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The Armies of Labor by Samuel P. Orth

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There are also forty-three state branches of the Federation, each
with its own separate organization. There are annual state
conventions whose membership, however, is not always restricted
to unions affiliated with the American Federation. Some of these
state organizations antedate the Federation.

There remain the local unions, into personal touch with which
each member comes. There were in 1916 as many as 647 "city
centrals," the term used to designate the affiliation of the
unions of a city. The city centrals are smaller replicas of the
state federations and are made up of delegates elected by the
individual unions. They meet at stated intervals and freely
discuss questions relating to the welfare of organized labor in
general as well as to local labor conditions in every trade.
Indeed, vigilance seems to be the watchword of the Central.
Organization, wages, trade agreements, and the attitude of public
officials and city councils which even remotely might affect
labor rarely escape their scrutiny. This oldest of all the groups
of labor organizations remains the most vital part of the
Federation. The success of the American Federation of Labor is
due in large measure to the crafty generalship of its President,
Samuel Gompers, one of the most astute labor leaders developed by
American economic conditions. He helped organize the
Federation, carefully nursed it through its tender years, and
boldly and unhesitatingly used its great power in the days of its
maturity. In fact, in a very real sense the Federation is
Gompers, and Gompers is the Federation. Born in London of
Dutch-Jewish lineage, on January 27, 1850, the son of a
cigarmaker, Samuel Gompers was early apprenticed to that craft.
At the age of thirteen he went to New York City, where in the
following year he joined the first cigar-makers' union organized
in that city. He enlisted all his boyish ardor in the cause of
the trade union and, after he arrived at maturity, was elected
successively secretary and president of his union. The local
unions were, at that time, gingerly feeling their way towards
state and national organization, and in these early attempts
young Gompers was active. In 1887, he was one of the delegates to
a national meeting which constituted the nucleus of what is now
the Cigar-makers' International Union.

The local cigar-makers' union in which Gompers received his
necessary preliminary training was one of the most enlightened
and compactly organized groups of American labor. It was one of
the first American Unions to adopt in an efficient manner the
British system of benefits in the case of sickness, death, or
unemployment. It is one of the few American unions that
persistently encourages skill in its craft and intelligence in
its membership. It has been a pioneer in collective bargaining
and in arbitration. It has been conservatively and yet
enthusiastically led and has generally succeeded in enlisting the
respect and cooperation of employers. This union has been the
kindergarten and preparatory school of Samuel Gompers, who,
during all the years of his wide activities as the head of the
Federation of Labor, has retained his membership in his old local
and has acted as first vice-president of the Cigar-makers'
International. These early experiences, precedents, and
enthusiasms Gompers carried with him into the Federation of
Labor. He was one of the original group of trade union
representatives who organized the Federation in 1881. In the
following year he was its President. Since 1885 he has, with the
exception of a single year, been annually chosen as President.
During the first years the Federation was very weak, and it was
even doubtful if the organization could survive the bitter
hostility of the powerful Knights of Labor. It could pay its
President no salary and could barely meet his expense account.*
Gompers played a large part in the complete reorganization of the
Federation in 1886. He subsequently received a yearly salary of
$1000 so that he could devote all of his time to the cause. From
this year forward the growth of the Federation was steady and
healthy. In the last decade it has been phenomenal. The earlier
policy of caution has, however, not been discarded--for caution
is the word that most aptly describes the methods of Gompers.
From the first, he tested every step carefully, like a wary
mountaineer, before he urged his organization to follow. From the
beginning Gompers has followed three general lines of policy.
First, he has built the imposing structure of his Federation upon
the autonomy of the constituent unions. This is the secret of the
united enthusiasm of the Federation. It is the Anglo-Saxon
instinct for home rule applied to trade union politics. In the
tentative years of its early struggles, the Federation could hope
for survival only upon the suffrance of the trade union, and
today, when the Federation has become powerful, its potencies
rest upon the same foundation.

* In one of the early years this was $13.

Secondly, Gompers has always advocated frugality in money
matters. His Federation is powerful but not rich. Its demands
upon the resources of the trade unions have always been moderate,
and the salaries paid have been modest.* When the Federation
erected a new building for its headquarters in Washington a few
years ago, it symbolized in its architecture and equipment this
modest yet adequate and substantial financial policy. American
labor unions have not yet achieved the opulence, ambitions, and
splendors of the guilds of the Middle Ages and do not yet direct
their activities from splendid guild halls.

* Before 1899 the annual income of the Federation was less than
$25,000; in 1901 it reached the $100,000 mark; and since 1905 it
has exceeded $200,000.

In the third place, Gompers has always insisted upon the
democratic methods of debate and referendum in reaching important
decisions. However arbitrary and intolerant his impulses may have
been, and however dogmatic and narrow his conclusions in regard
to the relation of labor to society and towards the employer (and
his Dutch inheritance gives him great obstinacy), he has astutely
refrained from too obviously bossing his own organization.

With this sagacity of leadership Gompers has combined a
fearlessness that sometimes verges on brazenness. He has never
hesitated to enter a contest when it seemed prudent to him to do
so. He crossed swords with Theodore Roosevelt on more than one
occasion and with President Eliot of Harvard in a historic
newspaper controversy over trade union exclusiveness. He has not
been daunted by conventions, commissions, courts, congresses, or
public opinion. During the long term of his Federation
presidency, which is unparalleled in labor history and alone is
conclusive evidence of his executive skill, scarcely a year has
passed without some dramatic incident to cast the searchlight of
publicity upon him--a court decision, a congressional inquiry, a
grand jury inquisition, a great strike, a nation-wide boycott, a
debate with noted public men, a political maneuver, or a foreign
pilgrimage. Whenever a constituent union in the Federation has
been the object of attack, he has jumped into the fray and has
rarely emerged humiliated from the encounter. This is the more
surprising when one recalls that he possesses the limitations of
the zealot and the dogmatism of the partisan.

One of the most important functions of Gompers has been that of
national lobbyist for the Federation. He was one of the earliest
champions of the eight-hour day and the Saturday half-holiday. He
has energetically espoused Federal child labor legislation, the
restriction of immigration, alien contract labor laws, and
employers' liability laws. He advocated the creation of a Federal
Department of Labor which has recently developed into a cabinet
secretariat. His legal bete noire, however, was the Sherman
Anti-Trust Law as applied to labor unions. For many years he
fought vehemently for an amending act exempting the laboring
class from the rigors of that famous statute. President Roosevelt
with characteristic candor told a delegation of Federation
officials who called on him to enlist his sympathy in their
attempt, that he would enforce the law impartially against
lawbreakers, rich and poor alike. Roosevelt recommended to
Congress the passage of an amendment exempting "combinations
existing for and engaged in the promotion of innocent and proper
purposes." An exempting bill was passed by Congress but was
vetoed by President Taft on the ground that it was class
legislation. Finally, during President Wilson's administration,
the Federation accomplished its purpose, first indirectly by a
rider on an appropriation bill, then directly by the Clayton Act,
which specifically declared labor combinations, instituted for
the "purpose of mutual help and...not conducted for profit,"
not to be in restraint of trade. Both measures were signed by the
President. Encouraged by their success, the Federation leaders
have moved with a renewed energy against the other legal citadel
of their antagonists, the use of the injunction in strike cases.

Gompers has thus been the political watchman of the labor
interests. Nothing pertaining, even remotely, to labor conditions
escapes the vigilance of his Washington office. During President
Wilson's administration, Gompers's influence achieved a power
second to none in the political field, owing partly to the
political power of the labor vote which he ingeniously
marshalled, partly to the natural inclination of the dominant
political party, and partly to the strategic position of labor in
the war industries.

The Great War put an unprecedented strain upon the American
Federation of Labor. In every center of industry laborers of
foreign birth early showed their racial sympathies, and under
the stimuli of the intriguing German and Austrian ambassadors
sinister plots for crippling munitions plants and the shipping
industries were hatched everywhere. Moreover, workingmen became
restive under the burden of increasing prices, and strikes for
higher wages occurred almost daily.

At the beginning of the War, the officers of the Federation
maintained a calm and neutral attitude which increased in
vigilance as the strain upon American patience and credulity
increased. As soon as the United States declared war, the whole
energies of the officials of the Federation were cast into the
national cause. In 1917, under the leadership of Gompers, and as
a practical antidote to the I.W.W. and the foreign labor and
pacifist organization known as The People's Council, there was
organized The American Alliance for Labor and Democracy in order
"to Americanize the labor movement." Its campaign at once became
nation wide. Enthusiastic meetings were held in the great
manufacturing centers, stimulated to enthusiasm by the incisive
eloquence of Gompers. At the annual convention of the Federation
held in Buffalo in November, 1917, full endorsement was given to
the Alliance by a vote of 21,602 to 401. In its formal statement
the Alliance declared: "It is our purpose to try, by educational
methods, to bring about a more American spirit in the labor
movement, so that what is now the clear expression of the vast
majority may become the conviction of all. Where we find
ignorance, we shall educate. Where we find something worse, we
shall have to deal as the situation demands. But we are going to
leave no stone unturned to put a stop to anti-American activities
among workers." And in this patriotic effort the Alliance was

This was the first great step taken by Gompers and the
Federation. The second was equally important. With characteristic
energy the organization put forward a programme for the
readjustment of labor to war conditions. "This is labor's war"
declared the manifesto issued by the Federation. "It must be won
by labor, and every stage in the fighting and the final victory
must be made to count for humanity." These aims were embodied in
constructive suggestions adopted by the Council of National
Defense appointed by President Wilson. This programme was in a
large measure the work of Gompers, who was a member of the
Council. The following outline shows the comprehensive nature of
the view which the laborer took of the relation between task and
the War. The plan embraced

1. Means for furnishing an adequate supply of labor to war

This included: (a) A system of labor exchanges. (b) The training
of workers. (c) Agencies for determining priorities in labor
demands. (d) Agencies for the dilution of skilled labor.

