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TABLE 4.-Average union hourly wage rates in the building trades, by cities and population groups, July 1, 1946-Continued
workers. Butte, Mont., one of the smallest cities surveyed, was highest among the cities of 40,000 to 100,000 population and ranked eleventh among the 75 cities studied. For journeymen, Charlotte, N. C., and Jackson, Miss., had the lowest city averages.
In 52 of the 75 cities studied the average increases for journeymen between 1945 and 1946 were over 10 percent. Charlotte, N. C., and Houston, Tex., with increases of approximately 17 percent each, had the largest average gains for this group, Charleston, S. C., the smallest (less than 6 percent).
New York and Newark, as in the case of journeymen, also had the highest average rates for helpers and laborers; Mobile, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., were the lowest for helpers and laborers. With few exceptions (generally the highest-wage cities), there seemed to be little relationship between the level of rates for journeymen and help
These net changes were based on the specific rates for 1945 and 1946, weighted by the membership for each union in 1946. Only those quotations showing comparable data for both years were included. As building-trades hourly wage rates in normal years tend to be changed by additions of either 121⁄2 or 10 cents, specific increases for 1946 will reflect larger percentage changes among those trades with comparatively low scales. For this reason cities which have lower scales tend to show the greatest percentage increases.
ers. Washington, D. C., for example, had the highest average for journeymen among cities of 500,000 to 1,000,000 population but next to the lowest for helpers and laborers.
In many cities substantial percentage increases were recorded during the year for the helper and laborer groups. The rise of 42 percent in Charleston, S. C., was due to the advance in building laborers' rates from 50 to 75 cents. In Houston, the increase of about 33 percent resulted from changes in rates for building laborers (from 60 to 80 cents an hour) and for other trades (from 75 cents to $1.00). Other increases of over 25 percent were found in Jacksonville, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Tampa, and Youngstown. The only city showing no increase in the helper and laborer group was Mobile.
Wage rates for building construction workers as a whole were consistently higher in the larger cities. Substantially higher averages were recorded for most building-trades workers in the North and Pacific region as compared with the South and Southwest area (chart 3). The differential for all journeymen trades combined amounted to about 15 cents in group III cities, 18 cents in group IV cities, and about 2 cents in the smallest or group V cities. The largest differences were found in the helper and laborer group, where the averages shown for the North and Pacific region were almost 34 cents higher in group III cities, 24 cents in group IV cities, and 12 cents in group V cities. Cities in the North and Pacific area had higher journeymen averages than cities in the South and Southwest region in 62 of 74 possible comparisons. With the single exception of elevator constructors' helpers in the group V cities, all 19 comparable averages for helpers and laborers were also substantially higher in the North and Pacific section than in the South and Southwest. The higher average for elevator constructors' helpers among group V cities in the South and Southwest was due to a rate of $1.38 an hour in Phoenix compared with a rate of $1.02 in Portland, Maine.
Overtime and Sunday Rates
After the war most building-trades unions returned to prewar standards regarding overtime and Sunday rates. During the war, time and a half for overtime was the general practice as a result of the wartime stabilization agreement between the contracting agencies of the Federal Government and the Building and Construction Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor.
In July 1946, over three-fifths of the journeymen received double the basic rate if they were required to work other than regular hours. In this industry, this generally means after 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, on Saturdays, or beyond specified daily hours such as after 5 p. m. or before 8 a. m. Only 8 trades had a majority of their mem
bers covered by an overtime rate of time and a half. In 7 trades, over 90 percent of the membership was included under double-time rates. About 9 of every 10 journeymen received double time if required to work on Sunday.
The situation was different for helpers and laborers, as only about a fourth of the workers received double pay for work at other than regular hours; about three-fourths received time and a half. If required to work on Sunday, however, 9 out of 10 helpers and laborers received double time, their proportion equaling that of journeymen. Weekly Hours
On July 1, 1946, straight-time weekly hours averaged 39.2 for all building-trades workers; journeymen averaged 39.1 hours and helpers and laborers 39.5 (table 3). Over four-fifths of the journeymen were on the standard 40-hour week; most of the others had a 35-hour week. Electricians, plasterers, and plumbers were the only trades with a substantial percentage of members on the 30-hour week, largely owing to the 30-hour straight-time week for these trades in New York City. Nine out of every 10 helpers and laborers were covered by the 40-hour week.
TABLE 5.-Indexes of union weekly hours in all building trades, 1907-46
Straight-time weekly hours for all building trades workers declined about 1 percent during the year, bringing the index to 100.2-very close to the 1941 figure (table 5). This reduction was caused by the termination of the agreement between the unions and the Government which established the 40-hour week, 10 and by the transfer of workers from Government to private projects. Prior to the war, many unions had straight-time workweeks of less than 40 hours and
10 An agreement between the Building and Construction Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor and the Contracting Agencies of the United States Government, dated May 22, 1942, and effective July 1 of that year, stabilized wages and established the straight-time 40-hour week on all Government projects.
in general did not require overtime pay for hours up to 40 per week on either Federal or private work during the war. Because of the large volume of work available at the present time, some of these unions continued their 40-hour week agreements.
Straight-time hours for journeymen fell somewhat more than for helpers and laborers, because very little adjustment was necessary in 1942 to bring the helpers to a 40-hour week, whereas greater adjustment was necessary for the journeymen. The greatest hourly reduction recorded (7 percent for steam and sprinkler fitters' helpers) resulted from a decrease in hours (from 40 to 35) in New York City.
Typical of the significant changes brought about by the postwar boom in the construction industry was the indication (by more than 1,050 building-trades locals in the cities surveyed) that there were approximately 9 active journeymen for each apprentice in July 1946, contrasted with a ratio of almost 34 to 1 a year earlier. Proportions of apprentices to journeymen ranged from less than 2 percent for stonecutters and stonemasons to 23 percent for asbestos workers. Exceeding the over-all average of 9 to 1 were the electricians, cement finishers and plasterers, and sheet-metal workers, with about 5 journeymen to each apprentice. A low ratio was recorded for painters and paperhangers-1 apprentice to more than 20 journeymen. Significant increases in the apprentice labor force were reported by the carpenters, bricklayers, cement finishers, lathers, plasterers, and sign painters.
Trade practices, labor-market conditions, and custom exert far greater influence on apprentice-journeymen ratios than size of trade membership. Carpenters, with the largest membership tabulated, had about 1 apprentice for each 10 journeymen, whereas asbestos workers, with about 2 percent as many members as the carpenters, reported about 1 apprentice for every 4 journeymen.
Over two-fifths of the locals queried reported that union regulations permitted further expansion of the apprentice force over the number employed July 1, 1946. This group included virtually all of the granite and the stone cutters' locals, about two-thirds of the cement finishers and plasterers', and half of the lathers' and roofers' unions. Among the 22 cities in which at least 50 percent of the buildingtrades locals indicated that opportunity for expansion existed, were Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. On the other hand, more than three-fifths of the locals of boilermakers, bricklayers, electricians, glaziers, plumbers, and sheet-metal workers reported that apprentice membership could not be further increased. Two-thirds of the locals contacted stated that they would not favor