Volume 1, Issue 8

Volume 1, Issue 8, Page 1

(English Only) (Newspaper Headline and Adverts not included)

Published: 12/1/1910


Impressions of the American Labor Movement by BEN TURNER.

Fraternal Delegate from British Trade Union Congress to the A. F. of L. Convention, St. Louis, Mo.

It is impossible to have any final definite views of the American Trades Union Labor Movement in a short trip such as mine, but I will gladly give your readers a few general impressions. general impressions. May I say how delighted we all were to attend the meeting of the Hebrew Trades in New York. It gave us an insight into the huge problem that is before the American Federation of Labor. In Great Britain we have only one language and only one race of people in general, while in the great city of New York you have every language, every race, every, creed, and every color under the sun to consider and fit or fill in. I was struck with the real business side of the Trades Union movement. You have not alone a Hebrew Trades Federation or Trades Council, but you also have a Building Trades Council dealing with the sectional work of the Building Trades, and also a central body which combines all the Labor locals and local trades federations and it seems to me you have Trade autonomy and trades union unity of every sensible sort I do not know how it works out, but the machinery is all right.  | also called in at several trades union offices and was much pleased with the very thorough methods adopted by the American Unions. Telephones are only a few years old in British trades union offices. Clerks and stenographers are only becoming bigger in the chief or bigger unions in Great Britain; but I have often contended that we lack completeness of business management such as you have and such as I hope our unions will develop at an early date. There is a difference between our unions and yours as our General Secretary is the chief executive officer and our Presidents hold mostly honorary positions. True, the difference of title is not much, but I gather that your General Secretary is the financial and corresponding head, and the General President is the active, outdoor officer, negotiator and business agent for the Union. You have more head officers or office staff than we have as I think your conception of the business side of unionism is bigger than ours has been, except with a few huge trades unions like the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Carpenters and Joiners and the cotton Trades Unions. Many leading officers of our trades unions are men working at their trades but this is not always satisfactory, and I think your methods much better than ours. You have amalgamation of trades unions which is far ahead of our system. Many industries in our country have as many separate unions as there are sections of that industry. Take my own textile trade in Yorkshire. We have four separate trades unions of woolen weavers, 3 sections of overlookers, two dyers unions, several woolcombers and wool sorters unions in place of one united body. This is mostly due to our conservative nature and fear to allow any man to be a full time paid officer of a general Union and from a desire to have complete local autonomy and control of the finances. It is a narrow spirit and I was glad to find in America that the Federation of Labor recognized only one trade union for one trade and that all new unions are amalgamations of the old sectional ones, and in this direction you are much ahead of us in the old country.

I fancy I found you are not as afraid of strikes as we have been for a few years. You make your unions a business proposition, namely, always fighting for or defining trades conditions and wages and the spirit of “help one another.” Union standings, by union, seems more thorough than I expected to find it. It was delightful to realize that the clothing trade unions have prospered, especially in the cities of New York and Chicago to a very huge figure and that 153,000 of these workers are now in the fighting line, and that the women are as advanced in spirit as the men. It is certain that women have not entered much into the active union work-in Great Britain, and I was glad to find that in one convention at St. Louis, five times as many women were there as delegates, as attended our recent trades Union congress at Sheffield. To one who has helped women’s organization work for a quarter of a century, this is very pleasing and I think it will be more and more so The label movement in America is a great business proposition. I got two postcards from Rock Island, Mass., showing two big mills there, where the union conditions are observed and the boots turned but bearing the Union stamp. We in England have a dozen boot concerns run under co-operation control and they are stamped as union or co-operative make, but this is quite different from the label system in America. I take my hat off to your label movement for it means that you have decided to only recognize a fair shop those that recognize the trades Union conditions of labor. The label department of the American Federation of Labor is an institution that develops the good ideal of educating the public on the lines of purchasing goods free from the taint of the “Sweat Shop.” This is very good work and I wish you great success in this movement.

The jurisdiction fights in the A. F. of L. Convention are similar to fights on the lines of demarcation in Great Britain, except that with us in the shipbuilding trades the unions fight each other as to whose work certain sections of shipbuilding belong to. This is lamentable both in your country and in ours. Time, common sense and toleration, will bring about the true remedy. They create bitterness, they hinder trade unionism, and they help the capitalist to hit us hard by using us against each other. I would like to say that the most delightful part of my visit to New York was to came across my old comrade of the labor movement, Mr. Dyche, the Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Secretary. Over 21 years ago he and I lived in Leeds, England, and were comrades together. He and I both helped to form the Leeds Jewish Tailors Union and took part in the Leeds Tailoresses Dispute and the formation of their union which is now part of the Wholesale Clothiers Operative Union of England. Mr. Dyche and I were both members of the’ Leeds Socialist party and after 15 years met again at his office where he is now Secretary of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and a helper and comrade in the labor movement of America. I have been delighted to meet him at the convention and I consider the movement is rich in officers when it has men like he and the others the head. I wish toe movement continued success. Your problems are different and yet similar to ours. Yours are more vast on account of distance and languages, but I have faith in your movement as well as our own; they are «km in intention desire and ideal and my best wishes go with you.

