American, Irish, German.
Italian, Swedish, German, Irish. American.
German, Swedish, French, Polish.
Norwegian, Irish, German.
German, Bohemian, American.
Hungarian and Italians (about 60%).
American, Irish, German, Polish.
American (55%), Canadian (15%), Scandinavian (20%), British, Ger-
Irish, Dutch, American, Polish, Negro, Greeks, Jews.
American, German, Irish.
American, German, Irish, Swedish.
This table shows that the labor unions from which reports were secured
are made up predominantly of Americans and northern Europeans, and that
there are few members of the southern European races. The members are,
also, predominantly, men in their prime.
REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT
Methods of Securing Employment.
How do members secure
If so, how is it
Register of unemployed.
Secretary keeps a list of
the unemployed, and
sends them in rotation
to vacancies; one day a
week extra work given
to the unemployed.
Individual application and re-
quests at meetings
Individual application and
through the union
Secretary in office and man
in the field looking up
Secretary in office.
Go East or West
Individual application and re-
ports in lodge
Not through an agent
Through business agent
When a man quits his job
he reports to business
Reports are sent from city
Union, and Individual applicat'n
to City, so that the men
are informed about posi-
tions; Information at of-
Secretary gets calls from
employers, and notifies
members of positions.
No member is allowed to
look for work for him-
self: office furnishes the
By presenting working card....
Asking those who are working.
Correspondence and office
Locals and offices through-
out the country, free to
Not a practical one.
Of the twenty-nine unions reporting, 10 had employment offices, and nine-
teen did not; those that have employment offices have organized them some-
what differently; some of them merely have a secretary who receives demands
from employers; others have, in addition, a field agent who looks up vacan-
cies. Two of them have regular reports from unions in other cities, so that
men can be sent back and forth according to requirements. In one union no
member is allowed to look for work for himself, but the union furnishes him
work. In addition to this formal organization, the unions serve as meeting
places at which the unemployed member may receive information in regard
to vacancies from the employed members; in five cases in which there was no
employment office maintained by the union, this was reported to be one of
the means of securing employment. In eleven cases individual application is
reported to be the principal means of securing employment, and in one case
it is used to supplement the union employment office. Thus it is evident that
even for the members of labor unions individual applications are numerically
probably the most universal means of securing employment.
REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT
Attitude of Labor Unions to Public Labor Exchanges.
Would your members
What features do you recommend?
About the same as conducted in Europe.
Not if political
Keep it out of potftics, organize "it through Fed-
eration of Labor, or by Commission of Labor,
appoint officers for their experience as work-
Not for our
Installation of musical exchange in conjunction.
Do not employ strike-breakers; be fair
Each trade union should have an exchange.
either of its own or as a department of
Strict control by municipality.
If not a detriment to unionism.
*Too convenient as strike-breaking agencies.
tit would not help our organization any, and think it would not be of any benefit
except to unskilled labor.
Eleven unions reply that they favor such public labor exchanges, eight do
not favor them, three favor them conditionally, and eight do not answer the
question; that is, 50% of the unions replying favor them unconditionally, 14%
favor them conditionally, and 36% oppose them.
Only eighteen of the unions answer the question in regard to whether or
not their members will patronize the exchanges; of these eleven say they will,
three state that they will conditionally, and four that they will not.
The principal reason given for refusal to favor or patronize the public
exchanges is the fear that they will be used as strike-breaking agencies, or
detrimental in other ways to unionism. For that reason a few of the unions
maintain that it must be kept out of politics.
The cordial attitude of some of the unions is shown by the following
statement, made by Union No. 1, "We all join hands in thanking your Honor-
able Committee in taking such interest in our working conditions and wish
you success in your good work. I hope the time will come when the em-
ployer and employee will get in better relations with one another and stop all
strikes." Union No. 25 replied that in their last meeting they had voted "to
co-operate with you in the work in establishing exchanges for the unemployed."
Union No. 22. while opposing public exchanges because of the ease with
which they would furnish strike-breakers, stated that the great problem was
that the workman "has no means of finding out for himself where men are
needed and how many are responding. . . . They must have some method
REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT
of finding out the true facts for themselves, so that they will feel safe in rely-
ing on the information." This would seem to indicate that if the workmen
felt sure that the exchanges were reliable, and if they had a voice in the con-
trol, they would not oppose them.
