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PART V. REPORT ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN. The Bureau of Women and Children is empowered to enforce “all laws and local ordinances relating to the health, morals, comfort and general welfare of women and children.” It was naturally impossible for three inspectors to make complete inspections of all factories, mercantile establishments and other places of employment in the state, especially when a considerable amount of time had to be given to welfare work. It has always been the policy of the bureau to investigate complaints first, and give what time is left to regular inspection work. But for the last year an extra inspector was added to the force so it has been possible to make inspections in 105 towns and cities of the third and fourth class throughout the state..

The inspections have verified the general impression that conditions in the rural districts are just as bad, particularly with respect to long hours of labor, as in the larger cities. Other abuses were found in sufficient numbers to indicate the need of continuous and regular inspections in every part of the state. Even the smallest establishment in a village can present abuses as flagrant as are found in the larger factories of the city.

Table No. 1, on inspections, does not represent a complete census of women and children employed in the state, but merely indicates the numbers found employed in the establishments which were visited. It is an enumeration of the number of persons whose conditions of employment were inspected. The table also presents the hours of employment of the 34,146 employes included in the report, showing both the hours of work per day and per week. The table does not bring out the fact, however, that it is a custom in some industries, especially restaurants, to require alternate long and short days or broken shifts. That is, a girl may work twelve hours one day and only seven hours the next, or she may have a relief period from two to three hours duration between actual working hours, which is not only frequently inconvenient but practically increases the working day by the length of the relief period.

Investigation of the hours women were employed has been made in industries in which no legal limitation of hours is provided. In many of these the hours were found to be excessive and in all such places should be limited by law for the health and comfort of the workers.

CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN. The daily hour law for women in the Minnesota statute is almost annulled by the one word "or" in the phrases "nine hours a day or fifty-four hours a week” and “ten hours a day or fifty-eight hours a week,” so that an enforcement of the daily restrictions has never been attempted and an analysis of violations of the nine-hour day as prescribed in some industries, or a ten-hour day as prescribed in others, would be futile with the present reading of the law. Table No. 2 on hours worked daily by women is interesting in showing the large majority in the eight to nine hour period of the classification and the extremely long hours in periods above that.

The greatest offenders in this respect were the hotels and restaurants and some confectionery stores. The longest hours reported in any one individual case were those of a woman in a restaurant who worked 16 hours a day and 111 hours a week. Another worked 16.5 hours a day and 108.5 a week. Seven others worked 15 hours or more a day and over 100 hours a week. Others working over 84 hours a week were about equally divided between groups working 13 and 14 hours a day and 91 and 98 hours a week respectively.

The summary and analysis of over time violations of law which we are about to present is based upon the tabulations found in table No. 2 and the reader is referred to that table for further information.

If the same law which applies in first and second class cities had obtained throughout the state, and also if the law which applies in dining room and kitchen work in hotels of first and second class cities had obtained for all kinds of hotel work throughout the state, the following would have been scheduled as violations to be added to the above summary.

Number of

Employes Restaurants in all districts other than first and second class cities exceeding 58-hour limit.

468 Telephone and telegraph establishments in all districts other than first and second class cities exceeding 54-hour limit.

334 Hotels throughout state exceeding 58-hour limit.

541 Manufacturing establishments in districts other than first and second class cities if changed from 58 to 54-hour basis.

396 Total

1,739 The total number of women who were working in excess of the legal hours was 2,335, or almost 7 per cent of the 34,146 women employes covered by report, and if the laws had been uniform throughout the state there would have been 1,739 additional violations which would have made a total of 4,047 violations of the weekly hour law. In other words, about 12 per cent of all women reported upon, would have been working over time.

The 2,335 over time violations were reported from 606 establishments subject to legal restrictions; i. e. 25 per cent of the 2,388 establishments subject to legal restrictions were violating the hour law. The 1,739 hypothetical violations were found in 350 of the 492 establishments not subject to legal restrictions. Thus a total of 956 establishments visited, or over 33 per cent, were employing women longer hours than the Minnesota statute permits in cities of the first and second class.

The schedules for hours of work were not posted as required by law in 1,931 establishments. In four places the schedules had been torn down after being posted by the employer, and in two instances the time clocks and time records had been removed at the time of the inspections. In 1,041 establishments a record was kept of the hours worked, but in 45 places the records were unreliable.

