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Schilling, of Cleveland, and later of Milwaukee, who became so impressed with the inadequacy of the existing basis of the movement that, according to his own statement, he formulated a new set of principles which in 1878 came to be adopted as the Preamble of the Order of the Knights of Labor.
In still another respect the coopers anticipated during this period the labour movement of the eighties. In 1870 a number of unionised coopers in Minneapolis, after several attempts, succeeded in organising a co-operative association for the making of barrels. The example was soon followed by others and there were altogether seven co-operative shops which manufac tured the bulk of the barrels demanded by the flour mills in that city. When the Knights of Labour revived the co-operative movement during the middle of the eighties, they could well keep in mind the successful example of the Minneapolis coopers.54
THE KNIGHTS OF ST. CRISPIN
The shoemakers' organisations reached their greatest strength in 1869 and 1870. During the preceding years machinery had exercised but little influence on the labour movement, either in this or in other occupations. As a rule skilled labour remained the basis of industry, and although the mechanic suffered from evils which were serious enough, no one questioned that he was. indispensable. However, there were three notable exceptions: the textile, cooperage, and shoe industries. In the textile industry machine production had been introduced as early as the thirties; the shoe industry entered upon the factory stage of production in the sixties; and the cooperage in the early
The first step toward a factory system in the shoe industry came with the invention in 1846 and utilisation in 1852 of a sewing machine for stitching uppers. But the invention destined to revolutionise the industry occurred in 1862, when McKay succeeded in perfecting a pegging machine. Between 1860 and 1870 the utilisation of these machines and of other inventions proceeded at a rapid pace, and the skilled mechanic
54 See Shaw, "Co-operation in a Western City," in American Economic Association Publications, I, 129-172.
was being displaced by the unskilled in great proportions. The situation in the shoe industry during the sixties is of special interest, as it represented the first encounter on a large scale of the skilled American mechanics with machine competition.55 Indeed the shoemakers were called upon to meet the same sort of a situation which thirty years later was settled satisfactorily in the printing industry, when the latter was revolutionised by the invention of the linotype. As is well known the printers warded off the menace of "green hands" by agreeing to accept the linotype on the condition that it should be operated exclusively by skilled workmen. The shoemakers of the sixties advanced the same solution but, instead of finding the employers ready for a compromise, they were compelled to "fight it out." The "green hands" menace is the key to the understanding of the meteoric career of the Order of the Knights of St. Crispin.
This union was organised as a secret order on March 7, 1867, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Newell Daniels, formerly of Milford, Massachusetts, and six associates. It spread rapidly in all shoemaking districts, especially Massachusetts. Eightyseven lodges were formed before the first meeting of the International Grand Lodge at Rochester, New York, July, 1868; 204 before the second, at Boston, April, 1869; 327 before the third, at Boston, April, 1872. The membership was estimated at about 50,000 in 1870. The Order was then by far the largest labour organisation in the country.
The Order of the Crispins differed in nature from other unions. As said above, its object was not so much to advance wages and to shorten hours as to protect the journeymen against the competition of "green hands" and apprentices. The constitution made resistance to green hands and the defence of the Order the only purposes for which the strike funds of the International Grand Lodge could be used. Wage conflicts and trade agreements were to be treated as purely local matters.
The Crispins conducted strikes with varied success. They were hampered by an inefficient revenue system and by the general looseness of their organisation, particularly by the lack of central control over subordinate lodges. The strikes were
55 This was not the case in the textile industry, where on the whole, the machine competed not with the skilled work
man in the shop but with the work of the woman in the household.
generally successful in 1869 and 1870. In Lynn, the Order was even able to force the manufacturers to sign an agreement governing wages for the twelve months following July 21, 1870, and the agreement was renewed for another year. This success, however, forced manufacturers in various localities to organise and to attempt to break up the union. In 1869 such conflicts occurred on a large scale in San Francisco and, in 1870, in Philadelphia and Worcester. But the Order was able to hold its own until the unsuccessful strike at Lynn, Massachusetts, which lasted during the spring and a part of the summer of 1872. This strike occurred following the break-up of the trade agreement when, as a result of cutthroat competition among the manufacturers, wages were reduced. The Crispins lost and were compelled to disband the hitherto powerful lodge at that place. During 1872, 1873, and 1874 the manufacturers seldom failed in their efforts to destroy the organisation.
