Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

It appears that the same act for the fiscal year 1911 provided for an assistant in the reading room for the blind (36 Stat. 479), but that this assistant was omitted from the act for the year 1912 (36 Stat. 1181); that the District of Columbia appropriation act for the year 1912 contained a provision for such an assistant in the free Public Library at Washington (36 Stat. 972), but that this appropriation was omitted from the act of June 26, 1912 (37 Stat. 139), for the fiscal year 1913.

From the librarian's letter it appears that the person formerly employed in the reading room for the blind in the Congressional Library was employed in the same work in the Free Library at Washington during the fiscal year ending July 1, 1912, on which last day her connection with the service.ceased, because her position had been abolished. Apparently, therefore, from July 1, 1912, until August 23, 1912, there was no appropriation for work of this character in either the Library of Congress or the free Public Library at Washington.

The question is then, whether the present appropriation act of August 23, 1912, which re-creates a particular office in the Library of Congress, also appoints a certain individual thereto.

It is a fundamental principle of our Government that appointments to executive positions are to be made by the executive power; but without passing upon the question of the power of Congress to make an appointment of this character by legislation, I am clearly of the opinion that the language of the present act “ formerly in free Public Library” is merely descriptive of the character of the duties of the position created, and is not a legislative declaration that an individual, who nearly two months ago had been employed by the District of Columbia in similar work, was to be appointed by the Librarian of Congress in the new position. Respectfully, JESSE C. ADKINS,

Acting Attorney General. THE PRESIDENT.

EIGHT-HOUR LAW-WORK CONTEMPLATED BY THE CON

TRACT_PROJECTILES SMOKELESS POWDER.

The eight-hour workday restriction of the act of June 19, 1912,

known as the eight-hour law, applies only to work contemplated by the contract. The words “work contemplated by the contract” include the work directly and proximately in view in the contract as specifically appropriated to and destined for the Government

use. The word “supplies " and the phrase " such materials or articles as

may usually be bought in open market ” are practically synonymous and cover things which are had in store or stock. Whether a particular article or material falls within this exception to the

eight-hour provision is generally a matter of administration. Contracts for the purchase of projectiles are not excepted from the

operation of the eight-hour restriction, but only the work done in assembling the parts, treating the forging or casting, and machining the projectiles would be “work contemplated by the contract,” unless the casting and other parts were manufactured

solely and exclusively for the purpose of making the projectiles. Smokeless powder is manufactured ordinarily by the Government,

and hence contracts for the purchase thereof are subject the eight-hour restriction.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,

October 3, 1912. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 14th ultimo, in which you request my opinion as to the proper construction of the act of Congress entitled “An act limiting the hours of daily service of laborers and mechanics employed upon work done for the United States, or for any Territory, or for the District of Columbia, and for other purposes," approved June 19, 1912 (37 Stat. 137), as affecting certain questions arising in the administration of your Department.

The portions of said act pertinent to your inquiries are as follows:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That every contract hereafter made to which the United States, any Territory, or the District of Columbia is a party, and every such contract made for or on behalf of the United States, or any Territory, or said District, which may require or involve the employment of laborers

or mechanics shall contain a provision that no laborer or mechanic doing any part of the work contemplated by the contract, in the employ of the contractor or any subcontractor contracting for any part of said work contemplated, shall be required or permitted to work more than eight hours in any one calendar day upon such work; and every such contract shall stipulate a penalty for each violation of such provision in such contract of five dollars for each laborer or mechanic for every calendar day in which he shall be required or permitted to labor more than eight hours upon said work;

“ SEC. 2. That nothing in this act shall apply to contracts for transportation by land or water, or for the transmission of intelligence, or for the purchase of supplies by the Government, whether manufactured to conform to particular specifications or not, or for such materials or articles as may usually be bought in open market, except armor and armor plate, whether made to conform to particular specifications or not, or to the construction or repair of levees or revetments necessary for protection against floods or overflows on the navigable waters of the United States: Provided, That all classes of work which have been, are now, or may hereafter be performed by the Government shall, when done by contract, by individuals, firms, or corporations for or on behalf of the United States or any of the Territories or the District of Columbia, be performed in accordance with the terms and provisions of section one of this act

