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The Trade Union Woman by Alice Henry

Part 5 out of 6

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or attempt to bring about a revolutionary readjustment of their
relation to society, however intense their suffering, and however
clear their perception of it, while the welfare and persistence of
society requires their submission; that whenever there is a general
attempt on the part of the women of any society to readjust their
position in it, a close analysis will always show that the changed
or changing conditions of society have made women's acquiescence no
longer necessary or desirable."

If this be so, it can only be accepted as the application to women of
a statement which could be made equally of all the down-trodden races
and classes of humanity. The one reason that makes me hesitate about
accepting it as a complete explanation of the age-long submission
of the oppressed is that we are all rather too ready to accept an
explanation that explains away (shall I say?) or at least justifies
the suffering of others. The explanation fits so well. Does it not
fit too well? Probably Olive Schreiner did not intend it to cover the
whole ground.

In one detail, in any case, I take exception to it. An oppressed class
or race or sex may often suffer intensely and go on suffering and
submitting, but not _after_ they have gained a clear perception of the
intensity of those sufferings, for then the first stage of rebellion
has already begun. Not one of us who has grown to middle age but can
remember, looking back to her own girlhood, how meekly and as a matter
of course women of all classes accepted every sort of suffering as
part of the lot of woman, especially of the married woman, whether it
was excessive child-bearing, pain in childbirth, physical overwork,
or the mental suffering arising out of a penniless and dependent
condition, with the consequent absolute right of the husband to the
custody and control of the children of the union. And in all nations
and classes where this state of affairs still continues, the women
have as yet no clear intellectual perception of the keenness and
unfairness of their suffering. They still try to console themselves
with believing and allowing others to suppose that after all, things
are not so bad; they might be worse. These poor women actually
hypnotize themselves into such a belief.

Have you not heard a mother urge a daughter or a friend to submit
uncomplainingly to the most outrageous domestic tyranny, for is not
hers after all the common fate of woman?

No clear perception there!

This argument in no way touches the exceptional woman or man,
belonging to an oppressed class. Such a woman, for instance, as the
Kaffir woman spoken of by Olive Schreiner in this passage, is the rare

But so far Olive Schreiner is undoubtedly right. When the revolt at
length takes place it is in answer to an immediate and pressing need
of the whole community. When the restrictions upon a class have become
hurtful to the whole, when their removal is called for because society
is in need of the energies thus set free, then takes place a more or
less general uprising of the oppressed and restricted ones, apparently
entirely spontaneous and voluntary, in reality having its origin
partly at least in the claim which society is making upon the hitherto
restricted class to take up fuller social responsibilities.

When observing then the modern change of attitude among women, towards
life, we can therefore only conclude that such an immediate and
pressing need is felt by society today, a claim neither to be ignored
nor denied.

On this reasoning, then, and observing the eager demand of women
everywhere for increased freedom and independence, we can only draw
the conclusion that the whole world is dimly recognizing an immediate
and pressing need for the higher services of women, services which
they cannot render unless freed legally, politically and sexually. It
is this immense and universal social claim which has been responded
to by the whole organized movement among women, industrial as well as
educational and political.

In order to understand the relation of the organized suffrage
movement to the question of improving women's industrial and economic
conditions and status, we have to consider the changed conditions of
society under which we live, and we will have to recognize that the
demand for the vote in different countries and at different times may
or may not coincide with the same social content. Psychologically,
indeed, as well as practically, the vote connotes all sorts of
different implications to the women of today, contemporaries though
they are.

It was with an appreciation of these complexities that Professor W.I.
Thomas has pointed out that in his opinion suffragists often place too
great stress upon primitive woman's political power, and ignore
the fact that women held an even more important relation to the
occupational than to the political life of those early days, and that
in her occupational value is to be traced the true source of her power
and therefore her real influence in any age.

While agreeing with Professor Thomas that some suffrage arguments do
on the surface appear inconsistent with historical facts, I believe
the inconsistency to be more formal than real.

As the centuries pass a larger and still larger proportion of human
affairs passes away from individual management and comes under social
and community control. As this process goes on, more and more does the
individual, whether man or woman, need the power to control socially
the conditions that affect his or her individual welfare. In our day
political power rightly used, gives a socialized control of social
conditions, and for the individual it is embodied in and is expressed
by the vote.

To go back only one hundred years. The great bulk of men and women
were industrially much more nearly on a level than they are today.
A poor level, I grant you, for with the exception of the privileged
classes, few and small were the political powers and therefore the
social control of even men. But every extension of political power
as granted to class after class of men has, as far as women are
concerned, had the fatal effect of increasing the political inequality
between men and women, thus placing women, though not apparently, yet
relatively and actually upon a lower level.

Again, the status of woman has been crushingly affected by the
contemporaneous and parallel change which has passed over her special
occupations; so that the conditions under which she works today are
decidedly less than ever before by purely personal relationships and
more by such impersonal factors as the trade supply of labor, and
interstate and international competition. This change has affected
woman in an immeasurably greater degree than man. The conditions
of industrial life are in our day in some degree controllable by
political power so that at this point woman again finds herself
civilly and industrially at greater disadvantage than when her status
in all these respects depended principally upon her individual
capacity to handle efficiently problems arising within an area limited
by purely personal relationships. To alter so radically the conditions
of daily life and industry, and not merely to leave its control in the
hands of the old body of voters, but to give over into the hands of an
enlarged and fresh body of voters, and these voters inevitably the men
of her own class who are her industrial competitors, that degree of
control represented by the vote and to refuse it to women is to place
women (though not apparently, yet actually and relatively) upon a
distinctly lowered level.

So that what suffragists are asking for is in reality not so much
a novel power, as it is liberty to possess and use the same new
instrument of social control as has been already accorded to men.
Without that instrument it is no mere case of her standing still. She
is in very truth retrogressing, as far as effective control over the
conditions under which she lives her life, whether inside the home or
outside of it. In this instinctive desire not to lose ground, to keep
up both with altered social claims of society upon women and with the
improved political equipment of their brothers, is to be found the
economic crux of women's demand for the vote in every country and in
every succeeding decade.

In the course of human development, the gradual process of the
readjustment of human beings to changed social and economic conditions
is marked at intervals by crises wherein the struggle always going on
beneath the surface between the new forces and existing conditions
wells up to the surface and takes on the nature of a duel between
contending champions. If this is true of one class or of one people,
how much more is it true when the change is one that affects an entire

There have been occasions in history and there occur still today
instances when economic conditions being such that their labor was
urgently needed and therefore desired, it was easy for newcomers to
enter a fresh field of industry, and give to a whole class or even
to a whole sex in one locality an additional occupation. Such very
evidently was the case with the first girls who went into the New
England cotton mills. Men's occupations at that time in America lay
for the most part out of doors, and there was therefore no sense of
rivalry experienced, when the girls who used to spin at home began to
spin on a large scale and in great numbers in a factory.

It is far different where women have been forced by the economic
forces driving them from behind to make their slow and painful way
into a trade already in the possession of men. Of course the wise
thing for the men to do in such a case is to bow to the logic of
events, and through their own advantageous position as first in the
field and through whatever organizations they may possess use all
their power to place their new women rivals on an equal footing
with themselves and so make it impossible for the women to become a
weakening and disintegrating force in the trade. The women being thus
more or less protected by the men from the exploitation of their own
weakness it is then for them to accept the position, as far as they
are able, stand loyally by the men, meet factory conditions as they
find them, being the latest comers, and proceed afterwards to bring
about such modifications and improvements as may seem to them

Unfortunately this in a general way may stand for a description
of everything that has not taken place. The bitter and often true
complaints made by workmen that women have stolen their trade, that
having learnt it, well or ill, they are scabs all the time in their
acceptance of lower wages and worse conditions, relatively much worse
conditions, and that they are often strike-breakers when difficulties
arise, form a sad commentary upon the men's own short-sighted conduct.
To women, driven by need to earn their living in unaccustomed ways,
men have all too often opened no front gate through which they could
make an honest daylight entrance into a trade, but have left only
side-alleys and back-doors through which the guiltless intruders could
slip in. Organized labor today, however, is on record as standing for
the broader policy, however apathetic the individual unions and the
individual trade unionists may often be.

