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plied to adequately deal with the situation. There should be medical ex-
amination of every lodger. The food should be sufficient to enable a man
to do a day's work upon it. It should go beyond the stage of coffee and
bread and come nearer what it was during the winter of 1907 and 1908.

Second: State free employment agencies should be reorganized in such
a way as to deal with the problem of the unemployed effectively. Those
agencies ought to be strengthened and expanded. If, as has been suggested
already by the Commission, they should be placed under a central bureau,
a state industrial commission similar to the one in Wisconsin, it would un-
doubtedly be an improvement upon the present arrangement. Between the
Municipal Lodging House and an efficient state free employment office there
ought to be thorough co-operation.

Third: There should be state inspection of all labor camps and colonies.
If it should be found that state inspection of labor camps is not constitutional
then it should be done by the Federal Government in those cases where
the employment is of interstate ^character. This inspection should regulate
the location of the camp, sleeping space, sanitary arrangements and condition
of food.

Fourth: There should be more adequate legislation and more effective
enforcement of regulations for the control of the private lodging house than*
is now in practice. The conditions under which men sleep today in the private
lodging houses of Chicago are a direct inducement to drunkenness. No
one may sleep in the vermin infested, badly ventilated, fetid air of a cheap
lodging house without feeling the necessity of throwing a couple of bracers
under his belt in the morning to feel right for the day's work.

Fifth: There should be federal control of all labor agencies furnishing
interstate labor. At present men are shipped out to jobs where there is no
work. If it lies outside of the state great difficulty will be found to prove
the case, as an Illinois judge cannot subpoena witnesses outside of Illinois,
and the case usually goes by default.

While state regulation of private employment agencies needs to be
carried on vigorously, the real cure lies in the positive work that will be
done by the state agency.

The most effective measure for remedying the condition under which
this group lives and works would be the organization of the workers. There
are three obstacles that stand in the way of creating a common conscious-
ness among migratory laborers. In the first place, the haphazard, irregular,
nomadic character of the employment does not permit of the formation
of acquaintanceship, confidence and mutual trust necessary to such an organi-
zation. In the second place, the group is constantly under the pressure
of old-world immigration; and, finally, the migratory labor group is also at
a distinct disadvantage in that it is the resort of the displaced laborers, both-
skilled and unskilled, who followed more permanent occupations.

In the face of these three obstacles it is difficult to see how the workers
may be organized for their own defense and betterment. Apparently, they
can only be saved from exploitation by the active intercession of other por-
tions of the community.



REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT



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REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT



TABLE 3.



Number of Lodgings
Stations During Ten
the Opening of the
ing House.


Given in Police
Years Preceding
Municipal Lodg-


Number of
Municipal
Past Ten


Lodgings Given in the
Lodging House During the
Years.


1


1892 77,085
1893 88,138
, 1894 133,006
1895 130.4X1
1896 176,980
1897 204,964
1898 139,579
1899 113,942
1900 118,697
1901 92,591


1. .


1902


11,097
5,642
18,872
14,235
13,503
23,642
105,564
69,980
36,710
71,410


2


2


1903


3


3


1904


j


4


1905


5


5


1906


6


6


1907


7


7


1908


8


8


1909


9


9. . .


1910


10


10


1911


Total


Total . . .




1,275,463


370 655











TABLE 4.
DURATION IN THE CITY.



5 days and less in city


1903
.... 2 362


1904
5 048


1905
4 106


1906
5 432




.... 1 302


5 377


3 848


2 732


6 months and over 1 month. . . .


.... 843


3.376


2 712


1 563


1 year and over 6 months


.... 374


850


611


731


All over 1 year


.... 945


4,221


2,958


3,045












.


5,826
TABLE


18,872
5.


14,235


13,503



Total

16,948 or 33%

13,259 or 25%
8,494 or 16%
2,566 or 5%

11,169 or 21%



Soi



52,436



Statistics of 2.608 Individual Applicants at the Chicago Municipal Lodging;
House, May 1 to September 30, 1908.



Single


CIVIL STATUS.
2430 90% nearly


DURATION IN THE
Less than 5 days


CITY.

1,69565%
256 10%
261 10%


Married ....


178 10%


5 days 1 month


American .
British . . .






2,608
NATIONALITY.
1,309 50%


1 year and over


396 15%




OCCUPATION.
Skilled


2,608

1,51058%
1,09842%


164 6%


Irish


163 6%


German 363 14%


Unskilled


Scandinavian 110 4%
Slavic 344 13%


Crippled . ...


