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Woman Worker


United States Department of Labor

Women’s Bureau

Frances Perkins, Secretary

Mary Anderson, Director


No. 1

Vol. XIX

January 1939


Progress Under


Fair Labor Standards Act ..................................................

Eighth Minimum-Wage Conference




National Conference on Labor Legislation..........................................................


Southern Conference for Human Welfare..............................................................


Women in Unions....................................................................................................................


At the A. F. of L. Convention—At the CIO Convention—Gains in Union
Agreements—Notes on Labor Disputes.
Toward Minimum Fair Wages..........................................................................................


Utah Law Held Constitutional—State Minimum-Wage Activities—Recent
Minimum-Wage Orders—New Jersey Conference on Labor Laws—
Publication Note.
News Notes.................................................................................................................................


Recent Women’s Bureau Publications.......................................................................


Published under authority of Public Resolution No. 57, approved May
11, 1922 (42 Stat. 541), as amended by section 307, Public Act 212, 72d
Congress, approved June 30, 1932. This publication approved by the
Director, Bureau of the Budget.
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C., at 5 cents a copy
or 25 cents a year


Progress Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
as had been expected, were in a business covered by the law. Many
quickly affected by the Fair Labor complaints, the Administrator said, were
Standards Act, which went into operation
from persons in intrastate industries, such
October 24. The Bureau of Labor Statistics as retail or service trades, local industries,
reports that about 35,000, or approximately or one of those categories specifically ex­
one-tenth, of the workers in cotton mills in empted by Congress.
the United States received wage increases as
Questions as to which workers in border­
a result of the minimum-wage provision of line industries are covered by the act and
the act, which requires the payment of at which are excluded are being decided from
least 25 cents an hour for the first year of week to week as the Administrator issues
the law’s operation. Almost all the workers interpretative rulings and as exemptions are
benefited were in southern States. It is granted or denied to employers who object
likely that a considerable number of these to meeting the terms of the law.
Most questionable thus far has been the
were women, since about two-fifths of the
workers in this industry are women, and status of workers on the processing of agri­
since many studies have shown women to be cultural products, such as bean sorters and
the lowest-paid workers.
cleaners, tobacco workers, turkey pluckers,
Early reports that 50,000 pecan shellers fruit and vegetable packers, and so on.
were thrown out of work by the act were Others who raise problems of administration
denied in November by Everett L. Looney, are learners, handicapped, and apprentices.
chairman of the Texas Industrial Com­
Hearings have been in progress in Wash­
mission and head of a board named by the ington on exemptions for learners in textile,
Governor to investigate the pecan-shelling apparel, hosiery, and knit wear. The textile
industry of the State. He said the number industry has withdrawn its request for such
of pecan shellers out of work because of exemptions. Thus far, no learners’ exemp­
closing of the plants was only 8,000, and tions have been granted. In the case of ap­
recommended that the Administrator of the prentices a blanket temporary certificate of
Wage and Hour Division deny any request exemption has been granted by a regulation
of the industry for exemption from paying a effective until February 1, 1939. A similar
minimum of 25 cents an hour. He declared temporary certificate has been granted until
that the industry was in good financial con­ the same date to handicapped workers em­
dition but that workers averaged only 5 ployed under certain conditions.
cents an hour or $2.50 a week, and the best
The status of newspaper employees was
workers were paid only 10 cents an hour settled early when the Administrator ruled
that newspapers could not be exempted as
and $5 a week.
service industries under the act, since the
What Workers Come Under the Law? act specifically exempts only small papers,
Many workers, as well as employers, are weeklies or semiweeklies, with less than
not clear as to the coverage and terms of 3,000 circulation, the major part within the
the law, as shown by the fact that of 1,200 county of publication, from paying the
complaints received from workers by the minimum wage and the overtime pay re­
end of November, only 25 percent seemed quired in the law.
An early ruling also decided the status of
to indicate that there had been a violation









clerical and maintenance workers employed
in interstate industries. It was decided that
they are protected by the act as much as are
production workers. On the other hand,
telephone operators, even when handling
long-distance calls, are exempt from provi­
sions of the act, because they are service
employees the greater part of whose opera­
tions are within the State.

Exemptions Asked on Farm Products
Hearings were held in Washington in
November on the question of whether
women engaged solely in hand picking and
cleaning dry beans in country elevators in
Michigan could be denied the protection of
the law. Pending a decision they are ex­
empt if they work on the farm that pro­
duces the beans or in an establishment that
gets the beans from the farms in the imme­
diate vicinity and that does not employ more
than seven persons.
Hearings were to be held January 9,1939,
in Washington on petitions for exemption
filed by fruit and vegetable growers and
shippers of California, Texas, Michigan,
and other States. Like the employers of the
Michigan bean pickers, these employers
objected to the definition of “area of produc­
tion” that had been issued by the Adminis­
trator of the Wage and Hour Division.
The definition was necessary because of
two clauses in the act: one exempting from
the hour provisions, for not more than 14
workweeks during the year, workers em­
ployed in the “area of production” on the
first processing of agricultural or horticul­
tural commodities during seasonal opera­
tions; the other exempting from both the
wage and the hour provisions those individ­
uals employed within the “area of produc­
tion” in specified operations on agricultural
or horticultural products (“handling, pack­
ing, storing, ginning, compressing, pasteur­
izing, drying, preparing in their raw or
natural state, or canning of agricultural or
horticultural commodities for market, or in
making cheese or butter or other dairy
The Administrator decided to consider

the work within the “area of production” if
it is conducted on a farm on commodities pro­
duced exclusively on that farm or in a process­
ing establishment that obtains its commodities
in the immediate locality and does not employ
more than seven persons.
This definition thus exempts small enter­
prises closely related to agriculture, located
in the country or in small rural communities.
Within the exemption come most employers
engaged in making dairy products, most
cotton ginners, country grain elevators, and
plants that assemble and ship agricultural
commodities in general farming areas.
It has been ruled that no industry can
claim a 14-week period of exemption as
“seasonal” just because it has peaks of
activity during the year. A seasonal indus­
try is one which, because of climate or other
natural conditions affecting the supply of the
materials worked on, operates only a limited
part of the year.

