrees.
It omits one form which may bo of interest; that is, the card for
each firm employing any apprentices. By means of this particular
record a firm’s history in relation to its apprenticeship policy is
known. This record has provided for this report the only available
figures on changes in number of apprentices during the period of
minimum-wage enforcement. Only the manufacturing establish­
ment card is" described here. The laundry card is identical; the
mercantile varies only by the inclusion of millinery apprentices as a
separate class, for which the same information is tabulated. The
manufacturing card has these headings: Firm name and address;
product; superintendent or manager; date; number of female em­
ployees in factory (experienced, learners, and total); number in office
(experienced, learners, and total); and learners entered in factory,
learners left, and per cent of learners.
Control of the canning industry—Predominantly a piece-rate in­
dustry.
In addition to detailed forms and methods for keeping track of
apprentices, the California commission has worked out a special
method, called the “ canning audit,” for dealing with the State’s
great pieceworker-employing industry. The history of the commis­
sion’s attempt to set and enforce rates for this unusually complicated
industry is so interesting that it is given here as told by the com­
mission in the fourth report:
Minimum Rates for Fruit and Vegetable Canning Industry, 1916-1922
1. RATES FOR CANNERS

Following is a summary of tlie minimum rates established for canners by
the orders of the commission since 1916:
1916: Minimum piece rates were established for the canning of the most
important varieties of fruit and vegetables.
1917-18: Adult women were guaranteed 16 cents an hour during the first
week of employment and 20 cents an hour thereafter.
1919: Adult women were guaranteed 21 cents an hour during the first week
of employment and 28 cents an hour thereafter.
1920: All adult women and female minors between the ages of 16 and 18
were guaranteed 25 cents an hour during the first week of employment and 33%
cents an hour thereafter.
1921 and 1922: The canning order for these two years permitted employers
to elect either to pay canners guaranteed time rates (adult women 25 cents
an hour during the first two weeks of employment, female minors 22 cents an
hour during the first two weeks of employment, adult women and female minors
33% cents an hour after two weeks of employment), or to pay on a piece-rate
basis under a weekly audit system.
It will be seen from the above outline of the minimum rates for canners
that the orders have varied in their regulations for minor canners. The com­
mission’s 1916 production studies brought out the fact that the production of
minors in both canning and cutting processes fell below that of the adult
workers. Because of this fact the commission in dealing with the rates for
“California Industrial Welfare Commission.
1919-20 and 1921-22, pp. 36-43.




Fourth report, for the biennial periods

299

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

canners in the 1916, 1917, 1918, and 1919 orders took the position that piece
rates which had been estimated to yield the minimum wage to adult women
would constitute a fair basis of payment for minor workers. The canning
orders for these years provided for a guaranteed wage for adult canners only.
In 1919 the working age of minors in canneries was limited to 14 years by
the Federal child labor tax law, which imposed a tax of 10 per cent upon the
net profits of any cannery employing minors under tiie age of 14 years. Further­
more, a number of canneries voluntarily imposed a limitation of 16 years in
their own plants, feeling that the exclusion of the younger workers definitely
added to the efficiency of the plant. The number of minors in the industry was
therefore decidedly decreased at that time.
The 1920 conferences with employers brought out the fact that, while the
output of girls from 16 to 18 years of age was equal to that of older women,
minors under 16 years were irresponsible workers. Many employers stated that
they were forced to continue the employment of these children, though unde­
sirable workers, because their families insisted upon it as a condition of their
own continuance, and the employers believed that this condition, with the
assurance of the guaranteed wage, tended to encourage slacking among the
minors. They expressed themselves as being willing to pay a guaranty to girls
over 16.
The commission accepted the evidence presented, and the 1920 order provided
the same guaranteed rates for minor girls between the ages of 16 and 18 as for
adult women.
The 1921 amendment of the canning order permitted employers to elect either
to pay canners the guaranteed time rates or to pay on a piece-rate basis under
a weekly audit system.
2. BATES FOB DAY WORKEKS

The accompanying outline shows the provisions of the orders which affect day
workers:
Minimum Time Rates Guaranteed

to

Day Workers,

1910

to

1922

1916 and 1917: 13 cents an hour to all women and minors during the first
three weeks of employment; 16 cents an hour to ail women and minors
thereafter.
1918: 16 cents an hour to all minors; 16 cents an hour to all adult women
during the first three weeks of employment; 20 cents an hour to all adult women
after the first three weeks of employment.
1919: 18 cents an hour to female minors during their first week of employ­
ment ; 21 cents an hour to all adult women during their first week of emi>loyment: 28 cents an hour to all adult women and female minors after the first
week of employment.
1920 : 22 cents an hour to female minors during their first week of employ­
ment; 25 cents an hour to all adult women during their first week of employ­
ment; 33% cents an hour to all adult women and female minors after the first
week of employment.
1921 and 1922: 22 cents an hour to female minors during their first week of
employment; 25 cents an hour to all adult women during their first week of
employment; 33% cents an hour to all adult women and female minors after
the first week of employment; 25 cents an hour to all male minors.
3. RATES FOR CUTTERS

The first order regulating the payment of “ cutters ”—that is, women engaged
in the preparation, cutting, peeling, coring, or slicing of fruit and vegetables—
followed an investigation of the industry by the commission, a wage board held
January 13 and 14, 1916. and a public hearing held in San Francisco, February
11, 1916. In the opinion both of the employers’ and employees’ representatives
on the wage board, the highly seasonal character of the work, carrying with it
the condition of a lack of trained workers, and the extreme perishability of the
product, made a piece-rate method of payment apparently the most desirable
method for the canning industry. Accordingly, section 1 of Order No. 1, issued
February 14, 1916, provided for the establishment of minimum piece rates for
the cutting of five leading products, apricots, pears, cling peaches, free peaches,
and tomatoes.




300

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The first revision of this order, in April, 1917, was based upon a consideration
of production studies made during 1916, which showed the yielding power of
the 1916 rates. As a result, Order No. 3 in the canning industry, issued April
16, 1917, provided for a 10 per cent increase in the rate paid for the cutting of
apricots, set a minimum piece rate for asparagus, and further provided that
piece rates established by individual canneries for the preparation of products
other than those specified should yield to at least 80 per cent of the women and
minors employed upon them hourly earnings of 16 cents or more.
The revision of the 1917 canning order, based upon a $10 a week minimum
wage, provided for increased piece rates for the cutting of major products.
At this time the commission first considered the possibility of establishing a
guaranteed time rate for such work. As a result, the 1918 order included the
provision that all piece rates set by individual establishments for the prepara­
tion of minor products should yield to all adult women working upon them
not less than 16 cents an hour for the first week of employment upon each
minor product, and not less than 20 cents an hour thereafter.
Prior to the issuance of the 1919 canning order, the commission met with
representatives of the canning industry to consider the amendment of the
canning order on the basis of the increased minimum wage of $13.50, which had
been established in all industries following a cost of living investigation. At
this time the feasibility of a guaranteed minimum time rate fur the prepara­
tion of all products was seriously considered. The commission believed that the
many factors entering into production, such as the size and degree of ripeness
of the fruit, the size of the box served, the quality of work required from the
women, and the widely differing degrees of factory management, made the
commission’s establishment of uniform piece rates for all canneries definitely
unfair. Especially was there unfairness to the women when inefficiency in the
management of a plant prevented them from being steadily supplied with fruit.
The representatives of the canuers, on the other hand, produced evidence to
show that the time-rate guaranty on the cutting of minor products established
by the commission in its 1918 canning order had had the effect of slowing
production to a disastrous degree.
Out of this discussion came the suggestion that the commission establish an
audit system.
(a) Canning audit, 1919.—The credit for the auditing plan is due the Canners’
League of California, in that its members proposed that they put special investi­
gators in their establishments at their own expense, to in so re the yielding
power of the piece rates required by the commission. The commission could
not accept this proposal, but as an alternative proposed regional auditors,
chosen by the commission under regulation of State civil service, and directed
by and solely responsible to the commission, to make weekly inspections of the
pay rolls of the women cutters in all canneries operating on a piece-rate basis.
Funds from which these auditors were to be paid were to be collected from the
canners, deposited with the State treasurer, and audited by the State board of
control, as are all other State funds. This arrangement was accepted by the
canners.
The 1919 canning order provided for a choice in the method of payment of
women cutters, either the payment of a guaranteed wage of $13.50 a week
(or 28 cents an hour for regular time), or payment on a piece-rate basis.
The piece rates paid were to be not less than those fixed by the commission,
with the further provision that if, in individual establishments, these piece
rates did not yield to at least 66% per cent of the women and minors em­
ployed on each product at least 28 cents an hour, the piece rates were to be
raised to yield to 66% per cent of the women and female minors employed on
each product an hourly earning of not less than 28 cents. The allowance of
33% per cent of workers whose earnings might fall below the minimum wage
was based upon the allowance for learners provided for by the commission in
the regulation of other industries. Canners electing to operate on a piece-rate
basis entered into an agreement with the two associations of canners to con­
tribute to the expense of the audit.
During the season of 1919, 156 of the 200 canneries of the State elected to
operate on a piece-rate basis. Funds for the audit aggregating $11,875 were col­
lected by the Canners’ League of California and the National Canners' Associa­




ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

301

tion of Southern California, the assessment being prorated among the canners
upon the basis of the number of cases in their estimated pack for the season.
The cost of the audit for the 1919 season was $6,798.91, and the unused portion,
$5,076.09, was returned to the Canners’ League and National Canners’ Associa­
tion of Southern California League and prorated back to the contributing
canners.
(&) Canning audit, 1920.—In amending the canning order for the season of
1920, the commission felt that it was not proper to leave the acceptance of the
audit system with its implied obligation of sharing in the expense to a purely
voluntary agreement, since in the preceding season certain of the smaller plants
had taken advantage of operating on a piece-rate basis without contributing
funds for the expense of the audit.
The following terms of the 1920 canning order were intended to make it
compulsory for a canner to work either upon a guaranteed time-rate system
or on a piece-rate basis under the control of the audit system, in which case
he was obligated to share in the expense involved.
PREPARATION OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

No person, firm, or corporation shall employ, or suffer or permit any woman
or female minor to be employed in the fruit and vegetable canning industry in
the preparation of fruit and vegetables when the employment is on a piecerate basis, unless the piece-rate wage scale adopted yields to at least 66%
per cent of all of the women and female minors employed in such work in the
individual establishment, and paid in accord therewith, a wage of not less than
33% cents an hour, and then only upon compliance with the other terms and
conditions hereinafter set forth.
(a) Preparation of fruit and vegetables.—The piece-rate wage scale adopted
in connection with the preparation of fruit and vegetables shall not be less
than the following:
Asparagus________________
.per 100 lbs_$0. 22
Cherries_________________
.per 100 lbs__ . 75
Apricots_________________
per 100 lbs_ . 50
Cling peaches____________
-per 100 lbs_ . 38
Free peaches_____________
-per 100 lbs— . 22
String beans_____________
-per 100 lbs_1. 50
Hand peeling peaches______
.per 100 lbs_ . 50
Pears____________________
-per 100 lbs_ . 62
Plums____________________
_per 100 lbs_ . 18
Thompson seedless grapes__
.per 100 lbs_1. 00
Muscat grapes____________
-per 100 lbs__
. 75
Tomatoes (finished product)
._per!2qts
.05%
and for all other fruit and vegetables such piecework rates as may be adopted
by the individual establishment.
In the event that during any given week the piecework rate paid according
to the scale adopted in the individual establishment does not yield to at least
66% per cent of all women and female minors operating thereunder the mini­
mum hourly wage of 33% cents, as above required, then the piecework-rate
scale theretofore adopted shall be uniformly raised by such percentage as may
be required in order to yield to at least 66% per cent of all women and female
minors operating thereunder the said hourly wage of 33% cents.
ELECTION AND AUDIT

Any person, firm, or corporation desiring to adopt for any individual estab­
lishment a piece-rate scale of wages under the provisions of the preceding para­
graph hereof, or to avail him or itself of the orders of this commission per­
mitting the inclusion within his or its force of operatives engaged in the prepara­
tion of fruit and vegetables of one-third of learners shall file with the commis­
sion his election so to do on or before June 10, 1920, together with his agreement
to pay for such audits as may be reasonably required by the commission in
order to obtain accurate verification of the payments made thereunder.




302

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Following is the agreement signed by the farmers who participated in the
audit system:
Industrial Welfare Commission, State of California,

328 Flood Building, San Francisco, --------------.
To the Industrial Welfare Commission of the State of California:
The undersigned, an employer of labor engaged in the canning industry,
hereby elects to pay wages to women and female minor workers engaged in the
preparation of fruits and vegetables on a piece-rate wage scale in lieu of pay­
ment of wages on a time-rate basis, pursuant to the provisions of and upon the
terms and conditions contained in section 2 of Commission Order No. 3, amended
1920, at the individual establishment located at-------- , and does hereby certify
and declare that the payment of such wages in accord with the piecework-wage
scale adopted will yield to at least 66% per cent of all women and female
minors employed in such work, at least 33% cents per hour.
The undersigned further agrees to deposit with the commission, upon re­
quest, an amount sufficient to cover the cost of such audits as may be required
under the commission order, and understands that the piecework-wage scale
adopted in section 2 of Order No. 3, amended 1920, and the orders of this
commission permitting the operating force engaged in the preparation of fruits
and vegetables of the packer or canner to be composed of one-third of learners,
shall be effective only in the event such deposit and audits be made.
(Signed)------------------ ,
Employer.
In conformance with the $16 minimum wage, which a cost of living study had
just established, the 1920 canning order provided for such increases in piece
rates over the 1919 piece rates as were shown to be necessary by a study of
former production records.
One important change made by the canning order of this season was the ex­
clusion of infirm workers from the audit. Under the provisions of the 1919
canning order, the audit was based upon the earnings of all women and female
minor cutters. When the audit system was put into actual operation, however,
there was found to be a fairly widespread practice of discharging elderly or
infirm women whose low earnings lowered the per cent of women earning the
minimum wage, thereby necessitating an increase in the minimum piece rates.
For the purpose of protecting these substandard workers from dismissal, the
commission availed itself of the power given it by its act of establishment, of
issuing special permits to elderly or infirm workers. By executive interpreta­
tion, these permit workers were excluded from the audit, which was thereafter
based upon the work of all women and female minor workers whose output
was normal.
This exemption was provided for by 'section 7 of the 1920 canning order as
follows:
“A permit may be issued by the commission to a woman physically disabled
by age or otherwise, authorizing the employment of such licensee for a wage
less than the legal minimum wage, and the commission shall fix a special
minimum wage for such woman.
“ Be it further provided that women eligible for permits, working on the
preparation of fruit and vegetables, shall be eliminated from the audit.”
During the season of 1920, 149 of the 175 canneries of the State entered into
the agreement with the commission to operate on a piece-rate basis under the
control of the audit system. The smaller number of canneries operating on this
basis in 1920, in comparison with the number operating in 1919, was due. to the
fact that unsettled market conditions made it inadvisable for a number of the
smaller canneries to operate at all during the 1920 season.
Funds for the audit, aggregating $13,619.60, were collected following the
method of collection used in 1919.
(c) Canning audit, 11)21 and 1922.—The control of piece rates through the
audit was continued during the seasons of 1921 and 1922. In 1921, 111 can­
neries, and in 1922, 117 canneries, elected this method of payment.

Although this description gives the main events from which the
canning audit developed, it does not give any details about the meth­
ods used in this audit. Perhaps the commission felt that the very
word “ audit ” described their procedure sufficiently. This system,
however, is unique in minimum-tvage administration, so a- brief




ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

303

description of how the audit actually was carried out seems worth
while.
_ Actual process of auditing as developed by the California commis­
sion.—Since the commission was not hampered by inadequate funds
in conducting this audit, as a rule enough auditors could be employed
to cover every cannery each week. The State was divided into dis­
tricts and every effort was made to keep one auditor with the same
group of firms for the entire season. The auditor checked the earn­
ings of every woman employed. To expedite this work the commis­
sion has required that every pay roll contain specified kinds of
information and has suggested the actual forms for the pay roll on
which such earnings were to be found. In a form letter dated June
5, 1923, is the following statement:
The pay-roll record of each woman and minor shall show_
(a) The number of hours worked daily in regular time, in overtime, and in
double time, and the amounts earned daily in regular time, in overtime and in
double time.
(h) The total number of hours worked during the week in regular time, in
overtime, and in double time, and the total amounts earned during the week in
regular time, in overtime, and in double time.
Operations of women workers shall be indicated as follows: Canning, “ CN,”
cutting, “ CT,” and day work “ D.” Minors shall be marked on the pay roll.
All women must be given working checks indicating the hours worked and
the rate of pay, and the checks of pieceworkers must also show the amount of
work performed during regular time, overtime, and double time. No two
women may work on one check. No two persons may work on one number.

The commission provided auditors with exact instructions as to the
procedure to be followed in auditing the pay rolls, and also with
carefully worked-out forms, rate tables, and tables of increases to aid
in working out the adjustments. Through the audit system pay rolls
were adjusted so that at least 50 per cent of the women in the" audit
made 33% cents an hour ($16 for a 48-hour week) for the number of
hours of regular time (first 8 hours in a day) worked. Floaters,
minors under 16, and women on permit were excluded from the pay
roll as substandard workers before the audit was made. For ex­
ample : Assume that after permit women, floaters, and minors under
16 were eliminated from a pay roll, there were 100 normal workers
left. Of this number 25 made 33% cents an hour or better and 75
failed to earn 33% cents an hour in the'hours of regular time worked
during the week. Under the provisions of the order at least 50 per
cent, or 50 of the 100 women, were required to receive 33% cents or
more an hour. To raise the pay roll to conform to the law, the 50
women making the highest earnings were determined by the auditor.
The auditor then figured the percentage of increase necessary to
bring the average of the lowest of these 50 women up to 33% cents an
hour. This percentage of adjustment was added to the earnings of
all women and female minors whose piece-rate earnings fell below
33% cents an hour (minus workers). It was provided, however, that
the piece-rate earnings plus the percentage of increase added should
not bring the earnings of any of the “ minus ” women above 33%
cents an hour. Therefore, the 25 women who earned between 33%
cents an hour and the average of the woman on whose earnings the
percentage of increase was determined did not receive the full per­
centage of increase, but were paid enough additional to bring their
earnings to 33% cents an hour. These women added to the 25 women




304

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

whose pieee-rate earnings were 33% cents or more before the pay roll
was raised made a total of 50 women who were paid at least 33%
cents an hour.
A similar audit wap made on the earnings of overtime, and a per­
centage of increase was added when 50 per cent of the women failed
to make an average of 41% cents an hour? even though no adjust­
ment had been necessary on the regular time earnings. If 50 per
cent of the adult women working on overtime failed to earn at
least 41% cents an hour, and an adjustment had been necessary on
the regular time earning^, the same percentage of adjustment that
had been added to the regular time earnings was applied to the
overtime earnings of all women who failed to earn 41% cents an
hour, provided that the amount earned in overtime plus the per
cent added did not exceed 41% cents an hour.
In 1923 the canning order was amended further, and after August
8 of that year any percentage of adjustment found necessary on the
regular time earnings was applied to the total earnings in regular
time, overtime, and double time of all women on the pay roll.
The instruction form given each auditor is reproduced here, for
it shows in detail the steps taken in the work. Only cutters are
mentioned in this form, but exactly the same method is used for
the canners. Each of these processes has to be treated as a separate
unit in calculating increases.
To audit a cutter’s pay roll.—1. Eliminate all “ floaters ” without regard to
their average hourly earnings. 2. Eliminate minors, and infirm workers whose
average hourly earnings for the week in regular time are less than 33% cents
an hour. 3. Mark pieceworkers making the minimum for the hours worked
during the week in regular time with plus ( + ) and those failing to make
the minimum with minus ( —). (Use 33% cents rate card.) 4. Enter in the
column provided on the “ total sheet ” the number in the various groups
appearing on each page of the pay roll. Check the total of each page on
the “ total sheet ” with the total of the corresponding page of the pay roll.
The audit total is the sum of the plus ( + ) cutters and the minus ( —) cutters.
If the number of plus (+) cutters exceeds or equals the number of minus (—)
cutters, no adjustment is required. If the number of minus (—) cutters exceeds
the number of plus ( + ) cutters an adjustment will be necessary.
A “ floater ” in a department is defined as a woman who works one-third or
less of the average number of hours worked in regular time in that department.
Floaters who make 33% cents an hour or over in regular time must be eliminaited as well as those who fail to make the minimum.
To raise a pay roll.—1. Enter on “ tally sheet ” the total number of piece­
workers in audit. 2. Enter the number which is 50 per cent of the audit total.
3. Enter the total number which is required to make up to 50 per cent of
audit total. 4. Determine the average hourly earnings of cutters marked
minus (—). Use rate table for this and enter in pencil on pay roll, (o) In
using the rate table, earnings which fall between two groups should be con­
sidered in the nearest group.
(b) When the earnings fall exactly midway
between two groups the higher and lower groups should be used alternately,
(e) In determining the average hourly earnings when time is figured in quarter
hours, drop the “ % ” and consider the “ % ” as the next whole number. Illus­
tration :
41% hours would be considered 41 hours.
41% hours would be considered 42 hours.
5. Page 1 of pay roll: Enter on “ tally sheet” in proper column, the number of
cutters whose average hourly earnings fall in the various wage groups. Enter
total of these in column marked “ Totals.” Check the total minuses on “ total
sheet.” Repeat for each page of pay roll. 6. Having determined the number
required to make up 50 per cent, ascertain the wage group in which this number
falls by counting from the highest group in which the earnings fell. This
establishes the group to be raised. The percentage of increase required to
raise each wage group is computed on page 11 of rate book.




305

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

Adjustment on a pay roll of 200 cutters when less than 50 per cent (e. g., 20
per cent) earned 33% cents or over an hour
TABULATION OF THE AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS OF 160 CUTTERS WHOSE EARNINGS
WERE LESS THAN 33i CENTS AN HOUR
33
cents
5

32H
cents

32
cents

31H
cents

31
cents

30^
cents

30
cents

29 H
cents

29
cents

28H
cents

20

10

4

6

10

5

20

5

15

28
cents
30

27^
cents
30

Total in audit___________________________________ _______________
200
GO per cent of audit total,_________________________________________
ioo
Number earning 33% cents and over
40
Number required to make up to 50 per cent
CO
This number (60) falls in the 30-cent wage group. The percentage of increase
is determined by subtracting 30 from 33% cents and dividing this difference
(3% cents) by 30 cents; 0.03% divided'by 0.30 is 0.111, or 11.11 per cent.
The percentage of increase must be added to the total weekly earnings in
regular time, overtime, and double time for all women and minor pieceworkers,
including floaters and women on permit.
The same procedure outlined above shall be used in auditing the canners’
pay rolls.
If the total number of hours worked in the cannery for any week is 16 or
less, an audit may be made for the short week or any adjustment found neces­
sary on the following week shall be applied to the earnings of all women and
minors for the short week.

In addition to suggested pay-roll forms and careful instructions to
auditors, the executive office got out complete rate tables (so that the
agents could look up percentages of increase rather than work them
out), work sheets whose headings were a constant reminder of the
way the women were to be grouped in reckoning compliance, ad­
justment notices to leave with the employer, and forms for report­
ing on each plant. The tables showing the percentages of increase
of course are not reproduced in this report. They are very long and
detailed and are not necessary to an understanding of the audit. The
adjustment notice used in 1923 and later is given here. It is interest­
ing to notice that the adjustment is given to the employer on the
percentage basis, and it is left for him to work out the actual amount
that must be paid each worker.
Industrial Welfare Commission, State of California
ADJUSTMENT NOTICE

Firm name _
_ _
Address
Adjustments on pay roll of

Date ....... _
Manager or superintendent

.

___

Cutters’ pay roll

Canners’ pay roll

The above percentages of increase must be added to the total weekly earnings
In regular time, overtime, and double time of all women and minor piece­
workers, including floaters and women on permit.
These adjustments are to be paid by
(Date)

(Signed)

The auditor’s report which follows enables the commission to have
an exact record of how the earnings have run in a given plant over
the entire period the audit has been in use.




CO

o

AUDITOR'S REPORT

Address_____

Time for audit..

