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Our policy is the ultimate elimination of home work insofar as it is possible to do so.
Mr. WALLING (Rhode Island). We had somewhat the same problem in connection with our lace industry, where there was a so-called code. Lace thread pulling had always been done in the homes, and certain communities were entirely dependent on that type of work in the home for their livelihood. We recognized that it would create severe economic dislocation in those communities to abolish it, so we issued licenses to employers and certificates to employees in that industry, where they have applied, and in some cases the employer has arranged to take the work into the factory rather than to bother with what he terms the "rigmarole" of the application for the license and for the certificates for his employees. Of course, that has not happened in many cases, but there has been that partial result at least flowing from the attempted regulation.
I should like to ask Miss Miller about the State situation. You referred to the number of New York employers who send home work through the mail and otherwise across State lines. We have had a similar situation develop in Rhode Island. Employers in our State have asked permission to send home work to the homes of workers over the line in Connecticut and over the line in Massachusetts, and in both cases we have ruled that we will not issue licenses to the employer and certificates to the employees where it is against the public policy of that State, as in the case of Connecticut, to issue such licenses and permits. We further took the position that unless we can have access to the home to inspect conditions, which we are required to do under the law, we will deny the home workers' applications and deny the employers' applications insofar as a home worker across State lines is concerned. I was wondering if you could work out a scheme of that sort in connection with New York.
Miss MILLER. We were advised that our law must be limited to New York State situations, and that what was done outside of the State was something that we could not either prohibit or approve. We do report to Connecticut and to New Jersey all cases where a home-work employer in submitting his register-his list of home workers-reports sending any work into those States, in order that they may pursue the home worker there and see that the situation is in accord with their regulations. My reason for feeling that Federal action is so urgent is just that we have been told that we will be thrown down in the courts if we attempt to say to an employer what he is to do outside of the State of New York. If you can persuade our legal authorities to defend us in any other position, I do not think we would be reluctant to try it.
Mr. WALLING. I do not want to be interpreted as opposing your suggestion for Federal control, but this was just a stopgap device
which we have tried and which may or may not be successful. It so happens that the cases involved concerned employers who apparently are willing to accede to it. They may be exceptional. In both cases the employer was given permission to send home work to workers in other States. I wondered if you had tried anything of that sort where you had an application for both.
Miss MILLER. We do not ever base the rate that employers pay on home workers outside of the State. We discussed that question when our present act was redrafted, and our ambitions were very thoroughly curtailed by the legal department, on the ground that the jurisdiction of the department was in relation to things done in New York State and that we could not go beyond that. Of course, I know that in compensation we do not seem to hold to that entirely. Mr. LORENZ. I understand, then, that you are not at all interested in the employer who merely sends work out to New Jersey and does no work in New York.
Miss MILLER. We have no authority. Do not understand that we are not interested. We are not in a position to act with regard to it.
Mr. TONE (Connecticut). I might say that our statute prohibits a concern from sending home work into Connecticut unless the employer has a factory there, but in Miss Miller's case, she immediately tips our department off and we delegate an inspector to go right after him.
Mr. LORENZ. She tips us off too.
Mr. LUBIN (Washington, D. C.). In view of the fact that the proposed new bill contains certain changed provisions, particularly in regard to taxation, I wonder whether Mr. Mooney could explain the essential differences between the old bill and the new one.
Mr. MOONEY. I think Miss Miller should do that.
Miss MILLER. I believe Miss Murphy could best do it.
Miss MURPHY. The essential difference in the new bill is that it approaches the problem of control in such a way as to throw the responsibility on the original employer. It does two things: First, it prohibits outright a very definite number of industries. In addition, it gives the commissioner of labor the authority, after a public hearing and investigation, to prohibit home work in additional industries in which conditions are found to be competitive with factory standards. The employer, furthermore, is made responsible for the conditions under which home work is actually accomplished where it is performed. In addition, the tax provision is introduced.
Mr. WALLING. Would it not be worth while for you to explain about the tax provision, because that is the main distinction between so many of the bills and the new one.
