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PARAGRAPH 273–FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC. he practically represents the whole of the fish schedule, we might hear hini further.
The CHAIRMAN. I have no objection in the world, except that those witnesses were here last night until half past 10, and it probably means that some of those witnesses who have been here for two days will be turned out. But if the committee desires we can allow Mr. Gardner to do that.
Mr. James. Well, Mr. Chairman, in view of the fact that Mr. Gardner did write that letter, and there is some misunderstanding, I think he ought to be allowed to put these witnesses on.
Mr. GARDNER. I am quite sure that was the time that was assigned to me.
Mr. PETERS. Mr. Chairman, if Mr. Gardner will confine himself to 30 minutes it will not interfere with the time of the committee any more.
The CHAIRMAN. Before this controversy came up he had used about five minutes of his time. If there is no objection, the Chair will recognize Mr. Gardner to use 25 minutes as he sees fit. There is no objection. Mr. Gardner, we recognize you, and 25 minutes will be yielded to you.
Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Silva.
TESTIMONY OF ANTOINE A. SILVA, GLOUCESTER, MASS.
Antoyne A. Silva, having been first duly sworn by the chairman, testified as follows:
Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Silva is president of the teamsters' union, and was one of the committee sent down here by the joint unions.
Mr. Silva. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Ways and Means Committee, we appear here before your committee as representatives of the fish skinners, trimmers, cutters, and pressmen, the fish workers, the ship riggers, and the teamsters' unions of our city, to appeal to your committee against the reduction of the present tariff of three-fourths of 1 cent and 14 cents, as everybody knows that it is an utter impossibility for the American workman to compete against the low wages paid in foreign countries.
I want to say that from Canso to Yarmouth, including Stony Island, Port Latour, and Lockport, of Nova Scotia-now, Lockport is becoming the center of the boneless fish industry and shipping a tremendous amount of fish into our country, and the wages paid in these sections are so different from the wages paid in our industry, as you will readily see, that it means a great deal to our people; and our mission to Washington here to-day is on the subject of protecting American workmen.
Last year, 1912, there was 1,404,990 pounds of boneless fish shipped to the port of Boston alone, and with the present tariff of 1} cents a pound, the commission merchant of the city of Boston bought that fish, after that tariff was paid, at a trifle less than our merchants in our city could sell for, on account of the difference in wages paid there and in our section. And in spite of that fact, the consumer was called
upon to pay the same price as is now being paid for the same product that is sold from the shippers of our district.
PARAGRAPH 273–FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC. Now, in those sections of the Provinces the fish splitter that handles the fish from the vessel, to be prepared for the skinner, received $1.25 to $1.35 a day for the same work that our people up in our city get $2.75 a day for—that is the man who takes the fish from a vessel and puts it in a place until it is prepared for the skinners to cut and prepare the fish for market. The skinners that skin this fish and prepare them for market are known among our fish industry in the city as the weekly paid men, hired the year around, receive for doing that work $4 per week for 10 hours per day in Nova Scotia. In our city, the same work to prepare that fish, the wages paid by our merchants are $15 per week and a 9-hour day.
So that you can readily see that the difference paid in wages alone to our people places the merchants—and I am not speaking here for the merchants-places the merchants in rather a peculiar position as regards competition. We do know this, that the by-products of the fish industry, with the improved facilities in handling those byproducts—that the merchants of our city do derive a revenue that gives them an opportunity to compete even against the small tariff now placed upon fish, 17 cents a pound, in competition with Nova Scotia merchants, who pay this small rate of wages. We appeal to your committee in the interests of labor. I can frankly say, particularly in our district, that labor has always taken great pride in the protection that American laborers receive from the hands of our Government. I am not saying this in a flattering manner. simply say this, that we always have taken great pride in the protection that we have received from the hands of our Government.