Auditor_____

Date of pay roll.

o

Date of audit__
(Hours)
(From)

(To)

Pieceworkers
Women and female minors

Cutters

Canners

1

1
Product _________________ _______ ___
Maximum weight of box___ . ____•_ ...
Average weight of box
Average weight as posted....................... .......
Rate paid per 100 pounds
Rate paid per box________ _____ ____ ___

Total amount of adjustment------------ ------------------------Total amount of pay roll____________________________
Date payment of adjustment_____. ... _ ____________




Maximum weight per box
Maximum weight of box . .._____
Average weight of box by auditor------------- Average weight per box______________ _
Average weight as posted_____ ______ ____ Average weight as posted____ ________

Product................. ............................... ..............
Maximum weight per box__________ ____
Average weight per box.. ____________
Average weight as posted
Rate paid per 100 pounds----- --------------- .
Rate paid per box______________ _____ _

Minors

Day workers

All departments

Department

Cutters

....

Canners Miscella­
neous

l

Total

i

Female

Male

Total

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Name of plant

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

307

The minute detail in which this scheme has been developed, in
order that it should be really effective, is of tremendous importance
to anyone interested in the problems involved in the application of
minimum-wage laws to groups other than regular timeworkers.
Pieceworkers are found to some extent in a large number of the in­
dustries and occupations covered by the decrees. How the decrees
shall be applied to them has been decided differently in various locali­
ties and at different times in the same locality. The canning audit
as developed in California represents a determination to assure the
pieceworker the minimum rate in her weekly pay envelope. It shows
how thoroughly the decrees can be applied if a commission is given
an adequate staff and sufficient appropriation.
Forms used in enforcing decrees in Massachusetts.
The plan of enforcement worked out by Massachusetts was of
necessity quite different from the plans found in States with manda­
tory laws, of which California is given as an example. In Massachu­
setts there were three things the employer must do: He must post a
notice of minimum-wage rates; he must keep a proper record of wages;
and he must allow’ the inspector access to his books. Only through
education and the force of public opinion could pressure be brought
to bear on him to cause him to pay the actual rates set in the decrees.
The steps to gain compliance with those nonmandatory rates will be
taken up chronologically.
As soon as a decree was entered, but before it became effective, the
commission sent a letter to each employer in the occupation in ques­
tion. Undoubtedly, all firms that had been established more than a
few weeks were covered, since only relatively small groups were
included in one decree, and the commission had available a supposedly
complete list of the employers in the industry, both from its own
investigation of the industry in question and from the records of the
Massachusetts division of statistics. The letter follows:
Gentlemen : Inclosed herewith is a copy of the decree entered by the mini­
mum-wage commission on -------- , relative to the wages of women and girls
employed in the -------- occupation in Massachusetts. The decree is based on
the recommendations submitted in the report of the wage board for this occu­
pation, which was signed by all1 of the members.
In accordance with the provisions of the general laws, chapter 151, section 14,
you are required to post this notice in a conspicuous place in your establishment
where it will readily be seen by all of your women employees, and to maintain
it until further notice.
The notice should preferably be posted near the main entrance or in the work­
rooms where women are employed. Where the work is carried on in separate
buildings, notices should be posted in each building where women come under
the provisions of the decree. Additional posters will be supplied on request.
Your attention is called to the fact that these determinations go into ef­
fect -------- .
Under the law the commission is required to publish the facts as it may find
them to be as to the acceptance of its recommendations by the employers engaged
in the industry to which any of its recommendations relate.
The commission, therefore, desires me to inquire whether or not you intend to
accept these recommendations and to follow them in your establishment.
Your cooperation in this matter is invited.
Very truly yours,
Assistant Commissioner.
1 In case of unanimous report




308

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

As soon as a decree became effective the executive office of the com­
mission began to make arrangements for inspection by the commis­
sion’s agents of the firms covered by the decree. How immediately
this inspection could be made was determined by the number of other
inspections that the staff was conducting, but only in rare cases did
more than a few weeks elapse between the date on which a decree
became effective and the date when inspection under it was begun.
Inspections usually were carried on in two or more industries at the
same time. Reinspections and inspections of complaints in scattered
industries also were going on all the time. Industries in which a new
decree had just been entered were given precedence in making up the
list for inspection; of the others, the industries where the longest
time had elapsed since the last inspection usually received first atten­
tion. Theoretically each industry was inspected at regular intervals,
as, for instance, once a year. In reality, lack of a sufficient number
of agents meant that each industry was inspected after a decree was
set and as often thereafter as circumstances allowed. A considerable
number of new decrees in any one year usually meant practically no
inspections under older decrees. The first inspection was, of course,
much the most important, for at this time the great majority of non­
compliances were found. Moreover, the noncompliances found by
the original inspection under a decree often were due to imperfect
knowledge of the decree or to an arbitrary stand taken by the em­
ployer which he could be persuaded to renounce.
In carrying out an inspection the State was divided geographically
among the agents. In her territory an agent visited all firms covered
by the decrees selected, saw to it that tho employer was observing all
the mandatory provisions of the law, and took a transcript of the pay
roll for a selected week, including every woman covered by the given
decree. The following form used in taking off pay rolls shows the
kind of material collected.




309

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries
DIVISION OF MINIMUM WAGE

Inspection report
Wage records secured__________
For tabulation_________________
Weekly schedule of hours__
Industry

File page
Agent

Legal name of establishment City or town
Address------------------------------------------- Date of inspection__
Nature of business---------------------------- Notice posted?
Person interviewed------------ --------------- Notice of acceptance ?
Watge record for all female employees for week ending.
Experience
No.

Name

Occu­
pation

Age

Former Present Actual
Previous Present rate of rate of earn­
ings
employ­ employ­ wages1 wages
ment
ment

i
i

............

Com­
Hours pliance

Notes

1

1 Previous to operation of minimum-wage decree.
(For outline of special cases see other side.)

Before leaving the plant the agent took up with the officials all
cases of noncompliance. Particularly on first inspections in an in­
dustry the agent often could adjust all or almost all the violations.
Sometimes the employer had misunderstood the scope of the decree,
and did not realize that certain groups were entitled to the minimum;
sometimes an employer could be persuaded to shift a woman to
another job, where he thought she would be worth the minimum rate;
sometimes a woman was a special-license type and the agent could
authorize the payment of a rate below the minimum. Sometimes
even cases based solely on unwillingness to meet the rates set in the
decrees could, be adjusted by the agents. Besides adjusting actual
noncompliances whenever possible, the agents called attention to
those workers who must soon be granted a raise in pay due to a
change in age or length of service. In general it was the agent’s
business to explain the law and help the individual employer to
apply it.
The transcript of wages collected by agents is used in the executive
office as a basis for the extensive rates and earnings figures tabulated
by the commission. The cases of noncompliance are taken from




310

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

these sheets by the agents, listed, and submitted to the person in
charge of enforcement—the woman assistant commissioner of labor—
who then takes up each noncompliance and seeks to adjust it. This
report, on which the assistant commissioner bases her activities,
covers the following facts:
Agent’s Report on Cases Requiring Adjustment

Decree_________________________________
Establishment Location------------------------------------------------------------------Official interviewed
To the Assistant Commissioner,

Department of Labor and industries,
State House, Boston, Mass.

Date
Following is outline on cases requiring adjustment in the above named
establishment:
Total number of women employed------------- Timeworkers----------Pieceworkers
Total number of noncompliances------------Timeworkers----------Pieceworkers----------Name

Occupation

Age

Experience

Time rate

Earnings, P. W.

Remarks.—.
Special license cases:
Name

Age

Experience

Rate to be paid

Recommendation
Letters to be sent:
Refusal to show pay roll----------------------------Refusal to allow transcript--------------------------Refusal to post notice--------------------------------Record of working hours to be kept for P. W.
Letter for appointment-------------------------------Letter regarding wage adjustment----------------Reinspect:
Respectfully submitted.




Agent.

ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

311

The assistant commissioner then attempts to adjust these cases
through conference and correspondence. The first step usually is to
send out the following letter:
WARNING LETTER

Gentlemen : According to the records secured from your office, it appears
that you are not complying with the-------- occupation decree.
Under the law it is the duty of the commission to inspect for the purpose of
determining compliance with minimum-wage decrees and to publish the names
of those employers who fail or refuse to comply with these recommendations.
The commission is endeavoring to adjust all cases outstanding under this
decree during the present month.
Before taking action as required by law, the commission would like a written
statement specifying whether or not you are willing to accept the decree and "
abide by it. Failure to reply by-------- will be interpreted as refusal to accept
the decree.
In the meantime, the commissioners invite employers who desire to discuss the
question of adjustment to meet with them in their office, room 4T2, the Statehouse, at any time before-------- .
Very truly yours,

Assist a n t Cotnmissioner.

When contact with the firm lias been established thus, several means
may be suggested to the employer whereby he may see his way clear
to comply with the law. He may be given an extension of time in
which to make adjustments; he may be persuaded to give a woman
some special training to increase her efficiency; he may be allowed to
try out a given occupation at piece rates; the question of transfer to a
different sort of work may be taken up again. Usually an agent is
sent back to make a reinspection, in the hope that further knowl­
edge of the situation and further contact with the employer will make
possible an adjustment. Every effort of the commission, however, is
bent toward keeping a woman at work and persuading the employer
to raise her wages and not to discharge her. The following is the
agent’s reinspection report.
60769°—28-----21




312

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

REINSPECTION
Agent’s Report on Cases Requiring Adjustment

Decree---------------------------------------------— Establishment.
Location________________________________________
Official interviewed______________________________
To the Assistant Commissioner,
Department of Labor and Industries,
State House, Boston.
Date
Following is outline on cases requiring adjustment at reinspection:
Total women employed at inspection______ Time______ PieceTotal noncompliances at inspection________ Time______ PieceTotal women employed at reinspection____ Time______ PieceTotal noncompliances at reinspection______ Time______ PieceStatus at reinspection of noncompliances at previous inspection:
Name

Occ.

Age
A. M.

Exp.
In. Exp.

Rate
T. P.

Adjustment made

Rate
T. P.

Adjustment made

New cases of noncompliance since inspection:
Name

Occ.

Age
A. M.

Exp.
In. Exp.

Remarks (Agent should distinguish between old and new cases) :
Recommendation :
Special license-----------------Special license type-----------Technical noncompliance___
Reinspection (date)_______
Conference in office________
No action------------------------Letter to be sent:
Regarding wage adjustment.
Keeping record of hours_
_
Reinspection: (Date)
Respectfully submitted.




Agent.

313

ENFORCEMENT OP DECREES

If all these efforts fail to gain compliance, the commission publishes
the names of the firms who refuse to pay all their employees of
ordinary ability the minimum rates required in the degrees. The
following letter is sent to warn employers of this action on the part
of the commission:
FINAL LETTER

Gentlemen : Under the law it will be necessary for the commission to
publish the name of your firm as not complying with the-------- decree.
This action will be taken unless adjustment is made of the cases outstanding
prior to -------- , and unless notice of such adjustment is received in the office
of the commission before that date.
Failure to netify the commission before the-------- instant will be regarded
as refusal to comply, and publication will appear on-------- . This notice will
be published in the Boston papers and also in a local paper on the date
specified.
Very truly yours,

Assistant Commissioner.

Before 1921 no firm’s name was published for noncompliance.
The following statement shows how many times the commission has
had to resort to this means of gaining enforcement since that year:
Number of—
Year

Industry
Firms

1921

Total................................................... .........
Building cleaners..................... ...........
Paper box_________

1923

Total__________ _
Laundry________
Muslin uriderwear.._____________
Paper box_______ _________
Retail stores__________
Women’s clothing_____

1924

Total...............................................
Druggists’ compounds............................
Minor lines of confectionery..............

1925

............

W omen

12

266

l
11
114
22
1
1
89
1

223
3
' 27

2

39

1
1

10
29

Total................ ...................

15

Canning and preserving.......................
Druggists’ compounds...................... .
Men’s furnishings______
Building cleaners. ............... .
Muslin underwear...................
Paper box...................................
Retail stores___________ _
Women’s clothing...................................

1
1

3

2
7
13

In 1925 the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decided that
the section of the minimum-wage law requiring newspapers to print
the names of any employers whom the commission wished to advertise
for noncompliance was unconstitutional. At the present time only
those newspapers which do so voluntarily carry the paid advertise­
ments of the commission, listing the establishments that are not com­
plying with the decrees.




314

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN' THE UNITED STATES

Though this completes the outline of the procedure used to gain
compliance, certain forms that have been developed to aid in the
inspection work have not been presented. In the first place, all
women who are given special licenses are required to fill out the
following form:
application blank for special license

Occupation---------------------------------------

Date granted___

See file No.
(Applicant should not write above this line)

Date19_____________________
To the Commission : The undersigned hereby makes application, under the
provisions of section 9, chapter TOG, acts of 1912, as amended, for a special
license authorizing her employment at a wage less than the legal minimum wage
established by the commission for a woman of her age and experience in the
following industry.
Occupation
Name of employer
Address of employer_______________________________________________
Kind of work in which applicant is engaged or wishes to be engaged (state exact
employment)
Length of experience in that employment
Length of time employed by present firm
Other employment
Length of experience in that work
Dependence on earnings
Age ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- •
Nature and extent of disability because of which special license is requested
(state specific cause)
Witness--------------------------------- Signature of applicant
(in case applicant signs by mark)
Home address
Date
Amount per week firm will pay,$
(full-time work).
Signature of representative of firm

The license, if issued, is in triplicate, one copy to be kept by the
employee, one by the employer, and one to be filed by the commission.
The license form gives the legal provision permitting its issuance,
the name and address of the licensee, and the rate of wages to be
paid to her. It is numbered and dated.
Another set of forms was developed for keeping a record of in­
spections in the office. The agents handed in daily and weekly re­
ports which are not reproduced, since their main purpose was a record
of the work of the agents. In addition, a firm card was kept for




ENFORCEMENT OF DECREES

315

each establishment inspected. The form, which follows, gives a
complete history of the relations of the commission with each em­
ployer.
Minimum Wage Commission Inspection Report Card

Occupation---------------------------- Firm Year
Inspection ------------------------------------------------ Address
Date---------------------- Official interviewed Agent
Compliances: No.
Per cent----------- Adjustments----------- Nature_____ Cases pending
Noncompliances:
Wages: No.------------------------- Per cent
Records: Refusal to show---------------- Refusal to permit copying
Do not keep
Notice: Failure to post---------------------------- Refusal to post
Information withheld
Follow-up visits------------------- Correspondence Conference at
office------------------- Date:------------------------------ Letters sent
Replies_______ Representative_______ Date
Disposition of cases:
Adjusted------------------------------- Pending
Nature of adjustment________________________________________

(For detailed report of case see other side)

This brief recounting of the enforcement method used in Massa­
chusetts shows that, in the information collected, the commission,
in its forms and acts of its agents, sought exactly the same type of in­
formation as did the States with mandatory laws. Moreover, the
careful method of having the agents copy all pay rolls inspected in­
stead of merely going over them and copying noncompliances was the
rule in this one State alone. The division of minimum wage in the
department of labor and industries depends almost wholly on these
pay-roll records for enforcement. Complaints are investigated by
the agents at the discretion of the assistant commissioner, but they
have not been very important in enforcement. No forms for re­
cording them or keeping track of them exist. The amount of time
spent on enforcement, due not only to that consumed in copying pay •
rolls but to that which elapsed while negotiation seeking compliance
•was being carried on, meant that the commission must either have
a large force of agents or cover a small number of women. Un­
doubtedly the time spent, by necessity, on inspection and reinspec­
tion, to try to persuade employers to conform to a decree, has been
a contributing factor in the failure of the Massachusetts commission
to cover more than a small percentage of the woman wage earners of
the State.




CHAPTER XIII.—RELATION OF THE COURTS TO THE
MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

As would be natural in so uncharted and controversial a field, the
various State and Federal courts have been called on time and again
to interpret the minimum-wage laws. Many of the legislatures in
passing the laws provided specifically for appeals from the commis­
sions’ decisions as set forth in the decrees. And these laws, of course,
like any other law that restricts men’s actions in a field not clearly
contemplated by the constitutions of States or of the United States,
were subject to attacks on the question of constitutionality. As in
the case of many other labor laws, opponents of minimum-wage laws
have claimed that they violated the “ due process of law ” clauses
of the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the Federal Constitution.
Of the many cases that have been heard, some have hinged on the
interpretation of specific sections, or even phrases, in the laws, but
the great majority of the cases have involved efforts to have the
courts declare this kind of wage regulation unconstitutional.
PROVISIONS IN THE LAWS PROVIDING FOR COURT REVIEW OF
DECREES

The provisions of these laws relating particularly to the protection
of employees, such as those sections punishing anyone who inter­
feres with workers who testify before the commission, or providing
means for their collecting back wages, and so on, have been discussed
earlier in this report.1 The provisions of the laws providing for
appeals to the courts from the commissions’ decisions seem to be
primarily the laws’ attempt to protect the employer. Many of the
laws provided means by which any interested party could appeal
from extreme rulings.
The commissions not only were given definite rules as to how to
proceed if their decrees were to have the force of law, but in many
States their decrees were subject to review by the State courts; so
any person who felt that a commission had overstepped its powers
or had failed in its duties in arriving at a decree, could appeal to
the courts to have such decree set aside.
Only in Arkansas and Minnesota was no provision made for appeal
to the courts to review the substance of the decrees.
In Massachusetts and Nebraska appeal to the courts was not gen;
eral but was tied up to the provision in the laws of these States that
the wage boards must consider the financial condition of the industry
in determining the minimum rate. In addition to this protection
offered the employer, he also could file a declaration under oath,
with the supreme judicial or superior court in Massachusetts or with
the district court in Nebraska, that compliance with the decree would
endanger the prosperity of his business. He then was entitled to a
stay of execution and to a hearing conducted by the court under the
rules of equity procedure, to determine whether his claim of injury
1 See p. 281.
316




RELATION OP THE COURTS TO THE MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

317

was true, If his contentions were sustained, the court could revoke
the order. The court’s power to revoke an order because of its effect
on one firm evidently was considered much too drastic in Massa­
chusetts, for in 1913 the law was amended so that this paragraph was
clearer and much less extreme. The amendment specified that the
plaintiff had to support the burden of proof that the decree in ques­
tion prevented him from conducting his business at a reasonable
profit. No stay of execution was to issue. Moreover, if the employer
proved his case the court could duly exempt him from having his
name published, without this, action bearing in any way on the
position of other employers.
North Dakota, Oregon. Washington, and the District of Columbia
provide very briefly in their laws that there shall be an appeal on
questions of law from the minimum-wage commissions to the courts.
The commissions were to have the final decision as to facts.
In California, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and Wisconsin a much more
elaborate system is provided, whereby an individual can appeal from
the commissions’ decisions as embodied in the decrees. The original
Colorado and Kansas laws simply provided for an appeal to the
district courts, the order to remain in force until definitely set aside
by the court, on the grounds that the order was either unlawful or
unreasonable. There was a real difference, however, in what the
court was called upon to do. Kansas provided that the determina­
tions of fact made by the commissions were presumed to be correct,
so that the burden of proof must rest on the plaintiff, but it in no
way limited the evidence that might be introduced. Colorado pro­
vided that the evidence submitted to the court must be confined to
that submitted to the commission. The field for review thus opened
to the Kansas courts was much broader than that before the Colorado
courts. The Colorado courts were to judge whether or not the com­
mission had interpreted correctly the facts at hand; the Kansas
courts were to review the commission’s acts, rehear the case presented
to the commission and any additional testimony that might be pre­
sented, and decide whether or not the commission had acted correctly
m the light of all this testimony. Later, the laws of both Colorado
and Kansas, were administered by State bodies having many labor
laws to administer and great responsibility. The laws creating these
bodies provided in minute detail for an even more exact method of
procedure in appealing from the commissions’ decrees. The pro­
visions of these later laws corresponded very closely to the provisions
in the Wisconsin Industrial Commission law—a case of a commis­
sion analogous to the bodies just mentioned in Colorado and Kan­
sas—and to the provisions in the laws of California and Texas.
Four of these States with the detailed procedure for appeals—
California (by an amendment in 1921), Colorado (1917), Kansas
(1921), and Wisconsin—provide that any aggrieved party must
appeal to the commission for a rehearing before he may appeal to
the courts. California, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Texas provide that
the courts, when the appeal reaches them, may send the problem back
to the commission for reconsideration. If after all these efforts the
aggrieved party still is dissatisfied with the decree in question, the
court may consider both points of fact and the law. In California
facts are subject to court review only if there is a claim of fraud.




318

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

There is no great difference among the States as to the procedure
for court review. Although the exact number of days varies from law
to law, each law provides that any action must be begun within a
specified period of time. They limit also the amount of time that
can elapse before an answer must be filed and try in general to make
sure that court action can not be so long drawn out as to nullify the
decree. With the same idea of keeping court action from interfering
unduly with just decrees, these laws provide the terms under which
the decree in question may be suspended pending the prosecution
of the appeal. Although the laws vary in detail, instances of specific
provisions are that the suspension affects only the complainant in
California, the court may not grant an injunction without a hearing
in Colorado, and an injunction can be granted only by circuit court
or presiding judge of that court in Wisconsin.
Only California and Texas have enacted these elaborate provisions
for court review with minimum wage as their main concern. In the
three other States they have been the result of an effort to safe­
guard workmen’s-compensation rulings, sanitary standards, and a
wide variety of orders amplifying and interpreting the labor law of
the State. "Almost every minimum-wage State, however, has shown
some concern for this method of insuring fair administration of the
laws. It is interesting by contrast to see the kind of court action
that in fact resulted from these laws.
COURT ACTION WITH REFERENCE TO MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

There is no record of any case where an employer came into court
contending that a specific decree was unreasonable and should be
modified, or that it had not been entered in accordance with the law
and should be reconsidered—with more careful investigation or with
more widely advertised hearings. Every attack on a specific decree,
though it might question the method of passing on the facts on which
the rate was determined, has been based primarily on the thought that
any decree would be just as wrong; that the whole law, and therefore
any decree, was unconstitutional. Even in Massachusetts, where an
employer had only to show that a decree prevented him from conduct­
ing his business at, a reasonable profit to obtain a modification of the
decree as far as he was concerned, no case was ever brought with this
in view. When there is considered the number of cases which at­
tacked the existence of the law, the court actions seem to be evidence
of the employers’ desire to destroy the law rather than efforts to aid
in making the law work effectively by using the means provided in
itself for securing redress of grievances.
Among the 13 States with flexible laws, Colorado and Nebraska
never put their laws into operation. In each of the remaining 11
States at least one case arose where the constitutionality of the law
was questioned. In these cases it was claimed that the fourteenth
amendment to the Federal Constitution precluded the possibility of
the States passing a law regulating wages by its provision that “ no
State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privi­
leges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any
State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due
process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the




RELATION OP THE COURTS TO THE MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

319

equal protection of the laws.” 2 With many surface differences, the
fundamentals of these minimum-wage cases were the same. The
plaintiff claimed that the laws destroyed the freedom of contract
between the woman worker and her employer, and thus arbitrarily
took away a property right without due process of law. The defense
claimed that the laws were a reasonable exercise of the police powers
of the State to protect its woman workers from conditions detri­
mental to their health and welfare.
These cases arose in varied ways, but up to 1923 the outcome was in
every case the same. The law was upheld. In 1923 the United
States Supreme Court held the District of Columbia law uncon­
stitutional. Since that date only one court (Superior Court of Cali­
fornia) has supported the law. The laws of Arkansas, District of
Columbia, Kansas, and Wisconsin, among the flexible laws, and Ari­
zona and Porto Kico among the inflexible laws, have been declared
unconstitutional, and such doubt has been thrown on the validity of
all these laws, except the nonmandatory Massachusetts act, as to
cause almost complete cessation of work in some States and to retard
work seriously in all. Because these cases have finally resulted in
nullifying the will of the legislature, it seems an important part of
this study to consider briefly each reported case.
Arkansas.
Very shortly after the law of Arkansas went into effect, the
validity of the act was attacked in the circuit court of the State, and
the case was carried on appeal to the supreme court of the State,
which in 1917 upheld the constitutionality of the act. (State v.
Crowe, 130 Arkansas 272, 197 S. W. 4.) The case was not appealed
to the United States Supreme Court, and the question of the law’s
constitutionality was considered settled. After the decision of the
Federal Supreme Court holding the District of Columbia law uncon­
stitutional, another case was brought to test the Arkansas law’s consti­
tutionality. This action was brought in the Federal District Court
(1924) and was carried to the United States Supreme Court (1927).
Both courts declared the law unconstitutional, basing their decisions
on the District of Columbia case. (Donham v. West Nelson Manu­
facturing Co., 273 U. S. 657.)
California.
The constitutionality of the California law was never questioned
until the adverse decision in the District of Columbia case. A suit
then was brought by an employee in the superior court of the State.
This court upheld the law’s constitutionality (1924). This is the
only case where a court has taken this stand since the United States
Supreme Court’s decision in the District of Columbia case. The
California case was appealed to the supreme court of the State, but
was dropped by the plaintiff before it was reached for argument.
(Gainer v. A. B. C. Dohrman et al.)
District of Columbia.
After the hotel-and-restaurant order in the District of Columbia
went into effect, two suits were brought questioning the constitution­
2 In the District of Columbia the case was based on the fifth amendment, which reads,
“ No person shall * * * be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process
of law * * * ”




320

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

ality of the law. One suit was started by an employer, the Children’s
Hospital, and one by an employee, Willie Lyon. The two cases were
argued together. The Supreme Court of the District of Columbia
upheld the law (1920). The court of appeals also upheld the law the
first time the case was heard (1921), but later, after the return to
the bench of a justice who had been ill, replacing a justice of the
District of Columbia Supreme Court who had served temporarily, a
rehearing was granted and the law was held unconstitutional (1922).
On appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the District of Colum­
bia Court of Appeals was sustained and the law was declared uncon­
stitutional (1923). (Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, 261 U. S. 525.)
Kansas.
In Kansas there was, for the first time, a case questioning the
method by which a decree was enacted as well as the constitution­
ality of the law. The Hanna Poultry & Egg Co. in 1920 claimed
that Order No. 11 (manufacturing) of the Kansas Industrial Wel­
fare Commission was unreasonable in its terms, that the procedural
provisions of the law had not been followed, and that, moreover,
it was unconstitutional to pass any such order. The court did not
pass on the question of the law’s validity nor on the reasonable­
ness of the particular order, but it held that the statutory require­
ments had not been complied with and that the order therefore was
void. In 1922 the Topeka Laundry Co. and the Topeka Packing Co.
attacked the laundry and manufacturing orders passed in that year,
on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to justify the orders
under the statute, and that the statute itself was unconstitutional.
This time the district court ruled on both points and upheld the
order. No appeal was taken from this decision until 1924, when the
case was revived by the plaintiffs in the hope that the United States
Supreme Court decision in the case of Adkins v. Children’s Hospital
would force the Kansas courts to declare their law unconstitutional.
In 1925 the Supreme Court of Kansas held the law unconstitutional,
solely on the grounds of the precedent established by the United
States Supreme Court decision. (Topeka Laundry Co. v. Court of
Industrial Relations, 119 Kansas 12.)
Massachusetts.
The first case involving the Massachusetts law was started by the
commission in an effort to force a laundryman to allow his pay roll
to be inspected. The defense claimed that the law was unconstitu­
tional, but the supreme judicial court of the State upheld it (1918).
(Holcombe v. Cramer, 231 Mass. 99, 120 N. E. 354.) The only other
Massachusetts case was based on the section of the law requiring
newspapers to publish any names of firms not paying minimum-wage
rates which the commission might submit. The section also pro­
vided a penalty for noncpmpliance. The Boston Transcript refused
to comply with this -section. The case was carried to the supreme
judicial court, which held this one section of the law unconstitutional.
The court, however, reaffinned its earlier decision holding the law as
a whole constitutional, stating that the case of Adkins v. Children’s
Hospital did not govern, due to the nonmandatory features of the
Massachusetts law (1924). (Commonwealth v. Boston Transcript,
249 Mass. 477.)




