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JULY 26—BANQUET SESSION
Presiding: CURTIS C. LUTTRELL, Commissioner, Louisiana
Department of Labor The Tuesday banquet session convened in the Queen Anne and Robert E. Lee Rooms of the Monteleone Hotel, with Commissioner Curtis Luttrell presiding.
Commissioner Luttrell introduced distinguished guests and members seated at the head table, including Father Louis J. Toomey, S.J., Loyola University; also, Mr. William B. Redman, Executive Counsel to Governor John McKeithen, who, on behalf of the Governor of Louisiana, extended a warm welcome to the association.
Commissioner LUTTRELL. Now, it is my privilege to introduce one of the most progressive men who has ever taken the mayor's chair for our beautiful Queen city, the largest city in the State of Louisiana. I give you the Honorable Victor Schiro.
The Honorable VICTOR SCHIRO, Mayor, City of New Orleans, La. Thank you, Curtis. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen to the International Association of Governmental Labor Officials, we welcome you on your 49th annual convention to the little Paris of America. [Laughter.] It really is, folks. All you have to do is go around this great country to realize that we are just a little bit different. We have a lot of unique things here that you probably do not find all over the country. We have many, many habits. One thing we do have is the spirit of hospitality. We delight in having you here. We want you to enjoy every moment of your stay in our city. We are also very proud and happy to have the Canadian delegation visit us. We think a lot of our Canadian neighbors. In fact, we believe they are a part of us, really. They are closer to us than they are to their fatherland, I believe.
I would like to say that Father Toomey is one that spends a lot of time doing good for people who need help, people who cannot help themselves, who need a spokesman, who need somebody to go
to the foreground. We are very happy to have Father Toomey in New Orleans.
Of course, you tasted the crawfish tonight. They are the most delicious things in the world. This is one of the characteristics of our city.
If I understand it correctly, we have some 37 States and 5 Provinces represented here at this convention. I think that is wonderful. I hope that you will go back with nice memories about New Orleans.
I have recently returned from Disneyland. Walt Disney reproduced the city of New Orleans, the French Quarters—where you are now—and did it in such a beautiful fashion that he reproduced the old iron works, the shops, and the many things here. It cost over $15 million to do it. The whole Louisiana Purchase was only $15 million. If you remember, that included the Mississippi Valley all the way up to St. Louis. Walt Disney has invested over $14 million. Of course, many millions of people will see this and they will want to come down and see the real McCoy. So I went up there to help him dedicate a wonderful reproduction.
I just want to thank you for coming to New Orleansthe city of two complexes, the old and the new. You are in the old, a city that is protected by 12 square blocks—the old New Orleans. You cannot touch or change anything here in the French Quarters without the permission of a commission.
Of course, we have a new New Orleans. We did $2,750,000 worth of business in our port last year—second in the United States. Only New York City is ahead of us. We did almost $200 million worth of tourist business. I could go on and on telling you the tremendous things that are happening here. This is the new New Orleans, still we do not forget our traditions the French customs and the history that has made this a great city.
So, while you are here, I hope that you can see our modern space program where the rockets are built. We are building the biggest boosters in the world to put men on the moon in 1970. And I hope you will enjoy the old French Quarters with its history and background. If there is anything we can do for you while you are in town, call on us. Thank you.
Commissioner LUTTRELL. Thank you, Mayor Schiro.
I can assure you that the city of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana have been most proud to be the host of this wonderful organization. We hope some day you may be able to return and do us this honor again.
Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our banquet session. I do hope that you enjoyed yourselves.
JULY 27-MORNING SESSION
Presiding: MARTIN P. CATHERWOOD, Industrial Commissioner, New York
Department of Labor The Wednesday morning session convened in the Century Room at 9:10 a.m., with President Catherwood presiding.
Panel: AGRICULTURAL LABOR
Chairman: RAYMOND F. MALE, Commissioner, New Jersey
Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner MALE. Following the lead of Dr. Cabe's successful panel yesterday, it is our hope that we can involve the audience in some participation. We will attempt to condense the prepared papers to save time for your questions and comments.
Our panel is composed of Frank Crane, Commissioner, North Carolina Department of Labor; Dan Daly, New York Department of Labor; Alfred Laureta, Director, Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, and R. F. Roth, California Department of Employment.