At the Convention of the American Federation of Labor

“What impression has this Convention made on you?” asked the writer of these lines of the British M. P. and delegate to the Convention, William Brace. ” I have attended many labor congresses ‘in Europe, but this Convention has produced on me the greatest impression,” was the reply. “Your country is, so very big and its industrial problems so complicated. You have so many nationalities and races of which we, in Europe, have no idea. I have learnt much during the two weeks and feel a bigger and a better man.” Everyone who for the first time attends a Convention of the A. F. of L. must be impressed by similar feelings; even if he or she has for many years come in contact with the leaders of the American labor movement, and has managed to become familiarized with the labor press. In order to gain a comprehensive idea of the colossal task and enormous difficulties arising from the varied forces, comprising the American trade union movement, one must take part in such a convention. It is by attending such a gathering that you begin to perceive that your own organization, whatever its numerical position, is after all only like a rivulet which in small part, helps to swell the size of that gigantic stream called the American labor movement. From the hundreds of resolutions that aim at economic and industrial improvement and social reform, you will gather that the American working class is itself the origin of all progressive and radical demands of practical value. T h e character of the debates Show that the speakers are not academicians or theoreticians, having studied their subjects from books or treatises. You conceive at a glance that you listen to men trained in the school of practical life; men who have themselves realized the experiences of which they speak to you. They certainly feel that there is no room on the floor of the Convention for abstract theories about the remote future. Here is to be found the elite of the American labor movement, remarkable speakers and debaters— specialists in the art of conducting meetings and debates. The chairman is here the absolute ruler, yet his authority does not diminish your freedom, and you will never miss a chance of addressing the meeting if you only desire to do so. Like a skilled artificer who brings out. to perfection all the more important features of his work, so the debaters at this Convention inspire you with the perfect manner in which they marshall their facts and arguments.

Until Thursday afternoon the Convention was occupied with reports and addresses by visitors and fraternal delegates. The writer had the pleasure of meeting a personal friend of his who attended in the capacity of a fraternal delegate from Great Britain, with whom, in his youth, he associated in active work in the labor cause.

The remarks of the fraternal delegate from the Canadian Trade Union Congress excited, some attention. Although a professed socialist, yet he was of the opinion that it was time to reconsider our opposition to militarism and asked whether it was not advisable for the Caucasian race to prepare for a struggle with the Japanese who are spreading over the North American Continent.

DO YOU WEAR A PIN OR A BUTTON BEARING THE EMBLEM OF YOUR INTERNATIONAL UNION? IF NOT? WHY NOT? Get one from your secretary and show it to your employer and your shoemates that you are a loyal member of your organisation. J. Harriman, the trade union attorney from Los Angeles, produced a great impression in describing the violent conflict, which the capitalists of that State have been waging against organized labor since June, referring by the way to the magnificent sum of $100,000,00, contributed to their fund by the St. Francisco labor unions. His speech suggested that the propertied class is everywhere imbued with a like hatred to labor. The persecution directed against the Los Angeles strikers by the State Government is nothing short of the tyranny and oppression practiced against strikers by the Russian police. Yet, despite arbitrary and despotic measures, the strikers maintain a firm attitude and provided they receive sufficient support, they will yet achieve a victory over the organized capitalists of Los Angeles.


The most important work of the Convention began on Friday with the attempt to adjust the differences among the electrical trade unions. But the trouble which has already occupied two previous Conventions has not been settled after all, and has been referred to the Executive Council.

