Lapas attēli

The above comparison emphasizes the differences already noted in the discussion for the nativity groups. It is worthy of note, however, that the families or members of races of old immigration from Great Britain and northern Europe receive a greater proportion of the family income from the earnings of heads, the contributions of children, and unspecified sources, while the southern and eastern Europeans derive their income mainly from the earnings of husbands and the contributions of boarders or lodgers. That contributions of children are less general in the latter class of families is probably due to the fact that children of these households have not in any considerable proportions reached working age. The fact that a larger proportion of old than of more recent immigrant families depend upon sources of income other than those specified arises from the fact that they have been in the United States for a longer period of time, and have consequently entered into more diversified occupations. The significant feature of the situation is, however, that the families of industrial workers find it necessary, in order to secure a sufficient income for living expenses, to have their children go to work at an early age, or to break the independence of family life by taking boarders or lodgers into the home.

The material in the preceding paragraphs is designed to set forth merely the facts relative to wage-earners and their families. After the condition of another group of industrial workers-the floating immigrant labor supply-has been shown, an interpretation of these facts will be presented.*

See Chapter XI, The Immigrant as a Dynamic Factor in American Industry.



The recent immigrant has not only found extensive lodgment in the operating forces of the principal branches of mining and manufacturing in the United States, but the labor forces for railway and other construction, as well as for other kinds of seasonal and temporary work, are largely recruited from members of races of recent immigration originating in southern and eastern Europe. The same statement is true of the laborers on railroad maintenance of way. A study, in the year 1909, of the employees in the maintenance-of-way department east of the Ohio River of one of our most important railroads showed that 54 per cent. were of foreign birth, and that the principal races employed were Croatians and North and South Italians. Moreover, 64 per cent. of the laborers of these races had been in the United States less than five years. Even the South, which in former years. depended almost entirely upon the negro for this class of work, owing to its extensive development during the past decade, has found it necessary to employ immigrant labor.*

Methods of Securing Work

The principal methods by which the immigrant laborer secures employment in temporary work are: (1) by personal application; (2) by the padrone system; and (3) through labor agencies. The method

Seasonal labor in agriculture is discust in Chapter VI.

first mentioned is seldom followed, the only places where it is employed being where the construction or other work, because of its extent or by reason of the regular recurrence of demand, is a matter of common knowledge.


As a rule, the demand for and the supply of labor are adjusted through a system of regularly constituted agencies. These labor agencies are located in the different cities of the country, and cooperate one with another in adjusting the supply of labor to the distribution of the demand. They are independent institutions, or operated in conjunction with immigrant banks, steamship ticket offices, or other lines of business. The usual movement of the immigrant labor supply is from New York to the recognized industrial centers of the interior, where the larger number of immigrants seeking work find employment in regularly established industries. The demand for railway construction and other temporary labor is then largely supplied by the agencies in the interior, by means of laborers secured from the immigrant colonies of the industrial cities or towns. When one piece of work is completed the laborers usually return to the point where they originally started, and are again distributed by the agencies. In many cases, however, the newly arrived immigrant is sent directly from New York to railroad or other construction work.

The principal points in the interior in which the labor agencies operate, and which are the centers of distribution of the floating immigrant labor supply, are Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, St. Paul and Duluth. A great

many of the labor agencies have contracts with the railroads to furnish them with all the labor needed. In cases of this kind the laborer pays an office fee and is given free transportation to the place where he is to begin work. Where the employment is not directly connected with some railroad, transportation may or may not be furnished. At the same time the laborer usually secures a very much reduced rate. If he has not the money necessary to pay this charge, it is advanced by the labor agent, who, by a contract with the employer, has it deducted from the laborer's first month's pay.

Reputable labor agents always inspect the work for which they are to furnish men, unless they already know the character of the men or company with which they are dealing. The exploitation of immigrants seems to be carried on almost entirely by the padrones or leaders of the various gangs which seek work. Labor agencies claim that where they advertise for men to go to work in a certain place the padrones advise the immigrants not to take the jobs. The padrone then comes to the labor agent and tells him. that he will supply a certain number of men, but that they can only pay, say, $1.00, instead of $2.00, the regular fee. The labor agent must have the men in order to fill his contracts, and consequently he accepts the terms. The labor agent is also powerless to prevent the men from leaving their work before a sufficient amount has been earned to reimburse him for advancing their transportation. The padrones may also, in order to collect double fees or better terms, persuade their gangs to quit work for one contractor and secure employment with another. Through these methods, both the labor agencies and the contractors

or employers in times of scarcity of labor incur heavy losses and undergo vexatious delays.

In the Middle West and Northwest, labor agencies are almost exclusively used by the railroads in securing labor. Especially is this true of races other than the Italian, who are secured through the padrone system. The agencies generally have contracts with the railroads and send out the labor in an intelligent, systematic way, but it often happens that a number of small agencies having no contract with the railroads or contractors will hear of work and all rush men to the same place, with the result that many of the men are left on their own resources to get back to the cities where they can again apply to the agencies.

Early in the season the men present themselves to the agencies for registration, for which they are usually charged $2.00, the maximum legal fee. In the order of registration they are shipped off in gangs when the demands come in from the railroads. Before a month has passed some of the first gangs may begin returning, and are then sent out again. Sometimes they are not returned all the way to the city from which they originally started, but are transported from where they were discharged, or gave up their places on account of various hardships or because the work ceased, to other points where they may be reemployed. This circulation is encouraged, for at each shift the men pay the agencies. When the supply of men runs low, toward the end of the season, the agencies sometimes cooperate. One may have an order for a large gang which it can not fill on short notice. It solicits help from other agencies and they divide the profits. Some do this continually. One agency in Chicago, that handles Bulgarians exclusively, has not at times

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