Frank Crane is going to talk to us about the plight of the migratory worker.
THE PLIGHT OF THE MIGRATORY WORKER
FRANK CRANE, Commissioner of Labor, North Carolina Department of Labor
The migratory farmworker in the United States has been the subject of a great amount of study, scrutiny, investigation, and diagnosis over the past several years. He has been described as being the "sickest, most depressed, yet least-known member” of the Nation's labor force.
The fact is that the migrant plays a role of vital importance to American agriculture. Working in the harvesting of fruits and vegetables mostly on large commercial farms—and performing other necessary seasonal farm tasks, migrant workers provide the labor force for approximately one-fourth of all the Nation's seasonal agricultural work.
According to the findings of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Migratory Labor published last year, migrants were employed in 47 States during the year 1964. Their numbers ranged from 116,000 in California and 68,000 in Michigan to. 100 or less in a few of the New England States during the periods of their peak employment. Obviously, a seasonal work force of such dimensions is essential to American agriculture as presently constituted.
Despite the migrant laborer's essential function, however, his earnings are at the very lowest level in our entire economy. The combination of low wages, frequent unemployment, and underemployment results in a shockingly low annual income. According to the Senate subcommittee report, the American migrant worker during the entire year 1963 averaged only $868. Included in this figure is $211 earned during an average of 17 days of nonfarm work. Farm jobs provided the migrant with only 110 days' work during the year. So his actual average earnings at farm labor work out to $6 a day.
Of course, the migrant farmworker family often includes several wage earners. Because of this, it may be thought that the foregoing figures exaggerate the low level of the migrant's actual income. In fact, the available data on family earnings are more shocking still. In 1961, in households with three or more farm wage workers, the total year's earnings of these family members together averaged only $1,432. This is less than half the $3,000 income level below which families are commonly considered to be living in poverty.
With the changing seasons and harvesting times for fruits, berries, and vegetables, the migratory worker follows the crops across county and State lines. He frequently travels long distances to and from the place of labor. Often his family accompanies him and are also a part of the migrant labor force. His means of transport is likely to be primitive and uncomfortable: an old family jalopy or an overcrowded truck or bus. Exposure to serious accident and injury is high; over the years, a long series of disastrous truck and bus accidents have taken the lives of hundreds of these pathetic people.
The best evidence indicates that most migrants do not adopt this way of living by choice but from stark economic necessity. No large group of migrants has ever remained permanently migratory. In past decades, newly arrived European immigrants, displaced Americans from Arkansas and Oklahoma, Chinese and Japanese these and other groups have provided the backbone of this work force. Today, the major groups constituting the migratory labor force are southern Negroes, Texas-Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Indians.
Three major routes of seasonal migration are followed by American migrants. The first starts in southern Florida and proceeds up the Atlantic Coast into New England. The second begins in southern Texas and branches off into the Rocky Mountains and the North Central States. The third major stream, principally located in California, sends subsidiaries into the Pacific Northwest.
The migratory labor problem has not been significantly affected by the rapid decline in the size of the total farm labor force over the past several years. Total farm employment dropped 34 percent from 1950 to 1963, yet the number of migratory workers decreased only 4 percent during the same period. The reason for this is that most of the work operations performed by migrants do not readily lend themselves to automated harvesting methods. In the harvesting of certain fruits, berries, and vegetables, it appears that large amounts of hand labor will continue to be needed for many years to come, notwithstanding the amazing progress of automation in other sectors of the economy.
Historically, the migrant laborer has been largely excluded from many of the social advances which the rest of the Nation takes for granted: the minimum wage, adequate child labor protection, unemployment insurance, full workmen's compensation and social security coverage, and federally protected rights to organize and bargain collectively.
The migrant also is constantly subject to special problems in the fields of housing and sanitation, transportation, education, health and child care, voting requirements, job placement, and job instability. Because of residence requirements, the migrant family frequently cannot even obtain public welfare assistance in times of acute need.
The migrant labor problem has been with us for a full century. Only during the last few years have substantial measures been taken by government and by some of the communities directly affected to alleviate the misery and deprivation in which these people have lived for so long.
We may well be proud of the progress which has been made on migratory farm labor problems during the past 5 years. On the positive side of the ledger are several operative Federal programs which hold the promise of a much better life for these thousands of long-forgotten people.