A dramatic presentation of one of these very complicated situations
is found in the experience of Miss Susan B. Anthony in the printers'
strike in New York in 1869. By some this incident has been interpreted
to show a wide difference of outlook between those women who were
chiefly intent on opening up fresh occupational possibilities for
women, and those who, coming daily face to face with the general
industrial difficulties of women already in the trades, recognized the
urgent need of trade organization for women if the whole standard
of the trades wherein they were already employed was not to be
permanently lowered.

While there is no such general inference to be drawn, the occurrence
does place in a very strong light the extreme complexity of the
question and the need that then existed, the need that still exists
for closer cooeperation between workers approaching the problem of the
independence of the wage-earning woman from different sides.

The files of the _Revolution_, which Miss Anthony, in conjunction with
Mrs. Stanton and Mr. Parker Pillsbury, published from 1868 to 1870,
are full of the industrial question. Though primarily the paper stood
for the suffrage movement, the editors were on the best of terms with
labor organizations and they were constantly urging working-women to
organize and cooeperate with men trade unionists, and in especial to
maintain constantly their claim to equal pay for equal work.

But just about the time of our story, in the beginning of 1869, Miss
Anthony seems to have been especially impressed with the need of
trade-schools for girls, that they might indeed be qualified to
deserve equal pay, to earn it honestly if they were to ask for it; for
we find her saying:

"The one great need of the hour is to qualify women workers to _really
earn_ equal wages with men. We must have _training-schools for women_
in all the industrial avocations. Who will help the women will help
ways and means to establish them."

Just then a printers' strike occurred and Miss Anthony thought she saw
in the need of labor on the part of the employers an opportunity to
get the employers to start training-schools to teach the printing
trade to girls, in her enthusiasm for this end entirely oblivious of
the fact that it was an unfortunate time to choose for making such a
beginning. She attended an employers' meeting held at the Astor House
and laid her proposal before them.

The printers felt that they were being betrayed, and by one, too, whom
they had always considered their friend. On behalf of organized labor
Mr. John J. Vincent, secretary of the National Labor Union, made
public protest.

Miss Anthony's reply to Mr. Vincent, under date February 3, 1869,
published in the New York _Sun_, and reprinted in the _Revolution_, is
very touching, showing clearly enough that in her eagerness to supply
the needed thorough trade-training for young girls, she had for the
moment forgotten what was likely to be the outcome for the girls
themselves of training, however good, obtained in such a fashion.
She had also forgotten how essential it was that she should work in
harmony with the men's organizations as long as they were willing to
work with her. Though not saying so in so many words, the letter is a
shocked avowal that, acting impulsively, she had not comprehended the
drift of her action, and it amounts to a withdrawal from her first
position. She writes:

Sir: You fail to see my motive in appealing to the Astor House
meeting of employers, for aid to establish a training school for
girls. It was to open the way for a thorough drill to the hundreds
of poor girls, to fit them to earn equal wages with men everywhere
and not to undermine "Typographical No. 6." I did not mean to
convey the impression that "women, already good compositors should
work for a cent less per thousand ems than men," and I rejoice
most heartily that Typographical Union No. 6 stands so nobly by
the Women's Typographical Union No. 1 and demands the admission of
women to all offices under its control, and I rejoice also
that the Women's Union No. 1 stands so nobly and generously by
Typographical Union No. 6 in refusing most advantageous offers to
defeat its demands.

My advice to all the women compositors of the city, is now, as it
has ever been since last autumn, to join the women's union, for in
union alone there is strength, in union alone there is protection.

Every one should scorn to allow herself to be made a tool to
undermine the just prices of men workers; and to avoid this union
is necessary. Hence I say, girls, stand by each other, and by the
men, when they stand by you.

With this the incident seems to have closed, for nothing more is heard
of the employers' training-school.[A]

[Footnote A: This illustrates well the cruel alternative perpetually
placed before the working-woman and the working-woman's friends. She
is afforded little opportunity to learn a trade thoroughly, and yet,
if she does not stand by her fellow men workers, she is false to
working class loyalty.

That the women printers of New York were between the devil and the
deep sea is evidenced by the whole story told in Chapter XXI of "New
York Typographical Union No. 6," by George Stevens. In that is related
how about this time was formed a women printers' union, styled
"Women's Typographical No. 1," through the exertions of a number of
women compositors with Augusta Lewis at their head. Miss Lewis voiced
the enthusiastic thanks of the women when, a few months later, the
union received its charter from the International Typographical Union
at its next convention in June, 1869. A different, and a sadder note
runs through Miss Lewis's report to the convention in Baltimore in
1871, in describing the difficulties the women labored under.

"A year ago last January, Typographical Union No. 6 passed a
resolution admitting union girls in offices under the control of No.
6. Since that time we have never obtained a situation that we could
not have obtained if we had never heard of a union. We refuse to take
the men's situations when they are on strike, and when there is no
strike, if we ask for work in union offices we are told by union
foremen 'that there are no conveniences for us.' We are ostracized
in many offices because we are members of the union; and though the
principle is right, the disadvantages are so many that we cannot
much longer hold together.... No. 1 is indebted to No. 6 for great
assistance, but as long as we are refused work because of sex we
are at the mercy of our employers, and I can see no way out of our

In 1878 the International enacted a law that no further charter be
granted to women's unions, although it was not supposed to take effect
against any already in existence. Women's Typographical No. 1, already
on the downward grade, on this dissolved. But not till 1883 did the
women printers in New York begin to join the men's union, and there
have been a few women members in it ever since. But how few in
proportion may be judged from the figures on September 30, 1911. Total
membership 6,969, of whom 192 were women. I believe this to be typical
of the position of the woman compositor in other cities.]

I have given large space to this incident, because it is the only one
of the kind I have come across in Miss Anthony's long career. Page
after page of the _Revolution_ is full of long reports of workingmen's
conventions which she or Mrs. Stanton attended.[A] At these they were
either received as delegates or heard as speakers, advocating the
cause of labor and showing how closely the success of that cause was
bound up with juster treatment towards the working-woman. Many indeed
must have been the labor men, who gained a broader outlook upon their
own problems and difficulties through listening to such unwearied
champions of their all but voiceless sex.

[Footnote A: Mrs. Stanton's first speech before the New York
legislature, made in 1854, was a demand that married working-women
should have the right to collect their own wages. She and the workers
with her succeeded in having the law amended. Up till then a married
woman might wash all day at the washtub, and at night the law required
that her employer should, upon demand, hand over her hard-earned money
to her husband, however dissolute he might be.]

To the more conservative among the workingmen the uncompromising views
of these women's advocates must have been very upsetting sometimes,
and always very unconventional. We find that in a workingmen's
assembly in Albany, New York, when one radical delegate moved to
insert the words "and working-women" into the first article of the
Constitution, he felt bound to explain to his fellow-delegates that it
was not his intention to offer anything that would reflect discredit
upon the body. He simply wanted the females to have the benefit
of their trades and he thought by denying them this right a great
injustice was done to them. The speaker who followed opposed the
discussion of the question. "Let the women organize for themselves."
The radicals, however, rose to the occasion.

Mr. Graham in a long speech said it was a shame and a disgrace for
this body, pretending to ask the elevation of labor to neglect or
refuse to help this large, deserving, but down-trodden class.

Mr. Topp said he would be ashamed to go home and say he had attended
this assembly if it overlooked the claims of the female organizations.

The resolution to include the women was carried with applause.

At the National Labor Congress held in Germania Hall, New York, the
_Revolution_ of October 1, 1868, had noted the admission of four women
delegates as marking a new era in workingmen's conventions. These
were: Katherine Mullaney, president of the Collar Laundry Union of
Troy, N.Y.; Mrs. Mary Kellogg Putnam, representing Working Women's
Association No. 2 of New York City; Miss Anthony herself, delegate
from Working Women's Association No. 1, New York City; and Mary A.
Macdonald, from the Working Women's Protective Labor Union, Mount
Vernon, New York.

Mrs. Stanton, after a long and exciting debate, was declared a
delegate, but the next day, to please the malcontents, the National
Labor Congress made clear by resolution that it did not regard itself
as endorsing her peculiar ideas or committing itself to the question
of female suffrage, but simply regarded her as a representative
from an organization having for its object "the amelioration of the
condition of those who labor for a living." "Worthy of Talleyrand" is
Miss Anthony's sole comment.

