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Frances Perkins, Secretary
Isador Lubin, Commissioner (on leave)
A. F. Hinrichs, Acting Commissioner


U nion Agreements in the
Leather-Tanning Industry



Prepared by the
Florence Peterson, Chief

Bulletin ?Zo.





e r k in s ,



I sador L ubin , Commissioner (on leave)
A. F. H inrichs, Acting Commissioner

D onald D avenport, Chief, Employ­ Aryness J oy Wickens, Chief, Prices

and Cost of Living Branch
ment and Occupational Outlook
Arnold T olles, Chief, Working
H enry J. F itzgerald, Chief, Business N.Conditions
and Industrial Relations
Management Branch
H ugh S. H anna, Chief, Editorial and
Sidney W. Wilcox, Chief Statistician

Construction and Public Employment, Industrial Prices, Jesse M. Cutts
Herman B. Byer
Industrial Relations, Florence Peterson
Consumers, Prices, Ethel D. Hoover
Labor Information Service, Boris Stern
Cost of Living, Faith M. Williams
Machine Tabulation, Joseph Drager
Alexander Occupational Outlook, Charles Stewart
Sturges (acting chief)
General Price Research, Walter G. Post-War Labor Problems, John H. G.
Historical Studies of Wartime Prob­ Productivity and Technological
velopment, W. Duane Evans
lems, Stella Stewart
Industrial Hazards, Max D. Kossoris

Wage Analysis, Robert J. Myers



Extent of union organization___________________________________________
Unions in the industry..................
Union agreements______________________________________________________
Duration and renewal of agreements_______________________________
Union status:
Membership requirements_________________________________________
Management prerogatives________
Collection of union dues___________________________________________
Wage provisions:
Minimum, hiring, and occupational rates___________________________
Basis of wage payment-------------------Union participation in rate setting______________________
Interim wage adj ustment-------------Reporting pay and recall pay for overtime work_______
Pay for waiting time____________
Transfer rates----- -------------------Miscellaneous pay provisions_______________________________________
Shift provisions________________________________________________________
Overtime, weekend, and holiday rates.........................— ______ ___________
Overtime----------------Lunch periods_____________________________________________________
Week ends________________________________________________________
Seniority rules_________________________________________________________
Loss of seniority___________________________________________________
Lay-off and rehiring____________________________________________________
Work sharing_____________________________________________________
Military service and other leave of absence:
Military service___________________________________________________
War work_________________________________________________________
Leave for personal reasons_________________________________________
Leave for union business___________________________________________
Health and safety______________________________________________________
Adjustments of disputes:
Grievance adjustment.-------------------------Arbitration__________________________
Discharges_______________________________ ______ _______ ____________—
Strikes and lockouts___________________________________________________



Letter o f Transmittal
U nited States D epartment of Labor,
B ureau of L abor Statistics,
Washington, D. C., April 18, 1944The Secretary of L abor:
I have the honor to transmit herewith a report on union agreements in the*
leather-tanning industry. The report is based on an analysis of 40 employerunion agreements which were in effect in the fall of 1943.
This bulletin was prepared by Eleanor T. Royer, under the immediate super­
vision of Abraham Weiss of the Industrial Relations Division, Florence Peterson,.
A. F. H inrichs, Acting Commissioner.
Hon. F rances P erkins,
Secretary of Labor.



Foi sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C. - Price 10 cents

B u lletin >{o. 777 o f the
U n ited States B u reau o f L abor S tatistics
U nion Agreements in the Leather-Tanning
Industry, 1943
Sum m ary

APPROXIMATELY 60 percent of the workers in the leather industry
(between 25 and 30 thousand wage earners) are employed in plants
which have agreements with either national or international unions.
The following analysis of collective-bargaining arrangements is based
on 40 agreements covering about three-fourths of the total workers
employed under the terms of union agreements which were in effect in
the fall of 1943. These plants are primarily engaged in tanning, cur­
rying, and finishing sole and belting leather, upper and lining leather,
and the japanning and finishing of leather, on either an independent or
a contract basis.1 Normally about 90 percent of the total leather
produced in these establishments goes into the manufacture of shoes,
gloves, and garments.
The industry is characterized by medium size and small plants. In
1939, none of the 446 existing establishments employed over 1,000
employees, and only 14 reported over 500 wage earners. In contrast,
about two-thirds of the plants employed 100 workers or less, represent­
ing about one-fifth of the total employment.2 Although the number
of establishments has decreased about one-fourth in the past 20 years,
the total number of workers has changed very little, averaging around
50,000. Between January and December 1943, however, employment
decreased from about 50,000 to 41,000.
The availability of hides and bark for tanning and the proximity of
markets have largely determined the location of leather plants, al­
though leather tanning is carried on in 29 States. Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania, New York, in the order named, are the leading States
in terms of wage earners employed, accounting for slightly less than
half of the workers in the industry. Massachusetts is the center of the
tanning of side upper leather which, in terms of employment, is the
most important product in the industry. Western Pennsylvania is
the heart of the heavy leather industries—sole leather for shoes and
leather belting. In the Johnstown-Gloversville area of Fulton County
in upper New York State, the fine glove leather-tanning industry is
of primary importance. Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan are other
important tanning centers, together accounting for about one-fourth
of the wage earners. Most of the leather plants in the Pacific States
are in the vicinity of San Francisco.
Male employment predominates in the leather-tanning industry as
many of the tasks require arduous manual labor. In 1939, only one1 The industries as defined correspond to the 1939 Census of Manufactures, described as “L eatherTanned, curried, and finished.”
2 1939 Census of Manufactures.


twelfth of the total labor force consisted of women, and these were
employed chiefly on semiskilled occupations in the finishing depart­
ments. Over an eighth of the total workers were employed on skilled
occupations, approximately a fourth on unskilled, and the remainder
on semiskilled jobs.3
Extent o f Union Organization

Approximately 60 percent of the workers in the leather industry, or
between 25,000 and 30,000 wage earners, work in plants which have
negotiated agreements with national or international unions.4 Much
of this union organization has taken place during the last few years,
as no more than 25 percent of the workers were under agreement in

