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that this commission be allowed ample additional time to close its work, the subject being one of such vast importance, and that it be given all needful aid.
The canals at present are in such condition that the money already expended will avail nothing if the work is discontinued. As a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so the navigability of the canals is determined by the shallowest sections. While I do not now recommend the voting of any large amounts of money, yet in fixing up those different parts, expenditures that can be clearly made within the constitution should be authorized.
It is essential to the State no less than to the city of New York that our commercial supremacy should be maintained. With this end in view the canals should be administered economically and with an eye single to the welfare of the whole people. Any man, whether public servant or contractor, who in any way defrauds the State or perverts the business of the State to his private gain must be dealt with as rigorously as the laws will permit.
The Canal Investigating Commission, appointed by my predecessor pursuant to the provisions of Chapter i5 of the Laws of i898, has completed its work and made its report. Its work has been of great service to the State. The act provided that the commission should serve without pay, but should receive the actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of its duty. The commission was also authorized to employ counsel, experts, engineers and such other assistants as it might deem necessary. The time for making its report was extended by my predecessor to the latest date authorized by law, and the investigation made was broad in its scope and searching in its nature.
In addition to the report of the commission required by law, which is herewith transmitted to you, a supplemental report of the commission's expenses has been made and filed, by which it appears that the appropriation made for the expenses of the investigation has been exhausted, and that it will require an additional sum of eleven thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine and fifty-one one-hundredths dollars to discharge the obligations of the commission properly incurred in the performance of its duty. I recommend that the further sum of twelve thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, be appropriated without delay, for such purpose.
I shall later communicate with you further on the subject of the canals and as to the exact course to be followed in regard to them.
Labor Interests Of late years there has been a tendency to extend the sphere of State action in various directions. This is a tendency which may readily be carried too far, and the State should give expression to it only when the good to be achieved is undoubted, and when there is no reasonable probability that it will be counteracted by harm. Nevertheless, much good has resulted in the past from such State action. In bygone ages, when wrong most frequently took the form of brutal violence, the aid of the State was invoked to shackle force; and exactly as we have shackled force in the past, so it may be necessary more and more to shackle cunning in the present. The right to interfere against the individual who does wrong by craft is, of course, as great as the right to interfere against one who does wrong by open violence; though it is a much more simple matter to interfere effectually in the one case than in the other. Great care, however, must be exercised in the interference. The machinery of business is delicate and complicated, and if it is improperly disarranged or interfered with, the harm, which at first falls on the business men of greater or less wealth and on the corporations, will ultimately be distributed throughout the community at large.
In dealing with the interests which we have grown to group together as the interests of labor, we must always keep in mind the fact that ultimately each man's salvation rests mainly with himself, and that no amount of legislation or of combination can supply the lack of individual initiative— the lack of individual energy, honesty, thrift and industry. Yet this capacity for individual self-help can, and should, be generally supplemented by that form of self-help that follows on organization and association, as has been shown by the careers of many of the trade unions and labor federations; and sometimes it can be supplemented by the direct action of the State itself.
The development in extent and variety of industries has necessitated legislation in the interest of labor. This legislation is not necessarily against the interest of capital; on the contrary, if wisely devised it is for the benefit of both laborers and employers. We have very wisely passed many laws for the benefit of labor, in themselves good, and for the time being sufficient; but experience has shown that the full benefit of these laws is not obtained, through the lack of proper means of enforcing them, and the failure to make any one department responsible for their enforcement.
At present the enforcement of the law regulating the hours of labor of minors under fourteen years of age and of women employed in mercantile establishments, and the sanitary condition of stores and buildings used for similar purposes in large cities, is left to the board of health. If the city government fails to furnish the proper appropriation and appoint the necessary officers to carry out the law, as is at present the case in New York city, it is practically a dead letter.
Another important statute of this character relates to providing secure scaffolding in the erection of new buildings. The law on this subject is all that could be desired, but its enforcement is left to the city police, and, as a matter of fact, practically no provision is made for carrying it into effect. In New York city, where this law is most needed, police officers are unacquainted with the character and requirements of the law. Most of them, indeed, are not aware that the enforcement of this law is any part of their duty.
The law regulating the hours of labor on surface railroads is also an excellent provision against the tendency to work the men an almost unlimited number of hours. The enforcement of this law is left to the Railroad Commissioners. As they have no active force to use for such a purpose the law fails by default, except when individual citizens undertake the prosecutions. The employee himself will rarely or never complain for fear of being discharged.
In order that the desire of the people, definitely expressed in this wholesome legislation, shall be made effective, I recommend that the enforcement of the entire body of legislation relating to labor be placed under the Board of Factory Inspectors. This would simplify the whole question of labor legislation and place the responsibility for its enforcement where it properly belongs, and would also give the maximum efficiency of service with the minimum cost to the State. With a slight increase in the general force of factory inspectors, this work can be done for the whole State, and the object of the legislation be satisfactorily secured to the people. I recommend that the Legislature provide for additional factory inspectors, so as to bring the total number up to fifty, and also that the Governor be empowered to appoint unsalaried deputies.
Another very important phase of this subject is the sweat shop system, which is practically the conversion of the poorest class of living apartments into unwholesome, pest-creating and crime-breeding workshops. Laws have been enacted by the Legislature to suppress this vile phase of industrial life in our large cities, by prohibiting the use of. dwellings for the purposes of manufacture. Although the law is quite explicit, and the intention of the Legislature obvious, great difficulty has been experienced in its effective enforcement. It is everywhere agreed that this tenement house, or " sweat shop " system is degrading to the unfortunate individuals engaged in it, and to the social and moral life of the community in which it exists. How to enforce the law on this subject has perplexed the statesmen of other countries and States as well as our own.
The most effective and uninquisitive means yet devised for accomplishing this end is that recently adopted by Massachusetts, viz.: providing that buildings used for manufacturing purposes must have a permit or license, such license or permit to be granted only on condition that the appointments of the building fulfill the requirements of the law for manufacturing purposes. These per