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As World War II production geared up in 1942, discussions of salaries and manpower shortages on the homefront began to take on increased importance. This story in the Association News column of Luggage & Leather Good' February 1942 issue was written early in the year, a mere month after the declarion of war.

                    Industry Minimum Wages

"The industry looks forward with interest to the report which our Industry Wage and Hour Committee will bring back from its Washington conference, scheduled for February 3.
The current minimum of 35 cents per hour has prevailed in the industry since January 5, 1941. At the time that this minimum was set by the Industry Committee, there was some controversy between the labor and manufacturer representatives on the committee. The labor members argued in favor of a 40 cents per hour minimum. However, the manufacturers were able to prove satisfactorily that a 40 cent minimum would impose hardships upon them, and would ultimately have a detrimental effect upon the entire industry. The decision to set the minimum at 3Sc was made with the provision that an Industry Committee meet again within six months to consider whether changing conditions warrant a corresponding change in wages. During the past few months statisticians of the Wage and Hour Division have made a survey of the industry, and their report will be presented to the committee." (L&L Feb 1942 page 36)

A committee was appointed from all areas of the industry and met February 3, 1942 in Washington, DC. They were to "investigate economic and competitive conditions in the industry and recommend the highest minimum wage up to 40 cents an hours which would not substantially curtail employment." The memebers of the committee are listed on page 70 of the same issue.

"Joseph A. MeClain,Jr., Dean of the School of Law, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, is chairman. Other members of the committee are:
For the Public: George Thomas Brown, Professor of Economics, Catholic University, Washington, D. C.; Tipton R. Snavely, Professor of Economics, University of Virginia, C'harlottesville; Malcolm Sharp, Professor of Law, University of Chicago, Chicago; Leland M. Goodrich, Brown University, Providence, R. I.; Harold Egbert van Delden, Assistant Professor, School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance, New York University, New York.
For the Employees: Samuel Laderman, Chicago Leather Workers Joint Board of Chicago; Jack Weiselberg, Brooklyn, Luggage Workers Union; Louis Rooney, Chicago; and Charles Mutter, Jersey City, New Jersey, all of the International Ladies' Handbag, Pocketbook and Novelty W'orkers Union (A. F. of L.) ; Philip Lubliner, New York, of the Pocketbook Workers Union, Local No. 1 (Unaffiliated) ; A. M. Reuter, St. Louis, Missouri, of the Luggage and Leather Workers' Union (CIO).
For the Employers: George S. Bernard, American Hardware Co., Inc., Petersburg, Virginia; Stanley Klein, Mendel-Drucker, Inc., Cincinnati; Robert H. Rolfs, Amity Leather Products Corp., West Bend, Wisconsin; Milton W. Daub, Boyle Leather Goods Company, New York; George Meyers, Meyers Manufacturing Co., Norwalk, Conn., and Leopold J. Sneider, A. I. Magid Company, Inc., New York."

Wartime wage and price controls made wage increases rare. But the August 1942 issue of Luggage & Leather Goods announces the increase in the minimum wage to $.40 an hour. Adjusted to todays dollars at a 1090% inflation, that's $5.03, nearly equivalent to today's minimum wage.

Minimum Wage Increase

Effective July 27, 1942, workers in the handbag industry must receive a minimum wage of 40c an hour. This has been approved by the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Law. Four important points should be taken into consideration in making up working agreements with employees. (1) Hourly wage must be 40c an hour (2) Time and one-half to be paid for hours in excess of 40 hours a week (3) Stipulate the minimum weekly wage guaranteed to employee and provide for payment to employee of a weekly bonus equal to amount, if any, by which employee's earnings (straight time plus overtime) for any given week are less than guaranteed amount. (4) To avoid misunderstanding as to the effect of the contract, employer may also include in the contract a provision that if, in a long work-week, employee's actual earnings (straight time plus overtime) exceed the guaranteed weekly wage, employee will receive the additional compensation due him in excess of the guarantee.

Categories: 1942

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