Union organization prevails among the larger plants; of the estab­
lishments in the industry employing 250 or more employees, about
three-fourths operate under terms of written agreements. Over half
of the plants employing between 50 to 250 workers, but only about
one-fifth of those employing less than 50 workers, deal with nationally
affiliated unions.
About three-fourths of the workers in each of the leading States of
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York are covered by union
agreements with nationally affiliated unions, New York State showing
the highest proportion of workers under agreement. In the Midwest,
over 90 percent of the workers in Michigan and over two-thirds in
both Wisconsin and Illinois are in organized plants. Practically all
of the tannery workers in California are covered by union agreements.
Some union organization is found in 20 of the 29 States engaged in
leather tanning.
Three agreements (in Massachusetts, Fulton County, N. Y., and
San Francisco), which have been signed by associations of leather­
tanning firms, cover numerous plants in their respective localities and
account for about one-fifth of the total organized workers in the industry.
The other agreements were negotiated with individual employers.

Agreements negotiated by the Leather Division of the International
Fur and Leather Workers’ Union (C. I. O.) cover about 80 percent
of the organized workers, and those by the United Leather Workers’
International Union (A. F. of L.) about 10 percent.
Several unions whose jurisdiction is chiefly in other industries have
also organized tannery workers. The Amalgamated Clothing Work­
ers of America (C. I. O.) has a few agreements covering about 5
percent of the organized workers, mainly in the Michigan-Wisconsin
area. The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of
North America (A. F. of L.) has organized virtually all tannery work­
ers in the San Francisco area. Other unions in the industry include
the United Automobile Workers (A. F. of L.), principally in Michigan;
federal labor unions directly affiliated with the American Federation
Earnings and Hours in the Leather and Leather Belting and Packing Industries, 1939. (U. S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics Bulletin No. 679.)
* This estimate is based on data for 255 plants employing over 90 precent of the wage earners currently
employed in the industry. It does not include approximately 5,000 workers covered by 9 agreements nego­
tiated with single-plant organizations which are not affiliated with either the A. F. of L. or the O. I. O.

of Labor; the United Shoe Workers of America (C. I. O.); the Gas,
Coke and Chemical Workers (C. I. O .); and District 50 of the United
Mine Workers. The last two of the above unions have organized
chiefly in the Southern States.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, leather workers have been
organized in various unions affiliated with the American Federation
of Labor. The Amalgamated Leather Workers’ Union of America
was officially chartered in 1901 by the A. F. of L. Although the
union made rapid gains in the early years of its existence, strike
losses in Milwaukee, Chicago, and California seriously weakened it
and caused the union to surrender its charter in 1912. Some of the
surviving locals were chartered as federal labor unions directly affili­
ated with the American Federation of Labor. In 1917, the United
Leather Workers’ International Union of the A. F. of L. was organ­
ized at Indianapolis as the result of the amalgamation of several
federal labor unions and other A. F. of L. affiliates, including the
United Brotherhood of Leather Workers on Horse Goods and the
Travelers’ Goods and Leather Novelty Workers’ International Union.
The National Leather Workers’ Association which was organized
in 1933 in Peabody, Mass., as an independent union, joined the
C. I. O. in 1937. Two years later it amalgamated with another C. I. O.
affiliate, the International Fur Workers’ Union of the United States
and Canada, but retained its autonomous rights. This merger ended
a jurisdictional dispute between these two C. I. O. affiliates over the
tanning and finishing of fur skins. In 1940, the International Fur
and Leather Workers’ Union was joined by most of the locals of the
Independent Leather Workers’ Union of Fulton County, N. Y., which
was organized in 1933 but had remained independent.
Union Agreements

The following analysis is based on 40 agreements, covering about
22,500 workers in 120 establishments and representing about threefourths of the total number of workers under agreement during the
fall of 1943. Two of the three agreements signed by employers’ associ­
ations were negotiated by the Leather Division of the Fur and
Leather Workers’ Union—one with the Massachusetts Leather
Manufacturers’ Association, which includes 21 firms employing about
3,900 workers, and the other with the Fulton County Tanners Associa­
tion in upstate New York, which includes 20 companies employing
about 1,100 workers. (The former covers about 600 additional
workers, since 39 independent companies in the area have signed
terms identical with those in the Massachusetts Association agree­
ment.) The third association agreement was signed by the Amalga­
mated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen with three tannery
employers of San Francisco.
The 37 other agreements analyzed cover plants employing over
150 workers and include plants in 18 States. Among the agreements
which cover the largest number of employees are those with the
Armour Leather Co. (Williamsport, Pa.), International Shoe Co.
(Hartford, Conn.)) Winslow Bros. & Smith Co. (Norwood, Mass.), the
Elkland Leather Co. (Elkland, Pa.), the Graton & Knight Co.
(Worcester, Mass.), and the Fred Rueping Leather Co. (Fond du Lac,


The effective period of 26 of the agreements, including all the large
ones except the Massachusetts agreement, is 1 year. All but three
of these, however, are renewable automatically for additional yearly
periods, subject to change or termination by either party at the close
of any year. Two of the three agreements contain no provision for
renewal; in one, renewal is to be the subject of negotiation 60 days
prior to the expiration date.
The Massachusetts Association and eight other agreements were
negotiated for 2-year periods. All except one of these are renewed
automatically from year to year, in the absence of notice. One
agreement covering a small company was made in 1938 for a 5year period and continues indefinitely unless 30 days’ notice of termi­
nation is given by either party at the end of the 5-year period. Two
agreements are effeative for 2 years or for the duration of the war,
whichever is longer, and another is effective either for 1 year or for
the duration of the war. Only one agreement is made for a period
of less than 1 year; it runs for 9 months, but is renewable yearly
thereafter unless the union fails to show that it represents a majority
of the workers covered. Generally, notice of intention to change or
terminate the agreement must be served 30 days prior to the year’s
end; in a few cases the notice period is 60 days.
Without exception the agreements in this industry cover all the
production workers regardless of skill or occupation. However, cer­
tain groups—such as executives, supervisory, office, and clerical
employees, and foremen—and, in some cases, watchmen, are usually
excluded from the scope of the agreements.
Union Status