RELATION OF THE COURTS TO THE MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

321

Minnesota.
The law of Minnesota has been before the courts not only on the
question of its general constitutionality but as to its interpretation.
In 1914, after the commission’s first wage orders were issued but
before they became effective, two suits were brought to restrain the
commission from enforcing the orders. The cases were argued jointly
and a temporary injunction was granted. In all the other States the
first decisions have been in favor of the law’s constitutionality, so
that the law has gone on functioning. In Minnesota, however, the
whole work of the commission was held up by this adverse decision.
The cases were appealed to the supreme court of the State, which
finally upheld the law (1917) and refused to grant a rehearing
(1918). (Williams v. Evans, Ramer v. Evans, 139 Minn. 32, 165
N. W. 495, 130 Minn. 45, 166 N. W. 504.) Only then did the law
really begin to function. In 1925 another case arose involving the
question of the law’s constitutionality. (Stevenson v. St. Clair.) A.
minor who had not received the legal minimum sued for back wages.
The defense was that the law was unconstitutional. The district
court granted the minor back pay and held that Adkins v. Children’s
Hospital did not affect the status of minors under minimum-wage
laws. The decision assumed that the law was unconstitutional for
adult women. It may well he taken as the third case where State
courts have, reversed themselves due to the United States Supreme
Court decision in Adkins v. Children’s Hospital.
Besides the question of the law’s constitutionality, two court cases
arose, to question the powers of the commission. The commis­
sion in 1919 issued orders in which the minimum rate of pay was
based on a wTeek of 48 working hours, with additional hourly rates
for all hours worked in excess of this limit. The Miller Telephone
Co. questioned the commission’s right to establish the rate on the
48-hour basis when the legal working hours set by the legislature
were 54 and 58. The commission lost the case in the lower court,
but was upheld by the State supreme court (1920). (Miller Tele­
phone Co. v. Minimum Wage Commission, 145 Minn. 262.) In
1921, due to the efforts of the commission to enforce its orders,
the courts were asked to pass on what was a proper notification
to the employer of the enactment of minimum-wage rates. The
supreme court of the State held that under the law the commission
must prove that the employer received a copy of the order before it
could prosecute him for noncompliance. This led to an amendment
to the law providing specifically what notification would be consid­
ered adequate before prosecution for noncompliance could be started.
This case also raised the question of who were “ persons of ordinary
ability,” a phrase used in the laws of Kansas, Massachusetts, Minne­
sota, and Nebraska, and in the Minnesota orders, to describe the
normal experienced worker. It had been assumed that the commis­
sion had power to define and to determine who should be deemed
workers of ordinary ability, entitled to the minimum-wage rates, but
the State supreme court held that these matters were left to the
courts.
North Dakota.
In North Dakota, as in Kansas, an injunction against specific
orders (telephone and laundry) was asked on the ground that the



322

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

orders were not reasonable and had not been regularly passed and
that the law was unconstitutional. The district court granted the
injunction (1920) on the ground that the orders were not lawfully
made nor issued, but did not pass on the validity of the law. The
case was not appealed. (North Western Telephone Co. v. Work­
men’s Compensation Bureau, and Grand Forks Steam Laundry v.
Workmen’s Compensation Bureau.)
Oregon.
The first State to pass any decrees was Oregon (1913). Imme­
diately thereafter a case was instituted (Stettler v. O’Hara) ques­
tioning the constitutionality of the law. Tire circuit court in 1913
and the State supreme court in 1914 upheld the law. The case then
was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which heard it for
the first time in December, 1914, reheard it in 1916, and finally in
1917 handed down a decision by an evenly divided court, four justices
sustaining the law, four holding it invalid, and one not participating,
since he had previously taken part in the case as an advocate.
(Stettler v. O’Hara, 243 U. S. 629.) This left the opinion of the
Oregon Supreme Court, that the law was constitutional, the final
decision in the case. The State supreme courts of Arkansas, Massa­
chusetts, Minnesota, and Washington soon after this decision upheld
the laws in those States, and no one cared to carry the cases to the
United States Supreme Court. California and Wisconsin, where
the commissions either had moved very slowly or had suspended
action, now felt that their laws were secure and proceeded to carry
out the provisions of their acts.
Texas.
Although no decrees ever went into effect in Texas, due to the
repeal of the law, the constitutionality of the law was sustained by
the Texas courts. The provision in the Texas law corresponding to
the provisions in all these laws to protect women who testified before
the commission, was invoked when an employer discharged a woman
who appeared before the commission. The defense claimed the law
unconstitutional, but both the county court and the State supreme
court upheld the law (1920). (Poye v. Texas, 89 Texas Criminal
Reporter 182, 230 S. W, 161.)
Washington.
The first case testing the constitutionality of the law of Wash­
ington arose when a worker sued for back wages and the defense
advanced the theory that the law was unconstitutional. Both the
county court (1917) and the State supreme court (1918) upheld the
law. (Larsen v. Rice, 100 Washington 642, 171 Pacific 937.) In
1920 another case questioning the constitutionality of the law reached
the State supreme court on an appeal from the lower court which
had dismissed the case. The supreme court again upheld the law.
(Spokane Hotel Co. v. Younger, 113 Washington 359, 194 Pacific
595.) The only other reported Washington case arose when the
courts were asked to pass on the powers of the commission in deter­
mining the substance of a decree. The Washington law provides
that all rates for adult women must be based on recommendations of
a duly constituted wage board. In 1918 the wage board for “all
industries” recommended a weekly rate of $13.20. The commission




RELATION OF THE COURTS TO THE MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

323

said that this rate should be paid for an 8-hour day and a 6-day or
48-hour week. This worked out to give to the woman who worked
the full legal limit of 56 hours, 8 hours of overtime at 27y2 cents
per hour. The commission’s power to make such a ruling was ques­
tioned by a hotel owner who refused to pay more than $13.20 for a
7-day week. To enforce the decree the commission applied to the
superior court, county of Spokane, which ruled that in the absence
of specific recommendations on this point by the conference [wage
board], the common-law rule that a week was seven days must be
accepted as the basis for the rate. (State of Washington v. Moore,
Mimeographed Opinion No. 6697, July 16, 1919.)
Wisconsin.
No case occurred in Wisconsin until after the United States
Supreme Court decision in Adkins v. Children’s Hospital. In 1924,
however, the Folding Furniture Co. applied to the Federal District
Court for an injunction to restrain the commission from enforcing
its orders. The court granted the injunction, holding the law uncon­
stitutional on the basis of Adkins v. Children’s Hospital. (Folding
Furniture Co. v. Industrial Commission, 300 Federal 991.)
Summary.
After a stormy career, minimum-wage laws seem to be in a very
dubious position as far as mandatory enforcement of wage rates is
concerned. The higher courts of the States had held these laws to
be constitutional, but the Supreme Court of the United States came
to a different conclusion. Though the particular case decided by the
Federal court, Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, arose under the Dis­
trict of Columbia statute, the decision is so broad in its scope that it
has thrown doubt on all the State laws.
It has had such a far-reaching effect on all minimum-wage laws
that the basis for the decision and the reason for disagreeing with
it must form a most important part of any attempt to understand
the situation of such laws in the United States. The opinions—of
Mr. Justice Sutherland for the court and of Mr. Chief Justice Taft
and Mr. Justice Holmes dissenting—set forth succinctly the opposing
views as to these statutes. Speaking for the court, Mr. Justice
Sutherland said the following:
The statute now under consideration is attacked upon the ground that it
authorizes an unconstitutional interference with the freedom of contract in­
cluded within the guaranties of the due process clause of the fifth amend­
ment. That the right to contract about one’s affairs is a part of the liberty
of the individual protected by this clause, is settled by the decision of this
court and is no longer open to question. * * * Within this liberty are con­
tracts of employment of labor. In making such contracts, generally speaking,
the parties have an equal right to obtain from each other the best terms they
can as the result of private bargaining.
*******

It is simply and exclusively a price-fixing law, confined to adult women (for
we are not now considering the provisions relating to minors), who are legally
as capable of contracting for themselves as men. It forbids two parties having
lawful capacity—under penalties as to the employer—to freely contract with
one another in respect of the price for which one shall render service to the
other in a purely private employment where both are willing, perhaps anxious,
to agree, even though the consequence may be to oblige one to surrender a de­
sirable engagement and the other to dispense with the services of a desirable
employee.




324

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The cooperative economies of the family group are not taken into account
though they constitute an important consideration in estimating the cost of
living, for it is obvious that the individual expense will be less in the case
of a member of a family than in the case of one living alone. The relation
between earnings and morals is not capable of standardization. It can not be
shown that well-paid women safeguard their morals more carefully than those
• who are poorly paid. Morality rests upon other considerations than wages;
and there is, certainly, no such prevalent connection between the two as to
justify a broad attempt to adjust the latter with reference to the former.
As a means of safeguarding morals the attempted classification, in our opinion,
is without reasonable basis. No distinction can be made between women who
work for others and those who do not; nor is there ground for distinction
between women and men, for, certainly, if women require a minimum wage to
preserve their morals men require it to preserve their honesty.
*******

The law is not confined to the great and powerful employers but embraces
those whose bargaining power may be as weak as that of the employee. It
takes no account of periods of stress and business depression, of crippling losses,
which may leave the employer himself without adequate means of livelihood.
To the extent that the sum fixed exceeds the fair value of the services ren­
dered, it amounts to a compulsory exaction from the employer for the support
of a partially indigent person, for whose condition there rests upon him no
peculiar responsibility, and therefore, in effect, arbitrarily shifts to his shoulders
a burden which, if it belongs to anybody, belongs to society as a whole.
The feature of this statute which, perhaps, more than any other, puts upon
it the stamp of invalidity is that it exacts from the employer an arbitrary
payment for a purpose and upon a basis having no causal connection with his
business, or the contract or the work the employee engages to do.
*

#

*

*

*

*

*

It has been said that legislation of the kind now under review is required in
the interest of social justice, for whose ends freedom of contract may lawfully
be subjected to restraint. The liberty of the individual to do as lie pleases,
even in innocent matters, is not absolute. It must frequently yield to the com­
mon good, and the line beyond which the power of interference may not be
pressed is neither definite nor unalterable but may be made to move, within
limits not well defined, with changing need and circumstance. Any attempt to
fix a rigid boundary would be unwise as well as futile. But, nevertheless,
there are limits to the power, and when these have been passed it becomes the
plain duty of the courts in the proper exercise of their authority to so declare.
To sustain the individual freedom of action contemplated by the Constitution
is not to strike down the common good but to exalt it; for surely the good of
society as a whole can not be better served than by the preservation against
arbitrary restraint of the liberties of its constituent members.
It follows from what has been said that the act in question passes the limit
prescribed by the Constitution. * * *.

Mr. Chief Justice Taft, dissenting, said the following:
Legislatures in limiting freedom of contract between employee and employer
by a minimum wage proceed on the assumption that employees, in the class
receiving least pay, are not upon a full level of equality of choice with their
employer and by their necessitous circumstances are prone to accept pretty
much anything that is offered. They are peculiarly subject to the overreaching
of the harsh and greedy employer. The evils of the sweating system and of the
long hours and low wages which are characteristic of it are well known. Now,
I agree that it is a disputable question in the field of political economy how
far a statutory requirement of maximum hours or minimum wages may be a
useful remedy for these evils, and whether it may not make the case of the
oppressed employee worse than it was before. But it is not the function of this
court to hold congressional acts invalid simply because they are passed to carry
out economic views which the court believes to be unwise or unsound.
Legislatures which adopt a requirement of maximum hours or minimum
wages may be presumed to believe that when sweating employers are prevented
from paying unduly low wages by positive law they will continue their busi­
ness, abating that part of their profits, which were wrung from the necessities
of their employees, and will concede the better tei'ms required by the law; and




RELATION OF THE COURTS TO THE MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

325

(liat while in individual cases hardship may result the restriction will enure
to the benefit of the general class of employees in whose interest the law is
passed and so to that of the community at large.
The right of the legislature under the fifth and fourteenth amendments to
limit the hours of employment on the score of the health of the employee it
seems to me, has been firmly established.
*******

If it be said that long hours of labor have a more direct effect upon the health
of the employee than the low wage, there is very respectable authority from
close observers disclosed in the record and in the literature on the subject'quoted
at length in the briefs that they are equally harmful in this regard. Congress
took this view and we can not say it was not warranted in so doing.
*******

Without, however, expressing an opinion that a minimum-wage limitation
can be enacted for adult men, it is enough to say that the case before us involves
only the application of the minimum wage to women. If I am right in thinking
that the legislature can find as much support in experience for the view that a
sweating wage has as great and as direct a tendency to bring about an injury to
the health and morals of workers, as for the view that long hours injure their
health, then I respectfully submit that Muller v. Orgeon, 208 U. S. 412, controls
this case. The law which was there sustained forbade the employment of any
female in any mechanical establishment or factory or laundry for more than
10 hours.
*******

I am not sure from a reading of the opinion whether the court thinks the
authority of Muller v. Oregon is shaken by the adoption of the nineteenth
amendment. The nineteenth amendment did not change the physical strength
or limitations of women upon which the decision in Muller v' Oregon rests
The amendment did give women political power and makes more certain that
legislative provisions for their protection will he in accord with their interests as
they see them. But I don't think we are warranted in varying constitutional
construction, based on physical differences between men and women, because
of the amendment.
*******

And Mr. Justice Holmes, also dissenting, said this:
To me, notwithstanding the deference due to the prevailing judgment of the
court, the power of Congress seems absolutely free from doubt. The end to
remove conditions leading to ill health, immorality, and the deterioration of the
race, no one would deny to be within the scope of constitutional legislation
The means are means that have the approval of Congress, of many States, and
of those governments from which we have learned our greatest lessons, when
so many intelligent persons, who have studied the matter more than any of us
can. have thought that the means are effective and are wortli the price, it seems
to me impossible to deny that the belief reasonably may be held by reasonable
men.
*******

It will need more than the nineteenth amendment to convince me that there
are no differences between men and women, or that legislation can not take those
differences into account.
*******

This statute does not compel anybody to pay anything. It simply forbids
employment at rates below those fixed as the minimum requirement of health
and right living. It is safe to assume that women will not be employed at even
the lowest wages allowed unless they earn them, or unless the employer’s busi­
ness can sustain the burden. In short, the law in its character and operation
is like hundreds of so-called police laws that have been upheld.




CHAPTER XIV.—APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR
MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITIES

In this report it has been said repeatedly that certain omissions,
certain failures to reach a high standard of work, must not be laid
at the door of the commissions administering minimum-wage laws
but at the door of the legislatures that failed to appropriate enough
money to carry out this complicated plan of State regulation of rates
of pay. It is, of course, true of any plan that it functions better
if adequately financed, but this was peculiarly true of minimum-wage
laws. After all, these laws did not establish rates of pay, but instead
they set up the machinery for determining what rates of pay would
be lair, enacting those rates and enforcing them. This made the law
very much more expensive to carry out than a law where the legis­
lature laid down certain rules and designated a certain body as the
agency to enforce those rules. A great deal of time and effort
must be expended in investigations and setting rates, as well as
in enforcing rates. That the commissions needed funds that would
permit adequate investigation as well as thorough enforcement has
seldom been recognized by the legislatures.
SUMS FOR ADMINISTRATION CARRIED BY THE MINIMUM-WAGE
ACTS

Some idea of what the legislatures contemplated the cost of ad­
ministration and enforcement would be may be obtained by seeing
what sums were set aside for these purposes in the original acts.
California, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington provided in
their first laws that a fixed sum was to be appropriated annually to
meet the expenses involved in carrying out the act. The sums speci­
fied were: California, $15,000; North Dakota, $6,000; Oregon, $3,500;
Washington, $5,000. The section of the California law carrying this
appropriation requirement was repealed in 1923, and that of North
Dakota in 1927, so the legislatures no longer are required to make
any appropriation for minimum-wage work. Four other States—
Colorado, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and Texas—included
in the original law an appropriation ($5,000) to become effective
at once, so that the work of carrying out the law could be started
immediately. In the District of Columbia and Minnesota this sum,
appropriated on an annual basis, became the accepted sum which the
legislature granted the commission each year. The remaining five
States—Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Wiscon­
sin—took no notice whatsoever in the original act of how the expense
of applying the law was to be met.
326




APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITIES

327

ACTUAL SUMS CARRIED IN APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR THE WORK

In making annual appropriations for administering and enforcing
minimum-wage laws the legislatures have designated the sums to
be applied exclusively to this work as follows:
Table 57.—Amounts

appropriated for minimum-wage work, by State and year

ISecond line under any State is either an additional appropriation or a deficiency appropriation!
State

1913

Arkansas............. .................

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

i $300. 00
i $300. 00
i $475. 00
$15,000. 00 $15,000. 00 15, 000. 00 15, 000.00 21,100.00
3, 308. 875 3, 308. 875
500. 00
$750.00
750. 00
i, 500. 00
1, 500. 00

1919

7, 000.00

19, 900.00
5, 000. 00

5, 000. 00
17, 9C0.00 17, 400.00
5, 000. 00 5, 000. 00
3, 500. 00 3, 500. 00

5, 000. 00
18, 212.13
5. 000. 00
2, 000. 00

7, 500. 00
18, 263.00
5, 000. 00
2, 000. 00

i1)

5, 000. 00
(2)

5,000. 00 5, 000.00
()
12, 400.00

5, 000. 00
12, 400.00

5.000. 00
(2)

i $475. 00
21,100. 00
500. 00
1, 800. 00
3, 750.00
7, 500. 00
22,000.00
5, 000. 00
2, 750. 00
5,000. 00
5, 000. 00
(2)

1920

1921

1924

1925

1926

Colorado........ .........................
District of Columbia..........

Texas.._______ __________

State

1 $250. 00
42,000. 00
7, 250. 32
1,800. 00
District of Columbia............ 5,000. 00
Kansas__________ ________ 8, 000. (X)
18, 600. 00
Minnesota________ _______ 5, 000. 00
6,000. 00
2, 750. 00
5, 425. 00
2,000. 00
(2)

1922

1923

i $500. 00 i $500. 00
i $500. 00
42, 000. 00 65, 492. 50 65, 492. 50
7, 250. 32 7, 627.475 7, 627. 475
1, 800.00 1, 800. 00
2, 400. 00
5, 000.00 5, 000. 00
5,000. 00
(2)
8, (XX). 00
(2)
3 533.00 11,600.00 11, 600.00
19, 250.00 18, 250. 00
5, 000.00
(2)
(2)

i$l, 000.00
28, 030. 00
2, 400. 00
5, 000.00
(!)
‘1,600.00
16, 300. 00
(!)

16, 500. 00
(2)

17, 400. 00

5,100. 00
4, 250. 00
(2)

5,100. 00
3, 543. 50
(2)

4, 550. 00
3, 543. 50
(2)

4, 550. 00
3, 543. 50
(2)

3, 250. 00
3, 543. 50
(2)

(!)

c)

m

(!)

1 900. 00
6, 000. 00

4, 250.00
5, 425. 00
2, 000. 00
(2)

$1, 000.00
28,030.00 $39, 262. 50

o

m

1 Only appropriation designated by legislature as for minimum wage, but the general funds of the bureau
or commission administering the law were to include minimum-wage work.
2 Fund appropriated for body administering minimum wage along with other labor laws. Exact amount
assignable to minimum wage can not be determined.
3 Only appropriation designated by legislature as for minimum wage, but the general funds of the
bureau or commission administering the law were to include minimum-wage work. A consolidation
during the fiscal year made void the original appropriation, necessitating a special appropriation on the
basis of the new arrangement to complete the fiscal year.
* A consolidation during the fiscal year made void the original appropriation, necessitating a special
appropriation on the basis of the new arrangement to complete the fiscal year.

