Page images
PDF
EPUB

mits or licenses ought to be granted by the Board of Factory Inspectors, who should be held responsible for the proper inspection of the buildings and the enforcement of the law.

There are several reasons why this simple method would be effective. It would at once classify buildings used for manufacturing purposes, as a building so used without a permit would be violating the law. It would prevent much friction, because all requirements of the law would have to be fulfilled before the building was used. This would be a great advantage in the erection of new buildings, as proper conveniences, including accessible fire escapes, guarded elevators and other appointments would be required and easily furnished when new buildings were being erected or when old ones were being changed for manufacturing purposes. Nor does this involve any radical innovation. It is simply applying the recognized principle upon which boards of health now everywhere act in requiring that the plans for erecting new buildings or alterations of old ones must be submitted to the building and health department and a certificate of approval granted, before the building can be erected, alterations made or the premises occupied. Legitimate manufacturers will not object to this, because they ate desirous of furnishing safe and wholesome appointments for their employees. Only those who desire to evade the law and disregard the common demands of sanitation, domestic decency and wholesome industrial methods will object, and it is these the law desires to reach.

I submit this to the serious consideration of the Legislature, and suggest that an amendment to the law embodying this idea be adopted, to the end that the uneconomic, unwholesome and un-American sweat shop system, shall disappear from our industrial life.

The law requiring an eight-hour day and a prevailing rate of wages for State employees is not entrusted to any authority for enforcement. If this law is to remain on the statute books, it should be enforced, and, therefore, the Legislature should make it the particular business of somebody to enforce it.

A recent decision of the Court of Appeals has decided unconstitutional the law which provides that there shall be a mark on prison made goods, indicating that they are such. This matter should receive the attention of the Legislature in order that some means may be devised whereby the free mechanic shall not be brought into competition with prison labor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Board of Mediation and Arbitration and the Factory Inspector's Department must be brought to the highest standard of efficiency and usefulness. The work of these departments, to report the actual conditions of labor, to seek to establish harmonious relations between labor and capital, and to enforce such labor-legislation as has met with the approval of the people of the State, is of supreme importance. The efficiency of their service concerns not only those immediately affected, but also the entire public, and they should receive our prompt and cordial co-operation in every attempt to fulfill their respective duties.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in collecting the material for its reports has received valuable aid from manufacturers and officers of labor organizations. The reports of the department must be practical, strictly accurate in all statements of fact, and based on investigations conducted in accordance with modern scientific methods.

In various trades the relations between labor and capital have frequently been adjusted to the advantage of both by conferences between intelligent employers and reasonable workingmen. Such mutual understanding is in the highest degree desirable; it promotes industrial peace and general prosperity. Where disturbance exists, and before it has gone too far, the Board of Mediation and Arbitration should seek to secure a fair settlement of the difficulties and a re-establishment of harmonious relations. It should also constantly endeavor to promote the extension of intelligent methods of settlement of labor disputes so that, through the recognition by each party of the just rights of the other, strikes and lockouts may yield to wiser and more peaceful measures.

The National Guard The National Guard of this State requires especial attention. During the past year the Guard was suddenly called upon to supply deficiencies in our scheme of National defense, due to the very small size of our regular army, which was, and is, totally inadequate to the necessities of the nation, admirable though the army itself is in quality. The emergency was so sudden as to necessitate the calling out of the men of the National Guard regiments, the time to raise and discipline ordinary volunteer regiments being lacking. It is much to be hoped that some well thought out plan may be adopted by the National Government for the use of the Guard in any future war. It would probably prove wisest to order out the Guard for use in the United States, thus freeing the regular army for any expedition, at the same time calling for volunteer regiments, into which those Guardsmen who wished might go; then, when the volunteer force proper had been put in fair condition, the Guard could be ordered home. In other words, the Guard should be used as it was in the civil war, and should not be called out for foreign service. The identity of each organization of the Guard should be preserved.

This calling out of the Guard to do the work which should have been done by the regulars, and by special volunteer organizations, caused great hardship, and has resulted in much temporary disorganization in the Guard itself. The work which the National Guardsmen ought normally to perform, differs entirely from that expected from regulars. All men who are admitted to the National Guard should be physically and morally fit for any soldierly duty; but there are many men who do invaluable service in the Guard who ought not to be called upon to serve in long campaigns, unless there is urgent need. For instance, a large number of our most useful Guardsmen who gladly give their service to the State are men of small means, business men, mechanics, clerks and laborers, with families who are dependent upon their exertions. Ordinary service in the Guard does not interfere in the least with these men's work, and absence from their work for a few weeks to meet a special emergency does not cause any great hardship; but absence on a long campaign means the actual loss of the job, with delay in securing another after the return. This causes wide-spread suffering and hardship. It is right to ask them to perform a short tenn of duty, but not a long term; and the disinclination to enlist for a long term should not be held to in any way reflect on them. If the country needs the services even of men with families, then, whatever the individual suffering, the service should be freely given; but where the necessity can be met by enlisting some of the tens of thousands of young unmarried men who are eager to volunteer, it is a pity to employ men who can be ill spared. The Guard gave conclusive proof of its patriotism by the quickness with which it sought the chance to go to the war. New York has a right to be proud of the way in which her citizen soldiers sought opportunity to get to the front; and an equal meed of praise attaches to those Who were fortunate enough to cross the seas, and to those equally devoted and equally patriotic, but less fortunate, soldiers to whom fell the harder task of waiting in camps on American soil through the weary months for the call to action which never came. The volunteers, the National Guardsmen, not only of New York, but of all the United States, have won by their ready response to the country's call the right to full justice, to full recognition of their services, by National and State government alike.

Many of the troops who volunteered gladly for the emergency, now that the war is over are most anxious to return. That they are not all of them able to return is due to the utterly inadequate size of our regular army. If our regular army is, as it should be, increased to one hundred thousand men, the hard necessity of retaining in the service the volunteer organizations which should not be retained, will disappear.

A very wise act of the last Legislature has, for the first time, put the organization of the Guard in this State on a proper footing. We now have a Major-General who is in fact, and not mere'y in name, the head of the National Guard. The Adjutant-General is to work in conjunction with him; he is not an independent officer, still less a

« PreviousContinue »