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United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Labor Laws and Their Administration, 1936 The twenty-second annual convention of the International Association of Governmental Labor Officials convened Thursday, September 24, 1936, at Topeka, Kans., and closed Saturday, September 26, 1936. Delegates were present from 18 States and the District of Columbia, 3 Provinces of Canada, and Geneva, Switzerland.
President A. W. Crawford (chairman, Minimum Wage Board of Ontario), in his opening address reviewed the most important developments of the previous year which affected the work of the association, and submitted several suggestions for the consideration of the members. The principal subjects considered by the convention were presented in the form of committee reports, and followed by discussion. An address by Miss Frances Perkins, United States Secretary of Labor, and a paper by David Vaage, chief of the Safety Service of the International Labor Office, were special features of the convention. Part of the opening session and the entire closing session, at both of which the president presided, were devoted to the business of the association. The chairmen of the other sessions were as follows:
John S. B. Davie, commissioner, Bureau of Labor of New Hampshire, morning session, September 24.
Mrs. Clover Powers, Department of Labor of Oklahoma, morning session, September 25.
Joseph M. Tone, commissioner, Department of Labor and Factory Inspection of Connecticut, afternoon session, September 25.
A. L. Fletcher, commissioner, Department of Labor of North Carolina, evening session, September 25.
The twenty-third annual convention of the association will be held at Toronto, Canada, September 14, 15, and 16, 1937.
International Association of Governmental Labor
Purposes and Activities of the Association of Governmental Labor
President's address, by A. W. CRAWFORD
For 5 years I have been a member of the executive board of this association, but it is only during the past year that I have become intimately acquainted with the work it is doing and have taken time to consider its purpose and value. While I cannot claim to have contributed much to its welfare, I have become convinced of the need for greater activity on the part of the general membership if it is to function effectively. It appears that relatively few persons outside of the association appreciate the value it can be to State and Provincial departments of labor, as well as to the Federal and Dominion departments. We need to do more advertising.
I recall a meeting in Boston 5 years ago at which a small group undertook to make certain revisions in the constitution and organization of the association, because they realized that something must be done to stimulate interest on the part of State, Provincial, and Federal labor departments. Some progress has been made since that date, but we are still far from being recognized as the official or principal body representing State and Provincial labor department officials.
In accepting the presidency last year, I intimated that I would make a special effort to stimulate interest on the part of the Canadian Provinces and the Dominion Government in the work of the association, in the hope that Canada would be better represented at future conventions. I regret to report that despite repeated efforts, only two Provinces are represented here today. It is encouraging, however, to note that three Provinces and the Dominion Department of Labor are now active members of the association, and letters which I have received from the ministers, deputy ministers, and commissioners throughout the Dominion indicate that, had it not been for the necessity of rigid economy in connection with the sending of delegates to conventions, particularly those outside the Dominion, we would undoubtedly have had a more representative Canadian delegation today. It is 7 years since the convention met in Canada, and I have been assured that if it is deemed advisable to go to Ontario
next year, most of the Provinces will send delegates and some steps will be taken to arrange for closer cooperation on the part of the Canadian labor departments.
The need for greater interest in the work of the association was first impressed on my mind when it became my duty, in conjunction with the executive board, to determine where this year's convention was to be held. I then recalled certain discussions on the floor of the convention in Asheville last year which gave me the impression that a number of the delegates were of the opinion that more time should be available for the program of the convention, and that possibly the time had arrived when a separate convention should be held at a different place and time from any other association. Apparently it was felt that meetings of the I. A. G. L. O. were overshadowed by those of the I. A. I. A. B. C. and that a number of the delegates who made a practice of attending both conventions were too tired to take much part in our discussions and deliberations at the end of the week. Other delegates, however, desiring to attend both conventions, had expressed the opinion that the previous arrangements should be continued, as they could not afford the time nor the expense of attending separate meetings.
After taking all things into consideration, your executive board decided to follow the practice of former years, on the understanding that, in conformity with a resolution adopted at our last business meeting, we would abolish joint meetings and that an effort would be made to secure sufficient time for our deliberations without overlapping between the two associations or unduly taxing the patience and interest of the delegates.
It has been difficult to make such arrangements, and while I sincerely trust that the efforts which have been made to make this convention a success will meet with your approval and appreciation, I take this opportunity of expressing the hope that the incoming executive will receive from you a formal expression of opinion which will be his guide in arranging for next year's convention. In drafting the program, our chief difficulty was to secure sufficient time for adequate presentation of reports from the standing committees, even at the sacrifice of abandoning other important features of the convention, including social entertainments. Mr. Baker, as president of the I. A. I. A. B. C. and as a member of the program committee of this association, has assisted us in every way possible, and an earnest effort has been made to have everything prepared well in advance so that there will be no delay in presenting the reports to be considered, and that ample time will be provided for full discussion, to be led by selected individuals who have had an opportunity of studying the reports in advance. It has been impossible to arrange for round-table discussions, which were so greatly appreciated at last year's convention, but it is hoped that those delegates who have mutual problems to discuss will find time for such helpful intercourse between sessions.
A very encouraging and significant feature of our conventions during the past 2 years has been the presence of the Secretary of Labor, the Honorable Frances Perkins, who has favored us by attending part of the sessions and has taken advantage of the presence of so many State commissioners and others interested in labor matters to hold a special conference dealing with labor legislation. We are again to be honored by the presence of the Honorable Secretary, who will address a joint luncheon of the two conventions tomorrow, and I sincerely trust that the presence of the Secretary of Labor will become an annual occurence and that closer cooperation may be developed between the State and Federal labor departments as a result of these conferences. May I also express the hope that such conferences and similar activities on the part of the Federal Department of Labor will be definitely linked up with the activities of this association.
Perhaps the most important developments during the past year which affected the work of the association, as in the previous year, were Supreme Court decisions in connection with the validity and jurisdiction of labor and social legislation. I need only refer to the decision of the Supreme Court of New York State in connection with the Minimum Wage Act, which decision was upheld by the Supreme Court at Washington and which declared invalid the minimum wage law of New York State on the grounds that it interferred with the "liberty of contract”, and that it was discriminatory in favor of women as against men. In this connection it is interesting to note that a minority report written by Chief Justice Hughes and shared by Justices Brandeis, Stone, and Cardozo contended that the act should be upheld. It is of equal importance to note the expressions of public opinion in favor of such legislation which immediately followed the rulings of the supreme courts, particularly on behalf of organized labor, social and welfare organizations, and State labor departments. I have a clipping, from the Toronto Daily Star of September 16, which will interest you. It reads as follows:
Joseph Tipaldo, the Brooklyn laundryman whose suit resulted in the United States Supreme Court declaring New York's minimum wage law for women unconstitutional, is out of the laundry business and looking for a job, he said today. “Business dropped and dropped”, he explained. “My drivers said customers told them I shouldn't have fought this case.”
I am sure that this important decision will receive careful consideration during the discussion of the report of the committee on miminum wages.
A similar decision or ruling was given by the Supreme Court of Canada in connection with the validity and jurisdiction of eight acts passed by the Dominion Parliament dealing with social and labor problems. Following the change of government, which took place in October 1935, the incoming administration decided to submit the following acts to the Supreme Court for an opinion as to their validity and whether they were within the jurisdiction of the Dominion Parliament or were matters which should be dealt with by Provincial legislatures. These acts were: (1) The Weekly Rest in Industrial Undertakings Act; (2) The Minimum Wages Act; (3) The Limitation of Hours of Work Act; (4) The Employment Social Insurance Act; (5) The Natural Products Marketing Act; (6) The Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act (Amendment); (7) Section 498A of the Criminal Code; (8) The Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act.
A split decision was rendered in connection with the Minimum Wage Act, the Limitation of Hours Act (48-hour week), and the Weekly Day of Rest Act. Three justices held that these acts governed matters within the jurisdiction of the Provincial legislatures; the other three upheld the action of the Dominion Parliament.
Two measures were declared valid; namely, section 498A of the Criminal Code and the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act. (The amendment of sec. 498A prohibits price cutting, discounting, etc., for the purpose of eliminating competitors.)
The Employment and Social Insurance Act, the Natural Products Marketing Act, and certain sections of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act were declared to be outside the powers of the constitution.
Every decision is being appealed to Privy Council by either the Dominion or Provincial governments.
It is apparent, therefore, that in both the United States and Canada social and economic changes have brought about conditions which must be dealt with by governments, and that these conditions, which could not be foreseen when the constitutions were originally drafted, may necessitate new interpretations or amendments to the constitutions before satisfactory governmental action can be taken.
In his presidential address last year Mr. Tone emphasized the need for greater cooperative effort and immediate action on the part of this association in connection with other problems arising from court decisions affecting the National Recovery Administration and which resulted in increased responsibility on the part of State labor departments. His proposals received very brief consideration and little has been done to bring about the closer cooperation with other associations and between State and Federal labor departments which he advocated.
It is my hope that more time will be devoted to discussion and solution of these and similar problems at this meeting. If sufficient time is not available, I suggest that the incoming executive board be instructed to solicit and study proposals for the solution of such problems and others to be presented in the report of the executive