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UNION SCALE OF WAGES AND HOURS OF LABOR
IN MASSACHUSETTS, 1915.
This report is the result of an inquiry relative to the time-rates of wages and hours of labor prevailing in the principal organized trades in Massachusetts in 1915, and constitutes the sixth annual presentation of data of similar nature. The data shown herein were obtained principally as of the date October 1, 1915, at which time schedules of inquiry were sent, with few exceptions, to all of the local trade unions in the Commonwealth whose members were known to be working under a time-rate system. In certain trades there exist piece-rate scales which, owing to their complicated nature and because of the many factors involved, have not been considered in this report. Trades in which the organizations of employees have not established a scale of wages and hours (except in a few instances where a rate or range of rates prevails extensively in a locality), and such industries as the boot and shoe industry, clothing trades, and textile manufacturing, in which only a very small proportion of the workers were on time work, have not been included.
In many cases, especially among the strongly organized industries like the building trades, a standard scale of wages and hours dominates the trade, and although it may never have been formally accepted by the employers, the employees, through their organizations, are able, particularly in the larger municipalities, to establish a standard schedule of wages and hours which is virtually in effect in these municipalities. Such scales of wages and hours have been included in this report since they are practically as effective as those which are the subject of definite agreement between employers and employees.
1 Previous reports of this Bureau dealing with the union scale of wages and hours of labor were issued as follows:
Prevailing Time-rates of Wages and Hours of Labor, 1910, issued as Part I of the Annual Report on the Statistics of Labor for 1910;
Time-rates of Wages and Hours of Labor in Certain Occupations, 1911, issued as Labor Bulletin No. 91; Union Scale of Wages and Hours of Labor, 1912, published in the Fifth Annual Report on Labor Organizations for 1912, also issued as Labor Bulletin No. 96;
Union Scale of Wages and Hours of Labor, 1913, issued as Labor Bulletin No. 97;
Union Scale of Wages and Hours of Labor, 1914, issued as Labor Bulletin No. 107.
* The information included in the report is based principally upon returns received from 914 labor organizations, or about 90 per cent of the total number of organizations which were known to be working under a time-rate system.
The authority for the rates of wages and hours of labor embodied herein is in most cases derived from information furnished by organizations of employees. Exceptions appear, however, in the cases of employees in the metal trades and in telephone and federal service, in which instances the necessary information was obtained from wage scales furnished for the most part by the employers.
By "time-rate of wages", as used in this report, is meant the sum agreed upon in return for services for a specified period, e.g., an hour, day, week, etc., and should not be confounded with actual earnings, since the earnings of employees depend both upon the rates of wages paid them and upon the continuity of their employment. Thus, in the building trades the actual earnings of an employee are determined not only by the rate of wages but also by the amount of building being done, the condition of the weather, the amount of material on hand, etc. The rates of wages per hour, or per day, serve chiefly to show, by comparison with rates published in earlier reports, the upward or downward trend of wages. Although the rate of wages may increase during a specified period, a scarcity of work may effect even a reduction in the actual earnings during that period, while, on the other hand, an abundance of work, reducing the idle period, may have a favorable effect upon the actual earnings even though the rate of wages may have remained unchanged. Again, in the case of employees receiving a daily rate, the working hours per day may be reduced, thereby increasing the rate per hour, but leaving the actual daily wages unchanged. Likewise, the granting of a weekly half-holiday, without loss of wages, effects an increase in the hourly rate of wages while the actual weekly earnings remain the
The union scale establishes merely a minimum rate of wages, less than which union members are not supposed to accept, and a maximum number of hours, in excess of which they may not work at the regular rate of pay and in most cases members are liable to definite penalties for violations of such union rules. In some localities and in certain trades workmen receive more than the prescribed minimum rate and in some instances employees work less than the prescribed maximum number of hours, such variations being generally the result of individual negotiations which are determined by special qualifications of the individual employee. Except where otherwise noted, this report has reference only to the minimum rates of wages and maximum number of hours which have been established in the various organized trades, and does not purport to show the extent to which there may be individual variations from the established scales.
Time-rates are calculated in various ways, but generally by the hour, day, or week. Thus, in the building trades, the wages are generally calculated by the hour, while in most mills and factories a weekly rate prevails. In this report the rate or unit shown is that reported by the union to this Bureau. In some cases the organizations have returned a rate per hour, day, and week, as well as an overtime and a Sunday rate, thus indicating that each rate has been established among their members. In other cases a rate for only one period has been returned, i.e., for an hour or for a day, and in such cases only the rate returned has been entered in this report, for the reason that the daily or weekly rates may not, in many instances, be computed accurately on the basis of the hourly rates. Frequently the agreements between employers and labor organizations contain clauses to the effect that workmen after commencing work shall be paid for at least one-half day even though the hours actually worked may amount to less than one-half day.
The preparation of this report has involved much correspondence with the officers of the various labor organizations in this Commonwealth and also a considerable amount of field work on the part of representatives of this Bureau. To some extent, also, it has been necessary to confer with employers in order to supplement or confirm the data obtained from trade union officials. A spirit of hearty co-operation has been generally manifested by those whom it has been necessary to consult and the Bureau wishes, hereby, to express its appreciation of the assistance so cheerfully rendered.