2. Machinery for adjusting disputes between capital and labor,
without stoppage of work.

3. Machinery for safeguarding conditions of labor, including
industrial hygiene, safety appliances, etc.

4. Machinery for safeguarding conditions of living, including
housing, etc.

5. Machinery for gathering data necessary for effective executive

6. Machinery for developing sound public sentiment and an
exchange of information between the various departments of labor
administration, the numerous industrial plants, and the public,
so as to facilitate the carrying out of a national labor

Having thus first laid the foundations of a national labor policy
and having, in the second place, developed an effective means of
Americanizing, as far as possible, the various labor groups, the
Federation took another step. As a third essential element in
uniting labor to help to win the war, it turned its attention to
the inter-allied solidarity of workingmen. In the late summer and
autumn of 1917, Gompers headed an American labor mission to
Europe and visited England, Belgium, France, and Italy. His
frequent public utterances in numerous cities received particular
attention in the leading European newspapers and were eagerly
read in the allied countries. The pacifist group of the British
Labour Party did not relish his outspokenness on the necessity of
completely defeating the Teutons before peace overtures could be
made. On the other hand, some of the ultraconservative papers
misconstrued his sentiments on the terms which should be exacted
from the enemy when victory was assured. This misunderstanding
led to an acrid international newspaper controversy, to which
Gompers finally replied: "I uttered no sentence or word which by
the wildest imagination could be interpreted as advocating the
formula 'no annexations, and no indemnities.' On the contrary, I
have declared, both in the United States and in conferences and
public meetings while abroad, that the German forces must be
driven back from the invaded territory before even peace terms
could be discussed, that Alsace-Lorraine should be returned to
France, that the 'Irredente' should be returned to Italy, and
that the imperialistic militarist machine which has so outraged
the conscience of the world must be made to feel the indignation
and righteous wrath of all liberty and peace loving peoples."
This mission had a deep effect in uniting the labor populations
of the allied countries and especially in cheering the
over-wrought workers of Britain and France, and it succeeded in
laying the foundation for a more lasting international labor

This considerable achievement was recognized when the Peace
Conference at Paris formed a Commission on International Labor
Legislation. Gompers was selected as one of the American
representatives and was chosen chairman. While the Commission was
busy with its tasks, an international labor conference was held
at Berne. Gompers and his colleagues, however, refused to attend
this conference. They gave as their reasons for this aloofness
the facts that delegates from the Central powers, with whom the
United States was still at war, were in attendance; that the
meeting was held "for the purpose of arranging socialist
procedure of an international character"; and that the convention
was irregularly called, for it had been announced as an
interallied conference but had been surreptitiously converted
into an international pacifist gathering, conniving with German
and Austrian socialists.

Probably the most far-reaching achievement of Gompers is the by
no means inconsiderable contribution he has made to that portion
of the treaty of peace with Germany relating to the international
organization of labor. This is an entirely new departure in the
history of labor, for it attempts to provide international
machinery for stabilizing conditions of labor in the various
signatory countries. On the ground that "the well-being, physical
and moral, of the industrial wage-earners is of supreme
international importance," the treaty lays down guiding
principles to be followed by the various countries, subject to
such changes as variations in climate, customs, and economic
conditions dictate. These principles are as follows: labor shall
not be regarded merely as a commodity or an article of commerce;
employers and employees shall have the right of forming
associations; a wage adequate to maintain a reasonable standard
of living shall be paid; an eight-hour day shall be adopted; a
weekly day of rest shall be allowed; child labor shall be
abolished and provision shall be made for the education of youth;
men and women shall receive equal pay for equal work; equitable
treatment shall be accorded to all workers, including aliens
resident in foreign lands; and an adequate system of inspection
shall be provided in which women should take part.

While these international adjustments were taking place, the
American Federation began to anticipate the problems of the
inevitable national labor readjustment after the war. Through a
committee appointed for that purpose, it prepared an ample
programme of reconstruction in which the basic features are the
greater participation of labor in shaping its environment, both
in the factory and in the community, the development of
cooperative enterprise, public ownership or regulation of public
utilities, strict supervision of corporations, restriction of
immigration, and the development of public education. The
programme ends by declaring that "the trade union movement is
unalterably and emphatically opposed...to a large standing

During the entire period of the war, both at home and abroad,
Gompers fought the pacifist and the socialist elements in the
labor movement. At the same time he was ever vigilant in pushing
forward the claims of trade unionism and was always beforehand in
constructive suggestions. His life has spanned the period of
great industrial expansion in America. He has had the
satisfaction of seeing his Federation grow under his leadership
at first into a national and then into an international force.
Gompers is an orthodox trade unionist of the British School.
Bolshevism is to him a synonym for social ruin. He believes that
capital and labor should cooperate but that capital should cease
to be the predominant factor in the equation. In order to secure
this balance he believes labor must unite and fight, and to this
end he has devoted himself to the federation of American trade
unions and to their battle. He has steadfastly refused political
preferment and has declined many alluring offers to enter private
business. In action he is an opportunist--a shrewd, calculating
captain, whose knowledge of human frailties stands him in good
stead, and whose personal acquaintance with hundreds of leaders
of labor, of finance, and of politics, all over the country, has
given him an unusual opportunity to use his influence for the
advancement of the cause of labor in the turbulent field of
economic warfare.

The American Federation of Labor has been forced by the
increasing complexity of modern industrial life to recede
somewhat from its early trade union isolation. This broadening
point of view is shown first in the recognition of the man of no
trade, the unskilled worker. For years the skilled trades
monopolized the Federation and would not condescend to interest
themselves in their humble brethren. The whole mechanism of the
Federation in the earlier period revolved around the organization
of the skilled laborers. In England the great dockers' strike of
1889 and in America the lurid flare of the I.W.W. activities
forced the labor aristocrat to abandon his pharisaic attitude and
to take an interest in the welfare of the unskilled. The future
will test the stability of the Federation, for it is among the
unskilled that radical and revolutionary movements find their
first recruits.

A further change in the internal policy of the Federation is
indicated by the present tendency towards amalgamating the
various allied trades into one union. For instance, the United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and the Amalgamated Wood Workers'
Association, composed largely of furniture makers and machine
wood workers, combined a few years ago and then proceeded to
absorb the Wooden Box Makers, and the Wood Workers in the
shipbuilding industry. The general secretary of the new
amalgamation said that the organization looked "forward with
pleasurable anticipations to the day when it can truly be said
that all men of the wood-working craft on this continent hold
allegiance to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of
America." A similar unification has taken place in the lumbering
industry. When the shingle weavers formed an international union
some fifteen years ago, they limited the membership "to the men
employed in skilled departments of the shingle trade." In 1912
the American Federation of Labor sanctioned a plan for including
in one organization all the workers in the lumber industry, both
skilled and unskilled. This is a far cry from the minute trade
autocracy taught by the orthodox unionist thirty years ago.

Today the Federation of Labor is one of the most imposing
organizations in the social system of America. It reaches the
workers in every trade. Every contributor to the physical
necessities of our materialistic civilization has felt the
far-reaching influence of confederated power. A sense of its
strength pervades the Federation. Like a healthy, self-conscious
giant, it stalks apace among our national organizations. Through
its cautious yet pronounced policy, through its seeking after
definite results and excluding all economic vagaries, it bids
fair to overcome the disputes that disturb it from within and the
onslaughts of Socialism and of Bolshevism that threaten it from


The trade union* forms the foundation upon which the whole
edifice of the American Federation of Labor is built. Like the
Federation, each particular trade union has a tripartite
structure: there is first the national body called the Union, the
International, the General Union, or the Grand Lodge; there is
secondly the district division or council, which is merely a
convenient general union in miniature; and finally there is the
local individual union, usually called "the local." Some unions,
such as the United Mine Workers, have a fourth division or
subdistrict, but this is not the general practice.

* The term "trade union" is used here in its popular sense,
embracing labor, trade, and industrial unions, unless otherwise

The sovereign authority of a trade union is its general
convention, a delegate body meeting at stated times. Some unions
meet annually, some biennially, some triennially, and a few
determine by referendum when the convention is to meet. Sometimes
a long interval elapses: the granite cutters, for instance, held
no convention between 1880 and 1912, and the cigar-makers, after
a convention in 1896, did not meet for sixteen years. The
initiative and referendum are, in some of the more compact
unions, taking the place of the general convention, while the
small executive council insures promptness of administrative

The convention elects the general officers. Of these the
president is the most conspicuous, for he is the field marshal of
the forces and fills a large place in the public eye when a great
strike is called. It was in this capacity that John Mitchell rose
to sudden eminence during the historic anthracite strike in 1902,
and George W. Perkins of the cigar-makers' union achieved his
remarkable hold upon the laboring people. As the duties of the
president of a union have increased, it has become the custom to
elect numerous vice-presidents to relieve him. Each of these has
certain specific functions to perform, but all remain the
president's aides. One, for instance, may be the financier,
another the strike agent, another the organizer, another the
agitator. With such a group of virtual specialists around a
chieftain, a union has the immense advantage of centralized
command and of highly organized leadership. The tendency,
especially among the more conservative unions, is to reelect
these officers year after year. The president of the Carpenters'
Union held his office for twenty years, and John Mitchell served
the miners as president ten years. Under the immediate
supervision of the president, an executive board composed of all
the officers guides the destinies of the union. When this board
is not occupied with the relations of the men to their
employers, it gives its judicial consideration to the more
delicate and more difficult questions of inter-union comity and
of local differences.

The local union is the oldest labor organization, and a few
existing locals can trace their origin as far back as the decade
preceding the Civil War. Many more antedate the organization of
the Federation. Not a few of these almost historic local unions
have refused to surrender their complete independence by
affiliating with those of recent origin, but they have remained
merely isolated independent locals with very little general
influence. The vast majority of local unions are members of the
national trades union and of the Federation.

The local union is the place where the laborer comes into direct
personal contact with this powerful entity that has become such a
factor in his daily life. Here he can satisfy that longing for
the recognition of his point of view denied him in the great
factory and here he can meet men of similar condition, on terms
of equality, to discuss freely and without fear the topics that
interest him most. There is an immense psychic potency in this
intimate association of fellow workers, especially in some of the
older unions which have accumulated a tradition.

It is in the local union that the real life of the labor
organization must be nourished, and the statesmanship of the
national leaders is directed to maintaining the greatest degree
of local autonomy consistent with the interests of national
homogeneity. The individual laborer thus finds himself a member
of a group of his fellows with whom he is personally acquainted,
who elect their own officers, to a large measure fix their own
dues, transact their own routine business, discipline their own
members, and whenever possible make their own terms of employment
with their employers. The local unions are obliged to pay their
tithe into the greater treasury, to make stated reports, to
appoint a certain roster of committees, and in certain small
matters to conform to the requirements of the national union. On
the whole, however, they are independent little democracies
confederated, with others of their kind, by means of district and
national organizations.