Overtime Rulings
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act over­
time beyond 44 hours a week must be paid for
at one and one-half times the employee’s
regular rate of pay and not time and a half
the minimum-wage rate.
An employer who reduces hourly rates in
anticipation of a sudden rush of business
that will make him want to work his em­
ployees overtime is responsible for paying
overtime at the original higher rate.
If an employer reduces hourly rates with
the intent of working the same number of
hours as before at the same total wages, he
may still be subject to penalty for breaking
the law.
Hours lost in one week cannot be made
up in the next without overtime pay for
hours over 44. This is true whether the
hours are lost because of holidays, sickness,
vacations, or insufficient business.
Overtime payments cannot be waived by
agreement with employees. Employers who
attempt to get a waiver from their employees
or a statement that they have worked fewer
hours than they actually have worked are
subject to the penalties of the act.

January 1939



Eighth Minimum-Wage Conference
protection of State minimum-wage tration and enforcement of such laws.
laws should be extended to all workers, Future minimum-wage legislation covering
but existing laws for women should not men
be should be so drawn as to guarantee that
repealed nor in any way weakened by new minimum-wage regulations for women will
State legislation supplementing the Federal not be involved in court cases on the yet
Fair Labor Standards Act.
unanswered question of the constitutionality
This is the gist of a resolution adopted of such legislation for men.
unanimously by the Eighth Minimum-Wage
Scarcely a State has set a rate so low as
Conference called by the Women’s Bureau 25 cents an hour, it was pointed out. In
and held at the Labor Department Novem­ all, 105 wage orders have been issued, and—
ber 9 and 10. Representatives of State including the rates set in laws—minimumminimum-wage administrations of 15 States, wage rates are in effect in 21 States, the
the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Of
attended, the States including Arizona, the rates set for experienced women, 90
California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, percent exceed 25 cents an hour, more than
Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hamp­ 70 percent are at least 30 cents, and nearly
shire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Penn­ 30 percent are 35 cents or more. The repeal
sylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wiscon­ of existing minimum-wage laws for women
sin. Also in attendance were members of would have the effect of wiping out wage
the Women’s Bureau Advisory Committee, orders issued under them, and it would be
including representatives from the National years before similarly high standards could
League of Women Voters, the National be attained through the recommendations of
Board of the Young Women’s Christian wage boards established under new State
Association, the National Consumers’ wage and hour laws.
League, and the National Council of
Wage Orders for Factory Workers
Jewish Women. Numerous observers from
In spite of the existence of the Federal
government, labor, and other groups were
Labor Standards Act, State minimumpresent at all sessions. For the first time,
administrators should continue to
State minimum-wage inspectors, those who
minimum-wage rates for manufac­
do the work of checking up on compliance,
it was decided at the
were invited to the conference.
conference. Many small industries may
Safeguarding Wage Laws for Women not be reached by Federal industry boards for
The conference endorsed the policy of some years, it was pointed out, and mean­
extending minimum-wage legislation to men, while under State laws minimum-wage rates
but expressed the conviction that in so doing may be established for these industries
the greatest precaution must be taken to higher than the 25 or 30 cents provided in the
prevent the loss of any of the ground gained Federal Act. Among low-wage manufactur­
for women under existing minimum-wage ing industries that are fit subjects for
laws. Conference members emphasized the immediate State action were cited candy,
importance, now that the constitutionality of paper boxes, leather goods, and jewelry.
State minimum-wage directors recom­
minimum-wage legislation for women has
been established by the United States Su­ mended that they meet in conference when
preme Court, of avoiding any action that planning to establish a minimum-wage rate
may interfere with the continuous adminis­ for interstate industries, in order to avoid





problems of interstate competition. Even
in industries that are not interstate in
character, such as laundries and restaurants,
it is a good thing for State administrators to
work together in establishing rates, if only
to benefit from each other’s experience.
The resolution adopted by the conference
and presented at the Fifth National Con­

ference on Labor Legislation the following
week reads as follows:
It is the unanimous opinion of those participating in
the Eighth Minimum-Wage Conference that the pro­
tection of State minimum-wage laws should be extended
to all wage earners and that any minimum-wage legisla­
tion introduced in any State legislature should not in
any way jeopardize existing State minimum-wage laws,
or their effective administration or enforcement.

National Conference on Labor Legislation
Labor Laws for Agricultural and
Household Workers
by which household and agricul­
tural workers can be brought under the
protection of State labor laws were outlined
at the Fifth National Conference on Labor
Legislation, called by the Secretary of Labor
in November at Washington and attended
by governors’ representatives, including
labor department officials, and representa­
tives of organized labor and of national
organizations from 41 States, Alaska, the
District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
In the report of the Secretary’s Committee
on the Extension of Labor Law Protection
to All Workers, it was recommended that
these two large groups of workers, now
generally exempted from labor laws, should
be brought under their protection as rapidly
as possible.
Wage collection and workmen’s com­
pensation provisions can be applied immedi­
ately to agricultural and household workers,
and have been applied in some States, the
committee declared. “Workers injured in
these occupations should be assured regular
compensation and medical care in the same
manner as workers in other occupations.”

Minimum-Wage Laws for Domestics.

As the first step in regulating the work of
household employees, the committee sug­
gested that State minimum-wage laws
should be applied. The committee urged
that wage boards for domestic service be

set up in States whose laws make this
possible, nine in number, and that in States
where this cannot be done under existing
laws, the laws should be amended. In
drafting new minimum-wage legislation, it
was recommended, coverage should be
broad enough to permit wage boards to be
set up for domestic service.
Hours of domestic workers could be in­
directly affected through wage orders by
setting a standard workweek and an over­
time rate. However, the committee also
recommended that, wherever possible, do­
mestic service should be included under the
general hour law of the State, though it
recognized that special provisions would
have to be made.
“It is felt,” the committee stated, “that
special efforts must be made to overcome
the opposition to extending the labor laws
to domestic service, and that these efforts
must take the form of educating employers,
particularly women, to the advantages of
setting standards of employment for house­
hold help, as one of the means of attracting
a more efficient labor supply.”
Standards for Farm Labor.

As for agricultural laborers, the committee
suggested that States begin now to experi­
ment with setting minimum-wage rates
under wage-board procedure, where the
coverage of the law permits. The difficulty
of regulating the hours of agricultural field
workers was recognized, but the committee

January 1939


felt that some of the exemptions now con­
tained in hour laws could be narrowed in
order to bring processing and packing
operations within the laws.
The successful experience of the Farm
Security Administration and certain other
governmental agencies in setting standards
of employment for agricultural workers was
Organized labor must be on the watch for
discrimination against racial and other
groups who may be displaced when stand­
ards are raised, the committee urged. It
pointed out that many workers covered by
labor laws, including racial groups and
rural workers, do not actually enjoy the
benefits of those laws because of public
opinion, difficulties of inspections, due to
inadequate staffs and appropriations, and
difficulties of securing convictions.

State Wage-Hour Acts Proposed
The conference adopted a resolution urg­
ing prompt State action to extend the


benefits provided by the Federal Fair Labor
Standards Act to all workers, either by
amendment to existing statutes or by the
introduction of new legislation. This was
in accordance with the report of the Com­
mittee on State Wage and Hour Legislation,
which recommended that States supplement
the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act
by enacting combined minimum-wage and
maximum-hour laws patterned after the
Federal law.
It was recommended by the committee,
however, that “Until such time as the con­
stitutionality of wage and hour legislation
for men has been definitely determined, it
is important to protect existing laws or
orders for women and minors. To safe­
guard such regulatory measures until they
are superseded by equivalent or higher
standards applicable to both men and
women, the State bill expressly provides
that existing laws or orders establishing
higher wages or shorter hours than these
provided under the bill itself are to continue
in full force and effect.”

Southern Conference for Human Welfare
news for women workers in the right to organize for collective bargain­
the South has come from the Southern ing; that States create women’s bureaus in
Conference for Human Welfare recently
their labor departments to administer labor
held in Birmingham, Ala. Among the reso­ laws for women; that qualified personnel and
lutions recommended by the round table on tenure of office be guaranteed by adequate
women wage earners and passed by the con­ civil-service laws; that States seek to abolish
ference as a whole, with its 1,300 delegates industrial home work; and that laws and
from all parts of the South, was one urging regulations discriminating against women in
the passage of State wage and hour laws, government service because of sex or marital
with special efforts to safeguard standards status be condemned.
already set for women and to extend the
The conference was called after the atten­
benefits of such standards. This gives im­ tion of southerners had been focused on
petus to the movement for improving the their section of the country by the report
working conditions of the 329,000 southern of the National Emergency Council and the
women in manufacturing and the 148,000 declaration of the President that the South
women agricultural wage earners in the is the “Nation’s Economic Problem No. 1.”
South, as well as of many women in service A group of 200 prominent persons from 13
southern States issued the call to the con­
The conference recommended that the ference. The governing body formed by
States pass labor-relations acts guaranteeing the conference for permanent organization




is a council of 117 members, with a smaller
executive board including the officers: Chair­
man, Dr. Frank P. Graham, of the Univer­
sity of North Carolina; secretary, Miss
Mollie Dowd, of Alabama, a member of the
board of the National Women’s Trade Union
League; treasurer, Clark Foreman, of
Georgia; and 15 vice chairmen—one from
each of the 13 States and two at large.
The outstanding quality of the leadership
in this meeting, representing as it does those
of progressive mind from all parts of the
South, including men and women from
colleges, labor organizations, the United
States Congress, and other groups, shows
that women wage earners, among others,
have strong sponsorship for improving their
Conference discussions included—besides
the subject of Women Wage Earners—Child
Labor, Youth Problems, Labor Relations
and Unemployment, Education, Health,
Housing, Constitutional Rights, Suffrage,
Prison Reform, Race Relations, Farm
Tenancy, Freight Rate Differentials, and

Credit. Feature addresses were given by
Dr. Frank P. Graham, Mrs. Franklin D.
Roosevelt, and Justice Hugo L. Black.
The resolution seeking to improve wage
and hour conditions for southern women
workers was as follows:
Resolved: 1. That this conference recommend that the
13 Southern States enact wage and hour legislation that
will supplement and extend the standards already set
by the Federal wage and hour law, for both men and
2. In those States where hour or wage legislation for
women is already on the statute books, it is recom­
mended that any new legislation for both men and
women should be so worded that the standards already
set for women be safeguarded so that they cannot be
lowered or repealed.
3. Because the constitutionality of hour and wage
legislation for all persons has not yet been settled by
the courts, while such legislation for women is definitely
constitutional, it is recommended that new State wage
and hour legislation be so worded that if the act is held
invalid for men it will still stand for women.
4. When it is not possible to get legislation covering
all persons it is recommended that the States extend
their laws for women wage earners, shortening hours
and extending the coverage of existing hour laws,
enacting hour laws for women where none now exist,
and enacting minimum-wage legislation for women.

Women in Unions
At the A. F. of L. Convention
delegates to the fifty-eighth
annual convention of the American
Federation of Labor at Houston,
October 3 to 13, included: Mrs. Florence
Marston, New York, representing the Asso­
ciated Actors and Artistes; Anastasia Becker,
Fort Worth, Tex., International Brother­
hood of Bookbinders; Mrs. D. A. Houck,
New York City, United Garment Workers
of America; Berniece B. Heffner, Washing­
ton, D. C., American Federation of Govern­
ment Employees; Helen Caren, Toronto,
Canada, Hotel and Restaurant Employees’
International Alliance and Bartenders’ In­
ternational League of America; Mrs. Mary
Foley Grossman, Philadelphia, Pa., Amer­
ican Federation of Teachers; Mrs. Ida Lee
Merchant, Mobile, Ala., Alabama State



Federation of Labor; Mary Lillie Price,
Birmingham, Ala., Birmingham (Ala.) Trades
Council; Laura Iglesias, New York City,
Harriette Peterson, Oklahoma City, Okla.,
Mrs. M. E. Roberts, Miami, Fla., and Rena
Mae Chadick, Houston, Tex., all represent­
ing locals of the Stenographers, Typists,
Bookkeepers and Assistants’ Union; and
Mrs. Mary Cramer, Hannibal, Mo., Wom­
en’s International Union Label League.
Resolutions Considered.

Among resolutions introduced of special
interest to women workers was one protest­
ing against the practice of replacing Negro
maids on railroad trains by white stewardess
nurses, in disregard of the seniority of the
Negro maids. The resolution declared that
the Negro maids had performed practically
all duties now being performed by the white

January 1939


stewardess nurses, besides giving the addi­
tional service of manicure and hair dressing.
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, of
which the maids were members, introduced
the resolution, which declared that the union
did not protest against displacement of one
color by another, but against the violation of
the “principle of seniority, for which the
trade-union movement has fought so long
and hard.” This resolution was referred to
the Executive Council.
Another resolution proposed reduction of
hours of work in proportion to the increase
in productivity of industries (unless such
increase has been accompanied by propor­
tionate decreases in price) over a period of
years. The increase in production would be
determined for each industry through sur­
veys conducted by a commission in coopera­
tion with the United States Department of
Labor and the Works Progress Administra­
tion. It was noted that increased productiv­
ity per worker through new machines and
methods had not brought a proportionate
decrease in price, or improvement in quality,
but had served to create a great increase
in the number of unemployed, and that
while millions work 48 or 54 hours a week
other millions have no work at all. This
also was referred to the Executive Council.
A delegate from the Stove Mounters’
International Union introduced a resolution
urging the delegates to work for State laws
to prohibit the employment of women in
enamel plants between midnight and 7 a. m.,
because such employment was considered
injurious to the health of women. The
resolution was adopted unanimously.
A resolution calling for a minimum oldage pension of #30 a month was referred to
the committee on social security, and a
resolution calling for compulsory health
insurance, with cooperative payments by
the National Government, State, employers,
and employees, was referred to the Executive
Organizational Progress.

The Executive Council reported that the
Federation had extended organization in the


past year to many thousands of workers in
industries never before organized. Among
important woman-employing industries cited
were agricultural and cannery and citrus
workers on the Pacific coast, with 64 local
unions formed, and 21,305 members; whitecollar workers, with 68 locals; and beetsugar workers, 23 locals in 8 States.

At the CIO Convention
Women delegates to the First Constitu­
tional Convention of the Committee for In­
dustrial Organization at Pittsburgh, Pa., in
November, at which the Congress of Indus­
trial Organizations was formed, included
Kathryn Lewis, Washington, D. C., District
No. 50, United Mine Workers of America;
Eleanor Nelson, Washington, D. C., United
Federal Workers of America; Alice Liveright, Philadelphia, Pa., United Office and
Professional Workers of America; Vita
Friend, Cleveland, Ohio, State, County, and
Municipal Workers of America; Jane Taylor,
Pittsburgh, Pa., United Building and Main­
tenance Workers Local Industrial Union,
No. 800; M. Bernice Welsh, Richmond, Va.,
United Laundry Workers Local Industrial
Union, No. 331; Clara J. Fuller, Middletown,
Ohio, Pioneer Tobacco Workers Local In­
dustrial Union, No. 55; and Virginia Brown­
ing, Anniston, Ala., Industrial Union Council
of that locality.
Southern Campaign Planned.

The Congress set itself, as one of its main
tasks, the organizing of the unorganized,
especially in the South. It was decided
to call a conference of representatives of
CIO organizations interested in organizing
the South, to lay plans for a joint campaign.
The poll tax in the South and wage dif­
ferentials between North and South were
The convention unanimously endorsed the
30-hour 6-day week and called on the Exec­
utive Board to propose legislation toward
this end and other measures that would
assure workers full employment and just
distribution of the benefits of technological



The convention supported the principles
of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act of
1938 and called for immediate action by in­
dustry committees to raise the minimumwage rate above 25 cents an hour and for
supplementing Federal and State legislation
to extend and improve wage and hour
Legal Protection for Farm Labor.

