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To quote from the House committee record : Mr. CURTIS. And you do not know what your wage rates in Switzerland are? Mr. CARNOW. I personally do not know. I have some figures here sent to me by the Swiss Legation, if you want me to quote those, I can quote those. Mr. CURTIS. What are they for?
Mr. CARNOW. They give you the watch industry, skilled workers in October of 1947, which is the last figure they had available. Mr. CURTIS. What was that?
Mr. Carnow. Two francs, 92 centimes, which would be about sixty-odd cents an hour.
Now, I would like to point out that from the best figures that we have available, from people who have been in Switzerland—and I have talked with people who have visited there during this last summer—the average wages in Switzerland go from 30 cents an hour for women, to 60 cents an hour for the highly skilled mechanics. Then, to compare that with the minimum rate in the American jeweled watch industry: The minimum expected earned rate at Waltham at 96 cents an hour, $1.04 at Elgin, at Hamilton $1.08, and those rates run all the way up to $1.86 an hour, and some tool and die makers make in excess of that figure. You can see what the differentials are in cost of production there.
I have tried to give you gentlemen as best I know the information, and I have tried to be as factual as I know how, and I hope we can get an investigation for the benefit of the industry.
I would like to point out that the next witness who is going to speak, Mr. Partridge, has written some articles for one of the newspapers in which he deprecates Waltham. Mr. Partridge is a former employee of Waltham, but he has not been inside that plant for a number of years.
He has established a good plan for a horological institute, with which we are in sympathy. But there are not the finances in the American jeweled-watch industry to cover such a plan, and the employees do not have the funds to finance such a plan.
And as far as his knowing what has happened in the last few years at Waltham, he doesn't know. He doesn't know the amount of energy and effort that has been put into making the Waltham watch movement the precision movement it is.
I hope he will take into consideration the fact that Waltham is being reorganized, and that the entire community is being asked to buy stock in that company so that we can reestablish it.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.
Senator MILLIKIN. Mr. Chairman, may I ask the Tariff Commission gentlemen if they have any data on costs of production in Switzerland; or rather, the wages paid to watchmakers in Switzerland? If there is any data of that kind, may I ask that a statement including such data be submitted to the committee?
Mr. CENERAZZO. Mr. Chairman, we have in every country, under the State Department, a labor attaché. That labor attaché should be able to get that information very rapidly and see to it that it gets into this committee before the hearing is adjourned, if the request is made of the State Department.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Brown is here from the State Department. Can you supply the figure requested by Senator Millikin of the Tariff Commission?
Mr. Brown. I don't know whether we can or not, sir, but I will look into it and give you the best information we can get.
The CHAIRMAN. If you can, please give us those figures as early as possible.
Mr. BROWN. We do not have a labor attaché in Switzerland.
Mr. CENERAZZO. Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that that is one place where they could really accomplish something with a labor attaché, and it seems to me they should send one there quickly to get those figures.
(The information requested is as follows:)
COMPARISON OF WAGE RATES IN THE AMERICAN AND SWISS JEWELED WATCH
Switzerland (Average hourly earnings)
October 1947 :
$0.084 Unskilled workers---
.572 Women workers.. This information was obtained from La Vie Economique, July 1948, p. 237, which is published monthly by the Swiss Federal Department of Public Economy. Wages have increased since these rates were assembled (1947), but no oflicial figures reflecting the rise have been published.
Average hourly earnings, clock and watch workers-----
$1. 264 Voluntary wage rate information received by the Department of Labor is considered confidential and cannot be released without the written permission of the companies concerned except as a part of a division total. This latest United States figure is from the Monthly Labor Review, January 1949, p. 110.
The most current, although unofficial, information on wage rates in the two countries may be found in the testimony given during the recent hearings before the House Ways and Means Committee. The president of a company owning plants in both Switzerland and the United States testified as to the wages paid employees for similar work in the two plants (pp. 708, 709). Page 518 of the same hearings offers a statement of the average wages paid by one particular domestic jeweled watch manufacturing company.