Closed- or union-shop conditions, under which employees must be
union members at the time of their employment or become so within
a stated period, are specified in 15 agreements, covering almost half
of the workers under the 40 agreements here analyzed. The San
Francisco Tanners’ agreement makes it obligatory for the companies
to hire employees from an “out of work list” furnished by the union,
if, in the opinion of the employer, the list contains capable persons.
Another of these agreements allows 1 percent of the total number of
employees on the regular pay roll to be hired outside the union, but
these employees are required to join the union within 3 weeks. Six
agreements permit the employer to hire whomever he wishes, but these
employees must join the union within a specified period, ranging from
2 to 6 weeks. The remaining 7 agreements, including the Massa­
chusetts Master agreement and that of Winslow Bros. & Smith Co.,
provide modified union shops, under which all new employees but
not old employees must join the union within a certain time. The
Massachusetts Master agreement, provides, in addition, that in hiring
new employees (except for 1 percent) preference shall be given to
union members. In effect this arrangement is almost the same as
the use of the “out of work list” in the San Francisco area.
Eleven agreements, covering about one-fourth of the workers and
including the Fulton County Tanners and the Graton & Knight Co.

agreements, require “maintenance of membership” for employees
who were members when the agreement was signed or who later be­
come members. Maintenance of membership in the Fulton County
Tanners agreement is the result of a decision of the National War
Labor Board on October 10, 1942.
One agreement which 1ms no kind of membership requirement,
encourages union membership by specifying that the employer must
lay off nonunion employees in advance of union members. The re­
maining agreements, covering more than a fourth of the workers,
make no reference to union membership but merely grant the union
sole bargaining rights. The Armour Leather Co. at Williamsport,
Pa., and the Elkland Leather Co. are among this group. One of these
states that the company will “encourage employees to join the union
and maintain their membership.”

Almost three-fourths of the agreements in the leather industry
state that the management retains “the right to hire, suspend, or
discharge for proper cause, relieve employees for lack of work and
transfer from one department to another.” Some further provide
that the “processing of leather” shall be determined by management.

Automatic check-off of union dues by the company is provided for
in 5 agreements, including about 10 percent of the workers. Approxi­
mately 40 percent of the workers are covered by 13 agreements which
permit individual employees to authorize deductions from their pay
for union dues; 9 of these specifically provide that such authorization
may be revoked at any time. Seven of the agreements containing
the check-off provision are closed- or union-shop agreements, one has
a maintenance-of-membership clause, but in 10 agreements there are
no union-membership requirements.
Some agreements facilitate the collection of dues by the union.
Under one, the company agrees to provide a booth for the use of a
union representative in collecting dues on pay days. The Massa­
chusetts Leather and Winslow Bros. & Smith Co. agreements, in
addition to a voluntary check-off, allow the shop stewards or other
union representatives to collect dues from employees in the tannery,
provided they do so on their own time, and permit them to obtain
from the plant office each week the names of all new employees.
Several other agreements, in which there is no check-off clause,
either make a similar provision in regard to collection of dues, or
simply provide that the union representative may obtain the names
of newly hired employees.
W age Provisions

Leather-tanning agreements generally contain little information
about specific wage rates. In 12 of the 40 agreements plant-wide
minimum rates are specified5and 5 others contain detailed occupational
8 The National War Labor Board in a directive order of July 22, 1943 set a minimum for another small
company of 44 cents per hour for women and 60 cents per hour for men to be reached after 60 days'

listings. None of the three association agreements mention wage
rates. In the agreements containing occupational listings, the lowest
rates listed range from 58 cents for laborers to 65 cents for “feeders”
in “stripping tap bends.”
Seven of the 12 agreements which contain plant-wide minima
establish separate plant minima for female and male workers. The
minimum rates for women range from 47% to 68% cents per hom*,
while men in these plants receive minimum hourly rates ranging from
52% to 78% cents. Five of these seven agreements prohibit wage differ­
entials based on sex alone, and it may, therefore, be assumed that these
differences in minimum rates reflect different assignments of work to
men and women. Plant minima in the five agreements which do
not have separate male and female minimum rates range from 50 to
70 cents per hour.
Eleven other agreements which do not specify minimum-wage rates
prohibit sex differentials by stating that “where female employees do
the same kind and amount of work as male employees in the individual
tannery, they shall receive the same wages,” or by stating that “there
shall be equal pay for equal work in any department.”
Hiring rates for beginners, ranging from 5 to 11 cents below the
minima, are specified in 5 of the 12 agreements containing plant-wide
minimum rates. In addition, 2 agreements specify hiring rates and
mention minimum rates without indicating the amount. One agree­
ment specifies a hiring rate for male employees under 21 years of age,
which is 2% cents below that for male employees over 21. Usually a
new employee is advanced directly to the plant-minimum hourly
rate after a definite period, usually 30 days or 6 weeks. In the agree­
ment with hiring rates 11 cents below the minimum (covering a large
company in the eastern area) an employee reaches the minimum
through two successive increases—one of 5 cents and the other of
6 cents per hour—at 4-week intervals.
Under one agreement when a worker is transferred to a “rated job,”
he reaches the rate of that job by a series of successive increases at
3-month intervals extending over a 9-month period, while an employee
newly hired for a “rated job,” who has had previous experience on
that job, is paid at least 75 percent of the job rate and progresses to
the rate for that job in three 2-month intervals.

