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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
FRANCES PERKINS, Secretary
:,. WOMEN'S BUREAU .
MARY ANDERSON, Director
Application of Labor Legislation
|!to the Fruit and Vegetable Canning
and Preserving Industry
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OVER -l PRINTING OFFICE
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[Complete report, of which this is a summary, is in preparation for
printing and will be available shortly]
APPLICATION OF LABOR LEGISLATION TO THE FRUIT
. AND VEGETABLE CANNING AND PRESERVING IN'
Labor legislation must be framed in general terms to insure the
inclusion of all contemplated groups. In its application to specific
mdustries, however, differences in industrial operations require con-
4ideration if the protection or benefits the law is intended to bestow
oin workers are to be achieved generally. It is well known that the
industries of canning and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables have
di4pictive problems due to the uncertainty of weather conditions
that affect the periods of crop maturity and the size and quality of
the crop. The more than 300,000 wage earners who find some em-
ployment during the year in these industries can be benefited by labor
legislation only as such legislation takes into consideration the in-
dustries' peculiar and recurrent daily and seasonal uncertainties.
:While surveys of canning and preserving have been made in specific
States from time to time, no current facts have been available in this
p &6io, of enactment of new National labor legislation and additional
State, minimum-wage legislation to guide Federal and State adminis-
tratdrs in the application of specific laws to these industries. Maxi-
. mii-hour and-minimum-wage laws for women and minors applicable
. td 'canning and preserving have been in effect in some States for more
than 20 years. In the last 7 years, however, other States with
canning and preserving plants have enacted such legislation. These
food 'industries are included under the old age insurance and unem-
ioyment -compensation provisions of the Social Security Act of 1935.
The Public Contracts Act of 1936 calls for the establishment of a
iiittimum in rates of pay and a maximum in hours of work on Govern-
m~nt contracts, many of which include canned and preserved foods.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, regulating wages and hours
I industries engaged in interstate commerce, has special provisions
Selatinig to these industries.
The Women's Bureau has secured information essential to the
Application of these several Federal and the various State laws to
. t nining and preserving. This was made possible by the full coopera-
tion of members of the industry and their State and National associ-
ations, who gave access to all available essential records. The study,
inaugurated in 1938 prior to the enactment of the Fair Labor Stand-
ards Act, was supplemented by a follow-up survey in 1939 to secure
additional facts pertinent to the interpretation of that act. The
survey covered 693 plants, in 19 States, that employed in a maximu n
month 153,328 persons. These plants canned, preserved, cold-
packed, frosted, or dried 40 percent or more of the principal products
so preserved in Continental United States. In addition 4 Hawaiian
pineapple canneries, employing 12,650 persons, were visited. The
detailed presentation of facts concerning the location of canning and
preserving plants, the products handled, length of season, numbers
employed, peak loads, hours worked, hourly earnings, annual earnings,
and labor costs will be found in the body of the report. There is
here presented a brief summary of the application of the several
Federal and State laws to these industries as revealed by the detailed
study of each industry.
Application of Labor Legislation to the Canning of Vegetables
and Deciduous Fruits
Effect of State Regulation.
State regulation of hours has applied to women and minors in
canning plants for a longer time than other wage and hour legislation.
While women comprise from about 30 percent to 70 percent of the
production staff, depending on the kind of product canned, they are
engaged in occupations essential to the continuous performance of
canning. Their presence on the canning line is necessary for the
operation of the other sections of the line; their hours affect the hours.
of many men employees.
Canners usually have requested special privileges or complete ex-
emption from State hour laws. Their requests have been based on
the perishability of vegetables and fruits and their inability to control
crop congestion at the cannery when weather conditions bring the
crop suddenly to the perfect canning stage. Though some canners
have clone much to prevent congestion by staggering the planting
time and scattering the fields to avail themselves of different weather
conditions, and, when two or more plants are operated by one firm, by.
distributing produce from the maturing fields to their several plants,
all believe that some crop congestion is inevitable.
The survey of employment conditions in 1937, the best canning year
for some time, revealed that all seasonal-product canneries have peak.
loads; that is, weeks in which crops reach the cannery in far greater
.volume than at other times. As it is the practice to can crops when
perfect, to attain the best quality and to avoid spoilage, heavy de-
liveries of fruits or vegetables at the cannery bring about the period
of peak activity. During 1937 peak operations lasted not more than
4 weeks in the majority of plants, and on the larger number of products
they lasted but 2 or 3 weeks.
