173.
WORKS PROJECT: CAMOUFLAGE 173

MEETING: Camouflage Workers, Contractors, & U.S.E.D.
SUBJECT: History: Wage Grievance: Organization.
4-3-43

(The meeting was scheduled for 2:30 P.M., but didn't begin until 3:00 P.M. when Mr. Shaw, Mr. Olmstead, Mr. Stahl arrived in their car. Mr. Billikie and Mr. Rosenbloom were already present and the first thing the workers had to do was to go after a secretary who arrived a few minutes before the meeting began. The Caucasian members of the conference all sat in front of the room facing the workers. At this time Frank Kuwahara asked Mr. Shaw permission to confer with him a few minutes to give him the evacuee worker's point of view on the situation.)

As I understand the meeting was called to work out some plan for payment of non-weavers. Now, I understand that you boys have some plan that you have worked out and I understand that with _____ that you have this plan in mind and wish at this time to give us some idea of those plans.


Well, Mr. Shaw, this I would like to present to you and Mr. Olmstead the background leading to the present situation of the camouflage project and I wonder if Mr. Stahl and Mr. Rosenbloom, Mr. Billikie, if it wouldn't be asking too much if we had a few minutes talk with you as they have already had a talk with you. I would like to present the worker's opinion to you and then both parties can get together and work this thing out so that you will know all sides of the story. We'll make it as brief as possible.


Well, I would like you to make it as brief as possible--just has to do with the payment of the non-weavers. Is that right?


Well, the contract in general is the thing in question. There are several things in question and as we want to operate the factory satisfactorily and the army needs nets and we want to make nets as much as we would like to keep maximum production if we can. I think I know that we can and so there has been a great deal of misunderstanding and I would like to present and have some of the workers give their view points so that you may have first-hand information on what has been transpiring and from that you can draw your own conclusions or opinions and also ask Mr. Stahl, Mr. Rosenbloom, Mr. Billikie, and Mr. Finney questions so that you may derive at some opinion or decision. So that I would like with your permission of both present if we may have a few words with you privately.


You would like to talk privately.


I would like to talk with you and Mr. Rosenbloom. Are you a _____engineer?


I am a Labor Relations Officer.


Will you excuse us, Mr. Stahl?


May I go back to the staff meeting?


Mr. Shaw, these people here are representatives of Unit 1, 2, and 3 workers who have met here today to see if you can't give clarification of certain policies and pay plan which is at present disgreed upon by the parties and I would like to go back to the general feeling of the people here as far as the camouflage factory is concerned. I believe August of last year when the buildings went up and we heard the camouflage factory was coming in and rumors were that if we made a certain amount of nets that the army was willing to turn the buildings over to us for use on the project. People were willing to rush and garnish the nets so that we may have the use of the buildings afterwards. Well, around October Colonel Withers came over with It. _____. At that particular time they came over to have a conference to start the factory and there was quite a lot of talk again as to whether the wage scals would be $16 or $19. People at that time were willing to try garnishing the nets, but later rumors went around that health conditions were not good; that it was susceptible to tuberculosis and then it gradually died down for a while. Stories went around that we were to have the County Fair at the factory and then the army said that we couldn't have it. People were slightly disppointed.


Did they ever find out why?


