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jury fee in this case is collected by the wage-collection division and turned over to either the district court or justice's court. It will be observed that no fees or costs are assessed against the plaintiff and that the wage-collection division, the county clerk, and the sheriff must bide their time for the collection of fees until the defendant has satisfied the judgment and all the costs.
Summarizing the operations of chapter 91, P. L. 1934, the commissioner of labor or his representatives have been given broader authority in handling wage-claim disputes. The plaintiff may have his cause adjudicated in a civil action more quickly and without expense. He further has a right to appeal from the award of the referee. The defendant also is protected in that he may submit a set-off or counterclaim for liquidated damages and also has the right of appeal from the award of the referee.
Because the 1934 statute has been in operation but a short time its beneficent effects cannot be readily ascertained, but from the statistics available there is sufficient evidence to show that the wage earner has benefited more by its enactment than he did under the earlier act, and certainly he is more pleased with the expeditious manner in which his case is handled.
The law of 1899 has never been repealed and is still effective whenever the sheriff is unable to levy execution on goods, chattels, or real property of a defendant, and while it is true that the methods of procedure of the wage-collection division under chapter 91, P. L. 1934, are more dignified and produce far better results, the act of 1899 still possesses the "teeth" to bring to justice the deadbeat and habitual violator.
I am not prepared to discuss all of the recommendations of the committee. Perhaps the fact that I have outlined the method of procedure in the civil field may be considered itself a discussion of the report in that phase of its recommendation which may lead to discussion by the group.
Mr. SWANISH (Illinois). I have no desire to discuss the report, but I should like to suggest what to me is an innovation so far as legislation of this sort is concerned. Legislation of this sort seeks to correct an abuse after it has been permitted. We are putting a lock on the door after the horse has been stolen. I would suggest that we might combine legislation of this type with compensation insurance-that the new enterpriser be required to execute his bond for the assurance of the payment of a week's wages, or wages for any other period; that he either place a deposit of a sum to pay a week's wages with some agency in the State government, or execute a bond for the same purpose.
Chairman TONE. In relation to what you have said, we had a great deal of difficulty in our State with road contractors. We passed legis
lation whereby anyone who receives a State contract must be bonded, so that labor will be taken care of first. As a result we have not had any more fly-by-night road contractors in our State. I think it is a very good idea. I presume that there will be a great deal of opposition to it, but, personally, I think it is a step in the right direction to compel so many employers to assure workers of their wages.
Mr. MCKINLEY (Arkansas). I believe that would be a splendid idea, but it would not reach the cases covered by this proposed act; for instance, domestic help and the small business man. As the chairman has just stated, we have had the same experience on road building, but it is now protected as you suggest. A law of that kind is fine, but it protects only the eases of the larger employers. A great many of our cases work in some home-we very seldom have to file a suit. To get the money is the main thing, but under that plan you could not do it for domestic servants, and in bankruptcy cases, etc., that we handle. The main thing is to have someone to interest himself in collecting the money without cost to the laborer. The amounts are small, and the court procedure in our State is not so slow. We hardly ever have an appeal case.
Mr. ELDRIDGE. Our compulsory wage-payment law really did not become effective in court until 1926, and I think almost ever since that time I have been in and out of the legislature trying to get new laws and amendments. We did consider the suggestion of the gentleman from Illinois to employ a bond as a guaranty for the payment of wages. We did not get far. The legislative leaders felt that that was an undue freezing of assets of all businesses just to get at the "gyp" contractors or itinerant employers. We did not get anywhere with that.
I have read the report of the committee and should like to make remarks on one or two of the recommendations. I see that the committee's recommendation has covered that situation with a plan, describing the individual to be held personally responsible as the one with authority relative to time and place of wage payment. Possibly that might not be considered quite exact enough in fixing individual responsibility of an officer or an employee of a corporation. It would be too easy to put the bookkeeper or timekeeper on the spot. respectfully suggest that that be considered.
Another angle that strikes me is this: It is all very well to recommend ideal conditions and procedures, but I have had a little experience before the legislature and I know that if you come before it with a plan or proposal which can be fairly criticized or knocked down, you do not have the same chance for success as if you bring it a plan which you can support from practical business experience. That is why I am saying what I do about the corporation. I should like to say something of the same sort about the recommendation of
the committee to cover farm and domestic employment in the general provisions. If I am correct, you recommend making payment of due debts of farm and domestic workers compulsory. I found it easier to get legislation in a new direction, if it can be shown to be parallel with common usage or common practice. The compulsory feature of the model act makes wages a thing which is earned and must be paid, with almost no question, as soon as the work is performed, or by virtue of the performance of the work. That is generally true in factory and industrial employment, but in the farm field contractual obligations are more commonly used than in other employment. I suggest that the compulsory feature as to domestic and farm workers might be modified and covered in the other phase of the act providing machinery for adjustment of disputes.
