National Conference on Industrial Conciliation (19.

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apathy of employers, as a class, is most largely re-
sponsible for the present situation and for the ills of
the present condition. Employers failed to see the
potentialities for good or ill in the organization by
their men, and neglected the golden opportunity
afforded in the beginning of such organization to
make themselves part of it, as it were, and by wise
counsel and friendly co-operation to direct the move-
ment to the betterment of trade conditions. Had
they done this, the history of trade unionism in this
country would have been very different from what it

As matters stand to-day, separate organization on
the part of employers is an absolute necessity. Not
merely organization along broad lines, such as has
been attempted in the past, and which has failed in
almost every instance to produce any good or per-
manent result but close, truly co-operative organi-
zation, such as the trade unions themselves possess.
Such an organization, duly recognizing the labor or-
ganizations, and working under a policy of perfect
fairness and scrupulous good faith, presents the only
means at hand to-day by which the employer can



hope to cope successfully with the mighty forces
which have been called into being by the men.
Isolated action by even the largest employer will no
longer suffice ; even groups of employers by cities are
not strong enough. It is only by the combination of
a whole trade into a compact organization that it is
possible to accomplish any good and permanent re-

Under the old regime we had, first, the isolated
employer dealing directly with his men, and through
the demands of competition, or for less noble reasons,
driving bargains with them which were not always
fair; this bred antagonisms on the part of the men;
next came associations of employers loosely put to-
gether, with no discipline, and not always with the
spirit of fair dealing ready to disappear, as most of
them have, at the first breath of storm, or disrupted
by the sharp practice of those who sought to use the
organization for their own selfish purpose. This form
of association also begot antagonisms between em-
ployer and employee, and increased the feeling of
bitterness between the classes. Open strife, re-
prisals and arbitrary measures by the party tempor-
arily in power were the result, and thus it stands to-

There seems to us to be one solution for all this,
and that is to form of the employers an association
having a business head and place of business, work-
ing under strict discipline, through which each mem-
ber shall be obliged to live up to and abide by the laws
mutually agreed upon, and dominated by the policy
of fair dealing, to which I have before alluded. Such


an organization can well afford to accept the organi-
zations of the men as necessary to them and a very
proper thing as a good thing for the employer as
well as themselves, and to consider them as partners
in an operation to which there are always three fac-
tors, namely, the employer, the workman, and the
public that purchases the product. That idea is
carried out, as you know, in the Civic Federation.
In the doing of this, we believe in setting up between
organized labor and organized employers a condi-
tion that we have termed "mutual government," to-
gether with "preventive arbitration.'* It may be well
to explain what we mean by these terms.

"Mutual government," from our point of view,
means the establishment of a joint body which shall
have full and absolute control over matters of mutual
concern between employer and employee ; getting to-
gether before there is any trouble, before there is any
dispute to settle, and determining the fundamental
conditions upon which the trade shall be conducted
in its relation to labor, and governing the mutual
relations of both parties absolutely. "Preventive
arbitration" means that should any question at all
fundamental arise, upon which the joint governing
body is unable to reach a conclusion, it is not to be
allowed to become an issue between the parties, but,
then and there, before antagonistic feelings have been
engendered, before friction has come, it is to be sub-
mitted to the arbitration of disinterested individuals
and their decision accepted as final.

We do not profess to have a panacea for all the
ills that trade is heir to there are too many such


offered us but we do believe we have gotten down
to fundamental principles and are progressing along
the road to better conditions for both capital and
labor. Trade agreements are good, although they
leave unsolved that most important question of the
mutual relation of employer and employee to the
product of both; so are those agreements by which
capital and labor get together in localities and estab-
lish mutual relations under which yearly scales are
determined; all these are steps in the right direction,
but they are only steps after all. It is only by the
mutual determination of all the elements of the prob-
lem that industrial peace, or better, industrial har-
mony, can be assured.

Under conditions such as I have briefly outlined,
the restriction of output and limitation of appren-
tices cease to be the vitally important questions
which they are at present. We all know that both
these evils exist, and we all know that they exist as
the direct action of trade unions. It seems to me
that evasion in this matter is both foolish and futile.
Trade unions do restrict output, and by their consti-
tutions and laws restrict the ratio of apprentices in
any given trade, but the leaders of organized labor
have done this to perfect and strengthen their or-
ganizations, under conditions in which it seemed to
them the proper and what is more to the point
the easiest way to accomplish this, and because,
through the apathy of the employers, they were left
to do pretty much as they pleased. Short-sighted
they were, of course, and they have almost emascu-
lated some industries by their restrictions, but they


have had no one to teach them better, to counsel
them against it, or to otherwise restrain them.