The connection between the woman movement and the labor movement is
indeed close and fundamental, but that must not be taken to imply that
the workingman and the woman of whatever class have not their own
separate problems to handle and to solve as each sees best. The
marriage relation between two individuals has often been wrecked by
assuming as the basis of their common life that man and wife are one
and that the husband is that one. And so the parallel assumption that
all the working-woman's wrongs will naturally be righted by redress if
their righting is left in the hands of her working brother for many
years led to a very curious and unfortunate neglect of suffrage
propaganda among working-women, and on the part of working-women and
to a no less unfortunate ignorance of industrial problems, also, on
the part of many suffragists, whether those affecting workingmen and
women alike or the women only.

It was not so in the early days. The instances given above show how
close and friendly were the relations between labor leaders and
suffrage pioneers. What has been said of Miss Anthony applied equally
to the other great women who carried the suffrage banner amid
opprobrium and difficulty.

The change came that comes so often in the development of a great
movement. One of the main objects which the pioneers had had in view
somehow slipped out of the sight of their successors. The earliest
move of the advanced women of America had been for equal rights of
education, and there success has been greatest and most complete and
thorough. But it was almost exclusively the women who were able to
enter the professions who gained the benefits of this campaign for
equal educational and consequently equal professional opportunities.

The next aim of the leaders in the woman movement of the last century
had been to accord to woman equality before the law. This affecting
primarily and chiefly woman in her sex relations, had its permanent
results in reference to the legal status of the married woman and
the mother, bearing at the same time secondarily upon the safety and
welfare of the child; hence in the different states a long series of
married women's property acts, equal guardianship acts, modifications
of the gross inequalities of the divorce law, and the steady raising
of the age of protection for girls.

At least that was the position ten years ago. But today the tide has
turned. Partly is this due to the growth of industrial organization
among women, a development that has followed the ever-increasing
need of mutual protection. Trade unionism has helped to train the
working-woman to listen to the suffrage gospel, though therein she has
often been slower than the workingman, her better educated brother. On
the other hand a great many influences have combined to wake up the
suffragist of our day to the true meaning and value of what she was
asking. Especially has the work of the National Women's Trade Union
League and the campaign of publicity it has conducted on behalf of
the working-woman, both within and without its membership, focused
attention upon the woman in industry as a national responsibility.
Then again the tremendous strikes in which such large numbers of women
and girls have been involved were an education to others than the
strikers--to none more than to the suffrage workers who cooeperated
with the ill-used girl strikers in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and

An influence of even more universal appeal, if of less personal
intensity, has been the suffrage movement in Great Britain. That
movement has educated the public of this country, as they never would
have been educated by any movement confined to this country alone.
Inside the ranks of enrolled suffragists it has been an inspiration,
showering upon their cause a new baptism of mingled tears and
rejoicing. In calmer mood we have learned from our British sisters
much regarding policies adapted to modern situations, and they
have assuredly shown us all sorts of new and original methods of
organization and education. The immense and nation-wide publicity
given by the press of the United States to the more striking and
sensational aspects of the British movement and all the subsequent
talk and writing in other quarters has roused to sex-consciousness
thousands of American women of all classes who had not been previously
interested in the movement for obtaining full citizenship for
themselves and their daughters. These women also aroused, and men,
too, have furnished the huge audiences which have everywhere greeted
such speakers as Mrs. Pankhurst and Mrs. Philip Snowden, when in
person they have presented the mighty story of the transatlantic
struggle. There is no difficulty nowadays in gathering suffrage
audiences anywhere, for the man and the woman walking along the street
supply them to the open-air speaker in the large city and the little
country town as one by one city and town take up the new methods.

Even more close to lasting work for all the issues that affect the
community through placing upon women an ordered civic responsibility
are the plans for the organizing under different names of woman
suffrage parties and civic leagues which blend the handling of local
activities everywhere with a demand for the ballot in keeping with the
needs of the modern community. No clear-eyed woman can work long in
this sort of atmosphere without realizing how unequally social burdens
press, how unequally social advantages are allotted, whether the
burdens come through hours of work, inadequate remuneration, sanitary
conditions, whether in home or in factory, and whether the advantages
are obtainable through public education, vocational training, medical
care, or in the large field of recreation.

So important does work through organization, appear to me that,
remembering always that tendencies are more important than conditions,
it would seem in some respects a more wholesome and hopeful situation
for women to be organized and working for one of their common aims,
even though that aim be for the time being merely winning of the vote,
rather than to have the vote, and with it working merely as isolated
individuals, and with neither the power that organization insures nor
the training that it affords.

But with what we know nowadays there should be no need for any such
unsatisfactory alternative. It would be much more in keeping with the
modern situation if the object of suffrage organizations were to read,
not "to obtain the vote" but "to obtain political, legal and social
equality for women."

Then as each state, or as the whole country (we hope by and by)
obtains the ballot, so might the organizations go on in a sense as if
nothing had happened. And nothing would have happened, save that a
great body of organized women would be more effective than ever. The
members would individually be equipped with the most modern instrument
of economic and social expression. The organizations themselves would
have risen in public importance and esteem and therefore in influence.
Moreover, and this is the most important point of all, they would be
enrolled among those bodies, whose declared policy would naturally
help in guiding the great bulk of new and untrained feminine voters.

In the early days of the woman movement, the leaders, I believe,
desired as earnestly and as keenly saw the need for legal and social
or economic equality as we today with all these years of experience
behind us. But the unconscious assumption was all the time that given
political equality every other sort of equality would readily and
logically follow. Even John Stuart Mill seems to have taken this
much for granted. Not indeed that he thought that with universal
enfranchisement the millennium would arrive for either men or women.
But even to his clear brain and in his loyal and chivalrous heart,
political freedom for women did appear as one completed stage in
development, an all-inclusive boon, as it were, in due time bringing
along by irrefragable inference equality on every other plane,
equality before the law and equality in all social and sexual

Looking back now, we can see that whatever thinkers and statesmen
fifty years ago may have argued for as best meeting the immediate
needs of the hour, the organized suffrage movement in all the most
advanced countries should long ago have broadened their platform,
and explicitly set before their own members and the public as their
objective not merely "the vote," but "the political, legal and social
equality of women."

We are not abler, not any broader-minded nor more intellectually
daring than those pioneers, but we have what they had not, the test of
results. Let us briefly glance at what has been the course of events
in those states and countries which were the earliest to obtain
political freedom for their women.

In none of the four suffrage states first enfranchised in this
country, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Colorado, in Australia or in New
Zealand, did any large proportion of women ask for or desire their
political freedom. In that there is nothing strange or exceptional.
Those who see the need of any reform so clearly that they will work
for it make up comparatively a small proportion of any nation or of
any class. Women are no exception. Note Australia. As the suffrage
societies there, as elsewhere, had been organized for this one
purpose, "to obtain the vote," with the obtaining of the vote all
reason for their continued existence ceased. The organizations at once
and inevitably went to pieces. The vote, gained by the efforts of the
few, was now in the hands of great masses of women, who had given
little thought to the matter previously, who were absolutely unaware
of the tremendous power of the new instrument placed in their hands. A
whole sex burst into citizenship, leaderless and with no common policy
upon the essential needs of their sex.

Except in Victoria, where the state franchise lagged behind till 1909,
the women of Australia have been enfranchised for over twelve years,
and yet it is only recently that they are beginning to get together as
sister women. Those leaders who all along believed in continuous and
organized work by women for the complete freeing of the sex from all
artificial shackles and unequal burdens are now justified of their
belief. New young leaders are beginning to arise, and there are signs
that the rank and file are beginning to march under these leaders
towards far-off ends that are gradually being defined more clearly
from the mists of these years. But they have much ground to make up.
Only so lately as 1910 there were leading women in one of the
large labor conferences who protested against women entering the
legislature, using against that very simple and normal step in advance
the very same moss-grown arguments as we hear used in this country
against the conferring of the franchise itself.

Nowadays, it is true, no quite similar result is likely to happen in
any state or country which from now on receives enfranchisement, for
the reason that there are now other organizations, such as the General
Federation of Women's Clubs here, and the active women's trade unions,
and suffrage societies on a broad basis and these are every day coming
in closer touch with one another and with the organized suffrage
movement. But neither women's trade unions nor women's clubs can
afford to neglect any means of strengthening their forces, and a sort
of universal association having some simple broad aim such as I
have tried to outline would be an ally which would bring them into
communication with women outside the ranks of any of the great
organizations, for it alone would be elastic enough to include all
women, as its appeal would necessarily be made to all women.

