Gambar halaman

made to confederate these independent organisations until the middle of 1864.


The aggressive trade union movement during the War period gave rise to a no less aggressive movement for organisation among employers. In one trade, stove moulding, the employers organised on a national scale just as their employés had done some years earlier. However, the typical employers' association of the period was local, embracing the employers of one or more trades in the locality. These organisations expressed the employers' reaction against the wide-spread growth of local unions and trades' assemblies. In counteracting these organisations they often were even more successful than their own interests demanded, for in a large number of trades, by forcing labour to take the next step and to organise national trade unions, they unwittingly helped to strengthen a still more formidable adversary than either the local union or the trades' assembly. Where, as in the moulders' and the machinists' trades, national trade unions had already been in existence, the employers' associations helped to keep them intact against disrupting forces from within. However, during the War period proper, it was not so much the struggle against the national trade unions, spectacular though it was, that described their most typical activity but primarily the neutralisation of the local trade unions and the trades' assemblies.22

Most of the information about the employers' associations comes from the labour press of the time. The employers themselves preferred secrecy. Nevertheless the records show the existence of such organisations in every important locality and in nearly every trade. A most complete development of the idea of organisation among employers was the general city fed


An example of an employers' association including representative employers of several different trades is clearly outlined in the Detroit Tribune of July 25, 1864. This organisation was known as the "Employers' General Association of Mich

22 The employers' associations which were especially active against national

trade unions will be treated in the fol-
lowing chapter.

[ocr errors]

igan." It consisted of a general association and of various auxiliary associations. Each auxiliary was composed of the owners and managing agents of some particular line or branch of manufacturing or mechanical business. For example, the iron workers formed one auxiliary; the carpenters and joiners, another; the ship-builders, another; sawmill men, another, and so on. Each auxiliary was empowered to fix, grade, and regulate, from time to time, the maximum rates of wages to be allowed and paid to the different classes of employés in its particular branch of business; and also the minimum prices to be charged for different kinds of articles and work. The General Association was composed of the members of the various auxiliaries, not, however, in the character of delegates, but in their original and primary capacity. It was the province of the General Association to see that each of the various auxiliaries observed its constitution and by-laws filed with the general secretary as a prerequisite of membership, and also to act as a kind of court of appeal in cases arising from disputes between one auxiliary and another, and between an auxiliary and any of its members. The constitutions of the general and auxiliary associations were printed with proper blanks, the same as a deed, so that they answered for one place and for one branch of business as well as for another. They were ample in their provisions and carefully drawn. Particular care was taken to provide all needed funds.


The preamble to the constitution of the Michigan employers' union stated that the workingmen had for a long time been associated together in trade unions which had lately come to assume a dangerous attitude. "As a natural result of this system of general and persistent interference," said the employers, our business is thrown into a condition of much uncertainty. Business-like calculations and arrangements, especially such as involve prices for work, and time of completion and delivery, are thus rendered quite impracticable. . . . If continued for any considerable time, it must result in wide-spread beggary, with all its attending evils suffering, bread-riots, pillage and taxation.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The employers' document further regretted that well-disposed workmen were not left to act freely, and charged their disaf


fection to the work of the leaders among them. "They come in contact," said the employers, "with others of a different make and temper uneasy spirits, pregnant with the leaven of discontent, and whose words, constantly dropping, are full of the seeds of trouble." To the work of these "uneasy spirits was ascribed the entrance of workmen into unions, where, according to the report, they were led on from one step to another, and finally went on strike. "These men go with the rest," said the preamble, "being hurried on by the excitement of the occasion, by the maddening influence of sympathy, or by ill-regulated zeal for a common cause. A strike follows. . . . These men are idle. Their wages are already nearly or quite consumed. The wants of a wife and children press upon them, as well as their own. They desire to return to work at former rates. . . . But now up steps a ringleader, and with threats and abuse dilates on their duty of fidelity to the 'Unions' reproaches them with odious epithets, calling them cowards, sneaks, traitors, and threatening to break their heads. or burn their houses if they go to work on terms different from those decreed by the Union. They are intimidated and shrink back."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In the concluding introductory paragraph, the employers' association included the following sentiment which was singled out and highly commended by the editor of the Detroit Tribune: "We cordially accept the principle that the laborer is worthy of his hire that he should be remunerated for his labour, and so treated and provided for in general arrangement of society and of the body politic, as to enable him by diligence and fair economy to place himself and those dependent on him on a footing of intellectual and social equality with others." 23

The great majority of employers and establishments engaged in manufacturing and mechanical business in Detroit had already connected themselves with these associations. The same was the case in several other cities both in the East and in the West, and the organisers firmly resolved to make such employers' associations general throughout the United States and Canada.

