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same time some authoritative regulation of such matters in detail is essential to insure adequate protection of the lives and health of wage earners. The question is essentially that of devising detailed regulations which shall be both adapted to securing their protective purpose and also adapted to the actual conditions of industry. Experience in New York in 1914 was an emphatic demonstration of what is being more and more clearly realized everywhere that discretionary regulatory power to apply in detail according to the needs and circumstances of varying conditions in industry, the fundamental requirements of statutory law, is a practical necessity.
This idea, that there must be delegated regulatory power to deal with the diverse, complex and technical conditions which present day standards of health and safety in industry require shall be regulated, is not indeed new. Its statement here is, in fact, but a reiteration of what was recommended by both the Wainwright and Factory Investigating Commissions, and what was actually established by the creation of the Industrial Board. What is here emphasized is simply that the experience of the year 1914, when it fell to the Department to enforce many new requirements of the Labor Law going into far greater detail than ever before, forcibly confirms the soundness, not to say the absolute necessity, of that method of industrial regulation.
And let it be added in all earnestness that this may be said as well from the point of view of employers as well as wage earners. Wise employers must recognize that it is to ignore the
is to ignore the experience of every country in the world to suppose that it is any longer a question of whether there shall be regulation of the conditions of work or not. That is not the choice today, but the question now is what the method of regulation shall be. Rightly organized and carried out, the method of administrative regulation here discussed, offers employers a more intelligent and non-partisan regulation than any other. For the whole principle of the method is the basing of regulations on expert investigation of the facts of industry, with not only hearing of, but with the co-operation of, employers in the actual making of the regulations. Rightly conceived and executed, the method is that of regulation by co-operation of government, employer and wage earner both in the devising and in the administering of regulations.
In thus arguing for a general principle in general terms, there is no notion of claiming that the year was devoid of difficulties along this road. Such a claim would be wide of the facts. Every piece of new machinery requires adjustment after starting, and every new process can be perfected only in a period of trying-out. But the initial friction or irritation which may have accompanied the first year's operation of an essentially new method should not be allowed to warp judgment as to its fundamental soundness in principle. The counsel of wisdom is to exercise patience and develop and adapt in the light of experience, rather than be discouraged by initial difficulties.
A TIME FOR PATIENCE IN LABOR LEGISLATION The Commissioner of Labor realizes that it is a report on the administration of his Department which the law requires of him particularly. But the law also makes it part of his general duty to report on other phases of the condition of labor in the State. He ventures, therefore, to extend the urgency of patience, voiced in the preceding paragraph, to another and larger matter, which conditions at the close of the year 1914 make peculiarly a practical question.
He would be blind who should ignore the fact that the many new and far-reaching provisions of Labor Laws of 1913 and 1914 to protect the health and safety of wage earners under which the industries of the State found themselves in 1914, have seemed unduly burdensome to many employers in New York State. The perfectly natural result under such circumstances is a tendency to demand the repeal of such laws. Unfortunately, the extraordinary number of new requirements of law in 1914 came upon industry when it was suffering from a business depression, aggravated and prolonged in the latter part of the year by the war in Europe. Undoubtedly this situation has greatly increased the feeling of burdensomeness against the new laws. But it is respectfully urged that it is important to examine cause and effect carefully, and not to lay upon New York laws blame for business conditions which exist throughout the country. Is there not grave danger that New York labor laws may unwisely be changed on a wholly mistaken assumption that they are to blame for the existing business situation ? Still more must it be kept in mind that these laws in question have to do with the health and safety of great numbers of wage earning citizens. Modification of laws to promote business activity no one can take exception to when the price thereof be not the sacrifice of some interest of equal or greater moment for the general welfare. But safety of life and limb for any class of citizens cannot, with advantage to the State, be sacrificed for encouragement of business.
WORK OF COMMISSIONER OF LABOR ON WORKMEN'S
As ex officio member of the State Workmen's Compensation Commission, the activities of the Commissioner have been directed along three general lines: the handling of a large volume of correspondence relative to the operation of the Compensation Law; lending the co-operation of the Department of Labor wherever possible; and bringing to the attention of the workers of the State their rights and duties under the law. More than a thousand inquiries as to the interpretation and enforcement of the law have been answered by mail, and a large number of inquiries have been referred to the Compensation Commission. Letters of instruction and information, explaining the provisions of the law and advising as to methods of procedure under it, have been mailed to organized workers throughout the State. Inspectors of the Labor Department have reported violations as to the posting of notices, and also as to discrimination by employers against married men and those physically disabled. The information on the latter point, together with other similar information, led to an investigation by the Commission as to the extent of such discrimination by employers generally.
JAMES M. LYNCH,