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PARAGRAPH 451-BOOTS AND SHOES.
regardless of the amount of tinkering with the tariff, the consumer is not going to get the benefit ultimately.
Mr. LONGWORTH. Now, just one last question: From your knowledge of wages paid in this country to make a pair of shoes as compared with the wages paid abroad, do you believe the duty of 15 per cent on the higher grade of shoes and 10 per cent on the lower grade is any more than the difference between the actual labor costs?
Mr. Tobin. I believe that the present tariff of 10 per cent on certain kinds and 15 per cent on other kinds is absolutely necessary, not because of any comparison of wages, because I can take the wage scale in this country and the wage scale in any foreign country, as applied to shoes, and I can prove my case for either free trade or protection. I do say that in this country the standard of living is so much higher than in any foreign country where they make shoes that we can not afford to jeopardize that standard of living by giving the manufacturer any excuse to reduce the present standard of living by reducing wages. We maintain that the English or any other foreign shoemaker who wears a cloth cap for which he pays 25 cents fixes the standard of living by that cap, insignificant as it may appear. In this country the equivalent headgear is a fur felt hat, which the shoemaker buys for $3 or $4 at retail.
You can go down the entire list of the necessities of life and find the same line of reasoning—the houses we live in, the furniture in our houses, the food we eat, the garments we wear, all relatively much higher in grade than in any of the foreign countries. I will not have to give you any statistics to prove that. You have observed that yourselves, those of you who have traveled, and those who have not traveled have seen it in the emigrants from the foreign countries coming here.
Mr. KITCHIN. Let me ask you a question right there. Take a laboring man who lives in one of those good houses, who is well fed and well kept and well groomed, and who has this high standard of living, can he not turn out more, and is he not more efficient than what you call the pauper labor of Europe, labor that is not so well accommodated and which has not so many comforts, and is not that one of the reasons that the laboring people in this country are demanding a higher standard of living—because the better you treat a man the more he can turn out for his employer, the more efficient he is?
Mr. Tobin. I have not used the words pauper labor of Europe. We have absolute free trade in labor, while we have had a protective tariff on manufactured goods, and the gentlemen for whom I speak here to-day in our organization are very largely men of foreign birth and very largely men of recent arrival, that, translating themselves to this country and applying themselves to the American method of machinery, and minute detailed subdivision, have become expert workmen in a very few weeks at the outside.
Mr. LONGWORTH. Have you ever known of an American shoe worker to go abroad to better his condition?
Mr. Tobin. Yes, I have; many of them. They are engaged in this country by foreign shoemakers and go abroad under a contract with them to supervise the making of shoes in foreign countries, to get
PARAGRAPH 451-BOOTS AND SHOES.
them up to the American standard of shoemaking, and the American styles of making shoes, which are preeminent as nice looking shoes in all countries.
Mr. LONGWORTH. Well, are they paid the same wages as the foreign shoe workers ?
Mr. TOBIN. They are paid more than they can get here. Those American shoe workers would not go to a foreign country as a supervisor or foreman or instructor of foreign shoe workers except at a very handsome rate of wages; but in proportion to the high rate paid for supervision in that same factory, the rank and file of the workers that are being instructed by this man are paid proportionately less. In other words, the manufacturer will stand so much expense, and if that is paid to one man it comes out of a hundred.
Mr. LONGWORTH.' Do you believe that the placing of shoes on the free list would have a tendency to reduce the standard of living of American shoe workers ?
Mr. TOBIN. Without any question.
Mr. Rainey. Why, Mr. Tobin; because they would be paid less wages ?
Mr. Tobin. The foreign shoe manufacturer would then find a very large market in this country, and he would apply himself to making the American styles of shoes. The American supervision in their factories would yield that result, with the American machinery which they are now working, and very diligently, within the last two or three years, particularly.
Mr. Rainey. But you are interested primarily in keeping up the wages of the workmen in these factories
Mr. Tobin. Entirely so.
Mr. Rainey. Is it not true that the union of which you are the head at the present time is engaged in a strike in Mr. McElwain's factories?
Mr. Tobin. Yes, it is; in one of the factories.
