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thereafter the matter of dealing with complaints will be but a small part of the work of the Bureau of Fire Prevention and we can take the most hazardous classes of occupancies first and the buildings requiring the greatest amount of immediate attention and inspect every one of them in the city before we are through with that one class of work, so that there is an even handed method of dealing with the matter. But this very policy that we have adopted of cleaning up the complaint file has resulted in duplication of inspections necessarily because if we receive another complaint two months later regarding the same building another visit is made and this is also limited to the particular matter complained of.
Q. Is it a fact that your attention to defects in buildings is called by contractors who want to do the work? A. I do not believe that that is true to any considerable extent. I have made a study of the complaint file and I have traced the inspiratich for a large number of complaints, particularly I have traced the inspiration of certain complaints that come in in very large numbers from virtually the same source but I have not found very much evidence that the contractors desirous of getting the work make complaints.
Q. It has been called to the attention of the Commission that very frequently a contractor notifies the owner that the work is going to be required to be done before the owner hears of it from the department; can you account for that? A. That might arise from a number of causes other than the sending of a complaint to the department. For example the Labor Law specifically requires in every factory building more than two stories in height and with more than twenty-five persons employed above the first story the installation of an interior fire alarm. It also provides that where there are 200 employed above the seventh story a sprinkler system must be installed, and with that kind of law a contractor might follow it up
Q. It is also called to our attention that simultaneously with the receipt of a complaint a contractor appears and wants the work; is there any way by which that knowledge can be obtained ? A. There is one way by which everyone can obtain knowledge, due to the publication of the orders of the fire department in the City Record weekly. That publication however does not precede the service of the order and could not explain the contractors appearing at the same time that the order has been issued. Now I can not say that there are not leaks in the Bureau of Fire Prevention. It would give me a great deal of satisfaction if any who have information of particular cases in which the contractor has appeared as soon as the order was issued would immediately let me know because if I have that information promptly it seems to me quite possible that I might be able to trace the leak. It would be a very important matter to trace the leak. It was in order to avoid any possibility of particular contractors having as you might say an inside track in the fire department that we decided on publishing all of these orders in the City Record and also upon preventing or discontinuing the practice of sending them to various newspapers, trade publications, that had been receiving them prior to that time.
Q. Is there anything further Mr. Hammitt that you would like to say? A. No, sir.
Mr. ELKUS: Anyone else desire to be heard ?
Commissioner JACKSON: For the purpose of the record and in answer to Mr. Goldberg's criticism yesterday of the action of the Labor Department regarding the premises at 15–17 East 17th street the buildings were inspected April 23d and orders issued in both buildings for additional means of exit. In the fireproof building it was withheld in the office for the reason that the Industrial Board had not provided the department with specifications for fire resisting materials, therefore the stairway could not be · erected until such information was forthcoming. This accounts for the withholding of the order. They did not order the stairway because they could not approve the specifications necessary to construct the stairway.
Mr. ELKUS: No one else desires to be heard Mr. Chairman,
The Commission thereupon adjourned until Tuesday, December 1, 1914, at 10:30 4. M.
HEARING OF THE NEW YORK STATE FACTORY
INVESTIGATING COMMISSION, HELD IN
10.30 A. M.
Present - Hon. ROBERT F. WAGNER, Chairman,
Hon. CYRUS W. PHILLIPS,
Hon. ABRAM I. ELKUS, Chief Counsel.
BERNARD L. SHIENTAG, Associate Counsel. Mr. ELKUS: The hearings to-day and to-morrow are to be mainly devoted to the presentation by the Director of Investigation and his assistants of the facts as to wages and working conditions which have been found by the Commission's staff of investigators during the greater part of two years' work.
This is an unusual plan of procedure. Usually the investigating commissions present the facts which they have found directly to the Legislature for such discussion and action as then may seem proper. In this case the Commission is presenting its findings to the public for discussion, and, if necessary, for amendment.
During the two years of work of the Commission upon this subject over 150,000 records of individuals (men, women and children) as to wages and other facts of their lives have been obtained, and a synopsis of these will be presented by Dr. Woolston and his assistants.
The substance of.Dr. Woolston's report – Dr. Woolston is the Director of Investigation — will be presented to the Commission and to the public and will be available for discussion by all persons who are interested in the matter at future hearings of the Commission, the dates of which will be fixed later. This will enable those discussing the question of minimum wage to have before them concrete facts or evidence upon the subject of wages received in the various occupations which are directly concerned by the investigation.
The Director of Investigation on the minimum wage will present the methods of obtaining information, the trades and numbers of people reached and the result of the investigation, showing the facts of wages earned, etc.
The first witness will be Dr. Howard B. Woolston, Director of Wage Investigation.
Dr. HOWARD B. WOOLSTON, addressed the Commission.
By Mr. ELKUS:
Q. Dr. Woolston you have been the Director of Investigation for the Commission since when ? A. Since the 18th of August, 1913.
Q. And you have had under your charge the investigation of what is known as the minimum wage question? A. Yes.
Q. Now will you go ahead and tell what you did in your own way and take just as long as you like, stating what facts you have obtained. I might say by way of introduction that
your report is already in type, isn't it? A. Most of it I believe.
I should like to state very briefly and simply five things: First, the plan and scope of the work as undertaken by the Commission. Secondly, the character of the workers found. Thirdly, what these workers get. Fourthly, what they need. Fifthly, what business can afford.
Q. May I interrupt you a moment? I think we would like to have on the record your history and your qualifications for this work. I wish you would give us a little biography. A. I am a graduate of Yale, Harvard, Chicago and Columbia. I have been a social worker in Boston, New York and Cleveland. I have been a lecturer in the Chicago School of Civics, in Western Reserve University and for the last four years in the College of the City of New York.
Q. And you have made a study of economic questions? A. That has been my subject — economics and sociology.
Q. What was your position in the City College ? A. Assistant professor of Political Science. Q. And you have been there for how many years?
A. Since 1909.
Q. You obtained a leave of absence from the college to take up this work? A. Yes.
I think it would show the connection of the wage investigation with the general work of the commission if you were reminded of how the Commission came to be. You all recollect the horrible loss of life in the Triangle Fire of March, 1911. That aroused the people of New York State as very few things have done, to have some provision made for the safety of the workers. The Factory Commission was the result of that demand.
For the first year or two of its life the Commission investigated conditions of safety in the factories. It soon found that there were other things besides the fire hazard that menace the lives and welfare of the people. It found that unguarded machinery, that improper ventilation, that dust and vapor have an effect on people's lives. It also found that while a great many people are killed outright that some of them are worn out. This is particularly true of women and children. So the Commission regarded as part of its work the study of the hours of female and minor employees in factories, and secured the reduction of those hours.
But it seemed to many people impossible to secure the lives and health of the people even though model factory conditions were secured. Suppose a man does work in a model factory. If he can not support his family on what he earns, that is the end of the man or his family. It seems rather futile to protect a young girl against the dangers of overtime, if she can not live decently on the wages she is going to receive. And so to the Commission was given the task of investigating the wages as well as the conditions of work in all occupations in the State of New York. For this purpose it was given the right to subpoena witnesses and to examine all books and papers pertaining to this investigation.
Now as to the plan of the Commission. I was instructed in my first interview with the counsel to make the investigation as scien