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decent wage.

W. P. A. wage would probably run around $25 per month. What private industry wants is to have a plentiful supply of cheap labor so as to keep the wage level down, and we maintain that in the South the Federal Government assists in that when it does not pay its own employees a decent wage. They force their own employees off a

We maintain that the crying need of the day is for increased purchasing power in the hands of the American people. We need to increase that purchasing power tremendously and I think if any of you gentlemen pay a visit to the merchants of your communities or congressional districts, and if you ask them what they think of the conditions, they will tell you that the calamity to their communities is that lack of purchasing power. That increased purchasing power is being materially retarded by the low wage scale of the W. P. A. Every dollar that you pay out in wages here

will not be a dollar to be invested in stocks and bonds, but it will be spent for food, clothing, and other necessary articles. It will be used in a way that will help business generally in every community.

I am not going through all of this statement, because it is quite extensive, and I do not want to bore you with it. However, I want to make another point with regard to wages: In 1936 Congress passed the Emergency Relief Act provision calling for the payment of the prevailing wage rate. Now, we maintain that the prevailing wage rate either has not been paid in many communities, or it is being misinterpreted. We maintain that the only basis for the prevailing wage rate is what is known as union wages, which is used as the prevailing wage scale by States and by the regular Government activities. In other words, when we want to know what is the prevailing rate of wages, we take the union wage rates. W. P. A. is the only Government organization that does not use for the prevailing wage rate the union scale of wages. We maintain that that also serves to depress the scale of wages of organized labor.

I have a table here which shows the union scale of wages for common laborers in 1934 and 1935, and those paid by W. P. A. in a number of key cities. In Atlanta, Ga., the union wage scale per hour for common labor is 40 cents, while for W. P. A. it is 29 cents; for Baltimore, the union wage is 45 cents per hour, while for W. P. A. it is 40 cents; for Birmingham, Ala., the union rate is 40 cents per hour, while the W. P. A. rate is 29 cents per hour; for Boston, the union rate is 70 cents per hour, while the W. P. A. rate is 50 cents per hour; for Butte, Mont., the union rate is 72 cents per hour, while the W.P.A. rate is 50 cents per hour; for Chicago, the union rate is 8242 cents per hour, while the W. P. A. rate is 50 cents per hour; for Cleveland, Ohio, the union rate is 7272 cents per hour, and the W. P. A. rate is 50 cents per hour; for Denver, Colo., the union rate is 62% cents an hour, and the W. P. A. rate is 50 cents per hour; for Jacksonville, Fla., the union rate is 40 cents per hour, and the W. P. A. rate is 29 cents per hour; for Kansas City the union rate is 70 cents per hour, and the W. P. A. rate is 40 cents per hour; for New York, the union rate is from 70 to 93.8 cents per hour, and the W. P. A. rate is 50 cents per hour; for Memphis, Tenn., the union wage rate is 60 cents per hour, and the W. P. A. rate is 27 cents per hour. Now, it is fair to believe that where, as at Memphis, the prevailing W. P. A. wage rate is as low as 27 cents per hour, as compared with the union wage rate of 60 cents per hour, there is certainly something wrong about it, and we maintain that the Federal Government should use the W. P. A. in an effort to bring those prevailing wage rates in line with union wage rates.

We are asking the Appropriations Committee to support our request for $1,040,000,000 for W. P. A. It has been supported by quite a number of city councils and quite a number of State legislatures. We have just got word that the Minnesota State Legislature, or the lower house, has unanimously passed a resolution

memoralizing Congress to appropriate $1,040,000,000 for W. P. A. We maintain that Congress should approach this problem more realistically. We are still trying to treat the problem as an emergency, hoping against hope that the problem will disappear. But we will have to face it realistically today for the first time. Industrial production is now at the average of 1929, for the first time since the depression began, and it is only about 10 percent below the very peak of 1929. That was reached in July or August; and yet we find, according to conservative estimates, that there are between eight and ten million unemployed people. It is obvious that this problem will not disappear, and we must grapple with it as something permanent. We are aware of the campaign of propaganda that is being put out by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, and its allied organizations, that the unemployment problem is gone and that the Federal Government's program, or the W. P. A. program, and other programs may come to an end. We maintain that on November 3, when the people went to the ballot box, they were voting for what they believed would be an adequate program for the treatment of the American unemployed, who, through no fault of their own, were in need. We maintain that they repudiated decisively the program put forward during the campaign to scuttle the program of work for the unemployed. We believe that the people of the country have a right to expect that their elected representatives shall put into effect the program that they voted for on November 3.

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I thank you.




Mr. RASMUSSEN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I think that Mr. Lasser has certainly covered the position we are taking and which we are hoping your committee will adopt. I want to say that I have been intimately connected with the unemployed in our membership, and especially with the organized unemployed throughout the central west cities of Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, and Toledo. In talking with those people, as well as people in some of the smaller cities, I find that the conditions that we have set out here have become worse, and the sentiment of the workers throughout those areas is very definitely in favor of a continuation and expansion of W. P. A., with a substantial wage increase.

Now, briefly, I want to call attention to the fact that a large number of citizens of the United States came to the city of Washington 2 days ago and held a meeting and parade. I want you to be familiar with one angle of that. I would like for the members of this com

mittee to know that it is too bad we did not have more time to acquaint you with the hardships experienced by these people, or what they went through with on this trip to Washington. They came all the way across the country, from Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. They came by “tin lizzies”, trucks, some "rode the rods”, and some came by hitchhiking, and some by bus. They collected money from their own members and collected it from merchants and business people in their communities who were sympathetic with the move. These people realize that their interests

are very much in common with those of the W. P. A. workers. We only hope that the members of the committee will realize that the workers generally throughout the United States for whom we speak at this time are very definitely in favor of this program, and they certainly would feel that their interests were being served by Congress should the Appropriations Committee deem it advisable and wise to put through this appropriation that is requested.

