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better prices for his products, and the farmer could afford to pay his men more wages for the extra hours of their work.
The CHAIRMAN. You were proposing awhile ago to make it a penal offense for a man to require his workmen to work more than eight hours.
Mr. THOMAS. I was proposing to make it a penal offense to discharge a man for refusing to work more than eight hours. There was a file factory in Philadelphia a few years ago which employed quite a large number of men-not far from 100 men and boys. Then they got machinery for making round files and machinery for making flat files; and the introduction of this machinery reduced the number of men some 80 per cent. The men were discharged and boys were taken in at from 50 cents to 70 cents a day. So in our shops here. Ten years ago they had machinery, attended by men who were receiving in the neighborhood of $3 a day, and now the machinery is attended by a laborer who is receiving 70 cents a day for watching it. Do you think that that is fair?
The CHAIRMAN. Are there more file makers or more file users in the world?
The CHAIRMAN. Then is it not a benefaction to the largest number to have the price of files reduced ?
Mr. THOMAS. Certainly, but the price is not reduced in proportion.
The CHAIRMAN. Are the file manufacturers making a profit now, or are not files now sold without profit to manufacturers ?
Mr. THOMAS. They are not sold without profit. The manufacturers must be making something on them. There are file makers in this city making $150 or $200 a month.
The CHAIRMAN. Then I wonder that blacksmiths do not go into that business.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other points that you wish to bring to the notice of the committee You propose to limit the hours of labor, to limit the production of commodities, and to fix a minimum for wages.
Mr. THOMAS. I do not pretend to say how the law should be. I do not pretend to say to what extent it should go. But the general principle which I am advocating is that there should be an absolute number of hours fixed for a day's work, whether it be eight, nine, six, or four.
The CHAIRMAN. The general principle which yon advocate is that we are all to be made happy and prosperous and rich by law.
Mr. THOMAS. No, sir.
Mr. THOMAS. Where there is a system which is injurious to the people, and where the law protects that system, the law should be changed. If machinery is introduced by which half a dozen boys can do as much work as 100 men, it certainly causes trouble in the labor market.
The CHAIRMAN. And would you therefore break up the machinery? Mr. THOMAS. Certainly not. Tne CHAIRMAN. Then how will yon fix the trouble? Mr. Thomas. By reducing the production of the machinery—by reducing the hours of labor.
The CHAIRMAN. Why introduce machinery at all, when the production was all right before? Mr. THOMAS. Machinery is necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. How will you deal with this question? If we limit the hours in which machinery shall work, and if a man takes that machinery over to England where they have not got such a law, the English will produce the commodities and will be able to sell them cheaper than we can. Would you prohibit the English from bringing those commodities in Mr. THOMAS. I would. The CHAIRMAN. You would shut them out! Mr. THOMAS. I would shut them out. Mr. THOMPSON. You are in favor of a tariff?
Mr. THOMAS. Yes; I am in favor of a tariff for everything that we can produce in this country. What we cannot produce I would let in free.
The CHAIRMAN. Then if we will not adopt the use of machinery, you object to having the product of that machinery brought in from any other place ?
Mr. THOMAS. You are putting a question and answering it yourself.
The CHAIRMAN. I ask you the question fairly. You say that you are in favor of limiting the production of machinery here!
Mr. T'HOMAS. I am in favor of limiting the hours of labor to such an extent as that there will not be an overproduction beyond the consuming capacity of the commu
nity. If we find that a certain product is being made which is detrimental to business, to society, and to the prosperity of the people, what is the duty of the law. making power in the matter? Is it to allow that thing to go on?
The CHAIRMAN. You mean to guard every branch of production against the possibility of overproduction ? Mr. Thomas. Yes; although I do not see exactly how it can be done. The CHAIRMAN, I wish you would tell us how it can be done. Mr. THOMAS. Our remedy is to reduce the hours of labor. If there is a better remedy, we are willing to accept it.
The CHAIRMAN. But you admit that there are many branches of industry in which the hours of labor cannot be reduced, such as farming, house-work, &c.
Mr. THOMAS. If there is no better remedy than the one which I present, I do not see why you cannot adopt it.
The CHAIRMAN. Simply because you yourself admit that it will not work. You say that the farmers cannot be made subject to it. Mr. THOMAS, That is aside from the question altogether.