HEALTH AND COMFORT. Conditions contributing to the health and comfort of employes were lacking in the following details:

Fair Lighting of workroom.

78 Artificial light only. Ventilation of workroom.

29 Dusty processes Cleanliness of workroom Cleanliness in basement. Waste disposal

Temperature in workroom-Overheated, 48; cold, 26; excessive moisture, 12.

Toilets—None provided, 20; insufficient in number, 31. *Not separate for women, 537; in fair condition, 371; bad, 146.

Seats—Not provided, 10; use discouraged, 1.
Dressing rooms--Not provided, 37; dirty, 10.
Physical strain-In 205 occupations.

Some laundries were found with temperatures ranging from 106 to 120 degrees near the mangles on days when the outside temperature was not over 85 degrees. Many other laundries have installed ventilating systems which are very effective in making the otherwise hard conditions of - work fairly comfortable. Effective ventilating systems were found in 243 establishments.

Many establishments provided for the welfare of their employes in ways entailing much expense and not required by law. One hundred and

*Includes many establishments with only one or two men employes, where the arrangements were sometimes satisfactory.

Bad 18



fifty-five establishments have lunch rooms, a few of which furnish lunches and coffee at cost; 202 have rest rooms, and 207 first aid supplies.

Safety. Conditions of danger briefly summarized below were reported by the Bureau of Women and Children in their inspection of buildings where women were employed. The Bureau of Women and Children exercise no authority over safeguarding since the responsibility for matters relating to safety rests upon the male inspections in the Department of Labor.

Exits and Fire Escapes—Exits obstructed, 3 buildings; buildings over two stories high without fire escapes, 47; buildings without fire extinguishers, 43; iron ladder fire escapes, 166; spiral fire escapes, 6.

Aisles—Narrow and obstructed, 23 buildings.
Stairs—Without hand rail, 131 buildings; without risers, 97 buildings.

Occupation-Dangerous machines, 31; oiling machines in motion, 35; cleaning machines in motion, 40.

Restaurants. Some of the conditions already mentioned in the report are found in restaurants, but there are also special features of this industry which require special discussion. A comparison of conditions found in the kitchen with those in the dining room continues to show that the rooms viewed by the patrons are always much cleaner than those viewed by, the employes alone. The conditions in the 426 restaurants inspected are shown in this brief summary.

Conditions of floors-Good, 315; fair, 94; bad, 17.
Conditions of walls--Good, 324; fair, 84; bad, 18.
Ventilation-Good, 258; fair, 157; bad, 11.
Ventilation, artificial-Yes, 211; no, 215.
Light-Good, 352; fair, 66; bad, 8.
Light, artificial-Yes, 127; no, 299.
Kind of light-Electric, 122; gas, 5.

Condition of floors—Good, 408; fair, 16; bad, 2.
Condition of walls—Good, 406; fair, 20.
Ventilation-Good, 364; fair, 61; bad, 1.
Ventilation, artificial-Yes, 136; no, 290.
Light-Good, 412; fair, 13; bad, 1.
Light, artificial—Yes, 70; no, 356.
Kind of light--Electric, 63; gas, 7.

Complaints. Complaints received from both anonymous and known sources have increased so amazingly every year, and so much of the inspector's time has been consumed in investigating them, that in August, 1915, the bureau began classifying the nature of the complaints and the results of the inspections made in following up the complaints. The summary therefore covers only the last twelve months.

The result shows 512 of the 654 complaints received, or 78 per cent, were with cause, and the conditions found were improved by the inspectors' efforts. It does not necessarily follow that the other 22 per cent of the complaints were absolutely without foundation, but they were such at the time of the investigations that the inspectors were unable to locate the sources of the alleged difficulties.

Without Nature of Complaint Received

Total Overtime and other conditions concerning employment of women.






Child labor


2 4 2

434 26 28 18





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Violation of Laws Regulating Employment of Women. When the conditions of employment of women and children are found to be contrary to conditions prescribed by law it is the custom of the department of labor to call the employer's attention to this by a written notice called an "order." (Table No. 3). Sometimes the employer can and does comply with the order at once or within a short time. But because difficulty has been experienced in the past in getting prompt and complete compliances, in August, 1915, the Bureau of Women and Children began to make systematic reinspections of conditions which were such as to demand the issuing of an order at the time of the initial inspection. To obtain satisfactory compliances as many as five reinspections have been necessary in some instances.

