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Teper, Lazare 


Aspects of industrial 
homework in apparel 


[New York] 







Tep«r, Laeare« 1908- 

Aspects of industrial homework in apparel 
trades, by Lassare Teper and Nathan Weinberg, 
I New York? I International ladies' garment 
workers union. Research department, 1941. 

2 p. 1., 2-44 numb. 1, Z9^, 

Reproduced from type-written copy. 
Bibliographical foot-notes. 











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Lazare Teper and Nathan Weinber; 

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JvOy, 1941 



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The problem of industrial homework, always serious in 
the apparel trades, took on new urgency with the passage of the Fair 
Labor Standards Act. Though a declining method of production, 
homework was given a new lease on life when Federal regulation of 
wages and hours put a premium on a system of production which defies 


af all attempts at regulation. 


Historically, homev/ork has been utilized as a means of 
defeating legislation designed to raise labor standards. The condi- 
tions v/hich such legislation sought to abolish v/ere banished from 
the factory, only to find refuge in thousands of scattered homes. 
Long after child labor, night v/ork by v/omen, and unhygienic working 
conditions had largely disappeared from mill and workshop, they 
persisted in the slum tenements and rural dwellings where homev/ork 
was performed. Periodic investigations of homov/ork have evoked 
outbursts of public indignation at the conditions revealed. To the 
question of what could bo done about the evils of homov/ork, the 
answer of every investigating agency has been a call for the aboli- 
tion of the system itself. A mistaken notion of What would best 
serve the v/olfaro of the homcworkcrs, hov/ovor, has almost always 
led to a decision to allow time for adjustment to factory methods of 
production. The administrators charged with keeping the evil v/ithin 
bounds through regulation, pending the time when the universally 
accepted goal of abolition would bo achieved, have invariably reported* 
that their efforts wore futile. 

Meanwhile the homework system has boon on the decline. 
Unable to meet the competition of more efficient factory production, 
it has sought to perpetuate itself by constantly forcing downward 
the standards of the horaeworkcrs. Thus those on whose behalf 

- 2 - 

abolition of tho system has boon postponod have found thoir conditions 
going from bad to worso. But as factory efficiency grows the decline 
of homework continues, no matter to what depths homework wages are 
reduced. Its decline is interrupted only when the raising of factory 
standards, coupled with tho impossibility of controlling the condi- 
tions of homoworkers, gives ne\7 impetus to the practico. Homework 
today has been reduced to tho status of a marginal method of produc- 
tion existing only on the fringes of a few industries whoro tech- 
nological advance has not yet rendered it impossible. The present 
diminished extent of homework makes relatively oasy the adjustment 
to a universal system of factory production. Thus the ground has 
been cut from under tho now ancient plea that more time must be 
allowed before making an end to the homework system. 

Though much reduced in the extent to which it is 
utilized, industrial homework retains its capacity for harm. Even 
where practiced on a small scale its damaging effects make themselves 
widely felt in the highly competitive industries ivhore homework 
persists. Employers sec in it a destructive method of unfair com- 
petition. Factory workers find it a constant menace to thoir hours, 
wages and working conditions. The homoworkers themselves fool that 
it is a method of perpetuating their poverty by depriving them of 
opportunities for more remunerative factory employment. The public 
bears the burden of the system through the necessity of supplementing 
through relief and charity the woefully inadequate wages paid by 
homework employers. Public policy with regard to hours, wages and 
child labor, as expressed by Congress and the State legislatures, is 
thwarted through the impunity with which homework defies regulation. 

- 3 - 

In the following pagos an attempt is inado to traco tho 

experience of a single industry, the manufacture of v/oraen's garments, 
with homework • What this experience shoy/s is the natural evolution 
of tho industry from a homework to a factory basis; tho forces 
operating to delay the complete disappearance of homeivork; tho failure 
of attempts to regulate the inherent evils of the homework system; 
and the ease with which the transition to factory production was made 
where serious efforts toward abolition of homev/ork were undertaken. 

Tho history of clothing manufacture in this country is 
essentially a history of evolution from household occupation through 
industrial homcv/ork to factory enterprise* 

In the early days of tho Republic, tho production of 
clothing was confined in the main to the homes of the potential 
wearers.^ Only those who wore well situated had their garments mado 
by tailors and tailoresses or imported tho clothes from abroad. •"*'^ 
Although isolated instances of ready-to-wear production in this 
country were reported during tho eighteenth century"-'''^-*, clothing 
maniifacture did not become solidly established \intil the 1820«s. Tho 
original stimulus to manufacture of clothing ahead cf demand v/as 
provided by the needs of the sailors whose stay in port was frequently 
limited; later, the demand was fostered by the needs of the emigrants 



"It is computed in a number of districts that two-thirds, three- 
fourths and even four-fifths of all the clothing of the inhabitants 

moqT? .^v.^^^S^^^''^^! (Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures 
(1791), in his Works, I, 211) 

• It is reported that close to $1,500,000 worth of clothing was im- 
fr^^t^^ o? l^^-^ (Victor S. Clark, History of Manufactures in the 
United States, I, 108). Competition to domestic producers must have 
been f^vere, and the Freeholders of Boston passed a resolution in 
1767 in which they suggest the desirability of lessening imports and 
encouraging domestic manufacture of "Men and Womens Hatts, Mens and 
Womens Apparel ready made. ..Gloves.. .I^ffs, Purrs and Tippets, and 
all sorts of Millenary Ware.. .Womens and Childrons Stays" amoAg a 
long list of other products (Resolution passed on October 28, 1767 
and cited in an Almanach published in 1786 (title page missiAg)) 
"m.^v.??''^^ instance of rcady-to-woar production was reported in 
p^^^ f A ^^f^ ^''''^^ ^^^^ (^-^^ Department of Commerce and Labor, 
Star ^IX 120?^°^ ^'^^^^ ^^^ ^^^"^^ Wage-Earners in the United 

- 4 . 

to the newly discovered California gold fields and by the demand of 
the Southern plantation owners for clothing for themselves and for 
their slaves.'-' An 1832 report stated that "it has become usual of 
late years for most of the tailors to keep on hand a large stock of 
ready made clothing. ""'^^ During that year there were on record 100 
tailors in Boston who made "garments of every description ... mostly 
for home consumption and slop clothing for navy and merchant 
ships. "-'---^ 

Although the beginnings of clothing manufacture seem to 
lie in New England, production of roady-to-wear soon spread to New 
York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. It v/as customary to send v/ork out 
to be made by homo workers. Thus, the Massachusetts "Tables of 
Industry" for 1837 reported that during that year some 2,500 women 
wore employed in the making of clothes in the city of Boston, but 
that inasmuch as lAany of the dealers followed the custom of sending 
garments out to bo made up on farms and in country villages, tho 

total number of employees was much greater 


By 1844 the situation 

was such that "every country village within 100 miles of Nov/ York 

^^ Chauncey M. Dcpow, editor, 1795-1895: One Hundred Years of American 
Commerce, II, 561ff. 

•3h:- U.S. Treasury Department, Documents Relative to the Manufactures 
in the United States, Collected and Transmitted to the House of 
Representatives, in Compliance with a Resolution of Jan. 19, 1832, 
I, 464. ' ' 

-:hh& Ibid., I, 463f. 

-:c-:hc-:^ Massachusetts, Tables of Industry, 1837, p. 28. 

- 5 ~ 

became as busy as a beehive with tailors and tailoresses."'^' Whon 
Ge3?inan immigrants came over in the forties, they introduced "the 
family work shop" as well as the first division of labor, "The 
German tailor took coats, vests, and pants to his home and was there 
assisted by his wife and daughters, the work being roughly divided 
into mach*he sewing, basting, and finishing. The family home shop in 
the clothing trade appearing among the Germans at that time is pecu- 
liar to the German people," says one student of the problem. ''^"''^" Al- 
though most of such production consisted of mcn»s aDDarcl. a cortaln 

amount of v/ omen's wear was produced as well. 


The invention of the sov/ing machine and its subsequent 
improvements opened the way to production on a larger scale. The 
Civil War, a few years later, provided an additional stimulus by 
causing a large demand for military uniforms; y/hilc many wore imported 
from abroad, the native industry throve under a largo volume of orders^ 
Although originally imiforms wore made in the homes of the workers, as 
the demand increased numerous factories v/orc established. ^'*^^--- The 
manufacture of ladies' cloaks and mantillas on a larger scale started 

-> Workingman's Advocate, July 13, 1844. 

-:c~x- Mabel Kurd Willett, The Employment of Women in the Clothing Trade 

'"'torn'' fu^^^^u ^^"^ Impartial Humano Society of Baltimore produced in 
1830, through homo workers, in addition to men's apparel, such items 
as children's suits, cloaks, and mittens, women's and children's 

':l^°^^\I2.^^K^.l-^'^^^ dresses and bonnets (Mathew Carey, Appeal to 
the Wealthy of the Land, 3rd od. , p. 18). 
-::-;hh:- Depew, II, 562f , 

- 6 - 

at about the same tirao*-^' By 1858, factories making mantillas, corsets, 
and other women's clothing wore reported in Philadelphia, though men's 
clothing manufacture continued to predominate in that city."---- in 

New York a factory making plain underwear for ladies and children, 
lingerie, and infants* robes was doing business in 1868. ------- Around 

that time a large hoop skirt factory, which converted "steel rods 
into finished skirts" was established on West T\7ontieth Street in Now 

Several years later, a number of dressmaking establishments 


came into being 

<» 4% «% t\ %% 

A Congressional report submitted in January, 

1893, describes the industrial trend in the following words: 

Twenty-five years ago it ^ho production of clothing/ 
was so exclusively custom and family made that probably 
less than 25% was "ready made"; that is, manufactured 
in advance of individual demand. By 1880 the propor- 
tion of so-called "ready-made" clothing had increased 
to probably 4:0% of all men's wear used in the country, 
and by 1890 this proportion (which has since increased) 
had risen to above 60^; while the "ready-made" system 
had involved a large and increasing proportion of 
women's wear -- leaving, at present, of the great 
variety of under and outside "'clothing, of both sexes 
and ail ages, only outside dresses of women still in 
general specially made for the indi vidua r'*"'^'"-*--""*--' 

Although, as pointed out above, tho immediate effect of 
the introduction of the sewing machine was to lead to the cstablish- 

.. "The manufacture of cloaks and mantillas, as a wholesale business, 
dates its introduction into this country within tho last ten 
years." (E.T. Preedley, Philadelphia and its Manufactures, 1859, 

•5Hf Frcedley, p. 223. 

^H«:- The Revolution, March 12, 1868. 

•shhh:- Louis Levine, The Women's Garment Workers, p. 6. 

-:hhh:.^. The Revolution, February 9, 1871. 

