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The methods and times of payment of wages, liability for the payment of wages, liens and other claims on wages were the subject of legislation in many states.
The hours of labor were dealt with in Alaska (referendum for general eight hour for all wage-earners successful), Massachusetts, and New York.
Holidays and rest days were legislated on in Arizona, Hawaii, Wisconsin, New York, California and Massachusetts.
The regulation and inspection of factories, better measures for safety and sanitation, and similar measures for mines, railroads, street railways and steam vessels were dealt with in various states.
Pensions and retirement funds for the benefit of public employees received attention and legislative enactments in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California.
New laws relating to labor organizations were passed in some states. Washington (ch. 181) defines and forbids picketing in labor disputes, including the stationing of watchers, parading, displaying of banners, signs, etc. A referendum has been filed against the act, and it will be inoperative until decided by the election of 1916. California (ch. 487) makes it a misdemeanor to make false representations as to use of union labor, and gives unions the right to register labels and retain the exclusive right of use of the same. Missouri (p. 404) amended the law relative to the use or display of a union card or label without authority from the union. Massachusetts (ch. 62) requires the amounts of deposits made by labor organizations to be reported every five years.
Several states enacted or amended laws regarding cooperative associations, some of them making but a slight distinction between co-operative bodies and corporations generally, while in other cases the separation is more complete. Both productive and consumptive associations are provided for, while in most cases reference is made to the distribution of profits, based either on the amount of purchases or on the amount of wages or earnings of the employees, according to the nature of the association.
Arbitration in labor disputes came in for attention. Colorado (ch. 180) creates a State Industrial Commission "to do all in its power to promote voluntary arbitrationand to avoid the necessity of resorting to strikes, lockouts, etc.” Employer and employee must give thirty days' notice of any intended change affecting wages or hours. Lockouts or strikes prior to or during an investigation by the commission, or by an arbitration board appointed by it, are unlawful, and neither side may make a change in the condition of employment, where a dispute has been made the subject of
arbitration, until such dispute has been finally dealt with. Findings of the commission or of a board of arbitration are not binding unless prior agreement in writing has been made. Findings of the commission are subject to review by the courts on appeal. In Indiana (ch. 118) the governor may appoint boards to adjust labor disputes. In Michigan (ch. 230), the governor appoints the state board; the act applies to railroads, mines and public utilities; other employments come under law and agreement of both parties. If the State Board fails, four arbitrators are chosen, one by employer, one by employees, these two to choose two others; if these four fail, the board may name an umpire.
The civil rights of employees in regard to voting at elections were dealt with by some states. Provision to vote while absent from home was made in California, Nevada, Washington and Wisconsin.
Laws relating to free public employment offices and private offices for gain were enacted in Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Illinois. Michigan (No. 37) authorizes not less than five railway conductors, engineers, and officials to form mutual companies for the purpose of insuring themselves against loss of position by discharge or retirement. An initiated measure of the State of Arizona (p. 19) authorizes the State to engage in any work of manufacture or public utility. The business of banking may be engaged in and a State printing establishment may be set up for the printing of school books and doing the State printing. A general appropriation of necessary funds is made.
Vocational educational laws were enacted by Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana (applicable to the city of Indianapolis only), Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
MINIMUM WAGE LEGISLATION.
BY FLORENCE KELLEY. The first Minimum Wage Commission in the United States was created by the Massachusetts legislature, in 1911, to study wages of women and minors, and report whether boards should be established to enquire into the need of fixing rates of wages for women and minors in any industry. This 1911 preliminary Commission enquired into the condition of employes in confectionary factories, retail stores and laundries. Its summary follows:
“A large number of women of eighteen years of age and upward are employed at very low wages; it is indisputable that a great part of them are receiving compensation that is inadequate to meet the necessary cost of living."
Following recommendations based upon that enquiry, a permanent State Minimum Wage Commission was created in 1912 with power to establish wage boards (consisting of representatives of employers, employees and the general public), and to publish decrees based upon the findings of such boards after due opportunity is given for public hearings on the findings. The Commission has never had power to prosecute violators of a decree, but merely to publish the names of employers who comply or who disobey.
