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UNITED OFFICE AND PROFESSIONAL WORKERS OF AMERICA,
New York 23, N. Y., February 14, 1948. Representative JOHN M. ROBSION,
House Judiciary Committee, Washington 25, D. C. DEAR SIR: Enclosed is a statement which our union would like to submit for the record on the women's status bill (H. R. 2007). Since it will not be possible for us to send a representative to your hearings February 18, we hope the statement will be included in the hearing records. Sincerely yours,
HELEN KINGERY, Secretary, UOPWA Women's Committee.
STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY UNITED OFFICE AND PROFESSIONAL WORKERS OF
AMERICA, CIO, ON WOMEN'S STATUS BILL (H, R. 2007) The United Office and Professional Workers of America, CIO, represents 75,000 office and professional workers in insurance, banking, social service, screen, publishing and advertising firms, technical and commercial offices. For our members, nearly one-half of whom are women, as well as for the millions of unorganized white-collar women workers, we want to speak in support of H. R. 2007.
The UOPWA together with the CIO has always opposed the so-called equalrights amendment, which, in the name of equality for women, would actually deprive women workers of the special protections they now enjoy through legislation governing hours of work, minimum wage, working conditions, etc.
Consequently we welcome and support the joint resolution of the status of women which states it to be the legislative policy of the United States Government not to discriminate between the sexes "except on the basis of women's physical structure, biological or social function” and provides for the appointment of a Presidential commission which will recommend legislation to spell out for American women genuine equal rights as guaranteed to all Americans under our Constitution.
The fields we represent-general office work, social service, finance and insurance, publishing, radio, motion picture, advertising, and other white-collar fields in private industry-have traditionally employed large numbers of women. The majority of the administrative staffs in business of all kinds--clerks, stenographers, typists, secretaries, bookkeepers-are women. Women increasingly fill a larger number of skilled positions as research, editorial and publicity workers, as trained social-service workers, as bank tellers and statisticians, as laboratory technicians and scientific workers.
Through our union, we have consistently sought and will continue to fight to improve the condition of women in the white-collar and professional fields and to correct the discrimination existing against them. Under our union agreements we have won for them equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities for employment and promotion to posts of responsibility formerly barred to them, adequate maternity leave and other improved conditions designed to protect their rights.
However, there are many additional discriminations against women as citizens which exist in every sphere of American life and are even embodied in law. These discriminations, which are only the social and legal counterparts of the economic discrimination which exists throughout business and industry, are contrary to the total interests of the American people.
Many women today, in addition to being responsible for the care of the home and the children, are of necessity heads of families and carry responsibility for a large share of the family's support. Many unmarried women not only must earn their own living, but also provide for parents, and other dependents. Anything which places legal, social, or economic handicaps upon women in meeting these problems lowers the standard of living of the entire community and threatens the security and welfare of men, women, and children.
Many economists now predict that an economic recession is inevitable within the next year or so. In times of eporinomi, stress, discrimination is accentuated ; women are usually the first to be fired, to be downgraded, or forced to take on addi. tional responsibility for the same pay. Today, when women play such a large part in the economic life of the country, the extent of the protection accorded to them against social and economic discrimination will play no inconsiderable part in the extent of the economic crisis and the swiftness of recovery.
The sole benefit of the "equal-rights amendment” is to women of property and large means who do not face the double burden of earning a living and providing for the care of children and a home. It is our opinion that discriminatory laws
now existing against women of property can be wiped out without at the same time depriving women of the middle- and lower-income groups of the gains which they have won with such difficulty in the past.
The rights of all women in our society must be guaranteed by law. We believe the joint resolution on the status of women is a positive step in this direction.
STATEMENT SUBMITTED FEBRUARY 18, 1948, by Miss Ruth YOUNG FOR THE UNITED
ELECTRICAL, Radio, AND MACHINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, CIO, TO A SUBCOMMITTEE
Two pieces of legislation are before this committee today—the so-called equal rights amendment to the Constitution, which would meet pressing human problems with a nebulous abstraction; and the women's status bill which meets these same problems practically and realistically. The United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of American, CIO, is opposed to the equal rights amendment and supports instead the women's status bill.
