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The class containing the greatest number of establishments is that representing the manufacture of food products, etc., the number being nearly double that of the next largest class, in which the manufacture of lumber and wood products is carried on. These two groups together produced 54 per cent of all manufactures reported for the year 1903. The first group contains many small establishments, the average number of employees per establishment being but 8. The largest number per establishment is found in the manufacture of paper and paper goods, where 50 is the average. In the last-named group is also to be found the highest average value of products, 197,146 kroner ($52,835) per establishment, the next highest being that of textiles and clothing, with an average of 179,704 kroner ($48,161) per establishment for the year 1903.
Males comprised 81.37 per cent of the total number of employees and females 18.63 per cent. The males under 18 years of age comprised 10.58 per cent of all employees and the females under 18 years 4.04 per cent, the whole number of persons under 18 years of age being 14.62 per cent of all employees.
The data as to trades or manual professions do not include domiciliary employments, but are restricted to shop as opposed to factory industries. The same classification is used as in the case of manufactures. The number of independent work people reported is 53,077, of whom 50,371 were males and 2,706 females. These persons employed as assistants or shop workers 42,578 males and 5,163 females, a total of 47,741. Thus, but 7.81 per cent of the 100,818 persons in this industrial class were females. The value of products was not given.
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.]
CONTRACT LABOR — SKILLED LABORERS RAILROAD TRACK HANDS.-- Advance Sheets, 26 Op., page 42.- The Secretary of Commerce and Labor, in August, 1906, addressed an inquiry to the Attorney-General as follows:
1. Are ordinary hands commonly employed in the construction and maintenance of the tracks of railroads skilled" laborers within the meaning of the term as used in section 2 of the immigration act of March 3, 1903 ?
2. If they are not skilled laborers, can such laborers be imported into this country under contract in any event?
In his reply, Charles H. Robb, Acting Attorney-General, first reviewed the original act of 1885 on the subject of contract labor, the applicable portions of which are as follows:
SECTION 1. From and after the passage of this act it shall be unlawful for any person, company, partnership, or corporation, in any manner whatsoever, to prepay the transportation, or in any way assist or encourage the importation or migration of any alien or aliens, any foreigner or foreigners, into the United States, its Territories, or the District of Columbia, under contract or agreement, parol or special, express or implied, made previous to the importation or migration of such alien or aliens, foreigner or foreigners, to perform labor or service of any kind in the United States, its Territories, or the District of Columbia. SEC. 5.
nor shall this act be so construed as to prevent any, person, or persons, partnership, or corporation from engaging, under contract or agreement, skilled workmen in foreign countries to perform labor in the United States in or upon any new industry not at present established in the United States: Provided, That skilled labor for that purpose can not be otherwise obtained.
Mr. Robb then said:
It was not questioned in either House that the law was designed to exclude and did exclude skilled as well as unskilled contract labor
A careful analysis of the act and an examination of the debates and reports in Congress relative thereto lead to the conclusion that it was intended to draw a distinction between common unskilled labor and skilled labor. Did the language used in the act effectuate the intent of Congress? And if not, has subsequent legislation removed any doubt that may have been entertained as to the meaning of the original act? 248B-No, 68-07-12
The Supreme Court evidently thought the act divided labor into two classes, for the court intimated in the Holy Trinity Church case (143 U. S., 457) and in the Laws case (163 U. S., 258) that the act was intended to apply only to "unskilled labor." That question, however, was not before the court in either case.
In the Trinity Church case the question decided was that Congress in the enactment of this law, did not have in mind “any purpose of staying the coming into this country of ministers of the gospel, or indeed of any class whose toil is that of the brain." And in the Laws case the decision of the court was that an alien chemist belonged to a recognized profession, and therefore was specifically exempt from the operation of the statute.
Subsequently the subject again engaged the attention of Congress, and the act of March 3, 1903 (32 Stat., 1213) resulted.
Section 2 of that act provides, inter alia, that skilled labor may be imported if labor of like kind unemployed can not be found in this country.
Section 4 provides:
"That it shall be unlawful for any person, company, partnership, or corporation, in any manner whatsoever, to prepay the transportation or in any way to assist or encourage the importation or migration of any alien into the United States, in pursuance of any offer, solicitation, promise, or agreement, parol or special, express or implied, made previous to the importation of such alien to perform labor or service of any kind, skilled or unskilled, in the United States."
The wordsskilled or unskilled," it will be seen, do not appear in the corresponding section of the original act. Their insertion, especially after the language used by the court in the two cases above referred to, is significant and controlling as to the intent of Congress.
* The skilled laborer is, as a rule, far more intelligent and independent than the unskilled laborer. It would be practically impossible for contractors and foreign agents to get together and control a large number of intelligent, skilled artisans, while no difficulty would be experienced in contracting abroad for large numbers of ignorant and servile unskilled laborers. It is probable experience demonstrated that very few skilled laborers were brought to this country under the provisions of section 5 of the act of 1885. For this reason when the law came to be amended in 1903 it was not deemed necessary to limit the exception to its operation to new industries, as was the case in the original act. In other words, Congress, recognizing the vast difference between skilled and unskilled labor, concluded that it might with perfect safety permit skilled labor to be imported in all cases where “labor of like kind unemployed could not be found in this country." But no such exception was made in favor of the importation of unskilled labor. Indeed, to rule otherwise would, in effect, nullify the whole law.