Mr. Rainey. Then it is not the tariff that keeps up the wages of your union. It is the fact that you are organized, and that you can compel these manufacturers to pay your wages ?
Mr. TOBIN. No.
Mr. Rainey. You are trying, independently of the tariff, to make them pay you the wages you think the members of your union ought to have ? Mr. Tobin. No; not at all. We are trying to make them
the competitive rate of wages.
Mr. RAINEI. And he will not do it?
Mr. Tobin. He does not like to do it, and he has not agreed so far to do it.
Mr. RAINEY. Does not that show, too, that it is the organization of your union that keeps up wages and not the tariff?
Mr. TOBIN. Well, in so far as we can, but there are limitations.
Mr. RainEY. Does not Mr. McElwain and all the rest of the manufacturers pay their employees just as little as they can
Mr. TOBIN. Everybody making shoes does that.
Mr. Rainki. The facť that you can get good wages now, or what you consider good wages, is due to the fact that you demand them
PARAGRAPH 451-BOOTS AND SHOES.
and are strong enough to get them; otherwise you would not be in this fight with Mr. McElwain right now, would you?
Mr. TOBIN. When we started out 15 or 16 years ago to build up the wages through our organization it was very uphill work, and it has been uphill work all the time since then. We have built up the wages, but coincident with that somebody has been building up the cost of living.
Mr. RAINEY. Mr. McElwain is the largest shoe manufacturer, is he?
Mr. Tobin. I think I can safely say that he is the largest shoe manufacturer in the country.
Mr. LONGWORTH. How much higher are the wages of the union manufacturers than are the wages of the nonunion shoe manufacturers ? Generally speaking, do the union wages run much higher ?
Mr. Tobin. Yes; a good deal higher; in many cases 25 per cent or 30 per cent higher; but the peculiar thing about that, gentlemen, is one that will perhaps surprise you—that, almost without exception, the manufacturers who pay the highest rate of wages are the most prosperous. The reason for that is, what I mentioned a while ago, that we maintain a system of arbitration which eliminates strikes upon the part of the employees and lockouts upon the part of the employers, and the economy of producing shoes under that system is so great that there is no loss at all through strikes and lockouts, and that difference is applied to wages. It makes for the success of the wageworkers, and, coincident with that, the success of the employers. It is those arbitration contracts and those friendly relations that prompt me to come before this committee, and I believe it is the first time in the bistory of our union-I know that it is the first time that we have ever appeared here in connection with any tariff.
Mr. RAINEY. Are your friendly relations with the very largest of all these manufacturers, Mr. McElwain, what brings you here to-day; the fact that you are getting along so nicely with him?
Mr. Tobin. No; it is in spite of the fact that we disagree with him. Mr. Rainey. Are you here at his request ?
Mr. TOBIN. No, sir. I am here at the request of the organization that has delegated me to come here, and at no other request.
Mr. LONGWORTH. Mr. Tobin, are you familiar with the rate of wages paid to union men in England ?
Mr. TOBIN. No.
Mr. LONGWORTH. Except to this extent, that Mr. Rainey says that the only thing that keeps wages higher in this country than in England is the appearance of the unions.
Mr. Tobin. Well, the union shoe workers in England are stronger numerically and financially than we are. Mr. LoNGWORTH. How do their rates of wages compare with yours!
Mr. TOBIN. I believe it is impossible to measure them. I know this, that the man who makes $10 in England is making as much money as the man who makes $16 here.
Mr. Kirchin. Why is that–because the cost of living is higher here, is it not?
Mr. TOBIN. No; because their standard of living is on that scale, and they make wages in proportion to that standard of living.
PARAGRAPH 451-BOOTS AND SHOES. Mr. PAYNE. If they lived on the same plane as you do here, they would need the same wages, would they not?
Mr. TOBIN. If they lived on the same plane as we do here, or tried to, they would find themselves running very short.
Mr. PAYNE. They would need your standard of wages?
Mr. PAYNE. When you have arbitrations, do the arbitrators take into consideration the fact whether the manufacturer is able to make both ends meet in order to pay you those wages?