The universal reasons for equipping women with the vote as with a tool
adapted to her present day needs, and the claims made upon her by the
modern community, the reasons, in short why women want and are asking
for the vote, the universal reasons why men, even good men, cannot be
trusted to take care of women's interests, were never better or more
tersely summed up than in a story told by Philip Snowden in the debate
in the British House of Commons on the Woman Suffrage Bill of 1910,
known as the Conciliation Bill. He said that after listening to the
objections urged by the opponents of the measure, he was reminded of a
man who, traveling with his wife in very rough country, came late at
night to a very poor house of accommodation. When the meal was served
there was nothing on the table but one small mutton chop. "What," said
the man in a shocked tone, "have you nothing at all for my wife?"



Trade unionism does not embrace the whole of industrial democracy,
even for organized labor and even were the whole of labor organized,
as we hope one of these days it will be, but it does form one of the
elements in any form of industrial democracy as well as affording one
of the pathways thither.

The most advanced trade unionists are those men and women who
recognize the limitations of industrial organization, but who value
it for its flexibility, for the ease with which it can be transformed
into a training-school, a workers' university, while all the while
it is providing a fortified stronghold from behind whose shelter
the industrial struggle can be successfully carried on, and carried
forward into other fields.

If we believe, as all, even non-socialists, must to some extent admit,
that economic environment is one of the elemental forces moulding
character and deciding conduct, then surely the coming together of
those who earn their bread in the same occupation is one of the most
natural methods of grouping that human beings can adopt.

There are still in the movement in all countries those of such a
conservative type that they look to trade organization as we know
it today as practically the sole factor in solving the industrial

In order to fulfill its important functions of protecting the workers,
giving to them adequate control over their working conditions, and
the power of bargaining for the disposal of their labor power
through recognized representatives, trade-union organization must be
world-wide. Organizations of capital are so, or are becoming so, and
in order that the workers may bargain upon an equal footing, they must
be in an equally strong position. Now is the first time in the history
of the world that such a plan could be even dreamt of. Rapid means of
communication and easy methods of transport have made it possible for
machine-controlled industry to attract workers from all over the world
to particular centers, and in especial to the United States, and this
has taken place without any regard as to where there was the best
opening for workers of different occupations or as to what might
be the effects upon the standards of living of the workers of
artificially fostered migrations, and haphazard distribution of the

It is sadly true of the labor movement, as of all other movements
for social advance, that it lags behind the movements organized for
material success and private profit. It lags behind because it lacks
money, money which would keep more trained workers in the field, which
would procure needed information, which would prevent that bitterest
of defeats, losing a strike because the strikers could no longer hold
out against starvation. The labor movement lacks money, partly because
money is so scarce among the workers; they have no surplus from which
to build up the treasury as capital does so readily, and partly
because so many of them do not as yet understand that alone they are
lost, in organization they have strength. While they need the labor
movement, just as much does the labor movement need them.

More and more, however, are the workers acknowledging their own
weakness, at the same time that they remember their own strength. As
they do so, more and more will they adopt capital's own magnificent
methods of organization to overcome capital's despotism, and be able
to stand out on a footing of equality, as man before man.

One tendency, long too much in evidence in the labor movement
generally, and one which has still to be guarded against, is to take
overmuch satisfaction in the unionizing of certain skilled trades or
sections of trades, and to neglect the vast bulk of those already
handicapped by want of special skill or training, by sex or by race.
I have heard discussions among labor men which illustrate this. The
platform of the Federation of Labor is explicit, speaking out on this
point in no doubtful tone, but there are plenty of labor men, and
labor women who make their own particular exceptions to a rule that
should know of none.

I have heard men in the well-paid, highly skilled, splendidly
organized trades speak even contemptuously of the prospect of
organizing the nomad laborers of the land, recognizing no moral claim
laid upon themselves by the very advantages enjoyed by themselves in
their own trade, advantages in which they took so much pride. That is
discouraging enough, but more discouraging still was it to gather one
day from the speech of one who urged convincingly that while both
for self-defense and for righteousness' sake, the skilled organized
workers must take up and make their own the cause of the unskilled and
exploited wanderers, that he too drew his line, and that he drew it at
the organization of the Chinese.[A]

[Footnote A: I am not here discussing the unrestricted admission
of Orientals under present economic conditions. I merely use the
illustration to press the point, that organized labor should include
in its ranks all workers already in the United States. A number of the
miners in British Columbia are advocates of the organization of the
Chinese miners in that province.]

Others again, while they do not openly assert that they disapprove of
the bringing of women into the trade unions, not only give no active
assistance towards that end, but in their blindness even advocate the
exclusion of women from the trades, and especially from their own
particular trade. The arguments which they put forward are mostly of
these types: "Girls oughtn't to be in our trade, it isn't fit for
girls"; or, "Married women oughtn't to work"; or, "Women folks should
stay at home," and if the speaker is a humane and kindly disposed man,
he will add, "and that's where they'll all be one of these days,
when we've got things straightened out again." As instances of this
attitude on the part of trade-union men who ought to know better, and
its results, the pressmen in the printing shops of our great cities
are well organized, and the girls who feed the presses, and stand
beside the men and work with them, are mostly outside the protection
of the union. Some of the glass-blowers are seriously arguing against
the suggestion of organizing the girls who are coming into the trade
in numbers. "Organization won't settle it. That's no sort of a
solution," say the men; "they're nice girls and would be much better
off in some other trade." Just as if girls went into hard and trying
occupations from mere contrariness! It is too late in the day, again,
to shut the door on the women who are going in as core-makers in the
iron industry, but the men in the foundries think they can do it. Men
who act and talk like this have yet much to learn of the true meaning
and purposes of labor organization.

Wherever, then, we find this spirit of exclusion manifested, whether
actively as in some of the instances I have cited, or passively in
apathetic indifference to the welfare of the down-trodden worker, man
or woman, American or foreign, white or colored, there is no true
spirit of working-class solidarity, only a self-seeking acceptance
of a limited and antiquated form of labor organization, quite out of
keeping with twentieth-century conditions and needs. This does not
make for advance ultimately in any branch of labor, but is one of the
worst retarding influences to the whole movement. In former ages the
principles of democracy could only extend within one class after
another. The democracy of our day is feeling after a larger solution;
the democracy of the future cannot know limits or it will be no
democracy at all.

It has been pointed out many times that the rich are rich, not so much
in virtue of what they possess, but in virtue of what others do not
possess. The ratio of the difference between the full pocket and many
empty pockets represents the degree in which the one rich man or woman
is able to command the services of many poor men and women. We all
recognize these crude differences and regret the results to society.
But after all is the case so very much bettered when for rich and
poor, we read skilled and unskilled, when we have on the one hand a
trade whose members have attained their high standing through the
benefits of years of training, a strong union, high initiation
fees, perhaps limitation of apprentices? I am neither praising nor
criticizing any methods of trade protection. All of them are probably
highly beneficial to those within the charmed circle of the highly
organized trades. But if, in the very midst of the general state of
industrial anarchy and oppression which the unskilled workers have to
accept, it is possible to find trades in which organization has been
so successful in maintaining good conditions, this is partly because
the number of such artisans, so skilled and so protected, has always
been limited. And let us ask ourselves what are the effects of these
limitations upon those outside the circle, whether those excluded from
the trade or from the organization because of the demands exacted, or
those debarred by poverty or other circumstances from learning any
skilled trade at all. Unquestionably the advantages of the highly
protected ones are not won solely from the employers. Some part of
their industrial wealth is contributed by the despised and ignored
outsiders. Some proportion of their high wages is snatched from
the poor recompense of the unskilled. Women are doubly sufferers,
underpaid both as women and as unskilled workers. It is not necessary
to subscribe to the old discredited wage-fund theory, in order to
agree with this.

Just here lies the chief danger of the craft form of organization as
a final objective. If the trade-union movement is ever to be wholly
effective and adequate to fulfill its lofty aims, it must cease to
look upon craft organization as a final aim. The present forms of
craft organization are useful, only so long as they are thought of as
a step to something higher, only in so far as the craft is regarded as
a part of the whole. Were this end ever borne in mind, we should hear
less of jurisdictional fights, and there would be more of sincere
endeavor and more of active effort among the better organized workers
to share the benefits of organization with all of the laboring world.
The more helpless and exploited the group, the keener would be the
campaign, the more unsparing the effort on the part of the more
fortunate sons of toil.

Against such a narrow conservatism, however, there are other forces at
work, both within and without the regularly organized labor movement,
one of them aiming at such reorganization of the present unions as
shall gradually merge the many craft unions into fewer and larger
bodies.[A] This process is evolutionary, and constructive, but slow,
and meanwhile the exploited workers cry in their many tongues, "O
Lord, how long!" or else submit in voiceless despair.

