View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Frances Perkins, Secretary
B U R E A U OF L A B O R ST A T IS T IC S
Isador Lubin, Commissioner

Productivity o f Labor in the
Cotton-Garment Industry

Prepared by
NAHUM I. STONE
assisted by

ALFRED CAHEN and SAUL NELSON

Bulletin

662

November 1938

U N IT E D ST A TE S
G O V E R N M E N T P R IN T IN G OFFICE
W A S H IN G T O N : 1939

For sale by the Superintendent o f Documents, Washington, D . G.




-

Price 20 cents




CONTENTS

Page
C hapter

C hapter

C hapter

C hapter

I.— Summary_____________________________________________________
Scope of survey_________________________________________
Effects of machine changes_____________________________
Straight-line system of production______________
Hours of work____________________________
_____ __
Earnings of sewing-machine operators____
Earnings by region and size of town______________
Earnings in union and nonunion plants. ________
Conclusions________________________________
II.— Characteristics and background of cotton-garment in­
dustry______________________________________________________
Size of plants____________________________________________
Geographical distribution_______________________________
Distribution by size of towns___________________________
Expansion of industry during the depression_________
Drift of industry to small towns and to the South___
Outside sources of supply_______________________________
Puerto Rico and the Philippines__________________
Prison labor_________________________________________
W . P. A. sewing rooms____________________________
Child labor______________________________________________
Hours of work___________________________________________
Wages____________________________________________________
Average hourly earnings, by occupations_________
Increase in productivity of workers under N. R. A ___
Labor organizations_____________________________________
II I .— Development of machinery in the cotton-garment in­
dustry__________________________________________________
Evolution of the sewing machine______________________
Improved transmission equipment_____________________
Mechanization of cutting_______________________________
Pressing machinery_____________________________________
Effects of mechanization during the past half century.
IV .— Systems of shop management in the cotton-garment in­
dustry__________________________
Handling versus sewing tim e_______________
Effect of labor-saving machinery________________
Systems of shop management__________________________
The bundle system______________________________________
The straight-line system________________________________
Effect of line on efficiency of labor_______________
Effect of line on efficiency of management_______
Limitations of the straight-line system___________
The progressive-bundle system . __________ i __________
Effect of line on productivity of labor_________________




iii

1
1
1
3
5
5
5
6
6
8
9
10
12
12
14
16
16
16
16
16
17
17
19
20
21
24
24
27
27
28
28
36
36
36
37
37
38
41
45
47
49
50

IV

CONTENTS

C hapter IV .— Continued.
Effect of line on workers________________________________
Change from individual to team work____________
Rest periods________________________________________
Earnings of sewing-machine operators____________
Effects of line on wage system____________________
Experiment in aunion shop________________________
Summary________________________________________________
C hapter V .— Productivity of labor in principal branches of cotton-gar­
ment industry______________________________________________
Dress shirts______________________________________________
Characteristics of plants studied__________________
Productivity of labor in sewing department______
Effect of system of shop management____________
Analysis of productivity by operations___________
Productivity of labor under the progressivebundle system____________________________________
Productivity of individual workers________________
Lack of seasonal variation_________________________
Earnings of sewing-machine operators____________
Direct labor cost_______________________
Work shirts______________________________________________
Productivity of labor in sewing department_____
Labor cost and hourly earnings__________________
Overalls__________________________________________________
Productivity of labor in sewing department_____
Productivity of labor in line plants_______________
Labor cost and hourly earnings__________________
Work pants______________________________________________
Productivity of labor by operations______________
Labor cost and hourly earnings___________________
Semidress pants_________________________________________
Productivity of labor in line plants_______________
Productivity of labor by operations______________
Labor cost and hourly earnings___________________
House dresses____________________________________________
The style factor____________________________________
Productivity of labor in sewing department_____
Effect of shop management____________
Labor cost and hourly earnings___________________
M en’ s pajamas__________________________________________
A ppe n d ix 1.— Problems and approach to the study of labor productivity.
A p p e n d ix 2.— Earnings in cotton-garment plants__________________________
A p pen d ix 3.— Basic manufacturing operations______________________________




Page
55
55

56
57
59
59
60
62
62
64
64
66
68
71
72
73
74
75
78
79
81
83
86
88
89
91
95
97
98
100
101
102
103
103
104
106
107
107
110
122
132

Letter o f Transmittal

U n ited S tates D epar tm en t of L a b o r ,
B u r e a u of L abor S tatist ic s ,
W a sh in g to n , D . C ., N o v em b er 3 0 , 1 9 3 8 .

T he S e c r e ta r y of L a b o r :

I
have the honor to transmit herewith a report on Productivity of
Labor in the Cotton-Garment Industry, prepared under the direction
of Boris Stern of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
I sa dor L u b in , C o m m issio n e r .
H o n . F rances P e r k in s ,




S ecreta ry o f L a bor.




PREFACE

This study on labor productivity in the cotton-garment industry
is one of a series of surveys on labor productivity under the direction
of Boris Stern made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in cooperation
with the National Research Project under the direction of David
Weintraub of the Works Progress Administration. In obtaining the
original material for this survey, the Bureau depended upon the
voluntary cooperation of manufacturers for the opportunity to
examine their pay rolls and production records. The task of enlisting
such cooperation was greatly facilitated by the wholehearted support
of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers. The
possibilities for this study were originally brought to the attention of
the Bureau by the Statistical Service Bureau of the I. A. G. M., and
when the study was definitely scheduled this agency fully carried out
its pledge of cooperation, placing all its facilities, including lists of
manufacturers in the cotton-garment industry, at the disposal of the
Bureau.
Several of the leading men in the industry were most helpful in
securing the cooperation of individual manufacturers. It would be
impossible to enumerate them all. However, particular mention
should be given to the following officers and directors of the Inter­
national Association of Garment Manufacturers: Mr. Oscar J.
Groebl, Levi Strauss & Co., Inc., San Francisco, Calif., chairman of
the board of directors; Mr. Benjamin F. Berman, Crown Overall
Manufacturing Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, president; Mr. R. Smith Payne,
Cluett, Peabody & Co., Troy, N. Y., vice president; Mr. E. E. Murphy,
Rice-Stix, St. Louis, Mo., treasurer; and Mr. A. F. Allison, secretary.
Other I. A. G. M. officials or directors whose cooperation was most
helpful included Mr. S. I. Miller, president, Southwestern Work
Clothes Manufacturers Association and director-at-large of the
I. A. G. M .; Mr. Ralph Hunter, president of Hall-Hartwell & Co.
and a director of the I. A. G. M .; and Mr. Arthur T. Davenport, general
manager of Sweet-Orr & Co.
In the cotton-dress field, Mr. S. L. Hoffman, president, and Mr.
Irwin Feldman, secretary, of the National Association of House
Dress Manufacturers, extended valuable cooperation, as did Mr.
Charles Jacobs, treasurer of the National Association of Nurses* and
Maids* Uniforms Manufacturers, and Mr. Robert J. Noren, secretary
of the Union-Made Garment Manufacturers Association. Mr. Fred




VII

V III

PREFACE

Pruter, managing director, Pacific Coast Garment Manufacturers
Association, was most helpful in placing the facilities of his office in
San Francisco at the disposal of the Bureau in its survey of California
plants and in giving information and advice on that section of the
country.
Mr. Thomas A. Rickert, president of the United Garment Workers
of America; Dr. Gladys Dickason, research director of the Amalga­
mated Clothing Workers of America; and Dr. Lazare Teper, research
director of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, were
most helpful in furnishing information and guidance in the course of
the survey and in offering valuable suggestions in the final preparation
of the report.
The Singer Manufacturing Co. has made a most valuable contribu­
tion by preparing a succinct review of the development of the sewing
machine during the past four decades. Credit is particularly due to
Mr. M. C. Lightner, vice president of the company; Mr. J. Bader,
sales manager; and Mr. I. F. Webb, machinery expert of the company.
The Union Special Machine Co. was likewise helpful in furnishing
considerable information on the subject of sewing machines.
Mr. Folkert Allan Schmidt, president, Prodexto Corporation, and
the patentee of the straight-line system, took infinite pains in sub­
mitting data and in critically examining the manuscript of the chapter
in this report bearing on the straight-line system.
In conclusion, credit is due to the authors of this report and to the
men on the staff whose interest in and devotion to their work made
possible whatever results the survey was able to achieve. While this
is true of practically the entire staff, special mention should be made
of the following who rendered most valuable service in the field
operations and in the preparation of the final report: Messrs. Reuben
Holland, Sidney Sameth, Glenn Newton, Maurice Shapiro, Harry
Cobrin, John Klawin, Hyman Feiner, and Miss Mildred H. Krohl.
I sador L u b in ,
C o m m issio n er o j L a b o r S ta tistics .

N ovem ber 1938.




Bulletin T^o. 662 o f the
U nited States Bureau o f Labor Statistics

Productivity o f Labor in the Cotton-Garm ent
Industry
Chapter I
Summary
Scope o f Survey

The object of this study was to determine the changes in labor
productivity resulting from technological changes which have taken
place in recent years in the manufacture of cotton garments, and to
ascertain, as far as possible, the nature of these changes and their
effects on labor cost and wages, as well as on the volume of employ­
ment in the industry.
The sample of 116 plants studied does not contain an adequate
number of small plants, of plants paying low wages, and of plants
manufacturing cheap products, to be considered fully representative
of the more than 3,700 plants in the cotton-garment industry. Failure
to cover a more representative sample of plants was due largely to
absence of adequate records, particularly in the smaller plants. As
a result, the output per man-hour, the wages, and the efficiency of
management in most of the factories studied are probably substantially
above the average for the industry. The average earnings of the
workers covered are probably from 10 to 20 percent higher than the
average for the industry as a whole.
The scarcity of records also made it impossible to have the study
cover a period as long as was originally intended. Even in the plants
where proper records are now kept, these are seldom preserved for more
than 1 or 2 years. It was therefore difficult even to find 116 plants
with suitable records extending as far back as the beginning of the
N. R. A., when the keeping of production, employment, and man­
hour records became obligatory. As a result, this study covers only
the brief period of 4 years.1
Effects o f Machine Changes

No changes of a startling character have occurred in the machines
used by the industry during the 4 years covered by the study. As a
1 See appendix 1 on problem and approach.




1

2

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

matter of fact, there have been no significant machine changes during
the 20-year period which has elapsed since the World War.
The sewing department of a factory absorbs approximately 75 per­
cent of all its productive labor. The remaining 25 percent is made
up of pressers (about 10 percent), examiners (about 9 percent), and
cutters and their helpers (about 6 percent). In these departments,
in most branches of the cotton-garment industry, machines had
generally displaced the shears in cutting and the hand iron in pressing
before the war, and no changes which would have any appreciable
effect on the production per man-hour in these departments have taken
place since then.
The outstanding peculiarity of the industry is that the sewing
machine, unlike the machines used in other industries (such as the
weaving loom, the paper-making machine, or the automatic bottle
machine), is not a machine that automatically governs the output,
with the operator functioning as a mere machine tender. In contrast,
it is the sewing-machine operator who controls the output of the sewing
machine which she uses as a tool. Besides, the time required in
handling work and in manipulating the parts of the garment under
the sewing-machine needle in fashioning the garment is from two to
seven times as great as the time spent in the actual work of sewing.
Tests made by industrial engineers show that the sewing time con­
sumes from 15 to 33 percent of the entire time spent by an operator
in fashioning a garment and that from 67 to 85 percent of the opera­
tor’s time is spent in handling her work and manipulating the garment.
As a consequence, while the greater speed of the modem sewing ma­
chine is conducive to greater production, the amount of handling
required sets definite limits to its effects on labor productivity.
The sewing machine is essentially a power-driven needle. A modern
machine is capable of operating at the rate of 4,500 revolutions per
minute. Translated in terms of work done, this means 4,500 stitches
per minute or 75 stitches per second made by the needle. It taxes
the capacity of the human eye and the human hand to keep up with
such a speed while exercising the necessary skill in moving the garment
about under the needle to fashion it into the necessary shape. This
largely accounts for the lack of impressive changes in output per man­
hour in the cotton-garment industry which could be ascribed to im­
provements in sewing machinery during the 4-year period covered
by the study.
Even where developments of special machines used have resulted
in a decided increase in labor productivity on the particular operation,
their effect on the aggregate output as a whole has been negligible.
A machine which causes a 50-percent increase in man-hour output on
1 of the 30 sewing operations required to make a shirt will increase




SUMMARY

3

the productivity of the sewing department to a very small extent,
probably less than 2 percent.
Driving or transmission machinery has, however, caused an appre­
ciable increase in man-hour production in the past few years. The
improved type of transmission machinery brings about the quicker
stopping and starting of the sewing machine. Since the work of the
sewing-machine operator consists of short spells of sewing, interspersed
by longer intervals of handling, and the number of stops and starts
runs into several hundred per hour, the reduction in the time spent
on stopping and starting the machine has had a perceptible effect on
the man-hour output of sewing-machine operators. In instances
covered by the study, this has resulted in an increase in productivity
of sewing-machine operators from 12 to 16 percent.
Straight-Line System o f Production

The most significant technological development in the cottongarment industry in recent years has been the adoption of a new
system of shop production known as the “ straight-line system.” It
is the result of the application of the principles of scientific manage­
ment by a disciple of Frederick Taylor. The essential feature of the
straight-line system is that it does away with the so-called “ bundle
process” which has been in existence since the beginning of the factory
system.
The bundle originates in the cutting department of the factory.
With the aid of mechanized cutting equipment, scores of layers of
cloth are cut according to pattern in one operation, and each of the
various parts which make up a garment are kept together in one pile
or bundle, which forms the unit of work throughout the entire factory.
From the cutting department, the bundle is delivered to the in­
dividual operator, who performs her operation (such as making sleeves,
or collars, or pockets, etc.) on the garments contained in the bundle,
which is then turned over as a unit to other operators for subsequent
operations, until the entire set of garments in the bundle is completed.
Under the straight-line system, the machines are arranged in short
parallel rows in the order of the sequence of operations, and as an
operator completes her operation on an individual garment or part of
a garment, she places it within reach of the next operator. The
individual garment or part thus replaces the bundle as a unit of work.
The new system saves much of the effort wasted in the useless carrying
of bundles from one end of the shop to the other and the lifting by
the operators of tons of garments in the course of the day. It also
enables operators to concentrate more on their work and results in
more effective shop management and planning. (See ch. IV.)
The system is still in its beginning and was found only in a small
proportion of the plants covered by the study, where it has resulted




4

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

in substantial increases in labor productivity. As a rule, the intro­
duction of the line system is accompanied by the installation of new
machinery, which, together with the concentration of the line method
of operation on a more simple garment, contribute to the greater man­
hour output possible on the line.
In addition to higher man-hour output, the straight-line system
results in many other savings to plant owners. It greatly reduces the
shop inventory or the amount of work in process, with a resultant
saving in the capital tied up in stock and the carrying charges con­
nected therewith. It makes possible savings in floor space, in clerical
work, and in general overhead expenses due to more rapid turn-over
in production.
Weekly earnings of workers have increased about 10 percent in line
plants, due to the better utilization of working time under the line
system and the avoidance of lay-offs, which are common under the
bundle system. This gain in weekly earnings has occurred despite
generally reduced hourly earnings in the plants studied. The line
system was installed after the termination of the N. R. A., when
average hourly earnings were generally reduced in both line and bundle
plants. However, average hourly earnings in line plants declined
somewhat less than in bundle plants. A comparison of straight-line
and bundle plants shows that, on the average, weekly earnings in line
plants were about $1 above those in bundle plants working the same
scheduled hours.
As a matter of general policy, the United Garment Workers Union
has opposed the introduction of the straight-line system in the plants
under its jurisdiction. The severe competition which union plants
were encountering from nonunion straight-line plants resulted in a
persistent demand from union manufacturers for introduction of the
system. Negotiations between the Union-Made Garment Manufac­
turers Association and the United Garment Workers Union resulted
in an agreement to install the system as an experiment in a small
plant owned by one of the largest union manufacturers in the country.
At the time of the submission of this report, the matter was still in the
experimental stage. The principle agreed upon calls for the sharing
of the benefits of increased productivity between management and
workers on a 50-50 basis. If the experiment proves a success, it
promises to furnish a basis for the solution of the problem which has
been vexing employers and the union and may throw the union work­
clothing plants open to the introduction of the system.1

1 In the course of the study, six union plants were found to be operating the line system. Three of these
were under the Amalgamated Clothing and three under the United Garment Workers Union.
Since the submission of this report, the experiment having proved successful, an agreement was signed
between the United Garment Workers Union and the Union-Made Garment Manufacturers Association
providing for the use of the line system in all plants under the jurisdiction of the United Garment Workers
Union.




SUMM ARY

5

Hours o f W ork

Under the N. R. A. (during 1933 and 1934) working hours in the
cotton-garment industry were 40 per week. In December 1934, they
were reduced to 36. Upon the termination of the N. R. A. in May
1935, the industry generally went back to the 40-hour week. In the
South, 43 percent of the plants studied lengthened the week beyond
40 hours, the hours running from 44 to 54. One plant was found to
operate on a 60-hour week. Two nonunion plants in California were
found to maintain a 36-hour week.
Available data show that three-fourths of the northern plants and
57 percent of the southern plants were operating on a 40-hour week in
1936. The remainder worked in excess of 40 hours.
Earnings o f Sewing--Machine Operators

The N. R. A. established a minimum wage of $13 a week or 32.5
cents per hour in the North and $12 a week or 30 cents per hour in the
South. On January 21, 1935, 2 months after the 36-hour week went
into effect, piece rates were raised so as to maintain the weekly earn­
ings which prevailed under the 40-hour week. Upon the termination
of the N. R. A., when the hours were increased to 40 or more, piece
rates were generally reduced. The general aim was to reduce rates 10
percent, so as to restore the weekly earnings as they existed before the
introduction of the 36-hour week. However, one-fourth of the
southern plants covered by the study had increased their hours beyond
40 and reduced their hourly rates in proportion to the longer hours.2
Average figures on earnings for the industry as a whole conceal
distinct and considerable differences in wage levels between large and
small towns, between the North and the South, and between union
and nonunion shops. Another point to bear in mind is that the
plants covered by the study were of a distinctly higher type than the
average of the industry and that the actual wages prevailing in the
industry were probably from 10 to 20 percent less than the figures
presented in this report.
Over 80 percent of the northern plants covered by the study showed
average hourly earnings of not less than 32.5 cents, which was the
minimum required under the N. R. A. code. Only 30 percent of the
southern plants covered averaged as much as or more than 30 cents,
which was the code minimum for the South.
Earnings by Region and S of Town
iaje

There are no significant variations in the hourly earnings of sewingmachine operators in the different branches of the cotton-garment
industry— shirts, pants, work clothing, or dresses. Geographical

2 See p. 129.




6

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

distribution, the size of the town, and the existence of a union agree­
ment are the principal factors to be considered in analyzing earnings
of the workers employed. Among the various regions, highest wages
were found to prevail in the far West. The average for that region
was 43.0 cents, followed by 39.2 cents in the Midwest, 38.3 cents in
the East, and 28.0 cents in the South.3
Classifying the plants studied by size of towns and dividing the
cities into three large groups of 100,000 population and over, 10,000
to 100,000, and under 10,000, earnings of sewing-machine operators
were found to vary with the size of the town in the northern area.
The averages for the three groups of cities in the North were 40.4
cents, 38.0 cents, and 35.8 cents per hour, respectively. In the South,
the towns of over 100,000 population showed an average of 27.2 cents,
while the middle group of 10,000 to 100,000 showed a higher average of
29.6 cents and the smallest towns, under 10,000, showed the lowest
earnings, 26.2 cents per hour.
Earnings in Union and Nonunion Plants

On the average, workers employed in union plants have higher
earnings than those in nonunion plants. In the sample covered by
the study, 39 union plants showed average hourly earnings of 45.6
cents, as compared with an average of 31.7 cents in 85 nonunion plants.
The union plants may be divided into two groups-—those turning out
products covered by the union label and those having no label. The
products of the first group consist almost entirely of work clothing,
such as overalls, work pants, dungarees, and work shirts. Because
of the protected market which is offered to union manufacturers, the
union is in a position to command higher wages. On the other hand,
in plants manufacturing house dresses, nurses’ uniforms, and dress
shirts4 a union label is of little market advantage and union wages in
those plants are distinctly lower than in the union-label plants. The
average hourly earnings for the various union and nonunion groups
are as follows: Union-label plants producing work clothing, 47.6
cents as against 33.6 cents in nonunion plants in the North and 26.6
cents in nonunion plants in the South; in dress-shirt manufacture,
38.4 cents in union plants in the North as against 37.0 cents in non­
union plants in the North and 29.7 cents in the South.
Conclusions
In spite of the comparatively small sample, restricted to the upper
fringe of the industry, and the short period of time covered by the
study, certain definite conclusions may be drawn from the data
obtained.

3 For details, see pp. 126-129.
4 The term “dress shirt” is used in this report in contradistinction to “work shirt” and not in the com­
monly accepted sense of a shirt used for evening-dress wear.



SUMMARY

7

(1) During the 4 years covered by the study and probably during
the 20 years since the World War, there have been no significant
changes in machines used in making cotton garments. Whatever
improvements were made in the special sewing machines affected only
a few minor operations and had no perceptible influence on the man­
hour output of sewing departments and of factories as a whole. On
the other hand, improvements in transmission machinery have resulted
in an increase of labor productivity in excess of 10 percent.
(2) The outstanding technological change in the industry has been
the installation of the straight-line system in a number of plants in
both the North and South, with a resultant increase in labor produc­
tivity, accompanied by increases in weekly earnings. This system
is a recent development, but its successful application in the manu­
facture of shirts, work clothing, semidress pants, and other products
indicates its effectiveness as a labor-saving device. It is gaining
wide acceptance in the industry, especially in the field of standardized
products.




Chapter II
Characteristics and Background of Cotton-Garm ent
Industry
The cotton-garment industry employs about 200,000 workers in
nearly 3,700 plants, which are owned by some 3,300 firms and scattered
in more than 900 cities and towns in 42 States and from the Atlantic
to the Pacific and the Lakes to the Gulf. It is the largest of the
apparel industries.
Historically, the industry had its beginning about 1832 with the
manufacture of men’s shirts for stock, but it soon spread to include
work clothing. In recent years it has expanded rapidly into a wide
variety of fields. Its principal products, in the order of number of
workers employed, are men’s shirts, women’s cotton dresses, overalls,
work pants, work shirts, semidress pants, and pajamas. These
products absorb over three-fourths of the labor of the industry and
account for nearly three-fourths of the value of its output.1
T able 1. —

E m p l o y m e n t a n d p r o d u c t io n i n the c o t t o n -g a r m e n t i n d u s t r y

Product
Total, cotton-garment industry.______ _
_________ _
__ __
Men’s and bovs’ shirts. _______ ________ _____ ____________
_________
Cotton dresses __________ ___ ____________________
Overalls___ ___________ __ ____________ _____ ______ _ _ _
Work pants._ ____________ _______
_________
Work shirts_____________________________ _____________________
Semidress pants_____ _ ___ _______ _ ____________ ____
Men’s and boys’ pajamas._______ _ ____ ____ _________ ___ _ __ __ _
Total, principal products______________ __ ______ ______ _
All other products .. ... ____ ____________________________

,

1934

Value of pro­
Employment1 duction (in
thousands) 2
200,000
54.000
37.000
22, 400
20, 500
14, 400
7,600
6,000
161,900
38,100

$534,462
113,713
99, 748
56, 964
47, 937
31,826
29, 536
19,614
399, 337
135,125

1 Based on reports submitted to the Cotton Garment Code Authority for the second week of each month
in 1934 and averaged for the year. Data are from Statistical Service Bureau of the International Associa­
tion of Garment Manufacturers.
2 United States Census of Manufactures, 1935.
The cotton-garment industry has been from its very beginning a
low-wage industry. The average weekly and hourly earnings of
the workers on cotton garments are among the lowest, not only of all
the apparel industries, but also of all the manufacturing industries

1 Other products of the industry include men’s collars, boys’ shirts, play suits, lumberjacks, sheep-lined
and leather garments, men’s wash suits, washable service apparel, boys’ wash suits, children’s wash dresses,
aprons, smocks, hoovers, women’s undergarments, children’s undergarments, women’s and children’s
pajamas and nightwear, oiled cotton garments, and nurses’ and maids’ uniforms.
8




CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND

9

in the United States. The principal characteristics of the cottongarment industry are:
(1) The industry is more decentralized than any other apparel
industry.
(2) More than 80 percent of all the workers on cotton garments are
women, who constitute 95 percent of all the sewing-machine operators
in the industry.
(3) The industry has been the least unionized among the apparel
industries, although considerable extension of unionization has taken
place since the creation of the N. It. A.
(4) The industry is subject to the competition of prison labor to a
greater extent than any other industry. This applies particularly
to work shirts and work pants.2
In addition, the cotton-garment industry differs from the other
apparel industries in that—
(1) It is less seasonal and furnishes more steady employment
throughout the year than any other apparel industry.
(2) Only a very small proportion of the industry, covering less
than 3 percent of all the employees, is located in New York City.
(3) The contract system is developed to a lesser extent in cotton
garments than in any other apparel industry.
(4) The style factor is of minor importance resulting in steadier
employment and greater productivity of labor.
Siz;e o f Plants

The 3,300 firms in the cotton-garment industry average approxi­
mately 60 employees each, and 2,702 of these concerns employ fewer
than 100 persons each. The average employment of these small firms
is fewer than 18 workers each, and combined they employ fewer than
50,000 workers, or approximately one-fourth of the total for the
industry.
The plants employing 100 workers or more each constitute nearly
one-fifth of the total number of establishments but employ threefourths of all the workers in the industry. In this group 396 plants
employ from 100 to 249 workers each, 140 plants employ from 250
to 499 each, 39 employ from 500 to 999, and 23 employ 1,000 or more
workers each.
Table 2 shows the distribution of the 3,300 firms according to size
and the products they manufacture.
The most marked concentration of employment in a few large units
occurs in the case of dress shirts, work shirts, and overalls. In each of
these fields the style factor is of minor importance, while brand names
2 M
uch of th p
e rison lab com
or
petition h s b greatly red ced in recen years by F eral an S
a een
u
t
ed
d tate
legislation
.
113379°— 39----- 2




10

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

and national advertising play major roles in the dress-shirt market.
In the case of overalls, the growth of large producers has been favored
by the possibility of obtaining large orders from mail-order houses,
chain stores, and other mass distributors. In the work-shirt industry
only large-volume mass production could compete with cheap prisonlabor products.
T able 2.—

D i s t r i b u t i o n o f 3 , 8 0 0 c o tto n -g a r m e n t f i r m s , b y n u m b e r o f e m p l o y e e s , 1 9 3

&1

Number of firms having—
Product2
Total______________________
Men’s dress shirts__________
Cotton dresses. ________ ___
Overalls-----------------------------Work pants------------------___
Work shirts________________
Semidress pants—____ ______
Men’s and boys’ pajamas. ___
Other products. _ _ _ _ _

All firms
3 3, 300
400
1,100
400
175
125
125
60
915

Under 100 100 to 249 250 to 499 500 to 999 1,000 em­
ployees
employees employees employees employees and over
2,702
263
981
362
120
96
92
44
744

396
111
75
13
35
13
27
13
109

140
9
32
14
11
9
5
2
58

39
8
7
9
7
2
1
1
4

23
9
5
2
2
5

1 Data are from the Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers.
The number of shirt, pajama, overall, etc., producers is greater than that given in each case, as many
firms manufacture more than 1 product.
3The number of factories is 3,700 if one counts the 400 branch plants as separate factories.
2

In the case of pajamas, semidress pants, and cotton dresses the
concentration of employment and production among a few large man­
ufacturers, while still present, is appreciably less in degree. It is
probable that this is due to the importance of the style factor in each
of these products. The difficulty of standardizing production helps
the survival of the smaller manufacturer.
Geographical Distribution

Unlike other needle industries, such as women's coats and suits,
silk dresses, etc., the distinguishing feature of the cotton-garment
industry is the lack of concentration in a few large centers like New
York, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. The industry is scattered all over
the country and is most frequently located in small towns.
The distribution of cotton-garment production by States and by
major geographical regions is shown in table 3. This table is computed
on the basis of unit volume of production as shown by the sale of labels
by the Cotton Garment Code Authority under the N. R. A. If the
distribution were on the basis of dollar volume of production, the
relative importance of the Eastern and Far Western States would be
materially increased, since these regions produce, in general, garments
superior in quality and higher in price than those produced in the rest
of the country.




11

CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND

The two States showing the largest concentration of cotton-garment
production are Pennsylvania, with 16.0 percent, and New York, with
11.8 percent. The East as a whole accounts for nearly 43 percent.
The South and the Middle West account for approximately 26 and 28
percent, respectively, while the Far West produces slightly less than
4 percent of the total unit volume.
An interesting and unusual feature of the work-clothing division
of the industry is its fairly even distribution throughout the country,
although the South has more than its share of the industry in propor­
tion to its population. The Eastern States, with 28.3 percent of the
total population, produce 18.2 percent of all the work clothing; the
South, with 30.6 percent of the population, produces 46.5 percent;
the Midwest, with 30.2 percent of the population, produces 30.0 per­
cent; and the Far West, with 8.3 percent of the population, produces
5.3 percent (see table 3).
The men’s dress-shirt industry is highly concentrated in the East.
More than one-half of the total unit production is in Pennsylvania
and New York and nearly three-fourths is in the Eastern States.
Work-shirt manufacture, on the other hand, is concentrated in the
South, which area accounts for the production of approximately 59
percent of all work shirts. Three Southern States, Kentucky, Missis­
sippi, and Tennessee, together account for over 36.8 percent of the
total, while New York accounts for only 2.6 percent.
T able 3.—

D i s t r i b u t i o n o f c o tto n -g a r m e n t p r o d u c t io n , b y S ta te s

1

[Based on label shipments in 1934]
State
East_______________ - -----------------------Pennsylvania___ ____________ —
New York __ __ _ ___ ___ _________
New Jersey __ ____________________
Massachusetts _ _ ____
Connecticut__ __ _______ ______
Others____________________________
South------------------------------------------------Maryland and District of Columbia. _
North Carolina_____ ____________ _
Texas_____________________________
Georgia___________________________
Virginia__________________________
Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennes­
see___________________________ ..
Others____________________________
Midwest U __ ________________________
Far West_____________________________
California___ _ _____ ____________
Washington _____________________
Others______ ________ _ ________

United Total
States cotton Men’s
popula­ garments shirts
tion

Work
Wash
clothes 2 dresses

Work
shirts

Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent
42.7
18.2
74.6
28.3
42.5
13.8
7.8
10.3
3.3
3.5
1.3
2.1
30.6
1.7
2. 6
4.7
2.4
2.0
5.8
11.4
30.2
8.3
4.6
1.3
2.4

16.0
11.8
5.8
5.2
2.7
1.2
25.9
3.9
3.1
2.7
2.6
2.6
7.4
3.6
27.6
3.8
3.1
.4
.3

3 29.6
3 25.2
8.2
2.8
7.2
1.3
13.6
3.9
1.0
.3
.6
1.0
3.8
3.0
11.3
.5
.4
.1

8.6
4.0
1.7
2.6
.4
.9
46.5
5.4
7.3
6.2
8.0
6. 5
9.1
4.0
30.0
5.3
4.4
.4
.5

11.1
11.9
10.1
5.5
2. 8
1.1
11.0
2.3
1.9
1.2
.1
.9
6.7
40.0
6.5
4.7
.9
.9

10.2
2.6
.6
.1
.3
58.9
7.5
3. 4
2.1
.3
3.7
36.8
5.1
26.8
.5
.4

.1

1 Data are from Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers.
2 Includes overalls, work pants, semidress pants, heavy outerwear, and children’s play suits.
3 The men’s shirt label shipments to the State of New York are somewhat higher than actual production
and likewise label shipments to Pennsylvania somewhat lower. Two of the largest shirt producers whose
factories were principally located in Pennsylvania shipped labels to their New York City offices.
4Includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and others.




12

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Considering the industry as a whole, it is apparent that, despite the
concentration of production of certain garments in a few States, vir­
tually every State contributes an appreciable share. This wide dis­
persion probably reflects the tendency of producers to locate near
potential markets. In the case of work clothing particularly, the
Nation-wide character of the demand is reflected in a wide dispersion
of plants.
Distribution by Sizje o f T o w n s

The trend toward decentralization is accompanied by an equally
marked tendency toward location of plants in nonmetropolitan
centers. About 64 percent of the plants, employing approximately
50 percent of the workers, are located in cities of more than 100,000
population or in their suburbs. The tendency of larger plants to
locate in nonmetropolitan areas is revealed by the fact that the per­
centage of workers in large cities is appreciably less than the per­
centage of plants.

T a b l e 4.— D i s t r i b u t i o n

o f c o tto n -g a r m e n t f a c t o r i e s

Population of town
Total. ______________________________________________
1,000 or unincorporated
_
_ _______ _
1,000 to 2,500 _ ________________________________________
2,500 to 5,000
__ _______ __ _ ___________
5,000 to 10,000_____, _____________________________________
10,000 to 25,000 __ _________
_________________ .
25,000 to 50,000______________
_______________________
50,000 to lOO,000 _______________ ____________________ _
100,000 to 250,000_________________________________________
Over 250,000 (including suburbs) _ ______ ___ _____ __ __
New York City 2 _______ ___ _____________ ________

,

b y s iz e o f to w n , 1 9 3 4

Number of
towns

Number of
plants

905
106
111
129
119
158
78
60
57
86
1

3, 663
148
142
189
192
279
203
173
304
1,683
350

1

Estimated
number of
workers
204,700
8, 600
9, 600
18,100
17,500
21,000
14,200
19, 600
19,100
71,000
6,000

1 Data are from the Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers,
2 Includes the 5 boroughs of Greater New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Richmond;
does not include the remainder of the metropolitan area, which is defined as the area within a 40-mile radius
from the city hall.
Expansion o f Industry During the Depression

Unlike virtually all leading industries in the recent depression,
cotton-garment production and employment in 1933 were sustained
at the 1929 level. Cotton-garment retail prices fell almost as rapidly
as did consumer income. Unemployed workers and impoverished
farmers purchased overalls instead of suits of clothes. This is
strikingly reflected in table 5, which shows how the decline of produc­
tion in the men’s clothing industry was accompanied by an increase
in production of work clothing.




13

CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND
T able 5.—

I n d e x e s o f p r o d u c t io n o f w o r k clo th in g a n d m e n 's c lo th in g , 1 9 2 9 - 8 8

1

[1929=100]
Work clothing Men’s clothing

Year
1929 ____________________________________________________________
1930______________________________________________________________
1931______________________________________________________________
1932______________________________________________________________
1933_______ . _____________________________________________________

100
86
96
104
110

100
74
71
58
66

1 Data are from United States Census current monthly production reports. Index computed by Statis­
tical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers.
The output of overalls and work pants was higher in 1933 than in
1929, although the production of dress shirts and work shirts declined
(table 6). However, the reduction in output of work shirts was more
than made up by increases in prison-labor production.3 The sharp
declines in the total value of most products and in the average whole­
sale price per dozen garments from 1929 to 1933 were due to reduced
wages, falling prices of cotton cloth, substitution of lower grades of
merchandise, and competition of prison-labor products.
T able 6. —

P r o d u c t i o n a n d va lu e o f c o tto n g a r m e n t s , b y m a j o r p r o d u c t s ,1
1 9 2 9 and 1 9 8 8

Product

2

Total production (in
thousands)
1929

Dress shirts (men’s and
boys’) ---Work shirts.._ __ ___ __
Overalls. _______ _ _ _
Work pants. _ . . . _____
Semidress pants_____ ...
Women’s wash dresses___
Men’s and boys’ pajamas^

1933 Change,
1929-33

Total value (in
thousands)
1929

1933 Change, 1929
1929-33

Dozen Dozen Percent $163,921 $93, 352
13, 448 11,932 -12.3
5, 918 5,000 -16.5 47,129 23, 350
6, 450 7,500 +16.3 79, 691 55, 931
29, 212 37,002
2, 095 3, 510
(3)
(3)
1,847

1,626
6, 740
1,868

+72.3
C)
(3)
+1.1

Average value per
dozen
1933 Change,
1929-33

Percent $12.19 $7. 82 Percent
-43.1
-35.9
-51.4 7. 96 4. 71 -41.8
-29.4 12. 35 7. 46 -39.6
+26.7 13.94 10. 54 -24.4

18, 704
(3)
82, 784 (3)
(3)
(3)
24, 219 16, 847 -30.5

(3)
(3)
13.11

11. 50
12. 28
9.02

(3)
(3)
-31.2

1 Only products covered in this survey are included; prison-labor production is omitted for both years.
2 Data are from United States Census of Manufactures.
3 Data not available.
Employment held its ground during the depression, along with pro­
duction. The 1933 Census of Manufactures reported an increase of
6 percent in employment on shirts and work clothing over 1929.4
Machine capacity increased even more rapidly than production.
Records of 947 factories reporting to the Cotton Garment Code
Authority showed 122,500 machines in March 1933, as compared with
108,475 machines in July 1929, or a gain of 13 percent (see table 9).

3 U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bull. No. 595. Washington, 1933.
4 Employment figures on shirts and work clothing from the United States Census of Manufactures are not
strictly comparable for 1929 and 1933. A decline in employment was recorded between 1929 and 1931.
Product classifications were modified between 1931 and 1933. A special census tabulation of identical
establishments recorded an increase in employment between 1931 and 1933, more than offsetting the decrease
between 1929 and 1931, and amounting to a net gain of 6 percent in employment from 1929 to 1933.




14

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

All of the seven principal products studied reported more sewing
machines in the depression year 1933 than in 1929. Hundreds of new
cotton-garment factories commenced operation during the depression.
The Code Authority had knowledge of 347 new plants established
during the depression period between July 1929 and July 1933; these
plants had 27,536 machines. Pennsylvania had the largest number
of new machines in any individual State— 3,833, installed in 37 new
factories. One-third of the new machines were installed in the South.
D rift o f Industry to Small T o w n s and to South

An increasing proportion of the production of the cotton-garment
industry has moved South since the termination of the N. R. A.
This long-term trend of several decades was accelerated during the
recent depression, slightly retarded under N. R. A., but substantially
advanced in the last few years. Lower wages, nonunion labor condi­
tions, and often subsidies from local communities and from chambers
of commerce in small southern towns proved inviting to northern
manufacturers. The $5 or $6 weekly wages which were offered by
newly migrated garment factories to southern agricultural workers
and share croppers were substantially above their usual earnings,
but far below the wages paid by competing cotton-garment manu­
facturers, not only in Northern States, but also by some of the older
southern producers of cotton garments.

T a b l e 7.— P e r c e n ta g e

d i s t r ib u t io n o f total p la n ts a n d m a c h in e s i n
N o rth and S o u th , 1 9 2 9 , 1 9 8 3 , and 1 9 3 4

Population of region and city
North________ _ _________
Over 100,000____________
10,000-100,000___________
Under 10,000____________
South_____________________
Over 100,000____________
10,000-100,000___________
Under 10,000____________

Machines in operation
July 1929
84.7
48.0
23.1
13.6
15.3
5.2
6.1
4.0

1 in

Plants

July 1933 March 1934 July 1929
78.9
44.6
18.7
15.6
21.1
7.4
7.1
6.6

o p e r a tio n

79.6
46.1
18.2
15.3
20.4
6.6
7.4
6.4

87.1
54.6
18.0
14.5
12.9
5.7
3.5
3.7

July 1933 March 1934
84.4
54.9
14.9
14.6
15.6
7.5
4.1
4.0

84.9
56.8
14.0
14.1
15.1
7.3
4.0
3.8

1 Based on reports to the Cotton Garment Code Authority from firms employing about 70 percent of all
the workers in the industry. Data are from the Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association
of Garment Manufacturers.
Northern cities of over 100,000 population employed 48.0 percent
of the sewing-machine operators in the industry in July 1929 and
only 44.6 percent in July 1933 (table 7). Plants located in towns
in the North with between 10,000 and 100,000 population likewise
lost heavily in their proportion of sewing-machine operators between
1929 and 1933. At the same time, substantial gains were registered
by factories in towns of less than 10,000 population in the North.




15

CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND

The proportion of machines in towns of all sizes in the South went
up from 15.3 percent to 21.1 percent of the total. In towns below
10,000 population in the South the increase was from 4.0 percent
in 1929 to 6.6 percent in 1933.
The gravitational pull of low-wage States in the recent depression
is revealed in table 8, which records changes in employment in the
shirt and work-clothing industries between 1929 and 1933. The three
States with highest annual earnings— California, New York, and New
Jersey— lost in employment, while gains in employment were regis­
tered in the States where earnings averaged between $300 and $500
per year. These gains in most instances were recorded south of Mason
and Dixon’s line, in the Middle West, and also in the low-wage area
of Pennsylvania. With the exception of Indiana, which gained 56
percent in employment, no Northern State has registered gains com­
parable with the leading Southern States. Kentucky gained 38
percent; North Carolina, 58 percent; Virginia, 60 percent; Tennessee,
61 percent; and Alabama, 79 percent.

T a b l e 8 .— A v e r a g e

e m p l o y m e n t a n d a n n u a l e a r n i n g s i n s h ir t a n d w o r k -c l o t h i n g
i n d u s t r i e s , 1 9 3 8 a n d p e r c e n ta g e ch a n g e i n e m p l o y m e n t , 1 9 2 9 to 1 9 8 3

,

State
California___ __________ _______________ __________
New York____________________ _ ___ _ ____ __
New Jersey________________________________________
Connecticut... ________________________ _______ ...
Ohio______________________________________________
Maryland- .. . ________ _____ ___ ____ . . .
Illinois___________________ ______________ ________
Indiana_____ ___________ . ... ... ... _____
Missouri______ _______ _________ ___ ________
Pennsylvania. _ _____ _ _____ _____ ... _________
Texas____ ____ ______
___________ ____
North Carolina____________________________________
Virginia_________ ______. . . _____. . . _______ ... _ .
Georgia.......... ........... ... _______i .._ ______________
Tennessee____ __________________________________
Kentucky_______________ ______________________ ...
Alabama____ _ __________ _____ _____ _ ______ _

1

Average num­
Change in
ber of employ­ Average annual employment,
earnings, 1933
ees, 1933
1929-33
2,474
11,124
5,162
3,148
3, 904
4,311
3,573
9,174
7,072
22, 727
3, 873
3,261
3,351
2,970
3,725
2,089
1,422

$646
565
542
532
518
496
494
472
458
459
445
393
385
384
373
368
358

Percent -1 2

-3 2
-10
+27
+10
+37
+23
+56
+4
+24
+7
+58
+60
+12
+61
+38
+79

1 Data are from United States Census of Manufactures, 1929 and 1933. Only States reporting 1,000 or
more employees are included. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are not considered, as classifica­
tion from 1929 to 1933 is not comparable.
No figures are available on the extent of the drift of plants and
employment to small southern towns since the end of the N. R. A.
However, there are indications that in the 2 years 1934 to 1936
several dozen large northern concerns have either moved southward 6
or established additional plants in the South.
The major changes in the cotton-garment industry since the termi­
nation of the N. R. A. thus were a moderate trend toward longer
hours and lower wages, the movement of plants in the North to the
small towns and to the South, and a decline of prison labor.