The statement of Victor Berger that the Socialist delegates would not attempt to attack Gompers or other leading persons of the Federation at this Convention has been to me personally a disappointment. I fully expected to witness and enjoy the annually recurring scenes caused by the Socialist delegation in its fight against the administration of the A. F. of L. An attempt however, has been made to bring about a battle on a very innocent resolution by delegate Abrahams of the Central Federated Union of New York. This resolution demanded that the constitution of the A. F. of L. should be amended in the sense of giving City central’s the power of calling out sympathy strikes of other trades. In a telling, yet mild speech, delegate Abrahams criticized the attitude of the unions affiliated with the A. F. of L. In his view the exercise by national bodies of full autonomy was inimical to the interests of the movement. The bosses avail themselves of this separation of one trade from another to defeat each trade separately. Sometimes they make concessions under agreements to one section, in order to be thus enabled to foil another section of their striking employes, while the favored employes quietly pursue their work. “Only by the abolition of the present craft autonomy,” declared delegate Abrahams, “and by giving every city central the authority to call sympathy strikes will the A. F. of L. become a real power.”  The debate on this resolution lasted throughout Saturday, and a number of Socialist delegates seized the opportunity to animadvert upon the policy of the Executive Council. One of the delegates of the Journeymen Tailors Union in particular, made a spirited attack on the Executive Council, bluntly ordering them to “pack up and go.” “You are out of date old fossils.” he exclaimed. “The spectacle of one union of the A. F. of L. scab bind on another and thereby assisting the bosses to defeat that union is a crime against the principles of working class solidarity on which Trade Unionism rests.” It might have been thought from the thunderous applause that greeted the speaker that the resolution referred to would be unanimously adopted. So far from this being the case the resolution was lost without a vote. An impressive speech by Samuel Gompers caused the rejection of this resolution. While fully agreeing with the motives underlying the resolution, and the object in view, he differed from its supporters m the manner in which they desire! to bring about its realization. The A. F. of L. had, no other aim than that of developing among tin workers of this country the feeling of solidarity. Nowhere was this feeling more prevalent than m America. He instanced the solidarity prevailing during the Philadelphia car strike, when union men vied with non-union men in their sympathy and assistance. He was of posed to the resolution, because it sought to give the A. F. of L a legal right to compel certain workers to go on strike. The A. F. of L. must always remain a voluntary organization, using no compulsion He was rather proud of it’s constitutional impotence on this matter. The moment the A. F. of L. be called upon to constitutional exercise this right of compulsion he will sever his connection therewith. What the A. F. of L. has achieved was entirely through its moral influence and he did not aspire to any other power.

Some of the speakers, proceeded Gompers, referred to progresists and reactionaries. Who were the reactionaries? Should not those so-called fighters for freedom be labelled reactionaries who continually sought to secure powers of compelling others to do what they wished them to do?  Instead of advancing forward, you would desire to return to the stale of things existing under the Knights of Labor, who gave the power to call strikes, not to every trade separately, but to the central body of a certain district. And what was the end of the Knights of Labor? Will you not profit from past experience?” No one regretted more than he the necessity which compels the employes of one-trade to work under an agreement, while their employer is engaged in a fight with the employes of another trade. It was for this reason that he was decidedly opposed to written agreements with bosses. The worker should always be free to strike when he finds it necessary. A verbal understanding was all that is necessary. The practice of written documents should be discontinued. They do more harm than good to the workers in imparting to them a false notion of security and reliance on the written word. This he finds to his cost when it is already too late. The worker should bear in mind that the sole guarantee for union conditions is his loyalty to the union. Andrew Furuseth, the President of the Sailors and Firemen’s Union, one of the most remarkable personalities at the Convention, and whose speeches give the impression that he is an anarchist or individualist, asked the supporters of the resolution whether it occurred to them that by investing central bodies with the power o! calling out strikes it implied also their right to order their return to work. He instanced St. Francisco where his organization formed part of such way. But the sailors ultimately withdrew from this body, because they refused to obey its orders. We deny the right of society to order us out on strike or back to work; and we will never even allow it to you. Are you then better or wiser than society? The mere fact of your belonging to us does not guarantee your superiority.” Max Hayes speech against the revolution was illustrative not only of outpowers of debate but of his political insight. At first the debate bore the character of a controversy between the Socialists, favoring the resolution, and the anti-Socialists, arrayed against it. But Hayes’ speech against it gave the debate a different direction which the Socialists evidently did not relish. The rejection of this resolution decided the fate of scores of resolutions implying compulsion. One of these was introduced by Victor Berger and asked that organizations refusing to join their respective state federations within sixty days should be expelled from the Federation. Had this resolution been carried our own International Union would have to bid farewell to the A. F. of L., as none of our locals are connected with their state federations.  Space does not allow me to refer to the character of the fights over jurisdiction, which occupied most of the time of the Convention and which afford a closer acquaintance with the great and complicated problems of American industries, and therefore I hasten to survey briefly the events of the last two days of the Convention during which the differences between the Western Federation of Mines and the Machinists and Steam Engineer’s Unions were threshed out. Twelve years ago, the W. F. of M., an organization of metal miners, severed their connection with the Federation, but in June of this year they asked the Executive Council to reinstate them. The chief difficulty lay in the demand of the W. F. of M. for jurisdiction not only over metal miners, but over all other branches, such as the smelters and others, in which other International Unions, mainly the machinists and steam engineers are interested. President Lewis, John Mitchell, Congressman Wilson and a number of delegates from the coal miners organizations were strongly in favor of the W. F. of M. John Mitchell made an impressive speech. He was not an adherent of either Industrialism or any other form of organization exclusively. The workers needed precisely that form of organization which best suited their requirements. But as miners all the various trades should belong to one organization, otherwise they would never be able to control their trade. John Mitchel’s contention aroused the indignation of O’Connel, the President of the Machinists Union, who in a fiery speech maintained that his organization was the oldest in the American trade union movement, and would not allow itself to be dismembered and absorbed by other organizations of the A. F. of L. “You have become industrially mad,” exclaimed O’Connell. “If we cannot remain within The Federation we shall exist outside.” In Montana they had local Unions that have been in existence years before the Western Fed. of Mines were organized. Our members of those locals have paid away many hundreds of dollars, and now, in the old age, when they expect to retire from work and live upon the pensions they are entitled to under their laws, the Western Federation of Miners would mete out to them a portion of industrialism and thus rob them of their accumulated savings. You cannot transplant our members even with the force of steam engines. They will remain with us whatever your decision. If the miners wish to control the mine industry, let them adopt the methods of the building trades organizations. Let them form a miner’s trades council. The question was finally referred to the Executive Council for decision, and it would appear that the Western Federation of Miners will probably obtain a charter.

