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Oregon, with a 44-hour week for women in two industries, can point to the shortest week ever put into effect by a State law.
Only 7 States-Arizona, California, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, Utah, and Wyoming—the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have written into their statute books the 8-hour day combined with the 48-hour week for women in some industries or occupations. Though for the most part these are not industrial States, the fact that New York, the largest industrial State in the country, has established the 8-hour day and 48-hour week stresses the possibility and feasibility of all States having similar legislation in the near future. Four other States and one of the seven just listed have an 8-hour daily limit but permit weekly hours in excess of 48 in certain industries or occupations, and four have a 48-hour weekly limit but permit 9 hours a day.
At the other end of the scale of hour legislation are the 19 States in which women may work 10 hours or more daily in some industries or occupations, and the 16 States that permit a working week in excess of 54 hours.
In regard to night-work legislation, 16 States and Puerto Rico prohibit night work for women in certain industries or occupations. The laws of three of these States cover manufacturing only, the law in one applies only to mercantile establishments, and in two others only a small occupational group in each is covered. The period during which night work is prohibited most commonly is from 10 p. m. to 6 a. m.
Standards for State legislation on hours.-In discussing advisable standards or essentials for State hour legislation, we wish to quote from the report of the committee on hours of labor as adopted at the Second National Conference on Labor Legislation held in Asheville, N. C., October 4-5, 1935, at the call of the Secretary of Labor.
For 2 years under the N. R. A. codes, the bulk of American industry has adjusted itself to a 40-hour schedule with benefits in both production and reemployment.
We believe that the adoption of a schedule of not more than 40 hours by State law in all States will promote the welfare of the Nation for the following reasons: The increase in man-hour production in recent decades has released vast numbers of employees who are not being absorbed in normal economic processes and a workweek of not to exceed 40 hours will serve to give employment to additional persons without adverse effects upon national production. Such benefits as have accrued from the hours regulations of the N. R. A. are being slowly dissipated. American employers have been able to adjust themselves to a 40-hour schedule under codes, and there is no serious question that, on the basis of output and technology, industry can bear the added cost. While shortened hours have hitherto been looked upon as welfare legislation, providing leisure and better conditions for workers, there has been a growing consciousness, not only in this country but all over the world, that a close relationship exists between efficiency and the hours and earnings of the working population. This principle was recognized in the United States through the N. R. A. and throughout the world by the action in June of this year (1935) of the International Labor Conference in adopting the principle of the 40-hour week.
The most desirable standards or essentials for hour legislation as formulated by authorities in the past 3 years may be outlined as follows:
The application of hour legislation, preferably to both men and women, but most certainly to women when men are definitely excluded.
Limitation of maximum hours in industry in general to 8 a day and 40 a week.
At least 1 day of rest in every 7 calendar days.
A lunch period of at least a half hour when a working shift exceeds 6 hours' continuous labor.
Elimination of night work between midnight and 6 a. m., for all employees in manufacturing, mercantile, and mechanical establishments except in continuous processes and other obviously necessary occupations. Prohibition of night work during these hours in service industries in which adjustments can be made to carry the work on by day. Emphasis is placed on the necessity in drafting night-work laws of recognizing differences in different occupations, industries, and localities, and dealing with special circumstances in such a way that they do not interfere with the development of the main body of legislation.
In a consideration of essentials for hour legislation I wish to call attention to a discussion in the report of the Third Southern Regional Conference on Labor Standards held in Columbia, S. C., January 1936. This report recommends "that a practical program for the progressive and rapid reduction of daily and weekly hours for workers be adopted, and that consideration be given to the best hours laws now in effect in the most legislatively advanced industrial States within the competitive area of the southern section of the United States."
It is of interest in this connection to refer again to the 8-hour day and 40-hour week bill passed by South Carolina to be operative only when similar laws are enacted by two neighboring and competing States. We know that some firms in the Southern States still have the 40-bour week in force in their plants, and that such a schedule often is more feasible than the much longer one permitted by the laws of so many States. It seems to me that we should recommend a practical legislative program, one aiming at not more than an 8-hour day and a 40-hour week. If all States in the country were to enact such a law it would be a great step forward.
Industrial Home Work The next important subject that comes up for discussion in connertion with labor laws for women is that of industrial home work.
The problem of home work is a particularly serious one because of its far-reaching disastrous effects and because of the need for compre
hensive and widespread legislation to counteract the evils of this system. When manufacturers, to save overhead expense, send out work to be done in homes, the results are very likely to be shocking exploitation of the women and children who do the work, jeopardizing their health and family life, and undermining factory wages and labor standards, besides the cost to taxpayers who must supplement the low earnings of home workers by relief funds and also must bear the expense of inspection required by legislation in some States, though such inspection is generally inadequate for protection of the consumers' health.
A report on the subject adopted a year ago by the Second National Conference on Labor Legislation stated that “evidences are now available that various processes in some 75 or more manufacturing industries are being given out to be done in homes, that such work is carried on in practically every State in the Union.” The report stated further "that the only way to control these growing evils of industrial home work is by its complete abolition", and the committee recommended "as the best method of reaching this goal the enactment of State legislation which will control and ultimately abolish the giving out of work to be done in homes."