2,608
43 or 1.5%


Other


155 6%


Leas than 1

16-20 years
20-30 years
30-40 years
40-50 years
50-60 years
60 and ove


2,608
year in U. S. . 1957.5%

AGE.
256 9%




1 200 50%


594 22%


325 12%


144 5%


r 89 3%




2,608



TABLE 6.

TRANSPORTATION.
How 1317 Applicants Arrived In Chicago.

5Io or 1% admlt ted they "beat it" on the railroads.

463 or 35% claimed they had paid their fare

77 or 6% walked.

86 or 6% were "passed in" by employers

17 or 1% arrived by boat.

1,317



REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT 69

TABLE 7.

Report on Physical Condition of 13,O53 Lodger*.
October 4, 19O4, to December 31, 1906.

General Physical Condition

Able-bodied 11,369 84.8 %

Physically deficient 809 7.24%

Mentally deficient 29 .20%

Sick . 234 2.17%

Crippled 612 5.38%

Total . 13,053

Eyes 216 1.79%

Ears 181 1.75%

Skin and Scalp 1,866 13.70%

Venereal

Chancre 69 .53%

Gonorrhoea 1-90%

Syphilis 2.69%

Hernia. 483 4.55%

Circulatory 1,521 12.81%

Respiratory 151 2 - 43 2'

Tuberculosis 109 .82%

Fevers 6 .05%

TABLE 8.
CIVIL STATUS.

1903 1904 1905 1906

Married 839 1,866 1,037 579

Single 4,987 17,006 13,198 12,924

II. "RAILROAD GANGS."
By Grace Abbott.

Of the unskilled men who are unemployed during the winter those who
work on the railroads of the country grading the road bed, laying ties and
rails, ballasting with gravel and crushed stone, ditching and doing general
track work constitute the largest single element. Questions prepared by
the Committee were therefore formulated and submitted to the officers of
some of the principal railroads which enter Chicago. Their replies were
supplemented by the report of Mr. Paul Wander, a research student at
the University of Chicago, who visited and reported on some of the largest
camps between Chicago and Wyoming, and by the records of the Immi-
grants' Protective League.

The railroads estimated that about one-third of the men employed for
this work are "hoboes" the Irish, English and American survivals of the
time when all of this work was done by English speaking immigrants or
native Americans. The others are "foreigners" Italians, Poles, Greeks,
Bulgarians, Croatians, Russians and others from southern and eastern Europe.
The "hoboes" are not only old hands at this work, but they are familiar
with the ugliest aspects of American life in every city in the country. Most
of the "foreigners," on the other hand, are having their first experience in
industrial life in America, are ignorant of English, of the extent of the
country, and of how a man may "beat his way" from place to place and
avoid arrest.

Construction work lasts from six to eight months, beginning as soon as the
weather permits, in March or April, and lasting until the work is finished
or until the cold weather brings it to a close, in November or December.

The number of men required for this work is difficult to determine.
Eight railroads, in answer to this question, replied that they tried to keep
11,414 men at work during the season. The number of men shipped is, how-
ever, very much greater. One of the railroads, whose gangs required 4,593
men, estimates that twelve or fifteen times that number had to be sent out;
another railroad reports twenty men sent out for every job; another 10; one
writes that it is impossible to say, because "men were shipped out constantly



70 REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT

from Chicago." The total number of shipments must therefore reach several
hundred thousand how many men are involved the railroad records do not
show. About 75 per cent of the number, whatever it is, are secured from
the Chicago labor market and return to Chicago for the winter. The. other
25 per cent come from St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha and other smaller
centers.

A man who works only a part of the year, but earns during that time
sufficient to keep himself and his family during the idle period, does not
constitute a part of the acute unemployment problem with which the Com-
mission is concerned. The question then is whether this group of men which,
joining with the returned harvest hand, the unskilled of the building trades,
and all the others whose work ends with the beginning of winter, can secure
employment during the winter months or, failing in this, whether they can
live on what they have saved during the summer season. The possibilities
of employment are odd jobs during the holiday season, a short season usually
not beginning until after the first of January, in the ice fields, the lumber
camps of the north, construction work on the southern railroads and a few
days at shoveling snow. These opportunities are far too few when measured
by the number who are in need of employment, and so the next question is
whether the savings of the men are adequate for the winter season, and if
not, whether this is due to low wages, bad habits, the high cost of board, or
unnecessary expenditures connected with securing the work.

