BRANDEIS, J., dissenting.

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in the system. Where the States and cities have spent much money for inspectors and complaint adjusters there has been considerable improvement in the methods of private employment agencies, but most of the officers in charge of this regulation testify that the abuses are in 'the nature of the business' and never can be entirely eliminated. They therefore favor the total abolition of private labor agencies. This is also the common opinion among working people, and in the several States attempts have already been made to accomplish this by law."

But the remedies proposed were not limited to the suppression of private offices charging fees to workers, and the extension of the systems of state and municipal offices. The conviction became widespread that for the solution of the larger problem of unemployment the aid of the Federal Government and the utilization and development of its extensive machinery was indispensable. During the seven years preceding 1914 a beginning had been made in this respect. The Immigration Act of February 20, 1907, c. 1134, 34 Stat. 898, 909, created within the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization a Division of Information, charged with the duty of promoting "a beneficial distribution of aliens." The services rendered by this division included, among others, some commonly performed by employment agencies. While it undertook to place in positions of employment only aliens, its operations were national in scope. The Act of March 4, 1913, creating the Department of Labor, resulted in a transfer of the Bureau of Immigration, including the Division of Information, to that department. (37 Stat. 736.) By this transfer the scope of the division's work was enlarged to correspond with the broad powers of the Labor Department. These were declared by Congress to be: "to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their

BRANDEIS, J., dissenting.

working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment."

Then its efforts "to distribute" (that is both to supply and to find places for) labor were extended to include citizens as well as aliens; and much was done to develop the machinery necessary for such distribution. In the summer of 1914, and in part before the filing in the State of Washington of the proposal for legislation here in question, action had been taken by the Department of Labor which attracted public attention. It undertook to supply harvest hands needed in the Middle West and also to find work for the factory hands thrown out of employment by the great fire at Salem, Massachusetts, June 25, 1914.1 The division was strengthened by co-operation with other departments of the Federal Government (Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, and the Post Office with its 60,000 local offices) and with state and municipal employment offices. As early as June 13, 1914, the United States Department of Labor had also sought the co-operation in this work of all the leading newspapers in America including those printed in foreign languages.2

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1 The fire was so extensive that the Congress appropriated $200,000 for relief of all sufferers. Act of August 1, 1914, c. 223, 38 Stat. 681.

2 Annual Report of the Secretary of Labor, 1914, pp. 48-55; Monthly Review of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July, 1915, p. 8; See also Annual Report of the Secretary of Labor, 1915, p. 36: “Interdepartmental coöperation.-Through the coöperation of the Post Office Department it became possible to bring to the aid of this labordistribution service some 60,000 post offices and thereby to create a network of communication between employers needing help without knowing where to get it and workers wanting employment without knowing where to find it. Either employer or workman may obtain at any post office in the United States a blank application supplied by this department which, after filling out and signing it, he may deposit in the mails anywhere free of postage." "Employment bulletins.The bulletins contain a statement of unmatched applications, no matter what part of the country they may come from. It is not expected, of course, that applications for work of a minor character will ordinarily

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BRANDEIS, J., dissenting.

3. Conditions in the State of Washington.

The peculiar needs of Washington emphasized the defects of the system of private employment offices.

(a) The evils.

The conditions generally prevailing are described in a report recently published by the United States Department of Labor, thus: 1

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"In no part of the United States perhaps is there so large a field for employment offices as in the Pacific States. As has been noted, industrial conditions there favor inconstancy of employment. Much of the business activity is based upon the casual, short-time job. This in itself means the frequent shifting of workers from place to place. And the shifting is the more difficult, as much of the work offered is in more or less remote districts of the country.

"The necessity laid upon so many workers of constantly seeking new jobs opens a peculiarly fertile field for their exploitation by unscrupulous private employment agencies. There is much testimony to the fact and frequency of such exploitation. The most striking evidence of this is that in the State of Washington private agencies made themselves so generally distrusted that in 1915 their complete abolition was ordered by popular vote.

"Prior to 1914 there was practically no legislation regarding private employment agencies, and there had been no attempt at State supervision of their conduct. But

be matched by applications for workers of that kind from distant stations. It is assumed, however, that bulletined applications may possibly be matched through the coöperation of near-by stations within a reasonable radius. The bulletins are also systematically sent to such newspapers as have indicated their desire to receive them for possible publication as news matter of interest to their respective readers."

1 Labor Laws and their Administration in the Pacific States. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Bulletin No. 211 (1917), pp. 17-18.

BRANDEIS, J., dissenting.

distrust of such agencies was constantly increasing and. culminated in the year mentioned in the passage by popular initiative of an act aiming at the total suppression of all private employment agencies of the commercial type."

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The reports of the Washington State Bureau of Labor give this description:

"The investigations of the Bureau show that the worst labor conditions in the state are to be found on highway and railroad construction work, and these are largely because the men are sent long distances by the employment agencies, are housed and fed poorly at the camps, and are paid on an average of $1.75 to $2.25 a day, out of which they are compelled to pay $5.50 to $7.00 per week for board, generally a hospital fee of some kind, always a fee to the employment agency and their transportation to the point where the work is being done. The consequence is that they usually have but little money left when the work is finished and if, as frequently happens, they work only a week or two and are then discharged they are in as bad a situation as they were before they went to work, and sometimes worse, if they do not have enough money to get back to the place from which they started." 1

"That the honest toiler was their victim there is no question: not alone of a stiff fee for the information given but a systematic method was adopted in order to keep the business going. Managers of agencies and managers of jobs, their superintendents, foremen or sub-foremen, were in this scheme for fleecing the workingman. Men in large numbers would be sent to contract jobs and if on the railroads 'free fare' was part of the inducement, or perhaps the agency would charge a nominal fee if the distance was great and this, too, would become a perquisite of the

Washington State Bureau of Labor. Report 1913-14, pp. 27–28.


BRANDEIS, J., dissenting.

bureau to finally go through the clearing house. In many cases men would be unsatisfactory, at least they would be told so, discharged in a few days and sent adrift as poor, may be poorer, than when they came there. New men would have to be secured, and thus the thing would go on revolving. So it went until at last it became so obnoxious that the public indignation was at length aroused, resulting in the passing of a law doing away with them." 1

The abuses and the inadequacy of the then existing system are also described by state officials in affidavits included in the record.

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(b) The remedies.

Washington had not tried direct regulation of private employment offices; but that method was being considered as late as 1912.2 Its people had had, on the other hand, exceptional opportunities of testing public employment offices. The municipal employment office established at Seattle in 1894 under an amendment of the city charter is among the oldest public offices in the United States. Takoma established a municipal office in 1904, Spokane in 1905 and Everett in 1908.3 The continuance and increase of these municipal offices indicate that their experience in public employment agencies was at least encouraging. And the low cost of operating them was extraordinary. In Spokane the fees charged by private agencies ranged from $1 upward and were usually about

1 Washington State Bureau of Labor. Report 1915-16, p. 120.

2 Washington State Bureau of Labor, 1911-1912. Report of Commissioner, p. 16: "It has been demonstrated that state control of employment agencies is the most effective way to properly regulate them. I would earnestly recommend a state law similar to the one in Illinois that went into effect July 1, 1911, and has proven to be the best law for this purpose in this country."

The first free public employment office in the United States was the municipal agency established in Cleveland in 1890. Then followed (in 1893) the Los Angeles office. Bulletin of United States Bureau of Labor No. 68, p. 1 (Jan. 1907).

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