Legislation enacted since October 1, 1935.-In the year since the adoption of this report, however, very little progress has been made in the States. In fact, only one of the many States without homework legislation joined the ranks of the States having some type of law. Rhode Island passed a law last April, which went into effect June 1, prohibiting industrial home work except when employers' licenses and home workers' certificates are obtained from the director of labor. It provides specifically for the issuance of certificates to home workers 50 years of age or over and to home workers physically unable to go to a factory. The law provides for issuance of licenses and certificates in any industry in which industrial home work is customary in Rhode Island, unless the workers and the public are jeopardized. It provides for annual graduated employers' license fee. It grants the director of labor power to make rules and regulations concerning home work and specifies certain requirements to be met where home work is permitted; for example, no child under 16 is to be employed. The law exempts individuals or organizations engaged in providing work of a philanthropic, educational, or therapeutic nature.
A noteworthy advance was made in New York in this field when the industrial commissioner, acting on authority given in a law enacted in March 1935, issued his first order banning home work in a particular industry. According to this order all home work in the men's and boys' outer clothing industry was made illegal after April 25, 1936. Prior to the N. R. A. this industry was outstanding in its use of bome work. Under the N. R. A. home work was prohibited, and since the
N. R. A. this prohibition has been enforced effectively in the New York City area by strong union organization and employer cooperation. Both these groups were represented at the public hearing and supported the proposal in order to check a tendency on the part of certain firms to return to home work. Commissioner Andrews' order canceled all outstanding home-work permits and certificates. In the merchant- and custom-tailoring branch of the industry, employers were allowed until July 1 to make the necessary adjustments, and in this branch provision is made for the granting of special home-work permits and certificates for aged and disabled workers, under rigid regulations and with the requirement that complete records of production and wages be kept by both employer and home worker.
During the year's legislative session, Massachusetts attempted without success to amend its home-work law by prohibiting such work except by aged or incapacitated home workers. In New Jersey a bill was introduced to prohibit home work in certain specified industries, to make prohibitions possible in other industries by order of the commissioner of labor, and to regulate continuing home work, but the bill was killed in the senate.
The Connecticut Department of Labor and Factory Inspection has reported that its State law on home work, passed in May 1935, has practically eliminated home work in the State, and that in at least two industries fabricated metal and lace-home work has been brought into the factory with minimum rates of pay which are a great deal higher than those paid formerly and which enable the workers in the factories to earn at least $13 a week.
Present status of State home-work legislation. To date one-third of the States (16) have some sort of home-work law. Eight of these States have prohibited such work except for immediate members of a family and all except one of these have established by law certain regulations that must be met before work in homes is permitted. In general these requirements are cleanliness, adequate lighting and ventilation, and freedom from contagious and infectious disease. In three States- Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island --all home workers must be certificated. In four States a member of the family desiring to do home work must secure a license to use the premises for such work, while eight States require the employer to be licensed to give out home work. In five States-Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin---labor laws for women and minors are applicable to home as well as to factory workers. A few States prohibit the manufacture of certain articles in the home.
Standards for State legislation in home work. You may remember that it was suggested at the conference in Asheville last year that the l'nited States Department of Labor act as a clearing house for information on the passage of industrial home-work goods across State lines, and that the possibilities of Federal legislation to control this practice be explored. A committee of seven was appointed by the Secretary of Labor to act on this suggestion. Because of frequent requests for drafts of a standard State bill, the committee has given its first attention to this, and such a bill has been drafted and is now available.
The bill is aimed at home work as a method of industrial production; that is, home work given out by and returned to an employer. The bill approaches a solution to the difficulties of control by holding the employer who initiates the home-work process responsible for the conditions under which the work is done, or, if the employer lives in another State, the local contractor who represents him is held responsible. It requires every employer who sends work into homes for processing to secure from the State department of labor a permit, which may be revoked whenever the conditions under which the work is performed are found to be in violation of certain recognized industrial standards. It provides for complete prohibition of industrial home work in certain types of commodities, such as toys and children's clothing, the manufacture of which by means of industrial home work constitutes a special health menace to the ultimate consumer.
The bill furthermore empowers the State labor commissioner to prohibit home work in other industries or parts of industries wherein the practice of home work is found to be injurious to the home workers themselves or to the factory workers in those industries, and makes provision for the procedure necessary to establish these prohibitions. It imposes a special tax on home-work employers on the basis that home work has persisted because of the competitive advantages which the home-work employer has over the factory employer, and that the fee will help to equalize the situation and eliminate the chief cause for practicing the home-work system.
In the meantime, a means of reporting interstate shipment of homework goods has been established. There is evidence leading to the belief that the passage of home-work goods across State lines from an employer in one State to home workers living elsewhere has become an increasing practice, and a number of the administrators of State home-work laws bave become concerned about the practical difficulties of control which this practice has created. The United States Department of Labor is cooperating with State departments of labor in an interstate program to collect specific and detailed information on the extent and character of the interstate shipment of industrial home work.
Recent and Current Minimum-Wage Legislation
No report on women in industry is complete without attention to the important subject of minimum-wage legislation, but since a detailed discussion of this will be given in another report, I shall merely