[Footnote A: The United Mine Workers are essentially on an industrial
basis; they take in all men and boys working in and about the mine.]

Is it any wonder that under these conditions of industrial anarchy
and imperfect organization of labor power a new voice is heard in the
land, a voice which will not be stilled, revolutionary, imperious,
aiming frankly at the speedy abolition of organized governments, and
of the present industrial system? This is the movement known in Europe
as syndicalism, and on this continent represented by the Industrial
Workers of the World, usually termed the I.W.W.

Their program stands for the one big union of all the workers, the
general strike and the gaining possession and the conducting of the
industries by the workers engaged in them. They deprecate the making
of agreements with employers, and acknowledge no duty in the keeping
of agreements.

The year 1911 will be remembered among word-historians as the year
when the word "syndicalism" became an everyday English word. It had
its origin in the French word "syndicalisme," which is French
for trade unionism, just as French and Belgian trade unions are
"syndicats." But because for reasons that cannot be gone into here
so many of the French trade unionists profess this peculiarly
revolutionary philosophy, there has grown up out of and around the
word "syndicalisme" a whole literature with writers like George Sorel
and Gustave Herve as the prophets and exponents of the new movement.
So the word "syndicalism," thus anglicized, has come to signify this
latest form of trade-union organization and action.

Although sabotage, interfering with output, clogging machinery,
blocking transportation and so forth have been advocated and practiced
by extreme syndicalists, such do not seem to me to form an essential
and lasting element in syndicalist activity, any more than we find the
wholesale destruction of machinery as carried on by displaced workmen
a hundred years ago, has remained an accepted method of trade-union
action, although such acts may easily form incidents in the progress
of the industrial warfare to which syndicalists are pledged. Neither
at Lawrence, Massachusetts, nor later at Paterson, New Jersey, did the
Industrial Workers of the World, or the large bodies of strikers whom
they led set any of these destructive practices in operation.

Syndicalism is the latest despairing cry of the industrially
vanquished and down-trodden, and is not to be suppressed by force of
argument, whether the argument comes from the side of the employer or
the fellow-workman. Only with the removal of the causes can we expect
this philosophy of despair to vanish, for it is the courage of despair
that we witness in its converts. The spirit they display lies outside
the field of blame from those who have never known what it means to
lose wife and children in the slow starvation of the strike or husband
and sons in the death-pit of a mine, and themselves to be cheated
life-long of the joys that ought to fall to the lot of the normal,
happiness-seeking human being, from birth to death.

The syndicalists will have done their work if they rouse the rest of
us to a keener sense of our responsibilities. When the day comes that
every worker receives the full product of his toil, the reasons for
existence of this form of revolutionary activity will have passed

Of one thing the present writer is convinced. That this newest form of
the industrial struggle, however crude it may appear, however blind
and futile in some of its manifestations, is destined to affect
profoundly the course of the more orthodox trade-union movement. The
daring assumptions that labor is the supreme force, that loyalty to
the working world is the supreme virtue, and failure in that loyalty
the one unpardonable sin, has stirred to the very depths organized
labor of the conservative type, has roused to self-questioning many
and many a self-satisfied orthodox trade unionist, inspiring him with
loftier and more exacting ideals. He has been thrilled, as he had
never been thrilled before with a realization of the dire need of the
submerged and unorganized millions, and of the claims that they have
upon him. Verily, in the face of such revelations, satisfaction in the
fine organization of his own particular trade receives a check. The
good of his own union as his highest aim sinks into insignificance,
though regarding it as a means to an end, he may well go back to his
workshop and his union card, intending to do for his fellow-craftsmen
in his shop and in his trade more than ever before.

The very activities of the I.W.W. during the last two or three years,
side by side with the representatives of the American Federation of
Labor on the same strike fields, and often carrying out opposition
tactics, have for the first time in their lives given many furiously
to think out policies and plans of campaign. From such shocks and
stimuli are born thinkers and original tacticians, especially among
the younger men and women.

Wherever syndicalists have actively taken part in labor struggles,
there has been the bitterest antagonism between them and the regular
labor bodies. The latter ever bear in mind the risks of a divided
front, and they have just reason to dread the "dual" organization
as the most completely disruptive influence that can weaken labor's
forces, and play into the employers' hands. Of this experience there
have been too many instances in the United States.

Syndicalists condemn agreements as a device of the enemy. It is true
that agreements may be so managed as to prove a very weak reed for the
workers to depend on in time of trouble. We have had many instances
within the last few years of the disintegrating effect on the labor
movement of agreements made between the employers and sections of
their employes, which while protecting these particular sections leave
other employes of the same firms out in the cold, either because the
latter have no agreement at all, or because it is worded differently,
or, most common defect of all, because it terminates upon a different
date, three months, say, or a year later. It was on this rock that the
printing pressmen struck during the huge newspaper fight in Chicago
which lasted the whole summer of 1912, ending in a defeat costly to
the conqueror, as well as to the conquered and whose echoes are
still to be heard in discussions between representatives of the
organizations and the sub-organizations involved. Though the fight was
lost by the pressmen, the dispute between the unions involved is not
settled yet, and the two principles at stake, loyalty to the interest
of their fellow-workers and the duty of keeping a pledge made to
employers, are as far as ever from being reconciled. The solution
ahead is surely the strengthening of organizations so that failing
a common agreement one branch or one craft will be in a position to
refuse to sign one of these non-concurrent agreements, or any sort of
agreement, which will leave other workers at a palpable disadvantage.

The demand for the speedy taking over of the direct control of
industries by the workers appears to me to ignore alike human
limitations and what we know of the evolution of society. But great
hope is to be placed in the cooeperative movement, with the gradual
establishment of factories and stores by organizations of the workers

The condemnation of political activity, too, is, as I see it, out
of line with the tendencies of social evolution, which demands
organization and specialized skill in managing the affairs of the
largest community as of the smallest factory.

The strength and value of syndicalism is rather in criticism than in
constructive results. In almost every paragraph in the platform we
can detect a criticism of some weak point in the labor movement,
in political socialism, or in the existing social framework we are
consenting to accept and live under.

So far in every country where it has risen into notice syndicalism has
been more of a free-lance body than a regular army, and it may be that
that is what syndicalists will remain. Up to the present they have
shown no particular constructive ability. But they may develop great
leaders, and with development work out plans to meet the new problems
that will crowd upon them. Even if they should not, and should pass
away as similar revolutionary groups have passed before, they will
have hastened tremendously the closer knitting together of all groups
of trade unionists. On the one hand they have already stirred up
socialists to a better understanding and more candid admission of
their own shortcomings in the political field, and on the other, they
have already made labor more fearless and aggressive, and therefore
more venturesome in the claims it makes, and more ready and
resourceful in its adaptation of new methods to solve modern

Before leaving the syndicalists, I would call attention to a change
that is coming over the spirit of some of their leaders, as regards
immediate plans of action. From a recent number of _La Guerre
Sociale_, edited by Gustave Herve, the _Labour Leader_ (England),
quotes an article attributed to Herve himself, in which the writer

"Because it would be a mistake to expect to achieve everything by
means of the ballot-box, it does not follow that we can achieve
nothing thereby."

Another syndicalist of influence has been advocating the establishment
of training-schools for the workers, in preparation for the day when
they are to take over the industries. Vocational instruction this upon
the great scale!

Ramsay McDonald, by no means an indulgent critic of syndicalism, does
not believe that Sorel really anticipates the general strike as the
inauguration of the new order, but as a myth, which will lead the
people on to the fulfillment of the ideal that lies beyond and on the
other side of all anticipated revolutionary action.

It is time now to consider the tendencies towards growth and
adaptation to modern needs that have been, and are at work, within
the American Federation of Labor, and among those large outside
organizations on the outer edge of the Federation, as it were, such as
the brotherhoods of railroad trainmen. These tendencies, are, speaking
generally, towards such reorganization as will convert many small
unions into fewer, larger, and therefore stronger bodies, and towards
the long-delayed but inevitable organization of the workers on the
political field. Such reorganization is not always smooth sailing, but
the process is an education in itself.