5 Based on reports in the Daily News Record, a textile-garment daily published in New York.




16

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Outside Sources o f Supply

Puerto Rico and the Philippines

Duty-free imports from Puerto Rico and the Philippines have made
these islands a part of the economic system of the United States.
Their manufacture of cotton garments for the United States market
has been growing rapidly. In 1936, shipments from Puerto Rico
were valued at over $17,000,000 and from the Philippines at over
$4,750,000. These imports constitute about 4 percent of the total
production in the United States.
Prison Labor

Another source of supply of cotton garments outside the industry
proper is furnished by prison labor. Although competition from
prisons had existed in the cotton-garment industry for many decades,
cotton-garment production in prisons nearly doubled between 1926
and 1932. Prisoners employed on cotton garments for sale in the
open market rose from 7,000 in 1926 to 13,000 in 1932.6 The prison
output of work shirts and work pants, the two largest items of prison
production, amounted to 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of
the total production in the country in 1932.
However, largely as a result of the Hawes-Cooper Act, followed by
the Sumners-Ashurst Act, prohibiting the shipment of prison-made
goods into States which prohibit the manufacture of prison-made
goods for sale in the open market, several States discontinued the pro­
duction of such goods for the market, and the number of prisoners so
employed declined from 13,000 in 1932 to 3,700 in 1934. Their pro­
duction of work shirts declined during the same period from 1,650,000
to 238,000 dozen, and of work pants from 569,000 to 242,000 dozen.7
W. P. A. Sewing Rooms

Since 1935, approximately 10,000 W. P. A. sewing rooms, providing
emergency work for some 250,000 unemployed women, have been
producing about 5,000,000 dozen garments annually. However, none
of this production is sold in competition with the industry’s products,
the garments being distributed free among the unemployed.
Child Labor

The extent of child labor in the cotton-garment industry was
relatively large, even before the depression, as the April 1930 census
recorded 3.7 percent of all wage earners on shirts and work shirts as
under 16 years of age. In Pennsylvania 8 minors 14 and 15 years old

6 U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bull. No. 595. Washington, 1933.
7 Data are from unpublished reports of Research and Planning Division of the N. R. A.
8 Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Pennsylvania Labor and Industry in the Depres­
sion. Harrisburg, 1934, p. 39.




CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND

17

employed in cotton-garment factories averaged $2.67 per week in
April 1933, as against an average wage of $8.38 for minors in 1926.
Three-quarters of the minors in 1933 were paid less than $5 per week,
50 percent received below $3 per week, and 20 percent were paid less
than $2 per week.
Hours of work of 14- and 15-year-old children in cotton-garment
factories in Pennsylvania increased during the depression, as 79
percent of these child workers operated their sewing machines more
than 49 hours a week in 1932, as compared with 47 percent working
over 49 hours in 1926.9
Hours o f W ork

In the early history of shirt manufacturing, in the middle of the
nineteenth century, hours were excessively long. For the period 1877
to 1900, the most common working hours in the cotton-garment trade
were 60 per week.1 In 1923 average weekly hours of 72 shirt and
0
overall factories employing 7,650 women in 11 widely scattered States
were from 48 to 50.
Hours of work increased considerably during the depression. The
average weekly hours increased from 45.6 in 1929 to 48.6 in 1933. Of
the 304 firms reporting to the International Association of Garment
Manufacturers, 55.8 percent had working hours in 1933 exceeding
48 and up to 60. Under the N. R. A., hours were first reduced to
40 per week. From December 1934, until the termination of the
N. R. A. on May 28, 1935, the weekly hours were 36. After its
termination hours went back to 40 per week in most of the plants in
the North and in the majority of the plants in the South. In a large
number of nonunion plants in the South, as well as some in the North,
the weekly hours of work are in excess of 40— from 44 to 48 and in
a few instances from 50 to 60.
Wages

In the prosperous year of 1929, the cotton-garment industry paid
the lowest average annual wage of any major industry reported in the
United States Census of Manufactures. As shown in table 9, 111,210
workers in 947 identical plants averaged in 1929 $13.42 per week
($14.20 in the North and $10.05 in the South) and 29.4 cents per hour
(31.4 cents in the North and 21.4 cents in the South).
A birds-eye statistical view of the decline in cotton-garment wages
during the depression is revealed in the same table. Average hourly
wage rates fell 30 percent in the North to 22.0 cents, and 27 percent

0 Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Labor and Industry, Harrisburg, February 1933,
p. 3: Hours and Earnings of Men and Women in the Textile and Clothing Industries of Pennsylvania.
New York State Bureau of Labor Statistics, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Annual Reports. Albany, 1901
and 1902.
10




18

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

in the South to 15.6 cents. This severe drop in wages between
July 1929 and March 1933 in southern factories occurred in spite of an
increase in employment of 16 percent, and an expansion in the number
of sewing machines of 22 percent.

T a b l e 9.— M a c h i n e

Item

c a p a c it y , e m p l o y m e n t , h o u r s o f w o r k , a n d e a r n i n g s i n
ga rm en t in d u s tr y , 1 9 2 9 an d 1 9 8 3

c o tto n -

1

947 cotton-garment
plants

780 northern plants

167 southern plants

July March Change July March Change July March Change
1929 1933 1929-33 1929 1933 1929-33 1929 1933 1929-33

Percent

Percent

Number of machines---------- 108,475 122, 501 +12.9 87,913 97, 364 +10.8 20,562 25,137
Number of employees_____ 111, 210 107,107 -3 .8 90,388 82,897 -8 .3 20, 822 24, 210
Average weekly hours-------- 45.6 44. G -3 .5
45.2 43.6 -3 .5
46.9 45.5
Average weekly earnings___ $13.42 $9.01 -32.9 $14.20 $9.56 -32.7 $10.05 $7.12
Average hourly earnings
(cents)------------------------29.4 20.5 -30.3 31.4 22.0 -29.9
21.4 15.6

Percent
+22.3

+16.3
-3 .0
-29.2
-27.1

i Data are from the Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers.
Wages represent an unusually high proportion of the value added by
manufacture (50 percent) in the production of cotton garments.1
1
Therefore, a slash in wages has always been the easiest means for the
cotton-garment manufacturer to cut costs and undersell his com­
petitor.
The downward spiral of cotton-garment wages began early in the
depression, even at the time when most industries were still trying to
maintain the predepression rates. Even as early as May 1930, the
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics' index for dress and work
shirts had recorded a drop in weekly earnings of 13 percent as com­
pared with the same month in 1929. By December 1930, the wage
index had fallen 17 percent below December 1929. By March 1933
the decline in hourly earnings was from 25 to 33 percent in most of the
branches of the cotton-garment industry, according to figures of the
Cotton Garment Code Authority. The United States Census of
Manufactures recorded a decline in the average annual earnings of
105,613 cotton-garment workers employed on work clothing and shirts
from $714 in 1929 to $596 in 1931 and to $458 in 1933. Some factories
reported to the Cotton Garment Code Authority that their average
wages in 1933, prior to the N. R. A., had been as low as 8 cents per
hour on a 60-hour week.
Drastic wage-cutting practices in the shirt industry were also
reported in the United States Department of Labor survey in 1933 of
129 factories employing 20,000 workers.1 Busy weeks were selected,
2

11 Based on computations from shirt and work clothing and other industry figures of the United States
Census of Manufactures, 1935.
12 U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, September 1933: Labor in the Shirt Industry,
1933.




19

CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND

so that the reported wages would approximate full-time earnings of the
workers. The median weekly wage of the 129 factories was $7.40,
while in Pennsylvania the median was $6.10 and in Maryland $5.60.
The majority of these plants had scheduled working hours of over
48 per week.

T a b l e 10. —

P e r c e n t a g e d i s t r ib u t io n o f w a g e s o f w o m a n s h ir t w o r k e r s

Weekly earnings
Under $2__ _______ ____________ _ - ___ _
$2 to $3.99_________________________________________
$4 to $5.99_______ ________________________________
$6 to $7.99___ ___________________________________
$8 and over. ___ _______________ ___ ____________
Total
______________ ________ _____

United States Pennsylvania

Percent 4
10

Percent

8

16
26
25
25
100

21
24
41
100

,

19SS

1

Maryland

Percent 7
22
28
22
21
100

1 Data are from U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, September 1933, p. 508.
Since many factories had moved to small Pennsylvania towns to
take advantage of the cheap labor supply of wives and daughters of
unemployed mill workers and miners, the low wages paid in small
towns are significant. In towns of less than 2,500 population 12
percent of the employees received less than $2, 43 percent less than $4,
and 77 percent less than $6 weekly.1 The following figures show the
3
wide divergence in wages and competitive advantages in the shirt
industry just prior to the N. R. A.:
P o p u la tio n o f to w n

Under 2 ,5 00_______________________________________
2,500 to 10,000____________________________________
10.000 to 50,000__________________________________
50.000 and over___________________________________

Median weekly wage1

____ $4. 30
____
5. 60
_____ 7. 50

____

8. 20

i Data are from Monthly Labor Review, September 1933, pp. 503-504
Under the N. R. A., wages in the cotton-garment industry rose
from an average of 19.3 cents per hour in March 1933 to 41.8 cents per
hour in April 1935, a gain of 117 percent in 2 years.
Average Hourly Earnings, by Occupations

In the average cotton-garment factory, 75 percent of the productive
workers are sewing-machine operators, about 10 percent are pressers,
9 percent are examiners, and some 6 percent are cutting-room em­
ployees.1 The cutters are relatively well paid, averaging 47.5 cents
4
per hour before the N. R. A., or substantially above the minimum
wage later set by the code. Pressers are usually paid slightly higher
wage rates than operators, and examiners receive a little lower rate.

13 Monthly Labor Review, September 1933, p. 503.
n The percentage varies with the nature and quality of the products.




20

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Table 11 records average hourly earnings, by occupations, of cottongarment workers in 311 plants in the North and 78 plants in the
South. (July 1934 was an unusually slow month and should not be
used as an example for weekly hours and weekly wages.) Over the
12-month period, July 1933-July 1934, the average hourly earnings
of operators rose from 21.0 cents to 38.9 cents in the North and from
16.8 cents to 33.1 cents in the South. In 1 year, the hourly earnings
of operators, examiners, and pressers, both in* the North and South,
increased 85 percent to 97 percent.1 This increase occurred in spite
6
of the fact that July 1934 was an unusually slow month, as in slack
production hourly earnings generally suffer.
T a b l e 11.-—

W a g e s a n d h o u r s i n n o r th e r n a n d s o u th e r n p la n t s

Occupation

1

Number of
Average Average hourly
employees weekly hours earnings
July July July July July July
1933 1934 1933 1934 1933 1934

Northern plants
Total, all occupations_____ ___________________________ - 32, 631
Total, regulars------------ ---------------- ------------------------ 31,461
Cutters----------------------------------- _ __ ----------- ------------ 1,221
Other cutting department employees.__ _____
______ 747
Operators_________ ____ _ __ _ _ _____ -------- _ 20,896
1,996
Examiners and trimmers______ __________________
Pressers. ______ ________ _________ _ ___ — ------- 2, 520
Other manufacturing employees_________________________ 1,206
Nonmanufacturing employees____ _________
_ 1,939
936
Office employees --------------------- ---------------------------- -Total, learners_________________________________________ 1,170
Learner operators__ _____________ _______ _ _ ___ _ 1, 026
Other learners___ _________ __ __ ________ ____ ____ ___
144

26,194
25, 657
1,021
565
16, 067
1, 751
1,929
1,165
2,127
1,032
537
423
114

42.2
42.3
45.1
45.0
41.6
43.0
41.7
43.8
45.5
44.7
38.9
38.2
43.7

28.7
28.7
33.0
31.8
27.0
26.9
27.5
31.6
35.3
36.3
27.5
26.9
29.4

Total, all occupations_____ ________________________ _ 11, 441 7, 531
Total, regulars____ _ ___ _____ ______ ______ _ ___ 11,073 7,408
Cutters_____ _______________________________________ 209 189
Other cutting department em ployees.________ _ _____ 153
92
Operators____ ________________ ________________ _______ 8, 304 5,294
Examiners and trimmers_________ _____ __________ _
671 377
Pressers_______ _______________ _____________ ______ 571 414
Other manufacturing employees _ _______ ____ _____
352 250
Nonmanufacturing employees____ _ ______ __ _____ 591 609
Office employees__ __________ ________________ __ 222 183
Learner operators_______ ___ ___ ________ __ _____
355
93
Other learners__________________ ____________________
13
30

44.6
44.7
49.2
48.0
44.1
44.1
45.2
46.7
49.1
46.1
42.4
35.3

26.4
26.5
34.2
29.9
24.7
26.3
27.0
28.6
34.2
38.7
25.1
23.4

Southern plants

Cents Cents
23.6 40.9
24.0
47.9
28.7
21.0
18.8
22.3
29.6
33.7
37.6
12.3
12.5
11.6

41.5
66.2
40.9
38.9
36.5
40.3
43.8
46.4
46.4
29.9
29.5
31.1

18.0
18.3
37.9
20.6
16.8
15.5
15.5
25.2
24.7
36.5
8.3
13.3

34.3
34.9
50.1
33.8
33.1
32.2
33.1
37.3
40.6
43.4
22.1
23.6

1 Data are from the Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufac­

turers.

Increase in Productivity o f W orkers Under N . R . A .

Working hours in the cotton-garment industry averaged 44.4 per
week in March 1933 and 45.8 in July 1933, both months prior to the
N. R. A., compared with 36.7 hours in March 1934 under the 40-hour
1 For the trend of earnings after the N. R. A., see p. 1, ch. V.
4




CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND

21

week of the cotton garment code. Scheduled factory hours were
principally 48 and 52 hours per week in 1933, but some plants reported
that their scheduled hours had been 54 and 60 hours per week prior to
the N. R. A. Despite the general expectation that a 25-percent
reduction in working hours would result in a large increase in employ­
ment, employment in 1934 under the 40-hour week and in 1935 under
the 36-hour week remained virtually the same as in 1933 on scheduled
working hours ranging from 40 to 60 per week.
Since the volume of production was virtually the same under the
code, the decrease in working hours could be compensated by only one
factor; namely, an increase in production per hour of factory operators.
Plants were able to turn out as much in 40 or 36 hours a week, as they
had previously in 48 to 52 hours, due to the advance in efficiency of
management and workers in this industry.
Because of the sharp increases in labor and overhead costs imposed
by the minimum wage and shorter hours under the code, radical
changes became necessary in the operation of many backward factories.
Some of these were: (1) Obsolescent machinery had to be replaced;
(2) efficiency systems were installed in a number of plants; manage­
ment also saw to it that many hours of wasted time, which formerly
were spent by girls idly waiting for bundles of cut goods to be de­
livered were eliminated; (3) 8,000 child workers and numerous other
inefficient operators were replaced by more capable workers; (4) some
employees who formerly had worked 60 hours per week at 8 cents per
hour were stimulated to greater productivity under the better wage
and hour standards of the cotton-garment code.
Labor Organisations

Attempts to establish a labor organization among shirt operators,
particularly in New York City, have been recorded as far back as
1846, the year of the invention of the first sewing machine.
A mass meeting of the New York seamstresses was announced early in Septem­
ber 1846. It was reported that these women were obliged to make shirts at 4
cents apiece.
Early in the summer of 1851 an attempt to relieve the necessities of some 6,000
shirt sewers in the city of New York led to the formation of the Shirt Sewers’
Cooperative Union. They implored the public to remember that thousands of
these women were “ sewing at once, with a double thread, a shroud as well as a
shirt.”
Many of these, they said, were young and friendless orphans; others were
widows depending upon the needle for the support of helpless children.1
6

Although several shirt factories in the New York City district be­
came unionized toward the end of the nineteenth century, no headway
was achieved by labor unions in the shirt industry until the start of

16 U. S, Bureau of Labor. Report on Condition of Women and Child Wage Earners, vol. 10: History of
Women in Trade-Unions, by John B. Andrews and W. D. P. Bliss. Washington, 1911, pp. 36-38.




22

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

the N. R. A. in 1933. The Amalgamated Clothing Workers became
active in the cotton-garment industry in the spring of 1933 with a
general drive to unionize Pennsylvania shirt workers. Prior to 1933,
virtually only New York City shirt workers had been organized by the
Amalgamated. By that year, however, only cutting establishments
remained in New York City in most cases, since all leading shirt
manufacturers who had been located in New York City had moved
their sewing rooms up-State in New York or to New Jersey, Penn­
sylvania, Maryland, etc.
During 1933-35 the union was successful in organizing a majority
of the employees of both manufacturers and contractors in Pennsyl­
vania, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Some shirt factories
were unionized in other parts of New England and a few plants in
the Midwest, but no headway was made in the South. The Amal­
gamated Clothing Workers organized most of the employees of the
sheep-lined and leather-garment and heavy-outerwear factories in the
Eastern States and also of some producers of sernidress pants. By
1935 this union was reported to have enrolled 40,000 workers in the
cotton-garment industry. About half of the workers on men’s shirts
were reported as belonging to the union.1
7
The overall industry had a completely different labor organization
background. As far back as 1891 an agreement was signed between
the largest overall manufacturer and the United Garment Workers of
America, the principles of which continue in practice among unionmade work-clothing producers at the present time. Outstanding
among the provisions was a uniform scale of piece rates applicable
throughout the country in all plants organized by the union, and a
union label to be sewed on all garments to identify them to the con­
sumer as a union-made product, manufactured under union wage and
working standards. This union label has been a powerful factor in
maintaining the United Garment Workers Union in the work-clothing
field. However, a large quantity of overalls are now produced for
consumers outside of the field of organized labor, such as farmers and
nonunion workers, and these are manufactured in large nonunion
plants. By 1936 the United Garment Workers was reported to have
approximately 20,000 members in the cotton-garment industry.1
7
Another labor organization which has become a factor in the cottongarment industry is the International Ladies Garment Workers
Union. Between 1910 and 1930 it made several efforts to organize

17 National Recovery Administration. The Cotton Garment Industry, by J. W. Hathcock. Evidence
Study No. 8. Washington, p. 31.
At its twelfth biennial convention, in May 1938, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers reported a total
membership in the cotton-garment industry of approximately 55,000. Of these, 40,000 workers were em­
ployed on men’s shirts and 7,500 on work clothing. Since 1936 considerable progress in organizing cottongarment workers has also been made by the United Garment Workers and the International Ladies Gar­
ment Workers Unions.




CHARACTERISTICS AND BACKGROUND

23

cotton-dress workers in New York City. The center of the cottondress industry, however, shifted away from New York, leaving only
about 8 percent of the production in New York City in 1935. The
International Ladies Garment Workers Union was reported to have
enrolled during the N. R. A. period about 15,000 members in the
cotton dress, apron, and nurses’ uniform division of the cotton-garment
industry.1
8
It is estimated that at the present time about one-third of the
cotton-garment employees in the entire country are organized in the
three major apparel unions— the Amalgamated Clothing Workers,
the International Ladies Garment Workers, and the United Garment
Workers. Most of the organized workers are in the North, where
the proportion of workers in the three unions is much larger than onethird. In the South the proportion of organized workers is very small.
1 S footn on p. 2 .
8 ee
ote
2




Chapter III
Development o f Machinery in the Cotton-Garm ent
Industry
Evolution o f the Sewing Machine

The modern sewing machine, capable of producing a “ lock stitch,”
dates from 1846 when it was invented by Elias Howe, an American.
Frederick G. Bourne 1 says:
Prior to Howe, all the sewing machines patented made the chain or tambour
stitch, or attempted to imitate sewing by hand, making what might be called the
backstitch.
Howe used an eye-pointed needle and a shuttle, passing the shuttle through the
loop of the needle-thread and producing a lock-stitch alike on both sides of the
material, with the lock or intertwining loops of the two threads pulled to the
center; this might very appropriately be called a woven stitch in contradistinction
to the chain or knitted stitch.

The first attempts to introduce the machine are described as
follows by Charles R. Gibson:2
Elias Howe was an enthusiast and he devoted himself to his work until he pro­
duced a machine which could sew a seam. He soon satisfied his benefactor that the
machine was reliable, for he sewed all the seams in two suits of cloth— one for his
sponsor, Mr. Fisher, and one for his own use. This first machine of Howe’s had a
curved needle, with an eye near its point, and the action of the needle was not
unlike that of a pickaxe.
W ith the aid of a shuttle beneath the cloth it formed a lock stitch in the manner
already described. The principle was identical with that of H unt’s, and yet
Howe produced his machine quite independently.
W e can imagine Howe, the enthusiast, patenting his machine, and then hasten­
ing to make it public, and we can sympathize with him when he found that its
exhibition only gave amusement to those who examined it. It was looked upon as a
mere curiosity. But Howe had plenty of confidence in the machine. He chal­
lenged any five sewers to do as much work as his one machine. This bold chal­
lenge was accepted, and the five most expert needlewomen in a large factory were
selected for the trial. Ten garments were cut, each garment being exactly alike,
and five of these were given to the machine while each of the sewers took one of
the other five. The race was begun and anyone watching these experts would
have thought the machine was undertaking an impossible task in proposing to
sew five times as quick as one of these sewers. But before these experts had about
half of their garments done, the machine cried a halt, having completed the whole
of its similar task.

1 Bourne, Frederick G., American Sewing Machines, in One Hundred Years of American Commerce
edited by Chauncey M. Depew, New York, 1895, vol. 11, p. 525.
2 Gibson, Charles R.: The Romance of Modern Manufactures. London, 1916.

24




DEVELOPMENT OE MACHINERY

25

One would have expected an immediate demand for Howe’s machines, but
prejudice was too great. The tailors were up in arms against the introduction of
machinery— a foolish spirit which, however, is not dead today.

The application of power to the sewing machine presents an
interesting evolution:
Power was applied at first by a hand crank, but soon a man named Singer con­
ceived the idea of using a foot treadle similar to the one on the spinning wheel.
Somewhat later, he ad'ded a balance wheel on the upper shaft for increasing
the momentum, leaving both hands of the machine operator free to guide and
control the cloth.3

From the foot treadle to the power-driven shaft connecting with the
sewing machine by means of a leather belt was but another step. So
long as steam was the source of power, the arrangement of the sewing
machines in long rows running the length or the width of the room,
each machine driven by an individual belt and all deriving their power
from the single shaft, was the only feasible and economical arrange­
ment. With the advent of electricity as the source of mechanical
power in industry, it became possible and more economical to supply
each machine with an individual motor. This, in turn, made possible
the grouping of the machines in accordance with the special needs of
the shop, instead of the traditional, long-row, shaft-driven arrangement
of the machines. It was the individual electric motor as the source of
power for the individual sewing machine that made the realization of
the straight-line system possible (see ch. IV).
After the perfection of the general-utility sewing machine came the
development of special machines, performing a single function, such as
the buttonhole machine, the button-sewing machine, the off-the-armsleeve setting machine, the double-needle lock-stitch machine, the
multiple-needle machine (in which from three to nine, and even more
needles sew simultaneously a corresponding number of rows of stitch­
ing), etc. The development of the numerous attachments (running
into the thousands), which enable the operator to do certain opera­
tions, forms another chapter in the evolution of the sewing machine.
Many of these operations, which previously required great skill and
had to be done with great care and therefore slowly, can now be done
much faster with the aid of attachments such as the hemming attach­
ment, the attachment for taping edges, and numerous others.
By 1900 a sewing machine was produced with a capacity of 4,000
stitches per minute, which is only 500 stitches per minute below the
fastest machine produced in the present day.
Stitching machines were first operated in the clothing trade by foot power at a
speed of 800 to 900 stitches per minute. The construction was clumsy and hard to
operate. Gradually, machines were built with less motion and friction in the parts

3 Cleveland (Ohio) Board of Education. Bureau of Educational Research. The Clothing Industry in
Cleveland. Cleveland, 1928, p. 4. (Occupational Information Series No. 2.)
113379°— 39------ 3




26

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

and were able to attain a greater number of stitches per minute with less motion,
but still operated by foot power. * * * Machines operated on mechanical
power were able to be operated on a speed of about 1,200 to 1,500 stitches per
minute. Later, machines with a speed of 2,000 stitches per minute came into
general use. In 1895 a machine was put on the market permitting a speed of 2,800
stitches per minute, and finally in 1900 first-class results were obtained on a ma­
chine with a speed of 4,000 stitches. During all these changes the desire has been
to get as little motion in the machine and confine the mechanism to as few parts
as possible.4

As shown later in this chapter, the effect of the substitution of the
sewing machine for hand labor on the productivity of labor was stu­
pendous. The percentage increase in labor output per man-hour ran
into several hundreds and on individual operations into the thousands.
However, the bulk of these changes was effected by the end of the
nineteenth century. The changes which have occurred since 1900
have been in the nature of perfecting and refining details.
No important changes have taken place in the last few years, the
period covered by the present study. Moreover, the increased pro­
ductivity resulting from the improved sewing machines is far from
being equal to the increase in the speed of the new machines. Several
factors are responsible for this result:
1. The actual time of sewing is only from 15 to 33 percent of the
total time spent by the machine operator in performing her operation.
2. If a machine is applicable to only one of the approximately 30
operations required to do the garment, the increase in productivity
on that one operation will have the effect of increasing the productivity
of the entire sewing department by only one-thirtieth of the increase
on the individual operation.
3. There are additional factors which tend to reduce the effect of the
increased speed of the machine. Sewing machines are seldom set to
revolve at their theoretical maximum. Even if they are so set, a loose
shaft, the fluctuation of voltage on the line, the slipping of the belt,
etc., will all contribute to the reduction of the rated speed of the
machine.
4. The efficiency of the individual workers frequently introduces
factors which may counterbalance all or part of the increased speed of
the machine, such as the following:
(а) A change in the location of a machine, such as moving it from a
light place near a window to a dark area, or vice versa, will affect the
productivity of the worker.
(б) A change in the lighting equipment, improving the lighting of
the shop, will contribute to the productivity of the operator.
(c)
The substitution of a ready-wound bobbin for the ordinary bob­
bin, which has to be rewound by the operator about once an hour,
will affect her productivity.

4 Pope, Jesse E.: The Clothing Industry in New York. University of Missouri, Columbia, 1905, pp.
75-76.




DEVELOPMENT OE MACHINERY

27

(id ) An improvement in the ventilation and air-conditioning of the
shop, particularly in warm weather, will increase the personal efficiency
of the worker.
(e) An increase in working hours per day will add to the fatigue of
the worker, particularly in the last hour or two of her workday. By
the same token, a reduction in hours is likely to bring about a greater
productivity per hour.
(J) An improvement in the management of the shop, such as the
introduction of floor boys or floor girls to relieve the operator of the
task of carrying the bundle or of doing simple operations such as turn­
ing parts inside out, etc., will affect the productivity of the operator.
These factors and others too numerous to mention, are not accounted
for in the ordinary records of a plant, making it impossible to trace
their effect on labor productivity in the shop. Any or all of these
changes will either increase or reduce the hourly productivity of
the worker, as the case may be, and will tend to confuse the effect
of the machine factor as such.
5.
Increased speed of the sewing machine is frequently utilized
in improving the quality rather than in increasing the quantity of
output. An increase of 25 percent in the speed of the machine (say
from 3,600 to 4,500 revolutions per minute), if accompanied by a cor­
responding increase in the number of stitches per inch (say from 12 to
16), will result in no increase in productivity as measured by the
number of garments produced.
Improved Transmission Equipment

In marked contrast to the mingled effects of improved sewing ma­
chines is the clear-cut increase in productivity resulting from the
installation of improved transmission machinery, known as safety
tables or high-speed transmitters. The improved transmission equip­
ment shortens the interval of time it takes to start and stop a sewing
machine; in other words, it saves some of the nonsewing time, which
has been shown to absorb from 67 to 85 percent of the total working
time of the operator.
Mechanisation o f Cutting

Improvements in the sewing machine were followed by mechaniza­
tion in the cutting department of garment factories, where men ex­
clusively were employed. This development is thus described by
William C. Browning: 6
It was not until some years after the war— perhaps about 1870— that cutting
machines were first introduced into the wholesale manufacture of clothing. The
long knife was the first improvement upon the old-fashioned shears of former

8 Browning, William C.: The Clothing and Furnishing Trade, in One Hundred Years of American Com­
merce, edited by Chauncey M. Depew, New York, 1895, vol. 2, p. 562.




28

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

years, and this, operating something like a saw, made possible the cutting of
some 18 thicknesses of clothing to 1 thickness cut by shears. The Fenne and
Worth cutting machines came later, the blade being a circular disc, revolving
rapidly and cutting as many as 24 thicknesses of clothing with the speed and
accuracy of a buzz-saw.

By 1924 it was possible to cut as many as 240 thicknesses of cloth
in a single operation.6
Pressing Machinery

Pressing plays an important part in the manufacture of a garment.
Prior to the invention of pressing machines all pressing was done with
an ordinary hand iron, heated over a gas flame. Later came the hand
iron wired inside with electric wires and heated by electricity. This
development greatly enhanced productivity, since electricity keeps
the iron at an even temperature, doing away with the necessity of
reheating the iron, with its consequent interruptions of work.
By far the most important development, however, was the inven­
tion of the steam-heated pressing machine. This machine has a bed
shaped to fit the particular garment or part of a garment for which
it is to be used. The bed and the “ head,” or the top part, are piped
for steam. When the garment is placed on the bed of the machine,
the operator brings down the head or top on the garment, which is
thus caught between the top and the bed and pressed and steamed
at the same time. Since the quality of the pressing is greatly improved
by letting the garment remain in the machine for a few minutes, a
presser is usually given two to five machines to operate. By the time the
presser has made the round of the machines, placing in each a garment
to be pressed and clamping down the top, the garment in the first
machine is fully pressed and ready to be removed from the machine.
A new one is then put into the machine and the process is repeated
with each machine.
The pressing machine was perfected in the early part of the present
century and introduced into garment factories before 1910. No
changes which in any way increase the productivity of pressing labor
have developed in the years covered by this survey.
Effects o f Mechanisation During the Past H alf C entury

Recent technological changes in the cotton-garment industry point
to comparative refinements in processes of production rather than
broad, fundamental, spectacular increases in man-hour output. The
increase in productivity due to these refinements, while impressive,
is not nearly so startling as that which occurred when production
first changed from hand to machine sewing.

8 Cincinnati. Public Schools. Vocational Bureau. The Garment Industries in Cincinnati, by Jessie B.
Adams. Cincinnati, 1924. P. 25.




29

DEVELOPMENT OF MACHINERY

A study made by the United States Department of Labor of hand
and machine labor, the results of which are contained in the Thirteenth
Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor in 1898, seems to cover
about all the existing data on productivity by earlier hand methods.
In this study, comparisons are made of productivity by hand and
machine methods in several identical firms. The data for hand
methods in several instances are based on the performances of single
persons, and the entire information was obtained from only a limited
number of firms. Caution must necessarily be used in drawing con­
clusions from so narrow a base. However, the rates of change are
impressive, as they seem to have occurred with regularity as between
the several firms and as between the processes involved.
In the production of men’s shirts, four firms were covered, two of
which manufactured work shirts; one, dress shirts; and one, eveningdress shirts. Taking all the processes into consideration, the change
from hand to machine methods of making work shirts resulted in an
increase of productivity of about 500 to 750 percent. Considering the
sewing departments alone, the rate of increase was slightly higher,
averaging from 600 to 900 percent.

T a b l e 12.— P r o d u c t i v i t y

o f la b o r b y h a n d a n d m a c h in e m e th o d s

M EN’S SHIRTS
Year

Work shirts
Dress shirts
Bosom shirts
Method
of operation Minutes
Shirts per Minutes Shirts per Minutes Shirts per
per dozen man-hour per dozen man-hour per dozen man-hour
All departments 1

1853
1870 ___________
1894
__
1895 - ____
1895 ___________

Hand..
-_-do_____
- - do
Machine._-do _ _

3, 600
3, 600
417
601

0.200
.200
1.730
1.200

7,195
0.122
.856

0.100

941

.765

6, 730

5,880
841

0.107

891

.808

Sewing department only 2
1853
____
1870 _ ____
1894
1895 ____
1895

Hand
.do_____
do
Machine. _
do

3.420
3.420
330
475

0. 211
.211
2.180
1. 520

5,580
754

0.129
.955

1 United States Commissioner of Labor. Thirteenth Annual Report. Hand and Machine Labor. Wash­
ington, 1898, vol. 1, pp. 46, 47.
2 Idem, vol. 2, pp. 1090-1097.
Under the hand method, sewing consumed so much of the total
operating time that cutting and pressing together accounted for but a
small proportion thereof, ranging from 5 percent for the work shirt to
6% percent for the bosom shirt. With the introduction of machine




30

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

methods, although the actual time required for cutting and pressing
was materially reduced, these savings in time were generally over­
shadowed by the enormous savings in sewing time. As a result, ex­
cept for bosom shirts, the ratio of cutting and pressing time to total
production time increased with the introduction of the machine
process.
In the case of work shirts, cutting and pressing under the hand
method took 180 minutes per dozen, while under the machine method
these operations took 87 minutes in one plant and 126 minutes in
another. For negligee dress shirts, hand cutting and pressing re­
quired 300 minutes per dozen as against 87 minutes under the machine
method. However, due to the much sharper decrease in sewing time,
the ratio of cutting and sewing time to total production time increased
in the case of work shirts from 5 percent to 21 percent, and for negligee
dress shirts from 5.1 percent to 10.3 percent. In the case of bosom
shirts, however, cutting and pressing time declined from 465 minutes
per dozen under hand methods to 50 minutes under machine methods.
This decline was even sharper than that in sewing time, and as a result
the ratio of cutting and pressing time to the total production time in
making bosom shirts declined from 6.5 percent to 5.3 percent.

T a b l e 13.— P r o d u c t i v i t y o f la b o r b y h a n d
M EN’S TROUSERS
Minutes per dozen
Material

Year

Hand
method

a n d m a c h in e m e th o d s

Number of units per man-hour

Year Machine Year
method

Hand
method

Year Machine
method

All departments 1
Cassimere_______________
Do__________________
Cottonade __ _ _______
Do___________________

(2)
(2)
1870
1894

8,148
7,186
7,200
6,660

1895
1895
1895
1895

3,008
3, 354
742
804

(2)
(2)
1870
1894

0.09
. 10
.10
.11

1895
1895
1895
1895

0.24
.22
1.00
.90

0.18
.19
.11
.13

1895
1895
1895
1895

1.3
1
1.2
1.1

Sewing department only3
Cassimere.................................
Do______ ____ ________
Cottonade________________
Do___________________

(2)
(2)
1870
1894

3,962
3,720
6, 750
6,300

1895
1895
1895
1895

532
712
572
660

(2)
(2)
1870
1894

1 United States Commissioner of Labor. Thirteenth Annual Report. Hand and Machine Labor.
Washington, 1898, vol. 1, pp. 38, 39.
2 Not reported.
3 United States Commissioner of Labor. Thirteenth Annual Report. Hand and Machine Labor.
Washington, 1898.

In the manufacture of men’s trousers, four firms were considered,
two of which produced woolen trousers and two cotton trousers. For
the woolens, productivity increased 100 percent. This relatively low
rate of increase was due to the fact that only a single sewing machine,
a single buttonhole machine, and a single button-sewing machine, all
operated by foot pedal, were introduced in a factory employing over




31

DEVELOPMENT OF MACHINERY

20 workers. The economy effected by these three machines, when
spread over so many workers, concealed the true rate of increase due
to the machines. In comparative operations, one by hand and the
other by machine, the increase was from 400 to 600 percent. For
cotton trousers, the increase was from 700 to 900 percent for all
processes involved and approximately the same for the sewing depart­
ment alone.
In the manufacture of overalls only one firm was studied. Here the
increase was 900 percent for all processes involved and 1,150 percent
for the sewing department alone.

T a b l e 14.— P r o d u c t i v i t y o f la b or b y h a n d
M EN’S OVERALLS

a n d m a c h in e m eth o d

Method of
operation

Year

Minutes per
dozen

Number of
units per
man-hour

All departments 1
1870
1895

_

. .. . .

... _ __

.

Hand______ _
Machine_____

3,600
356

0.200
2.020

Sewing department only 2
1870_____________ _________________ _______________ Hand_______
1895
_________________________________ Machine.. __

3,540
283

0.203
2.400

1 United States Commissioner of Labor. Thirteenth Annual Report. Hand and Machine Labor.
Washington, 1898. Vol. 1, pp. 38,39.
Idem, vol. 2, pp. 912,913.
2

While labor productivity on shirts rose 500 to 700 percent there
were a few individual operations showing even more spectacular
changes. For example,7 the productivity on buttonholes increased
1,000 to 1,500 percent, cutting by machine 2,300 percent, and the
making of cuffs by machine 6,600 percent. However, against the
benefits of this increased productivity under machine methods, should
be charged increased shop overhead required for supervision, prepar­
atory and floor operations, etc., which were not necessary under
simpler hand methods.
The rise in man-hour output has been accompanied by a decline in
cost of production and a rise in wages. For work shirts, the labor
cost fell by nearly two-thirds under the machine method of operation,
declining from $3 per dozen by hand in 1894 to $1.05-$1.08 by ma­
chine in 1895. Similarly for dress shirts, the labor cost declined by
nearly two-thirds, viz, from $6 per dozen by hand to $2.27 per dozen
by machine. For bosom shirts, the decrease in labor costs was pro­
portionately greater— from $15 by the hand method to $2.85 for the
machine.8

^United States Commissioner of Labor. Thirteenth Annual Report. Washington, 1898, vol. 1, pp.
265, 266.
8 Idem, pp. 46, 47.




32

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

For trousers, labor costs fell in about the same proportion. Woolen
trousers showed decreased labor costs, from $23.74 and $23.61 per
dozen by the hand method to $7.22 and $6.54 by machine— a decrease
of about two-thirds. For cotton trousers, labor costs fell from $6
and $8.80 by hand methods to $2.03 and $1.80 by machine. For
overalls, the same rate of decline took place— from $3 per dozen by
hand to 93 cents by machine.9
This decline in the cost of production brought about by the enor­
mous increase in the man-hour output due to mechanization was
achieved in the face of a large increase in earnings. As will be seen
from table 16 the change from hand to machine work in one plant
producing shirts resulted in a 116-percent increase in hourly earnings
between 1894 and 1895. In another plant during the same period
the increase was 165 percent. Over the 25-year period between 1870
to 1895 the increase in hourly earnings of plant 2 was 204 percent.1
0
In manufacturing overalls the increase in hourly earnings between
1870 and 1895 was 200 percent in one plant and 220 percent in another
plant. In manufacturing trousers the increase in hourly earnings in
1894-95 was 30 percent and between 1870 and 1895, 70 percent. In
two other plants, however, the introduction of the machine process
was accompanied by lower hourly earnings, the decrease being 22 per­
cent in one plant and 40 percent in another plant.

T a b l e 15.-—

H o u r ly

e a r n in g s

o f s e w i n g -m a c h i n e
m e th o d s

o p e r a to r s ,

by

h a n d a n d m a c h in e

SHIRTS, TROUSERS, AND OVERALLS i
Plant 1
Product and process

Plant 3

Plant 4

Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
age
age
age
age
Year hourly Year hourly Year hourly Year hourly
earn­
earn­
earn­
earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

Shirts

Hand______ _
__
_ _
1853
Machine___
. . . ___ ___ ___ 1895
Percentage change________ ___ .

Trousers
Hand__ _ __
Machine___________ _ ______

Plant 2

1870
1895

Percentage change_________
Overalls
Hand___ ______ _ _ __________ 1870
Machine____ _ _________ _ _ 1895
Percentage change. . . . . ____

Cents 1870
12.5
18.2 1895
-1-146
10.0
17.0
+70
5.0
16.0
+220

1894
1895
1870
1895

Cents 1894
5.0

Cents 1894
5.0
10.8

(2)
1895

+116
18.0 (2)
14.0 1895
-22 —

15.2
+204
10.0
13.0
+30
5.0
15.0
+200

1895

1895

Cents

6.1
16. 2
+165
20.0
12.0
-40

1 United States Commissioner of Labor. Thirteenth Annual Report. Hand and Machine Labor.
Washington, 1938. Vol. 1, pp. 39, 46. 47.
2 Not reported.
9 Idem, p. 49.
10 No information is available as to the changes in piece rates which must have taken place as a result of
the revolutionary changes in methods of production. The figures cited here are significant as showing that
the workers benefited in some measure as a result of increased productivity.




DEVELOPMENT OF MACHINERY

33

Since 1895, when these studies of machine productivity were made,
further increases in productivity have taken place. These advances
have been due not only to continuous improvements in machinery,
but even more to newer methods of handling work and further sub­
division of work, leading to greater specialization and consequent
increase in output by the specialized machine operators. Changes
in shop management have tended to eliminate lost motion, thereby
also increasing productivity.
Some measure of this further increase in productivity during the
past 40 years may be obtained by comparing the data for 1895 with
those for 1936 secured in the present survey. In 1895 the sewing
department averaged approximately 0.95 dress shirts per man-hour
produced by machine. In 1936, for the 30 plants studied, the pro­
ductivity of the sewing department averaged 2.67 dress shirts per man­
hour, an increase of approximately 180 percent. The 1936 produc­
tivity is approximately 22 times that recorded for the hand method
in 1894.
As sewing machines were introduced, finer subdivisions of labor
took place. On work shirts, the number of operations under hand
methods was 5; under machine methods it was from 10 to 13 in 1895.
In 1936 the number increased to an average of 21. For the dress
shirt, hand methods required 5 operations, while machine methods in
1895 required 10. In 1936, the number of operations ranged from 21
to 39, with an average of 29. For cotton trousers, the number of
operations almost doubled— from 6 to 11 and to 13— immediately
upon the introduction of machine methods. By 1936 these subdivi­
sions of operations rose to approximately 50. For overalls the
operations by 1895 had increased from 4 to 11. By 1936 they had
risen to an average of almost 30.
The motive power used in 1895 for machines was still hand or foot,
with only an occasional use of steam and electricity. Electrically
driven high-speed machines, operated with economy of effort, have
now almost universally replaced the hand- and foot-driven machines.
Concurrently, vast changes took place in wages. For shirt opera­
tors the average hourly earnings in the plant paying the highest wages
in the 1895 study were 18 cents, as compared with corresponding
average earnings of 53 cents per hour in a union work-shirt factory
in 1936. The average hourly earnings in the plant paying the lowest
wages in 1895 were 11 cents, as compared with a corresponding rate
in 1936 of 17 cents in a factory in the South and 29 cents in the North.
Machine operators in the trouser factories studied earned from 11
to 16 cents an hour in 1895; in 1936, the range was from 19 cents in
the South to 51 cents in a union plant in the North. In the produc­
tion of overalls the hourly earnings of the operators were 15 cents an
hour in the factory studied in 1895; in 1936 the hourly earnings




34

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

ranged from 22 cents in the South to 58 cents in a union plant in the
North.
The following figures show the rise in the cost of labor since 1903.
They represent the sum total of piece rates for sewing-machine
operations in making a standard garment known as the railroad
band-back bib overall, as contained in the Official Schedule of Mini­
mum Piece Rates prevailing in United Garment Workers shops
throughout the United States.
1903___________
1904___________
1909___________
1912___________
1913___________
1917___________

________
_________
_________
_________
________
_________

$1.
1.
1.
1.
1.
1.

25
35
35
35
42
52

1918___________
1919___________
1920___________
1934 __________
1937 __________

_________ $1. 76
________ _
1. 93
_________
2. 54
_________
1. 88
_________
2. 09

There were no changes in piece rates between 1920 and 1931. In
January 1932 rates were reduced 20 percent. In February 1933 there
was another reduction of 20 percent. In July 1933 under the N. R. A.
rates were increased 20 percent. In 1934 there was a further increase
of 12% percent. However, on two operations the double-needle
machine was substituted for the single needle, with a corresponding
reduction in rates, so that the total piece rate for the garment was
reduced to $1.88. In March 1937, there was a further increase of
11.1 percent, bringing the rate for the overalls up to $2.09 per dozen.
The following changes in work hours took place during this period
in union plants operating under agreement with the United Garment
Workers Union:

Weekly hours

1904 to Oct. 31, 1907_____________________________________________
N ov. 1, 1907, to Mar. 9, 1919____________________________________
Mar. 10, 1919, to Dec. 31, 1931__________________________________
Jan. 1, 1932, to Dec. 31, 1934____________________________________
Jan. 1, 1935, to Aug. 12, 1935____________________________________
Since Aug. 13, 1935________________________________________________

54
48
44
40
36
40

The trend of weekly hours and wages of sewing-machine operators
from 1877 to 1900 follows:




35

DEVELOPMENT OF MACHINERY

T a b l e 16. —

H o u r s a n d w a g e s o f s e w i n g -m a c h i n e o p e r a t o r s

,

1 8 7 7 -1 9 0 0

1

NORTH
Year
1885.
18861887 _
1888.
1892.
1885.
1886.
1887.
1895.
1896.
1885.
1885.
1887.
1888.
1889.
1892.
1885.
1886.
1896.
1896.
1881.
1882.
1882.
1895.
1895.
1885.
1887.
1887.

State

Sex

Average wage
Average
rates
hours
per
week Per day Per hour

Female__
..d o _____
..d o _____
..d o_____
..d o _____
...d o ___
...d o ___
...d o ___
...d o ----...d o ___
Male__
Female..
...d o ___
...d o ___
...d o ___
-do___
.do..
-do_.
-do..
-do..
...d o ___
Male___
Female..
Male__
Female..
...d o ___
. .-do___
...d o ___

63
54
61
59
55
61
60
55
54
51

1896_______________________________ Alabama__________ Female__
1884. ______ ______ __________ Georgia. _ _ _ _____ _do . -_
____do____________ __do____
1888
_ - __
_____
_do -. ___ M ale... -.
1895
1895 ____________________________ ____do____________ Female__
1896
- ______________________ ____do____________ Male.
_______ _ _
_ .do ___________ Female__
1896
-do __ - _ _ ..do _____
1899
1900 ______ _____________________ __ _do_____ _______ __do____
_do_____
1887
___........................ ............ Kentucky_____ _
1887_______________________________ Louisiana_________ ...d o _____
1895___________________ _________ ____do... - _______ ...d o _____
1882
_ . _
__________ North C arolina.__ __do_____
1883
.............................- . ___ do_____________ ..d o _____
___do____________ Male____
1895
.do____ _______ Female__
1895
_
____ ___
1896
...................... ................ - ___ do_____________ Male____
1896
_______ ____________ ____do____________ Female__
do_________ _ ...d o _____
1899
____do.-- _ --. ..-d o. ___
1900
-1880
__________ South Carolina........ ...d o _____
1882
_____________ ____do......................... Male____
do... _____ ____ ...d o _____
1884
. _do___________ ...d o _____
1888
-- 1888
..........- ____do.___ ________ Female__
1895
___________ ____do— __________ ...d o _____
1896
- - __________ ____do____________ Male____
1882
______ ________ Virginia................... Female__
1884
- _____________ ____do____ ________ ...d o _____
1888
_________________ ____do__________ - ...d o _____
1895
__________ -- ..d o .___ ________ ...d o _____
1897
_______________ ..- .d o ___ ________ ...d o _____

63
60
55

California.
-...d o .....
___ do___
___do___
-----do___
Iowa_____
..d o___
..d o .— .
..d o___
..d o___
..d o ....
..d o—
..d o___
Maine.......
____do____
____do___
Michigan.
____do____
____do.— .
Nebraska______
New Hampshire .
..d o_________
_-do_________
..d o__________
..d o_________
Wisconsin______
____do__________
Montana_______

60
60
60
60
58
58
58
65
60
60
54
60

$1.00

1.25
1.11

1.00

1.06
.72
1. 01
1.06
.74
.91
1.19
.95
.89
1.42
1.25
.86
.73
.91
.92
.90
1.10
.99
.98
1.18
1.03
.82
.83
.58

$ 0.10

.14

.1
1
.10
.12

.07

.10
.12

.08

.10

.1
1

.09
.08
.14
.13

.10

.09
.09
.12

.10

.08
.09
.06

SOUTH

6
6
6
6
6
6

63
60
62
58
59
60
72
60
6
8
60
69
6
8
61
61
60
69
69
6
6
60
61
6
6
54
55
56
55
59

$0.70
.86
.49
.75
.75
1.0
0
.85
.73
.65
.76
.75
.95
.50
.68
.83
.68
.40
.60
.79
.80
.81
10
.0
.75
.75
.70
.80
.88
1.16
.75
.53
.77
.73

$0.06
.09
.06
.07
.07
.09
.08
.07
.07
.08
.08
.10
.04
.07
.08
.07
.04
.06
.08
.08
.08
.09
.07
.07
.07
.08
.08
.13
.08
.06
.09
.07

i Data are from U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bull. No. 499 (pp. 200-221); History of Wages in the
United States from Colonial Times to 1928. Washington, 1929.




Chapter IV
Systems of Shop Management in the Cotton-Garm ent
Industry
A sewing machine in its essence is but a power-driven needle, and the
same skill on the part of the tailor or seamstress which is required to
ply the needle in fashioning a garment out of a fabric is required when
the machine takes the place of the hand needle. In using the sewing
machine, the tailor or the seamstress must still exercise the same crafts­
manship as of old on the operation which he or she performs and, in
addition, must acquire the skill of manipulating the garment under the
high speed of the power-driven needle.
The importance of the human element is accentuated by another
peculiarity of the industry. A cotton garment is made of many parts,
and these parts are not produced by the machine automatically. They
must be fitted together, and as the work progresses under the needle
they must be manipulated and shaped by the deft fingers of the oper­
ator so as to assume the desired shape, and to insure accuracy and
precision.
Handling Versus Sewing Time

As a result, more time is spent by the operator in handling the parts
than in actual sewing. With the great speed which the modern sewing
machines have attained running from 2,700 to 4,500 revolutions per
minute (which means 2,700 to 4,500 stitches per minute),it takes but a
few seconds to make a seam, so far as the actual stitching is concerned;
but it takes a great deal more time to pick up the parts, put them
together properly, place them under the needle, bring down the “ foot”
(the attachment which holds the work in place), and start the machine,
and then to repeat the process for the next seam. It is estimated by
engineers, on the basis of years of time studies, that the actual sewing
takes only from 15 to 33 percent of the time taken by the worker to
make the garment, depending on the length of the seam and the com­
plexity of the operation. From 67 to 85 percent of the time is spent in
handling and manipulating the garment.
Effect o f Labor-Saving Machinery

It becomes clear, therefore, that the effect of improvement in ma­
chinery upon the time required for an operation is sharply limited
36




SYSTEMS OF SHOP MANAGEMENT

37

because of the comparatively low ratio of operating time to handling
time. Suppose, for example, that for any specific operation 33 percent
of the total time required is actual sewing time. If an improvement in
machinery is introduced which reduces the actual sewing time by onehalf, while the handling time per unit of product remains the same, the
increased output for the operation per unit of time will not be 100
percent but only 20 percent. With actual sewing time only 15 percent
of the total time spent on a garment, a 100 percent increase in the
sewing-machine output would result in a total increase in output of
only 8 percent, provided the amount of time spent on handling the
garment remained unchanged.
If the effect of a change in machinery upon the productivity of an
individual operation is thus limited, the influence of any change in a
single machine upon the efficiency of the sewing department or the
plant as a whole is extremely small. The manufacture of a dress shirt
in the plants covered by this survey requires between 22 and 39 sepa­
rate operations. In a plant in which the work is subdivided into say
30 operations, the foregoing estimate of the increase in productivity
applied to a single operation would have to be reduced to about onethirtieth of that figure in estimating the increase in the number of
complete shirts per unit of time.
Systems o f Shop Management

It was therefore to be anticipated that any changes which would
reduce handling time or alter working habits would affect produc­
tivity far more appreciably than purely mechanical alterations. The
most important of these changes is the introduction of the so-called
line system of production in a number of cotton-garment plants. Its
primary purpose is to reduce handling time, to stimulate the efficiency
of the individual worker, and to permit more effective control by
management. The introduction of this system is of fundamental
importance in its effect on production and on industrial relations.
This new technique of routing work in the shop is as much in the
nature of a technical change as an improvement in machinery would
be. Both are intended as labor-saving devices.
T h e Bundle System

Three main types or systems of shop management are in use in the
cotton-garment industry today, which are known as the bundle
system, the straight-line system, and the progressive-bundle system,
The most prevalent type is the so-called bundle system, which has
been in existence since the beginning of the factory system of produc­
tion of cotton garments. The factory brought about the division of
labor which has resulted in each worker’s specializing in one or, at




38

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

the most, a few operations. In the making of dress shirts, for exam­
ple, the labor in the sewing department alone, under the bundle
system, is divided into from 22 to as many as 39 operations. In the
manufacture of overalls, it runs from 24 to 31 operations, and of work
pants from 31 to 41.
The old-time tailor or seamstress, with the aid of a pattern, marked
on a piece of cloth the outlines of various parts of the garment, which
were then cut out with a pair of shears, and the different parts sewed
together.
With the introduction of the factory system of producing garments
in quantity, instead of to the order of the individual user, the first
labor saving occurred in the cutting room. A modem cutting room
has rows of long tables, usually from 100 to 200 feet long, on which
layers of cloth are piled one on top of the other, reaching 100, 200, and
even more layers. This pile is then cut with a cutting machine accord­
ing to pattern markings on the top layer.
After being cut out, the different parts— fronts, backs, sleeves,
patches for pockets, collars, etc.— form individual piles, which are
usually subdivided into smaller piles of convenient size, each tied into
a bundle. Hence the name, “ bundle system.” The bundles are
taken to the sewing room, where they are distributed among the dif­
ferent workers. In the sewing room, the bundles travel from operator
to operator in the course of making the garment.
When a bundle is completed by an operator, it is either delivered by
the operator to the foreman or to the work station or is taken away
from the operator by the foreman or bundle boy, and then turned over
to another operator for the next operation, or stored in a bin or shelf
until it is given to a worker for the next operation.
T he Straight-Line System

The straight-line system in the cotton-garment industry dates
back only to 1932. It was originated in this country by Folkert
Allen Schmidt, a well-known industrial engineer and disciple of
Frederick Taylor, the originator of “ scientific management.” Mr.
Schmidt first developed this system at the plant of the Stahl-Urban
Co., Terre Haute, Ind., in cooperation with Mr. Henry Kramer of
that company. In 1934 he was granted United States patents on
his system and began to introduce it in other plants in the cottongarment industry, as well as in some plants manufacturing woolen
trousers. The system is still in an early stage of development, but
is meeting with increasing favor in the cotton-garment industry.
The straight-line system differs from the so-called bundle system
in that it substitutes a single part of a garment for the bundle as a
unit of work assigned to individual workers, thus doing away with
the bundle. The process of evolution has thus brought the industry




SYSTEMS OE SHOP MANAGEMENT

39

back to the original unit of one garment, as in the former days of
the tailor and seamstress. However, while the old-time tailor made
the complete garment, the line maintains the division of labor by
operations even more minutely than under the bundle system.
Another important feature is a radical rearrangement of machines
in the shop. Under the bundle system, sewing machines are usually
arranged in parallel rows running the full length or width of the shop,
without regard to the sequence of operations. Machines which can
be used for several operations may be assigned to a certain operation
and later reassigned to other operations. The reassignment may
occur because of the introduction of a new type of garment which
requires a larger number of machines on some operations, a smaller
number of machines on another operation, and possibly the omission
of still another operation altogether. As a result of these constantly
recurring changes, even if the machines, when installed, are arranged
with a view to sequence of operations, the sequence disappears in the
course of time. The resultant haphazard arrangement of the ma­
chines in the plant causes the work to be shunted back and forth
from one end of the shop to the other, as it passes from operation
to operation.
Under the straight-line system, the machines are arranged in short
rows of from one to three or four each, strictly according to the
sequence of operations, so as to insure the direct progress of the work
from one operation to the next.
As an additional means of increasing labor productivity, the
straight-line system aims at the minutest possible subdivision of
operations, as general observation has demonstrated that the more
an operation is subdivided— that is, the smaller the number of work
elements— the greater the speed which a worker develops in perform­
ing the operation. There is the further consideration that the more
the work is subdivided, the less the skill required to do an operation
and the easier it is to train new workers. This does not necessarily
mean, however, that any great difference is to be found between the
number of operations in line and bundle plants. Subdivision of opera­
tions in bundle plants has been carried so far that in some cases more
operations are to be found in bundle than in line plants.
Table 18 shows the extent of the subdivision of work in 64 plants
surveyed. They comprise 30 dress-shirt plants, of which 4 are operat­
ing on the line system; 17 overall plants, of which 4 are on the line;
and 17 work-pants plants, of which 9 are on the line. The table shows
the highest, lowest, and average number of operations in each group
of plants which are used in making the parts and the body, and in the
assembly of the garment.




40

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T a b l e 17.— C o m p a r i s o n

o f d i v i s i o n o f la b o r i n l in e a n d b u n d le s y s t e m s

Number of operations
Product and section

Bundle system

Line system

Maximum Minimum Maximum Minimum
26 plants
Dress sbirts:
Parts............................................ ......................................
Body------------------------ --------------------------------------Assembly--------------------------------------------------------Entire sewing department----------------------------------

17
16
8
41

4 plants
6
9
5
20

13 plants
Overalls:
Parts............................................ ......................................
Body---------------------------- ----------------------------------Assembly...................................... ....................................
Entire sewing department------ ----------------------------

12
13
9
34
12
12
17
41

9
11
5
26

4 plants
6
7
8
21

8 plants
Work pants:
Parts------------------------------ -------------------------------Body............................................ ......................... ........
Assembly.................................... .............. -- - - --Entire sewing department------ ------------------------

12
16
7
34

9
17
10
36

7
11
8
26

9 plants
7
8
13
28

12
15
20
47

7
9
13
29

Before installing the line system, a study is made to determine the
time it takes each individual worker to perform the assigned task.
The number of workers assigned to each operation is then so adjusted
as to insure as close a balance of work on all operations as possible. To
illustrate, if it takes 35 operations to make a shirt in a given plant,
there will be a minimum of 35 workers on the line. However, if
operation No. 2 takes twice as long as operation No. 1, there will be
two operators on operation No. 2 to balance the work of a single
operator on operation No. 1. There may be three or four operators
on other operations, depending upon the time it takes an individual
operator to complete the assigned work.
As the bundle comes from the cutting room, it (or a part of it) is
placed at the side of the operator on operation No. 1. As fast as she
completes her particular task on a part she places the garment on
a bar or in a chute leading to the next operator, instead of retaining
it until the entire bundle is completed, as is the procedure under the
bundle system. The part is then picked up by operator No. 2 and
after she completes her operation it is placed in a similar manner
within reach of the worker on operation No. 3. Thus the individual
garment or part of a garment progresses from operation to operation
until it is completed. Such additional parts as are needed are pre­
pared off the line and are supplied to the particular operators on the
line as the garment proceeds from one operation to another.




SYSTEMS OF SHOP MANAGEMENT

41

Effect of Line on Efficiency of Labor

The advantages of the straight-line system are many. The most
obvious is the elimination of handling, which under the bundle system
absorbs a large part of the time of the foreman and his assistants, as
well as of the worker. Under the bundle system, each worker must
first get her bundle. Whether the bundle is brought to her by the
foreman or a bundle boy, or whether she calls for the bundle at a
central work station in the shop, there is inevitable loss of time in
carrying the bundle to the sewing machine; in untying the bundle
and arranging the work for the sewing machine; in assembling the
bundle and tying it up when the operator has completed her work;
in keeping track of the amount of work completed to make sure that
she is paid for all the work she has done, etc. Finally, the repeated
interruption in her work between bundles involves an inevitable loss
of time in regaining momentum after each interruption. The amount
of time thus spent in handling will vary from shop to shop, depending
on the efficiency with which it is managed. Nearly all this handling
is eliminated under the straight-line system— both management and
worker saving much of the time lost in handling.
An analysis of the operations under the bundle system makes it
evident that the greatest opportunity for economy of the operator's
time is in the handling of the bundle rather than in the sewing opera­
tions. Starting from the moment when the bundle is delivered to
the operator at the machine, there is untying the bundle, lifting one
part at a time, putting two parts of a garment which have to be
joined edge to edge so that they will be stitched in an even seam,
placing it in position in the machine, lowering the foot,1 starting the
machine, doing the actual stitching, stopping the machine, raising
the foot and the needle so as to release the garment, taking the garment
out of the machine and placing it to the left of the operator, and then
repeating the same cycle of motions and operations until the entire
bundle has been completed. Each time a garment or its part is com­
pleted, it is piled on top of the preceding garment to the left of the
operator until all the parts composing the bundle have been finished,
when the bundle is tied up again and delivered to the bundle boy or to
the work station. The operator has to go through approximately
10 operations of handling for each operation of actual sewing.
The proportion of the time spent in handling the bundle and
manipulating the parts varies with the garment produced and with
the parts which make up the garment. Handling, however, always
takes more time than sewing, consuming on the average from 67 to
85 percent of the total time of the operator, as against 15 to 33 percent
of the total time spent on sewing.
1The foot is anattachm onthesew gm in fo holdin th garm t inp w ile th stitching is
ent
in ach e r
g e
en
lace h
e
bein d e.
g on
113379°— 39----- i




42

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

1.
S a vin g o j tim e in h a n d lin g .— The inventor of the straight-line
system recognized the severe limitations upon possible savings which
can be effected through faster machines. He realized that so long as
sewing machines do not work automatically, additional speed is
checked by the capacity of human hands and nerves to handle them.
The objective of the system is therefore to reduce as much as possible
the lost motions in the handling of the work which account for the
major part of the total working time of the operator.
Not all of the handling operations, however, are eliminated by the
line system. Chart 1 illustrates the chief time- and energy-saving
features of the straight-line system, as contrasted with the bundle

Ch a r t I

system. Figure 1 illustrates the position of the operator, the machine,
and the work she is handling under the bundle system. The square to
the right of the seat is the rack or workbench on which the bundle of
work to be done is placed. The rack is usually placed about 18 inches
below the sewing-machine table. In picking up the part to be sewed
on, the operator must therefore lift the part vertically a distance of
18 inches. The dotted line shows the path followed by the part being
put through the machine by the worker. The same path is described
by each succeeding part, the finished work being piled one part on
top of the other to the left of the operator until the entire bundle is
completed. By actual measurement, Mr. Schmidt, originator of the




SYSTEMS OF SHOP MANAGEMENT

43

system, ascertained that the length of the path described by each part
in a typical bundle plant, including both the horizontal and vertical
movements, is 102 inches.
Figure 2 illustrates the path followed by the work under the straightline system. The work rack to the right has disappeared. The work
is picked up by the operator from a rack or a chute to her left, which
is placed high enough to be near her elbow thus eliminating the lifting
of each piece. The dotted line describes the path of the work under
this arrangement. After being stitched, the part is merely pushed
forward by the operator with her left hand, landing on a bar or a chute
leading to the next operator. The new path is only 42 inches long,
thus effecting a saving of 60 inches or 5 feet of path on each garment
or part in each operation.
2.
S a vin g o f effort in h a n d lin g .— As has been pointed out, the usual
location of a workbench or work rack at the machine is approximately
1y2 feet below the level of the sewing-machine table. This means
that each time the operator picks up a garment, she has to lift it 18
inches and then bring it down 18 inches when it is completed, a total
of 3 feet in a vertical direction. Under the straight-line system, the
garment is picked up from a chute placed at the level of the operator’s
elbow, approximately 6 inches below the level of the sewing-machine
table to the left of the operator.
In the case of an operator working on trousers, for example, the
line system makes possible a great saving of effort. In the course of
a day’s work a worker must lift about 2,000 pounds, or 1 ton, of mate­
rial into place for sewing. Under the bundle system she must lift
this weight to a vertical distance of 18 inches, as against 6 inches on
the line. The energy spent on lifting is therefore only one-third as
great on the line.
The line makes possible an even greater saving of effort after the
worker has finished the sewing operation. Under the bundle system
she must lower the finished work a distance of 18 inches, while on the
line the finished work is simply given a push to reach the next operator.
Considering both lifting and lowering combined, under the line sys­
tem the operator’s effort is reduced to about one-sixth of that required
on the bundle system.
There is also an important saving of energy in bringing bundles to
the workplace. In a shirt factory a bundle may weigh approximately 50
pounds and each operator may be expected to complete about 20 bun­
dles per day. Assuming that work is stored 10 feet from the operator,
this means that 1,000 pounds of material must be carried 10 feet to the
operator under either the bundle or the line system. Under the line
system the bundles are delivered to the first operator only, and the
individual parts which make up the bundle progress from operator to
operator until the bundle is reassembled and taken away from the end




44

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

of the line. Under the bundle system the bundles are delivered to and
taken away from each operator.
3. O ther labor sa vin gs on the lin e .— A garment consists of symmet­
rical right and left parts. Under the bundle system the garments
are cut by laying successive layers of cloth face to face so that the
right and left parts alternate. As a result, when the bundle is given
to an operator she is compelled to work alternately on right and left
parts and must make a “ mental somersault,” to quote the originator
of the straight-line system, in placing the parts of the garment under
the needle and handling them alternately in reverse positions.
Under the straight-line system one group of operators handles all
the right parts, while another group handles the left parts, the two
parts being joined by a third group. Relieved of the necessity of
making the “ mental somersault” each time she changes parts, the
operator develops greater speed with no greater effort. This is one
of the important features of the straight-line system, constituting an
essential claim in the patent.
4. B etter u tiliza tio n o f w ork in g tim e .— In addition to increasing the
productivity of sewing-machine operators while actually on the job
in the shop, the line system enables them to put in more working time
per week than is possible under the bundle system operating on the
same schedule of weekly hours. Under the bundle system, work is
seldom evenly distributed among the sewing-machine operators in the
shop. Each operator handles her bundles more or less independently
of the others and is free to leave the job at any time without greatly
affecting the work of the other operators. Waiting for work is a com­
mon occurrence in a bundle shop and rather than remain idle for
several hours in the shop, operators often prefer to check out for the
balance of the day. During the N. R. A., in order to comply with
the wage and hour provisions of the code, many employers required
that workers punch the time clock at the beginning and at the end
of their waiting periods. In this way, the idle time was excluded
from the records of the total time registered on their time cards. The
hours of attendance in a bundle shop as registered by the time cards
therefore generally average from 3 to 5 hours per week less than the
scheduled weekly hours.
Under the straight-line system the work is so rapidly distributed
among all the employees on the line that no operator can be spared
from her place and broken time is therefore reduced to a minimum.
It has been estimated that as a result sewing-machine operators work­
ing on a 40-hour-per-week schedule can average about 10 percent
more of working time on the line than under the bundle system.
This is tantamount to an increase of about 10 percent in the produc­
tion per operator per week on the line as compared with the bundle
system.




SYSTEMS OF SHOP MANAGEMENT

45

Effect of Line on Efficiency of Management

The most important achievement of the straight-line system is the
stimulating effect it has on management. Since every shortcoming
is apt to cause a break-down in the line, management has to be par­
ticularly alert to avoid interruptions in production. For example a
careless notching of a part of a garment in the cutting room 4 would,
under the bundle system, cause some difficulty to the worker on the
operation for which the notching is done. The worker affected may
or may not complain, depending on whether she is sufficiently aggres­
sive to do so, and if she does complain, she may or may not always
get the prompt attention of the responsible foreman. However, on
the line the absence of the necessary notch, causing the operator to
take more time in sewing part to part, will slow down production on
the particular operation and in turn will halt the rest of the line and
compel the instant attention of the management. Not only will the
defect be immediately remedied, but the management will see to it
that it does not happen again, because every interruption in produc­
tion is costly. 'The fact that labor on the line is usually paid by the
hour, instead of by the piece, makes idle time caused by work interrup­
tion all the more costly.
Similarly, if a machine breaks down under the bundle system it may
cause a temporary stoppage of work on the part of the one operator
affected. A well-run establishment, in order to reduce overhead cost,
will give immediate attention to the machine, but in practice such a
break-down does not always receive immediate attention. Under the
line system, the break-down of a single machine will halt the work of
the entire line, forcing immediate attention. Management is, there­
fore, obliged to take the necessary steps to prevent such break-downs
and to make necessary repairs in the shortest possible time, through
maintaining its machinery in first-class condition, having a reserve of
machine heads and spare parts, and having in attendance a competent
machinist capable of repairing the damage in the quickest possible
time. In the end, it means elimination or reduction of nonproductive
time and consequent increase in production.
In general, the straight-line system directs management’s attention
to the necessity of securing the utmost coordination of every depart­
ment— the buying and timely delivery of materials and supplies: the
dovetailing of the work of the cutting room with that of the sewing
department; the timing of the parts shop with the body and assembly
divisions; the balancing of the individual operations on the line; the
maintenance of equipment in such condition that it may be available
for any task it is called upon to perform; the training of the workers on
additional operations to prevent interruption in production through
4The p a n ed o m
arts re otch r arked by the cu w ere the sew g is to b
tter h
in
egin an w ere to en in ord
d h
d
er
to m a p
ake erfect fit of the parts.




46

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

absences of individual operators. Every one of these activities and
many more must be looked after, if the line is to function, not only at
its best, but to function at all.
S a vin g o f in v en to r y .—Another outstanding feature of the straightline system is that it greatly reduces inventory or work in process.
As already stated, there is no necessity to wait for the completion
of the bundle by one operator before it is turned over to another
operator for the next operation. Instead, each individual part
travels from operator to operator as fast as each completes her part.
The saving of time effected by the turn-over may be illustrated as
follows: Assuming 4 dozen or 48 garments in a bundle and 20 opera­
tions to complete each garment, and assuming it takes 1 minute to do
each operation, it would take 48 minutes to do each operation on a
complete bundle, or a total of 960 minutes to complete the 20 opera­
tions on the entire bundle.
Under the straight-line system, as soon as the first operation has
been completed by operator No. 1 and the garment or part placed on
the rack or in the chute leading to the next operator, it becomes
available to operator No. 2; a minute later it is ready for operator No.
3, and so on. The first garment or part will, therefore, be completely
finished at the end of 20 minutes. During the progress of the work
only one bundle has to be in operation to keep the 20 operators busy,
whereas under the bundle system it would be necessary to have 20
bundles in process of work.
Assuming no loss of time between the operations, it will take 20
minutes for the first garment to go through the entire set of opera­
tions. Each succeeding minute will see a new garment completed.
Thus, it will take 20 plus 47, or 67, minutes for the entire bundle of
48 garments to pass through all the operations, as against 960 min­
utes under the bundle system.
The reduction of time is equivalent to saving of inventory. Be­
tween the time the last or forty-eighth garment of the first bundle
leaves operator No. 1 and the time it is completed 20 minutes later
by the last operator, 20 more garments of a new bundle will have been
done by operator No. 1 and will be in process at all subsequent stages.
The ratio of work in process between the line and bundle systems will
therefore be 960 to 68, or practically 14 to 1. In other words, under
the straight-line system only about one-fourteenth of the inventory
or work in process is required as compared with the quantity of work
that has to be kept in process under the bundle system. This does not
take into account the time lost between operations while the bundles
rest in the bundle rack in readiness for the operators, nor the saving
of time due to the shorter path described in the chart on page 42
and the saving of time due to the elimination of tying, untying, and
transferring of bundles. This results in the release of many thou-




SYSTEMS OE SHOP MANAGEMENT

47

sands of dollars of capital which is needlessly tied up in inventory
under the bundle system.
Another advantage to management of the line system is the prompt
filling of the retailer’s orders. While an order from a retailer may
take weeks on the bundle system, this can be reduced to days on the
line.
Limitations of tHe Straight -Line System

1. R ig id ity .— As already pointed out, the straight-line system calls
for a very close balance of work between operations. This necessitates
a definite arrangement of machinery in the order of the sequence of
the operations, and the assignment of the exact number of machines
to each operation necessary to insure a close balance of the work in
process. There is thus imparted a certain rigidity to the straightline system which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to use it for
more than one product. A plant manufacturing a variety of products
calling for different divisions of labor and for a different length of
time for individual operations, cannot use the same line for more
than one product. An arrangement of machines for different opera­
tions, once made, must be left undisturbed as long as the product for
which it has been made continues to be manufactured. This difficulty
can be overcome by having a separate line for each product. Insofar
as the same variety of products is manufactured from month to month
and season to season, such an arrangement is entirely feasible; but
if frequent changes in the character of the products manufactured
take place, the use of the line becomes impractical. In the case of
such cotton-garment products as work clothing, this objection does
not apply, since changes in style are not frequent. In a product like
cotton dresses, where style is a factor, the difficulty would be more
serious.5
2. V u ln e r a b ility ,— Because of the close balance between operations,
the absence of a single worker through illness or other cause is a much
more serious matter under the line system than it is under the old-time
bundle system. To avoid break-downs through this cause, there must
always be a reserve of workers capable of stepping into the breach
and taking the place of absentees. Such workers must be skillful
and capable of doing any operation at the established rate of speed.
Even if one operator leaves her machine for a few moments, it will
cause the stoppage of the entire line unless there happens to be a
reserve of work between the operations. No operator is, therefore,
allowed to leave the line without a relief worker taking her place.
Frequently, to avoid additional expense, the forewoman on the line
acts as relief worker. She can do that, however, only for brief inter5To m th d
eet ese ifficu
lties, thepatenteeofthesystemrecom en th equ
m ds e ippingofeachsew gm
in achine
w asep
ith
aratem
otor, soa to m it independent of any sh
s
ake
aftin A
g. nother im
provem is to m the
ent
ake
m in rest onvacuumcu w
ach es
ps, hichhelptosecu th m in fast toth flo randat th sam tim m
re e ach e
e o
e e e ake
it easy to m th m in to newp
ove e ach es
osition w n
s hen ecessary.




48

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

vals. She cannot replace a worker who is absent for an entire day.
In other plants, the service or repair worker acts as relief operator.
A more general method of eliminating the expense of maintaining a
reserve of relief workers is the use of workers in the parts shop, off the
line, as a reserve. Both for this reason and because the making of
parts (such as pocket patches, flaps, collars, cuffs, etc.) does not fit
in with the progression of the work and frequently can be done more
advantageously outside the line than on the line, the parts are usually
made off the line under the bundle system, and are fed into the line
at the points where they have to be joined to the main body of the
garment.
3. L a ck o f 'perfect balan ce,— While the straight-line system aims at
and achieves a closer balance of work between operations than is
possible under the bundle system, it is next to impossible to attain a
complete balance, for the reason that it is seldom possible to adjust
the number of workers on each operation to the exact ratio of time
taken per operation. If a given operation requires the time of one
worker and the next operation requires, say, 1.9 as much time, the
only thing that can be done is to put two workers on the next opera­
tion. In that case, the workers on operation No. 2 will be idle approxi­
mately 5 percent of their time. Similar disproportions to a greater
or lesser degree may occur on other operations. This introduces an
element of loss of time which is not present in the old bundle system,
where each operator works fairly independently of the rest. On the
other hand, it provides odd moments of relaxation at frequent inter­
vals which help to relieve the physical and nervous strain of continuous
hard work on the line*.
4. S tra igh t lin e less su itable f o r ga rm en ts o f high q u a lity.— There is a
difference of opinion among manufacturers of quality garments as to
the adaptability of the straight-line system to the handling of highgrade work. High-quality work calls for careful inspection at various
stages of the manufacture of the garment. When the quality foreman
inspects a bundle of work and finds it defective, he returns it to the
operator to remove the imperfections. This may require the ripping
of the seam and doing the work over. The operator takes the neces­
sary time to do it.
Such a procedure, if attempted on the line, would disrupt the con­
tinuity of the work on the line and is manifestly impossible. As the
work progresses rapidly in single units from operator to operator it is
impossible to examine at any point a quantity of garments coming
from one particular operator. The examination of the completed
garments will help to eliminate a faulty garment, which may be sold
as a “ second,” but in most cases it is too late at that stage for the
operator who did the faulty work to correct it without undoing the
work of several other operators, at great expense to the firm.




SYSTEMS 0 E SHOP MANAGEM ENT

49

Nevertheless a number of concerns making a high quality of shirts
and pants were found operating under the line system. In a plant
manufacturing shirts of a very high grade there are several inspec­
tion points. Garments found to be defective are not returned to the
operator for repair, since that would stop the line, but are given to a
service or repair operator to fix. The operator responsible for the
poor work is admonished to do better and her work is watched until
she either improves the quality of her work or gives way to a better
worker.
T he Progressive^Bundle System
The straight-line system owes its origin to certain inherent weak­
nesses in the old production system which generally prevails in the
cotton-garment industry. It is therefore but natural that other
people besides the originator of the straight-line system should have
given thought to the same problems and developed improvements
both before and after the appearance of the line system.
One of these improvements is known as the progressive-bundle
system, which is a modification of the straight-line system. It fol­
lows the same principle of work progression through the shop, except
that the work moves in bundles instead of in single garments or
parts. Although the idea of arranging the machines in the sequence
of operations, to reduce the crisscrossing and repeated shunting of
the bundles from one end of the shop to the other, found practical
application in various parts of the country before the line system
made its appearance, the development of the progressive-bundle
system received a new impetus from the introduction of the line
system, from which it has borrowed many ideas.
The elimination of the handling of work bundles by the foreman or
his assistants is the same under the progressive-bundle system as
under the straight-line system. The differences between the two
systems are:
(1) The progressive-bundle system does not eliminate the handling
of the bundle by the worker.
(2) It lacks the power of stimulation which the straight-line system
exerts upon the individual worker;
(3) It lacks the stimulating effect upon management which the
straight line exerts.
The powerful influence which the straight-line system exerts upon
management springs from the use of the single garment as a unit of
production and the paralyzing effect it produces upon production in
the shop if any major or minor detail goes wrong. Management is
forced to be constantly on its toes and to do its utmost to prevent
interruptions in production.
This compelling power is no more inherent in the progressive-bundle
system than under the ordinary bundle system. Under the progres-




50

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

sive-bundle system the bundle continues to serve as the unit, and the
progressive system has all the weaknesses of the old-time bundle
system, except that it relieves the shop management of the task of
switching work from operation to operation. Nevertheless, the pro­
gressive-bundle system does eliminate much handling and, if intelli­
gently applied, is capable of producing substantial results.
Effect o f Line on Productivity o f Labor

To what extent does the straight-line system increase labor produc­
tivity? Studies which have been made indicate that the effect of the
line on labor productivity depends upon many factors. In order to
obtain the maximum benefits, the system calls for the use of the best
machines, close coordination of the work in the different departments,
careful balancing of work on different operations in the sewing room,
the arrangement of equipment to eliminate waste motion, both vertical
and horizontal, the elimination of unnecessary handling and lifting of
materials in the process of work, etc.
A circular of one of the engineering firms licensed to install the
straight-line system states that one garment company increased
production 50 percent, cut manufacturing costs 25 percent, reduced
clerical work 33 % percent, and inspection costs 60 percent, saved 25
percent of the floor space, and vastly reduced inventory of goods in
process. The circular does not state how efficient or inefficient the
plant was before the introduction of the line. The percentages cited
above depend not only on the results achieved but also on what the
condition was prior to the installation of the new system.
An attempt to evaluate the effects of the straight-line system, in
connection with the present study, has met with the usual difficulty
of lack of sufficient records to make possible the allocation of gains
to the various causes responsible for them. In almost all plants, the
introduction of the straight-line system was accompanied by the
installation of some new sewing machines. The effects of the new
machines on increased labor productivity must therefore be taken into
consideration in analyzing the productivity gains of the line.
The largest increase in man-hour output amounting to 28.8 percent
was found in one of the dress-shirt plants. The increase in produc­
tivity is for the sewing department as a whole, covering both the
production on the line and the production of parts not affected by
the line system. The gain in production on the line was manifestly
greater. In another plant, while the increase in productivity of the
sewing department was less than 15 percent, the increase for the
assembly operations alone, which are the only operations on the line
in that plant, was much greater.2 The saving in time on assembly
operations was as follows: Before the introduction of the line, the

2 In other plants the increase was much smaller, see ch. V.




51

SYSTEMS OF SHOP MANAGEMENT

total time required to do the assembly operations on a dozen garments
was 1.20 man-hours. When 20 percent of the assembly department of
the shop was put on the line, the time per dozen garments was reduced
to 1.07 man-hours. When, later, the entire assembly department was
put on the line, the time went down to 0.79 man-hour. This is a reduction
of 34.2 percent from the time required under the bundle system.

EFFECT OF INTRODUCTION OF LINE SYSTEM
FOR ASSEMBLY OPERATIONS

DRESS SHIRT MANUFACTURE
M A N H O URS
PER D O Z E N

MAN HOURS
PER D O ZE N

FALL-1935

SPRING-1936

ALL ASSEMBLY OPERATIONS
ON BUNDLE

2 0 % OF ASSEM BLY
OPERATIONS ON LINE

FALL-1936
ALL ASSEMBLY OPERATIONS
ON LINE

NO TE:

E ga

OURING THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE FALL OF 1935 AND THE FALL OF 1936,

Bfi&ifl

THE LINE SYSTEM WAS GRADUALLY INTRODUCED FOR ASSEMBLY OPERATIONS
ONLY.

ALL OTHER

OPERATIONS REMAINED ON THE BUNDLE SYSTEM.

■ ■ ■

HI

BALANCE
T IM E

OF

A S S E M B LY
T IM E

U .S . BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS________________________________________________________________

Ch a r t 2

As shown in chart 2, after all the assembly operations had been
put on the line, the remaining bundle operations took more time than
they did before the introduction of the line. This was due to the fact
that the best and fastest operators had been transferred to the line,
leaving the slower operators to make the parts on the bundle system.




52

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

This is one of the rare instances where it is possible to isolate the
effect of a single factor. In spite of the longer time it took to do the
parts, after'the introduction of the line, the height of the third column
is still lower than that of the first, the difference between the two
representing the net saving produced by the introduction of the line.6
As already indicated, not all the work in straight-line shops is done
on the line. Some of it can be done more advantageously outside the
line. Nor is there a uniform rule as to the proportion of work to be
done on the line. In the most successful plants, about two-thirds of
the sewing operations, requiring about 80 percent of the total time
on all operations in the sewing department, are usually done on the
line, the rest being done in bundles off the line.
Although the trend is toward more plants installing the line system,
and expanding lines in plants which are already using the system, some
firms have tried and abandoned the line system. Two firms reported

o The table below, furnished by the inventor of the line system, presents results obtained by him in some
of the plants in which he installed the system. These plants have not been included in the survey and the
figures are therefore presented as furnished by the inventor. Attention must be called, however, to cer­
tain features of these figures which distinguish them from the data gathered for the plants covered by the
survey.
P r o d u c t i v i t y i n B u n d l e a n d S t r a ig h t -L in e P l a n t s

Article
Trousers:
Bundle system __________________
Straight-line system......... .....................
Work shirts:
Bundle system.._____ _ _ __ _____
Straight-line system_______________
Work pants:
Bundle system_______ _ ____ _____
Straight-line system_______ _____
Wash coats, men’s:
Bundle system_________________ Straight-line system_____________

Total
ma­ Hours Total
chines per machineoper­ week or man­
hours
ated
210
208
67
65
100
80
117
102

52
40
40
40
52
40
40
40

10,920
8,320
2,680
2,600
5,200
3,200
4,680
4,080

Time saved
Total
dozens Hours
pro­ per Hours Percent of
duced dozen per bundle
dozen time
1,300
1,600
1,050
1,100
750
800
223
300

8.4
5.2
2.6
2.4
6.9

3.2

38

.2

7

4 .0

2.9

42

21.0
13.6

7.4

35

(1) The figures given in the “hours per week” column are scheduled weekly plant-hours and not hours
during which the workers were employed during those weeks. A line plant makes more complete use of
the scheduled plant-hours than a bundle plant. It follows that of two plants having a 40-hour week, the
line plant will have more hours of actual work than the bundle plant, and will therefore show a greater
productivity per week and per scheduled hour even if the actual hourly output is the same in both.
While this constitutes a legitimate advantage of the line plant, it introduces a factor which is absent in
the survey based on the hours the workers are actually employed in the plant.
(2) In the trousers and work-pants plants recorded in the table, the hours were reduced from 52 to 40. A
reduction of 12 hours a week or 2 hours per day is likely to result in a considerable increase in labor produc­
tivity because of the elimination of fatigue. At least, this is the common experience in industry. It is thus
probably partly responsible for the fact that the highest increases in productivity in the table, viz, 42 and
38 percent, took place in plants which reduced weekly work-hours from 52 to 40.
(3) The next highest increase in man-hour output on the line is for wash coats. The figures happen to
cover a season when wash coats were much in vogue. The concerns manufacturing them popularized lowerprice products and had the advantage of a large volume of production, which is always conducive to high
labor productivity. The 35 percent increase in productivity in this case may, therefore, be due in part to
this factor.
While it is impossible to determine accurately the effects of the incidental factors just enumerated, it is
probable that a substantial part of the increase is due to the straight-line system.




