Sidebilder
PDF

taining minutes of the meetings of the commission, schedules of inquiry, accident statistics, costs, representative relief plans in use, etc., conclude the report.

MINNESOTA.

The report of the Minnesota commission 1 is devoted more to the discussion of legal and constitutional questions than to a study of industrial conditions. Practically 100 of the 289 pages of the report are taken up with a presentation of the draft of a bill proposed by the commission and its discussion, point by point, in which the rights and liabilities provided are defined and court decisions cited in support of the various provisions.

The conclusions of the commission are adverse to the constitutionality of a State insurance law, in view of the provisions of the State constitution which forbid the State to engage in private business or to use the public funds in competitive undertakings as a means of regulating the conduct of business, citing Rippe v. Becker (56 Minn., 100), a case in which it was held that the State had not the power to build and operate a grain elevator. The discussion as to the constitutionality of the proposed bill is detailed and, together with the summary, presents the argument in favor of a compensation bill of compulsory application.

No law was enacted until 1913, when an act embodying the principle of compensation, but in elective form, was passed.

MISSOURI.

A commission was appointed in 1910 by the governor of Missouri, the principal recommendation of which, so far as appears, was that a commission be appointed to give the matter further consideration. The State senate in 1911 passed a resolution of similar effect, and a new commission was accordingly appointed. It consisted of 15 members, 5 being appointed by the president of the senate, 5 by the speaker of the house, and 5 by the governor, and held a number of meetings in September and October, 1912. Majority and minority reports were submitted, with bills representing the diverse views. The report2 of the majority is a pamphlet of 145 pages, 10 of which contain the commission's letter of transmittal setting forth its conclusions, the remainder being minutes of the hearings. In the bill recommended for the consideration of the legislature, the New Jersey law was Used as a basis, the avowed purpose of the commission being "to establish the principle of workmen's compensation in this State,"

> Report to Legislature of Minnesota Employees' Compensation Commission, 1911.

: Report of Missouri Commission on Employers' Liability and Workmen's Compensation, 1913.

30597°—Bull. 126—14 2

while recognizing that "to realize the ideal of workmen's conpensation is impossible."

The minority report1 consists of 30 pages, 22 of which present a bill, while the remaining portion is taken up with an account of the grounds for dissent from the majority. The principal contention was to the effect that later drafts and more extended studies were available, showing advances over the provisions of the New Jersey act of 1911, and that these should be taken advantage of in the enactment of new legislation. The bill recommended was the draft of a law prepared by a committee of the National Association of Manufacturers, some of the points of advantage emphasized being the prevention of accidents, the compulsory insurance of the risks of all employers who elect to accept the law, the encouragement of mutual insurance as a means of holding in check the charges for premiums, and the inclusion of farm and domestic labor. Compulsory compensation was said by the minority report to be desirable eventually, but not immediately attainable.

No law was enacted in 1913, but a third commission was provided for, to report to the legislature of 1915.

MONTANA.

Though the legislature had in 1909 enacted a law of limited scope, applicable to coal mines only, the governor of Montana appointed on Ids own motion a commission of eight men in 1910 to prepare employers' liability and workmen's compensation acts to present to the legislature. This commission, or six of its members, agreed to recommend two bills, one providing for automatic compensation in extrahazardous employments, and a companion bill limiting the amounts recoverable if workmen elect to sue instead of accepting the proposed benefits. Neither of these bills became a law.

The report2 proper is very short, containing only seven pages, occupied with an account of the appointment and action of the commissions, the nature of the proposed bills, and a general expression as to the desirability of compensation laws as compared with those declaring the employers' liability. A recommendation was made for the appointment of a commission by the legislature to give further attention to the subject.

NEBRASKA.

The House of Representatives of Nebraska passed a resolution, April 6, 1911, empowering and requesting the governor to'appoint a commission to investigate the subject of employers' liability and compensation laws. No appropriation was made for expenses, but

i Letter of transmittal accompanying minority report prepared by F. C. Schwedtman of tbe Missouri Commission on Employers' Liability and Workmen's Compensation, 1913.

'Governor's message relating to employers' liability and workmen's compensation act, with report of the commission appointed by the governor, 1911.

the commission was authorized to call on the State legislative reference bureau for assistance and clerical help and for other aid in preparing its report. The report1 is a pamphlet of 48 pages, and is issued by the Nebraska legislative reference bureau as Bulletin No. 2. Data are presented as to accidental deaths in the State for the first 11 months of 1912, reported under the board of health law of 1905, and court business from personal-injury cases.

Two bills are presented as majority and minority reports of the commission, the first being a compulsory compensation system and the second an elective State insurance system. A law was passed in 1913 differing widely from either of the propositions of the commission, being an elective compensation law.

NEW JERSEY.

The report of the New Jersey commission2 is embodied in a message of the governor to the legislature, transmitting the report. The pamphlet, of 91 pages, contains the evidence taken at the hearings of the commission, discussions of the defenses commonly in use in meeting actions for injuries to employees, some account of the Chicago conference of November, 1910, and the bill proposed for enactment. The representatives of labor on the commission, while supporting the principle of the bill, objected to the amount of compensation proposed. •

A law on the subject was enacted in 1911, practically in agreement with the recommendations of the commission, and has been upheld as constitutional by the courts.

NEW YORK.

