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PER CENT OF MEMBERS OF MILAN LABOR ORGANIZATIONS UNEMPLOYED EACH
YEAR, 1906 TO 1909. (Source: Societa Umanitaria, Milano, Disoccupazione Collocamenti Sussidi in Milano nel 1909.)
Historically, unemployment insurance, or, to use a broader and more exact term, unemployment relief, has grown up primarily as a function of the labor associations. While a few of the efforts toward furnishing unemployment relief have been made independently of labor organizations, the latest and most successful experiments, such as the Ghent system in Belgium and the system of the Humanitarian Society, are based upon the recognition of this natural correlation. A few statistical data concerning the growth and extent of labor organizations in Italy will therefore be useful in indicating the available organization for unemployment relief.
Most of the Italian labor organizations are affiliated with the federations of trade associations, the federations of farm laborers, or the chambers of labor.
The chambers of labor may be compared to our American central labor unions, though in Italy they have a semiofficial standing. They are representative organizations, composed of delegates from labor organizations, and have been growing in strength very rapidly during the last few years. At the beginning of 1906 there were 82 chambers of labor in Italy, composed of 2,732 organizations, having a membership of 298,446. Two years later the number of chambers had increased to 92, the number of organizations to 3,747, and the membership to 546,574.
The total income of these chambers in 1907 was computed at 432,241 lire ($83,422.51) and the expenditures at 402,266 lire ($77,637.34).
The federations of trade associations are not as strong numerically as the chambers of labor and do not seem to show the same tendency to growth. In the beginning of 1907 there were 21 of these federations, composed of 2,045 organizations, with a membership of 204,271, while in the beginning of 1908 there were 22 federations, with 2,550 organizations and 191,599 members. Within the year four new federations were organized and three dissolved. The annual revenues have been approximately determined at 583,642 lire ($112,643) and their expenditures at 480,526 lire ($92,742).
The third important group of labor organizations is found in the field of agricultural labor. The organizations of farm laborers in Italy have been growing very rapidly within the last few years. At the beginning of 1906 there were 982 of these organizations, with a membership of 221,913. Two years later the number of organizations had increased to 1,809 and the membership to 425,983.
At the beginning of 1908 there were 189,423 farm laborers having membership in chambers of labor and 108,191 affiliated with the National Federation of Agricultural Laborers.
With 546,574 members in the chambers of labor, 191,599 in the federations of trade associations, and 425,983 in federations of farm laborers, there would seem to be 1,164,156 members of labor unions in Italy. This number, however, includes a great many duplications, as many of the members of the trade associations and of the farm laborers' unions also belong to the chambers of labor.
Combined statistics for these unions, indicating the relation between the local, central, and the national organizations were published in January, 1908, and refer to the beginning of 1907.
They are reproduced in the following table and show a grand total of about 684,000 members of labor organizations in Italy.
NUMBER OF ORGANIZATIONS AND MEMBERS OF LABOR UNIONS AT THE BEGINNING
OF 1907, BY CLASS OF LABOR AND AFFILIATION.
[Source: Bollettino dell' Ufficio del Lavoro, January, 1908.]
a Including railroad employees. These data are given at greater length by separate industries in the following table. They not only show the number of organizations and members in each large industrial group, but also their respective affiliations and the proportion between organized labor and the total number employed according to the census of 1901 for almost all groups. The per cent of employed persons holding membership in labor unions was obtained by dividing the number of members in each industry at the beginning of 1907 by the number of persons in each industry according to the census of 1901. No later census figures were available.
NUMBER OF ORGANIZATIONS AND MEMBERS OF LABOR UNIONS AT BEGINNING OF 1907, BY INDUSTRY AND AFFILIATION, AND PER CENT OF EMPLOYEES IN LABOR UNIONS.
(Source: Bollettino dell'Ufficio del Lavoro, January, 1908.)
working Sulphur mining and
ployments. Nurses, etc. Not specified.
5, 235 426 46, 429
77 15, 200
661 52, 960
569 122,164 1,031 219, 819 4,253 612,046
a These percentages have been computed from the number of members of labor unions at the beginning of 1907 and the number of persons employed according to the census of 1901.