No official complete break-down and comparison by job skills is available at the present time.
Senator SALTONSTALL. May I say that Mr. Partridge is a distinguished Boston jeweler. As far as I know, he has no connection with Waltham. He asked me for the opportunity to testify on this subject, and I present him as one of the leaders of a very old Boston firm.
The CHAIRMAN. We would be glad to hear you now, Mr. Partridge, if you wish to make your statement.
We have one other witness, who is anxious to get away about 4 o'clock. I thought perhaps we might adjourn and come back. Howtiver, we will hear you now.
STATEMENT OF HAROLD T. PARTRIDGE, RETAIL JEWELER,
BOSTON, MASS. Mr. PARTRIDGE. Mr. Chairman, I am not going to take very long. The CHAIRMAN. I understand yours is a brief statement.
Senator MILLIKIN. Mr. Chairman, may I interject for just a moment?
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Millikin.
Senator MILLIKIN. I have been informed, and I hope that some witness from the State Department or somebody else will later meet the point, that in the negotiation of our reciprocal trade agreement with Switzerland, the Swiss watch manufacturers were a part of the negotiating panels, or at least were kept very closely and currently informed as to what was going on; whereas our watch manufacturers were completely excluded from anything of that kind.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Brown, please note that, and have a witness who participated in the negotiation of the Swiss trade agreement come before us, if one is available in the Department at this time.
Mr. Brown. I will get the facts on that for you, sir. The CHAIRMAN. All right, Mr. Partridge. Mr. PARTRIDGE. My name is Harold T. Partridge. I am in the retail jewelry business in Boston, Mass. It is a pleasure to appear before your committee on a matter affecting the American watch industry, of which I have been`a part since 1910. I believe my 16 years as a watchmaker, combined with 23 years in the retail jewelry business, leaves certain facts in my mind, which I surely feel should be of some consideration.
I am not employed by any watch company, and I am not employed by any jewelers' association. I was at one time president of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Retail Jewelers Association. I came here on my own to present this idea to you gentlemen, and I have had good reception on this idea from very important men, such as the dean of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As I said, I worked 16 years as a watchmaker, and I was in the Waltham Watch Co. for 12 years.
We have read over a period of years many arguments on the protective tariff on watches. This is an old subject with many of us as I well remember the tariff question of previous years. There can be no doubt of the present need of a tariff for the protection of the American watch manufacturers. They are in a bad position, gentlemen, and it is claimed that the three American manufacturers make and sell only 12 out of every 100 watches sold in the United States. That was quoted in the newspapers sometime ago, and figures were quoted before a committee here in Washington. · That means 88 watches that are sold out of every 100, gentlemen, are Swiss-made watches.
We must remember that during the way period the American watch manufacturers were almost wholly on war work, and are really just getting started again.
I am here to ask for a tariff, gentlemen, but a tariff combined with a plan designed for the not too distant future when the American watch industry will be able to stand on its own feet. And I think the figures show that they are rather weak just now.
I have the plan, which I have advocated for several years. I have taken this up with Elgin, Waltham, and Hamilton. It is a very simple plan and calls for the establishment of a chair of advanced horology similar to the Swiss plan, with perhaps some Swiss help, where watch engineering and machine designing will be taught to a few bright prospects, most of them selected, probably by the watch manufacturers themselves. And, of course, this attractive course should find others willing to consider it. It would be useless, in my estimation, to adjust a tariff wall, as has been done in the past, just simply a tariff wall, because the three American manufacturers, judging by past experience, would not take advantage of the situation.
At the time of the Payne-Aldrich tariff bill—which is ancient history, but not too ancient for me to remember—the provisions of the tariff were almost wholly written by Romney Spring, a Boston lawyer, who at the time was on the Waltham Watch Co. pay roll. I talked with him last week and have permission to use his name here. He is available if you gentlemen want to get in contact with him.
