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and have combined to say, We will not work for
ten cents less a day, then the superintendent of the
factory has to stop and think whether he will cut
down the wages ten cents a day — what it may
cost him. The strike is, in its initiative, simply a
thousand men saying, We do not like the job, or
we will not work for the wages proffered, as before
the one man said, I do not like the job, or I will
not work for the wages proffered. So long as one
man so acted, it brought no great inconvenience
to the community or to his employer ; but when a
thousand men combine, — and not only a thousand
men, but many thousands of men all over the
country, in a great variety of localities, are con-
tinually combining, — to leave the mill idle and
cause the work to stop, it does produce great incon-
venience and great disadvantage.

It must be frankly said that workingmen have
gained much by their labor organizations, and
sometimes by strikes. It is sometimes said that
strikes are always failures. This is not true. Mr.
Carroll D. Wright, who can be trusted in the mat-
ter of statistics as well as any man either in Amer-
ica or Europe, has reported the results of strikes
during a period of a little over twelve years (1881-
1893), and in about fifty per cent, of those strikes
the workingmen won, either in whole or in part.^

1 From 1881 to 1894, including' six months only of the latter
year, he reports successful strikes 44,49 per cent., partly success-
ful 11.25 per cent., failures 44.23 per cent. Bulletin of the De-
partment of Labor, No. 1, November, 1895, p. 20. From 1881 to
1886 he reports of 3,902 strikes 40.52 per cent, successful, 13.47


It must always be recognized, too, that labor organ-
izations have had the effect to raise wages, which
are nearly always better in organized than in un-
organized trades. They are nowhere so poor, and
nowhere are working people so badly treated, as
where there is no labor organization.^

These two facts the candid student of history, I
think, must recognize. But, having recognized
these, if he is candid he must also recognize that
strikes are war ; and war inflicts incalculable in-
jury upon all who are engaged in it. During seven

per cent, partially successful, 39.05 per cent, failures. In a paper
on strikes in Great Britain, by G. P. Bevan, he reports, concerning
851 strikes in that country from 1870 to 1879, 189 failures, 71
successful, 91 partially successful, — a little under fifty per cent,
successful in whole or in part. The lowest proportion of success-
ful strikes I have found is reported from Massaciiusetts, where
of 149 strikes only 18 were successful and 22 partially successful,
while 109 failed. See, further, Jos. D. Weeks, Labor Differences
and their Settlement, p. 34, and facts cited from the State Senate
Committee on Labor and Capital in Prof. R. T. Ely's Labor
Movement in America, which shows in one case 204 successful
strikes out of 362 among- the cigar-makers. When it is remem-
bered that in all industrial controversies it is customary for the
negotiators to demand more than they expect, in order to form a
basis for a compromise, it is clear that the proportion of success-
ful strikes has been large.

1 The Hon. Abram S. Hewitt, as every one knows, a wealthy
employer of labor, has well said that it is only after labor is or-
ganized that the contending parties are in a condition to treat.
'' The great result is, that capital is ready to discuss. It is not to
be disguised that, until labor presented itself in such an attitude
as to compel a hearing, capital was not willing to listen, but now
it does listen. The results already obtained are full of encourage-
ment." Paper read before the Church Congress in Cincinnati,
quoted in Labor Movement, by Richard T. Ely, p. 146.


and one half years, in the principal cities of the
United States, there were six thousand controver-
sies between employers and employed, of such
considerable size that they were worth reporting in
the official reports of the Uiiited States, — almost
a thousand a year ; and by means of those strikes
the employed have lost nearly thirty-five millions
of dollars, and the employers have lost over twenty-
eight millions of dollars. Sixty-three millions of
dollars have been spent in industrial war in seven
and one half years in the principal cities of the
United States.^

But that is the least of the evil. The loss in
wages and the loss in profits is the smallest ele-
ment. Man has been set against his brother man ;
classes have been formed ; a rift has been made in

1 In 26 of the principal cities of the United States, from Jan-
uary 1, 1887, to June 30, 1894, there were : —

Strikes 5,909

Establishments 28,662

Employees thrown out ..... 955,250

Wag-e loss to employees $34,988,100

Assistance to employees by labor org-anizations . $4,590,177
Loss to employers ...... $28,786,446

Carroll D. Wright, Bulletin of Labor, No. 1, November,
1895, p. 16.

During 1881-1886, in the United States, the losses to em-
ployees for strikes and lockouts amounted to nearly $60,000,000 ;
the loss to employers was nearly $34,000,000, making- a total loss
of $94,000,000 in six years. Carroll D. Wright, Industrial Evo-
lution in the United States, p. 299. The expenditures for the
cigar-makers' strikes referred to in a previous note aggregated
$286,444.67. Testimony of Adolph Strasser before Blair Senate


the community ; the laborer has been taught by
every new war to regard the employer as his en-
emy ; and the employer has been taught to look
with suspicion, if not with aversion, upon the em-
ployed. No one, I think, can look upon the pres-
ent unsettled condition of industry in the United
States and not feel that there is real and serious
menace to the country in the antagonism between
class and class which strikes, lockouts, and labor
wars have begfot.

For my part, I reiterate my disbelief in the Man-
chester School, whether its doctrine is applied to
the individual or to great organized bodies. If
history demonstrates anything, it demonstrates that
it is not true that we can find any method what-
ever by which men can live in this world on the
princij^le simj^ly of self-interest. So long as the
employer is taught, by pulpit, by press, or by
school of political economy, that it is for him to
get his labor in the cheapest market, and the
laboring man is taught that it is for him to try to
get the highest possible wages, — so long as each
one is trying to get all he can and to give as little
as possible, — so long there will be industrial war.
This is not brotherhood. This is not the spirit in
which the family is carried on. The husband does
not say. How much can I get out of my wife, and
how little can I give her ? The wife does not say,
How much can I get out of my husband, and how
little can I give him ? The father does not say,
How much can I grind out of my children, and


how little can I give them ? How long would anj'
family cohere on that principle ? The wife says,
How can I take that burden off my husband ? the
husband, How can I give my wife more comfort?
The father and mother counsel. How can we make
our children happier, and enlarge and enrich their
life ? And the children consider. What can we do
to ease the burdens of over-worked father and over-
tired mother? The remedy for industrial ills is
less a new organization than a new spirit. We
want a " Looking Backward " containing the story
of a lockout and a strike, — the employer anxious
to see how few hours of labor he can put on his
employed and make it profitable, and locking out
the workingmen because they work too many
hours ; and the labor union studying how it can
do the most work for the employer, and striking
because he pays more wages than he can afford
on a falling market.

The fundamental principle — if it can be called
a principle — that underlies the industrial war is
all wrong. The solidarity of labor in the one
camp, and the solidarity of capital in the other
camp, is against the solidarity of society. W.
Stanley Jevons, one of the ablest political think-
ers in Great Britain, has laid down the law which
is Christian as well as scientific : —

" The present doctrine is, that the workmen's interests
are linked to those of other workmen, and the employer's
interest to those of other employers. Eventually it will
be seen that industrial divisions should be perpendicu-


lar, not horizontal. The workmen's interests should be
bound up with those of his employer, and should be
pitted in fair competition against those of other work-
men and emjiloyers. There would then be no arbitrary
rates of wages, no organized strikes, no long disputes
rendering business uncertain and hazardous. The best
workmen should seek out the best master, and the best
master the best workmen. Zeal to produce the best and
the cheapest and most abundant goods would take the
place of zeal in obstructive organization. The faithful
workman would not only receive a share of any addi-
tional profits which such zeal creates, but he would
become a shareholder on a small scale in the firm, and
a participator in the insurance and superannuation bene-
fits which the firm would hold out to him with approxi-
mate certainty of solvency." ^

That is both the politico-economic and the Chris-
tian doctrine.