We are opposed to the equal rights amendment for the following reasons:
The amendment states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the Untied States or any State on account of sex." But this seemingly desirable statement conceals danger to the working women of the country. It will jeopardize every protective labor law for women now in force. Under this amendment employers will be quick to challenge any law which singles out women for special legislation, since such legislation is admittedly based on sex. Indeed, this danger is plain in the very words of the majority report of the House Judiciary Committee recommending the amendment. The majority report stated that such protective laws "under the guise of protecting the safety and welfare of the female sex have in fact discriminated against such sex." if this has occurred to any significant extent, it reflects bad administration of good and necessary legislation. As a matter of fact, such protective laws not only recognized the special physical needs of women workers, but helped bring about welfare legislation of benefit to both sexes.
Others may describe to you the legal chaos which this amendment will produce in such fields as marriage laws, alimony and family-support legislation, laws on widows' pensions, to name just a few. As a labor union of 600,000 workers, onethird of them women, we are concerned most with the effect of this amendment on protective labor legislation for women-so hard won and so greatly prized by every woman who works for a living. It took major disasters like the Triangle shirt factory fire in New York City in 1911 to force recognition of the need for protective legislation for women in factories. Yet this amendment could be used as a pretext to wipe out all the gains made in the last three decades.
As the minority report of the Judiciary Committee points out, the amendment "would destroy State wage-and-hours laws for women and bring back sweatshop employment standards for thousands of unorganized women who cannot secure better standards without the protection of these laws. It would destroy essential health legislation which safeguards the health of women and prevents strains and injuries harmful to mothers and pregnant women.” Such positive achievements as laws regulating women's employment on dangerous jobs or in occupations of unusual strain, lunch and rest periods, requirements for seats in work places, for rest rooms and minimum standards of sanitation might be swept off the books. States might hesitate to enact, for example, laws regulating night work for women, since such laws could be in violation of the principle of equality.
Our union has always recognized the need for protecting women workers against discrimination, both on the job and within the union itself. Women officials in our union number in the hundreds, elected to office by the democratic vote of the membership. Our union constitution states that we unite “all workers in our industry on an industrial basis
regardless of craft, age, sex, nationality, race, creed, or political beliefs.” One of our minimum contract requirements states:
"Every contract should provide that women should not be discriminated against because of sex with respect to job opportunities, wages, hours, or other conditions of employment."
We have succeeded in incorporating such clauses, as of September 1947, in contracts which cover 583 plants having 354,000 workers in our industry.
The historic case in the field of equal pay for women was initiated by this union in 1945 in its contract negotiations with General Electric Co. and the Westinghouse Electric Corp. As a result, the National War Labor Board recommended that women's rates be increased 4 cents an hour in these companies and that a special fund be set up to wipe out other inequities through collective bargaining. Thus, the worst inequities were adjusted. But the whole structure of discrimination in rates was not altered. Legislation is necessary to help finish the job. No catch-all amendment, like the equal-rights amendment can conceivably do it.
Here is an instance of a specific evil which requires a specific remedy at law. That is why we support the equal-pay bills, H. R. 4273 and H. R. 4408. This, we feel, is the right way to bring about equality. We support the women's status bill because it promotes genuine equality by facilitating the enactment of such laws as the equal-pay bill.
The women's status bill declares that the legislative policy of the United States shall recognize no distinctions on the basis of sex except for reasons of physical structure, biological or social function. But it retains protective legislation for women already on the books. It authorizes the President to appoint a factfinding Commission to Study the Status of Women. The Commission is to make the necessary legislative recommendations to eliminate discrimination against women-civil, economic, social, and political. This is practical, realistic, and if the Congress will cooperate, can produce desirable results.
The so-called equal-rights amendment, like the Taft-Hartley law, is a long steps backward. The women's status bill goes the way of progress. Believing in progress, this union urges passage of the women's status bill.