^''""Ttu^'^' ^?^f^ °^ Representatives (52nd Cong., 2nd soss.). Report 
1893 ^"'"^^^J^'' °^ Manufactures on the Sweating System, January 20, 

- 7 - 

merit of factories, this trend was temporarily arrested by competition 
from industrial homework which provided a cheaper method of produc- 
tion.* Garments were farmed out to contractors, some of whom produced 
them in their factories while others gave them out to the "sweaters".* " 
Two types of industrial home work were represented in the "sweating" 
system of the «90s. Writes W.P. Willoughby: 

Jfr,S°^3:'^i.^*' noticed that there arc two distinct 
kinds of "sweating", that of the sweat shop proper 
where the sweater lives in a room and has a number 
Of men and women, working under his direct ovcr- 

^l^^Ci ^5 ^^^* '°^ ^^° ^°"® worker, vyhero the head 
oi the family takes work from a sweater, which he 
carries home to bo completed by himself and family** 

The tenement work shop in a sense roproscntod a stage 
of industrial expansion of the home worker's enterprise, m addition 
to tho me mbcrs of his family, the growing "business" employed addi- 
tional hands. The widespread practice of working in the tenements is 
illustrated by the testimony of an outdoor visiting physician for tho 
New York Infirmary for Women and Children whose district extended from 

--- Numorous manufacturers abandoned thoir. r^r^^r.-^^^^ ^ i. 

the work out. One inanufac?5??r toswJiod iS IsIp ?hn^,f ?.?°"^^^. 
ly he had manufactured on his own Drcmi^n-, w ?v.^ u """^^^ recent- 
work outside, in New York Citv^fnf^!^ t ?' ^^^ ^^^^ ^° "°^' ^avc 

previously "almost cvcrv well-rc-ffi,in?^^ ^? Pcf ^^'^^ twenty years 
of its own at the shop^ulldi^ ^''and ?hai°»^i'^ ?°'''^ ^""^ ^ ^^°*°^y 
except that "some lar^o re'iai if ^s , -Jeta Wy MScuUar'^Ja^kor/r'^'' 
still pursue tho plan of manuf'i^fiiy.<«rr ";^"' . '^'"^^■^■'•"r, i'arker & Co,, 

their own premises" ?Ibid! T sST^ AL*u''^''n?'^ gamionts within 
Chicago ladies' cloak firms klVoL I ?''''' ®^!"? testified that 

. 8 - 

Twenty-third Street to Chatham Square on the East side. Between 
December 1, 1891 and August 1, 1892, Dr. Daniel visited 153 homes, 
and in 77 cases she found manufacturing of some sort of article in 
progress* Most of the work was on clothing. The largest number of 
persons were engaged in tailoring, usually as "finishers". The second 
largest group consisted of seamstresses who made boys» shirt waists, 
undergarments for men and women, babies' whiite muslin dresses, em- 
broidery, buttonholes, men»s neckties, and artificial flowers. In 
this work women were assisted by thoir children.'^' 

It would appear that the utilization of sweatshop labor 
as a means of producing ready-mado gannonts reached its peak around 
1892. •'*"^* Prom that time on a decline in the amount of industrial home 

work in the apparel field definitely becomes apparent. Particularly 
noticeable in the first decade was the decline of the tenement work 
shop aspect of industrial homo work. It was natural that this be the 
case. V/ith increased production of apparel, better methods of sub- 
dividing work wore discovered. Invention of special machines, such as 
the button-hole machine, played a role in this connection. Further- 



Report of the Committeo on Manufactures on the Sweating System, 
pp, 194f. Dr. JXinicl reported the case of one home where the mother 
was enga god in manufacturing babies' lav/n drccsos. "The mother 
makes the buttonholes and does the fine v/ork. The girl of 12 "runs 
the sewing machine, stitching the scams, and tucking. The girl of 
8 years cuts the embroidery, does some booting, and sows the buttons 
... I as'kcd the mother what the child of 6 years did — at the time 
he was ill with the measles. 'Oh, you know he's a half idiot, and 
can do nothing.' Evidently, the fact that he was too youn^ to work 
never occurred to her." (Ibid., p. 196) ^^^ 

The Committee investigating sweating noted that some 50 per cent 
of all clothing manufactured originated in tenements: 25 per cent 
in the tenement work shops, and another 25 per cent among tenement 
home workers (Report of the Committee en Manufacture on the Swert- 
ing System, pp. v, vii) 

^ 9 - 

more, the increased utilization of oloctric pov/or for the running of 
sowing machines made it more advantageous to bring the work back into 
the factories. ^^ This natural trend tov/ard the factory method of pro- 
duction was accelerated by the anti-sweatshop agitation which deeply 
stirred the public mind and which threatened to brand all ready-made 
garments as vermin-infested and disease-carrying. •"**-' Beginning with 
1892, a number of states passed legislation designed to control and 
regulate the tenement work-shops.'----'^- The rising labor movement in 
the needle trades played its role in the elimination of the home work 
by providing in its agreements with the employers for the outlawing 


The transition to a factory basis was facilitated by the fact that 
at first many of the practices of homework were transferred to the 
factory along v/ith the homeworkers. Workers were for some time 
required to supply their ovm machines and machine stands, to provide 
their own needles, oil and thread, and to pay a charge for tho 
electricity used, for the seats they sat on in the factory, etc. 
(Cf. Levine, p. 173f; Willett, p. 46) 

Among the various public groups which agitated against the sweat- 
shop system may be listed the National Consumers' League, organized 
in 1899, which enlisted in this crusade the efforts of such or- 
ganizations as the Women's Christian Temperance Union and tho 
National Council of Jewish Women. (Cf, National Consumers' League, 
Report of the First Quarter Century of the National Consumers' 
League, 1899-1924) 

•-::■ Cf. U.S. Census Office, Twelfth Census, IX-3, 298f.; U.S. Children'.^ 
Bureau, Publication No. 234: Industrial Home Work under the National 
Recovery Administration, p. 3; John R. Commons and Jolin B. Andrews, 
Principles of Labor Legislation (4th edition), pp. 205f. A law 
controlling tenement work in cigar making was passed in New York 
at an earlier date, but was declared unconstitutional. 

- 10 - 

of homework.* 

The trond away fron homo ivcrk v;as sufficiently notice- 
able by the beginning of the twentieth century for the Industrial 
Commission to conclude in 1902; 

Originally tho sweating system was a system of v/orking 
at heme, whither the tailor v;ith his family and a few 
helpers carried the goods which they v;erc to prepare 
for the merchant. The home work or tenement house work 
of former years has largely disappeared, especially for 
the manufacture of ready-made garments, owing parti- 
cularly to legislation directed against it in the years 

* Organized labor showed an early interest in tho question of indus- 
trial home work. In 1892 the Chicago Trades and Labor Assembly 
oven employed a special investigator to investigate the sweating 
system (Report of the Committee on Manufactures on the Sweatimj 
System, p. 71). In 1893 tho Operators' and Cloak Makers' Union 
No. 1 of New York City, then affiliated with tho United Garment 

bo''oho?UioS°^''!?°»fn^^^ demands: "Home work and night work should 
be abolished", and "All garments should be cut by the firr/s and 

?n^rr.l^n ^J *^*'^'' contractors and net by 'second-hand' manufac- 

T^fZ" fJ:ri''°' P- f° • J^'' ^"^^"^"^ Cloth Eat and Cap Makers, 
after a thirteen weeks' strike in 1904-5, secured a colloctivn 
agreement one of vAiose provisions outlaired the ?enemeSt sSeSshoD 

Sothin^ T?? i'-''' ^"""^l^ "t""" ""' S°^^^' "^^^ »°" unionism in Se"^ 
Clothing Industry, pp. 76f.). Between 1900 and 1910 the Inter- 
national Ladies' Garment Workers' Union actively fought ap-ainst 

Sefcont '^f,^''%^'''°^V ^? 1910 "^ attorney ostimatSd ?faat ?5 
per cent of tne Now York clcak manufacturers were covered bv aerec 
mcnts outlawing hone work. When tho union, after a protracted 
strike, was negotiating its first collective a-roenont with M^oir 
manufacturers' association, th. demand foJ the°aSon?ion of ho-o 
work was accepted by tho manufacturers without adissont and rHi-h 
out discussion. (Minutes of Joint conference bete?ont?n delegates" 
of the Joint Board of tho Cloak, Suit and Skirt iiakcrs' Unirnf onfl 
ten delegates Of the Cl.ak, Suit and Skirt JvSnufacS?ersVjr??ec- 
tivo Association, July 28, 1910, "The Cloak ilakers' Strike" a 
collection of documeiits published by the Protective Association, 
p. 41). In 1912, tho Aiuorican Federation of Labor went on ronn^ri 
as favoring the abolition of industrial home w^rk! (A^crSaS 
Federation of Labor, Report of Proceedings, 1912, pi 139) 

- 11 - 

follcv/lng tho infliix of iniKigrants fifteen years 
and noro age. At tlx sane tine, also, tho progress 
of the industry has denonstratcd tho greater econony 
of separate shops, where a larger nmiibor can be employed 
upon tho sane garment v/ith a noro nlnuto division of 
labor. '^" 

Similarly, another govomnont investigation undertaken in 1911 con- 

ncnted as follov/s: 


Though the gan:ient trades are backward in their 
industrial developnent, their history shows a 
distinct novoncnt away from tho hone, through tho 
snail shop, to tho factory. For nany years the 
rcady-nade business, except for the cutting of 
garments, v/as almost entirely a hone industry. 
V/ith the subcontract system cane the sweat shop. 
But for several years past there has been manifest 
a distinct tendency away from the subcontract or 
sv/eating system tov/ard the factory system. In 
1901 Prof. John R. Commons reported that, though 10 
years bofcrc probably 90 per cent of women's roady- 
nadc garments were made by people v/ho workod for 
contractors, at that time fully 75 per cent of such 
v/ork had passed into the hands. of "manufacturers". 
The r.anufacture of overalls, too, which was in tho 
early years one of the most poorly paid of the 
home trades, has new become practically a factory 
industry. Men's coats and overcoats are also in- 
creasingly a factory product.----- 

Tho movement av/ay from homo work was also fostered 
by tho increased growth of labor organization among the workers. In 
the ladies' garment field, the first collectivo agreement signed in 
the New York market in 1910 between the union and tho cloak maniifac- 
turers provided in its fourth article: "No work shall be given to or 
taken to employes to be performed at their homos. "''^'*'^"'^' By 1913 similar 
prohibitions wore incorporated in similar agreements covering entire 
branches of the industry in New York City (drosses and waists, white 

'-- U.S. Industrial Commission, Report, XIX, 741. 

->x- Report on condition of Woman and Child Wage-Earners, IX, 165. 
^^^ The text of this agreement, the so-called Protocol of Peace. 
may be found in Levi no, p. 542f. 

