Page images
PDF
EPUB

Correspondence and conversations between various representatives of our industry and Administrator Lundquist in ensuing months developed a reaffirmation by the Administrator of the Department's intent to confer and discuss the matter with us further. However, such a further conference or discussion never did occur, despite our willingness and even eagerness for it.

We imply or infer nothing by recounting our experience here, but cite it only to show that we have wanted to be helpful in working with the Department on these matters, not against it.

Again, we say, we do not believe that the Congress in its 1961 amendments to the act, intended that the agricultural exemptions under subsections 7(b) (3), 7(c), and and 13(a) (10) should be reduced or eliminated, but rather should only be simplified and that inequities in the application of such exemptions should be removed.

It is our sincere conviction that since the Department's study of these exemptions indicates extreme seasonality in our business, and the continued need for exemptions of some kind, one of the easiest ways to achieve some simplification and the elimination of certain inequities in application is to delete from subsection 13(a) (10) of the act the phrase "employed within the area of production (as defined by the Secretary)."

This would provide an exemption similar to that provided by the Congress for cotton in the 1961 amendments, and would cover all agricultural processing, marketing, and handling operations in a county where the commodity involved is produced in commercial quantities.

Because we have no direct interest in the application of minimum wage legislation to hotels, motels, restaurants, and laundries, and to timber operations, we shall not comment other than to say we believe such action would increase unemployment especially among those unskilled workers who need employment most.

Thank you for this opportunity to express our views.

Mr. Dent. Thank you, Mr. Imming. The committee appreciates your coming before it this morning. I note that you make a reference to the wholesale price index from 1954 to 1963.

Mr. IMMING. Yes, sir.

Mr. DENT. Are there any statistics available on the tonnage per man-hour handled in 1963 as against 1964 and the average wage level in 1954 as against 1963 ? Mr. IMMING. There are, I am sure, such statistics available.

I happened to notice, I believe in last night's business page, a reference to the fact that farm productivity has outstripped industrial productivity

in the last 10 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We have that information in our information department but I am sorry that I do not have it at hand.

Mr. Dent. According to this table by the Department of Agriculture, 1954 would come somewhere—they do not have the year 1954 but they have 1955, and it appears that farm products supplied by one worker in 1955 were sufficient for 19 persons. In 1962 that has gone up to 29 persons.

Mr. 'IMMING. Yes, I know it has advanced remarkably. It is a great tribute to our agricultural system.

Mr. DENT. In your handling of this increased productivity has there been an increase in the labor force in the processing industry?

Mr. IMMING. I believe that probably it has been reduced. Mr. DENT. In other words, the labor force has been reduced whereas the productivity and the amount of products handled have increased. Mr. IMMING. Yes, sir. Mr. DENT. So that it would mean that while the price index had remained rather static, within 5 percent or so, there are fewer men earning a living in handling the increased amount of production ? Mr. IMMING. Yes, sir. I believe their wages have gone up. Mr. Dent. How have the wages fared, the average wage since 1954 per man, the average wage in 1963?

Mr. IMMING. I am sure it has gone up. I do not have the figures at hand.

Mr. Dent. You see, we really are trying to get an answer to some serious problems in the United States. I think you understand there is no ax to grind on the part of this committee or its members but it is just a question of trying to find out if our economy is carrying its worker load which is essential to the well-being of the entire Nation and all the other industries that are relying upon the wages paid to the production workers. And you have production workers.

Now if we have those figures it will help us in determining whether this industry could employ more workers to do the job that is being done today and to increase the number of workers as its productivity climbs. If they keep the reduction of workers at the same time that they are increasing the productivity, eventually there is going to be what we now have found in many industries, a chronic unemployment situation. We hear every day one industry after another say the workers have to be retrained to go into another job.

If every industry follows the pattern that yours has followed, some of them are going to wonder what are we training for and where will the jobs be.

Mr. IMMING. Our industry, unfortunately, does not have to be sold because right now we are concerned about the elimination from the agricultural labor force of a number of supplemental farmworkers, some 200,000 or more of them. But, of course, I do not want to go into that.

Nevertheless, we seem to have no great unemployment as far as our industry goes in the production and packing of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Mr. Dent. Do you have any unemployment because of increased productivity or do you not?

Mr. IMMING. I think not substantially, sir; no. I know this tends to be a problem in some other industries.

Mr. DENT. According to these statistics in your industry, almost onehalf of all your employees make less than 75 cents an hour, 56 percent make less than a dollar; 74 percent make less than $1.15. Now that does not appear to be too big an increase in the wages of this fewer number of workers who are doing a great deal more producing, does it?

Mr. IMMING. I do not know which wages you are referring to, sir,

Mr. DENT. I am referring to the wages paid in the retail trade and in the entire agricultural complex 1961-62, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Now I would like for my own information, and for the other members, I am sure, if you could submit to the committee an index figure on the number of employees and the amount of produce handled in 1954 and again in 1963, the same as you have done with the price relationship. Because somewhere along the line we have to start getting some statistics which will help us in making a determination as to whether this is the right vehicle for the solution of the problem with which we are concerned or whether some other tactic will have to be followed.

Mr. IMMING. I will be glad to furnish them. Mr. MARTIN. Those statistics you just quoted sounded a little bit like they might encompass the entire agricultural picture; in other words, workers on ranches and so forth. Is that correct, or is that confined to the processing phase?

Mr. DENT. No, this is the entire agricultural complex.

Mr. Martin. That is not entirely accurate so far as this particular problem is concerned.

Mr. DENT. That is right. That is why I asked him to submit to this committez some statistics so that we can arrive at an answer. We have to have something specific. He is testifying for a certain element of the food industries. Let us find out how it affects his industry. Maybe this is dangerous to follow if we pass this legislation on that phase of the industry. So that we want to know, that is all. There is no antagonism. It is just that we have to find out an answer somewhere.

Mr. Ayres?
Mr. AYRES. No questions.
Mr. DENT. Mr. Bruce?

Mr. BRUCE. In your operations of the United Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Association does that encompass the frozen juices and the canning as well ?

Mr. IMMING. Many of our member organizations, of course, are engaged in both. Our principal interest, though, is fresh fruits and vegetables for the fresh market.

Mr. BRUCE. The question of employment with the new advances coming along on preserving food and that type of thing, does this not tend to pick up some of the slack of unemployment in your particular area of operation?

Mr. IMMING. I think this is no doubt about that to some extent. We still happen to have a little bit of a labor problem in some fields, sir, in some areas of our industry.

Mr. BRUCE. The point I am trying to get is, as the new industry comes along, new methods of freezing and other new preservation techniques, in your knowledge does one tend to balance out with perhaps some advancement of automation in the packing industry as such, does it tend to balance out with new developments?

Mr. IMMING. Yes, I think so.
Mr. BRUCE. Do you know for a fact?
Mr. IMMING. No, sir;I do not.
Mr. BRUCE. Can we have those facts!
Mr. IMMING. I believe they are probably available.

Mr. Bruce. This would have some relationship to the overall pieture with which you are dealing!

Mr. IMMING. Yes. I will be glad to furnish that.
Mr. BRUCE. Otherwise, you would be very vulnerable.

[ocr errors]

Mr. IMMING. Right. Mr. DENT. Mr. Hawkins? Mr. HAWKINS. What western growers were included in this position!

Mr. IMMING. Included in what, sir? Mr. HAWKINS. In this position that you have taken before the committee.

Mr. IMMING. We have a substantial membership in California including that of the Western Growers Association, itself, with headquarters in Los Angeles. This organization represents row-crop growers and shippers in California and Arizona. Also, the GrowerShipper Vegetable Association of California—that is in Salinas, the folks up around the lettuce area and other vegetable growers

than lettuce the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, most of them are members of our organization.

Mr. HAWKINS. The only reason I ask was that at the State level in Sacramento they have been resisting the minimum wage of 50 cents an hour. It seems a little strange they would also resist it on the Federal level. The argument that they have used is that they are at a competitive disadvantage if a State act were to be passed.

Am I to understand that they also oppose a Federal act as well? Mr. IMMING. They oppose a Federal act to set a minimum wage. Mr. HAWKINS. Yes. Mr. IYMING. Yes; generally that is true among them. Mr. HAWKINS. So that the argument they use on the local act that if the State act were passed this would place them at a competitive disadvantage is actually not their position at all, they are opposed to any minimum wage.

Mr. IMMING. I am sorry, I am not qualified to comment on their actions at the State level.

Mr. HAWKINS. But they do oppose the law that would remove the exemption?

Mr.IMMING. Yes.
Mr. DENT. Mr. Martin?

Mr. MARTIN. Thank you. Mr. Imming, how long a period does the processing of vegetables and fruits normally require?

Mr. IMMING. If you are talking about your processing for canning, sir, or freezing, I can't tell you that. As for fresh packing, packinghouses, say, for fresh vegetables, citrus and so on, this varies almost by the commodity and by the area. Some parts of the country have longer producing seasons than others. Mr. MARTIN. Can it be longer than 14 weeks?

Mr. IMMING. In many places; yes, sir. In California, for example, a number of our members have actually taken advantage of the full 2 weeks of exemption possible, exemption and partial exemption possible under the act as it now stands, because of the length of their season or packing operations.

Mr. MARTIN. As you undoubtedly know, title III of this proposed bill does allow the Secretary to make an exemption in a seasonal operation not to exceed 14 weeks.

Jr. IMMING. Yes; I understand, sir. Mr. MARTIN. Do most of your association members work more than 14 weeks?

Mr. IMMING. They do.

Mr. MARTIN. So they would come under the provisions of the act as currently written?

Mr. IMMING. That is right. This is why we are, one reason why we are opposing the proposal.

Mr. DENT. Do you come under the act now? Where?

Mr. IMMING. Å number of people, a good many of our people in our industry come under the Fair Labor Standards Act, sir. I am talking now not about farmers themselves but people who operate in packinghouses and so on, truckdrivers, lots of people come under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Mr. DENT. I am sorry, go ahead.
Mr. MARTIN. I have no more questions.
Mr. Dent. I notice you are asking for an overall exemption now.

Mr. IMMING. Well, we have suggested that as an easy way to simply file it.

Mr. DENT. In other words, take you out of the act as you now are in it. You want an exemption completely. You go on to say an easy way out would be to exempt you altogether. Do I understand that to be the position of your people ?

Mr. IMMING. Yes; as an easy way to simply file some inequities. We all agree there are inequities in the application of the act as it now stands.

Mr. DENT. Mr. Gill, of Hawaii.

Mr. Gill. I notice on page 2 you repeat the position of your associaation which apparently is against elimination of section 7(c).

Mr. IMMING. Yes.
Mr. GILL. Is that correct?
Mr.IMMING. Yes.

Mr. GILL. I am not overly familiar with just where section 7(c) stops in the processing of the various goods but I notice it says, it exempts the processing of sugarbeets, sugarbeet molasses, sugarcane into sugar, but not refined

sugar. I would gather that means either brown sugar or molasses is all right; is that right?

Mr. IMMING. Again, I am not qualified to comment on the sugar. We don't consider them as a vegetable. So, I really can't say.

Mr. Gill. The point I am raising here is that 7(c) covers sugar. In your statement you mention that your people are not subject to price supports. Certainly sugar is subject to price supports, and, at the same time, on the mainland, is exempted from most wage controls.

Do you happen to know what the average field wage is or the average wage paid by people exempted under (c) in the sugar industry is?

Mr. IMMING. No, sir; I am sorry, I do not.

Mr. Gill. I just merely wanted to point out to you that in Hawaii we are paying a basic field wage in sugar which is over $2 an hour right now and we are making plenty of money. I was wondering what was wrong with your boys.

Mr. IMMING. It happens that there are persons in our industry for whom the average wage is not necessarily under what is referred to as the minimum wage level nowadays.

Mr. Gill. I am wondering if your fresh fruit people why they need a lower wage level than, say, our pineapple people. What is your

« PreviousContinue »