« AnteriorContinuar »
It is wholly beside the mark to reply that the Capper bill compels labeling, while the Lodge bill leaves it optional. If dishonest manufacturers or merchants can deceive and defraud the consumers by false labels specifically authorized by law, and with complete freedom from detection and punishment, we may be sure that the deception and fraud will be practiced regardless of whether the law makes labeling compulsory or permissive. And it will afford the buyer no compensation to know that the seller practiced the cheat of his own free will at the invitation and not by the order of the Government.
In his statement before your committee on February 28, Senator Lodge opposed the Capper bill on the ground that it is unworkable because it is impossible to determine whether the wool contents are new wool or reworked wool, and he read into the record statements to that effect made by the Government wool appraisers in 1912. We indorse all that Senator Lodge said on this point. His statements are correct in this respect, and they demonstrate that not only the Capper bill, but the new sections in the Lodge bill, which the Senator accepted from the National Association of Wool Manufacturers, are unenforceable and a cover for the deception of buyers of wool clothing.
We believe the facts we have placed before you supply overwhelming proof that the Capper bill and the amendments to the Lodge bill deserve no consideration whatever. If, however, your committee desires additional evidence we ask that you accept our proposition to put to a simple and certain test the question whether the truth or falsity of labels under the Capper bill or under the National Association of Wool Manufacturers' amendments to the Lodge bill can be detected by the analysis of fabrics. We have had manufactured in one of our mills a number of fabrics made of new wool and various proportions of reworked wool. The percentages of these materials in the mixtures from which the fabrics were made are known only to the manufacturer who made them. We will deliver these samples to your committee with a sworn statement under seal as to the percentage of each material in the raw stock, providing you will arrange to have them analyzed by the United States Bureau of Standards and the United States Bureau of Chemistry, which are charged with the duty of analyzing wool fabrics under the Capper and Lodge bills, the sworn statement of the manufacturer and the reports from the Bureaus to be made public as soon as the reports are received by the committee. As a preliminary to such a trial we suggest that you ask the Director of the Bureau of Standards and the Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry to appear before you and state whether their confidence in their ability to detect false labels of wool goods under the Capper and Lodge bills is such that they would be willing to submit to the test we propose.
For 23 years the supporters of wool goods labeling bills from Grosvenor to Capper have persistently dodged the question of whether they could be enforced if enacted. We ask your committee not to allow them to continue to evade the question at this hearing; that you insist on their explaining if they can, how this self-evident
impossibility can be accomplished; that they explain if they can the failure of the wool goods labeling law in Wyoming for the past three years; and if they can make no satisfactory explanation, that they be asked to name an analyst of their own choosing to analyze and report on the same samples that we offer to submit to your committee. We ask that the proponents of the Capper and Lodge bills be made to face this question in order to end the agitation which is now in its twenty-fourth year for this unworkable and utterly senseless legislation to compel the labeling of wool goods to show the proportions of new and reworked wool, legislation that
(1) Was originated 24 years ago by woolgrowers for the purpose of raising the price of their wool, which amounts to only one-third of the country's requirements, whereas it is self-evident that such a result could not be obtained because the American price of wool can not be raised above the cost of importation plus the tariff.
(2) Has been promoted for the past five years by a combination of woolgrowers and a wool-manufacturing firm whose trade-mark includes the words “ virgin wool ” and whose products have been advertised by the agitation for the Capper bill which defines new wool as “ virgin wool," and would continue to be advertised if the Capper or Lodge bill with their definitions of “ virgin wool” became a law.
(3) Is wholly unworkable because new wool can not be distinguished from reworked wool when the two are mixed in yarns or fabric.
(4) Would make the words“ virgin wool” the sole mark of merit for wool goods, although the value of wool fabrics depends not on whether made of new ( virgin") wool, but on the quality of the wool, the construction, and workmanship, a large quantity of inferior fabrics being made of new (" virgin ") wool.
(5) Would enable wool manufacturers, manufacturing clothiers, and merchants to deceive and defraud buyers of wool goods and clothing by taking advantage of the widespread ignorance of wool goods bearing “ virgin wool” labels without danger of detection.
We have here a copy of the British merchandise marks act of 1887, and ask that it be inserted in the report of these hearings to show the act that has protected the people of the United Kingdom for 37 years against misrepresentation and fraud in the sale of goods, wares, and merchandise of all descriptions, and which should be taken as a model for any legislation of this kind in the United States.
The CHAIRMAN. I think we should have that.
Mr. DALE. And also the copy of “ The truth about the Capper wool goods labeling bill.”
The CHAIRMAN. If there is no objection, that will go in. (The two printed articles referred to are as follows:)
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CAPPER WOOL GOODS LABELING BILL.
To the Members of the Sixty-seventh Congress and the President of the United
The Capper “wool woven fabric” bill (S. 799) fails to meet any one of these requirements. We shall prove to you that it is all that a law should not be.
THE VALUE OF TEXTILE RAW MATERIALS.
The advocates of the Capper bill urge its passage on the ground that the consumers need protection against the sale at excessively high prices of inferior fabrics containing rerovered wool of which the presence is not revealed to the buyers. The falsity of this professed purpose of the bill lies in the fact that the value of a wool fabric depends not on whether the material in it is new or reclaimed wool, but on:
(1) Quality, length, and strength of the fibers.
NEW WOOL AND RECOVERED WOOL.
The Capper bill in section 14 designates the component materials of woven fabrics containing wool, as follows:
(1) Wool never previously spun or woven, “ virgin wool;"
In the haste with which this bill was amended by the Committee on Interstate Commerce, and to which we will refer later, cotton and silk previously spun or woven have been left without a definition within the meaning of the act. With this omission in mind, let us compare Capper “ virgin wool” with Capper recovered wool.”
(NEVER PREVIOUSLY SPUN OR WOVEN.)
(1) Shearlings, the short and inferior fibers stripped from sheepskins;
(2) The rejections in sorting wool, including what is known as “ fribs," which are short inferior fibers; “ cotted fleeces,” which it is necessary to tear apart by the same process by which rags are converted into shoddy; dung locks,” consisting of matted chunks of sheep manure and wool from which the wool is recovered in a very defective condition ; in fact all of the most inferior fibers that the sorter finds in the wool;
(3) Waste from scouring machines, being damaged, short inferior wool fibers that pass through the screens of the wool-scouring machines and are caught by a fine sieve;
(4) Burr waste from pickers and cards, consisting of fibers clinging to burrs, from which they are reclaimed, the reclaimed fibers being short and inferior to the great bulk of wool fibers recovered from yarn waste and rags;
(5) Droppings from the carding machine, being the very short fibers that fall under the machines during the process of carding, a very inferior product;
(6) Strippings from the carding machine, consisting of a mixture of dirt, grease, and short wool from which very inferior fibers are reclaimed ;
(7) Flyings, consisting of very short inferior fibers that fly from the carding, worsted combing, and drawing machines and settle around the workrooms. A very inferior material;
(8) Noils, which consist of the shortest fibers in the wool, separated from the long fibers called “ tops” by the worsted comb, the noils being mixed with seeds, burrs and other trash from which the wool fibers must be separated hefore being manufactured into yarn. A variable product, a large quantity of it being very short and inferior;
(9) Sweepings from the drying, carding, combing, and drawing rooms, this material carrying a great variety of refuse, from which very inferior fibers are recovered.
RECOVERED WOOL” (HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY SPUN OR WOVEN).
The processes of preparing wool for spinning and weaving are cleansing and purifying operations by which the dirt, filth, and foreign matter are removed, leaving the clean fibers only to pass into the spun yarn and woven fabrics. Keeping this fact in mind let us examine the principal products that the Capper bill classes as recovered wool" :
(1) Yarn waste, which is yarn that after spinning has been run through a garnett or picker to convert the material into loose fibers for remanufacture. Much of this yarn is worsted, spun from the longest wool fibers called “tops,”
and so soft-twisted that it is converted into loose stock with a very slight shortening of or injury to the material, the recovered wool consisting of long, strong fibers; a very valuable product superior to much of the wool classed as“ virgin wool ” by the Capper bill. The Members of Congress and the President can easily learn of the superior quality of such wool by examining the yarn in the sweaters worn by women and girls, and noting how readily it can be untwisted and converted into loose fibers.
(2) Wool recovered from woven fabrics. This consists of fibers obtained by running small pieces of woven or knit cloth through a picker converting them into a fibrous mass. If the cloth is loosely woven and made of softtwisted yarn the wool thus recovered is practically equal in value to the wool recovered from the yarn. If the cloth is tightly woven or felted or made of hard twisted yarn, the recovered fibers are shorter.
From the foregoing description of the various kinds of wool it will readily be seen that many of the products classed by the Capper bill as virgin wool" are inferior to much of the material classed as recovered wool.”
In order to visualize this fact we refer you to the accompanying illustrations of Capper “ virgin wool ” and Capper “recovered wool." We are sending to the Members of the Senate and House and to the President some samples of Capper “virgin wool” because the value of wool for manufacturing purposes demonstration of the fact that Capper" recovered wool” may be superior to Capper “virgin wool ” because the value of wool for manufacturing purposes depends, not on whether it " has been previously spun or woven into cloth,” but on the length, strength, and condition of the fibers.
VALUE OF WOOL FABRICS.
The intrinsic value of a wool fabric to the wearer consists in its 'durability, attractiveness, and suitability for the purpose for which it is used. This value is created by a combination of three conditions :
(1) Quality of raw material;
A poor fabric, lacking durability and attractiveness and unsuited to the required use, results from converting a good quality of wool into a fabric of poor construction or by defective workmanship.
These facts make plain the utter futility of attempting, as the Capper bill proposes, to reveal to the purchaser the value of wool clothing by stating the proportions of new wool and recovered wool in the fabric.
Even if the value of a fabric depended solely upon the raw material, a statement of the proportions of new wool and recovered wool in a cloth, as provided in the Capper bill, would serve only to mislead the buyer as to the value of the fabric. But in addition to that, the fact that the value of a fabric depends also on the layout or construction and on the skill in manufacturing serves to brand the Capper bill as a legislative fake and a fraud, a measure that should itself be branded as the “ falsehood in fabric bill."
These are the fundamental truths that render the Capper bill unworthy ol' any consideration whatever.
OF ENFORCING THE CAPPER BILL,
No expert knowledge of wool fibers and wool manufacturing processes is required in order to understand that new wool can not be distinguished from recovered wool when the two are mixed together and manufactured into yarn or cloth.
Anyone of ordinary intelligence and horse sense knows that both new and recovered wool are of the same nature, both being wool, they react in the same way to chemical tests, present the same appearance to the naked eye or under the microscope, and can no more be distinguished and separated in order to determine their respective proportions than can new and old iron, new and old gold, new and old copper, new and old lead, when these metals are melted together.
And yet, notwithstanding the self-evident impossibility of distinguishing new and recovered wool when mixed in yarns and fabrics, this Capper bill as reported to the Senate by the Committee on Interstate Commerce, is based on the assumption that they can be distinguished and that their relative proportions by weight accurately determined, following being an extract from section 5:
* That the examination of specimens of woven fabrics, and of garments and articles of apparel manufactured therefrom, shall be made in the Bureau
of Chemistry of the Department of Agriculture or under the direction and supervision of such bureau or the Bureau of Standards, in the Department of Commerce, as the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce may determine, under the rules to be made by them, for the purpose of determining from such examination whether such fabrics or garments and articles of apparel manufactured therefrom are stamped and tagged as hereinafter provided, or are falsely stamped or tagged within the meaning of this act.”
This remarkable bill then goes on to provide that “if it shall appear from such examination that such fabrics or garments are falsely marked within the meaning of this act,” the Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of Commerce shall give the manufacturer or distributor of the goods an opportunity to be heard, and if it appears that any of the provisions of the Capper. bill have been violated these officials “shall certify at once the facts to the proper United States district attorney, with a copy of the results of the analysis or the examination of such fabric or garments, duly authenticated by the analyst or officer making such examination under oath of such officer.”
And the next section provides that each district attorney to whom such violations may be reported must cause appropriate proceedings to be commenced and prosecuted in the United States courts without delay for the enforcement of the penalties in such case herein provided." These penalties not exceeding a fine of $500 or imprisonment for one year, or both, for the first offense, and not exceeding a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for one year, or both, for each subsequent offense.
Can you imagine any man or woman so base, so devoid of character and sense of right and wrong as to be willing in order to hold down a position in the Bureau of Standards or the Bureau of Chemistry to certify under oath to the constituent parts of a wool fabric as determined by his or her analysis or examination, knowing that such information is unobtainable, that the certificate is necessarily a lie, and that the certificate is likely to be used to convict innocent persons of imaginary offenses punishable by fine or imprisonment or both? What would you think of such officials? What would you think of a Government that filled its bureaus with them? And what is to be thought of the slipshod legislative methods by which this Capper bill containing such stupidly vicious provisions can be reported from any committee to the United States Senate without a word of condemnation ?
Not only is the detection of violations of this act in labeling mixed goods impossible, but it is certain that no self-respecting man or woman would under oath or in any other way certify to the percentages of new wool and recovered wool in a mixed fabric as provided in the Capper bill.
Only one other expedient for the detection of false labeling of wool goods under the Capper and similar bills has ever been proposed, namely, the inspection of the processes of manufacture at the mills. We will show you that this 'also is unworkable. The framers of the Capper bill evidently were unwilling to provide for a resort to that method, for we find in the measure only the following reference to the inspection of manufacturing processes, there being no provision defining the use to which the information thus gained is to be put:
“ Sec. 4. That the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce shall have power to examine the plants, raw materials, methods, and the books of all manufacturers of such goods who have secured a registration number, and to require reports in such form from such manufacturers."
While the supporters of the Capper bill have very little to say at the present time about the inspection of mills for the purpose of enforcing the act, that method may be urged during the discussion of the bill, and so we will call your attention now to two objections, either one of which would be fatal to the plan :
(1) It is impossible to determine by an inspection, no matter how careful, of manufacturing processes, the percentages of new and recovered wool in mixed yarns and fabrics.
(2) The expense of such inspection, even if it could reveal the desired information, would be prohibitory.
First, as to the impossibility of determining by an inspection of manufacturing processes the proportions of new wool and recovered wool in yarns and fabrics. There are an unlimited number of varieties of new wool and reworked wool varying materially and in unknown degrees in respect to loss