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board, and that, if necessary, money be provided from the treasury so that the board may meet at least once during the ensuing year and prepare a report with definite recommendations for discussion and action at next year's convention.
One cannot read the objectives of the association as set forth in the constitution, which is printed as a preface to each year's proceedings, without realizing the inadequacy of our present activities and being challenged to greater endeavor.
The association cannot function successfully or completely, nor can it render worth-while service to the State and Provincial departments which so largely support it, unless the activities are extended, the membership increased, and cooperative action developed as suggested. It is very encouraging to report that the membership is increasing, and I firmly believe that this evidence of revived and increasing interest will result in continued development.
Why cannot the association, in accordance with its avowed purpose, act as a clearinghouse for information during the whole year? Many reports, bulletins, circulars, and other publications are issued by the labor departments (Federal, State, and Provincial), most of which are of interest to all members. Might not cooperative action in this regard result in greater effectiveness and considerable saving of time and money? Would it not be advisable for each State and Province in the association to appoint a reporter or correspondent through whom the publicity committee and the Federal Labor Departments could collect and distribute such information?
An existing activity of the association which might receive more consideration by the incoming executive, particularly in connection with the preparation of reports to the members, is the work which is done by our representatives on research committees of other organizations and similar bodies through which cooperative action is established on a national basis. For example, during the past year we have reappointed representatives on the committee for standardizing elevator inspection forms, the safety code correlating committee of the American Standards Association, the safety code for construction workers under the National Safety Council, and the American Standards Association sectional committee on safety code for grandstands. We also made an unsuccessful effort to secure representation on the electrical committee of the National Fire Protection Association of the American Standards Association. We should know what service these committees are rendering and take more interest in their activities.
Having contributed my share of criticism and suggestions, I wish now to express my sincere appreciation of the work done by the chairmen and members of the nine standing committees during the past year. I am sure that the reports which are to be presented at this convention will impress you with the importance of the work which these committees are doing, and will provide each of you with valuable information in connection with the work of your own department. I also wish to express my appreciation of the loyal support given by all members of the executive board and of the very valuable and painstaking work of our secretary, who, despite most trying circumstances, has carried on the work of the association in such an excellent manner.
State Labor Departments
New Responsibilities of State Labor Departments « By FRANCES PERKINS, Secretary, United States Department of Labor I cannot tell you how glad I am to be here nor what it means to me to be able to come each year to a meeting of those who are engaged in the same enterprise in which I have been engaged for many years. I have been a Government labor official for a long time and so when I come to this organization I come not only as the Secretary of Labor of the United States but also as one who for many years has been engaged in solving the same administrative problems and the same problems of leadership as all of you in the State departments are. I come to ask you to participate in formulating those principles and those policies which a great democracy broad as the continent finally evolves es its own standards and its own patterns.
The problems of leadership in a democracy today are problems which are inherent in the whole technique of democracy. We must learn to practice democracy every day of our lives if we would preserve it for our children and grandchildren. We must have faith in each other if we are to preserve our democracy; we must have faith in what can come out of the experience of those having certain problems in Kansas compared with those who have the same problems in Rhode Island. We must have faith in the ability of those who know the working life of the people in Massachusetts as compared with the people whose working life is determined by the laws of South Carolina. I am particularly glad to be here today, when some of the work that we have done for the last 20 years--those of us who represent the great departments of labor of the various States, those of us who represent the departments of labor of the neighboring Dominion, those of us who represent the Department of Labor in the United States Government, and those of us who represent the organized working people of the United States—when the experience and the thinking of these various groups over a number of years have been pooled sufficiently to bring out certain definite principles which all of us and practically all of the people on this continent are agreed upon.
The labor departments are the tools by which the people—a free people with goodwill toward each other—accomplishes its sovereign will in this field of labor, which is to make every workman's job in this country as safe, as healthful, as remunerative, and as comfortable as it is possible for the human mind to devise in this day of science and the technique of efficiency. We have made considerable progress toward this great objective by keeping the objective clear and by making real and intelligent strides in the technical solution of the problems that have to be solved in order to accomplish it. There are 30 million wage earners in the United States and 24 million of these are clearly industrial. These people are our clients. They look to us for knowledge and wisdom and for capacity to solve the technical problems.
Reasonably short hours; the abolition of child labor; first-class physical working conditions; wages commensurate with the value of services and equal to the American standard of living; cooperation between workers and employers on terms of equal bargaining power; organized assured cooperative provision for individual protection against the major hazards of wage earners, such as disability and lack of earning capacity due to accidents, unemployment, old age, and untimely death-these constitute the present conception of the share of the workers in the great new wealth created by machinery and by the technique of the utilization of human labor and machinery in a system which we call efficiency. Efficiency is only another name for analysis and planning of production. The workers are entitled to a share in the wealth which is created by these new means of civilization. They are great blessings to mankind, and those of us who have seen and know the labor that goes into producing consumption goodsthe things that people need in order to protect themselves against want and hunger-by the sweat and hard labor of individuals, know how great are the blessings of machinery, of tools, and of the organized application of labor to the problem. Production by this technique is wealth for all mankind, and the share of workers should be reasonably short hours, wages commensurate with the standard of living and with the value of the services, the abolition of the major cruelties of child labor, the maintenance of first-class physical conditions in work places, and the establishment of some kind of organized assured security against old age, unemployment, accident, and untimely death. These are but simple steps toward a program of sound social life in a democratic community, and some progress has been made toward all of them. One of the great achievements toward their realization is the fact that today practically all of the people of the l'nited States agree that these are desirable objectives.
I have been greatly heartened by the fact that even through these years of adversity and depression there has come a recognition of the desirability of these standards wbich I bave enumerated. The witness of this, I think, is, in the first place, the general popularity all over the United States of the labor standards that were written into the N. R. A. Lots of things about the N. R. A. were not popular, but the labor standards--shorter hours, minimum wages, no child labor, some kind of decent organization and representation of workers on terms of equal bargaining power—met with common assent. It was the common will of the people, so far as anyone can judge. Even in this year of campaign, which in our American life is an open season for saying anything you feel like saying, even if it does not make good sense--and that is one of the things that will help to preserve our democracy-I have yet to hear a voice raised to say that he or she is against reasonably short hours, wages as high as is commensurate with the value of the services and the American standard of living, the abolition of child labor, and the protection of the individual worker by organized social security.
Many of us think that because the people have said this, either by vote or by general assent, that it has been accomplished. We have a way of thinking that those things we have agreed to have been done, and we do not always look realistically into the facts of the situation. We know that these great ideas have not been accomplished in the United States of America, or in any State. They have been accomplished here and there and where they have been accomplished they have been a blessing, but they have not been totally accomplished anywhere, and there are great gaps in the program of reality throughout the United States. It is your duty and mine-we who are the officials of the people of this country for carrying out their will in this field of minimum labor standards—to give reality to these accepted standards. These are not new ideas; they are ideas that have been in common circulation for many years. Most of them have been discussed in this and other meetings for many years, but they must be given reality in the life of the people, so that John Jones and Mary Smith, working in some distant mine, in some workshop away up the line-persons far removed from influence with legislators and politicians and even hardly aware of the laws of the State-may know in their daily lives what reasonably short hours, good wages, and good working conditions actually mean; that they may have the simple human decencies and on the basis of the experience and enjoyment thereof may begin to develop their lives, their own inner capacities. For John Jones and Mary Smith are human souls precious in the sight of God and vital to the life of this Republic. Until everyone experiences these high ideals as a common factor of their lives we shall not have discharged our duty-yours and mine particularly--to the generation that brought us forth and to the generation that gave us this obligation and this mission to perform for our fellow citizens.
Minimum labor standards ought to be as much guaranteed by the governments of the States and by the Federal Government as our liberties are guaranteed. Whenever improvements can be made upon these minimum standards, let us make them, by free collective bargaining, by the experience of employers who have vision and capacity