Messrs. Samuel S. Allan and Seymour D. Altmark, both of New York City, for petitioners. [324 U.S. 244, 245] Mr. Archibald Cox, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.
Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE delivered the opinion of the Court.
The issue to be decided in these cases is narrow. It is whether respondent, as Administrator, has authority under Section 8(f) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S.C.A. 208(f), to prohibit industrial homework as a necessary means of making effective a minimum wage order for the embroideries industry. The question arises in proceedings brought to review the order pursuant to Section 10, 29 U.S.C.A . 210. The cases were consolidated for hearing in the Circuit Court of Appeals, which sustained the Administrator's action, one judge dissenting. Guiseppi v. Walling, 2 Cir., 144 F.2d 608. Because of the public importance of the question and its importance for purposes of administering the statute, certiorari was granted, 323 U.S. 695 , 65 S.Ct. 84, limited to the stated issue. 1
One of the Act's primary objectives was 'a universal minimum wage of 40 cents an hour in each industry [324 U.S. 244, 246] engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce' and to reach this level as rapidly as was 'economically feasible without substantially curtailing employment.' Section 8(a). Accordingly, Section 6, 29 U.S.C.A. 206, established basic minimum statutory wages, to be stepped up from 25 cents an hour to 40 cents generally2 during the seven years from the section's effective date, October 23, 1938. Limited flexibility was provided in accordance with the declared purpose to reach the 40 cent level earlier if 'economically feasible.' Cf. 83 Cong.Rec. 9256. Section 8 empowers the Administrator to convene industry committees which, after investigation, report to him their recommendations concerning minimum wages3 and reasonable classifications. Section 8(a), (b), (c), (d). The Administrator is then required by order to approve and carry into effect the committee's recommendations, after notice to interested persons and opportunity to be heard, if he finds they 'are made in accordance with law, are supported by the evidence ... and ... will carry out the purposes' of the section; otherwise he must disapprove them. Section 8(d).
The Act's scheme is therefore a combination of 'statutory' minimum wages fixed by Section 6 and what may be termed 'committee' wages,4 fixed by order made pursuant [324 U.S. 244, 247] to Section 8. The former prevail in the absence of special administrative action; the latter, when such action has been taken to prescribe for a specific industry a higher level than the generally prevailing statutory floor. The order in this case, entered on approval of the committee's recommendations, after notice and extensive hearings,5 prescribed a minimum wage of 40 cents an hour, an increase [324 U.S. 244, 248] of 2 1/2 cents over the previously prevailing 'committee' rate. 6 Petitioners have not contested this, the primary, term of the order.
In this statutory setting stands Section 8(f), the crucial provision which in material part is as follows:
I. The narrow issue turns upon the scope properly to be given the emphasized portions of the section. Respondent says that this authorizes him to take whatever action he finds necessary to prevent circumvention or evasion of the order so that the wage rate it establishes may be safeguarded; and that in this case his findings, amply [324 U.S. 244, 249] sustained by the evidence, show prohibition of industrial homework is necessary to accomplish this end. As applied in this case, he has construed 'necessary' not as meaning 'helpful,' 'consistent,' or 'convenient,'7 but as connoting that the prohibition is absolutely essential to achieve those purposes. He says the wage rate cannot be maintained unless industrial homework is prohibited, with the comparatively minor exceptions the order allows. 8 His findings and indeed his express conclusions therefore necessarily determine that regulation, by measures short of prohibition, cannot accomplish the relevant purposes of the order and of the statute. 9 [324 U.S. 244, 250] Petitioners do not dispute the Administrator's findings of fact or that the evidence fully sustains them. Nor indeed do they question his conclusions in any respect except that he has no legal authority to make the prohibition. 10 The petition for certiorari conceded, as does also the brief, that the prohibition was included solely because respondent found 'he could not (otherwise) enforce the minimum wage rate as to the home workers employed in the industry.' The brief states further that petitioners, 'during the entire course of the proceedings, ... challenged only the statutory authority' of the respondent to include the prohibition.
In this sharply chiseled state of the issue, the accuracy of the Administrator's findings and conclusions and the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain them must be taken [324 U.S. 244, 251] not only as true but as conceded, apart from the single question of authority to include the prohibition notwithstanding it is so buttressed in fact. 11 The posture of the case therefore compels acceptance of the Administrator's position that, without the prohibition, the wage rate cannot be maintained, and that circumvention and evasion cannot be prevented.