The Legislature of New York by an act of May 27, 1909, provided for a commission of 14 persons to consider existing conditions in the State as to the liability of employers for industrial accidents, and "the comparative efficiency, cost, justice, merits, and defects of the laws of the other industrial States and countries relative to the same subject." An appropriation of $10,000 was made for the expenses of the commission, which reported in 1910, the volume 3 being a quarto composed of the report proper, of 69 pages, with 200 pages of appendixes, and a record of hearings comprising 470 pages. A second volume appeared under the date of April 20, 1911, on the causes and prevention of industrial accidents, consisting of a report, 116 pages, and minutes, 307 pages; while after the action of the court of appeals of the State declaring the compulsory compensation law unconstitutional, a brief report (11 pp.) was issued May 3, 1911, reviewing

> Preliminary Report, Employers' Liability and Workmen's Compensation Commission, 1912. * Message of the governor transmitting to the legislature the report of commission on employers' liability, Mil.

■Report by the Commission lo Inquire into the Question of Employers' Liability. Kirst report, Mar. 19,1910.

this decision and recommending the adoption of an amendment to the constitution of the State to meet objections raised by the court. In this report the enactment of an elective system, withdrawing the employer's defenses to secure his coming under the law, was considered as of doubtful constitutionality under tho ruling in the caso in which the compulsory act was disapproved, and also as of doubtful practical value, since many employers might refuse to accept it, even under such pressure as the law might provide.

The first and principal report is one of the most extended reports issued by a State commission. Eleven public hearings in various parts of the State, 14 executive sessions of tho commission, and numerous meetings of committees and subcommittees indicate something of the activity of the commission in one direction. Inquiries were sent to 1,942 employers reporting accidents to the State department of labor, to 975 reporting accidents to tho public-service commission, and to the presidents of 2,331 labor organizations in the State. Several statistical studies were made as to the economic results of accidents and proceedings at law with reference to such accidents; also the cost of industrial accidents to employers and the distribution of such costs to hospitals, for fees, insurance premiums, settlements, as damages, etc.

An investigation of 1,040 work accidents by the State labor department, in which total losses and payments were ascertained, showod that in 404 of the 902 cases of temporary disability (lasting from one week to more than one year) nothing was received by the injured person, not even medical expenses; while in 304 cases the amount recovered from the employer was less than one-half the loss of wages and expenses of the injury. In 71 cases thero was permanent partial disability, reducing the earning capacity of the employee in varying amounts. Of this number 18 received nothing, 22 received $100 or less, 14 received from $101 to $500, 5 received from $501 to $2,000, while 1 person received more than $2,000; suits were still pending in 11 cases. In 902 cases of temporary disability there was a wago loss of $66,800, besides medical expenses amounting to $20,000, while all payments by employers amounted to but $25,339, or less than 30 per cent of the losses and costs. Payments in cases of permanent partial disability make a somewhat better showing, approximating 34 per cent of the actual losses, though this omits from consideration the depreciated earning power; while in 10 cases of permanent total disability, computed on a basis of 3 years' wage loss, the payments by employers amounted to but 9.7 per cent of the losses and costs. Data obtained from other sources indicate the same general condition of inadequate compensation for losses suffered.

That the system of liability and damage suits entails waste is shown by the fact that the expenditures of 327 firms in the State in 1907, employing 125,995 men, amounted to $192,538 on account of accidents, accident insurance, legal expenses, etc., of which the amount paid to the persons injured was but $104,643, or 54 per cent of the employers' outgo in this connection. Premium receipts and payments of losses by 9 insurance companies that kept separate accounts of their employers' liability business show that during 1906, 1907, and 1908 they took in as premiums $23,523,585 and paid out in insurance $8,559,795, or but 36 per cent of the premiums received. In connection with attorney's fees, which are frequently contingent on recoveries, it was shown that in 14 of the 51 cases investigated the fee was less than 25 per cent of the recovery, in 14 cases it was 50 per cent or more, while in the remaining 23 cases it was more than 25 per cent and less than 50 per cent.

The question of the cost to the employer of a compensation system as compared with the cost of the present system received consideration, the investigation of this phase of the question being conducte'd by the State bureau of labor statistics.

It was concluded that largo manufacturing firms (though perhaps not small employers) could pay compensation benefits at least equal to the English scale at no greater cost than incurred for accidents under the existing system, and probably in some cases for less.

With the exception of one member, who thought that a change of system was necessary, but that the remedy for the situation had not yet been found, the commission summarized its conclusions as follows:

First. That the present system in New York rests on a basis that is economically unwise and unfair, and that in operation it is wasteful, uncertain, and productive of antagonism between workmen and employers.

Second. That it is satisfactory to none, and tolerable only to those employers and workmen who practically disregard their legal rights ana obligations and fairly share the burden of accidents in industries.

Third. That the evils of the system are most marked in hazardous employments where the trade risk is high and serious accidents frequent.

Fourth. That as a matter of fact workmen in the dangerous trades do not, and practically can not, provide themselves adequate accident insurance, and therefore the Burden of serious accidents falls on the workmen least able to bear it, and brings many of them and their families to want.

The commission recommended legislation along two lines—a compulsory compensation act applicable to specified dangerous employments, and an elective law of general application, coupled with amendments to the existing laws on liability. Drafts of bills were prepared and submitted to the legislature in accordance with these

« ForrigeFortsett »