But, meanwhile, what shall we do when labor
controversies arise ? Capital is organized ; labor
is organized. How can we settle controversies
between them and put an end to strife ? What al-
ternative is there for strikes and lockouts ? Christ
replies : Conciliation, arbitration, law.^

First, conciliation. Joseph D. Weeks is known
by name to most men who know anything about
the industrial situation as having for many years
represented the ironmasters of Penns3dvania in
the questions which have arisen between the iron-
masters and their men; and in a little pamphlet

1 The State, in Relation to Labor, by W. Stanley Jevons, p. 145.

2 See Matt, xviii. 15-17, and ante, ch. ix., pp. 242, 243.


of his, to which I desire to acknowledge great
indebtedness for my own views on the labor ques-
tion, he expresses the spirit which should actuate
masters in their negotiations with their men, —
the true spirit of conciliation. After speaking of
the error involved in a failure to recognize the
changed relations and new conditions which mod-
ern industrial life has brought about, he proceeds
as follows : —

" The source of this error is chiefly in the idea,
inherited from feudal days and justified by much of
the legislation and political economy of modern times,
that the employer is the superior, the employee an
inferior ; that it is the right of the former to determine,
the duty of the latter to acquiesce. This view does not
often express itself bluntly in words, but it does more
or less unconsciously in acts. The employer assumes
the sole right to determine, and refuses to discuss ques-
tions that arise in connection with wages or the details
of employment, in the decision of which the employee
has an interest equally with the employer ; or, if such
discussions take place, they are ' permitted,' an inter-
view is 'granted.' In case of a meeting, the employer
assumes the right to dictate its method. ' No commit-
tee will be recognized.' The employer also claims the
right, in many cases, to determine the relation an em
ployee shall hold to his fellows, and prohibits his mem-
bership in a union. In all of these, and in many
similar cases, there is an assumed superiority of con-
dition which does not exist in reality, however much it
may be asserted by word or act. The true relation
of emjdoyer and employed is that of independent


e(iuals, uniting their efforts to a given end, each with
the 2>oiver, ivithin certain limits, to determiyie his own
rights, but not to prescribe the duties of the other.
The employer has no more right to dictates or even
decide how labor shall seek its interests than labor has
to dictate to the emi^loyer. Whatever may be the views
of the latter as to trade unionism, it will be well, in
most cases, especially in great centres of industry, or
in those employments uniting great bodies of men under
one management, if, with the best grace possible, he
accept the fact of combination and deal with its ref)re-
sentatives. Such combinations, with all their faults and
follies, are not entirely bad." ^

In this quotation I have put in italics what
might well be framed and hung in every factory
and counting-room, and in every trade-union lodge,
and taught as the first and the fundamental prin-
ciple of industrial business in every institution of
learning which deals directly or indirectly with the
labor problem. Where this spirit prevails, labor
difficulties are reduced to a minimum. If it pre-
vailed everywhere, labor war would cease alto-

Mr. CarroU D. Wright, in an address delivered
March 15, 1895, before the Young Men's Demo-
cratic Club, and published in the " Boston Herald,"
gives the following illustration of the practical ap-
plication of this principle and its beneficial effect.
It is not only interesting as an illustration of the

1 Labor Differences and their Settlement, by Joseph D. Weeks,
p. 10.


principle stated by Mr. Weeks ; it is also valuable
as an evidence that practical business men familiar
with the industrial problems of our time uncon-
sciously bear concurrent testimony to the efficacy
of Christ's principle of conciliation, and Christ's
spirit in carrying it into effect : —

" But, Mr. President, better than all, involving liigher
elements than all, going far beyond arbitration and
deeper than the power and the authority and the func-
tion of government, is the settlement of questions by
men themselves. One grand illustration comes to my
mind in this respect. A few months ago the employees
of the Southern Railway Company — a new combina-
tion controlling 6,000 employees and 4,500 miles of
track — demanded of the management a restoration of
the wages paid them two years ago. . They sent their
committee to Washington, the headquarters of the
system, and laid their demands before the managers.
Their demands were met in a dignified, manly, and
gentlemanly manner. The men were told that they
should be carefully considered, every interest canvassed,
and a decision given them at such a time. When the
time arrived for the decision, the management laid
before the men, through their committee, an itemized
statement of the expenses of the road for the past few
years, — the losses which it had sustained, the loss in
freight, the loss in j^assenger traiffic, — in fact, all the
financial and industrial conditions of the whole system.
This statement was drawn up in a fair, just, and candid
manner, and submitted to the committee of the em-
ployees. After many conferences, to which the officers
of the different brotherhoods of railway employees were