Almost three-fourths of the agreements, including all the major
ones and covering about 80 percent of the workers, indicate that both
time and piece rates are paid in the respective plants. In a very few
of these, other incentive plans are also in effect. Six additional agree­
ments, all of them with small companies, refer to time rates only,
while the method of wage payment is not indicated in the remaining

Advance participation by the union in wage-rate setting is specifi­
cally provided in four agreements. One of these is the Massachusetts
Master agreement which states that if a new piece rate is to be estab­
lished, the employer will give advance notice of the trial rate to the
union representative; this trial rate is to remain in effect for a 2-week

period, after which it becomes the permanent rate if mutually satis­
factory. The union may contest the rate at the end of the 2-week
trial period, however, and if no agreement is reached, it is submitted
to arbitration. If the trial rate is changed by mutual agreement or
through arbitration, the new rate is made retroactive to the date
when work was originally started on the operation. The second
agreement stipulates that wage rates on new machines or processes
shall be set by a time study made jointly by the employer and the
union; in case of dispute the matter is to go to arbitration for final
settlement. The third agreement provides for joint agreement on a
fair rate if an employee’s job is changed from time to piece work or
vice versa; in case of disagreement, the dispute is to be arbitrated.
The fourth agreement states that any “proposals for changes, either
in a rate or in the method of computing wages, must first be agreed
upon by the company and the union in order to become effective.”
The employer explicitly retains the right to change the type of
wage payment from time to piece rates and vice versa in 17 agree­
ments covering slightly over one-third of the workers. Twelve of
these agreements and 10 others, expressly allow the union to take up
disputed rates as grievances, including, in 9 cases, resort to arbitration.

Wage adjustments which affect the general wage level in the plant,
rather than individual rates, are allowed during the term of the agree­
ment in more than half of the agreements covering almost 70 percent
of the workers. About two-thirds—among them most of the large
agreements—link wage adjustment to the cost of living. Seven,
including the large Massachusetts agreement, require automatic
adjustments in wages based on changes in the cost of living.6 These
generally state that if the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ cost-of-living
index changes by a specified amount, usually 5 percent, wages will be
automatically adjusted by the same amount.
Protection of existing wage scales as provided in several of these
agreements, which state that wages may not be decreased below the
level specified in the agreement or in existence at the time the agree­
ment is signed, in the event the cost-of-living index declines. On the
other hand, three of the agreements with the automatic cost-of-living
adjustment, covering companies in the Philadelphia area, provide
for possible downward wage adjustments in the event that a ceiling
price is put on leather which affects the company’s competitive posi­
tion. Two of these state that in such event the company may request
reopening of the wage scales; the other states that any union “shall
cooperate with the employer to the extent that any undue hardship
thereby created may be relieved.”
The remaining agreements which gear wage negotiations to the
cost of living merely permit the question of wages to be reopened
whenever there is a change in the cost of living, generally stating
that if the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ cost-of-living index for that
area changes by 5 percent either party may request a reopening of
wage negotiations.
•N ational War Labor Boards General Order No. 22 states that wage increases provided in “escalator
clauses” in union agreements “must be held within the 15 percent cost-of-living "formula.” M ost of the
agreements with cost-of-living clauses were negotiated before wage stabilization, although they are all
currently in effect.

Reconsideration of the wage scale during the annual term of the
agreement is permitted in nme agreements and during the 2-year
period in one agreement. Most of these agreements provide for
reopening of the wage question after specified intervals, usually not
less than 3 months after the execution of the agreement, while a few
permit the question to be raised at any time by either party, provided
notice is given.

A common provision found in over three-fourths of the agreements
requires payment for a minimum number of hours to employees
called to work when no work is available, or who report at their
usual hour without having been notified sufficiently in advance that
there is no work. The reporting pay most frequently specified is 3
hours, although the Massachusetts Leather, San Francisco Tanners,
Winslow Bros. & Smith agreements and five others provide for 4 hours’
pay and a few agreements provide for 2 hours’ pay. One of these
clauses which stipulates 4 hours of call pay, grants only 3 hours’ pay
to any employee reporting to work on a day when he is entitled to
overtime rates. In about half of the cases the minimum call payment
is waived if the lack of work is due to a- machine break-down, the
absence from work of a member of a work team, or some other cir­
cumstance beyond the company’s control.
Piece workers are not always paid for full time, if work is not im­
mediately available when they report for duty. About two-fifths
of the agreements providing for call pay, which cover both hourly
and piece-rate workers, stipulate that if work is available within 30
minutes of reporting, piece workers are not to be paid for the lost
time, as such, since presumably they can make up the difference by
speeding their work, once it begins.
While reporting-pay provisions probably apply to work outside
regular hours for which employees are called back after completing
their regular work, only one agreement makes specific provision for
such a situation. This agreement requires that such employees be
paid for 1 hour of travel time in addition to pay and one-half for all
time worked.

Since a considerable amount of the work in leather tanning is done
on a piece-work basis, a question frequently arises about pay for
waiting time. Half of the agreements, covering approximately onethird of the workers, specifically grant pay to employees required
to remain in the plant when machinery break-down or other circum­
stances prevent them from continuing work after it has started.
A few of the agreements require pay for all waiting time. Some
agreements, however, allow the employer a tolerance period of from
15 to 30 minutes, after which he may dismiss the workers without
payment for such waiting time. Under some of these, employees
requested to remain after the tolerance period receive pay for the
total elapsed waiting time, while under others, the tolerance period
is excluded in computing waiting-time pay. Under one agreement,
employees are paid for the first 15 minutes of waiting time at a rate
10 percent below their average earnings, although the employee’s

Tegular rate or earnings presumably apply to waiting time beyond 15

To protect an employee’s earnings and to safeguard established
wage standards, about three-fourths of the agreements stipulate the
rate which an employee shall receive when transferred temporarily,
or during an emergency, to another job. An employee shifted at
the request of the company and to its advantage usually receives
the rate of his former job or the rate of the job to which he is trans­
ferred, whichever is higher, whereas an employee transferred at his
own request receives the rate of the job to which he is transferred.
When transferred to a higher-paying job, an employee generally
receives the higher rate immediately, although in one agreement,
he must work 1 week on the new job before getting the higher
rate, and in another, when he is judged “qualified” to perform the
A very few of the agreements specifically make provision for per­
manent transfers and indicate the rate payable. In one of these,
the transferred employee receives the rate paid for the job to which
he is transferred. In another, a worker transferred to a higher paid
job, if on hourly work, is paid at his former rate for 3 weeks and
thereafter at a rate commensurate with his competency; if on piece
work, he receives the average earnings of his former job (presumably
for 3 weeks) and thereafter, if he is capable, the new job rate. Under
a third agreement, an employee transferred to a piece-work job on
which he has not previously worked receives the minimum day rate
for a period not exceeding 40 working hours, after which he receives
the established piece rate for the job.