- 12 - 

goods, children's dresses, and house dresses) in Boston (cloaks, 
dresses and waists) and in Philadelphia ( cloaks )• The practice of 
eliminating homework by prohibiting it in collective agreements has 
been continued, and today the overwhelming niomber of unionized es- 
tablishments in contractual relationship with the International Ladies* 
Garment Workers' Union either provide outright for the outlawing of 
the industrial home work or prohibit it by restricting the work to 
\mionized establishments, (See Appendix for the discussion of indus- 
trial homo work in the current agreements of the I.L.G.W.U, ) • Union 
activity, however, even though reinforced by favorable public opinion 
and regulatory legislation, was unable to eradicate industrial homo 
work completely in the gaitnent industries. 

VVhy docs industrial homo v/ork persist? Not all em- 
ployers are in contractual relations with labor organizations, and 
not all branches of the industry are equally v/oll organized. Those 
who are unorganized or in branches of the industry where the union is 
relatively v/oak remain free to distribute homework. Yet, from the 
employers themselves frequent complaints arc heard as to the rela- 
tive inefficiency of industrial homo v/ork as a production method. --- 

-"- Homework employers repeatedly complained tc investigators regarding 
the inefficiency of homework, referring to waste duo to spoilage, 
costly delays, inability tc correct mistakes because of lack of 
personal supervision, etc. (Cf. New York State, Division of Women 
in Industry and Minimum Wage, Report to the Industrial Commissioner 
on a Roviov/ of the Operation of Homework Order No. 3 and Recommen- 
dation for the Continued Regulation of Homework in the Artifical 
Flower and Feathur Industry, p. 5; U.S. Children's Bureau, Publica- 
tion No. 234: Industrial Homowork under the National Recovery Ad- 
ministration, p. 23; its Publication No. 244: Prohibition of 
Industrial Homework in Selected Industries Under the National 
Recovery Administration, p. 16f • ) 

- 13 - 

The answer lies of course in the fact that through the utilization of 
industrial home workers it is possible to secure labor at virtually 
no wages, labor urhose compensation and working hours are beyond any 
possible governmental surveillance and control. Were it possible to 
regulate hours and wages in industrial home work, it would have dis- 
appeared long ago, and industrial home workers v/ould have found jobs 
in factories, doing work identical with that now done in their homos. ''^* 
In this lies the crux of the problem. 

Writing in 1895, the Now York factory inspector pointed 


It must bo said, notwithstanding the improvement noted, 
that the sweat shop evil has not been eradicated. 
Only the surface conditions have boon bettered. The 
long hours, small wages, with a constant tendency to 
lengthen the former and reduce the latter, still 
continue, and will always bo a part of the clothing 
industry in this country while the law permits tho 
contractors to farm out the clothing to families and 
pit one family against another.'^'--- 

The homoworkors themselves are conpletcly incapable of 
bringing about any improvement in their conditions and this strengthens 
the attraction of tho homework system for some employers. For, as 


Some employers attempt to distinguish botwoon the processes porformcc 
by homeworkers and those done in the factory, claiming that home 
work is confined to hand operations. As tho many homework investi- 
gations show, both hand and machine work may be found in homos. 
Similarly, large numbers of hand workers arc employed in factories. 

o^^^S^"''''^^''* ^" ^^° N°^'^ ^°^^ Metropolitan area out of a total of 
85,000 factory workers employed in tho dross industry, 10,400 are 
finishers 2,000 arc examiners, and 4,700 are cleaners, all of those 
being hand occupations (Julius Koclurian, Industry Planning Through 
Collective Bargaining, p. 45). j ^ "6" 

Quoted in Willou^-hby, p. 17. 

14 - 

stated in a report issued by the Department of Commerce and Labor in 

Shop workers broxight into close contact with each 
other, can vmite in a refusal to accept less than 
a specified minimxan, but among homeworkers such 
common action is difficult and unlikely, owing to 
their isolation. It is easier to bargain with and 
handle these scattered workers, all of which adds to 
the desirability of the home workers from the manu- 
facturer's standpoint.* 

Such advantages as these, plus the fact that employers 

manage to save on factory space and accompanying overhead expense, -"-» 

still constitute the main reason for tho existence of industrial 

home work. As pointed out by the U.S. Women's Bureau in 1937: 

Earnings for industrial home work not only are low 
in themselves, but they tend to lower factory wage 
standards. They oblige the factory employer to cut 
costs to meet the competition of tho low-sollim? 
home-work product, and at the same time the homo-work 
manufacturer is seriously exploiting the homo. For 
under the industrial homo -work system the manufacturer 
passes on to the individual homo many of his overhead 

^vn?v"!^^ • ^"""^ S^ ''°''-*' ^^''^' ^^Sht and othor normal 
work requirements, ovon machinery - as, for example, 
in tho sowing processes where tho worker furnishes her 
o;vn sowing machine j in knitting, hor own ncedlos. 
Furthermore, the homo worker usually is responsible for 
getting and returning the work, or has to pay for such 
delivery from hor moagcr receipts. Sho is responsible 
for spoiled work and cither has to pay cash for spoiled 
materials or has to make corroctioSs without paj! 


,«_..^«^°fL°^J°"'^^^°" °£ ^i^'"^" ^"^ Child Wage-Earners, II, 303f. 

nJ ^ than pay rent for ... additional room, the factory is sore-d 
over innumerable bedrooms and kitchens. It moans for the em"ov?rs 
an actual saving in rental, in heating, lifihttne furnishing °^h 
otherwise so equipping a shop as to mfet ifgal^oquiSmcntJ^'as well 
as a saving in shop supervision" (Ibid., Ilf Jq^^'^^^^''"^^"*^' ^s well 

- 15 - 

Often she 
cover cos 
the v/ork# 
of a patt 
on paid 
his costs 
head cost 

must make an initial cash deposit to 
t of all material until she is paid for 

Frequently she must make several samples 
em at her ov/n expense before she can begin 
work. In these ways the manufacturer keeps 

so lov/ as to give him an unfair competitive 
, so that he can undersell the man who 

an establishment and pays the normal over- 
s • "-' 

In the last analysis the basis for the continued exis- 
tence of industrial home work is lov/ wages •'^'**-' Vi/hile, as indicated 
above, homework employers complain frequently of inefficiency, the 
cost of the latter is offset by the savings on overhead and wages • 
As pointed out by a Now York State report on the artificial flower 


Homev/orkers offer formidable competition to factory 
workers, not only for employment, but also as to 
wages and labor standards. V/hole families working 
at home earn loss then a flower maker in the shop. 
At tho peak of the suason, weekly and hourly earn- 
ings of individual homoworkcrs arc from one -half 
to two-thirds thu earnings of tho flower makers in 
tho factories. It scorns reasonable to conclude 
that it is largely because of the competition of 
home-workers that the majority of tho women factory 
workers in the industry are unable to earn wages 
sufficient for self support even during tho busiest 
week of the season, and that wages of v/omen in this 
industry compare unfavorably with those of some of 
the lov/est wage industries found in tho State ••"-'*-^ 

iir U.S. Women's Bureau, Bulletin No. 155: Women in the Economy of tho 

United States of America: A 

summary report, p. 69. 

Many homcworkors have to have thoir earnings supploraontcd by homo 
relief. In 1935, ono-fourth of Philadelphia homoworkcrs in the 
t"^t;^'^*,V ^^^ children's fiuld v/crc from home ruliof families 
^^'^'J°^'^^'s Bureau Bulletin No. 155, p. 70). In Chicago a study 
showed 24 per cent of homo work families dependent on public 
assistance because of low earnings (Ruth V/hito, "Industrial Home- 
work m Chicago" in Social Service Review, Karch, 1956, p. 55). 
»»* New York State Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 199: Homework 
in the Artificial Flower and Feather Industry in New York State. 
p. 64. ' 

- 16 - 

The employment of homev/orkers becomes an especially 
attractive proposition v/hen wages are regulated by legislation. As 
one v/riter aptly pointed out: "Wage rates are not, like sanitary 
arrangements, hours, and so forth, things easily detected by the 
watch or nose of an inspector. "'^*- Instances were found during the 
N.R.A* when homev/or leers unable to earn the minimum rates in the fac- 
tory v/ere discharged and urged by their employers to do the same work 
in their homes. '""*^ Similarly, home work is used today to avoid 
compliance v/ith the standards provided by the Fair Labor Standards 
Act. One v/ritcr, a former inspector of the homework division of the 
New York State Department of Labor, points out: 

Soon after the Wage and Hour La\7 became effective ••• 
reports v/erc v/idesprcad that manufacturers were 
withdrawing work from their factories, and had arranged 
to have the same done in homes. These reports, if true, 
could mean only one thing. The manufacturers wore 
making drastic efforts to secure competitive advan- 
tages through a saving of labor costs. This practice 
if permitted to continue would unquestionably prove a 
most effective obstacle to effective enforcement of 
the Wage and Hour Law. 

-Si- A.C. Pigou, The Economics of Vv'elfare, 4th ed., p. 534. 
•JHC' U.S. Children's Bureau, Publication No. 234, p. 42. 
-----> Ruth Enalda Shallcrosc, Industrial Homework, p. 178. 

- 17 - 

In this connection must be noted the difficulties of 
enforcing the provisions pertaining to overtime compensation or to 
child labori Various agencies have frequently referred to the im- 
possibility of securing evidence of child labor law violations in 
cases of industrial homework because before the door is opened to 
the inspector there is ample time to hide all signs of work by 
children.'"' To discover violations of ovortime provisions is well 
nigh impossible without stationing an inspector in every home where 
industrial homework is carried on. In fact, resistance to the 
abolition of homev/ork is based in large part on the fact that its 
disappearance would close off an avenue whereby the regulation of 
hours of work may be defied with impunity 4 As far back as the turn 
of the century one investigation found that: 

The main objection brought by clothing manufacturers 
against the prohibition of homo work and tte con- 
tractor's sv/eat shop is the necessity of working long 
hours during the busy seasons. The factory system, 
imdor the customary factory laws, would restrict em- 
ployment to 58 or 60 hours a week, v/horcas when working 
at home or in sv/eat shops employment during the busy 
season can extend to 12 or 14 hours a day and even 
longer in individual cases since the law docs not 
apply to home workers, and is difficult of enforcement 
in the sweat shops ... This objection, in view of 
existing legislation regulating hours in this industry, 
lacks force. •**"^' 

Employers of homcworkcrs, oven if they desired to, 
can not keep accurate records of hours Y/orked unless thoy supervise 

-y^r See, among others, Connecticut Department of Labor and Factory 
Inspection, MinimLiiii Wage Division, Hoiucv/ork in the Fabricated 
Metal Industry of Connecticut, pp. 66f; Pennsylvania Department of 
Labor and Industry, Bureau of IVomon. and Children, Industrial Home- 
tion S; Sr^ T"^ ^"^ ^^^^' ^* ^'' ^'^^ .Children's Bureau, Publica- 

i^-<^ U.S. Industrial Commission, XIX, 742. 