This public announcement of employers' association activity,

23 Detroit Tribune, July 25, 1864, quoted in Fincher's, Aug. 13, 1864.

as might be expected, brought a counter thrust from the trade unions. At the next meeting of the Detroit Trades' Assembly Richard F. Trevelliek was instructed to publish a reply. The answering article appeared in the Advertiser and Tribune of August 1. Trevellick referred to the action on the part of the employers as "both wise and laudable, if carried out in the right spirit." But, he said, "labour should be free to seek the best market." He charged that employers sought to destroy this market, and had said: "If you leave my employ you can't work in this town." He declared further that certain employers even followed men who left their employ and caused their discharge from good situations merely to gratify a malignant spirit of revenge.24

With the multiplicity of organisations of employers of separate trades, and the combination of two or more trade divisions. of an industry when largely controlled by the same capitalists, came still further consolidation into associations of employers of many closely related trades. Perhaps the best early example of this was the New York Master Builders' Association which in the spring of 1869 represented employers in the fol

24 Trevellick himself had suffered much from the blacklist on account of his trade

union activity. He was a Cornishman,

born May 20, 1830, on St. Mary's Isle,
some thirty miles off Land's End, Eng-
land. At the age of fourteen he started
out to learn the ship carpenter's trade,
and when twenty-one he went to work in
the Southampton shipyard. He early dis:
tinguished himself in debates with his
fellow-workers on the eight-hour question.
In 1855 he visited Australia, where he
joined the labour movement, and to him
is said to belong the credit for the adop-
tion of the eight-hour day. Shortly after-
wards he came to New Orleans, where he
was made president of the ship carpenters
and caulkers' union, and through him that
union secured the nine-hour day. When
the Civil War broke out, he moved to De-
troit, Mich., which city he made his home
for the remainder of his life. He was
elected president of the local carpenters'
and caulkers' union, and later, in 1865,
president of the International Union of
Ship Carpenters and Caulkers. In 1864,
when the Detroit Trades' Assembly was
organised, he was elected president and
in the same year was
as delegate
to the Louisville convention. Beginning
with 1867, he attended the congress of
the National Labor Union each year.

was president in 1869, 1871, and 1872. In 1867 he was elected as delegate to the International Congress at Lausanne, but on account of lack of funds, he did not go. In 1867 and 1868 he made 270 speeches in the West and organised 47 unions of labourers. He was an ardent advocate of temperance and delivered many lectures in favour of abolition of the liquor traffic. In 1869 he spent 169 days travelling and making speeches in behalf of labour. In 1870 he travelled over 16 States, helped to form 3 state labour unions and over 200 locals. In 1872, when the National Labor Union split into two sections, one industrial and the other political, he attended the meetings of both and was nominated as the candidate for the presidency in the latter but refused to accept the nomination. He favoured greenbackism and helped to form the Greenback party and in 1876 was a delegate to the convention that nominated Peter Cooper and Samuel F. Cary at Grand Rapids. In 1880 he was presi dent of the convention which nominated General Weaver for president of the United States. His contemporaries gave him unstinted praise for his devo on and for his ability as an orator and an organiser. He died Feb. 14, 1895,

lowing trades: painters, blue-stone cutters, granite cutters, marble cutters, roofers, stone setters, stair-builders, sash and blind makers, and stone workers.25 Four years later this employers' association was represented by a conference committee of three which met several times with a like number of representatives from the Carpenters and Joiners, the Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners, and Stair-Builders' Unions. It was proposed at this time to make the conference committee a permanent institution to settle future trade disputes in an amicable manner without recourse to strikes.26 But the uncertain success of the system did not lead to its adoption until later.

An adjourned meeting of the Master Mechanics of Boston, called togther by a committee appointed at a mass meeting held February 12, 1867, met on March 7 following and adopted a preamble and resolutions. An executive committee of thirtysix members, indicating the composite nature of the organisations, was drawn from the employers in fourteen different trades. 27 The secretary, Thomas D. Morris, said he had never been able to see the justice and reasonableness of the eight-hour system. It seemed to him that it was a practical dictation on the part of the employés, whether or not he should continue in his business more than eight hours.

These "Master Mechanics" asserted their readiness and willingness to do everything in their power to advance the condition of their employés. But they unanimously resolved that in their observations as to the effect of labour upon the physical or mental faculties of mankind they had yet to find that ten hours of diligent, faithful labour is a burdensome tax upon the vitality or energies of any class of men. They also announced it as their "sincere conviction that any general reduction in the number of hours of labor for a day's work would prove ultimately injurious" and that "on these grounds we shall be persistent in exacting ten hours labor for a day's work." 28 "Very disinterested and important testimony!" exclaimed

25 American Workman, Apr. 24, 1869. 26 Chicago Workingman's Advocate, Apr. 19, 1873.

27 Masons, plumbers, plasterers, painters, slaters, freestone cutters, carpenters, granite cutters, machinists and boiler

makers, blacksmiths, founders, marble workers, copper and tin roofers, and coppersmiths.

28 Boston Daily Evening Voice, Mar. 8, 1867; quoted from the Boston Daily Advertiser, Mar. 8, 1867.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »