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world it is almost impossible to tell the purchaser the whole truth, and anything less than that opens up new avenues of misrepresentation and deception.
Labeling of cloth is frequently likened to the situation which resulted in a bill which makes it necessary to clearly distinguish between butter and oleomargarine. The statement is made that legislation making this necessary is successfully operated throughout the country for the benefit of consumers, and that if it is possible and practicable to distinguish between butter and oleomargarine it should be similarly possible to distinguish between wool and reworked wool. The cases are not parallel.
Oleomargarine never was butter, and by simple tests can be distinguished from butter. In the case of wool and reworked wool no tests, chemical, microscopic, or analytical, can distinguish the one from the other, because reworked wool is wool, was wool, and always will be wool. There is, however, a much more important difference between the dairy product and its substitute and wool and reworked wool, and it is an aspect that is generally overlooked by those who do not understand the woolen industry.
The fiber content of a fabric, whether it is made up entirely of new wool or of a combination of new wool and reworked wool only partly determines the value and durability of that fabric. Another and equally important factor is the construction of the cloth. Raw material, whether new or reworked wool or a combination of both, can be employed by the use of a given number of threads in the warp and the filling per square inch to produce a cloth of doubtful value. Precisely the same raw material can be used with a great many more threads per square inch of warp and filling to produce a fabric of very definite value, both as to its appearance and its durability. It is therefore on these two counts that continued comparisons between the labeling of butter and oleomargarine and the labeling of wool and reworked wool are unreasonable and inaccurate: (1) By analysis it is simple to distinguish between butter and its substitute, while it is not possible by any process known to man to distinguish between wool and reworked wool; and (2) after the fiber content of a fabric has been most explicitly stated only half the story has been told because the construction of the cloth is so equally a determining factor in its value and durability.
It is in this circumstance that so potent an argument against labeling woolen textiles is found. As it is not possible to establish by test the relative proportions of wool and reworked wool in a given fabric, an open invitation to misstate the facts is extended because of the artificial value placed on the term "virgin wool." To guard against this, elaborate and expensive machinery must be set up by the Government, and the question is, Will the end justify the means? It is also necessary to point out that this Government-inspection machinery, however competent, must of necessity be wholly ineffective in the case of foreign goods imported into this country. In the case of the domestic manufacturer, the books and mill records could, of course, be resorted to if necessary. A foreign fabric might be falsely labeled. That fact could not be proven by chemical or microscopic tests, and the records of the foreign producer could not be subpoenaed.
How is a new law to be justified that is impossible of application in spite of elaborate and expensive Government-inspection machinery? And it is our firm conviction that any legislation which undertakes to distinguish between wool and reworked wool is doomed to failure because it will be found impossible of application.
Apart from all this, the necessity for labeling should be measured somewhat by the extent to which deception can be practiced. It is a fact sometimes overlooked that more than half of the yardage production of cloth in the woolen industry is worsted as distinguished from woolen, and worsted fabrics are 100 per cent new wool. It is a simple and acknowledged fact that it is impossible to employ reworked wool in the manufacture of worsteds. Moreover, a considerable percentage of the remaining production, i. e., carded woolen goods, is also 100 per cent new wool. It is thus found that distinctly the minor production of the looms of this country is cloth in which reworked wool is or can be employed.
All of this presents at once the question, Is it necessary, advisable, or economical to compel the labeling of every yard produced when from 60 to 75 per cent of the whole can be nothing but 100 per cent new wool?
A great many objections to the principle of compulsory labeling might be stated, such as the cost to the people and the Government, the new avenues of deception that would be opened, the extent to which prejudices could be capitalized and false standards set up, its probable practical failure in any case, etc. Having set down what we regard as some of the fundamental objections, we repeat it as our conviction that the necessity for compulsory labeling has not been proven.
If legislation protecting the public from deception as between wool and re
worked wool is necessary, it is just as necessary to differentiate between spun silk and artificial silk, between new rubber and old rubber, between new metal and reworked metal, and a thousand other articles of commerce.
It is because this is so that we indorse the general principle of honest-merchandise legislation intended to protect the public from deception, if in the opinion of Congress such legislation is necessary.
Reducing the bills now before your committee to the two extreme measures indicated at the outset, we oppose compulsory legislation in such form as prescribed by the French bill, and approve the general principle of the Rogers bill, because it is indiscriminately intended to protect the public from misrepresentation with respect to any article of daily commerce.
Labeling Legislation Committee Of The
American Association Op Woolen
And Worsted Manufacturers, J. J. Nevins, Secretary.
BRIEF OF THE LABELING LEGISLATION COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WORSTED AND WOOLEN SPINNERS
As spinners of worsted yarn and woolen yarn we are necessarily less immediately interested than other branches of the wool-manufacturing industry in proposed fabric-labeling legislation, such as is contemplated in the several bills before your committee.
The French-Capper bill, however, imposes direct responsibility upon the spinner to furnish details and written guaranties with each sale.
