James A. Farley, the Democratic national committee chairman, sent a telegram to Rep. Birmingham, the House Democratic Floor Leader, and Sen. Joseph Finnegan, the Senate Democratic Floor Leader, urging the state to ratify the federal Child Labor amendment.
A hearing on the amendment was held at the State House on Feb. 7 by the Legislative Committee on Constitutional Law. The packed hearing was held in the largest committee room available, reported the Boston Globe (Feb. 7, 1934, p. 14).
The Farley telegram read: “The Democratic national committee hopes Massachusetts becomes the 21st State to ratify the Child Labor amendment and make permanent the gains under the N.R.A. Fourteen States have ratified this year under the leadership of the Democratic party.”
Testifying in favor of the amendment was Rep. Roland D. Sawyer, who sponsored the petition filed by the State Federation of Labor supporting ratification of the amendment.
“This amendment touches only regulation of the labor of those under 18 years of age, and I cannot believe that any Legislature would seek, or if it so sought, would be allowed by the United States Supreme Court to make any laws affecting the education or religion of our youth,” said Sawyer.
“Those distinguished men who oppose this amendment because of the unhappy results of the 18th amendment, so far as I can see, have no real basis for seeing any analogy between them,” he added.
Robert J. Watt, secretary-treasurer of the State Federal of Labor, said that the amendment would give Congress the power to limit, regulate, and prohibit labor of individuals younger than 18 years old but did not imping on state’s rights.
Watt went after those critics who compared the amendment to the prohibition amendment, stressing that the two were complete different.
Watt also criticized Cardinal O’Connell for his opposition to the amendment, stressing that he was acting as an individual, not as a representative of the diocese. He related that the cardinal had written to Boston attorney Alexander Lincoln stating the he was opposed to the amendment.