They found out that fire hazard was involved. No one to take responsibility of accepting the hazards there. In December Mr. Stancliff came over with Mr. Stahl and Mr. Stoll and gave us the proposition on the factory at prevailing wages which was based on $4.80 per thousand square feet per weaver and the average pay of weavers for non-weavers. Ratio of non-weavers was 25%. Although I was not there at that particular meeting the minutes were in the hands of some of the people that had attended that meeting which I had access to later on. But after Mr. Stancliff went back home and left the project the Temporary Community Council was re-elected at which time I was appointed,as I was head of the Labor Board,to take charge of the camouflage division. The Council felt that the camouflage factory should be started as soon as possible. To sell to the community, and get working conditions and contract done favorably to both parties was my job. I believe it was the 28th of December that I took a trip together with Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Haas, and several other people to Gila to get first-hand information to bring back to present to the residents and to prospective workers a true picture of the camouflage factory. We went down after this thing. At the Gila project we found even down there that peoplw were very dissatisfied. They weren't satisfied with this and that. They didn't know exactly what they were dissatisfied about and found several things that they were dissatisfied about, expecially, about the pay of the non-weavers down there because they felt the weavers were getting a lot and non-weavers not enough. At that time weavers were getting 4½ cents a thousand square feet and cutters 2½ cents lower and the warehousemen were getting 18 cents and after talking with various people we found that the sizes of net didn't fit the pattern, latrine not cleanr, and there was quite a lot of complaint as to the difference between what the duties of the foreman should be and what the duties of the lead man should be and what the duties of the cutter was. And in order to sell the people the true picture and to get a more definite plan so that when we start operating here it was in a condition that we would go to the maximum production as soon as possible. Well, we came back and we had several meetings; brought it to the people to vote and the people voted negative on the first time because they didn't have anything against the camouflage factory, but thought that we were going out of the way to make Communists out of people brought up as individuals. By that I mean we were working on this dividend fund or trust fund system whereby we would give up part of our earnings so that the community may enjoy something from the camouflage factory and furthermore they though if they voted yes that the community would feel responsible for the progress of the factory since they were directly benefiting from the factory. Well, so after the people rejected the plan we worked out another plan. We called the people together and in spite of the fact that they had voted no they thought that the camouflage factory should operate. We called the Community Council together and had a talk with the authorities that we wished to have the factory opened. The factory was opened with the intention that workers work out a pay plan system which would be acceptable as near as possible to both the workers and the project. And at that time after we opened the factory on February 3, Mr. Reynolds who was there at that time gave special descriptions of the specifications as to what would be done and the contract was based on those specifications that Mr. Reyholds gave us and among the things in the contract is not only the price situation that has been bothering us. The pay situation is just recent, but there are other parts that has to be cleared up, too. When Mr. Reynolds was here we didn't have that problem. He was here only a short time. And there are such things as the hauling of the burlap. He told us that the company was supposed to furnish the burlap work cutting there are and we have to do that ourselves and the opinion that now the contractor has is stating that we have to haul burlap. We have to load rubbish unto the trucks not included in the chief job classifications and we find that wren't quite able to carry the load--to do that and keep our jobs up. I, as part of the management went on ahead and used men as efficiently as I could to get the rubbish out but after working a month we find we are to be penalized for having more than the 18% as the contract reads. Now the question goes back to this; we feel that it is the duty of the contractor to see to it that the ratio of 18% is kept. We feel the management is to, as the authority, it is their duty to see to it that they tell us that the 18% is kept. We feel the management is protected by the contract from our taking more than 18% and as far as other things we feel that the contractors should when the--at that time of signing of the contract to have the sheds cleaned and we are not supposed to do certain duties and now that we have to do that feel that the contract either must be re-negotiated or the contractor live up to the contract before this project will run efficiently. I know we can turn out nets and another thing, we have a feeling over there that the contractor is not making too much of an effort to produce nets and we are willing to produce nets and I think the army also needs the nets and the second thought in our minds is with this program of relocation many of the boys haven't travel fare to go out and haven't expense money to go out so that it is an opportunity for most of the boys to make a few dollars to relocate. We want this factory. I would like to have it brought to your mind we want this factory and willing to give you the works. There's another point. Many of us have brothers in the army. Many are going to do combat duty. It may mean their lives as well as others and second as I said to you the chance of getting a few dollars. The thing we ask you to do is to assist in the clarification of either the present contract or a new contract. It isn't just the pay plan that has bothered us. There are other things bothering us and we feel since the contractor paid us according to the agreement on the pay we feel that he has no reason to misunderstand the second pay plan.


Let me ask you. Under the present contract the price of $4.80 per thousand-- is that acceptable by your people?


That's understood. That's the army price and it's not more and not less.


As far as I can see we can't fuss with duties. I am merely here to see if we can work out some clarifications as far as non-weavers are concerned. That's basis of figured non-weaver's salary. Now, I understand you have talked over plan with one of the representatives--that you would be willing to accept all discussion.


Mr. Shaw, we haven't a plan.


We are asking contractors to live up to contract.


Contractors made an agreement. We would like to be paid according and if not why not.


Well, as I understand and this is just a few figures. 384 workers made 754 square feet of net. That's an average. That you can produce that and that you non-weavers were on that job. I believe along the neighborhood of 57%, 58% compared with you weavers. That's correct.


That's not the correct figure.


You mean non-weaver is 50.


384 weavers and 57 non-weavers. That's right.


Now, for instance, an example, of the production of March 24. 750 thousand souare feet produced. 384 weavers. 57.6 non-weavers. On that b asis then the weavers earned $3,600-- average $9.37 per day each for 7 hour day. -- $1.33 2/3 an hour. That's fairly good wage. As far as outside contracts are concerned carpenters are paid $1,85 and laborers get.87½. In Gila they get.82½. Contractors paying any more than that is violating the stabilization agreement. Penalty is quite a severe one.


But Mr. Shaw, isn't this a speical job?


That's right. This is just average. On the basis of 15%, weavers, if you are non-weavers 50% of what you weavers make that would be about $540 or an average of 90.7 for non-weavers. Now the rate between weavers and non-weavers--weavers are being paid on production basis and recognizing the rate of weavers with non-weavers being paid on production basis. Now, if you would increase your weavers on that basis it cuts the pay of your non-weavers down.


