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those not affected by the law, about which inquiries had already been made.
Early correspondence concerning this law may be classified into two groups: inquiries concerning interpretations of its provisions -- that is, whether or not a specific industry or wage earner was included within its scope; and requests for exemption of designated businesses or groups of wage earners. Inquiries for information were answered by the Department of Labor, while requests for exemption were referred to the Industrial Board since the Commissioner of Labor had no power to exempt any one from the provisions of the law.
These requests varied from an application for exemption of a small group of wage carners for a single week because of an unforeseen emergency in a particular plant to an application for the permanent exemption of an entire industry because of the difficulties involved in the administration of the necessary changes in the working schedule. The Industrial Board investigated and decided all of the former cases but it had no power to grant the exemptions asked in the latter. Recognizing the more or less general misunderstanding in regard to the power of the Board to grant exemptions the Board prepared the following official statement for the information of those seeking exemption from the provisions of the law:
Owing to the fact that the Industrial Board has received, and is continually in receipt of, numerous applications for exemption from the “One day of rest in seven law (article 2, section 8-a, of the Labor Law) in regard to which certain discretionary power is vested in the Board by paragraph 5 of said section, the Board believes that a better understanding will be had by the industries of the State if a clear statement of its attitude on the subject is made at this time.
Paragraph 5 reads as follows:
“ The Industrial Board at any time when the preservation of property, life or health requires, may except specific cases for specified periods from the provisions of this act by written orders which shall be recorded as public records.”
The Industrial Board considers it to be the clear intent of the law that exemptions from section 8-a may be granted by it only in cases of great emergency, such as fire, flood, or other conditions which could not be anticipated in the statute itself. The Industrial Board will not consider applications for exemption under this section in cases where it is possible to comply with the law by the engaging of additional employees. Inasmuch as the law does not prohibit work on Sunday, it is possible, in practically all cases, where continuous operation is desired, to comply with the “One day of rest in seven ” law by employing more help and rotating the day of rest for all employees.
Furthermore, it is the clear intent of the law that exemptions, if any, be granted only in case of specific processes or businesses, not in entire industries, and then only for specified periods, limited in time until the emergency in question has passed.
Since the Industrial Board could not grant permanent exemptions to entire industries, the Legislature of 1914 passed two amendments to the one day of rest in seven law. The first exempted Employees in dairies, creameries, milk condensaries, milk powder factories, milk sugar factories, milk shipping stations, butter and cheese factories, ice cream manufacturing plants and milk bottling plants, where not more than seven persons are employed.” The second exempted “ Employees, if the commissioner of labor in his discretion approves, engaged in the work of any industrial or manufacturing process necessarily continuous, in which no employee is permitted to work more than eight hours in any calendar day."
Soon after these amendments were passed, the Commissiuner stated that he would entertain application for exemption under this second amendment upon the following conditions:
"1. The industry or industrial process must be continuous; that is, must continue twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; and no employee included in the request for exemption must work more than eight hours a day.
“ 2. Application must be made on forms furnished by the De partment of Labor.
“3. A supervising inspector detailed from the Albany office will verify the claims set forth in the formal application, before action is taken.
" 4. Where exemption is granted a certificate to that effect will be issued and must be kept posted in the plant affected. A list of exemptions will be furnished the supervising inspector of the district in which the exempted industry is located.
“ 5. The exemption may be revoked at any time after a hearing to the parties interested.”
In addition, the Legislature of 1914 amended the factory law to add generating plants owned or operated by a public service corporation to the list of establishments exempt from the provisions of the one day of rest in seven law. It also amended the public health law to give employees in drug stores and pharmacies one afternoon and evening off each week and one full day off in each two consecutive weeks. This amendment excludes the operation of the one day of rest in seven law from these employees.
Of the requests for exemption from the provisions of the law a considerable number came from employers who needed no permit since they were specifically exempted by the law itself. These requests were answered by pointing out to the applicant wherein the request was unnecessary. Other requests were passed upon either by the Industrial Board or by the Commissioner of Labor according to their separate jurisdictions.
The Industrial Board granted the following requests for exemption for the reasons shown here, to be effective during the period designated :
All male em
ployees over 18 years
Total number of such employees in canneries of the state, 5,460.
Coal tar dyes...... Unusual demand for products due to 3 months.....
war in Europe. Necessary to run
men. Granted on condition that (Later,
months.) Electrical appliances. Fire in plant created temporary emer- 8 weeks.
gency. Garbage reduction Accumulation of garbage due to high 5 weeks. plant.
water, thereby menacing public
health. Butter and cheese Difficulty of securing and retaining 6 months..... factory.
competent help due to isolation of
the plant. Flour mill.
To grind grain in elevator to make One day......
room for more grain coming in boats which are in a great hurry to unload on account of the lateness of the season."
The Industrial Board has refused the permanent exemption of wage earners in such industries as blast furnaces and breweries on the ground that the law does not contemplate the continuous exemption of any industry not specifically exempted by the law. The Board has also refused the temporary exemption of certain individual establishments where the inability of the employers to secure adequate additional help was not demonstrated to the Board.
Under the authority given by the Industrial Board the Commissioner of Labor has granted emergency exemptions, as follows:
Reason for exemption
Period of exemption 2 weeks. 1 week.
Exemptions granted by the Commissioner of Labor by virtue of his power to exempt from the provisions of the law employees in necessarily continuous industries in which no employee is permitted to work more than eight hours in any calendar day are given in the table below. Because in a considerable number of these establishments the men exempted are all or nearly all firemen or engineers, a separate classification of the known workers in these two occupations is added.
In each case where exemptions have been granted in continuous industries, a vote of the men affected has been taken to determine their wishes in the matter of a seven day week. It should be noted that the law as originally passed had not decreased the weekly hours of these men but had caused a change of schedule by which they worked fifty-six hours in six days instead of fifty-six hours in seven days. This meant four days per week of eight hours each and two days of twelve hours each. Hence the vote meant, “Shall we continue to work four days per week of eight hours each and two days of twelve hours each, or shall we ask to be permitted to work seven days of eight hours each ?”
In order to show the ratio of votes in favor of the seven day week to the men affected in each establishment the two groups are combined in one table.
6 25 75 12 22 12 20 9 6
0 6 1 0 13 0 0 0 0 23 0
3 15 22
6 33 78 12 42 12 21 9
6 480 15
One request for an exemption of two plants operating as continuous industries was denied on the ground that inadequate street car service prevented the men from going to and from work at the time of changing shifts. The Commissioner of Labor, in refusing this exemption, indicated that if better street car service was provided he would entertain a second request for exemption. In these two establishments the vote of the men was as follows: Plant No. 1, for seven day week, 88; against, 163. Plant No. 2, for, 16; against, 39.
The Commissioner of Labor has refused exemptions to workmen in the following industries on the ground that their work is not necessarily continuous” as defined in the law: Brick yards, milk station, repair shops of street railway company, tannery, cigar stand, newspaper publishing company, electric light plant, repair shops of steam railroad, milk condensery, milk pasteurizing plant, engine room of brewery, engine room of mercantile establishment, metal packing, core ovens, salt works, making of steam to maintain pressure for fire protection, kodak factory, ice plant which merely preserves ice on Sunday, dry docks, breakfast
• Twenty men were denied exemption on the ground that their work was not necessarily con. tinuous.