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The preceding table shows that over three-fourths of the total yearly family income is provided by the earnings of the husband, the next highest proportion is provided by contributions of children, and a considerably lower percentage is derived from payments of boarders or lodgers, while the percentages of income from other sources and from the earnings of the wife are very small. Negroes native-born of native father show the earnings of the husbands to constitute a much higher percentage of the total yearly family income than is the case with foreign-born families; the earnings of the wife also constitute a higher percentage of the family income among the negroes than in the foreign-born families. On the other hand, contributions of children form a high percentage of the total yearly income of foreign-born families when contrasted with the per cent coming from the same source in negro families. The per cent of income from boarders or lodgers is slightly higher in negro families than in those of the foreign-born, while foreign-born show a very much higher per cent of income from other sources than do negroes.
Among the foreign-born races, the South Italians show the highest per cent of income from earnings of husbands and the Scotch the lowest. The French show the highest percentage of income from earnings of wives and the Scotch have no revenue from this source. The lastnamed race shows a very high percentage of income from the contributions of children, while the French have a comparatively low percentage of income from this source. Slovak and French families have a much higher per cent of income from payments of boarders or lodgers than have either Scotch or South Italians, while French families have a considerable per cent of income, as contrasted with other races, from sources not specified.
Methods of wage payments-Regularity of employment-Company houses and industrial communities-The company-store system-Relations between employeesSocial association-Welfare work by the employers-The immigrant and organized labor-Labor disputes-[Text Tables 685 and 686 and General Table 393].
METHODS OF WAGE PAYMENTS.
In the majority of mines and plants wage payments are made by the calendar month. In a few the payments are biweekly, and in the case of one mining company the payments are made daily. This refers to cash payments. The almost universal practice, however, of payments in commissary checks or by commissary credit during the period intervening between the regular pay days when payments in currency are made practically amounts to wage payments at any time at the will of the wage-earner, and in effect nullifies any system of cash payments. "Pay days" thus have become the days on which a monthly or a biweekly statement of the account between employer and employee is rendered, and on which the latter may at his will draw out the cash balance in his favor if any exists after his own deductions through store accounts, store purchases, and through medical, hospital, and school assessments by the company are made.
REGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT.
Except during periods of industrial depression, it is claimed by the employers that the demand for labor in all occupations in the mining and iron and steel industries is uniformly regular, and that the work offered is without interruption. This appears to be a true statement of the actual conditions in normal times, with possibly the exception of employment offered in the construction departments of the larger plants and mines, which depends upon causes unrelated to a large degree to the ordinary run of operation. Another exception, too, may be noted in the case of the smaller mines, whose output is for domestic consumption and which is not affected by depressions to any considerable extent. A third exception, of course, is found in periods of labor disputes.
The table next presented shows, by general nativity and race of individual, the months worked during the past year by males 16 years of age or over in the households studied, who were employed away from home.
TABLE 685.-Months worked during the past year by males 16 years of age or over employed away from home, by general nativity and race of individual.
(STUDY OF HOUSEHOLDS.)
[This table includes only races with 20 or more males reporting. The totals, however, are for all races.]
The preceding table shows that of the 1,273 males reporting, 18.1 per cent worked twelve months during the past year, 53.7 per cent worked nine months or over, 83.7 per cent worked six months or over, and 97.9 per cent worked three months or over. The negroes native-born of native father show 49 per cent who worked the full year, as contrasted with only 28.9 per cent of those who were nativeborn of foreign father and 13.8 per cent of the foreign-born. The negroes native-born of native father also show a higher percentage who worked nine months or over and six months or over than either those native-born of foreign father or those who were foreign-born. All those who were native-born of foreign father worked three months or over, while the negroes native-born of native father and the foreign-born show somewhat smaller proportions who worked during a like period. Of the foreign-born, the French and Scotch show the highest and Bulgarians and Macedonians the lowest percentage who worked twelve months during the year. The French, Slovaks, Scotch, South Italians, and Poles, in the order named, all show 50 per cent or over who worked nine months or over during the past year. The Macedonians show the smallest proportion who worked during this period of time. The Slovaks, French, and North Italians show over 90 per cent who worked six months or over, as contrasted with 61.1 per cent of the Macedonians. All of the French, North Italians, and Scotch worked three months or over, while the Greeks, Slovaks, Bulgarians, South Italians, Macedonians, and Poles follow as named with decreasing proportions, the last-named race showing 91.7 per cent.
COMPANY HOUSES AND INDUSTRIAL COMMUNITIES.
