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The executive control of the operation of the office and the carrying
The Mining Division of the United States Employment Service was created to take charge of the recruitment and distribution of the mine labor. Experienced mining men, thoroughly conversant with all phases of the mining industry, representing both mine workers and mine operators, were selected as the executive officers of the division. After conferences with representatives of the Fuel Administration, the United Mine Workers of America, coal operators' associations, and producers of metals, the Mining Division found that there was a shortage of labor in practically every important coal and metal producing region in the United States. This shortage was due to two main causes: (1) The abnormal demand for coal and metals; (2) the great number of mine workers who had entered the military or naval service. It was evident that the only source of supply of available mine labor was in nonwar industries to which miners had drifted after leaving the mining field. The problem confronting the Mining Division was to locate mine workers employed in those industries. As a prospective solution of this problem, it was deemed advisable to solicit the aid of the local officers of the United Mine Workers of America. With that object in view circular letters were sent to the secretaries of the miners' local unions, with the result that the names and addresses of more than 15,000 practical miners, engaged in nonwar work, were immediately supplied.
The majority of these men were induced to return to the mines. It may be said to their credit that many of them gave up more agreeable and more remunerative positions than could be obtained in the mines. It is a matter of gratification to be able to report that at the time the armistice was signed very few requests for additional mine labor were being received from companies producing coal or metals in any section of the country.
War placements.—The registrations, applications, references, and placements for the 11 war months in which the United States Employment Service operated, that is, from January, 1918, to November, 1918, inclusive, so far as it has been possible to gather statistics, are shown in the following table:
It was impossible to secure statistical data with respect to large groups of persons referred to employment through this service but who did not actually pass through the placement offices. As examples of these classes, there may be mentioned the thousands of men who engaged in work in the harvest fields, of whom no record could be obtained; the experienced miners who were induced to reenter the mines; the stevedores and marine workers who were transferred in many instances from one place of employment to another without any statistical record being kept of their several employments. The heaviest month of placements occured in November, 1918, when war labor recruiting and the war industries had attained their greatest momentum. The placements for the month of November alone were over half a million, and, as the foregoing table shows, they had been steadily increasing since the previous January.
After the termination of hostilities the war branches of the Employment Service were discontinued. The regulations governing the centralized recruiting program were canceled, and the control theretofore exercised over the recruitment and distribution of unskilled labor was withdrawn.
Upon the signing of the armistice many of the large war projects either materially reduced their operations or discontinued them altogether. In this way thousands of wage earners were suddenly thrown out of employment, and to this number were added the discharged soldiers. Fortunately, however, the Employment Service rapidly readjusted itself to peace conditions. Up to the time of signing the armistice its problem had been to secure men for jobs; the situation quickly reversed and it had to find jobs for men. This marked reversal came in the early winter months, when nearly all out-of-door work was suspended and when the farmers were not only not applying for men but had just released all the extra help which had been in their employ during the summer and fall.
In consideration of the labor situation, an agreement was entered into by the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of War which provided that no war contracts should be canceled without the advice of the War Industries Board. That board looked to the Department of Labor for information as to the manner in which the cancellation of contracts would react on the labor situation, and a representative of the Department acted with the War Industries Board for the purpose of supplying to the military authorities information upon employment conditions.
The War Department and the War Industries Board called upon the Department of Labor for this information in order that contracts for war materials might be curtailed or canceled and the Army demobilized with the least possible danger of serious unemployment during the period of reconstruction. To that end instructions were issued on November 20, 1918, to all Federal directors of the Employment Service, under the terms of which a survey in 122 cities was undertaken and a statement of labor conditions in those industrial centers telegraphed each week to the War Industries Board. This information was of value in the determination of the effect of cancellation of contracts upon the labor market.
While the number of war workers to be released from industries was large, it was felt that the number of men to be discharged from the Army would have a more serious effect on employment conditions throughout the country, particularly when the plan of demobilization by units was announced by the Army. The importance of this subject caused the Employment Service to invite representatives of the national welfare organizations and Government bodies concerned with demobilization to meet in Washington on December 2, to discuss the method of linking all efforts and machinery for assisting soldiers, sailors, and war workers in finding proper employment. A committee was appointed to draft a plan of cooperative action, which was later adopted. Under this plan, there was formed a central board at Washington, with a representative of the Department as chairman, consisting of numerous governmental and welfare organizations.