- 18 - 

each worker individually. Generally, no attempt is made to keep 
track of hours. That the enforcement problem presents almost insur- 
mountable difficulties is made clear by the Nov/ York Department of 


The large number of homework families, the temporary 
nature of their work, the constant shifting of resi- 
dence of families at the poverty level, the difficulty 
of obtaining true addresses for families on relief 
rolls, the carelessness and ignorance of some employers, 
and the economic advantage to them from concealment of 
the facts, all operate against effective regulation. ••'5 

Abuse of workers and violation of the spirit and letter 
of the lav/ are not nev/ things in industrial home work. Underpayment 
and mistreatment of homev/orkers dates at least from the first half 

of the nineteenth century. 

"The v/orst features of this state of 

things", commented the New York Daily Tribune in 1845, "are its 
hopelessness and its constant tendency from bad to v/orse. Small as 
are the earnings of those seamstresses, they constantly tend to 
diminish. "•'"'•'^ In addition to paying next to nothing, it was reported 
that many employers required their employees to make a deposit equal 
to the full value of material taken out to be made up, a deposit 
frequently not ro turned to the v/orkcr v/hcn th<j slack time came . •'^'""-••^ 
In addition to such deductions, earnings were frequently not paid in 
full. "We have known instances," said the Tribune, "whore those 

I* ■ 

-> Now York Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 199, p. 68. 

•JHf As early as 1828, considerable agitation in v/hich Mathew Carey 
played a leading role, called public attention to the wretched 
condition of homeworkers. (Cf. Mathew Carey, "To the Ladies Who 
have Undertaken to Establish a House of Industry in New York" 
and "To the Editor of the New York Daily Sentinel" in his ' ' 
Lis CO llano ous Pamphlets, Phila., 1831). 

•jf^Hc-New York Daily Tribune, March 7, 1845. 

•i;-JH;-:«.Ibid., Juno 8, 1853. 

- 19 - 

professedly fair priced houses have for successive weeks paid but 
50 cents on acount, and when work became scarce have postponed set- 
tlement day after day, till the patience of the claimant has been 
exhausted, and she has been compelled to give up her claim."* 

When as a result of abject conditions in the clothing 
industries in the nineties, public attention was focused on the 
sanitary aspects of clothing manxifacture in the homes of the workers, 
a nwnber of states enacted legislation directed against tenement 
manufacture. By 1904 twelve states, including a number of the most 
important industrially, ha.d passed laws prohibiting certain types of 
work in tenements by persons other than members of the family resid- 
ing therein, requiring permits to give out and receive home work, 
and setting up standards of sanitation for tenement house work rooms. 
Several of these laws required the labeling of articles produced in 
unsanitary surroundings.** However, those statutes seemed to have 
been more honored in the breach than in the observance, and reports 
of widespread violation and evasion were hoard almost before the ink 
had dried, Massachusetts man\ifacturcrs, required under an 1892 
statute to label garments produced in tenements under unsanitay con- 
ditions, began increasingly to ship work out to be made up in New York, 
New Jersey, Maine and other states.*** A Chicago sanitary inspector 

* Ibid. 

-»-::- U.S. Children's Bureau Publication No, 234, p. 3: John R. Commor.<? 

S-3f°S8l: ^"'^'"^'"'' ^^- '°'^' ^•^' '^^^^^^ °^?^«^' ^^^f^^ CeSsSs' 

**t '^S^u^f °v^''^' secretary of the Anti-Tonement House League tcsti- 
Rn^?.^^^J^^S^\?^'^^^"e being made in New York tonemfn^s fS 

S?"Stures on'S'^'L'^J-^'^-'f ^? "™^ ^^^^^^^ °^ the CoLittee on 
x^Tnrrl^^ • ^^^ Sweating System, pp. llOf . ) . Similar tostirron? 

"^%°5fri:? ^"^ ^ l^'t^"'' ^''"'^ ^^"^ °^i^^ °^ the Massachusetts Bureau 
of Statistics of Labor who wrote that the amount of work sent f^n« 
Boston to New York was increasing at the oxll^c of Boston 
contractors (Ibid., pp. 229f.). iioston 

- 20 - 

testified in 1892 to "a great deal of evasion" encountered.* A con- 
gressional committee making field visits in Boston found not only 
sanitary violations but homework performed on premises completely 
unknovm to the local inspectors. -=«^ The secretary of the Anti-Tcnement 
House League told the same committee that on the basis of his field 
visits it was evident that conditions in the tenement workshops wore 
groiving worse despite the Massachusetts statute. The manufacturers' 
compliance with the law, he reported, stopped at lip service. They 
were using the existence of the law to allay the public's fear of 
contagion, as much as to say: »'Everything is clean now. We have got 
two inspectors, and you needn't fear now. There is no more danger."*** 
Similar conditions wero found in New york.*^^^* Several other wit- 
nesses testified to non-onforcemont of the labeling laws, school laws, 
and laws requiring a minimum number of cubic feet of air per work- 
or,****« No wonder the Committoo adopted as its own the position of 
the several witnesses who advocated the abolition of homo v;ork,****«* 


Eight years later, another Podoral investigation 
turned up almost identical conditions. Mr. James B. Reynolds, head 
worker of tho University Settlement Society of New York City, testi- 
fied that tho enforcement of the state laws led merely to tho "trans- 
fer of tho evil from one State to the other. That is, you will ac- 

* Testimony of Mary B. Glonnon, in ibir'.. p. 

** Ibid., p. 148, ' ' 

*** Ibid., P. 112, 

**** Ibid,, p. 199, 

***** Ibid., pp. 74, 94, 102, 126, and 225. 

****** Ibid., pp. 94, 96, 198 and xxviii. 


- 21 - 

complish what wo accomplishod about 5 yoars ago whon wo pitched into 
tho sweatshops and thoy simply movod from Nov/ York to Nov; Jorsoy»" 
Ho also pointed out that "tho ontorprising Massachusetts garment 
makor sends to Nov; York and has tho goods made up and then brings them 
back and has tho Massachusetts labol put on'' because Massachusetts 
goods commanded a promi"um based on tho public *s belief that they "aro 
more likely to be made up under sanitary conditions t*"*^ A witness 
from Pennsylvania reported that the Board of Hoalth in that State 
"cannot onforce its regulations; clean them out one day and they come 
back the next day."** 

Further investigation in 1910 revealed that homo work 
still defied regulation. Some manufacturers v/cro brazen enough to 
describe to Federal investigators the practices they follov/od in evad- 
ing tho homo v/ork lav/s. Witness tho following report of an interview 
with a clothing manufacturer: 

"Finishing on pants is usually done in tho homes of tho 
workers. Practically all pants arc finished in homes # 
Vests are seldom or never finished in homes. Wo make 
expensive clothing. Tho lav/s have been so adjusted 
that work can not bo done in homos unless licensed. 
Because of those strict lav/s, some people have insido 
shops for this work. If a garment is made in a tene- 
ment v/hich is dirty or v/horo there is an infectious 
disease, it doos not hurt tho v/oarer. Pressing v/ith a 
hot iron v/ill kill any gormt Onco in a whilo wo have 
had garments made in unlicensed homos. Tho factory 
inspectors labeled thorn »Mado under unsanitary condi- 
tions, « but wo always tore the label off." Hero one 
of his office force got very nervous and made certain 
motions to tho employer, v/ho then added: "That is, 
v/e don»t toar tho labol off in Now York State; v/o send 

* JJ. S. Industrial Commission, XIV, 86 
^Jr Ibid., XV, 195 

- 22 • 

It °7®^ n° ^^®^' Jersey, and it comes back to us minus 
tne laDels, It's none of the New York factory in- 
spector's business wlaat is done with garments that go 
to New Jersey, and so we do not break the law." One 
wonders if the garments are really sent across on the 
ferry thus to preserve the dignity of the law,* 

There is hardly a report on home work down to the 
present day which does not tell the same story of evasion and viola- 
tion of laws regulating home work and the use of home work to evade 
laws regulating factory labor conditions. It is unnecessary here to 
trace experience with attempts at regulation in detail; but it is evi- 
dent from a sampling of the literature that what held true in 1892, 
1900, and 1910 applies with equal force to the period since. A Massa- 
chusetts study published in 1915 declared that "Licencing has failed 
in Massachusetts., .More than one-half the families visited at work 
on wearing apparel wore not liconsod,"** A Pennsylvania study re- 
vealed that in 1921 only 20 per cent of the home workers reporting 
had licenses as required by law. Homo workers wcro foimd who had 
never hoard of the licensing roquiromont.*** Laws regulating child 
labor in factories resulted in an increase of child labor on homo 
work and "Tho very evils which tho law attempts to correct, children 
boar in increased numbers, laboring in tho homo often under conditions 
of more evil import than those in tho factory.**** Similarly, homo 

« Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage Earners. IT -^n-^r 

"se°?rcS \°ndS:t%?frS''°"S' T^ In^-Ustrial^nior^rSoJarti^ero; Re- 
i^?^^ ;^. ^f ^""i ^°'^° ^°^^ ^" Massachusetts (Prepared under the 
joint direction of the Massachusetts Bureau of StatisticrSd Am? 
Hewes^^Supervisor of Investigation for the DeparLenfo? ReseaJSS) 

***'irKS;SJ^L?2^?l1??f ;l ll'^^" ^^^ ^"^-*^^' ^"^-^-^-1 Homework 
««## Ibid., p. 64, 

- 23 - 

work provided a means of evasion of the law regulating the hours of 
labor for women. Factory v/orkers v;ere given garments to make in their 
homes at night after regular factory hours** 

A nation-wide offensive against the evil of industrial 
homework took place during the N«R#A« In a number of apparel codes 
industrial home work was prohibitod# The industries which took such 
a stand did so either because the problem was of such a minor char- 
acter as to make any discussion of the subject purely academic or bo-^ 
cause the majority of employers in the industry realized that indus- 
trial homov/ork threatened any fair competitive practices that the 
codes might help to develop. Tho first throe codes to prohibit homo- 
work were Coat and Suit^ Corset and Brassiere, and Men's Clothing. 
Tho coat and suit industry decided to incorporate a provision prohib- 
iting homework into the code sololy as a "statement of principle and 
as an indication that the achievement of former years would be main- 
tained under tho codo.""^^ Corset and brassiere manufacturers readily 
agreed that it was important to abolish homework, on sanitary grounds, 
''since the products of this industry aro customarily worn noxt to the 
body".*^'^* In the manufacture of men's ready-to-wear, whoro industrial 

* Ibid*, p* 126 

** National Recovery Administration, Division of Rcviov/^ Work Mater- 
ials No* 45! N#R»A# and Industrial Homowork, p# 24 