SYSTEMS OE SHOP MANAGEMENT

53

that the variety of styles made the line unsuitable. Two other firms,
both nonunion, experienced opposition from the workers to the alleged
driving regimentation of the line.
Another aspect of the line system is that in a number of plants which
have continued to operate with part of their factory on the line and
part under the bundle system, the bundle department has often
recorded a decline in productivity. This may be due partly to the
fact that some of the more simple and standardized garments had
been removed from the bundle department and allotted to the line.
From records available in the average cotton-garment plant, it is
next to impossible to isolate the effect of any single factor on the man­
hour output of the plant. The individual skill of the operator, the
speed and condition of the machine, the system of shop management,
light and ventilation in the shop, and many other elements have a
direct bearing on the productivity of the operator in the sewing room,
and there is no system of records which would even attempt to ac­
count for the influence of any of these factors. This must be con­
stantly borne in mind in attempting to trace or to evaluate the effects
of any single factor, such as the system of shop management. Never­
theless, an examination of the figures of individual plants shows that
the introduction of the line system produces a definite increase in the
man-hour output of the plant.
Some idea of the direct increase in productivity on the operations
which are put on the line can be obtained from table 18, showing
productivity per man-hour on certain assembly operations for which
data proved available in some dress-shirt plants. Data are given
for plants on the straight-line system and for plants on the bundle
system, and are expressed in terms of output in dozens of shirts per
man-hour, and also in terms of man-hours per dozen shirts.
An examination of the figures in the table shows that there was a
marked difference in productivity between the line and bundle plants,
although exceptions in each group occurred due to differences in
quality, in machinery, and other factors which could not be sepa­
rately accounted for from the available records. Thus, in the oper­
ation of yoking (sewing yoke onto back) the productivity in the line
plants ranged from 11.17 to 14.12 dozen per hour, while in the bundle
plants, it ranged from 5.44 to 8.35 dozen.
In collar setting the productivity in the bundle plants fluctuated
within the range of 2.56 to 4.19, while in the line plants it ranged
from 2.56 to 4.10, the range in the two groups being practically the
same. However, it should be pointed out that plant No. 72 in the
straight-line group, which had the lowest figure of 2.56 dozen per
man-hour, was a plant that deviated from the practice followed by
most plants operated on the straight-line system. The management
allowed work to accumulate between operations, and the plant was




54

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T a b l e 18. —

P r o d u c tiv ity

o f la b o r o n c o m p a r a b le o p e r a t i o n s
p l a n t s f a l l o f 1 9 3 6 — D r e s s s h irts

in

lin e

and

b u n d le

,

Line plants

Bundle plants
Dozens of shirts per man-hour

Operation

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
3
74
6
5 31 73 79 92
68
1 69 72 66
Yoking. __ ___
Collar setting_____
Shoulder joining___
Sleeve setting_____
Felling. _ ______
Cuff setting_______

14.12
3. 52
7.04
7.04
7.04
3. 52

4.10
8.20
8. 21
8. 21
5.46

13. 53
10. 47
10. 34
11.53
6. 53

11.17
2. 56
5. 44
7.04
6.96
2. 65

8.35
4. 41
5. 29
5. 68
2.19

6.58
2. 61
5. 27
6.08
5. 29
2. 39

8. 26
2.80
4. 59
5.83
4. 71
2.99

7. 94
4.19
5. 46
6. 47
6. 26
4.00

6.77
3.24
5. 82
7. 16
6. 09
5.29

7. 26 5. 44
3.87 3. 05
5. 82
7.15 ” 4.'64 6. 31
6. 96 4. 95 4.53
3. 32
—
—

2. 56
4.45
6. 61
4.86
2.69

Man-hours per dozen shirts
Yoking___________
Collar setting____
Shoulder joining....
Sleeve setting_____
Felling___________
Cuff setting.. . . . .
T o t a l ...

0.244
.122
.122
. 122
,183
.793

0.071
.284
. 142
.142
. 142
.284
.994

0.074
.096
.097
.087
.153
—

0.090 0.119
.391
.184 ’".227
.142 . 189
.144 . 176
.377 .457
1.238
—

0.152
.453
.221
. 168
. 189
.431
1.462

0.121
.357
. 218
. 156
. 195
.334
1.260

0. 126
.238
. 183
. 154
. 159
.250
.984

0.148
. 309
. 170
. 139
. 164
. 189
.971

0.138
. 258
. 172
. 139
. 144
.301
1.014

0.184
. 328
0.391
.225
.216 0.158 . 151
.202 .220 .206
.372
1.345

1 Does not include yoking.
much closer to the progressive-bundle type than to the line type.
Plant No. 1, with 3.52 dozen per hour, turned out a higher grade
shirt, while plant No. 68, running on approved straight-line principles,
showed the highest productivity, turning out 4.10 dozen per man­
hour. While its productivity was slightly less than that of plant
No. 6, which turned out 4.19 dozen per hour on the bundle system,
the difference was due to quality, for plant No. 6 produced the cheap­
est grade of shirt of any of the plants recorded in table 18. Those
bundle plants producing a shirt most like that of plant No. 68 in
quality all had a lower output— plant No. 74, 2.80; plant No. 5, 3.22;
and plant No. 31, 3.87 dozen per hour; or from 5.6 to 31.7 percent
less than line plant No. 68.
In the operation of shoulder joining, the productivity in the bundle
plants was within the narrow range of 4.41 to 5.82 dozen per hour,
while in the line plants it was from 5.44 to 10.47 dozen. The two
other plants on the line showed a productivity of 8.20 and 7.04
dozen, respectively. Since the latter plant turned out a higher grade
of shirts than the other plants, its output as compared to the bundle
plants* figure of 4.41 to 5.82 was really much greater than the mere
difference in the figures implies. Similar conclusions can be drawn
from the other operations, although, as stated, exceptions occurred
here and there due to causes which could not be singled out from avail­
able records.




SYSTEMS OF SHOP MANAGEM ENT

55

The data in table 18 on labor productivity expressed in terms of
man-hours per dozen for separate operations also show that the time
it took to turn out a dozen shirts for these specified operations
ranged from 0.972 to 1.345 man-hours in the bundle plants and
from 0.731 to 1.238 man-hours in the line plants. Disregarding
plant No. 72 because it was not strictly a line plant, the line range
was from 0.731 to 0.990 hour per dozen. The only plants on the
bundle system which compared with these figures were plant No. 6
with a time requirement of 0.984 man-hour per dozen and plant No. 5
with 0.972 man-hour per dozen, which turned out lower grades of
shirts than the plants on the line.
Effect o f Line on Workers
Change from Individual to Team W ork

Although the patentee of the straight-line system attaches the
least importance to increased production resulting from the speeding
up of the individual workers, it is nevertheless a fact that the system
forces each individual worker on the line to concentrate on and to
expedite her work. Under the bundle system, each worker operates
independently. With the piece-work system in general use, she has
the incentive to turn out as much work as possible in order to increase
her earnings. However, being concerned with her individual bundle,
she works for the time being in a little world of her own. A sense of
fatigue, ill health, conversation with workers next to her, personal
troubles which may occupy her mind while she goes on with her work,
all affect her speed and tend to reduce the incentive to do her utmost.
Under the straight-line system the operator loses such independence.
She is at all times keenly aware of the fact that if she falls behind in
her work the operator in front of her is rendered idle, waiting for the
garment on which she is working. She is aware of the fact that unless
she completes her part promptly, this will hold up the rest of the line
and the foreman will be there to find out what is the trouble.
The necessity of speed under these circumstances is obvious.
The worker can no longer work at her own natural pace. She must
adjust herself to the speed of her fellow workers, all of which un­
doubtedly results in increased individual productivity. When the
workers are of a fairly uniform skill and equal tempo, the uni­
formly high speed of the work, while it may result in greater fatigue
at the end of the work period, need not necessarily affect injuriously
the health of the worker. But where no attention is paid to that
factor, or still worse where, as a result of deliberate design, fast




56

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

workers are interspersed with workers of a naturally slower tempo,
the health of the worker may be seriously affected.7
In one of the plants studied, management deliberately resorted to
such an arrangement which caused the slower workers to strain them­
selves to the utmost. On the one hand, the slower worker was aware
that work was piling up behind her from the fast worker on the pre­
ceding operation. On the other hand, she saw that the equally fast
worker on the succeeding operation was waiting for her work. The
result was a large increase in productivity by the individual workers,
but at the cost of great physical and nervous strain on the part of the
naturally slower workers. In the end, such an arrangement is bound
to be harmful not only to the slower worker but to the efficient opera­
tion of the shop.
A plant managed in disregard of these elements will have a high
labor turn-over, with inevitable loss of production while the new
help is being trained or is trying to adjust itself to the work in the
shop. Moreover, while the fast worker speeds up the slower, she is in
turn slowed down by the latter. Since a slow worker cannot keep up
an unnaturally fast pace indefinitely, it means that on the average
the gain in production caused by the speeding up of the slow worker
will be offset by the loss of production on the part of the fast worker
through the failure of the slow worker to keep up with her pace.
Rest Periods

The necessity of working at her machine without let-up, under the
conditions just described, creates a physical and nervous strain which
must be relieved from time to time by rest periods. Under the bundle
system, especially with piece work as the prevailing basis of com­
pensation, a worker is free to stop at any moment to relax or to attend
to her personal needs. In shops in which a central work station is
provided, she must in addition leave her place each time the bundle is
finished, take it to the station, wait until she gets the next bundle, and
then walk back to her place. As the bundle is usually of a size to
provide approximately an hour’s work, she has an opportunity to make
several trips to the work station in the course of the day. This provides
a number of brief rest periods, at approximately equal intervals, which
relieve the monotony and strain.
In shops working on the line system, there are usually two rest
periods of 5 to 10 minutes each in addition to the lunch period— one

7 In fairness to the originator of the system, it should be said that he is opposed to its abuse. He has
publicly and emphatically stated that he is not interested in having it used “by those who would engage in
its unsocial exploitation.”




57

SYSTEMS OF SHOP MANAGEMENT

in the middle of the forenoon and another in the middle of the after­
noon. The time devoted to the rest periods is approximately equal to
the time taken by the worker under the bundle system, except that
under the line system the rest is taken by all the workers together at
definite periods of the day, whereas under the bundle system each
worker follows her own inclination as to the time and length of
relaxation.
Earnings o f Sewing-Machine Operators

The effects of the straight-line system on earnings of sewing-machine
operators have been influenced by a variety of cross-currents that
have been operating in the industry since N. R. A. Most plants in­
stalled the line system after the termination of N. R. A. when average
hourly earnings were reduced in proportion to the increases in work
hours. Differences in record keeping of hours under N. R. A. and
after are also apt to distort the wage picture. While the weekly
earnings are an exact figure based on pay-roll records, the computed
hourly wages in piece-rate plants frequently vary with changing timeclock regulations or failure of their enforcement. These limitations
must be taken into consideration in analyzing the changes in the
average hourly earnings since N .R . A., which are presented in table 19.
The fall of 1936 is compared with the fall of 1934 because the entire
cotton-garment industry was then operating on a uniform 40-hour
week. Although the trend in average hourly earnings (computed by
dividing the weekly earnings by the number of hours registered on the
factory time clock) has been generally downward, the line plants,
recorded smaller declines than bundle plants.

T able

19 . —

C h a n g e s i n a v era g e h o u r ly e a r n in g s i n th e c o t t o n -g a r m e n t i n d u s t r y
s in c e N . R . A .

Type of plant

Location

Bundle plants, nonunion
__ _ _______ ________________ North____
Line plants, nonunion _ _ _ _________________________ _ ____do........
Bundle plants, union . _ _______________ _______________ ____do........
Bundle plants, nonunion. __ ____________________________ South........
Line plants, nonunion _ _________________________________ ____do____

Percentage
change, fall
Number of of 1936 com­
plants
pared with
fall of 1934
20
7
25
16
4

-4 .9
-2 .6
-2 .8
-16.6
-8 .9

During the same period weekly earnings of sewing-machine oper­
ators in 35 bundle plants changed slightly, decreasing 1.6 percent.
On the other hand, the records of 13 plants which installed the line
system and retained the 40-hour week show an increase in the weekly
earnings of sewing-machine operators of approximately 10 percent.

113379°— 39-




-5

58

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

The effect of the line system on hourly and weekly earnings of
sewing-machine operators may also be studied by comparing line and
bundle plants for the fall of 1936. A comparison of hourly earnings
of sewing-machine operators in nonunion plants comprising 11 line
plants in the North and 12 in the South and 29 bundle plants in the
North and 20 in the South shows that in both the North and the
South average hourly earnings were slightly higher in line than in
bundle plants. The average hourly earnings of sewing-machine
operators in these nonunion plants under the line and the bundle
systems in the fall of 1936 were as follows:
Line plants:
North____
South____
Bundle plants:
North____
South____

N u m b er of
p la n ts

A vera ge
h o u r ly
e a rn in g s
(c en ts )

_
_

11
12

36. 2
28. 6

_
_

29
20

35. 2
27. 2

In analyzing weekly earnings care has been taken to select com­
parable nonunion plants under the bundle and line systems working
on uniform weekly schedules. Twenty-two bundle plants and six
line plants were found working on a 40-hour week. Both groups of
plants manufacture various products, such as dress shirts, work
shirts, etc. One-half of the 22 bundle plants and one-half of the
6 line plants are located in the South, so that the effects of the regional
differences in wages were eliminated. Of these 28 plants the average
weekly earnings of sewing-machine operators on the line were slightly
more than $1 higher than for those under the bundle sj^stem.
From the point of view of line versus bundle system, it is significant
to note that (1) following the installation of the line system weekly
earnings of sewing-machine operators advanced sometimes even in
the face of a decline in the hourly earnings in the same plants oper­
ating on the same schedule of weekly hours both before and after the
installation of the line; and (2) in the fall of 1936 weekly earnings in
line plants were about 10 percent higher than in bundle plants oper­
ating on the same schedule of weekly hours, while hourly earnings
were only about 3 percent higher.
These apparently contradictory trends in weekly and hourly earn­
ings in line plants can be explained only by the fact that the line
system makes it possible for sewing-machine operators to put in more
hours of actual work than can be done under the bundle system with
the same schedule of weekly hours. The elimination of the idle time
by the line is therefore tantamount to an increase in the weekly pro­
ductivity of line plants separate and apart from the gains in the man­
hour productivity in the course of actual work.




SYSTEMS OE SHOP MANAGEMENT

59

Effects of Line on Wage System

Under the bundle system workers are paid on a piece basis, the rate
varying with the operation performed. Under the straight-line
system, all workers on a line produce an equal number of garments,
and all workers engaged on the same operation earn about an equal
amount. This eliminates the need for the piece-work system and the
workers are therefore paid, as a rule, on an hourly basis.
The hourly wage is generally determined by taking into considera­
tion the weekly earnings of the workers and their output under the
bundle system, when they were paid by the piece. As a rule, with
the hourly wage goes a quota of minimum output on the line, which
is usually based on time studies. If the total production for the
week exceeds the quota the workers receive a bonus in addition to their
regular hourly wage. This method of paying machine operators on
the line has been found in operation in all nonunion plants. Of the
two union line plants covered by the survey, one operates under the
same system, while the other continues to pay by the piece as it did
under the bundle system.
Experiment in a Union Shop

The rapid progress of the line system among nonunion manufac­
turers, with the consequent increased competition with which the union
manufacturers were confronted, has led to a serious effort on the part
of union manufacturers to bring about an arrangement which would
remove the opposition of the union to the introduction of the system
in union shops. As a result of negotiations between the Union-Made
Garment Manufacturers Association and the United Garment Work­
ers Union, it was agreed to undertake an experiment by adopting the
system in a union plant under the joint supervision of the manufactur­
ers and the union. Accordingly, the system was introduced in a
small shop operated by a leading union manufacturer early in March
1937. A visit to the plant when it was completing its fourth week of
operation under the system produced the following information:
The workers in the shop were working under a quota system. The
weekly quota was equal to the former production of the shop under the
bundle system. The quota was exceeded after the first week of
operation. During the fourth week production was nearly 10 percent
in excess of the quota, yielding a bonus of 84 cents per week to each
worker on the line. As the shop was just getting into its stride, both
management and workers were looking forward to increased produc­
tion and earnings.




60

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

During the month of April production exceeded the quota by 40
percent. A substantial part of this gain was due to: (1) Production
of fewer styles under the line system as compared with the old bundle
system; (2) installation of new machinery; (3) remodeling the plant
by painting the walls white and improving ventilation, lighting, and
heating equipment. However, management attributes the major
part of the gain in productivity to the advantages of the line.
The 40-percent gain in weekly production was accompanied by an
increase of 20 percent in weekly pay rolls, and a gain of 15 percent in
the weekly earnings of sewing-machine operators.8
The method of adjusting the wages in this union shop aims at an
equal division between management and labor of the benefits resulting
from the system. Prior to the introduction of the straight line, the
hourly rates for each worker had been agreed upon. These rates were
fixed at the workers' previous earnings under the piece-work system.
A weekly production quota under the new system was arrived at by
adding the sum total of the wages thus agreed upon for a 40-hour week
and dividing it by the former piece price per dozen.
Under the bundle system the sum total of piece rates per dozen was
$1,775. It was agreed that on all production on the line in excess of
the weekly quota, the workers of the shop were to get a bonus of 88.5
cents per dozen (3.8 cents per dozen for each operator) or one-half of
the old piece rate. Under this arrangement the firm thus gets the
benefit of reduced cost on all work done in excess of the production
under the bundle system and the workers get the benefit of an equal
gain in their earnings above the figure which they earned under the
old system.
The experiment is being closely watched by the other union-label
houses in the industry. If it comes to be generally adopted by the
union manufacturers, it promises to remove the opposition of organized
labor in the work-clothing industry to this latest phase of technological
progress in the cotton-garment industry.9
Summary
Briefly, the results of the straight-line system may be summed up
as follows:
1.
Even after taking into account the increased productivity under
the line system resulting from installation of new machinery and from
the production of a more simplified garment, there is a net residual

8The difference in the last two figures is due to the fact that three employees formerly engaged in indirect
labor when the plant was under the bundle system were transferred to productive work on the line.
9Since this report was written, an agreement was entered into between the Union-Made Garment
Manufacturers Association and the United Garment Workers Union extending the arrangement in the
experimental shop described above to all the union houses in the country under the jurisdiction of the union.




SYSTEMS OE SHOP M ANAGEM ENT

61

gain in output per man-hour attributable strictly to the line and addi­
tional gain in weekly output due to the more complete utilization of
working hours.
2. The effect of the rise in labor productivity upon the weekly earn­
ings of sewing-machine operators could not be accurately measured.
Such data as are available, however, justify the conclusion that
weekly earnings rose by about 10 percent.
3. The savings in cost to the manufacturer brought about by the
line system are composed of two principal elements: (1) The reduc­
tion of work in progress, resulting in a very substantial decrease in
inventory investment, and (2) savings in direct labor cost because of
the higher productivity of labor on the line.




Chapter V
Productivity o f Labor in the Principal Branches o f the
Cotton-Garm ent Industry
Dress Shirts 1

The 32 dress-shirt plants covered by the survey for which labor
productivity data were available showed considerable variation in the
technique of manufacturing and in the manner in which the work was
subdivided in the sewing department.2 The number of individual
operators required to sew a complete shirt, for instance, varied from
20 to 41. The widest range in the number of operations appeared in
the production of minor parts, the number varying from 6 to 17.
The preparation of body parts is done in from 9 to 16 operations,
while the least variation in the number of operations is found in the
assembly room. There is no apparent difference in this regard
between bundle plants and plants using the line system.
In bundle plants, assembly consumes a substantially larger propor­
tion of sewing time than might be assumed from the relatively small
number of operations comprised therein. This is due to the fact that
the average assembly operation requires more sewing time than the
average part or body operation.
For line plants, however, the difference between the average time
required in assembly and for parts and body operations is much
narrower. The relative time required for body operations as compared
with minor-parts operations is also reduced, since the line is not usually
applied to the production of minor parts.

T a b l e 20.-— D i v i s i o n

o f la b o r i n s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t — D r e s s s h ir ts

Number of operations
Division of work

26 bundle plants
Maximum

Entire sewing department__ _____ _ _______
Minor parts______________________ ______
Body____ _____________ _________ _______
Assembly_______________ _______________

41
17
16

8

4 line plants

Minimum

Maximum

2
0
6

9
5

34
1
2

15
7

Minimum
25
9
1
1
5

1 The term “dress shirt” is used here in contradistinction to “work shirt” and not in the commonly
accepted sense of a shirt used for evening-dress wear.
8 A description of the basic operations in making dress shirts is given in appendix 3.

62




DRESS SHIRTS
SEQUENCE OF OPERATIONS IN SEWING DEPARTMENT
CUTTING DEPARTMENT
__________

1 __________

| SEW
ING DEPARTM
ENT

1

TURN

TURN

1
TOP
STITCH

|
TOP
STITCH

LABEL
TO YOKE

RUN

|

m

.
*

BOX
PLEAT
1
ATTACH
POCKET

COLLAR
TO BAND

BUTTON
HOLES

BUTTON
HOLE
BUTTON
___ SEW




SECOND
STITCH
BUTTON
HOLE
BUTTON
SEW

C - A SSEM B LY
SHOULDER
JOIN
SLEEVE
INSERT

COLLAR BAND
TO NECK

BUTTON
STAY
1
BUTTON
SEW

YOKE
TO BACK

HEM
BACK

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

RUN

CUFF TO
SLEEVES
CLEAN AND
INSPECT
J DEPAR1

Ch a r t 3

CO

64

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Characteristics of Plants Studied
P r ic e g ro u p s. — On the basis of the price or quality of the product,
the most important single element affecting labor productivity and
labor cost in the manufacture of dress shirts, the plants in the sample
studied fall into three groups: (1) “ customized” ; (2) high price; and
(3) medium and low price. The first group covers two plants which
manufactured shirts selling mostly over $2 retail and usually produced
to specifications of individual retailers. The second group includes
16 plants producing shirts of high quality and retailing predominantly
from $1.95 upward. The third group comprises 12 plants manu­
facturing shirts designed to retail between $1 and $1.95 each and 2
plants producing shirts retailing for $1 or less. The last 2 plants
have been included in this group for convenience in treatment, as the
character of their productivity and labor-cost data warrant such
inclusion.
S y s te m s o f p ro d u c tio n . — Line production had been installed by 4 of
the 32 plants covered. One of these plants, No. 1, was in the highprice bracket; three plants, Nos. 67, 68, and 72, were in the mediumprice group.
Geographical loca tion . — Each major geographical region is repre­
sented in the sample studied. Eighteen plants were located in the
Northeast, of which five were in the Troy, N. Y., area. Seven were
in the Midwest, two in the Far West, and five in the South.
U n io n an d n o n u n io n p la n ts . — One plant in the customized group,
four in the high-price group, and three in the medium-price group
were union plants. Six of these had contracts with the Amalgamated
Clothing Workers, and two with the United Garment Workers.

Productivity of Labor in Sewing Department

Major attention in this study was concentrated on the sewing de­
partment. This was dictated both by its predominant importance
in the manufacturing process and by the fact that observed differences
in equipment and productive technique related primarily to this
department.
As will be seen from the figures in table 21 (supplemented by figures
in table 22 for individual plants), production per man-hour fell into
very distinct ranges, corresponding to the price and quality of the
shirts manufactured. The average productivity per man-hour was
1.38 shirts for group 1 (customized). As the quality dropped, pro­
ductivity rose to 2.44 for group 2 (high price), and to 3.15 for group
3 (medium and low price). There was a similar distinct variance in
the minimum and maximum man-hour production for each group.




65

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

T a b l e 21. —

N u m b e r o f d r e s s s h ir ts p r o d u c e d p e r m a n -h o u r i n s e w i n g
d e p a rtm en t 1 9 8 6

,

Price group
Customized (2 plants manufacturing to retail specifications) 2 ____ _ __
High price (16 plants manufacturing shirts selling at $1.95 and up)2______
Medium and low price (12 plants manufacturing cheaper garments)3_____

Average1 Maxi­
mum
1.38
2. 44
3.15

1. 66
2.76
3. 77

Mini­
mum
1.10
1.88
2. 63

1 These averages for a, limited number of plants must not be given too broad a significance. They are
presented to facilitate comparisons and to eliminate the instability of figures for the outer ranges.
2 Based on figures for the spring of 1936 in table 33.
8 Based on figures for the fall of 1936 in table 33.
The exceptionally low productivity of 1.1 shirts per man-hour in a
plant in the customized group may be explained (1) by the superior
quality of the shirts manufactured in this plant; (2) by the relatively
large proportion of garments produced to specifications of individual
retailers;3 and (3) by the fact that it employed an unusually high
proportion of older machine operators (over 40 percent were persons
over 60 years of age).
The average productivity for the 16 high-price plants, manufactur­
ing shirts retailing for $1.95 or more, was 2.44 garments per man­
hour in the spring of 1936. With one exception, the range of produc­
tivity within this group was from 2.12 to 2.76. The higher figure for
the group is only 13 percent above the average, and the lower, 23
percent below the average. The opposite extreme in this group is the
one plant which falls below the range just given. The productivity
of this plant was 1.88 garments per man-hour. This was probably
due to the fact that it manufactured a variety of distinctly nonstandard
garments, a fact which always reduces output per man-hour.
When the great number of factors which tend to raise or lower pro­
ductivity in a factory is considered, this comparatively narrow range
shows a marked uniformity for this section of the industry and makes
it highly probable that the data obtained from the plants studied are
fairly representative of the general experience among large producers
in the manufacture of this quality of product.
The highest productivity in the high-price group— 2.76 shirts per
man-hour— was in a southern plant. This plant manufactured
virtually a single-price line and used a progressive-bundle system of
production. Although these two factors undoubtedly help to explain
its high efficiency, the possibility of achieving a high degree of pro­
ductivity with southern labor under competent management and
proper working conditions is also indicated.
The four plants in this group showing the next highest productivity
(table 22), ranging from 2.72 to 2.74 garments per hour, were all
located in the North— three in the State of New York, and one in

3 This interferes with work on a large scale, since each individual order must be made up separately,
because of differences in the construction of the garment on each retail specification.




66

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Pennsylvania. The product of one of these was virtually standard,
being sold chiefly to a large mass distributor. In addition, this plant
utilized the line system, and both of these factors are reflected in its
high productivity.
Plants in the medium-price group show a somewhat wider range
than that observed for the higher-price producers, though even here
there was a marked consistency in the figures. The highest produc­
tivity observed— 3.77 units per man-hour— was 19.7 percent greater
than the average of 3.15. The lowest productivity— 2.63— was 16.5
percent lower than this average.
At the upper extreme of this group are two plants whose produc­
tivity was 3.76 and 3.77 shirts per man-hour, respectively. Both
plants used the line system, although in one, line production was
confined to the assembly operations. In addition to these two, one
other plant in the medium-price group (No. 72) used the line system.
Its productivity was considerably lower— 2.82 units per man-hour.
This was not so much a reflection of lesser efficiency as of the higher
quality of its product. A comparison of the operations performed in
each of these three line plants shows that the last plant performed
a considerable number of added operations, designed to improve
quality, which were not performed in the other two.
Turning to the plants utilizing the bundle system, the three with
the highest productivity, ranging from 3.26 to 3.48 garments per man­
hour, were located in the New York metropolitan area and in Pennsyl­
vania, and all used union labor. The similarity of the results for
these three is very striking.
Effect of System of Shop Management

As pointed out in chapters III and IV, it was next to impossible to
isolate the effects of any single factor on labor productivity. The
operator working at her machine is subject all the time to all the factors
that affect her productivity. Her individual skill, the speed and con­
dition of her machine, the system of shop management, the light, the
condition of the air in the shop, and many other factors all affect her
productivity at the same time, and there is no system of records which
even attempts to account for any of these factors. This fact must
constantly be borne in mind in attempting to trace or evaluate the
influence of any single factor, such as the system of shop management.
Table 22 presents data on labor productivity, expressed in terms of
shirts per man-hour, for each of the 32 plants studied, covering the
period between the fall of 1933 and the fall of 1936.




67

PRODUCTIVITY IK PRINCIPAL BRANCHES
T able

2 2 . — L a b o r p r o d u c tiv ity o f se w in g d ep a rtm en t— D r e s s sh ir ts

,

1 9 8 3 -8 6

Shirts per man-hour
System
Code No. of pro­
duction

Price range

1933

1934

1935

1936

Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall
62 _ _ __ Bundle _ Customized_____
21
__ do__ __ __do___________
1
High-price___ _
Bundle ___do _ _ _ _ _ _ _
90
_ do_ __ ____do___________
3
do_ __ __ ...do______ ____
93
89 ____ _ do- __ ____do___________
64
_ do, _ __ _do___ ______
_ -do___ _ __do__ ______
88
75______ ___do___ ____do___________
do___ __ _do_________
60
91______ _-_do___ ____do____ _____
___do____________
4
do
_do__ _ _
do_
65
do__ ______
do
61
63______ -.-do___ ____do___________
66______ _-d o___ ____do___________
do
do___________
30
Line___ M edium-price__
68
do
_ _ __
67
do _
do __ _____
5
Bundle _
do__ . ..do____ ___ __
31
---do
______
6
-_-do
_ do___
do____ ____ 71
74______ _-_do___ ____do___________
_do__ ________
do
73
___ _do__ _________
72
Line
d o ____ _____
Bundle _
77
- do - ___
79
do
__do____ ______
92
do
do _
__
do
76
do _________
70
do

1.85
3.16

2.50
3.01
2. 76
2.26

1.85
(9
2.88

2. 26
1.93
2.88

2.48
2.29
1.73
2.71

2.11
2.09
2. 78

1. 52

2.33
1.52

2. 38
1.73
2.16

2. 46

3.78
3.11
2.83
2.48

2. 36
1.82
1.52
3.34
2. 92
3.36
3.67
3.17
3.08
2. 81
2.69

2.38
2. 30

2. 58

3.58
3.70
3.11
3.04
2. 95
3.28
2. 53
2.16

3.24
2.66
2.64

1.62
21.94
2.06
2. 68
2.09
2.28
2. 58
2.23
2.03
1.88
3.26
2.15
1.82
1.78
2.06
1.81
3. 65
(i)
3.28
3.25
3.44
2.76
2.90
0)
3.12
3.50
3.55
2.70
2.30

1.52
1.60
2. 59
2.64

~~2~34~
2.16
2. 22
2.75
2.47
2. 32
2.18
2.22
1.74
3.29
3.54
3.29
3.06
3.46
3.22
2. 93
2.34
2. 51
3.53
2.82

1.66
1.10
2. 72
2.76
2.59
2. 59
2.58
2. 74
2. 72
2.16
2.36
2.24
2. 74
2.24
1.88
2.12
2.38
2. 28
13.42
3.35
3.43
3.30
3.30
3.01
2.47
3.37
3.02
3.10

1.60
1.14
2.83
2.65
2.42
2.42
2.41
2.26
2. 22
2.21
2.18
2.14
2.12
1.69
3.77
3.76
3.48
3.36
3.26
3.04
3.04
3.04
2.82
2.80
2.80
2.63

1 Season when line system was installed.
2 First season of line system, also other difficulties in operation.
An examination of the figures for the individual plants shows that
there was a definite increase in productivity during the period between
1933 and 1936 in the four plants which introduced the line system,
and in four other plants, two of which introduced the progressivebundle system. However, among plants that used the bundle system
throughout the period 1934-36 there was no general and consistent
change in productivity. This is shown in table 23 which covers identi­
cal plants in all the six seasons shown. These six plants in the highprice group and four in the medium-price group are the only bundle
plants for which records are available for all the periods covered. In
the case of neither the high-price nor the medium-price group was
average productivity notably higher in 1936. The figures for the
individual plants in table 22 indicate an irregular movement of pro­
ductivity from season to season and from year to year.




68

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T able 23.— P r o d u c t i v i t y ,

,

la b o r c o s t s a n d h o u r l y e a r n i n g s f o r s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t
i n i d e n tic a l b u n d le p la n ts — D r e s s s h ir ts , 1 9 3 4 - 8 6

Item

1934

1935

1936

Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring

6 plants in high-price group:
2.20
Shirts per man-hour._ ______ _____ __ __ __
Labor cost per dozen__ ___ _______________ $1.92
34.4
Earnings per hour (in cents) __ ---------------------4 plants in medium-price group:
Shirts per man-hour_______ __________________ 3.24
Labor cost per dozen-_ __ _____ ___ __ _ __ ___ $1. 39
Earnings per hour (in cents) _ __________ ____ 37.2

2.11
$2.14
36.4
3.20
$1.49
39.3

2.17
$2.28
40.0
3.12
$1.67
42.8

2.21
$2.09
37.5
3.01
$1.63
40.6

2.32
$1.89
36.3
3.21
$1.43
38.3

Fall
2.14
$2.10
36.5
3.02
$1.65
38.5

In contrast to this lack of a definite trend in the man-hour output
of the sewing department in the bulk of the plants is the marked
increase in labor productivity in the few plants which introduced
major changes in shop management. One high-grade plant (No. 1)
which introduced the line system early in 1935 experienced marked
difficulty in the first season, but by the fall of 1936 had a higher output
per man-hour than any other plant in its class. A medium-price
plant (No. 67) which introduced the line system in the spring of 1935
increased its output from 2.92 shirts per man-hour in the fall of 1934
to 3.76 shirts in the fall of 1936, or 28 percent. This plant, together
with another line plant (No. 68), exceeded the average of the four
bundle plants in the medium-price group (table 23) by about onequarter. It experienced a less pronounced rise when it went on the
line system, but there appears to have been some gain, perhaps amount­
ing to 10 percent. In the fourth plant (No. 72), also, the gain was
apparently of about the same proportions, though the output of 2.82
shirts per man-hour in the fall of 1936 was less than in most bundle
plants in this grade.
Analysis of Productivity by Operations

Table 24 presents a comparison of the labor time required for
individual operations in the sewing department of 7 dress-shirt plants
studied. For the five bundle plants included in this table, data are
presented for each sewing operation and for the entire sewing depart­
ment. For the two line plants, data were available only for those
operations which were performed on the line. In plant No. 1 this
included both body and assembly operations, while in plant No. 68
assembly operations only were covered.




69

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

T a b l e 5 4—
5.

,

L a b o r 'p ro d u ctiv ity o f s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t b y o p e r a t i o n s i n m a k i n g d re ss
sh irts u n d e r b u n d le a n d lin e s y s t e m s 1 9 3 6

,

SEWING DEPARTM ENT
Man-hours per dozen
Medium-price shirts
Operation

Plants on bundle system

High-price
shirts
Plant Plant Plant
on
on line bundle on line
system system system

No. 74 No. 5 No. 31 No. 6 No. 68 No. 3 No. 1
Entire sewing department (100 percent)____
Minor parts (approximately 35 percent of
total))__ _ ___ _______ _____ _________ Body parts (approximately 33 percent of total).
Assembly (approximately 32 percent of total).
Body and assembly combined (approximately
65 percent of total)_______ _________

3.468

3.207

3. 528

3. 000

0)

4.088

0)

1.185
1. 023
1.260
2.283

1.130
1.106
.971
2.077

1.220
1.294
1.014
2.308

1.101
.915
.984
1.899

(*)
0.0)
793
0)

1.395
1.231
1.462
2.693

(4)
0.956
.994
1.950

MINOR PARTS
1.185

1.130

1.220

1.101

(2)

1. 395

00

. 1K
100
} .065R /\

.081
.051
.079

.087
.084
.069

.089
.076
.070

(2)
(2)
00

.120
.094
.078

(2)
(2)
(2)

( .084
f .108
oK 1 .028 } . 139 .029 } (2)
fi
• ZOv 1 .040 .046 \ .052
l .052 3.078 .078 } 00

.241
.108

00
00

.099
.035
4.117
.099

.062 } (2)
.028
.055 (2)
.075 00

.120
.073
3.092

00
00
00

.241
.126

.203 1 00
.176 1

.469

00

f .093
. 188 \ .030
l .057
.089 .105

! .428 j

.289
.141

BODY PARTS
1.023 1.106 1.294 0. 915
Total, body parts________ -______ _____ _
Attaching label.. __________ _ _________ .065 .054 4 .112 .050
Yoke to back____ __________ . _ .. . _
.121 . 148 .138 . 126
Hemming back__ _ . ________________ _ .082 .064 .097 .066
Hemming fronts___ ______ ___________
.011 .091 .090 .064
Tacking____ __________________________ 3.045 .047 .043 .044
Box pleat________ ... --------------------------- .082 L045 .085 .065
.055 .046 .081 .049
Button staying________________ _____...
Pocket:
Making pocket_________ _ ----------------- if . 90Q f .099 .064 .043
Setting pocket-------------- ------------------ . Z U u l .185 .232 .140
Buttonholes:
/ .022
Collar band------------ --------------------------aV
J.01 r .027
Fronts______ ______________________ \> . 1 \ .097 \r . 119Q \ .102
Cuff_________ _____________ _______ .042 .054 .075 .036
Buttons sewed on:
Collar band_________________________ \J • 194 / .036 if . 1C\Q f .015
lUo \ .072
1 .087
Fronts---------- ----- --------------------------Cuff_________________________________ .036 .026 .040 .021
1 No data available.
Data not available; operations not on line system.
3 Estimated; figures based on average of other plants.
4 Cuffs in this plant require extra row of stitching.
3 No precise explanation available for wide variation from other plants.
2




(2)
(2)

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

(2)

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

1.231
.092
. 154
.086
.107
3.045
.092
.085
.045
.174
.030
.106
.049
.038
.086
.042

0. 956
2.075
.071
.071
.071
s .045
.071
.071
3.063
. 142
I

}

1

.142
o
GO
o

Total, minor parts___________
Collar making:
Collar run_______________
Collar turning___________
Collar top stitching______
Collar banding:
Collar insert_____________
Collar turn band_________
Collar band beading______
Collar double-row stitching
Cuff making:
Cuff run________________
Cuff turning_____________
Cuff second stitching_____
Hemming cuff___________
Sleeve making:
Lower facing____________
Upper facing____________
Placket_________________

.071
3.033

70

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T able M . —

,

L a b o r p r o d u c t iv i t y o f s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t b y o p e r a t i o n s i n m a k i n g d re ss
s h ir ts u n d e r b u n d le a n d lin e s y s t e m s 1 9 8 6

,

-—Continued

ASSEMBLY
Man-hours per dozen
High-price
shirts

Medium-price shirts
Operation
Plants on bundle system

Plant Plant Plant
on line on on line
system bundle system
system

No. 74 No. 5 No. 31 No. 6 No. 68 No. 3 No. 1
Total, assembly____
Shoulder joining:
First stitching—
Second stitching.
Sleeve setting______
Felling____________
Collar setting:
First stitching—
Second stitching.
Cuff setting:
First stitching—_
Second stitching.

1.260

0.971

1.014

0.984

u. 793

.079
| .218 lf .091
.156 .139
.195 . 164

.086
.086
. 140
.144

.090
.092
.154
. 159

J . 122
. 122
. 122

} .357 \f .124
. 185

.130
. 128 } .238

.244

.453

.284

100
} .334 /l ..089

.146
. 155

. 132
. 118 } .183

.431

.284

1.462

0.994

.221
.142
.168
. 189 } .284

No data for operations on minor parts are shown for line plants in
table 24, but the figures for the bundle plants in the same price group
show, with few exceptions, a close agreement. Thus, the number of
man-hours per dozen shirts on collar-making for three out of the four
plants was 0.221, 0.240, and 0.235. The man-hours for collar
banding in the same plants were 0.259, 0.263, and 0.267. For sleeve
making, the figures for two plants were 0.428 and 0.430, and for two
other plants, 0.367 and 0.379. The total time for the operations
on minor parts for the four plants was 1.101, 1.130, 1.185, and 1.220
man-hours per dozen shirts. The range between the lowest and
highest was only 10 percent, yet these plants were located in different
parts of the country and were under separate ownership and manage­
ment.
The data in table 24 on body parts offer a comparison between a very
efficient plant on the bundle system and one on the line system in the
high-price group. The reported figures for the separate operations
show that, without a single exception, it takes less time to do an
operation under the line system than under the bundle system.
The total time for body operations was 1.231 man-hours under the
bundle and 0.956 man-hour under the line system, a difference of 22
percent in favor of the line system.




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

71

No figures are available for making a similar comparison between
line and bundle plants in the medium-price group. The four plants
operating under the bundle system again show a fairly close agree­
ment and a comparatively narrow range. Thus, the total time for
body parts in the four plants in this group was 0.915, 1.023, 1.106, and
1.294 man-hours per dozen shirts or an average of 1.085 man-hours.
The deviation of the lowest from the average was 16 percent and of
the highest 19 percent.
A comparison of the time required for assembly operations in line
and bundle plants, both in the medium and in the high-price groups,
also appears in table 24. In the medium-price group, the time re­
quired in the line plant was much lower than in any of the bundle
plants on all operations, with one exception— collar setting, for which
one of the four bundle plants showed a lower figure than the line
plant. The total assembly time in the line plant was only 0.793
man-hour, as against 0.971, 0.984, 1.014, and 1.260 in the four bundle
plants, a difference of about 18 percent to 37 percent in favor of the
line plant. It should be said, however, that the difference of 37 per­
cent was due not alone to the advantages of the line system but also
to the fact that the plant requiring 1.260 man-hours per dozen made
mostly $1.95 shirts, while the line plant manufactured chiefly $1
shirts, although both are in the medium-price group.
In the high-price group, likewise, the time required to do each
operation was invariably much shorter under the line than under the
bundle system, the total for all the assembly operations being 0.994
man-hour for the line plant and 1.462 for the bundle plant, a difference
of 32 percent in favor of the line plant. It should be added, however,
that the line plant was manufacturing a uniform product on a large
scale for a mail-order house, while the bundle plant manufactured a
larger variety of garments in relatively smaller lots.
Productivity of Labor Under the Progressive-Bundle System

The progressive-bundle system is similar to the line system insofar
as it aims at the automatic flow of work from operation to operation.
Data for 3 such plants, Nos. 73, 89, and 90, are recorded in table 22.
All three showed distinct increases in labor productivity due to the
system. Plant No. 73 introduced an advanced form of the pro­
gressive-bundle system during 1936, which resulted in distinctly higher
man-hour production. It rose from 2.34 shirts per man-hour in the
fall of 1935 to 3.04 in the fall of 1936— an increase of 30 percent.
Similarly plant No. 89 showed a steady improvement over the three
seasons for which data are available. In plant No. 90, while the
progress lacked the same steadiness, productivity showed a decided
improvement in 1936 over the preceding seasons except for the spring
of 1933, when a less expensive shirt was produced.




72

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Table 25 presents the man-hour output for a group of 12 operations
in plant No. 73 before and after the change to the progressive-bundle
system. The change was accompanied by the installation of new
machinery. As a result, production per man-hour increased in 9
of the 12 operations. In seven of these the increase exceeded 25
percent. In three operations decreases were noted, but in each case
these were less than 10 percent and may readily have reflected acci­
dental circumstances, such as changes in the operations, changed
personnel, etc. The total net increase for all 12 operations was about
20 percent.
T able 25.— E f f e c t

of

'p r o g r e s s iv e -b u n d le s y s t e m o n
N o : 7 8 — D r e s s sh irts

1
Operation

la b or

in

p la n t

Dozens of dress shirts per man­
hour

Percentage
ProgressiveBundle system bundle system change, 1935-36
Fall of 1935

Sleeving ____ _________________________________
Felling-_ _____ ______________- ___ _ - _____- -Collar setting--__________ _ ________ - _________
Box pleat__ _ ___ ________ __ _ _________ _
Button stayin g __ ______ ________ __________ Sleeve facing- _ ____________ _ __________ _
Label__ __ _ __ _ ___________ _________________
Yoke setting- _ _ _ _ _ _ ______ _ _ _
Hemming
_ _ ____ ___ _________ _ ____
Banding_____ ___ _____ __ ______ _ ___ __ _
Quilting
_ ________
____ _ __ _____Collar making ________ __ _________ ___________

p r o d u c t iv i t y

Fall of 1936

4.63
4.95
3.05
10. 52
13. 68
2. 64
12. 97
5.46
5. 05
8. 22
21. 33
2. 76

6.08
5.52
3.84
14. 75
18.10
2.45
11.85
8.09
6. 64
8. 29
19.89
4.19

+31.3
+11.5
+25.9
+40.2
+32.3
—7. 2
—8. 4
+48.2
+31.5
+ .9
-6 .7
+51.8

Output per man-hour in the sewing department of plant No. 75
(table 22) also showed a substantial increase as the result of the
introduction of the progressive-bundle system, accompanied by the
substitution of new machines for old. The ratio of increase in this
plant was not as striking as in the case of plant No. 73. The change
took place in the fall of 1935. Productivity increased from 2.16
shirts per man-hour during that season to 2.41 in the fall of 1936,
a rise of approximately 12 percent. It should be noted, however,
that while this represented an advance over the preceding four
seasons, the productivity in the spring of 1934 was 2.48 shirts per
man-hour.
Productivity of Individual Workers

Frequent reference has been made to the influence of the skill and
speed of individual workers on their productivity. Table 26 reflects
the extent to which productivity of individual workers varies when
performing similar operations on the same machines in the same
plant under virtually identical conditions.4 Ten or more operators

* The data here presented were taken from the records of a union plant. Unfortunately, there was no
nonunion plant for which similar statistics proved available.




73

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

were employed on each of 10 selected operations. In each case, the
average productivity for all the workers engaged on an operation was
computed. This average was taken as 100 percent and the produc­
tivity of each worker was expressed as a percentage of this average.
While a few workers showed a productivity very much lower or
higher than the average, the productivity of the majority tended to
cluster about the mean. Sixty-four of the 160 workers, or 40 per­
cent, showed productivity ranging between 90 and 110 percent of the
average. Approximately 73 percent of the 160 workers (116) had a
productivity ranging from 80 to 120 percent of the average. In this
plant, therefore, wide variations between individuals are the exception.
In a few cases, such as in collar turning and collar setting, the fastest
operator may be more than three times as rapid as the slowest, but
for the great majority the range is much narrower.
These individual variations in speed are, of course, reflected in
corresponding variations in individual earnings, since piece work is
the basis of payment. In this plant it is apparent that about threefourths of the operators will be earning from 80 to 120 percent of the
average pay for the operations upon which they are engaged. A few,
however, will be earning as low as half the average, and a few more
will be receiving wages more than 50 percent higher than the average.

T a b l e 26. —

F r e q u e n c y d is t r ib u t io n o f i n d i v i d u a l 'p er fo r m a n c e o f s p e c ifie d o p e r a t i o n s
o f s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t i n p la n t N o . 3 — D r e s s s h ir ts

IAverage for each operation=100 percent]

Number of workers whose individual productivity was specified percent of average
productivity of all workers on operation
Percentage produc­
tivity of all workers Collar
Top
Collar collar Shoul­ Collar Yoke
Sleeve
Cuff
turn­ setting Fell­ setting Sleeve Collar band­ stitch­ der setting to
ing
facing run ing
ing
back
ing joining
Total.............................
0-49.9_______ _____
50-59.9_____________
60-69.9_____________
70-79.9_____________
80-89.9_____________
90-99.9_____________
100-109.9 ___ ____
110-119.9____________
120-129.9___________
130-139.9___________
140-149.9___________
150-159.9___________
160-169.9___________
170-179.9____________

22

10

12

20

10

2
3
2
5
2
3
3
1

1
3
3
2

1
2
1
5
2
1

1
1
6
3
5
2
1

1
1
3
2
3

1
1

20
7
6
3
1
3

1

11

10

I
5
3
2

1
3
3
1
1

11

23

11

2
6
2

1
2
2
6
2
3
2
1
2
1

1
1
3
1
1
1
2

1
1

1

1

Lack of Seasonal Variation

Examination of tables 22 and 23 reveals the absence of any welldefined seasonal differences in the shirt industry affecting labor pro­
ductivity. This was due to the fact that the material used in shirt
113379°— 39------ 6




74

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

manufacturing was virtually the same during the spring and fall, any
minor differences being insufficient to be reflected in changes in pro­
ductivity. Of 16 plants for which both fall and spring figures are
shown during 1934, 8 had higher productivity in the spring, 7 in the
fall, and 1 remained unchanged. During 1935, 9 showed higher
productivity in the spring and 11 in the fall. During 1936, 13 plants
were higher in the spring and 11 in the fall.
Earnings of Sewing-Machine Operators

Table 27 presents average hourly earnings of workers in the sewing
department for each of the plants studied during the period between
the spring of 1933 and the fall of 1936. An examination of this table
shows that earnings rose and fell uniformly throughout the industry
during that period. These rises and declines were primarily influenced
by the enactment of the N. I. R. A .; by approval of the cotton-garment
code; by its later revision; and, finally, by the Supreme Court invali­
dation of the N. I. R. A. in 1935.
T able

2 7 .— A v e r a g e

h o u r ly

ea r n in g s o f w ork ers
s h ir ts , 1 9 8 3 - 3 6

in

sew in g

d e p a r tm e n t— D r e s s

Average earnings per hour
Plant
No.

System
of pro­
duction

Price range

1933

1934

1935

1936

Spring

Bundle _
do_ _
Line____
Bundle _
do__ .
_ do____
do_ _
do_
___do____
_ do_ _
_
do
do____
_do__ _
do —
_ _do_ __
___do—
do
do_ _
Line____
_ _do
Bundle .
-d o __do
_do____
...d o _ _ ..
_do _
L in e ..
Bundle _
_ .do _
. . . d o ____
_.do
. .. d o _ _
— do____
___do____

C u stom ized_____
_ _do _
_
_
High price________
_____do . — ______
_do__ __ _ _
_
_____d o _ ___ _ __
do__ _ _____
do. _
_____do-------------------_____do ____________
do___
_ _
d o ______
_ do____ _
____do_____ ________
_____do____ __
_____do_____________
_____do ____________
_ _ .d o ....... ........... ..
M edium price
— _do______
. _
_do ............ __
_____do _ __ ____do_____________
_____do .
_____do_____________
_____do_____________
_ do ________ __
_
___
_ do______
_____do _______ __
_____do_____________
_____do_______
.
_____do____________
_____do____________
_____do_____________

Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Cents
62
21
1
90
24
89
64
88
75________
60________
91
4
65
61
6 3 _ _ ___
66________
30
25
68
67
5
31
6
71_
74________
73_
72___
_
77________
79_ 92________
76_
70—
2 ___
29________

Fall

Cents

Cents
39.9

Cents
39.5

Cents
40.9

Cents
29.6
33.7
40.5

Cents
37.5
30.4
42.2
34.4
37.4
36.0
41.7
38.4
40.5
39.9
32.6
35. 8
30.8
39.7
34.6
35.2
39. 2
25.9
1 40. 6

Cents
33.4
28.7
42.7

25.1
39.3
26.4
26.3

32.6
33.9
33.4
19.4

39.3
32.1
30.8

34.8
39.3
22.1

36.2

34.1

33.8
37.4
34.4
42.4
36.4
34.1
37.3

42.1
36.5
38.9
37.9
37.8

39.0
34.9
41.0
38.0
39.4
37.8
41.6

31.2
36.7
32.5
34.5

31.9
40.0
34.4
35.1

39. i

31.9

0)

40.0
37.9
29.9
29.7
34.0
45.2
36.7
34.0
36.2

32.0

1 Season during which line system was installed.




36.1

36.8
37.1
34.6
40.2

39.7

38.6
41.4
43.9
41.7
44.1
41.7
44.5
35.4
44.5
36.6
48.0
37.1
39.6
41.7
34.7
41.8
0)
44.1
39.3
44.6
47.7
42.5

42.1
38.5
34.6
38.9
33.1
42.0
37.0
35.7
40.3
35.4
39.1
34.7
41.0
38.9
43.9
42.0
42.9
32.9
33.9
28.3

39. 6
35. 7
42.5

34.1

0)
32.3
35.9
41. 2
38. 2
38.8

38.7

28.2

27.5
32. 6
34.4
36.0

36.7

32.8
35.4
32.1
41. 2
37.3
33.2
37. 8
27.4
42.6
35. 4
43. 3
36.8
44. 2
42.9
40.2
30.4
32. 7
23. 8
32.3
34.2
36.9

41.6
37. 2
44. 2
41 0
40.6
34.3

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

75

The adoption of the cotton-garment code in 1933 resulted in a very
marked increase in average hourly earnings of shirt sewing-machine
operators. Earnings continued to rise slightly between the fall of
1933 and the fall of 1934. This was probably due in large part to the
progressive reduction of the number of learners and handicapped
workers carried on the rolls in accordance with the provisions of the
cotton-garment code.
Maximum hours under the code were reduced in December 1934
to 36, and piece rates were increased 11.1 percent in January 1935
in order to avoid any reduction in the weekly earnings of the workers.
As a result of the elimination of code restrictions because of the
Supreme Court decision in May 1935, the entire industry generally
returned to the 40-hour workweek with corresponding reductions in
piece rates.
Since changes in hourly earnings between the spring of 1933 and the
fall of 1935 reflected general changes in Federal standards, it is only by
examining the period between the fall of 1935 and the fall of 1936 that
significant variations in individual plants can be detected. During
this period, hourly wages increased in 9 plants and decreased in 15.
Three of the five plants which introduced the line system and for which
data were available were included in this group of nine in which earn­
ings rose. Two others were union bundle plants.6
Direct Labor Cost

Table 28 shows the direct labor cost for the sewing department in
the dress-shirt plants studied during the period between the spring
of 1933 and the fall of 1936. In shirt making, as in the cotton-garment
industry as a whole, labor is generally paid by the piece, Total sewing
cost, therefore, is really equal to the sum of the piece rates for the
individual operations. In the long run, however, labor cost is the
result of the operation of two factors, hourly earnings and output.
Piece rates are usually so established as to permit the average worker
to earn a definite weekly wage at an assumed output per man-hour.
A change in productivity generally leads to an adjustment of piece
rates. An examination of the labor cost for the individual plants
studied shows that they generally follow the same variations as hourly
earnings. The same is true of the sample for which data were com­
piled in table 22. This parallel trend of costs and of earnings was to

5 See ch. IV, pp. 57 and 58, for additional comments on changes in hourly and weekly earnings in straightline plants in the dress-shirt industry. It is interesting to observe that while there is no exact correlation be­
tween hourly earnings and productivity, in some instances higher earnings are to be found in plants with
higher productivity. Thus, comparing the figures in table 22 and 27, we find that in the high-price group
the plants with the highest and lowest productivity respectively (plants 1 and 30) have a productivity of
2.83 and 1.69 shirts per hour, or a difference of 70 percent; the respective hourly earnings in the two plants
are 42.2 and 39.2 cents, or a difference of nearly 8 percent. In the medium-price group, the respective pro­
ductivity figures for the plants with the highest and lowest productivity (plants 68 and 92) are 3.77 and
2.63 shirts per hour, a difference of-about 43-percent. . The corresponding hourly earnings in the two plants
are 42.6 cents and 34.2 cents, a difference of 24 percent.




76

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

be expected because of the lack of any well-defined trend in producductivity during the period covered by the study.
T a b l e 2 8 .—

D i r e c t la bor c o st o f s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t — D r e s s s h ir t s , 1 9 8 3 —3 6

Labor cost per dozen shirts
System
Plant No. of pro­
duction

Price range

1933

1934

1935

1936

Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall
62
do
21
1
Line___
Bundle
90
do
24
do
89
do
64
88______ ___do___
75____
do .
60______ do__
do
91
do
4_
do
65
61______ do __
63______ do__
66______ do___
30______ _ do___
68______ Line___
67______ __ do__
5 ______ Bundle.
do— .
31 —
6 .......... _
do__
71______ _ do__
74______ ...d o —
73______ _ do__
72 _____ Line ___
77________ Bundle.
79________ do
92 ______ do ___
76______ _ do__
70______ _ do___

$2.59 $2.56 $3.03 $2. 36 $2. 71 $2. 52
Customized____
2.53 3. 32 3.03
_do___________
Bigh __ _____
2.38 1.87 1.86 1. 81
0)
2.40
1.49
do__ ________ $0.95
1.77
d o . _____
1. 61
2.53
1. 74
do__ ________
1.84
2.19
1. 68
do . . . ______
2.05 2.16 1.83 1.96
____do___________ 1.06 $1.44 1.71 1. 81 2.01 1.72 1.69 1. 77
____do___________ 1.33 1.92 1.93 2.26 2.24 2.13 2.24 2.11
____do___________ 1. 36
2.62
1.99
2.03
do___
_ 1. 36 2.02 2.08 1.95 2.25 1.87 1.75 1.74
d o ________ _
1.41 1.31 1. 61 1. 64 1.70 1.57 1. 91
___do____ _____
2.05 1.61 1.65 1. 75
__ ..d o___ _____
3.16 2.18 2.53 2. 26
____do___________
2.02 1.85 1.85 2.49 2.03 1.96 2.09
____do___________ 1.53 2.53 2.36 2.25 2.30 1.93 l. 78 1. 88
____do___________
2.03 2.01 2.93 2.77 2.79 2. 06 2. 69
Medium. _ __
1.40 1. 37 1.43 i 1.42 1. 36
__ _do_. _____
1.43
1.18
1.13
_. _ do................. .
1.41 1.46 0) 62 1.50 1.49 1.49
1.
._ _do____ _____ __
i .i i
1.19 1.24 1.45 1. 53 1. 30 1. 32
___do__________ __
1. 52 1.50 1.49 1.55 1. 52 1. 61 1. 63
do . . ... __
1.50 1.47 2.07 1. 57 1.49 l! 70
____do___________ 1.08 1.54 1.54 1.78 1.75 1. 76 1. 61 1. 59
... do_____ ______
1. 69 1. 67 1. 20
____do_____________
1.64 (T)
1.89
1. 68
39
...d o _______ . . .
1.24 .97
.98 l' 02
___ do _____ __ . . .
1.23 1.46 1. 29 1. 39
.do ___ _____
1.34 1.48 1.39 1. 65 1.33 1. 56
____do___________
1.48 1. 54 1. 55 1.69
____do___________
1.91 1. 59 2.02 1.41 1.41 1. 38
l.

1 Season when line system was installed.

Changes in labor costs are of interest in the four plants which intro­
duced the line system and three plants changing to the progressivebundle system, since these are the only factories in which major
changes in labor productivity can be accounted for.
Plant No. 1 in the high-price group introduced the line system in the
fall of 1934, but experienced difficulties in the experimental period,
which lasted about 6 months through the spring of 1935. From the
first recorded period of smooth operation on the line system in the fall
of 1935 to the last available period in the fall of 1936, productivity
increased 9.3 percent and stitching cost declined 3.2 percent (from
$1.87 to $1.81 per dozen).
The chief explanation of the discrepancy between the increase in
productivity and the decrease in labor cost seems to lie in the fact
that hourly earnings also increased to the extent of 5.4 percent under
the line system, the workers thus sharing in the benefit resulting from
the increase of productivity. In this connection it should be added
that the fastest operators were generally placed on the . line, and




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

77

average hourly earnings in the bundle department therefore declined
in the same period.
For the line and bundle departments combined, average hourly
earnings of this plant declined 5.9 percent from the fall of 1935 to the
fall of 1936. Despite this mixed trend in hourly earnings, owing to
the placement of fast operators on the line while slow operators
generally remained in the bundle department, weekly wages on the
line increased from $13.10 in the fall of 1935 to $16.09 in the fall of
1936, an advance of 22.8 percent. In the line and bundle depart­
ments combined, average weekly earnings advanced 9.8 percent during
the same period or from $11.60 to $12.74. Taking all other factors into
consideration, the tendency toward increased weekly earnings on the
line was therefore sufficiently marked to raise average weekly earn­
ings in the entire plant or in line and bundle departments combined.
Plant No. 90 in the high-price group, which introduced the progres­
sive-bundle system in 1934, recorded a gain of 10.4 percent in the
output per man-hour between the spring of 1934 and the spring of
1936. At the same time, its labor cost per dozen declined 15.8 per­
cent (from $1.77 in 1934 to $1.49 in 1936) and the hourly earnings
dropped 6.5 percent.6
In the medium-price group, plant No. 67, which installed the line
system in the spring of 1935, increased its man-hour productivity 28.7
percent from the fall of 1934 to the fall of 1936. At the same time,
sewing labor cost fell 21 percent (from $1.43 per dozen to $1.13).
Average hourly earnings rose 1.4 percent.7
Plant No. 68 in the medium-price group, which installed the line
system in the spring of 1936, recorded an increase in productivity of
14.6 percent and a 4.9-percent decline in sewing cost (from $1.43 to
$1.36 per dozen) from the fall of 1935 to the fall of 1936. At the
same time, average hourly earnings increased 9 percent.
Plant No. 72 in the medium-price group, which installed the line
system in the spring of 1935, recorded an increase in man-hour pro­
ductivity of the sewing department of 4.8 percent from the fall of
1934 to the fall of 1936. At the same time, sewing labor costs declined
15.2 percent (from $1.64 to $1.39 per dozen). Average hourly
earnings fell 10.9 percent.8
Plant No. 75 in the high-price group, which introduced the pro­
gressive-bundle system in the fall of 1935, showed an increase in

6 Weekly earnings, however, increased 9.8 percent, from $10.35 in 1934 to $11.36 in 1936. This rise may be
attributed to an increase in the actual hours of work made possible by the line system, bringing the hours of
work nearer to the 40-hour full-time schedule in effect in both years.
7 It should be added, however, that average weekly earnings increased from $11.47 to $13.46 per week, an
advance of 17.3 percent.
8 Weekly wages are not comparable because of increased scheduled plant hours.




78

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

productivity from the spring of 1935 to the fall of 1936 of 8.1 per­
cent. At the same time, sewing cost declined 5.8 percent (from $2.24
to $2.11 per dozen). Average hourly earnings increased 1.9 percent in
the same period.9
Plant No. 73 in the medium-price group, which installed the pro­
gressive-bundle system in the summer of 1936, recorded an increase in
productivity of 23.1 percent from the spring of 1936 to the fall of 1936.
At the same time, sewing cost declined 28.1 percent (from $1.67 to
$1.20 per dozen). Average hourly earnings decreased 11.4 percent,
and no comparison in weekly wages is available.
All of these seven plants increased productivity and reduced sewing
costs after the installation of the straight-line or the progressivebundle system. Workers shared the benefits in three of these plants
through increases in average hourly earnings. In three additional
plants the piece rates apparently were cut to such an extent as to
cause a decline in hourly earnings, but the workers made up for this
loss and registered a net gain in weekly earnings through the elimina­
tion of idle time during work hours under the line and progressivebundle systems. In one plant, the workers experienced reductions in
average hourly earnings despite the saving in labor costs to the man­
agement, and no increase resulted in weekly wages in this plant except
from lengthened scheduled hours.
W ork Shirts

The process of manufacturing a work shirt is basically the same as
that of a dress shirt. The major difference between the two is in the
subdivision of work. The work shirt is a utility product, made chiefly
for durability, while dress shirts require particular attention to ap­
pearance. More stress is laid on strength than on fine detail in the
making of a work shirt, and therefore a smaller number of operations
is required.
This basic difference between the two types of shirts is reflected in
the following features:
(1) The materials used in work-shirt manufacture— chambrays,
coverts, and khakis— are somewhat heavier than the material used in
the production of a dress shirt. It is questionable, however, whether
this difference in the weight of the material has any marked effect on
labor productivity.
(2) There are fewer stitches per inch in the typical work shirt than
in the dress shirt.
(3) In the parts of the work shirt which call for extra strength or
durability, such as attaching the yoke to the back of the shirt, setting
sleeves into armhole, shoulder seams, etc., the machines used are
two-needle machines, where single-needle machines are used in con-

9 Weekly wages are not comparable, because the plant increased its scheduled hours.




79

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

nection with the dress shirt. This permits adding extra rows of stitch­
ing for strength at no added expenditure of labor.
(4) Although most work shirts are simpler in construction than
dress shirts, this is by no means always true, particularly in the plants
surveyed. Frequently, for example, a work shirt has two pockets
instead of one, and the pockets themselves may have flaps and bellows
and other special features which consume time in preparation.
(5) However, for the shirt as a whole, it takes a larger number of
operations to make a dress shirt than a work shirt. As may be seen
from table 29, the total number of sewing operations in work-shirt
production ranges from 15 to 27 in 7 bundle plants, as against a range
of 20 to 41 operations in the production of dress shirts in 26 bundle
plants. The greatest difference occurs in the preparation of the body
parts, where the number of operations on work shirts is very much
smaller than on dress shirts.
T a b l e 29. —

D i v i s i o n o f la b o r i n s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t — W o r k s h ir ts a n d d r e s s s h ir ts

Number of operations
D
ivision of w
ork

Work shirts (7 plants) Dress shirts (26 plants)
Maximum Minimum Maximum Minimum

Entire sewing department___________ _____________
Minor parts____________ ______ ____ _______________
Body_________ __ _____ ____________ ___________
Assembly_______ _____ ____ _ _ ______ _________

27
11
9
7

15
5
6
4

41
17
16

8

20
6
9
5

Work-shirt plants are located principally in the South and in small
towns, while dress shirts are manufactured chiefly in the North in
towns of all sizes. Less than 5 percent of the employees in work-shirt
factories are unionized, while approximately 50 percent of the dressshirt industry is organized.1 Very seldom are work shirts and dress
0
shirts made in the same factory.
Productivity of Labor in Sewing Department

Information for 11 work-shirt plants is contained in table 30. The
survey originally covered four additional plants, but the data for these
were unsuitable for analysis. Of the plants studied, four were union
and the others were nonunion. All the union plants were in the North
and all the nonunion plants were in the South. Four plants (Nos. 81,
84, 85, and 87) used the line system of production. The plants are
arranged in the order of decreasing productivity during the fall of
1936. The price range for each plant is indicated in the table.
10 This statem ent refers to the situation in 1936. It is understood that a considerably larger proportion
of workers has been brought into unions since.




80

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

“ Low” denotes a plant producing garments selling under 79 cents
each at retail; “ medium” comprises the range between 79 cents and
$1; “ high” refers to garments selling for more than $1.

T a b l e 30.— P r o d u c t i v i t y

o f la b o r i n s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t — W o r k s h i r t s f 1 9 8 4 - 8 6

Shirts per man-hour
System of
Code No. production Union status1 Price range

1934
Spring

81_________ Line___ Nonunion. _. Low. ._
82_________ Bundle__ ____do_____ Medium _
34_________ __.do_____ Union... .. High___ _
86_________ ...d o _____ Nonunion. _. Medium
83_________ ...d o _____ ____do_____ ____do_____
27_________ _.do__ _ _ Union. . . . High— . .
. . . . do
33_________ —.do.
. do
87_________ L ine.. . . Nonunion _ ____do_____
84_________ ._ do
__ do
Medium
85- ___ _ do
do
do
28_________ Bundle__ U n io n ...__ High ___

1935
Fall
3.96

2.57
2.11
2.85

3.11
2.43
2. 38

1936

Spring

Fall

2 5. 72
3.89
2. 72
2.27
2. 68

5. 91 4.90
3.53 4.13
3.11
2.99 3.62
3. 63 3.16
2.94
2. 22 2 2. 32
2.48 2.38
2.98

2. 63
(2)
2. 42

Spring

Fall
4.68
3. 25
3.20
3.01
2.98
2.97
2.81
2 2. 64
2.46
2.20

1 All nonunion plants are located in the South; all union plants are located in the North.
2 Season when line system was installed.
The large majority of work shirts are made of chambray, to retail
from 39 to 69 cents. Only one plant in this survey, No. 81, produced
shirts in this price line. Nine of the eleven producers studied manu­
factured work shirts as a side line to work pants and overalls. While
each of these was a large- or medium-size company in its total manu­
facture of all products, none engaged as many as 100 employees on
work shirts. Thus, with one exception, the plants surveyed made
medium-price and high-price work shirts, which were not typical of
the bulk of the industry’s production.
In the plants studied, the work shirt was a less standard product
than the dress shirt, and the manufacturing process varied consider­
ably more from plant to plant. Style differences, such as two pockets
instead of one or flaps or bellows on pockets, which were apparently
minor, resulted in marked variations in production time.
One plant, No. 81, showed a productivity consistently higher than
any of the others in this sample. During the fall of 1936, its productiv­
ity was 4.68 garments per man-hour as against a maximum of 3.25 for
the next highest plant, and it was even higher in preceding seasons.
This exceptionally high productivity may be explained by two fac­
tors— the plant produced a shirt cheaper than that manufactured by
any of the other plants surveyed and, in addition, it apparently made
efficient use of a 100-percent line system. During 1934, this plant
used four distinct lines; during 1936, the number was increased to six.
Productivity for these six lines ranged from 4.0 to 5.56 garments per
man-hour during the fall of 1936.




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

81

Although the output per man-hour in the sewing department of
plant No. 86 was considerably below that of plant No. 81, it was still
quite high, in spite of the fact that it produced a considerably better
shirt than did most of the other plants. This high productivity seemed
to be largely due to efficiency of plant management. Although,
strictly speaking, this plant did not use the line system, it had evi­
dently adopted many of its features, including the use of a chute for
passing work from one operator to the next.
The lowest productivity during the fall of 1936 was recorded for
plant No. 85. This plant used the line system of production but
apparently manufactured a distinctly elaborate product. Among its
special features were the use of two pockets, both having flaps and
bellows.
The output figures per man-hour (table 30) reveal no consistent
trend during the period between 1934 and 1936. There are wider
variations in the output of individual plants than were observed in
the case of dress shirts, which was probably due to the fact that the
work shirt in the plants studied, with one exception, is a less uniform
product. Otherwise, however, the same considerations— the lack of
any significant innovations in machinery or equipment during the
period under study— account for the lack of any distinct trend in
productivity.
No definite conclusions could be reached on the effects of the line
system in work-shirt factories, since in only one instance was a bundle­
line comparison available. This plant (No. 84) recorded a small gain
in productivity on the line in the fall of 1936 over the fall of 1935, the
season preceding the installation of the line, but did not achieve as
high productivity as in the spring of 1935. The output per man­
hour of the three other plants on the line system, Nos. 81, 87, and 85,
was lower in the fall of 1936 than in a preceding season also on the line.
Although plant No. 81, a line plant which manufactured a cheaper
product than any of the factories studied, was highest in productiv­
ity, line plants Nos. 87, 84, and 85 ranked as low as eighth, ninth, and
tenth in productivity. Three of the four union bundle plants making
a high-price garment exceeded these three line plants in productivity.
Therefore, unlike dress-shirt plants, where the line system recorded
positive increases in labor productivity, the results in work-shirt plants
are inconclusive.
Labor Cost and H ou rly Earnings

The six union plants for which data on earnings are available are all
located in the North and manufacture a union-label work shirt retail­
ing for $1 and higher. The sales of union-made work shirts have de­
clined for many years and, as previously noted, represent less than
5 percent of the total unit volume in the industry. No change occurred




82

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

in piece rates in union plants between May 1, 1934, and March 1,
1937.
Union plants pay all workers, including learners and handi­
capped workers, on a piece-rate basis. On the other hand, the cottongarment code, by prescribing minimum wages for and limitations on
the number of learners and handicapped workers, often required higher
wages for these types of employees than were paid under union scales.
Consequently, the abandonment of the code provisions was one of the
major reasons for the slight decline in average hourly earnings in the
union plants from the fall of 1934 under N. R. A. to the fall of 1936.
T able 31. —

D ir e c t

la b o r cost a n d a vera g e h o u r ly e a r n i n g s i n s e w i n g d e p a r tm e n t
W o r k s h ir ts , 1 9 3 4 - 3 6

System of
Code No. production Union status1 Price range

1934
Spring

1935
Fall

Spring

—

1936
Fall

Spring

Fall

Direct labor cost per dozen work shirts
81_________
82________
34_________
86_________
83_________
27_________
3 3 ______
87— ____
84_________
85_________
28_________

Line_____ Nonunion— Low _ .
Medium__
Bundle- _ ----- do.
H ig h .____
____do____ UnionNonunion-. Medium __
------do____
do ___ __ $1.50
___do _ _ ___ do_____
____do____ Union_____ High_____
1.85
____do— _ ----- do_____ _ do___
Line_____ Nonunion—_ _ _ do___
____do____ ___ do_____ Medium. _
------do____ ___do_____ — do _ __
Bundle__ Union_____ High--_

$0.91
1.20
2. 21
2. 52

2

$0.81
.97
1.18
1. 62
2. 26
1.71
(2)25
2.

$0.72
.70
2.06
1.14
1.71
1.25
1. 72
1.45
1.85

$0.67
.58
1.10
1.93
2

1.58
1.42

$0. 65
.64
1. 97
1.25
.84
1.88
2.18
2 1.10
1.37
1.55

Average hourly earnings
81_________
82_________
34_________
86 83_________
27_________
33_________
87_________
84_________
8 5 ...........—
28_________
32_________
48_________
80_________

Line_____
Bundle__
— do_____
_ d o __
— do___
— do— .
--_do___
Line___
— do .
do—
Bundle.
— do___
-__do___
__ do___

Nonunion.. - Low____
___ do_____ Medium .
Union_____ High-----Nonunion—_ Medium___
___ do_____ ___ do_____
Union_____ High---------___ do_____ ___ do_____
Nonunion— ___ do_____
___ do_____ Medium___
___ do_____ ___ do_____
Union_____ High---------___ do_____ Medium___
----- do_____ High---------N on un ion - Low._..........

Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents
2 38.8 35.7 26.4
25.5
29.9 31.5 20.5 20.0
17.4
53.3
52.7
32. 2
____
44.0

31.1
45.1
50. 0

26.8
30.8
50.8
52.0
35.8
45.6
48.4

(?)

36.7

42.0
31.7

28.3
51.7
51.0
30.5
30.6
30.0
46.0
46.1
45.2
27.4

33.1
51.1
50.4
2 30.4
28.2
40.6
39.8
26.2

2

31.5
20.8
46.6
51.0
24.3
27.9
28.4
43.4
44.0
40.7

1 All nonunion plants are located in the South; all union plants are located in the North.
2 Season when line system was installed.
Nonunion work-shirt plants in this sample are all located in the
South, and the wages in these plants are affected by the competition
of prison labor. The majority of the work-shirt employees are located
in towns of less than 10,000 population. Under the cotton-garment
code in 1934 a minimum wage of 30 cents per hour in the South was
required on a 40-hour-week basis. At the end of January 1935,
hours were reduced by Presidential decree to 36 and piece rates raised
11.1 percent. At the termination of the N. R. A., the 40-hour week
was resumed in the industry and wages readjusted downward 10 per-




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

83

cent to the level existing in 1934. However, several southern non­
union plants studied increased hours beyond 40 and reduced wages
substantially below the level existing in 1934. The six nonunion
work-shirt plants with comparable figures record a decline of 16.5
percent in average hourly earnings in this period.
The difference in average hourly earnings between union and non­
union work-shirt plants, as shown in table 31, is striking. In 1936, in
the union plants (all northern) they ranged from 40.7 to 52.7 cents,
while in the nonunion plants (all southern), they ranged from 17.4 to
31.5 cents.1 The trend in direct* labor cost closely paralleled that of
1
earnings as productivity showed little change over the period studied.
Overalls 1
2
Overall manufacturers may be divided into three main groups:
(1) Mass-volume producers of a cheap product selling to mass dis­
tributors; (2) small- and medium-size nonunion producers, selling to
independent retailers; (3) union manufacturers using the union label.
Unfortunately, no data are available for any of the concerns in the
first group. It comprises a few (about 10) very large companies
utilizing mass-production methods and producing a $1 overall.
These companies sell almost exclusively to the large stores and mail­
order houses and account for about one-half of total unit overall
production.
The second group includes a large number of nonunion plants of
small or moderate size, generally producing garments of somewhat
better quality than the first group. These range in price primarily
from $1.29 to $1.95 and represent about one-fourth of the total produc­
tion volume. The major market of these plants is the independent
retailer. This group is represented in this study by seven plants.
The third group includes union-label manufacturers. They operate
under agreements with the United Garment Workers’ Union, and use
the union label1— a privilege to which no other producers are entitled.
3
This group accounts for the remaining one-quarter of total unit pro­
duction and is represented in this sample by 13 plants.
The United Garment Workers’ Union establishes uniform piece
rates on a national basis, regardless of the location, price of mer­
chandise, size, or efficiency of the individual manufacturer. The

11 However, this difference is partly regional. No comparison between eamines and union and non­
union plants located in the same region is available.
12 For the purposes of this analysis, the term “overall” will be restricted to the so-called “bib overall.”
This garment consists essentially of a pair of work pants, or dungarees, to which a bib is attached in the front,
supported by shoulder straps crossed over the shoulders. This distinction is necessary because the trade
frequently extends the term “overall” to include the so-called “waist-band overall.” The latter product,
usually known as the dungaree, is considered in connection with work pants (see p. 91), because it resembles
work pants far more closely than it does the bib overall.
13 The above statement refers to 1936. Since then the Amalgamated Clothing Workers have likewise
adopted a union label.




84

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

labor costs of these union-label manufacturers are substantially higher
than those of nonunion groups. Union plants are located predomi­
nantly in the North, although they probably embrace less than onehalf of the workers employed in that section. The South is, with few
exceptions, nonunion.
As a result of this disparity in wages, it has become virtually impos­
sible for the union-label group to compete on a price basis with non­
union producers. The union label, however, furnishes to a certain
extent a protected market to the union manufacturer. Workmen in
organized trades buy union-label overalls despite the higher price at
which they are sold. In part, however, the higher price is due to the
superior quality of the union-made garment. Despite this limited
protection, union manufacturers have suffered severely from a con­
tinued loss of business. Due to their increasing inability to compete
successfully, except in a restricted area, they have resorted to many
merchandizing schemes, such as the grant of generous premiums, in
an effort to expand sales.
One effect of this progressive loss of business is pertinent. The
difficulty of selling overalls has led to a greater diversification of
products. Union overall manufacturers have turned to the produc­
tion of semidress pants, work pants, lumberjacks, children’s playsuits,
work coats, and similar items, in an effort to regain volume. This
tendency toward diversification is not confined to the union group.
The increasing success of the mass producers has crowded many of the
smaller nonunion manufacturers out of the cheap overall market and
forced them to go into the manufacture of the products just men­
tioned, in which quality plays a more important part and lends itself
better to the facilities of the smaller plant.
Table 32 shows the maximum and minimum number of separate
operations found in plants manufacturing overalls on the bundle and
line systems. The operations are grouped in three divisions— parts,
body, and assembly. In the making of parts there are from 6 to 12
operations under the bundle system and from 7 to 9 under the line
system. In the making of the body of the garment there are from 7 to
13 operations under the bundle and from 11 to 17 under the line system.
The assembly operations do not vary much under either system, the
minimum being 8 under both systems and the maximum 9 under the
bundle and 10 under the line. The total number of operations varies
from 21 to 34 under the bundle system and from 26 to 36 under the line.
Table 32 also gives a comparison of the subdivision of work in union
and nonunion bundle plants. There was a slightly greater subdivision
of operations in the nonunion plants than in the union plants, the
total operations being from 21 to 33 in union plants and from 25 to 33
in nonunion. The significant difference is between the bundle and
line plants.




85

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES
T able 32.—

D i v i s i o n o f la b o r i n s e w i n g d e p a r t m e n t i n b u n d le
a n d i n u n i o n a n d n o n u n i o n p la n t s — O v era lls

and

lin e

system

Number of operations
Division of work

13 bundle
plants

4 line plants

5 nonunion
bundle plants

8 union
bundle plants

Maxi­ Mini­ Maxi­ Mini­ Maxi­ Mini­ Maxi­ Mini­
mum mum mum mum mum mum mum mum
Entire sewing department_________
Parts_______________________ ...
Body____________ ____ __________
Assembly_______ ________ ______

34
12
13
9

21
6
7
8

36
9
17
10

26
7
11
8

33
12
12
9

25
7
10
8

33
11
13
9

21
6
7
8

Prior to considering productivity of labor in the manufacture of
the bib overall in detail, certain important limitations inherent in
the character of the data should be emphasized. While it might at
first be assumed that the overall is a relatively standard product,
and that any minor variation in the method of manufacture would
not affect productivity appreciably, this is not the case. The super­
ficial similarity of one overall to another conceals differences which
are very important in any analysis of labor productivity.
In the first place the bib overall is not a uniform product, equally
suited to the needs of all users. It is a garment produced for the
convenience of the worker and carefully adapted to the varying needs
of workers in different trades. The needs of the farmer, the carpenter,
and the railroad engineer are quite different. The carpenter works
on his knees to a great extent, and his overalls must be provided with
special knee patches to prevent too rapid wear. Similar protection
is not required for the railroad engineer. The latter, however, has his
own peculiar requirements in the form of special pockets and the like.
As a result, the variations between one overall and another are prob­
ably far greater and affect output more directly than variations be­
tween one dress shirt and another.
Some measure of the importance of these differences may be ar­
rived at from the standard piece rates established by the United
Garment Workers Union. In 1934, the sum total of the piece rates
for making a complete “ one-seam patch-pocket bib overall” was
$1.05 per dozen. For making a “ one-seam swing-pocket overall”
the cost was $1.30 per dozen, while for making the “ railroad band
back-bib overall” the cost was $1.88. The railroad overall, therefore,
shows a direct labor cost almost 80 percent higher than the simple
bib overall. Since the piece rates are based largely on the time con­
sumed by the different operations, it follows that variation in output
parallels that in cost.




86

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

In addition to these variations between overalls adapted for the
requirements of different trades, there are other differences caused
by the efforts of rival manufacturers, who introduce modifications
which are expected to prove attractive to the consumer. Thus,
elastic backs may be substituted for the traditional diamond stitch­
ing, with corresponding variation in hourly output.
A further very important factor which complicates the study of
productivity arises from the fact that the bib overall is rarely ever
the only garment produced in any of the plants studied. Virtually
all of these plants make both the waist-band overall and the bib over­
all. The proportion of each garment made varies with the year and
the season. In recent years, for reasons which have been discussed
elsewhere, these plants have been turning their attention increas­
ingly to other products, such as semidress pants, work coats, and the
like.
Any such variation of products within a plant necessarily affects
productivity. The very fact that the same operators work on dif­
ferent garments from time to time, or that the same machines are
used to perform somewhat different operations, cannot but affect
labor productivity. It is evident that the figures which are here
presented must be used with many reservations and much caution.
P roductivity o f Labor in Sew ing Departm ent

Table 33 shows productivity, as measured in garments per man­
hour of the sewing department, for 20 overall plants for the period
between the fall of 1933 and the fall of 1936. The data in the table
are arranged in descending order of productivity during the fall of
1936.
With a few exceptions there was no well-defined trend toward in­
creased or decreased productivity during the period under consid­
eration. In some of the plants, including Nos. 39, 103, 95, 37, 41,
44, 43, and 42, there were wide fluctuations from period to period.
All but one of these plants were affiliated with the United Garment
Workers. It seems probable, in the absence of any definite infor­
mation, that these fluctuations in union plants were due to changes
in the type of garment produced. For example, a plant that produced
a large number of railroad overalls during one season might produce
more carpenters’ overalls during the succeeding season, as the de­
mand from these trades varies. It is probable that union-label
plants produced a wider variety of garments especially made to fit
the requirements of the unionized trades which constituted their
markets, while the nonunion plants produced more staple products
for the less specialized needs of nonunion groups, such as farmers,
unskilled laborers, and the like.