Shall There be a Garment Trade Department of the A. F. of L?

Ever since the formation of the Building Railroad and Metal Trades Department of the A. F. of L. there has been talk of the necessity of the creation of a similar department of the Int. Unions in the Tailoring Trades. These rumors seem to have taken definite shape when at the solicitation of Brother Braes, General Secretary of the J. T. U. of A. a meeting of the delegates to the A. F. of L. Convention of our International Union of the United Garment Workers and the Journeymen Tailors Union met on Friday, November i8th, at the Planters Hotel. Brother Braes was very eager in his advocacy of a closer alliance among the three International Unions whose jurisdiction covers the tailoring trades, so was Alexander Bloch of our International Union. However, neither of them could explain to the satisfaction of the rest of the delegates what would be the scope, the function, powers of such a new organization or office what practical purpose would it serve. “It would settle all jurisdiction fights” pleaded Brais, “But this could be settled by the delegates of the three International Unions, when they come together at conventions of the A. F. L., contended the General Secretary of our International Union. Brother T. Rickert, President of the U. G. W. of A. contended that so far as he was aware there were no serious jurisdiction disputes between the International Union in the Garment Trade and as far as his organization was concerned, if serious trouble of. that nature should arise between them the A. F. of L. would have to settle. They would not leave it to any other authority. Delegate Alexander Bloch argued in favor of the formation of such a department in order to cooperate in placing our label on the market. The I. L. G. W. U. would never go into such a compact, was the opinion of our General Secretary Treasurer. He had given to this matter considerable attention ever since he has been connected with his International Union and came to the conclusion that his organization cannot expect to derive benefits from the label to the extent of the U. G. W. of A. which he would consider an organization protected by the label and from which the greater part of its strength is derived, the same as the cigar makers, Hatters and others. A Ladies Garment is more of a fancy article. It is more of an ornament than a useful object and you cannot expect women to buy a particular garment not because the style or the cut fits her figure but because it bears the label. It is not the case with men’s garments which are more or less alike. And then women are bargain hunters. The placing of the label on women’s garments would necessitate a tremendous expense and the result would be proportionately small. Hence, he is of the opinion that there will be no cooperation in this direction. A discussion initiated by our President Rosenberg suggesting cooperation in the work of organizing the workers in the tailoring trades; that when an organizer of any of the International Unions concerned arriving at a particular locality, instead of confining his energies to his own particular craft, should take up the organization of all the work people in the Tailoring trades, demonstrated that this in itself does not warrant the creation of a new office with an extra per Capita. John B. Lennon, pointed out that such an alliance might be helpful in case of great mass movements such as has been witnessed during the recent strike of the Cloak Makers in the city of New York and the present struggle of the garment Workers in Chicago. If there had been an alliance and an understanding, said delegate Lennon, between the International Union represented at this meeting thousands of people engaged in the men’s garments trades would have been organized in the city of New York during last summer and as many journeymen tailors in Chicago. After all the pros and contras were fully discussed it was finally agreed that greed that (1) During each A. F. of L. Convention the delegates of the three International Unions shall hold session for the purpose of ascertaining on what ground their co-operative action might be beneficial to work people in the tailoring trades. (2) During the quarterly meetings of the General Executive Board of the International Union two representatives from each organization shall meet and discuss matters of common interest. (3) Mr. A. B. Larger, the General Secretary of the U. G. W. of A., has been instructed to correspond with the secretaries of the other two organizations on the subject of a closer alliance. On the whole this conference demonstrated that while from an abstract point of view a Federation of all International Unions of the tailoring trades might be desirable, no such organization will be created until its practical utility will be demonstrated. Pure abstraction and emotion in the labor movement are not sufficient to make a move and do something.