Miss MILLER. May I read section 18 of the bill:
SECTION 18. Home work tax.-1. Each employer and each representative contractor shall be required to pay quarterly (on January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15 of each year) an excise tax of $2.50 for each home worker to whom materials have been sent or delivered by such employer or representative contractor during the preceding quarter.
It is a tax on the employer for each home worker that he uses. It is another way of making home work a costlier method of production, rather than a cheaper method of production, with the idea that thereby you are discouraging it.
Mr. TONE. As a matter of political expediency, what success do you meet with in your general assemblies with these long bills? You hand a bill like that to the general assembly, and it will tell you to come back with a short bill.
Miss MURPHY. May I say that the essential provisions of the bill, in which the labor standards are set forth, are relatively short. The tax provision does occupy a considerable space, but I think that some States may already have the proper machinery for the collection of If machinery is not already established for the collection of taxes of this kind, this language is recommended for consideration. I do not believe that you will find the provisions in which the labor standards and the control and regulation of conditions under which home workers perform are of too great length.
Mr. MAGNUSSON (Washington, D. C.). It seems to me that Mr. Crawford points to a very important principle, in policy and practice, with regard to home work. He points out that in Ontario they handled home work through the minimum wage, and it seems to me that is the way we should handle it. On the question of the tax, it occurred to me that if your tax is high enough it will stop home work. If your tax is not high enough and the employer does find it profitable to pay the tax, have you ever raised the question as to who would pay the tax? Does it come out of the wage earner or the employer? If the market is full of wage earners seeking jobs, the tax is paid by the wage earner. If the market is stiff, if prices are high, and wage earners are scarce, they can keep wages up and get good wages. Then the consumer pays the tax.
So the tax, after all, becomes merely a cost of production, and you must find out who pays the cost of production. If the goods are put up on the market and the consumer gets the cheap shirt, he is simply subsidized. So your tax is just an aggravation of the matter, and will probably have a tendency eventually to depress wages rather than to stop home work. You cannot reach it by that. You can reach it by positive prohibition, or you can make it a practical economic operating thing by the method that Canada has.
Mr. LUBIN. We have to face this in a very practical way. Home work is increasing. We cannot control it through minimum wage now. The question is, What shall we do in the meantime? The second question is, Do we want factories in homes? The question still remains as to whether we want people to work in homes on home work.
Mr. MAGNUSSON. Then the thing is to prohibit it entirely.
Miss SWETT. Could not a minimum wage be made a condition of the license, even though you do not have a minimum-wage law?
State Departments of Labor and the Civil Service
Report of Committee on Civil Service, by E. B. PATTON, Chairman
In accordance with a resolution adopted last fall at our meeting. in Asheville endorsing the principles of civil service in State labor departments, a committee on civil service was organized during the past year to investigate the efforts which are being made by various organizations looking toward the inauguration of civil service in the different labor departments of the States.
The extension of the principles of the merit system in State labor departments depends in large part upon the general extension of the merit system in State government and is considerably influenced by the development of civil-service operations in the National Government. It is therefore important to note the strong declarations of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties with reference to civil service in their 1936 platforms.
The present status of State civil service in the United States, as a whole, is most disappointing. State civil-service systems are now operative in only 10 States. These States, listed in order of the adoption of their systems, are New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Jersey, Ohio, California, Maryland, and Kentucky. The California, Colorado, Ohio, and New York systems are provided for by the respective State constitutions, while the other six systems are provided for by statute. Two States-Connecticut and Kansas-have at some time provided for the merit system, but the Kansas law has been inoperative since 1919 for lack of appropriations, and the Connecticut law was repealed in 1921.
Attempts have been made from time to time to undermine the civil-service systems in those few States which have the merit system. These attempts were quite numerous during the past few years of unemployment, when legislators in some States, hard-pressed by jobless constituents, were eager to throw over the established personDel system. The contests were particularly keen in California and Wisconsin in 1933. In 1935 and during this past year, attempts to weaken civil service were made in several other States, notably in Ohio. In these States the strength of many groups and organizations interested in the extension of civil service has prevented whole