National Conference on Industrial Conciliation (19.

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We believe that with a proper superintendency
of the factory, the proper treatment of the employees
and the introduction of a plan such as that outlined
by Mr. Carpenter, representing the labor depart-
ment of the National Cash Register Company's works,
where grievances can be amicably and speedily ad-
justed, that it is possible under the day plan to se-
cure for such an institution an output equal in
quantity to any plant where the piece-work or
similar system may be in operation ; while in quality
the work would exceed to a large degree that pro-
duced in the piece-work factory.

A constant effort, apparently, on the part of cer-
tain manufacturers and certain professional theor-
ists to poison the minds of the employers against
organized labor and especially against the leaders
of organized labor, is a direct cause for many of the
complaints heard from the employer's side of this
question. When an employer can only see through
one glass, and that glass indicates increased output,
regardless of the conditions under which this end may
be secured, he will unquestionably find himself
sooner or later involved in some sort of a tangle with
his employees. The workman knows full well
that the employer of labor is not stating facts when
he says we are going to introduce the piece-work
or premium plan in order that you may have a bet-
ter opportunity of increasing your income. The
workman knows full well that this proposition has
a very large string attached to it, and that when he
has worked himself up to the highest proficiency
the goal at which he is aiming is always moved fur-


ther back and he must start over, and finally the
post is moved so far that he is compelled to give up
his position in disgust. He has become discouraged,
and those who come after him usually find that the
pace-maker has established an output which they
must come up to or their services are not required.

We are told that if we will pitch in, work, hustle
and increase the output, the prices will not be cut
and that we will be fairly dealt with; but I chal-
lenge any one in this room to cite a case where piece-
work, premium plan or other systems have been
introduced that the prices have not been cut. I
have traveled all over this country and portions of
Europe; have interviewed men, not only in my own
trade but other walks of life, who have worked under
the piece-work and similar systems. I have yet to*
find one who has worked under such a system for a
reasonable length of time who has not the same
complaint to offer the prices have been cut. You
say, make a contract for a year or five years. This
would not cure the evil, for if the employer and the
employees entered into a contract for five years and
the employees had increased the output and thus
temporarily increased their wages, there are em-
ployers who would, if they could not violate their
contract in any other way, close down their works
indefinitely, pay off all the employees, and at an
early date reorganize the factory and open it up
again to new employees. There can be no fairness
under the systems in question until such time as the
employers and employees are thoroughly organized,
as was cited by Mr. Commons in his paper this


morning. Then both sides will recognize the rights
of the other, and so-called restrictions of output
will disappear, be cause the two organizations will
meet in conference and adjust their differences.
The rights of the weak as well as the strong work-
man will receive consideration. The pace-maker
will disappear; the industrious workman will be
used as an example for others to imitate, and the
day of pitting the strong, energetic, active man
against the less fortunate will be a thing of the past.

It is said by many employers who desire to intro-
duce the piece-work and other systems, "We are not
going to base the price upon the speediest workman
in our factory, but we will take an average." That
is all very well in theory, but history proves to us
that such is not the case, and it is not reasonable to
suppose that such a plan would be put into oper-
ation. This is a cold, business world. The manu-
facturing institutions of our country are combining
each day; are now being controlled by Boards of
Directors; individual owners are passing away.
What peculiar interest has a Board of Directors
in the every-day life of the workmen employed in
their factories except to secure the highest possible
output at the lowest possible cost? They cry out
for dividends. They know not the workmen.
They care less who they are ; how they live ; where
they live. This does not interest them at all so
long as profits and dividends are being declared.

Supposing I had a piece-work job and had in-
creased the output, thus temporarily increasing
my wages, .and other workmen in the factory were



not so fortunate, many things probably militating
against their success. When the directory of the
company has its meeting, carefully scrutinizing the
workings of the factory, and finds that one or more
men have made more money than others, they say
at once, "Get rid of the men who cannot produce
as much as the best man you have." By these
means you reduce the fixed cost of the plant. The
weaker and less speedy men are discharged; others
are taken on and they are told that "John Brown
or Bill Smith is capable of producing so much or
turning out so many pieces of work per day ; you are
expected to do the same." Instead of the average
day's work becoming the standard the pace-maker
has established the living rate and set the standard
of life for all the workmen in the factory. Or-
ganized labor says this condition is absolutely
wrong, for it has a tendency to lower the standard
of manhood, to lower wages, and to cultivate man's
most selfish nature, thus reducing the standard of
citizenship, and as a consequence the markets of
the world gradually slip away from us. Organized
labor stands for just the opposite higher manhood;
higher living; cultivation of all that is good in man;
getting more to-day and more to-morrow, and thus
elevating the American citizen to the highest stand-
ard of ability as a mechanic; capable of competing
for the markets of the world; enjoying the shortest
possible work day with the highest possible wages
paid in any of the civilized countries of the world.

