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Newspaper Page Text
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box factories are the lowest-paid
women, according to federal labor
"We have heard so frequently that
promotion and higher pay are ac
corded those who give-loyal service
many continuous years. I was sur
prised, therefore, to see these figures
of the federal labor bureau on de
partment store wages.
"The average wage of those who
have worked eight years and more in
department stores is $7.69 a week.
"Now, gentlemen, if we are hon
est, we must admit this is not fair.
There is no doubt that it sends some
girl every year to the streets and the
back rooms of saloons and the no
torious dance halls.
"The worst phase of it is not vice
and crime. What is worst of all is
that thousands who are not driven
to vice are forced to monotonous,
crushed lives, without amusements
and the lighter, happier things of
life they ought to have. As human
beings they have a right to more.
"The girls and women in these un
derpaid industries are not organised.
They have no labor union to enforce
demands. They have special right
to a minimum wage. If paid living
wages they will be more efficient em
ployes. Yet entirely aside from effi
ciency, solely from a human stand
point, they are entitled to more com
pensation. "The state maintains hospitals and
prisons for the care of human wreck
age originating in vicious economic
conditions. Therefore the state has
the right to protect itself against con
ditions which tend to fill the hospitals
W. T. Hughes, candy manufactur
er, said that if a girl was not able to
earn a living wage she should not be
kept on the payroll.
"What do you do with her?" asked
"I turn her out," said Hughes.
"Where can she go if she can't gel
work and has nobody to take care of
"She can be put in an institution."
"Well, that's what you're doing
with some of them. The state pays
Hughes said he had not read the
Chicago Vice Commission report.
Merriam pointed to signers of the re
port, Judge Harry Olson, Father J. P.
O'Callaghan, John L. Whitman, Dr,
W. A. Evans and others and asked
Hughes to consider some of the sto
ries and facts in the report,
"Present economic and insanitary
conditions under which girls em
ployed in factories and department
stores live and work has an effect on
the nervous forces of the girl in such
a way as to render her more suscep
tible to prostitution.
"Men who own large establish
ments pay wages which simply drive
women into prostitution.
"It is only fair to say many girls
never fall before the temptations.
These girls work grimly on, endur
ing and suffering to the end.
"Many weak, tempted, nervously
exhausted girls, realizing the finan
cial profits from the sale of their vir
tue, enter upon what they believe for
the moment to be the "easiest way,'
only to experience finally its sad con
sequences." Pages and pages of the report tell
about women and girls gone down to
the easiest way. These are only a
few films from life:
Where She Cot Clothes. "A for
mer salesgirl in a department store
was seen in a fashionable all-night
restaurant. She said that four weeks
previous she had been earning $8
per week. She enumerated different
articles of clothing she was wearing
and gave the prices of each, includ
ing her hat The total amount came
to over $200. Her eyeshad been
opened to her earning capacity in the
'sporting' life by a man who laughed
at her for wasting her good looks and
physical charms behind a counter for
a boss who was growing rich from
her services and the services of oth
ers like her."