Causes of Unemployment, as Stated by Labor Unions.
Reasons for Increase of un-
employment In the winter of
1911-12, as compared with
General Causes of Unemployment
Unemployment in other
Influx of workers during rush.
Contractors employ non-union labor.
Migration of unemployed Migration to city, women and children tak-
to Chicago in winter....
Lack of work
Business depression . .
More men hunting for
Letting contracts out of
Cold, and lock-outs by employers when
Lack of work.
More men than jobs.
Inefficiency of workmen.
Seasons, Jurisdictional disputes, vacations
/ by property owners.
Lack of business.
Lack of building operations.
Seasons based on habit.
Over-supply of foreigners.
Long hours, modern machinery, high
Strikes, lock-outs, lack of work.
Machinery, employment bureau of manufac-
,Long hours in busy times,
jobs Seasons, racial competition, laying off men
at end of trip, college students who work
Intoxicants, neglect of duty.
Letting contracts out of the city.
Too many young and incompetent workers.
Lack of work.
One of the reasons assigned for the general state of unemployment, gen-
eral business depression or lack of work was given eight times, seasons six
times, inefficiency of workers, migration to the city and machinery three times
each; long hours during rush seasons was given in two cases; mention was
made one time for each of the following as general causes of unemployment:
Women and children in industry, over-production, Jurisdictional disputes,
strikes, immigration, letting contracts out of the city, and the employment bu-
reau of the manufacturers' association.
Of the reasons given by the unions for the increase in the amount of
unemployment in the winter of 1911-12, as compared with previous winters,
the severe weather was given in eight cases, strikes in three cases, unemploy-
ment in other industries in two cases, general business depression or lack of
work in two cases, and the following in one case each: migration to city,
over-production, Jurisdictional disputes, political uncertainty, long hours, and
letting contracts out of the city.
The following quotations express more at length the attitude of the unions
in regard to the causes of unemployment.
44 REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT
Union No. 3: "Contractors who do work in our line often send out of
the city and get non-union men and we, the permanent residents of Chicago,
walk the streets looking for work. But, in the event of'the City doing its own
work, this is one of the evils that will be done away with."
Union No. 7: "In our craft we have what is called a 'floating' element.
They go from place to place where there is any amount of work, and very
often a slack season will find a number of them 'stranded,' in the large centers,
thus increasing the number of unemployed in such centers. Winter is often a
very slack season for our craft."
Union No. 10: "Every July and August a great number of our members
are out of work; explanation vacations of parties erecting buildings. Juris-
dictional disputes cause the tying up of construction work. Contractors should
observe the jurisdiction of each trade over the class of work granted to it by
the A. F. of L. Architects and owners should! let no contracts to contractors
who will not observe the jurisdiction of each trade."
Union No. 15 stated that immigration was the cause of unemployment,
because the immigrants would work for less than the Americans.
Union No. 24: "Look over the contracts that were let out last year for
castings of all kinds, from manhole covers to repairs on pumps and all the
new pump work. Now this alone would require a great number of mechanics,
and labor of all kinds; and again, look at the water meters; the contracts for
those are all new; work goes out of Chicago, and, of course, when our work
goes out of the city, we are left idle to walk the streets and help to make the
army greater. Now, why dp we not make our own water meters? Those we
are now using are not satisfactory and are very expensive. We can make
them at a great saving of money to the city. . . . We pay large salaries
to competent engineers in our engineering department. Why can we not also
build our new pumps and engines? Why can we not build our own bridges?
There will be upward of over a million and a half dollars there alone. I un-
derstand two of these already are gone outside the city, and I further under-
stand from an investigation that the city employees have on all past 'contract-
bridges had to take up the work and finish it before the city would accept.
If we have to remodel them, why not make them and save the city money
and time? There was passed at Springfield an act called the day labor bill,
giving the people the right to do all their own work by day labor. If we keep
the million or two dollars in Chicago that is spent in letting out contracts, we
will reduce the army of unemployed by many thousands and be of great benefit
to both merchant and mechanic. . . . When our money goes and our work
goes, we cannot help but be idle. I think it is up to this Commission to put a
stop to this unjust practice; keep the work in Chicago; give the tax payers a
chance to work for themselves, and we will keep the money in Chicago and
it will do more to relieve the situation and reduce the army of unemployed
and in general satisfy the public. The city is just about to build a foundry.
