« ПретходнаНастави »
over male employees in the group of textiles may be noted, however, and especially of females of 15 years of age or under, as compared with males of the same age group.
Case Sane, Economiche e Popolari. Comune di Venezia. 23 pp., 16
This report issued by a commission of the city of Venice on sanitary housing at moderate rentals consists of a general report of 23 pages and 16 appendixes of varying sizes, presenting text, statistical tables, plates, etc. The city is making a moderate growth, the population having increased from 158,305 in 1895 to 167,096 in 1905. Attention was called in 1886 to the necessity of providing the working classes with moderately priced homes, suitably supplied with light and air and protected against the dangers of excessive dampness so easily prevalent in a city built as Venice is. Numerous proposals were submitted, from a consideration of which it was concluded that three general methods were open to the commune for assisting in the movement for sanitary housing: (1) By encouraging private enterprise, granting premiums to offset financial losses occasioned by investments producing smaller returns than usual; (2) by undertaking directly the work of construction and management of the houses; (3) by favoring the formation of special companies for the prosecution -of the work under private initiative.
The granting of premiums was agreed upon in 1891, and was to continue for a definite period, and under requirements as to size and type of the structures and a guarantee as to the maintenance of the buildings for the uses and according to the types agreed upon. A premium was offered of 0.20 lira (4 cents) per cubic meter (1.3 cubic yards) of structures in open areas, and of 0.15 lira (3 cents) per cubic meter (1.3 cubic yards) of structures built on ground already occupied, such premiums to be paid annually for 10 years, the buildings to be ready for occupancy by December 31, 1894. In 1905 the premium for structures on areas previously unoccupied was raised to 0.25 lira (5 cents) per cubic meter (1.3 cubic yards), and the payment of all premiums was to be continued until the close of the year 1906. A premium of 0.15 lira (3 cents) per cubic meter (1.3 cubic wards) was also granted to encourage the maintenance or restoration of hygienic conditions in houses not included under the conditions of the communal regulations of 1891. Under these various grants payments were made of 883.31 lire ($170.48) in 1893, 2,334.25 lire ($450.51) in 1894, 3,439.60 lire ($663.84) in 1895, the payments increasing to 17,816.96 lire ($3,438.67) in 1905, the total for 13 years being 99,409.84 lire ($19,186.10). In the 5-year period, 1901 to 1905, buildings were erected under the premium system having a total content of 180,284.31 cubic meters (235,811.9 cubic yards).
The conclusion was reached in the year 1893 that private initiative would not supply in satisfactory numbers the class of dwellings desired, and 80 per cent of the net returns from the Savings Bank of Venice (Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia) were set apart for a period of 35 years, from 1893 to 1927, for the construction by the commune of sanitary and economical dwellings. This has afforded annual sums of varying amounts, the lowest in 12 years being 25,902.12 lire ($4,999.11) in 1896, and the highest, 54,797.57 lire ($10,575.93) in 1904. The aggregate for the period 1893 to 1904 was 508,734.79 lire ($98,185.81). In order to provide a fund for the immediate commencement of the work the sum of 500,000 lire ($96,500) was appropriated at the same time. This sum became available in the years
. 1897 to 1899. In 1903 a like sum was added by the commune, which was paid over in 1904 and 1905. The total receipts available for the erection of dwellings, from 1897 to 1905, including earlier payments from the Savings Bank, were 1,419,574.55 lire ($273,977.89). The work of construction and administration is in the hands of a commission of 6 persons, 3 nominated by the communal council, and 3 by the Savings Bank. A report made in March, 1906, shows that at that date 37 houses had been completed or were in course of construction, furnishing from 6 to 15 apartments each, the total number of apartments being 396. Estimates for 36 dwellings with 390 apartments place the number of tenants to be accommodated at 2,150. Rentals range from 10 lire ($1.93) to 60 lire ($11.58) per month. There are but 12 apartments, however, which command a rate in excess of 30 lire ($5.79) per month, while 47 apartments rent at 14 lire ($2.70) and a like number at 21 lire ($4.05). The next highest numbers are 34 at 23 lire ($4.44) and 29 at 13 lire ($2.51). The total annual income from rentals, at the scale fixed, would be 91,842 lire ($17,725.51).
