This title is always open to a varied discussion as to what will best subserve the interests of labor by legislation. Some of the suggestions contained below are worthy of serious consideration and study by labor advocates and those committed toward ameliorating the condition of labor. Their variety is striking, but each union which expresses itself upon the subject is either thoroughly committed to the standard of opinions that have prevailed for years as to what is best for labor interests, or new legislative enactments are advanced, in which many practical ideas are shown and are consequently valuable. . . . The disposition prevails, which is unfortunate, in the different Legislatures of this and other States, to disregard to a large extent the labor reforms through legislation asked for by organized labor. . . . In the advocacy of labor reforms, it can not be charged but what labor is sincere, from year to year, and this persistent sincerity will last as long as Legislatures exist. But a manifest disposition is apparent, and its growth is to be encouraged, upon the part of legislators to listen with more attention to the wants of labor. Amalgamated bodies of workingmen are growing to that power where their influence can not help but be recognized, for when a legislative request is made, it comes from an amalgamated body of trades representing thousands of wage-workers. The data as to their strength has been perfected, so it is an easy matter for the interested legislator to ascertain if the pretensions of numerical strength or power are chimerical or an existing fact. In the depressed condition of trade, more than the usual number of remedial legislative suggestions have been sent to the Bureau, which were submitted to the Legislature with this report. The suggestions are as follows:

Johnstown — Bricklayers and Masons' Union, No. 13:
We believe that the single land tax would stimulate the building trade:
First. Because anything that is taxed means less. A tax on dogs does not mean more dogs; a tax on buildings does not mean more buildings.

Second. We believe that the only thing that can be taxed and not mean less is the land that can stand all the tax and not shrink an inch.
New York — Bricklayers and Masons' Union, No. 7:
We most respectfully recommend that laws be passed making it obligatory that union wages be paid on all public work and that no one who is not a citizen and resident of the State for one year be employed on said work.
New York — Bricklayers and Masons' International Union, No. 37:
As a single union, belonging to the Bricklayers and Masons' International Union, we would recommend the following:

The proper enforcement of the Eight-hour Law now on the statute books of the State of New York, but which law can be seemingly violated at will by whoever wishes to do so. We would ask for the repeal of the Conspiracy Law, as far as it relates to an open trades union. While our business is necessarily done with our members, we, as a body, are always willing to submit our books, etc., to any properly constituted authority to see our records, and while they (the said books) may not be up to the modern form of bookkeeping, they are perfectly plain. On the subject of immigration we would respectfully ask that the Contract Labor Law now in operation be enforced.
New York — Bricklayers and Masons' International Union, No. 47:
During the last session of the Legislature a bill was passed and signed by the Governor, which gives to veterans the right to positions wherein the salary is $4 per day or less. That interferes somewhat with us, as many veterans hold positions as inspectors of sewers, inspectors of masonry, etc., who know nothing whatever about the business. Our union has passed a measure, condemning that law, and claim that veterans who are practical mechanics should have prior right to places, as we all know that a veteran watchmaker would make a very poor inspector of masonry, and we further claim that laws should be passed wherein none but mechanics of any kind should be inspectors of the particular kind of work which they are practically able to perform, that is, a mason veteran, or otherwise, should be inspector of masonry, and so on through every trade. Also, all civil service examinations should be practical ones embracing the use of tools and constructing a piece of work by the applicant.
Sing Sing — Bricklayers and Masons' Union, No. 29:
If improvements were exempt from taxation, and especially buildings, as would be the case under the single tax, more buildings would be erected, and more workmen would be induced to build buildings. I find that in State and city works, workmen are not employed so much for efficiency as for their political pull. The result is, a poor class of workmen are often employed, and those in charge, knowing of their inefficiency to work, seek to pay them lower wages than honest and good workmen in the same trade should have. Therefore, the tendency is to reduce the union rate of wages and have a poor class of work done.
Staten Island — Bricklayers and Masons' International Union, No. 21:
We heartily recommend such legislation that will compel foreigners to declare their intentions to become citizens of the United States before they are allowed to join labor organizations. In a measure, such a compulsory law would stop a large number of foreigners from going home to their native countries in the fall, who come here to work only through the spring and summer months.
Utica — Bricklayers and Masons' International Union, No. 19:
It is the opinion of our members that there should be an inspector, who would be a practical mechanic, to supervise the erection of all buildings in the city. It is a well-known fact that many of our buildings are put up in a slip-shod manner. Sometimes, unscrupulous speculators let the job to cheap-jack contractors, who throw it together in almost any shape to get it done. Sometimes, owners are ignorant of building construction, or too stingy to pay for a good job. At any rate, there are many flimsy buildings put up detrimental to public safety, and on which workmen are "rushed" and pushed to their utmost, so that it is impossible to do good work. We do not know what legislation would be necessary, but if there could be a law passed, requiring cities to have a building inspector supervisor, it would receive our hearty approbation.
Albany—Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 482:
Our society is very much in favor of establishing an apprentice law, not only as a protection to ourselves, but also one that will operate for the benefit of those who are anxious to learn a trade, as well as to those who have assumed the responsibility of teacher and employer. The present system we consider as not being of interest to either the apprentice or the master and will eventually increase the number of skilled mechanics.
Auburn — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 453:
In my judgment, the following legislation would be beneficial to the building trades:
To prevent the discharge of a man by a contractor, for doing his duty on any committee of his union. This is the principal weapon employed here. For instance, members are appointed on a grievance committee, to adjust differences between employer and employed; failing which, they call off the men. For this, some of the best mechanics in this city have been discharged summarily, and blacklisted; that is, having been so discharged by one contractor, no other contractor will hire him. This I do not claim to be able to prove in court, to the satisfaction of a jury; for, like a great many other things, it is difficult to prove, but the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.

