During the first and second years the apprentice is required to perform general work in the composing room under the direction of the foreman. In the third year he joins the union as an apprentice. The apprenticeship agreement stipulates that during this year he must be employed four hours each day at composition and distribution. In the fourth and fifth years the number of hours per day on such work is increased to six and seven respectively. During the last two years of his term he must take the evening trade course given by the International Typographical Union, the expense of tuition being met by the local union. The agreement contains no stipulation as to wages for the first and second years. The wage for the third year is $9 a week, for the fourth year $12, and for the fifth, $15. Apprentices in newspaper composing rooms are permitted to spend the last six months of their period working on type-setting machines.
The pressroom occupations include platen and cylinder pressmen, web or newspaper pressmen, platen and cylinder pressfeeders, plate printers, cutters, flyboys and apprentices. Approximately 15 per cent of the men employed are cylinder pressmen, about 10 per cent platen pressmen, and less than three per cent web pressmen. Pressfeeders comprise over 40 per cent of the whole group. Nearly nine-tenths of all pressroom workers are employed in job establishments. Five occupations—those of cutters, floormen, flyboys, plate printers, and web pressmen—give employment to fewer than 40 men each.
The average daily earnings of pressroom workers in the establishments from which wage data were collected during the survey are shown in Table 28.
The hourly rates of pay are high as compared with those in other occupations requiring an equal or greater amount of skill and knowledge. Cylinder pressmen earn more per hour than do tool and die makers—the most highly skilled of the metal trades—and platen pressmen in charge of five or more presses earn more than all-round machinists and boiler makers. The rate for cylinder pressfeeders is about three cents an hour higher than that received for specialized machine work in the metal trades.
TABLE 28.—AVERAGE DAILY EARNINGS OF PRESSROOM WORKERS, 1915
Job pressroom workers
Cylinder pressmen 3.63
Platen pressmen 2.97
Cylinder pressfeeders, men 2.54
Cylinder pressfeeders, women 1.77
Platen pressfeeders, men 1.83
Platen pressfeeders, women 1.70