Even without taking into consideration any of the factors that
controlled the volume of work the commissions must perform—
such factors, for example, as whether or not they were called on
to do other work than minimum-wage investigation and enforcement,
how many women must be covered in the minimum-wage work, and
so on—it is important to see just what sums were appropriated by
the various legislatures specihcallv for minimum-wage work. Cali­
fornia ha£ had appropriations so much larger than those of any
other State that from 1918 on its lowest appropriation ($21,100 for
1918 and 1919 each) was almost identical with the highest appro607690—28----- 22




328

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

priation ever granted in any other State ($22,000 in Massachusetts
in 1919). Its highest appropriation, $65,492.50 in 1922 and in 1923,
was three times as great as this highest sum in Massachusetts, and
in addition the canners’ audit gave the California commission an
extra $7,621,475 for each of these years. A study of Wisconsin’s
report on expenditures reveals occasional small sums out of the large
industrial commission appropriation assigned to minimum wage, but
manifestly a large part of the sum charged to the woman’s depart­
ment also must have been spent on minimum-wage enforcement, so
that no estimate of the cost of this one law can be made. The appro­
priations in the remaining States are for the mo,st part $5,000 or
less. Kansas, which alone of these States had an appropriation uni­
formly over $5,000, required its commission to decide what the legal
working hours and sanitary rules should be and to enforce these
decisions in addition to its minimum-wage work.
One of the effects of the consolidation of all labor-law enforce­
ment in the hands of one agency is apparent in this table. When
minimum-wage work was assigned to the body enforcing general
labor laws, it is impossible to ascertain the cost of the minimumwage law. For instance, in Wisconsin no comparison can be made
at any date, since outside of the small special appropriations in 1916
and 1917, when work on minimum wage was practically at a stand­
still, it has not been possible to ascertain what part of the industrial
commission appropriation went for minimum-wage work. In Kan­
sas, Minnesota, and Washington the same situation exists since the
independent minimum-wage commissions were abolished. The facts
that are known about the exact sums appropriated therefore are far
from complete. Moreover, almost all the appropriations are quali­
fied in some way which reduces somewhat their availability for min­
imum-wage work.
The first possible qualification is whether any work other than
minimum wage had to be taken care of from these appropriations.
In six States—Colorado, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, Texas, and Wisconsin—any sums shown on this table are
for minimum-wage work only. In Colorado the law never functioned
and in Texas it functioned for only a year and a half. In Wisconsin
the sum given in the table was a small special appropriation. Only
in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia does the
appropriation represent the exact figures available over a period of
time for minimum-wage work. In California, Oregon, and Wash­
ington the sums appropriated went to set up and enforce sanitary
standards and certain hour limitations in addition to those estab­
lished by the legislature, as well as to administer and enforce the
minimum-wage laws. In all three of these States, however, the
minimum-wage work formed such an overwhelmingly predominant
part of the activities that these appropriations may be taken as a
close approximation of the amount spent on minimum-wage work.
In Kansas and North Dakota all labor laws relating to women were
enforced through this appropriation. In addition, the Kansas com-




APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE POE MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITIES 329

mission supported by this appropriation had to establish as well as
to enforce the hour and minimum-wage regulations. It is not pos­
sible to say of either Kansas or North Dakota just what part of the
appropriation went for any particular work, so the sums for these
two States must be classed as considerably overestimated when the
cost of minimum vTage alone is considered. In Arkansas, enforce­
ment of all laws concerning women and children seems to be primarily
the concern of the industrial welfare commission, but until 1924 the
only minimum-wage appropriations were for occasional services. The
bureau of labor statistics did any regular inspection that was car­
ried on, and its work was supplemented by volunteer service and by
the irregular help provided in the appropriations. It is thus pecu­
liarly difficult in this State to know where the appropriations were
spent and how largely they were supplemented from the bureau of
labor statistics appropriations. There are really only six States—
California, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon,
and Washington—whose appropriations can be said to represent
almost wholly work on minimum wage. The appropriations in these
States range from $2,000 in Oregon in 1917 and in 1918 to $65,492.50
in California in 1922 and in 1923. It does not seem possible tha't even
the much less number of women workers in Oregon could justify so
great a difference in appropriation.
Since there is such a wide divergence in appropriations, it may be
possible that the amount of money available for carrying out the
laws influenced the laws’ development in certain particulars. In the
first place, a rough comparison may be made between the number of
women who w ere covered by minimum-wage decrees and the number
of women whom it would seem practicable for the decrees to cover
under the terms of the law. The table which follows shows these
figures in terms of the United States Census of Occupations, 1920.
It must be remembered that all the figures in this table are for the
year 1920, and that they are only estimates of the number of women
covered by the decrees, since, as explained in detail in an earlier
section of this report, the classification of occupations used by the
United States census in many cases is very unlike the classification
of industries and occupations followed by the minimum-wage decrees.
The figures presented in the table, however, would seem to be a fairly
valid basis for comparison, since the same difficulties occur from
State to State and result in the same kind of omissions or over­
estimates.




330

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Table 58.—Women covered by minimum-wage decrees, by State and year
[Based on figures from the United States Census of Occupations, 1920.
preceding]

State

Number
of women
wage
earners
to whom
it is prac­
ticable to
apply the
mini­
mum
wage law1
3 157, 493
30, 225
5 60,113
42, 551
374, 940
86, 081
9, 522
29, 836
84,378
52,441
101,800

State

See paragraph immediately

Number of women covered by decrees in—

1914

1916

1917

3 29,833

1913

1915

4 57,077

4 162,455

4, 526
84, 596

24,321
84, 596

29, 745
84, 596

13,577
9 36, 712
86,081

1918

742

742
84, 596

6,663

29, 836

29,836

29,150

29, 611

29,611

42,345

. 46,614

46, 614

46, 614

52,441

1923

1924

4 180, 294

4 180, 294

4 180,294

20,159
62,120
86, 081
6, 048
29, 611

20,159
63, 606
86, 081
6,048
29, 611

20,159
65, 903
86, 081
6,048
29,611

31, 432
101, 800

31,432
101,800

31, 432
101, 800

1919

1920

4 180, 294
5, 961
20, 159
40, 484
86, 081
29, 611

4 183,170
9,300
20,159
61, 877
86, 081
9,318
29, 611

52, 441
101, 800

52,441
101, 800

1921

1922

4 180, 204 4 180, 294
10, 548
10, 548
20,159
20,159
62,120
62,120
86, 081
86, 081
9,318
6,048
29, 611
29,611
42, 784
31,432
31,432
101,800
101,800

1925

1 All gainfully occupied women in the State minus those women who are owners or in supervisory posi­
tions, women in industries and occupations excepted in the laws, and women in domestic service and
agriculture.
2 A considerable underestimate, because the census figures were obtained for January, the slack season
in the State’s large canning industry. It is probable that at least 25,000 more women are employed when
the canneries are running full force. The Census of Occupations, for instance, shows 5,005 women in
canning and packing, but the Census of Manufactures shows 31,771 women so employed at the peak of
the season of the preceding year.
3 This figure is from the Census of Manufactures, the figure in the Census of Occupations being an under­
estimate, since it is for January when the canning industry is running with only a fraction of the force
that it employs during the canning season.
<This figure is a combination of the Census of Manufactures and the Census of Occupations to try to
take care of the canning industry.
3 An overestimate, since it is impossible to separate the women who are clerks in the Government serv­
ice. These women could not be included in any minimum-wage decree issued by the commission,, but
since the census does not indicate where clerical workers are employed they are all included in this figure.
6 An underestimate, since it does not include any figure for muslin underwear nor for retail millinery.

Six States—California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Wash­
ington, and Wisconsin—have at some time covered by specific decrees
almost all the women that were employed in those occupations where
it was practicable to apply the law. The District of Columbia has
made a much better showing than this table would indicate, since
43,076 of the woman wage earners included in the practical total
are office workers, of whom the greatest number are Government
employees. Moreover, a representative group of the remainder who
work in private offices were investigated by the commission and their
rates were found to be so high that minimum-wage action was un­




APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR MINIMUM-WAGE ACTIVITIES

331

necessary. This would mean that of a possible 16,960 women who
might need the aid of minimum-wage laws, 10,548 were covered by
decrees. Of the States whose laws functioned for any length of
time, only Kansas and Massachusetts failed to cover the vast major­
ity of their woman wage earners.
From this table alone the comment on whether or not the amount
of money available might influence the development of the law would
seem to be that only a very small yearly sum was needed to put a
minimum-wage law in force. The commissions and wage boards
either were unpaid or were paid only for actual time on minimumwage work. The appropriation could go almost wholly to support­
ing an executive office to enforce the decrees and to make investiga­
tions of conditions to see whether or not it was necessary to set new
decrees or to revise old ones. Stated in this way it seems possible
that this scheme of setting rates could be carried out at very small
expense to the taxpayer. When the problems of investigation and
enforcement are remembered, however, it becomes difficult to under­
stand how these smaller appropriations could bo stretched to cover so
much ground.
If one looks back over this report, the administrative work done
by two States—California and Massachusetts—is quoted constantly.
For instance, the most approved type of investigation and inspec­
tion—that of having the inspectors copy actual pay rolls for rates
and earnings figures—has been followed by Massachusetts in every
industry, and by no other State. The most inclusive investigations
and inspections have been made by California in its pay-roll calls.
Both these States have had a cost-of-living study, either by the
commissions’ agents or by the wage board, before each decree was
set. The most careful scheme of getting wage-board members, and
providing these boards with the material necessary for them to
function properly, is found in Massachusetts. The only detailed
plans for dealing with pieceworkers and apprentices are found in
California. Is not the fact that these two States have had the most
adequate appropriations one main reason why they have done such
careful work? When it is realized that Massachusetts has included
in its decrees only some 75,000 women out of a possible 375,000,
it is clear that the cost per woman is not much lower in Massachu­
setts than in California, in spite of the much smaller appropriations.
There seems to be no doubt that the amount of the appropriation
decides how carefully the work may be done and the number of
women who may be included in the decrees. With small appropria­
tions either careful work or inclusive decrees must be sacrificed.




CHAPTER XV.—CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN
WORKERS DURING THE PERIOD OF MINIMUM-WAGE
ACTIVITY

It has been emphasized in this report that material is not available
to prove or disprove beyond a doubt that minimum-wage laws have
produced certain specified results. Those elements in the community
most opposed to the law claim that it has driven industry from the
State, thus injuring the general prosperity and decreasing the em­
ployment available for women; that it has thrown the less efficient
women out of work; that the minimum rate has in fact become the
maximum, thus holding down the rates of the more efficient workers;
but if they offer any proof at all, it is only isolated examples, not
figures based on large groups of women. The proponents of the
law usually make more modest claims as to the positive results of the
decrees. They contend that the law has raised wages substantially;
particularly that it has aided the women in the lowest paid groups,
who were most in need of this help. They deny that the minimum
has become the maximum or that industry has been driven from the
State. They deny that any considerable number of the less efficient
workers have been injured by the law and contend that, in those cases
where such women lost their jobs, the situation usually could have
been adjusted through change of work within the establishment,
or through apprenticeship or infirm permits, if the employer had co­
operated to the fullest extent in applying the law. Since the claims
of bad effects quite generally are more sweeping than the claims for
good effects, it is easier to disprove them with the material available
than it is to prove the actual accomplishments of the law.
There are two insurmountable obstacles to coming to absolutely
dependable conclusions about the results of the laws. The first is
the complexity of the field in which these laws functioned. Ob­
viously it is impossible to isolate from all other economic forces the
establishments and woman workers directly affected by minimumwage rates and watch results of the law’s operation, as a chemist
isolates one element in a test tube and tests the effect upon it of a
single agent such as heat. Moreover, it is impossible even to evaluate
their influence in relation to other items such as a war-time scarcity
of labor accompanying an enormously increased demand for com­
modities, unionization of a group of workers, shutting off of ma­
terials, unusually high taxes, and countless other factors that bear
on the condition of an industry. The period of time during which
they have been in operation has been a period when business has had
to meet not only all the usual pressure from varied economic forces
but the unusual conditions always found during war and postwar
periods. For example, in 1915 the brush industry in Massachusetts
claimed that its general prosperity was greatly harmed by the setting
of a minimum-wage rate in 1913, but failed to attribute any of its
difficulties to the fact that the Great War shut off all the world’s best
bristles, which came from Russia. To proponents of the laws it
332



CHANGES IN THE POSITION OP WOMAN WORKERS

333

seemed that any bad effect that the increased rates had on profits was
infinitesimal beside the loss of the supply of superior raw material.
This is, of course, an obvious case of other and stronger influences
working in the same field as that of a minimum-wage decree. It is
always true, though, that a dozen small causes, none of them neces­
sarily very evident, affect wages, the amount of employment avail­
able, the general prosperity of the industry, in every case where
minimum wage regulates rates of pay for woman workers.
This interrelation of economic factors affects the different claims
in varying degree. If minimum-wage laws are only one of a dozen
factors affecting industry, it is hard to substantiate the claim that
they are responsible for any specific industry’s being unable to con­
tinue operations, even though a few cases of firms failing or moving
from a State after being included in a minimum-wage decree can be
found. The contention that minimum wage has caused widespread
dismissal of workers also is reduced to the citing of examples in
which the employer is willing to testify that the minimum-wage
rate alone caused a woman’s dismissal, since a figure showing a de­
crease in the number employed in a given industry where there was
a minimum-wage decree might result from any number of causes
other than minimum wage. On the other hand, this very interrela­
tion makes it harder to prove that there is no danger of the minimumwage rate becoming the maximum, particularly in a time of stable
prices, or that minimum-wage rates have raised actual rates and
earnings substantially. This is due to the unusual conditions under
which minimum wage has functioned, for during a large part of the
period in which the laws have been in operation, and particularly
during the years for which the most information is available, war con­
ditions caused a rise in wages throughout the country and gave
women an unusual opportunity to obtain better-paid jobs. It is just
possible that in a normal period the minimum might have become the
maximum for most of the workers; it is also possible that, during the
period of feverish war activity, rates and earnings, particularly rates
and earnings in those industries directly affected by war demands,
would have shown as great an increase without any minimum-wage
laws.
The fact that the field in which the laws operated is so complicated
makes it of the greatest importance that this report bring together
all available figures on woman workers in minimum-wage States, to
see in what way the women’s position has changed and to try to de­
termine how far the change was due to minimum wage. This raises,
however, the second serious obstacle to proving the results of mini­
mum-wage decrees. This is the question of whether the material
available on rates, earnings, numbers of employees, numbers of ap­
prentices, growth of business, and so on, is sufficient to substantiate
the claims as to results, granted that minimum-wage decrees are con­
sidered the dominant factor in the wage situation. For this section
of the report every available figure of the minimum-wage commis­
sions, either in their published reports or in their files, and some com­
parable figures from State and Federal censuses and from the
Women’s Bureau’s reports have been studied. With the exception of
some figures collected by the Women’s Bureau in Arkansas, this
material from the commissions is the only available source for de­




334

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

termining actual changes in rates and earnings during the period of
minimum-wage activity. As explained in an earlier section of this
report (pp. 53 to 75) the State figures were collected by different
methods and for varying numbers of women. However, if these fig­
ures are examined simply as showing changes in rates and earnings
and not in an attempt to prove the impossible, these differences in
method and number do not destroy the value of the figures.
Before discussing the actual figures on rates and earnings it seems
necessary to explain why the tables showing all the available data
have been omitted and only quartiles and medians are presented. If
complete tables showing the exact numbers of women in each rate
and in each earnings group had been reproduced, the mass of mate­
rial would have been much greater than was necessary to show gen­
eral changes. Unusual situations, often of interest but not of lasting
significance, have been lost by using these computations which show
only what is happening to the group considered as a whole, but a
basis of comparison from year to year and from State to State is
gained, and these comparable figures are few enough in number to
be discussed clearly. After all, the changes in the position of the
whole group of workers, with particular emphasis on the lower-paid
workers, are the concern of this report.
There is, however, one danger in using these computed figures—
quartiles and medians—and that is that they may be treated as
exactly comparable with the absolute minimum-wage rates. It must
always be kept in mind that the first quartile represents a figure
below which are found 25 per cent and above which are found 75
per cent of the women for whom rates or earnings are available; that
the median marks the line where 50 per cent of the women are below
and 50 per cent are above; and that the third quartile is the reverse of
the first, or the line where 75 per cent of the women are below and
25 per cent are above. Particularly these computed figures, stand­
ing alone, do not afford a basis on which to judge the adequacy of
minimum-wage enforcement. In some cases even the first quartile is
so high that it is obvious that practically all the women in the table
are receiving the minimum rate; but cases where a first quartile
comes at about the minimum rate do not indicate that the law is
not being enforced, since lower rates for minors and apprentices
easily may account for 25 per cent of the women in the table. The
discussion that follows must be understood to be with the purpose
of showing how the position of the whole body of woman workers
has changed during the years minimum-wage laws have been in
force.
CHANGES IN RATES AND EARNINGS OF WOMAN WORKERS

The first comparison to be made is to study the changes which
occurred chonologically within one State. Medians and the two
quartiles have been calculated to see what changes there were in the
rates paid the middle and perhaps most typical worker and how the
typical workers in the lowest and highest paid groups were affected.
Arkansas.
Though the inflexible rates of the Arkansas law went into force
in 1915, the flexible rates in mercantile establishments only became
effective in Fort Smith in 1920 and in Little Rock in 1922. In




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

335

1922, before the first rate set in Little Rock and before a revision of
rates in Fort Smith, the Women’s Bureau made a study of rates and
earnings of woman workers in Arkansas.1 The Women’s Bureau was
able also to collect figures for practically the same mercantile estab­
lishments in Fort Smith and Little Rock in 1924. No figures on
either rates or earnings collected by the Arkansas Industrial Welfare
Commission were available for study.
Table 50.—Median and quartile rates and earnings in Arkansas, 1022 and 1924,
by industry1
[Figures n roman were secured by investigation before a decree; those in italic by inspection following a
decree]
A. MEDIAN

State at large

State at largo out­
side of Fort Smith

Fort Smith

Little Rock

Date of survey
Rate
1922
Laundry... .............
Manufacturing...........

Earnings

Rate

Earnings

$9. 75
9.G5

$14. 30

$12.95

1924
Mercantile.......... .........

Earnings

2 $15.20

2 $15.15

$14.30

$12. 75

13.80

$10. 05
10. 30

Rate

13.95

16.10

14.35

Rate

Earnings

B. QUARTILES (MERCANTILE)
First quartilo
Year

Fort Smith
Rate

1922...... .........................
1924.......................

Earnings

2 $18. SO
12.25

2 $13. 25
12.25

Third quartile

Little Rock
Rate
$10. 30
12.00

Earnings
$9. 10
10.50

Fort Smith
Rate

Earnings

2 $20.10
17.65

2 $20.00
18.20

Little Rock
Rate
$18. 25
18. 40

Earnings
$17. 75
18.15

1 For numbers of women on which these figures are based see Appendix E, p. 609.
2 Figures necessarily constitute an inspection, since they were collected after a decree was set, but they
were available also as investigation figures in determining the necessity for revising the decree in question.

In 1922 the laundry and manufacturing industries, and the mer­
cantile industry outside of Fort Smith, were required to pay a
minimum rate of $7.50 to experienced workers. This statutory
rate, set in 1915, was much lower in 1922 than the rates set by
decree in any State under the terms of the flexible laws, anil
far below the $13.25 rate which mercantile establishments in Fort
Smith were required to pay. Low as this $7.50 rate was, the
Women’s Bureau investigation showed 50 women out of 1,589 to
be paid a rate of less than $72 and 115 other women to be receiv­
ing $7 but less than $8. Moreover, in the laundry and manufactur­
ing industries the median rate and the median earnings—that is, the
rate or the earnings figure that marks the point where 50 per cent
of the women receive sums below and 50 per cent receive sums above—
are much lower than the median rate or the median earnings for
1 U. S. Department of Labor. Women’s Bureau. Women in Arkansas industries. 1923.
2 Not necessarily violations of the law, since an apprentice rate of $G was provided, and
also since very small business units were exempt.




336

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

the mercantile industry, even when Fort Smith with its higher mini­
mum-wage rate is omitted from the mercantile figure. These figures
seem to indicate that, low as was the $7.50 rate, it exercised some
influence on rates, and that the higher rate, $13.25, raised rates very
considerably not only in Fort Smith but indirectly throughout the
State. Though it may seem extreme to claim that a minimum-wage
rate in one city—and that not the metropolis of the State—could
influence rates throughout the State, figures collected by the
Women’s Bureau in 12 of its State studies, including Arkansas,
show only one other State, New Jersey, with a median rate in mer­
cantile establishments greater than this in Arkansas. The New
Jersey figure is $14.95. No other State has a median rate in mer­
cantile establishments as high at $14. Since no other cause or group
of causes for this high rate is discoverable, it seems only fair to
give the credit to the minimum-wage rate.
If the 1924 figures are considered in relation to those of 1922, it
becomes even more evident that the minimum-wage rate in mercan­
tile stores had a very great effect on rates and earnings. Just after
the 1922 figures were collected the $13.25 rate for mercantile estab­
lishments in Fort Smith was lowered to $11, and Little Rock was in­
cluded in the decree. Both median rate and earnings in Fort Smith
dropped, but in Little Rock they rose in the same period of time.
Since rates in mercantile establishments in these two Arkansas
cities show such a direct reaction to minimum-wage rates, it is im­
portant to see what was their effect on the lowest paid workers,
and whether the minimum rate tended to become the maximum.
Section B of Table 59 gives the two quartiles for the same workers
whose medians have just been discussed. These figures agree with
the medians in that they show that earnings in both the lower and
the higher paid groups varied directly with changes in the minimumwage rate. The first quartiles, for Fort Smith in 1922 and for
both Fort Smith and Little Rock in 1924, show that 75 per cent of
the women were paid rates that exceeded the minimum-wage rate
by 5 cents to a dollar or more. Moreover, of the women who received
less than the median rate, those most poorly paid were directly bene­
fited by the decree, as is shown by the increase in the quartile rate
for Little Rock and the decrease in that rate for Fort Smith.
It' the figures for those women who received less than the first
quartile rate are studied, they seem to show that the minimum rate
affects every woman directly, even those who, because of apprentice­
ship rules, exemptions, and possible violations, do not receive the
minimum rate. For example, in 1922, 2.5 per cent of the women
investigated in Fort Smith received a rate of under $11 per week, 1.9
per cent receiving a rate of $10 and under $11, and one woman, or 0.6
per cent, receiving a rate of under $10. On the other hand, in Little
Rock 28.2 per cent of the women were in the under $11 group, 6.2 per
cent receiving over $10 and under $11, and 22 per cent receiving less
than $10. Two and a half per cent, when contrasted with 28.2 per
cent under $11, is striking enough, but when the 1924 figures are
examined the effect of the wrage rate becomes even more apparent.
In Fort Smith, where the rate was lowered, the per cent of women
who received a rate of under $11 increased to 6.3. In Little Rock,
where the rate was raised, the per cent decreased to 17.6. The regu­




337

changes in the position op woman workers

larity with which all these actual rates of pay varied directly with
changes in the minimum-wage rate shows the extent to which this
decree has aided the lowest paid worker.
Not only does the contention that the minimum wage becomes the
maximum fail to fit in with the fact that the median rates are in all
cases well above the minimum, but it is disproved by the sums shown
by the third quartiles, which give the position of the typical worker
receiving more than the median rate. Though this figure varies
directly as the minimum rate is raised or lowered, it always remains
well above the minimum rate and also well above the median rate.
Any industry with a minimum rate of $13.25 which pays 25 per cent
of its workers $20 or more, or with a minimum rate of $11 which
pays 25 per cent of its workers at least $17.65 (in Fort Smith) or at
least $18.40 (in Little Rock) can not be said to be reducing all its
workers to a dead level, that of the minimum-wage rate. These
Arkansas figures appear to show that all workers, the low paid and
the high, are directly affected by changes in the minimum-wage rate,
so that a raise in these rates benefits all grades of workers.
In this discussion little attention has been paid to median earnings,
since they show exactly the same movement as the rates under
changed conditions with respect to minimum-wage rates. The
greatest significance of these earnings figures is that they almost
always are less than the rates, and that often the difference really is
considerable. The women live on what they earn, not on their rate,
so that a general tendency for earnings to run below rates should
be taken care of when the rate is set. A commission or wage board
which fails to set minimum rates high enough to meet the true cost
of living really is doing the women an even greater injustice than
appears on the surface.
California.
All the figures for California are from studies made by the indus­
trial welfare commission. The following table gives changes in
median and quartile rates and earnings as shown by these investiga­
tions :
Table 60.—Median and quartile rates and earnings in California, 1 9 I/, to 1925,
6y industry1
[Figures in roman were secured by investigation before a decree; those in italic by inspection following
a decree]
A. MEDIAN

Manufacturing
Year
1914....................... .......................
1916 ...
1917........ ............................. ..........

Rate

Earnings

Mercantile
Rato

Earnings

$9. 80

$8. 35

$9. 20
9.00

10. 65
10.90

1918........................................... .
1919

....................................... .

1920_......................................... .
1922 2_........... ........................... .
1923...... ..........................................
1924.................................................
1925___ ______ ______________

12. 35
IS. 55
17. ko
17. 65
17.90
18.10
18.20

$11.35
IS. 50
17.10
17.00
17. SO
17.60
17.70

IS. 00
IS. 70
17.60
19.15
18. 65
19.15
19.20

Laundry
. Rate

$18. SO
IS. 85
17.35
18.85
18.90
19. 35
19.50

9. 75
10.60
11.85
12. 65
15.10
17. 70
17.90
17.90
18.70
18.80

Earnings
$8.30
9. 40
10. 25
11.95
IS. 85
17. 25
17.85
17.50
17.85
17.95

1 For numbers of women on which these figures are based see Appendix E, p. 609.
* Figures necessarily constitute inspections, since they were collected after decrees were set, but they
were available also as investigation figures in determining the necessity for revising the decrees in question.




MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

338
Table

60.—Median and quartile rates and earnings in California, 19to 19251
by industry—Continued
B. QUARTILES
Third quartile

First quartile

Year

Manufac­
turing

Mercantile

Rate

Earn­ Rate
ings

$6. 85

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­ Rate
ings

$6.80

8.65

10.15
$9.10
'll. 35
14.85
13.85
14. 35
14. 85
14.80

10.95 $10. 65
IS. 50 11.65
16. 50 14. 95
16.90 16. 45
17.05 16. 70
17.25 16.95
17.25 17.00

Mercantile

Earn­
ings

7. 75

8. 70

1017

Manufac­
turing

$7.95
8.05

$7. 55

1919 ................ 10.45
IS. £5
1920_................. . 16.80
1922 K.................. 16.45
1923.................... 16.55
1924..................... 16.75
1925. ................... 16. 70

Laundry

10.05
10.55
11.10
13.50
16.65
16. 85
16. 85
17.20
17.25

$10. 25

Rate

Laundry

Earn­
ings

Earn­
ings

$10. 95
10. 45

3$12.00

Rate

$9. 75

312. 00

13.75

11.65

8.75
10.25
12. 75
15.55
16.05
16.10
16.35
16.40

14. 35 $14.OO
16. 50 16. 85
19. 75 20. 05
20.15 19. 85
20. 55 20.50
21.10 21.05
21.25 21.50

15.80 $16.65
16.1,0 17.05
19. 90 20. 65
21.55 22.05
22.15 22.90
22. 90 23. 75
23.15 24. 20

11.80
IS. 55
14.85
17.10
19.80
20.00
20.05
21.15
21.35

11.00

11.35

14,10
16.65
19.40
19.55
19.60
20. 35
20.05

OTHER 1914 RATES
Median

First
quartile

Third
quartile

$10.10
7. 25
8.10
10. 45
11.40
Clerical-

$8. 25
6. 40
6.75
9.15
9.90

$12.00
9.15
10. 45
11.75
1 12. 00

11.55
12. 00
11.75

9.00
10. 30
9.90

3 12. 00
312. 00
3 12. 00

2 Figures necessarily constitute inspections, since they were collected after decrees were
set, but they were available also as investigation figures in determining the necessity for
revising the decrees in question.
3 Over $12.00.

The medians show a consistent and general rise in rates and
earnings during the period of minimum-wage activity. In 1914
half of the women studied in laundries were receiving rates of $9.20
or less per week, half of those in mercantile establishments $9.80
or less, and half of those in the manufacturing industries $8.35 or
less. Moreover, some special industries had much lower rates, par­
ticularly the paper-box industry, where half the women received
rates of $7.25 or less per week. The medians for 1925 present a
striking contrast, for the middle point for rates in that year was
$18.80 in laundries, $19.20 in mercantile establishments, and $18.20
in the manufacturing industry. Even when this increase is consid­
ered in the light of the decrease in the purchasing power of the
dollar, the typical woman worker is in a decidedly better financial
position to-day than before any minimum-wage rates were set.
It must be noted that though some of this increase may be due
to a rising scale of wages to meet acknowledged increases in the cost
of living, minimum-wage rates seem to have played a large part in




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

339

bringing about this advance. One reason for making this statement
is that there are so many medians which show a great increase after
a wage rate had been set for the industry. For instance, in rates in
the laundry industry the medians show a steady increase from 1916
to 1922 and a continued increase from 1923 to 1925, but in two
instances studies made a few months apart show an increase of
roughly two and a half dollars in the median. The 1919 figures are
$12.65 and $15.10; that of 1920 is $17.70. Between the first two
figures the minimum rate was increased from $10 to $13.50; between
the second 1919 figure and that of 1920 the minimum rate was
increased from $13.50 to $16. Another even more conclusive proof
is the comparison of these medians with those found in 12 State
studies made by the Women’s Bureau from 1920 to 1925. The
median rates for all industries found by these studies range from
$8.65 in Mississippi in 1925 to $15 in Rhode Island in 1920. The
three highest medians are Ohio (1922) $13.85, New Jersey (1922)
$14.55, and Rhode Island (1920) $15. None of these States have
minimum-wage laws. The contrast between the California medians
and these is too striking to need further comment. It does not seem
beyond the truth to assert that rates and earnings went up in Cali­
fornia much more than in nonminimum-wage States during this
period. The sections of this report immediately following will show
that they went up more than in the minimum-wage States where
decrees established lower rates. Since California lias reported no
particular boom due to the war or to an unprecedented industrial
expansion, nor any unusual shortage of labor, nor any other particu­
lar cause that would account for the undoubtedly high rates and
earnings which California women have been receiving, it seems to be
a fact that minimum-wage decrees have been largely responsible for
the present level of wages. Undoubtedly, general industrial expan­
sion has aided the upward movement, since the medians continue to
rise from 1920 to 1925, though minimum-wage rates remain the
same; but these figures, particularly when it is remembered that they
are based on large numbers of women—in fact, from 1919 on they
include practically all the women in the State who work in the
industries under discussion—form very excellent support for the
contention of advocates of the laws that minimum-wage rates are
needed to give woman workers living wages even in a period of
rising wages, and also for the contention that minimum-wage rates
actually do accomplish this end.
The quartiles have been worked to see whether the minimum rate
has had any particular effect on the lowest paid groups and whether
the minimum rate has had a tendency to become the maximum.
Section B of Table 60 shows the changes in the first and third
quartiles during the period of minimum-wage activity.
The tabulations that give the rates and earnings of the typical
women in the group getting less than the median and in the group
getting more than the median show that rates and earnings for the
more highly paid group vary directly with increases in minimumwage rates, and that usually they change to correspond to changes




340

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

in the median. The quartiles for the lower paid groups in 1925
fail to vary directly with the median, but their divergence from the
median is so slight as to be unimportant. Taking into considera­
tion only the first quartile and the groups for which this is the
typical rate, certain very interesting tendencies are discernible. In
the first place, the inspection made after each decree went into effect,
with the single exception of that following the $13.50 rate in manu­
facturing (1919), showed at least three-fourths of the women
receiving rates slightly above the cost-of-living minimum. In mer­
cantile establishments and laundries, in 1922 and after, three-fourths
of the women earned slightly more than the minimum rate. This
would seem to substantiate the statement of the executive officer of
the industrial welfare commission that relatively few employers
take full advantage of the provisions in the decree which allow an
employer to have apprentices to the extent of 33% per cent of his
workers. Instead he prefers the experienced worker when she is
available, even though he must pay her more. As far as the more
highly paid group are concerned, they certainly have not suffered,
as far as these quartiles show, from any lowering of their rates or
earnings. Instead, the typical higher paid woman has improved her
position fully as much as has any other worker.
District of Columbia.
The median and quartile figures from the District of Columbia
extend over a four-year period, from 1919 to 1922. Hotel and
restaurant figures are presented for the first time, with the idea
that the changes brought about by minimum wage in the actual
money paid for service is interesting, even though it can not be
correlated with the compensation received in the form of room and
board. No decrees ever were set for building cleaners or for manu­
facturing. Moreover, the decree for laundries (1921) never was
accepted by laundry owners, pending the suit testing the law’s
constitutionality, so that the laundry figures for 1921 and 1922
are merely for a few women whose employers were willing to
report rates and earnings. The minimum rates set were $15 for
laundries, $15.50 for printing and publishing, and $16.50 for mer­
cantile establishments and for hotels and restaurants. The following
table gives the median and quartile rates and earnings as shown by
investigations and inspections conducted by the minimum-wage
board of the District :




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

341

Table 61.—Median mid, quartile rates and earnings in the District of Columbia

1919 to 1922, by industry1
[Figures in roman were secured by investigation before a decree; those in italic by inspection following a
decree]
A. MEDIAN
Building
cleaners

Hotels and
restaurants

Laundries

Manufactur­
ing

Mercantile

Printing and
publishing

Year
Rate
♦

Earn­ Rate2 Earn­
ings
ings 2

1919................

$15. 40

1920................. . 4 $9. 00 $9. 20
1921...... ..............
1922.................... *8. 65 *8.25

15. 40
16.05
16. 45

Rate

Earn­
Rate
ings

$9,115

$9. 40 $15. 65 $12. 40

Earn­
Rate
ings

12.10

12.15
12.85

40
*15. 15 * 12.10

Earn­
ings

$12. 35 $15.00

$9. 45

Earn­ Rate
ings

$11.95

*16.00

* 10.95

16. 85 316.00
16. 40 317.00

15.05
17.80
17.80
16.70

$10. 75 $10. 05 $12.15

515.

$9.10

"l6.85

11.40
12.80
10.55
15.15

16.40
16.50
16.95
16.90

B. FIRST QUARTILE
1919__________
1920................... . 4 $9.00
1921. ................. .
1922..................... *6. 85

$12. 55
$6. 75
*6.60

18.40
18.70
14.15

$7. 25
10. 85 4 $9. 00 $7.80 $11. 90
10.20
SU-P
w. 40
‘ ie. so *9. 30

$9.15
* 8. 45

16.85

14.30 15.45
14.90
16.00 *16.00
15.30 317.00

C. TniRD QUARTILE
1919__________

3$16.00 $11.85

1920........ ............ $11.30 «$17.60 16.95
1921__________
317. 00
1922_______
* 10. 00 *9. 85 317.00

3$16.00 $15. 35 3$16.00

13. 65 $12. 40 $11.10 3$16.00 $16.35
13. 75
317.00
* 15. 90
14-75
* 15. 80 «13. 40 * 13. 35 317.00

16.95 316.00
17. 40
16.70 316.00
16. 80 317.00

$14.00
15.85
320.00

18.70
19.00

Other 1922 rates: Office—median, $24.60; first quartile, $20.90; third quartile, $28.
1 For numbers of women on which these figures are based see Appendix E, p 610
2 Irrespective of any additional pay that may be received in the form of room or board
3 Over the amount stated.
4 Under $9.
* Th®6 fiRures are based on such small numbers of women that it is questionable whether thev present
a picture of general conditions. For exact number involved see Appendix E p 610
p
« Quartile not typical of earnings as overtime to the extent of 8 hours daily, for whicii time and a half was
paid, was worked by about 70 women employed in one establishment.

The medians confirm the figures from Arkansas and California
and show a rise in the rates and earnings of the typical worker after
minimum-wage decrees have become effective.
Moreover, they show two industries with minimum-wage decrees
increasing rates from 1920 to 1922, and one with its rates remaining
about stationary, while manufacturing and building cleaners, where
there were no decrees, show a drop in rates and earnings. This is
the first State for which it has been possible to make a comparison
between industries having decrees and industries not having decrees.
If the figures for the industries without decrees are reliable mini­
mum-wage orders in the District of Columbia seem to have had a
direct and tremendous effect in establishing and maintaining high
rates of pay.




342

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The section of the table on quartile rates and earnings loses much
of its value because it has been impossible to obtain exact wage
groupings. When a minimum-wage rate is set at $16.50 it is not
very illuminating to know only that the typical more highly paid
woman received “ over $17.” The most interesting facts brought out
are the changes in the first quartiles. Once again the figures seem
to prove that a minimum-wage rate is effective in raising substan­
tially the wages of the lowest paid group. Before any rate was set,
half the women in the mercantile industry had rates of pay ot
$12.90 or less per week; one quarter of the workers had rates of
$10.75 or less. In 1921, after a minimum rate of $16.50 bad been
in effect for about two years, one-half of the women had a rate of
at least $16.95, and three-quarters had a rate of $16.35 or more. The
typical worker had a greatly improved rate, but the typical lowpaid worker benefited vastly more.
Kansas.
The original minimum-wage rates set in Kansas not only were
rather low when they were set (laundries, $8.50; mercantile estab­
lishments, $8.50; manufacturing, $11), but were not increased as
the cost of living rose, except that the two lowest rates were brought
up to the level of the highest. They form a direct contrast to Cali­
fornia, where all rates were steadily raised as the cost of living ad­
vanced, and to the District of Columbia, where the decrees established
rates among the highest ever set in the United States. It is, there­
fore, very interesting to see whether the median and quartile rates
and earnings as shown by inspections in Kansas change in relatively
the same way as do those of California. Unfortunately the number
of women who were covered by these inspections in Kansas quite
generally is small, so that these figures are not so accurate a guide
as are those of California. The following table gives the median
and quartile of rates and earnings as shown by inspections made by
the Kansas Industrial Welfare Commission and Industrial Court, and
of earnings from an investigation made by the United States Women’s
Bureau in 1920:




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OE WOMAN WORKERS

343

Tablb 62.—Median and quartile rates and earnings in Kansas, 1916 to 1924,
by industry1
[Figures in roman were secured by investigation before a decree; those in italic by inspection following a
decree.]
A. MEDIAN

Laundries
/

Manufacturing

Public house­
keeping

Mercantile

Telephone

Year
Earn­
ings

Rate

1916.......... ....................
1918..........................
1919........ ............
1920__________ _
1922......... .
1923....................
1924..............................

Rate

Earn­
ings

$6. 75
$9. 75
10.25

310. 70
3 12.10

3 10. 75
311.20

11.80
11.95

311. 70
312.25

3

Earn­
ings

$6.70

3 8.10

3

Rate

10.85 HU. 20

4 10. 50

11.50
4

Earn­
ings 1

Rate

Earn­
ings

10.05

12.40
IS. 40
18.45
14-40

3 12. 70
311.75

14. 25
14.76
11.60

*

$6.80
$10.20
11.05
•
3

15.60
IS. 00

Rate

$8.80

11.10

$9.85

4 10. 60

IS. 00
315.20

$9.60

11.25

$10.80
* 8. 20

12.35
11.55

311. 60
313.40

4
3

10. 50
11.00
10. 20

............ -

3

B. FIRST QUARTILE
1916.......... ............... .
1918..____ _________
1919...___________
1920________ ____

3 $8.40

9.30

3 9. 80
1922
3 11. SO
1923......................
311.10
1924.......................... 10.90

$5. 85
3 6. 65
8. 35
4 9. 30
* 9. 45
310.15
310. 65
311.00

$5. 00
3 $8.95

14-50
11.80

8.60
4 10. 75
12.15
7. 85

$8.60
8.85

$5. 30
8.35
8.90
4 8. 50

«0. 75 • 10.00
312. 45
3 7.85
10.60
10.50
11.05 312. 35

$7. 45

$8.85

3 8. 65

3 10. 05

$8.60
3 9. 65
6 6. 80

9. 25
8. 65

10.90
9. 95

3 10. 36
310.90

C. THIRD QUARTILE
1916_________
1918
1919
1920........................

3$11. 50
11.70

312. 85
1922_________ _____ 3 IS. 00
1923_________ _
312.85
1924_............................
13.25

$7.90
$9. 65
3 9. 75
14.00
11.60 3 $13. 00
4 11.95
4 17.35
3 12.80
312.05
312.80
17. 80
17.66
3 IS. 30
16.50
14. 65

$12.65
13.80
3 15.85
316.40
17.30
18.05

$8.80
12.65
14. 55
4 14.10
317. 25
313. 70
16. 90
3 16. 65

$10.80

$10.95

312.20

312. 50

$10. 90
4 12. 25
3 8. 75

12. 80
11.85

13. 70
13.55

3 IS. 50
314. 95

Other 1920 earnings: Restaurants'— median, $10.30; first quartile, $8.45; third quartile, $11.85.
1 For numbers of women on which these figures are based see Appendix E, p. 811.
1 Irrespective of any additional pay that may be received in the form of room or board.
1 These figures are based on such small numbers of women that it is questionable whether they present a
picture of general conditions. For exact number involved see Appendix E, p. 611.
*Investigation made by the Women’s Bureau of the United States Department of Labor, and used as
an inspection by the Kansas Industrial Court to check compliance with the decree.
5 Figures necessarily constitute inspections, since they were collected after a decree was set, but they were
available also as investigation figures in determining the necessity for revising the decree in question. These
figures are based on such small numbers of women that it is questionable whether they present a picture < f
general conditions. For exact number involved see Appendix E, p. 611.
» Figures necessarily constitute inspections, since they were collected after a decree was set, but they
were available also as investigation figures in determining the necessity for revising the decree in question.

With the California figures in mind, the most noticeable thing
about this table is the low medians. Since the two sets of figures
run over practically the same time period, and should have been
affected by the same nation-wide rise in wages during the war and
the boom period after the war, this contrast would seem to prove that
the relatively high minimum-wage rate in California was the vital
factor in raising rates in that State to their present level. The
Kansas median rates are all somewhat above the minimum rate, and
60769°—28——23




344

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

both rates and earnings show a general rise from 1916 to 1924,
though there are times when a median will fall considerably below
that for the previous year. The amounts by which the rates and
earnings increased, however, as well as the actual figures, are less than
in California. In Kansas, as in the District of Columbia, there are
figures for an industry not covered by a minimum-wage rate, but the
icture formed from these facts is the exact opposite of that of the
fistrict of Columbia. The figures for public housekeeping follow
the same course as those in the industries covered by decree. There
are several possible causes for this uniform rise in rates disclosed by
the Kansas surveys, but any explanation brought forward to explain
the Kansas situation is applicable also to the District of Columbia,
where an opposite situation occurred.
It is possible that tin* inclusion under decrees of the main womanemploying industries—manufacturing, mercantile, laundry, and tele­
phone—has raised the rates of all women in the State. This is sup­
ported by the fact that in some States specific concerns have been
known to raise rates substantially in the hope of forestalling State
interference. This theory, however, which makes minimum-wage rates
the preeminent factor in changing rates and earnings, would not
explain why a gradual rise in rates took place in all industries between
1919 and 1922, though there were no increases in minimum rates.
This suggests that as another cause for the changes it may be argued
that all these increased were due to economic conditions other than
minimum wage and would have occurred in the manufacturing, mer­
cantile, laundry, and telephone industries without any decrees, just
as they occurred in public housekeeping. The decrease in rates in
1924 seems to bear out this theory. So does the fact that the steadiest
and greatest increase in both median rates and earnings took place in
mercantile establishments, where the minimum rate was set at a lower
figure than that for manufacturing or laundries. The second theory
runs so counter to the figures for California that still another possi­
bility may present the truest answer as to how much minimum-wage
rates actually affect rates and earnings.
It is possible that since most employees feel that the balance be­
tween positions must be maintained, a relatively high rate such as
those set in California and the District of Columbia, or even a rate
which is well above the going rate in the State, such as that in stores
in Fort Smith, Ark., is a dominant factor in raising all rates, even
those of the better paid workers; but that if a rate, is set so far
below the cost of living that it affects only the very lowest paid
group and does not raise rates in general, it becomes only a minor
factor in a time of rising wages and the exact part it plays is not
determinable. Certainly the Kansas median, figures are only rela­
tively comparable to those for California. The fact that these fig­
ures are capable of being interpreted in different ways raises ques­
tions as to the relative power of minimum-wage rates to raise rates
and earnings in general when considered in the light of the many
economic forces which influence wages.

E




CHANGES IN fIHE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

345

If it is hard to be sure how much effect minimum-wage rates in
Kansas have had on the rates and earnings of the typical woman
worker, it is even more important than usual to see whether these
rates have aided the women who received the lowest rates of pay.
Section B of lable 62 shows that, with the exception of the laundry
industry in 1918 and 1924 and the manufacturing industry in 1919,
at least three-fourths of the women in each industry received a rate
of pay somewhat above the minimum. The two laundry rates are
only 10 cents below the minimum and the manufacturing rate is based
on only 183 women, so these exceptions are not particularly signifi­
cant. In the light of these quartiles the Kansas law, which in no
way limited the number of apprentices, resulted in the great majority
of the women being paid the minimum rate or more. The most inter­
esting fact brought out by these first quartile rates and earnings
when studied in relation to the third quartiles is that the rise in the
median rates in laundries and mercantile establishments, between
1920 and 1922, does seem due to the change in minimum-wage rates
which brought up the lowest paid workers. In 1922 minimum rates
were raised from $8.50 to $11. The positions of the typical worker
(the median), the typical low-paid worker, and the typical high-paid
worker changed as follows:
First q uartile

Median

Third quartile

Year
Laundries Mercantile Laundries Mercantile Laundries Mercantile
1920........ .....................
1922........

$9. 80
11.30

$9. 75
12. 45

$10. 70
12.10

$12. 40
13.40

$12. 85
13.00

$15.85
16.40

In other words, the rise in the median was due almost wholly in the
laundry industry and very largely in the mercantile industry to the
improved position of the lower-paid workers when the minimum rate
was raised. One other point confirms the theory of the direct effect
of even low minimum-wage rates on the most depressed group of
workers. This is the fact that, though the rise in the median rates
for public housekeeping is roughly comparable to the increases in the
industries with wage decrees, the first quartile for those industries
with decrees has increased much more than has that for public
housekeeping.
To complete the picture of the changes in rates and earnings the
changes in the rates and earnings of the typical more highly paid
worker are presented in Section C of Table 62. They show that at
least 25 per cent of the women received rates and earnings that were
considerably above the minimum, and the minimum rate was far
from becoming the maximum rate in practice. The irregular be­
havior of these quartiles, however—behavior which appears to bear
no uniform relation to changes in minimum rates—seems to confirm
the theory that a low minimum wage is only one of many factors
affecting rates and earnings, and that it is not a dominant factor
except perhaps for the lowest-paid group.




346

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

If median earnings for 1916, when there wTere no decrees, are com­
pared with median earnings for 1924 in the light of increases in the
cost of living, only women in mercantile establishments appear to
be in a substantially better position than was theirs in 1916. This
seems to be in spite of, rather than because of, the minimum-wage
decrees. Moreover, the range of median rates in laundries, factories,
stores, and telephone exchanges in Kansas—from $10.70 in laundries
in 1920 to $15.60 in manufacturing in 1923—is only a bit higher than
the median rates for all industries found in the 12 State studies made
by the Women’s Bureau in the same period. These Women’s Bureau
medians range from $8.65 in Mississippi to $15 in Rhode Island, but
9 of the 12 States show median rates of from $11.10 to $15. The
conclusions drawn on the basis of the figures from Arkansas, Cali­
fornia, and the District of Columbia do not receive much support
from these Kansas figures. The Kansas rates seem to have helped
the very lowest paid worker. The rates are so low, however, that in
time of rising prices their effect on the whole group or even on a
considerable proportion of the group is negligible.
Massachusetts.
The agents of the minimum-wage commission in Massachusetts
have made at least one investigation before each original decree and
at least one inspection after each decree. In a few cases more than
one investigation has been made, and in most cases there has been
more than one inspection. The first rates and earnings quartiles
and medians discussed here are from these studies. In the case of
investigations they represent the average of the rates and earnings
over a period of time varying from three or four months to a year;
in the case of inspections, generally one week’s pay roll, unless some
unusual situation has made it necessary to take it for several weeks.
The figures are copied from the firms’ pay rolls by the commission’s
agents, with careful distinction between rates and earnings. The
investigations include at least the majority of the women in the
occupation studied; the inspections supposedly include all women.
The second group of quartiles and medians discussed here are
called wage figures, because they are a combination of rates and
potential earnings figures. These figures are collected each year by
the division of statistics in the department of labor, by questionnaire
sent to every firm in the State. They show rates for all timeworkers
and potential weekly earnings for pieceworkers. Roughly these
wage figures correspond to rates, and as such may be compared with
minimum rates. Their main value, however, is that they furnish a
means of observing both in industries wrhere there were decrees and
in industries where there were no decrees the changes in wages that
have taken place during the period in which the law has been in
operation. It is not possible, however, to compare these wage figures
with either the rates or the earnings figures collected by the minimumwage commission.
Changes in median rates and earnings as shown by the -figures
collected, by the minimum-vxige commission.—The effect of the
Massachusetts minimum rates on all the woman wage earners in a




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

347

particular industry is of great interest, due to the fact that the law
of this State constitutes the only example of a law that does not
require an employer to pay the rates set in the decrees but relies only
on the pressure of public opinion. This table presents figures on
three main groups that have been covered by decrees—(1) retail
stores, (2) personal service (laundries and building cleaners), and
(3) manufacturing (that is, 17 separate industries such as the manu­
facture of paper boxes, of women’s clothing, etc.)—and on two groups
for which a rate has never been set—(1) a branch of manufacturing
(cotton goods) and (2) a personal-service industry (hotels and
restaurants).
'
The following table shows the changes in the median and quartile
rates and earnings from the time the first investigation was made
in a given industry to 1924.




