Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

some

unionists being uniformly pardoned by the Anglo-Saxon countries the trades-unions Mayor. That such methods were formerly have not only led the way in establishing used was virtually admitted by the men almost ideal hours for skilled workmen, but at the building trades headquarters be- they have been the chief support of the fore the end of the first conversation legislation that has put an end to inhuman " All that we have to do now to get rid of hours for the unskilled. To the tradesscabs,” said one of the officials,“ is to call unions, therefore, Anglo-Saxon countries off all the trades at work on the building." owe an inestimable debt, for th shortAll the building trades unions now stood hour movement has been the greatest together as one man in favor of the exclu economic factor in securing the greater sive employment of union labor, and the physical and intellectual vigor and the contractor who tried to fight one union better home life that distinguish the workfound himself at war with them all. The ing people in Anglo-Saxon countries. It official went on to tell me of one con must not be thought, however, that this tractor who had seemed to win his fight shortening of hours has brought with it a on this issue, but it cost him so much proportionate lessening of work. When that he soon made terms with the union I was in Germany, Professor Roscher, of and has since been a - model employer.

model employer.“ Leipsic, told me of German workmen who, At first I was inclined to discount their after living in America, returned to Gerboasts of power. but when I read the “ Arti many, preferring the longer hours at lower cles of Agreement” between the “ Carpen- wages there rather than stand the strain ters' Executive Council” and the con at which they were required to work in tracting carpenters, and examined the America. When in Chicago, I found that list of over five hundred contractors who

American workmen sympathized had signed them, I realized that the allied with this view. At the carpenters' union Chicago unions ruled the building trades headquarters, when I spoke warmly of the with an iron hand.

union victory in securing the eight hours? The main provisions of this contract day, I was surprised to have one of the were as follows:

carpenters remark, “ Yes; but if we won · ARTICLE I. Eight hours shall constitute seven hours, half of us would be dead." What

a day's work between the hours When I asked what he meant, he replied

of 8 A.M. and 5 P.M., except Sat. that every time the hours were shortened have secured

urday, when work shall cease at the bosses made them work just that 12 o'clock noon from June 1st to Septem- much harder. He was older than the rest ber 1st.

of the group, and it was evident that he ARTICLE II. The minimum rate of found it difficult to keep the pace now wages for journeymen carpenters shall be demanded. When the trades-unions in3772 cents an hour from April 1, 1898, creased their demands of the contractors, to March 31, 1899.

the contractors increased theirs of the “ ARTICLE III. Double time shall be men, and there was no power to make allowed on all overtime, Sunday work, any contractor keep any man who did not New Year's Day, Decoration Day. Fourth turn out a remunerative quantity of work. of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas Were it not that the shorter hours enabled Days, or the days celebrated for the fore most of the men to work with greater in. going. No work shall be allowed under tensity and without greater exhaustion any pretense on Labor Day.

during them, the increase of leisure must ARTICLES I X. and X. The party of have been paid for in a cut of wages. the first part agrees to hire none but union As it was, there had been no cut in carpenters. . . . A sympathetic strike,

wages except that which was in

The high when ordered to promote the principles evitable during the hard times. here laid down, shall not be a violation

Even here the loss was slight. of this agreement."

Between '92 and 97 carpenters' wages The great gain from unionism has been in Chicago fell only from 10 cents an

the shortening of hours. Only in hour to 35 cents. The

In '98 they were short Anglo-Saxon countries where trades. raised to 3772 cents, and this year they

unions are strong have the hours of are again 40 cents. Even in '97 these labor been materially shortened ; and in union carpenters in Chicago were getting

[ocr errors]