The wages of the "hoboes" and "foreigners" are usually the same, during
the past season from $1.80 to $2.00 a day, two years ago $1.25 to $1.60 a day.
In every other respect the two groups are so different that they must be
considered separately.

The "hoboes," or "white" laborers, as the men are sometimes called,
very often ship out with no intention of going to work. The payment of an
employment agency fee gets him much more comfortably and safely to
Minneapolis, Billings, Denver or even California, than "beating his way."
Those who go to work at the place to which they were shipped usually stay
only ten or fourteen days. They sleep in the freight-car bunks which the
railroad provides free of charge, pay a Commissary Company $4.00 or $5.00
a week for wretched board and four or five prices for tobacco, gloves, shirts
and other supplies. Liquor is also sometimes sold in the camp for exorbi-
tant prices. Bad as the food, the sleeping quarters and the wages are, these
are no longer the reason why the "hoboes" drift from camp to camp, back
to the city, out to the harvest field for a few days, on to the road again and
finally back to the city in November with about $30.00 in money. Here they
frequent the five and ten-cent lodging houses, the "barrel shops''^ on West
Madison or South State streets, and are hungry, cold and wretched during
January, February and March. The "hobo" is physically and morally what
his work and living conditions have made him. Demoralizing as any kind
of temporary work is, this construction work at a distance from cities or
towns is much worse than that which conies with the rush season in city
factories and shops. Their freight-car bunks are usually unspeakably dirty,
the food is wretched, the work is hard and the hours long. Separated from
their families and from society generally, without normal wholesome recrea-
tions, the men are the easy victims of vice. And so many of the Irish,
American and English laborers of a generation ago, forced by the necessities
of our industrial system into being homeless workmen, employed for six or eight
months a year, have become diseased and helpless, incapable of the self-
control which is necessary for regular employment. Whether any have
passed from the class permanently of "under employed," as casual laborers
are often called, into the class of "unemployables," the city has made no
effort to discover. Improved conditions in the camps, better wages in the
summer, or jobs in the winter, will not meet the present needs of many of
these men. For them the city should have, co-operating with the Municipal
Lodging House, a farm, where they could be sent to receive skilled medical
and social treatment.

With the "foreigners" the case is quite different. The testimony of all
the railroads consulted is that unless the whole gang leaves because they do



REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT 71

not like the work or the camp, or for some cause which, according to the
railroad, "cannot be ascertained," they stay until the work is over or the
season closes. There is little of the restless, irresponsible drifting back and
forth, which characterizes the hobo group.

These men secure their work through private employment agents, each
road usually depending upon some one agency to supply its gangs. These
agents charge fees varying with the season and with the amount of work
that is being done. In the early spring, when all the men are eager to
get out, the fee is as high as ten, fifteen or even twenty dollars. In the
summer, when gangs are hard to fill, free shipments are common. Division
of fees with the railroad bosses or employment superintendents, although
contrary to law> is undoubtedly often demanded.

The agent also has to pay grocers, steamship agents and bankers who
supply him with gangs of men. Misrepresentation on the part of the agent
is common, although the law provides that an explicit contract in a language
he understands shall be issued every man shipped. One gang with which an
investigator was sent out spent the time during the railroad journey in
speculation as to what the work was going to be some thought they were
bound for the mines, others for a lumber camp, and still others for railroad
work. Sometimes the misrepresentations relate to the wages, the kind of
bunks, the food, or the particular kind of railroad work that is to be done.

The foreigner usually refuses to board with a commissary company.
The employment agent or the grocer with whom he has an understanding
furnishes the food, usually overcharging for it. Each man prepares his own
or sometimes a group of "messes" together. If this arrangement for board-
ing themselves is interferred with, it is sure to send the gang back to
Chicago in search of another job.

The sleeping accommodations sometimes are the cause of desertions from
the camp. Gangs leave because the bunks are not clean, because the cars
leak, or because the camp is placed in an unsanitary location. The camps
where shacks or tents are provided, such as those maintained by the Sanitary
Board during the building of the Drainage Canal and those maintained by
the United States government in building the irrigation ditches, are popular
with the men, and there is in consequence comparatively little shifting. In
some of these there is an approach to normal family life the men's wives
are with them and provision is made for housekeeping and gardening. If
work is near the city and the men are taken to and from their work daily,
there is also no difficulty in keeping the gang full.