The unions representing the different trades vary in structure
and spirit. There is an immense difference between the temper of
the tumultuous structural iron workers and the contemplative
cigar-makers, who often hire one of their number to read to them
while engaged in their work, the favorite authors being in many
instances Ruskin and Carlyle. Some unions are more successful
than others in collective bargaining. Martin Fox, the able leader
of the iron moulders, signed one of the first trade agreements in
America and fixed the tradition for his union; and the
shoemakers, as well as most of the older unions are fairly well
accustomed to collective bargaining. In matters of discipline,
too, the unions vary. Printers and certain of the more skilled
trades find it easier to enforce their regulations than do the
longshoremen and unions composed of casual foreign laborers. In
size also the unions of the different trades vary. In 1910 three
had a membership of over 100,000 each. Of these the United Mine
Workers reached a total of 370,800, probably the largest trades
union in the world. The majority of the unions have a membership
between 1000 and 10,000, the average for the entire number being
5000; but the membership fluctuates from year to year, according
to the conditions of labor, and is usually larger in seasons of
contest. Fluctuation in membership is most evident in the newer
unions and in the unskilled trades. The various unions differ
also in resources. In some, especially those composed largely of
foreigners, the treasury is chronically empty; yet at the other
extreme the mine workers distributed $1,890,000 in strike
benefits in 1902 and had $750,000 left when the board of
arbitration sent the workers back into the mines.

The efforts of the unions to adjust themselves to the quickly
changing conditions of modern industries are not always
successful. Old trade lines are instantly shifting, creating the
most perplexing problem of inter-union amity. Over two score
jurisdictional controversies appear for settlement at each annual
convention of the American Federation. The Association of
Longshoremen and the Seamen's Union, for example, both claim
jurisdiction over employees in marine warehouses. The
cigar-makers and the stogie-makers have also long been at swords'
points. Who shall have control over the coopers who work in
breweries--the Brewery Workers or the Coopers' Union? Who shall
adjust the machinery in elevators--the Machinists or Elevator
Constructors? Is the operator of a linotype machine a typesetter?
So plasterers and carpenters, blacksmiths and structural iron
workers, printing pressmen and plate engravers, hod carriers and
cement workers, are at loggerheads; the electrification of a
railway creates a jurisdictional problem between the electrical
railway employees and the locomotive engineers; and the marble
workers and the plasterers quarrel as to the setting of imitation
marble. These quarrels regarding the claims of rival unions
reveal the weakness of the Federation as an arbitral body. There
is no centralized authority to impose a standard or principle
which could lead to the settlement of such disputes. Trade
jealousy has overcome the suggestions of the peacemakers that
either the nature of the tools used, or the nature of the
operation, or the character of the establishment be taken as the
basis of settlement.

When the Federation itself fails as a peacemaker, it cannot be
expected that locals will escape these controversies. There are
many examples, often ludicrous, of petty jealousies and trade
rivalries. The man who tried to build a brick house, employing
union bricklayers to lay the brick and union painters to paint
the brick walls, found to his loss that such painting was
considered a bricklayer's job by the bricklayers' union, who
charged a higher wage than the painters would have done. It would
have relieved him to have the two unions amalgamate. And this in
general has become a real way out of the difficulty. For
instance, a dispute between the Steam and Hot Water Fitters and
the Plumbers was settled by an amalgamation called the United
Association of Journeymen Plumbers, Gas Fitters, Steam Fitters,
and Steam Fitters' Helpers, which is now affiliated with the
Federation. But the International Association of Steam, Hot
Water, and Power Pipe Fitters and Helpers is not affiliated, and
interunion war results. The older unions, however, have a
stabilizing influence upon the newer, and a genuine conservatism
such as characterizes the British unions is becoming more
apparent as age solidifies custom and lends respect to by-laws
and constitutions. But even time cannot obviate the seismic
effects of new inventions, and shifts in jurisdictional matters
are always imminent. The dominant policy of the trade union is to
keep its feet on the earth, no matter where its head may be; to
take one step at a time, and not to trouble about the future of
society. This purpose, which has from the first been the prompter
of union activity, was clearly enunciated in the testimony of
Adolph Strasser, a converted socialist, one of the leading trade
unionists, and president of the Cigar-makers' Union, before a
Senate Committee in 1883:

Chairman: You are seeking to improve home matters first?

Witness: Yes sir, I look first to the trade I represent: I look
first to cigars, to the interests of men, who employ me to
represent their interests.

Chairman: I was only asking you in regard to your ultimate ends.

Witness: We have no ultimate ends. We are going on from day to
day. We are fighting only for immediate objects, objects that can
be realized in a few years.

Chairman: You want something better to eat and to wear, and
better houses to live in?

Witness: Yes, we want to dress better and to live better, and
become better citizens generally.

Chairman: I see that you are a little sensitive lest it should
be thought that you are a mere theorizer. I do not look upon you
in that light at all.

Witness: Well, we say in our constitution that we are opposed to
theorists, and I have to represent the organization here. We are
all practical men.

This remains substantially the trade union platform today. Trade
unionists all aim to be "practical men."

The trade union has been the training school for the labor
leader, that comparatively new and increasingly important
personage who is a product of modern industrial society.
Possessed of natural aptitudes, he usually passes by a process of
logical evolution, through the important committees and offices
his local into the wider sphere of the national union, where as
president or secretary, he assumes the leadership of his group.
Circumstances and conditions impose a heavy burden upon him, and
his tasks call for a variety of gifts. Because some particular
leader lacked tact or a sense of justice or some similar quality,
many a labor maneuver has failed, and many a labor organization
has suffered in the public esteem. No other class relies so much
upon wise leadership as does the laboring class. The average
wage-earner is without experience in confronting a new situation
or trained and superior minds. From his tasks he has learned only
the routine of his craft. When he is faced with the necessity of
prompt action, he is therefore obliged to depend upon his chosen
captains for results.

In America these leaders have risen from the rank and file of
labor. Their education is limited. The great majority have only a
primary schooling. Many have supplemented this meager stock of
learning by rather wide but desultory reading and by keen
observation. A few have read law, and some have attended night
schools. But all have graduated from the University of Life. Many
of them have passed through the bitterest poverty, and all have
been raised among toilers and from infancy have learned to
sympathize with the toiler's point of view.* They are therefore
by training and origin distinctly leaders of a class, with the
outlook upon life, the prejudices, the limitations, and the
fervent hopes of that class.

* A well-known labor leader once said to the writer: "No matter
how much you go around among laboring people, you will never
really understand us unless you were brought up among us. There
is a real gulf between your way of looking on life and ours. You
can be only an investigator or an intellectual sympathizer with
my people. But you cannot really understand our viewpoint."
Whatever of misconception there may be in this attitude, it
nevertheless marks the actual temper of the average wage-earner,
in spite of the fact that in America many employers have risen
from the ranks of labor.

In a very real sense the American labor leader is the counterpart
of the American business man intensively trained, averse to
vagaries, knowing thoroughly one thing and only one thing, and
caring very little for anything else.

This comparative restriction of outlook marks a sharp distinction
between American and British labor leaders. In Britain such
leadership is a distinct career for which a young man prepares
himself. He is usually fairly well educated, for not infrequently
he started out to study for the law or the ministry and was
sidetracked by hard necessity. A few have come into the field
from journalism. As a result, the British labor leader has a
certain veneer of learning and puts on a more impressive front
than the American. For example, Britain has produced Ramsey
MacDonald, who writes books and makes speeches with a rare grace;
John Burns, who quotes Shakespeare or recites history with
wonderful fluency; Keir Hardie, a miner from the ranks, who was
possessed of a charming poetic fancy; Philip Snowden, who
displays the spiritual qualities of a seer; and John Henderson,
who combines philosophical power with skill in dialectics. On the
other hand, the rank and file of American labor is more
intelligent and alert than that of British labor, and the
American labor leader possesses a greater capacity for intensive
growth and is perhaps a better specialist at rough and tumble
fighting and bargaining than his British colleague.*

* The writer recalls spending a day in one of the Midland
manufacturing towns with the secretary of a local cooperative
society, a man who was steeped in Bergson's philosophy and
talked on local botany and geology as fluently as on local labor
conditions. It would be difficult to duplicate this experience in

In a very real sense every trade union is typified by some
aggressive personality. The Granite Cutters' National Union was
brought into active being in 1877 largely through the
instrumentality of James Duncan, a rugged fighter who, having
federated the locals, set out to establish an eight-hour day
through collective bargaining and to settle disputes by
arbitration. He succeeded in forming a well-disciplined force out
of the members of his craft, and even the employers did not
escape the touch of his rod.

The Glassblowers' Union was saved from disruption by Dennis
Hayes, who, as president of the national union, reorganized the
entire force in the years 1896-99, unionized a dozen of the
largest glass producing plants in the United States and succeeded
in raising the wages fifteen per cent. He introduced methods of
arbitration and collective agreements and established a
successful system of insurance.

James O'Connell, the president of the International Association
of Machinists, led his organization safely through the panic of
1893, reorganized it upon a broader basis, and introduced sick
benefits. In 1901 after a long and wearisome dickering with the
National Metal Trades Association, a shorter day was agreed upon,
but, as the employers would not agree to a ten-hour wage for a
nine-hour day, O'Connell led his men out on a general strike and

Thomas Kidd, secretary of the Wood-Workers' International Union,
was largely responsible for the agreement made with the
manufacturers in 1897 for the establishment of a minimum wage of
fifteen cents an hour for a ten-hour day, a considerable advance
over the average wage paid up to that time. Kidd was the object
of severe attacks in various localities, and in Oshkosh,
Wisconsin, where labor riots took place for the enforcement of
the Union demands, he was arrested for conspiracy but acquitted
by the trial jury.

When the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers lost
their strike at Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1892, the union was
thought to be dead. It was quietly regalvanized into activity,
however, by Theodore Schaffer, who has displayed adroitness in
managing its affairs in the face of tremendous opposition from
the great steel manufacturers who refuse to permit their shops to
be unionized.

The International Typographical Union, composed of an unusually
intelligent body of men, owes its singular success in collective
contracting largely to James M. Lynch, its national president.
The great newspapers did not give in to the demands of the union
without a series of struggles in which Lynch manipulated his
forces with skill and tact. Today this is one of the most
powerful unions in the country.

Entirely different was the material out of which D.J. Keefe
formed his Union of Longshoremen, Marine and Transport Workers.
His was a mass of unskilled workers, composed of many
nationalities accustomed to rough conditions, and not easily led.
Keefe, as president of their International Union, has had more
difficulty in restraining his men and in teaching them the
obligations of a contract than any other leader. At least on one
occasion he employed non-union men to carry out the agreement
which his recalcitrant following had made and broken.

