upon the members to pay a tax equal to five per cent upon
their earnings. It was left with each local union to vote
to enforce this provision.^" In 1866 the recommendation
was made that as trouble was anticipated from the action
of an employers' convention, every local union should so
arrange its finances that it could remit promptly all strike
assessments to the central office. The convention of 1867
authorized the national president to lay an assessment;
but delay in remittances often led to such payments being
made in union script instead of in cash. A large number
of strikes in 1869 resulted in a considerable debt, which was
only gradually paid oÂ£f.^^ Delay in payment by local
unions continued, making strike benefits uncertain. In
1882 a strike reserve fund was established.
The Cigar Makers, organized in 1864, did not provide
any means for financing strikes, although the first consti-
tution stated that a local union on strike "shall receive the
support of each and every union. "^^ The plan of voluntary
contributions was adopted by the officers in the absence
of all rules upon the subject.^^ Circulars were sent in each
case, and local unions responded with aid. An assessment
8 "This strike developed a class of men who would not leave the
City, but remained on strike and received strike money when they could
have earned more outside of Philadelphia. Timid to try fortunes
elsewhere" (Iron Molders' Journal, May 31, 1881, p. 4).
1" International Journal [Iron Molders], October, 1866, p. 250.
" Iron Molders' Journal, April 30, 1879, P- 2.
'2 Constitution, 1864, art. vi, sec. I.
" Proceedings, 1866, p. 69.
429] STRIKE BENEFITS 9 1
was laid by the convention of 1867 in the form of a tax of
twenty-five cents per month per member for strike purposes,
the money to remain with the local union subject to the
call of the national union. ^* Two protracted strikes in
1869 and 1870 necessitated heavy extra assessments. In
place of cash, due bills were issued to members. In 1869
the membership was 5800; in 1873 it had decreased to
3771. In 1879 a permanent strike fund was adopted in
place of assessments.
The experience of the Bricklayers and Masons, organized
in 1865, has been much the same as that of the Iron Molders
and the Cigar Makers, although its first president recom-
mended the establishment of a strike fund.^^ In 1868 a
circular was issued and an assessment laid on the local
unions by President Frost according to an estimate of
what was necessary for the strike. ^^ Another tax during
the same year of twelve and a half cents per member was
ordered sent directly to the local union on strike by the
national president.^^ A permanent relief fund for strikes
was urged by President Gaul in 1869, the need of such
a plan having been seen by President Frost in the previous
year. Gaul declared that the failure of the strike in that
year was "owing to the delay necessarily arising from
our present plan of collecting assessments." Assessments
continued to be laid for strike benefits, although in 1875
President Carr said that a strike fund was needed "on
account of the tendencies to utter neglect of individual
unions in responding to the requisition of the National
Union for relief assessments."^^ The convention of 1882
considered the raising of a strike fund, but deemed it im-
practicable. Strike assessments continued, and although
the convention of 1887 passed a rule requiring subordinate
" Proceedings, 1867, p. 151.
15 Proceedings, 1882, p. 17.
1^ Proceedings, 1868, p. 14.
1^ Proceedings, 1868, p. 18. The constitution required during a
strike a tax of not less than 10 and not exceeding 50 cents on each
member per day, sickness excepted, and all money thus raised was to
be sent to the general treasury (Constitution, 1867, art. xii, sec. 4).
1^ Proceedings, 1875, p. 8.
92 CONTROL OF STRIKES IN AMERICAN TRADE UNIONS [43O
unions to levy a per capita tax of one dollar in advance, it
was not until 1891 that a regular strike fund was established.
The Knights of St. Crispin, a national organization of
shoemakers, the largest of the many national unions that
flourished during the ten years after the Civil War, had a
similar experience. Grievance funds were raised by
annual contributions of each member to a "contingent
fund" held in the treasuries of the local lodges, and by
special assessments. Requisition on the "special con-
tingent fund" by numerous strikes led to the downfall of
The experience of these unions demonstrated that it was
necessary to have funds on hand with which to pay strike
benefits instead of being obliged to wait for the payment
of strike assessments. Such funds should be accumulated
and held in reserve for times of necessity, thereby distrib-
uting the strain of payment over a longer period of time.
The power of sustaining members is the key to success in a
strike, and this can be secured only when there is an
accumulated fund to draw on. Benefits paid after a
strike has ended are not of much influence in winning that
The Cigar Makers from 1873 to 1879 could not pay the
strike benefits provided for by their rules ; strikes were lost,
members withdrew, and wages were reduced. A reserve
fund was inaugurated in 1879 by providing that every
local union should collect from every member in standing
15 cents per month and retain this as a strike fund. For
every new member admitted 25 cents was to be added to
the fund. In 1881 the amount was raised to 20 cents per
month and 50 cents for every new member. The funds
were to remain in the custody of the local union subject
to the order of the national officers, and were not to be
used except for strike purposes. When the amount fell
below $1.50 per member, an assessment was to be made.^"
19 D. C. Lescohier, "The Knights of St. Crispin," in Bulletin of the
University of Wisconsin, no. 365, pp. 32-35.
20 Constitution, 1879, art. xiii, sec. 6; 1881, art. vi, sec. 12. Any
local union failing to remit funds within five days when so directed by
the executive board was to be suspended.
43l] STRIKE BENEFITS 93
Later the reserve fund was increased to $io per member.
An editorial in the official organ concerning this fund said:
"We claim that the accumulation of a large fund, to which
the adopted laws are but a commencement, will have the
influence of decreasing strikes and in lessening failures.
The employers of labor generally attack those organizations
which are weak and without funds and thereby unable to
hold out long enough to injure their business. "^^
For several years prior to the inauguration of a strike
fund, writers in the official organ of the Iron Molders
urged the accumulation of a defense fund to meet the
exigencies of protracted contests. One writer said that
organization was necessary, but that a full treasury was
even more so, and that without a reserve fund defeat was
sure. Another writer declared that all benefits should be
paid promptly, and that two or three months should not
be allowed to elapse before strikers received their benefits.^^
President Fitzpatrick recommended in his report to the
convention of 1882 such a fund, and a tax of one dollar
per member was laid. Power was also granted to the
executive board to levy assessments to replenish the fund
in case of emergency .^^ In 1886 the assessment was limited
to $1 per member per quarter; but this limitation was
revoked in 1888.^^ The finances of the organization were
put on a stronger basis in 1890 by the inauguration of a
tax of 40 cents a month on every member for the use of the
national union and by having fifty-eight per cent of this
40 cents, or 23 cents, go into the strike fund. In 1895 the
assessment was changed to 10 cents per week, with fifty-
eight per cent to go to the strike fund. In 1902 an addi-
tional levy of $1 per year, payable quarterly by every
member for the benefit of the fund, was made.
The Flint Glass Workers established a "resistance fund"
as early as 1881 by setting apart twenty cents per member
" Cigar Makers' Official Journal, June 10, 1879.
"Iron Molders' Journal, July 10, 1880, p. 1; November 30, 1881,
" Proceedings, 1882, pp. 12, 77.
** Proceedings, 1886, p. 51; 1888, p. 102.
94 CONTROL OF STRIKES IN AMERICAN TRADE UNIONS [432
per month "for the aid of any member or members, who
shall be engaged in redressing a grievance by strike, and
to be used for no other purpose." Special assessments
could also be made by the national officers.^^ Secretary
Dillon spoke at the 1887 convention of the advantage of
having a substantial fund, and claimed that strikes in unions
with such a fund were less numerous, shorter in duration,
and of less severity than those in unions without strike
funds.^Â® The present rule was established in 1888, and
requires that a certain percentage of the earnings of all
members, to be collected at each factory or shop by two
clerks, shall be paid over to the financial secretary and
sent by him to headquarters. From two to ten per cent
of earnings have been thus assessed for the resistance fund,
the rate varying according to prospective necessity.
The Operative Potters, like the Flint Glass Workers,
raise the money for their strike fund by an assessment on
the earnings of their members. The amount of the assess-
ment was fixed at the time of the establishment of the
fund in 1894 at one per cent of all earnings.^^ There is a
collector in each pottery, to whom the members must
show their pay envelopes and who collects the assessment
and turns it over to the local secretary. The latter at the
end of each month sends it on to headquarters. Members
failing to pay for three consecutive pay days, or six weeks,
are subject to suspension .^^
In 1885 the Printers, as the outcome of many years of
discussion, adopted a plan for a strike fund. The failure
to inaugurate such a fund previously had been due to
lack of any strong need for it. "The printing industry,"
says Professor Barnett, "was so essentially a local in-
dustry, and the conditions in different places varied so
widely, that the printers of one town had little direct
interest in assisting the printers of other places. The
older and more powerful unions, feeling themselves able to
*^ Constitution, 1 880-1 881, art. vii, sees. 1-3.
^Â° Proceedings, 1887, pp. 68, 71.
'^ Proceedings, 1894, P- ^9-
*8 Local Constitution, 1910, sees. 112, 135, 136.