When cold weather comes and the camps all over the north and west
are closed, all those who have been at work for any length of time are passed
back to Chicago or the city from which they come. The foreigners return
much better off than the hoboes. 'They have earned more, spent some less
for better food and much less for liquor. For some of them the money they
bring back, supplemented by occasional odd jobs, may last until spring unless
the winter is severe. Some of them invest their savings in some small busi-
ness enterprise a fruit stand, a shoe-shine parlor, or a peddler's wagon. A
good many are ambitious to find regular work for the year and hope that
they have spent their last summer on the road. But regular employment is
extremely difficult to find at this season, and so spring finds them making
their payments to ship out. On others the life has already had its effect
and they are beginning to find the summer journey into the west and the
long idleness of the winter, in spite of the privations and hardships, prefer-
able to the monotony of factory work.

The immigrant is at no time so much in need of disinterested advice
and assistance as when he first offers himself in the labor market. That he
should receive the prevailing rate of wages, should work under decent condi-
tions, and should not be sent out to jobs which do not exist, is of first im-
portance to the American laborer as well as the immigrant. At present he is
at the mercy of private employment agents, who find his helplessness a great
temptation or a great opportunity. The organization of really efficient and
intelligently managed labor exchanges is the only way out of this situation.
It would result not only in the saving of fees, but would also mean reliable



72 REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT

information about the job, and intelligent study of employment opportunities
to see if continuous work is not possible, and better adjustment of the man
to the job. The beginning of such a system of labor exchanges already
exists. The Bureau of Information in the United States Immigration De-
partment is intended to assist in the intelligent distribution of immigrants.
Although this bureau was created in 1907, no offices have been established
west of the Atlantic coast, and so the national possibilities of the plan have
never been tested. For even an adequate approach to the problem we are
considering this bureau must develop into a central clearing house for native
as well as immigrant laborers. For Chicago's problem the first step is the
establishment of a branch office in Chicago.

The Illinois employment offices are poorly organized and so have never
had the support or interest of the general public. Their reorganization is
necessary for a knowledge of the Illinois market.

The railroads are divided in their attitude toward public labor exchanges.
Three of those who replied to the questions submitted were of the opinion
that a central state agency, if efficiently conducted, would greatly improve
the situation. One thought it would not be effective unless all idle men
could be compelled to register, another that it would be successful if con-
ducted so as to gain the confidence of the men, another it would fail be-
cause it would reach only the "hoboes" and not the foreigners. One thinks
the agency would "have to be able to control all migratory labor," and an-
other thinks the success would depend on whether the agency were managed
by "practical men or by political organizations and labor agents." If a cen-
tral exchange were under the direction of a man of social intelligence and
executive ability who would secure the co-operation of the employing public
there is little doubt that the situation would be greatly improved.

Construction and general repair work must be done and it must of
necessity be seasonal. Chicago has therefore a very definite problem to
face. It is substantially a question of how far winter employment can be
secured, how the savings of the men can be increased, and how those who
are just entering this group of workers can be protected against those demor-
alizing influences which have made so many of their predecessors "unem-
ployables." For accomplishing this the following recommendations are made:

1. Establishment of a Chicago office of the United States Bureau of
Information.

2. Reorganization under a central office, and intelligent management
of the state free employment offices.

3. Inspection of camps by the State Board of Health and by the Fed-
eral Government. Sanitary conditions are extremely important, not alone
to protect the men, but because upon their return to the city the entire city
population may be infected.

4. Provision for educational and social life in the camps. A traveling
school house, which would be a school where English is taught to foreigners
a few nights in the week and a real social center the rest of the time, should
be provided. Such a school would serve to keep the camp free from the
moral diseases, which, more than the physical, have been the cause of the
ruin of the men.

5. Regulation of prices charged by the Commissary Companies and for-
eign grocers who supply the camps.

6. Scientific treatment in a farm colony for the "hoboes" who are no
longer fit for regular work.

7. Better wages and the encouragement by the railroads of regular
work, so that employment will be as nearly regular as possible.

GRACE ABBOTT.



REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT 73

III. CASUAL LABORERS.
By Victor Olander.

The migratory labor herein referred to is that of various employments
where the work is largely unskilled and seasonal, limited to brief periods,
casual, and shifting from one locality to another, in and out of the large in-
dustrial centers, and including practically all cases where large numbers of
workers are required outside of the towns and cities.


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