the unions

66

wages

hours

$2.80 for eight hours, while many of the belief that some machinery was all the non-union Southern carpenters were right. Nevertheless, the belief seemed getting but $1.25 for ten hours. The ineradicable that machinery threw work. cut in Chicago due to the hard times was men out of employment, as well as cononly 1272 per cent., while in Atlanta it centrated wealth. These men, with possihad been nearly 40 per cent. Only in bly two exceptions, were all silver Demone way did the building trades unions in ocrats, yet not one of them seemed to Chicago suffer keenly from the depression, krow that the twenty-five years preceding and this was through the want of employ- 1873 witnessed at the same time the ment. This evil bore hardest, of course, greatest extension in the use of machinery on the less efficient workmen, many of and the fullest employment of labor that whom could get so little work at union the century had known. All of them, rates as carpenters that they fell back to without exception, believed with the be machine-tenders in factories. In this Socialists that the increase of the unemway, it was admitted, a good many of the ployed since 1893 had been due chiefly old union carpenters had suffered a heavy to machinery. As I listened to them, cut in wages. At the bench they used to President Schwab's arraignment of Engget nearly $3 a day. In the factories lish trades-unions for their hostility to where building materials were made by machinery recurred to me, and I felt that machinery, they were now getting $2 the omnipotence of trades-unions would or $2.25. Every year, in good times as mean industrial stagnation, as surely as the well as bad, the proportion of carpenters' omnipotence of trusts. It is only because work done in the factories was increasing competition forces the workmen and capiand thus carpenters' wages are really suf- talists in different trades to accept improvefering reductions that do not appear in

ments that industrial progress goes on. the union scale.

Of minor importance now, but not less The way in which machinery was affect

"A new combination threatening for the fuing their own wages may have

ture, was the willingness Hostility to

trade" machinery accounted for the intensity of the

of the Chicago tradesfeeling against it which these unions to combine against the use of outcarpenters displayed. Not long before of-town materials. When the Chicago my visit they had sustained the stone materials were made by union workmen cutters in a barbarous strike against the with wholesome hours and wages, and use of a machine for sawing stone. When the out-of-town materials were made by I tried, in a bungling way, *o show that overworked and underpaid hands, there such strikes lessened the use of stone as was moral justification for the discriminaa building material, and weakened the tion. But this was not the controlling unions by arraying the interests of the consideration. The Chicago unionists community against them, I made little were ready to use the boycott in favor of impression. The stone-cutters, they said, Chicago union labor to the detriment of were skilled workmen who got high wages. out-of-town union labor.

It was protecThe machine-tenders needed no skill at tionism pure and simple, involving not all, and were paid wretched wages. “We only the restriction of trade but the forcing believe,” said one of them, "that public of industries out of favorable into unsentiment sustains us in trying to keep favorable localities. Every interest except work for well-paid labor.”

that of the Chicago producers was adWhen I asked them whether they them- versely affected, yet in this peculiarly selves were not glad to buy machine-made anti-social struggle the Chicago unions goods-like the chairs and desk in their have the support instead of the hostility office—they answered rather doggedly of their employers. This is a feature of that they were not. The hand-made trades-unionism that in the future must things, they said--after the fashion of be reckoned with. aristocratic disciples of Ruskin and Mor The discussions of the union rules ris-lasted so much longer that they were

about overtime and Sunday cheaper in the end. When I instanced

Overtime and

work went much more agree

Sunday work machine-made cloth, they were not so

ably. Here again the position ready with an answer, and even expressed of the unions seemed to me that which

in restraint of

the public welfare demanded. The senti ists represented all that was reasonable ment against overtime and Sunday work or employers all that was the reverse. His was in part philanthropic, the men believ talk was a calm, clear statement of the ing that the union requirement divided organization, methods, aims, defeats, and the work to be done among more men. successes of the Cigar-makers' Union. In part also it was shrewdly practical. From my observation in New York I had When the employers had to run nights supposed that this trade was largely in and Sundays, their own earnings were the hands of immigrants, but I found that high. Their capital, as one printer pointed President Perkins was not only of Amerout to me, is employed more hours. Their ican birth, but of American ancestry since rents and interest are not increased, and 1640. Four-fifths of the organized cigarthere is but little more superintendence makers in the country, he said, were of needed when work is heavy than when it American birth. When I asked how the is light. Therefore they can afford to pay proportion stood among the non-union more at such times. The main consider cigar-makers, he said that the difference ation, however, was the exhaustion caused would be slight, taking the country as a by overwork. After night work and whole, because the 20,000 cigar-makers Sunday work," said this workman, "we in Pennsylvania were almost all Americanget to feeling like wooden men." His union born and unorganized. Outside of Penncharged time and a half after six o'clock, sylvania, however, unionism was stronger and double time after twelve o'clock and on among native-born than among immigrant Sundays. One result of such regulations workmen. The sharp line of cleavage, was that they forced employers to reduce however, was the sectional one. As I overtime and Sunday work to the mini- had previously learned about the iron mum, and to give the men consecutive work trades, so here in the cigar trade the at union hours, instead of alternating- West was well organized, the East badly. and alike injurious-overwork and no Of the 20,000 cigar-makers in New York work. The religious motive for the pro City only 7,000 were members of the hibition of Sunday work was disappoint union; of the 20,000 in Pennsylvania ingly absent, so far as my limited conver practically none were members; but of sations on the subject went, but