433] STRIKE BENEFITS 95
finance their own strikes, were unwilling to contribute to a
fund which they feared would be used chiefly to support
the smaller and weaker unions. "^^ Even where the need
of a national fund was obvious, objection was frequently
made. An opponent of the establishment by the Stone
Cutters in 1900 of a strike fund by an annual levy de-
nounced the plan as all wrong "because such a fund would
become a corruption fund, and would prove the rock upon
which the National Union would go to pieces in the near
Not only is a national defense fund maintained by many
unions, but at times a special defense fund is raised for a
definite purpose. The Bricklayers and Masons, for
instance, in 1907 found it necessary to work against the
open-shop policy of the National Manufacturers' Asso-
ciation, and so instituted a non-union shop defense fund.
A circular was sent out to all the local unions asking for
donations and emphasizing the fact that there had been
no extra assessments for sixteen years. The convention
of 1908 laid an assessment of a dollar a year on each mem-
ber for the next two years, and provided that the fund was
to be used only in non-union shop districts. About
$44,000 was expended from this fund in 1908.^^ A local
union on strike in 1911, although it had not been organized
a year as required for official strike sanction, was granted
aid from this fund by the national officers.^^
Variations from the ordinary plan for a strike fund are
found in the Cap Makers and in the Chain Makers. These
unions have no national defense funds, and have endeavored
to remedy the deficiency by making provision for local
funds. The rules of the former union provide that every
local union shall have in its treasury six months after it
has been chartered the equivalent of two weeks' strike
"> Stone Cutters' Journal, October, 1900, p. 7.
"Forty-second Annual Report of President and Secretary, 1907,
pp. 419, 459; Proceedings, 1908, p. 199; Forty-third Annual Report of
President and Secretary, 1908, p. 339.
'2 Bricklayer, Mason and Plasterer, April, 191 1, p. 75.
96 CONTROL OF STRIKES IN AMERICAN TRADE UNIONS [434
benefits for its members, and this sum may be raised by
assessment.^^ The Chain Makers provided in 1908 that
each of their local unions should raise a strike fund by
requiring every member to pay a weekly amount speci-
fied by the local union. Members transferring to another
local union may have their funds transferred upon de-
positing their cards. In case of a strike a member receives
$6 per week until his fund is exhausted. Every member
must, however, pay into this fund until he has $150 to his
credit. Members withdrawing are not to receive their
funds for six months, while in case of death the funds go
to the nearest relative or are used for burial purposes.^^
The methods used by the Cigar Makers, the Iron Molders,
the Flint Glass Workers, and the Operative Potters for the
establishment and maintenance of strike funds are typical.
Strike funds are accumulated (i) by a regular tax on every
member; or (2) a certain percentage of all dues is so
apportioned; or (3) special dues, such as those imposed
for the initiation or reinstatement of members, are dedi-
cated to the fund ; or (4) special assessments are made from
time to time.
(i) Among the unions levying an annual tax may be
found the Iron, Tin and Steel Workers, the Elevator Con-
structors, and the Metal Polishers, who levy $3 per year;
the Railway Conductors, who levy $2 ; the Brewery Work-
men, the Railway Trainmen, the Iron Molders, and the
Street and Electric Car Employees, who levy $1.
(2) The amount set aside from the dues varies in differ-
ent unions. The Sheet Metal Workers turn 5 cents of a
15 cents per capita tax per month into the fund.^^ The
Tile Layers also set aside 5 cents per member per month .^'
The Tin Plate Workers appropriate 10 cents out of a per
capita tax of 25 cents per month." Thirty-eight per cent
*' Constitution [n. d.], art. xvi, sec. I.
" Proceedings, 1908, p. 68.
'' Proceedings, 1901, p. 3.
/Â« Proceedings, 1910, pp. 9, 25, 34. In addition to this member-
ship tax, all local unions pay five dollars per quarter to be added to the
" Constitution, 1908, art. vi, sec. 2.
435] STRIKE BENEFITS 97
of all income is thus used by the Boiler Makers,^^ thirty-
three and a third by the Tobacco Workers,^^ and fifteen
per cent by the Painters.^^
(3) Payments for initiation of members in local unions
are in some unions turned into the defense fund. The
Bricklayers and Masons, the Operative Plasterers, and the
Stove Mounters receive one dollar for the fund for every
new member, while the Railway Carmen receive two
dollars. Special assessments may be laid by the general
executive board in most unions for the defense fund in
case of necessity or when the fund sinks below a certain
(4) There are still a number of unions which finance
strikes partially or entirely by assessments. Strike assess-
ments may be imposed (a) by a local union on its own
members, (b) by a district lodge or district committee,
(c) by the general executive board of the national union,
(d) by a referendum vote of the entire membership, and
(e) by a general convention. The assessment by a local
union of its own members takes place, of course, only when
a strike is a local one.^ The district lodge or district
committee, which exists where there is more than one local
union in a place, takes charge in some instances of a strike,
as has been shown, and it has also power in a number of
unions to lay strike assessments when necessary .^^ In some
fifty national unions such assessments are made by the
executive boards, which have general authority as to time
and amount. In several unions the amount that may be
^* Proceedings, 1908, p. 473.