1. Your first question is as to whether the provisions of section 1 of said act contemplate that laborers and mechanics affected thereby shall not be required or permitted to work more than 8 hours a day, or only that they shall not be required or permitted to labor more than 8 hours a day on work contemplated by the contract. For example, can a mechanic in the employ of a contractor or subcontractor, after working 8 hours in one calendar day on work contemplated by the contract, be required or permitted, without violation of the 8-hour restrictive prohibition, to labor for a further period in that day on work that his employer may be doing for private individuals, or for the Government under an

[ocr errors]

other contract? And similarly, if the work allotted to such mechanic requires him in any one day to work upon material identified as destined for the Government under a contract and also upon material destined for private purchasers, then, to avoid a violation of the restrictive provision, is his entire day's work, or only the sum of the several periods during which he works on material for the Government, to be limited to 8 hours?

The answer to your question depends upon the proper construction to be given to the following language in section 1 of the act, namely,“ in the employ of the contractor or any subcontractor contracting for any part of said work contemplatedand “ upon such work."

In the bill which passed the House of Representatives of the Fifty-seventh Congress (H. R. 3076) the first phrase quoted above was contained, but the latter-namely,“ upon such work ”—was not. The Senate Committee on Education and Labor of the Fifty-seventh Congress, in adding the latter words to the House bill, submitted the following report (S. Rept. No. 2321, 57th Cong., 2d sess., p. 9):

“ The advocates of the pending bill believe that this bill, which by its title limits to 8 hours a laborer's work done for the United States, reaches other laborers upon commercial work if the contractor is on the same day engaged upon Government work and work upon private contracts. The committee are unanimously of the opinion that the House bill means no more than its words import. It says the contract shall contain a provision that

6. No laborer doing any part of the work contemplated by the contract

shall be required or permitted to work more than 8 hours in any one calendar day.'

66 The contract is for Government work. Upon no part of that work shall a laborer be permitted to work more than 8 hours. Therefore the committee have added the words implied by the House bill' upon such work.'

They are unanimous in the opinion that the provision that no mechanic should be required or permitted to work more than 8 hours in any one day means either one of two things: First, by a strained construction that a citizen should not be permitted to work more than 8 hours out of

24 anywhere, even at his house or in his garden, if he has already worked 8 hours upon a Government contract. If it means this, such a denial of personal liberty would be unconstitutional, such a law would be impossible and absurd. Secondly, the other meaning is that no mechanic shall be required or permitted to work under a Government contract more than 8 hours in one day upon such work.

“ That is, that the House bill would write into every Government contract a provision that no mechanic doing any part of the work contemplated by the contract shall be required or permitted to work more than 8 hours in any one day upon such work; namely, the work contemplated by the contract. The committee unanimously believe that the latter construction is the necessary meaning of the House bill, and a majority of the committee therefore have inserted the words “ upon such work. Thus amended, a majority of the committee favor reporting this bill to the Senate.

“ It may be profitable to quote the words of a member of this committee when discussing this amendment to this part of the bill.

6. The amendment “ upon such work,” after the word “ day,” on page 2, in line 2, was inserted not for the purpose of changing the texture of the bill as grammatically and legally construed, and as your committee is of opinion the courts would hold. It was done simply to make obvious what in our conception is the true meaning of the bill as it passed the other House. If it were designed by the bill to prohibit the laborer or mechanic from himself engaging in any other kind of work during the 16 hours of the day in which he is not occupied on contract or subcontract work for the Government, it would infringe his personal liberty to work in the construction of his own house, the cultivation of his own garden, or doing or pursuing for

any of those 16 hours any self-imposed task which he might choose to exercise for the benefit of himself, his wife, or his children. As if we were to prohibit him from thus employing his own time for his own benefit, it would follow that we should impose upon him a penalty for so doing. And thus the act assumed to be for his benefit might

« AnteriorContinuar »