The statement that organized labor interferes
with the rights of capital is absurd. It is nonsense,


and the man who makes these statements is ignor-
ant of the workings of organized labor; knows not
of what he speaks. Organized labor aims to bring
the employer and employee closer together. This
is the work of the leaders; instead of advocating
strikes and boycotts the leader's time is occupied
to a very great degree in avoiding these very things
which we are charged with doing. Organized
labor believes in meeting capital more than half
way; sitting down at the round table and thresh-
ing out any differences that may exist, but the
trouble has been, the seed of hatred towards the
leaders of organized labor was sown in the early
history of our country, and there are yet a few em-
ployers who have refused to modernize their busi-
ness or their methods of treating with their workmen.
But the energetic, up-to-date employer appreciates
the fact that we are living in a rapid age; that the
industrial conditions have been revolutionized; that
organized labor is here to stay and that it is best
to meet the workmen in their joint capacity, or the
representatives of organized labor, with a view of
bringing about an amicable adjustment of all differ-
ences that may exist and in the end entering into
a joint agreement whereby employer and employee
will feel interested in the success of each other.

The National Civic Federation is doing its part
in this direction. Employer and employee have
been brought together; disputes have been adjusted
when they existed, and disputes have been avoided
by mutual conferences and mutual agreements. I
believe that the employer and employee alike are



beginning to have more respect for the views of
each other than in former days. As an evidence
of this, our meeting here to-day. We have with
us men engaged in the various walks of life, pro-
fessors, business men, laboring men; all respecting
the opinions of the other ; realizing we are all human ;
liable to error; yet I believe conceding that we are
all aiming in one direction, that of bringing peace
and prosperity to all of God's common family.
All are doing their part towards furnishing some-
thing that will make the sleigh run a little more
smoothly over the rough and rocky road.

My friends, I do not desire to take up any more
of your valuable time, only to say on behalf of the
men that I have the honor of representing, who
are constantly confronted with the piece-work
and other similar systems, that as a whole we are in
opposition to those practices, not because we are
desirous in any manner of limiting the capacity
of D the workshops of our country, but because we
believe they are wrong in principle, wrong in prac-
tice; and that the end to which we are all desirous
of reaching will not be secured through the introduc-
tion of systems which have proven to us in the past
to mean a decreased wage, and a degraded manhood.

I believe we will yet strike a happy medium of all
our complaints, where charges of injustice will not
be held against either side; the professional ad-
vocate of piece-work, premium-plan and similar
plans will disappear, and the employer and em-
ployee will sit down together and in their own way
solve the problems of production, hours and wages.



THE CHAIRMAN: Continuing the discussion along
this line, I will now introduce Mr. Henry White,
Secretary of the United Garment Workers of Amer-

MR. MOSELY: May I put one question before this
is taken up?

THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. I might have said
if any of these speeches bring up any questions on
which discussion is desired, we will be glad to hear
from anybody.

MR. MOSELY: You just now referred to a remark
made by Mr. Barnes in regard to a certain factory.
I was very much struck by those remarks of Mr.
Barnes yesterday, because he referred to the factory
as being unfit really for men to work in, where the
sanitary conditions were bad, and where everything
was not at air of the idealistic character that both
employers and employees like. He did not men-
tion the name of the factory, but you have men-
tioned the name of a factory which I have not
heard either confirmed or contradicted. Now I should
like to say

MR. JAMES O'CONNELL: I asked Mr. Barnes to;
confirm it and he nodded his head.

MR. MOSELY: If Mr. Barnes has confirmed it,
that settles the question. I have been through
that factory myself upon more than one occasion;
more than twice. I do not pretend to be an expert,
to say as to whether that factory is being run under
conditions, from a machinist's point of view, of
the very best, but what has struck me is this, that
that shop is non-union. It employs a very large


number of men. The union has never come in
there, and the men apparently are all satisfied
and never have struck. Now if those conditions
are so extremely bad, why is it that year after year
those men do not strike? That seems to me to be
rather a pertinent point in connection with this

MR. O'CONNELL: Mr. Mosely, I would say it is
true that the non-union men at the Baldwin Loco-
motive Works have never struck, as far as I know.
But in the Baldwin Locomotive shops I don't
wish to specify them in particular but in that
factory they have a system somewhat different
from that in force in most other factories, and that
is the contract sharing system. One man takes
a contract for building a certain portion of a loco-
motive. He pays those who work on that par-
ticular job, himself. He takes a contract, say, for
putting a cylinder on locomotives; $100 for put-
ting every cylinder on a locomotive. If he can get
men to work for him for fifty cents a day, if he can
drive them and can sweat them as much as he can,
the more he makes. That is the system. That
is the sweating system there; they sweat the men.
They don't use a small hammer any more in Bald-
win's; you have got to use a double handled ham-
mer there. (Cries of hear, hear.)