87

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES
T able 33. —

L a b o r p r o d u c t iv i t y o f s e w i n g d e p a r tm e n t

— O v e r a lls ,

1 9 3 8 -3 6

Overalls per man-hour
Code No. Region

System
of pro­
duction

Union
status

1933
Fall

North__ Bundle Nonunion.
99 _
98—............. __do____ — do___ do __
93 ............ South__ Line__ _ do ____
39—............. North _ Bundle _ Union ___
97—............. ___do___ ___do___ Nonunion
36..........— — do___ — do___ Union__
103_............. — do___ — do___ ...d o _____
Nonunion
96_............... South _ Line
95 a_ — — do___ — do___ — do_____
37_______ North Bundle _ Union
do ___
45________ -d o . - _do
94_............. South__ Line___ Nonunion41................. North-__ Bundle _ Union
46................. ...d o ___ _--do___ ...d o _____
40.............. . ___do___ -__do___ -__do_____
44................. -__do___ — do___ ___do_____
43________ — do___ — do___ _-_do_____
_
47________ -_do___ — do_._ _ . _do
38________ do___ -__do___ ...d o .- ___
42________ — do___ — do___ — do_____

1934
Spring
2. 95
(0 60
2.
2. 89
2. 64

1935
Fall
2. 92

1.36

2.93

2. 87
2.84
2.10
2.78
2.14

2.~40~
2. 39

2. 63
3.14
2. 31
3. 35

2.38
1.33
1.94
2.00

2. 26

1.62

Spring
3. 22
3. 43
2. 36
2.70
2.01
2. 57
i 1.97
2.64
2. 72
2.22
2. 29
1.52

1936
Fall

Spring

3. 47
3. 41
2.80
2. 33 1.91
3.00
2.75 2.46
2. 29 2.17
i 2.46
3.49
2. 21 2.15
2. 53 2.08
2.81 2.12
2. 39
1.98
2.17 2. 51
2.00 2. 63
2.04 2.17
1.98
2.08 1.55

Fall
3.80
3.30
2. 87
2. 81
2. 81
2.68
2. 60
t 2. 58
2. 42
2. 38
2. 36
2. 23
2.17
2.14
2.09
2.04
1.92
1.88
1.60

1 Season when line system was installed.
In the fall of 1936 the straight-line system was being installed, some learners were employed, and the
plant was in an experimental stage of operation.
2

An analysis of the special factors which have affected productivity
in certain of the plants studied is of considerable interest. Plant No.
99 showed the highest productivity of any during the fall of 1936.
This was a southern plant which produced a cheap garment. Its
productivity steadily increased from the fall of 1934 to the fall of
1936. About 2 years ago, this company hired a new production
manager, who conducted a series of time studies with a view of
reducing unnecessary handling to a minimum. These studies un­
covered a considerable number of flaws in the general system of
production and in the work habits of individual operators. These
were carefully corrected, with the result that productivity rose from
2.92 overalls per man-hour in the fall of 1934 to 3.80 in 1936, or an
increase of 30 percent.
Plant No. 98 had the next highest productivity. It was operated
by a small company, and produced a comparatively cheap overall,
retailing at about $1.29. It concentrated on a limited number of
styles, and this uniformity of product undoubtedly contributed to
its higher productivity.
The labor productivity of this company increased about 15 percent
between the spring of 1934 and the spring of 1936. A considerable
number of new machines purchased during the interim may partly
explain this increase. With the long seams (several feet) on overalls,
the proportion of sewing time to handling time is much greater than
on garments with short seams measured in inches, and increased
speed of machinery is therefore reflected to a greater extent in increased
output.




88

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

The data in this study will not support any generalization as to the
relative productivity of labor in union and nonunion plants. The
survey, embracing only plants with adequate records, could not cover
a full cross section of the industry. Especially there is probably
inadequate representation of plants with low productivity, for it is
believed that good records and good management are often associated.
Furthermore, the wide range of productivity in union plants shown
in table 33 is related to a correspondingly wide range in the quality
of the product. On the other hand, variations of output in the same
plant show the great influence of management and labor within the
plant upon productivity. For example, the highest labor produc­
tivity of all union plants was in plant No. 39. This plant, located in
the Middle West, was thoroughly modern and had excellent working
facilities and competent supervision. Although the productivity of
this company was higher than that of any other union plant in the
fall of 1936, it was next to the lowest in the spring of 1936, largely due
to difficulties relating to management personnel. Such evidence as
is available indicates that the manner in which union regulations are
applied by the particular union officers involved and the ability of
the plant management to get along with the union officers are impor­
tant factors in determining productivity.
P roductivity o f Labor in Line Plants

Plant No. 93, which has the next highest productivity, was located
in a southern border State. It installed the line in the spring of
1934, but the only productivity data which proved available were
for the fall of 1935 and 1936, so that no comparison can be made
which would show the increase of productivity, if any, over the
bundle system. However, the figures for the two fall seasons under
the line system show a rise of productivity from 2.80 to 3.30 overalls
per man-hour, or an increase of 18 percent. Although the third in
the order of productivity among the overall plants studied, it manu­
factured a considerably better overall than did either plant No. 99
or No. 98. Its product retailed generally for about $2 each, or in the
same price group as the product of the union plants.
Plant No. 97 was operated by the same company as plant No. 93,
but used the bundle system, except for a small experimental line.
Comparing these two plants, the bundle plant had a slightly higher
productivity during the fall of 1935, but during the fall of 1936 the
position was reversed. The low productivity of the line plant during
1935 was due to inadequate supervision of the operation of the line.
This fault was remedied and output per man-hour in plant No. 93
on the line rose so that it was 18 percent higher than that of plant
No. 97 during 1936.




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

89

The next line plant in the order of productivity is No. 96. This
southern plant likewise lacks any productivity data for the period
preceding the introduction of the line, making comparison of pro­
ductivity under the two systems impossible. The line in this plant
was installed in the spring of 1936 and there are no data showing
productivity under the bundle system to serve as a basis for com­
parison.
The next line plant, No. 95, located in a southern border State,
had installed the line system in the fall of 1936. Production usually
falls off during the season when the line or any other system is being
installed because of unavoidable interruptions in production due to
installation, and the lack of familiarity with, and need of adjustment
to, the new system on the part of the workers.
The remaining line plant, No. 94, had installed the line in the
spring of 1935. Its record shows a fluctuating productivity under
the line system from season to season. No figures are available for
the period before the introduction of the line to make a comparison
with productivity under the bundle system possible. It should be
added that the firm did not succeed in eliminating idle time due to
irregular flow of work.
In comparing line plants with other plants in the same price lines
on the bundle system, plant No. 93 had a distinctly higher labor pro­
ductivity in the fall of 1936 than any bundle plant producing a similar
garment. However, plants Nos. 96 and 94 on the line were exceeded
in productivity by several union bundle plants producing as high or
even higher price garments. With the exception of plant No. 93,
therefore, the effects of the line on productivity in overall plants are
not conclusive, in view of its recent installation in the plants studied
and the inadequate data at hand.
Labor Cost and H ou rly Earnings

Table 34 presents direct labor cost for overall plants covered by
the study, and also average hourly earnings during the period covered.
During the fall of 1936, direct labor cost for union plants ranged
from $2.26 to $3.31 per dozen. In no nonunion plant did direct labor
cost even approach this range. The highest nonunion labor cost was
$1.49 and the lowest 79 cents per dozen. This wide gap between
costs in union and nonunion plants, while due in part to the fact
that union plants manufacture a higher grade of overalls, was largely
due to the much higher wages paid in union plants. As will be seen
from table 34, the average hourly earnings in union plants ranged
from 40.6 to 58.0 cents; in nonunion plants they ranged from 21.8 to
33.9 cents. The highest hourly earnings in nonunion plants were thus
more than 16 percent below the lowest in union plants, and on the
whole were not much more than one-half the earnings in union plants.
113379°— 39------ 7




90

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T

34. —

able

Code No.

D i r e c t la b o r cost a n d a vera g e h o u r ly e a r n i n g s i n s e w i n g d e p a r tm e n t
O v era lls, 1 9 8 8 - S 6

Region

System
of pro­
duction

Union
status

1933
Fall

1934
Spring

1935
Fall

Spring

—

1936
Fall

Spring

Fall

Labor costs per dozen overalls
99________
98________
39________
97________
35________
103_______
96______
95 2
37
45_
94
41
46
40________
44________
43________
47
38
42________

South _
North...
...d o ___
...d o ___
— do___
— do__
South _
North .

Bundle.
.. do. .
— do___
. _do_.
— do___
— do___
Line__
do

South
North.
do
— do___
— do___
— do___
do
...d o ___

Line
do
— do___
— do___
— do___
...d o ___
— do___

Nonunion.
$1.63
— do_____
Union....... $2.16 $1.36 2.33
2. 24
Nonunion.
Union___ 1.82 2.09 2. 51
— do_____ 2.13 2.09 2. 94
Nonunion.
— do_____ 1.42
1. 60
Union___
2. 76
...d o _____
Nonunion.
Union___
. do_____
2. 67
— do_____
4. 59
— do_____
’"2.34’ 3.09
— do_____ ______ 2. 55 2.96
— do_____
.. do. ___
— do_____ 3.34 2.03 3.01

$1. 27
1.31
2. 74
2.69
3.17
1

2. 41
2.07
2.14
2.24
2.49
2. 50
3.43

$2. 75
1.49
2. 64
2. 67
1. 09
2.86
1. 53
2.17
2. 41
3.07
2. 78
3.23
2. 53
2. 65

$0.80
1.02
3.28
2.85
2. 57
1. 49
2. 73
1. 51
2.61

1

2.56
2. 32
2.44
3. 42
3.13

$0.79
2.32
1.45
2.48
2. 26
1.43
2. 74
2. 34
1.49
2. 49
2. 60
2.92
2.90
3. 02
2. 53
3 31
3! 06

1

01

Average hourly earnings
99
98________
39________
97
35________
103_______
96
95 2 .
37_______
4 5 _ ___
94
41
46________
40 _____
44________
43________
47________
38_ _____
42________
57________
129_______

South- Bundle.
North... — do___
— do___ — do___
...d o ___ __do___
— do___ — do___
— do___ — do___
South__ Line__
North__ ...d o ___
__do____ Bundle
_ do___ ...d o ___
South. _ Line___
North__ Bundle
— do___ — do___
__ do
. do
— do___ — do___
— do___ — do___
— do___ — do___
__ do. _ ..do.
— do___ — do___
— do___ ...d o ___
South. __ . do. .

Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents
34.2
23.1
25.0

Nonunion.
39.5
...d o _____
33.4
Union___ 47.4 48.6 55.7
NonunionUnion___ 47.7 50.3 59.5
— do_____ 41.2 46.1 51.3
Nonunion.
— do_____ 39.7
37.2
Union _.
49.1
_ do. ...
NonunionUnion. ..
— do_____
53.0
...d o _____
51.1
— do_____
46.8 50.2
— do_____ ______ 50.8 49.5
— do_____ ______ ______ ______
...d o _____
...d o _____ 37.7 38.2 40.6
— do_____ 37.5 37.6
Nonunion. 30.2
32.2

37.4
53.4
60.4
53.2

1

51.5
34.0
47.1
50.8
46.0
47.7
43.6
44.4
32.7

29.0
53.9 52.3
37.3
60.5 58.5
51.0 46.5
1 30. 6
31.8
52. 6 48.8
32. 2 26. 6
50. 7 46.1
48.0
50.8
50.2 53.5
54.0 50.9
42.9 44.0
56. 5
46.2 40.6
48.9 47.0
29.2

55.6
33 9
58.0
50.6
30. 9
1 21."8
55! 3
46! 4
1 29. 5
46! 5
47.0
52.0
50.4
51.4
40.6
52.0
40.9
44.0

1 Season when line system was installed.
2 In the fall of 1936 the straight-line system was being installed, some learners were employed, and the
plant was in an experimental stage of operation.
Considering the union plants alone, the lowest hourly earnings
(40.6 cents) were 30 percent less than the highest (58.0 cents). Labor
costs for union plants show considerably wider variations, due to
differences in style and in productivity. Piece rates remained the
same in union overall plants from May 1, 1934, to March 1, 1937,
yet, with few exceptions, the average hourly earnings in the fall of
1936 were slightly lower than in the fall of 1934, which was the last
season under the N. R. A. on a 40-hour-week schedule. Twelve
union plants, all in the North, recorded a slight decline of 3 percent
in the average hourly earnings from the fall of 1934 to the fall of
1936. This was largely due to the abandonment of the learner and
handicapped employee provisions of the cotton-garment code.




91

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

Among the nonunion overall plants, 6 northern plants recorded a
decline of 3.7 percent as compared with a decline of 16 percent in the
average hourly earnings of workers employed in 5 southern plants.1
4
W ork Pants 1
5

The same elaborate division of work which is followed in the
manufacture of other cotton garments prevails in the work-pants
industry
T able

35 .— D iv isio n

o f labor in sew in g departm ent— W o r k pa nts

Number of operations
Division of work

8 bundle plants

9 line plants

M axim um M inim um M aximum M inim um
Entire sewing departm ent___ __ _____
Parts__________________________________________________
B ody___________________________________ ___ - ----A ssem bly_______ ________________ - ______ -- - - - - - - -

41
12
12
17

28
7
8
13

47
12
15
20

29
7
9
13

The productivity of labor (in garments per man-hour) in the sewing
departments of the work-pants plants studied, covering the period be­
tween the fall of 1933 and the fall of 1936, is shown in table 36. It
includes the plants manufacturing dungarees as well as those manufac­
turing other types of work pants. Four of the five plants showing the
highest productivity— Nos. 130,138,134, and 143— produce dungarees.
As in the case of the other garment products covered, there was no
apparent definite trend either upward or downward for the group as a
whole during the period covered by the study. In some plants, such
as Nos. 130, 142, and 143, productivity increased consistently over a
period of years. Others such as Nos. 134 and 133 showed a more or
less consistent decline.
The line system was originally installed in a work-pants factory
and is probably being more widely used on this product than on any
other. Of the 16 nonunion plants covered, 9 operated under the line
system, which was a greater number of line plants than for any other
product surveyed. The data for two plants, Nos. 131 and 139, per­
mit a comparison of labor productivity under the bundle and line
systems within each plant, and each showed an increase in produc­
tivity on the line of approximately 10 percent.
u The nonunion overall plants in this study do not include any of the mass producers of overalls.
15 The present analysis covers the production of the so-called waist-band overall or dungaree, together
w ith the ordinary work pants. The essential sim ilarity in the process of manufacture of these products
warrants this inclusion. One distinction between the manufacture of the dungaree and that of work pants
proper m ay be pertinent. Dungarees or waist-band overalls are most com m only produced in factories
which also manufacture the bib overall. Work pants, on the other hand, although they are usually pro­
duced in overall plants, are also manufactured b y plants which make other work clothes.




92

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T able

36 .— L a b or p rod u ctivity in

sew in g departm ent— W o r k p a n ts

, 1 9 3 8 -8 6

Pants per man-hour
Code N o.

Region

System
of pro­
duction

Union
status

Pricerange

1933

1934

1935

1936

Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall
143_______
131_________
132_________
133________
140_________
137_________
145_________
142_________
141_________
139 ______
147________
149..........
136________
130_________
138________
134_________
146..........—
1 3 5 _______
144________
1

N orth. __ B u n d leSouth, L ine___
-..d o ____ B und le..
N o r t h - ___do____
South-__ L ine___
___do------ — do____
N orth. B u n d le__ do____ Line ___
South-__ ...d o ____
__ do____ __ do____
-_do____ B und le..
--.d o ____ — do____
-__do____ L ine___
N orth-__ B und le..
__.do------ Line___
...d o ------ Bundle
___do____ — do____
South__ L ine__
-_-do____ B und le..

U nion____ H igh___
Nonunion . ___do____
...d o ______ _ _do
...d o ______ ...d o ____
...d o ______ ...d o ____
— do______ — do-----U n ion ... . ...d o ____
Nonunion . Medium.
___do______ — do____
...d o _____ __ do____
_._do______ ___do____
— do______ ...d o ____
__ do___ _ ...d o ___
___do______ Low
___do______ — do____
__.do--------- ...d o ____
U nion____ ...d o ____
_.do______ __ do____
Nonunion. _ -do____

1.84

2.19
2.33 2. 62
2.93
_____ ______ 0)
11. 93
2. 01
1.52"
1.81
2. 27 2.12 2.08
3. 44
6)
3. 80 3. 47
_____ 3.31 2.68

2.06 2.82
2.68
2. 69
2.52 2. 93
2.36” 2.32"
12. 46
2. 60
11. 59
2. 64
2.28 1.91
3. 76
3. 31 3.44
2. 22 2. 63
3. 76 3.00

2. 09
2.96
2.46
2. 82
1 1.90
2. 47
1

2.20
1.97
4. 07
3. 47
2.17
3.46
1 2.15
1. 96
1

2. 97
2.90
2. 75
2.28
2.23
1.76
1. 74
3. 59
2. 43
2. 26
2.12
3. 36
3. 08
2. 89
2. 71
1. 81

Season when line system was installed.

An examination of table 39 shows that the 17-pereent saving in
labor cost in plant No. 131 greatly exceeded the increase in labor
productivity. The fact that hourly earnings failed to keep up with
the increased productivity, but, on the contrary, declined 10 percent
after the change of hours from 36 to 40 after the N. R. A., accounts
for the saving in cost in excess of the increase in productivity.
In four plants, Nos. 135, 136, 137, and 142, only the initial experi­
mental period of installation of the line and the period in the fall of
1936 are available, so that no comparison of productivity and costs on
the line and bundle systems is possible. For plants Nos. 140, 141,
and 138, no records are available under the bundle system. After
the initial line period is discounted, no trend was perceptible toward
gains or decreases in productivity in these three factories.
At the same time a comparison of labor costs in the fall of 1936
(table 39) with the costs in the first season following the installation
of the line in each plant shows a decline, which was apparently due
chiefly to a reduction in hourly earnings following the adjustment of
hourly rates upon the restoration of the 40-hour week after the
N. R. A. A similar trend in hourly earnings is to be observed in the
bundle plants, the decline in the bundle plants being somewhat
greater than in the line plants.
In comparing labor productivity of line and bundle plants in the
fall of 1936, the line plants appear more frequently, but not always,
ahead. Among the seven high-price pants factories, line plants
ranked second, fifth, and sixth in productivity in the fall of 1936, or




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

93

somewhat below the average. In the medium-price group of six
pants factories, three out of the four line plants were in the lead in
productivity. However, the two bundle plants were small factories
in small southern towns. In the low-price group of six pants factories
two line plants ranked second and fifth.
In the case of work pants, as with other products, in comparing
labor productivity in line and bundle plants it is impossible to over­
look the important factor of quality. The highest productivity in
table 36 is shown by plant No. 130. This plant produced a cheap
dungaree sold primarily to large jobbers and mail-order houses.
The stable character of the product and the large scale on which it
was produced accounted for the high productivity. The company
had replaced old machinery with new over a period of years. This,
as in the case of overalls, resulted in an 18-percent increase in the
man-hour output of the plant. The decline in labor cost was con­
siderably greater, viz, 26 percent, which was accounted for by a
reduction in hourly earnings of nearly 13 percent.
The plant showing the next highest productivity is No. 142. This
company manufactured a medium-grade product, considerably better
than that manufactured by No. 130. It also sold the bulk of its
product to mail-order houses and large jobbers, with a consequent
minimum of style variations. Plant No. 142 introduced the line
system for a part of its production during 1935. The youngest and
least experienced workers were selected for the line. The line and
the bundle sections are here listed as separate plants, the bundle
section being plant No. 133. Comparing the bundle and line data,
line production for the fall of 1935 was 2.46 garments per man-hour
or substantially lower than the 2.93 garments under the bundle
system during the fall of 1934, prior to the introduction of the line.
It was also lower than the production for the bundle section of the
plant during the fall of 1935, which was 2.69. This comparatively
poor showing was due to the fact that the line had just been installed
and necessary adjustments were in progress. By the fall of 1936,
however, the line had begun to operate efficiently, and production
showed a sharp increase, to 3.59 garments per man-hour, while pro­
ductivity in the bundle section (plant No. 133) declined to 2.28.
The decline in the bundle department was due to the fact that the
staple styles which are easiest to produce were put on the line, leaving
the parts and miscellaneous orders to the bundle department. While
the figures at hand do not furnish a basis for estimating to what
extent the increase in productivity on the line was due to the ad­
vantages of the line system and to what extent it was due to the
assignment of the easiest work to the line, the management estimates
that the line brought about a weekly increase in productivity of
about 20 percent.




94

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Plants Nos. 138 and 134 are the line and bundle departments,
respectively, of a company in the West which produced a $1 dungaree.
Comparing the line department with the bundle department shows
line productivity was consistently higher after its installation. While
productivity under the line had not reached the peak bundle produc­
tion attained in the spring of 1934, the company ascribed this to the
poor quality of the cloth received from the mill during that period,
which accounted for the poor results in both the line and the bundle
departments. The productivity in the line department, however,
showed a steady increase from year to year and was consistently
higher than in the bundle department each season. This was due (1)
to the higher productivity on the line on the product which it manu­
factured, and (2) to the fact that only one uniform garment was
made on the line, while a variety of products were made in the bundle
department, which naturally reduced the labor productivity. No
attempt was made by this company to transfer the younger or faster
operators to the line department, as was done in other plants.
Plant No. 143, a union plant in the East, showed the highest pro­
ductivity of any plant manufacturing a high-price product. It
manufactured a waist-band overall retailing at $1.98. This plant
used the bundle system. Its superior labor productivity was ap­
parently due to steady addition of new machinery and to favorable
working conditions in respect to heat, light, and ventilation. Since
overalls and pants have long seams which can be stitched continuously
without frequent interruptions, the speed of the sewing machine has
a marked effect on labor productivity on these products.
Next in order of productivity was plant No. 131. This was a
southern plant which introduced the line system between the fall of
1935 and the spring of 1936. It manufactured a diversified line
with an average retail selling price of about $1.69. The introduction
of the line system apparently resulted in a well-defined increase in
productivity, the output per man-hour during 1936 being about
10 percent higher than in 1935 under the bundle system.
An interesting analysis of the effect of quality on productivity can
be drawn from the data for plants Nos. 135, 136, and 137, all operated
by the same company in the South and all using the line system since
February 1936. The only difference was in the grade of the garment
produced. Plant No. 135 made an 89-cent retailer; plant No. 136
a $1.39 retailer, and plant No. 137 a $1.95 retailer. Man-hour output
in these plants dropped as the quality rose, and labor costs increased
as the quality improved. Thus, productivity for the lowest grade
during the fall of 1936 was 2.71 garments per man-hour, and the labor
cost was $1.32 per dozen; for the next grade, productivity dropped to
2.12 garments and labor cost rose to $1.63. For the best grade,
productivity was only 1.76 garments per man-hour and labor cost




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

95

went up to $1.74 per dozen. The controlling influence of quality is
still further emphasized by the fact that the line making the best
garments and showing the lowest productivity had the best and most
efficient operators.
The first two of these plants showed a rise in productivity over the
preceding season; the third plant showed a decline. Since the pre­
ceding season was the experimental period during which the line was
introduced, which is always accompanied by a decline in productivity
from the bundle system, the comparison with this season is of no
significance. Unfortunately, there are no figures of production in
this plant under the bundle system, and no conclusions can be drawn
as to the effect of the introduction of the line in these three plants.
At the lowest end in the high-price group in 1936 is plant No. 145,
a union plant in the Middle West, making $1.75 work pants. This
plant showed consistently poorer results than the other union plants
in table 36 which manufactured a similar grade of product. No change
in machinery or methods of production had taken place in this plant
for 15 years.
Productivity o f Labor by Operations

The effect of the line on labor productivity can always be more
clearly traced on individual operations. Table 37 presents such a
comparison on similar operations in making work pants in a line
and a bundle plant. The two plants shown were the only ones mak­
ing products of a similar grade for which comparable data were avail­
able. The line plant, No. 131, was a nonunion plant located in the
South, the bundle plant, No. 148, was a union plant in the North.
Although the work pants produced by these two plants were in the
same general price range, they were not, however, identical products.
The line plant showed a marked reduction in sewing time for virtually
every group of operations. For all the comparable operations
combined, the line plant required 17.2 percent less labor time than
was needed under the bundle system.




96

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T a b l e 37.—L a b o r -t i m e

r e q u ir e m e n t s , o f o p e r a t i o n s i n a lin e a n d a b u n d le p la n t
W o r k p a n ts, 1 9 3 3 - 3 6

Bundle plant No. 148

Line plant No. 131
Comparable operations
by groups 1

—

Man­
hours
per unit

Comparable operations
by groups 1

Man­
hours
per unit

0. 3002

Total time, all operations ____ _ .____

0. 3624

____ __
Sewing of fly facing, top pocket stitch­
ing1.. . _ __ _ __
Setting of watch pocket and pocket
facing in sides. _ _..
. . . .
Welting facing on side pocket __
Finishing side pockets_______ . . . ____
Setting in hip pocket and back pocket _ _
Finishing back pockets.___ . . . _
Welting back pockets_______ ___
Buttonholing hip pocket. __ _ ______
Tacking hip pockets ______
Pocket tacking. . . . _____ ________

.1358

Total time, group 1 .__ _ _ ______
Sewing back pocket facing _ ________
Making back pocket welt. _____ _ _
Turning and bagging back pockets_____
Turning and cording back pockets. __ __
Making front pockets and sewing watch
pocket... __ __ ______ __ _ _ _ __
Finishing front pocket ___ __________
Bartacking pockets_________ ____ __
Cutting back pockets_________________

.1690
.0270
.0188
.0232
.0204
.0161
.0181
.0232
.0222

Total time, group 2 _ _ __ ________
Fly settin g .._____ _______________
Setting fly curtains__ ____ _ __ _____
Finishing fly ________________ ____ _
Sewing of fly facing and top pocket
stitching 2_ . . . _____
_ _

.0500
.0143
.0143
.0143
.0071

Total time, group 2__ _ ________ __
Sewing on curtain___ ______________
Stitching down left fly_______________

Total time, group 3 __________ ______
Seaming of back seat_________ ____ __
Inseaming of le g ____ _____ _____ _
Sewing crotch tape down__ ______ ___

.0429
.0143
.0143
.0143

Total time, group 3__________________
Joining front and back_____________ _
Cording crotch. _ ___ _ __________

Total time, group 4_ _____ ______
Seaming outside leg______ ____ __
Setting waistband___ __________

.0286
.0143
.0143

Total time group 4 __ __ ______ ____
Outseams______ __ ______ ____
Sewing on waistbands___ _ ________

.0376
.0204
.0172

Total time, group 5 ___ ___ _ ___ _
Button sewing and tacking cuffs. _ _
Serging of edges.__ _ _ __ __ _
Serging and sewing of back dart. __ _

.0429
.0143
.0143
.0143

Total time, group 5 __ _______ _ __ _
Button sewing, band fly, hip __ __ ___
Serging of backs __ ___ _ __________
Serging of fronts__ ____ _____ __

. 0536
.0181
.0133
.0222

Total time, all operations

Group 1
Total time, group 1

____ .

Group 2

Group 3
Group 4
Group 5

.0071
.0143
.0143
.0143
.0143
.0143
.0143
.0143
.0143
.0143

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

.0595
.0238
.0357
.0427
.0171
.0256

1 While the individual operations are not in all cases identical in the 2 shops, the sum total of operations in
the corresponding groups are comparable.
2 The 2 operations marked are combined. For the purposes of this table it has been assumed that the
time is divided equally between these two.
A time-study, analysis of line plant No. 128, located in a small
southern town, and which produced work trousers retailing at approxi­
mately $1.25 per garment, follows:




PRODUCTIVITY IN

T able 38.— T i m e - s t u d y

PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

97

a n a l y s i s o f o p e r a t io n s i n lin e p la n t N o . 1 2 8 — W o r k p a n ts

Standard
hours per
unit

Operation

Total time, all operations_____________
On line_____________________________
Pairing front and back_______________
Setting frontpocket, watch pocket, and flySetting back pockets_________________
Bar tacking hip pockets_______________
Bar tacking (except hip pockets)______
Closing front pockets_________________
Side seaming________________________
Sewing waist band and loops__________
Sewing on curtain____________________
Turning and stitching down curtain___
Serging seat_________________________
Seat seaming________________________
Joining crotch_______________________
Taping crotch_______________________
Sewing buttons, tacking outlet________
Joining underseams__________________
Underpressing seams_________________
Hemming bottoms___________________
Buttonhole, band and hip pocket______

0. 2582
.1920
.0041
.0327
.0246
.0041

Operation
Off line_______________
Serging fly____________
Serging watch p o ck et..
Serging fronts_________
Serging backs_________
Cuff tacking__________
M aking loops_________
Ticket tacking________
Facing watch pocket..
Facing hip pocket_____
Closing hip pocket____
Facing front pocket___
Buttonhole, fly_______
C lipping______________
Penciling_____________
Sewing crotch points
Separating hip pockets.
Inspecting____________

.0082
.0164
.0164
.0164
.0035
.0041
.0041
.0041
.0082
.0082
.0082
.0082
.0041 Individual trousers produced per hour.._

Standard
hours per
unit

0.0662
.0014
.0074
.0030
.0018
. 0025
.0014
.0070
.0045
.0046
.0033
.0016
.0032
.0055
.0015
.0080
3.88

Labor Cost and H ou rly Earnings

Table 39 shows the direct labor cost in dollars per dozen for each of
the plants studied, and also presents average hourly earnings. The
higher labor cost of the three union plants is striking. It ranges from
$2.10 to $2.84 per dozen and is for plants not only in the high-price
but in the low-price group as well. In no nonunion plant does the
labor cost exceed $1.74.
Since the labor cost of a garment consists of the sum total of the
piece rates, and since piece rates in United Garment Workers shops are
uniform throughout the country for identical operations, the higher
cost in a plant can only be the result of the higher quality of the
garments produced, calling for additional operations. This circum­
stance is reflected in the hourly earnings in these union shops, which
are the highest of all the work plants covered by the survey and
range from 41 cents to over 50 cents per hour.
Union-label work-pants and dungaree factories retained the 40hour week and the basic wage scale of the cotton-garment code of
1934. Of the three northern union plants for which data are recorded,
one had a decline in hourly earnings from the fall of 1934 to the fall of
1936 of 12 percent, another of 18 percent, and the third showed no
change. The decline in the two first-mentioned plants was due in
part to the increased employment of apprentices and in part to the
changes after the termination of the N. R. A. in the mode of payment
of handicapped workers and possibly in the method of recording the
hours worked.
Four nonunion northern plants producing work pants and dungarees
recorded a decline in average hourly earnings in the same period of
6.3 percent, while 6 nonunion southern producers reported decreases
in average hourly earnings of 10.3 percent.




98

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T a b l e 39. —

Code No.

D i r e c t la bor cost a n d a vera g e h o u r ly e a r n in g s i n
W o r k p a n ts 1 9 8 3 - 3 6

Region

System of
produc­
tion

Union
status

Price
range

1933

1934

sew in g d ep a rtm en t

1935

—

1936

Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall
Labor cost per dozen work pants

143________ N o r t h - Bundle. _ U nion ___ H igh ___ $2. 46 $1.50 $2. 56 $2. 53 $1.96
1. 50
131________ South—. Line___ N onunion. — do___
132............. d o ___ B und le.. . do___ _ _ .d o____
1.55
1.41
133..........— N o r t h - ...d o ____ — do______ ...d o ____
1 1. 70 1.36
140 ______ South __ L ine___ ...d o ______ -_ do ___
137 . ___ ...d o __ ...d o ___ ...d o ____ _._do ___
2. 66 2. 56
145- _ ___ N o r t h - Bundle. _ U n ion ... _ ...d o __
11. 65
142
. - do ___ L ine ___ N onunion. M edium .
..d o __ . .do___
1. 51
141_ _____ South _ do
12.08
136_______ — do ___ ...d o ___ _ .d o ___ _ __.do___
2. 30 2.49 2. 37
149________ ...d o ____ Bundle. . — do _____ ...d o ___
~2. 05
1. 59
147________ __.do____ ___do____ ...d o ______ ___do____
135________ .._ d o____ Line___ ...d o ______ L o w . .
1.22
North B u n d le- .d o _____ __do ____
1.17
130
1 1.45 1.28
138_______ — do ___ Line ___ — do _____ ...d o ___
"i.09" T 31 1.95 1.40
134________ ...d o ___ Bundle. . ...d o _____ — do ___
1.70 2.24 1. 62 2.01
136_______ - - d o ___ — do ___ U nion ___ — do ___
South __ ...d o ___ N onunion. ...d o ___
144 -

$2. 33 $2. 26
1.03 1.24
1.53 1. 35
1. 57
1. 46 1.50
1 1.95 1.74
2.41 2. 84
1.19
1.35
1 1. 87 1. 63
1.57
1 1.75 1. 32
.87
1.30 1.38
1.89 1.24
1. 85 2.10
1.18 1. 25

1

Average hourly earnings
North__________ Bundle _
143
South..
131
__________ Line___
...do— .
132
__________ Bundle _
North133
__________ ...do___
South..
140
__________ Line___
...do—
137
__________ —do___
North..
145
__________ Bundle.
142______ -_.do__ Line___
South..
141
__________ —do___
147______ ...do— Bundle .
149______ ...do.... ...do___
136________ ...do— Line___
North.. Bundle _
130_____
138
__________ Line___
—do— .
134
__________ Bundle _
—do— .
—do—
146
__________ —do___
South..
144
__________ —do___
...do—
135
__________ Line___

Union___
Nonunion,
do.
—do_____
—do_____
...do_____
Union___
Nonunion.
—do_____
...do_____
—do_____
do.
—do_____
—do_____
—do_____
Union___
Nonunion.
...do_____

Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents
38.2 46.8 43.6 46.2 40.6 40.9
25.4 30.0
33.5
31.3 31.0

H igh.... 37.7
—do----do.
do.
...d o ___
. . . do----...d o ----Medium
...d o ___
—.do----...d o ___
do.
Low___
— do___
...d o ___
...d o ___
— do___
. . .do___

1

38.0

0)

30.9

133.5

31.6
35.8 33.1 34.2
130.8
50.9 49. 3 49.6
133.9
32.8
35.0
29.0
37.0
30.7
38.2
29.4
40.1 36.9 37.5
36.0 30.6 34.4
50.8 50.2 53.5
19.3
31.2
1

0)

34.5 37.9
46.8 50.2

1

29.9
27.8
25.6
41.4
35.6
27.4

28.8
38.6
32.0
50.4
18.9
29.8

i Season when line system was installed.
Semidress Pants 1
6

The wide variation in semidress pants makes it necessary to use
extreme caution in comparing the productivity of one plant with

16 The term “semidress pants” as used here covers a wide variety of products, ranging in price from as low
as $1 to as high as $8 each at retail, and using materials as varied as duck, twill, printed cord, khaki, flannel,
gabardine, and wool.
Some of the pants in the upper-price ranges may properly be termed dress pants instead of semidress
pants. However, for convenience, the single term has been generally applied. Strictly speaking, at least
some of the products considered in this chapter are not cotton garments. They are included because of
the fact that they are made in cotton-garment plants. Moreover, work pants and semidress pants are
commonly made in the same factory. Since a certain type of semidress pants, especially those made of
wool, do not have a large sale in the summer, work pants are frequently produced during that season in
order to keep the workers busy. Frequently, it is difficult to draw a sharp line between good work pants
and cheap semidress pants.
The fundamental difference between work pants and semidress pants lies in the quality of workmanship
and usually in the character of the material used. A manufacturer who makes both work pants and semi­
dress pants will pay more attention to the appearance of the latter, in order to increase their salability.
As a result, there are far more operations involved in the making of semidress pants than in the making of
work pants, even though the basic process is the same.




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

99

another or even the productivity of a single plant during different
seasons. Even price range is not an adequate gage of comparability,
since a higher price may reflect more expensive cloth rather than better
workmanship.
Table 40 presents productivity, in garments per man-hour, in the
sewing department for each of the semidress-pants plants included in
this study. The range between the highest and lowest productivity
is very wide. Plant No. 151, which had the largest man-hour output,
produced almost four times as many garments per hour as did plant
No. 164, with the lowest output. The product of plant No. 151, a
small southern plant, was relatively cheap, the bulk of the output
being made to retail at under $2. It is possible that in this case the
advantage of the close personal supervision of a small plant also
made for greater efficiency.
The next in order of productivity was plant No. 150. This was
a union plant located in the Midwest, selling a relatively inexpensive
product. The productivity of this plant was consistently high during
the period studied.

T a b l e 40. —

L a b o r 'p r o d u c tiv ity o f s e w i n g d e p a r tm e n t— S e m i d r e s s p a n t s

,

1 9 8 3 -8 6

Pants per man-hour
Code No.

System
of pro­
duction

Union
status

1933
Pall

151___________ ____
150- ______________
161
152____
_______
157
159
158
153
166154
162 _
. _.
155
156..................................
165
163
164

Bundle.. N onunion.
__ do____ U nion____
_ _ d o ___ Nonunion.
___do____ ___do_ ___
__ do______
Line
U n io n .__
do
B u n d le . __ do _____
N onunion.
do
__do ___ ...d o _____
do
do _____
Line ___ __ d o _____
B u n d le _ U nion ___
__do____ __ do. ____
_ do
Nonuniondo _ __
do
_ do __
do

2.32

1934
Spring

2.66

1.34

1935
Pall

3.54

1.63
2 1.67
1.62
1.75

Spring

3.57
2.12
1.36
2.36
1.61
1.08

1936
Fall

3.63
2.26

1.46
1.60
i 1.31
1.47
1.67 1.63
1. 53 1.23
.91

Spring

2.82
2.83
i 2.15
1.19
1.86
1.66
1.44
.78

Fall

2.58
2.55
2.20
2.11
2.08
i 1.96
1.91
1.84
1.41
1.38
1.33
1.32
1.25
1.08
.81
.69

1 Season when line system was installed.
2 Work pants.
Plant No. 155 showed a distinct decline in the man-hour output
from the fall of 1934 to the fall of 1936. During 1934, output was
1.62 garments per man-hour and during 1936 it was only 1.32. This
company manufactured a garment retailing for $5 and up. The
decline of productivity may be explained by the statement of the
plant executive that after the N. R. A. lapsed, there was less emphasis
on securing operators whose individual efficiency was high. Under
the N. R. A. it had been necessary to pay the minimum hourly wage




100

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

to all operators regardless of efficiency, while at the time of the study,
there was no similar penalty on the employment of slower workers.
The two concerns showing the lowest productivity were Nos. 163
and 164. Plant No. 163 manufactured an expensive trouser retailing
at $5 and up. This company commenced manufacturing dress pants
in 1934 and the management claimed to have had difficulties in
perfecting its methods of production despite the fact that its machinery
was of the latest type. It had also had three different production
men since 1934 and apparently employed a considerable number of
apprentices. All these factors may account for its low productivity.
Plant No. 164, with the lowest labor productivity, employed chiefly
Mexican labor, which is reputedly not highly efficient.
Productivity of Labor in Line Plants

Plants Nos. 159 and 156 represent two operating units owned by the
same company, which operated a union shop. The company installed
the line system between the spring and the fall of 1936. The line
department is designated in the table as No. 159, while the bundle
shop is designated as No. 156. Productivity on the bundle system
in the spring of 1936 was 1.66 garments per man-hour. In the fall,
productivity on the line was 1.96, or 18 percent higher, while produc­
tivity in the section of the plant which remained on the bundle system
(No. 156) declined to 1.25 garments per man-hour. It should be
added, however, that while the bundle department continued to use
the same sewing machines of 2,800 revolutions per minute, the line
was equipped with new machines of 4,200 revolutions per minute, a
factor of importance in a product with long seams such as pants.1
6
This plant made pants of high quality, retailing for $5 and better,
so that the high output of its line is striking. As the line, after its
introduction, achieved smoothness in operation, output per man-hour
rose rapidly. This increase is revealed by the following monthly
productivity figures for the 4 months beginning in September 1936:

Garments
per man-hour

September 1936_________________________________________________
October 1936____________________________________________________
November 1936_________________________________________________
December 1936__________________________________________________

1.
1.
2.
•!.

73
87
02
93

Changes in productivity in the two other line plants cannot be
adequately measured. Plant No. 157 has no record of production
under the bundle system with which to compare productivity on the
line. Plant No. 162 changed its product from work trousers to semi­
dress pants after changing to the line system therefore the figures are
not comparable.
1 See p. 87.
6




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

101

Productivity of Labor by Operations

Table 41 compares the labor time in the sewing department by in­
dividual operations for a typical line plant and a typical bundle plant,
each manufacturing semidress pants of approximately the same price
range. As will be seen from the table, the line plant shows a distinctly
greater labor productivity.
The table shows three groups of operations which are comparable
for the two plants. In the first group, the labor time required on the
line was 35.5 percent less than in the bundle plant. In the other two
groups, the reductions in the labor time in the line plant were 30.1
and 13.7 percent, respectively. For all the comparable operations,
the line plant required 23.7 percent less labor time than the bundle
plant.

T a b l e 41.— L a b o r -t i m e

,

r e q u i r e m e n t b y o p e r a t i o n s , i n a lin e a n d a b u n d le p la n t
S e m id r e s s p a n ts 1 9 3 6

Total tim e, all operations_______________

Group 1

M an­
hours per
unit
0.332

Total tim e, group 1 ........... ........................
Sewing on both side pockets and watch
pockets ______ ___________ __ _ _
Sewing on right and left fly and fly fac­
ing, front seat pieces, and watch
p o ck et..
_ _____ _ - _ ________
Closing side pocket, tacking top of side
pocket. ....... ............................. ___
M aking front m iddle corners of pockets,
sewing down fly___ ______________

.0740

Total tim e, group 2 _ _ ____________________________________
Sewing hip pocket facing and closing
hip pocket facing and union label___
Sewing hip pocket to pants and sewing
up dart back- _ _ _ _______ __
Turning hip pocket and stitching
around pocket and sewing seat pieces.
Pocket welting, sewing down seat lin­
ing. _ ________ __ _____ ___ __ __
Serging both front and back edges_____

.0980

Group 2

Group 8

Total tim e, group 3 _________________
Sewing down waist band, putting in
loops.__ ________ __________________
Inner seaming, clean thread____________
Button-hole making, waist b a n d ____ __
Sewing fly and hip pocket buttons_____
Stitching pocket and side seam, stitch­
ing down crotch tape— ______________
Top stitching waist band, sewing down
w hite fly____ ._ ____________________
Seat seaming and joining staples_______
Tacking pockets___ ____________________

—

Bundle plant No. 155

Line plant N o. 159
Comparable operations b y groups 1

,

. 0196
.0196
.0196
.0196

.0196
.0196
.0196
.0196
.0196
1.568
.0196
.0196
.0196
.0196
.0196
.0196
.0196
.0196

Comparable operations by groups 1

Man­
hours per
unit

Total time, all operations................. ........

0.4366

Total time, group 1__ _ ____________
Facing and making watch pocket com­
plete, ______ _____ _____ ____ _ __
Making side pockets with watch pocket.
Sewing on fly-extension waist band— .
Stitching down curtain and right fly___
Stitching fly pieces . __ _ _________
Bar tacking fly and 7 loops____________

.1147

Group 1

.0165
.0172
.0157
.0167
.0208
.0278

Group 2
Total time, group 2__________________
Sewing back pocket facings___________
Serging backs (including bottom) _ ____
Sewing in V’s_______ _ _______ _
Cutting back pockets_________ _ __
Making back pocket, sewing in crotch
piece and lining. _________________
Stitching back pockets. ______ ______
Serging seats with crotch lining________
Serging front and sewing in crotch lin­
ing________ ______________________

.1402
.0158
.0198
.0250
.0162
.0185
.0157
.0145
.0147

Total time, group 3__ _____________
Sewing on plain waist band and 6 belt
loops__________________ . ______ .
Inseaming__________ . ____ _____
Trimming lining and notchin g.._____
Sewing curtain to left fly extension bands.
Stitching down left fly_____ _______
Sewing on fly, hip and band for button
holes_____________________________
Buttonhole, hip and 1 in band________
Stitching side of slash pocket__________
Sewing on curtains, closing back.______
Joining closed back______ .. . _____

.1817

Group 8

.0217
.0148
.0142
.0235
.0173
.0148
.0125
.0145
.0162
.0140

1W theindividual op
hile
eration a not ina ca iden
s re
ll ses
tical inthe 2shops, th sumtotal of op
e
eration in
s
the corresp d g grou s a com
on in
p re
parable.




102

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Labor Cost and Hourly Earnings

Table 42 presents labor cost, in dollars per dozen garments, and
average hourly earnings, for the plants covered in the study. The
range in cost, from a maximum of $6.02 to a minimum of $1.18 per
dozen, was considerably wider than that in production per man-hour,
being more than five to one as against slightly less than four to one
in productivity. This was due to the fact that differences in pro­
duction costs reflected not only differences in output per man-hour
but also differences in wages.
The range in hourly earnings for union plants in the North during
the fall of 1936 was from 37.6 to 48.6 cents, with an average of 43.5
cents. In only two nonunion plants, Nos. 163 and 154, both located
in California, did the hourly earnings fall within that range. The
range for all nonunion plants in the North was from 24.6 to 41.2
cents, with an average of 33.3 cents, and in the South from 21.3 to
29.7 cents, with an average of 24.8 cents.

T a b l e 42. —

D i r e c t la b o r cost a n d h o u r ly e a r n i n g s o f s e w i n g d e p a r tm e n t— S e m i d r e s s
p a n ts 1 9 3 3 - 8 6

Code No.

,

System
of pro­
duction

Union
status

1933
Fall

1934
Spring

1935
Fall

Spring

1936
Fall

Spring

Fall

Labor cost per dozen semidress pants
151_____________ —— Bundle. Nonunion150 _____________ ..do— Union___ $2.12
161
_______
do- _ Nonunion.
152____________
„do— - ____do____
157 _______
Line
_.do
159_________________ __ do___ Union___
158- _____________ Bundle. _ —do.
153_________________ __do -_ _ Nonunion.
166________________ __do_.__ _ __do__
154_________________ __do____ __ —do.. .
162_________________ Line _ __ ..do _
156- ______ ____ Bundle. Union
165_________________ —do. — Nonunion163_________________ __do... . ____do____
164_________________ _ .do___ ___do____

$2.08

$1.70

$1.72
2.66

$1.56
1.71

3. 83
2.03
3.01
4. 66
3. 37

3. 51
2.23
i 3.21
3.28
5. 72

$1.19
1.76
1.80
1.74
3.86
2.44

1

3.08

2. 59
3.06
2.81

3.52
2.00
3.37

$1.18
2. 22
1.80
1.28
1.68
i 2.30
3.04
2.09
2.10
3. 57
3.31
4.25
2. 78
6.02
3.64

Average hourly earnings
151150161152157160159158153166154162156165163164-

Bundle.
...do----...do----—do___
Line___
-.d o ----—do----Bundle.
...do___
—do—
—do—
Line___
Bundle.
...do----...do— ..
-_do___

Nonunion.
Union___
Nonunion.
___ do___
___ do___
Union___
___ do___
___ do___
Nonunion.
....... do___
....... do___
___ do___
Union___
Nonunion.
___ do-—
___ do___

i Season when line system was installed.




Cents
'~50.T
0)

34.3

35.3
42.6
40.9

51.3
39.6
35.5
41.8
43.4
40.0
40.3
42.1
46.8

47.4
32.4
41.3
43.0
29.7
i 35.3
44.5
24.0
43.4
21.9

Cents Cents
27.9
25.5
41.6
33.8
i 31.1
40.0
38.3
37.9

47.1
33.3
22.6
29.1
37.6
48.6
32.0
24.6
41.2
36.6
44.4
25.0
40.5
21.3

PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

103

House Dresses 1
7

The past decade has seen the more or less shapeless and purely
utilitarian house dress transformed into a smart garment conforming
to the latest changes in style. It is probable that this metamor­
phosis was stimulated by the depression. The necessity for economy
in household purchasing created an increasing demand for cheap
frocks which combined utility with attractiveness in appearance.
The popular acceptance of the house dress, not only as a utility
garment in the home, but also for street wear, brought with it a
remarkable growth of the industry and of its constituent units. As
was pointed out by the head of one of the largest dress plants in the
country in an interview with a field representative in this survey,
20 years ago a house-dress factory with 74 sewing machines was
considered a large unit. Today a few factories employ over a thou­
sand workers each.
In contrast to the silk-dress manufacturing industry, which is con­
centrated in urban centers and primarily in the New York metro­
politan area, house-dress factories are scattered in 40 States. While
the number of factories and small shops in this industry exceeds 1,000,
employing some 40,000 workers, 100 firms employ about two-thirds
of all the workers. The volume of dresses retailing at $1 or less, to
which this study has been confined, constitutes somewhat more than
half 1 of the total of 100,000,000 1 dresses produced in 1935. Most of
8
9
the plants located in small towns are large in size, employing hundreds
of workers and in a few cases over a thousand. The large cities con­
tain both large and small plants, the latter forming the great majority.
The Style Factor

At the start of the study it was realized that the influence of style
variations on labor productivity was very marked. An effort was
made to minimize this problem by concentrating attention on dresses
retailing at $1 or less each, with the hope of securing a sample in which
the product was fairly uniform, showing little variation from time to
time and from plant to plant. This limitation had, of course, the
effect of confining the survey to a smaller number of plants. Usable
production data were obtained for only seven factories owned by
five different concerns. Two firms furnished productivity figures as
shown by their time studies (table 44). Seven additional factories
furnished wage data.

17 A detailed and comprehensive study of the method of manufacture of house dresses is contained in a
study by the National Reemployment Service, Atlanta Center of the Occupational Research Program,
Local Job Descriptions for the Garment Industry, vol. 2: Manufacture of Women’s Cotton Dresses, Jan­
uary 1937.
is Data are from Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers.
19 Includes women’s cotton dresses, hoovers, and smocks. Data are from United States Census of Manu­
factures, 1935.




104

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR----COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Unfortunately, the experience of the survey demonstrated that
even the limitation to the cheapest grade of wash dress did not suc­
ceed in eliminating the influence of the style factor. Style is today
as much a characteristic of dresses selling for $1 or less as of more
expensive garments. As a result, it is virtually impossible to draw
any valid inferences as to the relative efficiency of the different
plants studied, or as to any changes in efficiency during the period
covered by the study.
Productivity of Labor in Sewing Department

The number of house dresses produced per man-hour in the sewing
department of each of the plants studied, the direct labor cost per
dozen, and the average hourly earnings of the sewing-machine oper­
ators, are shown in table 43. The period covered extends from the
fall of 1933 to the fall of 1936.
An examination of these figures reveals a very marked seasonal
variation. During 1936 each of the six plants for which comparable
data were available showed distinctly higher productivity in the fall
than in the spring. Similarly, during 1935, higher productivity is
observed for four of the five plants for which comparable data were
available. This was due primarily to the fact that the fall product
was usually much simpler in style than that manufactured during
the spring.
Variations in the man-hour output of individual plants during the
period studied were considerable, even excluding the seasonal element.
Thus the productivity of plant No. 112 during the spring of 1934 was
6.28 garments per man-hour as compared to 2.86 in the spring of
1936. The productivity for plant No. 11 in the fall of 1935 was
4.30 as against 6.30 in the fall of 1936. These marked changes in
hourly output were not indications of changes in productive efficiency.
They were due chiefly to changes in style.
During the fall of 1936, the lowest hourly output, that for plant
No. 109, was 2.51 garments per man-hour; the highest was for plant
No. 11, 6.30 garments per man-hour— a range of approximately 2%
to 1. Here again it seems clear that differences in style rather than
in productive technique were the controlling factor. It is, however,
significant that plant No. 11, which showed the highest productivity
in the fall of 1936, and which was next to the highest in the spring of
1936, manufactured a $1 dress, whereas four of the other plants
included in the sample made a 59-cent, a 69-cent, and a 79-cent product.
This may reflect the higher efficiency of plant No. 11, though it may
be partly due to skillful designing, aimed at elimination or reduction
to a minimum of operations requiring much labor. The highest
price range may conceivably be due to better material rather than
to added style.




PRODUCTIVITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

T able

43. — P r o d u c tiv ity,

Code No.

105

labor cost, and h ourly earnings in sew in g d epartm ent
H o u s e dresses, 1 9 8 8 —3 6

Retail price or product

1933
Fall

1934
Spring

1935
Fall

Spring

—■

1936
Fall

Spring

Fall

Labor productivity (dresses per man-hour)
11.__ _
__ .
111_______ ______
112________________
110________________
114________________
107._____ _________
109_______________

$1.00_______________
$0.69________________
$0.79________________
$0.59________________
$0.69________________
$1.00 up_____________
$1.00 up_________ _

3.72
6.64
6.28
6.14

5. 36
5. 59

3.41
5.18
3.18
4.33

2.92

3.60
3.94
3. 53

3.41

3.05

4.30
6.13
4.24
4.69
1.87
2. 75

3.90
5.11
2.86
3.56
1.50
2.38

6.30
5.45
4.81
4.55
3.16
2.62
2.51

$1.28
.66
.87
.74
2.47
1.42

$1.35
.74
1.15
.78
2.93
1.49

$0.79
.72
.73
.74
1.24
1.40
1.39

Direct labor cost per dozen dresses
11........ ........................
111................................
112. ____________
110..............................
114...................
107...............................
109.......................... .

$1.00________________ $1.30
$0.69________________ 1.14
$0.79................................ 1.04
$0.59_____________
1.10
$0.69...............................
$1.00 up_____________
$1.00 u p ____________

$1. 20
.63
.64
.75

$1. 30
.79
.77

$1.46
.96
1.38
1.05

1.19

1.17

1.31

Average hourly earnings
11
.................
House dresses_______
I ll_______________ ____do______________
112............................... ...d o _____ _________
n o . .................... . _ ____do_____________
1 14-_____________ ___do_______________
107____________ ___ ___do_______________
109________________ ____do______________
108________________ __ _do____ _________
102
do______________
12_________________ Nurses’ uniforms____
_ do______________
105
106_______________ _ _ _do __ _ _ __
104
_ ___ _ _do______________
115________________ Woven undergarments
Aprons
113

Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents
41.5
38.0
41.6 45.9 43.8
34.0
34.2
32.3

34.6
33.2
38.5

35.5
35.9

41.6
36.5
38.0

29.7
38.2

28.9
32.0
41.9

33.3
36.7
44.4

33.5
37.0
36.6
50.7

29.6

33.1

33.3

39.9

33.8
30.6
28.9
38.8
32.5

52.1
35.7

31.7
27.2
23.2
36.5
29.5
28.2
50.4
43.5
40.1
32.4
36.8
28.8

32.8
29.3
27.7
32.7
30.4
29.1
132.4
24.2
52.4
39.8
31.8
35.6
29.7

1 Early part of January 1937.
S ta n d a rd tim e f o r o p e r a tio n s .— In addition to the data in table 43,
which are based on actual operating results, time studies were secured
from two plants, Nos. 115 and 126, listing the standard allowed time
for each operation, and these are reproduced in table 44. As will be
seen from these figures, plant No. 126 using the progressive-bundle
system, showed a productivity standard of 4.27 garments per man­
hour, while that for plant No. 115 was 3.31 garments per hour.

113379°— 39-




-8

106

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T able

44 . —

T im e stu d y a n a lysis o f sew in g op era tion s— $1 house d resses

Plant No. 126

Plant No. 115
Man­
hours per
dozen

Operation
Total time, all operations. _ ____
Making loops__________ ____ _____
Turning belts. _____ _____________ _ _
Making and setting cuffs_____________
Double-needle front and back panel-----Making and setting pockets and loops.
Joining shoulder and sleeves__________
Making and setting collar____ . . . _
Overlooking_________ __ ____ ____ _
Tacking cuffs and pockets. _ _ ______ _
Hemming bottom____ _______ _ _
Buttonholes____________ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Inspection and trimming ___ _ ___

2.8110
.0268
.0567
.3792
.3032
.5467
.3142
.2633
. 1667
. 1527
. 1562
.0265
.4167

Output, 0.356 dozen or 4.27 garments per man-hour.

Operation
Total time, all operations____ _ ___
Making belt____ ___________ _ _ _
Turning belt__________________ _ _ _
Making dart. __________ __________
Buttonhole reinforcement________ __ _
Seaming front gores______ ______ __
Hemming bottom skirt____ . _ _ __
Shirring sleeve_________ __ _ _ _ _ _ _
Binding sleeves (armhole) _ . . . ____
Binding pocket__________ ____ _____ _
Setting pocket__________ _ _ _______
Seaming shoulders_______ _ .__ _ _ _
Seaming sides
Binding neck____ ____ ______________
Setting sleeves______ _ __ _
Tacking b e lt.__________ _ _ _ _
Buttonhole at back shoulder __ ___ _
Button at shoulder____
______
Seaming back of skirt_______ _ ___ __
Examining and trimming____________

Man­
hours per
dozen
3.6256
. 1320
.0720
. 1716
. 1700
.3420
.2596
.2000
. 1812
.0976
. 1566
. 1086
.3214
.2322
.2947
.2000
.0960
.0680
. 1261
.3960

Output, 0.276 dozen or 3.31 garments per man-hour.

Effect of Shop Management

The multiplicity of factors affecting productivity is well illustrated
in the case of one of the plants studied. In 1934, this plant was organ­
ized into eight separate, self-contained shops of approximately 30
machines each. There were six foremen for the plant, four of whom
supervised single shops, while the other two were in charge of two
shops each. The four shops which enjoyed individual supervision
showed a productivity of 4.12 garments per man-hour. The remaining
four shops, which shared foremen, produced 3.55 garments per man­
hour. Since both the machinery used and the character of the
product were identical in all the shops, it seems reasonable to attribute
the advantage of approximately 16 percent in productivity displayed
by the individually supervised shops to the more immediate manage­
ment control and responsibility in these shops.
In 1935, the four shops supervised by the two foremen were organized
into one large unit, and the system of production was changed to strict
section work. Simultaneously, an improved type of transmission
machinery was introduced throughout that shop. A similar machine
change was effected in the four individual shops during 1936. Because
of this difference in equipment, the two portions of the plant cannot be
compared during 1935.
During 1936, however, comparison is again possible. The four
small shops continued to show a distinct advantage in productivity,
with a man-hour output of 4.12 garments as against 3.65 for the large
shop— a difference of 13 percent. Presumably, this again reflects the




PRODUCTIYITY IN PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

107

closer supervision possible in the smaller shops and the greater handling
time in the large shop.2
0
Labor Cost and Hourly Earnings

Table 43 also shows the direct labor cost in dollars per dozen gar­
ments for each of the plants studied. The range in labor cost was
considerably narrower than that in productivity, largely due to the
fact that plant No. 11, whose productivity was highest, also shows the
highest hourly earnings.
Table 43 likewise shows the average hourly earnings for each of the
plants for which productivity and labor costs are given and in addition,
six other plants. These additional plants manufacture related prod­
ucts, such as nurses’ uniforms, aprons, and women’s woven under­
garments. The difference in the character of the product was too
great to warrant their inclusion in the comparison of labor productivity
or of direct labor cost; they may, however, be properly included in
a comparison of hourly earnings. The hourly earnings in these addi­
tional plants fall within the range of the other plants.
M en’s Pajamas
The style factor may at first seem of little importance in the manu­
facture of men’s pajamas. The plants covered by this study, how­
ever, demonstrated that labor productivity in pajama factories is
very intimately affected by style variations. The presence or absence
of a collar, or the type of collar used; variations in the cuffs, belts, and
the like; the presence or absence of piping and similar parts— all have
a marked effect upon the time required to produce an individual
garment.
Eleven separate productive units representing nine plants and seven
companies were surveyed. The data for 10 of these plants are pre­
sented in table 45 which shows productivity in units per man-hour
for the period between the fall of 1933 and fall of 1936, the direct
labor cost per dozen, and the average hourly earnings of operators.
The figures secured in the eleventh plant were not of comparable
character.

20 An independent study conducted in this plant by Mr. N. I. Stone at the time of the change in transmis­
sion machinery measured the net advantage of the change under carefully controlled conditions. All
elements of variation were carefully excluded, and the study confined to identical operators performing
identical operations. This study revealed a net increase in productivity of 16 percent during the eighth
week following the introduction of the improved transmission equipment.




108
T

able

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

45.— P r o d u c tiv ity , labor cost, and h o u rly earnings in the sew in g d epartm ent—
P a ja m a s, 1 9 3 3 - 8 6

Code No.

System
of pro­ Retail price
duction

1933
Fall

1934
Spring

1935
Fall

Spring

1936
Fall

Spring

Fall

Labor productivity (pajamas per man-hour)
Bundle— $1.49 up. __
122
123 .................. ........ ...d o ___ $1.49 up. ...
121_______________ ...d o ___ $1.95_______
125___________ __ Line___ $1.69_______
117
_________ Bundle.. $1.95-$3.50—
116 __________ ...d o ___ $1.00-$5.00—
120_______________ ...d o — $1.95_______
119_______________ ...d o ___ $1.95_______
118_______________ — do— $3.50_______
124
.................. Line___ $1.69

3.68
2.29
1. 54
1.15
1. 02

2.88
2.47
1. 72
1.10
.94

3.80
2.90
1.93
1. 56
1.18
.90

5.41
2.95
2. 56
1. 50
1.23
1. 05
0)

5.78
3.20
2. 72
2.04
1.58
1. 34
1.17
.80
2.13

5.46
2. 48
0)
2.13
1.66
1.30
1. 22
.90

5. 73
3.07
2.60
2.19
1.58
1.47
1.16
1.08
.81

$0.81
1. 68
(i)
2.19
2.81
2.38
2. 97
3.81

$0.75
1.22
1. 65
1. 72
2.90
2.78
2. 57
3. 25
4. 01

Direct labor cost per dozen pajamas
122_______________
123
_________
121 ___ _______
125 _____________
117
__ _ --116_______________
120_______________
119_______________
118 ______________
124.........................—

Bundle..
do___
—.do___
Line___
Bundle. .
...d o ___
...d o ___
...d o ___
-. do___
Line___

$1.49 up__
$1.49 u p ... . $1.14
$1.95_______ 1.83
$1.69______
$1.95-$3.50—
$1.00-$5.00
$1.95_______ 2.23
$1.95_______ 2.96
$3.50_______ 3. 67
$1.69 ____

$1.63

$1.09
1.54

$0. 79
1.75

$0. 75
1.14
1.69

2.23
3.28
4.13

2.43
3.16
4. 32

2.79
3.43
4.17
(0

2. 54
2.86
3.29
4.79
2.12

Average hourly earnings
122
123 ______________
121
125 . _____
117
. _ _ .
116 _____ _ .
120
______
119 .
__ _
118_______________
_________
124

Bundle. _
...d o ___
do___
Line___
Bundle. .
. do___ .
do__
..d o ___
...d o ___
Line___

$1.49 up____
$1.49 up.
$1.95_______
$1.69_______
$1.95-$3.50—
$1.00-$5.00—
$1.95 ______
$1.95_______
$3.50_______
$1.69_______

Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents
35.8 36.4 36.8
35.9
34.7
34.9

39.1

34.6
37.1

43.0

30.5
38.3

28.9
28.5
31.1

32.0
30.3
32.6

31.6
31.5
32.4

34.8
35. 5
36.8
0)

33. 5
31.9
32.3
32.3
37. 7

34.6
0)
39.0
39.0
25.8
30.5
29.8

31.1
35.8
31.4
38.3
34.3
24.9
29.3
27.1

1 Season when line system was installed.
The range in productivity revealed in table 45 exceeds that observed
for any of the other cotton products studied. The highest productiv­
ity— 5.73 2 garments per man-hour—is approximately 7 times as great
1
as the lowest— 0.81 garment per man-hour. The lowest productivity
corresponds to the finest quality of product and the highest productiv­
ity to the cheapest. Similar price ranges for the other products
studied, however, reflected no such striking differences in labor pro­
ductivity. Apparently, differences in the style of pajamas affect
labor productivity a great deal more than differences in styles of
shirts or work clothing.

31 The data for plants Nos. 122 and 123, both owned by the same company and both of which show excep­
tionally high productivity, were compiled by the management of their respective plants and were not
checked by the field workers of the survey.




PRODUCTIVITY IN

PRINCIPAL BRANCHES

109

Plants Nos. 122 and 123 both manufactured garments in the same
price range. Nevertheless, the productivity per man-hour of plant
No. 122 (5.73 pajamas) was far higher than that of plant No. 123 (3.07
pajamas). This difference was explained by the management as being
due to the texture of the material used rather than to the style factor.
Plant No. 122 manufactured cotton pajamas, while plant No. 123 pro­
duced flannel pajamas.
The range in labor cost was somewhat narrower than that in pro­
ductivity. The highest cost was $4.01 per dozen, while the lowest was
$0.75 per dozen— a range of more than 5 to 1, as against 7 to 1 for
productivity. This was due to the fact that the earnings in the
plant with the highest productivity, plant No. 122, averaged 36 cents
per hour, while average earnings in the plant with the lowest pro­
ductivity, plant No. 118, were 27 cents per hour.
Table 45 reveals a rather marked consistency in man-hour output
for each plant during the entire period studied. In a few plants,
however, there seemed to be a rather definite trend toward lower
productivity. This was true of plants Nos. 117, 120, and 123. This
may have been due in part to an effort to improve the product as
business improved and public purchasing power increased, and in
part to the increase in weekly work hours to as much as 50, causing
lower man-hour productivity.
Table 46 gives the standard time allowed for the different sewing
operations on pajamas in one of the plants operating on the line
system.

T a b l e 46. —

T i m e s t u d y a n a l y s i s o f s e w i n g o p e r a t i o n s o n lin e

Operation
Total time, all operations__________
Join shoulders _
__ _____ ____
Set sleeves. _ _____________ ____
Set cuffs___ __ ___ _ __ _______ _
Make and set pockets _________ _ .
Button hole _
_ _ _ _ __
Pell side seams. ____ ___ _____________
Button sew. _____ __ ____ _____
Hem bottom______ _ _____ _ _ __

Man­
hours per
dozen
4.279
. 109
. 182
. 152
.293
. 162
.235
. 114
.136

—P a j a m a s , 1 9 3 6

Operation
Sew back yoke ._ _ __ _ __ ________
Set front facing ___ __ _____ ____ _ __
Set collar_ _ _ _____
Piece s l e e v e s _ _ ... __ ... __ __
Stitch down front facing _ _ ____ __
Make and turn collar
Join crotch, make fly, set girdle. _ _ _
Fell pants, side seam. .. _ _____ __
Hem bottoms________ ______________
Sew label

Man­
hours per
dozen
.205
. 068
.285
. 365
. 120
.654
. 181
.476
.340

.2
02

The total standard time allowed for sewing operations on a dozen
pajamas is 4.28 man-hours. This is equivalent to an output of 0.233
dozen or 2.80 garments per man per hour.




Appendix 1
Problems and Approach to the Study o f Labor
Productivity
Problems Encountered in Study

Statistical Aspects

A wide variety of statistical problems was encountered in the
course of the survey. The major source of statistical data was neces­
sarily the records kept by individual manufacturers. Obviously,
however, the character of such records was primarily determined by
their value to the individual company as aids to factory management
and not by their potential value for a productivity survey. The ade­
quacy and accuracy of the records kept by the various companies
included in the survey varied considerably. In very few cases were
usable records kept prior to 1933. Only a few out of approximately
100 companies covered by the survey maintained a system of records
extending as far back as 1929.
With a very few exceptions, therefore, it was impossible to secure
statistics for the period prior to the fall of 1933. A great impetus
toward the maintenance of adequate systems of records in that year
was furnished by the N. R. A. The necessity of complying with the
requirements of code administration forced the individual plants to
establish and maintain fairly complete hour and pay-roll records.
Most companies abandoned these records when the N. R. A. passed
out of existence. The survey was fortunate, however, in finding a
sufficient number of companies which had been impressed with the
value of adequate records as a managerial asset by their N. R. A.
experience, so that the record system was maintained even after the
code mandate had lapsed.
In order to determine man-hour productivity, two sets of figures
are obviously needed— data as to actual physical production and
corresponding man-hour figures. Productivity may then be com­
puted by dividing the production recorded for any given period by the
aggregate man-hours during that period.
Wage and piece-rate statistics were also secured wherever possible.
In part, this was done to estimate production, when production records
were lacking, by dividing earnings on individual operations by the
piece-rates for those operations. In addition, wage data were secured
because of the interest which the industry has manifested in a com110




APPENDIX 1

111

parison of wages in different sections of the country, in large cities
versus small towns, etc., and the effect of these wages on comparative
labor costs.
Each of these sets of figures— production, man-hours, and wages—
were subject to very serious inaccuracies and limitations. In some
cases, it was possible to devise techniques to compensate or reduce the
resulting inaccuracies and to permit the drawing of valid inferences in
spite of the shortcomings of the raw data. In other cases, there was
no feasible means for applying adequate corrections. As a conse­
quence, unavoidable limitations were imposed upon the value of the
data secured.
Production Records

The average plant does not attempt to maintain production records
segregating every variety of article manufactured. In some cases,
widely differing items are included in the same aggregate production
figures. Thus, in a few plants the number of overalls produced was
recorded, but there was no way of determining how many of these
overalls were the so-called waist-band overalls— i. e., a dungaree or
work pant— and how many were the common bib overall. The time
required for the manufacture of a bib overall is considerably greater
than th&t needed to produce the band overall. In cases of this sort,
the lack of data as to individual products renders the production
records well-nigh worthless and had to be discarded.
In most cases separate production records were maintained for major
groups of products. However, this was rarely if ever true for similar
products varying only in detail. Thus, dress shirts with one-piece
sleeves were not separated from those for which sleeve gores or inserts
were necessary; shirts with plain backs were included with those
which had French gathers; shirts with plain cuffs were not separated
from shirts with French cuffs; carpenters’ overalls were included with
railroad overalls, etc.
At first glance, these minor style variations may appear unim­
portant. However, they may readily result in differences in the oper­
ating time required of 5 percent or 10 percent and sometimes more,
enough to impose very appreciable limitations on the accuracy of the
results of the survey. Thus, an apparent increase in productivity
displayed by one plant between two successive seasons may be explain­
able entirely by the different proportion of various styles included in
the aggregate production during the two periods in question.
A second problem arose from the fact that production records are
often kept on a monthly basis. Man-hour records, on the other hand,
are usually kept by the week. In some cases, it was possible to apply
corrections that would place both of these sets of figures on a compar­
able basis. In others, this was far more difficult and the results less
reliable.




112

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

The major source of error in the production data arises from the
fact that production records, as usually kept by manufacturing plants
in the cotton-garment industry, take no account of the work in process.
As a result, the nominal production in the sewing department may
provide a very misleading criterion of the number of garments actually
handled by that department during any specific period. Sewing
production is usually recorded as the number of garments which passed
final inspection during each week. Inspection is the last step through
which the garments must pass before being transferred to the pressing
department. As a result, there may be a large number of garments
which have passed through every other stage and are 99 percent
complete, and yet will not be included in the production record of
that week. Any computation of man-hour productivity on that
basis would be misleading. In one case, an apparent decrease in
productivity of 15 percent during one of 4 successive weeks was traced
to the fact that one of a group of three inspectors was absent for 3
days during that week. The full quota of garments were completed
during that week, but those that failed to be inspected by the absent
examiner were not recorded and the production record in consequence
showed a falling off of 15 percent.
In order to minimize the error due to the work in process, 4he rule
was followed of taking the average production for 4 consecutive weeks
during the busiest period of the season.1
In some plants, in the absence of a record of the garments sewn, it
was necessary to fall back on the records of garments cut or pressed,
or the number boxed. If the flow of production through the plant
is at all times uniform, or nearly so, variations of this sort are of no
great significance. However, there are very few plants in which this
condition prevails. In most cases, the number of garments cut during
any week will differ appreciably from the number sewn, and that,
in turn, will vary from the number pressed or the number boxed.
In one plant where complete records are available, for example, over
a period of 4 weeks, 9,152 garments were cut, 7,294 were sewn, and
8,173 were pressed. The extent of the variation is striking.
Moreover, there might be sharp variations within the sewing de­
partment itself. The average garment passes through the hands of
some 20 to 40 sewing-machine operators in the course of its production.
Ideally, of course, the same number of garments pass through each
of these successive stages during any given period. In general,
however, no two successive operations will show exactly the same
number of garments handled during a week or during a month,
except in a straight-line plant. One device for reducing the resulting
inaccuracy was to compute the average production for a number of
key operations, rather than merely to accept production figures based
iT
hese n n n
eed ot ecessarily be th sam calen ar w s each year.
e
e
d eek




APPENDIX 1

113

upon some final operation. This method could be used only for plants
which had detailed production records for individual operations. The
method helps to take account of the work in process and, if the pro­
duction in the shop is fairly balanced, gives a much more accurate
measure of production than the figure for the last operation, which is
used by most plants to represent the production of the shop as a whole.
However, if production is greatly unbalanced, even this method will
not furnish an accurate picture of productivity.
For plants for which it was possible to obtain a complete set of
data of production and hours for each operation, it was possible to
compute the time required to perform each operation. By adding
the time spent on these operations, the total time necessary to produce
a garment in the sewing department was obtained. The reciprocal
of the total production time is the number of garments produced per
man-hour, which constitutes the measure of labor productivity. A
typical comparison between productivity estimates calculated on
these three bases follows:
(а) Calculated on the basis of a key operation (shirt closing), 0.340 dozen per
man-hour.
(б) Calculated on the basis of an average of all standard operations, 0.286 dozen
per man-hour.
(c) Calculated by adding up the time spent on the individual operation, 0.285
dozen per man-hour.

The closeness of the results obtained under (b ) and (c) is striking.
The margin of error of the figure obtained under (a) as checked by
(6) and (c) is about 20 percent.
M an-H our Records

The second element necessary for the computation of labor pro­
ductivity is man-hours. Here, again, available records lack both
adequacy and accuracy.2
A far more general problem arises from the fact that recorded hours
are not always uniformly representative of actual working time.
The hours were taken from the time clock cards as the closest approx­
imation to the actual hours of work. They are not necessarily
records of hours actually spent at work. Even as a record of hours
in the shop, severe limitations must be placed upon the accuracy
of time cards. The large majority of factories in this piece-rate
industry installed time clocks during the N. R. A. to comply with
the cotton-garment code by paying each worker the minimum hourly
wage. During idle periods, the foreman would require workers to
punch the time clock and leave the factory, so that the company

2 In some instances, there was even a deliberate inaccuracy introduced. Thus, during N. R. A., a few
plants maintained hour records that checked with the code requirements more closely than they did with
the actual facts.




114

PR0DUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

would not be liable to pay them for a few hours in the middle of the
day during which they were not actually at work.
Since the termination of the N. R. A., the majority of factories dis­
carded time clocks, although all concerns in the sample studied have
continued the practice. No plants now require workers to check out
of the factory if an hour or two of prospective idle time develops. Some
companies require that time clocks be punched at the beginning and
end of the day, while others also require workers to punch the time
clock at the noon hour. No uniform practice prevails from plant to
plant, and many plants reported that, since the termination of the
N. R. A., workers have been negligent about punching the clock and
the foreman frequently has to estimate the hours in such cases.
The differences in the practice of punching time clocks from period
to period in the same plant and the variations from plant to plant in
the methods of time-clock regulation are conducive to inaccuracies
in the recording of the hours workers are employed in the shop. These
inaccuracies could not be eliminated and are, therefore, inherent in
the computations of both production per hour and hourly earnings.
In a factory employing from 100 to 200 workers on about 50 different
operations, there will be an average of 2 to 4 workers per operation.
The absence of a worker on an operation, through illness or any other
cause, will result in the curtailment of production on that operation
of 25 to 50 percent. Unless there is a considerable reserve of work in
process on each operation, which is usually not the case, such a cur­
tailment of production on a given operation will soon result in a short­
age of work for the succeeding operations, thus creating a bottleneck
which halts the operation of the factory on the remaining operations.
There is thus a certain amount of idle time caused through no fault
of the worker. The extent of idle time is in inverse ratio to the effi­
ciency of the management. Unfortunately, there is hardly a concern
in the industry which keeps a record of such idle time. The amount
of idle time, or the proportion of idle time, will vary from week to
week. In a seasonal industry, it is but natural that at the height of
the season, when customers are impatiently calling for deliveries on
their orders, management will use every effort to keep the plant going
with as few interruptions as possible. On the other hand, in slack
periods, when there is less pressure from customers and the plant is
not working at capacity, management will be less concerned about the
extent of idle time in the factory, knowing that it cannot keep the
workers continuously busy anyway.
To reduce the element of error due to the impossibility of accounting
for idle time it became necessary for this study to select a period during
which idle time in a plant can be expected to be at a minimum. From
this point of view, the one busiest week at the height of a season
would have been the ideal period. However, as the production figures




APPENDIX 1

115

for 1 week might have proved misleading because of the fluctuations
in the quantity of work in process, a period of 4 consecutive weeks in
the busiest period of the season was adopted as a base.
Allocation of Time to Different Products

Another set of problems arises from the multiplicity of products
manufactured in a single plant. The accurate allocation of working
time to each of these products is often not feasible. When each
product is made in a separate shop, floor, or department having its own
records, there is no problem. But if several products are made by
the same workers, there are usually no separate hour-records for each.
In cases of this sort, it was sometimes possible to allocate the man­
hours to the different products by applying a formula based upon a
comparison of direct labor costs of each product or of time studies.
Necessarily, however, such estimates cannot be as accurate as actual
time records.
Learners as a Source of Inaccuracy

An added source of inaccuracy arose from the fact that various
plants employ different proportions of learners and physically handi­
capped help, and that the skill of this type of help relative to the
normal operator varies considerably. Thus, the low productivity
of one plant as compared to another may reflect merely the larger
proportion of operators of substandard efficiency in the former. In
the absence of adequate records it is impossible to account for this
source of error.
Indirect or Floor Help

Finally, the treatment of indirect help presented considerable diffi­
culties. The time of indirect help was not included in the computa­
tion of productivity, since, in the absence of adequate records, it could
not be allocated to given products or operations; yet the presence or
absence of such help and the role played by it may exercise an appre­
ciable effect on the production in the plant. Thus, in one plant, the
sewing operator may be required to call at some central spot for her
bundle and return it. In other plants this may be done by floor boys
whose pay would be classed under “ indirect” labor. Insofar as sepa­
rate figures for indirect help were available, they were excluded from
the totals. The computation of man-hour productivity was subject
to all of these specific sources of inaccuracy and to many minor ones
impossible to list in detail.
Wage Records

Probably the most accurate records available are those with
reference to earnings. The amount of weekly wages paid to each




116

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

individual worker is necessarily accurately recorded. Hourly earnings
are obtained by dividing the wages paid by the recorded man-hours.
Bearing in mind what was said as to the limitations of the time records,
the hourly wages represent earnings per hour of attendance in the
shop, rather than earnings per hour actually spent at work.
Labor Costs

Direct labor cost is computed by dividing the wages paid by the
number of garments or parts made. In this case, while the wage
data may be fairly reliable, the inaccuracy of the production figures
already described affects the accuracy of the labor-cost data to an
equal extent.
The limitations inherent in the character of the data secured have
been discussed in detail in order to preclude extending unwarranted
validity to the comparisons and conclusions which are presented.
Despite these inaccuracies, however, it has been possible to discern
certain trends and to draw certain inferences which may be presented
with some degree of assurance.
M ethods o f Study

Selection of the Sample

The first step in the actual conduct of the study was the selection
of a representative sample of plants to be surveyed. This involved
two steps— the preparation of a tentative prospect list and the choice
from that list of concerns willing to extend their cooperation and main­
taining records adequate for the purpose.
The study was confined to the following products of the cottongarment industry: (1) Men’s dress shirts; (2) work shirts; (3) overalls;
(4) work pants; (5) semidress pants; (6) house dresses retailing for
$1 or less; and (7) pajamas.
A list of 300 likely prospects representing these product groups
was first prepared from the records of the International Association
of Garment Manufacturers. In preparing this list, it was first hoped
to have the survey cover a period of about 10 years. Those firms were
selected which were most likely to possess production and man-hour
records prior to N. R. A.
During the code period, a questionnaire had been distributed by
the International Association of Garment Manufacturers inquiring
as to the character of records maintained by each firm in the industry.
The large majority of those replying stated that there had been no
time clocks installed in their factories prior to the approval of the
cotton-garment code. Consequently, the prospect list originally
prepared was confined to the minority of firms whose replies indicated




APPENDIX 1

117

the probability that hour records had been maintained prior to the
code period.
As the survey progressed, it became apparent, however, that very
few firms, even of the limited sample chosen, had such man-hour
records for the period prior to 1933 in accessible form. Other firms
had destroyed them in order to economize on storage space or for
other reasons.
In addition to selecting firms likely to maintain adequate records,
an effort was made to secure a representative cross-section of the
cotton-garment industry. The prospect list was therefore prepared
to include manufacturers of each of the principal products; large,
medium, and small producers; plants located in each major geo­
graphical area; plants located in cities, small towns, and rural areas;
union and nonunion producers; and members and nonmembers of
the International Association of Garment Manufacturers.
Contractors who make up garments from cloth furnished them by
the manufacturers were excluded, because of the unlikelihood that
they would show any degree of consistency in the character of products
manufactured and because of the improbability that they would main­
tain adequate records.
Necessarily, this basis of selection presented an incomplete picture
of the industry. In spite of the effort to secure an adequate sample
of small firms, not more than a very few of the smaller producers
were found to have records adequate for the purpose of the study.
Field Contacts

It was next necessary to call on each firm included in this prospect
list to determine whether its records were adequate for the purpose
of the survey and whether it was willing to extend its cooperation.
In order to secure adequate geographic sampling, virtually every
section of the country in which a substantial number of cotton-gar­
ment plants was located had to be covered.
Since the cooperation of the manufacturers in the survey was
entirely voluntary, it was essential to arouse the interest of the
company executive interviewed, by explaining its purpose and stress­
ing its potential value to the industry as a whole and to his firm in
particular. Eighty-five percent of the 300 manufacturers visited were
cooperative. Most of the larger and more progressive concerns
evinced great interest and displayed a thorough grasp of the possi­
bilities inherent in a study of the character contemplated.
After a concern agreed to participate in the survey, it was left to
the field representative to ascertain whether its records were adequate
for study. For this purpose, he was required to fill out preliminary
schedules designed to obtain certain summary information as to the




118

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

character and size of the concern, the nature of its product, the names
of its responsible officers, its union affiliations, if any, and any other
special features of interest. These schedules covered the period of
available records, the possibility of segregating records for different
products where more than one product was manufactured in a plant,
the possibility of securing data by individual operations, and the
extent to which recent changes in machinery, equipment, or method
of operation would permit comparisons to be drawn as to the effect
of such changes on productivity.
The information compiled from these schedules revealed that a
majority of the plants visited were unsuitable for the survey. Many
had records only for the year 1936. Others were rejected because
they produced a diversified line without maintaining separate records
for each type of product. In many other plants, only the crudest
form of man-hour records were kept. In others, although both pro­
duction and man-hour records were maintained, these were on bases
so different that comparability was impossible. For these and a
variety of other reasons, approximately 6 out of every 10 companies
visited proved unsuitable for study despite their apparent willingness
to cooperate.
Classification of Sample

The exclusion of firms unwilling to cooperate and of those whose
records were inadequate for the purpose of the survey eliminated
approximately 70 percent of the original prospect list. Records
were actually secured from 85 firms, comprising a total of 116 plants.
D istrib u tio n b y p ro d u c t .— The number of plants covered by the
survey, classified by the products they produced, was as follows:
Dress shirts________________________________________________________
Work shirts_____________________________________________________
Overalls____________________________________________________________
Work pants______________________________________________
Semidress pants____________________________________________________
Pajamas_________________________________________________________
House dresses, nightgowns, aprons, nurses’ uniforms___________
T o ta l_____________________________________________________

41
16
25
19
15
9
15
1 140

1This total d es n con
o ot formw th total num of plan surveyed (1 6 b se m plan m
ith e
ber
ts
1 ) ecau any
ts anu­
factu m than o e p
red ore
n roduct.
G eographic d istrib u tio n .— The 116 plants studied were located in the
following 27 States representing every geographical region:
Northeast___
Connecticut___________________________________________________
M assachusetts________________________________________________
New Jersey___________________________________________________
New Y o rk ___________________________________________________
Pennsylvania_________________________________________________
Rhode Island_________________________________________________




39
1
2
9
16
10
1

119

APPENDIX 1
Midwest_________________
Illinois______________
Indiana_____________
Michigan___________
Minnesota__________
Missouri (northern).
Ohio________________
Wisconsin__________
Far W est________________
California___________
Colorado____________
Oregon______________
South 1___________________
Alabam a____________
Georgia_____________
Louisiana___________
M aryland__________
Mississippi_________
Missouri (southern)
North Carolina____
South Carolina____
Tennessee__________
Texas______________
Virginia____________
W est Virginia_____

26
4
4
1

Total, all regions__________________________________________________

116

1

9

6

1

14

12

1
1

37

2
2
3
4

1

9

1
1

2
7
3

2

i For the purposes of this compilation, the South was defined as including the entire area to which the lower
wage differential was applicable under the cotton-garment code of N. R. A.
S iz e o j to w n . — Sixty-five plants of the sample were located in cities
of 100,000 or over, or in the suburban or metropolitan districts of
such cities. Twenty-seven were located in towns of 10,000 to 100,000
population. The remaining 24 were located in places whose popula­
tion was under 10,000.
S iz e o j c o m p a n y .— Fourteen of the eighty-five companies surveyed
employed more than 1,000 wage earners; 5 8 employed between 100
and 1,000 wage earners; the remaining 13 firms had less than 100
wage earners each.
U n io n iz a tio n . — Thirty-two of the 116 plants were unionized at the
time of the survey.

Character of Sample

The sample of 116 plants studied did not contain an adequate
number of small plants, of plants paying low wages, or plants manu­
facturing cheap products, to be considered fully representative of the
3,700 plants in the cotton-garment industry. The lack of records
typically encountered among such firms made this inevitable. As a
result, the survey definitely skimmed the cream of the industry; and
the productivity, wages, and efficiency of management of most of the
factories studied are probably substantially above the average for the
industry.




