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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, April 21, 1917, LAST EDITION, Image 5

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

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1917-04-21/ed-2/seq-5/

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SOUTH WATER STREET MERCHANTS HIT AS
PRICE JUGGLERS.
Habits of South Water street com
mission merchants of throwing good
food into the garbage heaps to keep
the prices up, of holding off or bring
ing on the market large amounts of
vegetables to manipulate the supply
and demand to suit themselves, will
be exposed to the government short
ly, according to a rumor emanating
from the headquarters of the Com
mission Merchants Helpers' union.
Aoout 450 members of the union
are on strike against the commission
merchants and they are supposed to
be pretty sore .because their former
bosses refuse to treat with the union.
As many of them have had posi
tions of confidence along the street
" for as. long as 20 years, they know
how, the market has been handled.
"Hundreds of them have seen car
loads of good vegetables allowed to
toV on a siding because if they were
allowed to come into the market
they would bring prices down and
the merchants would lose.
What becomes of the enormous
margin between the prices the farm
ers get and the people of the city pay
will probably be shown if the union
men "spill the beans" on their boss
es. And this is what they are said to
be ready to do. '
One member of the union put it
like this:
- "There is no doubt that the com
mission men are manipulating the
market and w,e can prove it. They
'conspire to keep prices up and that
,Js hi violation of federal law punish
able by a penitentiary sentence. I
can show where they have dumped
tons and tons of good food on scrap
heaps and burned it to keep it off the
market
"If the stuff were allowed to come
in prices would drop and merchants
would have to sell stocks they bought
at higher rates under the new and
Jower scale. To keep this from hap
pening they destroy the surplus or
just let it rot in the cars.
"We have a sample of their manip1
ulation today. Texas, onions were
shipped here in express cars for the
first time in the history of the South
Water street markets because il
would pay more than the difference
between express and freight rates tt
get the onions on the market before
the big local supply matures and the
prices falL
"There are hundreds of local truck
farmers and Michigan fruit raisers
who will be glad to come forward and
tell of the dirty deals they have been
handed by the gang of highly-organized
commission men. There are
more new millionaires along South
Water street than there are on South
La Salle street.
"There is no real competition
among the merchants.
"Tons nd tons of potatoes have
been hoarded by the South Water
street merchants since the govern
ment reports first indicated there
would be a shortage in tubers. Their
game is without a chance of loss.
"They just bought every potato
they could lay their hands on and
stored, them safely away until the
price approached its highest level;
then they quietly unloaded at fancy
prices. Their profits were enor
mous." The Chicago Board of Trade is
body of food speculators destined to
feel the hand of the government
within a short time.
Federal officials are in conference
today in Washington discussing the
advisability of placing a certain price
on all grain to stop speculation,
which yesterday sent the price spar
ing to formerly unknown heights.
Even grain merchants of the more
conservative sort are in favor of the
curb because the teriftc increases in
the selling price of grain during the
past week has aroused a strong .pub-
'jfiiifiiniiiitoiiiiii murirvr-- --- " -.-t-ujcAxa-.,

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