Furthermore, upon the findings that is true not only with reference to the employees who are themselves homeworkers. It is true also as to all other employees in the industry. 12 According to the best available estimates, the number of homeworkers at peak employment (April 1, 1939, to July 15, 1942) ranged from 8,500 to 12,000, whereas the number of factory workers as of June, 1942, was 18,500. The number of wage earners per factory in 1939 employed in some 1,431 establishments averaged between 12 and 13 workers. 13 Not only therefore is it im- [324 U.S. 244, 252] possible for the Administrator, without the prohibition, to follow the statute's mandate (Section 8(d)) to 'carry into effect' the recommendations of the committee as to 8,500 to 12,000 homeworkers, who generally are part-time pieceworkers. 14 He neither can do so as to factory workers, who generally are full-time workers.
Hence, if the prohibition cannot be made, the floor for the entire industry falls and the right of the homeworkers and the employers to be free from the prohibition destroys the right of the much larger number of factory workers to receive the minimum wage. This is true not merely as a matter of inference from evidence having only prospective and predictive value. It is proved conclusively by the Administrator's experience in attempting by regulatory methods to secure compliance with the previously [324 U.S. 244, 253] prevailing15 lower 'committee' rate. 16 His experience is borne out by that of state and federal authorities prior to the Fair Labor Standards Act. 17 Attempts to maintain [324 U.S. 244, 254] minimum wages by regulating homework have failed generally of their purpose. This failure, after fair trial, is responsible for the Administrator's resort to prohibition in the present order.
The case therefore comes down squarely to whether or not minimum wages may be effectively prescribed and required in this industry. If homework can be prohibited, this is possible. If it cannot, the floor provided by the order cannot be maintained and, further, what is more important, it inevitably follows that no floor, whether of 'statutory' or of 'committee' wages, can be maintained. 18 [324 U.S. 244, 255] In this light petitioners' position is, in effect, that the statute cannot be applied to this industry. Their argument is not put in these terms. It comes to that. So do state it is to answer it. The industry is covered by the Act. This is not disputed. The intent of Congress was to provide the authorized minimum wage for each employee so covered. Neither is this questioned. Yet it is said in substance that Congress at the same time intended to deprive the Administrator of the only means available to make its mandate effective. The construction sought would make the statute a dead letter for this industry.
The statute itself thus gives the answer. It does so in two ways, by necessity to avoid self-nullification and by its explicit terms. The necessity should be enough. But the Act's terms reinforce the necessity's teaching. Section 8(d) requires the Administrator to 'carry into effect' the committee's approved recommendations. Section 8(f) commands him to include in the order 'such terms and conditions' as he 'finds necessary to carry out' its purposes. These duties are backed up by other provisions. 19 When command is so explicit and, moreover, is reinforced by necessity in order to make it operative, nothing short of express limitation or abuse of discretion in finding that the necessity exists should undermine the action taken to execute it. When neither such limitation nor such abuse exists, but the necessity is conceded to be well founded in fact, there would seem to be an end of the matter.
II. Petitioners' objections are not procedural. They have not contended that the provision of the order forbidding homework is a definition or classification of the industry [324 U.S. 244, 256] or, either for that reason or any other, must be submitted to the industry committee and made only upon its recommendation. Such a position would have nullified their argument that the statute confers no authority in any case to prohibit homework. The provision is neither a definition nor a classification of an industry. It relates merely to a mode or method of conducting the industry. The statute provides that the committee shall recommend minimum wage rates and reasonable classifications, and that the Administrator, if he disapproves 'such recommendations,' shall refer them either to the committee or to another committee. Section 8(a), (b), (c), ( d). Nothing in the Act requires the Administrator to take the committee's recommendation concerning the terms and conditions found necessary to make their recommendation and the order based on it effective. He must find that the terms and conditions he imposes are necessary for this purpose. He did so in this case, after extended hearing, upon ample evidence and upon findings of necessity not questioned. To say that in such circumstances he can adopt no term or condition which materially alters the industry is only to say Congress did not mean what is said and that the industry cannot be made subject to the statute's regulation. It is also to ignore 'the distinct separation of the functions to be performed by the committee under 8(a), (b), (c), (d), from that to be performed by the Administrator after submission of the committee's report ....' Opp Cotton Mills v. Administrator, 312 U.S. 126, 147 , 657 S., 61 S.Ct. 524, 533.
Petitioners' arguments rest chiefly on their views of the legislative history and the character of the prohibition. The latter, they say, is not a 'method of enforcement' but is rather a form of 'experimental social legislation' touching a matter not incidental to the order, but in the nature [324 U.S. 244, 257] of a wholly independent subject beyond the purview of the statute and therefore of the Administrator's power.
