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SECTION 1. Eight hours’actual work shall constitute a lawfu. day's work in all mines and on all State and municipal works.

(Revised Statutes, 1899.] Sec. 2586. Eight hours shall constitute a day's work for all coal miners and laborers now employed, or who may be hereafter employed, in any coal mine in this state, except in cases where it may be necessary to work more than eight hours per calendar day for the protection of property or human life.

The hours of labor on public works are fixed at eight per day by an act of the legislature of Wisconsin (secs. 1729m and 1729n, 1909), the statute requiring that contracts shall stipulate its observance. The law of New York on this subject was amended (chap. 292, 1909; see sec. 3, chap. 31, Consolidated Laws, 1909) so as to extend its provisions to work done under any commission appointed pursuant to law.

Railroad labor was the subject of legislation in Porto Rico (p. 170, 1908) and in Texas (chap. 101, 1909). In Porto Rico the hours of labor are fixed at 12 per day for conductors, engineers, firemen, train dispatchers, telegraph operators, or any trainman, 8 hours' rest to be allowed thereafter before the resumption of duty. The Texas statute amended a former law by substituting 16 hours' service instead of 14 for trainmen, after which 8 hours' rest is to be allowed, this change bringing the law of the State into conformity with the Federal statute on the subject.

Employment in mines and smelters is limited to eight hours per day by the laws of a number of States, the Legislatures of California (chap. 181, 1909) and of Washington (chap. 220, 1909) enacting new laws on this subject. Previously existing laws are amended or supplemented in Arizona (chap. 18, 1909), Idaho (p. 4, 1909), Nevada (chap. 64, 1909), and Wyoming (chap. 17, 1909). The Washington statute distinguishes between miners, who may remain at their working places not more than 8 hours, exclusive of one-half hour for lunch, and other underground employees, as engineers, rope riders, motormen, cagers, and other persons necessarily employed in transporting men in and out of the mine, who may work not more than 10 hours per day. The Arizona law limits to eight per day the hours of labor of hoisting engineers at mines and of furnace men at smelters. The Idaho statute is an amendment, making a more specific enumeration of the places of employment to which the law applies. A former law of Wyoming was restricted in its application to coal mines, but the present act limits to eight per day the hours of labor of employees in mines generally and in smelters and all establishments for the reduction of ores. Only underground workings are embraced under the term "mines" in the laws above noted, but the Nevada law fixes the same standard for work in open-pit and open-cut mines in that State as for underground workings.

Employees engaged in the laundry department of laundries may work but eight hours per day according to a statute of Arizona (chap. 100, 1909). The same term is fixed for labor of employees in plaster and cement mills in Nevada (chap. 44, 1909). In South Carolina the law providing that 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week shall constitute the hours for working in cotton and woolen factories is amended by a provision that the hours of a single day shall not exceed 11, except for the purpose of making up lost time; but the total of such lost time to be made up may not exceed 60 hours per annum (No. 121, 1909). The Montana Legislature (chap. 75, 1909) restricted the hours of labor of telephone operators to nine per day in towns having a population of 3,000 and over.

In 1910 the State of Kentucky (chap. 123) enacted an eight-hour law applicable to all employment of laborers and mechanics employed by contractors or otherwise on public works within the State. The Federal Congress in the bill making appropriations for the construction of vessels for the United States Navy (chap. 378) authorized contracts for certain vessels and required the eight-hour law to be observed in their construction.

It appears to your committee that, while writers on political economy differ widely in their theories as to the law of wages (and they assault each other with great energy), the arguments deduced from all of them alike support the theory of a shorter or eight-hour workday. The dogma of McCulloch is that,

The well-being and comfort of the laboring classes are * especially depend. ent upon the relations which their increase bears to the increase of capital that is to feed and employ them. If they increase faster than capital, their wages will be reduced, and if they increase slower they will be augmented. In fact there are no means whatever by which the command of the laboring classes over the necessaries and convenience of life can be enlarged other than by accelerating the increase of capital as compared with population, and every scheme for improving the condition of the laborer which is not bottomed on this principle, or which has not the increase of a ratio of capital to production for its object, must be completely nugatory and ineffectual.

A definition of capital apparently satisfactory to all schools of political economists is "the means of production (other than labor).” The doctrine quoted is thus stated by John Stuart Mill:

If wages are higher at one time or place than at another, if the substance and comfort of the class of hired laborers are more ample, it is for no other reason than because capital bears a greater proportion to population. The condition of the laboring class can be bettered in no other way than by altering the proportion to their advantage; and every scheme for their benefit which does not proceed on this as its foundation is for all permanent purposes a delusion.

Ricardo states it thus: When, however, by the encouragement which high wages give to the increase of population, the number of laborers is increased, wages again fall to their natural price, and indeed from a reaction sometimes fall below it. * It is only after the privations have reduced their number, or the demand for labor has increased, that the market price of labor will rise to its natural price, and that the laborer will have the moderate comforts which the natural rate of wages will enforce. Mill devoted a chapter to emphasizing this idea, and discussed it with such “persistency, plausibility, and apparent conclusiveness” that he earned for it the designation “the iron law of wages.”

While this doctrine is assaulted as “a Malthusian theory that logically means that the only way of improving the condition of the laborer is to reduce population" and as an economic heresy,” it permits of the same deduction in favor of an eight-hour day as do the teachings of modern economists who assault it. In other words, the doctrines of all recognized economists lead to the shorter day.