As to how Mr. Rosenbloom computed his figure and how it would be computed. According to the contract the percentage of the hours--the ceiling of 18%, that should not be entered into the picture as pay of non-weavers stated in the contract--that should be on the average wage of weavers. The more work the weavers do, more work the non-weavers have to do and Mr. Rosenbloom in his computation of his pay took total earnings of weavers without computing number of days. Some persons worked only 2 or 3 days because they were getting the rash and had to quit work. Even if a person worked two days and they average 2,000 square feet per day having worked only two days and there are ten working days. Mr. Rosenbloom's a verage is only 1/10 of 4,000 and yet in the payment of the non-weavers you have to consider the individual working hours. We believe the contract should be changed in that.


Well, I feel this way, for instance, if you have five weavers, four of them weave 1,000 square feet and the fifth weaves 500 square feet. The way you interpret it you divide 4,500 by 5. Is that right?


And that's how he paid non-weavers.


Considerable difference in payment of weavers on that basis and another basis you could run non-weavers considerably over a dollar.


They work that much harder. If the weavers worked harder, then the non-weavers, providing the ceiling is not passed over has to work just as harder to keep up with the weavers; so our work increases with the increased production of the weavers.


That can be done. I feel that under the terms of the contract that the wages were to be the average based upon the wage of the experienced weaver.


You mean average hourly wage?


That xxx would be computed into the total earnings of the weavers divided by the hours worked and then we were to be apid by the hourly basis.


Well, you might have one weaver that was.....


We may have weaver at the end of two pay-period weaving two thousand square feet a day had been taken into average along with weaver doing 3,000 square feet. We feel that the contractor should not penalize us for the time weavers rest off. You have weavers work one day and you have been dividing up that among the 16 days or 15 days according to the month.


Well, wait a minute. The number of non-weavers is entirely based upon the number of weavers. In this way, if you have 350 people today you need so many non-weavers to keep them going. If you had 340 you don't need as many non-weavers as you had before. So that his percentage of non-weavers is on the period in relation to the percentage of weavers. Always is the same thing.


That would hold true if done every day--if you went and counted the number, that is, the hours of work day, it may be different.


I can see your point, but here's the thing. Over the month's period it ddes come out exactly the same thing when you decide by the number of work day.


I see that, but workers have no way of knowing what the percentage is. Only the management would know. Then it wasn't up to the worker to decide.


I haven't anything to do with that. You do get average of over a month's period so that your percentage.....


Over a month's period ceiling figure has been gone over.


Mr. Shaw, I would like to point out that the contract said nothing about the percentage of the pay roll of the non-weavers on the weavers. It says that the number of non-weavers which is to be considered is to be derived at and I think the contractor is trying to limit his non-weavers because by interpreting the contract so that percentage of the non-weavers shall be actual payroll rather than through percentage.


One thing I cannot do is make a decision as to what the contractor is to do in regard to the cost production of the nets. In other words it has to be an agreement between the contractor and the employees. Now, I can't go out and tell contractor this is this and you must live up to it. In other words there has to be some settlement agreeable to both parties. Call in the contractor and see if we can't talk this over with you and arrive at some settlement. He could tell us that if not satisfactory and costs him considerable more than what he had anticipated. I think it is best to call in the contractor and see if he has some plan to submit that might be agreeable to you people.


Mr. Shaw, how did you intorprot the contract as to the pay of the non-weavers? I think it is very simply written and that non-weavers be paid on the average pay of the weavers.


For instance, you non-weavers shall be paid on the 15th of each month on the general average wage.


You have had two pay checks.


Doesn't average wage.....


 


You also take into consideration the number of days put in--not number of days in pay period. What happened....


In that way all weavers who goes to work for one day receive same pay as follow who does go to work 15 days.


Number of people working--you arrive at the same pay. In other words if you take over the period you had so many people working--so many people weaving you take all their wages and divide by the number of people working at that period.


Providing that non-weavers worked same hours as weavers.


Non-weavers should.....


Supposing that non-weavers put more hours in than the weavers by request of management.


No provision in the contract.


Non-weavers shall be paid on the 15th of each month--the general average pay of weavers who received two payroll checks.


Regardless of how many hours he worked?


7 hours a day. General average wage. And it is based on a 15 day period because non-weavers shall be paid on the 15th of each month--general average wage of all weavers who have received two prior checks based on that two weeks previously to that.


It is based on the current two week of the worker who have received/two pay checks?


General average wage.


How much they have worked two pay.


General average wage. If you have $3,600 the general pay on that two weeks.


Let's take some actual figures.


He is not taking into consideration the number of weavers. He is taking into consideration number of days worked by the non-weavers. I feel that consideration should be taken as to the number of days weaver worked. That was the intent of the contract.


Take same thing--whatever applies to one applies to the other.


You can cut that down by cutting down the percentage. Fact is non-weavers if you cut it 15% it would be.....


But percentage was 18% and that is not what is under duscussion now. I think the interpretation of the words of the contract of the wages of the weavers or non-weavers. Our interpretation is the rate of pay.


(EC takes over from this point)