Rep. Birmingham faced opposition from his own party Feb. 20 in his attempt to stop three bills related to working hours and workmen’s compensation from passing the House, reported the Boston Herald (Feb. 21, 1931, p. 24, via Genealogy Bank).
One bill would make workmen’s compensation retroactive to the date of injury. The two other bills would provide watchmen and employees who maintain fires with a mandatory one-day off in seven days worked, respectively.
Birmingham worked with Speaker of the House Saltonstall in defeating the bills. In fact, Saltonstall ordered the doors of the House locked, and the members were placed under technical arrest, in order to defeat the bills, the newspaper reported.
Many of the Democratic representatives protested against Birmingham’s effort to join forces with the Republican leadership. They complained that they had not been informed in advance of the votes. They assumed that Birmingham was working at the direction of Gov. Ely, who opposed the legislation.
A number of independent Republicans joined with the Democrats in trying to get the bills passed. Ultimately, two of the three bills were defeated. The bill that would make workmen’s compensation retroactive was defeated by a vote of 77 to 68. The watchman’s bill was defeated by a vote of 82 to 63, while the bill on employees maintaining fires was given its first reading by a vote of 79 to 77.