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HEARING OF THE STATE FACTORY INVESTI-
YORK CITY, MAY 18, 1914
Present --- Hon. ROBERT F. WAGNER, Chairman.
Hon. CYRUS.W. PHILLIPS.
Hon. ABRAM I. ELKUS, Counsel to the l'om
BERNARD L. SHIENTAG, Esq., .Issislant Counsel.
Commissioner GOMPERS: In opening this hearing it is but just to state that we expect in a very few minutes the appearance of Governor Wagner and Commissioner Jackson. They are on the way down here, and they will, on their appearance, take their proper positions, Governor Wagner as Chairman of this Commission. It is with regret that I have to announce that Commissioner Brentano and Commissioner Dreier are both of them quite indisposed and have been so for quite a considerable time. The meeting called for this morning is announced on the leaflet prepared by the attorneys for the Commission and issued by the Chairman, Hon. Robert F. Wagner, to consider to what extent there is a duplication of ivspection, of manufacturing and mercantile establishments in New York city, by city and State departments, and what remedies, if any, shall be adopted therefor. Now it is not necessary in opening this discussion that I should more than announce the purpose for which this conference is called, for it is to be more in 'the nature of a conference than inquisitorial. The Commission wants the best views of those who have had experience in inspection, those who know by observation what remedies can be applied for duplication or perhaps triplication of work which could be performed effectively and effectually by one inspector ora perhaps all inspectors under one direction. With this preliminary statement I will ask Hon. Abram I. Elkus, the counsel to the Committee, and his associate, Mr. Shientag, to present any further matter before this Commission.
Mr. ELKUS: Mr. Chairman, as you have said, this is only a conference or hearing designed for the purpose of considering the matter of duplication of inspection and what can be done to remedy it if it exists. When this Commission had its hearing some years ago this same question came up before any legislation was passed, and almost everybody who appeared before the Commission objected to any division of inspection upon grounds which they stated in their testimony and which appear in the published reports of the Commission. Since the laws have gone into effect I may say, perhaps, that part of this trouble is caused by this, that until these new statutes wen't into effect, and the Labor Department was properly equipped with the necessary number of inspectors to do this work, there was not as much inspection, perhaps, as there ought to have been, under the then existing laws, but with a re-equipped department, and with enough inspectors to do this work, and the other departments of the city in the same condition, they having been hampered by lack of inspectors, there probably has been in the last few months more inspection than there has been in the preceding years, and I take it from what I understand that perhaps the great number of inspections which have 'thus taken place may be one of the causes for the agitation.
In the second place, although we have heard a great deal about this duplication of inspections, it was the desire of the Commission to find out how much of it there was, and to get specific instances, so in the statement of this hearing which was issued ten days or two weeks ago the following was contained: “It has frequently been stated that in many instances conflicting orders for the same identical work have been issued by different departments of the city or State." Then we asked that the Commission be furnished specific instances of this so that it could investigate and see where the fault was, and we asked that these instances be sent to the office of the Commission. Now this notice of this hearing containing that request was sent to probably 500 organizations of real estate owners, property owners, manufacturers' associations and others, and they in turn, as we are informed, widely distributed this notice among their members. It was also published in the newspapers and yet I have to say that up to this morning we did not receive one single notice of alleged duplication or of conflicting orders. I have heard that there was duplication, but I have not received one single complaint or statement that I could take up with the department, which I would like to have done, brought it to their attention and found out who was to blame, if anybody. Now it may be that there is duplication. There must be if there is so much talk about it, but we took every opportunity to get wide-spread publicity for this notice and yet we have had the result which I have stated. Now I want to say this: This hearing today is limited to this one subject. We have invited the heads of the city departments to come, and everybody else who is interested, and that will take up the entire day and probably more than a day. The question of changing the law, the Labor Law and the fire laws, will therefore not be taken up. A recodification of the Labor Law has been prepared by the Commission at great trouble and great labor. It has been changed and amended and rechanged and has been distributed very widely to all people who may have any interest in it, and anybody who wants a copy of it may have it by applying at the office of the Commission or sending a postal card and they will get one, or they may give their name and address here, and as soon as the Legislature adjourns a day or days will be fixed upon which there will be full hearings upon that codification. The Commission invites most careful consideration and criticism, suggestions and discussion of every provision of that recodification of the Labor Law, and if the parties who have any criticisms or suggestions to make will send them in advance to the Commission they will receive most careful consideration and then will be discussed at public hearings where necessary. Now the first witness we will hear today, or rather the first gentleman we will ask to confer with us will be the State Labor Commissioner, Hon. James M. Lynch.
Hon. JAMES M. LYNCH, State Commissioner of Labor, then
addressed the Commission:
By Mr. ELKUS:
Q. Commissioner, you are the Commissioner of Labor of the State of New York? A. Yes.
Q. And you have been such since when ? A. Since October 23d.
Q. Of last year? A. Of last year,
Q. At the time of your appointment how many inspectors were there in your department? A. Eighty-five. Q. And since then has the number been increased ?
A. Very much.
Q. To about how many? A. One hundred and sixty. .
Q. And there has been reorganized within your department under the law a number of new divisions? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Will you state, briefly, in your own way, how the reorganized department has been extended under the operation of the new law ? A. We have added one new division, the Division of Industrial Hygiene, and we have strengthened the inspection service in the First District and Second District, and we have strengthened the department all along the line by the addition of necessary clerks and other facilities to bring the department up to what it was intended to be under the new laws.
Q. And will you be kind enough to state how many inspections have been made since your department has been in operation under the new law? A. During March and April, 1913, there were 19,905 inspections made, and 13,497 compliance visits. During March and April, 1914, there were 18,358 inspections and 35,201 compliance visits, a total number of visits for these two months in 1913 of 33,402 as against 53,559 for the same months in 1914.
Q. And how many had you made before? A. Well, not half that number.
Q. So that you have just about doubled the inspections? A. Just about doubled the inspection work.
Q. Now you have read this statement of the purpose of this hearing today and the questions to be asked, and without asking questions in detail now of you, I would be very glad and the Commission would be very glad to have you state your views upon this entire subject. A. I set my position forth in the letter to you that I believe you have and I think perhaps my position is as clearly stated there as it is possible to express it.
Q. In your letter to me, Commissioner, you stated that you were opposed, as I understand you, to any division of the Department of Labor for the city and the State ? A. Yes, sir.
Q. That is, you were opposed to a division, making two departments, one for the city of New York and one for the State of New York? A. Yes, sir.