Mr. TOBIN. Yes; the manufacturers with whom we have contracts will quote prices accordingly. Mr. McElwain will not let investigators into his factory to get figures.
Mr. PAYNE. That is why you are interested in the tariff here?
Mr. KITCHIN. Speaking of this $10 that the laboring man in England gets, which is the same as $16 to a man here, Mr. Payne had you say that is on account of the higher standard of living here. Let us see about that. Will not that $10 there buy more clothes and more bread and more underwear and more hats than the $16 the man gets here?
Mr. Tobin. He will not buy any hats at all. The foreign shoe worker does not wear a hat.
Mr. KITCHIN. Well, suppose he does. He wears clothes, does he not?
Mr. TOBIN. Yes, of the very cheapest kind.
Mr. KITCHIN. But he really saves more than the man here does, does he not?
Mr. TOBIN. I do not know that he does.
Mr. Kitchin. Do you not know as a fact, that in England, where there is no tariff upon wearing apparel and such things as that, as well as food, that $10 goes about as far as $16 does here?
Mr. Tobin. Yes; I dare say it does, but it does not go far enough. Mr. KITCHIN. That has nothing to do with the standards of living.
Mr. TOBIN. In Free Trade England the standard of living is so much lower than the standard of living in this protective country, that we do not want a free trade living here.
Mr. KITCHIN. If the English standard of living is so low and deplorable, why do not the English laboring men come over here and take the place of the laboring men here, and why is it that these American laboring men, as you have just testified, go to England ?
Mr. Tobin. They do come over here.
Mr. KITCHIN. How many English laboring men-English born, now, born in Great Britain—are employed in the mills of Mr. McElwain, or what proportion?
Mr. Tobin. I do not know.
Mr. TOBIN. I do not suppose there is 5 per cent of Mr. McElwain's employees who can speak the English language.
Mr. KITCHIN. Not 5 per cent can speak the English language? So the largest proportion of Mr. McElwain's employees come from the
per cent ?
PARAGRAPH 451-BOOTS AND SHOES.
high protective-tariff countries, such as Germany, Italy, Greece, etc., and not from free-trade England ?
Mr. TOBIN. Very few.
Mr. KITCHIN. Don't you know that if conditions were as deplorable as you picture them in free-trade England that some of those fellows would come in, but instead of that they are coming from the hightariff countries?
Mr. Tobin. I am not speaking of free-trade England at all.
Mr. KITCHIN. So you will really take it back about free-trade England, or you say you were not referring to England a while ago!
Mr. Tobin. I say that the standards of living in European countries, regardless of whether in a protective-tariff country or a freetrade country, is so much lower than in this country, that we do not want to experiment with what we have now.
Mr. KITCHIN. That is excepting England, is it not?
Mr. Kirchin. All right, then, but you do admit that there is not 1 per cent of the employees in Mr. McElwain's factory who came from England.
Mr. TOBIN. I do not say that.
Mr. KITCHIN. You said that 95 per cent could not speak the English language.
Mr. Tobin. I said not more than 5 per cent could speak the English language.
Mr. KITCHIN. So that 95 per cent are foreigners that did not come from England, are they not?
Mr. Tobin. Well, that has been proved by your illustration. What have I got to answer?
Mr. KITCHIN. I am not proving anything; I am getting at the facts. Mr. Tobin. What do you want me to answer?
Mr. KITCHIN. I want you to answer this: You said that if we remove the tariff of 10 per cent, the manufacturer would take that as a pretext to try to cut your wages.
Is that true? Mr. Tobin. Yes; absolutely true, as applied to nonunion factories.
Mr. KITCHIN. Só that the only thing you want is simply to prevent them from having a pretext to fight your union, is it not?
Mr. Tobin. Oh, not entirely so. To-day the foreign workman is not necessarily a shoe worker, but any foreign man with two hands and a brain can come into this country and apply himself in the average shoe factory and within a few weeks become a skilled workman, because of the small subdivisions into which that trade is divided. What we are protesting against is, in addition to this free trade in labor that you have imposed upon us, the free trade in the product of the foreign manufacturers will be added to what we suffer from now, and these shoes that are manufactured abroad will come here and crush us, plus the foreign labor which comes in here now.