Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, OH
Newspaper Page Text
FRIDAY, 8J5PT. 17, t920.
My Own Shop
Farm Implements and the Men who Make Them
By T. W.
The great factories which manufacture farm
implements are all run on the "open shop"
system. That means they work from nine to
twelve hours per day. Most of the slaves would
just as soon work the twelve hours, for their
reasoning is "the more hours I work, the more
All production is carried on on the piece
work basis, which is a curse to the human race.
In this style of labor the worker is forced to
work at a high-tension, nerve-racking speed
in order that he may make wages enough to
"Timing" The Workers
Every job is timed by a man who is called
the "timer". This is the way it works: When
you begin on a certain piece of work on which
there is no price already established, you have
this man come and time the job. You go to work
on it and he holds a stop watch on you. There
is no use for you to try to loaf on the job as
he knows you are supposed to "hit the ball",
and often enough he will remind you of that
Your job is timed so that you can make a
certain wage per day providing you can keep
working all day as fast as you did the few
minutes the white-collared guy held his stop
watch on you. No time is allowed to change
tools or set up on different jobs. You do that
on your own time.
Low Wage and Big Profits
I hav'j heard it said that the average piece
worker in these plants pays for his day's wages
and the cost of his material the first two hours
of his work each day. I don't know just how ac
curate this estimate is, but anyone who will com
pare his wages to the value he adds to the
material he handles can see it is not far off. If
anything, it is too conservative. So, fellow-workers
we can readily see what enormous profits
the farm implement trust makes out out of our
toil. Men who work under the piece work system,
as a rule, are broken down in the course of a
few years. Steading on their feet day after day,
working at break-neck, they soon give way in
their back, limbs and feet.
Many of the workers are bitterly discon
tend. You can often hear one complain that he
is tired of working like a dog; he would like to
see his shop organized. But many things stand
in the way. He can't go into a shop that is organ
ized because the chances are he can't prove he
served four years as an apprentice or because the
dues are too high. Instead of drawing the workers
together, the A. F. of L. unions do more to keep
them apart or keep them out entirely.
A Craft Union Failure
In one large implement factory the workers
did try to organize because the wages were cut.
Men with large families were going to work
hungry, slaving every day and not making a liv
ing, and living going up. They organized a union
and they all felt very confident that the day had
come when they could lay down terms to the
boss. But the union died at birth. The bosses
had the names of each and every worker who
joined, the amount of dues paid, etc.
This was the work of stool-pigeons, of
course. The failure had a very bad effect be
cause it made the men suspicious and they be
gan to accuse each other of acting as a spy for
the boss. The A. F. of L. union after collecting
the initiation fees and dues left the workers to
fight their owu battles, as they always do.
Keep On Fighting!
But, fellow workers of the piece work fact
ories, we have got to keep on fighting for a
union until we get one that will do us some
good. So let us organize ourselves into a One
Big Union of all machinery shops and make our
selves a body of class conscious workers and
educate ourselves that in solidarity there is
stiength. In this way only can we hope to raise
As it is now we have nothing to say. If the
boss wishes to he can make your life on the job
a living hell. Yet you can't complain because
you have no organization to back you up. If you
raise your head or open your mouth in protest,
you are fired and blacklisted.