Naturally, this can be done if the law requires it, but we venture to ask, Why legislate to require written guaranties of information that is as patent to the buyer of yarn as it is to the spinner who made it?
Yarns are standardized as to size and quality. The idea of delivering inferior or substitute yarn with intent to deceive the buyer is preposterous. The buyer knows and understands yarn as well as the seller, and written guaranties and detailed assurances as to fibre content are wholly superfluous and unnecessary and will accomplish nothing.
Moreover, we believe that compulsory labeling to indicate fiber content is equally unnecessary in other branches of the industry. Buyers of cloth at wholesale are almost as expert and informed as buyers of yarn. It is not possible to sell them cloth with cotton in it as all wool, nor is it possible to sell them cloth combining an admixture of new wool and reworked wool as all new wool. They know exactly what they are buying, or can find out by inquiring.
Misrepresentation in the spinning and weaving and clothing divisions of the general industry is not possible, because buyers and sellers are experts and informed, because there is no desire and no inducement to deceive, and because competition, which is exceedingly keen, would soon catch up with false representation.
The whole idea of compulsory labeling of fiber content is from our point of view so unnecessary and fantastic that we are not able to escape the view that the seeming demand for it is grossly exaggerated and is inspired by motives other than those publicly stated.
There is not a scintilla of organized and informed support for the idea except from wool growers who have been foolishly led into the belief that compulsory fiber-content labeling will at once increase demand for wool and the price they are able to get for it.
Arguments against the French-Capper bill have been so exhaustive and conclusive as to make repetition of them by us a waste of time. A measure having as its intent to legislate people into buying clothing by label would produce a situation indefensible from any point of view. The only shred of comfort were such a bill enacted is the foregone certainty that it could not be made to operate, and the enactment of more law impossible of operation is matter that should in our opinion challenge the very careful thought of Congress.
It is our firm conviction that keen competition, the modern system of guaranties under which clothing is sold, etc., encompass every possible and practicable protection to the public from deception and injustice. If in spite of this, however, the Congress is impelled to legislate in this direction, we submit that the Rogers bill, general in scope, practicable of application, and capable of definite and specific protection to the buyer, offers possibilities that may be helpful. It is general rather than specific. It recognizes that if protection from deception and misrepresentation is necessary it is as essential in all articles of commerce as it is in connection with wool-woven fabrics. It is inspired by no special interests, and will benefit no special interests.
And so we venture to repeat we are not convinced of the necessity for labeling legislation. If the Congress is moved to legislate in this direction we venture to hope it will avoid bills of the French-Capper type, impossible of application, and give thoughtful consideration to so practical and indiscriminating a measure as the Rogers bill.
Labeling Legislative Committee Of The
National Association Of Worsted And Woolen Spinners, J. J. Nevins, Secretary.
Latrobe, Pa., April 19, 1924. The Hon. Samuel E. Winslow,
Chairman Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. Dear Sir: The American Association of Wool Blanket Manufacturers, being represented at the hearings upon truth-in-fabric and misbranding bills, desires to indorse the testimony presented by Gen. John P. Wood on April 18, against the so-called truth-in-fabric bill and in favor of the honest-merchandise bill. The association requests the privilege of filing a brief at a later date. Respectfully, The American Association Of Wool Blanket Manufacturers, By W. N. Given.
Washington, D. C, April IS, 1924. Hon. Samuel E. Winslow,
Chairman Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. Dear Sir: I represent the Arlington Mills, its principal office being in Boston and its mills in Lawrence, Methuen, and North Adams, Mass. We employ 7,300 and produce 390,000 yards of worsted cloth weekly. We are manufacturers of worsted fabrics only, and, therefore, by the very nature of our business use nothing but so-called virgin wool. We are nevertheless strongly opposed to the French bill, and in favor of the Rogers bill. I will not attempt to go into the details explaining our position, but simply state that we fully indorse the comprehensive statement made to your committee by Gen. John P. Wood, president of the National Association of Wool Blanket Manufacturers, of which I am one of thevice presidents and our company is an active member.
We urge your committee to favorably report the Rogers bill to the House, and trust that it will become a law at an early date. Various bills of this nature have been before Congress for many years, and we hope that definite action will be taken at this session and a settlement reached. Yours truly,
Franklin W. Hobbs,
President Arlington Mills.
(Whereupon, at 12 o'clock noon, the committee adjourned until 10.30 o'clock a. m., Saturday, April 19, 1924.)
Committee On Interstate And Foreign Commerce,
House Of Representatives,
The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. Samuel E. Winslow (chairman) presiding.
The Chairman. The committee will come to order, and we will proceed to the further consideration of the pending bills.
It may probably be helpful to everybody to get a little notion in advance of the probable procedure of the committee in respect to these hearings. The matter has been left to the chair to arrange with witnesses as to the respective subjects. The plan that will probably be followed for the immediate future will be to exhaust the proponents and opponents of the truth-in-fabrics features. There are some manufacturers of textiles who wish to be heard from their angle; some manufacturers of clothing, and some dealers, possibly, in clothing, and other manufacturers and. dealers, who want to address themselves particularly to the truth-in-fabrics feature, and some of them will also reach over into the region of the misbranding bills. We have had a statement from Mr. French's witness on behalf of the truth-in-fabrics proposition. We have had Mr. Reece, who has also been interested in the matter as the introducer of a bill; and we have had Mr. Wood, who has made a statement intended, I should judge, to show that the bill does not represent wise legislation from his point of view and as a representative of a number of manufacturers concerned.
It has been arranged this morning that Mr. Rogers be given time to represent particularly the merits and features of the misbranding proposition. After that I think we will proceed next week, whenever the committee may have exhausted Mr. Rogers's information, if possible, with the testimony of some of the manufacturers of textiles, the art, and so on. After that I think we will follow with the witnesses who are here to speak as manufacturers of clothing, or rather what we call the merchant end of the business. Undoubtedly they will branch over, some of them, into the misbranding end. When we have finished with those who are interested in the truth-in-fabrics phase of the consideration, we will go on to the various subjects on which there are special bills of such a character as to bring them under the purview of this whole subject or subjects. So I think it will be safe to say that it will be several days next week before any one will be asked to speak on such subjects, for instance, as ligature material, drugs, food, corrosive acids and alkalis, flour, labels, adulterated grains and seeds, and clinical thermometers. They will rather come in at the end of these special features, after we have laid a general foundation that will lead up to the better consideration of these questions.
So, next week, depending entirely upon when the committee gets through with Mr. Rogers, and he gets through, we will follow on with the manufacturers of textiles and the art, and these other matters will follow after that. Those who are here representing these interests can pass the word out according to their best intelligence after hearing the statement. The Chairman is aware, however, of the elasticity and the uncertainty of it all; but there must be, at all events, two days following Mr. Rogers which will be occupied, if not more than occupied, by manufacturers who represent different phases of the art covered by the truth-in-fabrics proposition.
Would any of the committee like to ask any questions on that program?
Mr. Irving Crane, of New York. Mr. Chairman, I shall be the only one to speak for the men's and boy's clothing manufacturers, and I shall take about 20 minutes. If it is possible for the Chair to tell me whether he thinks that will be Tuesday or Wednesday— I have been here all the week—I should be glad to be advised.
The Chairman. I should say at least it would not be before Wednesday. That does not say how long it may be after that.
Mr. Crane. Well, I will manage to be here at that time, Mr. Chairman. I think you.
The Chairman. We will now hear from Mr. Rogers.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN JACOB ROGERS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. Rogers. Mr. Chairman, I am directing the attention of the committee this morning especially to H. R. 16, which I introduced on December 5 last.
Before I discuss the provisions of the bill I should like to call the attention of the committee to a misprint in line 10 of page 1, where the word "foods" should be "goods," so that subsection C should read:
The term "article" means goods, wares, and merchandise of every description.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I have had bills upon the general subject of misbranding pending before this committee for a good many years. Simply for the sake of the record I should like to refer to the earliest of the series.
I introduced in the Sixty-third Congress on February 17, 1914, H. R. 13492; and in the Sixty-fourth Congress on March 11, 1916, I introduced H. R. 13049. Mr. Barkley, of the committee, has, I think, the only other general bill prohibiting misbranding which is pending before the committee. Mr. Barkley's original misbranding bill was, I think, introduced in the Sixty-fourth Congress, and his subsequent drafts in later Congresses have very closely followed his original form of 1916.
The measure which I sponsor is based upon three very well-known statutes—statutes which have stood the test of time and which have proven, I think, most salutary in their action. The first of the three, chronologically—and reference has already been made to it in the course of the hearings—is the British merchandise marks act of 1887.
Mr. Chairman, at the time these hearings were held in 1920 your predecessor as chairman thought that it might be helpful if the three analogous statutes were printed in the hearings for the convenience of the committee. If the committee thinks well of the misbranding type of legislation, it will find it useful, I think, to compare the legislation which they will develop with the legislation which has been on the statute books for a long time; and while I do not personally care one way or the other, I present it to the chairman and the committee to ask whether they would like to have these statutes incorporated in the printed hearing. They are not long, any of them.
The Chairman. It would seem to be wise to have those in the record. You may give them to the reporter.
Mr. Rogers. The first of the three, then, as I say, is the British merchandise marks act of 1887. The second is the pure food and drugs law of 1906 as amended; and the third, and perhaps the least known of the three, is the insecticide law of 1910.
(The acts referred to are-as follows:)
Merchandise Marks Act, 1887
Chapter 28. An Act To Consolid Ate And Amend The Law Relating To
Fraudulent Marks On Merchandise
Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords, spiritual and temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
Section 1. This act may be cited as the merchandise marks act, 1887.