Mr. WENIG (Iowa). The conditions in Iowa in connection with wage-claim collections were very bad up to about 3 years ago, but in 1933 our legislature passed an act making the highway commission, the county, or the municipality that was negotiating public works. responsible for the payment of wages and claims under the act. We have had only one claim which sifted on through which was not paidthat was the wage claim of three men who worked on a subordinate contract. These three men worked hard and quite a while, and did not draw any money. The highway commission said it understood when it released the employer's bondsmen that he had paid all wage claims. There was nothing we could do about it but go before the claims committee, and the claims committee of the legislature paid it. In Polk County, where Des Moines is located, we have a conciliation court. If a person presents a case to us which we think is legitimate, we give him a letter to the clerk of the conciliation court in Polk County. He goes there and presents his case the same as he did to us. If the clerk finds from the evidence that the person has a claim. Le collects $1 from the person, if he has it. The clerk then brings all the parties into his court, all costs and damages in this case falling on the defendant. But in the other counties in our State we have no such procedure to follow. We are badly in need of a wage-collection aw to govern our whole State, as Mr. McKinley's committee suggests, specially with reference to domestic, restaurant, store employees, etc. We have no law which requires the employer to notify his employees a certain length of time before their services are terminated. We submitted a bill to the legislature, but there were three lawyers on the senate committee which considered the bill. We did not get it. out of that committee.
Mr. MURPHY. We all seem to have the same trouble. We have no Law in Oklahoma, though we have made two attempts to get it. Both Washington and California have splendid laws. Four years ago, and again two years ago, we introduced a bill similar to the laws
of Washington and California, but at both times there was a preponderance of lawyers in the house.
Mr. ANDREWS (New York). Last year the New York State Bar Association introduced a very good bill which did not in any way take anything from the claimant. I see now that the expectation was to get the money from the employers. I should like to make a motion to the effect that the work of this committee has been so valuable that the president be requested to continue the committee for another year.
Mr. MCKINLEY. It is a standing committee.
Chairman TONE. Then there is no need for such a motion.
Mr. McSHANE. We find in our jurisdiction only about three sources from which we have difficulty over wage collections-the petty operators who turn an employee adrift owing him from $20 to $50, the contractors and particularly some subcontractors, who sometimes get away with a little larceny themselves, and the wildcat-mine operators who come into the State and try to capitalize the labor of our miners. These mine operators show the miners some blueprints, and convince them that there is no question but that there is a bonanza at a particular point on the blueprint, and that that is the objective they must work for. The mine operators promise that they will furnish the miners with food, sleeping quarters, etc., and that they will pay the men when they strike the ore. We have had a great deal of trouble with these wildcat-mining affairs, but it is the small claim that gives us the most trouble. Some of the legislators got up in arms about it about 15 years ago and came to me and asked what could be done about it. I told them I could draft a bill that would clear up our troubles, but that they would not pass it. I would draft a bill that required all corporations to deposit in a bank in the county in which the operations were to be carried on, or in a bank contiguous to that county, a sufficient amount of money to meet at least 30 days' pay roll. Of course, that bill never got out of committee. Regarding the small claims, we did make an experiment-I suppose that we copied it from some other State. We established a small-claims court to take care of employees who have claims up to $50. The employee makes his complaint to our commission, we investigate it, and then send him to the small-claims court. It gets results and it does not cost the employee anything.
Mr. McKINLEY. Ninety-nine percent of the lawyers do not want this kind of business. If a lawyer has to depend upon a percentage of a small wage claim for a livelihood, he had better get out of the law business. There is so much trouble in connection with the thingsthey have not the facilities, they do not get the action. In the collection of small claims the department of labor, of course, uses lawyers, but the general practitioner outside of the labor department does not
want to be bothered with these claims. In our State a claim of $100 or over is beyond our jurisdiction. The great majority of lawyers will be behind a bill of the kind we are suggesting.
Mr. McSHANE. In defense of the lawyers, I will say that the bar association of my State each year designates a lawyer to whom the commission may refer worthy claims where there is some considerable amount involved, and he handles it for a very nominal sum.
Mr. McLOGAN (Wisconsin). Our bar association has a legal-claim department, not only to collect wages, but for all other legal claims, and anyone may have its services absolutely gratis.
Mr. LUBIN. I do not want to throw any aspersions upon the legal profession, but I do not believe it is a question of having lawyers collect these claims. The lawyer must get evidence and go into court and argue the case according to the rules of the court, and it may take 6 months for the hearing to come up. That is too slow a process for people who need their wages. The purpose of these smallclaims courts is to avoid the routine and red-tape procedure and the necessity of a lawyer, and to see that the fellow gets his money right away, when he needs it. I think we ought to lay aside the groundwork of the legal profession helping the person in a small wage claim, and get back to the problem of seeing to it that the fellow can get his money when he needs it.
Mr. WENIG. I believe Mr. Lubin is absolutely right in that. Here is another point I have found in our State. If a claimant can be assured that his claim is going to be expeditiously adjusted, and that he can transfer it to his creditors, he can go on without his family suffering, but if it is going to take 6 or 8 or 9 months the merchant is not going to extend him credit.