-as I had

the 30,000 cigar-makers in the rest of the previously observed in New York—the country over 20,000 were in the unions. least religious of trades-unionists were The small towns—and this, too, is fairly insistent upon a free Sunday, and not typical-- were better organized than the merely upon one free day in seven. It large, and “more attentive to the union seems somewhat singular, but at the very label.” This President Perkins accounted time that opposition to Sunday labor is for on the ground that the “neighborly relaxing among well-to-do Christians it is feeling” is stronger in the smaller towns, gaining strength among organized work and therefore organization is easier. ingmen.

The question of the union label focused It is in the building trades that the union

The

the whole philosophy of tradesThe Cigar-makers' movement centers, but it

unionism. What the union label Union and was not here that I found

label"

stands for is precisely what the President

the best exponent of trades building trades alliance stands for when it unionism. Early in my work, with a card orders sympathetic strikes to secure the from one of the residents at Hull House, I exclusive employment of union men. called on President George W. Perkins, The sympathetic strike is the real weapon of the Cigar-makers' International Union, of the building trades unions to secure and the two hours' talk with him was so their demands, and the union label may profitable that I took the liberty of return in the near future give a similar weapon ing to him again before I left the city. to all trades-unions. In the labor world Here was a man whom any professor of the “union label " expresses the same political economy in the country might sentiment that "consumers' leagues" exwith advantage call to his chair to give press among the well-to-do. It is the his students a week's course upon trades moral sense that the old duty to treat our unionism. There was no rhetoric, no own employees well involves the new exaggeration, no claim that trades-union duty to patronize others who treat their

union

insurance

employees well. This feeling is keen That which possessed the greatest imamong organized workmen ; and their test

Trades-union mediate interest, however, in as to whether firms treat their hands well

President Perkins's talk with is whether they grant the conditions de me was the report upon the insurance manded by the unions. They believe in work of his organization. The dues of the exclusive employment of union labor, the Cigar-makers' Union are thirty cents a said President Perkins, not merely be. week, and the dues and assessments tocause the non-unionists pay no dues, and gether are about seventeen dollars a year. therefore are not entitled to the benefits The yearly expenditures for strikes during of union action, but also because non the past decade have averaged barely one unionists seem to them the tools of the dollar a member. The yearly expenditures enemies of the labor movement. They for officers' salaries, hall rents, postage, believe that the unions are fighting the etc., amount to barely four dollars a membattle for the entire working class, and ber. Thirty dollars a week is the maxitheir consciences as well as their interests mum salary, and this is paid only to the support their discriminations against non President, who is at the head of a business union men. Through the union label all aggregating half a million dollars a year. unionists were able to help each other. One dollar a member is paid yearly for The “ blue label” of the Cigar-makers' the union label agitation. The remaining Union, he said, was now so uniformly de- eleven dollars are returned to the memmanded by trades-unionists in the Westbers in various insurance benefits. No that many manufacturers could not afford insurance company, not co-operative, reto be without it. When I referred to the turns to the insured so large a percentage current gibes of New York unionists of their payments. as to the quality of “blue-label " cigars, The “death benefits” paid by the he said that the time was long since past Cigar-makers' Union amount to $200 for in Chicago when a " blue-label smoke those who have been members for five was a poor smoke. Union labor, he said, consecutive years, and to $550 for those was employed in making the best cigars, who have been members fifteen consecuand “blue-label " cigars were now to be tive years. These payments aggregate had at the swellest cigar-shops in Chi- about $70,000 a year, or about $2.50 a cago. He was ready to admit that where member. The “sick benefits " paid by the union label was new and only a few the union furnish a form of insurance firms had it, these firms might sometimes that no capitalistic organization could take advantage of those determined to offer without ensuring a vast amount of have the label; but where the use of the unnecessary sickness. Union cigar-makers, label was well established he thought that after one week of sickness, not due to “inpatrons obtained the best quality of work temperance or immoral conduct,” are entiat reasonable prices. President Perkins tled to five dollars a week for a maximum was in no sense a visionary man, and of thirteen weeks in one year. The esprit what he said about the growth of popular de corps of the union, and the unwillingness sentiment in favor of union-label goods of any but the meanest workmen to be convinced me that this, too, was one of suspected of sponging on their fellows, is the economic forces soon to be reckoned the chief protection of the order against with. To be sure, it is purely moral in imposition, but the regulations regarding its character, since self-interest and indif- the visiting of the sick are a rare combinaference will always prompt the unionist to tion of philanthropy and business caution. buy the cheapest and most convenient The “sick benefits” are more important things, regardless of how they have been than those paid in cases of death, and made. But if the conscience of all union- aggregate about $110,000 a year, or nearly ists, as well as that of philanthropists, once four dollars a member. Most important of accepts the commandment, “ Thou shalt all, however, during the hard times, have not buy goods which any one has been been the "out-of-work benefits.” To begin wronged in making," it will prove a power- with, the Cigar-makers' Union lends about ful factor in diverting trade to firms whose $30,000 a year to members out of work who employees believe themselves to be well wish to travel in search of it. These loans treated.