Steps were then taken to extend the Employment Service, in cooperation with the above mentioned cooperating agencies, by the establishment throughout the country of Bureaus for Returning Soldiers and Sailors. Over 2,000 of such bureaus were established and, in addition, the Employment Service stationed qualified representatives at the demobilization camps and arranged for supplying to soldiers at embarkation camps in France and on board transports all available information concerning opportunities for employment on their return to this country. Thousands of soldiers and sailors daily sought help through the service in finding employment.
After the armistice several special lines of work were undertaken. Among these were the Junior Section, the Handicap Section, and the Professional and Special Section. The Junior Section was established for the purpose of giving vocational guidance to boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 21. · The Handicap Section dealt with the placement of persons handicapped by age or some physical disability. The purpose of the Professional and Special Section was to bring together the highly trained man or woman, such as the engineer, the executive, or the teacher, and the position for which he or she is qualified.
In August, 1918, an estimate was made of the amount needed to carry on the work of the United States Employment Service during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1919. This was presented to Congress on December 2, 1918. Based upon the assumption that the war would last for some time and that approximately 1,000 branch offices and a personnel of 6,000 employees would be required, the estimate totaled $14,801,382. After the armistice was signed, it was held by the Comptroller of the Treasury that it would be wrong to resubmit revised estimates. This led to some unjust criticism of the service. As a matter of fact the amount eventually asked for in the committee hearings totaled only $4,634,325.92.
The necessity of supplying sufficient help to war projects and the securing employment for returning soldiers thereafter resulted in an outlay which exceeded the appropriation of $5,500,000 for the current year's work. An estimate was accordingly made for a deficiency appropriation and there was included in what was termed the “Third deficiency appropriation act, 1919,” which passed the House of Representatives on February 28, 1919, an item of $1,800,000 for maintaining the Employment Service up to July 1, 1919. This deficiency appropriation bill, however, failed to pass the Senate, and the item of $1,800,000 for the Employment Service did not become available.
When it was learned that Congress had failed to pass the deficiency appropriation, the Department sent a radiogram to the President, to ascertain whether it would be possible for him to allot from the appropriation for national security and defense a sum of money which, together with the unexpended balance of the existing appropriations, would finance the service to July 1, 1919. The President's reply was as follows:
U. S. S. “GEORGE WASHINGTON,"
March 12, 1919. Hon. WILLIAM B. WILSON,
Secretary of Labor, Washington, D. C.: Regret nothing so much as the discontinuance of the work of the Employment Bureau, but the fact is that, including pledges made, my fund is practically exhausted. What remains will not suffice to maintain the bureau, and to my great grief I see no escape from disbandment. I hope that it will be possible to keep a skeleton organization.
WOODROW Wilson. Thereupon a telegram was sent to the Federal director of each State ordering an immediate reduction to a skeleton organization beginning March 22, and indicating in what cities to maintain placement offices and the number of employees to be retained in each. Instructions were given to continue on the basis then existing the work in Army camps and to urge upon the community the importance of keeping open every office for placing discharged soldiers in employment. The response from the appeal for assistance to State and municipal authorities and community organizations was so generous that, whereas the number of employment offices which the Employment Service was able to finance from March 22 to July 1 was but 56, the actual number of offices maintained during that period was 490.
After the Congress met in special session in May 19, 1919, consideration was again given to the question of a deficiency appropriation for this service, and $272,000 was appropriated which was not available, however, until after the close of the fiscal year.
CONFERENCE ON EMPLOYMENT.
On April 14 there was addressed a communication to the governors of all the States inviting them to send representatives to a conference on employment, to meet in Washington on April 23, 24, and 25, 1919. The purpose of the conference can best be described by quoting the call for the conference:
The purpose of the conference will be to define and establish the most effective form of relationship between National and State employment activities and in general agreement bring out a definite objective toward which all may work to the end that a thorough and comprehensive public Employment Service may be permanently established.
Delegates were designated by governors of 28 States. There were also in attendance at the conference a sufficient number of Federal directors of the United States Employment Service to insure satistory geographical representation, representatives of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the American Federation of Labor.
After three days' consideration and discussion of the subject matters before the conference an outline of a bill to provide for a National Employment System was unanimously adopted.
The conference also selected a subcommittee to draft a bill embodying the provisions and principles contained in the outline. Subsequently the subcommittee met and drafted a bill which the Department approved. This bill, H. R. 4305, was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 31, 1919, by Mr. Nolan, of California.