In the past, States have modified their hour laws for women in
several ways to meet this condition. California, Wisconsin, and Ar-
kansas have the same daily and weekly hour maximum for canning
as for other manufacturing, but canneries are permitted to employ
.women longer if they pay overtime for the additional hours. In Cali-
fornia the daily hours are 8; over 8 up to 12 hours must be paid for at
time and a quarter, and over 12 hours at double time. Wisconsin
permits 8 emergency days of 11 hours with a 60-hour week in pea
canneries and a day of 10 hours in other canneries, if time and a half
-is paid for daily hours in excess of 9. In Arkansas overtime may be
worked by women if hours of more than 9 a day and 54 a week are
pplid for at time and a half, the period of overtime being limited to 90
Other States extend the hours that canneries may employ women
during specified periods beyond the maximum for other manufacture
and do not require overtime rates. In Illinois, with an 8-hour day
and a 48-hour week, canneries may operate for 10 hours a day and
60 a week from June 1 to October 15. New York also has an 8-48
hour law, but in canneries a 10-hour day and 60-hour week applies
from June 15 to October 15, and permits may be secured to work
women 12 hours a day and 66 a week from June 25 to August 5.
Minnesota exempts canneries from the 54-hour law if employment
lasts not more than 75 days. Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia,
and Washington exempt canneries entirely from the State hour laws.
SThese State hour laws and regulations were in effect before and
during: the 1938 canning season. The only Federal law affecting hours
of employment was the Public Contracts Act, which was confined to
firms having Government contracts in excess of $10,000. Canneries
with such contracts may employ people more than 8 hours a day or
40 hours a week on Government contracts only if overtime at not
less than one and a half times the regular rate is paid.
While crop and market conditions and certain other influences are
factors in determining actual hours of work, the hours of operation
in an active week in 1938 reflect to some extent the effects of many
years under such laws. The California plan of overtime payment for
hours in excess of 48 a week has not limited hours for women to 48,
though the largest proportion work less than that; rather it has
tended to limit the overtime to within 8 hours a week for all but a
proportionately few women. Men's hours are not covered by State
regulation, but the shortening of women's hours has a tendency to
lower the proportion of men who work long hours as compared with
conditions in States without such regulation.
Wisconsin adopted the same system of overtime pay for hours over
9 a day and 54 a week to eliminate needlessly long hours in canneries.
Very few women worked overtime on the State's most important crops
in 1938. The hours of many men employees were excessive when the
pea crop was canned, due unquestionably to the much larger propor-
tion of men than of women employed in pea canning. In Arkansas,
which also regulates hours by extra payments, comparatively few
women or men were employed beyond the time at which overtime
rates for women begin.
New York and Illinois have extended operating hours for women in
canneries to 10 a day and 60 a. week, New York allowing 12 hours-a
day and 66 a, week on permit. One result of this type of hour regu-
lation is that New York State vegetable canneries hold the record for
the longest hours of employment of women in 1938 among all States
reporting. Illinois canneries, however, seldom employed women as
long as 60 hours during the season. In States that entirely exempt
canneries or are without hour regulations, there was a marked tendency
to employ a considerable proportion of women over 48 but under 56
hours and a smaller proportion beyond 56 hours.
The many tables on hours worked in the body of the report
and the appendix 1 indicate clearly that State regulations requir-
ing overtime pay for women after 48 or 54 hours are more effec-
tive in reducing hours of work for women and for men than are
limitations placed at 60 hours.
Effect of Public Contracts Act.
The payment of overtime after 8 hours daily or 40 hours weekly is
also a provision of the Public Contracts Act for Government contracts
of over $10,000. Because California canners were accustomed to
pay for hours in excess of 8, as were Washington State canners through
union agreements, and Wisconsin canners for overtime in excess of 9
hours, canneries in these three States continued to bid on Government
contracts, either directly or through brokers, after the passage of the
Public Contracts Act. Reports from other States are that an unwill-
ingness exists among canners to bid for contracts that would bring
them under the overtime provisions of the act. Unstandardized
Government purchasing practices for subsistence items render it a
simple matter to supply canned food to Government agencies and
remain outside the present provisions of the Public Contracts Act.
I Appendix tables available in the Women's Bureau.
Effect of Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Fair Labor Standards Act was in effect during the 1939 canning
season except in the case of canneries in rural communities and
within 10 miles of the fields from which the produce was received!'