Notes on Current Topics.

The uncompromising struggle of the Chicago tailors for a closed shop agreement shows once more that this demand often harms the workers more than the bosses. For the latter often use this as an excuse for oppressing and enslaving their employes. If this blind, ignorant, enslaved and unorganized mass, who now clamor for “closed shops,” would only ask for a raise in wages, which in the tailoring trader-of Chicago have sunk to the lowest degree; if they would only demand the abolition of the disgraceful slave-driving system, prevalent there to a large extent, die bosses would not dare to so openly defy the strikes. For, after all, we live in a civilized country,-where public opinion has great weight who have never understood and do not realize even now the meaning of Unionism and organization, who have no leader, and know nothing of discipline, should in a moment of excitement become so uncompromising in their demand for a closed shop, is strong evidence of the oppression to which they must have been subjected by their unscrupulous employers. We cannot help feeling the highest admiration for their steady persistence and self-sacrifice. But while admiring their courageous struggle, which must finally result in better conditions of labor, we cannot help observing that this demand practically calls for a promise on the part of the employers to organize and create a union for them. This is a sad example of the craze for the closed shop agreement business. Had they originally demanded higher pay, the abolition of the degrading system referred to, and a promise by the employers not to discriminate between union and non-union employes, and not to hinder their organization, the strike would have been over long ago. It would then have been proper to impress on the masses the necessity of securing the fruit of their victory and the possibility of future improvements in the only way: namely, to adhere and remain loyal to the Union. In due course the union would undoubtedly become sufficiently strong and powerful to introduce closed shop without any resistance. But the present loud clamor for closed shops appears to favor the determination of the bosses to defeat their oppressed employes and shatter their hopes for a better future. These noisy clamors serve the purpose of the bosses much better than their hireling scabs and bums. These lines will no doubt evoke protests from some of our readers who will ask: “How dare you criticise the attitude of the Chicago strikers, after the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Women’s’ Trade Union League, the Jewish “Forward,” the “Jewish Labor World” and all the progressive associations of the country have endorsed this demand?” Our answer is that we have openly expressed this opinion at a meeting of strike leaders in Chicago. We then told them that in supporting this demand for closed shops they do more harm than good to the workers. We have been told that this was the express desire of the masses, and that those who will dare to oppose the proposition might run the risk of being lynched. In our opinion the friends who din this “closed shop agreement”, madness into the untrained mind of the workers, incur a great responsibility. Such friendly counsel is often more injurious than the opinion of our enemies. In making these observations, we desire to call the attention of our own members to the danger of this closed shop agreement proposition, rather than to influence the strikers of Chicago. We know from experience that this is like a counterfeit coin; the worthlessness of which is subsequently discovered. To maintain a union shop is precisely the affair of the union, its members and organizers, without any assistance by the bosses. To demand their assistance does not redound to our credit. We have suffered a good deal from this violent clamor for “closed shops.” Our recent strike in New York was thereby much delayed. We already feel its injurious effect and may continue to feel it for some time to come. Our position is as yet not secure, and we are confronted by the possibility of a struggle outside of New York, where it behooves us to introduce better conditions of labor. In future let us avoid confusing the issue; let us cease to complicate our future struggles with demands for agreements and similar notions that are calculated to cause nothing but difficulties and troubles. We wish to draw our readers’ attention to that part of our report of the Convention of the A. F. of L., in which reference is made to the opinion of. President Gompers against agreements with manufacturers. The arguments are not new. We have ourselves frequently used them. But coming from such an authority as President Gompers, who no doubt possesses more experience of the American labor movement than any of his contemporaries, the argument will have a greater effect.

