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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, January 12, 1915, LAST EDITION, Image 2

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1915-01-12/ed-1/seq-2/

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18,000 girl clerks of department
stores walking New York's grim
pavements in search of work
Elizabeth Dutcher of the Retail
Clerks' union had this to say:
"In normal times 100,000 clerks are
employed in New YOFk. city. Many
of these are idle now, asthe stores
laid off hundreds of employes in No
vember. In the union we get only the
most ambitious, intelligent girls.
Thousands of girl clerks are too in
different or too thriftless or poor to
pay union dues. In normal years in
New York 20,000 extra clerks are em
ployed for the holiday season. This
year only 2,000 were employed, leav
ing 18,000 without work."
IJose Schneiderman of the Wom
an's Trade Union league, the fore
most figure in New York's famous
shirtwaist strike, says there are at
least 20,000 unorganized women in
New York looking vainly for work.
Perhaps the most careful estimate
of a situation unparalleled in the
city's history was that furnished me
by Mrs. P. J. O'Connell, superintend
ent of the Alliance Employment Bu
reau, a philanthropic enterprise back
ed by Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, Mrs.
James Speyer and other notable New
York women.
"We have every day three times as
many applications for work as in
normal times," Mrs. O'Connell said.
Her office at 64 Madison av. was
thronged with pale, anxious, pitifully
young girl-workers as we talked.
"Here we do not place any girl in a
position until we have investigated
it," she explained. "That is why we
refuse to place girls in department
"In view of the wages department
stores pay my experience leads me
to believe that $5 is the average we
decline to subject the young girl
worker to the double temptation of
theft and an immoral life offered her
by underpaid work in a department
store. So long as an underpaid girl
is surrounded by pretty things she
can never hope to buyhe tempta
tion of theft waits at her elbow; so
long as an underpaid girl may be
spoken to across the counter by any
one, on any pretext, there is the peril
of an immoral life.
"This is, even normally, a dull sea
son. But at this season in normal
years we begin to get applications for
girls to work on straw hats. This
year we have none. In normal years
we are able to place many girls who
are good dressmakers. Beginning
with the fall season we have been un
able to place any.
"The worst feature of the unem
ployment situation as I see it is the
fact that the youngest workers are
the first to suffer. Owing to the short
hours prescribed by the law and I'm
glad it does prescribe them the em
ployer lays off the youngest workers
first the boys and girls between 14
and 18 years of age."
This seems to me the most harrow
ing fact of the unemployment crisis
as it affects women. The girls who
are the first to be discharged are pre
cisely those young, impressionable,
fond of pretty clothes, and feeling the
call of sex at its most urgent hour.
To them Vice will offer its insidious
alternative of ease and luxury.
Vice has no dull season. It never
lays anybody off except for age. For
this reason the unempolyment situa
tion in this grim city is much more
critical for its women than its men.
o o
New York, Jan. 12. Stinging crit
icism of Mayor Mitchel's appointment
of Judge Gary of the Steel corpora
tion and George W. Perkins of the
Harvester company on the municipal
committee investigating unemploy
ment and high cost of living here
was voiced in a letter addressed to
the mayor today by Amos Pinchot.
"There is a certain danger," said
Pinchot, "that the average citizen
will interpret these selections as hav
ing been made on the theory upon
which Gen. Diaz chose "distinguished
mat Tii- .A" Aiy-ag

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