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but in dignity, that an industry that he gave his life to is able to protect him and care for him.
STATEMENT OF JOSE ORTIZ, STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Orriz. My name is Jose Ortiz, I am here representing youth. Senator Clark. Will you suspend for just a moment.
I will have to ask the photographers to move out of the way so that the members of the committee can see the witnesses.
Thank you very much. Mr. ORTIZ, Mr. Chairman and members of the Senate subcommittee. I finally realized something today that is not just, you know, New York; as my fellow brother here just pointed out, like we are having the same problems as far as when we run up against, you know, the so-called professionals that come into the ghettos and establish their own programs.
We feel that we are capable, the people in ghettos themselves, to develop our own programs and to execute them. We do have communication with the rest of the people in the ghettos and I guess this is really our biggest factor.
As far as jobs, Senator Javits here probably should know a little bit more about how it is to have to run down to the garment center and hare to push one of the push wagons and get paid $50 a week.
I know people who just stand in the corner and make more than $50 a week. This is the attitude most of the people have developed. Why should I go out there and do a job; that is, you know, that doesn't really take no brains.
You know, what are they trying to tell me, that I am not capable of using my head?
If anybody wants to offer me a job let him offer me a job where I can really be doing something. As far as electronics and computers, like we have a whole building on 9th Street, Thompson Square Community Center. We have been trying to get a jet engine in there so that we can get somebody to teach how this jet engine operates. This is the kind of thing we want.
We don't want $50 jobs because we can't make enough. The average person who gets the $50 job, when he comes out of work he has to be running some numbers so that he can make a little more money.
You know, $50 isn't enough to feed one person. If anybody really wants to offer any jobs, offer jobs which hold a future for us and all we really need as far as the technical and the professional help is for them to come down and assist us.
We are capable of running our own programs. Especially among the youth we do have a whole lot of programs up there which are being run by us, are being directed by us and we don't necessarily have high school degrees, but we do have the know-how. We are in communication with the people and when we go out in the streets some people listen to us because we are completely identified because we are those people.
Unless the people who are putting out all this money for all these programs get down and realize that we don't need professional people to come down there and program us and tell us how to run our lives because we are capable of doing this. Unless you get down and realize this point all that money you will be putting out there will be going into the same thing that it has been going into so long like manpower, mobilzation for youth, all these big organizations that have received millions and millions of dollars which have done exactly nothing.
It is about time that we start using different methods. It is letting the community, the people themselves get their programs and direct their own programs. Even if it means setting up employment offices for the community people by the community people, then that is what we are going to have to do.
Thank you very much. I will give an opportunity for somebody else to speak because I don't want to have to take up the whole time.
Senator Clark. Thank you very much for an eloquent statement, Mr. Ortiz.
Reverend ABERNATHY. Mrs. Scott of Baltimore, Mr. Chairman, and once she has finished I would like you to excuse Mr. Young and myself so that we can make the next appointment and I will designate the person that will be in charge.
STATEMENT OF MRS. ALBERTA SCOTT, BALTIMORE, MD.
Mrs. Scott. I am Mrs. Alberta Scott, I live in Baltimore, Md.
For my husband and I welfare gives us $130. We have to pay $65 for our place where we live and it is a slum house. There are more rats and roaches there and we have been at the landlord to fix it up but he won't. But when the welfare check comes and we get the check from the public welfare our landlord beats the mailman. And we have rats there. We have roaches there.
We have been at our landlord to fis up the house and he will not do it but he will beat the mailman to the check.
Senator CLARK. Have you completed your statement?
Mrs. Scott. So we asked the landlord would he even give us money, would he even now give us the chance to take some of the rent-we are paying $65 a month as it is, and we only get $130, the two of us.
My husband is disabled to work and so am I. We asked the landlord would he give us a chance to take some of the money and spread it out. No. But he still beats the mailman.
We have to pay for our own gas and electricity and have to furnish our own food out of that $130 a month.
Reverend ABERNATHY. Mrs. Tresjan.
Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, before Dr. Abernathy goes, if I may, I would like to suggest to the Chair that I would hope that we will have another opportunity to question the witness. Beyond that I think you ought to go away with something tangible.
I would hope that the Chair would consider calling us into executive session
Senator CLARK. Will you please let us have quiet so that Senator Javits can be heard.
Senator Javits. I would hope that the Chair—as I say, I know the Chair is very sympathetic to everything that has been said—will call us into executive session for the purpose of calling the Secretary of Agriculture and other Cabinet officials to whom you presented demands, and let us at least have some consolidated presentation of why these things we have fought for so hard and you demand so urgently, many of them so just, have not been done.
As I say, I know of no one in the Congress more sympathetic than the Chairman. I would hope we could perhaps consider taking it into our own subcommittee and really completing this presentation which has been made.
Senator CLARK. I think the Senator has made an excellent suggestion. I will be glad to call the subcommittee into executive session in order to determine just how we should handle this matter.
At this point I don't see why we should call the Secretary of Agriculture in executive session. I would like to have him in public session and the Secretary of HEW and the Surgeon General, too.
Senator PROUTY. Mr. Chairman, I also think that Dr. Abernathy should be invited back in public session to that we can have an opportunity to question him in more detail about some aspects of his proposed programs.
I hope this can be done as soon as possible.
Senator CLARK. I will be glad to suit our convenience to that and, Dr. Abernathy, I know how busy you are but perhaps you can find time to come back here again and give us a chance to question you.
Dr. ABERNATHY. Thank you so kindly, Mr. Chairman, and all the members of this subcommittee.
I will move now to the next appointment. I will ask my special assistant, Mr. Bernard Lee, if he will be in charge and take care of my responsibility.
I appreciate so very much the fine way in which you have received us. Let me repeat again that I still think that the subcommittee is stacked in our favor.
Senator Clark. Doctor, we don't think that at all. We are trying to give you equal justice under the law.
Dr. ABERNATHY. Thank you very kindly.
Senator CLARK. Mr. Lee, will you indicate whom you would like to have speak next.
Mr. LEE. Yes, sir. Mrs. Lares Tresjan.
STATEMENT OF MRS. LARES TRESJAN, CHATAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y.
Senator CLARK. You may proceed.
Mrs. TRESJAN. I am speaking for 1 million farm workers. I will need 6 minutes, if I may, at least.
We are wondering what is the role of Senate Labor Subcommittee in the year after year damnation of 1 million farmworkers in this country.
We are wondering what is the role of this subcommittee.
Is it promoting or is it abolishing the criminal misuse of the farm workers
Senator CLARK. Madam, let me point out that is not within the juriediction of this subcommittee. I think Senator Yarborough who is Chairman of the Labor Subcommittee, might have some comment on that.
Senator Y ARBOROUGH. Yes.
In 1966, the Congress passed the first minimum wage for farm labor in the history of the Nation.
In 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt recommended the first minimum wage law that was passed for the workers in the factories.
For 30 years that plea for the fieldworkers went unheard. But this Congress passed that minimum wage law and while it applies to less than 2 percent of the farms, it applies to over 40 percent of the farmworkers.
It applies to the workers on every farm that has over seven employees per quarter. That minimum wage was $1 an hour last year. It went to $1.15 an hour February 1st this year. It will go to $1.30 an hour on February 1st, next year, rising with other newly covered employees under the minimum wage.
So, for the first time these workers have that protection, and beginning February of this year, people who previously were being paid 60 cents, 65 cents, 75 cents or 40 cents, 50 cents and hour under this law are paid now $1.15 an hour minimum.
Next year, it will be $1.30 an hour minimum, February 1st of next year.
Congress has moved in that field. After 30 years of struggle the Congress has passed a meaningful minimum wage law for the farms.
Senator MURPHY. I would like the record to show that the minimum wage rates in California are much higher than that. The minimum wage for agriculture in California is $1.65 an hour. I also would like to point out, so that you may understand, when the minimum wage law was being considered I went to great length to make certain that the minimum did not become the maximum. Because no part of my farmers are working at the minimum; they get a much higher rate.
They go as high as $2.40, $2.50. So I insisted that the minimum not penalize those who are more capable. I don't believe in penalizing anybody. I have kept the piece rate in along with the minimum.
I want the record to show that in California the rates are much higher.
Mrs. TRESJAN. If I felt I had more time to speak I would ask you whether that law is as shot through with exceptions as we find it to be in New York State and elsewhere.
Senator MURPHY. I went to the trouble to get information on the rates of pay. I sent my son out and he worked on farms up through the San Joaquin and down through the Imperial as a result he got a chance to look at the pay books so that he could get adequate accounts on the rates of pay.
I, myself, went on some of the farms and talked to many of the workers to find out exactly what the rates were, how they varied and what the piece rate was against the minimum, how the general farmworkers were organized.
Mrs. TRESJAN. How many minutes do I have? How much time? Senator CLARK. You just go along for a while.
Mrs. TRESJAN. Let me say that uninformed as we are, backward, primitive as we are, farmworkers, we continue under the impression, which we get only from our life and from our reality, that committees such as today's committee is, should I say, playing with us.
For example, the Department of Labor that we visited yesterday, we cannot help wondering in defense of whose rights is it operating
Is it in defense of the worker's right to live on a scrap of income, not to mention happiness, or is it in defense of the farmers' rights to superprofits?
We even catch ourselves wondering if the Department of Labor functions as a kind of procurer. Let me say so far as the farmworkers, we have not even established the right to be poor. We have not even yet established the right to be.
Every time we get an opportunity to come some place and complain and cry out about abuses, traditional abuses in the sphere of wages and hours, we have to postpone that and we have to come telling about the simple primitive life and the problems that we face and we never get to the second part of our story which is all the abuses in wages and hours.
This has gone on now for 3 or 4 years that we remember telling this this. We can never get to the next paragraph. We are always on the question of the protection of bare life, itself.
Again, I am curious to see if we get beyond the facts that-I have to race through this
if we get beyond the facts of the 17-hour workday that is still going on in our
vicinity, not only our vicinity, and you know every bit as I know this is going on throughout the country, and the fact of overexhaustion, what we call criminal tiredness, the fact of the death traps we are condemned to live in.
I am going to throw a paragraph at you. It may go faster and this is an extract from a two-page petition to which we have collected 3,000 and some signatures.
It has been circulating. This is our summary of our living conditions. The people who signed it said that, “We note with amazement and sorrow that there are in New York State and throughout these United States a vast multitude of shacks and camps, some converted from chicken coops, some improvised out of discarded city buses, tractor sheds, barns, tinder boxes in which farmworkers, men, women and children, are housed face to face with defective heating stoves with Jeaking gas, exposed wiring, illegal kerosene stoves and deadly radiant heaters with polluted drinking water, sometimes with no water at all, with 13th century toilet facilities or none.
“They are housed in premises lacking emergency exits and that in at least one instance a three-story structure housing farm workers has a fire escape built of wood.
“These workers are housed as though they were hose and wagons and tractor parts."
Then also the question of the complete failure in our view, the complete collapse, of the county health department throughout our State of New York and throughout the other States with which we are becoming familiar.
Where health and sanitary codes exist they are so far from complied with that they have become a kind of legendary poor joke.
The question of compliance with the code is only one of the questions. The companion question is the question to us, of pathetic mine standards required by these codes. So that we see a double problem here, that the codes have to be lifted up by the ankles and turned up