Obrázky stránek

The historic case in the field of equal pay for women was initiated by this union in 1945 in its contract negotiations with General Electric Co. and the Westinghouse Electric Corp. As a result, the National War Labor Board recommended that women's rates be increased 4 cents an hour in these companies and that a special fund be set up to wipe out other inequities through collective bargaining. Thus, the worst inequities were adjusted." But the whole structure of discrimination in rates was not altered. Legislation is necessary to help finish the job. No catch-all amendment, like the equal-rights amendment can conceivably do it.

Here is an instance of a specific evil which requires a specific remedy at law. That is why we support the equal-pay bills, H. R. 4273 and H. R. 4408. This, we feel, is the right way to bring about equality. We support the women's status bill because it promotes genuine equality by facilitating the enactment of such laws as the equal-pay bill.

The women's status bill declares that the legislative policy of the United States shall recognize no distinctions on the basis of sex except for reasons of physical structure, biological or social function. But it retains protective legislation for women already on the books. It authorizes the President to appoint a factfinding Commission to Study the Status of Women. The Commission is to make the necessary legislative recommendations to eliminate discrimination against women--civil, economic, social, and political. This is practical, realistic, and if the Congress will cooperate, can produce desirable results.

The so-called equal-rights amendment, like the Taft-Hartley law, is a long steps backward. The women's status bill goes the way of progress. Believing in progress, this union urges passage of the women's status bill.

Woman's AUXILIARY No. 36,


Bronx 58, N. Y., March 16, 1948. Hon. JOHN M. ROBSION,

Chairman, Subcommittee, House Judiciary Committee, Washington, D. C. HONORABLE SIR: The above auxiliary, with a membership of over 9,000, desires to express their endorsement of the women's status bill and emphatically oppose the equal-rights amendment. Very respectfully yours,

Mrs. RAY RAVIN, Secretary.



I am writing on behalf of the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union to urge that favorable action be taken on H. R. 2007, otherwise known as the women's status bill, which is now before the subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. I am also writing to record our opposition to the proposed equal rights amendment, which is before the same committee.

We have a particular interest in this legislation because approximately onehalf of the 40,000 members of our international union are women employed in the men's hat, millinery, and cap industries.

Our organization has always favored the abolition of existing legal and other discriminations against women, but we have opposed the method of a blanket amendment, such as the proposed equal rights amendment, as being unsuited to the purpose of accomplishing this objective. Such a blanket amendment would destroy with a single blow the protective legislation which experience has shown women in industry require. We have regretted that the issue of eliminating discriminations based on sex has been confused for the last 25 years by what we consider an ill-advised campaign for the adoption of the so-called equal-rights amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The equal-rights amendment, by proposing to establish in the abstract complete equality of rights between the sexes, will eliminate certain legal discriminations against women; but at the same time it will remove from the statutes of the Federal Government and from the statutes of several State governments, laws which have been enacted for the special protection of women workers. As a labor union having a large proportion of female workers among its members, we

know that such protective legislation for women workers is urgently needed and that the wholesale elimination of such legislation would deprive such women workers of many benefits which they need and now enjoy. Instead of abolishing such protective legislation, we feel that it ought to be extended. We are therefore opposed to any legislation, no matter how well intentioned it is, which in the interests of an abstract equality of rights between the sexes, would demolish the protection which women workers have attained so far and which would block the way to its extension.

On the other hand, we realize that there is an urgent need for legislation which would protect economic equality for women and prevent economic discrimination based on sex. For this reason we wholeheartedly endorse H, R. 2007, which is designed to secure to women workers pay equal to that which is received by male workers for the same type of work.

We are convinced that this bill will extend to women the benefits of an equal status with men, which the equal-rights amendment is supposed to secure for them, without endangering as the equal-rights amendment does—the protection that women need. The bill on the status of women expressly provides that the distinctions between the sexes which are reasonably justified by differences of physical structure and biological and social function shall be respected. We feel that the safeguards contained in the bill will not diminish the legal protection now enjoyed by women workers in industry.

