« PreviousContinue »
A. Yes, when they work their men longer hours and don’t pay them so much. Q. And that would be one cause of the cheaper cost to the private corporations 2 A. On account of the cheapness of labor, yes; but with the public, the public get the benefit of that. The private contractor, whoever he may be, gets the benefit of cheaper wages, but he gets it in his purse ; but both the workingman and the public are out, in the way I have indicated, because the working class is a part of the public, and a great big part of the public. Q. I simply wanted to bring out one fact showing why the cost of excavating is cheaper to the private corporation than to the city. That is one, isn’t it? A. Well, when you simply look at the face of the wage sheet, the private corporation perhaps has paid less in wages than the city would pay. But the private corporation owns and controls the industry, gets whatever there is in it for itself, gets the men's labor for little or nothing, and then is in a position to spoil the public — and when I speak of the public I speak of the workingmen as well as the middle class and the business man — all of them. They rob the whole public. They rob the wage-earner, and then they start in to rob the public. That is what happens under private ownership. Q. Something was said about the Printing Plant. Are you aware that the Printing Plant was established under Mayor Josiah Quincy? A. Well, I always understood so. Q. And if it is true that Mayor Quincy is not a true friend of municipal ownership, would you become somewhat suspicious 2 A. Of his starting it? Well, is he not a true fliend of public ownership? I don't like to pass an opinion on any man or run his character down until I have kind of looked him over pretty well. Q. I said, if it is true that he is not. A. If it is true that he is not a friend of public ownership, in establishing a public Printing Plant — well, he might have had some crooked motive. Such a thing is possible. I should hope not, but such a thing is possible. Q. (By Alderman BERWIN.) I would like to ask Mr. Gallagher one or two questions. Mr. Gallagher, you are a believer in municipal ownership under any and all conditions, as I understand you, regardless of its expense to the community and regardless of every other condition save the fact that it means increased wages for the laboring man 7
A. Well, there might possibly be some conditions placed before me that I have never conceived of under which it would not perhaps be a success; but I would like to have you name some kind of a condition — picture to me some kind of a condition — where it wouldn’t be a success.
Q. Have you ever considered the question of private ownership with public control, imposing upon the corporations, under the restrictions that the Commonwealth or the city might place upon these public service corporations, the necessity for paying the laboring men the highest scale of wages and employing them the least time that the established hours of labor might be 2 Have you given that subject any consideration ?
A. A little.
Q. And how do you regard that?
A. Well, I regard it this way. If you were to go to work and have public control of these corporations, under private ownership, with certain restrictions that the city would force upon them, or that they would have to agree to, to pay the laborers the regular standard of wages that is paid by the city, and so on, and then the private corporations were to run the business, taking for instance, the gas business, there is only one way that I can see that the private corporation could compete with the public, if the public were to run the business, and that would be by giving a very inferior quality of gas, adulterating it or something of that kind.
Q. Let me interrupt you just there. Suppose they were held up to the same standard? Suppose there was a certain candle-power established both for private and public corporations, as well as a standard of wages, what would you think then 2 Would not that be a solution of the difficulty 2 It would be utterly impossible to do that — Let me interrupt to ask another question then. Well, I would like to answer that question. Very well, if you will answer it “yes” or “no.” Well, I would like to explain that a little. That is a question that you cannot answer “yes” or “no.” But you have asked this question, based on the city allowing some private corporation to own and operate the works, of course at a profit, but with a condition that that private corporation must pay the same standard of wages that the city would ; that is, in other words, the actual cost being the labor cost. And that is the actual cost of anything; the other is surplus value. Now, the actual cost to the private corporation would be exactly the same as to the public corporation. Therefore the city, of course, would sell the gas, or whatever it would
be, for its actual value, which would be the labor cost of it. Now, of course, unless this private corporation was a very patriotic corporation, that would give its services for nothing and was willing to distribute the gas for nothing, only just wishing to serve the public — if it were a private corporation with that idea alone, and composed of men of high enough character to take that position, whom I am sorry to say are very few, it might do better than the public. But you see that if they did that they couldn’t make any profit and they would have to give their time for nothing, as the city does in its works, like the schools, hospitals, and everything it operates — just for public use. I don’t see how it would be possible to have such a condition. Q. Mr. Gallagher, if that condition did exist and the private corporation could do the work in that way, you would still be in favor of municipal ownership, would you – yes or no 2 A. Yes, but rather — Q. That answers the question all right. A. Yes, I certainly would; because I would be part owner in it. The other fellow wouldn’t own it. Q. (By Alderman LINEHAN.) If there was private ownership with governmental control, don’t you think there would be a greater inducement for the public service corporations to tamper with the government and control it? A. Sure. Wherever you have got private ownership of public utilities, when you speak of the government, you come pretty near speaking of the private ownership of the public utilities being the government, they really come pretty near being the government, and the only way the people are ever going to govern is to take over those industries in their own hands, and then the people are the government.
