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York City is the seat of the largest amount of idleness, which is partly accounted for by the extensive strike of the cigar makers described in the June BULLETIN. A large number of the other trades have less idleness this year than last at the corresponding date.
A larger number of buildings was completed in Building Operations. New York City in the second quarter of 1900 than in 1899; but the number of new buildings started fell off considerably. At the close of the quarter many builders were awaiting a fall in prices before undertaking new work. In Buffalo also the number of building permits issued in April, May and June, 1900, declined as compared with last year. Rochester, however, points to a large increase over last year and Syracuse has only a slight decrease.
The increase in the number of immigrants at the Immigration.
port of New York in the second quarter of 1900, as compared with 1899, was nearly 40 per cent. And the number of immigrants that arrived in the year ended June 30th was the largest since 1892; in fact, it has been exceeded only seven times in this century. The largest quota came from southern Italy, while the largest increase over the corresponding three months of last year was among the Greeks and the Magyars.
Legality of A decision of unusual import to workingmen
Labor Organizations. was rendered by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (First Department) last July, sustaining the right of members of a labor organization to strike against the employment of non-unionists. It has long been contended by labor leaders that what is legal for one man is legal for two, three or any number of men acting in concert; while on the other hand, conservative lawyers have always betrayed a tendency to broaden the definition of conspiracy so far as respects combinations of workingmen. From the time that all strikes were held to be contrary to law by the English judges, the definition of conspiracy has however been narrowed by the courts until this latest decision in New York admits almost the whole contention of the trade unions. It holds that a workman outside a particular union who is discharged by his employer as a consequence of the united protest of his fellow-employees, backed by threats of striking, has no remedy under the law against those who have combined (“conspired” would be the term used by the legalists) to exclude him from employment as a penalty for non-membership in the protesting union. The decision was unanimous, but on account of the importance of the issue it will probably be carried to the highest court for final determination.
An interesting case was one in which a trade Other Decisions.
union was sued to compel payment of death benefit to the family of a deceased member, which payment the union had refused to make on the ground that the decedent had worked below the union scale of wages. The union was sustained. The interpretation of the eight-hour law is involved in the legal contest between the State and the Municipal Gas Company of Albany, which is still undecided. The State refused to pay the bill of the company for gas and electricity furnished, on the ground that the company was not observing the eight-hour law, which the company maintains does not apply in its case. Attorney-General Davies's opinion that the Gas Company is subject to the statute is reprinted in the BULLETIN.
Agreements The BULLETIN contains the text of several agreeBetween
ments between labor organizations and emEmployers and
Employees. ployers which provide for advances in wages. Thus the union of cloak makers have secured from a large number of employers advances ranging from 25 to 35 per cent, which restored the wages to the rate that prevailed last spring. Steam and hot water fitters also secured an increase in wages, while the tight work coopers (brewery workers) carried through a reduction of the hours of work from 10 to 9 a day.
Foreign notes describe the revision of the GerAbroad. man accident insurance laws, the early closing (of stores) movement and the progress of public employment offices in Germany, the old-age pension law recently enacted in Belgium, and the minimum wage law of New Zealand, designed to protect the interests of youthful workers under the apprentice system. Statistics are also printed which show the number of trade unionists in Germany and the course of wages of agricultural laborers in England during the last half-century.
To meet a widespread public demand for statisComparative Wage Statistics. tics of wages in 1900 as compared with former years, the Bureau has prepared a table giving the trade union rates in 1895 and 1900. Condensed tables show the advances in union rates and reduction in hours of labor in the last three or four years.
It appears that very few unions reported a reduction in the rate of wages, while hundreds have reported advances. Even since the end of the first quarter of 1900 numerous gains have been made. (See Tables IV, V and VI at the end of this number.)