Page images
PDF
EPUB

ment and you will gather also such organizations as the fire department and other institutions in Chautauqua County are not friendly to the cause of any farmworker.

So, the trial could stand having a group like this subcommittee throw its energies into examining what was involved in that fire in Brockton in 1966. Somewhere some subcommittee should support this trial which at last is being started in June or July this year, and should attempt to establish a minimum of honesty during the proceedings of this trial.

Our problem on wages and hours, illegal recruiting, problems like Campbell Soup that reach out into Puerto Rico and look for farm. workers to whom they pay less than the minimum wage.

Problems of something called bonus where 10 cents an hour is taken from farmers' pay

Senator MURPHY. May I ask a question?
Mrs. TRESJAN. Yes.
Senator MURPHY. Do I understand that they recruit laborers from
Puerto Rico, bring them in, and pay them less than the minimum?

Mrs. TRESJAN. Yes.
Senator MURPHY. Campbell does this?

Mrs. TRESJAN. Campbell Soup, yes. It was 1967—last December. We have proof at least as of December last year, and we expect that this is going on.

All the way to Puerto Rico and particularly employed are the workers who don't talk English and the workers who don't read or write in any language. Six of these workers, among others, worked Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and there was one other holiday, at straight time for Campbell Soup.

We have papers and letters and things supporting what I am telling you.

More abuses. Wages, which are in most of the State codes or laws required to be paid in cash, they are not paid in cash. Wages are required to be paid weekly, they are not paid weekly.

Senator JAVITs. Madam, would you hold that a minute. I am a Senator from New York. You are testifying to certain conditions in New York, including 17-hour workdays and other violations of both State and Federal law.

I want to see about that. I don't want any such thing to continue in my State if I can humanly stop it.

Now could you give me the details of any single case that you are discussing?

Mrs. TRESJAN. Yes.

Senator Javits. I will look into each one of them and see that justice is done, but I cannot do it unless I have some specific information.

Mrs. TRESJAN. Yes.
Shall we do it in writing?

Senator Javits. Don't waste a lot of time about it. Do it while you are here. Write it on a yellow piece of paper and give it to me. Give me any specific piece of information you have on any of these matters you have been discussing, 17-hour days, less than the minimum wage.

I know about abominable conditions, I have seen them in Wayne County and other places. I am doing my utmost to fight that.

Give me the facts about payment in kind, not in wages, or any other of the facts you have mentioned, which strike me, even just hearing them, as violations of law.

New York has a very enlightened labor code and we have our Federal minimum wage and other laws, and I want to know the facts.

Mrs. TRESJAN. I will be happy to do that, yes.

I would also like to hope that we can enlist you in this question that goes back to 1966 when the two workers were burned to death.

Senator Javits. Yes. Give me the details on that. Senator Murphy says he has the details. He will give me the information.

Mrs. TRESJAN. Child labor. We can expand on that. There are many instances of it. Permits get posted. Permit issuing officials in both the county health department and some representative of the Labor Department or Labor Standards Division and they are posted.

They are posted very, very often in a language that is not intelligible to the worker, and more often than that, in a form that is out of reach of the workers because life has not permitted these human beings to go to school and be taught the alphabet.

So the workers don't read or write. So what the devil good is it to have some kind of permit posted telling them what the farmer may or may not do?

This is a condition of our entire county. It is a laughable thing, these permits.

Senator CLARK. I wonder if you could sort of begin to come to the end.

Mrs. TRESJAN. I have, I have, just now.

We have a petition with 3,000 signatures which we will see that your subcommittee gets a copy of. We urge passage of a law guaranteeing to farmworkers collective bargaining rights under—is it section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act!

We urge immediate establishment of a law including farmworkers under the Unemployment Insurance Act. We urge establishment of a minimum wage in agriculture of $2.50 an hour. Agriculture is skilled labor. Until last night we were urging $2 but we have been enlightened. We urge establishment and protection of the 40-hour basic workweek in agriculture with increased pay for Sundays and holiday work.

We urge that in the case of those workers who pay their own transportation from Puerto Rico by airplane to areas like New York State and their return transportation, that this be included in the agreement or in codes regulating the agreements worked out between the farmer and the workers; that the worker does not pay this transportation out of his own pocket and go back to the mountaintop in Puerto Rico with $30 to show for 6 months' work.

We urge examination of the relation between the minimum wage in agriculture in Puerto Rico and the minimum wage where it exists, if it exists, in the various States in the United States.

We urge examination into the question of the connection between a minimum wage of 60 cents or 55 cents per hour in Puerto Rico with the continuing practical minimum in many, many vicinities in the States, of 90 cents an hour and less, or $1.15 an hour.

Mr. LEE. Excuse me, Mrs. Tresjan.

If it please the committee, I would like to remind Mrs. Tresjan that we do have other members who have very crucial statements to bring before the committee.

We do want them to have an opportunity to at least give their statements.

Mrs. TRESJAN. I can sum up in eight words. I have only one more thing to urge today.

I recommend to the Department of Labor that they create some kind of committee to look into problems of work, rest, and exhaustion, particularly among farm workers.

Senator CLARK. Thank you very much. You are very articulate. It is a pleasure to hear from you.

Senator YARBOROUGH. We have an industrial workers health and safety bill pending that will give protection to the farmworkers. There are 75 million industrial workers including farmworkers. Each

year, 14,500 of these industrial workers are killed in America, 2 million are injured, 7 million are hurt; 2 million are disabled, some to the point of disability.

We have a bill pending here. There is strong opposition to it. I happen to be the author of it. It would remedy some of these complaints. Much remains to be done. We have many bills covering these fields pending

I want to say in reply to what Mrs. Tresjan said about money to educate the children, it reminds me of what a great English philosopher said in the past century.

He said, "Grace is given by God, but knowledge is bought in the marketplace."

There must be money to educate these children.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator CLARK. Now, Mr. Lee, will you call your next witness?

Mr. LEE. Yes, and I would urge members of our group here again that they not be as long as Mrs. Tresjan. She had a wealth of information, and still does, to give the committee.

I am sure all of you will do as well. We do want all of you to get your points of view across. We have six more people. We would like the committee to hear from all of them.

Senator CLARK. Let us give them 5 minutes each.

Mr. LEE. I would like to hear from Mr. Victor Charlo from Montana.

STATEMENT OF VICTOR CHARLO. FLATHEAD INDIAN

RESERVATION, WESTERN MONTANA

Mr. CHARLO. I am Victor Charlo from the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana.

Senator Javits, you asked about the OEO program. I would like to give you some of my viewpoints of the OEO program on the reservations that I have seen both in Montana and six other States in the western part of the United States.

I think one of the things you see the most with these CAP programs, community action programs, sponsored by the OEO program, is that when they talk about local involvement, when they talk about getting the poor involved, asking the people what they want, asking the people to write up their proposal, asking for what they want, it is sent to the Indian desk and from the Indian desk after many hassles,

finally you get back a program that is so full of special conditions that you do not even recognize your own program that you sent in.

I think this is something that we have to deal with and somehow restructure the OEO program.

What is happening is that you are asking the poor people to give you their ideas in the OEO program and the OEO officials judge these needs by a middle-class standard and then they say you can have your money on these conditions.

As a result, the job is not being done. Again I think, as Reverend Abernathy said, this is a start. But it is not enough because whatever money that is available in the OEO program, just a bit of this I think is coming to the rural areas. These are just as important, I think, as the big cities.

But at the same time, what is happening is that there are riots in the big cities and there aren't riots in the reservations.

Some have said, some of my Indian people have said, this is not the Indian way to demonstrate. We do have our treaties, we can negotiate, but I think the Indian people have negotiated and I think now it is up to us probably to begin to make our voices heard.

Because too long we have said we will get along. Somehow we do have our treaties but I think we have finally realized that these treaties are not any good.

As citizens, and I guess we have been citizens only a few years, although we owned the land at one time, today we have very little and I think what we are asking for is more.

We are asking, probably demanding-we are not begging.
Senator CLARK. Thank you very much.
Mr. LEE. Thank you, Mr. Charlo.

Our next statement will come from Mrs. Lilly May Brooks from Senator Eastland's county, Sunflower, Miss.

STATEMENT OF MRS. LILLY MAY BROOKS, SUNFLOWER CITY,

SUNFLOWER COUNTY, MISS.

Mrs. Brooks. I would like to say my name is Mrs. Lilly May Brooks. I live in Sunflower City in Sunflower County, not far from Mr. Eastland's farm in Mississippi.

I would like to say that Mr. Eastland is not representing the poor white and poor colored people in Mississippi. He is representing the big class of people.

In Mississippi, we live in houses, some of them not fit to live in; not fit to put chickens in.

We have food stamps. They told us they were not going to give us money to pay the grocery bills. When we go ask for it they say we don't have any money.

I ask him what are they doing with the food stamps. One person $50 a month. They will tell you to pay $40 or $45 or $60 and still keep the children in school.

That is not enough to feed two kids 2 weeks. I would like to say to you and the whole United States we are tired of begging.

We have worked all our lives. I am representing Mississippi. I want the whole United States to know we worked for it.

We have not received it yet but we are going to demand it now. We are tired of begging.

We are not satisfied. We won't be until our demands are met. We are going to stay in Washington, D.C., until something is done if it takes all of 1968 or 1969 or 1970 because we are tired of working and no pay and then somebody else gets rich.

Those people in those shacks, we want them housed in decent homes and with decent food. We are not able to buy the food stamps. We want them free.

We are not going to take any more. We are tired. We are tired of it.

Senator CLARK. Madam, your 5 minutes are up.
Mrs. BROOKS. Thank you.

Senator Javits. May I say, Mr. Chairman, that the 5 minutes was very eloquent. I thank Mrs. Brooks for appearing. We will do our utmost.

We are only men, too. We will do our best to see that promises do come to an end and performance does begin.

Mr. LEE. Thank you very much.

Our next statement will come from Mrs. Phyllis Robinson from Providence, R.I.

STATEMENT OF MRS. PHYLLIS ROBINSON, PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Mrs. ROBINSON. Dr. Martin Luther King died in pursuit of social and economic justice for all. His last month was spent in the development of the Poor People's Campaign to ease the desperate problems of poor people of all races.

Frequently he spoke of a guaranteed annual income as one of our country's most urgent needs.

He took special interest in the plight of the ghetto and has been giving us strong support and assistance in the building of our organization.

Those who truly support the ideal for which Martin Luther King fought and died must face an underlying problem of inequality and injustice in our society.

The National Welfare Rights Organization presents its proposals which speak to some of our concerns as poor people, in the hope that serious attention will be given to these issues.

They are offered as a beginning towards building of a fitting memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, a society of liberty and justice for all.

One, repeal of the welfare section of the 1967 Social Security Amendments, Public Law 90–248 of the welfare law.

This law is the most regressive and racist piece of social legislation in the history of the country. Directly or indirectly it affects the majority of residents of the ghettos of our country.

The freeze on Federal funds for millions of needy children who are desperately

poor but presently receiving no public assistance will oni worsen an already tragic situation.

It forces mothers to leave their children to work or undergo training or be cut off of welfare or have their children taken away.

« PreviousContinue »