While location within an unincorporated community of under 2,500
population (according to the 1930 Census) is definite, relationship
to fields from which produce is procured is a variable. The yield in
different fields from year to year because of variable weather condi-
tions, differences in market demands, and cannery requirements may
cause the distance from cannery to producing fields to change from
year to year. This situation, coupled with the belief of canners in
incorporated towns adjacent to other canneries in unincorporated
.areas that the 1939 definition of "area of production" was unfair,
threw a cloud of doubt over opinion as to the canneries that were
covered by the act. According to the data. supplied in the 1939 study,
about three-fifths would have been excluded as located in communities
of under 2,500 population. This exclusion was reduced to one-third
of the seasonal plants when all reporting their produce as obtained
from more than 10 miles were eliminated.
The Fair Labor Standards Act permits all canneries covered by the
act to: work 14 weeks of overtime during which hours in excess of 12
in any one day or 56 in any one week are paid at overtime rates. As
has been stated, periods of peak operation are of short duration and
seldom exceed 4 weeks, so the period in which long hours are per-
mitted by the act is far beyond the real needs of the canning industry.
On the other hand, the peak period of operation results in very long
l hours for a considerable proportion of the workers on every perishable
product in many States. When peas were canned in 1939, hours
exceeded 56 for from 7 percent of the workers in Iowa to about 50
percent of those in Minnesota. In tomato and tomato-products
canning in 1939 the proportion of workers employed in excess of 56
hours ranged from 5 percent in Arkansas to 47 percent in New York;
on corn canning, from 31 percent in Indiana and Minnesota to 56
percent in New York. These figures include canneries within and
outside of the areas of production. Division by location of canneries
in rural areas or in towns of 2,500 population or more shows little
difference in the proportion of workers employed in excess of 56 hours
in an active week. In tomato canneries in rural areas, 29 percent of
all with hours reported, as compared with 32 percent of those in towns
of, 2,500 or more, worked in excess of 56 hours. In rural corn can-
neries 38 percent of the employees, as compared with 35 percent of
S those in town canneries, worked over 56 hours, whereas in rural pea
canneries the proportion with such hours was 43 percent as contrasted
with 37 percent in town pea canneries.
While prevailing hours in an active week were longer in 1939
than in 1938, the picture of near-peak operations leads to the
conclusion that little success has been attained by canneries
in keeping operating hours of all workers within 56, in spite of
attempts at planting control and present cold-storage facilities.
Long hours of work are sometimes necessitated by a shortage of
labor. In the canneries of every State, on every product, there were
many employees who worked under 40 hours in the same week that
others worked over 56 hours. The heavy load was carried by only a
part. of the operating staff. It is a canning practice in almost all
plants to hire workers before the crop load arrives and employ them
part. time, thus insuring an adequate supply of workers for the peak
period. There was no indication of any shortage of workers, even for
very irregular weeks of employment, though the survey took no ac-
counting of skills required and the availability of skilled workers.
Rates of pay and earnings of cannery employees were influenced by
State minimunm-wage orders for women in 1938 and by such orders
and the Fair Labor Standards Act during the 1939 season. Ten of
the States included in the survey have minimum-wage laws, but only
States in which the statute has been on the books many years have
issued wage orders covering women employed in canneries. These
States are Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Washington, and
Effect of State Minimum-Wage Orders.
Wisconsin and Minnesota minimum-wage commissions provided a
fixed minimum rate for experienced women but varied the rate with
the size of the community. Other State commissions fixed the same
rate for all canneries. Both Wisconsin and California orders make
provision for piece-rate payments providing such rates yield to half
the experienced women the specified minimum time rate in California,
and 3 cents more than the time-rate minimum in Wisconsin. In
California, canners must elect to operate wiunder the piece-rate system,
whereupon their pay rolls are audited each week to insure compliance
with the order.
The influence of these State wage orders that have been in effect
many years is reflected in hourly earnings for the 1938 season. Though
most Wisconsin pea canneries were in the smaller communities, where
a minimum wage of 20 cents an hour is required for canneries, rela-
tively few women were paid so little, the prevailing rates in 1938 being
22'- cents and 25 cents. The rate of 2214 cents was the minimum for
canneries in larger communities. Nor did Minnesota pea canneries
take advantage of lower minimum rates for their rural communities.
Though most of the pea canneries were in communities of under
f,000 population or 3,000 and under 5,000, where the minimum rates
ixehd were 24 cents and 27 cents an hour, respectively, the large
numbers of women received 25 cents, 30 cents, 32,4 cents, or 35 cents
an hour. In contrast, pea canneries in New York, a State with a
p.iimum-wage law but with no rates set for canneries in 1938, paid
2d0 cents or less to 17 percent of the women employed. In Maryland,
without a State minimum-wage law, over three-fourths of the women
workeis on peas had hourly earnings of 20 cents or less.