are nearly all repaid by the members in

ten per cent. weekly assessments after work terms with their workmen or risk the loss is found, so that this tramping in good of men and business to their rivals. Presifaith for work is hardly more burdensome dent Perkins told me of cigar firms that to the union than to society. Besides these had won in the strikes against them, but loans, however, the union pays to all mem had found their business gone when they bers in good standing when out of work attempted to resume it. At present the three dollars a week for as high as eight cigar-making business is chiefly in the een weeks a year. The only restrictions hands of small cms-some of them emare that no benefits shall be paid during ploying but one or two men. It is, therethe first week after the member is laid off, fore, almost as easy sometimes for the none during the midsummer months, when men to find other employers as for employliving expenses are light and other work ers to find other men. But if the trust easily obtained, and that members who which already controls the cigarette busihave received the benefit for six weeks ness to the utter suppression of unions must then go without it for seven weeks. should enter the cigar-making field, there In this way the union ensures that its is trouble for the workmen ahead. This members shall not lightly leave old jobs sentiment among the cigar-makers had its or be careless about finding new ones. counterpart in that which prevailed among This form of insurance was begun by the the carpenters about the contractors' assoCigar-makers' Union in 1890, and, until ciation—though the outlook there was more the hard times set in, cost less than one hopeful. *. At first," said one of the cardollar a year per member. With the de penters' officials, we wanted the employpression of 1893. however, the out-of-work ers to organize, as we preferred to have payments suddenly became the heaviest

one agreement to a lot of little strikes with of all. From $17,000 in 1892 they rose single employers. Afterwards they tried to $174,000 in 1894, fell slightly with the to take advantage of their union to force slight business revival in 1895. rose again us down, and we broke up their associato $175,000 with the deepened depression tion." * But," I asked, couldn't they go of 1896, and fell to $117,000 in 1897, when longer without their profits than you withthe present revival began. During all out your wages?" · No," was the reply, these trying years the Cigar-makers' Union " because they knew that if they all was not compelled to lower the scale of

stopped, the union itseli would take conwages to correspond to the fall in prices, tracts." Here, then is a possible outcome like the less organized trades, nor to lose for the future. The unions are accumulatmembers from its organization because ing reserve funds, and, in spite of immigraof want of employment, like many of the tion, are increasing rapidly in discipline best organized trades. The out-of-work and intelligence. The time is coming insurance held all the members together, when the unions may be able to manage and while they suffered severely from lack business co-operatively. They are, it is of work, none were pauperized, and their true, in need of moral restraints from organization came out of the depression within, and the restraints of public opinstronger than at the beginning. Its re ion and even public law from without; but serve fund, indeed, was slightly lowered, the road to industrial democracy surely but at the close there were $177,000 in lies in the strengthening of the one demothe union treasury

cratic factor in the control of industry, Only one thing seemed to President and not in its threatened overthrow by Organized labor

Perkins to threaten the industrial absolutism. The time is yet

increased prosperity of his coming when historians will look back organized capitai

union, and that was the upon the present-day struggles of tradespossible entrance of the trust into the unionists as historians to-day look back cigar-making business. Among the Social upon the parish and town meetings of the ists, as I have said, the trusts were rather despised Puritan " levelers” of the sevenWelcomed than otherwise ; but among the teenth century. The men may seem comtrades unionists the trusts are as cordially monplace and the measures petty, but it hated as among farmers. The trusts

is through just such instrumentalities that can crush unions. Competing firms, on the great designs for human advancement the contrary, can be compelled to make are always worked out.

VS.

« PredošláPokračovať »