Fifty or sixty years ago there was a general belief in some socialist circles that it was possible to introduce the socialist millenium by a coup d’etat, a court conspiracy or a sudden seizure of the reins of government. Karl Mark’s “revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat” savors of the same notion. Some twenty odd years ago, when the “new unionism” appeared, we all believed in the possibility of converting the English-speaking workers to Socialism by appointing socialists as secretaries of the newly-formed unions. Here in America the socialists felt certain that if they only succeeded in capturing the executive power of the A. F. of L. and there pass strong socialist resolutions, the growth of the Socialist movement would be assured. In reality, nothing was more calculated to harm the growth of the Socialist movement in this country, than the frequent personal attacks on the leaders of the American trade union movement. It was entirely owing to these tactics that the leaders, as well as the rank and file became opposed to Socialism and Socialists. » The originator of this kind of Socialist propaganda is the wellknown De Leon, the evil spirit of the American Socialist movement. The fall of De Leon resulted in these tactics being gradually abandoned. True, the work of attacking Gompers and his executive and carrying Socialist resolutions through the Convention, is more interesting and exciting than the uphill work of agitation among the masses. Apart from a few obscure Socialist delegates, who availed themselves of the opportunity afforded them by the resolution of the Central Federated Union of New York, relating to sympathetic strikes, the Socialist leaders practically lay low and said nothing.” Victor Berger really held his peace and Max Hayes supported the attitude of the administration.


“You have been with your firm a long time?” said a man to his old schoolfellow. “Yes,” answered his friend, with a patient expression of countenance “What’s your position?” “I am an employe.” “Yes, but what do you do?’ “Well, I am a doer and die others are tellers. Ifs like this: When the guvnor wants something done he tells the cashier, and the cashier tells the bookkeeper, and the bookkeeper tells the assistant bookkeeper, and the assistant bookkeeper tells the chief clerk, and the duel clerk tells me. ” “And what then?” “Well, I Haven’t anybody to tell I have to do it”—Ladies Home Journal.

What the New York Women’s Trade Union League Is Doing to Organise Women.

The Women’s Trade Union League of New York has entered upon a very active winter of work. Its three organizers are busy forming new unions and strengthening the old ones.  e old ones. Miss Melinda Scott, the organizer of American girls, has undertaken the big task of forming a local of neckwear makers from the uptown shops. Trade unionism is a new idea to many American girls in New York, but once they have caught the idea they are enthusiastic supporters of the Union. When contracts were made with the striking cutters in the neckwear shops, the girls were not yet organized and had not formulated any demands, now that the girls are union members, this work is proceeding rapidly, under the able direction of Miss Scott. Miss Scott, it will be remembered, was formerly the leader of the Newark Hat Trimmers; and won the respect and admiration of her fellow workers, by her masterful work at the time of the Hat Trimmers strike. Miss Rose Schneiderman who enters upon her second year as organizer of the Jewish working girls in New York, is assisting the various trades to strengthen their unions, by presiding at meetings, and speaking at mass meetings. The White Goods Workers, the Petticoat Makers and the Box Makers are in a deplorable state and are seeking to promote enthusiasm among the workers by holding mass meetings and balls. Last Monday the Waist Makers held a Mass Meeting at Cooper Union, at which Miss Drier, the President of the Women’s Trade Union League presided. Conditions in that trade arc still far from good. Many of the hardships which brought about the shirt waist strike last year are still unchecked. Subcontracting is one of the greatest grievances. The Union of course is growing continually in strength and this mass meeting shows that the Waist Makers are not idle, but alive to their union interests. As the Italians in New York have special problems, an Italian Committee of the League makes it its special interest to deal with these questions. A Sick Benefit Scheme has been put into operation among the Italian workers (women). The women have shown a hearty and unlocked for interest in this scheme. Mr. Caroti, the Italian organizer of the League, thinks this is a hopeful sign for the future organization of Italian women into trade unions. It has also been his experience that the best way to reach the Italians is through the family, accordingly, he works not only with women, but with the Italian men also, and gives them the ideas of the American Federation of Labor. Many of the Italians are imbued with the ideas of Syndicalism which they have brought with them from Italy. The members of the Committee and other members of the League reach the family in another way; by visiting the girls in their homes and explaining to them the advantages of trade unionism and its close connections with their home life. Mr. Caroti is holding meetings in the various Italian districts of the city for the Ladies Waist Makers. He thus keeps up the interest of those already organized and hopes to secure active workers from among these to spread the propaganda of unionism among their sister workers. Another purpose of the organizer is to increase the understanding between the Italian and Jewish worker; so as to prevent the employers using the Italian against the more strongly organized Jewish workers, for the employers own profits and the injury of the Union.

The Modest Bronx.

Professor Louergan at a dinner at Shanley’s, recently told a story illustrating the modesty of Bronx children.  “One warm July morning I took a young lady to show her the beauties of Bronx park. We wandered around until we came to the river, and she stopped to gather a bouquet of wildflowers. After a while a boy came and said: ” ‘Hey, mister; is that your girl over there?” “Yes, I suppose so,’ says I. ” ‘Well, tell her to go home,’ said he. ‘Us fellows wants to go in swimming.'” “I told the young lady of this odd request, but she had. not yet finished her bouquet, and she said with a laugh, I must tell the boys she would not look. She’d shut her eyes. “This they were duly old. And they consulted gravely on it. Then the spokesman returned to me and said: “The fellers say they dassen trust her.”—The Marble Worker.

Recognition of the Union.


Under the heading “The Recognition of the Union,” our friend Finn attacks in your Yiddish columns a principle essential to the Trade Union movement and goes out of his way to charge labor leaders generally with want of courage to express their opinions. Were I not to know our honest friend Finn personally, I might feel inclined to say that his utterance reminds me of the Pharisee who blessed God that he was not like other men. Even now I should require a strong effort to believe that with his rise in the social scale our friend’s mind has become susceptible to bourgeois ideas. Has some such process really began? There are still, he says elsewhere, a few drops of proletarian blood coursing in his veins. But, at the rate of progress he has of late been making towards a middle class conception of life, I fear that even those few drops are destined to change their color and turn, perhaps, into “true blue.” But let us approach Finn’s contention. He believes that nature has blessed him with a critical mind, and he leaves it to be inferred that this has not been vouchsafed to labor leaders. Hence, he concludes, they cannot see what to his vision seems very clear. seems very clear. This estimate of himself clearly reveals that our friend has failed to assimilate the wise dictum of the ancients: “Know thyself.” For in making this personal statement, he does not appear to have thought of the fact that nature has blessed us all with critical minds of some sort. But it has not given us the power of seeing clearly through our own actions. Were our friend possessed of this power he would not have rushed into print without revising his statements and eliminating what is offensive and objectionable. Our friend is laboring under one or two disadvantages. For more than ten years he has occupied a position of mere sympathizer with the trade union movement and has admittedly not been in the thick of the battle ever since. Now, even our mental vision may become blunted by disuse. Finn’s vision has apparently become blurred, otherwise he would not assume, or rather presume, to be the sole vehicle of truth.

The editor’s note tint he has been way from this country too long to understand fully its present conditions is no doubt justified. During the sixteen years of his sojourn in England, Finn appears to have gradually forgotten that organising methods differ widely in the two respective countries. As a matter of fact, Finn’s usually original mind failed him on this occasion. He begins his attack in a tone of cocksureness that no one bar ever thought of the principle of recognition before. This at once betrays his being out of touch with the movement and its methods, even in the old country. The majority of practical and experienced labor leaders, in both hemispheres, have always been prepared to waive mere formal recognition when this stood in the way of their securing for their members satisfactory conditions of wages and hours. On searching the records one may find that quite a large number of strikes have been settled in this way. The practical labor leader soon perceives that more can be gained by compromising this demand than by senseless stubbornness.  Our own recent victory in the cloakmaker’s strike was so signally achieved, because the moderate view has prevailed, despite the noisy clamors of a few irreconcilables. Such people are to be found in every movement, nay, in every union; but their vaporing’s should not be confounded with the leaders’ views. I stated nowhere in my article— “The fight for the Union,” that the first conference failed because the employers refused to recognize the Union. The trend of my argument was that the manufacturers’ (in this country) were much behind the times in trying to minimize the ultimate control of the shops by the Union. Had our friend read carefully Meyer London’s letter to the manufacturers’ attorney, side by side with my article, he would have seen that the conference failed because both sides could not come to terms upon conditions of wages and hours, apart from the question of recognition.

It is an error to say that labor leaders do not possess the courage of their opinions. This is a sweeping and slanderous assertion and should be taken with a grain of salt. Our editor himself has anticipated Finn in the courage of his opinions in the April issue long ago before the strike. Discussing the nature, of the demands to be presented to the employers he says:— “We fought for the recognition of the Union without perceiving the fact that where the employees themselves recognize the union, and are loyal to the organization, there, the recognition of the Union by the employers must follow as a matter of coarse; and. where the employees are determined to have a closed shop and ref ate to work alongside of non-union men, there is no necessity to demand of the vote to act as organizer for the Union.” But let us come to closer quarters on this very question of recognition. I quite agree, on strategic grounds, that this point should not be pressed when it is an obstacle to getting substantial concessions. But neither does it follow that we must waive it altogether. The organizing methods pursued in this country demand that recognition should be formal and unmistakable. Recognition to us here means the free admission of the agent of the union into the workshop to control the employees and to watch over their individual and collective interests. How else could we safeguard the concessions wrung from reluctant employers; and how else could we enforce the discipline of which we stand so urgently in need? The fact that thirty per cent, of the employers in the cloak trade have conceded this recognition without audible murmur in the early part of the struggle, shows that it is not the bugbear our friend believes it to be; and the fact that our own leaders readily accepted a modification of the principle, or preferential recognition, shows that it is not the “idol of Trade Unionism” which our friend has pictured it in his fancy. For sheer rhetorical flourishes commend me to this fantastical phraseology. This by the way is biblical (phraseology. Does it suggest that our friend has of late been dipping into that fountain of poetic grandeur which foresees the lying down together of the lion and the lamb and the beating of the swords into plowshares? As for us, in this stern and unpoetic world we cannot avoid the necessity of asking the reluctant employer to side with his enemies against his friends. All means are fair in love and war. A. Rosebury.