S...In California, two-thirds of the canneries elected to operate on the
piece-rate system that guarantees that at least 50 percent of the
experienced women workers would earn the time-rate minimum of
33% cents or the difference would be divided among all women workers.
As ma:- California canneries were union plants in 1938, their basic
minimum rates for women were 42,% cents for time workers and 44
~enits for 50 percent of all piece workers. These rates unquestionably
raised the level of earnings of California women cannery workers.
The effects of the State method of operating a minimum-wage law can
be seen clearly in the 1938 earnings distribution. The basic piece-
rate system in operation brought about a wide spread in earnings
With no concentration at the minimum time or basic piece rate. Ten
percent of the women employed on large fruits and 12 percent of those
id6 tomatoes earned less than the minimum rate of 33,% cents an hour.
Some of these women were especially licensed handicapped workers
-nd'&earners, but others were women who could not make the State
minimum at prevailing piece rates. At the other end of the earnings
scale, over 25 percent of the women earned 42'. cents to 44 cents in
preparing large fruits, and 30 percent earned such amounts on to-
matoes. As many as 20 percent, earned at least 53 cents an hour on
All wage data assembled in the detailed report reveal that State
minimum-wage orders for women workers have raised materially
the level of earnings of women cannery employees above that in
States without such orders.
When orders fix a flat minimum time rate for all experienced women
workers in canneries, such orders set a bottom below which wages do
not fall and above which wages rise for large occupational groups
rather than individuals, as conditions warrant. The piece-rate system
with a guarantee of a basic rate to at least 50 percent of the workers
permits a higher basic rate than can be secured on the flat-rate basis
'. but does not operate to set a bottom below which earnings cannot fall.
|iv aRther it serves to protect all women from piece rates too low to yield
i air amounts to the woman? of average speed, and it continues the
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wide spread in earnings that differences in operating abilities of workers
bring about. The relative expenditure for the labor of women and
men in California canneries exceeds that in canneries putting up the
same products in other States.
Effect of Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Fair Labor Standards Act was in effect in the case of all can-
neries outside the "area of production" in the season of 1939. Accord-
ing to its provisions all workers, regardless of sex, were to be paid at
least 25 cents an hour if the cannery was in a community of 2,500 or
more population and was more than 10 miles from the fields where
the produce was secured.
The immediate effect of this act was to decrease the numbers
of workers earning under 25 cents an hour and to raise slightly
the total amount paid out to workers.
In the same tomato-canning firms in Indiana the wage bill for 1939
was greater by about 4 percent than that for 1938 and the number of
workers earning under 25 cents decreased from 14 percent to 5 per-
cent. In Maryland tomato canneries the proportion earning under
25 cents was reduced from 51 percent to 29 percent and the wage bill
was raised by 5 percent. In Illinois the change was from 17 percent
to 12 percent earning under 25 cents on tomatoes. In both New
York and Wisconsin, while 19 percent and 43 percent, respectively,
earned less than 25 cents on tomatoes in 1938, in 1939 almost no one
earned less than 25 cents. Corresponding decreases occurred on
other products and in various States.
Unaffected by the act were canneries in communities of under
2,500 that stated they secured all their produce from a distance of
not more than 10 miles. Over 90 percent of the employees in Arkansas
and Virginia tomato canneries earned less than the minimum, and
almost tlhree-fourths of those in Texas did so, though most Texas
canneries were outside the area of production as defined by the
Administrator. Forty-seven percent of Maryland tomato workers
in towns of under 2,500 earned less than 25 cents, though in this
State, too, not all canneries secured their tomatoes solely within a
Canneries paying more than the minimum rate set by the
Fair Labor Standards Act did not reduce rates whether or not
they came under the wage provisions of the act. As a result,
wide variations still occur in the amount paid to workers can-
ning the same product in different States.
On tomato and tomato products processed inside the area of pro-
duction the range in average earnings of the workers in 1939 was from
15.5 cents an hour in Arkansas to 30.3 cents in Illinois. In plants
outside the production area the range was from 21.2 cents in Texas
t0onato canneries to 47.3 cents in California tomato canneries. On
corn: canning the range of earnings as between States and between
canneries included and excluded by the act was narrow. But on
peas, in canneries outside the provisions of the act, average hourly
'earnings ranged from about 14 cents in Virginia to about 50 cents in
Washington State. In pea canneries within the coverage of the act
the rates varied from nearly 26 cents in Arkansas and Virginia,
pand 27 cents in Maryland, to more than 44 cents in Washington State.