We are also in favor of a Presidential commission, as is provided for in this bill, for the study of the economic, civil, political, and social status of women, with a view of making possible legal revisions of their status so as to carry out the purposes of the bill. We feel that the mere passage of the bill which proposes to eliminate sex discriminations that are unwarranted, without creating an instrument which would preserve what experience has shown to be essential, would fail of its purpose.

The field in which sex discrimination is practiced is so wide and complex that a thorough study of discriminatory laws and practices is essential. Such a study would result in ascertaining which legislative and administrative measures by the Federal and State Governments would be most adequate to cope with this problem and eliminate unwarranted sex discrimination. Only on the basis of such a study can adequate legislative and administrative measures for the elimination of sex discrimination be adopted.



The Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union, CIO, has contracts covering 102,000 workers, and considerably more than half of our members are women. We are therefore interested in the legislation before the committee from the standpoint of the working woman. To the working woman equality is not just an abstract idea ; it is a status she seeks to achieve to remove her from a disadvantageous economic and social position.

FTA opposes House Joint Resolution 49, the so-called equal rights amendment, and supports H. R. 2007, the women's status bill.

From the long years of controversy over the equal-rights amendment one central fact emerges. This proposed constitutional amendment seeks to present women with an empty concept of equality which not only fails to remedy the real inequalities which exist, but would destroy legislation under which there has been a realistic attempt to improve the condition of women,

The basic problems facing women in canning, fresh fruit and vegetable packing, tobacco, and other FTA plants are similar to those facing most working women, but in addition to these common problems, women in industries we represent are subject to irregular hours of work, primitive plant facilities, and extremely low earnings. These working women seldom earn enough to provide for assistance in their household duties and consequently the particular factors of hardship in the industries referred to are intensified. For example, a cannery worker who is forced to work up to 60 and 70 hours a week during the peak season and who also has a home to take care of, has even more serious problems than an ordinary working woman employed for a 40-hour week. Cannery workers in plants where the union has not yet corrected such abuses will probably earn 10 to 15 cents an hour less than men who are employed at jobs of less skill in the same plant.

What does the so-called equal-rights amendment have to offer a woman in this situation ?

The "first benefit” she will derive will be the probable elimination of State laws limiting women's hours of work. Similarly, State minimum-wage laws for women, laws prohibiting constant standing and providing special facilities for women will be thrown out because they give special consideration to women. It is obvious that this type of equality is farcical.

The right which women stand to gain from the equal-rights amendment is the right to be exploited. Certainly after all the years of discussion that have gone on, no one can be impressed by an argument which offers the shadow of equal rights without any substance. Just because a woman worker usually has double responsibilities as well as differentiated biological and social functions, the kind of equality contemplated under the equal-rights amendment is a disguise for removing economic and social protections which have to some extent ameliorated the condition of the working woman in our society.

In at least 19 States in which our union has members, one or another type of protective legislation for women workers would be invalidated through enactment of the equal-rights amendment. Working women are not deluded by the false concept of equality proposed in this amendment. Equality which would, for example, permit unlimited hours of work for women who already have an unequal burden of job and home is not sought by our membership and was vigorously opposed in our last convention in January 1947 where a resolution condemning the equal-rights amendment was passed.

H. R. 2007, while it by no means wipes out the discriminations to which women are subject, does develop a framework in which such discrimination can be eliminated. Just because it does not promise the millennium, it is likely to succeed in achieving more modest aims. In proposing to raise the status of women to a level of economic, social, and political equality, H. R. 2007 provides for a prior study of facts, eliminating confusion of the type resulting from the unrealistic and retrogressive approach of the equal-rights amendment.