I thank you.




Mr. Cook. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I believe Mr. Lasser has fully presented the program of the National Workers Alliance of America. However, there are a few small matters I would like to speak on.

Organized labor in this country has fought for years toward building up certain standards for their workers. They have fought for decent living standards and for decency in the matter of providing food and clothing for their families. We are coming along now to the point where the labor market is flooded with available labor, and for that reason the manufacturers and other employers can cut wages. That is something that has happened all over the United States.

Because of the economic situation throughout the United States, you had to make provision for these people. First, we had the C. W. A., which was an emergency measure. Under the C. W. A. the wage level set forth was $15 per week generally throughout the United States. That wage, as I have said, was $15 per week. About 3 or 4 weeks after it went into effect, wages were cut all over the United States by the industries. That was on account of the wages paid by the Government to these workers. Now, we know that a wail went up from over the entire South that the Government workers were being paid too much money. Wages went on down, and now we are operating under W. P. A., which is under an entirely separate act passed by Congress. The minimum wage went as low as $19 a month, and it is now as low as $21 a month. The fight that we are making is that it is the duty of Congress to fix a minimum wage that will enable these workers throughout the entire United States to live in decency.

I thank you.





Mr. BOILEAU. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I want to say that I agree almost entirely with what Mr. Lasser has said. I agree with the position the unemployed of the country is taking in asking Congress to increase wages of W. P. A. workers to a point where they can have a decent standard of living. If this were only a temporary matter, or if we could assume that unemployment would cease in the near future, I can see where it would be, perhaps, the part of wisdom for the Federal Government to try to reduce these expenditures; but I cannot see how it is possible for a change to come in these conditions in the immediate future. I think something can be done through a reduction in the hours of labor, but Congress has failed to accomplish this result. Until we deal with this matter by removing the cause of unemployment, I believe that it is the obligation of the Federal Government to give those people, who, through no fault of their own, are in need, the assistance they require. They cannot find jobs, and they cannot create jobs. There has been a tremendous increase in the volume of business in the past few years, but there has not been a proportionate increase in the volume of employment.

The Secretary of Labor recently issued a statement indicating that in the year 1936 there was an increase of 25 percent over 1935 in the volume of business done in the United States, but that in the same period there was an increase of less than 8 percent in employment. I do not think it is possible for these men to be given employment until Congress reduces the hours of labor. Until that time comes, or until we attack the problem from that angle, we will have the duty of providing at least a decent standard of living and a decent wage rate for our unemployed citizens. The wage level of the W. P. A. does not enable those workers to maintain a decent standard of living. Therefore, I heartily endorse the demands of the Workers' Alliance of America for a minimum wage of $40 per month. It seems to me that no man should be expected to support a family on the low wages that are now paid by W. P. A. in some parts of the country. There has been a great increase in the cost of living since the wage levels were fixed, or since W. P. A. was first organized. There has been an increase in the cost of living of at least 20 percent. I believe it is. around that figure, but, of course, that can be ascertained by statistics. It seems to me that with this amount of increase in the cost of living, there should be a proportionate increase in the wages paid to these men and women who are forced to accept such employment. When W. P. A. was first organized, the President of the Ūnited States said that all employables would be given W. P. A. jobs. It was intended that employables would get Federal aid, and unemployables would be cared for by their respective localities. That formula should be carried out, and those employables who are now on direct relief should be provided with jobs under W. P. A.

The Wisconsin State Federation of Labor has endorsed this program, and, also, I understand that it has the endorsement of the American Federation of Labor. It also has the endorsement of Mr. Lewis, of the C. I. O., and of organized labor throughout the country. They are all in accord with the proposition that it is necessary to bring up the standard of living of the W. P. A. workers if there is to be any increase in the wages of those employed by private industry.

We have every reason to believe that this will continue to be a problem. It will be a continuous problem until such time as we can remove the cause by reducing hours of labor in industry. It is impossible for private industry to put these men to work under present conditions of long hours.

Even though it is highly desirable to balance the Budget at an early date, it should not be done at the expense of these men and women who are at the very bottom of the economic structure. These people, in my judgment, are entitled to the consideration of Congress, and I recommend to your favorable consideration the program that has been advanced here. If you gentlemen of this committee will report out an appropriation sufficient to carry this program into effect, the Members of the House of Representatives will be glad of the opportunity to support your recommendation, and I might say that the people of the country would also be very glad to give support to the administration in carrying out that kind of program until such time, at least, as the problem of unemployment is solved. It is a long way from being solved now. With these people at the foot of the economic ladder, living in abject poverty, I hate to think what will happen if these conditions prevail much longer. The Government has not yet assumed its full responsibility. The issue has been compromised thus far. Those people who cannot find jobs in private industry should be given jobs by the Federal Government at wages in keeping with American standards.

I thank you.




On this, the 19th day of January 1937, the Honorable George Mahon, Congressman from Texas, and the Honorable W. D. McFarlane, Congressman from Texas, presented to the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives Judge Alvin R. Allison, county judge of Hockley County, Tex., and president of the West Texas County Judges' and Commissioners' Association, and Judge M. G. Poteet, county judge of Wilbarger County, Tex., when the following testimony was given:

Judge ALLISON. My name is Alvin R. Allison, and I am county judge of Hockley County, Tex., and also president of the West Texas County Judges' and Commissioners'

Association, which is composed of approximately 116 counties of west Texas.

At a meeting of that named organization, Judge Poteet and myself were sent to Washington to present the need to Congress of an immediate appropriation for the continuance of the Works Progress


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