In admitting tenants, a preference is given to employees, pensioners, and manual laborers, and to persons whose family income does not exceed 1,400 lire ($270.20) per annum, or 280 lire ($54.04) per capita where the family consists of more than 5 persons. Natives and residents of Venice are preferred, and those who have children rather than those who have not.
A list of the occupations of the tenants of 94 apartments showed 13 workmen at the royal arsenal, 10 on the State railway, and 22 in various other industries; 8 were classed as private employees and 8 were employees in public service; 15 were salaried persons in the same service, 6 were public pensioners, 6 were underofficials in the royal marine, and 6 were watchmen.
OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL ON QUESTIONS AFFECT
[It is one of the duties of the Attorney-General of the United States to furnish opinions advising the President and the heads of the Executive Departments in relation to their official duties when such advice is requested. Opinions on questions affecting labor will be noted from time to time under the above head.]
EIGHT-HOUR LAW-EXTRAORDINARY EMERGENCIES-JETTY WORKAdvance sheets 26 Op., page 278.-The Secretary of War submitted an inquiry as to the construction of the eight-hour law and its application to the jetty work at the mouth of the Columbia River, which is being conducted directly by the Government. The facts on which the opinion is based are reproduced herewith:
The jetty, when completed, will consist of a pile trestle 64 miles in length, with an enrockment of rubblestone superimposed. About 5 miles of the jetty have been constructed, and the work is now centered upon the outer 2 miles of this portion, which " is exposed to the full force of the breakers which have made the bar of the Columbia River a terror to all navigators. The seas are never smooth and often rough, even during the summer season, rendering the operation of constructing the pile trestle and conveying rock over it a matter of considerable risk to life and property.” The work seems to be steadily progressing, but it is liable to frequent interruptions. Sometimes there is no interruption for two or three days, and again all work, except small jobs on shore, must be suspended for periods varying from a few hours to several days. The delays are occasioned partly by fogs, which prevent the barges bearing the stone from reaching their destination as soon as required, and partly because of vibrations imparted to the trestle by the action of the waves, which stop, for varying periods, the work of the pile driver and the carriage of the stone. On account of these natural causes, hindering the speedy completion of the jetty, it seems that laborers and mechanics are worked over eight hours a day when conditions are favorable. The question of preventing this overtime work has been considered by the officer in charge of the construction, but he believes that the employment of an extra gang of men is not practicable. The impracticability of employing an extra shift, however, does not arise from any difficulty inherent in the project
. It is based almost entirely on economical considerations of speedy and cheap methods. He says:
“ The question of providing an extra gang of men has had careful consideration, but it is believed to be wholly impracticable. If an extra gang were employed, the two gangs would have probably not
over five hours per day, on an average, a month during the working season, and many days at a time at least one gang would be in idleness
Even if the employment of two gangs were feasible from other reaons, it would still be very objectionable from the delays that would result in changing from one gang to another, such changes being likely to come at a time when the interruption would mean the loss of a valuable opportunity. It is estimated that the labor item alone would be increased from 60 to 80 per cent if it should become necessary to employ two gangs of laborers."
Following this statement of facts the Attorney-General said:
Upon consideration of all the facts, it fairly appears, in my opinion, that the difficulties of construction are such as were known and fully appreciated at the time of the preliminary survey. They are not so grave as to compel the conviction that Congress never could have intended the statute to apply to such work. In the cases of the Eastern Dredging Company v. The United States and Bay State Dredging Company v. The United States (206 U. S., 246 [Bulletin No. 71, p. 361]), the Supreme Court, in holding that dredging an artificial channel is not one of the public works” intended by Congress, assigned as one of its reasons " the very great difficulty, if not impossibility, of dredging in the ocean, if such a law is to govern it ***." Here, however, it appears to me that the difficulty results at most merely in an inconvenience, and, as was pointed out in the dissenting opinion in those cases, that “is a consideration fit to be addressed to Congress " rather than to the courts or administrative officers. The work belongs to the United States and is a complete whole, having structural unity and a permanent existence, and is within the rule laid down in those cases.