The combination or the federation of existing organizations is but
the natural response of the workers to the ever-growing complexity of
modern industrial life. Ever closer organization on the part of
the employers, the welding together of twenty businesses into one
corporation, of five corporations into one trust, of all the trusts in
the country into one combine, have to be balanced by correspondingly
complete organization on the part of the workers. There is this
difference of structure, however, between the organization of
employers and that of the employed. The first is comparatively simple,
and is ever making for greater simplicity. Without going into the
disputed question of how far the concentration of business can be
carried, and of whether or not the small business man is to be finally
pushed out of existence, it is beyond question that every huge
business, for example, each one of our gigantic department stores,
includes and represents an army of small concerns, which it has
replaced, which have either been bought up or driven to the wall. In
either case the same amount of trade, which it once took hundreds of
separate small shopkeepers to handle, is now handled by the one firm,
under the one management. Such welding together makes for the economy
in running expenses which is its first aim. But it also makes for
simplicity in organization. It is evidently far easier for the heads
of a few immense businesses to come together than it was for the
proprietors of the vast agglomeration of tiny factories, stores
and offices which once covered the same trade area, or to be quite
accurate, a much smaller trade area, to do so.

But if, at the one end of the modern process of production and
distribution, we find this tendency towards a magnificent simplicity,
at the other, the workers' end, we have the very same aim of economy
of effort and the cheapening of production resulting in an enormously
increased complexity. The actual work performed by each worker is
simplified. But the variety of processes and the consequent allotting
of the workers into unrelated groups make for social complexity;
render it not easier, but much harder for the workers to come together
and to see and make others see through and in spite of all this
apparent unlikeness of occupation, common interests and a common need
for cooeperative action.

Again, take a factory, such as a cotton mill. The one firm, before
marketing its product, will have employed in its preparation and
final disposal till it reaches the consumer, groups engaged in very
different occupations, spinners, weavers, porters, stenographers,
salesmen, and so on. The industry which furnished employment to
one, or at most, to two groups, has been cut up into a hundred
subdivisions, but the workers have still many interests in common, and
they need to cling together or suffer from all the disadvantages of
unorganized or semi-organized occupations.

The first unions were naturally craft unions. The men working in the
same shop, and at the same processes got together, and said: "We who
do this work must get to know the fellows in the other shops; we must
just stick together, make common demands and support one another."

As industry became more highly specialized, there slipped in,
especially during the last fifty years or so, a disintegrating
tendency. The workers in what had been one occupation, found
themselves now practicing but a small fraction of what had been their
trade. They were performing new processes, handling novel tools and
machinery unheard of before. The organizations became divided up into
what were nominally craft unions, in reality only process unions. Or
if a new organization was formed, it was but a mere clipping off the
whole body of operatives. And these unions, too, would probably have
their international organization, to which they could turn to come in
touch with brother workers, similarly qualified and employed. There
is necessarily involved an element of weakness in any organization,
however extensive, built up upon so limited a foundation, unless the
membership has other local and occupational affiliations as well.
So, to meet this defect, there have been formed all sorts of loose
aggregations of unions, and almost every day sees fresh combinations
formed to meet new needs as these arise. Within the wide bounds of
the American Federation itself exist the state federations, also city
federations, which may include the unions in adjoining cities, even
though these are in different states, such as the Tri-City Federation,
covering Davenport, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Illinois. The
district councils, again, are formed from representatives of allied
trades or from widely different branches of the same trade, such as
the councils of the building trades, and the allied printing trades.
There are the international unions (more properly styled continental)
covering the United States and the Dominion of Canada. With these
are affiliated the local unions of a trade or of a whole industry,
sometimes, from all over the continent of North America. Among these
the most catholic in membership are such broadly organized occupations
as the united mine-workers, the garment-workers, the ladies'
garment-workers, the iron, steel and tin-plate workers. An
international union composed of separate unions of the one trade, or a
state or a city federation of local unions of many trades, bears the
same relation to the component single unions as does the union itself
to the individual workers; so we find that all these various and often
changing expressions of the trade-union principle are accepted and
approved of today.

Even more significant are other groupings which may be observed
forming among the rank and file of the union men and women themselves.

Sometimes these groups combine with the full approval of the union
leaders, local and international. Sometimes they are more in the
nature of an insurgent body, either desiring greater liberty of
self-government for themselves, or questioning the methods of the
organization's leaders, and desiring to introduce freer, more
democratic and more modern methods into the management of the parent
organization. This may take the form of a district council, and in at
least one noteworthy instance, the employes of one large corporation
send their representatives to a joint board, for purposes of
collective bargaining.

The railway unions within the American Federation of Labor, one of the
largest and most powerful bodies of union men in the United States
feel the need of some method of grouping which shall link together
the men's locals and the internationals into which the locals
are combined. This is seen in the demand made by the men for the
acknowledgment by the railways of the "system federation." The reason
some of the more radical men were not found supporting the proposal
was not that they objected to a broader form of organization,
but because they considered the particular plan outlined as too
complicated to be effective.

There is one problem pressing for decisive solution before very long,
and it concerns equally organized labor, governments and public bodies
and the community as a whole. That is, the relations that are to
exist between governing bodies in their function as employer, and the
workers employed by them. So far all parties to this momentous bargain
are content to drift, instead of thinking out the principles upon
which a peaceful and permanent solution can be found for a condition
of affairs, new with this generation, and planning in concert such
arrangements as shall insure even-handed justice to all three parties.

It is true that governments have always been employers of servants,
ever since the days when they ceased to be masters of slaves, but
till now only on a limited scale. But even on this limited scale no
entirely satisfactory scheme of civil-service administration has
anywhere been worked out. Of late years more and more have the
autocratic powers of public bodies as employers been considerably
clipped, but on the other hand, the ironclad rules which make
change of occupation, whether for promotion or otherwise, necessary
discipline and even deserved dismissal, so difficult to bring about,
have prejudiced the outside community whom they serve against the just
claims of an industrious and faithful body of men and women. And the
very last of these just claims, which either governing bodies or
communities are willing to grant, is liberty to give collective
expression to their common desires.

The question cannot be burked much longer. Every year sees public
bodies, in the United States as everywhere else, entering upon
new fields of activity. In this country, municipal bodies, state
governments, and even the Federal Government, are in this way
perpetually increasing the number of those directly in their
employ. The establishment of the parcel post alone must have added
considerably to the total of the employes in the Postal Department. It
cannot be very many years before some of the leading monopolies,
such as the telegraph and the telephone, will pass over to national
management, with again an enormous increase in the number of employes.
Schools are already under public control, and one city after another
is taking up, if not manufacture or production, at least distribution
as in the case of water, lighting, ice, milk or coal.

This is no theoretical question as to whether governmental bodies,
large and small, local and national, should or should not take over
these additional functions of supplying community demands. The fact
is before us now. They are doing it, and in the main, doing it
successfully. But what they are not doing, what these very employes
are not doing, what organized labor is not doing, what the community
is not doing, is to plan intelligently some proper method of
representation, by which the claims, the wishes and the suggestions of
employes may receive consideration, and through which, on the other
hand, the governing body as board of management, and the public, as
in the long last the real employer, shall also have their respective
fights defined and upheld.

The present position is exactly as if a sovereign power had conquered
a territory, and proposed to govern it, not temporarily, but
permanently, as a subject province. We know that this is not the
modern ideal in politics, and it ought not to be assumed as the right
ideal when the territory acquired is not a geographical district, but
a new function. In this connection, moreover, the criticisms of our
candid friends the syndicalists are not to be slighted. Their solution
of the problem, that the workers should come into actual, literal
possession and management of the industries, whether publicly or
privately owned, may appear to us hopelessly foolish and impractical,
but their misgivings regarding an ever-increasing bureaucratic control
over a large proportion of the workers, who are thus made economically
dependent upon an employer, because that employer chances also to hold
the reins of government, have already ample justification. The people
have the vote, you will say? At least the men have. Proposals to
deprive public employes of the vote have been innumerable, and in not
a few instances have been enacted into law. There are whole bodies of
public employes in many countries today who have no vote.

The late Colonel Waring was far-sighted beyond his day and generation.
When he took over the Street Cleaning Department of New York, which
was in an utterly demoralized condition, he saw that reasonable
self-government among his army of employes was going to help and not
to hinder his great plans, and it was not only with his full consent,
but at his suggestion and under his direction, that an organization
was formed among them, which gave to the dissatisfied a channel of
expression, and to the constructive minds opportunity to improve the
work of the department, as well as continually to raise the status of
the employe.