Some orders have been canceiled because upon reinspection conditions have been so changed that the orders as originally issued were no longer applicable. In the cases of orders given as pending many have doubtless been complied with but no reinspections have yet been made to ascertain this fact.

Table No. 3 a summary of orders tabulated according to the nature of the violations covered by the orders. The conditions of over time called for 363 orders and those of toilets for 209 orders, while the others were scattered among different violations. The final totals of the summary show that of the 912 orders issued, 793 were complied with, 27 were cancelled and 92 are pending. The following is a brief statement showing the places of employment in which the violations above referred to occurred:

105 Other
Place of Employment St. Paul Minneapolis Duluth Cities Total
Telephone and telegraph.


912 When adjustments of conditions which are contrary to the law can be made without resort to court action, or if it is a first offense, it is the policy of the department of labor not to prosecute. But if the firm refuses to conform to the law or continues to repeat the violation, or if the case is an aggravated one, court action becomes necessary. In comparison with the number of violations found and orders issued to remedy these conditions of employment, the number of cases which we settled in court is strikingly small. (Table No. 4).


5 47 50


75 104 113

35 10 74 56

12 12 89 13 12

151 102 314 232 13



CHILD LABOR PERMITS. Table No. 1 shows that at the time of the regular inspection of establishments where women were employed the inspectors found 343 children at work. This table is based on the establishments inspected and does not pretend to show the actual number of children employed in the state. Table No. 5 which shows that the employment certificates issued to minors under 16 years of age by the superintendents of schools in the state reveals that 550 children were given permits for the school year 1914-15 and 638 for the school year 1915-16. A special investigation of child labor in 1914-16 found 601 other children under 16 at work without labor permits issued by their schools. The total number of child laborers reported in Minnesota during 1914-16 was therefore between 1,000 and 1,200.

In table No. 5 is shown the distribution of certificates issued according to location. Table No. 6 shows the type of establishments in which the children were to be employed, and in table No. 7 is given the occupation in which they were expected to engage. A perusal of the two last tables shows that few of the children entered into employment where opportunity for further education would be offered. The number of apprentices is exceedingly, low, which only emphasizes the great need of vocational guidance work in connection with our school system.



18.4 11.1

50 48


A further analysis of the type of work done by the 452 children who were legally granted permits by the Minneapolis school authorities in 191516 shows a large percentage of "temporary jobs.” This group is made up chiefly of errand boys, special delivery boys, messengers, cash and bundle girls.

Number Type of Work

Employed Cent Temporary job

56.0 Leading to business.

83 Factory operatives Trades

10.6 Domestic and personal service.

18 Total


100. The following table shows the ages of children to whom the certificates were issued. The summary refers to the entire state. The certificates to children under 14 years of age were plainly illegal and were immediately revoked by order of this department:



Issued Issued Age

1914-15 1915-16 11 years 12 years 13 years 14 years


179 15 years to 15.5.

212 Over 15.5



1 2 3

214 239



638 One hundred and forty-nine of the certificates issued in the two years (with possibly 54 others for which the grade was not given) were illegal because the children had not completed the eighth grade or its equivalent. A summary of the grades last attended by those who were given permits shows some as low as the third grade.


Year Grade

1914-15 1915-16 Third grade Fourth grade

2 Fifth grade


2 Sixth grade


12 Seventh grade


15 Eighth grade


7 Graduates of eighth grade.


588 Grade not reported.


11 Total


638 The only conditons upon which a certificate may be granted are that the applicant has completed the eighth grade and is physically fit for work, yet an analysis of the reasons for granting employment certificates show that many were issued contrary to these requirements. REASONS FOR GRANTING EMPLOYMENT CERTIFICATES.


Year Reason

1914-15 1915-16 Finished eighth grade.


588 Poverty


43 Physical incapacity to study


2 After school and Saturdays. Special (children nearly 16 years of age)

37 Good of boy or girl.

15 Vacation Temporary

4 Reasons not reported.



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It is extremely difficult to get away from the “poverty clause" which allowed permits to be granted for children to work in cases of extreme poverty. The Minnesota statute no longer contains such an excuse for robbing a child of his education, and when the attention of school officials has been drawn to this change in our law they have been very ready to withdraw the illegal permits and help make arrangements to enable the children to continue in school.

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