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TRUTH IN FABRIC AND MISBRANDING BILLS.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1924.
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 o'clock a. m., in room 410, Senate Office Building, Senator Simeon D. Fess presiding.
Present: Senators Fess (chairman of subcommittee), Mayfield, and Couzens.
Present also: Senators Lodge and Capper.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Senator Capper, in view of the fact that you are the author of this bill, I will ask you to make such statement as you wish to make to the committee now.
Senator CAPPER. The committee no doubt has copies of the hearing of July 7, 1921, when the committee commenced its hearings, and when the whole question was gone into very thoroughly. The bill which I have introduced was carefully analyzed at that time, and was discussed on its merits.
The CHAIRMAN. We have read your statement in the first part of the report of the hearing.
Senator CAPPER. Yes; so I will not attempt to enter into any detailed discussion.
The CHAIRMAN. Your discussion of the bill, then, would be similar to what is found in this previous report?
Senator CAPPER. Yes; the statement which appears in the report of the hearing of June 1, 1921, was prepared with a great deal of care and after much study of the whole subject, and I do not know of anything that has come up since that hearing that would in any way modify my views on the proposed legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, why not let us accept that statement which appears in the record of June 1, 1921, as your statement of to-day? Senator CAPPER. I would appreciate that very much.
The CHAIRMAN. Then we will just take that statement as your statement of to-day.
Senator CAPPER. I want to call your attention to the showing that was made right at the beginning of that hearing, as to the demand for this legislation from all over the country.
The CHAIRMAN. That appears in the testimony of Mr. Alexander Walker, of New York City, who represented the National Sheep and Wool Growers of America?
Senator CAPPER. Yes; that appears in Mr. Walker's statement. Over 300 organizations which represented more particularly the consumers of the country went on record in a definite way through resolutions adopted by these various organizations.
The CHAIRMAN. That is on page 13 of the hearings of June 1, 1921 ?
Senator CAPPER. Yes. You will notice a great many of those or-. ganizations were chambers of commerce, were consumers' leagues and housewives' leagues, for instance, there is the Butte Women's Council, the Merchant Tailors and Designers' Association, the National Association of Dyers and Cleaners, the Women's Club of Worland, Mo. Then, of course, all the farm organizations were represented before the committee, and I think most of them will be represented here this morning. Every farm organization in the country is supporting this legislation. There was a little misunderstanding about the hour at which this meeting would be held, our first thought being that it was at 10.30 o'clock.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you want to put some of these others on before your farm organization representatives come!
Senator CAPPER. Yes. I would like first to call your attention to the testimony further along here, of the president of the National Association of Merchant Tailors. That is the statement of Mr. Harry Fisher, and appears on page 58 of this record, Part I of the former hearings. Now, the tailors of this country are very strong for this legislation. I would like to put in the record here two or three letters that I have received just in the last day or two from representative organizations showing their interest in the measure. For instance, here is a letter from L. J. Taber, who is now master of the National Grange, and who expresses his regret that he can not be here. He says he has written to Doctor Atkeson, the Washington representative of the National Grange, asking him to be present and represent the National Grange, and he makes the statement that his organization is 100 per cent in urging the passage of the bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, we will allow these letters to go in the hearing. (The letters are as follows:)
FEBRUARY 26, 1924. Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER,
Senate Chamber, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR: I have your favor which overtakes me here, and in reply will say that I have sent the following wire to Senator Fess :
* The National Grange has gone on record again and again favoring the principles outlined in truth in fabric legislation. At the last session of the National Grange at Pittsburgh our farmer position was unanimously reaffirmed. Senate bill 1024, introduced by Senator Capper, has the approval of our organization."
I have also written to Doctor Atkeson, our Washington representative, to be present and represent the National Grange, as it will be impossible for me to be in Washington this week.
Should occasion require or the hearing be extended, I want you to feel free to call upon me at any time in this matter, for the National Grange is most keenly interested in your bill and our membership from the Atlantic to the Pacific are almost 100 per cent in urging this passage. With kindest personal regards, I remain, sincerely yours,
L. J. TABER.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
Harrisburg, Pa., February 26, 1924. Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C.
While I have not had the opportunity, because of trouble with my ear, to read your bill, S. 1024, I am in the heartiest sympathy with the principle upon which
I know it is based ; and I greatly hope that you will be successful in putting it over.
Unfortunately it will not be possible for me to be present on February 28, but I hope my absence will in no way interfere with the progress of your bill. With all good wishes, sincerely yours,
KANSAS STATE FARM BUREAU,
Manhattan, Kans., February 25, 1924. Senator ARTHUR CAPPER,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. CAPPER: I have been informed that Senate bill 1024, which as I understand is the truth in fabric bill, providing for the stamping of all woolens for just what they contain, will be given a hearing soon.