On green and wax beans, canneries that come under the act paid rates
yielding average earnings of 20 cents in Texas, approximately 25 cents
in Arkansas, Illinois, and Maryland, and over 46 cents in California
Competition is possible under such variations in wages partly
because of differences in plant-efficiency and in product quality, but
also because labor costs are only a, small part of total operating costs
in vegetable canning. The relation of labor costs to total costs
varies not with size of community nor with the low- or high-wage
levels of States but between canneries in the same State. In spite of
variations there is a marked tendency for this cost relation on the
same product to mass at about similar proportions in many canneries.
For example, on tomatoes and tomato products, labor cost frequently
was between 9 percent and 12 percent of total costs; in Wisconsin
pea canneries the labor costs usually were from 8 percent to 12 percent
of the total; on corn, concentration was at 10 percent but under 12
percent of total cost. Labor costs on canning small fruits usually
were low, but California labor costs on large fruits often approximated
25 percent of total costs.
While data on 1939 labor costs were limited, as books had not, been
closed at the time the plants were visited, the indications are that
there was no general increase over 1938 in the proportion labor costs
were of total costs.
For the 1940 canning season there is required by the Fair Labor
Standards Act an advance in the minimum rate for all workers outside
the area of production from 25 cents to 30 cents an hour. This
Advance will increase the rates for a material proportion of cannery
workers in all States but California, Oregon, and Washington, in
which State wage orders have set minimums of respectively 331/ cents,
35 cents, and 371'2 cents an hour.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION LAWS
.: Unemployment compensation laws in the 13 canning States included
in- the 1938 survey vary widely as to employer coverage, employee
-eligibility requirements, and methods of determining the amounts of
benefit payments. Five States included have special provisions for
seasonal employment that affect the canning industry.
Employer coverage is based either on the number of weeks in which
a specific number of workers are employed or on the numbers em-
ployed. As of December 1939, nine States based employer coverage
on employment varying from one or more to eight or more persons in
each of 20 weeks. Wisconsin employers were covered when they
employed six or more workers in each of 18 weeks, Iowa employers
eight or more workers in each of 15 weeks, while the New York law
includes all employers of four or more persons on each of 15 days.
The Ohio law covers any employer giving work to three or more
persons for any length of time. Under these laws, 32 percent of
Iowa canners reporting in the survey, 33 percent of those in Virginia,
55 percent in Maryland, 56 percent in Indiana, 70 percent in Wiscon-
sin, 83 percent in Illinois, 92 percent in California, and 100 percent
in the six other States were included under existing State unemploy-
ment compensation laws.
Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington make spe-
cial provisions for seasonal workers, but they define such workers
variously. These provisions usually limit unemployment benefits
to the seasonal period of operation.
Employee eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined in
all 13 States on one of two bases: Either the wages received in some
specified past period, as a multiple of the weekly benefit amount or
a flat amount, or the duration of employment. According to records
made available in the survey the proportion of workers covered is as
varied as the proportion of canners. For example, only 7 percent of
the workers employed during the year in Illinois canneries were
eligible though 83 percent of the firms had been covered as compared
with 25 percent of the employees in Washington State.
The fact that almost two-thirds of the more than 161,000 cannery
workers reporting weeks worked in 1937 were employed less than 8
weeks makes very difficult the application of unemployment compensa-
tion laws to cannery workers as such. While many men employees
had work elsewhere during the year, their chief employment was on
farms or at odd jobs in the towns. As the principal source of the
woman labor supply was the town, village, or farm housewife and
her daughter, employment opportunities in other fields for these women
necessarily were limited.
Cold-Pack and Frosted Fruits and Vegetables
Cold-packed fruits for use of jam and preserve manufacturers, pie
bakers, ice-cream makers, and soda-fountain supply houses com-
prised less than 1 percent of the total value of all canned and preserved
fruits and vegetables, according to the 1937 Census. While some-
firms engage solely in this type of preserving for wholesale cotnsuni -
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tion, other firms do cold preserving with other canning operations or
as a part of fresh-fruit packing or apple evaporating.
Frosted fruits and vegetables, that is, produce frozen quickly at
temperatures from zero to 50 degrees below to preserve their original
fresh condition and packaged for the retail market, constituted less
than 1 percent of the total value of all canned and preserved products
in 1937 but have increased materially in volume and value in the last
few years. Today canners perform all preparation and freezing oper-
ations, so these products have become a part of the canning industry,
though in many cases they are marketed by firms holding the quick-
The processes of preparing a fruit or vegetable for preserving by
cold are, the same as those used in preparing the specific product for
canning. Canners today prepare all the frosted fruits and vegetables
.and part of those that are cold packed. Just as the States of Washing-
ton and Oregon, the most important producers of cold-pack and frosted
fruits and vegetables, include plants making these products with
*enneries under their respective State minimum-wage laws, so Federal
labor legislation may be considered as having the same general appli-
.cation to plants engaging in preserving fruits and vegetables by cold
is to canneries preserving foods by means of heat. Attention need
*only be called to the fact. that every effort is exerted to quick-freeze
berries, peas, and other perishable foods as soon as possible after pack-
ing, and this has a tendency to increase the numbers working long
hours for the brief freezing period.
The two leading Northwestern States were not affected by the
:25-cent minimum of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1939, and will
be unaffected by the 30-cent minimum in 1940, as their State minimum-
wage rates are higher than these amounts. With one exception, in
other States the concentration of earnings at 25 cents an hour in 1939
would appear indicative of Fair Labor Standards Act influence.
Application of Labor Legislation to the Citrus Canning
Conditions surrounding the citrus canning industry are markedly
*different from those affecting deciduous-fruit canning. Citrus fruit
and juice canning is highly centralized; by far the largest volume is
*done in limited areas in Florida, Texas, and California. Its operations
-cover an extended period of eadh year. In Florida the canning period
ihuns from December to July, with possibly a month's variation at
either end in different years; in 1939 the average period of canning
V -was 30 weeks. The season is shorter in Texas, generally from January
* to April or May; in 1939 it averaged 16 weeks in the canneries re-
Sporting. California., whose canned citrus production is but 10 per-
.-cent of the total, operates on citrus juices the year around.
Oranges and grapefruit may be stored on the trees, weather per-
mitting. As culls are largely used for canning, their arrival at the
cannery may be regulated in relation to plant capacity. Though a
seasonal industry, citrus canning can be operated without peak loads
under normal weather conditions.
State hour or minimum-wage regulations have had little part in
determining labor conditions in the citrus-canning industry. Florida,
the most important citrus-canning State, has no State hour or wage
law. Texas has a 54-hour law applicable to women, with provision
for longer hours, at double the rate, in "extraordinary emergencies";
however, as Texas canneries put up juices primarily, on which men
only are employed as productive workers, the women in Texas citrus
plants are few. California has had wage and hour laws for women
for many years, but her canned citrus production is largely lemon
and orange juice and women are employed in small numbers only on-
In the main, therefore, the Fair Labor Standards Act was the first
wage and hour regulatory measure applicable to the citrus canning
CITRUS CANNING AND THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT
Citrus canneries in Florida and Texas included in the survey were-
situated almost. equally in rural communities and in incorporated
towns of 2,500 population and over, while all California plants were in
incorporated areas. However, only a fourth of the canneries in rural
areas secured all their citrus fruit in the "immediate locality"; that is,
not more than 10 miles from the cannery. Consequently, most of the
citrus plants surveyed were subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act
in their 1939 season.
According to the act, canneries outside the area of production are
permitted to work 14 weeks of 12-hour days and 56-hour weeks, with
overtime pay for hours beyond these. In a sample period of active
operation in citrus-juice plants, almost two-fifths of the employees
worked in excess of 56 hours. The overtime was most general in
Texas, where almost half the workers were employed over 56 hours,
In Florida the proportion was two-fifths, and in California it was but
one-sixth of the total. While overtime was being worked by some.
employees, as many as 31 percent worked less than 40 hours. Men.
are used almost entirely in these plants to handle large quantities of
fruit, tend the juicing machines, truck the cars, and dispose of the-
In plants canning only citrus-fruit sections, large numbers of womem
are employed to do the hand operations of cutting apart segments and-
playingg them in cans. In these plants the proportion employed over-
56'hours dropped to 14 percent in Florida and to 36 percent in Texas.
Where firms in Florida canned both sections and juice, 24 percent, of
lil employees worked over 56 hours in an active canning week,.
though about a fourth of the employees worked under 40 hours in the
Hours worked did not. depend on the size of the community in which
the plant was situated. In Florida a far larger proportion of workers
Avere employed over 56 hours in rural citrus-juice plants than in plants
iiitowns of 2,500 or more. There was little difference in the hours
worked in rural areas and in towns in Florida plants canning citrus-
In the 45 citrus plants included in the survey there were only 3, all
in Texas, that employed no one over 56 hours in the 1939 season.
Two California plants paid on a semimonthly basis, making it impos-
sible to determine weekly overtime. In the 36 citrus canneries covered
by the. Fair Labor Standards Act and in which people were employed
over 56 hours in the active week surveyed, 2 Florida and 2 California
firms paid time and a half for work in excess of 44 hours, 4 Texas
firms paid time and a half for work in excess of 56 hours, and 28 firms
paid no higher rate for overtime work.
T The Fair Labor Standards Act brought about a marked concentra-
tion of earnings at the 25-cent minimum in citrus-fruit plants, juice
plants, and plants canning both products. However, a sixth of the
-w workers on citrus fruit and one-fifth of those on citrus fruit and juice
in Florida canneries in towns of 2,500 and over did not earn the mini-
mum, and three-tenths of the workers in rural Texas juice canneries
subject to the act earned less than the 25-cent rate. Most of the
workers earning under 25 cents in Florida canneries were women,
whereas in Texas practically all paid such amounts were men. In
California earnings began at 25 cents; the few women employees
earned 35 cents or more, whereas the larger number of men employed
.earned at least 40 cents.
'The proportion of workers in the plants reporting whose earnings
would be raised in the 1940 season to the 30-cent minimum of the Fair
Labor Standards Act would be about 55 percent in citrus-juice plants,
63. percent in fruit canneries, and 70 percent in canneries putting up-
both juice and fruit..
SApplication of Labor Legislation to the Dried-Fruit Industry
The dried-fruit industry is concerned with the recleaning, processing,.
and packaging of sun-dried fruit delivered to the packing house and
with the preparing and evaporating of fresh apples at the packing:
house. While its raw materials are seasonal and must be cleaned be-
fore spoilage takes place, the urgency that controls the canning and
freezing of fruit is not a factor in packaging products already dried or
in preparing apples for evaporation. Without peak load there is no
short period of peak operation as in canning, though there is a busy
fall period with pay-roll increases for from 5 to 8 weeks.
California plants that pack many kinds of dried fruit operate the
greater part of the year; others pack a few varieties for a short period
only. In New York the apple-evaporating season runs from August
into December, in Washington from the middle of October to April.
No plant reporting operated less than 10 weeks, and the majority in
California packed for three-fourths of the year or longer.
Effect of State Hour Laws.
State hour regulations for women and minors have been applicable
to California dried-fruit packing for many years. In Washington
employees are exempt from the State maximum-hour law, but a wage
regulation requires the payment of overtime after 10 hours of work.
New York evaporated-apple plants are believed subject to the State's
S-48 hour law, as no special exemption is granted them in the law.
The effect of these State regulations is seen clearly in the dried-fruit
industry. During an active week in the fall of 1938 nearly 70 percent
of the women employees in reporting plants in California worked less
than 48 hours, and 2 percent worked over 48 hours. In New York
the hours for most. women fell between 44 and 48. However, in
Washington 39 percent of the women employees worked in excess of
48 hours, but under 56, in an active packing week.
Effect of Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Administrator of the Fair Labor Standards Act defines as
seasonal industries those "handling, extracting, or processing of
materials during a season or seasons occurring in regularly, annually
recurring part or parts of the year" and producing "50 percent or
more of their annual output in a period or periods amounting in the
aggregate to not more than 14 work weeks." Such industries may
employ workers 12 hours a day and 56 hours a week, after which over-
time rates must be paid. While weekly production records were not
available for all plants, California's dried-fruit-plant pay rolls indicate
that 20 of the 27 plants reporting paid out, half their labor bill in
14 weeks, the remaining 7 paying from 40 percent to 48 percent in
such period. It would appear, then, that the majority of Cali-
fornia dried-fruit plants would be considered seasonal under the
definition just cited. All plants receiving fresh apples for evaporation
would. be subject to the same provisions as canning plants, that is,
byrbeing exempt from the Wage and Hour Law if within the "area of
piodtuetion" or by a grant of exemption during 14 weeks from the
nmaximnum-hour provisions of the act,
S,:A citpalison of the number of employees who worked specific hours
ip 19.38 and 1939 was made for dried-fruit plants. The proportion
working, over 56 hours in California houses was reduced from 12
percent in 1938 to 3 percent in 1939; the number of employees in
COlifprnia plants working over 44 hours was reduced from 64 percent
it. 1938 to 12 percent in 1939. In Washington apple-evaporating
plants,, 8 percent worked over 56 hours in 1939 as against 15 percent.
in 1,9138, New York firms employed 11 percent in 1939, in contrast
tp!.20 percent in 1938, more than 56 hours a week.