Throughout the Birmingham district there exists a community or colony of employees around every plant and mine or group of mines. These communities are more or less distinct from the neigh
boring towns and villages, the essential difference between them being that the former are residential sections for the laborers, while the latter exist largely as commercial centers for the immediate neighborhoods. The industrial communities differ from each other very slightly, except in the style and the arrangement of the houses. At the iron and steel plants the communities are considerably larger than at the mines, although this varies with the size of the individual mine or plant. In each community, in addition to the rows of company houses arranged on either side of streets if the land is level and regular enough, is a commissary or company store which is the real center, the churches or church, two schools (one for negroes and one for whites), and usually a lodge house used for secret or other lodge meetings. In the smallest communities one building is frequently used for the school, lodge, and church. The office of the operating company, with its pay window, is an important feature, and in its immediate vicinity is the mine or the plant.
The styles of the company houses vary with the company owning them. As a general rule the company houses of the mining villages are the more cheaply constructed, while around the steel plants there is usually a variety of grades for the different classes of workmen, the smallest and poorest being usually occupied by negroes. In the ore-mining camps the houses are well built and well kept, as a general rule, although occupied chiefly by negroes. Where immigrants from southern and eastern Europe are employed the large boarding house, with its two stories and its larger number of rooms, is a frequent occurrence. With scarcely an exception the villages present a wearisome sameness to the eye. The houses are of the same color, and are separated by open spaces of equal size. A universal lack of gardens and yards under cultivation or care, with practically no fencing, renders the whole situation bare and uninviting. The coal dust and smoke tend to reduce everything to a uniform color, and probably have much to do with the absence of any attempt toward improving the yards or utilizing the garden space. There is little external evidence of any encouragement of domestic life, a fact which emphasizes the tendency on the part of the employees of all races to get all their pleasures out of what their wages will buy.
While this is unquestionably the inevitable impression when the average community is viewed, several attempts have been made toward providing a greater degree of comfort on the part of the larger companies. In the larger communities around the steel plants there are sewers and water supply, and the houses are kept painted and carefully repaired. The offer for lumber for fencing at cost by the company to the employees is accepted by some, and occasionally a yard or a garden is seen with a fence of some description. The streets are never improved, however, and only in rare cases sidewalks are found. On the whole, however, the disadvantages are not as much of an insanitary nature as of an unsightly appearance. The communities are usually placed with care as to natural drainage; there is an abundance of open space and never any crowding of houses or buildings, and they are accessible to the places of work. The houses themselves, if cheaply constructed, are neatly and plainly built, and with a little care or pride on the part
of the tenants could be made homelike, while the cultivation of the gardens and the care of the yards could not only add to the good appearance of the individual house as well as of the community, but would serve to assist in the provision of vegetables and other truck for the food of the tenants. It is claimed by the employers that there has never been any disposition to take advantage of the space offered, and this statement is undeniably true. When questioned regarding the matter, laborers have said that it was too much trouble, or that they did not know how long they were to stay, or that the ground was too poor.
The foregoing presents a picture of average conditions as they exist generally throughout the Birmingham district. In the smaller communities, which are in coal-mining sections, the conditions are worse; the houses are smaller and more cheaply constructed, with almost a total absence of any attempt to provide ordinary conveniences except of the rudest nature; less attention is paid to keeping them in repair, and whitewash is rarely applied and paint hardly ever; the communities, as a whole, present an unkempt and inadequate condition of living. In the newer and larger communities in and around the iron and steel plants and the principal ore-mining operations the situation is much better. An excellent and a very fair example of the latter is found in the housing conditions at Ensley, which is the largest community in the district. Ensley itself is a few miles from Birmingham, but by a recent legislative enactment is now within the corporate limits of the city.
The company_quarters here are located on a slight elevation in the outskirts of Ensley, adjoining the yards of the steel plant, which separates the quarters from the principal residence and business district of the town. Occupancy of company houses is not a condition prerequisite to employment, but in selecting a home the immigrant is usually governed by three considerations, namely, house rental, presence of fellow-countrymen, and proximity to place of employment. The first of these usually exerts the greatest influence, which has resulted in approximately 75 per cent of the immigrants occupying the company houses, which are usually rented to them at a lower rate than houses obtained from other sources. The houses occupied are painted, weather-boarded, frame structures of one story, divided into two apartments of two rooms each, finished with dressed lumber, and provided in front with small verandas. Provision for heat for each apartment is made by a chimney erected in the center of the building. Water is obtained from hydrants outside of the house, one hydrant being provided for every three houses. Water-closets built of rough lumber are placed in the rear of the buildings in the ratio of one closet to every twelve houses. These closets are divided by partitions into twelve stalls or sections. They are flushed by a stream of water that flows through continuously. A public bath for the use of the employees is also maintained. A monthly rental of $10.50 for each house, or $5.25 for an apartment, is charged to the tenant.
These houses are occupied almost altogether by immigrants and native whites. In the section of the company quarters occupied by the negroes the houses are smaller and less substantial in construction.