Another resolution urged Government pro­
tection of farm labor and food packing,
processing, and canning workers through
amendment of the Agricultural Adjustment
Act and the Agricultural Marketing Agree­
ments Act so as to require recipients of
benefits to meet minimum-wage and labor
standards; larger appropriations for the
Farm Security Administration’s labor camp,
farm-labor housing, and relief programs;
amendment and extension of State industrial
labor laws to cover farm labor; and Con­
gressional authorization for the Departments
of Labor and Agriculture to make studies of
farm-labor problems.
The convention endorsed the program of
the President’s Interdepartmental Com­
mittee to Coordinate Health and Welfare
Activities, as presented at the National
Health Conference last summer. (See Sep­
tember Woman Worker.)
It was resolved that Federal and State
unemployment compensation laws should be
amended to extend coverage to all workers
and increase benefits to an adequate mini­
mum amount; to provide a waiting period of
only 2 weeks of either partial or total un­
employment; benefits of no less than $7 a
week; and duration of benefits for 18 weeks.
Another resolution urged that the old-age
insurance provisions of the Social Security
Act be amended to extend coverage of the
law; begin payments in 1940 instead of 1942;
reduce the age limit for receipt of benefits;
increase the amount to provide a decent
standard of living; provide immediate pay­
ment of benefits for permanent disability;
and obtain necessary additional funds from
the general revenues of the Federal Govern­

Gains in Union Agreements
Texas Home Workers’ Wages Raised 400 Percent.

Texas women who embroider children’s
dresses at home must receive at least 25
cents an hour, compared with the 5 to 7
cents they formerly received, as the result of
a union agreement signed October 29 at San
Antonio between the infants’ and children’s
dress manufacturers of the city and an indus­
trial union. More than 3,000 hand em­
broiderers, 98 percent of them of Mexican
extraction, are affected. The agreement
also provides for the gradual abolition of the
industrial home-work system in the em­
broidering of children’s clothes in the State
of Texas. Meanwhile no children below
legal age may be employed, all workers
must be union members, piece rates shall be
set by the union and shop management
together, and a joint inspection depart­
ment, established by the manufacturers
and the union, shall inspect sanitary
and living conditions in the homes of the
Under the old wage system in the indus­
try whole families embroidered day and
night in order to make a living. The Texas
home-work law passed in 1937 proved in­
effective in limiting home work, according
to the union. The passage of the Federal
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, with its
present minimum-wage provision of 25 cents
an hour, is credited by the union with
finally making possible the present agree­
Alabama Textile Mill Reopened.

An agreement recently signed with an
Alabama cotton mill stipulates that the
mill, which had been closed for a year,
would reopen with 400 workers and build
up its personnel from its old employees until
a maximum of 800, the normal number, are
working. Departmental seniority is recog­
nized, arbitration is established, hours are
fixed at 40 a week, and the important innova­
tion of leave of absence for maternity and
for illness is provided.

January 1939


The plant was shut down in October 1937
because of economic conditions, according
to the manufacturer. The union charged,
however, that the shutdown was an attempt
to break the local union, which had nego­
tiated a contract with the mills in April 1937.
Wage Cut Reduced in Carpets.

The 6,000 New York and Connecticut
carpet workers who struck last May against
a 10-percent wage cut (as reported in the
September Woman Worker) won a decision
from the New York State Mediation Board
reducing the cut to 5 percent and providing
that the reduction would be in effect only
until December 31, 1938. The union re­
newed its agreement with the company,
with sole collective-bargaining rights, pay­
ment for reporting and waiting time, and
arbitration of grievances.


women as follows: In the general contract,
#15 for the first 6 months, to #18 after 1
year’s service, for women; #18 the first year,
#22.50 the second, and #27.50 thereafter, for
men. Hours for women are limited to 44
a week by State law; for men the union has
set a limit of 51 a week. Time-and-a-half
pay is provided for women after 8 hours, for
men after 8% hours, and for both on Sunday
and holiday work.
A special contract for grocery stores pro­
vides minimum-wage rates for women rang­
ing from #16.50 for less than 6 months to
#22.50 after the first year. For men the
same rates apply as under the general con­
tract, but hours for men are 54 a week with
time and a half for hours in excess of 9 a day.
Hours for women are the same as in the
general contract.

Notes on Labor Disputes
Minimum Wages and Pay for Reporting.

A California textile plant, employing
1,500, has signed an agreement providing a
60-cent minimum hourly wage for all em­
ployees and a 65-cent minimum for ware­
housemen. ’
A new agreement in Massachusetts with
a textile firm employing 150 provides for 2
hours of pay for days on which employees
are called to report for work, the 8-hour day
and 40-hour week, and negotiation of wage
adjustments, arbitration, and preferential
Two hours of reporting pay is provided
also in a new agreement in an Ohio textile
plant with 125 employees. A minimumwage scale of 50 cents an hour for women
and 60 cents an hour for men is agreed upon;
also 5 holidays a year, seniority in hiring
and lay-off, arbitration of grievances, and
establishment of a joint standards committee
with representatives of company and union
to regulate standards of production.
$15 Minimum in Retail Stores.

A contract signed in Oregon with two
branches of the Associated Employers of
the State and a union of retail clerks pro­
vides separate wage scales for men and

San Francisco Store Workers Win Demands.

