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Negro workers have now been exposed to industry for about ten years, more than the unskilled phases of the work have been affected by this contact. Recruits for semiskilled and skilled processes have been taken from the acclimated foreign born. Yearly the demand for these forced by promotions, retirement, and death continues in the face of the basic immigrant shortage. The inclusion of Negro workers in these new lines is just beginning to be felt, and in many cases the places in which Negroes succeeded European immigrants are in turn drawing Mexican workers. In 1923, when the Department of Research and Investigation of the National Urban League made an industrial study in Buffalo, the Lackawanna Steel Works was just planning to introduce Mexican laborers for the positions once held by Negroes.

The approach of Negro workers to the more skilled lines is most evident in the present interest in labor unions and the clamoring for admission without restriction. No serious difficulties are experienced in the organized crafts of unskilled lines of work, but in the more firmly intrenched semiskilled and skilled lines, where the old immigration, the acclimated new immigration, and the second generation of both, along with native American whites, hold forth, the handicaps presented to Negro membership impose restrictions on work opportunities quite as serious as those placed by traditional racial attitudes of certain employers. There are, for example, eleven international unions which exclude Negro workers by constitutional provision or by ritual. These have a total membership of 436,200, and control a field in which there are now 43,808 competent Negro workers. Outstanding of these unions also are the electrical workers, with 142,000 members and practically no Negroes, although there are at least 1,343 Negro electricians; the sheet metal workers, with 25,000 members and no known Negroes; the plasterers' union with 30,000 members and less than 100 Negroes, although there are 6,000 Negro plasterers; the plumbers and steam fitters, with 35,000 members, no Negroes, and a long history of successful circumventions to avoid Negro membership, although there are 3,500 Negro workers in this trade; the carpenters, with 340,000 members and only 592 Negro members, although there are 34,217 Negro carpenters; the painters, with 120,604 members and only 279 Negroes, although there are 10,600 Negroes in the trade.

The actual need for new workers will doubtless never again be as great as to demand yearly as many alien immigrants as came during the decade ending in 1914. The National Industrial Conference Board's special survey, announced this month, praises the development of efficiency in industries. "The volume of production in 1923," it says, "was 33 per cent greater per wage-earner than it had been in 1914, and required 25 per cent less labor, 13 per cent less power, and 17 per cent less management personnel per unit of production, and 7 per cent less actual working time per man.' However, there will be for many years

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Data from a study of Negro workers in relation to labor unions now being made by the Department of Research and Investigation of the National Urban League.

a need for more workers to carry the common grades of work than can be supplied from the native white population together with the small accretion from selected immigration. Although the entrance of women to industry on a large scale, the introduction of machinery, and economical management will soften the demand, these are counterbalanced in large part by the tendency, noted with unerring frequency, of the present native-white generation and the second generation of foreigners to drift away into the so-called "white collar jobs, one of the results of universal education.

The reactions of employees to Negro labor, while still contradictory, has a secure balance in favor of their use. One closely scientific comparison of their skill in the iron and steel industry which might be cited reveals, according to earnings per hour on piece work, fifteen processes in which white workers excel Negroes, twelve processes in which Negroes excel white workers, and eighteen processes in which their abilities are the same. They are becoming adjusted to city life, and have even lengthened their life-span by five years since moving north. Their importance to industry and to the objectives of organized labor is evident and certain. Such questions as there are center about the disposition, at times evident, to pit the newer Mexican against the recent Negro entrant to the common labor field, and to take advantage of current racial theories and antagonisms to keep the returns from labor of these two groups as low as possible. That this tendency is revealing itself there is no better evidence than can be found in the most recent study of the Department of Labor, which, in 1926, finds in some important industries two scales of wages for common labor, one for white workers, another for Negroes and Mexicans.


J. B. Gwin, American Red Cross, National
Headquarters, Washington

Mexican laborers and their families have been crossing the international line to work in the border states during the harvest seasons since Santa Anna was driven out of Texas. The end of the harvest season or the coming of the cold weather found most of them returning to their homelands to spend their hardearned silver.

The number of laborers seeking employment has been steadily increasing, at least since records were kept, and always some of those who came did not return. There was a significant increase beginning in 1911, coincident with the beginning of the revolution, which lasted until General Villa was settled on his half-million-acre farm near Parral. They came to the border during that period because work and food were scarce in Mexico. Border towns were filled with refugees who brought increased health and social problems to these communities.

The next impetus to immigration from Mexico came as a result of the scarcity of laborers in the United States during the world-war. Laborers were exempt from paying the head tax or passing the literacy test. They were in demand in the cotton fields, in mines, in railroad maintenance work (rengencia), and in the beet fields. The majority of these probably never returned to Mexico. The exceptions to the provisions of the immigration act no longer prevail, but the increase in the beet-field acreage and the restriction on immigration imposed by the so-called "quota law" of May, 1921, and the later law of 1924 have caused Mexican laborers to be more in demand than ever. This accounts for

the increase in the number from Mexico for 1923 and 1924. In September, 1924, Congress imposed a visa fee of $10.00, and this undoubtedly accounts for most of the decrease for 1925.

