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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
In 1961, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations was created to replace the Labor Commission. All powers and duties of the Labor Commission and its divisions were transferred to the new department. The Unemployment Compensation Commission and the Industrial Accident Board transferred all of their records, property and personnel to the newly created Department and continued as separate divisions within it.1 Five members appointed by the Governor for a term of five years served without salary. While serving this term, no member could serve as an officer or committee member of any political party organization.2 The Department had the power, jurisdiction, duty and authority to administer all labor laws; to direct to the attention of the Attorney General any request for necessary enforcement , action or violations of all labor laws and the terms of this act; to make investigations and collect and compile statistical information with respect to and report upon the conditions of labor generally and upon the enforcement of provisions of this act ; to advise the Industrial Accident Board regarding rules and rule changes; and to actively promote the voluntary arbitration, mediation and conciliation of disputes between employers and employees. However, the Department did not have the authority to make any public recommendation for the settlement of any specific labor dispute, or to make any public statement as to the merits of such dispute, prior to the final settlement thereof. It further had the power to promote voluntary apprenticeship through cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor, and to make, amend and repeal regulations necessary for the internal administration of the Department.3 Members of the Department were empowered to make, modify and repeal rules for the prevention of accidents or occupational diseases or for the construction, repair and maintenance of businesses to make them safe. These rules were subject to public hearings but once passed had the force and effect of law and were enforced as such.4 They were also empowered to make inspections of businesses to ensure the proper enforcement of all labor laws. No employer could refuse inspection unless it was at an unreasonable hour.5 Failure to produce records, comply with a subpoena, to testify, or to submit to any other lawful requests made by the Department authorized said Department to have the Attorney General prosecute the offenders before the Superior Court.6 Departmental policy was to serve the best interest of the people by preventing or promptly settling labor disputes, strikes, lock-outs and industrial strife regardless of the merits of the controversy because such things were “ forces productive ultimately of economic waste.” However, if their best persuasive efforts failed, employees could not be forcibly prevented from striking. 7
Within the Department a State Meditation Service was created to quickly settle all labor disputes. This included arranging, holding, adjourning and reconvening conferences between disputants to discuss grievances and to assist in negotiating and drafting agreements for the settlement. 8 Institutions violating the rules and regulations set forth by the service could be prosecuted by the Attorney General upon request of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. 9 The Department was authorized to assist and cooperate with the Wage-Hour and Public Contracts Divisions and the United States Department of Labor in enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act and was required to submit an annual report of all its activities to the Governor. 10
In 1963, a State Apprenticeship and Training Council was created as a division within the Department to encourage the development of an apprenticeship and training system with other states and the Federal Government; to provide for establishment and furtherance of standards of apprenticeship and training; to safeguard the welfare of apprentices and trainees; to aid in providing maximum opportunities for unemployed and employed persons to improve and modernize their work skills; and to contribute to a healthy economy by aiding in the development and maintenance of skilled labor force sufficient in numbers and quality to meet the expanding needs of industry and to attract new industry. The council consisted of six members that served a term of three years. 11
In 1970, the Department of Labor ( RG 1580) was established and the powers, duties and functions of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations were transferred thereto. 12
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
1 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 104 – 106.
2 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 102.
3 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 112.
4 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 113.
5 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 114.
6 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 115.
7 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 117, 122.
8 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 119 – 120.
9 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 125.
10 D.L. 1961, ch. 259 – ch. 1, sec. 127, 128.
11 D.L. 1963, ch. 10 – ch. 2, sec. 201.
12 D.L. 1970, ch. 571 – ch. 85, sec. 8501.
jmm/February 3, 1988; February 10, 1988; February 11, 1988