The nearly 2 months’ strike of several
thousand department store workers in San
Francisco was settled November 1, when
an agreement was signed by 26 retail stores,
effective through July 31, 1940.
Many of the terms of the previous year’s
agreement were continued. Among changes
were the raise in the basic minimum pay
for salespeople from #18 to #20 a week; a
guarantee of 4 hours’ pay for each day that
an employee is directed to report (except
culinary workers); and 2 weeks’ vacation
with pay for workers with 2 years’ contin­
uous service (instead of 3 years as formerly).
The agreement included a continuation
of the 40-hour 6-day week, with time and a
half for overtime, and the open shop.
Seniority prevails in rehiring and lay-offs
for persons of equal merit or ability, but the
decision of merit and ability remains with
the employer, subject to appeal through the
union to the adjustment board and to arbi­
tration if necessary. Employees transferred
from one department to another retain their
Other terms of the agreement include #1
extra pay each day that a split shift is



worked; #16 a week minimum pay for ap­
prentices in all departments; no more than
1 apprentice for every 20 employees, an
apprentice to be one with less than 6 months’
experience in the trade; 1 week’s vacation
with pay for 1 year’s continuous service;
overtime for Sundays and holidays and for
hours worked before 8 in the morning and
after 6:30 or 7 at night; 1 hour for lunch
and not more than 5 hours without a lunch
period (unless paid overtime).
Minimum-wage rates agreed upon include:
#20 to #32.50 a week for salespeople on

various types of goods; #18 to #40 a week
for different categories of nonsales service
people, from bundle girls to tailors; #18 to
#25 a week for office workers, and #35 a
week for artists; #4.67 for an 8-hour day for
restaurant countermen and women on reg­
ular work, and #5 a day for extras; #3.25
a day for regular waiters and waitresses
working 7% hours, #4 a day for extras;
#22.50 a week for general beauty operators,
and #20 for manicurists and body masseurs
with provisions for extra pay on a commis­
sion basis.

Toward Minimum Fair Wages1
Utah Law Held Constitutional
Utah minimum-wage law of 1933,
subject of court action for the past
year, was upheld December 14 by the State
Supreme Court as being legal under the
State Constitution. The one order issued
under the law, that for the retail trade, was,
however, declared void, because of faulty
administrative procedure.
The more than 120 small retailers who
brought suit a year ago had complained that
the law was unconstitutional because it
deprived them of property without due
process of law and interfered unreasonably
with freedom of contract. The court dis­
missed both complaints. On the first it
declared that the law did not deprive the
plaintiffs of property either with or without
due process of law, for no property right was
involved. On the second, the court found
that “within the realm of police power the
legislature may act in any matter not for­
bidden by the Constitution. We find no
restrictions in the Constitution on the right
of the State to prescribe maximum hours,
minimum wages, or general conditions of
labor in the State.”
While upholding the law, the court voided
the wage-hour order for retail trade because
the procedure followed by the State Indus­
trial Commission before issuing the order
did not constitute due process of law, and

i For Women’s Bureau Minimum-Wage Conference see p. 5.

because no findings of fact were made by
the commission on which to base the order.
The record reveals that a public meeting was held at
the capitol pursuant to notice, and the opponents and
proponents were allotted 3 hours each to talk about the
matters. No witnesses were sworn; no record made
of their statements; and as far as the proponents were
concerned none of them appeared to be either em­
ployers or employees, or in any way connected with
the retail trades or familiar with the questions under
discussion. It appears to have been a public meeting
and not a public hearing; a case of “we should” or “we
should not” instead of a presentation of facts on the
questions up for hearing. It appears to have been
primarily a meeting which might reflect public senti­
ment rather than a hearing where testimony under oath
is taken and preserved in the record as mandatorily
required by the act.
The record . . . discloses that no findings of fact
were made by the commission upon which to base any
order. The commission seems to have proceeded on
the theory that the wage board fixed the wages, the
hours, and conditions of labor, and the commission
merely determined at a public meeting whether or not
public sentiment supported the action of the wage

Though the Utah minimum-wage law
was enacted in 1933, because of want of
funds no effort was made to put it into oper­
ation until 1937. After investigations and
informal hearings the commission issued an
order, effective February 1, 1938, covering
women and minors in retail trade, providing
a 7-hour day, a 42%-hour week, and a mini­
mum wage of #16 a week. The order was
never enforced, because of court injunction.

January 1939


State Minimum-Wage Activities
In the District of Columbia hearings have
been held on a minimum wage for office
In New York, the Division of Women in
Industry and Minimum Wage is conducting
a State-wide investigation of wages, hours,
and other working conditions in the glove
industry, including leather, fabric, and knit
gloves. The information will be related to
the minimum-wage and home-work laws.

Recent Minimum-Wage Orders
Arizona—Retail Trade.

The first wage order issued under the
Arizona minimum-wage law of 1937 provides
for experienced female employees in retail
trade a basic minimum wage of #16 for a
6-day week of 48 hours or a 7-day week of 42
hours. The order covers the entire State
except the area around Nogales, on the
Mexican border. The minimum wage for
learners or apprentices is #12.50 for a stand­
ard workweek for the first 6 months and #14
for the second 6 months. Part-time em­
ployees, those who work less than 4 days of
8 hours a day in any one week, must be paid
27% cents an hour for the first 6 months; 30
cents an hour for the second 6 months; and
35 cents an hour when experienced workers.
The order became effective in directory form
on December 1, 1938, and will become man­
datory on February 1, 1939.
Colorado—Retail Trade.

Effective January 16, women and minors
in retail trade in Colorado must be paid at
least #11 to #14 for a 48-hour week. The
State is divided into three zones: Zone A,
consisting of cities of 30,000 or more and sur­
rounding territory within 5 miles of the
boundaries; Zone B, consisting of cities and
towns of 5,000 but less than 30,000 popula­
tion; Zone C, consisting of towns and com­
munities of less than 5,000 population.
For Zone A the minimum rates are #14 a
week, for Zone B #13 a week, and for Zone C
#11 a week. Workers must not be employed
more than 48 hours a week except in 7 peak


weeks during the year. Part-time workers
receive the same hourly rate as full-time
workers and must be paid for at least one
half day when called to work. A 4-month
learning period is provided for adults at 75
percent of the minimum rate for experienced
New York—Confectionery.
Effective November 14, a minimum wage
of #14 for a 40-hour week and a basic hourly
rate of 35 cents must be paid women and
minors in the New York confectionery
industry. This rate should raise the wages

