James B. Kennedy.

Beneficiary Features of American Trade Unions online

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was voluntary. Membership in the Iron Molders' Beneficial Association,
created to pay death benefits, was, for example, entirely optional.[94]
The first constitution of the Granite Cutters provided for an additional
voluntary benefit.[95] In both of the above named unions the voluntary
idea was short-lived. In January, 1879, the Iron Molders provided for
the payment of a death benefit for all members of the craft.[96] By 1884
the Granite Cutters had abolished the voluntary death benefit and paid
it to all members.[97]

[Footnote 94: Iron Molders' Journal, March, 1871.]

[Footnote 95: Constitution, 1877 (Rockland, 1877), Arts. 1-2.]

[Footnote 96: Iron Molders' Journal, Vol. 26, May, 1890, p. 2.]

[Footnote 97: Constitution, 1884 (Quincy, n.d.), p. 11 ff.]

Thus, both the death benefit and the insurance systems in American trade
unions had their origin in the movement for mutual insurance which was
so widespread in the United States immediately after the Civil War. Only
in the railway brotherhoods did the plan result in any considerable
increase in membership. In the other unions the insurance systems were
replaced by the establishment of benefits, and these were usually
smaller in amount than the insurance systems had contemplated.[98]

[Footnote 98: The death benefits established by the Cigar Makers and
Iron Molders in 1870 and 1879 were for $40 and $100. The ordinary death
benefit in American trade unions is still a sum assumed to be sufficient
to inter decently the deceased.]

The tendency in those unions which have longest maintained the death
benefit has been to increase the amount of the benefit and to grade the
amount according to the length of membership. The policy of the unions
in these respects has, however, varied considerably. In some cases there
has been an increase in the minimum amount paid, together with provision
for the payment of larger sums to members who have been longer in good
standing. In other unions, such as the Iron Molders and the Pattern
Makers, the regular benefit remains as originally established, but a
larger sum is paid to older members. Only a few of the older
organizations retain the uniform benefit. The most notable of these are
the Typographical Union, the Glass Bottle Blowers, and the Hatters.

The grading of the death benefit serves two purposes. In the first
place, the funds are protected. If the benefit were uniform and large,
persons in bad health would be tempted to join the union in order to
secure protection for their families. The grading of the benefit is
accordingly a crude but fairly effective device against a danger which
presents itself as soon as the amount becomes large enough to be
attractive to "bad risks." A more important reason, perhaps, for the
grading of the benefit is the desire to make it a more effective agency
in attracting and holding members. If continuous membership carries with
it constantly increasing insurance, the lapses in membership lessen.

The maximum death benefits paid by the Cigar Makers and the Glass Bottle
Blowers are $550 and $500, respectively. The Iron Molders pay a maximum
benefit of $200; the Carpenters of $200; the Pattern Makers of $400; the
Germania Typographia of $200. In all these cases except that of the
Glass Bottle Blowers the benefit is graded according to the period of
membership. The maximum benefit is paid in the Cigar Makers and in the
Pattern Makers to members of fifteen years' standing.

Only a few unions have decreased the amount of the benefit from that
first established. Among these are the Brotherhood of Carpenters, the
Brotherhood of Leather Workers on Horse Goods, the Tailors' Union, and
the Metal Polishers' Union. In the case of the Carpenters the death
benefit which was originally established at $250 in 1882 was $100 in
1905. Changes of this kind have naturally followed the too liberal
policy of inexperienced unions.

The following table, giving the amount of the death benefit as
originally established and as paid at present in certain of the more
important unions which have adopted the graded death benefit,
illustrates the variety of forms which the systems take:

AMOUNT OF DEATH BENEFIT.
==========================================================================
| | Date of | |
|Date of |Introducing|Amount of Death |Amount of Death
Name of | Organi-| Death | Benefit Paid |Benefit Paid in
Union | zation | Benefits | Originally | 1905.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Boot and | 1895 | 1898 | $50 for six months' |$50 for six months'
Shoe | | | membership. | membership.
Workers | | | $100 for two years' |$100 for two years'
| | | membership. | membership.
| | | |
Carpenters,| 1881 | 1882 | $250 for six months'|$100 for six
Brotherhood| | | membership. |months' membership.
of | | | |$200 for one year's
| | | |membership.
| | | |
Cigar | 1864 | 1867 | Yield of a 10 |$50 for two years'
Makers | | | cent per capita | membership.
| | | assessment. |$200 for five
| | | | years' membership.
| | | |$350 for ten years'
| | | | membership.
| | | |$550 for fifteen
| | | |years' membership.
| | | |
Granite | 1877 | 1877 | $50........... |$50.
Cutters | | | |$75 for six months'
| | | | membership.
| | | |$100 for one year's
| | | | membership.
| | | |$150 for five
| | | | years' membership.
| | | |$200 for ten years'
| | | | membership.
| | | |
Iron | 1859 | 1870 | Yield of a 40 |$100 for one year's
Molders | | | cent per capita | membership.
| | | assessment. $150 for five
| | | | years' membership.
| | | |$175 for ten years'
| | | | membership.
| | | |$200 for fifteen
| | | |years' membership.
| | | |
Leather | 1896 | 1896 | $40 for one |
Workers | | | year's |
on Horse | | | membership. |
| | | $60 for two |$40 for one
| | | years' |year's
| | | membership. |membership.
| | | $100 for four |$75 for three
| | | years' |years'
| | | membership. |membership.
| | | $200 for five |$100 for four
| | | years' | years'
| | | membership. |membership.
| | | $300 for eight |
| | | years' |
| | | membership. |
| | | |
Metal | 1890 | 1890 | $100 for six |$50 for one year's
Polishers | | | months' | membership.
| | | membership. |$100 for two years'
| | | | membership.
| | | |
Machinists | 1890 | 1890 | $50 for six |$50 for six months'
| | | months' | membership.
| | | membership. |$75 for one year's
| | | | membership.
| | | |$100 for two years'
| | | | membership.
| | | |$150 for three
| | | |years' membership.
| | | |$200 for four
| | | |years' membership.
| | | |
Painters | 1887 | 1887 | $100............... |$50 for one year's
| | | | membership
| | | |$100 for two years'
| | | | membership
| | | |$150 for three
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$200 for four years'
| | | | membership
| | | |
Pattern | 1887 | 1898 | $50 |$50 for one year's
Makers | | | | membership
| | | |$75 for two years'
| | | | membership
| | | |$100 for three
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$150 for five
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$200 for seven
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$250 for nine
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$300 for eleven
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$350 for thirteen
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$400 for fifteen
| | | | years' membership
| | | |
Piano and | 1898 | 1898 | $50 for six |$50 for one year's
Organ | | | months' | membership
Workers | | | membership |$100 for five
| | | | years' membership
| | | |$200 for ten years'
| | | | membership
| | | |
Tailors | 1884 | 1890 |$75 for three months'|$25 for six months'
| | | membership | membership
| | |$100 for one years' |$40 for one year's
| | | membership | membership
| | | |$50 for two years'
| | | | membership
| | | |$75 for three years'
| | | | membership
| | | |$100 for four years'
| | | | membership
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A few of the unions require only that the deceased member shall have
been in good standing. These unions ordinarily pay a small benefit,
although the Glass Bottle Blowers pay five hundred dollars without
requiring a preliminary period of membership. The term of necessary
membership varies from thirty days in the case of the Barbers to two
years in the Cigar Makers. The usual requirement is that the member
shall have been in good standing for six months.

A few of the unions restrict the benefit to members under a certain age
at the time of admission. Where such an age limit is imposed it is
ordinarily fifty years, but in a few unions it is sixty years.

The following table shows the conditions imposed upon the payment of the
death benefit in the more important unions:

Preliminary Term of
Name of Organization. Age Limit. Good Standing Required

Bakers ........................... 50 years 3 months
Barbers .......................... 50 years 30 days
Boot and Shoe Workers ............ 6 months
Glass Bottle Blowers ............. None
Carpenters ....................... 50 years 6 months
Cigar Makers ..................... 50 years 2 years
Granite Cutters .................. 6 months
Iron Molders ..................... 12 months
Iron, Steel and Tin Workers ...... 3 months
Leather Workers on Horse Goods ... 1 year
Lithographers .................... 30 days
Machinists ....................... 6 months
Metal Polishers .................. 1 year
Metal Workers .................... 12 months
Painters ......................... 50 years 1 year
Pattern Makers ................... 50 years 52 weeks
Piano and Organ Workers .......... 1 year
Plumbers ......................... 6 months
Stone Cutters .................... 6 months
Tailors .......................... 6 months
Tobacco Workers .................. 60 years 1 year
Typographical Union .............. None
Weavers, Elastic Goring .......... 6 months
Wood Workers ..................... 60 years 6 months

Only a few unions make good physical condition a requisite for admission
to the death benefit. In a small number provision is made that if death
result from disease incurred prior to admission the union shall not pay
the benefit. In the majority of the unions every member admitted to the
union is covered by the death benefit. Some of the unions, such as the
Brotherhood of Carpenters, the Boot and Shoe Workers' Union, the
Brotherhood of Painters, and the Pattern Makers' League, provide a
smaller benefit for those not eligible at time of initiation. In the
Brotherhood of Carpenters any apprentice under twenty-one years of age,
or any candidate for membership over fifty years of age, in ill health
and not qualified for full benefit when admitted to the union, is
limited to a funeral allowance of fifty dollars.[99] The Boot and Shoe
Workers' Union provides that members of sixty years of age, or those
afflicted with chronic diseases at time of initiation, shall be eligible
to half benefit only.[100] In the Brotherhood of Painters members of
sound health and over fifty years of age when admitted are eligible to a
semi-beneficial benefit of fifty dollars and to a funeral benefit of
twenty-five dollars in case of death of wife.[101]

[Footnote 99: Constitution, 1903 (Indianapolis, n.d.), secs. 65 and 98.]

[Footnote 100: Constitution, 1904 (Boston, n.d.), sec. 68.]

[Footnote 101: Constitution, 1904 (La Fayette, n.d.), sec. 133.]

The requirement of a preliminary period of membership serves to protect
the union against the entrance of persons who wish to join because they
are in ill health and are anxious to secure insurance which they could
not otherwise get. None of the unions provide, however, for any
deliberate selection of risks, and the mortality is higher than it would
be if the applicants were examined.

The death benefit is thus regarded by the unions not as a pure matter of
business. It is paid partly on charitable grounds, and the small
increase in the cost of the benefit occasioned by the lack of strict
physical requirements is regarded as more than compensated by the
increase in the solidarity of the organization thus attained.

In several important unions the death benefit has been made the basis
for a disability benefit. Thus a member receiving the disability benefit
loses his right to the death benefit. So closely are the two benefits
associated in these organizations that they are practically a single
benefit. This combination of death and disability benefits is found
chiefly in those trades in which the workmen are exposed to great danger
of being disabled by accident.[102] The principal unions maintaining the
disability benefit are the Iron Molders, the Brotherhood of Carpenters
and Joiners, the Cigar Makers, the Painters, the Wood Workers, the Metal
Workers, the Glass Workers, and the Boot and Shoe Workers.[103]

[Footnote 102: Those unions that pay a death benefit and make no
provision for total or permanent disability are: Bakers' and
Confectioners' Union, Barbers' International Union, Cigar Makers,
Elastic Goring Weavers' Association, United Garment Workers, Glass
Bottle Blowers' Association, Granite Cutters' Association, United
Hatters, Hotel and Restaurant Employees, Iron, Steel and Tin Workers'
Association, Jewelry Workers' Union, Brotherhood of Leather Workers on
Horse Goods, Lithographers' Association, Metal Polishers' Union, Pattern
Makers' League, Piano and Organ Workers' Union, Plumbers' Association,
Printing Pressmen's Union, Retail Clerks' Association, Saw Smiths'
Union, Stone Cutters' Association, Stove Mounters' Union, Street Railway
Employees' Association, Tailors' Union, Tobacco Workers' Union,
Typographical Union, Deutsch-Amerikanischen Typographia, Watch Case
Engravers' Association, Wood, Wire and Metal Lathers' Union.]

[Footnote 103: Originally, the Granite Cutters paid a disability benefit
of five hundred dollars. By 1878 the amount of the disability benefit
had been made variable, being raised by an assessment of fifty cents on
each member of the Union. About 1884 the disability benefit was
abandoned.]

Nearly all the unions thus combining death and disability benefits grade
the disability benefit. They usually also differentiate the two benefits
either in the amount paid or in the period of membership required for
eligibility to the benefit. The Iron Molders, the Cigar Makers and the
Painters pay the same sums in case of disability as of death.[104] The
other unions, with one exception, provide for a greater maximum benefit
in case of disability. The period of good standing required to draw a
particular sum is usually greater in the case of the disability benefit
than in the case of the death benefit. The provisions of the Brotherhood
of Carpenters are fairly typical.[105] After six months' good standing
members become eligible to a death benefit of one hundred dollars, but
they are not eligible to a disability benefit until they have been in
membership twelve months. The maximum death benefit is two hundred
dollars, while the maximum disability benefit is four hundred dollars.
The maximum death benefit is paid on the death of members in good
standing for one year, while to be eligible to the maximum disability
benefit requires a membership of five years.[106]

[Footnote 104: The Cigar Makers retain fifty dollars until the death of
the member.]

[Footnote 105: The Carpenter, Vol. 2, No. 8, p. 5; Vol. 4, August,
1884.]

[Footnote 106: Constitution of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and
Joiners of America, 1888 (n.p., n.d.), p. 10; Constitution, 1905
(Milwaukee, n.d.), p. 18.]

The following table shows the amounts of the death and disability
benefits in the more important unions, as originally established and as
paid in 1905:


AMOUNT OF DEATH AND DISABILITY BENEFIT.
===========================================================================
|Amount Paid Originally. | Amount Paid in 1905.
Name of Union.| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Death. |Disability. | Death. |Disability.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Iron Molders. |Yield of a | Yield of a |$100 for 1 yr. |$100 for 1 yr.
|40c. per | 40c. per | 150 for 5 yrs.| 150 for 5 yrs.
|capita | capita | 175 for 10 yrs| 175 for 10 yrs.
|assessment. |assessment. | 200 for 15 yrs| 200 for 15 yrs.
| | | |
Carpenters, |$250 for 6 |$100 for 6 mo.|$100 for 6 mo. |$100 for 1 yr.
Brotherhood |mo. | mo. | 200 for 1 yr. | 200 for 2 yrs.
of. | | | | 300 for 3 yrs.
| | | | 400 for 5 yrs
| | | |
Painters |$50 for 6 mo.| $50 for 6 |$100 for 1 yr. |$100 for 1 yr.
|mo. | mo. | |
|100 for 1 yr.|$100 for 1 yr.| 150 for 2 yrs.| 150 for 2 yrs.
| | | |
Wood Workers. |$60 for 1 yr.|$100 for 1 |$ 50 for 6 mo. |$150 for 1 yr.
| |yr. | 75 for 18 mo.| 200 for 2 yrs.
| | | 100 for 3 yrs.| 250 for 3 yrs.
| | | |
Metal Workers.|$75 for 1 yr.|$500 for 5 |$75 for 1 yr. |$500 for 5 yrs.
| |yrs. | |
| | | |
Glass Workers.|$50 for 6 mo.|$150 for 1 yr.|$150 for 1 yr. |$ 75 for 1 yr.
|100 for 1 yr.| | 175 for 2 yrs.| 100 for 2 yrs.
| | | |
Boot and Shoe |$50 for 6 mo.| | $50 for 6 mo. |$100 for 2 yrs.
Workers. |100 for 2 yrs| | 100 for 2 yrs.|
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The ratio of disability benefits paid to death benefits paid varies in
the different unions according to the definition of disability adopted.
The Iron Molders' Union, which took the initiative in adopting a
national disability benefit, undertook to pay benefits to all disabled
members, with two exceptions. First, the disability must not have been
caused by dissipation, and secondly, the member must not have been
disabled before joining the Association.[107] The Granite Cutters'
Union, however, when establishing their voluntary insurance association
in 1877, limited the benefit to members disabled for life by any real
accident suffered while following employment as a granite cutter.[108]
The two benefits were unlike in that the Iron Molders paid the benefit
no matter how the disability had been incurred, while the Granite
Cutters paid only when the disability resulted from a trade accident.

[Footnote 107: Constitution of the Iron Molders' Union of North America,
1878 (Cincinnati, 1878), p. 51.]

[Footnote 108: Constitution of the Granite Cutters' International
Association of America, 1877 (Rockland, 1877), p. 27.]

Some of the unions now paying the disability benefit, as for example the
Boot and Shoe Workers, have followed the policy of the Iron Molders in
paying the benefit in all cases of disability; while others, for example
the Brotherhood of Carpenters, pay only where the disability is incurred
"while working at the trade." Under this system, in the case of the Iron
Molders, the claims for disability were so numerous that in 1882 the


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Online LibraryJames B. KennedyBeneficiary Features of American Trade Unions → online text (page 5 of 11)