Legislation providing for an apprentice system, or for a system prohibiting a man from working at any trade of the building trades, without having undergone an examination by a competent board of his trade, who shall furnish the person examined and passing, with a certificate to the effect that he is competent.

The country is flooded with labor-saving machinery, and with tens of thousands of immigrants yearly. In our factories are machines, one of which takes the place of 100 men, and from that down to four or five. Doors, sash, moldings, hand railing, stairs, that formerly were made by hand work, and kept mechanics busy all winter, are now made by machinery. Thousands of people can not find work, for it is not for them. Machines have taken the place of men. The hours of labor are not reduced fast enough to keep pace with the production of labor-saving machinery. There are questions involved and problems to solve which may well puzzle the wisest of patriots and statesmen, and I do not feel competent to grapple with them. To even do them feeble justice one would need to give up his entire time and thought to their consideration and study.
Binghamton — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 137:
It is the sense of this union that the Mechanic's Lien Law should be amended, so as to protect the carpenters against loss by dishonest contractors or builders or owners, and said lien should take precedence of all mortgages against said property.
Brooklyn — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, District Council:

We submit that all legislation tending toward the relief of the laboring masses is practically nullified so long as the monopoly of land exists, since all improvements made by government tend to raise the value of land, and make it harder of access. Therefore, to right this great wrong, we recommend to your department to use all its influence to have abolished all the burdensome taxes now existing which tends to prevent the employment of labor and capital, and the substitution there for of a single tax on the value of land alone.
Buffalo —Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 447:
A Compulsory Eight-hour Law.

A strong Employers' Liability Law.

The placing of caucuses under the same law as elections.