If, according to modern writers, capital represents the means of production, or if “there are two sets of forces which can be employed,


in production, human force and natural force, and tne latter represents the capital of the employer,” it follows, under the doctrines of all the writers, that whatever tends to increase the capital employed in production increases the demand for laborers. And even if it were true that the shortening of the workday resulted in no increased consumption and no increased output per hour, it would require greater natural forces, more means of production (i. e., capital), to produce the supply for a given demand. Hence the shorter day would necessitate the use of a greater amount of the means of production (capital) and would furnish additional employment to labor–i. e., employment to more laborers.

And if it be true, as contended by modern writers, that the shorter day results in increased wants, better mode of living, and hence greater consumption among the laborers, hence an increased market, and hence greater production, there is called into productive activity the same amount of additional capital, employing the same number of additional laborers, by whatsoever theory measured.

It is contended by the advocates of the shorter day that the additional leisure given to labor in every instance of the shortening of the workday, as it has been shortened step by step from 16 hours to 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, and in many instances 8, has resulted in a decrease of intemperance among laborers, the acquirement of better taste and new and better desires, resulting in better homes, greater domestic felicity, and a higher degree of intelligence, with an increase of laudable pride as to the clothing of themselves and those dependent upon them in a word, has increased their interests in home and better social relations, raising their moral status, and has made them much better consumers of the products of labor, and hence resulted in increased production.

The proposition that without variation the elimination of intemperance, poverty, pauperism, ignorance, crime, and their accompanying evils move parallel with and proportionate to the increase of the social opportunities of the laboring class stands without impeachment of its historical accuracy. No recognized authority to-day combats the proposition that the condition of the laborer has improved with every reduction in the hours of daily service that has up to this time been made. Nobody is disputing that he has become a better consumer with each reduction. No reasonable person would, for a moment, entertain the proposition that the workday should again be lengthened to 14 or 12 hours.

When the hours of work were so long that workers had no social opportunities, they resorted to stimulants for solace and the saloon for society, where they encountered an “iron law” for spending, which could not be disregarded without loss of caste in the only society which they had opportunity to enter.

A significant fact in connection with the shortening of the workday at various times during the present century is the entire silence of the older school of economists with regard to the effect of the shorter workday on society, business, industrial conditions, or the laborers themselves.

It is nowhere claimed, in so far as your committee is aware, that any reduction in the hours of labor has had a detrimental effect on business, on manufactures, on labor as a unit, or individual laborers. The advocates of the short-hour theory, on the other hand, trace the moral, social, and financial improvement of the laborer to this cause, and allege that business was at no time injured, but improved, if affected, and that production was stimulated and consumption increased.

Economists who advocate the eight-hour day contend, with great plausibility, that the shorter day results in an increase of wages without an increase of price, as greater consumption enlarges production, and the larger the scale of production the cheaper the given article is produced; that the laborer, when he has the leisure resulting from the shorter hours, has new aspirations, ambitions, and greater personal self-respect, and, as before stated, wants a better house, better furniture, better clothes, better food, and becomes a great deal better consumer; that the scale of wages is controlled by the wants of the laborer in any given state of society rather than by the “iron law of wages;' that modern men cease to work under normal conditions if the proceeds of their labor do not satisfy their normal wants; that, therefore, the social status of the laborer controls the law of wages to as great an extent as the law of wages controls the status of the laborer.

While there is still a variance of opinion on the question whether modern machinery and methods so lighten the physical drudgery of most occupations as to have an equivalent effect to the shortening of hours in the conservation of energy, or whether such machinery and methods operate to so tax the nervous powers as to be equivalent in exhaustive effects to the lengthening of hours, your committee are of the opinion, after what has been said on both sides, that the higher tension of modern employment is at least a full offset to the saving accomplished in muscular force.

There was perhaps no misapprehension on the part of Congress as to what was intended by the act of August 31, 1892. The committee in its report, in explanation of the bill, used the following language:

And again, second, it makes it unlawful to allow or permit a laborer or mechanic to work more than eight hours in any one calendar day, thus prohibiting evasion in the manner the act of 1868 was evaded.

The measure herewith submitted, it is thought, will secure a practical enforcement of the purpose intended to be secured by the act of 1869. It limits the service and employment of all laborers and mechanics employed by the Government of the United States, by the District of Columbia, or by any contractor or subcontractor of the United States or of the District of Columbia upon any of the public works of the United States or the District of Columbia to eight hours in any one calendar day; makes it unlawful for any officer of the United States or of the District of Columbia, or any contractor or subcontractor whose duty it shall be to employ, direct, or control the services of such laborers or mechanics to require or permit such laborer or mechanic to work more than eight hours in any one calendar day, except in cases of extraordinary emergency; makes the willful violation of its provisions a misdemeanor, and imposes suitable penalties for such violation.

There was, however, a very great misapprehension on the part of the advocates of an eight-hour day as to the field over which the law would operate. They construed the words "on any of the public works of the United States” in a general and not in a technical sense, and they thought all work done for the Government public work, and that the act would place nearly all, if not all, work contracted for by the Government under an eight-hour rule. It is because of the difference in the real and anticipated effects of the law of 1892 that further legislation has been sought at each session of Congress.


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