Why not enlarge the machine shop and stop all contract work in general and
give the unemployed a chance to earn a living?"
SUGGESTIONS BY LABOR UNIONS.
Union No. 4: "The best way to deal with unemployment would be to
assess every man who is working and in case he is out of work assist him for
a certain time. Our union applied this plan twelve years ago with the best
results. We assess every member 50c a month and pay to the members who
have been out of work for five weeks $4 a week during the winter months,
December, January, February and March."
Union No. 5: "Stop foreign immigration for a period of ten years.
Establish a minimum wage. Establish an eight hour day. Build houses that
could be rented for lower rent and reduce the price of the necessary means
Union No. 6. " Should the different companies be forced by law in
some way to -find employment for every man through the winter months,
they would use only ordinary power through summer and could easily find
work for every man through the winter or at least employ eleven months,
REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT 45
instead of eight. Also, force the farmers to hire men by the year, and not
turn them out just as soon as everything freezes up; then they come to large
cities, spend their savings in a few days, and are thrown on the labor market
for the winter. The same is true of the track gangs of the railway companies."
Union No. 8: "Personally I believe that immigration should be curtailed
to some reasonable extent; also, that real estate brokers and others should
not advertise throughout the country, as is done at present, that times are
good in the. large cities, such as Chicago; this brings a large element of
floaters to the city, especially in the winter months, thereby taking away the
employment from the men who have homes here and families to support.
More public improvements could be undertaken to employ more men."
Union No. 12 suggested that the plumbing inspectors should be more
efficient, and that this would bring more work for this union.
Union No. 13: "We would like to have a stated season of employment
or some means of remuneration for the time we are unemployed, through an
exchange or otherwise, where we would not become a burden on the munici-
Union No. 16 would recommend that the hours of labor be shortened, on
account of modern machinery, high speed, and modern shop methods, to
eight hours per day in order to give everybody an opportunity for work. The
abolition of the piece-work and premium system would help materially. We
find there is a tendency among employers to discriminate against men over
40 years, thereby depriving them of an opportunity to earn a livelihood, which
makes some of them a charge upon the municipality.
Union No. 17: "Unfair methods of the railroads treating with their
employees cause strikes and lock-outs. We would suggest that the eight
hour day be enforced, and thereby give employment to more men, and when
a reduction in expenses is necessary reduce the hours rather than the force."
Union No. 18: "I would call attention to the secret reports of doctors
in the railway hospitals, supported by the men themselves. I hear that if
a man has a finger off, for illustration, the doctor cures the finger, and at the
same time tests the man's lungs, water, etc., perhaps finds he has Bright's
Disease. The secret report is sent in, and this man is discharged at once for
something which is trivial, and he is on the streets, a burden on the community.
I am told this is done, and give it to you for what it is worth. I am told
that the captalists of this country make or break the labor market at their
Union No. 20: "I would suggest remedial legislation covering immigra-
tion into the U. S., not to exclude all, but with a view to getting a higher
type of civilization than what we now get as a rule. Your Commission
could also show their sincerity by advocating a shorter work-day generally.
The same amount of work can be distributed among a greater number of
men at eight hours per day than if they were required to work ten hours."
Union No. 21: "Eight hours' work for both men and women; no over-
time should be allowed. Municipal ownership of factories. Insurance fund
for slack times, which should be paid by the bosses and by the workmen.
Children under sixteen should not be permitted to work. Old-age pensions
which will instate young people in their places. Abolish all sweat shops.
Unions to have control of the shops; no piece-work."
Union No. 22: "The greatest problem is that of the migratory or
casual laborer, who heads west each spring for railroad, construction and
farm work, and returns east each fall to overcrowd the cities and compete
for work (Chicago gets a whole host of these men each winter), who is
the constant prey of private employment agencies, to whom state agencies
are of little value, and who has no means of finding out for himself where
men are needed, and how many are responding. At present when word is
sent out that men are needed in a given part of the country these men either
respond in droves, resulting in too many coming, or they distrust the informa-
tion and refuse to come at all. They must have some method of finding out
the true facts for themselves, so that they will feel safe in relying on the
information. They must be given a chance to solve their own problem
46 REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT
until they get that chance there will be no solution of it. There are about
three million of them, according to the estimates of the American Federation
of Labor (officials or delegates), and Chicago is a gathering point."