STATEMENT BY COUNCILMAN DANIEL J. KILEY.
Mr. KILEY. — Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am not going to treat these hearings as seriously as some of the sincere friends of municipal ownership may, because I don’t think the Committee was appointed to give serious consideration to this subject — and I say that without any reflection on any member of the Committee personally. The question of municipal ownership certainly deserves serious consideration, and it deserves all that is called for in this order that was passed by the City Government — namely, a fair, impartial and thorough investigation. Those who actuated the appointment of this Committee did not intend that there should be a fair, impartial and thorough investigation, and that can be said without any reflection upon any member of the Committee. Alderman CURLEY. — Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order. This Committee is here to-night to listen to those persons who have something to say on the question of municipal ownership — not to listen to criticism of any man or II].6 Il. Mr. KILEY. — Mr. Chairman, I realize the force of the point of order raised by the gentleman, and I do not propose to criticize personally any man. The CHAIRMAN. — The gentleman would like a ruling on his point of order 2 Alderman CURLEY. — I would, Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. — A ruling of the Chair has been asked for. The Chair will rule that no personal criticisms have been made of any member of the Committee, as the Chair understands the gentleman's remarks. Alderman CURLEY. — Mr. Chairman, I do not believe the Chair is justified in admitting any general criticism of the entire Committee, either — either of the individual members or of the entire membership. The CHAIRMAN. — The Chair will rule that he does not understand that the Committee as a whole, or personally, have been criticized, or their motives in any way impugned. Am I right in that? Mr. KILEY. – You are right in that, and they will not be while I am on my feet. But, Mr. Chairman, I am a member of the City Government. I introduced this order in the Common Council, and, no matter what individual member of this Committee objects, as long as I am treating this Committee and this subject fairly I will insist on being heard. No one man on the Committee will stop me, sir, as long as I am fair, and when I am unfair I have common sense enough to desist. I know that the Chair will be fair enough to treat me fairly, no matter whether any other member of the Committee wants to be fair or not. Now, Mr. Chairman, I have had something to say upon this subject in the past. All I have to say is that the presiding officers and the members of both branches of the City Government were obliged, in all decency and fairness, to conform to the language prescribed by the order as passed by both branches — namely, to give this subject a fair, impartial and thorough investigation. Now, then, I have no criticism whatever to make as to the aldermanic membership of this Committee, because up to the time that the Committee was appointed there was no public record of how the individual members of the Board stood upon the question of municipal ownership. But there is a record, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, of how the members of the lower branch voted upon this question. When the question was finally passed upon forty-four members had registered their votes in favor of the question and sixteen against; and, notwithstanding that, the presiding officer of the lower branch appointed on the Committee two men who were favorably recorded, recorded as favorable to the subject, and six men who were against it. Now, let me say, Mr. Chairman — Mr. Noon AN.— Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order, that the gentleman who has the floor at the present time is a member of this City Government, and that he is simply rehearsing what he has already said on the floor of this body as a member of the City Government. This Committee has been appointed, a joint committee of the Board of Aldermen and the Common Council, to look into the advisability of the City of Boston undertaking municipal ownership, and we are not here to hear any criticisms of the President of the Common Council or the Chairman of the Board of Aldermen. I believe that the gentleman who has the floor at the present time is casting reflections upon this Committee as a whole. The CHAIRMAN. — The Chair will rule that that point of order is well taken, for this reason. When you come to specify in that manner, you cast some imputation upon the fair-mindedness of the gentlemen who compose this Committee. A man might well be recorded on some vote of either branch of this government either for or against a question, and yet he might be open-minded, fair-minded, judicialminded enough to listen to evidence upon it and give a fair and just decision. Therefore I will ask Mr. Kiley to please not refer to any record or vote of any member of this Committee on the subject that is now before the Committee, for I think we must assume that the members of this government, when they are placed upon a committee to hear evidence and make a report, will act in a fair and open-minded manner, whatever their previous utterances or votes upon that subject may have been. I trust that I am in that mental condition and I trust that every member of this Committee is in the same condition. Therefore I think any reference to their previous votes or previous actions on this subject is out of order. Mr. KILEY. — Mr. Chairman, I was simply making these