No union can afford, or will be willing, to go upon
record as sanctioning anything which will tend to
retard or destroy its trade; the union is equally in-
terested with the employer in preserving and foster-
ing the business that affords both a livelihood; it is
because they do not believe the statement of em-
ployers that restriction of output or of apprentices
will injure business, that the union enforces such re-
strictions. Perhaps the very best proof of this is to
be found in the fact that in our own trade, where
mutual conditions such as I have described have
been established, and the employers thereby enabled
to demonstrate the harm likely to occur, the unions
have manifested a willingness, and even a desire, to
have the ratio of apprentices fixed by concerted action
of the employers and themselves, at a figure sufficient-
ly high to insure meeting the legitimate requirements
of the trade, as demonstrable by the facts only possible
to be obtained through united action.

Another advantage to be obtained by the working
together of the unions with the associations of em-
ployers is the immense strengthening of each by the
moral and active support of the other. No organi-
zation has yet been formed that has not had its
enemies without, eager to take advantage of any
opportunity, and its foes within, ready to desert the
cause at any time immediate self-interest should
prompt. Both organizations, standing together, and
using their united power against those who refuse to
abide by the conclusions arrived at by fair-minded,


mutual effort, would be irresistible. We have heard
a great deal here of the only weapon labor has with
which to protect itself, and we are told this weapon
is the power to strike ; that without it labor, whether
organized or not, is powerless. This is not true.
There exists a weapon the unions have not attempted
to use, which yet lies within their hands; this weapon
also lies unused within the armory of the employer,
although potent against trade unionism, and against
any attempt it might make outside its moral or
legal rights; this weapon is the self-interest of the
opposite party. If unionism will go hand-in-hand
with the employer, and the employer go hand-in-hand
with it, acknowledging its partnership a limited
partnership, it is true, but a partnership nevertheless
it will then become the direct self-interest of
each to strengthen and increase the other, to keep
faith with and defend the other, and in all ways to
oppose those who are antagonistic to either. This
weapon is the most potent and powerful that can be
wielded, and one to the use of which there can lie
no objection, either moral or legal.

Arbitration is at once the most lauded and the most
condemned of all methods of arranging disputes be-
tween both nations and individuals ; lauded, because
it is founded upon the eternal principles of justice
and equity; condemned, because, in its application,
the principles underlying it are too often sacrificed
to policy, and what should be the decision of a prin-
ciple too often becomes merely a compromise be-
tween right and wrong. The reason for this is not
far to seek, at least so far as the industrial field is



concerned. It is because arbitration is usually only
resorted to after active warfare has begun. Then, when
all the bitterness engendered by strife is arrayed on
either side, and blows struck in anger, and reprisals
are brought forward, they too often smother and re-
place the original issue. Under such circumstances,
policy, and sometimes even necessity, requires of the
arbitrators a reconciliation of the conflicting elements,
rather than an equitable decision of the question,
and this, however acceptable it may be to the parties
at the moment, when viewed in the clearer light of
after-thought, becomes a reproach, and the method
by which it was obtained is unsparingly condemned.

The remedy is to be found in the application of ar-
bitration before, not after, an issue has been set up.
This method works good in two ways. First, under
the conditions named, arbitration is applied with
freedom from bias, and the decision rendered is di-
rectly upon the question presented, unclouded by
suspicion of mere policy; second, with arbitration
present and ready to determine in equity any ques-
tion, the fair-mindedness (and most men are fair-
minded in the abstract) of the parties leads them to
use every endeavor to arrive at a conclusion between
themselves, rather than to present the question to
the court. Thus, the invocations of arbitration be-
come fewer and fewer, while the application of the
principles underlying it are more and more often
made by the parties themselves.

Hence, arbitration works only for good, and far
beyond what, at first glance, would seem to be its
power. This is because it is educational in character,


and affords a feeling of security and peace obtainable
by no other means yet devised.

I did not expect to address this convention at all.
You have heard more eloquent speakers than I, and
they have covered the ground very fully. I think I
have fulfilled my duty and function in presenting
to you the thought of mutual government and pre-
ventive arbitration as remedies for the troubles now
existing in the industrial world. With this thought,
and thanking you for your kind attention, I leave

THE CHAIRMAN: I will now call on Prof. J.W. Jenks,
Professor of Political Economy at Cornell University.

PROFESSOR JENKS: In the late coal strike in
nearly all of the great modern strikes and lockouts,
we have had illegal attacks upon individuals. I have
never yet heard any employer of labor or any of the
great labor leaders who would openly say that such
illegal acts were to be advocated or to be directly de-
fended; nevertheless, it is not uncommon to have
these attacks explained at times, even to have them
excused on the ground that in time of "war" such
things, however regrettable, were inevitable, were to
be expected. In war, it is said, private property even
of non-combatants, is sacrificed; treachery is not
merely allowed: it is even praiseworthy. And so, it
is said, inasmuch as a strike or a lockout is like war,
these unfortunate occurrences are, at any rate, to be
expected, and possibly to be excused.