All such organizations to be successful permanently and to be placed
on a solid basis must join their fortunes with the labor movement, and
this is the last pill that either a conservative governing body or the
public themselves are willing to swallow. They use exactly the same
argument that private employers used universally at one time, but
which we hear less of today--the right of the employer to run his own
business in his own way.

Very many people, who see nothing wicked in a strike against a private
employer, consider that no despotic conduct on the part of superiors,
no unfairness, no possible combination of circumstances, can ever
justify a strike of workers who are paid out of the public purse. Much
also is made of the fact that most of such functions which governments
have hitherto undertaken are directly associated with pressing needs,
such as street-car and railroad service, water and lighting supplies,
and the same line of reasoning will apply, perhaps in even a higher
degree, to future publicly owned and controlled enterprises. This
helps yet further to strengthen the idea that rebellion, however
sorely provoked, is on the part of public employes a sort of
high treason, the reasons for which neither deserve nor admit of
discussion. The greatest confusion of thought prevails, and no
distinction is drawn between the government as the expression and
embodiment of the forces of law, order and protection to all, as truly
the voice of the people, and the government, through its departments,
whether legislative, judicial or administrative, as just a plain
common employer, needing checks and control like all other employers.

The problem of the public ownership of industries in relation to
employes might well be regarded in a far different light. It holds
indeed a proud and honorable position in social evolution. It is the
latest and most complex development of industry, and as such the heads
of such enterprises should be eager to study the development of
the earlier and simpler forms of industry in relation to the labor
problem, and to study them just as conscientiously and gladly as
they study and adopt scientific and mechanical improvements in their
various departments.

But no. We are all of us just drifting. Every now and then the
question comes before us, unfortunately rarely as a matter for cool
and sane discussion, but usually arising out of some dispute. Both
sides are then in an embittered mood. There may be a strike on. The
employes may be in the wrong, but any points on which they may yield
are merely concessions wrung from them by force of superior strength,
for the employing body unfailingly assumes rights and privileges
beyond those of the ordinary employer. In particular, discontented
employes are invariably charged with disloyalty, and lectured upon
their duty to the public. As if the public owed nothing to them!

More democratic methods of expressing the popular will, giving us
legislation, and in consequence administration more in harmony with
the interests of the workers as a whole, and therefore in the end
reacting for the advantage of the community at large, will assuredly
do much to remove some of these difficulties. This is one reason
why direct legislation and such "effective voting" as proportional
representation should be earnestly advocated and supported by
organized labor on all possible occasions. But that we may make full
and wise use of such additional powers of democratic expression in
placing public employment upon a sounder footing, it is necessary that
we should give the subject the closest attention and consideration
both in its general principles, and in details as they present
themselves. If not, satisfaction in the growth of publicly controlled
industry may be marred through the sense that the public are being
served at an unfair cost to an important section of the workers.

All of these problems touch women as well as men; and if they are to
be solved on a just as well as a broad basis women must do their share
towards the solving. Needless to say, women in industry suffer as much
or more than their brothers from whatever makes for reaction in the
labor movement. It is therefore fortunate for the increasing numbers
of wage-earning women that progressive forces are at work, too. From
one angle, the very activity of Women's Trade Union Leagues in the
cities where they are established is to be regarded as one expression
of the widespread and growing tendency towards such complete
organization of the workers as shall correspond to modern industrial

Mrs. Gilman is never tired of reiterating that we live in a man-made
world, and that the feminine side in either man or woman will never
have a chance for development until this is a human-made world. And
before this can come about woman must be free from the economic
handicap that shackles her today.

The organization of labor is one of the most important means to
achieve this result. It is not only in facing the world outside, and
in relation to the employer and the consumer that woman organized is
stronger and in every way more effective than woman unorganized. The
relation in which she stands to her brother worker is very different,
when she has behind her the protection and with her the united
strength of her union, and the better a union man he is himself the
more readily and cheerfully will he appreciate this, even if he has
occasionally to make sacrifices to maintain unbroken a bargain in
which both are gainers.

But at first, in the same way as the average workingman is apt to have
an uncomfortable feeling about the woman entering his trade, even
apart from the most important reason of all, that she is wont to be
a wage-cutter, the average trade-union man retains a somewhat uneasy
apprehension when he finds women entering the union. As they become
active, women introduce a new element. They may not say very much,
but it is gradually discovered that they do not enjoy meeting over
saloons, at the head of two or three flights of grimy backstairs, or
where the street has earned a bad name.

Woman makes demands. Leaders that even the decenter sort of men would
passively accept, because they are put forward, since they are such
smart fellows, or have pull in trade-union politics, she will have
none of, and will quietly work against them. The women leaders have an
uncomfortable knack of reminding the union that women are on the map,
as it were.

It is at a psychological moment that she is making herself felt in
the councils of organized labor. Just as the labor movement is itself
being reorganized, with the modern development of the union and of
union activity; just as woman herself is coming into her own; just as
we are passing through the transition period from one form of society
to another; and just as we catch a glimpse of a distant future in
which the world will become, for the first time, one.

From the very fact that they are women, women trade unionists have
their own distinct contribution to make to the movement. The feminine,
and especially the maternal qualities that man appreciates so in the
home, he is learning (some men have learnt already) to appreciate in
the larger home of the union.

In speaking thus, I freely, if regretfully, admit that the rartk and
file of both sexes are far indeed from playing their full part. We
have still to depend more largely than is quite fitting or democratic
upon the leaders as standard-bearers. It is also true that there
are women who are willing to accept low ideals in unionism as in
everything else. Their influence is bound to pass. If women are to
make their own peculiar contribution to the labor movement, it will
be by working in glad cooeperation with the higher idealism of the men

And when the day comes (may its coming be hastened!) that women are
even only as extensively organized as men are today, the organization
of men will indeed proceed by leaps and bounds. It will not be by
arithmetical, but by geometrical progression, that the union will
count their increases, for it is the masses of unskilled, unorganized,
ill-paid women and girl workers today, who in so many trades today
increase the difficulties of the men tenfold. That dead weight
removed, they could make better terms for themselves and enroll far
more men into their ranks. What increase of power, what new and
untried forces women may bring with them into the common store, just
what these may be, and the manner of their working out, it is too
early to say.

But the future was never so full of hope as today, not because
conditions are not cruelly hard, and problems not baffling, but,
because, over against these conditions, and helping-to solve these
problems, are ranged the great forces of evolution, ever on the side
of the workers, slowly building up the democracy of the future.


This document, which is the contract under which a union waitress
works, is typical.


Between the Hotel and Restaurant Employes' International Alliance
Affiliated with the American and the Chicago Federation of Labor.

This contract made and entered into this 10th day of April, 1914, by
and between the H.R.E.I.A. affiliated with the American and Chicago
Federation of Labor of the City of Chicago, County of Cook and State
of Illinois, party of the first part, and:


Illinois, party of the second part.

Party of the first part agrees to furnish good, competent and honest
craftsmen, and does hereby agree to stand responsible for all loss
incurred by any act of their respective members in good standing while
in line of duty.

The Business Agents of the allied crafts shall have the privilege of
visiting and interviewing the employes while on duty, their visits to
be timed to such hours when employes are not overly busy.

The second party agrees to employ only members in good standing in
their respective unions, of cooks, and waitresses, except when the
unions are unable to furnish help to the satisfaction of the ... which
choice shall be at the discretion of the above company. Then the
employer may employ any one he desires, provided the employe makes
application to become a member of the union within three days after

Chefs, and Head Waitresses must be members of their respective craft



Steady Waitresses, 6 days, 60 hours $8.00 per week
Lunch and Supper Waitresses, 7 days, 42
hours or less 6.50 per week
Dinner Waitresses, 6 days, 3 hours 4.00 per week
Extra Supper Waitresses, 6 days, 3 hours 4.00 per week
Night Waitresses, 6 days, 60 hours 9.00 per week
Extra Girls, 10 hours a day 1.50 per day
Extra Girls, Sundays and Holidays 2.00 per day
Head Waitresses, 6 days, 60 hours 10.00 per week
Ushers, 6 days, 60 hours or less 9.00 per week
Ushers, dinner, 6 days, 6 hours or less 5.00 per week
Dog watch Waitresses, 6 days, 60 hours 9.00 per week


Three (3) hours or less, $1.50.

Any waitress working extra after midnight serving a banquet, dinner,
etc., shall receive 50 cents per hour or fraction of an hour, except
the steady night and dog watch waitresses.