[Figures in roman were secured by investigation before a decree; those in italic by inspection following a decree]
A. MEDIAN
Paper box

Building clean­
ers

Brush

Candy

Minor lines of
confectionery

Canning and
preserving

Men's clothing

Women’s cloth­ Bread and bak­
ing
ery products

Year
Rate
1913..........
1915
1917_____
1918_____
1919..........
1920
1921_____
1922_____
1923
1924_____
1925..._

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

$7.35

$6.10

$5. 80

$6. 35

$8.45
9.00

$5. 30
7.35
8.75

$7.45

$6.55

9.35

311.40

14.80

14.20

10.15
13.55

10.15
13. 70
311.85

14.20

13.15

13.95

IS. 75

15.05

14.65

14.25

U is

Corset

13.90
14.65

IS. 10
13.75

Cotton goods

17.95

Earn­
ings

$5. 85

9.35 2 3 9.00
10.10
* 17.90

Rate

$5.05

Earn­
ings

8.30

10.00
12. 35
11.35 j IS. 15
\ 12.50
11.55
12.75
13.10
12.10 3 13.00

Hotel and res­
taurant

$11.45
12. So
12.85 } IS. so
13.10
12.85
12.55
13.60
13.65
314. SO

Knit goods

Earn­
ings

11.35
11.90

Rate

Earn­
ings

$6.50

$7.40
9.90

$6.00

218.00

2 810. 00
218.00

218.00

215.00

$14. 20

$12.05

20.45

20.15

14.65

14-25

$7.10 2 3 9,00

$8. 45
11.00
13.40
14-35

12.10
12.55

14.35

$10.00

Earn­
ings

*15.00

Rate

Rate

$7. 65

Rate

13.10

218.00

12.85

Laundries

Millinery

Retail stores

Men’s fur­
nishings

Rate

Earn­
ings

Druggists’ prep­
arations

Year
Rate

Earn­
ings

1913...................... .................
1914.......................................
1915................................ .........
1916____________________
1917..................................... .
1918.........................................
1919__________ ____ _
$11.50
14.10
1920____________
1921........ ............................... 15.46
1922_____ ___ ____ _____ *15.00
15.35
1923..................... .
1924___ _______________
1925................
14.50

$6.80




Rate

Earn­
ings

$7.45

$7. 25

10. 25
9. 70
10.60
13.65

Earn­
ings
$5.95

Rate

Earn­
ings

$8.95

Rate

Earn­
ings

$7.95

$5. 85

$7.05

8.70

8.55

29.00
9. 75

9. 50

$14. 70
14.05
13.60
15.00

10.40
2 15.00
13.80

2 9.00

14.00

14.50

14-05
14. 80

Rate

Earn­
ings

8 $7. 80

9.85

2

is. 46

Earn­
ings

$8. 75

Rate

$6. 50
$5. 40

10.55

Earn­
ings

Rate

$6.80

Rate

$6.65

is. SO

IS. 75

14.50

12.20

Rate

11.05

e 15.65 6 15.60
' 17.60 ‘ 15.00
2 ‘15. 00 2 >15. 00

15.00
13. 35
814-90 } IS. 90
13.95 J816.65
\2 9/5.00 2 915.00

Earn­
ings

$12. 40
1180
12.30

$10.90

14.15

12.30
15.20

14.00

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Muslin under­
wear

348

Table 63.—Median and quartile rates and earnings in Massachusetts, 1918 to 1925, by industry (figures from division of minimum wage)1

B. FIRST QUARTILE
Muslin under­
wear

Paper box

Brush

Building clean­
ers

Candy

Minor lines of
confectionery

Canning and
preserving

Men’s cloth­
ing

Women’s cloth­ Bread and bak­
ing
ery products

Year

1913.........
1915
1917_____
1918_____
1919_____
1920..........
1921_____
1922..........
1923
1924_____
1925..........

$6. 25 “ $5. 00
8.90
10.80

12. 50

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

$5. 00 io $5.00

$8.05
8.50

1° $5. 00
6. 25
7.35

$6. 60

$5. 50

Rate

8. 90
11.70
3 10. 50

7. 85
10.30
310.35

29.00

•
12.15

10.15

11.80

11.40

12.15

11.20

Corset

12.90
13.35

10.65
10.55

Cotton goods

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

$7.45
10. 05
12.40
12.95

$5. 70 2 3 9.00

12.95

Rate

10.10

Rate

Earn­
ings

13.15

$12. 30

$10,20

15.25

13.10

12.35

Rate

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

$5. 20

$5.85
8.65

15.20

2 310.00
15.90

14.05

14.

80

16. 40

io $5. 00 « $5. 00

3 8. 85
9.45
417.40

10. 40

13.20

Earn­
ings

$6. 45

Rate

17.55

6. 55
9.30
10.80
12.25
9.80 1 H.40
X
10.25
11.65
12.15
11.00 312.20

Hotel and
restaurant

$10. 00
9.55
10.10 } 10.45
10. 35
10.15
10.85
10.60

$7.95

12.40

10.85

8.10
9.00

310. 95

Knit goods

Laundries

8.60
9.65

Millinery

17.60

Retail stores

Men’s fur­
nishings '

Druggists’
preparations

Year

1913...................................... .
1914......................... ..............
1915.................................... .
i916_.____________ ______
1917........................................
1918..._________________
1919.........................................
1920...................................... .
1921__________ ____ _
1922________ ___________
1923............... ................. .
1924.................................. .
1925.........................................

Earn­
ings

Earn­
ings

$5. 85

Earn­
ings

Earn­
ings

8.90
$9. 50
12.30
13.60
13.45
13.25

7. 75

11.50

9.85

Footnotes at end of table, p. 351.

Earn­
ings
$5.00

Rate

Earn­
ings

$6.70

Rate

$6. 35

io $5. 00 io $5. 00
7. 95

6 12. 70
7 14. 45
7 13. 60

o 12. 35
" 10. 95
• 11. 60

Rate

Earn­
ings

$6. 00

$5.05

$5.05

8.15

Rate

Earn­
ings

7.65

5 $6. 45

$5.10

12.05

10. 70

12.55

8.15

Rate

Earn­
ings

7. 20
7. 60

7. 30

$12. 70
12. SO
12.20

8.00
12.45
10.80
10.90

12.60

io 7. 00
7.90
10.00

Rate

$5. 75

Rate

$5.30

-




Rate

$6.35

Rate

10.85

2 9.00

12.40

13.25

11.10
30
11.95 pl4. SO
Is IS.

9.95

12. 75
8 10. 40 \ 11. 05
1112. 65

$12.00
12.45
10 7.00

$9. 55

12.35
13.00

10.05
12.60

CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

Earn­
ings

Rate

C. THIRD QUARTILE
Muslin under­
wear

Paper box

Brush

Building clean­
ers

Minor lines of
confectionery

Candy

Canning and
preserving

Men's clothing

Women's cloth­ Bread and bak­
ing
ery products

1913
1915
1917
1918 ..
1919
1920
1921
1922..
1923--.
1924
1925___

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

Rate

Earn­
ings

$8. 55

$7. 65

$7.90

$7.95

$8.80
2 9.00

$6.70
8.55
29.00

$7.95

Rate

Earn­
ings

$7.20

16.90

215.00
16.95

2 9.00
17.75

215.00
17:85

12.05
15.65
2 U. 30
215.00

215.00

29.00 23 9.00
10. 70
* 19. 25

12. 75
17.20
215.85

17.10

218.00

Rate

Earn­
ings

$8.15

2 $9.00
210.00

15.40
17.40

Cotton goods

19.50

18.50

Hotel and res­
taurant

Knit goods

$12.20
13.80
14.35
215.00

Laundries

Earn­
ings

$7.80

$9. 35
11.90
14.90
16.00

$8. 25 2 2 9.00

16.05

15.30

14.35 218.00

218.00

Rate

1310m
218.00 218.00

14.20

2 15. 00 2 15.00 2 $15.00

Millinery

26.15

Retail stores

26.50

16.30

$14.05
16.35

Men's furnish­ Druggists' prep­
ings
arations

Year
Rate




$8.70

$8. 65

12.40

Rate

Earn­
ings

$8.40
$7.15

Earn­
ings

$10.85

$7.05

29.00
12.90

12. 70

2 $15. 00
15.95
215.00

12. 80
2 15.00
17.40
2 15. 00

215.00
16.70

Rate

$11.90

Earn­
ings

$8.60

9.90

Rate

Earn­
ings

2 5 $9.00

Earn­
ings

$8.25

9.80

$7.45

$8.05

12.90
18.10
18.90
16.75

Earn­
ings

11. 65

Rate

Earn­
ings

Rate

2 $9.00

Earn­
ings

Rate
$8.25

Rate

215.00

2 9.00

2 15.00
16.60

2 618.00 2 *~18.00
1 20.10 2 18. 45
2 ^ 15.00 2115.00

12.95

215.00
215.00
16.051 2 818.00 2 * 18.00 } 15.60
2915.00 2»15.00

Rate

$12.80

$12. 75

215.00
16 65

16.00
218.00

215.00 ______
2 15. 00
215.00
15.05

215.00

2 15.00

STATES

1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
$13. 35
1920
16.20
1921
18.00
1922
215.00
1923
17.85
1924.........................................
1925
16.80

Earn­
ings

IF THE UFITED

Corset

15. 80
16.55

$14. 05
15.00
15.70 | IS. 95
16.65
2 15.00
14.95
17.25
215.00
215.90 2 218.00

10.90
18.60
12.65 / 15.35
\ 13. 70
13.20
14-75
15.35

Rate

Earn­
ings

Earn­
ings

$8. 90

$6.40
9.90

Earn­
ings

Rate

$7. 35

Rate

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS

Year
Rate

350

Table 63.—Median and quartile rates and earnings in Massachusetts, 1913 to 1925, by industry (figures from division of minimum wage)—Con.

OTHER FIGURES
Median

1920—Stationery _
1923—Jewelry
.......................“
1U24—Toys, games, and sporting goods___

$13.85
13.50
14.00

Earnings
$14. 35
13.80
13. 50

Rate
$12. 55
11.40
12.25

Earnings
$11. 75
10. 90
11.10

Third quartile
Rate
2 $15. 00
2 15. 00
15. 85

Earnings
2 $15.00
2 15.00
16.15

-

i Ovrer“Z aemo°unTX“d°n W“ theSe flgures are based «» Appends E, p. M2.
fW

SinC6 th0y "" “ ^ 8 ^
f Neckwear only.

Based on 71 women.

- “ - - *■—- figures in determining the n_,ty

'

6 Retail.
7 Wholesale
“ mspecti<m; Since they Were C0Uected after a decre*
“'To u^ier tofSu£Sii U°'"“e ^ InSPeCtl0n’ "I10e




set, but they were available also as investigation figures in determining the

^ C°lleCted ^ 3 deCTee WaS "*■ but they were a™labl* a»o « investigation figures in determining the

CHANGES IN THE POSITION OP WOMAN WORKERS

Rate

First quartile

03

Or

352

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In Massachusetts, investigation and inspection figures are avail­
able for 17 industries; for 18 if retail and wholesale millinery,
which had separate decrees and inspections though the investigation
was for both, are counted as two. Investigation figures for three
additional industries also have been tabulated. Though these fig­
ures do not cover nearly so large a number of women nor so great
a proportion of the working women in the State as do the figures for
several other States, still they constitute the most detailed figures
on changes in rates and earnings during a period of minimum-wage
activity that are available anywhere. The very number of indus­
tries and inspections makes it difficult to see at a glance whether these
figures show any general tendencies.
It is common knowledge that commodity prices and rates and
earnings rose during the war period and up to 1920. At the end
of 1920 there was a" short period of falling prices and wages, and
then prices and to some extent wages began to climb upward again.
The second upward movement was much less rapid than the first and
not so steady. In the States that have been discussed, where
there were minimuih-wage decrees, rates and earnings for almost
all industries continued to rise somewhat after 1920, in spite of the
halt in the general upward trend of prices. Nor was there any
lowering of rates that had been established previously. If women’s
rates and earnings were reduced temporarily in late 1920 and shortly
thereafter, this does not show in the available studies. The general
tendency throughout the years is upward. In Massachusetts for the
first time are seen both the rates in the minimum-wage decrees and
actual rates and earnings in a few industries lower after 1920.
Two minimum rates actually were lowered—paper box from $15.50
in 1920 to $13.50 in 1922, and women’s clothing from $15.25 in 1920
to $14 in 1922. Nor were the rates set after 1920 so high as those
established during that year. In spite of this peak in minimumwage rates and in general economic conditions in 1920, the most com­
mon and steady tendency, even in Massachusetts, is for rates and
earnings to rise.
It is important to examine these Massachusetts figures with care
to see whether rates and earnings varied directly with changes in
established minimum rates. Up to 1920 there is a uniform rise in
rates and earnings. This rise takes place in industries where no decrees
ever were set, such as cotton goods and hotels and restaurants; in
industries where a decree was set before prices began to rise and wTas
not advanced until after 1920, such as brush and retail stores; and in
those industries where one or more decrees were set during this
period. After 1920 and 1921 most industries show a slight recession
in rates or earnings or both at some time. This is true of muslin
underwear, paper box, candy, women’s clothing, corsets, knit goods,
wholesale millinery, retail stores, and druggists’ preparations. In
many cases, however, this recession was temporary. The latest fig­
ures' available for muslin underwear (1925), paper box (1925),
candy (earnings 1925), women’s clothing (1925), and knit goods
(rates 1924) are the highest ever recorded for these industries. In
corsets and retail stores the recession came in 1925 and 1924, respec­
tively. The peak years were 1921 to 1923 in corsets and 1923 in retail




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OP WOMAN WORKERS

353

stores. In addition, men’s clothing, whose latest inspection was in
1920, may have had a recession in wages since that date which the
table does not show. These changes in rates and earnings usually do
not follow" the movement of the minimum-wage rates. Minimum
rates for muslin underwear were actually higher in 1923, when the
recession occurred, than at the time of the high 1920 rates and earn­
ings. The minimum rates in retail millinery, corsets, wholesale milli­
nery, candy, and knit goods remained stationary, while either rates
or earnings in both these industries show a recession. Paper box,
where a low-er minimum rate is set, shows only a temporary set­
back in rates and earnings and has its highest median after the mini­
mum rate has been lowered. Of all these industries, only women’s
clothing show7s a lower minimum rate and lower rates and earnings
in 1923; by 1925, with the same lowered minimum, this industry has
its peak in rates and earnings. Not only do these industries show7 an
irregular behavior in relation to minimum-wage decrees, but they
present also as many high figures for 1921 as for 1920, so that they
vary from the general economic trend of prices and wTages that was
going on at this time. The remaining industries in Massachusetts
show a steady rise in medians from the earliest date bo the latest.
If this group is added to those where the recession was either tem­
porary or almost nil (rates decreased 15 cents from the peak in
candy, while earnings were highest in the latest inspection) the
majority of all industries investigated and inspected are found to
have an upward trend in rates and earnings over this period.
If it is granted that these figures show7 a period of generally rising
minimum rates and prices wTith a few examples of recession after
1920 and 1921, but that actual rates and earnings independent of
changes in minimum rates usually are rising, it may be possible from
a consideration of specific industries to determine from the median
some idea of the exact influence of decrees in this field in wdfich there
is direct evidence that other powerful factors influencing rates and
earnings are at work. Twto industries in which no decrees ever were
set—cotton goods and hotels and restaurants—appear in this table.
Both show7 that rates and earnings were increasing to some extent
without the aid of minimum-wage decrees. How does this increase
compare with the change in industries wdrere rates were established
under the law ? In 1915 and 1917 studies were made in three branches
of manufacturing. In the case of the brush industry both figures
were for inspections following a decree in 1914. The women’sclothing figures represent one period prior to a decree and one period
following. As before stated, no decree has been set for cotton goods.
The medians following show the changes in each industry:
Industry
Brush
Rate
$8. 45
(')
1 Over $9.




Women’s clothing

Earnings
$7.35
8. 75

Rate
$7. 40
9.90

Earnings
$6. 00

Cotton goods
Rate
$7.45
10. 55

Earnings
$7.25
9.85

354

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

Since the brush industry notably was very poorly paid before the
1914 decree, it seems fair to give the decree credit for the somewhat
better rates in 1915. In the following two-year period, however, when
the war was causing greatly increased demands for all clothing and
textiles, when incidentally it was forcing all wages up because of
the increased demand for workers, but when at the same time it was
shutting off from the brush factories the supply of Russian bristles,
minimum-wage decrees played a minor part in comparison with the
stronger economic forces rising out of abnormal war conditions. The
greatest increase occurred in the industry not touched by minimumwage rates but most accelerated by the war—cotton goods.
The other industry, for which there are investigation figures but
no decree—hotels and restaurants-—can not, of course, be compared
directly, since the medians do not represent the full compensation
the women received but simply the rates and earnings they received
in money. However, the percentage of increase in money can be
compared with the percentage of increase in other industries. Arbi­
trarily, every industry in this table which showed an investigation
median and an inspection median five years later has been compared
with the hotel-and-restaurant figures and with each other. The
following table shows the percentage of increase:
Table G4.—Increase in rates and in earnings of industries for which figures five

years apart were available—Massachusetts
Hotels and restaurants

1916

Median earnings.._

$5. 40
5.85

1921

$9. 75
9.50

Candy—Continued
1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$12.50)

Per cent
of increase

.

80.6
53.8
Median earnings...

1925
(mini­
mum
rate,
$12.50)

$12. 35
12. 35

$13. 00
14.30

Per cent
of in­
crease

5.3
15.8

Brush
Canning and preserving
1919
(minimum
rate,
$8.37)
Median rate.-. ___
Median earnings..-

$9.35

1924
(minimum
rate,
$13.92)

$13.10

1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$11)

Per cent
of increase

40.1

Median earnings.. _

$13. 40
12.10

Candy

1918

Median rate......... __
Median earnings...




$8. 30

1925
(mini­
mum
rate,
$13)
$14. 35
13.10

Per cent
of in­
crease

7.1
8.3

Corsets

1923
(mini­
mum
rate,
$12.50)

Per cent
of in­
crease

$12. 85

54.8

1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$13)

Median earnings...

$14.10

1925
(mini­
mum
rate,
$13)
$14. 50

Per cent
of in­
crease

2.8

CHANGES IN THE POSITION OP WOMAN WORKERS

355

Table 64.—Increase

in rates and in earnings of industries for which figures five
years apart were available—Massachusetts—Continued
Druggists’ preparations
1925
(mini­
mum
rate,
$13.20)

1920

Median rate_____
Median earnings..

$12.40
10.90

Paper box

|
Per cent
of in­
crease

12.9
39.4

$14. 00
15.20

Median rate____
Median earnings .

Knit goods
1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$13.75)

1915

Median rate------Median earnings.

$6.50

1924
(mini­
mum
rate,
$13.75)

1919

Median rate------Median earnings.

$10. 40

$5. 80
6. 35

Median rate____
Median earnings.

39.4

133.6
115.7

Per cent
of in­
crease

$14. 25
14.45

5.2
5.5

Retail stores

Per cent
of in­
crease

$14.50

1925
(mini­
mum
rate,
$13.50)

$13. 55
13.70

1130.8

Per cent
of in­
crease

$13. 55
13.70

1020
(mini­
mum
rate,
$15.50)

Per cent
of in­
crease

$14. 70
i 15.00

1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$15.50)

1915

1914

Median rate____
Median earnings.

$7. 95
7.05

1919
(mini­
mum
rate,
$8.50)

Per cent
of in­
crease

$11.05

38.9

Men’s clothing
1915
(mini­
mum
rate,
$9)
Median rate.........
Median earnings.

$7. 65
6. 50

1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$15)
i $18.00
i 18. 00

1919
(mini­
mum
rate,
$S.50)

Per cent
of in­
crease

1135. 3
i 176. 9

Median rate____
Median earnings.

$11. 05

1924
(mini­
mum
rate,
$14)

Per cent
of in­
crease

$13. 90

25.8

Wholesale millinery
Minor confectionery

1919

Median rate____
Median earnings .

$11.45
10.00

1924
(mini­
mum
rate,
$12)

1916

Per cent
of in­
crease

$13.65
12.85

19.2
28.5

Median rate____
Median earnings.

$8. 75
8. 95

Median rate------- .
Median earnings. .

$7.35
6.10

1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$9)
$14.80
14.20

Per cent
of in­
crease

101.4
132.8

1915

Median rate------Median earnings.

$7. 40
6.00

1 Over the amount stated; exact median for 1920 not obtainable.




Per cent
of in­
crease

$17.60
15.00

101.1
67.6

Women’s clothing

Muslin underwear

1915

1921
(mini­
mum
rate,
$11)

1920
(mini­
mum
rate,
$15.25)
i $18. 00
i 18.00

Per cent
of in­
crease

1143. 2
1 200.0

356

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

The 14 industries whose investigations or inspections were made
at such dates that a five-year interval could be selected show increases
in rates ranging from 2.8 per cent in corsets to 143.2 per cent in
women’s clothing, or increases in earnings from 5.5 per cent in paper
boxes, 1920 to 1925, to 200 per cent in women’s clothing. The in­
creases in the hotel and restaurant industry run lower than do several
of the other industries but not so low as brush, canning and preserv­
ing, corsets, druggists’ preparations, minor confectionery, retail stores,
Paper box, candy, and as knit goods during the second period for
which figures were obtainable. Moreover, the amount of the minimumwage rate and the length of time it has been in effect do not seem
to bear any direct relation to the percentage of increase. For in­
stance, two investigations were made in paper box before a decree
was set, and these showed that rates had already increased 75 per
cent in the time elapsing between the two investigations. Muslin
underwear, with a very low rate, shows a high percentage of increase.
Knit goods in a period during most of which it had no rate in force
(1915 to 1920) shows a very great per cent of increase, and during
a later and overlapping period (1919 to 1924) it shows a much
smaller per cent of increase though a relatively high rate is in force.
If there is no marked relation between minimum rates and amount
of increase in actual rates, there is a very definite relation between
increases in actual rates and the dates for which figures are avail­
able, and between increases and kinds of industry. The extremeh
large increases take place in knit goods, men’s clothing, muslin
underwear, paper box, wholesale millinery, and women’s clothing.
The five-year period for all these industries except wholesale milli­
nery is 1915 to 1920. For wholesale millinery it is 1916 to 1921. It
is the period of war inflation. Moreover, with the exception of paper
box, all these are industries connected with clothing, where an enor­
mously increased demand at this time sent all prices connected with
the industry to amazing heights. Retail stores during this war period
showed nothing like the rise in the other industries. Knit goods,
when the war period was over, did not continue to show such gains;
neither did paper box. All the gains from 1920 to 1925 are extremely
small, even in industries such as druggists’ preparations, where a
first decree was entered. It is impossible to trace in these general
fluctuations the influence of minimum-wage rates. Such unusual and
such strong forces other than rate decrees were at work that they
dominated the situation.
Another way in which to test the effect of decrees is to study the
median rates and earnings in a selected year. Nineteen hundred and
nineteen is chosen for the first example because the industries studied
in that year were divided between those covered by decrees (in
italic) and those where the commission was considering the establish­
ment of a decree (in roman).
Muslin underwear:Earnings___ $9.35
Paper box:
Rate-------------------------------- 10,15
Earnings-------------------------10. 15
Brush : Earnings
9.35
Building cleaners: Rate_Over
9. 00
Minor lines of confectionery :
Rate-------------------------------- 11.45
Earnings10.00




Canning and preserving: Rate.
Women’s clothing: Rate__Over
Corsets:
Rate----------------------------Earnings----------------------Knit goods : Earnings_______
Retail stores:Rate 11.
LaundriesOver 9.

$11.00
10.00
11. 50

10. 25
10. 40
05
00

CHANGES IN THE POSITION OP WOMAN WORKERS

357

Unfortunately the material for three of these industries was not
in such form that exact medians could be obtained, but in cases
where comparisons can be made the industries without decrees show
rates and earnings in some cases above those for industries where
there are decrees, and in no case is there any striking difference in
favor of the industries with decrees. It must be remembered, too,
that the industries without decrees are the State’s supposedly lowpaid industries where the commission was considering the setting of
a rate.
The next year, 1920, is selected because there are median rates and
earnings for the greatest number of industries in this year. With
the exception of druggists’ preparations, there are wage decrees in
all these industries.
Muslin underwear:
Rate________ __________ $14.80
Earnings 14. 20
Minimum rate__________
9. 00
Paper box:
Rate 13.55
Earnings 13. 70
Minimum rate 15. 50
Building cleaners:
Rate 10.10
Earnings 10. 00
Minimum rate 12. 54
Candy:
Rate 12. 35
Earnings 12.35
Minimum rate 12. 50
Canning and preserving:
Rate 13. 40
Earnings..______________ 12.10
Minimum rate-__________ 11. 00

Men’s clothing:
Rate-----------------------Over
EarningsOver
Minimum rate
.
Women’s clothing:
Rate
. . Over
Earnings
Over
Minimum rate _ ._
Corsets:
_ ................
Minimum rate ...
Knit goods:
Rate
_ _
.Earnings
. Over
Minimum rate
..
Retail millinery:
Rate
..
Earnings
—
Minimum rate
..
Druggists’ preparations:
Rate
_
..
Earnings
_
-

$18.00
18. 00
15. 00
18.00
18.00
15. 25
14.10
13. 00
14. 70
15. 00
13. 75
15. 65
15. 00
10.00
12. 40
10. 90

Among the four industries that show the highest actual rates are
two with minimum rates of $15 and $15.25—two of the highest rates
ever set in Massachusetts—and two with minimum rates of $9 and
$10. The industry with the highest minimum rate, paper box, $15.50,
is seventh as far as actual rates are concerned. Druggists’ prepara­
tions, with no decree, has higher actual rates than has candy with a
decree. For just about half of these industries—women’s clothing,
men’s clothing, knit goods, corsets, and canning and preservingactual rates have the same relation to each other as have minimum
rates.
Consideration of the median rates and earnings in Massachusetts
from the figures available does not show any close relation between
changes in the minimum rate and general wage changes in the
industry. Massachusetts minimum rates on the whole have been
rather low, and when to this is added the fact that they are non­
mandatory it seems that their influence on general wages was very
limited. If these minimum rates had been functioning in normal
times, even their gentle influence undoubtedly would have shown in
the general medians, as, for instance, the increase in rates in the
brush industry after the first decree. That the extent of the increase




358

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

might have been very limited is shown by a comparison of the figures
in bread and bakery products, where a rate set after the general
wage rise had slowed down caused an increase of only 45 cents in the
median rate between 1923 and 1925. Massachusetts, due to its im­
portance as a manufacturing center, felt the war demands to an
enormous degree. The influence of minimum wage can not be traced
when it is working in the same direction as a general price rise, a
shortage in the labor market coupled with an enormously increased
commodity market, active unionization, and the introduction of
women into many better paid fields formerly closed to them. Some
of these influences tending to raise rates and earnings seem still to
be at work at the present time and to be causing rates and earnings
to rise irrespective of minimum-wage rates. The Massachusetts
medians appear to support the theory advanced to explain the Kan­
sas figures, that a minimum which is low when considered in the
light of going rates changes the typical woman’s earnings very
little, though it may be of real help to the poorest paid woman. A
high minimum rate, however, may bring up the lowest paid woman
so far that adjustments are necessary all along the line, thus raising
the typical worker and even the typical highly paid worker.
In section B of Table 63 (p. 349) are shown the quartile rates and
earnings of that 50 per cent of the woman wage earners who received
less than the median rates and earnings.
In the States with mandatory laws which have been discussed,
every industry has had at least 50 per cent of its workers receiving
rates of pay that equaled or exceeded the minimum rate. There
have been only four cases—California, manufacturing in 1919, and
Kansas, laundry in 1918 and in 1924 and manufacturing in 1919—
where as many as three-fourths of the workers failed to receive rates
at or above the minimum. In Massachusetts, however, there are five
instances where 50 per cent of the women failed to receive the
minimum rate. This occurs in paper box 1920 and 1921, candy
1920, knit goods 1922, men’s furnishings 1922, and retail stores
1924. As for the first quartiles—the rate received by the typical lowpaid worker—they fall below the minimum rate in 35 of the 55
studies made after decrees went into effect and that show rates.3
Moreover, among the other surveys there are five—brush, 1917; minor
lines of confectionery, 1924; women’s clothing, 1919; corsets, 1921;
and retail stores, 1919—which, though they show quartiles above the
minimum, are .second inspections after the decree in four cases and
the third inspection in the case of minor lines of confectionery.
Retail stores, in the third and fourth inspections which were made
after a new decree which raised rates, and brush, in the fourth and
fifth inspections, which also were made after a new decree advanced
rates, again /show first quartiles below the minimum rate. Corsets
in 1925 show once more a quartile below the minimum. In actual
fact only six industries—muslin underwear, canning and preserving,
men’s clothing, wholesale millinery, retail millinery, and bread and
bakery products—show that the establishing of a minimum-wage
a Building cleaners omitted because recognized as a part-time industry to a predominant
extent.




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OP WOMAN WORKERS

359

decree resulted at once in three-fourths of the workers receiving
tile rate set by the decree or a higher rate.
though this failure of the actual rate to reach the minimum rate
in so many cases is a most important fact as far as the general effect
of minimum-wage rates is concerned, it must be understood that
tins difference m rates does not necessarily mean that the law is
not being followed by the vast majority of the employers. These
lower rates m Massachusetts may represent apprentices whose rates
run much lower than the cost-of-living minimum and mav continue
tor a considerable period of time, and whose numbers are not lim­
ited. liven granting that this explains satisfactorily the smaller
percentage of workers whose rates were at or above the minimum, it
does not affect the fact that not only do the mediaps fail to show any
stiikmg results ot minimum-wage rates but the first quartiles also
fail to do so.
To discuss the general tendencies of rate changes as shown bv these
quartiles would be to repeat the analysis of the medians. With
he exception of two rates (candy 1925 and druggists’ preparations
192oji and two earnings (candy 1921 and brush 1925) the quartiles vary
directly with the medians. Moreover, these first quartiles fail to show
a much greater proportionate rise than do the medians. In some
ot the states previously discussed it was found that there miofit beconsiderable difference between a first quartile and a median before
the minimum rate was set, but that the rate so aided the lowestpaid workers that the first quartile more nearly approached the
median after the rate was set. This, however, is not the rule in
Massachusetts. On the whole, these median and quartile figures can
not be said to show that minimum-wage rates were the predominant
factor in the wage rise that took place among the lower-paid groups
m these industries.
1
One other set of figures, the third quartiles, have been tabulated,
their mam value is to show whether the minimum wage has become
the maximum, as is so often claimed. Part of the value of these
quartiles. is destroyed by the fact that exact changes in the rates
and earnmgs of the typical more highly paid woman can not always
be determined, since in some cases the rates and earnings have been
lumped as over $15” or “over $18.” Section C of Table 63
(p. 350) shows the third quartiles in the industries investigated or
inspected by the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission Unless
some cases of divergence are concealed by the system of throwing
ogether all rates or all earnings above $15, the third-quartile rates
vary directly with the median rates with the exception of the 1925
candy inspection and the first inspection (1921) in minor lines of
confectionery. The situation in the latter is very interesting because
the typical more highly paid woman in this industry received a sub­
stantially lower rate of pay after the decree was set than before
this is noted particularly because it is the only case in any State
where a leveling of rates seems to have followed a decree. This
result was temporary, however, for in the next inspection (1922)
tne third quartile was shown to have gained so much more rapidly
60769°—28---- 24




360

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

than had the median that it had advanced practically as much over
the predecree third quartile as the 1922 median had over that of
1919. Whatever causes were operating to bring about the general
rise in rates and earnings in Massachusetts were producing an up­
ward movement in the pay of the typical more highly paid woman,
so that she maintained just about the same position in advance of
the rates and earnings of the typical woman worker as is shown by
changes in the median.
Changes m median wages as shown by the -figures collected by the
Massachusetts Division of Statistics.—The figures collected by the
minimum-wage board show a general rise in rates in all industries
covered by the minimum-wage decrees and in two industries where
no decrees ever were set. The following table, giving figures from
the division of statistics, shows that this general rise occurred not
only in all the manufacturing industries where decrees were set but
in the main woman-employing manufacturing industries not covered
by decrees. These figures begin during the period when agitation
and investigation looking toward a minimum-wage law were going
on, and continue, for each year, during the period in which most of
the decrees were issued. As the division of statistics no longer pub­
lishes these figures, information could not be obtained for years later
than 1922.




Table 65.—Median wages of women in Massachusetts as shown by figures collected by the division of statistics, 1910 to 1922, by industry 1
Industries covered by minimum-wage decrees

Can­
Boxes,
Conning
Wom­
Men’s
fancy Brushes fec- Other and Men’s en’s Cor­ Knit Mil­ fur­
and
tion- food pre­ cloth­ clbth- sets goods linery nish­
ing
ing
paper
ery
ings
serv­
ing

1910............ $7.60
1911......... .
7. 90
1912_..........
7.85
1913-........
8.15
1914
8.60
1915_____
8. 85
1916...........
9. 25
1917............
9.60
1918_____
12. 05
1919............ 15.25
1920............ 3 16. 55
1921........... 15. 85
1922
* 15. 65

$4.60 $6.15 $6.60
$7.60 $8.10 $7. 40 $7. 35 $9.15 $8. 35 $6. 70
4.80 6.55 6.85
7. 65
8.15 7. 95 7. 75 9. 30
8.55 7.05
5. 25 6.65 6.80 $6.10
8. 05
8.60 8.15 8. 10 9. 70
8.40 6. 85
7.05 6. 85 7.20 6.40
8.45
8. 65 8.00 8.25 10. 20
8.60 7. 35
» 7. 90 7.15 7.00 6.60
8.40
8. 75 8. 75 8. 40 10. 45
9.15 7. 70
8. 75 7. 15 7.05 6.65
8.55
8.85 8. 75 8. 95 10. 55
9.10 7. 65
9. 40 7. 45 7. 55 7. 30
9. 25
9. 45 9. 35 10. 30 11.45 10. 05 8.10
9. 45 8. 30 8.60 8. 55 10.60 310.40 10.90 12. 70 12. 40 10. 75 8. 75
10.15 10. 80 9. 90 10. 60 3 13. 15 13.00 14.65 14. 85 313.65 3 13. 25 11.45
14.45 13.15 12.20 312.10 16. 95 15.90 13.85 17. 25 316. 25 15. 70 11.25
15.60 315.05 12. 75 13. 75 3 19. 65 3 17. 20 318. 35 319. 30 18. 35 15. 75 13. 55
15. 10 14. 25 313.10 13. 90 16.60 16.10 14.50 16. 75 17. 50 15. 50 14.45
14. 40 14.80 12. 75 13.25 16. 50 3 16.40 15. 80 17.00 17.20 315. 20 13. 65

1 For numbers of women on which these figures are based, see Appendix E, p. 614.
1 Decree issued after 1923.
* Minimum-wage decree became effective in this year.




Textiles
Pat­
Elec­
Sta­
Bak­ Toys
ent
Boots trical
All
Jew­
medi­ tion­ elry 2 ery
ma­ indus­
prod­ and
Cot­ Dinen
ery
Wool Total and
cines,
games2
Silk
shoes chin­ tries
ucts2
ton
and
of 4
etc.2 goods 2
ery
goods goods goods worsted classes

$7. 75
7.90
7.80
8.15
8.40
8. 65
8. 85
9.80
13. 85
15. 85
17.20
17.00
16. 45

$8.00
8.20
8. 30
8. 45
8. 75
8. 65
9.30
10.20
12. 30
15. 05
15. 80
15.70
15.30

$8.10
8. 30
8.20
7. 85
7. 95
7. 65
8. 75
9. 55
12. 05
14.00
14.80
13. 85
13. 55

$7. 30
6. 95
7. 15
7. 95|
8. 40
8. 60
9.25
9. 60
10.60
14. 55
15. 30
15. 30
14. 55

$7. 70
7.80
8. 25
8. 55
8. 65
8.85
10. 75
12. 90
16.20
19. 40
21.60
17. 70
17. 75

$6. 85
7.40
7.65
7. 65
7.95
8.00
8. 95
11.25
14.90
19.50
21.20
17.20
17.45

$8. 65
9.20
9.15
9.85
9.85
9. 95
11.20
13.05
15.60
22. 25
21.10
19.10
19.35

$7. 80
7.90
8.45
8.50
8. 55
8. 75
10. 75
13.30
15.95
20.00
21.15
18.20
18.30

$7. 70
7. 85
8. 30
8. 55
8. 65
8.80
10.70
12.90
16.10
19. 65
21.50
17.95
17.95

$9.30
9.60
9.90
10.25
10. 35
10. 55
10. 95
11.85
14. 65
18. 40
19. 25
19. 65
19.20

$7.95
8.40
8.50
8.50
8. 75
8.90
9. 75
11.00
13.00
15.60
16.10
16. 30
15. 30

$7.85
8. 05
8.40
8. 60
8. 75
8. 90
10.15
11.85
14.80
17.60
19.10
17. 25
17.15

CHANGES IN THE POSITION OE WOMAN WORKERS

Year

In dustries not covered by minimum-wage decrees

CO

OS

362

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

From 1910 to 1920 there occurred a period of steady advance in
wages for the typical woman worker. Occasional scattered reces­
sions are shown, but none of them are great and many of them are
for as small sums as 5 cents. If the median fell back one year, the
next year, in practically all cases, it not only made up any amount lost
but forged still further ahead. Some industries show considerably
greater increases in this period than do others. The industries where
rates have been set, however, often do not show so great an increase
as those where there is no decree. For instance, the following:
Men’s
clothing

Year
1913
1922

___ _____ _______ _________
____ ______________ ________

$8. 45
19. 65
16.50

W omen’s
clothing
$8.65
17. 20
16. 40

Stationery Cotton tex­
Men's
tiles
furnishings
goods
$8. 60
15.75
15. 20

$8.15
17. 20
16. 45

$8. 55
21. 60
17. 75

Cotton textiles, which had the greatest rise, never had a rate decree
The stationery decree was not set until 1925. Minimum rates for
the three other industries were set in 1917 and 1918. Therefore, one
industry without a decree showed a rise that roughly equaled the
rate changes in the three industries with decrees, and another with­
out a decree showed considerably more rise than the three where
rates were set.
In one particular these medians have a tendency somewhat different
from that of the medians computed from the figures collected by
the minimum-wage board. As far as the present medians are con­
cerned, 1920 stands out in almost every industry as a peak year, with
an immediate drop in wages in 1921. In the minimum-wage figures
some industries reached their peak in 1921, and some in the last
inspection available running from 1919 to 1924. The figures from
both sources agree in showing that women were receiving consider­
ably higher rates at the end of this period than at the beginning.
Taking from this table the two industries covered by minimumwage rates that had the highest and the lowest medians in 1913, and
the two never covered by a decree that occupy similar positions, it
is seen that in each case the industries without decrees show a some­
what greater rise.
Industries covered by
minimum-wage de­
crees
Year

Canning
and pre­
serving

Industries having no
decrees

................... -...................... -_____ ______ ____ ___

Linen tex­
tiles

$6. 40
13. 25

$10. 20
17.20

$7. 65
17. 45

$10.25
19.20

107.0

1913

Millinery

Boots and
shoes

68.6

128.1

87.3

Considered from many different angles, these figures confirm the
deductions drawn from the studies made by the minimum-wage com­
mission. The minimum-wage law has operated in Massachusetts in
a time of rising rates which have obscured its effect. The causes
sending rates upward, such as an unprecedented 'demand for manu­
factured goods required for prosecuting the war, and a tremendous
increase in living costs which had to be met by raising rates, were so
much more powerful and far-reaching than minimum-wage decrees
that they largely obscure the effect of the latter. Moreover, the law



CHANGES IN THE POSITION OP WOMAN WORKERS

363

was pot mandatory, and the rates set usually were compromises which
considered the financial ability of the industry. It is often stated
that minimum-wage decrees were set only in those industries where
increases in rates were not keeping pace with living costs nor with
other industries. However, if the table from the division-of-statistics
figures which give yearly changes is studied, with its figures foot­
noted that indicate the year in which the decrees became effective
m each industry, it is hard to see any special acceleration of the
general upward tendency. The Massachusetts figures are the most
complete available, but they also are the most inconclusive. If figures
on rates are made available again, the next few years, which will show
the decrees’ effect in a more normal period, may permit the correct
interpretation of the figures now existing and certain definite
achievements of minimum wage which at present are obscured may
be visible.
Minnesota.
The only Minnesota figures available for purposes of comparison
are earnings for the years 1920, 1922, and 1923. For 1914, figures on
rates are obtainable, but there are no other rate figures. The table
following shows the available median and quartile earnings.
Table 66.—Median

and quartile earnings in Minnesota, 1020, 1922, and 1923, by
industry1

(Figures in roman were secured by investigation before a decree; those in italic by inspection following
decree]

a

A. MEDIAN

All indus­
tries

Year

1920 2___________
1922______
1923.........................

$15. 30
15.40
15.10

Laundries

Manufac­
turing

Mercantila

$14.00

$15.40
15.20
15.05

$13. 60
15.60
14.65

18. 25

$11.90
18.80

11.10

B. FIRST QUARTILE
1920 2________
1922._____ ______
1923__________

$12. 85
18.20
12.50

$12. 50

C. THIRD QUARTILE
1920 2_______ ________
1922________
1923______________

$19. 45
19.05

$16.10

Median
Other 1920 earnings:2
Office workers....................
Laundries.__ ________
Manufacturing............. ._
Mercantile... ______ .
Printing and publishing. ...................... .........
Printing and publishing______ _________
Other 1923 earnings:
Hotel and restaurant____
Printing and publishing-.......................

$16.90
18.65
IS. so

18.40

First quar­ Third quar­
tile
tile

$16. 65
16. 20
17.20
15.85
16. 65
15.50

$13. 80
14.00
14. 25
13. 20
13.90
12. 70

12. 05
16.90

9. 45
13. 45

20.45
18.85

For numbers of women on which these figures are based see Appendix E, p. 615.
Figures necessarily constitute an inspection, since they were collected after a decree was set, but they
were gathered as investigation figures when the necessity for revising the decree in question was under




364

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

In Minnesota, as in Kansas, minimum-wage rates were low during
the period in which these earnings figures were collected. These
rates ranged from $10.25 to $11 in 1920 and from $10.25 to $12 in
1921, and covered every industry in the State. The tables for other
States have shown that earnings figures almost always ran lower
than rates, yet for Minnesota earnings every median is well above
the highest minimum rate and only one first quartile falls below, and
that only to the amount of 10 cents. It is a true summary of the
Minnesota figures to say that three-fourths of all the women investi­
gated actually were receiving in their pay envelopes more money than
the highest minimum-wage rate required their rate of pay to be. If
figures were available for rates undoubtedly they would run even
higher in most cases than these earnings.
Unfortunately it is almost impossible to tie up these earnings
with the minimum rates and make the claim that their excellence
is due to the standards set by the wage decrees. After the slight
increase in rates which occurred in 1921, median earnings went down
very slightly in one industry and up very considerably in another,
but for all industries they remained practically stationary in 1922
and dropped in 1928. The first quartile for all industries went up a
little in 1922 but.'fell below its 1920 level in 1923. The third quartile
went down in 1922 and back to its 1920 figure in 1923; in other
words, its behavior was exactly the reverse of the first quartile. If
the 1922 figures suggest a leveling down of highly paid workers
when a rise in minimum-wage rates forced up the earnings of those
lower paid, the 1923 figures contradict this hypothesis. It is perhaps
too much to expect that variations in earnings should bear a direct
relation to changes in minimum-wage rates. They are not only fluc­
tuating at a point well above the minimum rate, as far as most women
are concerned, but fluctuations in earnings are so dependent on over­
time, undertime, absences for personal reasons, and so forth, that
there is no possibility of gauging changes in rates by the available
earnings figures.
In spite of the limitations imposed by the nature of these Minne­
sota figures, any significance that they have tends to confirm the
theory advanced in discussing the Kansas figures—that minimumwage rates, if their influence on rates and earnings in general is to
be evident, must be set at the true cost-of-living level. As a usual
thing this cost-of-living rate has been shown to be sufficiently above
the going rates to cause an appreciable rise in general rates and earn­
ings. This has not been the case in Minnesota.
North Dakota.
A few figures on median rates are available in North Dakota, but the
number of women included in these studies is so small in almost every
industry as to make one hesitate even to consider the medians (see p.
615). It must be remembered that the total number of gainfully
employed women in North Dakota is so small that even figures based
on a relatively few women might give a representative cross section.
The figures, therefore, might be worth careful consideration were it
not for the way in which the rate figures have been grouped. Not
only are there a relatively small number of women included in these
studies, but when the tables were organized the rates were lumped—■
for instance, “ over $15 ” and “ under $15 ”—so that usually it is im­




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OE WOMAN WORKERS

365

possible to discuss the medians in exact terms. The tables therefore
seem of so little value that they are not reproduced here. They
show rates in six industries—hotel and restaurant, laundry, manu­
facturing, mercantile, office, and telephone—for 1921, 1922, and 1923.
Oregon.
The only figures available for Oregon are for earnings in 1912
pi ioi to the enactment of the law and for rates in the manufacturing
and the laundry industries in 1917 and 1918. The comparable rate
igures are for identical establishments. The following statement
shows the median and quartile rates.
A. MEDIAN

Industry
Year
Manu­
facturing Laundry
1917________

$8. 95

$9.65

$7. 60
8. 40

$9.15
9. 20

--------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------B. FIRST QUARTILE
1917.....................

C. THIRD QUAIITILE
1917________
cuiisuiute an inspection, since they were collected after a deeree
lor revising^ the ^decree fn“oa.S° “ i"Ve8tlgati0n flgUres lu determining the necessity

The number of women represented in this table is small; 475 in
manufacturing in 1917 and 376 in 1918; 159 in laundry in 1917 and
13 ‘ hi 1918. Minimum rates of from $8.25 to $8.64, according to the
size of the community, were in force in both industries at both dates.
J he figures show a rise in rates though the minimum remained the
same. In spite of the decree, however, the first quartile in manu­
facturing was well below both minimum rates in 1917 and only a little
above the lowest minimum rate in 1918. Even in the second year,
iiaJt of the women m both industries were receiving lower rates than
the sum to which the minimum rate was raised ($11.61) later in that
year. In spite of the tendency of rates to rise, these Oregon women
seemed really to need an increased minimum-wage rate to bring up
the lower-paid women. Unfortunately, figures do not exist to show
in how xai the $11.61 rate accomplished this purpose. The two groups
° . [a^s that are used show, however, that the rise in rates with or
without decrees being set, or rates raised, that occurred in the States
previously discussed, occurred also in Oregon. Another tendency
discernible m Oregon which was the same as in the other States is
that the minimum rate did not become the maximum. In fact, the
rates of the typical more highly paid worker showed a good increase
in the manufacturing industry and increased much more than did the




366

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

median in laundries. If these rates in general corroborate statements
made earlier in this report that rates were rising without the aid of
minimum-wage decrees, and that the minimum wage did not become
the maximum, they do not agree with figures in other States when
they show also a rise without minimum-wage decrees which did not
keep pace with the standards set by the decrees.
Washington.
The only comparable figures available for the State of Washington
are those showing earnings for a few industries in 1913, 1914, and
1920. The table following gives this material:
Table

67.—Median and quartile earnings in Washington, 1913 to 1920, by
industry1

[Figures in roman were secured by investigation before a decree; those in italic by inspection following
a decree]
A. MEDIAN
Laundries

Year

1913..............................................................................................
1914_________ _____
1920 2

Manufac­
turing

$8. 65
9.85
15. 40

$9. 75

Mercan­
tile

Telephone

$9. 45
10.75

$8. 45
9.65

$7. 40
10.15

$6.90
9.10

(3)
$12.70

$9. 75
10.^5

14.90

B. FIRST QUARTILE
1913...............................................................................................
1914 .
1920 1____ ______________________ ____ _____________

$7.15
9. 65
13. 80

$7.90
13.25

C. THIRD QUARTILE
1913.............................................................................................
1914. ______________ ____ _____________ ___________
1920 2 .................................. .....................................................

(3)
$11.70
17. 30

o
$17. 60

1919 figures: Public housekeeping—median, $13.65; first quartile, $13.20; third quartile, $15.55.
1 For numbers of women on which these figures are based see Appendix E, p. 615.
2 Figures necessarily constitute an inspection, since they were collected after a decree was set, but they
were gathered as investigation figures when the necessity for revising the decree in question was under
consideration.
» Over $10.