As compensation for working under particularly unpleasant con­
ditions, three agreements specifically provide additional pay for
those employees working in the wet departments. One grants a
bonus for “wet work” of 7A cents per hour over the base rate; another
grants 5 cents, and a third 2% cents (this agreement provides, in addi­
tion, a premium of 3 cents per hour for a certain pickling process).
Shift Provisions

Half of the agreements, including those with all the large companies
except the Fylton County Tanners and the Rueping Leather Co.,
refer to night shifts; and all except six of those mentioning shifts
require the payment of a wage differential or shift bonus for night
work. In a very few of these agreements, engineers, firemen, watch­
men, janitors, or maintenance men are excluded from receiving night
differentials. One agreement which mentions shifts but does not
provide a differential, states that the company and union shall “ agree
on the general policy of rotating shifts where multiple shifts are in
Seven agreements provide specific bonuses for second and third
shifts when the plants are on a 3-shift basis, and in all but one of
these, third-shift workers receive a larger bonus than those on the

second shift. The nine remaining agreements with shift differentials
do not indicate whether plants are operating two or three shifts, but
simply provide a general premium rate for “ other than day shifts.”
The following table shows the number of agreements providing
specific night-shift bonuses and the percent of workers covered by
each type.
N um ber o f Agreements Providing Shift Differentials and Percent o f Workers Covered
Shift differentials for—
Number of agreements

Workers covered
Second shift

1 agreement 5 agreements.
1 agreement...

2 percent63 percent.
6 percent..

Third shift

3 cents per hour............... _ 3 cents per hour.
2^£ cents per hour_______ 5 cents per hour.
3 cents per hour_________ 5 cents per hour.
“ Other than day shifts”

1 agreement4 agreements.
1 agreement1 agreement1 agreement ..
1 agreement-

2 percent16 per cent.
6 percent—
1 percent—
2 percent3 percent _

4 cents per hour.
5 cents per hour.
3 percent of day rate.
5 percent or 4 cents whichever is greater.
7 percent or 6 cents whichever is greater.
10 percent of day rate.


Overtime W eek-E nd9 and H oliday Rates

All but eight of the agreements provide for a regular 8-hour day
and 40-hour week and for time and one-half the regular rate for work
in excess of these hours.7 Under five agreements the daily overtime
varies because the daily hours may be either 6% or 8 hours. In four
of these, overtime starts after either 6% or 8 hours, according to the
work schedule, while in the other, overtime is paid after 8 hours only.
In these five agreements, the normal number of days per week varies
from 5 to 6, depending on the daily hours. Three agreements make
no provision for daily overtime, and any overtime in these plants is
therefore paid in accordance with the weekly provisions of the Fair
Labor Standards Act.
A few agreements waive daily overtime pay by specifically provid­
ing that employees, who are allowed to make up time lost because of
absence resulting from illness, a holiday during the week, or some
other reason, shall receive overtime only if the time worked is in
excess of 40 hours per week.
Under several agreements employees in any department, who are
unable to finish a regular day’s production because of the absence of
“an employee who is a member of the grievance committee, an officer
of the union, or a committeeman engaged in performances of an under­
taking in behalf of the union or any of its members,” must complete
the regular day’s work without overtime pay, even though the time
consumed in so doing extends beyond the regular hours of work.
Certain occupations, such as watchmen, firemen, engineers, and
maintenance men, are specifically excepted from the daily hours
7 A few agreements specifically mention only daily overtime rates, since weekly overtime rates are estab­
lished by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

provisions in about a half of the agreements and therefore receive
overtime pay only for work in excess of the specified weekly hours.
These same occupations are in many cases excepted from the week-end
and holiday premium rates.

Only a few agreements make specific reference to regular lunch
periods, five providing that the lunch period shall be at a specified
time, and one other providing for overtime pay for work during the
regular lunch period for all employees except maintenance workers,
errand boys, and those on piece work.

Although 24 of the agreements provide for the payment of pre­
mium rates for Sunday work, regardless of whether such work represents
overtime, most of these were negotiated before October 1942 and
have been superseded by Executive Order No. 9240 for the duration
of the war.8 According to 6 of these agreements, Sunday work is
paid for at doable rates and according to 18, at time and one-half.
One agreement allows a premium of 10 cents per hour for Sunday
work to employees in the beam house whose regular workweek in­
cludes Sunday, except when “ sixth day soak.” Time and one-half is
provided for Saturday work by 10 of these agreements and by 3 for
the sixth consecutive day worked. One also provides for double
time after 8 hours* work on Saturday and another forbids the pay­
ment of Saturday premium rates if a holiday occurs during the week.
Twelve agreements which were negotiated since the issuance of the
Executive order grant double time for the seventh consecutive day of
work. Six of these also call for time and one-half for the sixth day
worked, although one forbids the payment of premium rates for the
sixth day if the employee is absent unjustifiably during the week.
Four agreements do not specify a premium rate for either Sunday
or the seventh day of work. One of these provides for time and onehalf for the sixth day, but the others likewise fail to mention pre­
mium pay for Saturday or the sixth day.

Pay for holidays not worked is not general in the leather tanning
industry. In a few agreements, covering almost 15 percent of the
workers, pay is provided for one holiday, generally Christmas, even
though no work is performed. Two agreements provide for 2 paid
holidays; one provides for 3, and another for 6.
All the agreements, except the Fulton County and two smaller ones,
provide premium rates for work done on specified holidays. The
number of holidays named varies from 1 to 7 but is typically 6. The
premium rate specified is time and one-half in agreements covering
approximately 75 percent of the workers, and double time in six
agreements covering less than 10 percent of the workers. The terms
8 Executive Order No. 9240 regulates pay for week-end and holiday work “on all work relating to the prose­
cution of the war” for the duration of the war emergency. It prohibits premium pay for Saturday and Sun­
day work, as such, and makes the payment of double time for the seventh consecutive day of a regularly
scheduled workweek mandatory. Paym ent of a premium rate on the sixth day is permitted if it has been
paid previously either on the sixth day or on Saturday. Time and one-half compensation is required for
all work performed in six specified holidays.

of these agreements, however, have been superseded by Executive
Order No. 9240, when they provide for payment of more than time
and a half for 6 holidays.9

Of the 40 agreements studied, annual paid vacations are provided
in 34, covering about 90 percent of the workers. Only two of the
large agreements, those with the Graton & Knight Co. and the Fulton
County Tanners Association, fail to provide for paid vacations.
A single vacation period, after a qualifying period of service, is pro­
vided by 24 agreements; graduated plans, under which more extended
vacations are allowed to employees with additional service, are pro­
vided in the remaining 10 agreements. All but one of the single­
period vacation clauses and seven of the graduated plans allow a
maximum of 1 week’s vacation after 1 year’s service. One agreement
requires 3 years’ service for 1 week’s vacation.
Of the agreements with graduated plans, three allow more than 1
week’s vacation. Two of these allow 1 week after 1 year as a mini­
mum vacation, with a maximum of 64 hours after 7 years’ service in
one case and 2 weeks after 5 years’ service in the other. The third
allows a half week after 3 months’ service and 2 weeks after 1 year’s
Three of the seven graduated plans with maximum 1-week vaca­
tions grant minimum vacation periods—2 days in one case and 3 days
in the others—after specified service periods of less than 1 year, and
maximum vacations of 1 week after 1 year’s service. Three others
grant minimum vacations of 20 hours for those employees who have
worked 600 hours or more during the previous year, and one grants
3 days for 1,300 hours’ work.
About half of the agreements which provide paid vacations specify
that in addition to the minimum-service requirements, the employee
must have actually worked a minimum length of time during the
year—generally 26 weeks, but ranging from 1,000 hours to 40 weeks—
to qualify for the paid§vacation. One of the agreements, which pro­
vides for only 1 regular week of vacation after 1 year of service, states
that an additional vacation week shall be granted to workers who
have been absent less than 5 days during the previous year.
Compensatory pay in lieu of actual vacation is permitted in almost
a third of the agreements. In some, the option of substituting pay
for vacation is left to the worker and in others to the management.
One agreement specifies that employees who are laid off just prior to
the vacation time are to receive their earned vacation pay.
For workers paid on an hourly basis 1 week’s vacation pay is com­
monly 40 times the regular hourly rate, while for piece workers it is
generally 40 times the employee’s average hourly earnings over a
specified period—usually from 2 weeks to 3 months preceding the
vacation date. In several agreements the basis of pay is not men­
tioned. A week is defined as 6 days in only one agreement. Over­
time compensation is specifically excluded from the calculation of
vacation pay 10 in a third of the agreements.
• See footnote 8.
10 The National War Labor Board on August 11,1943 announced that in cases where a union agreement
provides for a vacation with pay, but does not specifically state the number of hours’ pay, and a longer work­
week has been adopted since execution of the agreement, the company may pay vacation allowance on the
basis of the current workweek.

The period during which vacations must be taken is mentioned in
about two-thirds of the agreements which provide paid vacations.
Slightly over half of these stipulate that the vacations be taken within
specified months, usually during the summer. Most of the remaining
agreements grant the company the right to designate the vacation
period. In about one-fourth of the agreements, department seniority
governs the assignment of individual vacations. One agreement
provides that employees engaged in the “first processing of hides” shall
receive priority in their choice of vacation time, and employees in
other departments may exercise their preference according to their
seniority standing.
Seniority Rules

Seniority rights, granting preferential treatment based on length of
service, are found in almost all the leather-tanning agreements. In
most cases employees do not acquire these rights until they have com­
pleted a probationary period, commonly 6 months; but in one case
the period is only 5 days and in another it is 1 year. Once acquired,
seniority rights usually apply to lay-offs and rehiring and in some cases
affect promotions.
All the agreements, except those of the Fulton County and San
Francisco Tanners, define the unit to which accrual of seniority applies.
Almost three-fourths define seniority as length of service in a depart­
ment and a few of these establish seniority by job within the depart­
ment. The remaining agreements, with the exception of four, count
seniority for new employees as service in a department and for workers
with longer service, usually 4 years, as length of service in the plant.
In two of the four exceptions, seniority is on a plant-wide basis for all
employees. A third agreement, which covers a small company,
defines seniority for the purpose of lay-off as length of service in the
plant, and for the purpose of promotions, as length of service on the
job and establishes separate seniority lists for men and women. The
fourth agreement, which covers a large company, maintains separate
lists for men and women in each department in the plant; these lists
are further subdivided by occupation, and under each occupation there
are two classes of employees (A and B), according to the time when
they were listed as “permanent employees on the operation.” A
majority of the agreements grant union-grievance officials preferential
seniority rights by providing that they shall be the last to be laid off
when work slackens, and the first to be rehired when work resumes.

The seniority status of an employee transferred to another depart­
ment is specifically indicated in over a third of the agreements, which
provide that an employee transferred temporarily retains the seniority
he had accumulated in the original department. A very few provide
that if the employee chooses to remain in the new job, his seniority
dates from the time of transfer and presumably he loses the seniority
he accumulated in the former department. However, two agreements
specifically allow him to retain the seniority accumulated in the
previous department.


Seniority is usually lost by voluntary quitting, discharge, or failure
to return to work after a lay-off when requested by the company to report
within a given time—in most cases, 5 days. Over a third of the agree­
ments provide for the retention of seniority rights for a limited period,
usually 1 year, following lay-off; in one agreement the period is 2
L a y-o ff and Rehiring

Less than a fourth of the agreements specify that lay-offs and
rehiring shall be made on the basis of seniority alone. In almost all
the other agreements length of service is recognized as an important
factor in determining lay-offs and rehiring, but is qualified by such
factors as competency or ability to do the job, and in a few instances
by the employee’s “ physical fitness” and family status. One agree­
ment requires lay-off of nonunion employees first and then union
employees by seniority.
“ Bumping” —that is, displacing an employee with less accrued service
in another job—is specifically allowed in about a fourth of the agree­
ments. Under the agreement which establishes A- and B-class em­
ployees for each occupation, class-B employees are laid off first, in
order of seniority, and if there are no employees in class B, class-A
employees with least company seniority. Any employee laid off from
a class-A job is eligible to displace an employee in a class-B job in the
same rated or “ the next lower rated operation in the plant,” if he
can qualify “without undue expense to the company” and if the em­
ployee on such class-B job has less continuous service with the company.
In about half of the agreements, specific provisions are made for
the protection of employees who may be displaced by the introduction
of new machinery. Those with the longest service on the operation
displaced either are given preference in employment on the new
machines, provided they are capable of doing the work required after
a reasonable trial period, or are required to be transferred with full
seniority rights to another occupation or department.

In almost three-fourths of the agreements, work sharing by reducing
hours of work to a stated minimum, usually 32 hours per week, is
required before lay-offs may be made. About half of these agreements
specifically provide that all temporary employees shall be laid off
before the work is shared. Several agreements set a time limit to work
sharing, usually 3 to 5 weeks, after which the employer may make
lay-offs on the basis of seniority and thus provide full-time employ­
ment for those remaining.
Prom otions

Competence is almost always deemed the determining factor in
making promotions, with seniority a secondary consideration appli­
cable where the competence and ability of applicants are approximately
equal. A few agreements provide for promotions on the basis of
seniority alone, although in all but two of these there is the further
stipulation that “the applicant must be competent.” In these two
exceptions applicants are considered first from the department and

then from the plant. The agreement which requires lay-off of non­
union employees first also gives preference in promotion to union
members, if qualified.
In most cases, promotions to supervisory positions are excluded
from these provisions, the management retaining the right to make
them as it sees fit. A few agreements specifically provide for referral
to the grievance machinery of disputes arising from promotions,
although presumably this practice is commonly followed elsewhere.
M ilita ry Service and Other Leave o f Absence

Clauses referring to the reemployment and seniority of employees
in the armed forces, after their period of service, are found in all but
4 of the 40 agreements. Generally, the agreements follow the Selec­
tive Service Act and require that such employees apply within a
specified time, usually 40 days, and are physically capable of perform­
ing their job. About a fourth of these agreements specifically provide
for the accumulation of seniority during the employee’s absence for
military service. The others, again following the Selective Service
Act, commonly state that the employee will be restored to “his former
osition or a position of like seniority,” or, in a few cases, that he will
e reemployed “with all full seniority privileges.”
Almost half of the agreements grant either vacation pay or a bonus
to employees drafted or volunteering for military service. Eleven
agreements, including those with Graton & Knight, Armour Leather
Co., and Elkland Leather, provide for vacation pay, while the Massa­
chusetts Master agreement specifies the equivalent of vacation and
Christmas pay. Seven other agreements grant a bonus—commonly
1 week’s pay—but do not mention vacation pay as such.



Over a fourth of the agreements, including those with the Massa­
chusetts Leather Co., Fulton County Tanners, and Graton & Knight,
provide for reemployment in a position of “like seniority” to employees
“drafted” for nonmilitary employment or war work; and some of
those, in addition, grant such employees earned vacation pay.

While none of the agreements contain provisions for paid sick leave,
a few indicate that an employee will not lose seniority because of
absence caused by illness, and provide for a medical examination at
company expense on his return.
Of the 25 agreements which specifically allow leave for personal
reasons, such as illness in the family, all except 3 set a tentative limit
on the time granted, subject to extensions in almost every case. The
original period of leave is 30 days in every case except two, which allow
3 months. One of the agreements allowing 30 days makes a special
allowance for maternity leave up to 180 days, with the right to exten­
sions up to 1 year if necessary.


Of the 28 agreements expressly granting leave for union business, 10
set definite time limits ranging from 3 to 6 days for attending union
conventions to 2 years for employees holding full-time union office.
The others either grant leave to employees chosen for a full-time union
office “for the term of the office,” or do not specify any definite limit.
A very few agreements restrict the number of employees (generally 3)
who may be absent on union business at one time. One agreement
permits three employees at one time to be absent for 15 days and only
one employee for longer periods. In a few cases, leave of absence is
also restricted to the extent that it “will not interfere with the efficient
operation of the plant.”
Employees returning after an absence for union business are usually
restored to their jobs with “like seniority,” although two agreements,
one of which grants indefinite leave and the other a maximum of 1
year, specifically allow him to accumulate seniority during his absence.
Health and Safety

The clauses relating to health and safety, which are included in most
of the agreements, generally consist of pledges by the company to make
“reasonably necessary provisions for the safety and health of its
employees.” In addition, in about three-fourths of the agreements,
the employer agrees to furnish rubber boots, gloves, or aprons in the
“wet departments” where the use of chemicals make such equipment
Adjustm ent o f D isputes

All the agreements, except that with the Fulton County Tanners,
describe in detail the steps involved in the presentation and negotiation
of grievances. The Fulton County agreement contains a general
statement to the effect that the employer and the employees or their
representatives shall attempt to settle grievances before submitting
them to arbitration.
Almost a third of the agreements specify that a worker with a
complaint must notify his union representative and that the latter,
after investigation to determine that the complaint is warranted, shall
take it up with the foreman. In practice the worker may accompany
the union steward, but this is not specifically required. In an addi­
tional third of the agreements, the aggrieved employee is supposed to
accompany his union representative in presenting a grievance to the
foreman. A fifth of the agreements grant the employee the option of
himself presenting his complaint to the foreman, or of presenting it in
company with his union steward. The remaining agreements provide
that the employee is to take up any complaint directly with his fore­
man in an effort to settle it himself, before submitting the grievance to
his union representative for adjustment.
Grievance proceedings beyond the initial presentation to the fore­
man generally include negotiations between the plant grievance
committee with successively higher management officials. Nearly