Union No. 23: "There are a great many men in and around the Union
Stock Yards that would not work if you placed a position in their back yard,
so long as they get some one to hand them the price, and they can get to
the free lunch counters and help themselves. Some of the free lunch counters
in this vicinity set up a better meal than one-half of the restaurants do that
are located on Halsted near Root Street."
Union No. 26. "Over twenty years study of the labor question has
convinced me that the only possible remedy for the dull seasons which, at
intervals sweep over every industry, is a curtailment of the hours of labor
during the slack periods. This method is somewhat extensively used in various
portions of the Old World, but for two reasons American manufacturers
are absolutely opposed to the system. Change their views and you will have
solved to a large extent the unemployment cause."
Union No. 27: "We believe there should be some regulation of the
schools that are at the present time turning out hundreds and thousands of
young men and young women, unqualified for work . . . flooding the
market, lowering wages as well as standards of work."
Chicago, April 22, 1912.
In accordance with a resolution passed by the City Council of Chicago,
a Special Commission has been appointed by the Mayor, "to investigate the
causes, extent and effects of unemployment and to ascertain what can be done
to more effectually relieve the sufferings of the poor and unemployed, and
provide employment either in public or private undertakings for the many
men who may hereafter be out of work in the City of Chicago."
Actual facts from numerous reliable sources are indispensable to the
work of this Commission and we shall rely upon companies like yours to
furnish us with authentic data. We hope that you will appreciate our need
of your earnest co-operation in a work which, if properly done, will redound
to the benefit of employer, employee and our whole community.
Very truly yours,
Dr. R. A. White.
Oscar G. Mayer,
Chairman of Subcommittee.
QUESTIONS TO EMPLOYERS
1. (a) Give the average number of your employees during the winter
(b) The previous winter.
(c) Two winters ago.
2. (a) During 1911 how many days was your plant working full time?
(b) How many days part time?
(c) How many days idle and what was the reason for closing down?
3. (a) What are the main reasons for the fluctuations in the number of
(b) In what class or kind of labor are these fluctuations most notice-
4. (a) How does the number of men quitting voluntarily during 1911-1912
compare with former years?
(b) How does the number of discharges for cause during 1911-1912 com-
pare with former years?
(c) How does the number laid off (on account of lack of work only)
during 1911-1912 compare with former years?
5. Did more men seek employment from you last winter than in
former years? Give reasons.
REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT 47
6. If busy in one department and slack in another is it possible to
transfer help rather than discharge and hire new men?
7. What is your method of paying employees Weekly or monthly?
By cash or checks? Give reasons.
8. (a) Are your works wholly or party unionized or neither?
(b) If partly, which branches are and which are not unionized?
9. (a) Do you employ female help?
(-b) How many?
(c) At what class of work?
(d) Do you employ married women?
(e) How many?
(f) To what extent do you employe women at work formerly done
by men, and your reason for doing so?
10. (a) What are the prevailing nationalities among your employees?
(b) Are your employees reasonably skilled, intelligent, steady and
(c) Describe their general character.
(d) What is their average age?
11. (a) Have your employees as an average any "surplus fund"; that is,
do they own homes, have they savings accounts or credit to tide them over
(b) Have you a system of helping needy new employees by means
of a commissary, through arrangements with a boarding-house, or through
"on account" payments on their wages?
12. (a) Can you always get all the help you want?
(b) What kind of labor do you find scarce?
(c) What kind is over supplied?
13. How do you get your help
(a) Through a public employment agency?
(b) Private employment agency?,
(c) Through the newspaper?
(d) By application at your plant?
(e) By recommendation of your employees?
(f ) Reasons for your choice?
14. (a) Would you favor employment exchanges under public manage-
ment such as are operating with great success in Europe?
(b) What features about such exchanges would you recommend?
(c) If the Commission recommended a system of efficient State
Labor Exchanges would you be willing to patronize them?
15. General. Any facts relating to unemployment and suggestions as
to means of reducing this evil and wisely assisting those out of work are
solicited by the Commission. State fully.
II. REPORTS OF SUB-COMMITTEES.
2. Employment Agencies.