The CHAIRMAN. The farmers constitute more than half the industry of the country. The farmers must have machinery in order to keep up with consumption. Now, if the farmers can produce more than we consume, would it be right and proper to prevent them doing so? Mr. THOMAS. But the farmer does not do so.
The CHAIRMAX. He certainly produces a surplus, so that we have to export 100 million dollars a year of farm produce.
Mr. Thomas. Yes; but if fair wages were paid we would not have to esport five bushels of corn out of the country.
The CHAIRMAN. Have we not all eaten during the past few years? Mr. THOMAS. Not as much as we could have eaten. The CHAIRMAN. Could we have eaten twice as much as we have eaten? Mr. THOMAS. I know workingmen in this city who have gone into the mines, time after time, carrying empty dinner-pails, and who have gone home hungry every night. I know of others, again, who did not have money enough to buy anything but cornmeal for their families. Now, if these men had fair wages, what would be the result! Every family of them would consume at least three or four barrels of flour in the year instead of letting it go to Europe.
The CHAIRMAX. And yet, if you limit the use of machinery in agricultural products, the commodities which the laboring men do get would be very much dearer than they are.
Mr. THOMAS. There was not too much farm produce brought to market previous to 1873; it was all consumed, and very little was sent to Europe in comparison with what has gone there last year. Why was it that so little farm produce was sent to Europe prior to 1873? It was that people here were able to consume it themselves. The purchasing power of the people is the first thing to fall and the last thing to rise. The wages of the workingmen is always the first to fall. It trembles if a bank breaks a thousand miles away. That is a natural law.
The CHAIRMAN. And now you propose to fix the price of labor by legislation ! Mr. THOMAS. They say there is no law of honor that governs working people; but I think that there is less honor shown on the part of the employers. The workinginen who are suffering from want work along rather than strike: they do not want to strike: but the employer, the moment he gets a chance and thinks that he has the working. men within his grasp, reduces their wages.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know a single branch of manufacturing business in this country in which men have not failed and broken up last year ? Mr. THOMAS. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Then does it not seem that the manufacturers are suffering as well as the workingmen!
Mr. Thomas. Yes; and some of the wealthiest men of the country are to be pitied as much as the poor men. They are suffering to-day financially. They are not suffering from want of bread, but they are suffering from other causes.
The CHAIRMAN. A great many are suffering because they canuot eat. They are in such an anxiety of mind that they have no appetite.
Mr. THOMAS. I do not dispute that, but that is not as bad as when a hungry man sees a loaf in a baker's window and cannot buy it.
Mr. THOMPSON. But I do not think that limiting the hours of labor will help that man to get the loaf of bread. If he cannot earn enough now with labor free and unobstructed, I do not think that limiting the hours of labor and the rate of wages will help him. Mr. THOMAS. I think it will.
The Chairman. You have got the hours of labor limited now, and does that help the poor workingman?
Mr. Thomas. But the wages instead of rising are falling,
The CHAIRMAX. How will limiting the hours of labor act differently in the general way than in the special way?
Mr. THOMAS. We do not insist on carrying out any theory, but we say this is our idea. If you think you can give us a better one, give it to us.
The CHAIRMAN. But wé point you to the fact that where the hours of labor are limited, there is the greatest distress among the working people. Mr. THOMAS. Yes; limited by want of consumption.
The CHAIRMAN. You propose to make a State law that is to take the place of the law of necessity ?
Mr. THOMAS. We suggest that this reduction in the hours of labor should take place. It may be that it would be an injury to us, but something should be done, and we simply present our idea.
The CHAIRMAN. It seems that this region of country is suffering more than any other part of the country. Mr. Rice says that in Massachusetts people do not go to their work or away from their work hungry.
Mr. Rice. We have suffered more in Massachusetts than anywhere else excepting here, probably, and I do not think that any such case as Mr. Thomas has mentioned has existed there. Mr. THOMAS. We know of such facts here. Mr. Rice. Is there very much suffering here from want of food ?
Mr. THOMAS. Yes, sir; there is. A man working in the mines here does not get probably more than $10 a month. Out of that he has to pay $3 for rent and to clothe his wife and little ones; and how in the world is he going to have anything in the way of comforts at all! His neighbors have got to assist him and it is a drain upon them. It is natural for us to think that there must be some remedy or other for the evil.