^^Ar'jr Ibid*, p* 25; Code of Fair Competition for tho Corset and Brassiere 
Industry, as Approved on August 14, 1933, article 5* There was 
little homework at that time in tho Corset and Brassiere industry. 
The factory system was well established in that industry by 1913, 
and although some homowork v/as done at that time, factories giving 
it out stated their preference for doing tho v/ork in the factories 
(Connecticut Commission to -investigate the Conditions of Wago- 
oaming Women and Minors, Report, 1913, p* 94)* An investigation 
of children doing industrial homowork in Nov/ Jersey, made in 1925 
revealed that out of 1131 cases of homework, only 24 involved work 
on brassieres and corsets (U*S* Children's Bureau, Publication No« 
185: Child Labor in Now Jersey, II, 19)* 

- 24 - 

homework had not been fully eliminated prior to that timej labor and 
management agreed unanimously during negotiations to abolish home- 
work, but allowed three months as a period of adjustment."^ It is of 
interest to note here that the experience of this industry was that 
94 per cent of homeworkers wore takon into the factory, thus indicate 
ing that '^prohibition of homework is not impracticable from the stand- 
point of either the manufacturer or tho homo worker. "^^ 

In all there were 118 industries which incorporated 
provisions v/ith re.^ard to homov;ork in their N«R.A« Codes of Pair Com- 
petition. '^^''^* Of the 22 industries manufacturing various items of 

^^n tho manufacture of mcn^s ready-made clothing. ••it was not until 
some years after tho organization of tho Amalgamated Clothing Y/ork- 
ors in 1914 that any real progress was mado in tho elimination of 
homework through union agreement. In Chicago and Cleveland, deci- 
sions rendered by arbitration boards in 1920 provided for tho aboli- 
tion of homework. In Rochester, although tho agreement betwoon tho 
Amalgamated Clothing V/orkers and tho Clothier «s Exchange, first 
signed in 1920 and renev/od periodically thereafter, provided that 
homework was to bo abolished, the provision was never fully en- 
forced until the period of tho National Rocoveiy Administration^ 
(Frieda Miller, Industrial Homo V/ork in tho United States, in Inters 
national Labour Review, January, 1941, p. 27). Cf. also ITRA Division 
of Review, Work Materials #45, p. 24» 
•5Hf U.S. Children's Bureau, Publication No. 244: Prohibition of Indus- 
trial Homo Work in Selected Industries under tho National Recovery 
Administration, p. 26# 
^i^^i^ Homework provisions wore found in tho codes for tho bulk of tho 
industries in which tho problem existed. Of the total, 17 pro- 
vided for the regulation of homework by limiting tho numbor of 
homov/orkors, by restricting the practice to specific branches of 
tho industry, or by establisliing regulations >:iimod at providing 
for homev/orkcrs earnings oqual to those of factory employees* 
Tho 101 codes which contained homework prohibitions included 72 
codes which prohibited the practice after tho effective date of 
the code, 19 v/hich allowed a period of adjustment, ranging in 
most cases from 1 to 6 months for tho transfer of homev;ork to tho 
factory, and 10 codes v/hich incorporated tho terms of tho Execu- 
tive order of May 15, 1934, v/hich exempted from homov/ork prohib- 
itions those homeworkors who v/cre physically handicapped and 
those "unable to leave home because his or her services are abso- 
lutely essential for attendance on a person who is bedridden or 

(ctd. on next page) 

• 25 - 

apparel for women, twenty-one codes had some provision regarding liome- 
work» The one exception was the code for the Covered Button industry 
where the absonco of a homework provision is accounted for by the 
fact that thoro is no homework problom of any significance in that 
industry* Of the 21 codes with homcv/ork provisions, 17 provided for 
complete abolition of homework — - tv/olvo on the • effective date of tho 
codc,'^""' and five at a specified future dato.***^ Tho remaining four 

(ctd) an invalid" (N#R*A. Division of Review, Work Materials No. 45, 
p. 116; Executive Order No. G711-A, prescribing rules and Regulations 
for the Interpretation and Application of Certain Lo.bor Provisions of 
Codes of Fair Competition as They May Affect Certain Homev/orkcrs), 
It may be noted that the abolition of industrial homcv;ork under tho 
codes was in major part tho work of tho employers. In practice labor 
provisions of the codes "were initiated by tho management groups ex- 
cept in a fev/ industries in which labor was strongly organized." 
(U»S. Committee of Industrial Analysis, National Recovery Administra- 
tion /House Doc. No. 158, 75th Cong., 1st soss^ p. 14.) In only 11 
industries out of 557 covered by basic codes fs" thoro definite evi- 
dence of joint preliminary negotiations and determination of provi- 
sions by employers and employoes (Ibid., p. 83). 

* They were: Academic costi:ime; blouse and skirt; celluloid button^ 
buckle and novelty manufacturing j coat and suit; corset and brass- 
iere; dress manufacturing; rainwear division of rubber manufactur- 
ing industry; robe and allied products; shoulder pad manufacturing; 
undergarment and negligee; undorv/car and allied products; and 
v/omon's bolt* * 

4Hfr They were: Artificial flower; men's garter, suspender and bolt 
manufacturing; pleating and stitching; and schiffli, the liand 
machine embroidery, and the embroidery tliread and scallop cutting; 
and knitted outerv/ear. The latter code provided for 'tSc 
abolition of hand knitting, hand crocheting, liand ombroidoring, 
and hand scv/ing of machine made parts of garments one year after 
the effective dato of the code; in the meantime the v/orkcrs wore 
to be compensated in accordance with piece rates ta bo established. 
(Code of Pair Competition for the Knj^tted Outerv/oar Industry, as 
approved on December 18, 1933, Article VI.) However, tv/o stays of 
this provision were issued, one postponing tho effect ivo dato to 
April 1, 1935 (Administrative Order No. 3.64-36, datod February 4, 
1935), tho other to May 15, 1935 (Administrative Order No. 164-41, 
datod February 27, 1935). 

-26 - 

codes either prohibited all but specified types of home work or 
limited the proportion of homev/orkers permitted,* 

All of the codes applicable to the manufacture of items 
of v/omen»s apparel v;here homov/ork \7as a significant factor recognized 
industrial homework as an evil about which something had to be done. 
Practically all of them either provided for outright abolition of 
homework or contemplated its eventual abolition. This held true for 
those industries whore homework was so widoly prevalent as to require 
drastic readjustments as well as for those whore the transition to a 
factory basis had to bo made by only a small segment of the 

* They \vero: Cotton garment; infants* and childron's wear; handker- 
chiefs; and women^s nockwoar and scarfs* The Cotton garment codo 
provided for the prohibition of all machine sowing in tho homos 
v/ithin throe months from tho offoctivo date of tho codo, and mado 
an exemption for "whp.t is knovm in tho trade as turning collars 
v/hich have a laundry wash in tho factory before shipping" (sic), 
whonovor an application was mado to the Codo Authority, and also 
permitted ''homework on hand embroidery, which is incidental to tho 
manufacture of cotton garments" (Code of Fair Competition for tho 
Cotton Garment Industry as approved on November 17, 1933, article 
VII) • Tho Infants' and Chilc'j?cn«s Wear Code prohibited all home- 
work on sewing machines (Code of Fair Competition for the Infants' 
and Children's Wear Industry as approved on March 27, 1934, article 
V, section 8), The Codo for the handicerchiof industry at first 
prohibited homework except on hanc^^orchicf s made entirely by hand 
and those wholesaling at #3 #50 or more a dozen, and on which tho 
labor cost of the hand operation equalled 60 per cent or more of 
the total labor cost* (Code of Fair Competition for tho Eandker- 
chief Industry as approved on October 9, 1933, art. IV, sec. 8 and 
9), A later amendment restricted industrial homcv/ork to handker- 
chiefs mado entirely by hand but permitted such other homework as 
was performed by handicapped persons under the terms of the Exec- 
utive order of May 15, 1934 (Amendment No. 2 to the Codo of Fair 
Competition for tho IlandJcerchicf Industry as approved October 31, 
1934); but tho application of this amendment was stayed insofar as 
it applied to hand sewing and ombollishmont (Order Approving Amend- 
ment of Codo of Fair Competition for the Handkerchief Industry, 
October 31, 1934). The Codo for tho Women's Neckvfcar and Scarf 
Manufacturing industry permitted homework in accordance with the 
Executive Order of May 15, 1934, but in addition permitted an em- 
ployer to give out homev/ork provided "at least one half of the to- 
tal number of articles of each typo arc produced in r. factory main- 
tained by, or operated for" him (Code of Fair Couipotition for the 
Women's Nockv/car and Scarf Manufacturing Industry, as approved on 
Docembor 19, 1934, art. Ill, sec. 4). 

- 27 - 

industry.*"' Why then, it may be asked, were the employers anxious to 
incorporate such provisions into the codes for their industries? The 
answer lies in their recognition of the fact that it was futile to at 
tempt to control wages and hours in industrial homework through 

■2i- Thus homework was prohibited in the artificial flower industry, 
despite the fact it had "always baon a considerable factor" and 
y/as in fact regarded as "an integral part of the productive system" 
of the indu3t]?y (Report of the Deputy Administrator on the Code 
of Pair Competition for the Arti^ficial Flower and Feather Industry, 
appended to Approved Code No, 29 for the Artificial Flov/cr and 
Feather Industry). In the garter, suspender and belt industry the 
number of homcworkors v/as estimated at about 700 to 1,000 as against 
somev/hat loss than 5,000 employed in the factories (Report of Eugh 
S. Johnson, Administrator of the N.R.A. to the President, dated 
November 2, 1933, and appended to Approved Code No. 94 for the 
Men's Garter, Suspender and Belt Manufacturing Industry); yet 
homev/ork was abolished by the code for this industry. Similarly 
homework v/as abolished in the pleating, stitching and bonnaz and 
hand embroidery industry, though there wore "more workers employed 
by this industry in their homes than in factories" and v/ith full 
recognition of the fact that "great difficulties in readjustment •.. 
will bo faced by every member of the industry". (Letter of trans- 
mittal, dated February 10, 1954, signed by Hugh S. Johnson, Adminis- 
trator of the NRA and appended to Approved Code No. 276 for the 
Pleating, Stitching and Bonnaz and Eand Embroider;^- Industry) • 
Similarly, the code for the Schiffli, the Hand Machine Embroidery, 
and the Embroidery Thread and Scallop Cutting industries abolished 
homework though it "presented a significant amount of the total 
production activities of the industry" (Report of Hugh S. Johnson, 
Administrator of the N.ii.A., to the President, dated February 2, 
1934, and appended to Approved Code No. 256 for the Schiffli, the 
Hand Machine Embroidery, and the Embroidery Thread and Scallop 
Cutting Industry). 