Now, Gloucester alone, the place that I was born and brought up in and now drive a team in the city, has twenty-odd thousand people depending upon this industry for a livelihood. And if the rate of 14 cents of tariff is taken off of our fish product it means the annihilation of our entire industry. And while it may seem small to your committee—a city the same size as Gloucester—let me say that the fish industry is one of the important industries of our country and our firms, irrespective of the clamor and cry that has been going through this country--and, gentlemen, I want to say that I believe the working people have been justified in a good deal of this cry that has been going on, on account of the high cost of living—that you will find before you evidence that the price of fish for the past 20 years has not varied one cent to the consumer; and on that alone, I contend, as a representative of the labor movement, that our fish price to the consumer has had no effect upon the hue and cry of the high cost of living. I fail to find where the question of fish has entered into this talk of the high cost of living in any section of our country. And I ask you men, in the interest of one who has been an international officer in the labor movements, of one who to-day is an organizer, a voluntary organizer without pay, in the interests of our working people, to consider this carefully when you make your recommendations. I want to say that I feel that this is the first time that I have ever appeared before a body of men of this nature, and I want to ask this committee to realize my position, that I am not accustomed to these things; and ! have gone through this as quickly as I possibly can and I appeal to the intelligence of this committee to use their good judgment when they handle the situation.
PARAGRAPH 273_FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC. Now, there is one more thing I want to say: That our city is thoroughly organized, and there is not a city in this country- I defy contradicting-in which there are any more peaceable relations existing than between our employers and our employees; and that means a great deal for an international officer of the labor movement to say before a committee in Congress; and with those relations existing between the employer and employee, we feel justified in at least asking your committee to consider the feasibility--and we feel that we are entitled to ask your committee to give us the protection that the American laborer feels justified in receiving.
I want to add just one more word. We have not consulted our fish merchants in regard to this mission. We have been sent here directly by our organizations, and this is more than I ever said in my life. And as a member of the labor movement, we feel thankful to our distinguished Representative for the courtesy that he has extended our laboring men since we have been in Washington; and we know that Congressman Gardner has fairly done everything possible in the interest of the fish industry; and we as members of the working people have demonstrated that at this past election.
Mr. HARRISON. Mr. Silva, just one question. Are you in favor of free fresh fish ?
Mr. SILVA. No, sir; I am not in favor of free fresh fish. Mr. Rainey. Mr. Silva, how many men are engaged in the industry of catching fish, do you know?
Mr. Silva. I think there are about 4,000 engaged in catching fish. Mr. Rainey. How many men are engaged in the other branches of the industry, such as packing, splitting, and skinning, etc.?
Mr. SILVA. Do you mean that are engaged directly in the work of the fish, or the people that depend upon the fish for a livelihood ?
Mr. RAINEY. Who are engaged directly earning wages in that industry?
Mr. Silva. I should judge about 14,000.
Mr. RAINEY. Then, there are many more engaged in handling the fresh fish after they get to our wharves than there are engaged in actually catching them?
Mr. SILVA. Oh, yes, there are.
Mr.RAINEY. Would it not be better to put fish on the free list-fresh fish-and thereby give employment to still more men in the other industry, and also contribute something to solving the high cost of living, than to keep up the tariff on fresh fish, and also on the smoked varieties and canned fish ?
Mr. Silva. In what way do you refer to when you say would it not be better; in what way?
Mr. RAINEY. Would it not be better for the wage earners of the country; would it not help more wage earners; and would it not more toward making fish cheaper to consumers generally to put fish on the free list-keep the tariff on the finished product; I mean to put green fish or fresh fish on the free list ?
Mr. Silva. Green fish. Well, that depends. Now, I am not prepared to say that I do believe that green fish should be admitted free of duty. But I want to say this, in a spirit of fairness, that if there PARAGRAPH 273—FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC. must be a sacrifice in our fish industry, I would like to say that that sacrifice should come upon green fish, provided the present tariff of 14 cents or more be placed upon the finished product in order to protect our working people.
Mr. McCall. That is, if you put green fish, or fresh fish, on the free list, which now carries a duty of three-fourths of a cent per pound, you would not reduce the duty at all upon the manufacturers' fishthe split and dried fish?
Mr. Silva. If that was done, it would be a severe blow to us.
Mr. McCall. Well, that would really be increasing the duty, would it not, on the packing industry?
Mr. Silva. I do not
Mr. McCALL (interposing). That is, if we gave them the raw mate rial free?
Mr: Silva. I might say that I think it might have a tendency to increase the employment of preparing the fish coming into our city. But to increase the duty by letting the duty stay where it is, the difference between the duty of three-fourths of a cent on the green fish and the duty on the finished product at 14 cents, gives us a division that is, allowing the green fish in free of duty and still retaining the duty on the manufactured product at 14 cents. To express my personal views upon the matter I honestly believe that if a sacrifice has got to be made with our people, the people that I represent would derive the benefit, provided our finished product was protected, at least by 17 cents or perhaps a little better.
Mr. JAMES. Well, would that cheapen fish to the consumer ? Mr. Silva. Well, what do you mean? You mean by the reduction of the three-fourths of a cent
Mr. JAMES (interposing). I mean by placing green fish on the free list and leaving a protective tariff on the fish that is prepared and shipped in here; manufactured ?
Mr. Silva. Other than that, it might make a bigger supply; I can not quite catch the meaning, the direct meaning, of your question. To give you an honest answer to it
Mr. JAMES (interposing). Well, tf you let fresh fish come in, or green fish come in, free, you say they might employ more men in preparing this fish for the use of the public. Now, the question I asked you was, if that should be done, and the tariff still remained upon prepared fish shipped in here to compete with them, how would the consumer be benefited, the man who uses the fish or eats it, by placing the fresh fish or the green fish on the free list?
Mr. Silva. Well, I do not know that they would get any direct benefit unless the overproduction, with the competition upon the market, might have a tendency to make a difference in the competition of prices between the merchants themselves.
Mr. FORDNEY. Would it not be a fair and more equitable plan to give adequate protection to each man's industry, and not crush out of existence those men who catch green fish that you speak of, and yet protect the other people ?
Mr. SILVA. Yes, sir.
Mr. FORDNEY. That would be rather a selfish proposition, would it not?
PARAGRAPH 273_FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC. Mr. Silva. I think it would. I was just simply-I said if there has got to be a sacrifice, I regret very much to even say if there has got to be a sacrifice--that I would favor, in order to protect-
Mr. FORDNEY (interposing). If we are to have protection, my friend, is not the most equitable plan to give every man his fair share of that protection ?
Mr. Silva. That is the appeal I am trying to make before your committee.
Mr. FORDNEY. Yes. Now, the man who wants protection on his finished product and free trade on his raw materials, when the raw material is the finished product of his neighbor, as the green fish is the finished product of the fish catchers there, any man who wants that condition is nothing more nor less than just an ordinary human cannibal, is he not?
Mr. GARDNER. I do not understand that the witness said that.
Mr. James. I think you would stand by the Republicans, would you not?
Mr. Silva. I have always been a Republican, and I have the honor of being a member of the Republican committee of my city.
Mr. FORDNEY. You talk like a Republican.
Mr. LONGWORTH. If you put fish on the free list, would it reduce the wages of the fish catchers ?
Mr. Silva. I think it would, yes; it would bring competition. The way the fishermen work in our city, they go out on the fishing vessels; they have no stated salary; they depend upon what they catch; and of course if green fish from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is brought into the city in competition with them, it brings the foreign fish into competition with American fish and so would reduce the income of the American laborer.
Mr. FORDNEY. If fresh fish or green fish were put on the free list, it would either reduce that man's wages or throw him out of business altogether!
Mr. Silva. Yes, that is just what it would do.
Mr. FORDNEY. And if it would not do that it would be nonsense to. put on the duty, would it not?
Mr. Silva. Yes; I think so. I would very much regret to see the duty reduced on either green fish or the finished product, as far as our people are concerned.
Mr. James. So you agree with our friend Mr. Fordney, over there, that there ought to be protection for everybody except
the consumer? Mr. Silva. No; if that is the way the meaning was brought out, I withdraw that statement. I do not agree with that.
Mr. James. I am glad you do.
Mr. FORDNEY. If my friend from Kentucky will tell you who the consumer is, in this great mass of country, with everybody working, and everybody producing; if he will tell me who the consumer is, I will answer that question.
Mr. JAMES. He is the man who eats the fish.
Mr. Silva. Yes; all the working people are paying these bills no matter what they are working at.