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RELATIVE PROGRESS AND EFFICIENCY.
Opinions of employers as to the efficiency of immigrant employees-Progress of immigrants.
OPINIONS OF EMPLOYERS AS TO THE EFFICIENCY OF IMMIGRANT EMPLOYEES.
The relative efficiency of the races employed at Whiting, Ind., is given by the superintendent of the refinery as follows: (1) Native Americans and English-speaking races other than Irish; (2) Germans; (3) Irish; (4) Poles; (5) Slovaks; (6) Croatians; (7) all other races. This classification is made to include all departments of the refinery and all grades of work. It was agreed by all officials of the refinery that the races from the southern and eastern states of Europe, taken as a whole, are the hardest drinkers, and that this practice has handicapped them in point of advancement in the plant. All nonEnglish-speaking races are under a disadvantage in securing employment and in being promoted unless they are able to speak English, but their personal efficiency in the several occupations is but little affected, it is claimed, by their lack of knowledge of the language. In Bayonne the same races of immigrants are seldom employed in more than one establishment, and for this reason it was not possible to obtain comparative opinions of employers regarding the merits of certain races. The individual views of officials of some of the representative establishments are therefore presented separately.
The superintendent of a barrel factory operated in connection with a refinery and employing several hundred men considers the Magyars and Poles very satisfactory laborers; some having risen to positions of headers, coopers, and testers, earning $18 to $20 a week. American laborers are considered more efficient but are less tractable than the Magyars and Poles, and for this reason less desirable as unskilled and semiskilled laborers. The general manager of an oil refining company with approximately one hundred employees considers Slovaks, Ruthenians, Poles, and Lithuanians more intelligent than Italians and more desirable as semiskilled laborers, but for the rough, unskilled labor requiring little intelligence or responsibility Italians are preferred. English, Irish, and Germans will not accept employment in this refinery, where much of the work is of a very disagreeable nature. The manager of another refining company in close touch with his employees was very emphatic in his preference for Irish laborers over Slovaks and Poles. The latter races, he asserted, are untrustworthy and unreliable, do not apply themselves intelligently, and are apparently without ambition to increase their efficiency. Social and religious duties interfere with their work to some extent, and their
low standards of living render them physically unable to perform hard-labor work. This official was very severe in his criticism of the Slovaks and Poles and expressed the opinion that the Irish were far superior workmen in every respect.
PROGRESS OF IMMIGRANTS.
The officials of the refinery at Whiting say that nearly 75 per cent of the labor done in the plant is skilled, designating as a skilled occupation one which requires an apprenticeship of at least a month. Such work as can be done with picks, shovels, and rakes is generally regarded as unskilled. The races showing the most marked tendency to advance themselves out of the lowest grades of work and to enter the occupations classified as skilled are the Germans, Poles, Slovaks, and Irish, in the order named. There are a number of Germans, Irish, and Slovaks who have been made foremen in recognition of their ability in their respective departments, but among the other races employed from the southern and eastern states of Europe there has been no tendency to work up to the positions of foremen. One reason why the Germans, Poles, and Slovaks are making progress is that they are rapidly acquiring a speaking knowledge of English. Among the other non-English-speaking races in the plant but few persons will be found who speak English, and those who do not speak the language are very slow in mastering it. Under the laws of the State children between the ages of 6 and 16 are required to attend some school, and among the employees of the refinery no persons under the age of 16 are found. With the exception of the Irish and Germans none of the races from continental Europe show any marked interest in civic affairs. The Irish are most often the leaders in the political affairs of the community.
INDUSTRIAL EFFECTS OF IMMIGRATION.
Effect of the employment of immigrants upon former employees-Effect of the employment of immigrants upon the establishment of new industries.
EFFECT OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF IMMIGRANTS UPON FORMER
Interracial effects in Bayonne are very aptly illustrated by the radical changes that have taken place in the residential sections of the town. The coming of the factories and the immigrants have greatly affected the racial complexion of the residential districts. While this is true to a great extent now, Bayonne was at one time almost wholly a suburban city, and that part of the city known as Bergen Point was formerly held in large estates by wealthy landowners. This is now an extensive factory district. The old residents have been largely forced back through Centerville, from which they have lately been driven by the Jews and the Italians, to the northwestern portion of the city, known as Pamerpo, or have moved away from the city entirely. In that section of the city occupied by the working classes, situated near the refineries, the Slovaks and Poles have almost entirely displaced the Irish and Germans who formerly occupied that section. The latter have been distributed over the city in consequence.