Nor does it seem to me that the facts show a case of extraordinary emergency within the exception to the law contained in its first section, in case of extraordinary emergency.” That exception was not intended to have a wide but a narrow operation, and was mainly designed to excuse overtime work which must be rendered to avert some sudden, unusual exigency quickly and unexpectedly arising and calling for prompt action. In Ellis v. The United States (206 Ü. S., 246, 257), it was said:
“It needs no argument to show that the disappointment of a contractor with regard to obtaining some of his materials, a matter which he knew involved some difficulty of which he took the risk, does not create such an emergency as is contemplated in the exception to the law." In the lower court the judge had instructed the jury: an extraordinary emergency
* * * is the sudden, unexpected happening of something not of the usual, customary, or regular kind, demanding prompt action to avert imminent danger to life, limb, health, or property. The possibility of danger is not enough.”
This ruling, indirectly approved by the Supreme Court, was adopted in the case of The United States v. The Sheridan Kirk Contract Company (149 Fed. Rep., 809, 813); by Attorney-General Moody, now Mr. Justice Moody, in a circular setter dated October 31, 1906, and by your Department in two circulars.
66 * * *
In Circular No. 33, under date of July 30, 1906, it was said:
“Attention is called to the fact that the emergency provision in the law is considered to cover any extraordinary emergencies which can not be foreseen, such as might be necessary for saving life or property of the United States, and not cases which depend for their emergency solely upon economical methods of work or importance of rapid construction.”
Again, in Circular No. 62, under date of December 26, 1906, it was said:
“An extraordinary emergency' under the act is one not to be foreseen in time to avoid the necessity of exceeding the limit of the fixed daily hours of labor by the employment of more men or more shifts of men. Mere economical considerations do not affect the question at all. It is to be assumed that in making the requirement : Congress knew that under many conditions the law would impose great expense upon the Government."
Although there can be no doubt that in the prosecution of this work in this dangerous locality extraordinary emergencies within the exception to the law have arisen and will arise, still, upon the facts stated, I am of opinion that no case of continuing extraordinary emergency exists, and, therefore, upon the questions suggested by your communication you are advised that the eight-hour law applies to this work, and that I fully concur with the view of your Department, as expressed in the circulars quoted above, that those who fairly come within the ordinary meaning of the words "laborers and mechanics” should be restricted to no more than eight hours of effective labor upon each calendar day, irrespective of enforced idleness on other days, except when a sudden emergency must be met by prompt action.
IMMIGRATION-CONTRACT LABOR-SKILLED LABORERS-INSUFFICIENT SUPPLY-Advance Sheets, 26 Op., page 284.-An inquiry was submitted to the Attorney-General by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor on the subject of the admission of two lithographic artists coming from Germany. These men were detained as violators of the contract labor law, having come to the United States under contract of employment, and appealed. An agent of the American Lithographic Company, of New York, made the contract abroad and prepaid the passage of the persons in question. Other facts, and the statutes involved, are set forth in the opinion of the Attorney-General, which is in the main as follows:
Unless saved by an excepting clause or a proviso, this contract is squarely within the prohibition of the statutes referred to. While this is not denied by the appellants, it is insisted in their behalf that, under the first proviso of section 5 of the act of February 26, 1885 (23 Stat. 332), and the second and third provisos of section 2 of the act of March 3, 1903 (32 Stat. 1213), they should be admitted.
The material part of section 5 of the act of 1885 reads as follows:
"Provided, That skilled labor for that purpose can not be otherwise obtained; nor shall the provisions of this act apply to profes