WOMAN'S AUXILIARY No. 36,
TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION No. 6,
Bronx 58, N. Y., March 16, 1948. Hon. John M. ROBSION,
Chairman, Subcommittee, House Judiciary Committee, Washington, D. C. HONORABLE SIR: The above auxiliary, with a membership of over 9,000, desires to express their endorsement of the women's status bill and emphatically oppose the equal-rights amendment. Very respectfully yours,
Mrs. Ray RAVIN, Secretary.
STATEMENT BY MAX ZARITSKY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED HATTERS, CAP AND
MILLINERY WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION ON THE WOMEN'S STATUS BILL (H. R. 2007)
I am writing on behalf of the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union to urge that favorable action be taken on H. R. 2007, otherwise known as the women's status bill, which is now before the subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. I am also writing to record our opposition to the proposed equal rights amendment, which is before the same committee.
We have a particular interest in this legislation because approximately onehalf of the 40,000 members of our international union are women employed in the men's hat, millinery, and cap industries.
Our organization has always favored the abolition of existing legal and other discriminations against women, but we have opposed the method of a blanket amendment, such as the proposed egnal rights amendment, as being unsuited to the purpose of accomplishing this objective. Such a blanket amendment would destroy with a single blow the protective legislation which experience has shown women in industry require. We have regretted that the issue of eliminating discriminations based on sex has been confused for the last 25 years by what we consider an ill-advised campaign for the adoption of the so-called equal-rights amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The equal-rights amendment, by proposing to establish in the abstract complete equality of rights between the sexes, will eliminate certain legal discriminations against women; but at the same time it will remove from the statutes of the Federal Government and from the statutes of several State governments, laws which have been enacted for the special protection of women workers. As a labor union having a large proportion of female workers among its members, we
know that such protective legislation for women workers is urgently needed and that the wholesale elimination of such legislation would deprive such women workers of many benefits which they need and now enjoy. Instead of abolishing such protective legislation, we feel that it ought to be extended. We are therefore opposed to any legislation, no matter how well intentioned it is, which in the interests of an abstract equality of rights between the sexes, would demolish the protection which women workers have attained so far and which would block the way to its extension.
On the other hand, we realize that there is an urgent need for legislation which would protect economic equality for women and prevent economic discrimination based on sex. For this reason we wholeheartedly endorse H. R. 2007, which is designed to secure to women workers pay equal to that which is received by male workers for the same type of work.
We are convinced that this bill will extend to women the benefits of an equal status with men, which the equal-rights amendment is supposed to secure for them, without endangering- as the equal-rights amendment does—the protection that women need. The bill on the status of women expressly provides that the distinctions between the sexes which are reasonably justified by differences of physical structure and biological and social function shall be respected. We feel that the safeguards contained in the bill will not diminish the legal protection now enjoyed by women workers in industry.
We are also in favor of a Presidential commission, as is provided for in this bill, for the study of the economic, civil, political, and social status of women, with a view of making possible legal revisions of their status so as to carry out the purposes of the bill. We feel that the mere passage of the bill which proposes to eliminate sex discriminations that are unwarrantedl, without creating an instrument which would preserve what experience has shown to be essential, would fail of its purpose.
The field in which sex discrimination is practiced is so wide and complex that a thorough study of discriminatory laws and practices is essential. Such a study would result in ascertaining which legislative and administrative measures by the Federal and State Governments would be most adequate to cope with this problem and eliminate unwarranted sex discrimination. Only on the basis of such a study can adequate legislative and administrative measures for the elimination of sex discrimination be adopted.
STATEMENT OF ELIZABETH SASULY, WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE, Food, TOBACCO,
AGRICULTURAL AND ALLIED WORKERS UNION, CIO, IN SUPPORT OF THE WOMEN'S STATUS BILL AND OPPOSING THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
The Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union, CIO, has contracts covering 102,000 workers, and considerably more than half of our members are women. We are therefore interested in the legislation before the committee from the standpoint of the working woman. To the working woman equality is not just an abstract idea ; it is a status she seeks to achieve to remove her from a disadvantageous economic and social position.