The evolution of an American labor leader is shown at its best in
the career of John Mitchell, easily the most influential trade
unionist of this generation. He was born on February 4, 1870, on
an Illinois farm, but at two years of age he lost his mother and
at four his father. With other lads of his neighborhood he shared
the meager privileges of the school terms that did not interfere
with farm work. At thirteen he was in the coal mines in
Braidwood, Illinois, and at sixteen he was the outer doorkeeper
in the local lodge of the Knights of Labor. Eager to see the
world, he now began a period of wandering, working his way from
State to State. So he traversed the Far West and the Southwest,
alert in observing social conditions and coming in contact with
many types of men. These wanderings stood him in lieu of an
academic course, and when he returned to the coal fields of
Illinois he was ready to settle down. From his Irish parentage he
inherited a genial personality and a gift of speech. These
traits, combined with his continual reading on economic and
sociological subjects, soon lifted him into local leadership. He
became president of the village school board and of the local
lodge of the Knights of Labor. He joined the United Mine Workers
of America upon its organization in 1890. He rose rapidly in its
ranks, was a delegate to the district and sub-district
conventions, secretary-treasurer of the Illinois district,
chairman of the Illinois legislative committee, member of the
executive board, and national organizer. In January, 1898, he was
elected national vice-president, and in the following autumn,
upon the resignation of the president, he became acting
president. The national convention in 1899 chose him as
president, a position which he held for ten years. He has served
as one of the vice-presidents of the American Federation of Labor
since 1898, was for some years chairman of the Trade Agreement
Department of the National Civic Federation and has held the
position of Chairman of the New York State Industrial Commission.

When he rose to the leadership of the United Mine Workers, this
union had only 48,000 members, confined almost exclusively to the
bituminous regions of the West.* Within the decade of his
presidency he brought virtually all the miners of the United
States under his leadership. Wherever his union went, there
followed sooner or later the eight-hour day, raises in wages of
from thirteen to twenty-five per cent, periodical joint
conventions with the operators for settling wage scales and other
points in dispute, and a spirit of prosperity that theretofore
was unknown among the miners.

* Less than 10,000 out of 140,000 anthracite miners were members
of the union.

In unionizing the anthracite miners, Mitchell had his historic
fight with the group of powerful corporations that owned the
mines and the railways which fed them. This great strike, one of
the most significant in our history, attracted universal
attention because of the issues involved, because a coal shortage
threatened many Eastern cities, and because of the direct
intervention of President Roosevelt. The central figure of this
gigantic struggle was the miners' young leader, barely thirty
years old, with the features of a scholar and the demeanor of an
ascetic, marshaling his forces with the strategic skill of a
veteran general.

At the beginning of the strike Mitchell, as president of the
Union, announced that the miners were eager to submit all their
grievances to an impartial arbitral tribunal and to abide by its
decisions. The ruthless and prompt refusal of the mine owners to
consider this proposal reacted powerfully in the strikers' favor
among the public. As the long weeks of the struggle wore on,
increasing daily in bitterness, multiplying the apprehension of
the strikers and the restiveness of the coal consumers, Mitchell
bore the increasing strain with his customary calmness and

After the parties had been deadlocked for many weeks, President
Roosevelt called the mine owners and the union leaders to a
conference in the White House. Of Mitchell's bearing, the
President afterwards remarked: "There was only one man in the
room who behaved like a gentleman, and that man was not I."

The Board of Arbitration eventually laid the blame on both sides
but gave the miners the bulk of their demands. The public
regarded the victory as a Mitchell victory, and the unions adored
the leader who had won their first strike in a quarter of a
century, and who had won universal confidence by his ability and
demeanor in the midst of the most harassing tensions of a class

* Mitchell was cross-examined for three days when he was
testifying before the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission. Every
weapon which craft, prejudice, and skill could marshal against
him failed to rule his temper or to lead him into damaging
admissions or contradictions.

John Mitchell's powerful hold upon public opinion today is not
alone due to his superior intelligence, his self possession, his
business skill, nor his Irish gift of human accommodation, but to
the greater facts that he was always aware of the grave
responsibilities of leadership, that he realized the stern
obligation of a business contract, and that he always followed
the trade union policy of asking only for that which was
attainable. Soon after the Anthracite strike he wrote:

"I am opposed to strikes as I am opposed to war. As yet, however,
the world with all its progress has not made war impossible;
neither, I fear, considering the nature of men and their
institutions, will the strike entirely disappear for years to

"This strike has taught both capital and labor that they owe
certain obligations to society and that their obligations must be
discharged in good faith. If both are fair and conciliatory, if
both recognize the moral restraint of the state of society by
which they are surrounded, there need be few strikes. They can,
and it is better that they should, settle their differences
between themselves....

"Since labor organizations are here, and here to stay, the
managers of employing corporations must choose what they are to
do with them. They may have the union as a present, active, and
unrecognized force, possessing influence for good or evil, but
without direct responsibility; or they may deal with it, give it
responsibility as well as power, define and regulate that power,
and make the union an auxiliary in the promotion of stability and
discipline and the amicable adjustment of all local disputes."


The solidarity and statesmanship of the trade unions reached
perfection in the railway "Brotherhoods." Of these the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers* is the oldest and most
powerful. It grew out of the union of several early associations;
one of these was the National Protective Association formed after
the great Baltimore and Ohio strike in 1854; another was the
Brotherhood of the Footboard, organized in Detroit after the
bitter strike on the Michigan Central in 1862. Though born thus
of industrial strife, this railroad union has nevertheless
developed a poise and a conservatism which have been its
greatest assets in the numerous controversies engaging its
energies. No other union has had a more continuous and hardheaded
leadership, and no other has won more universal respect both from
the public and from the employer.

* Up to this time the Brotherhoods have not affiliated with the
Knights of Labor nor with the American Federation of Labor. After
the passage of the eight-hour law by Congress in 1916, definite
steps were taken towards affiliating the Railway Brotherhoods
with the Federation, and at its annual convention in 1919 the
Federation voted to grant them a charter.

This high position is largely due, no doubt, to the fact that the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers is composed of a very select
and intelligent class of men. Every engineer must first serve an
apprenticeship as a fireman, which usually lasts from four to
twelve years. Very few are advanced to the rank of engineer in
less than four years. The firemen themselves are selected men who
must pass several physical examinations and then submit to the
test of as arduous an apprenticeship as modern industrialism
affords. In the course of an eight- to twelve-hour run firemen
must shovel from fifteen to twenty-five tons of coal into the
blazing fire box of a locomotive. In winter they are constantly
subjected to hot blasts from the furnace and freezing drafts from
the wind. Records show that out of every hundred who begin as
firemen only seventeen become engineers and of these only six
ever become passenger engineers. The mere strain on the eyes
caused by looking into the coal blaze eliminates 17 per cent.
Those who eventually become engineers are therefore a select
group as far as physique is concerned.

The constant dangers accompanying their daily work require
railroad engineers to be no less dependable from the moral point
of view. The history of railroading is as replete with heroism as
is the story of any war. A coward cannot long survive at the
throttle. The process of natural selection which the daily labor
of an engineer involves the Brotherhood has supplemented by most
rigid moral tests. The character of every applicant for
membership is thoroughly scrutinized and must be vouched for by
three members. He must demonstrate his skill and prove his
character by a year's probation before his application is finally
voted upon. Once within the fold, the rules governing his
conduct are inexorable. If he shuns his financial obligations or
is guilty of a moral lapse, he is summarily expelled. In 1909,
thirty-six members were expelled for "unbecoming conduct."
Drunkards are particularly dangerous in railroading.

When the order was only five years old and still struggling for
its life, it nevertheless expelled 172 members for drunkenness.
In proven cases of this sort the railway authorities are
notified, the offending engineer is dismissed from the service,
and the shame of these culprits is published to the world in the
Locomotive Engineers' Journal, which reaches every member of the
order. There is probably no other club or professional
organization so exacting in its demands that its members be
self-respecting, faithful, law-abiding, and capable; and surely
no other is so summary and far-reaching in its punishments.

Today ninety per cent of all the locomotive engineers in the
United States and Canada belong to this union. But the
Brotherhood early learned the lesson of exclusion. In 1864 after
very annoying experiences with firemen and other railway
employees on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad, it
amended its constitution and excluded firemen and machinists from
the order. This exclusive policy, however, is based upon the
stern requirements of professional excellence and is not
displayed towards engineers who are not members of the
Brotherhood. Towards them there is displayed the greatest
toleration and none of the narrow spirit of the "closed shop."
The nonunion engineer is not only tolerated but is even on
occasion made the beneficiary of the activities of the union. He
shares, for example, in the rise of wages and readjustment of
runs. There are even cases on record where the railroad unions
have taken up a specific grievance between a nonunion man and
his employer and have attempted a readjustment.

>From the inception of the Brotherhood, the policy of the order
towards the employing railroad company has been one of business
and not of sentiment. The Brotherhood has held that the relation
between the employer and employee concerning wages, hours,
conditions of labor, and settlement of difficulties should be on
the basis of a written contract; that the engineer as an
individual was at a manifest disadvantage in making such a
contract with a railway company; that he therefore had a right to
join with his fellow engineers in pressing his demands and
therefore had the right to a collective contract. Though for over
a decade the railways fought stubbornly against this policy, in
the end every important railroad of this country and Canada gave
way. It is doubtful, indeed, if any of them would today be
willing to go back to the old method of individual bargaining,
for the brotherhood has insisted upon the inviolability of a
contract once entered into. It has consistently held that "a
bargain is a bargain, even if it is a poor gain." Members who
violate an agreement are expelled, and any local lodge which is
guilty of such an offense has its charter revoked.*

* In 1905 in New York City 893 members were expelled and their
charter was revoked for violation of their contract of employment
by taking part in a sympathetic strike of the subway and elevated

Once the practice of collective contract was fixed, it naturally
followed that some mechanism for adjusting differences would be
devised. The Brotherhood and the various roads now maintain a
general board of adjustment for each railway system. The
Brotherhood is strict in insisting that the action of this board
is binding on all its members. This method of bargaining and of
settling disputes has been so successful that since 1888 the
Brotherhood has not engaged in an important strike. There have
been minor disturbances, it is true, and several nation-wide
threats, but no serious strikes inaugurated by the engineers.
This great achievement of the Brotherhood could not have been
possible without keen ability in the leaders and splendid
solidarity among the men.

The individual is carefully looked after by the Brotherhood. The
Locomotive Engineers' Mutual Life and Accident Insurance
Association is an integral part of the Brotherhood, though it
maintains a separate legal existence in order to comply with the
statutory requirements of many States.* Every member must carry
an insurance policy in this Association for not less than $1500,
though he cannot take more than $4500. The policy is carried by
the order if the engineer becomes sick or is otherwise disabled,
but if he fails to pay assessments when he is in full health, he
gives grounds for expulsion. There is a pension roll of three
hundred disabled engineers, each of whom receives $25 a month;
and the four railroad brotherhoods together maintain a Home for
Disabled Railroad Men at Highland Park, Illinois.