of nearly one-third of the women in the
industry, since the study of women’s earn­
ings in the first week of December 1937
showed nearly 32 percent to be less than
35 cents.
To protect workers from irregular em­
ployment in this seasonal industry, the order
provides that during the period from
September 1 to April 1, which covers the two
busy seasons of the industry, all workers
employed 3 days or less in any week are to
be paid not less than #10 for that week.
During the slack season from April to
September, employees working 2 days or
less in a week are to be paid at least #7.
This guaranteed minimum wage is expected
to help to regularize employment as well
as income of candy workers. Formerly a
candy worker in slack seasons might be
employed only 1 day a week, receiving
between #2 and #3 pay, just enough for her
to lose claim to unemployment compen­
sation under New York laws.
New Public Contracts Rates in WomanEmploying Industries.

Tags.—A minimum wage of 33 cents an
hour or #13.20 for a 40-hour week has been
ordered by the Secretary of Labor for
workers in the tag industry employed on
Government orders of #10,000 or over for
which bids are solicited on or after October
31, 1938.
The wage rate was arrived at after the
Public Contracts Board of the United States
Department of Labor had found it to be the



prevailing minimum wage in the industry.
The tag industry is defined as the industry
primarily engaged in the manufacture of
shipping and system tags, merchandise and
marking tags, and pin tags. Somewhat
over 2,000 workers are employed in an
estimated 40 plants.
Wool Carpets and Rugs.—A minimum
wage of 40 cents an hour or #16 for a week
of 40 hours has been ordered by the Secre­
tary of Labor for workers in the woolcarpet and rug industry (exclusive of rag
rugs) engaged on Government contracts
of #10,000 or more. The rate applies to
contracts for which bids are solicited on or
after October 15, 1938.
About 27,600 wage earners in 17 States
are employed in the wool-carpet and rug
industry, excluding rag rugs, according to
the Census of Manufactures of 1935. At
hearings conducted by the Public Contracts
Board, a representative of the Textile
Workers’ Organizing Committee testified
that 13,400 rug workers in 6 States, out of
22,000 who were members of the T. W. 0. C.,
were employed under wage agreements pro­
viding for an hourly rate of 40 cents.
Fireworks Industry.—M i n i m u m-wage
rates in the manufacture or supply of com­
mercial fireworks and fusees, flares, and
ship and railroad torpedoes, for Government
use, have been determined by the Secretary
of Labor, effective October 15. For com­
mercial fireworks the minimum rates are
31/4 cents an hour or #12.50 a week of 40
hours. In the fusee division of the fire­
works industry, minimum-wage rates are
37.5 cents an hour or #15 for a 40-hour
week. These wages were found to be the
prevailing minima in a survey of the in­
dustry by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An average of 1,587 workers are employed
in all branches of the fireworks industry,
according to the 1935 Census of Manu­
Sugar Workers’ Wage Rates.

Minimum-wage rates to be paid sugar­
cane workers in Louisiana and Florida,
whose employers apply for 1938 payments

under the Sugar Act of 1937, have been
determined by the Secretary of Agriculture
after public hearings and investigation. In
Louisiana men harvesting cane on a time
basis must be paid at least #1.50 and women
at least #1.20 for a 9-hour day. Hourly
rates apply for days longer or shorter than
9 hours; for men the minimum rate is 17
cents, for women 13 cents. The sex differ­
entials conform to local customs, which are
among factors taken into account in estab­
lishing rates. On a tonnage basis, the rate
for cutting, topping, and stripping cane
must be not less than 75 cents a ton.
In Florida rates have been set on a ton­
nage basis ranging from 65 cents to #1.19
a ton for cutting different types and sizes
of cane.
In both States the rates apply from Sep­
tember 1, 1938, to June 30, 1939. The
producer must supply the laborer without
charge the usual perquisites, such as a
“habitable house,” a suitable garden plot
with facilities for cultivation, pasture for
livestock, medical attention, and so forth.

New Jersey Conference on Labor Laws
An estimated 200,000 New Jersey women
will benefit from the Federal Fair Labor
Standards Act, it was reported at the confer­
ence on labor legislation called in November
by the Labor Standards Committee of the
Consumers’ League of New Jersey.
In attendance also were representatives of
labor groups, especially locals of the Inter­
national Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union;
State labor officials; and delegates from the
Young Women’s Christian Association, and
the League of Women Voters.

Publication Note
The mimeographed bulletin containing
“Factors To Be Considered in Preparing
Minimum-Wage Budgets for Women” and
“Retail Pricing of a Budget for a Minimum
Wage” is now available in printed form
under the first of these titles as Miscellane­
ous Publication No. 324 of the United States
Department of Agriculture. Copies may
be obtained from the Women’s Bureau.