- 28 - 

regulations. This was frequently stated explicitly.* 

Experience under the N.R.A. drove home the point that 
while abolition of the homework system can be carried through suc- 
cessfully, even the best administered attempts to control its evils 
through regulation are doomed to fail. Hours far in excess - in some 
cases more than double - the maximum number permitted by the codes, 
wages a fraction of the code minimums, and tho persistence of child 
labor were foujid in ovory investigation of tho offoctivonoss of regu- 
lation in those industries whore it was attempted.** Regulation 


In connection with the garter, suspondcr and bolt code, tho Adminis- 
trator pointed out! "The elimination of home work is believed to be 
^^^^^''^^^n''? ^" *^^' effective onforcomont of the labor provisions 

NO. 94, supra.). In connection with the pleating and stitchina code 
the Administrator declared: "There can bo no question that hoSf 
''°?er'L'';v'St°" i" *f umbroidory industry\s a'source oJ SL- 
;a^ offn.?^''ot*JS'"^*\?^ organizing a stable industry. EvidencS 
th"t hf^r 1 "''' Public hearings and in the conferences to show 
hiaL?? r^T^'nnf' wore paid as little as 5p.' an hour and tha? tSe 
I2I an hou^ ^nd^.J^""" homework by evon reputable manufacturers was 
i^ijfc an hour, ana these rates were for embroidery requiring years of 
training and the utmost skill and artistry. On work rcqSlrine LS. 
degree of skill or in preparation of work of high skill JhJS^o^k 

^o.^nr^.f^-'^" ^°"^^^' '^'^ children of the household are empLyeJ in 
most of thoar spare hours. The impossibility of any cost Account ln^ 

e??dcnJ '"Th^^^r->r^'^ prevention under sLh eoSitions is SJlf^ 
eviQcnt. The abolishment of home \vork vas therefore decided hv^n 
ovor^vholming majority in the industry, notwlthstaSding ere^? JTf?? 

supra. )^ Rol-arding t^he'^^SSbitio^A of horn SorS g^^Sr^cS^?lf * '''' 

S. Johnson, appended to Approved Code No. 256 sunvn V^ "^^^ 
** Reports of some of these invcstigatio s may be ?oSnd in th- f .n 
ing documents: NRA Division of Review. Work Mater ?o?. Jo 5^ ^1}°!' 
reviews the general experience and Sn pa^Js 2Sf nif. °; ^fl ''^^°^ 
suits of an investigation of homework in ?hP S^f^^^ ?^^ ^^"^ ''°- 
try; Pennsylvania Department of Sbor -nd ^ndSt^J r,°''*'''^'°S^ ^"^^=- 
and Children, Industrial Homework in PoSnsvSon?^^' ^''"t'^ °^ ^''"'"^^ 
U.S. Children's Bureau Publication WoP^f^S"^? '^''?'' ^^^ N.R.A.; 
perience of the knitted outerwear ind^str^ Sd'?n?f f^f ' ?\?r 

ren's wear industry, among several Sthers^n? P?f??*^ .''"^ °^^^'^- 
Piihli m-i-i- nr^ Mr^ o/i^ u^ ? '^^^r'-^^-^ owners; U.S. Cnildron's Bureau 

- 29 - 

proved a complete failure even in the cases of those workers who were 
issued certificates under the terms of the Executive Order of May 15, 
1934.* In such cases, certificates were subject to the moat stringent 
controls applied under the N.R.A. The Bureau of Women and Children 
of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor made an exhaustive study of 
the conditions under which such certificated workers labored. It 
found that 79.3 per cent of the certificates had been violated. In 
the infants' and children's wear industry, the certificates violated 
amounted to 91.7 per cent of tho number issued. Violations wore found 
as to hours, wages and child labor.'^^^ The study was made in an effort 
to determine whether the system of certification had accomplished its 
purpose - to sot up standards in the- homo which would approximato tho 
factory standards established by tho Codos of Pair Competition. This 
v/as tho Bureau's conclusion: 

Homework can never bo regulated. ..No mater how 

hov'/^hnnn^f^h ''•^^''^•°''f' ^°" er°^^ *^^ enforcement, 
hw nonest thu investigators, tho sweatshop conditions 
1'5^^ continue to exist unless homev/ork is abolished 
The conditions which exist arc an integral par J of 
Industrial homo ;7ork and only when processing of 
articles m employees' homos is abolished caS tho 

dlsappoa;!J-^°'''"^ °^' °' ^'^'^ ^y^*^^-^ °^ production 


"The classes of horaeworkers exempted by tho Executive Order definlto 

wLL'?r''"?H'^°''^^ ^ ""^^^ porcontago or tho totarSu^Jer of hoSe- 
uor^crs. The homeworkor system could not bo expected to surviv? i f 
so few homeworkcrs wore permitted. By and larSo the notwol Z^^ k 
had perpetuated tho homework system as a oh- "o nf Sd^o^!.^!? ^'i°^ 
tion were not humanitarian, mth^lli-hrr.': - ^'^^^^^fi^l produc- 
it '-mo nnt nv^w tt^Z t ^ "^ '•-'■•'■ ^^'^ economic advantages gone. 

sSnding^Sork oS^o be dorf g Sc'^-^ manufacturers woufd cfn?iAuo 
invalid, and aged persons no So5?h SS? ? ^"'"^^'i ^ i^^'^^^^^P^oa, 
of Review, Work Materials ^0^45, p: Sf ^ °"^ * ^'^^ ^°^^^ 

-:;-;:• Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industw r„t>o-.-„ r.f w„ 

Children, P-nsylvania 's Experionco'witnerSic^terHoLSrr 
-:hhj. Ibid., p. 8, 

- 50 - 

The findings of the U.S. Children's Bureau did not differ from those 

of the Pennsylvania agency; as to the failure of N.R.A. attempts at 


Under the National Recovery Administration great 
gains were made where the codes prohibited the 
giving out of homework • But in the industries in 
which homework was still permitted, even though 
limited by certain regulations, the ancient evils 
continued to exist and to constitute a menace to 
the higher labor standards that had been achieved 
for factory workers.*'^ 

N.R.A. reg-ulation of homework marked a significant step 
forward in the handling of the homework problem in that the emphasis 
was shifted from protection of the consumer against the danger of 
contagion to protection of the homcworkcrs from the detrimental ef- 
fects of low wages, long hours and child labor. In this respect, 
experience under the N.R.A. foreshadowed the problems v/hich were 
later to bo faced by the Wage and Hour Administration when it att emptor' 
to eliminate child labor from homework and to enforce minimiom wages 
and maximum hours for homeworkors. The Women's Bureau summarized the 
difficulties involved in this type of regulation in a study of homo- 
v/ork in Rhode Island under the N.R.A.: 

The practice of having work done in the homes 
instead of in the factory alv/ays has been opposed by 
the V/omcn's Bureau. Its main objection is based on 
the fact that effective regulation of homov/ork is 
impossible. For example, tho regulation of hours 
of work that has boon satisfactorily enforced for 
factory workers in many states obviously is out of 
the question so far as homeworkors are concerned* 
Paid by the piece, homov;orkors arc tempted to put 
in longer hours of work than would be permitted in 
the factory, and they often v/ork far into the night, 
a custom that has boon abolished in many states in 
the case of factory work. Frequently, too, long 
hotirs of work are made necessary because of 
the quantity of work sent out by the factory, often 
late in the aay, to be finished and returned the 

* U.S. Children's Bureau, Publication No. 234, p. 21. 

- 31 « 

next morning. 

The regulation of v/ages is equally impracticable* 
Even though rates for home work were the same as 
for similar work done in the mill, which is rarely 
the case, many things contribute to make the actual 
earnings of home workers m.uch less than those of 
factory v/orkers. Often more is required of the 
home worker than of the v/orkor in the mill, for 
example, folding or other preparation for distribu- 
tion, usually not done by the production employees 
in the factory, Moie often, work done in the homes 
is not carried on in the factory, so that the wage 
rates arc not fixed by any standard that the mill 
might havo for its inside ?/orkers. The homo workers 
themselves arc at a disadvantage thro\igh lack of 
organization, if not lack of communication. Because 
of this they have difficulty in knowing just what 



ges they may rightly expect and in making any 

effective demand for a change. 

The prevention of child labor also is practically 
impossible under a system of industrial home work. 
It is a temptation in families that eke out their 
existence by homo work to increase their pitifully 
small earnings v/ith the aid of even very small 

children. -Si* 

The success of those industries which attacked the 
homework problem by providing for outright abolition stands in sharp 
contrast to the experience of those whoso codes did not go beyond 
regulation. There is general agreement that the code prohibitions of 
homev/ork resulted in a substantial decrease in the total vol-umc of 
such v/ork. Pennsylvania, for example, reported: 

The number of homov/orkers roportod by Pennsylvania 
employurs decreased from 8,649 to 6,531 between 
September, 1933, and September, 1934, a drop of 
more than one-third. This decrease resulted mainly 
from the prohibition of homov/ork by many i\FRA codes. ->-' 


U.S. Women's Bureau, Bulletin Ko. 131; Industrial Eomowork in 
Rhode Island, p. 1, 

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Women and 
Children, Industrial Homework in P>-nnsylvania Under the NBA. p. 3, 
The Bureau points out that this decrease in the volume of homework 
was the not result of widely varying code provisions, homework in 
some industries where the codes permitted it having increased 
IJDia., pp. 5f.). Cf. also for trend in the number of homo\7orkers' 
licenses issued in New Jersey during the W.R.A. period, U.S. Bureau 
of Labor Statistics, Bulletin No. 629, p. 178; and for Rhode Island'- 
oxporience with the N.R.A. prohibition of homov/ork in the lewelrv 
industry. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin Fo. 619 p. 47 

- 32 - 

Federal agencies had a similar tale to tell. The 
Children's Bureau stated that: 

Investigators of tne United States Department of 
Labor ••• reported that they experienced consider- 
able difficulty in locating persons actually en- 
gaged in homework in sections where in past years 
they had only to walk along certain streets to see 
entire families absorbed in work that was later 
abolished under the codes.''*" 

With a view to determining the effect of NRA homework 
prohibitions the Children's Bureau made an investigation covering 
the men's clothing, men's neckv/ear, artificial flower and feather, 
medium and low priced jewelry manufacturing and tag industries, all 
of v;^ose codes had provided for the abolition of homework* Out of 
the 117 employers investigated, the Bureau turned up only three who 
continued to distribute homework in violation of code prohibitions. 
At least a part of their former homoworkers had been brought into 
the factory by 93 of these employers. Throe others had brought the 
work inside without increasing the number of their factory v/orkers; 
and four had turned over the work formerly done by homeworkers to 
contractors who, in turn, had established themselves in shops and 
brought their homeworkers inside. *-"--■ 

The experience of these employers shewed conclusively 
that "prohibition of homework is not impracticable form the standpoint 
of either the manufacturer or the homeworkor."'--^^ The manufacturers 
investigated reported, in general, that the difficulties of complying 
with the code prohibitions had not been so groat as they had antici- 
patod; that the expected labor shortages had not matcrializod; that 
homov/orkcrs adjusted to factory routine with comparatively little 

•» U.S. Children's Bureau, Publication No. 234, p. 23. 
-;:•# U.S. Children's Bureau, Publication No, 244, p. 11, 

Ibid., p. 26. 

