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The mirror. (Stillwater, Minn.) 1894-1925, December 01, 1921, Image 1

Image and text provided by Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90060762/1921-12-01/ed-1/seq-1/

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Established 1887
WHEN the Pilgrims left their
native land in England and
embarked upon the then dan
gerous voyage to America, they were
the first exponents of the open shop.
True enough their grivances were
not affiliated with labor, but the
principle was the same.
The preamble to the Constitution
of the U. S. proclaims that every man
is born free and equal and is entitled
to the pursuit of peace, happiness and
domestic tranquility. This phrase I
interpret to mean that every man may
go as far as brains, skill and ambition
can carry him. Can a man exercise
his inalienable rights who is a member
of a labor organization ? I say no!
When a person affiliates himself
with a trade union of any kind he
automatically ceases to exist as an indi
vidual and becomes merely one of the
masses. Whatever individuality he
possessed in his chosen work, what
ever skill or knowledge he may have
acquired in years of thought and labor
are made to fit into a cog of mass pro
duction. He is ruled by an autocracy
as great in its way as ever were the
crowned heads of the old world. He
may be an honest man, for most men
are, but he must look upon inferior
work and disloyalty to his employer,
but can do nothing to remedy these
things. The officials and petty of
ficials have sent out orders that so
much work shall be done in such a
number of hours, and who is he to
question the word of the labor chief?
Sometimes he may be asked to vote,
mostly on the strike question. In a
few weeks he may be told that the
union has voted for a strike. Did he
see these votes counted? No indeed.
In the past he has been very lucky to
know how his own local voted, but
, the real count is made by the so-called
Grand Lodge. Grand indeed and
some day they will be indicted for it,
by the same people who have been
inveigled into giving their freedom of
thought and action into the hands of
a few men. In some instances they
did not even vote.
We read a short time ago in the
current periodicals that members of
trade unions in New York and
Chicago were merely told by a
walking delegate, who rode in a
limousine that they were on a strike.
No reasons were given but it has since
come to light that the President of
the Labor Assembly, who was a mem
ber of no local union and was the
highest paid labor chief in the world
had a special grievance of his own
against the man who was trying to
have a building erected or the con
tractor in charge of the erecting.
When he had received his bribe of
two or three thousand dollars the
cogs of the machine were again set in
motion. Had they benefited by a
week of idleness? Ask yourself. How
small and insignificant a man would
naturally feel who had found himself
the cat’s paw of such a crime. Could
By Mr. M. 1.
Stillwater, Minnesota, Thursday, December 1, 1921.
these things happen in the open shop ?
Not very"well.
Let us look over the labor situation
in the U. S. There are three great
groups of labor organizations.
The first the “American Federa
tion of Labor,” a conglomeration of
every kind of labor from the char
woman to skilled artisans, and the
whole controlled by the outstanding
figure of Samuel Gompers.
The next is the Miner’s Union and
at its head , John Lewis.
And now comes the “Big Five,”
the railroad organization, dominated
by Chief Engineer Warren Stone.
Beside these organizations there is
springing up a fourth group led by
men more radical than any of the
others and who are nothing but
anarchists, men that believe in sabo
tage and destruction, whose one cry is
“Down with Capitalism.”
The spirit in which all unions were
born is probably the same in which
our forefathers of the Thirteen
Colonies expressed themselves in the
early days of the Revolution, “United
we stand, divided we fall.” But do
they stand united ? Let us see. In the
spring of 1908 I found myself in
Butte, Montana. At that time Butte
was the most radical labor center in
the U. S. You could not nail a loose
board on your own fence unless you
held a card in the Carpenter’s union,
nor could you wax or oil your parlor
floor unless you were a union painter.
During that time the International
representatives of the carpenter’s and
painter’s decided on a strike in Buttfc
and Helena and one or two other
smaller towns in that district. Things
went very well for the unions for a
while, but of a sudden strike breakers
appeared and finally when the bottom
dropped out there came the astound
ing information that union strikers
from Butte had gone to work in
Helena and the men from Helena
and other towns had moved to Butte.
It looks like some joke, but was it?
Where was the fault? We find that
the American Federation of Labor
had not appropriated enough money
for strike funds, and to support them
selves and their families these men
had to go to work. These people had
paid their monthly dues and quarterly
assessments into the treasury of the
Federation of Labor for years and
when they appealed to that body for
help the officials merely played with
them and they were told that other
unions did not favor a prolonged
strike of building crafts in that sec
tion of the country at that time.
Another instance with which I am
familiar. A few years ago the Bind
ery Girls union in Minneapolis had
grievances against certain publishers.
The International ordered them out
on strike and out they went, but the
printers and pressmen, also affiliated
with the same body were not ordered
out. Consequently the printers wer'e
working on the same job with unfair