Compulsory Education Law, which can be enforced.
Cortland — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 805:
Competition with contract prison labor should be stopped, as the people voted in 1883, and that laws should be enacted to compel all trades to introduce the apprenticeship system, so that the mechanics would be better mechanics.
Mount Vernon — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 493:
This union contends that some statutory law should exist to compel foreign workingmen to become citizens of the United States, before they are allowed to work here at trades for less than union rates, and thereby not only injuring the trade unions of this country, but injuring citizen workingmen and taxpayers as well.
New York — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, District Council:
We advocate the repeal of the Conspiracy Law. More strict compulsory education. Weekly payments by all employers. Mechanics' wages to be paid in preference to any other debts. Government control of railroads, telegraphs and telephones.
New York — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 509:
Looking toward legislation, we would like to bring to your notice the prevailing lumping system, which is the bane of our trade in this city. It is equal to the late sweating system of the tailors, which was lately exposed and remedied. The only difference being that they can not crowd us into small apartments to do our work. Of necessity, we have to work in the rooms they want us to finish. It is our earnest desire to see this detestable system abolished.
New York — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 715:
We would suggest a weekly payment law, that the workman shall have first lien on all jobs where he has done work, and has not been paid his wages.
Utica — Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, No. 125:
In our opinion, there should be a law enacted for the protection of all union badges, buttons, pins, or other emblems of their respective organizations, the same as is now accorded the trades having trademarks that may be recorded, after which they are protected by penalty for the counterfeiting of the same. Also labels of different organizations. There should, in our opinion, be a penalty or fine, or both, for the wearing or exposing the badges, buttons, pins or emblems of any organization by a non-member.
New York — Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, No. 3, L. A. 5468, K. of L.:
We would recommend to the State Legislature, that a bill be passed, compelling all men employed in the electrical industries to pass an examination for the benefit of house owners and property holders, and also to protect our members against unfair competition by incompetent labor.
Buffalo — Housesmiths' Union:
In my opinion there should be laws enacted toward the abolishing of child-labor, and the empowering of the board of arbitration and mediation to compel corporations and individual employers to arbitrate the difficulties between themselves and their employes and the abolishing of the military laws in force at present, in regard to strike duties.
New York — Architectural Iron Workers' Union:
We favor the passage of a law that would compel builders and contractors to use only such iron material for public buildings and works (State and municipal) that has been manufactured within the State, and within the city limits where such buildings and works are to be erected. The competition from manufacturers of other States, especially New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where wages are considerably lower, and the number of working hours greater, makes it impossible for us to earn anything like decent wages and uphold union hours.
Buffalo — Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators, No. 42:
We believe that we should have legislation to decrease the length of a workday universally, and also to carry out the provisions of the tenth plank in the American Federation platform — that we should have a prompt and decisive law in bona fide execution, protecting our organized workmen against ostracism or discharge, because of their membership of trade or labor organizations.
New York — Mutual Protective and Benevolent Society of Painters:
We recommend the establishment of some law, whereby labor organizations that are incorporated under State laws could secure the bulk of patronage for their members from the various public departments, such as the park, dock, public works, etc., at their various trades at the regular established rate of wages.

Not knowing if such law would be constitutional or not, we think something ought to be done to help and assist organized labor by some other means than was taken by the park department this past winter. In place of turning a hand to help organized labor, they turned their back to us. In the first place they refused to pay the standard rate of wages. In the second place they refused to issue tickets to bona fide labor organizations. They simply took cognizance of charity or political organizations, thereby securing in several cases inferior workmen, while thousands of good mechanics were actually in want.
Syracuse — Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators, No. 31:
The one thing above all others that would benefit our union and all other unions is an apprentice law. In only this way competent workmen will be in the trades. The curse of all trades to-day is, the people that have no knowledge of the trade are filling the shops at any prices, and are driving the competent journeymen out to subcontracting, and that is just killing the business.
New York — Progress Association of Steam Fitters Helpers, L. A. 3906, K. of L.:
It is the sense of our members that no greater benefit of our cause can be readily accomplished until the conspiracy laws, which have been in every sense most obnoxious to the advancement of organized labor, are repealed.
Rochester — United Association of Plumbers, Gas and Steam Fitters and Steam Fitters' Helpers, No. 13:
The only legislation we are looking for at present is the registration of all journeymen plumbers, after having passed a satisfactory examination before a competent board of examiners, thereby stopping unscrupulous bosses from sending out boys, that have been one, two and three years at the business to do work that should be done by thoroughly skilled mechanics, for the reason that they have not the experience to properly construct a job of plumbing, and thereby endangering the lives of the occupants of buildings.
Utica — United Association of Plumbers, Gas and Steam Fitters' Union, No. 78:
It is the wish of the journeymen plumbers to have a law established, compelling all journeymen plumbers to pass an examination before allowing them to do plumbing in any city.
Syracuse — Operative Plasterers' Union, No. 51:
There are companies who mix and sell compounds, and in many cases advocate a thin body or application, as by such means they can more easily compete with the more common and regular mortars used in the plastering of houses. We have come to the conclusion that it is an imposition, a detriment, a great risk. An imposition, because people are led to believe wrongly to meet the ends of sharks. A detriment, because it hinders common-sense progression. A risk, especially with regard to frame or wooden property, because a thin body admits of the weather more readily and fire is allowed to travel so much quicker, therefore, we maintain nothing short of 50-100 or one-half inch of solid mortar, is a good preventative of all that may come against it. We, therefore, ask for legislation to this effect, for the common good.
Brooklyn — Slate and Metal Roofers, Tin and Sheet Iron Workers, L. A. 1811, K. of L.:
We recommend the passage of a bill by the Legislature, requiring employing tin and sheet iron workers to be licensed the same as boss plumbers. This should be done for sanitary reasons, and for the safety of the community. The enactment and strict enforcement of such a law would compel all employers to engage competent workmen, which would insure a better class of work. Fires from defective flues would thus be prevented and the number of deaths from suffocation by coal gas would be materially lessened.
Ithaca — Tin and Sheet Iron Workers' Union, No. 20:
Pass a law taxing property at its full value, and making the persons holding mortgages on a piece of property bear their share of taxes on the same. Make all railroads and corporations pay the expenses, or a portion thereof, of any militia that might be employed to suppress a strike, and there would be no more strikes by the employes.

