페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

based on a total inspection of 900 camps in that state "involving the sanitation and improvement of the living conditions of 62,000 men as against 240 camps involving 14,407 men in 1913.

The Bureau of Industries and Immigration of New York State follows this record closely with a detailed inspection in 1914, of 694 camps involving the living conditions of 57,324 men, of whom 30,697 or 53 per cent were aliens, as against the investigation in 1913 of 183 camps capable of accommodating 20,237 men, of whom 11,211 were aliens.

The conclusions deducted, therefore, by California and New York should serve as the basis for a reform of conditions that are equally deplorable wherever this mode of housing prevails.

COMPARATIVE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES AND ALIENS ON THE 689 LABOR

CAMPS INVESTIGATED

[blocks in formation]

The industries maintaining permanent housing facilities for their employees are, canneries, mines and quarries, brickyards, aluminum works, cold storage plants, disposal works, paper and pulp mill.

Temporary camps are maintained by contractors on the Barge canal, railroads, aqueducts and all public works.

Permanent Camps Canneries.—As a basis for sanitary requirements in all labor camps, the Industrial Code as compiled for canneries has been used for maximum recommendations.

These requirements have placed the sanitation of living quarters controlled by the canning industry wholly within the jurisdiction

a

of the Industrial Board, but recommendations to employers in all other industries have been exceedingly well received.

Objections to Bureau recommendations from employers, contractors and railroads have been negligible in number and taken as a whole as unworthy of note. While the general situation in labor camps is lamentable, the disposition of employers appears to indicate a desire to improve conditions.

In a special report to the Industrial Board on each individual canning factory inspected, details of existing conditions are minutely described.

Brickyards.— Brickyards maintain permanent camps where conditions are most wretched. The negro quarters are particularly insanitary. Superintendents appear to be indifferent. Shanties are so dilapidated that rain pours into the rooms in such quantities as to make cooking impossible. They are infested with vermin. The bedding is indescribably filthy. As these laborers pay for their accommodations the companies should be obliged to maintain cleanliness. A special report on brickyards discloses the follow

ing:

In a certain brickyard the bunks are in three tiers with only about two feet of space between each, so that the men cannot sit up but are obliged to crawl inside and this condition exists while there is plenty of room in the shanty to have all bunks in one tier. It was explained that originally there was a large dining table in the shanty and they were short of space. The bunks were built during this (1914) spring.

In most of the shanties a large part of the space was occupied by large coal stoves, not always in good condition. The heat was intense while the stoves were burning. It was suggested that they arrange a cooking place outside. In most cases it would not have caused any considerable expense. “They're from the South and like it hot,” said one foreman. Most of the windows do not open.

There was an apparent indifference on the part of the brickyard operators as to the living conditions of the negroes and they should be compelled to put the shanties in good condition, to supply the men with clean bedding, and bunks, and insist upon them being kept clean. Should there be any contagious disease in any of the yards it would most likely become epidemic on account of the horrible condition of the living quarters of the negroes, who freely mingle with the other laborers at work, in the saloons, etc.

It is stated that the town health authorities have never given any attention to the shanties of the negroes, as they were considered only temporary dwellings.

In many yards 14 and 15 year old boys begin to work at 4 a. m. It was in variably asserted by the superintendents that from 4 till 8 they employ a

66

to

man to the “yarding,” and that the 14 year old boy begins to work at 8 a. m. However, every brickyard foreman admitted that “ in the yards of his neigh bors,” the yard boys start at 4 a. m. Some of the boys were questioned, but they are instructed to deny these statements, and generally, whenever a yard was approached, a number of youngsters would run away before one could descend to the water-front. Yard superintendents where no boys under 16 years are employed at any time, stated that the section of the Labor Law is violated because it is very hard to catch the boys working between 4 and 8 a. m. The foremen considered this section unjust, as they claim that the boy gets up anyhow at 4 a. m." A yard boy earns $1.25 a day, but a boy over 16 wants more money and would not work for that wage.

It is also stated that edge up” brick the workman must walk between rows of brick in a lane only 3 or 4 inches wide, and a boy can walk there easier, having small feet, that the “edger ” must stoop down to get the brick on the ground and that the taller the worker the lower he has to stoop. However, all this can be overcome and has nothing to do with the enforcement of the law as it stands and it was noticeable that while old employees are usually large, strong men, the younger ones are mostly small in stature, although they have “old looking faces.” It was stated that this was due to the fact that they are obliged to begin work at 4 a. m. when they are only 12 and 14 years of age, so that they do not obtain the requisite sleep for a growing child. These facts were especially noticeable at the yards at Glasco.

In many yards brick turned out in the morning cannot be put in “hacks” for drying, being too soft, and in these cases the “hacking” of Saturday's brick is done on Sunday. It usually requires 30 men to work 3 to 5 hours, thus depriving them of one day's rest in seven. It was stated that in every yard work is performed on Sunday, either to accelerate shipping or to be ahead with the work. Some kilns require six days to burn the brick, others, however, require seven and when on account of any rush, kilns are started on days other than Monday, men are required to work around the kilns on Sunday.

Not one brickyard out of the 17 inspected, whether the property of a corporation or not, paid wages weekly, some paid regularly every two weeks. The laborers, however, are satisfied with payments every two weeks. All corporations are now receiving orders from the Labor Department to pay wages weekly. In one yard employing 90 men, 40 were aliens and about 10 colored.

[ocr errors]

Mines, Quarries and Brickyards.—All these maintain largely permanent housing facilities, and therefore should be obliged to adopt a definite standard of construction and maintenance.

The permanent camp maintained by the Aluminum Company of America, at Massena, N. Y., may be commended for its model housing facilities. Investigation of these premises discloses:

For the family men two story houses are furnished and for the single foreigners one story shanties with separate rooms, accommodating from two to three men in each room. Iron beds are furnished by the company and no

1

bedding belonging to the laborers is allowed in the rooms. A medical inspector visits the houses each day to inspect the sanitary conditions of the shanties occupied by the single men.

Model camps may be found on the New York aqueduct system at Ashokan, Yonkers and Staten Island, and conditions at Mineville, N. Y., demonstrate the feasibility of modern sanitary housing facilities.

Permanent camps are also maintained by railroads, and those of aqueduct camps may, in some cases, be classified as permanent, as they are maintained in the same location for periods of five years and upwards, and are under the jurisdiction of the sanitary engineers of the board of water supply.

Temporary Camps Suggestions are frequently requested for sanitation and construction of camps, and in the case of railroads our correspondence discloses an effort to effect immediate revision of conditions.

At the end of the labor camp season the railroad situation was taken up with representatives of the various companies with the result that they have begun to thoroughly overhaul all box cars to be used next season and have offered, in the case of two of the most important systems in the State, to have an investigator from this Bureau accompany the engineers in charge, on a tour of inspection at the beginning of the camp season.

Communications from this office requesting an expression of the intention of railroads to endeavor to improve the living conditions of their alien employees during the coming year, have elicited re sponses of which the following will serve to illustrate the disposition evinced by practically every railroad in the State, and which assures an unprecedented improvement over former conditions for next season. The employer in every instance appears to realize the economic value of the health of the laborer just as keenly as the State realizes the economic burden of the public charge.

The following is from a letter of Principal Assistant Engineer A. J. Neafie of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad:

As a large percentage of our camps have been discontinued for the winter, except our camps on the Cut Off in the state of Pennsylvania, and as we have very few men at this time of the year, there would be very little progress made from an investigating standpoint covering camps over our system ist present. However, at this time of the year we arrange to make preparation for our labor camps for next year's installation. I would like very much in early spring, when these camps are installed and everything is in shape, to have one of your representatives accompany me and inspect the labor camps over our system in New York State, and go into the question covering the condition of the camp when located, the method we adopt in preparing these camps, the condition of the camps at the time the men are placed, the arrangement that we make with the men to properly maintain them, taking a record of each of these camps as to the conditions, so as to eliminate any question as to complaint during the summer. I think this would eliminate a large percentage of the complaints covering these camps.

The thing to do is to get this matter lined up for next season and have the camps carefully inspected as they are installed, and have your inspector who accompanied me over the system make a report on each of these camps or houses.

In an interview with Mr. A. T. Hardin, Vice President of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad, on July 20, 1914, the following facts were developed :

It was decided to abolish the box car camp at Harmon. The New York Central is erecting at different places, where camps are maintained, concrete one-story houses for this purpose, but the intention is to discourage the permanent camp, owing to its de moralizing effects upon the laborers, except where it is necessarily distant from any housing facilities in a town.

The New York Central Railroad depends, at present, entirely on Italians for construction work and division foremen, and is greatly handicapped by their illiteracy. Advancement is open to these men if given elementary instruction in English. The road is willing to co-operate with the Department of Labor to improve the condition of its laborers and will facilitate any scheme for introducing educational facilities. This, however, must be along special lines adapted to railroad construction, tools, nomenclature and phrases, and would require a specially trained corps of instructors. The railroad would send a man at first to accompany teachers, gain the confidence of the men and show them the advantages of the proposition, also to act as an interpreter. An Italian-American would be preferred wherever possible, although this is not a necessity.

The company considers that some religious services would be exceedingly beneficial to men living in camps and would willingly give the use of one of the shops at Harmon, or in other locations,

« 이전계속 »