Progress of state minimum-wage legislation, 1949-50


Material Information

Progress of state minimum-wage legislation, 1949-50
Monthly labor review
Physical Description:
11 p. : ; 24 cm.
Angus, Alice
Sullivan, Mary Loretta
United States -- Women's Bureau
United States -- Dept. of Labor
U.S. G.P.O.
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Minimum wage -- Law and legislation -- States -- United States   ( lcsh )
Labor -- Law and legislation -- States -- United States   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
by Alice Angus and Loretta Sullivan (U.S. Dept. of Labor's Women's Bureau).
General Note:
Title from caption; at head of title: United States Department of Labor, Maurice J. Tobin, Secretary.
General Note:
"Reprinted (with additional data) from the Monthly Labor Review (October 1950, pp. 460-464) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics."
General Note:

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004969038
oclc - 40538107
System ID:

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Full Text

~: .... MAURICE J. TonzN, Secretary
S9j LEGISLATION, 19429-50'

.iij APPROPIRATE M[ILESTONE fOP' ern.luRt~ng progress in State minimuum-
~ iage` riegurltion is provided by the Oct~ober 1949 amendment of t.he
PaiP'~aibo r Standards Act, increasing the! Federal hlou~]rly inilmum
w ~age to 75 cents, effective January 25, 1950. During the decade when
thie Federal minimum wage wa~s not increased beyond 40 cents, the
rgtiate~s, under their flexible wage-board-tyvpe laws, continued to make
batc~j revisions in wage. orders, andl gradually established minimum
9ag~is mior~e nearly] adljusted to changes in th~e cost of living.
By.. udne 30, 1950, appr~oximately 70 m~inimnum-wage rates ha~d be-
daPire'j ective since VJ-day in 15 States, t~he District of Columbia,
arid'P erto Rico. Practically all wer~e established b~y thle wange-board
pacs .During this entire period, only 4 wazge orders, 3 in one
bsa~it estazblishedl minimumn wages below 40 cents an hour. Half of
th o~i~rder in this period set minimum wages of 60 cents or over, 6
Attfin 70~ centsn or higher.

Major Legislation

Juily 19419 thr~oughl June 1950, the period her~e dealt. with, wans an
' off'' year, legislatively. speaking, for only 11 States convened their
l~egislat~ures in reg-ular~ session. Seven of these Stat~es had existing
mrJinimnum-wnage laws : California, K~entucky, Louisiana, Mtassazchu~-
setts, New Jersey?, New Yor~k, and Rhode Island. The other four--
MSaryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia--failed to adopt
any minimum-wagae laws at their legislative sessions. This was a
continualtion of the status qluo, inasmuch as onlyv three such la.wcs--
t~hose of Maine, Alaskia, and Hawaii-w~ere adlopt~ed subsequent to the
effective date of the Fair Labor Standards Act in October 1938.
Several States continued their efforts to improve the effectiveness
of theirr existing laws. In M~assachusetts and New Ha~mpshire, this
action occurred in 19419 legislattivre sessions w~hichl continued into the
period under study. It took the form of amnendmuents to establish
By At lice Angus and L~oretta Bullivan of the U. B. Department of Labor's Women's
[:Reprinted (with additional data) from the lifoNTwor LInonI Rtvlaw (October 1950, pp.
46 -464) of the U. S. Department of Labor's B~ureau of Labor Statistics]


statutory r~ates. Mlassachlusetts set a minimum rate of 65 cents an
hour, effective January 1, 1950; New Hampshire, a minimum rate of
50 cents for experienced workler~s, and 35 cents for inexperienced (less
than 6 months), effective July 28, 19419. In both these States, the
statutory rate became applicable to men as well as to women. A pre-
vious amlendcment to thle Manssachusetts minimumn-wa~ge law, effective
September 11, 1946, had provided that the statute itself, as well as
every wage order and regulation ~under it, should apply to men. The
amlendmne nt, to thle basic New HampIshir~e statutle did not state ex-
pressly that it. applied to mlen, but t.he term "Lany employees" used
in thle section on rates was interpreted by th~e Attorney General in
a formal written opinion as being applicable to men as well as to
women and minors.
Occupaztiona~l coverage, hlowsever, differ~s in the two Sttates. The
M~assachusetts statutory rate applies to all occupations covered by t.he
basic law (i. e., all except domestic service and agri-
cultural latbor) except as the MCinimlum Watge Commission sets a
lower wagae by wage order. In New Hamlpshlire, the amendment
establishing the statutory rate exempts household, domestic, or farm
labor (occupations also exempt fromt the basic minimum-wage law);
outside salesmen; and employees of restaurants, hotels, inus, cabins,
andl summer enmps for minors. The latter group of occupations is
not exempt from the basic law~, and the Attorney General has ruled
that thle La~bor Commissioner may continue to establish mrinzimum
wagores for women aznd minors in thEese and other occupations not
exempt fromt the basic Inw by t~he usual wazge-board procedure, but
any~l wage: hereafter fixed inl this way may not be less than the stat-
Htorff T~te.
In bothi States the amendments had thie initial effect of bringing
under cover~age groups not previously subject to indust ry wage orders.
In New Hampshire, in spite of thle occupations excepted from the
statutory rate, thle amendment brought the benefits of minimum-wage
cover~age to at greater number of such groups thazn in Ma~ssachusetts.
When the New Hampshire legaislation became effective, the State
already had w~age orders~ in effect. covering the following trade and
service industries: La.undry, restaurant, dry cleaning, beauty parlor,
and retail, but M~assachusetts had postwar orders covering these and
four additional occupations and industries.
Adoption of the stat~ut~ory-rate amendments in M~assachusetts and
New Hampshire is significant from the standpoint of future progress
and pr'obable developments in thlis field. A statutory rate with im-
media~te coverage~, in addition to w-age-board authority to increase
that rate, has long been ~ goal2 of unions, State labor commissioners,
and civic organizations. Because, M~assachusetts and New Hampshire