Five principal causes of Crispin strikes may be distinguished: resistance to green hands, defence of the Order, opposition to wage reductions, refusal to work with non-Crispins, and attempts to abolish contractors. The green-hands' strikes naturally occurred primarily in the factories, but strikes in defence of the Order were common both in the factories and in merchant capitalist establishments. The Crispins embraced in one organisation shops selling in opposite kinds of markets and using opposite systems of production: the "bespoke" shop as well as the wholesale speculative shop and factory, the handicraft custom-order shop and merchant-capitalist establishments, as well as the machine-operated factory. Strikes against wage reductions, though occurring in every type of manufacture, were most marked in the merchant-capitalist shops. The latter were in a difficult position. The factories, with their machinery and green hands, were lowering wholesale prices. The custom shops, with their individual markets, were keeping up wages. The merchant-capitalists had to meet the price competition of the factory and the quality competition of both the factory and the custom shop. To compete with the one they had to reduce labour costs, to compete with the other they had to employ skilled workmen.
The Crispins, even during the period of their most suc
cessful strikes, did not turn away from co-operation altogether. "The present demand of the Crispin is steady employment and fair wages, but his future is self-employment," 56 said Samuel Cummings, grand scribe of the Order. The Crispin was less confident of his power as a wage-earner than the bricklayer or machinist. Even though winning the strikes, he knew that he was losing the mechanics' safest bulwark against encroachment his skill. This was indeed demonstrated by the fact that the Order began to suffer defeat in 1872, when prosperity was at its height. Each Grand Lodge had a special committee on co-operation, and in 1870 this committee recommended that the grievance funds be invested in co-operative manufacture, under the supervision of the committee appointed by the Grand Lodge from among the members of the local lodge. The recommendation was not adopted, the Grand Lodge feeling that it was not expedient to take the control of co-operation out of the hands of the locals. But in 1869 and 1870 the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts made a vigorous effort to secure from the legislature an act of incorporation for the purpose of conducting co-operative stores for purchasing supplies. This was their main object in entering politics in that State, and their charter actually passed the lower house, but was rejected in the senate. In 1870 the New York State Grand Lodge recommended to its subordinate lodges co-operative workshops. These co-operative shops became numerous after 1870, and there were established also between thirty and forty co-operative stores, which soon, however, went to pieces.
In 1875 an attempt was made to revive the Order. The issue, however, was no longer "green hands," but arbitration. The second Order of St. Crispin led an anæmic existence until 1878. The Crispins later furnished a number of active members to the Knights of Labor. Charles H. Litchman, at one time grand scribe of the Crispins, later became the head of the District Assembly of Massachusetts and then general secretary of the Knights of Labor.57
66 American Workman, June, 1869. 57 For the detailed history of the Crispins upon which the foregoing account is based, see Lescohier, "The Knights of St.
Crispin, 1867-1874," University of Wis consin Bulletin, No. 355. See also Doc. Hist., III, 51-54.
THE SONS OF VULCAN
The organisation of the iron puddlers, known as the "Sons of Vulcan," came into existence in 1858. It styled itself a national' organisation but, as a matter of fact, its field was restricted to the Pittsburgh district. Although it was only a small organisation, it deserves attention altogether out of proportion to its numerical strength, for it offers the first instance of a trade union entering into a trade agreement with an employers' association based upon the sliding scale principle of fixing wages. The puddlers enjoyed a bargaining advantage with their employers which seldom fell to the lot of other wagecarners. The basis of this advantage was the high skill required of a puddler, and, second, the extreme localisation of the iron industry, which facilitated organisation. Accordingly, the associated employers early came to recognise the necessity of a permanent working agreement with the union, and the trade agreement of February, 1865, was the result. This wage agreement fixed the scale of prices to be paid for boiling pig iron. But it lasted only a short time. The workmen soon demanded higher pay. In 1867 another conference was held and a new sliding scale was agreed upon. This second agreement lasted seven years, until the industrial depression led the employers to reduce wages. The resulting strikes were settled by employers individually signing special wage agreements. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers of the United States, formed in 1875 as an amalgamation of the workmen's unions in this industry, found its principal strength in the Sons of Vulcan.58
RESTRICTIVE POLICIES - APPRENTICESHIP
What distinguished the permanent labour organisation of the sixties from the more ephemeral efforts of earlier periods, was a conscious endeavour to maintain certain fixed trade rules even during times of industrial peace. The beginning had been made from 1850 to 1854, when the labour movement had for the first time discarded productive co-operation for trade union
58 Industrial Commission. Report XVII, 339.