Median and quartile earnings once again are steadily moving up­
ward, with the gain in any one group seeming to be roughly pro­
portionate to the gain in the others. Nineteen hundred and fourteen,
after a decree had been set, shows a substantial increase in earnings
over 1913. Earnings, which usually run below the actual rates, are
running well above the minimum rates required by the decree. In
the six years from 1914 to 1920 a great increase in earnings took
place, with three-fourths of the women studied in 1920 earning more
than the minimum rate of $13.20. Though no rate figures are obtain­
able, it seems fair to say that rates between 1914 and 1920 rose
considerably faster than did the minimum-wage rate.
Wisconsin.
In 1921 to 1924 the Wisconsin Industrial Welfare Commission col­
lected a great mass of material on hourly earnings by methods which
compared with those described in discussing the California pay-roll




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

367

calls. The material obtained was arranged in various special in­
dustrial groups and an “all industries” group for the first three
years and in an “ all industries ” group alone for 1924. On the ad­
vice of the director of the women’s department of the Wisconsin
Industrial Commission, the usual weekly schedule was considered to
be 50 hours for all four years and this, rather than the legal limit,
which was 55 hours m 1921, 1922, and part of 1923, and 50 hours
thereafter, pas used to determine potential weekly earnings. These
figures were based on large numbers of women (32,689'"’ in 1921:
46,998 m 1922; 56,3 <8 in 1923; and 51,407 in 1924) and would have
formed a comparable series of the greatest value had not earnings
been lumped, above 30 cents an hour and under 20 cents an hour,
so that well over half of the medians and practically all of the third
quartiles can not be definitely determined. The folio win0, table
shows the medians and first quartiles:
Table

Median and quartile potential earnings in Wisconsin, 1921 to 1923,

68.

t>y industry1
[Inspection figures]
A. MEDIAN
Canning
and pre­
serving

Year

1921 *..................
1922__............
1923_..............

Hotels and
restaurants Laundries Mercantile

$14. 40

$12. 60
(3)

Tobacco

$14. 90
14. 70
14. 85

«
$13.15
(>)

B. FIRST QUARTILE

Year

All in­
dus­
tries

1921 2
$13. 20
1922__.......... 13. 35
1923............. 13.65
1924_............ 14.10

Can­
Hotels
ning
and
Laun­ Manu­
and
restau­ dries factur­
ing
pre­
rants
serving
$12. 55
12. 90
13. 00

$13. 60
13.05

(<)
$13.90
13. 90

$13. 25
13. 20
13. 65

Mer­
can­
tile

$12. 85
13. 40
13. 40

Office

$14.45
10.25

Print­
ing and
Public
pub­ utility
lish­
ing
$14. 90
14. 10
12. 75

$14.45
14. 25

Tele­
phone Tobacco

$14.30
13. 85

$13.80
10. 5
13.60

Medians of over $15 :
All Industries, 1921, 1922, 1923 1924
Manufacturing, 1921. 1922, 1923.
'
Office. 1921, 1923.
Printing and publishing, 1921, 1922, 1923.
Public utility, 1922, 1923.
Telephone, 1922, 1923.

1 F?r numbers of women on which these figures are based see Appendix E, p. 616.
i igures necessarily constitute an inspection, since they were collected after a decree was set, but they
"TovJr $16 16 aIS° 88 lnTBStIBatlon (Uuros 1° determining the necessity for revising the decree in question.
* Under $10.

In 1921 the hourly minimum-wage rate would have yielded $11
to a woman who worked the 50-hour week which was most common
in Wisconsin or $12.10 to the woman who worked the full legal
limit of 55 hours. In 1922, 1923, and 1924, after an increase in rates,
these hours would have yielded $12.50 and $13.75, respectively, to
women working in towns and cities of 5,000 or more population and
the same amounts as in 1921 to women in the small communities.




368

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

With either minimum rate, every actual median and all the first
quartiles except laundries 1921, office 1923, and tobacco 1922, are
above what a woman’s earnings would have been had she worked
at the minimum rate 50 hours per week. Moreover, in 1921 all these
potential earnings figures except the laundry quartile are above the
amount a woman could have earned at the minimum then in effect
if she worked 55 hours per week. In 1922 and 1923, only one median
(tobacco, 1922) was below what a woman could earn in a city or
town of 5,000 or more population on a 55-hour schedule (the higher
of the two rates set in late 1921) while 7 of 19 first quartiles also were
above this sum. All the medians and all the quartiles except office
(1923) and tobacco (1922) were above the weekly minimum based
on 50 working hours, and this was the basis used by the commission
in 1921 when determining what weekly rate would meet the cost of
living. In other words, actual earnings based on a 50-hour week
were yielding to three-fourths of the women in all but one industry
(laundries) in 1921 and to half of the women in all but one industry
(tobacco) in 1922 and 1923 the sum possible at the minimum rates
when a woman worked the 55 hours allowed by law. Moreover, for
three-fourths of the women in 11 of 30 possible groups in 1921-1924
the earnings were yielding as much as or more than the minimum
for cities and towns of 5,000 or more population on a 55-hour basis.
Evidently in 1921 actual earnings were so far ahead of the low mini­
mum rate that it is doubtful whether the rate actually affected more
than a small fraction of the State’s woman workers. In 1922, 1923,
and 1924, after the minimum rate was raised, the number of women
who earned only the minimum rate was somewhat increased, but
even at that in “ all industries ” three-fourths of the women were
receiving $13.35, $13.65, and $14.10 or above for 50 hours’ work
when the minimum rate for 55 hours would have yielded either
$12.10 or $13.75, depending on the size of the community, and the
so-called cost-of-living minimum based on 50 working hours would
have yielded $11 to $12.50. These earnings confirm once again the
theory advanced as a result particularly of the study of the Cali­
fornia and Kansas figures, that the effect of a relatively low mini­
mum rate on actual rates and earnings is very slight.
Since medians that show changes above the $15 line are not ob­
tainable in many industries, the table showing first quartiles is the
only complete representation of changes that occurred when the
minimum rate was raised. Between 1921 and 1922 the first quartile
for all industries went up slightly. In the specific industries three
showed higher quartiles and three showed lower ones. In one in­
stance, mercantile stores, the first quartile went up but the median
went down slightly. It is impossible to judge what was the effect
on the third quartile, since only four occur which are less than $15.
It is to be deplored that this material is in such form that it is so
inconclusive. It represents a period sufficiently long after the war
to give a relatively normal picture of earnings. It covers a very
large number of women. Potential earnings form a worthwhile
basis of comparison with minimum-wage rates. The medians and
third quartiles are so far above the minimum rate, however, that the
lumping of all groups above the $15 line prevents drawing a clear




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OE WOMAN WORKERS

369

picture of wage changes. One fact stands out: The minimum rate
most certainly has not become the maximum.
Summary.
h or anyone seeking to discover the real effect of minimum-wage
decrees, the foregoing material is very discouraging because it is so
dissimilar. For Arkansas, California'', and the District of Columbia
figures are available that seem to show a direct fluctuation in general
rates and earnings with changes in minimum-wage decrees. In Cali­
fornia a general rise in rates and earnings irrespective of the mini­
mum-wage decrees clearly is indicated, but this rise seems to be
accelerated notably by increases in minimum rates. In Arkansas and
district of Columbia no such general rise is apparent, but the
different behavior on the one hand of the industries with low mini­
mum rates and on the other hand of those with high minimum rates,
and also of the industries with decrees and of those without decrees,
is marked. In the remaining States the close connection between
general fluctuations in rates and earnings and changes in minimum
rates ceases. Figures for Kansas, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Wash­
ington show a period of rising rates and earnings during the time in
which decrees are being set in new industries and old minimum rates
aie being raised. Actual rates and earnings, however, often go up
when minimum rates remain stationary, and also go up in industries
never covered by decrees. In Kansas, where the great majority of
the woman workers were covered by decrees, the rise in rates in an
industry outside the decrees might be attributed to the force of the
deciees. In Massachusetts, however, the much greater proportion of
the woman workers in the State are not included in the decrees, so it
would not seem probable that the decrees had raised rates in all indus­
tries. Moreover, in Kansas, Massachusetts, and Washington the rise
m actual rates and earnings seems much greater than the advances in
minimum rates. After 1920 the general rise is halted in some industues, paiticularly in Massachusetts, but not in all. Nor do recessions
in actual rates and earnings show a direct reaction from minimumrate changes. In Minnesota and Wisconsin medians for earnings and
potential earnings, respectively, are fluctuating well above the level
set by minimum rates, but in so irregular a fashion that it not only
bears no relation to rate changes but shows no general tendency for
earnings to either rise or fall.
Out of these confused wage movements a few facts emerge. The
three States where minimum rates seem to have affected actual rates
and earnings for the whole group of woman workers have in two
cases—California and the District of Columbia—the highest rates
ever set and enforced over any period of time4 and in the third case,
Arkansas, at least one rate that seemed very much above the general*
level of rates in the State. Rates in the other States have been
generally lower—if not lower in amount, lower in relation to the
going rates in the State. In Massachusetts onen’ate was set as high
as $15.50 in the peak year of 1920, but it was reduced soon after.
Three other Massachusetts rates set at about this same time ranged
from $15 to $15.40. No other State reached even $15. On the other
4 1 rate in Washington and 4 rates in North Dakota exceeded them in amount
The
Washington rate was lowered after a very short time in effect. The North Dakota decrees
setting these rates were restrained by an injunction and never functioned.




370

MINIMTJM-WAGE LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES

hand, studies in these States in industries where there were no de­
crees and in States with no minimum-wage laws showed that a weeklyrate of from $14 to $15 was by no means uncommon. In the light of
the common knowledge of the upward trend of wages during this
period, it seems true that only those minimum rates which caused a
considerable advance over going rates brought about a change suffi­
cient to be observed in the behavior of the medians.
In answer to the theory that most minimum-wage decrees have not
affected general wages, it is possible, particularly in Massachusetts,
to put forward figures showing how many more women received
the minimum and above after the decree than had done so before
it became effective. That every decree has raised a certain number
of women’s rates is not to be controverted. How large a proportion
of women the decrees have advanced to the minimum and whether or
not decrees have been instrumental in raising general rates are ques­
tions open to debate. It is possible also that studies made two or
three years apart, in this period of rising prices, would have shown
just as many women above the figure at which the minimum was set
had there been no decree. If it is ever possible to trace direct effects
of minimum-wage rates when they are known to be but one of a
hundred factors influencing actual rates and earnings, the question
of their effect seems to get back to the question of the size of the
rates. This report has discussed in detail the relation of the minimum
rates to the cost of living and to changes in the cost of living. It
has shown that very few minimum rates equaled the cost of living,
and that later rates often did not advance enough even to maintain
the level set by the first rate. The basis for the minimum rates has
been a compromise that probably established, in most cases, a rate
which approximated rates already in effect in the average firm.
Notably underpaid women were brought up, but adjustments usually
did not need to be made all along the line. After all, the purpose of
minimum-wage laws is not to raise rates in general but to help the
most depressed group. The charge against the actual decrees is
that often they have been set so low as to bring up only the most
submerged women. Interestingly enough, the few rates that seem
high enough to raise the entire depressed group to the cost-of-living
level seem to have raised rates in general.
If the main lesson that these rates and earnings figures seem to
teach is great, caution in attributing any direct result to minimumwage rates, due to the fact that they have operated in a period of
great economic stress, they do show conclusively that attacks on
the law claiming bad results are untenable. Certainly minimumwage decrees have shown no evidence of being drastic enough to
drive industry from a State. Moreover, the period has been one of
such general increases in rates that there does not seem to be the
slightest tendency for the minimum rate to become the maximum.
As for the claim of the proponents of the law that decrees have raised
rates for the group of women most in need of help, it is true that
this period shows a steady rise in the first quartile, which represents
the rate of the average low-paid women, and that the level of rates
below which no considerable number of women are found rises
steadily; the very table headings change, for instance, from “ Under
$5 ” to “ Under $9,” or “ Under $10,” and so on. If minimum-wage




CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

371

laws are to continue, the administering agencies must try to have
rates set at a figure which really approximates the cost of living and
they must try to be sure that the number of women who, as minors,
apprentices, and substandard workers, receive less than the minimum
is kept at the lowest possible figure. There is no magic in minimumwage laws to raise all rates. ' They may have this effect, but they
should claim only that they pull to their own level the lowest-paid
workers.
CHANGES IN THE NUMBER OF LEARNERS OR APPRENTICES IN
CALIFORNIA

California has been the only one of the minimum-wage States
that has attempted to keep records over a period of years of the
number of apprentices in relation to the total number of women
employed. The system of licensing apprentices seems to have origi­
nate! 1 in the State of Washington and licenses also were issued in
the District of Columbia and Minnesota, but there are no records
available now, in any of these States, of actual numbers licensed
and actual numbers employed. Although this is such an isolated
bit of evidence, it seems of real importance as a basis for judging how
necessary were the elaborate and usually very lenient apprenticeship
rules which were incorporated in almost all decrees. The following
table shows the numbers of apprenticeship licenses issued by the
California Industrial Welfare Commission from 1917 to 1923.
Table G9.—Number of learners' or apprentices' licenses issued, in California,

1917 to 1923, by industry

2 68 2 7,916 2 2, 209 2 27.9
2,209

27.9

61
68

3, 579
13, 034

2 7.8
22.1
3.9

£

<u

of

ployees

P
©
CJ
P©
m
2 12.5

of

61

3, 368

177

5.3

11,871

1,724

14.5

1921
Apprentices
a>
42

P
©
o

fc

a>
Ph

a
3

ployees

ployees

a
8

N um ber of em ­

a
3

firms

t-i
o>
42

N um ber

ployees

Num ber of em ­

of

firms

2 579 215,239 2 1,901

1920

Apprentices

fe
42
|
£

518

792
511
i

N um ber

N um ber of em ­

p
8
<5
Ph

firms

ployees

of

2 129 216,613 21, 303

1919 i

Industry

a

3
£

Apprentices

Num ber of em ­

7,916

<D
43

of

68

Apprentices

firms

Mercantile_______
Manufacturing........

1919 l.

N um ber

£

p
8
3
Ph

N um ber of em ­

a
3

firms

o>
42

N um ber

Apprentices

ployees

Num ber of em ­

1918

N um ber

All industries __

firms

Industry

N um ber

of

1917

Apprentices
o
42

a
8

Is

fS

a
3

All industries.

639

26,933

6,876

25.5

638

27, 788

4,311

15.5

292

20, 213

2,813

13.9

Laundries..............
Mercantile.............
Manufacturing___

61
68
510

3,418
9,987
13, 528

327
3,492
3, 057

9.6
35.0
22.6

57
68
513

3,343
9,600
14, 845

373
1,598
2,340

11.2

15
37
240

1,627
9, 544
9,042

166
903
1,744

10.2

16.6
15.8

9.5
19.3

11919 was kept as two separate time periods owing to change in minimum rates in this year.
2 Total can not be compared with other all-industries figures, as there are no women in some of the classes

reported.




MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS lit THE tfNITED STATED

372

Table 69.—Number of learners’ or apprentices' licenses issued in California,

1917 to 1923, by industry—Continued
1922
Industry

1923

Apprentices
Apprentices
Number Number
Number Number
of
of em­
of
of em­
firms
ployees Number Per cent
firms
ployees Number
Per cent

All industries___

650

27,795

2,969

10.7

209

18,530

2,013

10.9

Laundries
Mercantile . ______
Manufacturing

61
68
521

3,713
10, 857
13, 225

143
701
2,125

3.9
6. 5
16.1

18
33
158

1,613
8, 759
8,158

179
491
1, 343

11.1
5.6
16.5

The first decree in each of the industries in this table limited the
number of learners in a given establishment to 25 per cent. Begin­
ning with the second decree in each of these industries, the legal pro­
portion of learners was raised to 33y3 per cent. The table shows only
two cases, both in the mercantile industry (1917 and 1919), where
the proportion of learners actually reported was in excess of that
allowed by law. In both cases the proportion is only slightly in
excess of the legal limit. Moreover, both of these figures represent a
period immediately following a new decree so that the industry was
still in the process of adjusting itself to the new rates. At every
other date the proportion is within the legal limit and in most cases
it is far below this limit. Industry as a whole in California has not
employed a fraction of the learners allowed by the decrees. While
the proportion of learners is apt to be higher after a new decree, a
study of the separate industries shows no general and uniform fluctu­
ation. On the whole, the longer the law is in force the less do the
employers seem to make use of the decrees’ learner provisions, even
though rates may be raised. In mercantile establishments, where
the learning period is much longer than in the manufacturing or
laundry industries, the end of the period shows the smallest per­
centage of learners employed. There is nothing in these figures to
show any displacement of experienced women by learners. In fact,
these tables indicate that far more elaborate learners’ rules were
worked out than were used by the majority of employers. If most
employers could get along with such small numbers of learners, the
question naturally arises whether the very liberal provisions found
in the decrees really were necessary. With its broad discretionary
powers, the industrial welfare commission could have allowed excep­
tions to the learners’ rules on special application—from new estab­
lishments, for instance—when it could be proved that such an excep­
tion was desirable, and as a corollary could have established much
stricter rules for the majority.
In addition to these figures on all learners, returns from 140 iden­
tical firms were obtainable, showing how their policy of hiring
learners had varied from 1917 to 1922.




373

CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF WOMAN WORKERS

70.—Number of learners' or apprentices’ licenses issued in California.
1917 to 1923, to 11/0 identical firms, by industry

27.8 9, 871

Manufacturing.........

962
27.8 8,909

301
436

Z

All industries..........

14, 081 2, 757

Laundries_____ _____ _
Mercantile......................
Manufacturing

1,106
309
6, 541 1,147
6,434 1,301

95

Apprentices

s
i
3

£

3

o>
o
<3

Oh

ployees

ployees

o
I£

©
25

B
3

Z

19.6 14,505 1,919

13.2 14,811 1,833
14.0
9.2
18.5

973
112
7, 764
503
6, 074 1,218

N um ber

ployees

N um ber of em ­

Per cent

Per cent
36 5
27.6

1923

Apprentices

27.9
17.5
20.2

1,063
149
7,725
714
5,717 1,056

881
6,819 2,490
21.2 6,185 1,709

31.8

12. 0

1922

N um ber of em ­

3

3

N um ber of em ­

ployees

N um ber of em ­

<3
&
6

792

1921

Apprentices

Apprentices

7.5 2 5,960 2 1,192 2 20.0 13,885 4,420
31.3
4. 9

5,168 1,097

1920

Industry

N um ber

Per cent

737

8
26 5, 570 1,550
106

3
8

<5

Ph

ployees

140 5,570 1,550

N um ber of em ­

All industries___

19191

Apprentices

ployees

Apprentices

ployees

Per cent

N um ber

19191

N um ber of em ­

N um ber of em ­

1918

Apprentices

ployees

N um ber of em ­

Industry

N um ber of firms

1917

N um ber

Table

Apprentices
<3
Xi

3
8

z

a>
Ph

B
3

12.4 15,822 1,643

10.4

11.5
6.5
20.1

12.6
5.6
16.3

1,175
148
8,329
466
6,318 1,029

1 1919 was kept as two separate time periods owing to change in minimum rates in this year.
2 Total can not be compared with other all-industries figures as there are no women in mercantile estab­
lishments reported.

In two cases—laundries, 1918, and mercantile, 1919—the proportion
of learners in these firms exceeded the legal limit. After the 1919
decrees, When the $13.50 rate went into effect, the proportion of
learners declined steadily. The actual number of women employed
rose from 1919 on, and the actual number of apprentices declined.
Every tendency indicated by the more general table on apprentices
is more strongly indicated by this for only 140 firms but the same
firms throughout.




CHAPTER XVI.—INFLEXIBLE LAWS

The Women’s Bureau lias made no first-hand investigation of the
administration of the inflexible laws created in Arizona, Porto Rico,
South Dakota, and Utah. The nature of these laws is such that
inspection for violations is the main duty of the body charged with
administering the law, for these bodies are not authorized to study
the relation of wages to changes in the cost of living nor to make any
decisions as to what groups should receive the minimum wage. It is
interesting to note that no agency has been created to handle these
laws, and their enforcement and the administration of minor points
has been assigned to existing units of the State government already
busy with other duties. Moreover, the States with this type of law
not only are few in number but, with the exception of Arkansas,
whose law is not absolutely inflexible and whose flexible features
already have been discussed, the total number of gainfully employed
women in each case is extremely small. Arizona, South Dakota, and
Utah are among the 11 States in the Union having in 1920 fewer
than 30,000 women in all gainful occupations.1 North Dakota, with
a flexible law, has fewer gainfully employed women by more than a
thousand than has South Dakota, but Utah and Arizona have by far
the smallest numbers of gainfully employed women of all the States
that have either type of law. Porto Rico has, it is true, a somewhat
large number of women gainfully employed—86,462—but nearly
18,000 of these women are in agriculture, an industry specifically
excepted from the law. It should also be noted that the exception of
women employed in agriculture affects the Arkansas situation to an
even greater degree, for of its 115,810 gainfully employed women
66,310 are engaged in agriculture. Because of these circumstances a
careful analysis of the text of the minimum-wage acts and of the
powers of the bodies enfoi'cing them, together with such a brief
resume of their practice as could be collected from printed reports
and from correspondence, is all that will be attempted in this study.
Even the attempt to give these few facts has shown the utter lack of
uniformity in the laws and in the practice from State to State. It
also has illustrated how few records of any sort exist from which any
deductions may be drawn as to the effect of these laws.
DATES OF ENACTMENT

The earliest of these statutes is the Utah law enacted during the
wave of minimum-wage legislation that swept, over the country in
1913. It was a new departure, in this or in a foreign country,2 for
1 Arizona had 18,386 women gainfully employed; South Dakota, 29,686; Utah, 21,783.
The States with fewer women gainfully employed are Montana, 28,278; North Dakota,
28,328; Vermont, 26,899; Delaware, 18,102; Idaho, 17,509; New Mexico, 14,941; Wyo­
ming, 9,402 ; Nevada, 4,334. U. S. Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth census: 1920. v. 4.
Population. Occupations, p. 54, Table 14.
2 This sort of law was on the statute books in most of the Australian Provinces, but in
practice usually governed only apprentices or children. Adult workers were taken care
of by the wage-board acts,

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INFLEXIBLE LAWS

a lawmaking body to determine the actual amount of the wage
and to provide no administrative body to regulate the wage as con­
ditions changed. The law was a compromise measure, passed after
a hard struggle to have enacted the more usual flexible type of law.
Though the Arkansas law, passed in 1915, embodied the principle
of haying the legislature set the wage rate, it also provided for a
commission to change this rate as economic conditions changed, so
not until 1917 was another law7 passed—that of Arizona—which
made no provision within itself for changing wage rates as neces­
sity demanded. Arizona is unique in that its legislature has at­
tempted to make its law meet changing conditions by repassing the
act in 1923 with an increased wage rate. Porto Rico passed an in­
flexible law in 1919, and the latest law to be enacted, that of South
Dakota in 1923, also is of the inflexible type.
WAGE RATES ESTABLISHED BY THE LAWS

Since the rates in these States (Arkansas excepted) may be
changed only by act of the legislature, and since most of them
were established some years ago, it is to be expected that all the
rates except those of most recent date would seem very low when
considered in the light of present-day cost-of-living figures. The
following table shows at a glance how true this is.
Table

71 .-—Weekly wage rates established by State legislatures, by date of
enactment
State and type of woman worker

Arizona____ ________________ ____ __ ____
Arkansas:
Experienced..................... .................
Inexperienced.............. ...................................... .............. .
Porto Rico:
Workers 18 years and over......... ................................
Workers under 18 years________ ___
South Dakota:
Experienced. ...........................................................................
Utah:
Adult and experienced............... .........
Adult learner___________
Under 18 and inexperienced...................... .............

1913

1915

1917

1919

$10. 00

1923
$16.00

$7. 50
6.00
$6. 00
4. 00
12.00
$7.50
5.40
4.50

'

........

These figures show' that there has been a realization of the increas­
ing cost of living, for the flat rate set by South Dakota in 1923 is
60 per cent greater than the flat rate set by Arkansas eight years
earlier. Moreover, in Arizona, as already stated, there has been an effort
to make the law change with changes in the cost of living. In 1923 the
legislature reenacted the law of 1917 with the minimum rate raised
to $16 per week, or another increase of 60 per cent. It should also
be realized that Arkansas, through its industrial welfare commission,
has taken cognizance of the greatly increased living costs since the
wuar and has raised the wTage rates for a small proportion of its
woman workers by order of the commission. In spite of these evi­
dences of recognition of the real cost of subsistence, the cumbersome
machinery of raising minimum rates by act of the legislature has
resulted in wage rates ridiculously low compared to present-day costs.
60769°—28----- 25




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MI