'' Constitution, 1905, sec. 34.
"Constitution, 1911, sec. 191.
^ The general executive board of the Boot and Shoe Workers was
given authority in 1899 to raise a strike fund by a series of assessments
to the amount of five dollars per capita (Proceedings, 1899, p. 38).
*2 A local union of the Barbers levied an assessment of fifty cents per
member on each member who was working (Journeyman Barber,
August, 191 1, p. 226). This rule is observed also by the Bakery
and Confectionery Workers, the Brewery Workmen, the Glove Workers,
and the Painters, and by those local unions which finance their own
*^ For example, the Boiler Makers, the Carpenters, the Painters,
the Machinists, and the Brewery Workers.
98 CONTROL OF STRIKES IN AMERICAN TRADE UNIONS [436
SO assessed is fixed by a general rule.^ The referendum
vote in the unions which require it covers either all strike
assessments or those proposed assessments which are in
excess of the amount fixed by a general rule.^^ A regular
or a special convention of a national union in cases of general
strikes orders a special assessment for the particular strike
and authorizes the general officers to collect the same.
Special movements, like the one against the open shop by
the Bricklayers and Masons just described, or an effort
to obtain a shorter working day, are generally preceded
by action of the convention looking toward the accumula-
tion of the sinews of war.
The Flint Glass Workers in 1887, on the prospect of a
general strike, laid an assessment of $i a week on each
member. This was raised to $1.50 per week and then to
$1.75. In May, 1888, a flat assessment of $16 was laid on
each employed member. The United Mine Workers in
1902 during the anthracite coal strike imposed an assess-
ment of ten per cent on the gross earnings of members in
certain districts, of $i per week on members in other
districts, and an assessment of twenty-five per cent upon
the wages, salaries, or percentages received from the
organization by all national, district, and subdistrict
officers and organizers.^^ The Printers during the struggle
for the eight-hour day from 1906 to 1908 collected by
assessment $2,800,000.'*^ These assessments represent ab-
normal conditions. Ordinarily, assessments are much
^ The Bookbinders, the Brick, Tile and Terra Cotta Alliance, and
the Broom Makers fix the maximum at 25 cents per week; the Inter-
national Seamen do not allow over $1 per month per member, nor for
more than three months in any one fiscal year; while in the Powder
Workers and the Wood-Workers the amount prescribed is 50 cents
and 25 cents a month respectively. The Bridge and Structural Iron
Workers on account of the McNamara disclosures passed a resolution
in 191 1 that at any time of "crisis, disaster or fatality" there should
be no limit set to assessments.
^^ The Boiler Makers in 191 1 by a vote of 4773 to 1887 voted a ten
weeks' assessment of $1 per week per member for boiler makers and
50 cents per week for workers and apprentices (Boiler Makers' Journal,
December, 191 1, p. 1006).
*^ Proceedings, Special Convention, IQ02, p. 4.7.
*' Barnett, p. 80.
437] â€¢ STRIKE BENEFITS 99
smaller, as shown by the following instances: The Com-
mercial Telegraphers in 1908 taxed their members one
day's pay;^^ the Carpenters and Joiners in 1911 made the
first assessment in eight years, one of 50 cents per member;
the Stove Mounters in 1906 laid a tax of $1 per member,
while in the same year the Iron Holders made an assess-
ment of ID cents a week, then three levies of $1 each, and,
finally, one of $1 per month. The United Mine Workers
in 1910 made a levy of 25 cents per week per member.