three-fourths of the agreements, moreover, provide for the assistance
and participation of mternational union officials in the final stage
of grievance negotiations, prior to arbitration.
In order to expedite the settlement of grievances, as well as to
prevent delay by either party, time limits at all or some of the steps
of the adjustment machinery are established in a third of the agree­
Most of the agreements do not indicate when formal grievance
meetings are to be held, and likewise make no specific provision for
payment to employees or union representatives for time lost in pre­
senting, investigating, and settling grievances. Two agreements,
however, provide for regular meetings between the union bargaining
committee and company officials, with pay to committeemen for all
time lost from work in attending these meetings. Three others,
while not specifying the regular time for meetings, state that members
of the committee will be paid for meetings if called by the company.
Regular grievance meetings after working hours are called for
under 10 agreements, although some of them allow discharge cases
to be handled during working hours. No mention is made of pay for
employees or union representatives who attend after-hours meetmgs;
and pay for those who attend special meetings is indefinite, except in
a few agreements which state that committeemen shall not be paid.

All but three agreements provide for the final settlement of dis­
putes by an impartial agency if either party is dissatisfied with the
result of the internal grievance procedure. None of the agreements
requires mutual consent of the parties before arbitration may take
place, although one states that the decision of the arbitration board,
is not necessarily binding on either party but may be appealed for
final decision to the National Labor Relations Board or to any other
body mutually agreed upon.
The Massachusetts Master agreement refers all unsettled disputes
to the Massachusetts State Board of Conciliation and Arbitration.
In the remaining agreements, an arbitrator or an arbitration board
must be chosen at the time arbitration is requested. The most
common arrangement is a tripartite arbitration board, consisting of
one or two representatives chosen by each side together with a jointly
selected impartial chairman, to function only for the particular dispute.
One of these agreements with ad hoc arbitration, names a permanent
umpire for cases involving complaint of unfair discharge. Another
provides that in the event an impartial chairman is selected by the
tanning industry—either in the area of metropolitan New York or
nationally—arbitration proceedings between the company and union
will be held before that arbitrator.
Many agreements anticipate the possibility of a deadlock, in either
the selection of an impartial chairman or the single arbitrator, with
consequent break-down of the arbitration machinery, by naming an
outside agency or person to choose the neutral person in event of such
a deadlock. Some designate the Conciliation Service of the U. S.
Department of Labor; others designate the American Arbitration
Association, a Federal or State judge, or some specified individual.
Of the 37 agreements with arbitration provisions, 10 provide no

limitations on the types of grievances which may be arbitrated. Two
specifically exclude questions of wages, rates of pay, work loads, or
production, and one excludes disputes concerning competence, sus­
pension, transfer, or lay-off. Nineteen specifically limit arbitration
to “ any grievance pertaining to the interpretation and application of
the agreement.” In five others, arbitration is specifically permitted
to decide disputes over working conditions, wage rates, and produc­
tion requirements.

All but four agreements expressly grant an employee or the union
the right to appeal cases of allegedly unfair or unjustified discharge.
The established grievance machinery is generally utilized, and in a
few agreements discharge cases take priority over other pending dis­
putes and may be presented for adjustment at any time, without
waiting for regular grievance meetings. In seven agreements, work­
ing rmes are attached containing detailed lists oi the causes for
discharge; two others incorporate such causes into the agreement
proper. O'ver half of the agreements mention incompetence as a
cause for discharge.
As a safeguard against arbitrary discharge, a few of the agreements
provide that the union shall be notified before the employee is dis­
charged and that the case is to be reviewed jointly by the company
and the union bargaining committee. Two of these specifically
provide that if the parties are unable to agree on the merits oi the case,
the dispute may be arbitrated, the employee meanwhile remaining
on the job.
Appeals of discharges must generally be made within a definite
time after the discharge takes place. In almost every agreement, the
time limits for discharges for incompetence and discharges for other
causes differ. In all but two of the agreements, where incompetence
is referred to as a cause for discharge, appeals must be made within
24 hours. The time within which discharges for other causes may be
appealed is 7 days in all the agreements except two which allow only
4 and 5 days, respectively.
Some of the agreements require that discharge cases must be dis­
posed of within a specified time, generally 3 weeks, but the time varies
from 2 days in one agreement to 4 weeks in others.
Over half the agreements specifically provide for reinstatement
with back pay for an employee found to be unjustly discharged,
although the majority impose specified limits on the amount of back
pay allowed, generally 4 weeks’ pay, but ranging from 2 days in one
agreement to 60 days in another; in two agreements the amount is
left to the discretion of the arbitration board.
Strikes and Lockouts

Strikes and lockouts during the life of the agreement are banned
in 28 agreements. Half of these expressly prohibit sympathetic
strikes. In one agreement, strikes and lockouts are allowed only
if either party fails to carry out an arbitration award within a speci­
fied time, ana in another if the company refuses to submit unsettled
disputes to arbitration. In eight other agreements stoppages are

prohibited only until all the steps in the grievance machinery have
been exhausted. One of the latter agreements does not provide for
arbitration, and another provides for arbitration only on certain
subjects. The two agreements which do not refer to strikes or
lockouts also fail to provide arbitration.
Under 17 agreements, 12 of which prohibit strikes completely
during the life of the agreement and 5 during negotiations on griev­
ances, the union agrees to permit employees to process perishable
goods in order to prevent spoilage, in the event that any stoppage
does occur. In addition, under about a fourth of the agreements,
the union guarantees that necessary maintenance employees, such as
watchmen, firemen, and engineers, will remain on the job to protect
the goods and property of the employer.
About half of the agreements provide that employees cannot be
forced to work on leather coming from or going to a struck tannery,
provided the company has been notified of the strike. Moreover,
in several agreements the company specifically agrees not to hire
“ strike breakers.”
Disciplining of members who violate the “ no-strike” clauses is
expressly provided for in two agreements. In one, employees in any
department who stop work in violation of the “ no-strike” provision
forfeit the benefits of the agreement, and in the other, striking
employees are to be discharged with no right to appeal.