Our organization, and for that matter I think all the farmers of the State who understand this measure, are strong for it. It represents nothing more nor less than simple honesty in business, and is in line with the pure food and drugs legislation and other similar laws which are designed to enforce honest dealing. We can see where it would work no undue hardship on any person or industry inclined to carry on an honest business and render an honest service for remuneration received. Yours very truly,
RALPH SNYDER, President. Senator CAPPER. I know the National Grange is keenly interested in this. I have here a letter from the Retail Merchants' Association of South Dakota, signed by E. U. Berdahl, secretary and treasurer, in which that organization goes on record in a very strong way for the legislation, and I might add that I think the retail men of the country are overwhelmingly for the legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. We will be glad to have that letter in the record. (The letter referred to is as follows:)
FEBRUARY 25, 1924. Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C.
In order to get to Washington on February 28, it would be necessary to leave here to-morrow afternoon. I am very much afraid that this is not going to be possible, primarily for the reason that I have a very important convention engagement on, for which it will be hard to find a substitute on such short notice. It will also be quite difficult to get the several men together who were to accompany me on this mission.
Merely so that we might impress the committee with the unity that exists in the Northwest in favor of your bill, Senate bill 1024, we had arranged to have representatives of wholesalers, retailers, and wool growers come to Washington as a joint committee. Five or 10 minutes would be sufficient time to present our brief statement to the committee, although a few minutes more would be better. We just felt that the visible evidence of our united support of this bill would go further that the written statements of a paid secretary.
Inasmuch as there is great doubt as to our ability to reach Washington for the hearing on February 28, I would like to ask you and authorize you to present the following brief statement to the committee:
The Retail Merchants' Association of South Dakota favors Senate bill 1014, known as the truth in fabric bill, for the following reasons :
(1) The consumer rightfully demands to know what he is buying and as distributors it is our business to give him that information, if possible to obtain it.
(2) Senate bill 1024 places the responsibility of labeling where that responsibility can be discharged without inconvenience or expense.
(3) Senate bill 1024 will make unworkable State laws unnecessary. Consumers are demanding the enactment of State truth in fabric laws for the reason that Congress has been so slow to enact a national law. State laws will not govern interstate commerce and for that reason will throw the responsibility of labeling upon the distributor after the goods are made up and it has become difficult, if not impossible, to determine the percentages of contents.
(4) Senate bill 1024 is fair to all parties concerned, namely, the manufacturer, distributor, and consumer.
(5) The great majority, if not practically all of the consumers, want this legislation. We, as their purchasing agents, the retail distributors, must and do favor giving the people what they want.
As I have stated to you before, we have interviewed representative wholesalers in the Northwest and they favor the bill in question for the same reasons that we do, but I' am not sure that I could assume the authority to place them on record. It would be better that they do that themselves.
However, you are authorized and in fact requested to put the foregoing into the record as the official request of this association for the early enactment of Senate bill 1024. If we find it possible to get there for the hearing we will present the foregoing in person. Very truly yours,
RETAIL MERCHANTS' ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH DAKOTA,
E. U. BERDAHL, Secretary-Treasurer. Senator CAPPER. I have here, also, a letter from Dr. C. W. Puysley, who was, until a year ago, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and who is now president of the South Dakota State College, in which he says:
I am wondering about the present status of the French-Capper bill.
In my opinion the French-Capper bill providing for honest labeling of woolen goods marks a step forward in the long struggle for honest labeling of all goods, and is a logical sequel to the pure food legislation of the past decade.
The most marked and constructive progress in all lines of selling has been in the direction of more accurate description of the product. This works no hardship on any grade or quality; as each soon settles to its proper relative value if accurately described. Any other plan discriminates against the superior qualities, and tends to discourage their use. This is undoubtedly true wherever reworked wool is sold under the same name and classification as virgin wool.
The public has an unquestioned right to know that the article it purchases is what it is represented to be whether it be food or clothing. The Capper bill with its provision for licensing manufacturers and with its designation of terms understood by all, offers, in our opinion, the most feasible and, at this time, the only practical method of controlling the labeling of woolen goods.
I sincerely trust it may be speeded through the Congress.
He brings out a point there that I just want to emphasize. The people who, for several years, have been working and asking for this kind of legislation from Congress are unanimously, I think, back of the bill I introduced, and are not in sympathy with the other measure which purports to cover the same subject and which, I believe, is before the committee at this hearing. That bill, I think, would be a great disappointment to the consumer organizations.
Now, sentiment of the country has not changed in any particular from what it was shown to be in the hearings two years ago. In fact, the sentiment is stronger than ever, I think, for legislation of this kind. I do not believe it is necessary for us to again go into detail and attempt to bring out that fact. I have had, I should say, in the last six days, over 100 letters from all sections of the country, from representatives of farm organizations, consumers' leagues, and from others who have been concerned in the bills that I have introduced here, expressing great interest in the bill and wondering what the chances are for securing favorable action on the bill. So, I am confident that the demand for legislation and for the legislation proposed in this particular bill is stronger to-day than it ever was.
The CHAIRMAN. Whom do you want to put on now?
Senator CAPPER. I think I would like to have Mr. Albert S. Goss, of Seattle, Wash., one of the national officers of the grange.