The CHAIRMAN. The only remedy is to find some work here or to have the surplus of the working population go somewhere else.
Mr. THOMAS. The New York Tribune and the other papers cry out, “Go West, young man," but I do not believe that there is a workingman in this valley to-day who is able to go West and settle upon a piece of land and cultivate it for a year unless he happens to have some property here that he can sell. The miners here earn very little at the present time. There are probably four or five men in one mine who may be making from $50 to $75 a month, while there are 300 other men in the same mine who make only from $15 to $20 a month. These coal companies will tell you that they have men working for them, making $50 and $75 a month, and they will convey the idea that because one or two are doing so, it is a general thing.
The CHAIRMAN. The impression on the public mind is that the miners here are not making good wages.
Mr. THOMAS. A short time ago the superintendent of the Lackawanna Coal and Iron Company stated that there were men in his employment receiving from $50 to $75 a month. There are a few men receiving that much, but that company has somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 men working for it, and I do not suppose that ten men out of the whole lot are making as much as $50 a month.
The CHAIRMAN. If the superintendent's statement was intended to convey a false impression, then it was very wrong. Mr. THOMAS. It has conveyed a false impression.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that the public understands that the miners here are being paid necessarily at low rates. A first-rate mill-roller may make $10 a day, but it would be absurd and ridiculous for a man to state that as the regular rate of wages for millrollers.
The committee will be very glad to hear from any gentleman who thinks that the case has not been fairly presented on either side. The fact that the committee asks questions that may seem to take the opposite side from the view taken by a witness, is not to be taken as an indication that the committee differs from the witness. It is simply because we want to draw out his argument. If a witness were to come here and to take directly opposite views from those taken by Mr. Thomas, I should proceed to question him in the same way. A great deal of misconception has gone abroad in consequence of the fact that the committee has been trying to get out all the facts on all sides.
Mr. THOMAS. The committee asked a question as to how a discrimination could be made in case Congress should pass a law to assist men to go upon the public lands. A'man who has got property here does not care about leaving and going out West, but a man who has no property here would be glad to accept of such an offer from the government. We do not say that the government should send so much money to every man, but we would like to have the men who are idle assisted to leave here and to go out upon the public lands.
The CHAIRMAN. The government owns the lands and offers them as a free gift to those who will settle upon them. Now, would it not be a proper thing for communities, where people are unemployed, and where they have got to be supported, to send out their surplus families to the public lands?
Mr. Thomas. We think that the government should issue fifteen or twenty millions of greenbacks, and undertake the work of sending men out upon the lands; but the government should say that the greenback shall be equal to a gold dollar.
The CHAIRMAN. If there is any other witness here who desires to be heard, the committee would like to hear him. The committee understands that there is an employer present, and if he wishes to present any views, we would be glad to hear him.
Mr. J. C. PLATT (the gentleman referred to) said that he did not wish to present any views to the committee, as his side of the question had been already presented before the committee elsewhere.
The CHAIRMAN. The object of the committee in coming here was to obtain the views which prevail on opposite sides on this very important matter. Even when some of the views presented seem absurd, we are anxious to get them.
Mr. RICE. We should like to know whether the statement made here in regard to the condition of affairs in this region is substantially correct. Are there any criticisms to be made on that statement ?
Mr. PLATT. I have not any criticism to make. I have not the statistics at hand.
The CHAIRMAX. In regard to the condition of the people here who are thus suffering from want of employment, is the statement recognized to be a fact !
Mr. PLATT. I think it is recogaized that there is great difficulty just now in getting employment.
The CHAIRMAX. Is there any provision made here by the citizens for relieving distress?
Mr. PLATT. We have a poor-house organization here, and have regular meetings of the board.
The CHAIRMAN. Does the board extend outdoor relief to families?
Mr. PLATT. The report of the supervisors of the poor is that they are extending outdoor relief to some extent.
Mr. CHISHOLM. The court at Wilkesbarre decided recently that the law did not allow outdoor relief, and that persons relieved had to become residents of the poorhouse.
Mr. THOMPSON. Are you operating under a special law here?
Mr. CHISHOLM. I do not know. It was one of the superintendents of the poor who gave me to understand that they were very severely rebuked by the judge at Wilkesbarre for giving outdoor relief.
Mr. THOMPSON. Did the judge rebuke them for giving outdoor relief, or for giving it without a previous order from a magistrate ?