This argument is closely interlaced with the contentions drawn from the legislative history and the statute's enforcement provisions, presently to be noted. In so far as it is independent of these, however, it rests on wholly untenable premises. One is that the prohibition is merely an 'enforcement' measure. It is rather primarily preventive in character, intended to aid in making the order effective and to eliminate the need for enforcement. But, in accordance with their 'enforcement' conception, petitioners' larger fallacy is that the Administrator can take no action toward making his order effective which, if taken as a matter of independent legislation not expressly related to the Fair Labor Standards Act's objects, would produce substantially the same social and economic effects, apart from those objects. In this view the Administrator's power is so restricted that he can do nothing if, in addition to making the rate effective and safeguarding it against circumvention, other social and economic consequences would result.
The answer is obvious. Section 8[f], in directing the Administrator to include 'such terms and conditions' as he 'finds necessary to carry out the purposes of such orders,' did not forbid him to take the only measures which would be effective, merely because other consequences necessarily would follow. The language neither states expressly nor implies that he is to do only what will achieve the stated ends and nothing more. The statute does not direct the Administrator to make the rate effective by all necessary means except those which may have other social or economic consequences.
His power, it is true, is not one of social or economic reform, except as that power relates to maintaining authorized minimum wages and the statutory hours of labor. [324 U.S. 244, 258] But the Administrator has not exercised his authority for such an extraneous purpose. He expressly disclaimed any such object. 20 The entire record supports the disclaimer. The whole bearing of the evidence and the findings was toward the effects of homework upon the wage rate and its maintenance, not upon other evils it may generate. Petitioners' argument, not questioning the necessity for the prohibition or the finding that it exists, would accomplish indirectly what direct challenge which they do not attempt would achieve, if successful. Absent the necessity, the Administrator's power would not go to this length. Present that necessity, to deny it, because other effects necessarily but incidentally must follow his action, would be to nullify both his power and the statute. Nothing in the statute, whether of letter or of substance, warrants such a limitation. What is 'incidental,' what 'independent' of stated statutory ends often presents a difficult issue. But that is seldom if ever true when to deny the authority or other feature questioned would nullify the Act by reading out of its purview the only means for making it effective. 21
Homework in this case is not an independent industry. It is conducted largely by the same employers who maintain factory establishments or by 'contractors' who are [324 U.S. 244, 259] in competition with such employers. Homeworkers are an integral part of the single industry. Their labor competes with the labor of factory workers, within the same establishment, between establishments, and between regions where the industry is concentrated. The effects of their competition with factory workers are, as has been shown, to destroy the latters' right as well as their own to have, practically speaking, the benefit of the minimum wage guaranteed by the Act. They represent the smaller fraction of the industry, both in numbers and in working time. Such are the uncontested findings of fact. 22
When all of these facts are taken into account, the case is clearly not an instance of effort to achieve ends beyond or independent of the statutory objects. It rather exhibits but an exercise of the necessary means to accomplish those objects. This is confirmed, further, by the evidence and the findings which show that the prohibition will not eliminate the great majority of homeworkers from the industry; but on the contrary will result only in transfer of the scene of their work from the home to the factory and will do this without undue hardship. 23 [324 U.S. 244, 260] For the larger number of workers unable to make the transfer, the exceptions allowed by the order will provide an adequate mode for permitting continuance of work at home. 24
The argument from the legislative history undertakes, in effect, to contradict the terms of Section 8(f) by negative inferences drawn from inconclusive events occurring in the course of consideration of the various and widely differing bills which finally, by compromise and adjustment between the two Houses of Congress, emerged from the conference as the Act. The plain words and meaning of a statute cannot be overcome by a legiselative history which, through strained processes of deduction from events of wholly ambiguous significance, may furnish dubious bases for inference in every direction. This is such a case.
Petitioners' most insistent emphasis is upon two things. One is that the committee in charge of the original Senate bill reported that it was limited to two objectives, the establishment of minimum wages and maximum hours and the prohibition of industrial child labor. 25 The other, that at various stages of consideration the Senate bill contained, in the section ( 9(6)) comparable to what is now Section 8(f), a parenthetical clause which expressly included [324 U.S. 244, 261] homework among other specified practices the Administrator was authorized to restrict or prohibit,26 and this clause was omitted from the final conference draft.
The first objection merely repeats in another guise the argument that homework is an independent subject matter wholly without the statute's purview but bolsters this with the assumption that because oppressive child labor was covered expressly, homework and all other factors affecting maintenance of minimum wages were left entirely untouched, if they produce other evils which independent legislation might reach, merely because they were not also specifically mentioned. The assumption ignores the fact that the child labor provisions are themselves independent prohibitions, not limited to operation in situations where child labor has harmful effects on maintaining the minimum wage rate but working entirely inde- [324 U.S. 244, 262] pendently of such consequences. 27 Those provisions are therefore not merely means of putting into effect and maintaining the wages required by the Act, as is the Administrator's prohibition of homework. The former would apply regardless of any effect upon the wage structure. The latter can apply only when it is clear that such effects require this in order to maintain and safeguard that structure.