January 1939



News Notes
Housing Needs Revealed in California
Cotton Strike
support of 6,000 California cotton
pickers who struck spontaneously against
a 25-percent cut in wages, a conference was
held in Bakersfield, Calif., in October to
consider the main problems of agricultural
labor in the State—housing, relief, and
health. In attendance were officials of the
American Federation of Labor and the
Committee for Industrial Organization,
members of the CIO agricultural workers’
union, government officials, farmers, social
workers, and others.
Following is a story told by one of the
women strikers about her life as a migratory

Last February we left Bakersfield after having worked
in the cotton here. I have four children and two of
them were very sick. We left Bakersfield with {59.
When we got to Santa Maria, where we went to pick
peas, the floods had washed away the peas. We found
that we could have no help (relief).
There were three families of us who had lost our tents.
Overnight the river rose so high we were cut off without
food and without tents, and for 5 weeks we sat in a 1933
Chevie and except for some of the farmers who felt sorry
for us we would not have been able to eat. We went to
Westley, but the farmers would not allow us to come in.
We went to Vestal’s ranch to pick peaches. On the
grounds they had had sheep grazing, and the manure
was 2 and 3 inches deep. The men worked for 2 days
trying to clean it up well enough for us to live there.
There were 185 families, and they had one toilet and
one place where we could get water, and then we had to
walk three blocks for the water. There were no showers.
We got 5 cents a box for peaches and were never al­
lowed to work longer than to make 75 cents or $51, and
sometimes 50 cents a day was the most we could make.
Some of the workers are fortunate enough to be in
the Government camp (Farm Security Administration).
There is hot water. We can take a shower any time
we want it. The children have a safe place to play.
The school buses come to get the children and take
them to school. It is just like heaven to be in a Gov­
ernment camp.

Though the 25-percen£ cut was the im­
mediate cause of the strike, the conference
found that wretched housing and health
conditions such as described by this woman
were the real grievance. The conference
therefore adopted a program calling for 60
new camps for migratory workers to be built
by the Farm Security Administration and
the State Division of Immigration and
Housing; extension of health services to
agricultural workers, with Federal and State
funds, and establishment of mobile clinics;
relief for transients; State financing of educa­
tion for children of migratory workers; wage
standards established by the Secretary of
Agriculture on all crops for which Federal
subsidies are given; extension of the Fed­
eral Fair Labor Standards and Social Se­
curity Acts to agricultural workers; and
various measures designed to bring about a
balance between labor supply and labor
demand in California agriculture.
The cotton pickers returned to work after
5 weeks with no contract but with some
increase in wages.

Vote on Married Women Workers
Legislation barring married women from
public service if their husbands are employed
was favored by a majority of voters in the
57 Massachusetts voting districts in which
this question was put on the ballot in the
November elections. In most districts the
question did not get on the ballot.
The sentiment was recorded on the ballots
in answer to a question as to whether or not
the voters favored instructing their State
legislators to vote for legislation that would
bar married women, with husbands em­
ployed, from public service. A bill to this
effect was passed last year by the Massa­
chusetts House but was defeated by the



Among outspoken opponents of the refer­
endum was Herbert C. Parsons, director of
The Massachusetts Child Council, Inc., of
Boston, who pointed out in an address at
Faneuil Hall, Boston, prior to the election,
that the raising of legal barriers against em­
ployment of any group of persons in the
public service is a direct attack on democ­
“Not the least of the achievements of
democracy in our community has been the
establishment of merit as the basis for
public employment * * *” he said. “Any
denial of opportunity in the service other
than on the basis of capacity to perform the
duties is against the interest of the people
for whom the service is performed. The
merit system pays respect to the common
right of the people that there shall be a
proved fitness for each particular form of
public employment. * * * The pro­
posed legislation as to married women cre­
ates an excluded group. It sets up a class
distinction which is totally repugnant to
the democratic mind and does violence to
the principle of equality which is
American. * * *”

Consumers’ League Annual
The National Consumers’ League held its
thirty-eighth annual meeting in New York
early in December, considering especially
wage and hour legislation in action and labor
policy here and abroad. Mindful of the
recent advances in legislation and keenly
alive to the possibilities for further develop­
ments in the workers’ interests, this veteran
organization passed the following resolution
for the extension of wage and hour legisla­
tion while at the same time safeguarding
existing gains:
Whereas, the passage of the Federal Fair Labor
Standards Act marks a significant gain in the raising
of labor standards and offers greatly needed protection
to workers in interstate occupations, but leaves outside
its coverage large numbers of the Nation’s most under­
privileged workers laboring under sweatshop conditions
in purely intrastate employments; therefore be it
Resolved, That the National Consumers’ League en­
dorse the model State wages and hours bill as presented
to the Fifth National Conference on Labor Legislation
and unanimously approved by the official delegates of
42 State governments there represented; and urges its
passage upon the States, with the recommendation that
every precaution be taken to safeguard existing, sound,
State wage and hour legislation.

Recent Women’s Bureau Publications1
Printed Bulletins

Industrial Injuries to Women


Bui. 160.


1938. 37 pages.

Men, 1932 to

1938. 64 pages.

10 cents.

Women in Industry. A Series of Papers to Aid
Study Groups. (Revision of Bui. 91.) Bui. 164.

1938. 90 pages.

IS cents.

The Negro Woman Worker.


Information on Woman-Employment in Major
Manufacturing Industries. November 1938. 16

Bui. 165.



10 cents.


The Effect of Minimum-Wage Determinations in
Service Industries: Adjustments in the DryCleaning and Power-Laundry Industries. Bui.


State Minimum-Wage Orders for Laundry and
Dry-Cleaning Occupations. (Revised.) October

1938. 44 pages.

10 cents.

The Legal Status of Women in the United States
of America, January 1, 1938. Latest reports

issued are Arizona (Bui. 157-2), Arkansas (Bui.
157—3), and Georgia (Bui. 157-10). 1938. Price
5 cents each.
Mimeographed Material

State Minimum-Wage Budgets for Women Workers
Living Alone. November 1938. 13 pages.

Short Hours



August 1938.


November 1938.


The South: Assets and Needs.

’ Bulletins may be ordered from the Superintendent of Documents,
Washington, D. C., at prices listed. A discount of 25 percent on
orders of 100 or more copies is allowed. Single copies of the bulletins
or several copies for special educational purposes may be secured
through the Women’s Bureau without charge as long as the free
supply lasts. Mimeographed material and leaflets may be obtained
free of charge from the Women’s Bureau.