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II. EMPLOYERS IN NONWAR WORK.
Nonwar industries should not offer superior inducements or in any other way undertake to compete for labor with the Government or with employers engaged in war work (as above described). Observance of the letter and spirit of this provision is necessary for the efficient prosecution of the war. Methods of recruiting and of advertising which do not offend against it are permitted.
UNITED STATES EMPLOYMENT SERVICE,
J. B. DENSMORE, Director General. August 1, 1918.
The benefits of this program for centralized labor recruiting were seen in the reducing of labor turnover, in the transference of unskilled labor from nonwar work to war work, and in the direction of unemployed and partially employed wage earners to industries closely allied with the prosecution of the war.
The results were not accomplished, however, without imposing a heavy burden on the service. A system was set up for advancing transportation for the men from a revolving fund. This necessitated the sending of guards or pilots with the shipments. Pressure was brought to bear, in some cases, on plants to have competent employment managers installed so that all questions concerning the conditions under which the men worked and lived might receive proper attention.
As labor conditions became critical, arrangements were made with various agencies, such as the War Industries Board and the United States Highways Council, for restricting nonwar work because of the labor shortage. Under the regulations established by the Department, advertising for unskilled labor was restricted and controlled. Toward the end of the period little advertising was being done, except as authorized by the Department. Private employers, almost without exception, supported the entire program.
There were so many war projects calling for unskilled labor that a list of them would resemble a directory of all the camps, cantonments, munition plants, shipyards, and other war industries in the United States. More than 40,000 employers, engaged wholly or partly in war work, reported regularly to the service concerning their labor requirements. The urgent need of these large plants and others like them for thousands of unskilled laborers, most of whom had to be recruited from distant States, owing to the depletion of the labor supply in the vicinity, gave ample proof of the necessity for a National centralized employment agency. Laborers for some of the eastern plants were brought from as far west as Utah and Arizona.
Skilled labor.- While the regulations covering the central recruiting program placed no restrictions upon employers engaged in war work in recruiting their own skilled laborers, other than that they should avoid interfering with men who were already engaged in
other war work, still employers as a rule followed the same plan in securing skilled labor that had been promulgated by the service for recruiting unskilled labor.
In September, 1918, there was established a Facilities Division of the War Industries Board. The membership of this division was composed of representatives of the War Industries Board, the Army, the Navy, the Emergency Fleet Corporation, the Railroad Administration, the Housing Corporation, and the Department of Labor. The chief of the Clearance Division of this service represented the Department of Labor in the work of the Facilities Division. Under the program adopted no construction project in the United States, whether for war or nonwar purposes, could be authorized without the approval of the Facilities Division. That division also secured the adoption of a general resolution to the effect that no new projects could be approved unless it was shown affirmatively that laborers were available for carrying on the work.
Farm work. The importance of maximum food production during the war led the Department to devote special attention to farm-labor conditions. It secured the active cooperation of the Post Office Department, the Department of Agriculture, and the National organizations of farm and dairy interests. It likewise secured the cooperation of newspapers, motion-picture concerns, commercial organizations, rural telephone lines, the canning industry, and many unofficial organizations, both national and local, with a view to giving the best possible attention to the farm-labor needs of the country. Arrangements were also made for the importation of labor from Mexico and the Bahama Islands.
Saving the wheat crop of 1918, in the great belt extending from Oklahoma through Kansas, Nebraska, and South and North Dakota, was of the utmost importance, and the Employment Service took early steps to meet conditions by conducting a survey to ascertain the approximate number of harvest hands that would be needed from outside sources. In view of the serious shortage of labor that existed in practically all parts of the country efforts were limited to obtain the needed laborers locally or from adjoining States. That the efforts of the Department were successful is shown by reports received from Oklahoma and Kansas to the effect that not a bushel of wheat was lost through lack of labor.
Harvest hands were sent sometimes to the farmer himself, but as a rule were directed to the county agricultural agent or other community representative for distribution. Much valuable assistance was given by local organizations in enrolling emergency volunteer workers. Such workers rendered exceedingly valuable service, particularly throughout eastern Kansas. In Kansas City alone, through
the efforts of the chamber of commerce, more than 10,000 men registered as volunteers for emergency harvest work.
Women's work.-When the Women's Division was established in January, 1918, there were in operation but nine branch offices devoted exclusively to women workers. During the first six months of 1918, 57 separate women's divisions were added by creation of new offices or absorption of State, municipal, or other public employment offices. At a time when "war work" and "entrance of women into industry” had already become popular çatch words, much of the work of the United States Employment Service offices for women actually consisted of finding jobs for those dependent on their earnings who were thrown out of work by lessened production. Reduced consumption of many articles, particularly those known as luxuries. first to be dispensed with by the buying public, forced many out of accustomed work. Large numbers of women were affected. They ranged from embroiderers and expert power-machine operators on fine garments to artists, writers, and musicians.
With the creation of the War Labor Policies Board and the Woman in Industry Service of the Department in May and June, the program of the Employment Service in handling women was simplified. “Centralized policy and decentralized operation” led to the abandonment of the Federal Women's Division in order that female ·labor, like railroad, farm, or technical workers, might be handled as local or State conditions made most feasible. There was provided, however, a woman assistant to the Director General, to have supervision over all matters concerning the employment of women. Sections for women farm laborers, for professional women, for juvenile workers, for reference information, for publicity, for interstate clearance, and others were created to function through the proper division of the Administrative Offices.
Expansion of the number of women's divisions kept pace with the rapid development of the service. Many noncommercial offices with trained personnel linked themselves with the Federal organization. Most offices handled all types of women; others were devoted to a single type, such as domestic, industrial, or professional. Offices for placing both men and women of technical and professional types were developed in some cities. Efficiency and method varied widely. Many offices developed a real technique.
By October 1 control of the employment of women for war needs could have been taken over by the Employment Service at any time such need dictated. Besides the numberless general offices handling both men and women in small cities, on November 11 women's divisions were operating in 40 States, with a variation in number from one each in Arizona and Vermont to 20 in Illinois and 46 in New York. Women were working on over 500 Community
Labor Boards. Nearly 368,000 women were reported placed by the United States Employmen Service during the 10 war months of the year. This number is equal to about 13 per cent of all placements made during that period.
Public Service Reserve.-The Public Service Reserve was the recruiting arm of the United States Employment Service. It supplemented the employment offices with 15,000 enrollment agents who reached down into the smallest villages and hamlets to tap potential supplies of wage earners. The reserve has furnished the Army, Navy, and executive departments of the Government with thousands of men, mostly of the higher skilled types, such as engineers, technical experts, and skilled mechanics. The Emergency Fleet Corporation has secured from its registration many thousands of skilled men for shipbuilding. Hundreds of officers of particular technical qualifications have been furnished the Army without necessitating a long search on the part of the War Department for the type desired. Many of the civilian administrative heads of the war emergency activities were secured from the lists of the reserve. A few of the special services performed were as follows:
Over 1,500 aviation motor mechanics were enlisted through the reserve in the short space of five weeks, in January and February, 1918, for Gen. Pershing. The names of over 4,500 railway men were submitted to the Division of Military Railways for induction and enlistment into various locomotive and engineering regiments; 470 to the Tank Corps; and 472 in a special drive for tower men for the Navy. The reserve also cooperated most helpfully in the special drive made throughout the country by the Ordnance Department for all kinds of civilian help. It registered and classified a total of more than 300,000 men of various trades. Without doubt production has been appreciably increased and efficiency improved by the ability of the reserve to furnish on short notice men of almost any qualifications.
Boys' Working Reserve.-During the year the Boys' Working Reserve continued to enroll boys of high-school age, principally in its agricultural division. Some of the notable mobilization records are as follows:
In Illinois 21,000 boys worked on farms; in Connecticut, 10,000 boys helped to care for the largest acreage of food crops in the history of the State; in New York State 12,000 and in Indiana 15,000 boys were sent to the farms.
In many instances where special crops were jeopardized by the lack of adequate labor to harvest them they were saved through the prompt assistance of the boys recruited by the reserve. Such was the case in Michigan with regard to the sugar-beet crop, where a large part of the planting would have had to be plowed under had it not been for the timely assistance of the reserve boys. In Georgia reserve boys saved by their sole efforts a valuable apple crop; across the continent in Oregon they helped to save the berry crop. In California a similar invaluable assistance was rendered by the organization in harvesting the immense acreage of fruit crops, including cherries, apricots, plums, and grapes.
Stevedores and marine workers.—One of the special branches of the United States Employment Service in making more efficient the conduct of the war was the Division of Stevedores and Marine Workers. In normal times men of these occupations worked on certain docks and in certain localities, and it was a common sight to see groups of hundreds of unemployed longshoremen waiting for employment at their favorite dock or locality when at the same time there was a real need for men at other points. While these conditions were well known it required the exigencies of war to develop the machinery for remedying the situation.
Conferences were held in New York by the representatives of the Department, of the longshoremen, the Army, the Navy, Shipping Board, Railroad Administration, and ship owners. It was agreed that there should be formed an elastic labor pool, and that the United States Employment Service should organize and direct the activities of the new division. The longshoremen readily agreed with the proposed arrangement—that the emergent requirements of war made it necessary to change the old order of things, and that henceforth men would shift not only from one dock to another near by, but would go from one side of Manhattan to the other, from Hoboken to South Brooklyn, should it be found necessary, and, as one of the representatives of the longshoremen said, from one port to another, making the Atlantic coast one dock.
There were established in New York seven branches of the Stevedores and Marine Workers' Division. Other branches were established at Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Newport News, Charleston, S. C., Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston, Boston, Portland, Buffalo, Seattle, and Duluth. That the service was a success, can be measured by the statement frequently made that the port of New York increased its efficiency at least 30 per cent.
Shipyard labor for the Puget Sound district.-In January, 1918, there was established at Seattle, in cooperation with the Emergency Fleet Corporation, a central office for the recruitment and distribution of labor for the shipyards in the Puget Sound district. Under this plan, the central office took charge of the securing and distributing of all persons required for war emergency work in that district.