In Massachusetts decrees are now in force in two industries, brush making and retail stores. They are as follows:
I. Brush Industry.
(Decree August 15, 1914.) 1. The lowest time wage paid to any experienced female employee in the brush industry shall be 151/2 cents an hour.
2. The rate for learners, apprentices and all minors shall be 65 per cent of the minimum, and the period of apprenticeship shall not be more than one year.
3. If in any case a piece rate yields less than the minimum time rate, persons employed under such rate shall be paid not less than 151/2 cents an hour.
A re-investigation of the brush industry in June, 1915. completed in September, showed 3 firms (of 29 in the State) refusing to pay the rates to a total of five. women.
The total number of women in 16 establishments comparable with those of 1913 had increased from 332 to 334. the minors from 36 to 51. The percentage of women who earned less than $6 a week was 61.4 in 1913 and 19.8 in 1915. The percentage earning over $9 had grown from 10.2 to 19.4, showing that wages tended to increase even above the minimum, or in other words, that the minimum does not tend to become the maximum (at 1572 cents an hour the minimum for 54 hours is $8.37).
The establishment of the minimum wage in the brush industry has thus been followed by a remarkable increase in the earnings of women employed in that industry; the employment of women at ruinously low rates has been stopped; the proportion of women employed at more than the prescribed rate has more than doubled. The number of brush establishments, the total capital invested, the total value of material used, and the total value of product have all increased.
II. Retail Store Industry. (Decree of Sept. 15, 1915, in force Jan. 1, 1916.) 1. No experienced female employee of ordinary ability shall be employed in retail stores in Massachusetts at a rate of wages less than $8.50 a week.
2. No female employee of ordinary ability shall be deemed inexperienced who has been employed in a retail store for one year or more, after reaching the age of eighteen years.
Learners and apprentices may be paid less, but none of ordinary ability, and 18 years of age, at a rate less than $7 a week, or of 17 years less than $6 a week; and none other of ordinary ability less than $5 a week.
This decree was accepted by all retail stores in Massachusetts except one corporation conducting five and ten cent stores.
A decree was to have been published Oct. 1st, 1915, in the confectionary industry. All the preliminary work had been done by the wage board and the Commission when the employers applied to the courts for an injunction to restrain the Commission from further proceedings in the matter. No farther steps have been taken by the Commission.
In the laundry industry a decree was issued July 1st, 1915, effective Sept. 1st, 1915. It has, however, been thrown into the Courts and will doubtless be held in suspense until the U. S. Supreme Court decides the pending Oregon case.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Commission has, since its creation, investigated wages in nine industries: brushes, corsets, confectionary, laundries, retail stores, paper boxes, women's clothing, hosiery and knit goods and men's clothing.
In Massachusetts the Commission is required by law to take into consideration the financial condition of the industry.
In Oregon the sole consideration is the health and welfare of women workers. The powers of the Industrial Welfare Commission are broad, relating to hours of work of women, which must not exceed ten in 24 in manufactures, but may be reduced below this limit. The validity of these powers will be determined by the U. S. Supreme Court presumably during the year 1917.
It is an open secret that the National Manufacturers' Association is behind the systematic campaign against minimum wage laws.
The campaign is so far successful that cases are pending in the Courts of Minnesota, Washington and Massachusetts
besides the famous Oregon case. This tends to hold in abeyance the movement in the States enumerated in the accompanying table.
If the Oregon case should be decided adversely, and legislation of this kind held repugnant to the U. S. Constitution, the National Consumers' League stands publicly pledged to inaugurate and carry to success a movement to change the Constitution.
Minimum Wage Commissions.
Address Arkansas 1915 Minimum Wage Commission
Little Rock California ......1913 Industrial Welfare Commission
San Francisco Colorado .1913 State Wage Board Denver Connecticut .1914 Enquiry Idaho .1915 Enquiry
.1913 Enquiry Kansas
.1915 Industrial Welfare Com-
ries Investigating Com• mission now succeeded by State Industrial
1913 Industrial Commission Columbus Oregon
1913 Industrial Welfare Com-
1913 No Board. Commission
of Immigration, Labor and Statistics charged with enforce
ment of law. Washington .....1913 Industrial Welfare Commission
Olympia Wisconsin .... 1913 Industrial Commission Madison