-were. the first St~ates to adopt amnendmnents whlich1 preserve thle wage-
board p~roe~dure and a.t. the same time fix a flat. rate in the lawv, their
'two recent amendments must be regarded as major steps forward in
the State minimnum-wa~ge field.
Est~ablishmenlt of minimlumi wages by statute rather thlan byS wage
order is not a. new dev.elopmnent.. At the time the, two recent amend-
inents werel a dopt ed. 6 j urisdlictionls-Ar Ika nsas, Nevan.da, South Da-
hota, Alaska, Hawaii, and2 Puer~to Rico--alrea~dy had such rates fixed
byv statute. The pranctice of setting such rates dates from early mini-
mum- wage history- Uta h, 191:3; Arkannsas, 1915; A rizona, 1917 a'~ nd
Puerto Rico, 191!:.
HowTever, inl all of t.he laws previous to the recent amlendments in
M~assachusetts and New Hampshlire (withl the exception of the Ar-
knnsas law') the ra~te was static; the law dlid not. authorize thie Lab~or
Commissioner to studyl the relation of wages to changes in thle cost of
living andl to establish separated indlustry~ minimumss byF wage order.
Experience under t.hiesez recent. amendments will be requir~ed in order
to indicate (1) the extent to which the wage-board procedure will
be used or needed, a~nd (2) the extent of the wage boardc'ss authorityl in
setting wages high]er~ than the statutory! rante or in the cov-ernge of
such rates. The 1\Inssachusetts statute, for example, makes the stat-
utory rate of 65 cents effective ''unless t.he Commission has expressly
approved or shall expr~essly app~ove the establishment and payment
of a lesser wage." Thiis 1raises t.he question of whether the Cormmis-
sion ha~s authority to set a miinimium higher than 65 cents. PRecent
w~age-board netivity in Alassachusetts hans not yet tested the effect of
this rate as a possible ceiling to wage-board action.' In New Hamp-
shire the statutory~ rate amlendmnent directs the Lanbor Commiissio ner~ to
readjust minimiumi wages for women and mlinors under wage ordcers,
in line with the statutory rate. The Attonley Grener~al? interplreting
this provision, has ruled~ that th~e Commiiissioner. may issue wage orders
for women and minors, but that such orders d~o not. cover men in the
occupations exempt fr~om the application of the statutoryr rat~e. This
raises the question as to whethler t.he amendment permits any wage
ordlers applicable to mlen to be issuxed.
Since M~assachusetts a~nd New Hampshire were the first States to st~atutory rates subsequent to the effective date of the Federanl
Fair Labor Standards Act inl 1938, their action permits certain com-
parisons with the Federal law. Both State rates are lower than t~he
existing Federal 7i5-cenlt minimum, which mlay be explained, in part,
by the fazct that both wer~e adopted not only before th~e new Federal
rate became effective, but before Congress acted on the measure. A
PReconun~endatlons of the wage board for the personal services industry in September
1950 proposed a rate of '70 cents for certain classes of workers.

secondl consideration is that the State amrendmrentts did not set a basis
for overtime as is done under thfe Federal a.ct. A third difference is
the points already discussed, i. e., the two States have preserved their
wage-board procedure.
Other Legislation

California azlppropriated $9,'i25 to its Department of Industrial
Relations for an investigation of t.he cost of iving for women and
minors in r~elat~ion to th~e minimnum-wagee law. This appears to be
thle first such study under Cal~ifornia State Labor Depar~tment aus-
pices. A limited cost-of-livinmg studyS covering SanH FranIcisco has
been prepared per~iodlically by the Univer~sity of Clalifor~nia, but no
survey has been made regularly onl a St~t~e-w~ide basis no ha~s any
officiall State survey been mande.
An1 amendment to the Massachusetts law, approved April 17,~ 1950,
effective July 16, requires emplorer~s to k~eep empllloyele records for 2
'ear1s instead~ of 1, t.hus extending the period during which inspections
may be marde and violations determninedl by the 111asslc~huset.ts Com-
miissioner. A New York ameedndment, approved April 5 a~nd effective
July 1_, 19.50, provides that a wage boardt established under the m~ini-
muml-wageg law shall continue in exist~ence for 9 years followringa the
date of its formation, unless previously dissolved- by thle ConunLissioner.
It also stipulates that the Clommrissionerl may dissolve a w3age board
which fails to submit a report on time, and appoint a new board. A.
Rhode Islanld amendment approved and effetctive April 26, 1950, pro-
vides thant thle Director of LaLbor or the M~ininullun-Wnage Commnissioner
shall bring all actions andt prosecutions for v~iolations of t.he mlinimum-
wage law.
W~age Ord~ers

Since the walge-boar~d process involves a certain amount. of time, the
effect of the F'ederlal amendm~ent in inl~uencing State minimum wages
was not inu~nediat~ely apparent, in the orders issued in the period July
1949 thlroughl June 1950." But both the increase in rate and the re-
duction in coverage of the FEederal lazw emphasize, in different ways,
th~e importance of State actions in thle minimumu~-wage field.
During t~he period covered, 11 minlimum-wage: orders became ef-
fecti ve in 7 States a~ndc 1 Territory-Cali for~n ia, Connec~ticut, Massa-
chusetts, North Dakota, Rhode Islandc, Walshington, W~isconsin, and
Puerto Rico. In addition, in Miassachusett~s, three orders which had
been director became mancnat~ory7. As has been customary since the
adoption of the Federal Act in 1938, thle State minimuum-wazge orders
in the period under study related largely to intrastante activities, par-
ticulzr~ly in the trade and service industries.
a Tabular analysis of these orders appears on pp. 8 to 11.

North Dakota was the. onlly State, during t~he 12 months covered,
that establishedi a revised rnt~e for ma~nufacturing, thle principal in-
dustry to wThich the Federal mninimo~un wage applies. This action
followed thle pattern increasingly adopted by other States during the
period 1947i-49, w~hen the cost of livinga rapidly increased, and~ the
Federal rate was static at 40 cents. Within the last few years, three
other jurisdictions havre revised their manufacturing w~.age orders:
California, 1947; District of Columbia, 1948; Oregon, 1948. These
orders were ma~de applicable to all types of manufacturing within
the States. In 1947, New Ykork also revised its order for the confee-
tionery segment of manufacturing. K~entuckyp and Wisconsin es-
tablishedl increased rates for manufacturing occupations in 19471, by
the revision of their all-occupation or~ders.
These State manufac~turing orders became effective before thle re-
cent increase in the Federal ra7te, and their minimum wages ar~e lower
than those w'hichl Congress ultimately adopted. (The one exception
is the District of Columbi a manufacturing and wh~lolesaling order
which fixed a basic weekly minimum of $30 for a workweek of 32 to
40 hours.) Consequently, the State miiinimum wages have been super-
seded, inl the main, by the incr~eased Federanl rate. The rate estab-
lishied by t he Nor~th Dakota maanu fact during or~der is 55 cents a n hour,
more. than a third a~bove the 40-cenlt Feder~al rate in effect. at the timue
the Sjtate order was issued.
However, the State manufacturing or~ders also cover, in addition
to interstate mannu fnetar~ing, ma ny processes wThich1 are Ilargely intrat-
sta~te; .e. g., the r~evised Nor~th Dakota order effective Sep~tember 1,
1949, as well as the preceding one, specifically includes, in addition
to general coverage, thle wor~k p~erformned in lr~essmakling shops, whlole-
sale millinery shops, workrooms of retail millin~ery shops, garment
alteration, art needlework, fur-grarment miakingr, and millinery w~ork-
rooms in mercantile stores.
In the 12 months under study, the industry or occupation to which
principal attention was given by States was that of public house-
kieepinlg or one: of it~s branches, i. e., restaurants. Of the orders thazt
beca.mne effective in this period, 3 covered such wFo~rk. The Connecti-
cut restaurant order, effective MayS 15, 1950,? established a guaranteed of $28 for a workweek: of 40 to 48 hours for nonservice em-
ployees. Mlenls are to be furnished in addition t~o wa.ges, or 65 cents
paid for ea~ch meal not furnished. An employee working 5 hours or
less must receive 1 meal, and if more than 5 hours, 2 meals, or must
be paid for anly meal not furnished.
The Rhode Islaznd wage order for restaurants and hotel restaurants,
effective June 1, 1950, established 60 cents an hour plus meals for
nonservice employees, for a workweek of over 24 and up to 45 hours.