However, even if H. R. 2007 were to be adopted by the Congress, it should be clearly understood that only the first steps toward establishing equal status for women would have been taken. We are heartily in favor of taking these first steps, but speaking for an industry where one of the most serious discriminations to which women are subject is that of inequality of rates of pay for jobs of equal or greater skill than those at which men are employed, FTA is of the opinion that the single greatest contribution which could be made to the improvement of the status of women would be enactment of legislation providing for "equal pay" for work of equal skill. This proposal, of course, follows the principles laid down in the equal status bill. House Joint Resolution 49 would not, as some of its proponents have argued, result in automatic elimination of discriminatory women's wage rates.

Our organization is of the opinion that H. R. 2007 should be enacted immediately to redeem the commitment of the United States under the United Nations Charter and that at the same time Congress should act to adopt the equal pay legislation which is now pending before the House Labor Committee. The Judiciary Committee could perform a great service by resolving the arguments that have continued on this subject for years and approving or suggesting approval of legislation which would really improve the status of women.


Washington 4, D. C., February 18, 1948.
Chairman of a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary,

United States House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN ROBSION: This statement is submitted to your committee in support of H. R. 2007, a bill to establish a commission on the legal status of women in the United States, to declare a policy as to distinctions based on sex, in law and administration, and for other purposes, introduced on February 17, 1947, by the Honorable James W. Wadsworth,

As the largest white-collar labor organization in the world, we have thousands of women members in our ranks and the policy of this brotherhood is reflected in the contracts we have signed with employers in the railroad, steamship, freight forwarding, and airline industries. A standard rule on the employment of women appears in all our contracts and reads as follows:

“The pay of women employees, for the same class of work, shall be the same as that of men, and their working conditions must be healthful and fitted to their needs. The laws enacted for the government of their employment must be observed.”

This is an instance where wages and working conditions have been bettered by agreement which is far preferable to law, but as there are many other phases of this problem of the status of women, it is imperative that some evaluation of this question be made in order that full knowledge might be had of all circumstances and conditions having a bearing on this problem. Such is the purpose and intent of H. R. 2007, namely:

That the legislative policy of the United States shall be to make no distinctions on the basis of sex except such as are usually justified by physical structure, biological, or social function and further, to provide for the appointment of a Commission on the Legal Status of Women to be appointed by the President to study and review the economic, civil, political, and social status of women and the extent of discriminations based on sex, and to recommend legislation necessary to bring the laws and Government practices of the United States in conformity with the declared policy, and further to require all Federal agencies to review their regulations and practices and to the extent permitted by legislation immediately to conform them to the declared policy and to report to the Commission.

The suggested recommendation to the States to declare a similar policy and to bring their laws and practices into conformity with those of the Federal Gov. ernment is sound and is designed to bring about as much uniformity as possible. between the Federal Government and the States.

This brotherhood can subscribe to all these objectives, as we consider them reasonable, just, and desirable in eliminating injustices foisted upon women for no other reason than by an act of God they are women. This measure is a gradual approach to the solution of a socially mooted problem and is evolutionary in its concept. Its intent is to explore, study, and review necessary and desirable changes in law and governmental practice adversely affecting our sisters in their age-old struggle to get a square deal in a man-made world.

The full purpose and goal of the organized labor movement is not merely one of wages and working conditions, but also to obtain equal opportunity for all and certainly as a primary step in that direction must be the eradication of injustices based on sex, not supported by any difference in physical structure, biological or social function.

This brotherhood which has been in the labor field for nearly half a century and for the last 20 years under the leadership of Grand President George M. Harrison, has realized that action, such as embodied in H. R. 2007, should be taken for the protection of women everywhere in our country, and this brotherhood in convention assembled adopted the following resolution at its convention held in May 1947 :


"Whereas the economic, civil, social, and political progress of women has been burdened and impeded by discriminations arising in part from assumptions embedded in the common law; and

"Whereas notwithstanding notable legislative achievements in modern times, there remain in effect statutes, regulations, rules, and governmental practices which discriminate unfairly on the basis of sex; and

