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Newspaper Page Text
MOST SIGNIFICANT HAPPENING THUS FAR IN 1913 IS
AN ASSERTION OF MANHOOD AMONG CLERKS
Never was truer thing said than that the Lord helps those who
help themselves. All the waiting, all the longing of a lifetime for a
berter day isn't worth one hour of brave effort to bring it to pass.
There was recently a vivid illustration of this.
Though cost of living had soared until the strain to make ends
meet had brought furrows into the face and gray into the hair,
3,000 freight clerks on the New Haven system for years pegged
along only a little above the starving line. They would be there
yet, dull, sullen, hopeless, had not some stirring spirit initiated a
united demand for more pay.
Organization of railway freight clerks is of recent growth.
Until these clerks organized they would not have dared singly to
go up against the great monopoly which employed them and. pit
their puny strength against the power of a Mellon or a Morgan.
But now, aware of a just cause, and strengthened by union,
they made a set of demands among others, 15 per cent increase
and two weeks' annual vacation with pay.
Not much to each worker compared with the millions that
Morgan has been pulling out of this railroad through juicy under
writing schemes or that Mellen, ambition-mad, has been wasting
in the reckless purchase of inflated rival lines. Averaging indeed
only $1.05 a week apiece. Yet to them it meant far more than a
mere matter of money, important though that was ; 'it meant a con
sciousness of self assertion; it meant the immense difference between
despair and hope.
Many things of moment have already happened in the good
vear 1913, but none more significant or more cheering than this as
sertion of the railway freight clerks. For they got what they went
for. Self help won. Rather than take on more fight, the New
Haven monopoly yielded. But more important even than that
they set an example for all unorganized masses of underpaid labor
an example and an incentive.
Suppose that it stirred to similar action the thousands of girl
and women clerks in the cities who now get less than self-supporting
wages and have either as dependents to take help or slave in
grinding extra toil or seek in shame the living which greedy busi
ness otherwise refuses. Wouldn't that be a glorious thing?
It is just that thing which this New Haven incident presages.
For the same awakening spirit of humanity which is. impelling the
American people to half the destruction of children in sweatshops,
canneries and mills as sure as fate will not rest content while poten
tial mothers of the race are being sacrificed through underpayment
in shops and stores.