DR WM. S. RAINSFORD (Rector of St. George's
Episcopal Church) : Apropos of one thing you said
about limiting the apprentices, now isn't it true
that if you start on a theory in which you say the
number of apprentices in a certain concern should


be limited, because if you don't limit them you
practically disappoint the hopes of these young
men as they go towards manhood, you rele-
gate to yourselves a knowledge of the conditions
in that concern and of the whole country at large,
which is a very difficult thing to assume? You
gauge not only the advance individually in one
plant, but all over the United States. And let
me add to my question one more. I am aware,
and, of course, I suppose you are, that year after
year there is a very large increase in the number of
trained workmen who come from Scandinavia and
from Germany admirable workmen they are
who come to New York, and, escaping the contract
labor law, get work in New York, and for several
large firms, which are known to many gentlemen,
no doubt, in this room get excellent wages; in
some cases, get an increase on union wages; spend
three, four, five or six months in this country, and
go back to the Old Country to spend the money
they have liberally made here, proving thereby,
that the demand for skilled labor is so great to-day
in the great centers, that the very largest firms are
not able to meet it and are filling out and adding
to the number of thoroughly skilled laborers by
drawing largely on Scandinavia and Germany,
many of whom are coming over and staying five or
six months, and then going back with their earnings.
Now I think that is a question that demonstrates
what is radically a wrong and mistaken idea, of
limiting the education of the youth of the land.
MR. O'CONNELL: Now I desire to say in answer


to that question, simply to ask him this: Isn't that
an ideal situation for your German friends to find
here, rather than to come here and find the trade
crowded with boys, and not be able to get work
at all? I mean to say, if you convey the idea that
by limitation of apprentices in trade and I speak
only of my trade; other trades have different num-
bers employed but if by limitation, if you put it
that way, isn't it best to have the German machin-
ist come here and get $20 a week for working 54
hours isn't that an ideal state to have exist here
rather than to have him come here and only get $10 a

DR. RAINSFORD: That does not exactly fit the
question. That man's coming to this country and
staying four or five or six months, and going back
to the Old Country to spend his earnings, does not
help the interests of this country, or build up the
great democratic principles that exist here. I do
not want to be misunderstood, but when a union
takes a step like that they are going against the
everlasting laws, and are bound to be beaten. You
cannot limit the education and opportunities of
the young of this land. The intention doubtless
is absolutely good, but we do not recognize the
place we hold between the two conditions, and we
do not recognize the fact that it is not right in prin-
ciple to limit the opportunities for education of our
young men.

MR. O'CONNELL: The gentleman speaks of demo-
cratic principles; that is a very beautiful sentiment
and always strikes a responsive chord, and I ap-



predate that. But there is also the hard business
side of this question which has got to be looked at,
and we have passed through the hard knocks in
this country and got up to that position where your
German friend can come over here and work under
fair conditions, and it is by hard knocks that we
have come to the conclusion that there should be
a certain reasonable limitation upon apprentices
in this country in every trade.

A DELEGATE: I do not see that Mr. Mosely's
question has been answered as yet.

MR. O'CONNELL: Mr. Mosely did not continue
to ask that question, because he did not recognize
that Mr. Barnes had confirmed my statements.

MR. BARNES: I am rather sorry I am to be forced
into that question and would much rather have
my observations taken in the abstract, or as not
referring to any particular shop. I think that is
only fair to every shop in this country, that my
remarks should not be taken as referring to any
particular shop.

MR. GOMPERS: If I may be permitted I should
like to take a moment or two to say something in
connection with the questions propounded by Mr.
Rainsford. I suppose in desiring to speak of a
higher position my friend Mr. O'Connell did not
take cognizance of the question put, and did not
answer it.

In regard to the matter of apprentices, this must
be taken into consideration; that is, that the op-
portunities for apprenticeship have gone in Amer-
ican industries, and when we talk of the oppor-


tunities for a boy to learn a trade, the opportunity
of an education in the trade, we are talking of the
past. We are not taking cognizance of the fact
that the division and sub-division and classification
of labor has eliminated the question of apprentice-
ship, the question of apprentices learning a trade.
What the boys now learn is a very infinitesimal
part of a trade. The attempt to have an ap-
apprenticeship system is simply another name for
the wholesale introduction into one or two or a
few establishments of a large number of boys, elim-
inating the question of wages to adult labor, the
employment of one as an expert, and the plant of
which is turned into a nursery. This must be
borne in mind, that it is not a question of limiting
the number of apprentices for a trade, but
it is the limitation or the regulation of the number
of apprentices in each particular establishment of a
trade. While in the. aggregate that may seem a
limitation, yet in any particular trade or classifi-
cation of trade in which there would be any election
the. employer could, and many of them would, and
many of them do, introduce into their plants a
system of bringing an immense number of boys in
the plant, and with the superintendency of an
expert the plant is enabled to get out some sort of an
output, some sort of a product, which is brought into
competition with the fairer manufacturers in that
industry, and tends to force down the selling price,
and consequently the wages received by the men.
It is because of this immense classification and
division and sub-division of labor that has gone on


in our country that the boys have no opportunity
to learn a trade and the companies and manufacturers
and employers find it necessary to send over to
European countries to send some of their skilled
workmen here. The great classification and divis-
ion and sub-division have not gone on in those
countries to the same extent that they have in our
own. (Cries of Hear, Hear, and applause.)

