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ATTITUDE OF EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES TOWARDS THE
The employers of Massachusetts have accepted workmen's compensation in a most commendable spirit; the only substantial objection from the beginning, so far as is known, has been based on the question of cost. In view of the fact that the premium rates originally set on July 1, 1912, for compensation insurance averaged from three to ten times as high as those under the old liability system, it will be agreed that there was reasonable ground for complaint.
Wage earners have almost unanimously accepted the law. In only a few cases when the employer has taken out insurance has there been a refusal on the part of an employee to come under the provisions of the act.
EMPLOYEES ELIGIBLE AND UNDER THE ACT. According to the latest figures of the Bureau of Statistics there are 608,590 wage earners employed in manufacturing occupations alone in Massachusetts, all of whom, if insured, come under the act. This number does not include those engaged in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, quarrying, transportation, trade, express companies, personal and domestic service, telegraph and telephone companies, etc. With the exception of those employed in domestic service, farm laborers and railroad employees who are otherwise covered by federal legislation, all these employees, when insured, come under the act.
According to the statistics of the Railroad Commission, there are engaged in the service of steam railroads 73,661 persons, all of whom, however, do not work exclusively within the limits of the State of Massachusetts. Assuming that two-thirds of these wage earners in the railroad service are engaged in interstate transportation, and are therefore subject to the federal laws, it is probable that not more than 25,000 steam railway employees are eligible, if insured, to come under the act. In addition there are 24,136 persons in the service of the street railways of Massachusetts who are eligible, when insured, to come under the act, and many of whom are insured under the statute.
None of the steam railroad companies carries workmen's compensation insurance. Some of the larger corporations — such as the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, and during the year July 1, 1912, to June 30, 1913, the General Electric Company - did not come under the act, although some of these larger companies have a form of insurance which, it is asserted, gives their employees when injured greater benefits than those provided by the Massachusetts act.
At a minimum estimate, including steam railway employees engaged in intrastate business and the other classes of labor not specifically classified by the Bureau of Statistics, and those employed in construction work, the building trades, express business and various other forms of transportation, and excluding all domestic servants and agricultural laborers specifically extmpt by the act, there are at least 800,000 wage earners in Massachusetts eligible, if insured, to come under the Workmen's Compensation Act.
Analysis of the accidents reported during the year July 1, 1912, to June 30, 1913, for wage earners employed in all occupations in this State shows that 81 per cent. of those injured were insured.
There is no accurate figure given as to the number of employees covered by insurance under the act, but, allowing for a reasonable margin of error, there are at a minimum more than 600,000 employees insured. Considering the railroad employees engaged in interstate commerce, and the large corporations which have their own insurance outside the act, it is a moderate statement that only a small minority of employees in Massachusetts are now outside of the act, and these are largely in employments where the wage earners employed by one employer are few in number.