This difference is in fact the difference between end and means, made such by the terms of the statute itself. Congress by stating expressly its primary ends does not deny resort to the means necessary to achieve them. Mention of child labor therefore gives no ground to infer, from failure expressly to mention homework, that the latter was not included within the general language which comprehends all necessary means to achieve the Act's primary objects. Exactly the opposite conclusion must be drawn on the record, in view of the Administrator's uncontested findings concerning the effects of homework in producing hidden child labor at substandard wages, thus circumventing the Act in two of its primary objects. 28 These findings therefore give added reason to sustain his conclusion that homework was not put beyond his power to prescribe the means necessary to achieve the purposes of the order and of the Act. [324 U.S. 244, 263] The second objection fares no better. It is mere negative inference drawn from the bare fact that the illustrative parenthetical clause was omitted from the final conference draft which became the Act. Nothing in the committee or conference reports or in the debates indicates a purpose to put homework, or the other practices enumerated at one time or another within the parentheses, beyond the purview of the Act or of the Administrator's power wherever these practices are shown to prevent achievement of the statute's ends.
The answer to the argument microscopically made from the long course of legislative events is obvious. From the beginning the parenthetical clause was but illustrative of the general authority conferred by the provision of which it was a part. 29 It 'grew up through step by step additions, among which 'homework' was one,' 144 F.2d 624, until the parenthetical illustrations threatened to swallow up the general authority. If nothing more had occurred than elimination of the illustrations from a bill otherwise accepted, the change well might be put down, as Judge Hand suggests, 144 F.2d 624, 'to the belief that it was unwise to specify so much, lest the specification be taken as exhaustive.'
However, as he points out, the course of events was quite different, and even more conclusive against the petitioners' view. The section containing the parenthesis began, and continued, as a feature of the Senate bill. This followed an entirely different plan from the one eventually adopted, which was a compromise of Senate and House proposals. The Senate bill placed administration of the Act in the hands of a board, which was by order to fix all minimum wages. In this form, including the parenthetical reference to homework,30 the Senate adopted the bill. [324 U.S. 244, 264] The House Committee to which the measure was referred likewise approved it. But the House itself declined to do so. It adopted a different scheme, substituting statutory wages for wages fixed by order as the Senate bill proposed. 31 There was therefore no need for, and the House bill did not contain, the parenthesis or the general provision of which it formed a part.
When the two bills came to conference, compromise was worked out by writing around the conference table the final measure combining features of both bills. 32 The House provisions for an administrator and for statutory wages were retained. But the latter were modified by providing for 'committee' wages, to be fixed by order of the Administrator, by including the provisions of Section 8, including 8(f), and also of Section 6(a)(3) and (4).
Section 8(f), which originated in the Senate, thus found its way back into the final form of the measure though without the parenthesis. The Conference report (H. Rep. No. 2738, 75th Cong., 3d Sess.) contains no reference to the elision and none appears in the record of the ensuing debate. 83 Cong. Rec. 9158, 9246. The history, accordingly, does not sustain the negative inference petitioners would draw from the omission. The paren- [324 U.S. 244, 265] thesis was inserted in the Senate, without discussion or controversy. It was likewise eliminated without discussion or controversy. So far as appears, it was never separately considered. Not the clause alone or particularly, but the entire bill containing it was rejected by the House.
That rejection is no evidence that this single feature had special significance. Rejection of an entire bill cannot be taken to be a specific rejection of each and every feature, more especially of those later reintroduced in the final draft. 33 The most tenable conclusion is drawn by Judge Hand, that 'the section, which had apparently died with the Senate plan, was lifted out of that setting, and was put into the compromise bill as it had stood originally.' As he says, 'It would indeed be a far cry to infer from that that all the items which by accretion had made their way into the parentheses were in this way excised from the Administrator's powers. Indeed, if so-as he argues-he could not even regulate labels ....' 144 F.2d at page 624.
The amendment to Section 6, relating to homework in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, adopted in 1940.34 and Congress' failure in 1939 and 1940 to adopt an amendment proposed by the Administrator to authorize explicitly prohibition of homework35 cannot operate retroactively, as is urged, to give the statute enacted in 1938 a different meaning from what it then acquired. 36 And petitioners' con- [324 U.S. 244, 266] tentions drawn from the Act's enforcement provisions misconceive their effect.
The idea seems to be twofold, first, that the Administrator has no enforcement functions under this Act; or in any event, that the Act provides no means for enforcing the 'terms and conditions,' including restriction or prohibition of homework, which he may include in his order.