Mr. CHISHOLM. I do not know.
Mr. THOMPSON. I think you will find that if he rebuked them, it was not for giving outdoor relief, but for giving it irregularly. The general law makes it the duty of the supervisors of the district (upon any person giving information to justices of the peace) to take charge of and furnish immediate relief in cases of destitution, and if the overseers do not do it, it is a misdemeanor in office on their part. Whenever it can be done, the family is permitted to remain in its own home; and husband and wife cannot be separated under any circumstances.
Mr. CHISHOLM. I am free to confess that I do not think that, in the case referred to. the supervisors went to the trouble of going to a justice of the peace.
Mr. THOMPSON. Then, of course, they had no right to give outdoor relief.
Mr. CAMPBELL. The valuation of property here is its full value. It is higher here than in any other section of the State.
Mr. Rice. The valuation of the city in which I live is $40,000,000, and we owe over $2,000,000. The population of Worcester is about 50,000.
The CHAIRMAX. T'he population of Scranton is about 40,000. Mr. CAMPBELL. About 35,000. Under the census of 1870 the population was 34,000, but I think it has diminished somewhat since.
The CHAIRMAN. The valuation which you have stated is only that of real estate! Mr. CAMPBELL. Only that of real estate.
Mr. THOMPSON. So far as I have knowledge in Pennsylvania, I know that property is not assessed for taxation purposes at anything like its real valne.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the rate of taxation here!
Mr. THOMPSON. And how much for streets ?
Mr. CAMPBELL. It varies. In some sections of the city it is higher than in other sections.
Mr. THOMPSON. Then your city and school and street and county taxes run up altogether to about how much i Mr. CAMPBELL. To about $4.50 per hundred dollars.
Mr. Rice. Have you any information as to how many laborers there are out of employment in this population of 35,000—men who have actually no work to do!
Mr. CAMPBELL. I have no information on the subject. I am aware that there is a
Mr. CAMPBELL. I do not think they do. I think they generally extend relief to those who ask it.
Mr. RICE. Would not the overseer of the poor be able to give some information as to the amount of actual suffering that there is in this community Mr. CAMPBELL. I presume so.
Mr. RICE. Have you any doubt that there are many families here destitute of the necessaries of life except as they receive them from charity?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I have no donbt but that there is a great deal of suffering in the city. Mr. RICE, Suffering from the want of the necessaries of life! Mr. CAMPBELL. Yes, sir. Mr. Rice. And the men are ready to work when they have got any work to do? Mr. CAMPBELL. Yes. Mr. RICE. And you know of no way by which more work is to be provided for them ? Mr. CAMPBELL. I know of none. Mr. RICE. So that you are unfortunately in the position of having more people here than work can be provided for. In other words, you have got a surplus of working population here
Mr. CAMPBELL. We could give employment if we could find purchasers for what we produce. Mr. Rice. But the trouble is that you cannot find purchasers ?
Mr. CAMPBELL. No, we cannot. We have got facilities here sufficient to give everybody employment if we could find purchasers for our productions.
Mr. RICE. Then you happen to have grown too fast and to have attracted too many people here for the amount of production that you can dispose of ? Mr. CAMPBELL. It is probably owing to that fact.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think that limiting the production of this region would help you in any way?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I do not think it would.
Mr. RICE. Is there any way whatever by which the wages of the working classes can be increased here ? Mr. CAMPBELL. I do not know anything at present to warrant any increase of wages.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think that paying higher wages to coal miners would increase the production of coal ?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I think not.
Mr. RICE. And do you think that the reduction of the hours of labor would help you any ?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I think that, in all probability, it would increase the suffering.
Mr. THOMPSON. Have you any theory to present or any suggestion to offer which you think might be beneficial in the way of Federal legislation
Mr. CAMPBELL. Yes, sir; I think that if Congress would foster the shipping interests of this country and open markets abroad for our overproduction it would materially benefit us.
Mr. RICE. Is not that being done! Are not the beginnings being made ?
Mr. CAMPBELL. There is a great deal of export, but that export unfortunately is not carried in our own ships.
The CHAIRMAN. What does anybody in Scranton care as to the ships that our exports are carried in, provided he can gain a foreign market !
Mr. CAMPBELL. If we were to build ships with our own labor and to man them with our own people it would certainly give more employment and would be helping our country.