120

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

Field Study

The actual plant investigation was conducted by a number of
“ teams.” Each team consisted of two persons, one of whom was
intimately acquainted with the technical aspects of garment manu­
facture, while the other acted as his assistant in recording the statis­
tical data secured.
T ech nical s tu d y .— The first step in the plant survey was a technical
study. This involved a complete analysis of the operations of manu­
facture. The exact character and the sequence of operations followed
in each plant, the type of machinery and equipment used for each
operation, the method of handling work, and all other details of the
manufacturing process were obtained and recorded. The information
was obtained partly through conferences with the responsible produc­
tion managers of each plant, supplemented wherever possible by actual
inspection of the plant itself.
The essential technical information was tabulated on a special
form which permitted a detailed recording of the manner in which
each operation was performed and of the machinery and equipment
utilized. Wherever changes in machinery or equipment had occurred
during the period covered by the survey, the schedule called for the
date of the change in order to permit a comparison of labor produc­
tivity before and after the change.
In addition every effort was made to secure as complete a descrip­
tion as possible of the significant operating characteristics of each
plant. The exact character of the system or production used, the
nature of the labor supply, the characteristics of the management,
any special operating problems, and any significant departures from
the common procedure of the industry were all carefully noted.
P la n t sta tistics .— The statistics pertaining to the operation of the
plant were secured for two consecutive 4-week periods during each
year, for as many years as data were available. An endeavor was
made to select periods coinciding with the height of the busy season.
Physical production, man-hours worked, the number of employees on
the pay roll, and the wages paid were recorded in each case, and where
obtainable, the number of indirect help and the indirect pay roll.
The number of employees, man-hours, pay roll, and production for
each individual operation, where obtainable, were also recorded. In
many cases, production figures for individual operations were not
directly available, but pay-roll figures were. In these instances, the
corresponding piece rates were obtained, since by dividing pay roll
by piece rate, production could be computed. This method could be
followed only on operations for which there was a single piece rate.
P ro b lem s en cou n tered .— A wide variety of problems was encountered
in the course of the field study, due to the differences in the manner in




APPENDIX 1

121

which individual plants maintained their operating records. In a few
instances, records both for the major departments and for individual
operations were carefully and clearly kept, so that it was necessary
to do virtually nothing but transcribe these data on the forms pro­
vided. In the majority of plants, however, this was not the case.
Frequently, for example, pay-roll and man-hour data were recorded
for each operator by name. It was necessary in such cases to de­
termine exactly what each one of these operators had been doing during
each of the periods covered by the survey. In many cases it was
necessary to rely upon the memory of plant officials for this allocation.
It often happened that the same operator worked on a number of
different operations during a single week. Here, again, it was neces­
sary to devise some scheme for distributing operating time to its proper
category. Frequently, no separate record had been maintained of
the number of garments produced in the sewing department. In
cases of this kind, it was sometimes possible to derive the volume of
production by dividing the total pay roll for some key operation by the
piece rate for that operation.
It is impossible to list in detail all the difficulties of this character
which arose during the course of the field survey, nor could they have
been anticipated in advance. Each plant presented its own individual
problem, and its solution necessarily rested on the ability and re­
sourcefulness of the research workers in the field.

113379




-9

Appendix 2

Earnings in Cotton-Garment Plants
The wage sample in this study covers 124 plants.1 Compared with
the 3,700 plants in the industry as a whole, this limited sample is in
no way intended to represent the entire industry. Moreover, the
plants in this study were selected, on the basis of their superior records,
as suitable for a labor-productivity analysis. This makes the sample
distinctly one of higher wages, higher-price products, larger estab­
lishments, and more efficient management than the average, and the
data on earnings presented here must be interpreted in the light of
this fact.
Wages in sewing departments were obtained for all plants in the
sample, but for the cutting and pressing departments, because of
lack of uniformity in classification of employees, information was
secured for less than half of the factories. Since the termination of
the Cotton Garment Code Authority, occupational groups have not
been accurately classified on many factory pay rolls. For example,
examiners are sometimes included in the sewing department and some­
times in the pressing department. Some manufacturers count only
sewing-machine operators in the stitching department, while others
include indirect labor, such as floor girls. One cutting department
listed several cutters’ helpers, but no cutter; an inquiry developed
that the foreman of the sewing department did the cutting in this
plant. In another plant, the cutters’ helpers were listed on the pay
roll, but the cutter was classified under nonmanufacturing workers,
since he was also the plant engineer. Wherever possible careful
editing helped to remove most of these inconsistencies, but several
plants had to be omitted for this reason.
Data on earnings were obtained only on such products as were
included in the productivity analysis and not for entire factories. If,
for instance, a plant employing 500 workers had approximately 200
employees engaged on the products surveyed, only the earnings for
the latter employees were recorded. In determining the average
earnings of the plants, therefore, no consideration was given to the
number of workers covered in each plant. Each factory was con­
sidered as a unit irrespective of whether it employed 1,000 workers or
75. This method was found feasible because in some plants all the

1 Only 116 plants were studied, but a few factories in which separate wage figures were collected for the
different products, such as overalls, work shirts, and work pants, were counted more than once.
122




123

APPENDIX 2

workers were included, while in other plants only a fraction of the
total employees were covered. Besides it was decided to give the
smaller plants, which predominate in the industry, but not in the
sample, more adequate weight, and this could be accomplished by
giving each small plant an equal weight with the large one.
The analysis was largely confined to average hourly earnings, as
weekly earnings for the busiest months of the year, covered by this
study, would not be indicative of the average annual weekly earnings.
Likewise, since the industry is no longer on a uniform weekly schedule
of hours, the weekly earnings would not be comparable between plant
and plant.
Table 1 gives a distribution of the 124 plants by weekly hours, for
the country as a whole and for the North and South separately.
While nearly 71 percent of all the plants were found operating on the
40-hour or less schedule, 20 of the 87 plants, or 23 percent, in the
North and 16 of the 37 plants, or 43 percent, in the South worked longer
hours. Ten plants, or over 11 percent, in the North and 9 plants, or
over 24 percent, in the South averaged more than 45 hours per week,
while 4 plants in the South averaged between 54 and 60 hours per
week. Two nonunion plants in California continued to work on the
36-hour schedule, in contrast to one southern factory which operated
60 hours per week.
T

able

1. — Scheduled w eek ly hours o f w ork in
Hours per week

All plants________ ____________________________________ .
36 hou rs____ ____ . _ _______________________________ _
40 hours__________________ ______ _ _ -- __________
42-44 hours_____________ _________ _ ___ ________ ________
45-48 hours______________________________________________
40-52 hours_________ ____________________ _________
54-60 hours------------- ------ ------------------ ------- ----------------------

cotton-garm ent fa cto ries, 1 9 8 6

Number of plants
United States
124
2
86
17
10
0
4

North

South
87
2
65
10
6
4
0

37
0
21
7
4
1
4

A verage H ou rly Earnings in Sew ing, C u ttin g, and Pressing
Departm ents

The average hourly earnings presented here refer to the fall of 1936.
However, in a few factories where figures were not available for this
period, the information is based on the spring of 1936 and in rare
instances on the fall of 1935. In all cases, the average hourly earnings
are for periods subsequent to the N. R. A.
In table 2 is presented a frequency distribution of average hourly
earnings of sewing-machine operators in the 124 plants surveyed. In
the fall of 1936, some plants averaged as low as 17 cents and others




124

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

as much as 58 cents per hour. In the 87 northern plants, the range
was from 21 to 58 cents, while in the 37 southern plants the range was
from 17 to 37 cents, except for one union-label plant which had higher
average hourly earnings. In the North, the largest concentration,
comprising 42 plants, was in the range of 35 to 45 cents per hour; in the
South, the largest concentration, comprising 17 plants, was in the 25
to 30 cents per hour group. The 19 northern plants paying 45 cents
per hour or more were all unionized. The lowest earnings in a union
plant were 32.4 cents per hour, while the highest earnings in a non­
union plant were 42.9 cents per hour. In 26 of the 39 union plants,
the workers earned more per hour than the highest earnings in the
nonunion plants.
Comparing union with nonunion plants in the North, the earnings
in the nonunion shops ranged from 27.5 to 42.9 cents per hour, while
in the union shops they ranged from 32.4 to 58.0 cents per hour. In
the South (all nonunion) the hourly earnings were from 17.0 to 37.5
cents.

T a b l e 2 .—

D i s t r i b u t i o n o f 1 2 4 c o tto n -g a r m e n t f a c t o r i e s b y a vera g e h o u r l y e a r n i n g s y
1936

Average earnings per hour
Total plants________ _ __
15.0-19.9 cents_____ _______
20.0-24.9 cents___ __________
25.0-29.9 cents______________
30.0-32.4 cents____________
32.5-34.9 cents_____________
35.0-39.9 cents______________
40.0-44.9 cents___________
45.0-49.9 cents_________ _
50.0-54.9 cents_______ __
55.0-59.9 cents.....................
60.0-74.9 cents____ _____ ___
75.0-90.0 cents______ __

North
Sewing
87
3
5
8
10
21
21
5
11
3

South

Cutting i Pressing i
42

44

1
4
5
1
6
19
6

8
8

5
1

11
4
1
2
2
2

Sewing

Cutting i Pressing *

37
2
7
17
6
3
1
1

9

10

1

4
3
2
1

1
4
2
1

i Earnings of cutting and pressing departments were recorded in fewer factories than for sewing-ma­
chine operators.
Table 3 gives average hourly earnings of workers in the cutting and
pressing departments of union and nonunion plants for the North
and South separately.
Earnings in the cutting department, including both cutters and
helpers, who were almost entirely male, averaged approximately
60 percent higher than those of sewing-machine operators, who were
almost entirely female. Earnings in nonunion cutting departments
in the North were approximately 18 percent below those in union
plants, while earnings in cutting departments in the South (all non­
union) averaged approximately 22.5 percent lower than in nonunion
northern plants. More than half of the plants studied averaged




APPENDIX

2

1 2 5

60 cents or more per hour for cutting-department employees. Only
1 southern plant is included in this group, as against 25 plants in the
North.
T able 3.—

A vera ge

h o u r ly

e a r n in g s

in

c u ttin g

and

p r e s s in g

North
Department and union status

Gutting department___________________________ ___
Nonunion plants 1__ ___________________
Union plants___ _______________________________
Pressing department______________________________
Nonunion plants 1____ _________________________
Union plants __________ __________ ___ _______

d ep a rtm en ts

,

1936

South

Number of Average Number of Average
hourly
hourly
plants
plants
earnings
earnings
41
27
14
44
31
13

Cents

61.6
57.4
69.7
42.2
38.2
51.6

9
9
11
11

Cents
44.5
44.5
31.4
31.4

i Includes plants where the cutters or pressers or both groups belonged to a union, but the plant as a whole
had no union contract.
Earnings in the pressing department averaged approximately
10 percent higher than those of sewing-machine operators. Pressers
in nonunion northern plants were paid about 26 percent less than in
union northern plants, while pressers in southern plants (all non­
union) averaged about 18 percent lower than in nonunion northern
plants. These approximate differences in earnings in the cutting and
pressing departments of union northern plants, nonunion northern
plants, and nonunion southern plants were found to be true also in
the sewing departments.
Earnings o f Sew ing-M achine Operators in M ajor Branches o f the
Industry

The majority of cotton-garment manufacturers make several prod­
ucts, but the records indicated a close similarity in average earnings
for the major products of the cotton-garment industry, regardless of
whether the product was shirts, pants, or dresses.
Hourly earnings of sewing-machine operators in higher-price ($1.95
up at retail) and medium-price dress-shirt plants (principally $1.00
to $1.65 at retail) were practically the same. The average earnings in
10 nonunion northern high-price dress-shirt factories were 36.6 cents
per hour, as compared with 37.6 cents per hour for the 8 nonunion
northern medium-price dress-shirt factories.
Six of the products fell within the narrow range of 32.6 (work pants)
to 35.7 cents per hour (dress shirts). Workers in overall plants
averaged considerably higher hourly earnings (41.3 cents), due to the
inclusion in the sample of a large proportion of union-label producers.
In general, hourly earnings varied less according to different products




126

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

than according to geographical distribution, size of town, union and
nonunion relations, etc.

T a b l e 4. —

A v e r a g e h o u r l y e a r n i n g s o f s e w i n g -m a c h i n e

o p e r a to r s , b y p r o d u c t s , 1 9 3 6

North
Product

South

Number of Average Number of Average
hourly
hourly
plants
plants
earnings
earnings

All major products.._____ ...
............................ .
Dress shirts. . .. ... __ ____________ _____...
Pajamas______________________________________
Work p an ts__________________________________
Work shirts_____ _ . ... . . . _ . . . ... ... _
Overalls 2__. . _____ _
_ _____
Semidress pants_____ . . __ _____ ________
Dresses and nurses’ uniforms____ _______________

87
25
7
5
6
20
12
12

Cents
39.5
37.4
34.9
41.6
47.2
44.6
37.6
35.2

37
7
0) 9
8
7
4
0)

Cents
28.0
29.7
0) 27.6
25.2
31.7
24.8
0)

1 Data for single plant not given, in order to avoid disclosure.
2 For wage analysis, dungarees are included with overalls, since these garments are usually produced in
the overall department.
Hourly Earnings of Sewing-Machine Operators, by Geographical Regions

As indicated in table 5, 16 plants in the Far West (California
and Colorado) had the highest average hourly earnings of sewingmachine operators of any region. The average for these plants was 43
cents per hour. The next highest average hourly earnings were in the

T a b l e 5. —

A vera ge

h o u r ly

e a r n i n g s o f s e w i n g -m a c h i n e
re g io n s, fa ll o f 1 9 3 6

o p e r a to r s , b y

Region and State
East_______ ______ ____ ____________ ________________________ __
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut__ ___ ___ ________
New York_______ _______ __________ _____ ________________ _ ...
New Jersey. ____ _
________ _____ _
________ _________ _
Pennsylvania________ ______ ______________ __________ ____ _
Midwest__________ .. ______ ___ _________ ____________ ___________
Ohio._________________ ________ _____ ________________________
Indiana and Illinois___________
. ... ________ _______ ____ _
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota___ _________ _ __________ ...
Missouri (North) i._. _ _ _ ... _____ ____________________ _
Far West.. _______________ _______________________ ..
California_______ _ ____ ________ ._ ____________ _. _ .
South______ ____ _______. . . ________ ___________
Maryland and West Virginia. _________________
Virginia_________ _ _ _______ ______ __ _ _ ______ ______ _
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia____ _____________ _ __
Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee_______ _ ... __
Louisiana_______ . _______ ______________________ _____ ____ _
Missouri (South) i_____ __ _________ _ ______ ________ ___
Texas_____ _______________________ ________ ____________ ____

S ta te s

and

Average
Number of hourly earn­
plants
ings
40
4
17
10
9
31
8
6
4
13
216
14
37
6
3
5
3
3
6
11

Cents 38. 3
33.8
37.6
39.7
40.0
39. 2
38. 6
35. 5
47. 2
38. 9
43.0
41.6
28.0
29.4
35. 4
29.9
25.4
24.0
25.7
28.8

1 The section of Missouri below the 38th parallel in latitude was classified as southern under the code.
St. Louis and Kansas City and other Missouri towns north of the 38th parallel were allocated to the North,
while several small towns near the Arkansas border operated under the southern wage scale.
2 Figures for less than 3 plants located in a single State or related group of States were included in regional
totals, but not by individual States.




127

APPENDIX 2

31 plants in the Middle West (39.2 cents), followed by the 40 plants in
the East (38.3 cents). The 37 plants in the South averaged the low­
est hourly earnings (28 cents).
Average hourly earnings of factories in the East and the Midwest
were fairly similar. The actual differentials in average hourly earn­
ings between the North and South were 20.0 percent prior to N. R. A.
and 11.3 percent under N. R. A (greater than the 7.7 percent minimum
differential), since even under the cotton-garment code northern
factories paid a larger proportion of their employees above the mini­
mum than did southern plants. In this sample of 124 plants, the
differential between northern and southern wages in 1936 was 30
percent. All of the northern States had an average above the former
code minimum of 32% cents per hour. Virginia was the only southern
State where the average was above the southern minimum of 30 cents
per hour.
For each metropolitan city area where three or more plants were
surveyed, average hourly earnings are shown in table 6.
Average hourly earnings in large northern cities varied from 34.1
cents in St. Louis to 42.2 cents in New York City, while in two
southern cities, New Orleans and San Antonio, the average was 24
cents.

T a b l e 6. —

A vera ge

h o u r ly

e a r n in g s o f s e w i n g -m a c h i n e
m e tr o p o l i t a n a r e a s , 1 9 8 6

o p e r a to r s

City
New York City_____________ ______ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _______________
New York City suburbs in New Jersey and Connecticut1 ____ _ ______ _
Troy district2_______________ __ . __ __
__ _ _________ _
Philadelphia_________ _____ __ __
__ __ ___ __ __
Cincinnati_____________ ___ __ _
__ __
Chicago and Indiana suburbs __ _ _ _ ______ ___ __________ _____
_ _____ ____ __________
St. Louis____________ _ _ _ _ _ _
San Francisco and Oakland 2 __ _ __ ___________ _____________ __
Los Angeles County. __ __ ________ ____ ____ ________ ____ ____
San Antonio 3_____ _____ _______________ _ ______________________
NewOrleans.. ________ _____ __________________ ___ _____________

in fa c to ries in

Average
Number of hourly earn­
plants
ings
3
4
4
5
3
4
5
5
6
3
3

C e n ts

42.2
38. 3
37.3
39.6
41. 3
35.0
34.1
40.3
42.0
23.9
24.0

1 Classified separately from New York City, because of the prevalent belief that wages are higher in the
city proper.
Suburbs included.
3 2 of the 3 plants in San Antonio employ Mexican labor. The average hourly earnings in these 2 plants
combined are 20.1 cents. 1 of these factories ranks lowest in its product group in productivity while the other
is next to the lowest.
2

Hourly Earnings of Sewing-Machine Operators, by Sise of Town

The size of town was one of the most important factors determining
the wage level of this industry both before and during N. R. A., since
the cotton-garment industry was widely decentralized in 900 towns,
with one-fourth of its workers located in communities of less than
10,000 population.




128

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

T able

7 . — A verage

h o u r ly

ea r n in g s

,

o f s e w i n g -m a c h i n e

o p e r a t o r s t b y s i z e o f to w n

and regio n fa ll o f 1 9 8 6

Total, United
States
Region

Population of towns
Over 100,000 i

10,000 to 100,000

Under 10,000

Number Average Number Average Number Average Number Average
hourly
of
hourly
of
of
hourly
of
hourly
plants earnings plants earnings plants earnings plants earnings
North_____________
South_____________

87
37

Cents
39.5

28.0

59
14

Cents
40.4
27.2

22
15

Cents

38.0
29.6

6
8

Cents
35.8

26.2

1 And their suburbs.
In the North, the highest average hourly earnings (40.4 cents)
were in the 59 plants located in cities of 100,000 population. In the
South the highest average hourly earnings (29.6 cents) were in towns
with a population of from 10,000 to 100,000. Both in the North
and in the South, the plants located in small towns with populations
under 10,000 had the lowest hourly earnings— 35.8 cents in the North
and 26.2 cents in the South. Six plants in small towns in southern
Missouri averaged 25.7 cents per hour for earnings of sewing-machine
operators, or nearly 10 percent less than 11 plants farther south, in
Texas, all but one located in large cities, in which such earnings
averaged 28.8 cents per hour.
H ourly Earnings in Union and N onunion Plants

Sewing-machine operators in 39 union plants averaged 45.6 cents
per hour as compared with an average of 31.7 cents per hour in 85
nonunion plants. Union northern plants averaged 45.5 cents per
hour, or 30 percent above the 34.9 cents average in nonunion northern
plants, and 67 percent above the 27.3 cents average in nonunion
southern plants.
The greatest difference in earnings between union and nonunion
plants was found in work clothing. The 28 union plants in the North
averaged 47.6 cents per hour, or 41 percent above the 33.6 cents per
hour average in the 15 nonunion plants in the North and nearly 80
percent above the 26.6 cents per hour average in 27 nonunion plants
in the South. Sewing-machine operators in union-label work-cloth­
ing plants earned substantially more per hour than those in union
dress-shirt, house-dress, and semidress-pants factories. The higher
average hourly earnings of workers in union-label work-clothing plants
are explained by the higher price level and the partially protected
market which these manufacturers enjoyed in comparison with the
other manufacturers in the industry. The earnings of workers in 24
union plants producing overalls, work shirts, and work pants averaged




129

APPENDIX 2

48.6 cents per hour, or 19 percent more than the average of 40.9
cents in the 15 union plants producing dress shirts, house dresses,
and semidress pants.
Changes in Average H ou rly Earnings Since the N . R . A .

Approximately 30 percent of all the cotton-garment plants studied
and 43 percent of the nonunion plants had increased their weekly
work hours beyond 40 since the N. R. A. In these instances, weekly
wages almost invariably remained the same, and the workers experi­
enced a reduction in their average hourly earnings.

T a b l e 8 .—

C han ge in

a vera g e

h o u r ly e a r n i n g s o f s e w i n g -m a c h i n e
the N . R . A .

Union plants
Product and region

Dress shirts:
North_______ ____ ___________
South________________________
Pajamas:
North___________ ___________
South_____________________ __
Overalls:
North___________ ___ ____ _ _
South______________________
Work pants:
North________________________
South____________ ____ _______
Semidress pants:
North________________________
South__ _____________________
Work shirts:
North___________________ ____
South___ ____________________
House dresses and nurses’ uniforms:
North________________________
South_______________________
Total, North________________
Total, South_______________

o p e r a to r s

s in c e

Nonunion plants

Aver­ Aver­
Aver­ Aver­
age
age
age
age
Num­ hourly hourly Change Num­ hourly hourly Change
ber of earn­ earn­ 1934-36 ber of earn­ earn­ 1934-36
plants ings ings
plants ings ings
1934 1936
1934 1936
7

Cents Cents Percent
38.5 38.4 -0 .3

16
6
4

Cents Cents Percent
37.4 37.6 +0.5

49.2

-3 .0

3

50.6

47.6

-6 .0

4

46.8

45.0

-3 .9

6

47.8

47.2

-1 .3

0)

0)

34

-12.6
-7 .9

35.0
32.5

33.7
27.3

—3.7
-16.0

6
4
4

32.1
36.5
30.7

28.8
34.3
24.8

—10.3
-6 .0
-19.2

6

50.7

28.5
33.6

6
5

(9

12

32.6
36.5

29.8
35.2

24.9
33.8

-16.5
-4 .0

37
29

36.6
31.6

35.4
27.0

-3 .3
-14.6

6
0)

46.3

45.3

-2.2

1 Fewer than 3 plants; data not shown separately, but included in totals.
Sewing-machine operators in union plants had experienced very
minor changes in their hourly earnings since the termination of the
N. R. A. The slight decline of 2.2 percent for 34 union plants shown
in table 8 may have been due to the elimination of the stringent
provisions of the cotton-garment code on employment of learners
and handicapped workers, who after the N. R. A. were paid on a piecerate basis and were not limited in numbers.
Average hourly earnings in northern nonunion plants had likewise
declined very slightly, 3.3 percent, since N. R. A. However, southern
nonunion factories showed substantial decreases in average hourly
earnings, 14.6 percent, since N. R. A., and these reductions were
consistent in every product group.




130

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

It must be emphasized, however, that the select sample of firms
in this study should not be construed to be representative of the rank
and file of the industry. The 100 or more plants covered by the study
paid wages at least 10 percent higher than the average of the industry
during the N. R. A. In March 1933, prior to the N. R. A., when no
minimum wage existed, these producers paid wages 20 percent higher
than the average of the industry.2
The reversion to lower wages following the termination of the
N. R. A. occurred principally among the types of plants which were
compelled to raise wages the most in 1933 to bring them up to the
minimum set by the N. R. A. Nonunion factories located in towns of
under 10,000 population reduced wages 10.3 percent in the North
and 25.1 percent in the South. On the other hand, average hourly
earnings in nonunion urban factories in the North changed very little
after the N. R. A., and southern factories in towns above 10,000
population recorded a decline of less than half that experienced in the
smallest communities.

T able

9 . — Changes in average earnings o f sewing-m achine operators in n on u n ion
plants in towns o f different sizes

Population of town

North________ _ _ _____ ____________________ ______
Over 100,000 and suburbs__ _ ____ _____ ________
10,000 to 100,000________________________________
Under 10,000 _ __ _____ _
_________ _
South ____ _ __ __ __ _ ________________________
Over 100,000 and suburbs.......... __ ____________
10,000 to 100,000________________________________
Under 10,000____ ____________________________

Number
of plants
37
22
11
4
29
14
10

Average hourly
earnings

Decrease
since 1934

1934

1936

Cents
36.6

Cents 4 Percent3.3
35.

37.0
35.0
37.0
31. 6
29. 2
33.7
33.9

36.4
33.8
33. 2
27.0
25.8
29.7
25.4

1. 7
3.4
10. 3
14.6
11. 6
11.9
25.1

The tendency toward severe wage-cutting after the N. R. A. was
most noticeable in factories located in the smallest communities, which
may account for the persistent movement of plants to small southern
towns.
Conclusions
An analysis of the select sample of 124 plants presents a picture of
prevailing wages from 10 to 20 percent higher than in the industry
as a whole, but detailed break-downs reveal certain trends operating
in the 2 years following the termination of N. R. A.
(1)
After the code minimum wage was abolished, the range in average
hourly earnings varied from 17 to 58 cents per hour, even in this
select sample.
2Data are from the Statistical Service Bureau of the International Association of Garment Manufacturers.
Wages, Hours, and Employment in the Cotton-Garment Industry. 1929-35.




APPENDIX 2

131

(2) Wages varied comparatively little according to the product
manufactured.
(3) Earnings of workers in northern union-label work-clothing fac­
tories were substantially higher than in nonunion plants in the North
and much higher than in nonunion plants in the South. However,
earnings of workers in union dress-shirt factories were substantially
below union work-clothing plants, which enjoyed the partial protec­
tion of the label. Earnings in union and nonunion dress-shirt plants
in the North were considerably higher than in nonunion dress-shirt
factories in the South.
(4) Substantial differences in earnings existed between geographical
regions; southern earnings at the time of the study were 30 percent
below those in northern plants, as compared with an actual differential
of 11.4 percent during the N. R. A., the 7.7 percent differential allowed
under the code minimum, and a prevailing differential of 20 percent,
prior to N. R. A.
(5) Wages varied in a marked manner according to the size of the
town in which the plant was located. The range was from 40.4 cents
in cities of over 100,000 population in the North to 26.2 cents in small
towns of under 10,000 population in the South. Small-town plants
in both the North and South deviated most from the N. R. A.
standards.




Appendix 3
Basic Manufacturing Operations
Dress Shirts

The average factory which produces dress shirts is composed of
three distinct manufacturing departments— cutting, sewing, and
pressing. The last is frequently called the laundry department.
Supplementing the cutting department proper, there is the process
of designing and pattern making, which, from a cost point of view, is
usually charged to the cutting department.1
P a ttern m a k in g .— The first step in the manufacture of a shirt is
the preparation of a pattern. Since the design of dress shirts is sub­
ject to but minor style variations, patterns have become fairly stand­
ardized. A set of patterns is prepared for each style. These are
graded in size to conform with the size variations of the finished shirt,
which range normally from 14 to 17 or 17% .
The patterns are usually made of heavy cardboard, though wood­
block patterns are also used. Some concerns make perforated stencils
or dies for cutting out small parts and linings. The body of the
shirt is outlined directly on the cloth with the aid of the pattern.
The process of pattern making and grading requires a high degree
of skill and precision. Careful preparation is essential in order to
insure that the parts will fit properly during the actual process of
manufacture.
C u ttin g .— The first step in the actual handling of material is its
stretching or “ laying up” by spreaders on the cutting table. The
tables are generally very long, commonly between 100 and 200 feet.
The cloth is spread either by hand or by mechanical spreaders, though
the latter are more common for the cheaper grades. Material is
spread in successive layers, the total number varying from 6 to 240.
The size of the lay depends, first, on whether the cutting is done
by hand or machine. There is also a tendency toward smaller lays
for better grades of garments. Furthermore, concerns making stock
garments will pile as high as the thickness, the degree of softness of
the cloth, and the capacity of the cutting machine will permit. Con­
cerns which make shirts to the specifications of their retail customers

1 Sorting, boxing, packing, and the like are not strictly manufacturing processes and have not been con­
sidered in this survey.
132




APPENDIX 3

133

must be governed by an additional limit upon the size of the “ lay,”
viz, the size of the retailer’s order.
After the material has been laid up, the patterns are either marked
or stenciled upon a sheet on the top layer of cloth. Care must be
exercised to arrange each part so as to hold down the waste of cloth
to a minimum. In the process of hand cutting, the cutters use short,
sharp knives, and where this method is employed, the thickness of
the lay is usually restricted to somewhere between 40 and 48 ply.
Insofar as hand cutting is used today, it is confined to manufacturers
of high-grade shirts, who constitute a minority in the industry.
The newer process of cutting involves the use of electric cutting
machines. These permit a far greater thickness of lay, commonly
150 to 200 and often up to 240 ply.
The large majority of shirt manufacturers use a combination of
machine and hand cutting. The electrically driven circular or straight
knife is used for the major parts and a short hand knife for the curves
of the collar and the neck. For finer grades of shirts, when striped or
checked materials are used, it is necessary to match the parts in order
to secure uniformity of design in each garment.
The parts are next sorted as to size and tied into bundles, each con­
taining a specified number of uniform parts. Each bundle is appro­
priately marked as to size, lot, and style, for later identification in the
sewing department.
S ew in g d ep a rtm en t .— By far the most important department in the
production of a shirt, as judged either by labor time consumed or labor
cost, is the sewing department. The sewing of a shirt may be divided
roughly into three major sections— the preparation of the minor parts,
the preparation of the major or body parts, and the assembling of
both into a complete garment. The sewing of a typical shirt involves
the following operations:
Minor Parts (8 to 17 Operations)
1. Collar making (2 to 4 operations):
(1) Collar ru n n in g.— This operation consists of stitching two pieces of
material together with a lining between them. The pieces are
stitched on their reverse sides.
(2) T urning.— The collar is turned so as to have the right side on the out­
side. This is a hand operation, though some mechanical aid is
commonly used.
(3) Top stitching.— A second row of stitching is made along the outer edges
of the collar.
2. Collar banding (1 to 5 operations):
(1) The collar is inserted between a lower and upper piece of collar band
and stitched all around its edges, taking in the ends of the collar
band.
(2) The collar band is turned.
(3) The collar band is stiched to the collar.




134

PRODUCTIVITY OP LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

3. Cuff making (1 to 4 operations):
(1) C u ff running.— Two pieces of material are stitched together with a
lining between them ; as in the case of collar making, this stitching
is on the reverse side.
(2) C u ff turning.— The cuff is turned.
(3) T op stitching.— The cuff is stitched with a row of stitching along its
outer edges.
4. Pocket making (1 to 2 operations):
(1) The outer edges of the pocket are hemmed and a welt stitch is usually
made across the top of the pocket. Sometimes, instead of the
operator turning in the edge of the pocket or other parts by hand in
the hemming operation, the edges are turned by a creasing machine,
resulting in a considerable saving of labor time.
5. Sleeve making (2 to 4 operations):
The process of sleeve making varies somewhat with the quality of the shirt.
In better garments, the sleeve is usually made in one piece. In the case
of cheaper shirts, “ gores,” or inserts, are frequently stitched to the main
body of the sleeve. The reason for the use of gores is to utilize strips of
material left over from the cutting process which would otherwise be
wasted.
For all sleeves, plackets (reinforcement) are stitched on both sides of
the sleeve vent.

Major or Body Parts
1. The label bearing the trade mark is attached to the yoke of the shirt (1 opera­
tion) .
2. The yoke is attached to the back of the shirt (1 to 2 operations).
3. The back of the shirt is hemmed around the bottom (1 operation).
4. Both fronts are hemmed around the bottom (1 to 3 operations).
5. A box pleat is stitched to the left front. This consists of a strip of material
about V/i inches wide. It is usually attached to the left front by a two-needle
machine (1 operation).
6. Button stay.— Either the underfacing of the right front or a separate strip
of lining is stitched down the front end of the right front to act as a button stay
(1 or 2 operations).
7. The pocket is sewed onto the left front (1 to 2 operations).
8. Buttonholes are cut and stitched around in the box pleat of the left front
and in the cuffs and collar band and, for some styles, in the sleeve (1 to 4 operations).
9. Button sewing.— Buttons are sewn on the right front, on the cuffs and collar
band, and, if needed, on the sleeve (1 to 4 operations).

Assembly of Parts

Although there are many minor variations in the manner of pro­
ducing the several major or minor parts, the assembly operations are
performed in much the same manner in all plants and for all styles.
These comprise:
1. Shoulder jo in in g (1 to 2 operations).— The yoke with the attached back piece
is joined to the right and left fronts.
2. Sleeve inserting (1 operation).— The open sleeves are stitched to the shirt at
the armhole.
3. F ellin g (1 operation).— The shirts are now closed or felled. This involves
closing the sleeves from the lower end to the armhole, and closing the side seams;
that is, stitching together the edges of the fronts and the back from the armhole




APPENDIX 3

135

DRESS S H I R T S
SUBDIVISION OF WORK IN THE SEWING DEPARTMENT
A. BUNDLE SYSTEM

B LINE SYSTEM
.
% OF TOTAL OPERATIONS;




% OF TOTAL SEWING TIME:

Ch a r t 4

136

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR---- COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

to the hem of the shirt. The closing of both the sleeve and side seams is usually
done in a single operation.
4. The collar band is now attached to the neck. This involves inserting the
body of the shirt between the upper and lower pieces of the collar band (1 to 2
operations).
5. Cuffing (1 to 2 operations).— Finally, the cuffs are attached to the sleeves;
first the inner and then the outer part of the cuff being attached.

O veralls

As in the case of the other cotton garments, the sewing of an overall
may be divided into three major steps— the preparation of the minor
parts, the preparation of the major parts, and the assembly of the
overall.
M inor Parts (6 to 12 Operations)
1. Bib (1 operation).— Two pieces of material of the same size are joined or
felled to produce the bib.
2. B ib pockets (1 to 3 operations).— The edges of the pockets are first hemmed or
serged to prevent raveling. In some plants the edges are turned in on a creasing
machine. These pieces are then stitched onto the bib. A few minor variations
may be noted in this process; for example, if a pencil or other special pocket is
desired, an additional vertical row of stitching will be sewn after the pocket has
been attached to the bib, thus forming the special compartment. Sometimes the
pocket is lined before it is attached to the bib; in other cases it is unlined.
3. W atch pocket (1 to 2 operations).— The watch pocket may either be a compart­
ment of the bib pocket or may be entirely separate. In the latter case, the mate­
rial is first serged, hemmed, or creased and then attached to the bib. This
completes the preparation of the bib.
4. Side pockets (1 to 2 operations).— Some overalls are made with regular side
pockets instead of the more common front patch pockets. These pockets are
made out of a piece of pocket lining and a narrow strip of the material used in the
overall. The narrow strip is attached to the upper edge of the lining to serve as
a facing. The lower edges are then closed with a serging stitch. In some cases,
the lower edges of the lining are closed on a sewing machine that has a cutting
attachment, thereby closing the pocket lining and cutting the raw edges outside
of the seam in a single operation. The pocket is then stitched to the front part
of the leg.
5. Front patch pockets (1 to 2 operations).— The pieces for this pocket are first
hemmed, serged, or creased and then sewn to the top front of the legs.
6. Front patch knee reinforcem ent (1 to 2 operations).— Overalls made for certain
types of workers are reinforced at the knee. Thus, carpenters, who use their
knees to a great extent, require such reinforcement. The pieces which constitute
the patches are hemmed or serged and then sewn to the knees.
7. F ly m aking (1 to operations).— The fly consists of two small pieces of material,
one for each leg. These pieces are first serged or hemmed. Then the fly piece
for the left front leg is buttonholed.
8. L oopin g (1 operation).— Some overalls have loops for the purpose of carrying
hammers. Loops consist of a narrow piece of goods which is sewn to the back
of the leg.




APPENDIX 3

137

Body Parts

While the small parts are being made by one set of workers, another
set is engaged on the body parts. In the plants studied, the prepara­
tion of these parts comprises between 7 and 13 operations in plants
operating on the bundle system. In plants using the line system, the
subdivision of work was considerably finer, ranging from 11 to 17
operations.
1. Setting f l y (1 to 4 operations).— The right fly piece is first sewn to the top of
the right front leg. The left fly piece (the one containing the buttonhole) is sewn
to the top of the left front leg.
2. B ib jo in in g (1 to 3 operations).— The bib is stitched to the two front legs.
This operation is called banding. The three free edges of the bib piece are
hemmed for reinforcing purposes. Sometimes small pieces are stitched to the
bib at the points at which the buttons are to be sewed. In a few cases, instead of
hemming, an inner tape is attached to the edges.
3. B ack-pocket m aking (1 to 2 operations).— The pocket pieces are hemmed and
then stitched to the back legs of the overall. Sometimes one of these back pockets
is specially formed in order to hold a rule.
4. Label sew ing (1 operation).— The identifying label is sewn to either the bib
or the back of the overall, sometime during the manufacturing process. (14 of
the plants studied sew the label to the back, two sew it to the bib, and one sews
labels on both bib and back.)
5. Suspender m aking (1 to 3 operations).— The two suspender straps are stitched
to the top of the back and then their edges are hemmed. Where the two straps
cross (the diamond), an extra stitch is added for reinforcement.
6. B uckle and loop (1 to 2 operations).— In most cases, the metal buckles and
loops for fastening the suspenders to the bib are attached to the straps mechan­
ically. In a few instances, the buckle is stitched to the shoulder strap.

Assembly of Parts
T h e r e m a in in g p ro ce ss is o n e o f a s s e m b ly , w h ic h c o m p rise s fr o m 8
to 10 o p e r a tio n s .
1. Outer seam ing (one operation).— The outer edges of the front and back of each
leg are joined or seamed.
2. In n er seam ing (one operation).— The inner edges of the two legs are stitched
together. This consists of a single operation in which the operator starts from the
bottom of the left leg, runs the garment to the crotch, and then stitches down the
right leg.
3. Seat seam ing (one operation).— The remaining open seams in the seat and
crotch are stitched.
4. Fork to f l y (one operation).— Reinforced with tape stitch from fly to crotch.
5. Leg bottoms (one operation).— The bottoms of the leg are hemmed or the
edges are turned.
6. B ar tacking (one operation).— Any parts which will receive hard usage, such
as the fly, the open end of the pockets, etc., are reinforced with a short extra seam,
or bar seam, at right angles to the original seam; this is called bar tacking.
7. Buttonholes (two operations).— Buttonholes are cut and sewn around in the
suspenders and sometimes in the bib pockets.
113379°— 39-




10

138

PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR— COTTON-GARMENT INDUSTRY

8.
Button sew ing (one operation).— Buttons are attached to the fly, suspender,
and at any other necessary points. In most cases, all buttons are sunk into
the garment, but in a few cases the fly buttons are sewn.

W ork Pants
The three major sections of a sewing department in a work-pants
factory are the manufacture of minor parts, the manufacture of
major parts, and the assembly.
Minor Parts
1. The fly (one to two operations).— The fly pieces are first serged around the
edges and then a lining is attached for reinforcement. A buttonhole is made in
the upper end of the piece which will be attached to the right leg.
2. Belt looping (two operations).— A narrow strip of the same material as that
used in the pant is inserted into a gage attachment on the sewing machine.
Through the aid of a cutting device, the loops are cut to the desired length and
sewn. This device takes the place of scissors, which were formerly employed, and
is a substantial timesaver.
3. Side pockets (two operations).— The side pocket is produced in exactly the
same manner as that described in connection with overall manufacture.
4. W atch pocket (two operations).— The manufacture of a watch pocket com­
prises the same operations as those required in connection with the side pockets.
5. H ip pockets (two operations).— This process is the same as for the side pockets.
6. Buckles and straps (one operation).— If the pant is to have buckles and
straps, these are first prepared in much the same manner as the belt loops. Four
of the 17 plants studied perform this operation.

Body Parts

The body of the pant consists of four parts— the front and back
of the right leg and the front and back of the left leg.
1. Front o f right leg (1 to 4 operations).— For better garments, the edges of the
material are serged in order to prevent raveling. This process is omitted for
cheaper garments.
(Eight of the 17 plants covered by the study perform this
operation.)
The side pocket and watch pocket are then attached.
2. Front o f left leg (1 to 3 operations).— The process here is the same as for the
front of the right leg, except that there is no watch pocket to attach.
3. Back o f right leg (1 to 4 operations).— As in the case of the front of the right
leg, the edges of better garments are first serged. The hip pocket is then inserted.
This requires the cutting of an opening in the material. In some cases, this
opening has already been prepared in the cutting room. In most cases, however,
there is a special attachment on the machine which automatically cuts the opening
at the same time that the pocket is sewn in. The edges of the opening are then
restitched or welted.
4. Back of left leg (1 to 4 operations).— The process is identical with that for the
back of the right leg.
5. F ly jo in in g (1 to 3 operations).— The fly pieces are attached to the fronts of
the right and left legs.
6. Buckles and straps (1 operation).— If the trouser has buckles and straps, these
are attached to the back.




APPENDIX 3

139

Assembly of Parts (13 to 20 Operations)

The final assembly operations are now performed.
1. Outseaming (1 to 2 operations).— The outer edges of the front and back of
the right leg and then of the front and back of the left leg are joined. The side
pockets, which have been previously attached to the fronts, are stitched to the
backs and restitched or welted for strengthening.
2. W aist band (1 to 4 operations).— The waist band itself consists of two parts—
an outer strip of the same material as the pant and an inner strip of lining for
strengthening purposes. The outer strip is first sewn to the top of the front and
back; the loop straps are then inserted at the proper intervals; and the corners at
the top of the front at the fly opening are formed. The inner lining is then sewn
to the top of the waist band and the lower edge of the lining stitched to the inner
bottom of the waist band. This last row of stitching usually takes in the tops of
the side pockets in order to keep them in place.
3. In seam in g (1 operation).— The inner edges of the front and back of the right
leg are joined from the bottom to the crotch and then the stitching is continued
down the inner seam of the left leg.
4. Seat seam ing (1 to 2 operations).— The inner edges of the back of the right
and left legs from the crotch upward are stitched together. A number of manu­
facturers serge the seam for reinforcement.
5. Crotch taping (1 to 2 operations).— The remaining open edges between the
crotch and the bottom of the fly are now stitched together. A strip of lining,
called the crotch tape, is sewn over this seam.
6. Buttonholes (1 operation).— Buttonholes are sewn on the hip pocket and on
the left front of the waistband.
7. Button sewing (1 to 2 operations).— Buttons are attached to the fly, the
waist band, and the hip pocket.
8. Leg bottoms (1 to 2 operations).— For better garments, the bottoms of the
trousers are serged or overcast to prevent raveling. The bottom is then turned
and sewn into a cuff.
9. B ar tacking (2 to 4 operations).— Since work pants are made for hard wear, it
is necessary to reinforce the ends of various seams, such as those in the pockets,
the fly, the loops, and the cuffs for strengthening. This strengthening stitch,
called a bar tack, is usually at right angles to the regular stitch.




o