* The following figures show the status of the Insurance
Association in 1918. The total amount of life insurance in force
was $161,805,500.00. The total amount of claims paid from 1868 to
1918 was $41,085,183.04. The claims paid in 1918 amounted to
$3,014,540.22. The total amount of indemnity insurance in force
in 1918 was $12,486,397.50. The total claims paid up to 1918 were
$1,624,537.61; and during 1918, $241,780.08.

The technical side of engine driving is emphasized by the
"Locomotive Engineers' Journal" which goes to every member, and
in discussions in the stated meetings of the Brotherhood.
Intellectual and social interests are maintained also by lecture
courses, study clubs, and women's auxiliaries. Attendance upon
the lodge meetings has been made compulsory with the intention of
insuring the order from falling prey to a designing minority--a
condition which has proved the cause of the downfall of more than
one labor union.

The Brotherhood of Engineers is virtually a large and prosperous
business concern: Its management has been enterprising and
provident; its treasury is full; its insurance policies aggregate
many millions; it owns a modern skyscraper in Cleveland which
cost $1,250,000 and which yields a substantial revenue besides
housing the Brotherhood offices.

The engineers have, indeed, succeeded in forming a real
Brotherhood--a "feudal" brotherhood an opposing lawyer once
called them--reestablishing the medieval guild-paternalism so
that each member is responsible for every other and all are
responsible for each. They therefore merge themselves through
self-discipline into a powerful unity for enforcing their demands
and fulfilling their obligations.

The supreme authority of the Brotherhood is the Convention, which
is composed of delegates from the local subdivisions. In the
interim between conventions, the authorized leader of the
organization is the Grand Chief Engineer, whose decrees are final
unless reversed by the Convention. This authority places a heavy
responsibility upon him, but the Brotherhood has been singularly
fortunate in its choice of chiefs. Since 1873 there have been
only two. The first of these was P. M. Arthur, a sturdy Scot,
born in 1831 and brought to America in boyhood. He learned the
blacksmith and machinist trades but soon took to railroading, in
which he rose rapidly from the humblest place to the position of
engineer on the New York Central lines. He became one of the
charter members of the Brotherhood in 1863 and was active in its
affairs from the first. In 1873 the union became involved in a
bitter dispute with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Arthur, whose
prompt and energetic action had already designated him as the
natural leader of the Brotherhood, was elected to the
chieftainship. For thirty years he maintained his prestige and
became a national figure in the labor world. He died suddenly at
Winnipeg in 1903 while speaking at the dinner which closed the
general convention of the Brotherhood.

When P.M. Arthur joined the engineers' union, the condition of
locomotive engineers was unsatisfactory. Wages were unstable;
working conditions were hard and, in the freight service,
intolerable. For the first decade of the existence of the
Brotherhood, strike after strike took place in the effort to
establish the right of organizing and the principle of the
collective contract. Arthur became head of the order at the
beginning of the period of great financial depression which
followed the first Civil War boom and which for six years
threatened wages in all trades. But Arthur succeeded, by shrewd
and careful bargaining, in keeping the pay of engineers from
slipping down and in some instances he even advanced them.
Gradually strikes became more and more infrequent; and the
railways learned to rely upon his integrity, and the engineers to
respect his skill as a negotiator. He proved to the first that he
was not a labor agitator and to the others that he was not a

Year by year, Arthur accumulated prestige and power for his union
by practical methods and by being content with a step at a time.
This success, however, cost him the enmity of virtually all the
other trades unionists. To them the men of his order were
aristocrats, and he was lord over the aristocrats. He is said to
have "had rare skill in formulating reasonable demands, and by
consistently putting moderate demands strongly instead of
immoderate demands weakly he kept the good will of railroad
managers, while steadily obtaining better terms for his men." In
this practice, he could not succeed without the solid good will
of the members of the Brotherhood; and this good will was
possible only in an order which insisted upon that high standard
of personal skill and integrity essential to a first-class
engineer. Arthur possessed a genial, fatherly personality. His
Scotch shrewdness was seen in his own real estate investments,
which formed the foundation of an independent fortune. He lived
in an imposing stone mansion in Cleveland; he was a director in a
leading bank; and he identified himself with the public affairs
of the city.

When Chief Arthur died, the Assistant Grand Chief Engineer, A.B.
Youngson, who would otherwise have assumed the leadership for the
unexpired term, was mortally ill and recommended the advisory
board to telegraph Warren S. Stone an offer of the chieftainship.
Thus events brought to the fore a man of marked executive talent
who had hitherto been unknown but who was to play a tremendous
role in later labor politics. Stone was little known east of the
Mississippi. He had spent most of his life on the Rock Island
system, had visited the East only once, and had attended but one
meeting of the General Convention. In the West, however, he had a
wide reputation for sound sense, and, as chairman of the general
committee of adjustment of the Rock Island system, he had made a
deep impression on his union and his employers. Born in
Ainsworth, Iowa, in 1860, Stone had received a high school
education and had begun his railroading career as fireman on the
Rock Island when he was nineteen years old. At twenty-four he
became an engineer. In this capacity he spent the following
nineteen years on the Rock Island road and then accepted the
chieftainship of the Brotherhood.

Stone followed the general policy of his predecessor, and brought
to his tasks the energy of youth and the optimism of the West.
When he assumed the leadership, the cost of living was rising
rapidly and he addressed himself to the adjustment of wages. He
divided the country into three sections in which conditions were
similar. He began in the Western section, as he was most familiar
with that field, and asked all the general managers of that
section to meet the Brotherhood for a wage conference. The roads
did not accept his invitation until it was reenforced by the
threat of a Western strike. The conference was a memorable one.
For nearly three weeks the grand officers of the Brotherhood
wrangled and wrought with the managers of the Western roads, who
yielded ground slowly, a few pennies' increase at a time, until a
satisfactory wage scale was reached. Similarly the Southern
section was conquered by the inexorable hard sense and
perseverance of this new chieftain.

The dispute with the fifty-two leading roads in the so-called
Eastern District, east of the Mississippi and north of the
Norfolk and Western Railroad, came to a head in 1912. The
engineers demanded that their wages should be "standardized" on a
basis that one hundred miles or less, or ten hours or less,
constitute a day's work; that is, the inequalities among the
different roads should be leveled and similar service on the
various roads be similarly rewarded. They also asked that their
wages be made equal to the wages on the Western roads and
presented several minor demands. All the roads concerned flatly
refused to grant the demand for a standardized and increased
wage, on the ground that it would involve an increased
expenditure of $7,000,000 a year. This amount could be made up
only by increased rates, which the Interstate Commerce Commission
must sanction, or by decreased dividends, which would bring a
real hardship to thousands of stockholders.

The unions were fully prepared for a strike which would paralyze
the essential traffic supplying approximately 38,000,000 people.
Through the agency of Judge Knapp of the United States Commerce
Court and Dr. Neill of the United States Department of Labor, and
under the authority of the Erdman Act, there was appointed a
board of arbitration composed of men whose distinction commanded
national attention. P.H. Morrissey, a former chief of the
Conductors' and Trainmen's Union, was named by the engineers.
President Daniel Willard of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad,
known for his fair treatment of his employees, was chosen by the
roads. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, the
Commissioner of Labor, and the presiding judge of the United
States Commerce Court designated the following members of the
tribunal: Oscar S. Straus, former Secretary of Commerce and
Labor, chairman; Albert Shaw, editor of the Review of Reviews;
Otto M. Eidlitz, former president of the Building Trades
Association; Charles R. Van Hise, president of the University of
Wisconsin; and Frederick N. Judson, of the St. Louis bar.

After five months of hearing testimony and deliberation, this
distinguished board brought in a report that marked, it was
hoped, a new epoch in railway labor disputes, for it recognized
the rights of the public, the great third party to such disputes.

It granted the principle of standardization and minimum wage
asked for by the engineers, but it allowed an increase in pay
which was less by one-half than that demanded. In order to
similar discord in the future, the board recommended the
establishment of Federal and state wage commissions with
functions pertaining to wage disputes analogous to those of the
public service commissions in regard to rates and capitalization.
The report stated that, "while the railway employees feel that
they cannot surrender their right to strike, if there were a wage
commission which would secure them just wages the necessity would
no longer exist for the exercise of their power. It is believed
that, in the last analysis, the only solution--unless we are to
rely solely upon the restraining power of public opinion--is to
qualify the principle of free contract in the railroad service."*

* The board recognized the great obstacles in the way of such a
solution but went on to say: "The suggestion, however, grows out
of a profound conviction that the food and clothing of our
people, the industries and the general welfare of our nation,
cannot be permitted to depend upon the policies and dictates of
any particular group of men, whether employers or employees." And
this conviction has grown apace with the years until it stands
today as the most potent check to aggression by either trade
unions or capital.

While yielding to the wage findings of the board, P.H. Morrissey
vigorously dissented from the principle of the supremacy of
public interest in these matters. He made clear his position in
an able minority report: "I wish to emphasize my dissent from
that recommendation of the board which in its effect virtually
means compulsory arbitration for the railroads and their
employees. Regardless of any probable constitutional prohibition
which might operate against its being adopted, it is wholly
impracticable. The progress towards the settlement of disputes
between the railways and their employees without recourse to
industrial warfare has been marked. There is nothing under
present conditions to prevent its continuance. We will never be
perfect, but even so, it will be immeasurably better than it will
be under conditions such as the board proposes."

The significance of these words was brought out four years later
when the united railway brotherhoods made their famous coup in
Congress. For the time being, however, the public with its usual
self-assurance thought the railway employee question was solved,
though the findings were for one year only.*

* The award dated back to May 1, 1912, and was valid only one
year from that date.

Daniel Willard speaking for the railroads, said: "My acceptance
of the award as a whole does not signify my approval of all the
findings in detail. It is intended, however, to indicate clearly
that, although the award is not such as the railroads had hoped
for, nor is it such as they felt would be justified by a full
consideration of all the facts, yet having decided to submit this
case to arbitration and having been given ample opportunity to
present the facts and arguments in support of their position,
they now accept without question the conclusion which was reached
by the board appointed to pass upon the matter at issue."

A comparison of these statements shows how the balance of power
had shifted, since the days when railway policies reigned
supreme, from the corporation to the union. The change was amply
demonstrated by the next grand entrance of the railway
brotherhoods upon the public stage. After his victory in the
Western territory, Chief Stone remarked: "Most labor troubles are
the result of one of two things, misrepresentation or
misunderstanding. Unfortunately, negotiations are sometimes
entrusted to men who were never intended by nature for this
mission, since they cannot discuss a question without losing
their temper .... It may be laid down as a fundamental
principle without which no labor organization can hope to exist,
that it must carry out its contracts. No employer can be expected
to live up to a contract that is not regarded binding by the

The other railway brotherhoods to a considerable degree follow
the model set by the engineers. The Order of Railway Conductors
developed rapidly from the Conductors' Union which was organized
by the conductors of the Illinois Central Railroad at Amboy,
Illinois, in the spring of 1868. In the following July this union
was extended to include all the lines in the State. In November
of the same year a call to conductors on all the roads in the
United States and the British Provinces was issued to meet at
Columbus, Ohio, in December, to organize a general brotherhood.
Ten years later the union adopted its present name. It has an
ample insurance fund* based upon the principle that policies are
not matured but members arriving at the age of seventy years are
relieved from further payments. About thirty members are thus
annually retired. At Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the national
headquarters, the order publishes The Railway Conductor, a
journal which aims not only at the solidarity of the membership
but at increasing their practical efficiency.

* In 1919 the total amount of outstanding insurance was somewhat
over $90,000,000.

The conductors are a conservative and carefully selected group of
men. Each must pass through a long term of apprenticeship and
must possess ability and personality. The order has been
carefully and skillfully led and in recent years has had but few
differences with the railways which have not been amicably
settled. Edgar E. Clark was chosen president in 1890 and served
until 1906, when he became a member of the Interstate Commerce
Commission. He was born in 1856, received a public school
education, and studied for some time in an academy at Lima, New
York. At the age of seventeen, he began railroading and served as
conductor on the Northern Pacific and other Western lines. He
held numerous subordinate positions in the Brotherhood and in
1889 became its vice-president. He was appointed by President
Roosevelt as a member of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission in
1902 and is generally recognized as one of the most judicial
heads in the labor world. He was succeeded as president of the
order by Austin B. Garretson, who was born in Winterset, Iowa, in
1856. He began his railroad career at nineteen years of age,
became a conductor on the Burlington system, and had a varied
experience on several Western lines, including the Mexican
National and Mexican Central railways. His rise in the order was
rapid and in 1889 he became vice-president. One of his intimate
friends wrote that "in his capacity as Vice-President and
President of the Order he has written more schedules and
successfully negotiated more wage settlements, including the
eight-hour day settlement in 1916, under the method of collective
bargaining than any other labor leader on the American

Garretson has long served as a member of the executive committee
of the National Civic Federation and in 1919 was appointed by
President Wilson a member of the Federal Commission on Industrial
Relations. A man of great energy and force of character, he has
recently assumed a leading place in labor union activities.

In addition to the locomotive engineers and the conductors, the
firemen also have their union. Eleven firemen of the Erie
Railroad organized a brotherhood at Port Jervis, New York, in
December, 1873, but it was a fraternal order rather than a trade
union. In 1877, the year of the great railway strike, it was
joined by the International Firemen's Union, an organization
without any fraternal or insurance features. In spite of this
amalgamation, however, the growth of the Brotherhood was very
slow. Indeed, so unsatisfactory was the condition of affairs that
in 1879 the order took an unusual step. "So bitter was the
continued opposition of railroad officials at this time," relates
the chronicler of the Brotherhood (in some sections of the
country it resulted in the disbandment of the lodges and the
depletion of membership) "that it was decided, in order to remove
the cause of such opposition, to eliminate the protective feature
of the organization. With a view to this end a resolution was
adopted ignoring strikes." This is one of the few recorded
retreats of militant trade unionism. The treasury of the
Brotherhood was so depleted that it was obliged to call upon
local lodges for donations. By 1885, however, the order had
sufficiently recovered to assume again the functions of a labor
union in addition to its fraternal and beneficiary obligations.
The days of its greatest hardships were over, although the
historic strike on the Burlington lines that lasted virtually
throughout the year 1888 and the Pullman strike in 1894 wrought a
severe strain upon its staying powers. In 1906 the enginemen were
incorporated into the order, and thenceforth the membership grew
rapidly. In 1913 a joint agreement was effected with the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers whereby the two organizations
could work together "on a labor union basis." Today men operating
electric engines or motor or gas cars on lines using electricity
are eligible for membership, if they are otherwise qualified.
This arrangement does not interfere with unions already
established on interurban lines.

The leadership of this order of firemen has been less continuous,
though scarcely less conspicuous, than that of the other
brotherhoods. Before 1886 the Grand Secretary and Treasurer was
invested with greater authority than the grand master, and in
this position Eugene V. Debs, who served from 1881 to 1899, and
Frank W. Arnold, who served from 1893 to 1903, were potent in
shaping the policies of the Union. There have been seven grand
masters and one president (the name now used to designate the
chief officer) since 1874. Of these leaders Frank P. Sargent
served from 1886 until 1892, when he was appointed Commissioner
General of Immigration by President Roosevelt. Since 1909,
William S. Carter has been president of the Brotherhood. Born in
Texas in 1859, he began railroading at nineteen years of age and
served in turn as fireman, baggageman, and engineer. Before his
election to the editorship of the Firemen's Magazine, he held
various minor offices in local lodges. Since 1894 he has served
the order successively as editor, grand secretary and treasurer,
and president. To his position he has brought an intimate
knowledge of the affairs of the Union as well as a varied
experience in practical railroading. Upon the entrance of America
into the Great War, President Wilson appointed him Director of
the Division of Labor of the United States Railway

Of the government and policy of the firemen's union President
Carter remarked:

"This Brotherhood may be compared to a state in a republic of
railway unions, maintaining almost complete autonomy in its own
affairs yet uniting with other railway brotherhoods in matters of
mutual concern and in common defense. It is true that these
railway brotherhoods carry the principle of home rule to great
lengths and have acknowledged no common head, and by this have
invited the criticism from those who believe...that only in
one 'big' union can railway employees hope for improved working
condition.... That in union there is strength, no one will
deny, but in any confederation of forces there must be an
exchange of individual rights for this collective power. There is
a point in the combining of working people in labor unions where
the loss of individual rights is not compensated by the increased
power of the masses of workers."

In the cautious working out of this principle, the firemen have
prospered after the manner of their colleagues in the other
brotherhoods. Their membership embraces the large majority of
their craft. From the date of the establishment of their
beneficiary fund to 1918 a total of $21,860,103.00 has been paid
in death and disability claims and in 1918 the amount so paid was
$1,538,207.00. The Firemen's Magazine, established in 1876 and
now published from headquarters in Cleveland, is indicative of
the ambitions of the membership, for its avowed aim is to "make a
specialty of educational matter for locomotive enginemen and
other railroad employees." An attempt was even made in 1908 to
conduct a correspondence school, under the supervision of the
editor and manager of the magazine, but after three years this
project was discontinued because it could not be made

The youngest of the railway labor organizations is the
Brotherhood of Trainmen, organized in September, 1883, at
Oneonta, New York. Its early years were lean and filled with
bickerings and doubts, and it was not until S. E. Wilkinson was
elected grand master in 1885 that it assumed an important role in
labor organizations. Wilkinson was one of those big, rough and
ready men, with a natural aptitude for leadership, who
occasionally emerge from the mass. He preferred railroading to
schooling and spent more time in the train sheds of his native
town of Monroeville, Ohio, than he did at school. At twelve years
of age he ran away to join the Union Army, in which he served as
an orderly until the end of the war. He then followed his natural
bent, became a switchman and later a brakeman, was a charter
member of the Brotherhood, and, when its outlook was least
encouraging, became its Grand Master. At once under his
leadership the organization became aggressive.

The conditions under which trainmen worked were far from
satisfactory. At that time, in the Eastern field, the pay of a
brakeman was between $1.50 and $2 a day in the freight service,
$45 a month in the passenger service, and $50 a month for yard
service. In the Southern territory, the wages were very much
lower and in the Western about $5 per month higher. The runs in
the different sections of the country were not equalized; there
was no limit to the number of hours called a day's work; overtime
and preparatory time were not counted in; and there were many
complaints of arbitrary treatment of trainmen by their superiors.
Wilkinson set to work to remedy the wage situation first. Almost
at once he brought about the adoption of the principle of
collective bargaining for trainmen and yardmen. By 1895, when he
relinquished his office, the majority of the railways in the
United States and Canada had working agreements with their train
and yard service men. Wages had been raised, twelve hours or less
and one hundred miles or less became recognized as a daily
measure of service, and overtime was paid extra.

The panic of 1893 hit the railway service very hard. There
followed many strikes engineered by the American Railway Union, a
radical organization which carried its ideas of violence so far
that it wrecked not only itself but brought the newer and
conservative Brotherhoods to the verge of ruin. It was during
this period of strain that, in 1895, P. H. Morrissey was chosen
Grand Master of the Trainmen. With a varied training in
railroading, in insurance, and in labor organization work,
Morrissey was in many ways the antithesis of his predecessors who
had, in a powerful and brusque way, prepared the ground for his
analytical and judicial leadership. He was unusually well
informed on all matters pertaining to railroad operations,
earnings, and conditions of employment, and on general economic
conditions. This knowledge, together with his forcefulness, tact,
parliamentary ability, and rare good judgment, soon made him the
spokesman of all the railway Brotherhoods in their joint
conferences and their leader before the public. He was not afraid
to take the unpopular side of a cause, cared nothing for mere
temporary advantages, and had the gift of inspiring confidence.

When Morrissey assumed the leadership of the Trainmen, their
order had lost 10,000 members in two years and was about $200,000
in debt. The panic had produced unemployment and distrust, and
the violent reprisals of the American Railway Union had reaped a
harvest of bitterness and disloyalty. During his fifteen years of
service until he retired in 1909, Morrissey saw his order
rejuvenated and virtually reconstructed, the work of the men
standardized in the greater part of the country, slight increases
of pay given to the freight and passenger men, and very
substantial increases granted to the yard men. But his greatest
service to his order was in thoroughly establishing it in the
public confidence.

He was succeeded by William G. Lee, who had served in many
subordinate offices in local lodges before he had been chosen
First Vice-Grand Master in 1895. For fifteen years he was a
faithful understudy to Morrissey whose policy he has continued in
a characteristically fearless and thoroughgoing manner. When he
assumed the presidency of the order, he obtained a ten-hour day
in the Eastern territory for all train and yard men, together
with a slight increase in pay for all classes fixed on the
ten-hour basis. The ten-hour day was now adopted in Western
territory where it had not already been put into effect. The
Southern territory, however, held out until 1912, when a general
advance on all Southern railroads, with one exception, brought
the freight and passenger men to a somewhat higher level of wages
than existed in other parts of the country. In the following year
the East and the West raised their wages so that finally a fairly
level rate prevailed throughout the United States. In the
movement for the eight-hour day which culminated in the passage
of the Adamson Law by Congress, Lee and his order took a
prominent part. In 1919 the Trainmen had $253,000,000 insurance
in force, and up to that year had paid out $42,500,000 in claims.
Of this latter amount $3,604,000 was paid out in 1918, one-half
of which was attributed to the influenza epidemic.