The functions of these local labor organizations and their federations in Italy are very numerous and varied. Perhaps the most diversified is the activity of the chambers of labor, while the federations are more specialized organizations for collective bargaining. The chambers of labor may, and do to some extent, undertake anything that may further the interests of labor, such as employment bureaus, legislative agitation, educational work, publication of trade papers, arbitration courts between employers and employees, etc. Thus, in 1908, 39 chambers had employment offices, 65 had legal-aid bureaus, 30 employed physicians, 19 had schools, and 44 had libraries.
UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF BY LABOR UNIONS.
In a report concerning unemployment insurance recently presented to the Chamber of Deputies the estimate is made that out of half a million of industrial workmen belonging to organizations only about 50,000 are protected by unemployment insurance. (a)
It is explained that the labor organizations in Italy mostly follow the policy of low membership dues, and are therefore often unable to undertake any form of insurance. The largest national labor organization to carry on unemployment insurance is the Italian federation of hat makers, with 36 branches and 5,896 members, which has a federal unemployment and traveling fund. Unemployment benefits are granted under the following conditions: At least one year previous membership; conclusive proof of the involuntary nature of the unemployment and absence of any other remunerative work; and duration of unemployment for at least one week.
The benefit is given for not over 12 weeks, and is very small, amounting to only 2 lire (38.6 cents) per week during the first three weeks, 3 lire (57.9 cents) per week during the following three weeks, 4.50 lire (86.9 cents) for the next four weeks, and 6 lire ($1.158) per week for the last two weeks. These are the benefits for the first (higher) group of members; for the second (lower) group they are only 1 lira (19.3 cents), 1.5 lire (29 cents), 3 lire (57.9 cents), and 4.5 lire (86.9 cents) per week. The means to pay these benefits are obtained by contributions of members, which contributions are compulsory. · The membership dues are 10 centesimi (1.93 cents) and 5 centesimi (0.97 cents) per week for the two groups of members, and out of these dues 4 centesimi (0.77 cents) and 2 centesimi (0.39 cents), respectively, are deducted for unemployment insurance. In addition to these unemployment benefits the federation pays traveling expenses. During the year 1908 the federation distributed 2,986 lire ($576.30) for unemployment benefits and 1,914 lire ($369.40) in traveling expenses, making a total of 4,900 lire ($945.70).
a Bollettino dell' Ufficio del Lavoro, Vol. XIII, 1910, pp. 1313-1334.
The Italian glass workers' federation also grants unemployment relief in the following three cases: At the close of the season, if within two months work is not resumed in the same establishment or in the same locality; in case of discharge because of the recognized necessity to reduce the number of persons employed; and, finally, when the workman's leaving becomes necessary for no fault of his. The benefits are paid out of the general fund of the association.
In the lithographers' federation the granting of unemployment benefits is made compulsory for the individual sections, under the supervision of the central committee; but insurance under this system is optional with the members. A member so insured is required to pay a premium of 10 centesimi (2 cents) per week and is entitled to relief in case of unemployment for lack of labor or any other cause for which he is not responsible, except sickness. The unemployment benefit is from 1 to 2 lire (19.3 cents to 38.6 cents) per day. The rules of this form of relief are very strict, requiring appearance at the headquarters of the section at least three times a week, and willingness to accept any employment the local section committee might offer him.
The federation of printers leaves the organization of the unemployment relief to its individual sections, which number 125. In 1908 62,339.45 lire ($12,031.51) were granted for 40,153 days of unemployment in addition to 9,709.80 lire ($1,873.99) for traveling expenses, making a total of 72,049.25 lire ($13,905.50).
The study of unemployment relief, published by the labor bureau of the Milan Humanitarian Society in 1905, contains an analysis of the various forms of unemployment relief given by the Milan labor organizations at that time, i. e., before the organization of the unemployment fund by that society. Of the 115 organizations inscribed in 1903 in the Milan chambers of labor, 41 had some provision concerning unemployment benefits, and 32 were actually furnishing such. Unemployment benefits were most frequent among the employees of metallurgical and mechanical establishments. Out of 17 organizations of such employees, only 2 did not furnish some relief. Of 14 printing trades organizations, 8 furnished unemployment relief.
The methods and the conditions of payment of such relief are naturally subject to the widest variations, these organizations being entirely voluntary. The contributions may be uniform for all members or proportionate to the age groups, a smaller contribution being exacted from the employees under 18 years of age, or different for master mechanics and apprentices, or the contributions may be proportionate to the salary. The usual amount of contribution is about 10 to 15 centesimi (1.9 cents to 2.9 cents) per week, and the usual amourt of unemployment benefit about 1 lira (19 cents) per day.