S WAGE REGULATIONS
Effect of State Minimum-Wage Regulations.
'The California minimum-wage rate is 33,4 cents an hour for ex-
periericed women and minors; 4 weeks are allowed in which to become.
experienced. The Washington minimum-wage rate is 27' cents.
Newv York's Industrial Commission has not as yet set a rate for dried-
About one-eighth of the women in California dried-fruit plants.
earned exactly the State minimum of 33% cents an hour, while 2 percent
earned smaller amounts and three-fourths earned 40 cents and over.
I' Wa~shington there was no concentration at, the State minimum;.
women employees earned from under 10 cents to 50 cents an hour.
Pxraet.ically all women whose earnings were reported in New York
evaporated-apple plants earned 25 cents an hour in 1938.
Effect of Fair Labor Standards Act.
S'he State minimum-wage rate and union agreements in effect in
California called for higher wage rates in 1939 than those required.
, 'the Fair Labor Standards Act. Practically all employees in
: talif rnia packing houses continued to earn more than $0 cents an
hb r, almost three-fifths receiving 50 cents or .more. In Washington's.
i kih :apple plants more than one-fourth of, the workers ,earned less
: than 30 cents, and 8 percent earned even less than 25 cents. Plants.
: i, towns of 2,500 population and over in Washington paid more than
tliree-fifths of their workers 30 to 35 cents an hour; no one in town
plantss received under 30 cents. Practically all New York plants
were in rural communities. About one-eighth of their employees.
d earned' under 25 cents an hour, and more than seven-tenths earned
: aetly 25 cents, in the 1939 season.
The widely differing employer-coverage provisions in the uiem-'
ployment compensation laws of California, New York, and Washing-'
ton result in complete coverage of the evaporated-fruit plants in
New York, almost complete coverage of all in California, and two-
thirds coverage of those in Washington. New York and Washington
have special provisions for seasonal industries and workers. In
New York a seasonal worker, defined as one ordinarily engaged in ,a'
seasonal industry and not engaged in any other work, is entitled to
unemployment compensation during only the longest seasonal periods'
of operation, and duration of benefits is modified in proportion to
the longest seasonal period. In Washington a seasonal worker,
defined as one who has a base year credit of which at least 80 percent
has been earned in seasonal employment, is entitled to benefits only
during the seasonal period of operation.
Employee eligibility is determined in California and Washington
-on a flat amount that must have been earned during the four quarters
preceding the benefit period; in New York, on 25 times the weekly
benefit earned in the calendar year. If all California dried-fruit
plants were included under the law, only 31 percent of their employees
had sufficient year's earnings to entitle them to coverage. Had there
been complete coverage of employers in Washington, there would
have been but 38 percent coverage of employees. Available data
-do not permit determination of the New York employee coverage.
*The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Hawaiian Pineapple
Hawaii has seven pineapple canneries, three of which together pack
80 percent of the output. A recent survey covered conditions in two
large and two small plants, respectively, in a city and in a small rural
community. All were operating under the terms of the Fair Labor
From the end of June to the middle of August, Hawaiian pineapple
canneries operate with two and three shifts a day. While peak and
near-peak employment occurred in 8 weeks in 1938, the pay rolls were
below 50 percent of the maximum in 42 weeks, in practically all of
these less than 25 percent of the maximum.
The work plan of all canneries is based on an 8-hour day for 5 days
.a week, with 4 hours on Saturday, or 44 hours a week in conformity,
with the Fair Labor Standards Act. During a week in the heaviest
canning period of the 1939 season, 24 percent of the women and.57
percent of the men in the cannery departments worked more .than,
scheduled hours; in the warehouse about 20 percent of the men and,
3 percent of the women worked more than 44 hours. Even in this
peak week, however, a material proportion of the employees worked
under 40 hours.
In the Honolulu canneries the minimum hourly rate for women
was 30 cents, for men 37.5 cents; in the Maui canneries it was 26 cents
for women, 32.5 cents for men. As an actual condition, one-seventh
of all the women whose earnings were reported were paid less than
30 cents an hour, though very few men earned such amount in the
1939 season. Women's earnings were concentrated at 30 and under
35 cents, while over 70 percent of the men earned 35 and under 45
cents. Time over 44 hours usually was paid for at time and a half
and double time.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1
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