Pass a law making election expenses cheaper. It costs too much. There are too many days of registration.

Give us a good excise law and compel officers to enforce the same.
Pass a law making the employer liable if an employe is hurt or killed in his employ, whether a fellow workman is to blame or not. That a jury should decide.
New York — Cornice and Skylight Makers' Union.
If the laws made for the interest of building constructions, and the people in general, were more strictly enforced, the workmanship would be of more superior character, and be less detrimental to the lives of the public. It would also give more employment to workingmen, and the confidence of the community, in general, would be restored where it has been lost, by careless workmanship and the use of inferior material, during the past four or five years.
STAIR BUILDERS. New York — United Order of American Stair Builders:
The adoption of the single tax, thus securing to all the free use of the power to labor and the full enjoyment of its products. In the meantime, the adoption of an universal eight-hour law to apply to all industries possible.
Brooklyn — Cigar Makers' Union, No. 87:
A strict enforcement of the regulations for female and child labor in all workshops and factories. Also, that a law should be enacted to abolish the system of tenement-house work, even though the Court of Appeals may declare it unconstitutional again. But the publicity that would result from another movement would, I feel sure, have a wholesome effect toward wiping out a system of working that degrades men and women below the level of the brute creation.
Brooklyn — Cigar Makers' Union, No. 132:
We would recommend that the following laws should be passed by the next Legislature, in the interest of the wage workers namely:

The State printing office.

Mechanic's Lien Law.

Extending the powers of the State Factory Inspector and the abolishing the conspiracy laws, the same being used as a menace to all organized labor organizations, and in the interest of manufacturers and trusts, and to demand that the sanitary conditions of the workshop or factory are properly kept; also, to look after the sweating system that still is in existence in this city.
Oneida — Cigar Makers' Union, No. 12:
We ask that you have a more rigid enforcement of the Factory Inspectors Law. Do away with the tenement-house cigar factories, which have been shown to be most injurious to the worker and public, in general, and, especially, such people who are employed in the same.
Oneonta— Cigar Makers' International Union, No. 112:
Recommendation of abolishing of the conspiracy bill as the law is at present.

A legal eight-hour workday.

Liability of employers for injury to health, body and life.

Abolition of contract system in all public work.

Abolition of the sweating system.

Establishment of a State printing office.

Municipal ownership of street cars, gas and electric plants, water-works, and for public distribution of light, heat and power.
Peekskill — Cigar Makers' Union, No. 81:
The secretary submits the following:

I. Anti-conspiracy.— This measure would permit organized wage-workers to do collectively that which is lawful when it is done by them singly. It would set at rest the conflicting decisions, recently rendered from the bench, concerning the legality of the publication by labor unions of the conditions under which an employer operates his business, and concerning the right of men on strike or lock-out peaceably to persuade others not to replace them.

