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THE DEPARTMENT IN GENERAL 1. Mission
The Department of Labor has jurisdiction of matters pertaining to fostering, promoting, and developing the welfare of wage-earners of the United States, and is especially concerned with improving their working conditions and advancing their opportunities for profitable employment. The department also has supervision over the enforcement of the immigration, Chinese exclusion, and naturalization laws. It further has direction of investigating matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life, 1
Agitation for such a federal department was begun soon after the close of ihe Civil War, when the wage-workers, most of whom were then veterans of the war, were the victims of a confused economic situation and were suffering from lack of opportunities for profitable employment.
Several conventions of the National Labor Union urged the creation of a federal executive department in the interests of the laboring man. In 1871 a bill was introduced in Congress providing for a Commission on Labor as a temporary expedient, but the bill did not pass.
After various legislative failures to provide a federal agency in behalf of Labor3 a bill passed Congress in 1884 creating a Bureau of Labor in the Department of the Interior.
In 1884 the bureau was made independent as a Department of Labor without executive rank.
In 1903 the Department of Commerce and Labor was authorized by Congress, and the earlier Department of Labor became a bureau. This amalgamated representation of industrial interests was unsatisfactory to the wage-earners, who believed that it contained the possibilities of a hostile agency. Hence there was a renewed and re-enforced demand for a separate department, and at last the tenth executive department came into being 5
The new department took over the Bureau of Labor, its title altered to Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, also, the Children's Bureau. The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization came to the Department as the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization. The latter had been a division.
1 See James J. Davis, Humanity in Government, pp. 1-4.
3 More than 100 such bills, including resolutions, are summarized at pages 13–21 of a public document, long out of print, entitled “Organization and Law of the Department of Commerce and Labor" (Government Pr ting Office, 1901). They cover the riod from 1864 to 1902.
4 Act Feb. 14, 1903 (32 Stat. 827).
3. Activities in General
In addition to the ordinary administrative affairs necessary to the operation of the Department, which will appear under “Organization,” post, and the Bureaus of Immigration and Naturalization, the Women's Bureau, and the United States Employment Service, described in separate chapters, post, these are the following activities: 4. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is charged with the duty of acquiring and diffusing among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with labor in the most general and comprehensive sense of that word, and especially upon its relations to capital, the hours of labor, the earnings of laboring men and women, and the means of promoting their material, social, intellectual, and moral prosperity.
It is especially charged to investigate the causes of and facts relating to controversies and disputes between employers and employees as they may occur, and which may happen to interfere with the welfare of the people of the several states.
It is also authorized to publish a bulletin on the condition of labor in this and other countries, condensations of state and foreign labor reports, facts as to conditions of employment, and such other facts as may be deemed of value to the industrial interests of the United States. This bulletin is issued in a number of series, each dealing with a single subject or closely related group of subjects, and the bulletin is published at irregular intervals as matter becomes available for publication.
By the act to provide a government for the territory of Hawaii, as amended, it is made the duty of the bureau to collect and present in quinquennial reports statistical details relating to all departments of labor in the territory of Hawaii, especially those statistics which relate to the commercial, industrial, social, educational, and sanitary condition of the laboring classes. 5. Children's Bureau
The act establishing the bureau provides that it shall investigate and report upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people, and shall especially investigate the questions of infant mortality, the birth rate, orphanage, juvenile courts, desertion, dangerous occupations, accidents, and diseases of children, employment, and legislation affecting children in the several states and territories. The bureau is also empowered to publish the results of these investigations in such manner and to such extent as may be prescribed by the Secretary of Labor. The bureau is charged with the federal administration of the Sheppard-Towner Act for the promotion of the welfare and hygiene of maternity and infancy. Under this act the federal and state governments are co-operating in their efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
Administration of the Maternity and Infancy Act.--Forty states have continued their acceptance of the Maternity and Infancy Act and are working in co-operation with the Children's Bureau under its provisions. All of the 40 states co-operating have matched in full or in part the federal funds—23 in full and
6 Act March 2, 1895 (28 Stat. 801).
17 in part.
Under the act it becomes the duty of the Children's Bureau to undertake such studies and investigations as will lead to more efficient administration. With the ultimate aim of reducing the number of stillbirths, a series of post mortem examinations are being made in order to determine causes of neonatal deaths. The investigation of maternity homes in Pennsylvania and Minnesota has been completed.
The bureau conducts researches as to child labor legislation in the various states and as to the issuance of permits exempting children from school attendance, so that they may work at home. Studies are made as to useful employment for defective children, the welfare of child workers in rural communities, industrial accidents to minors, the care of children born out of wedlock, public aid to dependent children, the problem of child dependency in general and of dependent wards, and the legal protection of children. Copies of a manual of Juvenile Court Standards prepared by the Children's Bureau are distributed to judges, probation officers, and others interested therein.
6. Activities; Division of Conciliation
Commissioners of Conciliation exercise their good offices to compose labor disputes. They settled 415 of 544 disputes, submitted during the fiscal year of 1924.
Bureau of Industrial Housing and Transportation
The mission of the United States Housing Corporation is to liquidate the government's housing undertakings incident to mobilization for the World War.
The corporation was authorized in 19187 as successor to the Bureau of Industrial Housing and Transportation created by Executive Order under the President's war powers. The original act has been amended.8
The principal activities of the corporation may be summarized as follows: (1) Rentals and sales of properties. (2) Collections from rentals and sales. (3) Liquidation of transportation and public utility loans. (4) Operation of the government hotels. (5) Operation of the Norfolk county ferries.
The Director is the president of the corporation and the Secretary of Labor is the trustee for the United States.
8. Decision; Taxability of Property Held by a United States Corporation
Property of a corporation organized by the United States for war purposes is immune from state taxation.'
7 Act May 16, 1918 (40 Stat. 550 (Comp. St. 1918, Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1919, 88 3115%8-3115%h]).
8 Act June 4, 1918 (40 Stat. 595 (Comp. St. 1918, Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1919, 8 3115578 et seq.]), and Act March 21, 1922 (42 Stat. 468 (Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1923, § 311556e). 9 Clallam County, Wash., v. U. S., 263 U. S. 341, 44 S. Ct. 121, 68 L. Ed. 328.