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CONDITION OF PLANTATION LABOR IN HAWAII.
All laborers are free to quit their jobs and to move from plantation to plantation at any time. Laborers desiring to leave in the middle of a month can usually get their pay to date with little difficulty, and in all instances, so far as observed, without discount. Repeatedly, while the agent gathering material for this report was working over plantation books, laborers called for their pay, in order to go to other parts of the islands or to their home country. Such payments, except for the delays incident to checking up their time and referring to overseers or timekeepers for data regarding their work and overtime, if any, were never deferred. Unpaid debts of laborers, not covered by wages due them, are a frequent source of loss to plantation stores. Neither the laws of the Territory nor extra legal customs permit the coercion of laborers for debt or to enforce a labor agreement, and nothing resembling peonage exists in Hawaii. The personal liberty of the laborer is as fully guaranteed as anywhere in the United States. The question suggests itself, why it should be necessary to raise and to dispose of so many points like these when they would not be raised in case of agricultural laborers on the mainland. In reply, many regulations and customs oppressive to labor formerly did exist in Hawaii during the days of labor contracts and now, during the period of transition to purely voluntary labor, the tradition of them still continues. Doubtless some managers and overseers would like to see the old conditions reestablished but are compelled by changing legislation and public opinion to adopt new methods although still cherishing in their hearts the spirit of the old régime. Probably also laborers were in individual instances better off under the severe discipline of the contract system than they are under their present freedom, which leaves them victims to their own shiftlessness and vices. But no unbiased observer would question that the mass of working people on Hawaii plantations are now better off than ever before. Their wages are higher, their housing better, their standard of living higher, their opportunities for advancement broader. Moreover, public opinion in the islands and the sentiment of plantation managers and overseers as a class are predominantly in favor of the changes in administering labor that have occurred, and sympathetic with the progress made by plantation workers under the new system. Nevertheless, room still remains for improvement in plantation labor conditions-a remark that applies equally to mainland occupations. While five years have seen a betterment of plantation housing and camp sanitation, and in many places within another half decade every married couple will occupy a detached cottage and garden, yet the substitution of new residences and the introduction of improved sanitation take time, and occasion expense that in any business enterprise will be distributed over several years. It appears to be tho
rule that bad housing, poor sanitation, and overcrowding are more common in privately owned tenements outside the plantation limits than upon the plantations themselves. The rate of wages obviously does not permit plantation laborers to adopt the standard of living enjoyed by white laborers in the United States; nor can wages be raised immediately to such a rate. There are no reliable means of knowing whether, taking into account cost of living as well as actual wages, the economic condition of Hawaiian workers is improving faster or slower than the condition of workers upon the Pacific coast. But there is no immediate prospect that conditions in these two places will be equalized. The differences of industries, traditions, and race are too great.
However, a comparison of Hawaiian conditions with those of California is hardly a fair one. More properly Hawaii should be compared with other tropical and insular countries, having similar industries. Yet this comparison must be conditioned by important distinctions. Without attempting either to confirm or deny a causal relation between the two facts, there is no cane-producing country in the world, outside the American tariff area, where sugar is so highly protected as in Hawaii. There is no important sugar-cane region except Queensland and Cuba where the rate of wages is so high for common field labor as in Hawaii. The condition of labor in Hawaii is better than in Madeira and the Azores-white labor countries-for the Territory is now drawing its main supply of immigrants from those islands. Wages are higher than in Porto Rico, and the material environment of labor is better than in most parts of the West Indies.
Furthermore, the autonomy of industry, which reflects itself directly in the general welfare of workers, is probably greater in Hawaii than in any other tropical country. Hawaii is not and never has been a colony. Its industries were built up when it was a selfgoverning kingdom, almost entirely with its own capital, and instead of borrowing abroad Hawaii is now supplying money to develop plantations in the Philippines, Formosa, the Straits, and the West Indies, and oil fields and mines in California and other Western States, and its capitalists are heavy investors in manufacturing and business enterprises, and owners of business property all along the Pacific coast. Consequently most of the plantations are home owned. Less than 10 per cent of the sugar property in the Territory is subject in any material degree to absentee control. Men who have become rich in Hawaii sometimes later in life make their homes more or less permanently in Europe or upon the mainland; but their administration of property is conducted in a local spirit. This mere propinquity of habitation creates common interests affecting both employers and employees. To illustrate by a single instance from many, it creates
a direct personal interest on the employer's part in preventing and combating contagious diseases to which his family may be exposed, far greater than the mere economic motive would be to keep good health among his laboring force did he reside in different country from those laborers.
Even a person cautious in generalizing would conclude, did his actual observations cover a large field, that the condition of plantation workers in Hawaii is probably better than in any other tropical country in the world where colored races are employed; and from a purely economic standpoint better than in any other insular tropical country inhabited by white people. On the other hand, the condition of these workers will not stand comparison with that of large classes of workers in the white labor countries of the Temperate Zone.
MISCELLANEOUS RURAL INDUSTRIES.
The sugar plantations employ directly about one-third of the rural population of Hawaii. The large cattle and sheep ranches that occupy the upland districts and the smaller islands do not require many workers in proportion to their area, and employ mostly Hawaiians and Part-Hawaiians. The cultivation of pineapples has within five years assumed locally large proportions and the canneries afford seasonal employment for many women and children. Coffee planting is a long established but rather stationary industry. The rice plantations are worked by Chinese. A large number of small farmers either make a mere existence out of subsistence agriculture and derive their cash income mainly from work on the public roads and occasional employment on the plantations; or, if favorably situated, cultivate small areas of cane or pineapples and raise stock and poultry.
The wages of paid employees in these secondary agricultural industries in 1910 are shown in the following table:
NUMBER, OCCUPATION, AND NATIONALITY OR RACE OF PAID EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN SECONDARY AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES IN HAWAII, AND DAILY RATES OF WAGES, 1910.
NUMBER, OCCUPATION, AND NATIONALITY OR RACE OF PAID EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN SECONDARY AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES IN HAWAII, AND DAILY RATES OF WAGES, 1910-Continued.