admitted, tlie whole matter was peaceably and amicably
settled, to the satisfaction of all parties, and the men
went home and retm'ned to their work with a new
dignity added to their characters, — the dignity of men
who had been treated honorably, justly, and fairly ; and
the manager, our own Boston boy, William H. Baldwin,
Jr., who conducted the whole affair, went to his home
that night with a new dignity added to his charac-
ter, — the dignity which results from honorable, manly
action." -^

Conciliation will not always succeed. What
next ? Arbitration. That is to say, the selection
of a body of men to represent the interests of botli
l^arties, and the submission of the question at issue
to that body for its solution. The Board of Arbi-
tration may be temporary ; it may be permanent ;
what is essential is, that it should have the confi-
dence of both classes. England in this respect is
in advance of the United States. Daniel J. Kyan,
in his monograph on Arbitration,^ thus describes
its results in the iron district in the North of Ens:-
land, where formerly the condition was one of
chronic war between laborer and capitalist : —

'' For sixteen years the disputes of labor and capital
in the rolling-mills of England have been settled by
arbitration, and it has been an era remarkably free
from strikes. The Board of Arbitration for the North
of England iron business was, as all efforts of this kind

^ See further, on conciliation, Henry Crorapton's monograph on
Industrial Conciliation, H. S, King- & Co., London.

'^ Arbitration between Capital and Labor : a History and an
Argument, by Daniel J. Ryan, pp. 68, 69.


usually are, the outgrowth of a strike. It was formed
on March 22, 1869. It is a permanent institution, and
has the usual equal rei^resentation of employers and
employed, as well as the conciliation committee taken
from the members of the Board ; in truth, arbitration
in its just and full ai)plication must necessarily be about
alike in all systems and trades. Speaking of this board,
Mr. Weeks, in his report, says : ' At the close of 1875
it represented thirty-five works and 13,000 subscribed
operatives. These works had 1,913 puddling fur-
naces, — more than all Pennsylvania, and half as many
as the entire United States. During the year 1875 the
standing committee investigated forty disputes. Since
its organization there have been eight or nine arbitra-
tions on the general questions of wages, and scores of
references in regard to special adjustment of wages at
particular works.' The awards of the Board from 1869
to 1874 in fixing wages have been freel}^ and honorably
accepted without a single repudiation ; and this has
been uniform, both in the decrease and the increase of

Thus far, at least in the United States, the
efforts to secure arbitration have emanated from
labor organizations rather than from organiza-
tions of capitalists. The Brotherhood of Carpen-
ters and Joiners, the International Typographical
Union, the Iron-Moulders' Union, and the Knights
of Labor have all officially declared themselves
as opposed to strikes and in favor of arbitration.
Perhaps the greater success of this method of
settling labor disputes in England may be due to
the fact that it has had more cordial and spon-


taneous support from the employers. The initia-
tive came from the manufacturers. " Three of
us," says Mr. Mundella, giving an account of the
origin of this movement in England, " met a dozen
leaders of the trade unions. We consulted with
these men, and told them that the present plan
was a bad one ; that they took every advantage of
us when we had a demand, and we took every
advantao'e of them when trade was bad ; and
it was a system mutually predatory. Well, the
men were very suspicious at first ; indeed, it is
impossible to describe to you how suspiciously
we looked at each other. Some of the manu-
facturers also deprecated our proceedings, and said
that we were degrading them. However, we had
some ideas of our own, and we went on with them,
and we sketched out what w^e called a ' Board of
Arbitration and Conciliation.' " But, the suspicions
of the workingmen once overcome, they entered
cordially into this endeavor to substitute a trial
of reason for a trial of strength \i\ the settlement
of labor controversies. " My experience," says Mr.
Rupert Kettle, an English lawyer and judge, and
an authority on this subject, " is that, when the
masters and the men meet as men of business and
discuss their business matters together with per-
fect freedom, it is the greatest possible relief, both
to the men and to the masters, that they appre-
ciate the opportunity of coming and discussing the
matter candidly and fairly with one another, and
I have never found the men unreasonable, nor