II. Employers' liabilities to employes.— This measure would hold employers responsible for injuries sustained by employes, the same as in the case of non-employes.

III. Home rule for cities.— This measure would bring about local self-government, free the business interests of cities from the unjust interference of non-residents, and render possible many reforms now prevented through the alliance of obstructionists united for the sake of party or of private gain.

IV. Direct legislation.— This measure, truly democratic and purely American, would enable a certain proportion of the voters, either of the State or of any political subdivision, to propose laws, and the majority of the voters concerned to accept or reject, not only the laws so proposed, but also the more important bills passed by their respective legislative bodies.
Poughkeepsie — The secretary of Cigar Makers' Union, No. 74. makes this suggestion:
I. Anti-conspiracy.— This measure would permit organized wage-workers to do collectively that which is lawful when it is done by them singly. It would set at rest the conflicting decisions, recently rendered from the bench, concerning the legality of the publication by labor unions of the conditions under which an employer operates his business, and concerning the right of men on strike or lock-out peaceably to persuade others not to replace them.

Il. Employers' liabilities to employes.— This measure would hold employes responsible for injuries sustained by employes the same as in the case of non-employes. The prohibition of the tenement-house workmanship.
Rochester — Cigar Makers' Union, No. 5:
All mechanical work should be taken out of the prisons, which would improve trade to a great extent.
New York — Amalgamated Association of Clothing Cutters and Trimmers, No. 4:
The anti-conspiracy laws are an oppression of trades unions. As a common agreement between two or more people for the purpose of retaliation against an unjust employer can easily be construed into a criminal conspiracy, while the secret understanding of employers used against trade unions or active union men are difficult of proof. All wages paid by contractors who are doing work for the State or municipality should be regulated by the union standard of wages. Likewise with the public work done directly by the public authorities
New York — Hebrew Shirt Makers' Union:
Abolition of the contract system, and fixed laws, tending to improve the sanitary conditions of our shops; also, abolition of prison works, and a law extending the privilege of working women, under section 3131, Code of Civil Procedure, to men are, in our opinion, just subjects for legislative enactments.
Troy — Journeymen Tailors' Union, No. 14:
We would suggest that the Legislature enact a law compelling all employers to furnish back shops free of charge for their employes to work in, instead of having to take work to their homes, and which naturally brings about the obnoxious sweatshop nuisance.
Albany — Journeymen Bakers and Confectioners' International Union, No. 46:
If bakers were only up to the time in organization, as some others, cigar makers, for instance, there would be no trouble whatever for them to get any reasonable demand they would ask. But the international union of bakers has had a wonderful record, considering the people they had to deal with, and, no doubt, a few years will see the bakers in the front. In my opinion, a ten-hours' working day or night should be asked of legislation, and Sunday work prohibited.
Buffalo — Journeymen Bakers and Confectioners' International Union, No. 16:
First. We would respectfully suggest that as Labor Day is a legal holiday by law, but we bakers are forced to work at the peril of losing our job, that some addition be made to said law, which will make it a misdemeanor for discharging employes on account of celebrating Labor Day.

Second. As most bakeries are located in ill-ventilated cellars, that a law be passed not allowing such bakeries, as it is injurious to the health of the workingmen, and the product of such bakeries can not be healthy.

Third. We would like to have a law passed strictly enforcing that not more than 10 hours shall constitute a working day, all overtime to be paid extra, for now some are forced to work as much as 14 hours per day, without extra compensation.
New York city—Journeymen Bakers and Confectioners' International Union, No. 1:
Better sanitary conditions in bakeshops.

Special factory inspectors for bakeshops.

Enforcement of factory laws, in regard to employment of minors in bakeshops. Abolition of underground bakeshops.