Much of the success and power of the railroad Brotherhoods is due
to the character of their members as well as to able leadership.
The editor of a leading newspaper has recently written: "The
impelling power behind every one of these organizations is the
membership. I say this without detracting from the executive or
administrative abilities of the men who have been at the head of
these organizations, for their influence has been most potent in
carrying out the will of their several organizations. But
whatever is done is first decided upon by the men and it is then
put up to their chief executive officers for their direction."

With a membership of 375,000 uniformly clean and competent, so
well captained and so well fortified financially by insurance,
benefit, and other funds, it is little wonder that the
Brotherhoods have reached a permanent place in the railroad
industry. Their progressive power can be discerned in Federal
legislation pertaining to arbitration and labor conditions in
interstate carriers. In 1888 an act was passed providing that, in
cases of railway labor disputes, the President might appoint two
investigators who, with the United States Commission of Labor,
should form a board to investigate the controversy and recommend
"the best means for adjusting it." But as they were empowered to
produce only findings and not to render decisions, the law
remained a dead letter, without having a single case brought up
under it. It was superseded in 1898 by the Erdman Act, which
provided that certain Federal officials should act as mediators
and that, in case they failed, a Board of Arbitrators was to be
appointed whose word should be binding for a certain period of
time and from whose decisions appeal could be taken to the
Federal courts. Of the hundreds of disputes which occurred during
the first eight years of the existence of this statute, only one
was brought under the mechanism of the law. Federal arbitration
was not popular. In 1905, however, a rather sudden change came
over the situation. Over sixty cases were brought under the
Erdman Act in about eight years. In 1913 the Newlands Law was
passed providing for a permanent Board of Mediation and
Conciliation, by which over sixty controversies have been

The increase of brotherhood influence which such legislation
represents was accompanied by a consolidation in power. At first
the Brotherhoods operated by railway systems or as individual
orders. Later on they united into districts, all the Brotherhoods
of a given district cooperating in their demands. Finally the
cooperation of all the Brotherhoods in the United States on all
the railway systems was effected. This larger organization came
clearly to light in 1912, when the Brotherhoods submitted their
disputes to the board of arbitration. This step was hailed by the
public as going a long way towards the settlement of labor
disputes by arbitral boards.

The latest victory of the Brotherhoods, however, has shaken
public confidence and has ushered in a new era of brotherhood
influence and Federal interference in railroad matters. In 1916,
the four Brotherhoods threatened to strike. The mode of reckoning
pay--whether upon an eight-hour or a longer day--was the subject
of contention. The Department of Labor, through the Federal
Conciliation Board, tried in vain to bring the opponents
together. Even President Wilson's efforts to bring about an
agreement proved futile. The roads agreed to arbitrate all the
points, allowing the President to name the arbitrators; but the
Brotherhoods, probably realizing their temporary strategic
advantage, refused point-blank to arbitrate. When the President
tried to persuade the roads to yield the eight-hour day, they
replied that it was a proper subject for arbitration.

Instead of standing firmly on the principle of arbitration, the
President chose to go before Congress, on the afternoon of the
29th of August, and ask, first, for a reorganization of the
Interstate Commerce Commission; second, for legal recognition of
the eight-hour day for interstate carriers; third, for power to
appoint a commission to observe the operation of the eight-hour
day for a stated time; fourth, for reopening the question of an
increase in freight rates to meet the enlarged cost of operation;
fifth, for a law declaring railway strikes and lockouts unlawful
until a public investigation could be made; sixth, for
authorization to operate the roads in case of military necessity.

The strike was planned to fall on the expectant populace,
scurrying home from their vacations, on the 4th of September. On
the 1st of September an eight-hour bill, providing also for the
appointment of a board of observation, was rushed through the
House; on the following day it was hastened through the staid
Senate; and on the third it received the President's signature.*
The other recommendations of the President were made to await the
pleasure of Congress and the unions. To the suggestion that
railway strikes be made unlawful until their causes are disclosed
the Brotherhoods were absolutely opposed.

* This was on Sunday. In order to obviate any objection as to the
legality of the signature the President signed the bill again on
the following Tuesday, the intervening Monday being Labor Day.

Many readjustments were involved in launching the eight-hour law,
and in March, 1917, the Brotherhoods again threatened to strike.
The President sent a committee, including the Secretary of the
Interior and the Secretary of Labor, to urge the parties to come
to an agreement. On the 19th of March, the Supreme Court upheld
the validity of the law, and the trouble subsided. But in the
following November, after the declaration of war, clouds
reappeared on the horizon, and again the unions refused the
Government's suggestion of arbitration. Under war pressure,
however, the Brotherhoods finally consented to hold their
grievance in abeyance.

The haste with which the eight-hour law was enacted, and the
omission of the vital balance suggested by the President appeared
to many citizens to be a holdup of Congress, and the nearness of
the presidential election suggested that a political motive was
not absent. The fact that in the ensuing presidential election,
Ohio, the home of the Brotherhoods, swung from the Republican to
the Democratic column, did not dispel this suspicion from the
public mind. Throughout this maneuver it was apparent that the
unions were very confident, but whether because of a prearranged
pact, or because of a full treasury, or because of a feeling that
the public was with them, or because of the opposite belief that
the public feared them, must be left to individual conjecture.
None the less, the public realized that the principle of
arbitration had given way to the principle of coercion.

Soon after the United States had entered the Great War, the
Government, under authority of an act of Congress, took over the
management of all the interstate railroads, and the nation was
launched upon a vast experiment destined to test the capacities
of all the parties concerned. The dispute over wages that had
been temporarily quieted by the Adamson Law broke out afresh
until settled by the famous Order No. 27, issued by William G.
McAdoo, the Director General of Railroads, and providing a
substantial readjustment of wages and hours. In the spring of
1919 another large wage increase was granted to the men by
Director General Hines, who succeeded McAdoo. Meanwhile the
Brotherhoods, through their counsel, laid before the
congressional committee a plan for the government ownership and
joint operation of the roads, known as the Plumb plan, and the
American people are now face to face with an issue which will
bring to a head the paramount question of the relation of
employees on government works to the Government and to the
general public.


There has been an enormous expansion in the demands of the unions
since the early days of the Philadelphia cordwainers; yet these
demands involve the same fundamental issues regarding hours,
wages, and the closed shop. Most unions, when all persiflage is
set aside, are primarily organized for business--the business of
looking after their own interests. Their treasury is a war chest
rather than an insurance fund. As a benevolent organization, the
American union is far behind the British union with its highly
developed Friendly Societies.

The establishment of a standard rate of wages is perhaps, as the
United States Industrial Commission reported in 1901, "the
primary object of trade union policy." The most promising method
of adjusting the wage contract is by the collective trade
agreement. The mechanism of the union has made possible
collective bargaining, and in numerous trades wages and other
conditions are now adjusted by this method. One of the earliest
of these agreements was effected by the Iron Molders' Union in
1891 and has been annually renewed. The coal operatives, too, for
a number of years have signed a wage agreement with their miners,
and the many local difficulties and differences have been
ingeniously and successfully met. The great railroads have,
likewise, for many years made periodical contracts with the
railway Brotherhoods. The glove-makers, cigar-makers, and, in
many localities, workers in the building trades and on
street-railway systems have the advantage of similar collective
agreements. In 1900 the American Newspaper Publishers Association
and the International Typographical Union, after many years of
stubborn fighting merged their numerous differences in a trade
contract to be in effect for one year. This experiment proved so
successful that the agreement has since then been renewed for
five year periods. In 1915 a bitter strike of the garment makers
in New York City was ended by a "protocol." The principle of
collective agreement has become so prevalent that the
Massachusetts Bureau of Labor believes that it "is being accepted
with increasing favor by both employers and employees," and John
Mitchell, speaking from wide experience and an intimate knowledge
of conditions, says that "the hope of future peace in the
industrial world lies in the trade agreement." These agreements
are growing in complexity, and today they embrace not only
questions of wages and hours but also methods for adjusting all
the differences which may arise between the parties to the

The very success of collective bargaining hinges upon the
solidarity and integrity of the union which makes the bargain. A
union capable of enforcing an agreement is a necessary antecedent
condition to such a contract. With this fact in mind, one can
believe that John Mitchell was not unduly sanguine in stating
that "the tendency is toward the growth of compulsory membership
...and the time will doubtless come when this compulsion will be
as general and will be considered as little of a grievance as
the compulsory attendance of children at school." There are
certain industries so well centralized, however, that their
coercive power is greater than that of the labor union, and these
have maintained a consistent hostility to the closed shop. The
question of the closed shop is, indeed, the most stubborn issue
confronting the union. The principle involves the employment of
only union men in a shop; it means a monopoly of jobs by members
of the union. The issue is as old as the unions themselves and as
perplexing as human nature. As early as 1806 it was contended for
by the Philadelphia cordwainers and by 1860 it had become an
established union policy. While wages and hours are now, in the
greater industrial fields, the subject of a collective contract,
this question of union monopoly is still open, though there has
been some progress towards an adjustment. Wherever the trade
agreement provides for a closed shop, the union, through its
proper committees and officers, assumes at least part of the
responsibility of the discipline. The agreement also includes
methods for arbitrating differences. The acid test of the union
is its capacity to live up to this trade agreement.

For the purpose of forcing its policies upon its employers and
society the unions have resorted to the strike and picketing, the
boycott, and the union label. When violence occurs, it usually is
the concomitant of a strike; but violence unaccompanied by a
strike is sometimes used as a union weapon.

The strike is the oldest and most spectacular weapon in the hands
of labor. For many years it was thought a necessary concomitant
of machine industry. The strike, however, antedates machinery and
was a practical method of protest long before there were unions.
Men in a shop simply agreed not to work further and walked out.
The earliest strike in the United States, as disclosed by the
United States Department of Labor occurred in 1741 among the
journeymen bakers in New York City. In 1792 the cordwainers of
Philadelphia struck. By 1834 strikes were so prevalent that the
New York Daily Advertiser declared them to be "all the fashion."
These demonstrations were all small affairs compared with the
strikes that disorganized industry after the Civil War or those
that swept the country in successive waves in the late seventies,
the eighties, and the nineties. The United States Bureau of Labor
has tabulated the strike statistics for the twenty-five year
period from 1881 to 1905. This list discloses the fact that
38,303 strikes and lockouts occurred, involving 199,954
establishments and 7,444,279 employees. About 2,000,000 other
employees were thrown out of work as an indirect result. In 1894,
the year of the great Pullman strike, 610,425 men were out of
work at one time; and 659,792 in 1902. How much time and money
these ten million wage-earners lost, and their employers lost,
and society lost, can never be computed, nor how much nervous
energy was wasted, good will thrown to the winds, and mutual
suspicion created.