MR. JOHN MARTIN: Would Mr. Gompers therefore
support trade schools, which would give oppor-
tunities for the boys to learn the trade, under, of
course, some regulation by the trades unions to
prevent excessive filling up of a particular trade ?

MR. GOMPERS : I should be opposed to trade schools.
I should favor and do favor manual training schools.
The trade schools have demonstrated themselves
to be the hothouse of strike breakers in the United
States. The training schools have given the young
men of our country a knowledge of the use of tools,
making them more easily adapted to learning the
different branches of any particular trade.

MR. MOSELY: Mr. Chairman, may I be allowed to
put a question to Mr. Gompers as representing
labor? I have not heard any reply made to my
question. I have heard a description of men working
under conditions that are unfit for human beings
a very large number of men working in perhaps
almost the largest of any factory in the United
States. Why is it that these men are apparently
satisfied with their condition, and why is it that
the union has not come in there, and why is it that
year after year has gone by and there has been no


trouble and no strikes? And these men I under-
stand uniformly earn more than union laborers.

MR. O'CONNELL: I have but one thing to say to
Mr. Mosely, and that is, he is absolutely mistaken
in his statement that the wages at Baldwin's Loco-
motive Shops are larger than union wages. He is
absolutely mistaken in that statement; absolutely

MR. GOMPERS: Mr. Mosely asked me this question,
see if I comprehend it: How does it happen that
if such unfair and improper conditions obtain in
that particular establishment to which reference
has been made, that no protest has been made by
the men? Unionism has not taken root there. No
strike of any character. My answer is this: That
in the whole history of the world you will find that
the people whose conditions are the worst are those
the least capable of resistance and protest, and that
is equally true in industry as it is in political' life.

A DELEGATE : Cannot those men strike?

MR. GOMPERS: There are in that establishment
to which reference has been made small captains of
industry. Men who are the employers of five or
six other men, and each man is a little minimized
captain of industry himself.

THE DELEGATE: Well, if those men are improperly
paid why can't they strike against that little cap-

MR. GOMPERS: I don't know why they cannot
strike, except they may have had all ambition crushed
out of them.

MR. MOSELY: I wish now to make one statement


IS 1

in regard to the Baldwin Locomotive Works. I
am sorry their name has been called into question,
but I think it only fair to the Baldwin Locomotive
Works to make this statement: I saw one of the
members of the firm and I asked him what per-
centage of union men were there. He said the
percentage was very small, practically none; perhaps
one in a hundred or over. I said how do you account
for the fact that you have never had trouble in this
factory? He said, "Because we are fair to the men
and the men recognize it." Now I think that is
a statement that will go a long ways to convince any
fair minded man. You have been shown the thou-
sands of men working under conditions that on one
side it is urged are not human. There is no trouble;
there are no strikes, and the proprietor of that es-
tablishment informed me as one who is seeking
information, it is because the men trust them
and know they will treat them fairly.

MR. GOMPERS: The people of India do not pro-
test there, but they are starving by the millions.

MR. HANNA: I now have the pleasure of intro-
ducing Mr. White.


MR. HENRY WHITE (General Secretary of the
United Garment Workers of America): Mr. Chair-
man and Gentlemen. The subject assigned to me
I approach with considerable misgiving, because the
problem of machinery involves the entire labor
question, for it is the complexity of conditions due
to machinery that has given us the labor problem.



This age is pre-eminent in mechanical achievement ;
still, many believe that labor saving methods are
detrimental, that only a few profit by them, to the
disadvantage of the rest. The strange parodox
is thus presented of an ingenious and enterprising
people actually doubting the value of means that
renders labor more effective and increases human

The confusion upon this subject is due to the
difficulty of understanding the workings of our
complete industrial system, the inability to dis-
criminate between the benefits society derives from
labor saving methods, the disturbances they cause,
and the abuses associated with them.

The economy of a primitive community that con-
sumes all it produces is readily understood. It is
seen how every increase in the productiveness of
the members adds to the general prosperity, and
how each one participates in the wealth of the

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Online LibraryNational Conference on Industrial Conciliation (19Industrial conference → online text (page 10 of 25)