FTA opposes House Joint Resolution 49, the so-called equal rights amendment, and supports H. R. 2007, the women's status bill.
From the long years of controversy over the equal-rights amendment one central fact emerges. This proposed constitutional amendment seeks to present women with an empty concept of equality which not only fails to remedy the real inequalities which exist, but would destroy legislation under which there has been a realistic attempt to improve the condition of women.
The basic problems facing women in canning, fresh fruit and vegetable packing, tobacco, and other FTA plants are similar to those facing most working women, but in addition to these common problems, women in industries we represent are subject to irregular hours of work, primitive plant facilities, and extremely low earnings. These working women seldom earn enough to provide for assistance in their household duties and consequently the particular factors of hardship in the industries referred to are intensified. For example, a cannery worker who is forced to work up to 60 and 70 hours a week during the peak season and who also has a home to take care of, has even more serious problems than an ordinary working woman employed for a 40-hour week. Cannery workers in plants where the union has not yet corrected such abuses will probably earn 10 to 15 cents an hour less than men who are employed at jobs of less skill in the same plant.
What does the so-called equal-rights amendment have to offer a woman in this situation?
The “first benefit” she will derive will be the probable elimination of State laws limiting women's hours of work. Similarly, State minimum-wage laws for women, laws prohibiting constant standing and providing special facilities for women will be thrown out because they give special consideration to women. It is obvious that this type of equality is farcical.
The right which women stand to gain from the equal-rights amendment is the right to be exploited. Certainly after all the years of discussion that have gone on, no one can be impressed by an argument which offers the shadow of equal rights without any substance. Just because a woman worker usually has double responsibilities as well as differentiated biological and social functions, the kind of equality contemplated under the equal-rights amendment is a disguise for removing economic and social protections which have to some extent ameliorated the condition of the working woman in our society.
In at least 19 States in which our union has members, one or another type of protective legislation for women workers would be invalidated through enactment of the equal-rights amendment. Working women are not deluded by the false concept of equality proposed in this amendment. Equality which would, for example, permit unlimited hours of work for women who already have an unequal burden of job and home is not sought by our membership and was vigorously opposed in our last convention in January 1947 where a resolution condemning the equal-rights amendment was passed.
H. R. 2007, while it by no means wipes out the discriminations to which women are subject, does develop a framework in which such discrimination can be eliminated. Just because it does not promise the millennium, it is likely to succeed in achieving more modest aims. In proposing to raise the status of women to a level of economic, social, and political equality, H. R. 2007 provides for a prior study of facts, eliminating confusion of the type resulting from the unrealistic and retrogressive approach of the equal-rights amendment.
However, even if H. R. 2007 were to be adopted by the Congress, it should be clearly understood that only the first steps toward establishing equal status for women would have been taken. We are heartily in favor of taking these first steps, but speaking for an industry where one of the most serious discriminations to which women are subject is that of inequality of rates of pay for jobs of equal or greater skill than those at which men are employed, FTA is of the opinion that the single greatest contribution which could be made to the improvement of the status of women would be enactment of legislation providing for "equal pay” for work of equal skill. This proposal, of course, follows the principles laid down in the equal status bill. House Joint Resolution 49 would not, as some of its proponents have argued, result in automatic elimination of discriminatory women's wage rates.
Our organization is of the opinion that H. R. 2007 should be enacted immediately to redeem the commitment of the United States under the United Nations Charter and that at the same time Congress should act to adopt the equal pay legislation which is now pending before the House Labor Committee. The Judiciary Committee could perform a great service by resolving the arguments that have continued on this subject for years and approving or suggesting approval of legislation which would really improve the status of women.
BROTHERHOOD OF RAILWAY AND STEAMSHIP CLERKS,
Washington 4, D. C., February 18, 1948.
United States House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
As the largest white-collar labor organization in the world, we have thousands of women members in our ranks and the policy of this brotherhood is reflected in the contracts we have signed with employers in the railroad, steamship, freight forwarding, and airline industries. A standard rule on the employment of women appears in all our contracts and reads as follows: