OCR Interpretation


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, June 30, 1915, LAST EDITION, Image 10

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1915-06-30/ed-1/seq-10/

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THE PUBLIC FORUM
ARBITRATION AND SLAVERY.
The wages of the street car workers
are now being arbitrated. The editor
of The Day Book is to be commended
for his efforts -tokeep the attention
of his readers on tfiis arbitration deal.
As far as the wage question is
concerned this arbitration is an unre
tricted and unqualified one, except
that wages cannot be lowered, a pro
vision that is much advertised and
for which much gratitude seems to
be demanded. This arbitration will
therefore be governed by the same
general principles and rules that gov
ern arbitration in general and by
which it has been governed in the
past And the determining factors in
the arbitration of wages have hith-
erto been the cost of living of the
worker and the general or average
wage in the particular occupation
where he is employed. These two
factors will undoubtedly determine
the award in this case.
The cost of living of the worker is
one of the principles. Evidence is
collected with a view to finding out
how much it costs the worker to live.
Workers are asked how much they
pay for their groceries, what rent
they pay, how many pairs of shoes
they wear out, eta, In a given time.
These various items are then care
fully computed and when the worker
gets enough wages to pay these vari
ous bills he is supposed to get a fair
and just reward for his labor.
Three years ago Mr. Mahon, pres
ident of the street car men's union,
collected this kind of evidence and
submitted it to the board of arbitra
tion then sitting. Now Mr. Mahon is
busy collecting and submitting the
same kind of evidence. Since the cost
of living has not materially increased
during the last three years it is hard
to see how this coming award can
be much different from the one three
years ago, unless the arbitrators this
time want to throw a few crumbs of
.charity at the car men in order to
cover themselves with glory and get
votes at some future election.
The other well-defined principle in
arbitration is the general or average
wage in the particular occupation
where the worker is employed. This
principle operates to prevent any
group of workers from advancing
ahead of the rest The substance of
this principle is that the general and
average wages and conditions now
obtaining are final. No improvement,
no progress is to be made. We are
now told that Mr. Mahon will not in
troduce the average wage paid car
men in other cities as a basis for
wages in Chicago. We Chicago car
men ought to be thankful to Mr. Ma
hon for not wanting to base our wage
scale on the average wage paid in
small and unorganized cities and
towns; but the company wilTintro
duce it and it will be a factor in fix
ing our wage scale.
This is arbitration. And I contend
it is a system of enslaving. It is no
one's business how much it costs a
free man to live, what he eats, how
many suits of clothes and pairs of
shoes he wears out in a year. A free
man is entitled to much more than a
a mere animal existence. Any self
respecting man called to testify as
to his living expenses should abso
lutely refuse to do so. Arbitration
denies equal liberty.
It places the worker on the plane
of mere existence where it tells him
to remain and be satisfied with the
supposedly "fair" and "just" wages
and conditions fixed by others, the
arbitrators, while the employer ac
cumulates enormous wealth from his
labor. It denies the worker the right
and the opportunity to secure ever
greater concessions from capital
and finally economic independence
through his organized efforts. T. J.,
a Street Car Conductor.
CONCERNING CHUACHE S
Some people think the religious ques
tion of small imDort and have Hven
the matter no thought at all, or else
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