Waitresses shall do no porter work.

Overtime shall be charged at the rate of 25 cents per hour or fraction
of an hour.

Waitresses shall not be reprimanded in the presence of guests.

Waitresses walking out during meals shall be fined $1.00.

Waitresses after being hired and failing to report for duty shall be
fined $1.00.

Employes shall be furnished with proper quarters to change their
clothing and there shall be no charge for same.

No profane language shall be used to employes.

There shall be only one split in a ten-hour watch in restaurants.

If employers desire special uniforms they must furnish same free of

Employer shall pay for the laundry of all working linen and furnish
same for waitresses.

No member shall be permitted to leave the place of employment during
working hours except in case of sickness when a substitute shall be
furnished at the earliest possible moment.

Employes shall report for duty at least 15 minutes before the hour
called for. They shall be furnished with good, wholesome food.

All hours shall be the maximum.

Head Waitresses and Head Waiters are required to give business agent a
list of employes the first week of each month.

Members must wear their working buttons. There shall be no charge for
breakage unless breaking is wilful or gross carelessness.

It is agreed that waitresses shall clean silverware once a day.

THIS CONTRACT shall remain in effect until May 1, 1916, unless there
is a violation of trade union principles.


During the term of this contract, should any differences arise between
parties of the first and second part of any causes which cannot
be adjusted between them, it shall be submitted to an Arbitration
Committee of five, two selected by the party of the first part and two
by the party of the second part, and the fifth by the four members of
said committee, and while this matter is pending before said committee
for adjustment, there shall be no lockout or strike, and the decision
of the committee on adjustment shall be final and shall supplement or
modify the agreement. This CONTRACT shall remain in effect until May
1, 1916.



[NOTE. The dog watch waitress has part day and part night work. She is
on duty usually from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m., and again from 5 p.m. till
midnight, in some non-union restaurants till one o'clock in the
morning. The above agreement calls for not more than one split in a
ten-hour watch, otherwise a waitress might be at call practically all
day long and yet be only ten hours at work. A.H.]



[The following brief abstract covers the essential points in the
successive agreements between Hart, Schaffner and Marx, clothing
manufacturers, of Chicago, and their employes, and is taken from the
pamphlet compiled by Earl Dean Howard, chief deputy for the firm, and
Sidney Hillman, chief deputy for the garment workers.]

The conditions upon which the strikers returned to work, as defined in
the agreement dated January 14, 1911, summed up, were:

1. All former employes to be taken back within ten days.

2. No discrimination of any kind because of being members, or not
being members, of the United Garment Workers of America.

3. An Arbitration Committee of three members to be appointed; one from
each side to be chosen within three days; these two then to select the

4. Subject to the provisions of this agreement, said Arbitration
Committee to take up, consider and adjust grievances, if any, and to
fix a method for settlement of grievances (if any) in the future. The
finding of the said Committee, or a majority thereof, to be binding
upon both parties.

The Arbitration Committee, or Board, consisted of Mr. Carl Meyer,
representing the firm, and Clarence Darrow, representing the employes.
The office of chairman was not filled until December, 1912, when Mr.
J.E. Williams was chosen. The Board settled the questions around which
the dispute had arisen, and an agreement for two years between the
firm and the workers was signed. For some time the Board continued to
handle fresh complaints, but it gradually became apparent that the
Board, composed of busy men, could not hear all the minor grievances.
The result of a conference was the organization of a permanent body,
the Trade Board, to deal with all such matters, as these arose, or
before they arose, reserving to both parties the right of appeal to
the Arbitration Board. The plan can be judged from the following
clauses in the constitution of the Trade Board:


The Trade Board shall consist of eleven members who shall, if
possible, be practical men in the trade; all of whom, excepting the
chairman, shall be employes of said corporation; five members thereof
shall be appointed by the corporation, and five members by the
employes. The members appointed by the corporation shall be certified
in writing by the corporation to the chairman of the board, and the
members appointed by the employes shall be likewise certified in
writing by the joint board of garment workers of Hart Schaffner &
Marx to said chairman. Any of said members of said board, except the
chairman, may be removed and replaced by the power appointing him,
such new appointee to be certified to the chairman in the same manner
as above provided for.


The representatives of each of the parties of the Trade Board shall
have the power to appoint deputies for each branch of the trade, that
is to say, for cutters, coat makers, trouser makers and vest makers.


In case either party should desire to appeal from any decision of the
Trade Board, or from any change of these rules by the Trade Board,
to the Board of Arbitration, they shall have the right to do so upon
filing a notice in writing with the Trade Board of such intention
within thirty days from the date of the decision, and the said Trade
Board shall then certify said matter to the Board of Arbitration,
where the same shall be given an early hearing by a full Board of
three members.

The Trade Board was accordingly organized, with Mr. James Mullenbach,
Acting Superintendent of the United Charities of Chicago, as chairman.

When the time approached for the renewal of the agreement, the closed
or open shop was the point around which all discussions turned.
Eventually, neither was established, but instead the system of
preference to unionists was adopted. It was thus expressed:

1. That the firm agrees to this principle of preference, namely,
that they will agree to prefer union men in the hiring of new
employes, subject to reasonable restrictions, and also to prefer
union men in dismissal on account of slack work, subject to a
reasonable preference to older employes, to be arranged by the
Board of Arbitration, it being understood that all who have worked
for the firm six months shall be considered old employes.

2. All other matters shall be deliberated on and discussed by the
parties in interest, and if they are unable to reach an agreement,
the matter in dispute shall be submitted to the Arbitration Board
for its final decision.

Until an agreement can be reached by negotiation by the parties in
interest, or in case of their failure to agree, and a decision is
announced by the Arbitration Board, the old agreement shall be
considered as being in full force and effect.

This came in force May 1, 1913.

The chairman of the Arbitration Board, making a statement, three
months later, in August, 1913, after defining the principle to be
"such preference as will make an efficient organization for the
workers, also an efficient, productive administration for the
company," went on:

In handing down the foregoing decisions relating to preference
which grew out of a three months' consideration of the subject,
and after hearing it discussed at great length and from every
angle, the Board is acutely conscious that it is still largely
an experiment, and that the test of actual practice may reveal
imperfections, foreseen and unforeseen, which cannot be otherwise
demonstrated than by test.

It therefore regards them as tentative and subject to revision
whenever the test of experiment shall make it seem advisable.

The Board also feels that unless both parties cooeperate in good
faith and in the right spirit to make the experiment a success,
no mechanism of preferential organization, however cunningly
contrived, will survive the jar and clash of hostile feeling or
warring interests. It hands down and publishes these decisions
therefore in the hope that with the needed cooeperation they
may help to give the workers a strong, loyal, constructive
organization, and the Company a period of peaceful, harmonious and
efficient administration and production which will compensate for
any disadvantage which the preferential experiment may impose.

The published pamphlet, under date January 28, 1914, concludes:

There have been no cases appealed from the Trade Board to the
Board of Arbitration since January, 1913. During the last six
months of 1913 there were not more than a dozen Trade Board Cases.
So many principles have been laid down, and precedents established
by both of these bodies, that the chief deputies are in all cases
able to reach an agreement without appeal to a higher authority.
A gradual change has taken place in the method of dealing with
questions which present new principles, or which represent
questions never before decided. The Board of Arbitration has
appointed Mr. Williams as a committee to investigate and report,
with the understanding that if an agreement can be reached by both
parties without arbitrators, or, if the parties are willing to
accept the decision of the Chairman, then no further meeting of
the Board of Arbitration will be required. This method has proved
to be exceedingly satisfactory to both sides and has resulted in a
form of government which has gradually taken the place of formal
arbitration. In most cases, the Chairman is able by thorough
sifting of the evidence on each side, to suggest a method of
conciliation which is acceptable to both parties.

A further experience of the System up till July, 1915, only confirms
the above statement.



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Abbe, Mrs. Robert
Abbott, Grace
Abolition movement
Addams, Jane
American Federation of Labor
Anderson, Mary
Andrews, John B.
Anthony, Susan B.
Ayres, Leonard P., quoted

Bagley, Sarah G.
Barry, Leonora
Bean, Alice
Bergson, Henri
Biddle, Mrs. George
Bliss, W.P.D., quoted
Bondfield, Margaret
Borden, Hannah
_Boston Courier_
Brandeis, Louis D.
Brown, Corinne
Burke, Mrs. Mary

Calhoun, William J.
Capital and labor organization compared
Carey, Matthew

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