The following reports (Table I) on immigration from Mexico tell the story for each year, ending June 30.

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In order to get as complete a picture as possible of the social problems presented by the Mexicans we should give further consideration to the number here and the parts of the country or the localities where they are found. The number of Mexicans living here in 1920, according to the census, was 725,332. These figures include those born here with both or either parent born in Mexico. Almost all of these were living in the Pacific, mountain, or west south-central states. Only 281 were in all the New England states. There has been a net increase from immigration during the past five years of 278,000, and, of course, a considerable increase from children born in this country. These known facts would justify an estimate of the present Mexican population as about 1,200,000.

All reports indicate an increase in Mexican immigration for 1926 and probably for several years afterward. There has been about a 25 per cent increase in beet-field acreage, and in January of this year representatives from all over the West came to Washington to oppose the "Box" bill, which would place the Mexican on a quota basis along with others on the North American continent. They told of the increasing need for Mexican laborers, and almost all of them urged that Mexico be exempted from the $10.00 visa fee. Mr. Frisselle, of Texas, stated: "The Mexican is a 'homer'; like the pigeon, he goes back to roost. He comes into our country mostly for our dollar and our work." Mr. Nixon, also

from Texas, said that more Mexicans return to their homeland than the records indicate. Most of these men who claimed to know the Mexicans so well insisted that almost all these immigrants fly back home when their summer work is completed. If they were correct, the social problems presented by this group of immigrants would be limited to the agricultural regions and would be confined to such problems as child labor, health of women workers, etc. Mr. Cummings, of Colorado, made the following illuminating statement at this hearing: "Two years ago," he said, "our help came from Europe, largely Russians, Germans, and Belgians; now this class of beet help is owning or renting farms, and they are themselves in the market for laborers."

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The supply of incoming Russians, Germans, and Belgians has been very greatly reduced by the quota law, and Mexicans are taking their places. They are found in the beet and cotton fields, and to some degree, in other agricultural work; in some of the mines; on cattle ranches, and as sheep herders. They have spread out from the west and southwest states farther north and over the Midwest. There are fairly large colonies of them in most of the midwest cities, and they are now found at new tasks, some of which require skill.

We will not know until the 1930 census appears just where the Mexican people have found new homes, but enough facts are now known to show the trends. I shall give just a few instances, showing the Mexican population in 1920 and 1925 (Table II), to establish this trend in order to indicate where it may be expected that our Mexican social problems will be found.

These scattered figures, with others which I have secured, show that Mexicans have not found homes to any extent in the East. There are large colonies in the larger cities in the Midwest, West, and Southwest. They are not found in the northern states, and not to any great extent in the South. I had

expected to find them in greater numbers farther east and in the North, taking the places of immigrants who were kept out by the quota laws.

In 1920 almost all the Mexicans who came here were used as laborers in agricultural work or on the railroads. They are now found doing the more skilled types of farm work, and have moved into the cities to engage in all kinds of common labor. They replace other laborers, partly because they are working for less wages and partly because they have shown more endurance and strength. They are also more dependable. It is especially at such work as laborers on the railroads that they have so successfully taken the place of immigrants from Europe. I feel confident that they will soon be found in greater numbers in the eastern states, working on the railroads at first, and later at other tasks. It is especially significant that Mexicans are doing the labor work in many of the mills and industrial plants. This is especially true of the steel mills of the Middle West. They are found in increasing numbers in cotton mills, in the larger iron foundries, and in St. Louis they have taken the place of the South Italians as laborers with the street car companies. A recent study made by the Department of Public Welfare of Chicago showed that 1,042 were in the steel mills, 606 in foundries, and many employed by the railroads and stockyards. Some positions in the skilled trades are now open to these men of Mexico who have never previously done anything but the most common kind of labor. A large lead company of Chicago introduced Mexicans as laborers, but now most positions are open to them; they are found as machine operators in some plants; they are fillers and pressmen in paint manufacturing plants; coal-tar products companies use them as packers and on all kinds of machines; they have shown ability to develop as skilled workmen if given time and patient instruction. Nowhere has the race question been raised where Mexicans work side by side with other peoples.

Mexican laborers and their families spending the summer months in the cotton and beet fields or along the railroads or congregating in the large centers present social problems which should receive our serious consideration. Not much is known of conditions surrounding employment in agricultural work, but a study made by the Child Labor Committee in 1925 in western Colorado, of 330 families, showed that there was considerable child labor. Six hundred and fifty children did some kind of farm labor, and 292 of these assisted in growing beets. Most of those in the beet fields were Mexicans; 23 per cent were from six to nine years of age, four were six years of age, nineteen were seven years, and twenty-three were eight years of age. The average workday for the children was ten hours. This report also showed that the adult Mexicans furnished 79 per cent of the illiterates. These Mexican children are bearing the hardship of annual moving, a short school term at the best, and some of them have long hours of toil in the hot sun.

Mexicans are used in the beet fields from May 1 until about October 1. Their wages are small, but they do fairly well by working as a family and by

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