The extent to which the Irish, Germans, and Scandinavians have been displaced in the various industries has already been noted, but may be restated in a general way in the present connection. Thirty years ago the Irish were predominant in all branches of labor. Now they have been practically eliminated from the ranks of common labor and have either entered business and the trades or skilled employment. Their places have been taken by the Slovaks and Poles and Italians in the refineries, and by the Italians in the street work. While it was the Irish who built the railroads, the canals, and streets, and laid the sewers thirty to forty years ago, it is the Italians who are doing this kind of work now. It is recognized that the Irish and Germans have been superseded in the field of common labor by the Slav and Italian races. The various events that have led to this result have been traced, more or less, in detail. The aversion of the Irish and Germans to the lowest positions in the oil refineries, followed by the importation of Slavs and Poles for strike-breaking purposes, undoubtedly marked the beginning of this displacement, and employers, finding these races more tractable, less inclined to strike, and perhaps cheaper, continued them as unskilled laborers in place of the Irish and Germans. Finally, after the latter had entered the
a See Chapter II.
skilled occupations, the Slovaks, Italians, and Poles became the only races available for rough work. Though eliminated from one class of labor, the Irish and Germans have apparently been benefited by this displacement. As a result they have entered business, or the trades, or become skilled laborers. As the Slovaks, Poles, and Italians have monopolized the unskilled branches of labor, so in the evolutionary process the Irish and Germans and Scandinavians have largely gained exclusive control of the skilled branches. It is evident, therefore, that they have reached a higher economic level.
EFFECT OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF IMMIGRANTS UPON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW INDUSTRIES.
The advantageous location of Bayonne as a shipping point has probably done more to build up the city industrially than the existence of a supply of immigrant laborers. Little can be said in a general way of this city bearing upon the necessity of employing the more recent immigrants, in building up its industries, for as a rule they occupy only the lowest positions, that of common laborers, and it has perhaps been correctly stated that no American, German, or Irish laborers with any merit whatever could be found to do certain work that is absolutely necessary in conducting the business of certain industries located here. Moreover, until two years ago there has been no material number of laborers in Bayonne in excess of existing demands. There is usually a floating class of workmen available, but there has never been a considerable body of idle men. The immigrant population seems only to have increased as the town grew in an industrial way. The consensus of opinion is that the labor supply there has hardly been a factor in attracting new enterprises. A possible exception exists in a silk mill and one or two small shirt factories which probably located in Bayonne because of the availability of female labor. On the other hand, it is stated that a typewriter company had to move its plant from Bayonne because skilled mechanical laborers could not be obtained in sufficient numbers. Officials of a tubular boiler company removed to Bayonne in 1901 assert that immigrant laborers were the only workmen available at that time, and the company consequently employed them. It is apparent from a general survey of the situation that the influx of immigrants has followed rather than preceded the establishment of new industries.
The industrial effects of the employment of immigrants in Whiting, so far as any exist, have already been mentioned. As the refinery is the only industry in the city, the employment of immigrants has not been a factor in the establishment of new industries, and only incidentally have they aided in the development of the refinery. The establishment was located in the community primarily for the excellent railroad facilities which it offered, and because of the proximity of the city of Chicago, and not through labor considerations.
HOUSING AND LIVING CONDITIONS.
Rent in its relation to standard of living-Boarders and lodgers-Size of apartments occupied-Size of households studied-Congestion-[Text Tables 47 to 59 and General Tables 24 to 35].
RENT IN ITS RELATION TO STANDARD OF LIVING.
The monthly rent payments of the households the heads of which are employed in the oil-refining industry are of interest chiefly in their bearing upon the standard of living of the employees, owing to the practice of crowding persons in the apartments in order to reduce the per capita rent outlay. This condition is set forth in the following series of tables, the first of which exhibits, according to general nativity and race of head of household, the average rent paid each month per apartment, per room, and per sleeping room.
TABLE 47.—Average rent per month, by general nativity and race of head of household. (STUDY OF HOUSEHOLDS.)
The above table shows that of 415 households studied the average rent per month per apartment is $8.60, the average rent per room is $2.31, and the average rent per person is $1.62. The households the heads of which are native-born whites of native father pay an average monthly rental per apartment, per room, and per person which is considerably higher than that paid by households the heads