Labor in the South

July 15, 1929

Report Outline
Industrial Workers of the South
Labor in the Textile Industry
Labor in the Bituminous Mines
Labor in Tobacco, Lumber, Iron and Steel
Employment of Women and Children in South
General Labor Conditions in Southern Industry
Special Focus

When the Senate reconvenes in August it will be called upon to decide whether there shall be a federal investigation of labor conditions in the textile industry of the South, as proposed in a resolution offered by Senator Wheeler, D., Montana, and, if so, whether the investigation shall be made by the Senate Committee on Manufactures or jointly by the Federal Trade Commission and the United States Tariff Commission. Senator Wheeler's resolution, introduced April 29, 1929, at the request of the American Federation of Labor, was inspired by a series of textile strikes in the Carolinas and Tennessee and by the accompanying charges that working conditions in the industry are “below an American standard,”

Preliminary hearings were held by the Senate Committee on Manufactures during May, and on June 4 a majority of the committee, headed by Senator Hale, R., Maine, reported an amended resolution authorizing an investigation of textile working conditions “throughout the United States,” to be conducted jointly by the Federal Trade Commission and the Tariff Commission. A minority report-signed by Senators LaFollette and Tyson, Republicans; Sheppard and Wheeler, Democrats—was presented to the Senate on June 6. The minority accepted the proposal that the investigation be extended to cover the textile industry of the North as well as the South, but adhered to the original plan of having the inquiry conducted by the Committee on Manufactures. The situation that prevails at present is very similar to that which existed when the Walsh resolution for an investigation of public utility financing and propaganda was before the Senate, with the friends of the original Wheeler resolution asserting that the report of the Manufactures Committee majority represents an attempt to delay and prolong and thus to destroy the effectiveness of the proposed investigation.

Emergence of Labor Problems in South

The recent strikes and the proposed federal investigation have directed public attention to the new labor problems arising out of the rapid industrialization of the South. For years it has been the boast of southern business men that the South's abundant labor supply constituted one of its greatest assets, A recent advertising pamphlet of the North Carolina Department of Conservation and Development states that: “There are no labor problems in North Carolina,” Chamber of commerce advertisements in trade publications and popular magazines variously assert that “native labor is loyal,” that “labor and capital believe in cooperation in the South,” that the South is “a haven for harassed industry.” The attractions of low wages, long hours of work, relative absence of labor legislation, and freedom from trade union interference have been widely advertised as important reasons for establishing new industrial enterprises in southern communities At the same time it has been asserted by business groups that the developing industrial regime has brought well-being to the workers as well as to their employers. A typical statement is the following, by Stuart Cramer, of Cramerton, N. C., a leading textile manufacturer:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Cotton and Textiles
Oct. 11, 1985  Textiles Push for Protectionism
May 13, 1953  Troubles of the Textile Industry
Sep. 10, 1945  Plight of Cotton
Jul. 09, 1943  Civilian Apparel
Sep. 01, 1939  Cotton Exports and Export Subsidies
Mar. 22, 1937  World Stabilization of the Textile Industry
Oct. 12, 1934  Cotton Exports and Crop Reduction
Jul. 15, 1929  Labor in the South
Oct. 24, 1927  The Cotton Situation in the United States
Farm Loans, Insurance, and Subsidies
Manufacturing and Industrial Production