The ordinary penalty for non-payment of such strike
assessments by local unions or by members is suspension .^^
Although the collection of strike assessments has not
ceased, the adoption of the strike fund in some one of its
various forms has progressed so that today it is found in
some sixty-five national unions as follows: the Amalga-
mated Woodworkers, the Bakers, the Barbers, the Brewery
Workers, the Boot and Shoe Workers, the Bridge and
Structural Iron Workers, the Bookbinders, the Black-
smiths, the Bricklayers and Masons, the Brick, Tile and
Terra Cotta Alliance, the Broom Workers, the Boiler
Makers, the Car Workers, the Cutting Die Makers, the
Cap Makers, the Chain Makers, the Coopers, the Cigar
Makers, the Carriage and Wagon Workers, the Cement
Workers, the Commercial Telegraphers, the Elevator
Constructors, the Granite Cutters, the Hatters, the Hotel
and Restaurant Workers, the Iron, Steel and Tin Workers,
the Industrial Workers of the World, the Iron Molders,
the Locomotive Engineers, the Firemen, the Conductors,
the Trainmen, the Metal Polishers, the Operative Plasterers,
the Operative Potters, the Painters, the Pattern Makers,
the Printers, the Photo-Engravers, the Plate Printers, the
Railroad Clerks, the Railroad Telegraphers, the Railway
Carmen, the Retail Clerks, the Stone Cutters, the Stove
Mounters, the Street and Electric Railway Employees,
the Slate Workers, the Stogie Makers, the Steam Engineers,
*^ Commercial Telegraphers' Journal, June, 1908, p. 340.
^^ The Cement Workers, one of the smaller national unions, imposed
a strike assessment in 1910, and some seven local unions failed to pay
and returned their charters (Proceedings, 1910, pp. 21-22).
100 CONTROL OF STRIKES IN AMERICAN TRADE UNIONS [438
the Steam Fitters, the Sheet Metal Workers, the Teamsters,
the Tin Plate Workers, the Travelers' Goods and Leather
Novelty Workers, the Theatrical Stage Employees, the
Tile Layers, the Tobacco Workers, the Upholsterers, and
the United Mine Workers.
Some unions provide a maximum limit to the growth of
the fund as follows:
Street and Electric Railway Employees, 1903. . .$ 100,000
Street and Electric Railway Employees, 1907^". . 1,000,000
Locomotive Engineers^^ 500,000
Railway Conductors'^ 200,000
Railway Trainmen^^ 300,000
Elevator Constructors'^ 50,000
Operative Plasterers'' 50,000
Stone Cutters'^ 4,000
Cutting Die and Cutter Makers'^ 300
Sheet Metal Workers'^ 2,000
Chain Makers'^ per member 150
Other unions provide that a certain minimum amount
must be kept:
Brewery Workmen^^ $25,000
Granite Cutters^^ 25,000
Tin Plate Workers^^ 10,000
Slate WorkersÂ®^ 300
Wood Carvers,^ per member i
The ordinary procedure is to continue strike dues until
^Â° Proceedings, 1903, pp. 14, 35; 1907, p. 64.
"All over fso.ooo to be applied to Brotherhood of Locomotive
Engineers' Building (Constitution, 1910, sec. 46).
*2 Proceedings, 1891, pp. 341-347; Constitution, 1909, sec. 75.
" Protective Fund, Rule no. 16.
" Proceedings, 1904, pp. 10, 11.
^ The Plasterer, August, 191 1, p. 18.
" Constitution, 1909, art. vi, by-laws, art. xvii.
" Constitution, 191 1, art. xvi, sec. 5.
** Proceedings, 1905, p. 353.
" Proceedings, 1908, p. 68.
*" Constitution, 1910, art. xiii, sec. 4.
*^ Constitution, 1909, sec. 18.
*' Constitution, 1908, art. vi, sec. 4.
Â®' Constitution, 1906, art. xi, sec. 2.
" Constitution, 1908, p. 16.
439] STRIKE BENEFITS lOI
the maximum amount is reached and to lay a special
assessment when the amount falls below the minimum set.
The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin
Workers requires, however, that not less than ten thousand
dollars shall be in the national treasury in order that
benefits may be paid.^^
The status of the strike funds in some ten unions, shown
by the amounts on hand at a certain time, was as follows:
Bakers, April i, 1911 $ 30,516.06
Barbers, July 1,1911 15,362.17
Boot and Shoe Workers, 1909 151,626.53
Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, June 30,
Flint Glass Workers, Sept., 1911 96,000.00
Hotel and Restaurant Workers, Jan. i, 1909. . . 21,294.77
Locomotive Firemen, Jan. i, 1911 352,752.54
Painters, Jan. i, 1911 14,529.67
Operative Potters, June i, 1910 320,163.58
The variation in amounts is due to the length of time the
fund has been established, the number of members, and
the dues paid into the fund. The amount of the fund of
the Bakery and Confectionery Workers since its institution
in 1904 has been as follows:*^
Oct. I, 1905, balance on hand $ 142.10
" I, 1906, " " " 2,847.00