Progress of state minimum-wage legislation, 1950-51


Material Information

Progress of state minimum-wage legislation, 1950-51
Physical Description:
14 p. : ; 24 cm.
Morrison, Alice Angus
Sullivan, Loretta
United States -- Dept. of Labor
U.S. 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 )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
by Alice Angus Morrison and Loretta Sullivan.
General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"Reprinted (with additional data) from the Monthly Labor Review (December, 1951, pp. 687-690) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics"--P. 1.
General Note:
"209714-52"--P. 1.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004969037
oclc - 41881499
System ID:

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Full Text
S3.2 -"

tT OCT 8 1952

Progress of State Minimum-Wage Leg n 11

MINIMUM-WAGE LAWS are currently in effect, in 26 States and the
District of Columbia. During the 12-month period ending June 30,
1951, 21 wage orders, based on these laws, were issued in 11 States,
according to an analysis by the Women's Bureau of the United States
Department of Labor. Three States also amended their existing
4, legislation and 10 others considered minimum-wage bills in their
legislative sessions. In addition to legislative and administrative
activity in this field, several States issued new or revised budgets
required to maintain a self-supporting woman at a minimtun adequate
standard of living: and two court decisions had a significant effect on
minimum wages in two States.
Establishment of minimum wages is recognized as being essential
to the smooth functioning of civilian industries in a defense economy.
The Wage Stabilization Board took official cognizance of the impor-
tance of minimum wages by the issuance of General Wage Regula-
tion No. 3 on January 3, 1951, which gave blanket approval to wage
increases made in compliance with State minimum-wage laws and
State minimum-wage laws apply for the most part to women and
minors. Only five States-Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hamp-
shire, New York, and Rhode Island-have laws which cover men.
By establishing a floor to wages-especially in the traditionally low-
paid trade and service occupations in which women's employment is
largely concentrated-these laws help in maintaining an adequate
supply of workers in these occupations and in recruiting additional
women in the labor market.
Eleven States-Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washing-
ton, and Wisconsin-issued 21 wage orders in the period studied;
3 new orders became effective in Puerto Rico. Most of these orders
apply to industries or occupations employing large numbers of women.
A tabulation of the orders by industry, State, and title, follows:
Hotels and restaurants:
Colorado-Public housekeeping occupations.
Kentucky-Hotel and restaurant industry.
Massachusetts-Public houskeeping occupations.
New Hampshire-Restaurant occupation.
Ohio-Occupations relating to the furnishing of food and/or lodging.
1 By Alice Angus Morrison and Loretta Sullivan of the U. S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau.
[Reprinted (with additional data) from the MONTHmY LABOR REVIEw (December 1951, pp. 687-690) of
the U. S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics]


Laundry and dry cleaaing;-.i
.Colorado-Laundry id~ist.ry.
;. Connecticut-Cleani-g and dyeing occupation.
Oregon-Laundry, meaning and dyeing.
Rhode Island--Laundry and dry cleansing industries.
Personal service:
Colorado-Beauty service occupations.
Massachusetts-Personal services occupations.
Food processing:
Washington-Food processing industry.
Wisconsin-Canning or first processing fresh fruits and vegetables.
Retail trade:
Colorado-Retail trade occupations.
Amusement and recreation:
New York-Amusement and recreation industry.
Hospitals and sanitariums:
Oregon-Hospitals, sanitariums, convalescent and old people's homes.
Fruit and vegetable packing:
Washington-Fresh fruit and vegetable packing industry.
Telephone and telegraph:
Washington-Telephone and telegraph industry.
Washington-Manufacturing and general working conditions.
A separate order for minors not covered by other industry orders was
issued in the State of Washington.
States issuing wage orders in the period studied included the five
States that have amended their minimum-wage laws to include men.
However, these orders, as well as those of States whose laws cover
women and minors only, concentrated on regulating important
woman-employing industries. In Connecticut, they covered the
laundry and cleaning and dyeing industries; in Massachusetts, public
housekeeping and personal service; in New Hampshire, restaurants; in
New York, amusement and recreation; and in Rhode Island, laundry
and dry cleansing.
Washington and Colorado issued the most orders, both having com-
pleted long-term programs of wage-order revision. Washington issued
five orders, including one for manufacturing and one for minors; other
orders in this State covered occupations in the following trades or
industries: food processing, fruit and vegetable packing, and telephone
and telegraph. Women play an important, part in all the latter occu-
pations, which are interstate in character, but. in which workers are to
a large extent exempt from the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Colorado issued four orders covering laundries, the retail trades, beauty
services, and public housekeeping.
Oregon combined its two hospital orders, se tting a minimum of 65 cents
an hour, applicable to an 8-hour day (in place of 9 hours) and a 44-hour
week. The new order eliminates the 7-hour (lay and the 7-day week
option formerly allowed the employer. Overtime at. time and one-half

the employee's regular rate in emergencies is still permitted; the hour
regulations are not applicable in the event of disaster within the
An amusement and recreation order, the first to be issued for this
industry in New York State, brought approximately 75,000 additional
workers under minimum-wage protection. It established differentials,
classified in accordance with population of community, geographic
location, and occupation of the worker. Most such minimum-wage
differentials were set. on an hourly basis, ranging from 75 cents (for
cashiers and certain other occupations in moving-picture theaters) in
the largest communities to 50 cents (for ushers and certain other
employees) in the smaller communities. For some workers, such as.
golf caddies and bowling-pin setters, minimum wages were scaled on a
production basis.
In the majority of orders issued in the various States during the
period studied, the highest basic hourly minimums established ranged
from 65 cents to 75 cents. Of the 21 orders issued, a 75-cent minimum
was set, by the Connecticut, order for cleaning and dyeing and the New
York order for amusement and recreation. Minimums of 70 cents
were set by Connecticut for the laundry industry,2 by Massachusetts
for personal service, and by Rhode Island for laundry and dry cleansing.
A 65-cent minimum was established by four of the five Washington
Stale orders (the one for minors not being included); by the Colorado
order for beauty service; by Mlassachusetts for public housekeeping;
and by Oregon for hospitals and sanitarituns. Eight. orders fixed
minimums between 50 cents and 65 cents. Under the Wisconsin
canning order, the rates established by the "all industries" order apply,
the highest of which is 45 cents.
Eleven of the 21 wage orders which became effective in the period
studied, followed the well-established practice of setting an overtime
rate in addition to the basic minimum wage. Nine of the orders
require that overtime be based on the worker's regular rate and two
fixed the overtime on the minimum rate. Overtime pay at time and one-
half the worker's regular rate was required after 44 hours in the laundry
and beauty service occupations in Colorado, in the laundry occupations
in Connecticut and in the laundry and hospital orders in Oregon; after
45 hours in the cleaning and dyeing occupations in Connecticut; after
48 hours in the retail trade and public housekeeping orders in Colorado;
and after 54 hours in the canning industry in Wisconsin. Overtime at
time and one-half the minimum rate was required after 48 hours in
hotel and restaurant occupations in Kentucky and after 45 hours in
laundry and dry cleansing jobs in Rhode Island.
Six of the 11 orders made the overtime rate applicable to a workweek
below the legal maximum established by the maximum hours law for
2 See footnote 10, p. 13.

women in the State. In three of the four States which include this
type of overtime provision in a minimum wage order of the period
studied, the maximum weekly hours established by State hour law for
the industry are 48. The exception--Kentucky-has a 60-hour max-
imum. Time and one-half is required for hours worked in excess of
44 a week by the laundry and beauty service orders in Colorado and
by the laundry order in Connecticut; for hours in excess of 45 a week
by the cleaning and dyeing order in Connecticut and the laundry
and dry cleansing occupations order in Rhode Island; and for hours in
exce s of 48 a week by the hotel and restaurant order in Kentucky.
The five remaining orders permit employment beyond the usual
maximum hour limits in emergencies, if time and one-half the worker's
regular rate is paid. The five orders in this latter group follow:
Oregon requires such payment after 44 hours for the laundry, cleaning
and dyeing industry and in hospitals, sanitariums, and convalescent
homes; Colorado requires it after 48 hours in both public housekeeping
and retail trade occupations; Wisconsin's canning order requires over-
time pay after 54 hours.
In a period characterized by rapidly rising prices such as the one
studied, the value of flexible minimum-wage laws with wage-board
provisions that permit periodic revisions of rates was demonstrated.
Of the 21 orders issued by States during the period, all except the
New York amusement order were revisions. All revised orders
increased the minimum rates established by the earlier orders and
many of them extended coverage. The Massachusetts order for
personal services, for example, established a minimum rate of 70 cents
for a variety of beauty and health services, replacing the former
beauty culture order, which had set a minimum of $1S for a week of
over 32 to 48 hours. Quite as significant as the increase in rates was
the rejection of a wage-board recommendation for the mercantile
occupation by the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission. The
Commission considered the recommended rates too low to protect the
workers against economic conditions prevailing at the time.
In the 12-month period studied, Massachusetts demonstrated the
effectiveness of a law which provides for use of wage-board procedure
to increase the statutory minimum wage in line with changes in the
cost-of-living. When, as a result of amendment of the State law, a
statutory minimum of 65 cents became effective on January 1, 1950,
none -of the existing wage orders in the State had established, wages
higher than that rate. The peculiar wording of the amendment
raised some question as to the Commission's authority to set. a higher
minimum. However, in the personal services occupations order, a
minimum of 70 cents for certain classes of workers was established,
effective December 14, 1950. A food-processing order, under study
at the end of the period, proposed a minimum of 75 cents.

Connecticut amended its law in 1951 to set a statutory minimum-
wage rate of 75 cents an hour and thus became the first State to equal
by statute the Federal 75-cent minimum. It was also the first State
to amend its minimum-wage (1939) law to extend coverage to men.
The 1951 Connecticut amendment retained the wage-board provisions.
It provided that wage orders in effect, as of July 1, 1951, shall be
modified to increase minimum wages to 75 cents, effective October 1,
1951; other provisions of the orders remain in effect until further
action under the amendment.
The Connecticut amendment deleted the provision which author-
ized establishment of minimum wages on a sex basis. During the
12-year period in which the Connecticut law expressly authorized sex
differentials in wages, no wage order establishing such a differential
was issued. In 1949, the State adopted an equal-pay law; hence, this
deletion establishes a consistent legislative policy of equal pay for
Procedural changes of major significance were enacted by amend-
ment to the Minnesota minimum-wage law in 1951. The original law
(1913) provided that the regulatory body was permitted to establish
minimum wages only if it. was of the "opinion that the wages paid to
one-sixth or more of the women or minors" were less than living wages.
As this provision proved to be a considerable handicap in collecting
factual information and initiating revisions of wage orders, repeated
efforts were made to delete the "one-sixth" requirement. At the 1951
session, the effort succeeded.
Among other important changes, the Minnesota amendment made
advisory boards mandatory. Formerly they were discretionary.
Recommendations of such boards continue to be advisory under the
amendment, as in the original law.
A New Hampshire amendment strengthened its law by requiring
the employer to keep records of hours worked and wages paid to
all employees (instead of women and minors only), to make such
records reasonably available for inspection, and to furnish a sworn
statement on demand.
In addition to the 3 States that enacted minimum-wage amend-
ments in 1951, the District of Columbia and 10 States-California,
Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin-considered changes in their
minimum-wage laws at 1951 legislative sessions. Several sought
unsuccessfully to bring men under coverage of existing laws; a number
sought to establish statutory rates; and several attempted to increase
statutory rates already established.
In 11 States without minimum-wage laws-Delaware, Idaho,
Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, South

Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming-bills were intro-
duced proposing adoption of such legislation. Nearly all these bills
had two characteristics in common. They would have covered men
as well as women, and they would have set a statutory rate, usually
in addition to provisions for wage boards. .Exceptions were a West
Virginia bill to establish a statutory rate for women workers only, and
a Tennessee bill providing for general worker coverage through the
wage-board method, but with no statutory minimums.
Other State Millimum-Wage Activities
Cost-of-Living. New York followed its customary practice of obtain-
ing factual cost-of-living data by pricing a woman's budget constructed
at a minimum adequate level. In February, the New York State
Department of Labor reported its fourteenth survey of living costs
for a resident working woman living with her family. Priced as of
September 1950, the budget showed an increase of ahnlmost 6 percent
over the amount which was found to be needed in January of the
same year.
In January 1951, the California Industrial Welfare Commission
reported the results of its first official budget for a self-supporting
woman. Previous (nonofficial) budget figures for the Stiate were
issued by the Heller Committee of the University of California.
The official budget showed the cost of a minimum adequate standard
for a woman worker in California.
No other States priced a woman's budget during the year but, as
has long been customary, various State budgets were brought up to
date by use of either the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumers'
Price Index or a State index, or by a combination of the two. In
Maine and Massachusetts, the budgets are designed to reflect the
needs of an employed person, man or woman, without dependents.
Data representing the annual cost of maintaining a self-supporting
woman at a minimum adequate standard of living, in accordance
with the purpose of State minimum-wage legislation, were published
by various States as follows:
As of Annual budget
California ----------------------------- October 1950 ------ $2, 003. 98
District of Columbia -------------------- November 1950 2, 000. 00
Maine -------------------------------- December 1950---- 2, 236. 04
Massachusetts --------------------------August 1950------- *1, 527. 00
New Jersey ---------------------------- October 1950------ 2, 492. 00
New York ----------------------------- September 1950---- 2, 156. 00
Utah ----------------------------- October 1950------ 2, 230. 00
*The Massachusetts budget does not include Federal income tax or social security. The State levies no
income tax on single persons with incomes under $2,000.

Court Cases. In addition to legislative and administrative actions,
two court decisions had a significant, effect on minimum wages during
the 12-month period studied by the V"'omen's Bureau. A Connecticut
court set. aside the State's minnimum-wage order for restaurant, occu-
pations. Enforcement of a mercantile wage order also was tempo-
rarily enjoined, but, following enactment of a 75-cent statutory
minimum in the State, the injunction was dissolved and the order
became effective October 1, 1951.
A temporary injunction restrained enforcement of the Kentucky
hotel and restaurant order on its effective date. The injunction was
later dissolved, and the order became effective in directory form on
February 26, 1951, and became mandatory on August 1, 1951.
A digest, of State wage orders becoming effective between July 1,
1950, and June 30, 1951, follows:

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