have I found the masters unreasonable. Some-
times I have heard untenable ]3ropositions enun-
ciated on either side, but the general result is that
they meet in a proper spirit and come to a satis-
factory arrangement." Mr. Mundella confirms
this testimony : " The very men that the manu-
facturers dreaded were the men that were sent
to represent the workmen at the Board. We
found them the most straightforward men we
could desire to have to deal with ; we have often
found that the power behind them has been too
strong for them ; they are generally the most in-
telligent men ; and often they are put under great
pressure by workmen outside to do things which
they know to be contrary to common sense, and
they will not do them. They have been the great-
est barriers we have had between the ignorant
workmen and ourselves." ^

It is sometimes said by employers there is no-
thing to arbitrate, and it must be confessed that
there are some questions which cannot be sub-
mitted to arbitration. Such are questions directly
involving a moral principle. The employer has no
right to demand that the w^orkingman shall leave
his labor organization. To submit to that demand
is to surrender personal liberty. The trade union
has no right to demand that the enq^loyer shall

^ Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell, Industrial Arbitration and Con-
ciliation., pp. 25, 26. Compare Andrew Carnegie in the Forum for
April, 1880, p. 118 : "I would lay it down as a maxim that there
is no excuse for a strike or a lockout until arbitration of differ-
ences has been offered by one party and refused by the other.*'


discharge a man because he does not belong to the
trade union. This is to demand that he interfere
with the personal liberty of the workingman ; and
there are few if any conditions in which it can be
right to submit to such a demand as that, and to do
wrong to another innocent man in order to protect
one's self from injustice. Liberty is worth bat-
tling for. But all questions of mere self-interest
are properly subjects of arbitration, and the ques-
tion whether any particular controversy is a subject
of arbitration is itself a proper subject to be left
to arbitrators.

Christ's first principle for the settlement of con-
troversies is conciliation ; his second, arbitration ;
the third is law. Are there any industrial disputes
which should be settled by the law, and the settle-
ment of which should be enforced by the law ? I
have no hesitation in affirming that there are such
questions. The public have rights as well as the
contestants ; and when a labor war inflicts a great
disaster upon the community, the community has a
right to interfere, put a stop to the war, and com-
pel the contestants to abide by its decision. A
recent railroad strike in Buffalo cost the State of
New York, it is said, thirty thousand dollars a day,
to say nothing of the cost to the militiamen, who
were taken from business, to keep the peace while
the railroad and its employees settled their quar-
rels. During the strike on the Burlington &
Quincy Railroad, scores of towns were left without
their usual means of transportation, and the incon-


venience and loss inflicted npon the people of Iowa
and Illinois were beyond all calculation. The
great railroad strike on the Lehigh Valley left for
some weeks the seaboard cities, which were depen-
dent upon that railroad for their coal supply, to
suffer, all of them from extortionate prices, and
some of them from actual cold. For nearly a
week during a recent car strike in Brooklyn many
of its citizens were compelled to walk from their
homes to business and back again, being deprived
of their usual method of transportation, until the
trial of strength between the motormen and the
corporations was ended. The losses to the country
due to the great railroad strike at Chicago are esti-
mated by Bradstreet to be in the vicinity of eighty
millions of dollars.

If two roughs get into a quarrel on the public
street they are not allowed to fight it out ; the
policemen arrest them both, and they are compelled
to submit their controversy to a court of justice.
But the inconvenience to the public from a quarrel
between two roughs upon the street is insignificant

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Online LibraryLyman AbbottChristianaity and social problems → online text (page 19 of 25)