bindery girls, helping them with their
work and in some instances were
escorting these girls home to keep
them from being molested by union
pickets. Today you will find no
bindery girls union in Minneapolis.
The garment workers may walk
out in one of the large manufacturing
centers. There are any number of
workers to fill their places and gar
ments are turned out. They are
checked out by union clerks and
handled by union teamsters to docks
where union stevedores load them
upon ships manned by union seamen.
The spirit of unionism has failed right
there, and always will be a failure
under the present conditions.
It seems to me that the least said
about the Miner’s union, the better.
We find that a large number of this
organization are not citizens of the
United States. The activities of the
labor chiefs have led to a young civil
war in the Mingo district in West
Virginia. In Kansas the union heads
have openly defied the government
and attacked the Judiciary, the great
foundation upon which our Republic
is founded. If you want to become
nauseated with the intrigue of union
officials, look over an account of the
last convention of the Miner’s union
and the actions of some of the of
ficials of that body, who were plotting
for control of the organization, they
bear all the ear marks of present day
regime in Soviet Russia.
And now comes the railroad Broth
erhoods; the engineers, firemen, con
ductors, trainmen, switchmen and
telegraph operators, who have through
the machinations of politics and bluff,
come into practically complete control
of the transportation facilities of the
The last great general strike on the
railroads took place in 1894 when
Eugene V. Debs, who had gained con
trol of the American Railroad union,
called out all men in train and engine
service. Result—defeat of the men —
many of them lost their jobs and were
never reinstated. And where de we
find Debs today? In a Federal pri
son where he was incarcerated for
seditious remarks during the time of
But in my estimation the strike
that showed up the Brotherhoods to
the greatest disadvantage was the
Switchmen’s strike of 1909-10. There
has always been ill feeling and strife
between the switchmen who are yard
men and the trainmen who work over
the division. When the switchmen
did not receive the exhorbitant in
crease in pay which they demanded
and walked out, the trainmen saw
their chance of-gaining control of
terminal schedules and politely
walked in and went to work. They
signed up as members of the Brother
hood Trainmen the strike breakers
and scabs who were taking the places
vacated by their union brothers.
These strike breakers made up trains
that were handled over the various
divisions by Brotherhood trainmen
and enginemen. Needless to tell you
that the old S. U. of U. A. is a thing
of the past. And to cap it all off, Mr.
Hawley, who was the president of
that old order, was accused of selling
out to the R. R. heads (Page», Col. s)
Vol. XXXV : No. 18
By Mr. A. R. G.
MANY of us think of the Open
Shop, merely as a system, that
does not recognize the unions
or union labor, and while this is a
true opinion, it does not fully explain
the system.
It is a system, which, in the sale
and purchase of labor, does not recog
nize the right of the seller, the em
ployee, to enter into agreements, as
sociations, or contracts with other em
ployees which aim to influence or
regulate the use of that labor; but at
the same time demands the right for
the purchaser, the employer, to enter
into agreements, associations, or con
tracts with other employers, in order
to derive the 'most benefit from the
use of that labor.
These employers consider the work
ing day only as a matter of output,
and by the number of hours that the
employee is engaged in, at daily pro
duction. Their aim is to keep the em
ployee, working all the hours each
day that they possibly can.
From the union point of view, the
working day is not only the time spent
in actual labor, but is a question of
health and morals, too, and the stand
ard o these are raised or lowered,
according to the amount of time that
one is permitted to attend to his
natural educational, social, and re
ligious duties.
There are a number of other rea
sons why I am not in favor of this
system, that is gradually becoming
known as the “American Plan” of
employing help. It causes the em
ployer to rely upon the going and
coming of employees, who often
change with the seasons, causing a
fluctuation of the wage scale, and a
disruption of schedule in regards to
output, et cetera; because it does not
permit the employer making long
term contracts, with any degree of
assurance of his being able to carry
out the same faithfully, since he has
no opportunity of knowing what his
labor conditions will be in the future;
because it does not give the employer
a regular supply of thoroughly effi
cient labor, and because it gives the
employer too great an advantage oyer
the employee.
I do not favor this plan or system
because neither employer nor employee
gain beneficial results from the prac
tices indulged in under it; because
it does not promote mutual confidence
and respect, but tends to create dis
trust, jealousy, and a lack of harmony
among the employees; because it does
not offer inducements towards creat
ing better working conditions, but is
continually striving to bring about
lower working and living standards
for the employee; because it does not
secure for the employee the full free
exercise of his, or her, natural and
constitutional rights; because in the
hands of an unscrupulous employer it
is a dangerous weapon, used in hu
miliating, beating, driving and goad
ing the employee into. (Page 4, Col. *;
v ■

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