Now, of course, this was good legislation and smart protection, but the weakness was that the American manufacturers did nothing to improve their competitive position. They sat back and manufactured watches behind this tariff wall. And I am afraid that is what they will do again if they get a tariff without some strings tied to it. They have been down here several times since, and have asked for tariff protection. This is just one of the times.
The American manufacturers have many complaints, one of their chief complaints being that the State Department failed to make necessary arrangements whereby Swiss watchmaking machinery can be leased to them at favorable terms. This is very true. Where the Swiss may purchase our heavy machinery, they are reluctant to sell to the American manufacturers the complicated machinery for the making of the many small parts necessary to the manufacture of watches.
The Swiss, due to the national set-up, are in an enviable position. Negotiations between our State Department and the Swiss have been dragging along for some time, and I feel quite sure the dragging is not all the fault of the State Department.
I have advocated a program whereby the three American watch manufacturers could combine to form an association, with the object of establishing a chair of advanced horology, not watchmaking but advanced horology, at some such institution as MIT. I mention MIT because it is near to me, and I know quite a few professors there and this watchmaking thing which the watchmakers try to tell you is so complicated is just a matter of engineering.
I worked in many watch factories for many years as a boy or as a young man, and these old-time watchmakers all tried to make you think it was something they just brought out of the air, something that they had to get by working at for a long, long time. But the real situation is somewhat different.
The American watch industry has been very dependent upon the Swiss for horology engineers and designers, and almost wholly dependent upon itself for the development of watchmaking machinery.
chair of advanced horology which, as I suggest, would, in time, eliminate this trouble; for surely the American engineers could develop our own machinery, and we would eventually have a strong American watch industry depending upon no outside source.
That is my only reason for being. I want to see a good, strong American watch industry. I am not battling with anybody.
In Switzerland the watchmaking business is almost national, and the Government supports the schools of the trade, thereby developing workmen for the trade, watchmakers, as I was. And it also supports the schools of engineering, thereby developing designers and watch engineers, the men who can design the complicated machinery which the American manufacturers claim they cannot get from Switzerland.
We don't need to get it from Switzerland. We do everything else, and mind everybody's business all over the world; why can't we make our own watches and our own machinery? I claim we can. We have just got to develop men to do it. The American watchmakers do not want to do that themselves. The American watch manufacturers are backward in getting together on the program, and I suggest that the Government do something about it.
Now, you will hear a screech from the watch manufacturers. They don't want the Government in on it. But who is going to do it if the Government doesn't do it? The American watch manufacturers have proven over a period of years, since 1910, in my knowledge, that they will do nothing, absolutely nothing, to develop technical research in their own behalf.
We should have the Government do something about this, or at least look into the subject, and I believe that, under the supervision of the Armed Forces, real progress could be made. Surely there is no denial of the necessity of a strong watch industry in this country. Nobody is going to deny the necessity of it. Watches are worn by all persons of all ages, for machine-shop work, aviation, Army and Navy activities, all types of war work. In all of these fields and many others, a watch is an absolute “must.”
To grant a protective tariff alone for the three American watch companies would be only temporary relief. To tie up the protective tariff with an educational program would be simple, and I believe the Armed Forces should be the leaders in any such move.
As in time of war, the watch industry of this country is fully tried, beyond its capacity. If war should develop in Europe, this time I feel sure the iron curtain would be dropped on Switzerland, and with the American manufacturers of movements engaged entirely on war work, we would have no watches.
Preservation of the American watch industry is essential to the national-defense program. We should tie up the tariff with a "must" watch engineering project.
In following up this program a year ago last March, I asked representatives of Hamilton, Elgin, and Waltham to meet with me at the Hotel Statler in Boston at the time of the Boston Jewelers' Club dinner, and I asked them if they could get the fever and take back the idea to sell to their manufacturers.
And while I am on that subject, I want to impress you gentlemen with one thing. I am not looking for a chance to be a hero. I don't want to see my name up in lights. I have a nice business and I am tending to it. I want to sell this idea. I want somebody to take it over in the watch industry. So far I have had darn bum luck.