- 53 - 

difficulty; and that the work formerly done in the homes was performed 
much more efficiently in the factory at considerably higher rates of 



A committoe appointed by the President to prepare for 

him "an adequate and final review of the effects of the administration 

of Title i of the National Industrial Recovery Act" summed up the 

N.R.A. experience with homework in the follov/ing language: 

NRA came to believe in the abolition of industrial 
homework, both because of its disastrous social and 
competitive effects and because of the difficulties 
it created in the way of establishing effective 
control and regulation of the terms and conditions 
of employment, .•. The net result of the prohibitioa 
of home work v/as a marked decrease in the volume of 
home work in most industries, even in those in v/hich 
the prohibition v/as not completely observed. The 
difficulties of enforcement were at a minimum in 
well-administered codes which made constant investi- 
gations and audits of employers' records. The 
Women's Bureau reported that employers felt that if 
all codes alike prohibited home work, so that no 
employer had the advantage over another, the abolition 
of homework could be satisfactorily effected. Nineteen 
industries that did not prohibit industrial homo work 
provided for some type of control of it. It was 
foiind among the industries which merely required the 
establishment of registers of industrial home workers 
that this method did not provide an adequate means of 
controlling home work. Ner did the establishment of 
minimum piece rates provide a successful method of 
control. ... On the v/hole it was found that regulation 
of home work definitely decruasod the number of homo 
workers, transferred an increasing number of such 
workers back to the factory, . and improved conditions 
among homev/orkers considerably. Sometimes actual 
earnings rose almost 100 per cent. Nevertheless, home 
workers did not come to enjoy code wage standards, 
even in industries v;here the regulations were severe 
and enforcement was exacting. The evils of industrial 
homework continued undor a regulated system in miti- 
gated form. Thv. provisions failed most conspicuously 
in regulating hours of employment and child labor. It 
was found that only complete prohibition could eradicate 
the evils of industrial home work.*-"-* 

^^' Ibid., p. 26f. 

^-"- U.S. Cominittee of Industrial Analysis, p 


- 34 - 

As soon as the N.R.A. was declared iinconstitutional, 

thus ending the code prohibitions, homework vol\aine turned sharply 

upward,***^ In order to escape State regulatory measures, where they 

existed, employers increasingly resorted to the device of shipping 

homework across State lines, thus conquering new territories for the 

sweatshop* The growth of this practice led the Division of Labor 

Standards to proclaim: 

In view of the growing conclusion that homework as 
a method of industrial production must go, this 
tendency to perpetuate itself by reaching out into 
remote communities is especially significant. Al- 
ready the interstate shipment of homev/ork goods as 
a practical possibility has been demonstrated; and 
as the large homev/ork States continue their fight 
tov/ard abolition, the throat to the States in which 
it is not yet a problem is apparent, *-"•'< 


A study made in 1936 demonstrated that 194 manufacturers 
located in New York wore escaping the strict regulations of that State 
by sending out v/ork to be performed by 1,661 homcv/orkcrs in 16 states 

and Puerto Rico, Several of those states had no homev/ork regulation 
of any typo.*-'*^"^ 


Further impetus to homev/ork was provided when the Pair 
Labor Standards Act was made law. Although this statute fixes mini- 
mum wages and working hours for home as v/ell as factory employees, the 
difficulty of controlling standards of homev/orkers v/as immediately 
recognized by certain employers. Less than three months after the 




An examination of data for the states requiring registration of 
homeworkers bears this out very clearly (Cf. U.S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics, Bulletin No. 629: Labor Laws and their Administration, 
1936, p. 178; Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau 
of Women and Children, Industrial Homework in Pennsylvania under 
the NRi\, p. 23; its I^^dustrial Homev/ork in Pennsylvania in 1936, 
pp. 3 and 8; New York Department of Labor, /innual Report of the 
Industrial Commissioner for the Twelve Months Ended December 31. 
1936, p. 66). ' 

U.S. Division of Labor Standards, Inters tato Shipment of Industrial 
Homev/ork, November 5, 1936, pp. 5f. 
<- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin No. 629, p. 171. 

- 35 - 

effective date of the law, the Administrator of the Wage and Hour 

Division was forced to remark: 

Reports have already come in to the Wage Stnd Hour 
Division which indicate that in a number of indus- 
tries in which homework is possible and has been 
practiced in the past, the passage of the Pair 
Labor Standards Act has led to an increased use of 
this method of manufacture •^ 

He went on to point out that: 

All homework is, of course, done on a piece work 
basis - so much for a certain lot of goods - and 
where a minimum wage exists there is little doubt 
that the very existence of homework is a prima 
facie case that the statute is being evaded. All 
evidence on the subject points to the fact that 
work in the home is less effective and loss effi- 
cient than the same work performed in a factory; and, 
therefore, that no employer who is required to pay 
25 cents or 30 cents an hour can afford to have this 
work done in the home because it could bo done at 
less cost in his own plant ."^^ 

Confirmation of those foars was not long in appearing. 

Homework continued to flourish, with wages barely different from 

those paid in tho 1890 ^s# * Wages of 5 and 10 cents an hour wore com- 

mon# Wrote one homoworker to one of tho I.L.G.W«U# locals in November, 

1938: "I earn from 12^ to 14j^ per hour, at tho most. Some women at 

his concern make maybe a little more, but tho majority earn oven loss 

than I do.*^^^*^^* A knitgoods manufacturer not in contractual relations 

with the International Ladies < Garment Workers* Union wrote to tho 

manager of its Local 155: 

I read in the "Womcn^s Wear" today about your 
complaint to the wage and hour administrator about 
women working on homo work for as low as seven conts 
per hour. I want to bring to your attontion the 
fact that you are wrong about this statement, because 

•?«• U.S. Wage and Hour Division, Interim Report of tho Administrator of 
the Wage and Hour Division for tho Period August 15 to December 31, 
1938, part IV^ p. 3f • 

*^ Ibid., part IV, p. 5. 

•Jf-JH^ Report of the Committee on Manufactures on the Sweating System, 
pp. viii f. 

•5t-k«-^-:«- Letter from the files of the Knitgoods V/orkers^ Union Local 155 

of the I.L.G.W.U. 

- 36 - 

I know women in Brooklyn and also around Jersey 
doing embroidery homework for tyroloan sv/eaters 
for as low as three cents a piece, and all they 
can make is two sweaters an hour««, I admit that 
in the twenty years I have been in business, I 
have never soon such conditions existing boforo."^' 

Statements made by homev/orkors in 1941 to representatives 
of the I,L.G,\V.U. showed hourly earnings ranging from 15 to 31 cents* 
The v/orkors reporting those earnings were performing horacv/ork on 
blouses, nockv/oar, drosses, housecoats, negligees, shorts and skirts. 
Except for the last item mentioned, whore a 40-cent minimum applies, 
all of those garments call for a 35-cont minimvim wage under the terms 
of wage orders issued by the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Divi- 
sion. Extra compensation for overtime was conspicuous by its absence, 
according to these statements, Homev/ork handbooks were generally not 
used. In the few instances v/herc they wore used, cither they wero 
kept in the employer's possession rather than given to the homeworkers 
as required, or the hours recorded in the handbooks bore no relation 
to the actual hours worked. Several of tho statements pointed out 
that the employers made no inquiries as to hours v/orked. *""'*' 

Of the innumerable attempts to evade tho provisions of 
thu Pair Labor Standards Act, one is particularly noteworthy. Several 
knitgoods manufacturers organized tho Hand Knitcraft Institute and 
established a "purchase and sales arrangement" whereby home workers 
"bought" the knitting yarn from thom and then "sold" the finished 
article. The Wage and Hour Division initiated an action against 
these firms, v/hich was settled by a consent decree in cases of 11 
firms.'-^"'^""^' Underpayments were estimated at close to |250,000. Tho 

* Letter from Hirsam Knit Sportswear, Garnerville, N.Y. , dated Novem- 
ber 17, 1938, from the files of Local 155. 

•5S-X- Statements on file with tho Research Department, I.L.G.Vif.U. 

•JHHc Harold D. Jacobs v. Hand Knitcraft Institute, et. al., 2 Labor 
Cases, 144. 

- 37 - 

amount of underpayments had to bo estimated, there being no way in 
which exact figures could be secured. It is interesting to note in 
this connection that subsequently the counsel who represented the 
Hand Knitcraft Institute sent a memorandum to manufacturers in which 
he drew attention to hand knitting and crocheting organizations in 
Maine and New Hampshire, and said: "These cooperatives and others 
that may follow their example give promise of taking over the hand 
knitting and hand crocheting industry of the country not only in 
infants wear but in adult wear."* The Maine "cooperative" receives 
its orders from New York, .according to its sponsor, "the fastest 
worker" can turn out weekly four crocheted four-piece baby sets - 
cap, saquo, and bootees. The average worker makes about throe sets 
a week. For this work they arc paid at #15 per dozen, or on the 
average $3.75 a week.-^"=- Obviously such weekly earnings are incom- 
patible With the provisions of the Pair Labor Standards ,;ct. 

In brief, the not effect of the Pair Labor Standards 
Act on many employers was to increase their attachment to the homework 
method Of production because it so greatly facilitated evasion of the 

" Sarne? ^lJ^2l!^'^S^r^ ^^ ^'^"^ ^"^^"S and Crocheting in 

""oe?Se?: 19irf\2''%l^J?,f' f ^?^'^" ^" ^^^ ^^^'^'^^^^ Magazine, 
irnit-t^^^ oJ:^^' ^''^^' T^is "coop" also makes men's sweaters 

glovef(??id!)r''""°'' ''^"'^^^ --ci moccasins,. wool^r^itLA- and 

- 38 - 

hours and wages provisions of the lav/."^^ In this respect, experience 
under the Act to date supports the conclusions based on experience 
with previous attempts to regulate homework - namely, that violation 
and evasion of the law is an inherent characteristic of homework which 
no system of regulation can eradicate* This fact is increasingly re- 
cognized in State legislation. When, in 1936, the International As- 
sociation of Governmental Labor officials approved a "model bill" 
providing for more stringent regulation by the states, they incorpo- 
rated into the draft a grant of broad powers to the State authorities 
to abolish homework, industry by industry, *'^"*^ At the present time, a 
number of states, including those where homework is most important. 

-txn analysis of compliance with the Pair I^abor Standards iict in the 
jewelry industry made by the Wage and Hour Division revealed that 
the following practices v/ere resorted to by homework employers to 
evade the provisions of the Act: "1. ^i substantial failure to ob- 
tain record-keeping handbooks deemed by the Administrator to bo 
necessary for the enforcement of the Act; 2. V/herc handbooks have 
been obtained, a widespread failure to record the necessary in- 
formation adequately; 3. A common practice of falsifying the record 
of hours worked by one device or another; 4. Universal violation of 
the minimum wage provisions of the ,*ct in every homework inspection 
completed to date; 5. Probabilities of extensive violations of 
Section 7 and of the child-labor provisions of the ^ict; 6. u system 
of fixing piece rates and a method of distributing work which makes 
violations inevitable." (U.S. Wage and Hour Division, Industrial 
Homework Under the Fair Labor Standards ^ct in the Jewelry Industry 
a Statement Presented Before the Administrator's Hearing on the 
Minimum V/age Recommendation of Industry Committee No. 17 for the 
Jewelry Manvif acturing Industry, January 21, 1941, p. 34). Unques- 
tionably, practices in the apparel trades are in no way different • 
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin No. 629, p. 162f. 