The act was designed and intended for the protection and security of the American laborer, whose welfare every patriotic citizen is bound to promote. Laws designed for his benefit should, if possible, be so construed as to effectuate rather than retard the objects for which they were enacted.
The legislation with which we are now concerned has been on the statute books in substantially its present form for more than twenty
years. As previously pointed out, the original act divided labor into two classes-skilled and unskilled. It first denounced the bringing in of either class under contract. For reasons of public policy Congress then excepted from the operation of the law skilled labor on new industries. The courts having intimated that the law was designed to apply to unskilled labor only, Congress took occasion to make clear its intent. The act of 1903 contains the unequivocal provision that the act shall apply to skilled as well as unskilled labor. In this act, which is now in force, the distinction between the two classes of labor is still maintained. It is therein provided that neither class shall be brought in under contract. No exception whatever is contained in the act in respect to unskilled labor, but it is provided that skilled labor may be imported under certain conditions. That there is a difference in fact and in law between skilled and unskilled labor is too plain to admit of argument.
It must also be presumed that Congress was mindful of this difference in the enactment of this law. It is certainly not for the executive department of the Government to nullify the will of Congress by declining or failing to give the words of the act their natural and logical import. Especially is this true in a case involving the welfare of such a very large number of our own citizens. Moreover, it does not appear that since the enactment of this law in 1885 it has ever before been contended that unskilled alien contract labor could legally be imported.
The determination of the question as to what is skilled and what unskilled labor within the meaning of the law rests largely with you. I entertain no doubt, however, that "ordinary hands, commonly employed in the construction and maintenance of the tracks of railroads, are not skilled laborers within the meaning of the immigration act of March 3, 1903. Having reached the conclusion that they are not skilled laborers, it follows from what I have previously said that such laborers may not “be imported into this country under contract in any event.
CONTRACT LABORERS FOR PANAMA CANAL-HOURS OF LABOR.-Advance Sheets, 26 Op., page 21.-On July 12, 1906, the Secretary of War submitted to the Attorney-General a draft of a proposed agreement between the Panama Canal Commission and the International Contracting Company of Maine, relative to the furnishing of Chinamen for labor on the construction of the Panama Canal, with an inquiry as to the legality of such contract. By its terms the company would undertake to supply Chinese laborers for the work specified, to feed and clothe them, and to return them to China at the expiration of their contract periods. The provision as to hours of labor made ten hours a day's work, labor in excess of that time to be classed as emergency or overtime work, and to be paid for as such.
The opinion of Charles W. Russell, Acting Attorney-General, on the two points involved, is as follows:
On the 30th ultimo (June, 1906] Congress passed an act declaring that the act of Congress relating to "limitations of the hours of daily service of laborers and mechanics employed upon the public works of the United States” shall not apply to unskilled alien laborers and to the foremen and superintendents of such laborers employed in the construction of the Isthmian Canal within the Canal Zone.
The contract-labor laws do not extend to the Canal Zone. Congress extended them on March 3, 1903, to “any waters, territory, or other place now subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. The treaty with the Republic of Panama giving us jurisdiction is of a later date than March 3, 1903.
There is, accordingly, no objection to the proposed agreement arising out of the fact that the hours of the labor will be more than eight or the fact of contracting to import laborers.
Every country has a right, in the absence of a treaty provision to the contrary, to exclude and to deport aliens, and therefore, there being no such treaty provision, there is no objection to the proposed agreement on account of the bond to be given to the Republic of Panama, conditioned upon the deportation of the Chinese at the end of their service, and further conditioned not to permit any of them to enter into or remain within the Republic of Panama, except during transit; nor (in view of the President's governing authority as to the Canal Zone) on account of the agreement of the company to deport them from it at the conclusion of their service.
I have carefully examined each and every part of the proposed agreement, particularly with reference to Article XIII of the Constitution, as construed and explained in the Attorney-General's opinion of June 5, 1905 (25 Op., 474) [Bulletin No. 60, pp. 661, 662), and in my opinion it is within the "authority of the Commission and according to law."
EIGHT-HOUR LAW-CONSTRUCTION OF NAVAL VESSELS CONTRACT - Advance Sheets, 26 Op., page 30.-In response to an inquiry from the Secretary of the Navy, dated July 23, 1906, as to the applicability of the act of August 1, 1892, to the construction of naval vessels under contract, Ilenry M. Hoyt, Solicitor-General of the Department of Justice, prepared an opinion which was approved by Attorney-General Moody. The discussion was somewhat extended and includes the consideration of a number of earlier opinions and decisions of courts. The final paragraph is as follows:
My conclusion, therefore, is that the act of August 1, 1892, limiting the hours of service of laborers and mechanics employed on the public works of the United States and of the District of Columbia does not apply to vessels under construction for the Navy by contract with builders at private establishments. The case of material for such vessels, as, for instance, armor, guns, and other articles obtained under special contracts, is a fortiori; and, besides, rests fully on the ruling of Attorney-General Miller in 20 Op., 454, as above cited, which is hereby expressly approved and affirmed. [The opinion referred to held that the act in question does not apply to contracts for furnishing materials to the Government for use in the construction and equipment of public buildings.]