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where there was no labor representative, the bill passed without any difficulty by unanimous consent.
Bills of a similar nature, against which I fought, were the Wells Constabulary bill
, popularly known as the bill for the establishment of the Cossack system in the state; Nickerson's bill for the repeal of the Full Crew Law; the infamous Argetsinger bill, containing, a clause for the extension of the hours of labor for women in the canneries; the Taylor bills, aiming to repeal the present factory safety laws, etc.
Besides the bills which tended to injure the workers, there were also bills, which, for the want of a better name, I would call anti-social bills.
I was the only one to oppose the Welsh-Slater bills providing for military training in the schools.
Several public hearings were held on some of the bills which I introduced. At these hearings there were representatives from central bodies of labor unions, from civic organizations and experts on the questions involved in the bills.
Following is a list of bills and resolutions I introduced: 1.
A bill providing, that an employer during a strike or lockout, when advertising for help, should plainly mention in the advertisement or oral or written solicitation that a strike or lockout exists.
2. A bill requiring evening sessions of naturalization courts in cities of the first and second class.
3. A bill making the annual appropriation for local boards of widowed mothers' funds, mandatory instead of optional.
4. A bill making the provisions relative to exits in factory buildings more than two stories, and stairway enclosures in factory buildings more than five stories, applicable to all factory buildings over one story in height.
5. A bill requiring every factory building more than six stories and with more than 5,000 square feet in area to have at least one dividing fire wall, providing horizontal lines.
6. A bill requiring factories to make quarterly reports to the Labor Department relative to change of ownership or location, number of employees, giving the Labor Commission power to close a factory for noncompliance with labor law provisions.
7. A bill making it a felony for any person or corporation to employ armed guards as policemen or peace officers for protection of person or property, or suppression of strikes, whether such men are employees of detective agencies or not: also making it a felony for detective agencies or others to keep a private detective officer or to furnish such armed men; compelling all armed forces to be citizens of the state, subject to police authority under State or Municipal control.
8. A bill giving complainant in an action for wages reasonable attorney's fees, to be allowed by the court, where he recovers the amount claimed.
9. A bill providing, that the compensation for specific permanent partial disabilities, shall be in addition to all other compensation during disability.
10. A bill prohibiting the employment of children under 16 years of age in a factory.
11. A resolution urging the Senators and Congressmen, representing the State of New York, to oppose the Burnett Immigration bill and to vote against it.
12. A resolution to create a commission for the purpose of investi. gating the feasibility of consolidating the five counties comprised within the territory of Greater New York into one county.
13. A resolution to authorize the Thompson Investigation Committee to investigate the condition under which the workers of the I. R. T. and B. R. T. are employed, and report its findings to the Legis. lature, for the purpose of remedial legislation.
14. A resolution to print 50,000 copies of the new compensation law in the Jewish language. The last is the only resolution that was passed by both houses.
SOCIALIST LEGISLATION IN OKLAHOMA.
The following table will show the steady growth of the Socialist vote since 1907, the year in which the state was admitted to the Union.
The Democratic party has steadily lost votes since the first State election. In 1907 the Democrats cast 137,000 votes, a clear majority over the combined opposition. Look at the present situation! In 1914 the Democrats had barely 100,000, while the combined opposition numbered almost 150,000. Of these votes the Socialists cast more than 50,000.
The membership of the party has grown in three years from 600 to 9,000.
As a result of the steady loss of the dominant Democratic party, unfair registration laws have been passed with the evident intention of disfranchising a large proportion of the Socialist and of the Negro voters. Twice the Socialists have filed large initiative petitions for a fair election law, but in each case the Governor has failed to issue the proclamation preliminary to submitting the matter to referendum vote. The contest this year is centering chiefly around the effort to secure fair elections and to safeguard the initiative and referendum.
The report of State Senator George E. Wilson is in part as follows: "While we presented a number of bills beneficial to the working class, none of them received a hearing. The State office through our efficient secretary H. M. Sinclair has always been ready to help us.'
The chief bills presented were: several to safeguard the referendum from veto by the Governor, declaration of unconstitutionality, and amendment or repeal by the legis. lature; several to remedy financial conditions by means of United States loans, State insurance and State banking; the abolition of the State senate; the renting of State land to landless farmers; and the building of public warehouses by counties and their subdivisions.
LEGISLATION IN PENNSYLVANIA. (Report of James H. Maurer, Assemblyman of the First
Legislative District of Berks County.) In 1910, when I was elected to represent my home district in the State Legislature, our enemies said my election was an accident and that it would never happen again. Besides, standing alone, there was nothing to fear from me. Our friends said, “The 'Lone Socialist can accomplish nothing and we feel sorry for him."
Our opponents instituted legal proceedings against me, to have my election annulled on the grounds that, before the election I had, in a speech, said that, if elected, I would contribute one-third of my salary to our local tuberculosis sanitorium which I later did. So strong was the protest by the citizens that the politicians begged the Court to allow them to withdraw the charges against me. The Court finally consented and I was allowed to fill the position to which I had been elected.
