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COMMISSIONER OF LABOR
TO THE GOVERNOR.
Lansing, April 1, 1912. Hon. CHASE S. OSBORN, Gorernor of Michigan.
Dear Sir-In compliance with the requirements of the law relating to my official duties I herewith submit for your consideration the 29th annual report of the Commissioner of Labor. The consecutive numbering of the reports of this department was departed from by my predecessor in office in recognition of a change in the official title of the department from Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics to Department of Labor made through Act No. 285 of the Public Acts of 1909. It would seem, however, that the service the annual reports of the Commissioner of Labor was intended to perform can be better provided for through a consecutive numbering and I have therefore returned to that order.
In connection with the submission of the statistical details relating to the work of this department, and in addition to the information disclosed through such details, I wish to briefly review the several lines of work now performed under the auspices of the Department of Labor and to make such suggestions and recommendations with reference thereto as may appear desirable and necessary.
This department came into existence in 1883 in response to a demand for further and more reliable information touching the conditions of labor and the facts directly and indirectly related to such conditions. In recommending the establishment of such a state department Governor Josiah W. Begole called attention to the fact that the state of Massachusetts had then a Labor Bureau whose reports and statistics were eagerly sought for by all who would study the labor question and had been the means of reforming numerous abuses. In accordance with this recommendation a law was enacted at the legislative session of 1883 creating the Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics.
As provided for in the original act the work of the bureau was con. fined entirely to the gathering of statistics, to the accumulation and publication of information, to comments on labor questions, references to the organization of labor societies and labor unions and to the presentation through the annual report of articles and essays reviewing and discussing labor subjects. The purpose seemed to be to provide for a degree of publicity to subjects and questions relating to the status of labor and to the relation between employers and employes which it was assumed were not receiving the attention they should or were not being utilized in accordance with their deserving, as indicated through the results obtained in Massachusetts and in the several other states which at that time were possessed of bureaus of labor statistics.
The rapid growth in interest and importance of all subjects relating to labor, the larger degree of publicity given to all such questions and to controversies and discussions connected in any way with labor subjects through the daily and weekly press, through magazines, organization journals and trade publications, soon made it quite unnecessary to formally present or discuss the incidents and happenings in such directions through an annual report. This growth of interest and the larger attention given to such matters, however, gave added importance to the statistical facts revealed through the work of the Department of Labor and made possible the growth and development of the department in other directions from year to year until it can be truly stated that Michigan is possessed of laws intended to give statistical industrial information, to provide for the safety and comfort of men, women and children in places of labor, to limit the hours of labor required of women and children, to require conditions suitable for their employment, and in other similar directions hardly excelled by legislation along similar lines of any state in the union.
In response to demands in such directions, state laws relating to the following subjects were enacted and their enforcement provided for through the Department of Labor:
In 1893: State factory inspection; requirement that all persons employing female help in stores should provide seats for women when not actively employed; limiting the employment of boys under 18 years and women under 21 years of age to sixty hours per week; prohibiting children under 14 years of age from laboring for wages in any capacity, and providing that children from 14 to 16 years of age should provide a statement in writing from their parent or guardian before being employed.
In 1897 an amendment was added to the labor law prohibiting the employment of women or girls as barkeepers.
In 1899 a start was made in the direction of providing safety and comfort for employes while at work through an act making it necessary to provide blowers where emery wheels or emery belts were used; also through providing for coal mine inspection and the installation of low water alarms.
At the legislative session of 1901, hotel and store inspection, tenement house inspection, the guarding of elevators, hoisting shafts and well holes were provided for, and the Labor Department was authorized to investigate conditions and to provide minimum requirements relative to the health, safety and morals of women and children while employed at factories, mills, stores and other specified places.
In 1903 the law relating to.provision for the safety of employes and for necessary improvements in building and workroom surroundings was so amended as to definitely provide for responsibility in cases of non-compliance or neglect.
In 1905 Free Employment Bureaus were established at Detroit and Grand Rapids and their operation given in charge of the Commissioner of Labor.
In 1907 the inspection of foundries was authorized and provided for; the installation of fire escapes on hotels, stores, theaters, schools, halls, apartment houses and public buildings two or more stories in height was made necessary when ordered by deputy factory inspectors; Free Employment Bureaus were established in Jackson, Kalamazoo and Saginaw.
In 1909 the Department of Labor laws were codified and a change in the name of the department from Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics to Department of Labor was made. The legislature of that year also amended the law relating to the employment of women and children through reducing the limit of labor per week for all women and for children under 18 years of age from sixty hours to fifty-four, and further amended the law relating to the employment of children through giving authority to issue working permits to school authorities, except in cities where State Free Employment Bureaus were established. The law relating to the employment of girls under 18 years of age in manufacturing establishments was so amended as to forbid their working between six o'clock p. m. and six o'clock a. m., and it was further forbidden that boys under 16 years of age should be employed between the same hours. Authority to establish Free Employment Bureaus at Bay City, Battle Creek, Muskegon, Flint and Traverse City, was also given to the Commissioner of Labor, but no funds were provided through which these Bureaus could be maintaineu.
At the recent session of the legislature, 1911, the duty of providing working permits to children was placed entirely in the hands of school authorities, and the requirements as to fire escapes was so amended as to apply to office buildings.
STATE FACTORY INSPECTION.
The very rapid development of our state in industrial directions, the construction of factories, shops and mills along lines so far separated from the mills and factories of twenty years ago, when Michigan's factory inspection service was established, has created demands and requirements not applicable to conditions then existing. The fact that the Department of Labor has not been permitted to keep fully abreast of the state's remarkable industrial advancement in the direction of technical inspection and preparation for safety requirement has probably been due to the usual degree of legislative conservatism in such directions. The limit of remuneration provided for factory inspectors has remained since the establishment of the inspection law at the lowest point allowed for state department clerks notwithstanding the fact that the modern factory of today and the complicated machinery of today should make it possible to provide some inspectors technically trained and experienced to thoroughly perform the very important service expected of them.