The increase of union influence is apparent, for recognition of
the union has become more frequently a cause for strikes.*
Moreover, while the unions were responsible for about 47 per cent
of the strikes in 1881, they had originated, directly or
indirectly, 75 per cent in 1905. More significant, indeed, is the
fact that striking is a growing habit. In 1903, for instance,
there were 3494 strikes, an average of about ten a day.

* The cause of the strikes tabulated by the Bureau of Labor is
shown in the following table of percentages:

1881 1891 1901 1905
For increase of wages: 61 27 29 32
Against reduction of wages: 10 11 4 5
For reduction in hours: 3 5 7 5
Recognition of Union: 6 14 28 31

Preparedness is the watchword of the Unions in this warfare. They
have generals and captains, a war chest and relief committees, as
well as publicity agents and sympathy scouts whose duty it is to
enlist the interest of the public. Usually the leaders of the
unions are conservative and deprecate violence. But a strike by
its very nature offers an opportunity to the lawless. The
destruction of property and the coercion of workmen have been so
prevalent in the past that, in the public mind, violence has
become universally associated with strikes. Judge Jenkins, of the
United States Circuit Court, declared, in a leading case, that "a
strike without violence would equal the representation of Hamlet
with the part of Hamlet omitted." Justice Brewer of the United
States Supreme Court said that "the common rule as to strikes" is
not only for the workers to quit but to "forcibly prevent others
from taking their place." Historic examples involving violence of
this sort are the great railway strikes of 1877, when Pittsburgh,
Reading, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Buffalo were mob-ridden;
the strike of the steel-workers at Homestead, Pennsylvania, in
1892; the Pullman strike of 1894, when President Cleveland sent
Federal troops to Chicago; the great anthracite strike of 1902,
which the Federal Commission characterized as "stained with a
record of riot and bloodshed"; the civil war in the Colorado and
Idaho mining regions, where the Western Federation of Miners
battled with the militia and Federal troops; the dynamite
outrages, perpetrated by the structural iron workers, stretching
across the entire country, and reaching a dastardly climax in the
dynamiting of the Los Angeles Times building on October 1, 1910,
in which some twenty men were killed. The recoil from this
outrage was the severest blow which organized labor has received
in America. John J. McNamara, Secretary of the Structural Iron
Workers' Association, and his brother James were indicted for
murder. After the trial was staged and the eyes of the nation
were upon it, the public was shocked and the hopes of labor
unionists were shattered by the confessions of the principals. In
March, 1912, a Federal Grand Jury at Indianapolis returned
fifty-four indictments against officers and members of the same
union for participation in dynamite outrages that had occurred
during the six years in many parts of the country, with a toll of
over one hundred lives and the destruction of property valued at
many millions of dollars. Among those indicted was the president
of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron
Workers. Most of the defendants were sentenced to various terms
in the penitentiary.

The records of this industrial warfare are replete with lesser
battles where thuggery joined hands with desperation in the
struggle for wages. Evidence is not wanting that local leaders
have frequently incited their men to commit acts of violence in
order to impress the public with their earnestness. It is not an
inviting picture, this matching of the sullen violence of the mob
against the sullen vigilance of the corporation. Yet such methods
have not always been used, for the union has done much to
systematize this guerrilla warfare. It has matched the ingenuity
and the resolution of the employer, backed by his detectives and
professional strike-breakers; it has perfected its organization
so that the blow of a whistle or the mere uplifting of a hand can
silence a great mill. Some of the notable strikes have been
managed with rare skill and diplomacy. Some careful observers,
indeed, are inclined to the opinion that the amount of violence
that takes place in the average strike has been grossly
exaggerated. They maintain that, considering the great number of
strikes, the earnestness with which they are fought, the
opportunity they offer to the lawless, and the vast range of
territory they cover, the amount of damage to property and person
is unusually small and that the public, through sensational
newspaper reports of one or two acts of violence, is led to an
exaggerated opinion of its prevalence.

It must be admitted, however, that the wisdom and conservatism of
the national labor leaders is neutralized by their lack of
authority in their particular organization. A large price is paid
for the autonomy that permits the local unions to declare strikes
without the sanction of the general officers. There are only a
few unions, perhaps half a dozen, in which a local can be
expelled for striking contrary to the wish of the national
officers. In the United Mine Workers' Union, for example, the
local must secure the consent of the district officers and
national president, or, if these disagree, of the executive
board, before it can declare a strike. The tendency to strike on
the spur of the moment is much more marked among the newer unions
than among the older ones, which have perfected their strike
machinery through much experience and have learned the cost of
hasty and unjustified action.

A less conspicuous but none the less effective weapon in the
hands of labor is the boycott,* which is carried by some of the
unions to a terrible perfection. It reached its greatest power in
the decade between 1881 and 1891. Though it was aimed at a great
variety of industries, it seemed to be peculiarly effective in
the theater, hotel, restaurant, and publishing business, and in
the clothing and cigar trades. For sheer arbitrary coerciveness,
nothing in the armory of the union is so effective as the
boycott. A flourishing business finds its trade gone overnight.
Leading customers withdraw their patronage at the union's threat.
The alert picket is the harbinger of ruin, and the union black
list is as fraught with threat as the black hand.

* In 1880, Lord Erne, an absentee Irish landlord, sent Captain
Boycott to Connemara to subdue his irate tenants. The people of
the region refused to have any intercourse whatever with the
agent or his family. And social and business ostracism has since
been known as the boycott.

The New York Bureau of Statistics of Labor has shown that during
the period of eight years between 1885 and 1892 there were 1352
boycotts in New York State alone. A sort of terrorism spread
among the tradespeople of the cities. But the unions went too
far. Instances of gross unfairness aroused public sympathy
against the boycotters. In New York City, for instance, a Mrs.
Grey operated a small bakery with nonunion help. Upon her refusal
to unionize her shop at the command of the walking delegate, her
customers were sent the usual boycott notice, and pickets were
posted. Her delivery wagons were followed, and her customers were
threatened. Grocers selling her bread were systematically
boycotted. All this persecution merely aroused public sympathy
for Mrs. Grey, and she found her bread becoming immensely
popular. The boycotters then demanded $2500 for paying their
boycott expenses. When news of this attempt at extortion was made
public, it heightened the tide of sympathy, the courts took up
the matter, and the boycott failed. The New York Boycotter, a
journal devoted to this form of coercion, declared: "In
boycotting we believe it to be legitimate to strike a man
financially, socially, or politically. We believe in hitting him
where it will hurt the most; we believe in remorselessly crowding
him to the wall; but when he is down, instead of striking him, we
would lift him up and stand him once more on his feet." When the
boycott thus enlisted the aid of blackmail, it was doomed in the
public esteem. Boycott indictments multiplied, and in one year in
New York City alone, over one hundred leaders of such attempts at
coercion were sentenced to imprisonment.

The boycott, however, was not laid aside as a necessary weapon of
organized labor because it had been abused by corrupt or
overzealous unionists, nor because it had been declared illegal
by the courts. All the resources of the more conservative unions
and of the American Federation of Labor have been enlisted to
make it effective in extreme instances where the strike has
failed. This application of the method can best be illustrated by
the two most important cases of boycott in our history, the
Buck's Stove and Range case and the Danbury Hatters' case. Both
were fought through the Federal courts, with the defendants
backed by the American Federation and opposed by the Anti-Boycott
Association, a federation of employers.

The Buck's Stove and Range Company of St. Louis incurred the
displeasure of the Metal Polishers' Union by insisting upon a
ten-hour day. On August 27, 1906, at five o'clock in the
afternoon, on a prearranged signal, the employees walked out.
They returned to work the next morning and all were permitted to
take their accustomed places except those who had given the
signal. They were discharged. At five o'clock that afternoon the
men put aside their work, and the following morning reappeared.
Again the men who had given the signal were discharged, and the
rest went to work. The union then sent notice to the foreman that
the discharged men must be reinstated or that all would quit. A
strike ensued which soon led to a boycott of national
proportions. It spread from the local to the St. Louis Central
Trades and Labor Union and to the Metal Polishers' Union. In 1907
the executive council of the American Federation of Labor
officially placed the Buck's Stove and Range Company on the
unfair list and gave this action wide and conspicuous circulation
in The Federationist. This boycott received further impetus from
the action of the Mine Workers, who in their Annual Convention
resolved that the Buck's Stove and Range Company be put on the
unfair list and that "any member of the United Mine Workers of
America purchasing a stove of above make be fined $5.00 and
failing to pay the same be expelled from the organization."

Espionage became so efficient and letters from old customers
withdrawing patronage became so numerous and came from so wide a
range of territory that the company found itself rapidly nearing
ruin. An injunction was secured, enjoining the American
Federation from blacklisting the company. The labor journals
circumvented this mandate by publishing in display type the
statement that "It is unlawful for the American Federation of
Labor to boycott Buck's Stoves and Ranges," and then in small
type adroitly recited the news of the court's decision in such a
way that the reader would see at a glance that the company was
under union ban. These evasions of the court's order were
interpreted as contempt, and in punishment the officers of the
Federation were sentenced to imprisonment: Frank Morrison for six
months, John Mitchell for nine months, Samuel Gompers for twelve
months. But a technicality intervened between the leaders and the
cells awaiting them. The public throughout the country had
followed the course of this case with mingled feelings of
sympathy and disfavor, and though the boycott had never met with
popular approval, on the whole the public was relieved to learn
that the jail-sentences were not to be served.

The Danbury Hatters' boycott was brought on in 1903 by the
attempt of the Hatters' Union to make a closed shop of a
manufacturing concern in Danbury, Connecticut. The unions moved
upon Danbury, flushed with two recent victories--one in
Philadelphia, where an important hat factory had agreed to the
closed shop after spending some $40,000 in fighting, and another
at Orange, New Jersey, where a manufacturer had spent $25,000.
But as the Danbury concern was determined to fight the union, in
1902 a nationwide boycott was declared. The company then brought
suit against members of the union in the United States District
Court. Injunction proceedings reached the Supreme Court of the
United States on a demurrer, and in February, 1908, the court
declared that the Sherman Anti-Trust Law forbade interstate
boycotts. The case then returned to the original court for trial.
Testimony was taken in many States, and after a trial lasting
twelve weeks the jury assessed the damages to the plaintiff at
$74,000. On account of error, the case was remanded for re-trial
in 1911. At the second trial the jury gave the plaintiff a
verdict for $80,000, the full amount asked. According to the law,
this amount was trebled, leaving the judgment, with costs added,
at $252,000. The Supreme Court having sustained the verdict, the
puzzling question of how to collect it arose. As such funds as

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