- 59 - 

have laws looking toward the aboliton of homework. -"-• Several str.tes 


have issued orders prohibiting homework in specific industries. In 
the State of New York, three such orders have been issued to date: 
for the men's and boys' outer clothing, men's and boys' neckwear, and 
artificial flower and feather industries.--* Connecticut has abolished 
virtually all homework within its borders. «-"--"• Oregon, under its 
general authority to regulate the conditions of employment of women 
and minors, has Issued an order prohibiting homework in the needle- 
craft occupations. *•"■■••■* 

The experience of these states v;ith the elimination 
of homework has been uniform. Manufacturers have encountered little 
difficulty in making the adjustment to factory operations, and 
factory employment has increased, many former homevrorkors being taken 
inside, despite the fact that evasion through the shipment of work to 
other states has continued to bo a problem. ■"""-s"^* 


?o?k ?ra.-^io?.°^ Labor Standards, Bulletin No. 26: Industrial Eome- 
are rSffninJi''^^"'^ ^^? .administration, p. 4. ,miong these States 
o California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Now York. Pennsvlv-m'a 
and Rhode Island (Ibid., pp. 4 and 51). ..t the time of S?i tins 
both houses of the New Jersey Legislature have passed a limilSr' 
* Ib?Sn p^^'ee-gl."''''"" ^^' Governor's signature! ^ 

'"l934^^?6^°p! J^f ''*'"^'^* °^ ^^°^ ^"^ Factory Inspection, Report, 
-::--:«? U.S. Division of Labor Standards, Bulletin No. 26 n A 

Trthc"lndu^t^''^''p°" ?^ ^'°"'"" ^^ ^^^-^^-^ Sd Minimi:m.'^Wag;, Report 
to the Industrial Commissionor on a Review of the Operation of 

Sol";ork ?n ?hc^°;t?.'"? Rocommendation for Continued Ro^laWon of 
1939 nn ^ l^ rf l-^''l l^^'^^l '^'^"^ Feather Industry, October 16, 
i.939, pp. 3-5; Connecticut Department of Labor and Pactorv 1-nsnoo 
tion. Report, 1934-1936, p. 37. a^czorj mspoc- 

- 40 - 

The foregoing pages establish the fact that the homework 
system of production has outlived Its usefulness. Since the advent of 
the factory system of prbduction, it has steadily declined in impor- 
tance, and today it is but a shadow of its former self. Its sole 
basis for continuance is low wages and long hours. V'/ith the limita- 
tions placed on hours and wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 
the survival of homework is impossible except on the basis of viola- 
tion of the law. These facts, standing by themselves, point to the 
futility of attempts to regulate homework. They are buttressed by 
decades of experience with actual attempts at regulation. Under the 
circumstances, to permit homework to continue is to sanction viola- 
tion of the law. If enforcement of the .ict is to bo offoctive, 
cognizance must be taken of the univorsally acknowledged fact that 
the evils of homework will be eliminated only \7ith the abolition of 
tho practice itself. 

- 41 - 



As of July 15, 1941 there were on file with the Re- 
search Department of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union 
39 collective agreements (i»e«, agreements with associations of em-^ 
ployers applicable to the individual firms belonging to the associa- 
tion) and 280 independent agreements (i.e., agreements with indivi- 
dual firms) which specifically prohibit homework* The follov/ing ex- 
amples are typical of the language used in these agreements: 

"No work shall bo given to workers to bo mado at homo*" 
(Agrocmont v/ith Affiliated Dross Manufacturers, 
Inc., Now York City) 

"No homov/ork is to bo permitted." 

(Agroomont with Dross Association of Los Angeles) 

"It is furthor agreed that no v/ork shall bo taken out 
from tho factory to be done at homo and that same 
shall constitute a violation of this agreement, and 
tho employer and the workers shall bo subject to pen- 

(Agreement with Chicago Association of Dross 

"Tho Association agroos in principle to tho abolition 
of homov/ork«" 

(Agrocmont with Ploators, Stitchers and Em- 
broidery Manufacturers' Association, Inc., Nov/ 
York City) 

Agreements explicitly prohibiting homework arc in ef- 
fect in. tho States of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusottr 
Missouri, Michigan, Now Jersey, Now York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. An- 
alysis of those contracts by industry rovoals tho follov/ing distri- 
bution t 

- 42 - 

Ilumbor of 



Dresses 12 

Embroidery 3 

Sportswear & 
Underwear 4 

Children's wear 1 
Blouse and skirt 4 
Corsets 1 


Custom made garments 
Covered buttons 1 
Buttonholes 1 

Women's neckwear 
Plastic buttons 1 
Artificial flowers* 1 

Total 39 











In a small number of cases (involving 7 collective and 
34 independent agreements) the union, not yet able to abolish homework 
has had to accept provisions permitting homework in some form* In 
general, these agreements cover employers who face a substantial amount 
of competition from non-union manufacturers who resort to homework on 
a large scale. Under the circumstances, union insistence on the ces- 
sation of homework would impose a serious comootitivo disadvantage on 
the employers under contract with it. Toleration of homework under 
union agreements, however, is based on recognition that homework is an 
evil and that its abolition is desirable. Its complete abolition in 
tho industries involved awaits either governmental action which would 
apply to all employers alike or tho extension of union control to tho 
point where the unionized employers could consent to refrain from em- 
ploying homcworkors without unduly damaging thoir competitive position^ 
Ponding abolition, agreements permitting the continuance of homework 
include measures for limiting or controlling it# 

Thus, ono of the tv/o collective agreements in tho Chicago 
om.broidery industry permits homework only when tho imion is unable to 
supply exporioncod shop workers or when tho existing shop facilities 
for such work arc fully engaged. The other Chicago embroidery agree- 
ment, covering the pleating and stitching trade, prohibits homework on 
any operation performed in the factory. The Philadelphia embroidery 
contract prohibits homework except on hand v/ork« 

One collective and four independent agreements in the New York arti- 
ficial flower industry prohibit homework except when performed by such 
workers as are permitted to do so iinder tho terms of Oj^der No. 3 pro- 
hibiting industrial homework in the artificial flower and feather in- 
dustry, issued by tho Now York State Department of Labor. Tho Order 
permits homework only by those who wore licensed homcworkors in tho 
industry prior to March 10, 1938 and who arc unable to adjust to fac- 
tory work because of ago, physical or mental disability or bocauso 
thoir presence at home is required to care for an invalid. 

- 43 - 

In the bolt industry, 3 colloctivo agreomonts and 26 
independent agreements permit homework. Two of the independent agree- 
ments are with Philadelphia manufactiirers. One provides that no homo- 
work may be given out without prior union approval; and the other 
prohibits homework in all occupations except lacing or braiding of 
belts* The remaining agreements, all of v/hich arc v/ith New Yoi^ City 
employers, provide for prohibition of hcmowork except on buckles, 
ornaments, lacing and braiding* 

The only agreements in the children's dress industry 
v/hich permit homev/ork arc with 8 manufacturers in Southern Texas. 
Under these, agreements, hand embroidery is the only operation permit- 
ted to be done by homev/orkers. However, the vigilance of the union 
with regard to the piece rates paid to homev/crkors has resulted in the 
transfer to the factories of a large part of this work; and today, the 
number of home workers has shrunk to a fraction of the ntimbor employed 
a fev/ years ago. 

The collective agreement with a New York City associatior 
of ncckwQar and scarf manoifacturers provides that any member of the 
association employing homev/orkers must secure a certificate showing 
that such persons are free from any contagious disease; that rates of 
pay for horaeworkors shall be not less than the rates paid in the fac- 
tory; that the names and addresses of all homev/orkers shall be filed 
with the union; and that no employor may distribute homework irnless ho 
employs at least 6 sowing machine operators in his factory. 

This last mentioned agreement offers an interesting li- 
the gradual elimination of homework under union agree - 

•raents. The agreement signed by the association in December 1936, for 

a period of one year, provided that: 

"The parties to this agreement recognize that it 
is advisable to minimize, control a nd, if possible, 
to eliminate homowcrk existing in this industry; 
that tho control of homework is essential for the 
protection of labor standards and for avoiding 
. unfair competition." 

Accordingly, in addition to the regulations referred to above, no em- 
ployer was to distribute homework unless "at least 60 per cent of the 
articles of each type are produced in a factory" owned by the firm em- 
ploying homoworkcrs. When this agreement was renev/ed for an additional 
year, the percentage of each type of articles required to bo produced 
in the factory was raised to 66 2/3 per cent. This percentage was 
increased a year later to 75 per cent. This provision is now in force. 

In addition to those contracts which contain specific 
references to homework, the files of the Research Department, as of 
^^l^^^i."^^' "^^^-^^ contain 29 collective and 547 independent agreements 
which make no mention of the subject. In many instances, particularly 
as regards agreements with individual firms, the absence of a homework 
provision is accounted for by the fact that the issue of homework has 
never arisen as a practical matter. Some agreements, while making no 
specific reference to industrial homework, actually prohibit it by 

lustration of 

- 44 - 

other typos of provisions, samples of v/hich are given below: 

"All garncnts produced by the Employer shall 
be made up on his own premises" 
(Agreement with the Tv/in Cities Dress Manufac- 
turers Association) 

"The Employer agrees to have its excess work 

done in none but Union shops under contractual 

relations with the said Union" 

(Agreement with Chic Manufacturing Cc, Peoria. 


"••• the Employers are engaged in the manufacture 
of drosses ••• and have their v/ork performed in 
their own shops or lay contractors •♦." 
(Agreement with Royal Miss, Inc., Scranton, Pa.) 

"The Association agrees that its mom^bers shall 
employ no workers v;hc are not in good standing 
with the Union" 

(Agreement with the Associated Garment Industries, 
St. Louis, Mo.) 

"The Council agrees that all of its members v/ho 
produce all or part of their garments on their 
own premises will maintain union shops, and that 
all of its members who have their garments produced 
by sub-manufacturors or contractors, or who pur- 
chase their garments from other manufacturers, 
merchants, jobbers, or wholesalers will deal only 
with such firms as conduct union shops." 
(Agreement with Industrial Coimcil of Cloak, Suit 
and Skirt Manufacturers, Inc., Nov; York) 


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T©p©r, Lazar© and Nathan Weinberg! 

Aspects of industrial homework 
in^..japparftl:... _, trade s • 

MAR 'i 6 1994 


T^ 6