During my first two months as a legislator, I did little more than learn the tricks of the legislative game and make friends. Once I felt that I had my legislative feet, I, very modestly, commenced to get into the real work. I introduced several bills; among them, one to abolish the State Constabulary and also the Compensation bill. All my bills were strangled to death in committee.
Someone else also introduced a Workmen's Compensation bill and this one went to a committee of which I was a member. Not being able to get action on my own, I got back of the other fellow's and we did succeed in having it voted on in the House. This meant the beginning of agitation for legislation along this line. But, not until four years later, in 1915, did we succeed in having the law finally enacted.
I soon discovered that party politics played a great part in having laws enacted; that no matter how good my proposed measures might be, many old party members would not support them, because they did not want any credit given to a rival organization. I also discovered that, when the capitalist political machine issued orders, men, unhesitatingly, voted against their convictions. My first object lesson was when I fought against a bill which proposed increasing the State Constabulary. Our victory was glorious, having won by a vote of 117 against 70. The interests then woke up and all the powers at their command were brought into action. The machine issued orders and a week later a motion was made to reconsider our action on the Police bill. We fought against it, but our action was reconsidered and a week later the bill was passed by a vote of 113 for the constabulary and 65 against it. The first vote expressed the convictions of the legislators, and the second vote expressed their loyalty to the capitalist machine. I then changed my methods of operation. Bills which I felt had a chance for passage, I gave to others to introduce and I simply encouraged their passage.
Powerful as the machine is, its operation must cost considerable, because small interests seldom get the use of it, or, perhaps, seldom can afford to pay its price. The Merchants' Association, for several sessions, tried to have garnishee bills passed, without the aid of the machine and we succeeded in defeating their every effort. The same is true of the Real Estate men, with their eviction bills.
Less than a year after my first legislative experiences I was elected president of the State Federation of Labor. We, at once, busied ourselves building, an organization capable of combating the machine and, by the time that the 1913 legislative session came along, we were fairly well prepared for the fray. At this session we centered our forces on Woman and Child Labor bills, Workmen's Compensation, Mothers' Pensions, New Department of Factory Inspection and forty other measures of less importance. The Woman Labor, Mothers’ Pensions and Factory Inspection bills passed and fourteen other labor measures, including the semi-monthly pay. Besides, we gave the State Constabulary its first thrashing. In fact, we succeeded in defeating every obnoxious measure aimed at labor. And the machine found itself confronted with an enemy which threatened to exterminate it. From that time on, every trick known to the interests and their tools, the politicians, has been resorted to in an effort to destroy the influence of the Federation.
In 1914, I was again elected to the legislature and served during the session of 1915 and am still the “Lone Socialist” legislator of the State. I am also serving my fourth term as president of the State Federation of Labor,
During the 1915 session, we again centered our forces on Child Labor, Workmen's Compensation, State Employ, ment Agencies and some thirty other labor measures. The Child Labor, Compensation and State Employment Agency bills were all enacted and thirteen other labor measures, of less importance. Besides, we brought about the defeat of every bill obnoxious to us, among which was a measure to increase the State Constabulary, and some fifteen others. And, of course, the interests, with their political henchmen, are redoubling their efforts to weaken or destroy us. With what success they will meet this year, remains to be seen.
Space only permits me to give the reader a slight idea of the experience of the “Lone Socialist” Assemblyman of Pennsylvania, or the power for good that the State Federation of Labor is. If space permitted, I should like to give the history of our efforts toward, abolishing the old and useless department of Factory Inspection and the establishing of the new department, and of our activities in helping to draft rules and regulations, governing the activities of the new department. In fact, there are many things I should like to write about on this subject.
I might add, however, that those who thought that the “Lone Socialist” could not accomplish anything, have good reasons to change their minds and, had I stood alone as many thought I would, my legislative victories would have been few and far between, but I did not stand alone. Back of me were nearly five hundred thousand organized workers and the Socialist Party, with its assistance and the loyalty of every member. Who couldn't get results under such conditions? The credit for what has been accomplished, therefore, belongs to the rank and file and not to me.
The following are the titles of some of the bills I introduced, some of which are now laws and some of which will be laws if we keep on the job. Some of the other bills, pre‘pared by us but sponsored by other. Assemblymen, are mentioned above. With others, we only played our part in creating public sentiment, advised in drafting the bills and used the pressure of our organizations to have the law-makers vote for them.
House Resolution, No. 3, petitioning the President and the United States Congress to prohibit the exporting of food supplies and the lending of money to any of the nations now at war.
An Act to repeal the Gunners' License Act.
Amending the Act of 1913, providing for the incorporation, regulation and government of Third Class Cities.
To compel employers in certain industries to give employees one day of rest in seven.
Increasing the appropriation for Mothers' Pensions 'to two millions of dollars.
An act to prohibit house-property owners from renting their houses