We know, also, that of late members of trades
unions have been at times forbidden to join the militia,


because they might be asked to fight against their
brethren. They have sometimes, on the other hand,
been urged to join the militia, in order that they might
not fight against their brethren if called upon.

We heard yesterday, we have heard this morning,
contrariwise that the normal relations of capital and
labor are those of peace; that the real interests of
both are harmonious.

We have then this analogy of the relations of capi-
tal and labor to war and peace. It is, perhaps, worth
while to analyze this curious but false analogy. How
does it happen that on the one hand peace is said
to be a normal condition, while on the other hand
acts like those of war are justified?

The relations between the capitalist and the laborer
are two-fold. In production, their interests are
in the same direction. Both parties wish to have
the largest, the most valuable product possible, that
there may be more to divide between them. It is for
the interest of both to pull together. If one is un-
willing to pull his full share the other naturally resents
it ; and it might be that under these circumstances a
larger share of a smaller total product would be better
for the person injured.

On the other hand, in the division of the product,
capital and labor naturally pull in different ways.
The more the employer has, the less is left for the
laborer. There is where the conflict comes. Each
party wants all that he can get without hindering
progress too much. If the other is too grasping, it
may be that it would be better to check production
somewhat than to let him have all he asks for. But


there, in the division of the product, is where the con-
flict comes.

As I understand the matter, while trade unions
have education and benefit features, they are or-
ganized primarily for the purpose of strengthening
the individual laborer in this natural normal contest
with the employer for his share of the product. It is
said that a workman standing alone has not an even
chance. He must take what wages are offered him.
Of course, if dissatisfied, he may quit work; but to
quit work may mean to starve. He feels that,
standing alone, he is a bondsman. United with his
fellows, he is free. He is not willing to take an in-
crease of wages from his employer as a gift. He
wants to bargain. He says he is not a pauper to ask
for gifts; he is a free man. He is right, in my judg-
ment, in this feeling. He has the spirit of a free man,
which all ought to have in this country.

The laborer claims also that the union is the cham-
pion of the cause of all laborers, non-unionists as well
as unionists. Gains in wages, fewer hours of labor,
protection of machinery, better sanitary conditions,
are all largely the result of the union's efforts. In
these benefits all, non-unionist and unionist, alike

When in the conflict for a larger share of the prod-
uct, the strike, a workman turns and joins the em-
ployer, he destroys the advantage of the laborer and
turns against his class. His fellows naturally feel
that he is disloyal, false to his trust. They call him
from this false war analogy a traitor. Their class
feeling does not distinguish between their class and


society as a whole, their class and the State. The
strikers feel that he is a traitor and that the punish-
ment of a traitor would not be too severe. The
feeling is natural enough; the conclusion is wrong,
ruinously wrong, as all strong labor leaders know.
A class, however important, is not a whole society or
a State. It is only an important part, possibly the
most important part of the State. Legally, the strike
breaker is right; he may work for whom he pleases;
morally, he may be wrong, he may be right.

The question of right or wrong in his act depends
upon his motive. He may be a conscientious, high-
minded individualist who objects to the trammels of
any organization, who does not wish to be hampered
by the rules of any union, because he thinks it is
better, not merely for himself, but for society, that
each man stand as an individual. If he is that kind
of a strike breaker he is morally right, however mis-
taken his views may be. He is acting from a worthy
motive and deserves only respect. If, on the other
hand, as is, perhaps, usually the case, he is merely a
selfish opportunist seizing every chance to profit for
himself even at the expense of his fellows, taking the
good they may bring him through their action and
not being willing to sacrifice anything in return, he
may be within his legal rights in acting as a strike
breaker, but he is a selfish wretch, worthy of the con-
tempt which he receives.

If he sympathizes with his fellows, is not willing to
take the lower wage, but shrinks from the suffering
either for himself or family which the strike involves,
it is probably right to call him a coward. He is un-


willing to sacrifice for the good of his class, even when
his class is right. Under those circumstances his fel-
lows may drop him. They cannot punish him.
Selfishness and cowardice are contemptible, but they
are not crimes. We may despise the strike breaker
who acts from either of these motives; not even the
government, and certainly not we, have any legal
right to punish him.

Now a word or two regarding the difference between
a strike and war.

In war there is no arbiter of the conflict, there are
no rules except those self-imposed under the public
opinion of the world, and those, we know, are shifting
and unreliable. Property may be destroyed, even
that of non-combatants. The country may be laid
waste; treachery is allowed. In a strike, on the
other hand, there is an arbiter of the conflict, the
government. The rules of battle are laid down in the
laws. Both sides must and ought to abide by these
rules, otherwise a greater wrong is done than any
which can have brought on the conflict. In fact,
in labor relations, both sides often break the rules.
Employers combine, regardless of the law, neglect to
protect machinery, neglect room regulations, willingly
join the parents in hiring children under age. In
times of strike their hired police forget that it is
their duty to keep the peace, and at times incite to

The workers commit these acts and in time of
strike often commit violence. In such violations of
law the workers, as a rule, lose most. The upholding
of government and order is a need especially of the


weak. In the Middle Ages the feudal lord was above
the law, was a law to himself; the weak had no
rights. The establishment of stable government has
been in the interest of the poor ; the establishment of
popular government means government for all by all.
The progress of civilization has been marked by the
abolition of the vendetta, private vengeance. Before
the establishment of stable government the individual
had to right his own wrongs ; now the State rights his
wrongs. Doubtless there are abuses to-day; the
State sometimes neglects its duty; the weak are
wronged; so are the strong. The remedy is through
peaceful agitation, by showing clearly that the wrong
exists. When the issue is clear, the masses, our final
law-makers, are always, in my judgment, on the side
of right, on the side of order. Order under law is
absolutely fundamental. In any civilization it is the
first condition of a good status of the poor. No one,
least of all the laborers, can afford to question that
principle. Better lose a dozen strikes than to appear
on the wrong side of that question. The police
properly used are to keep order; they are not for
either side in any social conflict. The militia is for
order only, not for either side. The army is for
order under law, at the command of the chosen gov-
ernment. The one condition of social progress is
law; the one method of change is by reason, per-

We have our arbiter for our social contests; we
may properly fight, we must fight, for our rights in
many cases, but we must fight under law, with the
government as umpire. In war you may at times



ignore the umpire, for the public opinion of the world
is very indefinite and slow in action. Within the
State, if you ignore the umpire, the government, you
put yourself out of the game.

I think it is worth while to ask the question
whether it ever pays a labor union to commit deeds
of violence in order to keep the strike breakers away
and thus to win the strike?

I ask the question because I have heard it asserted
many times. I have heard it asserted in reference
to the late coal strike that the one condition of suc-
cess was that the union intimidate the non-unionists.
In my judgment it is not true; but if it were true,
even then, from the point of view of the union, the
worst possible course of action that could be taken
would be to violate the law, because, as I said before,
the fundamental condition of all progress, especially
for the weak, is the keeping of the law. When the
law is wrong it should be changed. We have heard
to-day how powerful the trades unions are in chang-
ing the law. Any one who looks at the statute books
knows very well that much of the progressive legis-
lation of the last few years is due to the power of the
trades unions. The unions might better lose a strike
and wait a year or two or even more (as the employers
might) to get proper, just legislation, than to violate
the law. That act puts them out of court.

Just one word more. Loyalty means devotion to
the law. Loyalty to family, loyalty to class, is only
figurative. The preservation of the family, the ad-
vancement of class interest, whatever the class, can
come only under stable government. The conse-



quence is that the only true loyalty to either family
or class is through, first, loyalty to the government.
The man, the organization, rich or poor, labor union
or corporation, that stands for law as it is and for
its improvement only by legal means, wins in the
long run, for whatever other conditions may be de-
sirable (short of armed revolution, justifiable only in
extremest need) the one indispensable condition of
all progress, especially for the weak, is the supremacy
of the government, order under law.

A strike is not a war. It is a conflict under govern-
ment. Any attack, direct or indirect, upon the gov-
ernment, except to reform it, since order is essential
to growth, is morally as well as legally wrong. In
the past both sides, capital and labor, have sinned in
this regard. Capital has probably sinned most be-
fore the strike, labor most in time of strike. Both
have committed crimes. Both they and the public
should see to it that hereafter both keep the law.

THE CHAIRMAN : The next speaker will be Mr. John
Graham Brooks, of Cambridge.

During the last fifteen or sixteen years I have been
keeping track of the so-called remedies for the dis-
eases we are here discussing. The list has now
reached eighty-seven. Each was confidently be-
lieved by somebody to be a sovereign remedy for
social ills. This gives us a good deal of incredulity
about panaceas. I will, therefore, avoid the mistake
of adding an eighty-eighth remedy to the above list,


yet I am very confident that we have been discussing
this afternoon a better remedy than any one of the
eighty-seven. This is the joint agreement, in favor
of which employer and employed alike have given the
most convincing testimony. This trade agreement
helps us at the present time precisely where our weak-
ness is greatest. The trade union is as great a fact as
the trust, and is now rightly struggling for every priv-
ilege that goes with federated organization. In every
industry where the joint agreement has been tried

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Online LibraryNational Conference on Industrial Conciliation (19Industrial conference → online text (page 23 of 25)