A man with $500,000 can understand why he wants $1,000,000, but he can’t understand why a man who gets $2.75 per day wants $3. —Lincoln Steffens.

City Reflection.

The East Side is not dull of a Spring evening. People from uptown find it an adventure. Conversation and pleasure, a broad and various drama of human predicament riot in the streets, like an exaggerated echo of what the visitor already knows, and soon he is won from his habitual conception of a divided city. Unemployment is not heralded in the lively flourish of vanity. The babies play contentedly on the sidewalks. The shows are reassuringly cheap. The street orator on Socialism twinkles as he talks, a rapport with an audience of indubitable intelligence. An impression of the city’s solidarity grew as I progressed through the East quarter the other night. A small boy came out of a brightly lighted shop on Broome Street with two huge bundles. He moved slowly and silently like a little ghost. His eyes were downcast as if too weary, and his face was gentle and dim. So soft his claim upon the notice that even in the moment of passing he held no place in the picture. To dip via the subway from Mulberry Bend to the financial district affords an astounding contrast. Could centuries cut a deeper chasm between two worlds? Over in the unpeopled streets where at night the tall buildings gloom and bend as if to fall upon the spectator, and in their human proportions become like monsters of which the mind instinctively forebodes a dreadful origin—where now is the glamour of civic solidarity? Lo, soft yet ready like an answer that has but waited on its question, returns the sweatshop boy. Not alone. Up from the hidden city gather his pitiful legions: more babies than ever Piper drew, marching now silently, steadily into the shuddering mountain-walls. Oh, fortuitous mountains of Mammon, are these your increase? Towers of shame, houses of evil fame, how could it be that you should not tremble? Tremble beneath the attentive -stars! Bodies of things to be crushed, ruined to give you footing; souls of dispirited babes prisoned beneath your pavements; new hopes of the world stark dead—-dead for what? Listen to what the wind says as H goes through the empty chambers Soon, soon we too shall lie rotting in death. That is all we know and all we mean to know on earth. LOUISE R. ELDER.

Amalgamated Cutters, Load 10.

At one time the cutters were held to be aristocrats. The reason for this was not very clear. Was it because their union consisted of 500 members only and these were thus considered aristocrats as compared with the unorganized cutters holding aloof from the Union? If so, then we are all aristocrats now, not only the forty-five hundred members of Local 10, but also the workers in our trade generally, because we are all organized. Truly the Union man may be called an aristocrat. For the real aristocrat is one who, in education, social and moral requirements is superior to. those who do not possess these qualities. The Union man may be said to possess these qualities in a certain especial sense? He is educated to the need of combining with his fellow workers for the protection of their mutual interests and he sticks to his class in order to help maintain better conditions of labor.

Members may all attain this educated sense of unionism by attending the meetings of the local union and by taking an intelligent interest in the affairs of the Union, be they shop complaints or questions relating to the finances or to the internal management and attendance of the officers. If every member were to do this, a good deal of idle talk and useless criticism would be avoided; for then every member could have explained to his satisfaction everything he desired to know. Even those members who pay their dues for months in advance should make it a regular practise of attending every week. Our meetings are held every Monday evening, at Arlington Hall. 23 St. Marks Place.  J. KUPPER.


“Oh, dear!” sighed the wife as she was dressing for a dinner party, “I can’t find a pin anywhere. I wonder where all the pins go to – anyway?” “That’s a difficult question to answer,” replied her husband, “because they are always pointed m one direction and headed in another.”

HOW TO SAVE THE RENT. Wife: “The landlord was here to-day, and I gave him the rent and showed him the baby.” Husband: “Next time he comes around just show him the rent and give him the baby.”

Manufacturers using our label on shirt-waists: H. Frank. 33 W: 17th St. A. Friedman 81-95 University PI., New York City.

There is no excuse for you wearing a Non-Union Waist. Sig. Klein of 50 Third Ave N. Y. City, sells Union Label Waists.

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