A law prohibiting the boiling of fat in bakeshops, which is the cause of a great number of accidents.
. . .
New York — Magnolia Association of Waiters:
There appears to us that there is in the State of New York a great feeling on the part of the bosses to hire women instead of men in our trade, and we do not object to this competition so long as they receive equal pay for equal work, but we find in every instance, that the sole object of the employer is to take advantage "of the unorganized condition of women workers and use her as a tool to break up organized labor, by compelling her to work at about one-half the wages paid to men, and as this is such a delicate question to handle, the bosses use the argument that we wish to discriminate against the fair sex, and appeal to public sympathy in the matter. There is a law on the statute books of this State that debars a woman from tending bar, and we are of opinion that this law was passed from a moral standpoint, and we are looking for legislation to have that law amended, so as it will include in its provisions hotels and restaurants where intoxicating liquor is dispensed.
. . .

New York — International Brotherhood of Bookbinders, No. 6:
We ask that laws are enforced prohibiting criminal labor infringing on paid labor.

We ask that preference be given to union labor on any work at the disposal of the government, either national, State or city.

Our especial need in our branch of labor is the strict enforcement of an apprentice system.

We regard that the rules as expressed by our by-laws are as advantageous to employers as ourselves, as they require a continuous employment of four years, and if carried out will enable boys properly indentured to become good mechanics.

Our rules admit of but one apprentice to each branch of trade in every shop, said apprentice to finish his time in one shop unless disemployed by cessation of business where employed or from cause satisfactory to organization.
New York — International Brotherhood of Bookbinders, No. 1 (printed books):
Repeal the Conspiracy Law.

Prohibit by law children under 18 years of age feeding machines.

A law making mechanics' wages a first claim on the results of his labor and power to attach the product of his labor and compel payment.

We have had considerable trouble in collecting wages long due, and we find we can not by law attach the product of our labor to compel the payment of wages, the employer having nothing in his name to attach and the books we have bound are the property of the publisher, that is, the printed sheets, we putting the sheets in book form and putting on the coverings, making them ready for sale.
. . .

Elmira — Order of Railway Conductors, No. 9:
The most needed law now is to compel corporations to arbitrate with employes. The laws now in force are as naught when there are so many loopholes to crawl through. On most of the roads here in the east we have good officials — men of talent and gentlemen. The Pennsylvania railroad is worthy of having all others take pattern. The general manager down to trainmaster are always ready to hear their employes and thereby avoid all conflicts.
Middletown — Order of Railway Conductors, No. 104:
Arbitration is necessary, and such laws should be enacted that all employes may have the chance to present their case to some board that would be impartial to either side, and especially in the case of railroad companies and their employes.
ENGINEERS (LOCOMOTIVE). Binghamton—Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, No. 311:
Divisions have members to attend the Legislature and look after their interest and try and better themselves, if possible. Also, the majority of the members of this division think that if there was a United States law passed so as to refer all disputes between labor and capital to arbitration, there would be no trouble and better for all concerned.
Brooklyn — Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, No. 419:
We think the law requiring corporations to make weekly payments to their employes should be enforced.
Brooklyn — Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, No. 155:
Compulsory education is what the working classes want in this country.
New York — Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, No. 163:
We are heartily in favor of the Trainmen's organizations in this State using their efforts to elect one of their members to represent them in the State Senate, and that the Brotherhood of Trainmen, as a whole, should have a representative in Congress to look after the interests of men engaged in the train service throughout the United States. We hope that steps in this direction will be taken soon.
Hornellsville — Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, No. 156:
As to safety appliances, the devices for coupling are of the most importance, and the present conditions make them of but little value as a protector to life and limb as no attention is paid to keeping them in repair. In nine cases out of 10 the cut-off apparatus is defective, thus making the operation of cutting off cars doubly hazardous. In making up trains the air brake is not put ahead in the trains. In almost all cases there would be enough air brakes to control the train if it was put in the proper place. This should be investigated. We understand that there is a law that all cars used in the State of New York should be equipped with automatic couplers and air brakes by the 1st of January, 1891, but that one year's grace was given to the New York, Lake Erie and Western railroad on account of the financial condition of the road. What the trainmen of New York needs is a law establishing the number of men on a train and the number of cars for each man, both passenger and freight, and the enforcement of the laws in regard to safety appliances in our calling.
. . . .

Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, Volume 12 – 1895

By United States. Bureau of Labor, Carroll Davidson Wright, Charles Patrick Neill