"Whereas it should be the purpose of the United States and the several States and their political subdivisions, to bring their laws and the administration thereof into line with the present trend whereby women in recent times have made notable progress in many fields only limited by differences in physical structure, biological, or social function; and

"Whereas it has been and continues to be the policy of this brotherhood to accord in all contracts equal pay for equal work applicable to both men and women and the enforcement of all laws protecting the employment of women; and

"Whereas legislation has been introduced in the Congress to establish a commission for the study of the legal status of women in the United States and to declare a policy as to distinctions, based on sex, in law and administration: Therefore be it

"Resolved this convention endorses Senate Joint Resolution 67 introduced by Senator Taft, and H. R. 2007 by Congressman Wadsworth to effectuate these purposes; and be it further

"Resolved the grand president is urged to continue his efforts to secure enactment of this legislation.”

It is the considered opinion of this brotherhood that once the facts are known corrective steps will inevitably follow. The history of social progress exemplifies this to a marked degree. The time has now come to lay the ground work for the further advancement of the cause of our women. This bill, H. R. 2007, is the tocsin calling all persons of good will to support this worthy cause. Now, the hour has struck and we hope and pray that in justice to the women of our country that you and your committee will recommend the passage of this bill. Respectfully submitted.

HARTMAN BARBER, General Representative.


REPRESENTING INTERNATIONAL LADIES' GARMENT WORKERS' UNION Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, back in 1938 there was a hearing on the socalled equal rights amendment before the Senate Judiciary Committee at which I represented the National Women's Trade Union League. Today I am representing the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. But except for that difference, I believe that I could put into the record exactly what I said in 1938. I said then that this so-called equal rights amendment is bad law. I still believe it is bad law. Its wording has been changed somewhat since 1938 but basically it is the same old sell-out, and dressing it up in some new clothes doesn't make it any better. What it will do, is to confuse the situation, and create a lot of legal fog. This amendment would threaten many labor laws set up to protect the rights of women workers. For instance, the minimum-wage laws in most of our States provide for setting minimum rates for women. If this amendment should be adopted, somebody might claim that these minimumwage laws are unconstitutional. The courts would then review them, and however might come out, it would cost us months and years of time and a great deal of money-which we don't have-to fight that through. That is why I am against the equal rights amendment and my union is against it. We are against it because we know what it means to work and to have to work, and we don't want any confusion about our rights as women workers. Organized labor as a whole, both the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organization, are on record in opposition to this so-called equal rights amendment, and have testified before you regularly.

I worked in a factory myself. I have been working with women in different industries for many years and have served on the New York State Minimum Wage Board, which gave me a great deal more knowledge of the subject that I had before as to the need for legislation that will put a bottom to wages and ceiling to hours,

Once in while someone has suggested that we revise this proposed amendment to make it into something we could support. Mr. Chairman, there is no way to revise this amendment because an amendment is the wrong way to go about this job. What's more, we have never fooled ourselves into thinking that it would be easy to get 36 States to ratify an amendment, particularly when the facts go the other way. As I see it, the proposed amendment would be the best possible way to put women into a pigeon-hole and keep them there.

That doesn't mean that I am satisfied with just what we have today. Not at all. There are discriminations against women in our laws, and I want to see them cleared up. I am therefore directed to tell you today that our union is for the women's status bill. This seems to us a sound and reasonable way to get at this old problem. It establishes a policy which provides for reasonable distinctions and a commission to study the discriminations against women in the United States and make recommendations to fix up the laws which should be changed. That makes sense. It means that we can talk about specific laws that are needed, and know just what we are doing. People who have to work for a living don't want to borrow trouble. We want to know just what is meant by legislative proposals, and who is going to be helped by them, and who may be hurt by them. For instance, we want to be sure that a married woman will have the same right to her own earnings, and what she saves by her own effort, as her husband does. Up in New York State we've had a few cases where a woman was taking in boarders or running a little store in her home, but her husband could claim all she earned. That was because the New York law still

« PředchozíPokračovat »