If meals are not furnishled. thle emplloyee must be p~aid an additional
10 cents an hour for ea~ch h~our of working timle. As in the previous
or~der, employees w~orkiing 5 hours or more are entitled to '2 meals a
day; less than 5 hours, to 1 meal a. day; and if on a split shift, 1 meal
for each consecutive period of hours wrork~ed.
The public housekeepilgr order in Washingtoon State effective Jatn-
uary 23, 1950, established a minimum-wag~e rate of 6.5 cents an hour
without distinction as to service and nonservice w~orkiers. Instead of
r1equir~ing meals to be furnished or paid for, this order permits a
dleductionl of 40 cents for each meal eaten during a~n employee's work
shift and a further deduction for lodging provided b~y empaloyer---
$3.50 for a single room~ and $2.50 for a double room.
Washington, with four or~der~s, was the most. active StRt~e in issuing
wage orders during the period. The orders and their effective dates
were: A~musement and recreation, Novemnber 28, 1949; public house-
k-eeping, January 23, 1950; beauty culture, February 13, 1950; and
laundry, dry-clealningr, and dye works, June ,5, 1950. Each of these
or~der~s established a minimum wage of 65 cents an hour. Thle w~ork-
ing-conditions sta7lndads prov-ided in most recenit Wa~shingrton orders
include a 30-minute lunch period, a 10-minlute rest period in each 4
hours, and adequate sanitary and safety conditions. The. Wa'shington
public housekeeping order repeated the prohibition of the: earlier
order on work after midnight for women eleva~tor operant.ors, andc
specifically prohibited women's emlploymenlt as b~ellhop~s.
Washington w\;as the only State to issue atn border for the~ amnusement
and recreation industries in the period covred~t. This is a c~ompara,-
t~irelyr new feld for State mininlumn wages, anld Wanshington was thle
third:1 State to cover it by an individual indcustry) ordler. Ot~her Stat~es
with such or~der~s are California aind Manssachusetts.. In a fourth
State, NewT Yorkr, the establishment of mnininlun wages for this in-
d-ustry is in process.
M\ininuun rates were nlso established by wage or~der~s that became
effective dur~ingr the year July 1949 through June 1950, as follows:
Ma~ssachusetts-elerical, technical, and similar1 occup~ations-65i cents
an hour for experienced employees, 60 cents for inexperiencedl (800
hours in the occ~upations); and Puert~o Rico-w~holslesal trade-50O
cents per hour up to 44 hlour~s per week; anld twice thle employee's reg-
ular rate thler~eafter. The Clalifornia motion picture border and thle
Wisconsin canning~ order did not set minimum wages, but established
general standards governing conditions of work and overtime rates.
Following custom in State minimaum-w-age regulations, other orders
issued in this period also fixed var11ious standards to safeguatrd the
mnuimumn wage. The most. usual type of provision related to the pur-
chase and upk~eep of uniforms. One of thle more effective of such

regulations is included in the Rhode Island restaurant and hotel-
restaurant occupations order, whlich requires an emp~loyer w~ho does
riot furnish aznd/'or launder uniforms to payS the employee $1 a weekr
in addition to wages. The Connecticut restaurant occupation order
requires uniforms to be supplied andc laundered without cost to thle
employee; the M~assachlusetts clerical order requires thle employer to
furnish uniforms an1d pr'ohibits anly deduction for them~; the WTashl-
ington Stat~e orders prohibit thl~e employer from requiring an em-
ployee to contribute to the purchase or maintenance of uniforms,
equipment., or tools.
Regulations designed to reduce thle over-all length of t~he workdal~y,
which are frequently established in State wagne orders, are contained
in two orders thatt became effective in this period: The Connecticut
restaurant occupation order requires $1 a dlay additional to be to
the employee on anly day on which the spread of hours exceeds 12;
the Rhode Island resttu rant a nd hotel-rest aura~nt occupant ions order
requires an additional 50 cents to be paid for any dayS on wh1ich the
spread of hours exceeds 10 or there is more than one interval off duty.
Because minimnum-wage law~s in these States cover men a.s well al.s
women, wage-order provisions se~re to give men wor~kers the benefits
of some w~orking-hour standar~ds..
Under accepted w~age-ordler practice in Wa-shlington and North
Dakota, t~he four Wanshington wage orders and thle Nor~th Dakota
order for minanufctur~ing established regulations governing sanitary
conditions, such as ventilation, toilets, and wa~shirooms, as well as
certain safety standards.
A- digest of State wage or~der~s becoming effective between July 1,
1949, and June 30, 1950, follows:

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