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ism, but on account of the ensuing panic and industrial depression it was not before the sixties that these characteristics came into high relief. When a trade union of skilled mechanics begins to set up permanent trade rules, it is usually to apprenticeship that it turns its first attention. Thus it was that during the sixties the rules of apprenticeship, or restrictions on the entrance to a trade, became probably the subject of paramount interest to unionists in the vast majority of the trades.
It was not surprising that apprenticeship should reach an acute stage at this time. The wider market, which resulted. from through railway transportation, forced the employer to give increased attention to his functions as a merchant, and correspondingly decreased the amount of time which he was able to devote to his duties as the instructor of his apprentices. Naturally the training of the apprentices was bound to suffer. Nor was that all. The keen competition in the national market made it imperative upon the employers to reduce operating costs. They therefore dismissed some of their journeymen and filled their places by cheaply paid boys whom they styled apprentices.
Closely parallel was the attempt to reduce manufacturing costs by introducing a more or less minute division of labour. This resulted in splitting up the old established trades into independent branches, each apprentice specialising in only one branch and learning little beyond that.
But apprenticeship broke down not merely because the employer succumbed to the temptation of exploiting cheap boy labour. Under the new conditions he could not teach them the trade properly even if he had the best intention of doing so. The increase in the scale of production had transformed him from a mere master workman of a small shop into a superintendent of an industrial plant, with the result that he had lost the old-time intimate contact with his journeymen and apprentices. Thus between the newly enhanced merchant function and the enlarged duties of general supervision he had no time left for teaching apprentices, and, if he continued taking them, he had to delegate their instruction to his foremen. Now the foreman had contracted no personal obligations towards the apprenticed boy, but was instead possessed of a keen interest
to enlarge the output of his department. Consequently, it was only natural that he tended to keep the boy indefinitely at the first operation which he had thoroughly learned rather than to shift him from one operation to another until he mastered the whole trade. Often the boy brought the apprenticeship to a premature end by running away. If he was not of the adventurous type, he stayed until his term expired. But in either case he remained only partially trained and a competitive menace to the all-round mechanics.
The situation called for preventive action, namely the enforcement upon the employer of stringent apprenticeship rules. But with the means of communication revolutionised by the railroad, the menace no longer was local in its nature. The fact was that it was possible to mobilise the army of "botches " at short notice at any point where the workmen threatened to go on strike, and it was utterly beyond the power of any one locality to control the situation short of violence. There was needed an agency which should be able to extend its authority into every locality in order to stop the breeding of "botches at the very source. The national trade union of the sixties was endeavouring to meet this need."
The unionists of this period had two demands to make with reference to the apprentice question. They repeated the demand made by their predecessors in the earlier decades that no one should be allowed to enter a trade except as an indentured apprentice for a term of years, generally five; that the employer should be obliged to teach them the entire trade, and that the number of apprentices admitted to a trade should not exceed a fixed ratio to the number of journeymen. They claimed that such a limitation of numbers was essential to good
59 The evils which came to be connected with apprenticeship were described by Sylvis as follows: "Recently this boy system has been introduced in its worst features in the city of Philadelphia; in four shops there is on an average about ten boys to one journeyman, and these are almost entirely without instruction. They are taken without regard to age or any other qualifications necessary to make them ornaments to the mechanical community. A large number of them are indentured, but the agreement is so one-sided that the boy has no guarantee whatever
that he will be made a workman. They are to serve the two or three years, without any assurance whatever that at the end of that time they will know a trade. . . . Should they then have manly independence enough to demand their just dues, they will be turned away, and other boys put in their places. Being without a knowledge of the trade, and outside of the organisation, they will be unable to procure employment anywhere but in those shops, where they will remain not as masters of their own business, but as slaves." Fincher's, July 18, 1863.
training and in a measure they doubtless were right. Yet it is not open to doubt that their intention was restrictive.
The national trade unions tried to handle apprenticeship in various ways, sometimes by forcing the employer to live up to the regulations they prescribed, sometimes by appealing to state legislatures, and sometimes by offering to take the employer into counsel. In any case, it was a difficult task to force regulations upon the employer. When times were good and more men were needed, the workmen could not stand in the way of the employment of more men. When times were bad and the unemployed numerous it was difficult to force the employer to live up to regulations. Through legislation they tried to revive the old indenture system. Bills were introduced in Pennsylvania in 1864, Massachusetts in 1865, New York and Illinois in 1869. The Massachusetts bill was the only one that passed. The objects sought in all of them were legally to bind apprentices for five years, to compel the master to teach him the entire trade, to make the master responsible for his moral training, and to prescribe the ratio of apprentices.60
The employing printers were the only ones that paid any attention to the solicitations of the union for an adjustment of the apprenticeship system. It was to their interest to do so. No material changes occurred in the printing trade, yet the chances for learning it were poorer than they had ever been before this time. Printed matter must come up to a certain standard, below which it attracts the attention of the public to the detriment of the publisher. Employers felt this and were willing to improve the skill of their workmen. At the convention of the Typographical Union held in 1865, a resolution was adopted that subordinate unions be requested to make regulations concerning apprentices and, inasmuch as employers and journeymen were mutually interested in framing such regulations, that the employers be invited to participate with a view of harmonising interests and preserving good feeling."1 This effort brought no results, for in the following convention it was reported that the question of apprenticeship referred to subordinate unions did not receive much consideration.
60 Wright, Apprenticeship System in its Relation to Industrial Education, U. 8. Bulletin of Education, No. 6, 25-27.
61 National Typographical Union, Proceedings, 1865, 19.
The result was that trade unions kept on regulating apprenticeship, each in its own way. In most instances the matter was left to the locals. The nearest the nationals ever got to regulating apprenticeship was by prescribing the requirements of candidates for membership. The machinists and blacksmiths, the coopers, and the cigar makers, for instance, required that they should have worked in the trade for three years. The Knights of St. Crispin required two years. The ratio of apprentices to journeyinen in a shop varied with the condition of trade depression or prosperity. When times were good more apprentices were allowed than when times were bad. During the war times the moulders permitted one to each shop and one additional for every six and a half journeymen. In 1866 with the coming of hard times they changed the ratio to one apprentice to every eight journeymen in addition to one allowed each shop.
The machinists and blacksmiths had a unique apprenticeship problem of their own. In the early part of 1871, Charles Wilson, the Grand Chief Engineer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, published an article in the Engineers' Journal asking the railroads to permit engineers to work in the shops while their engines were in repair. Wilson claimed that he proposed his plan not because he intended that engineers should learn the machinists' trade, but rather that they might get familiar with every part of the engine, so that in an emergency they would know just what to do. There is no evidence to show that the engineers ever worked in the shops, but it was sufficient to make the apprenticeship question for the machinists a paramount one. It caused considerable agitation in their ranks and may have had something to do with the rapid growth of the union at this time.62
62 See Motley, Apprenticeship in American Trade Unions, in Johns Hopkine University Studies, ser. XXV, Nos.
11-12, pp. 37-41, for a general discussion of apprenticeship during this period.
THE NATIONAL LABOR UNION, 1866-1872
The Labour Movement in Europe and America. Eight-hour question, 87. Ira Steward and his wage theory, 87. Stewardism contrasted with socialism, 90. Stewardism and trade unionism, 91. Stewardism and political action, 91. Boston Labor Reform Association, 91. The Grand Eight Hour League of Massachusetts, 92. Massachusetts labour politics, 92. Labour politics in Philadelphia, 93. Fincher's opposition to politics, 93. Return of the soldiers a stimulus to the eight-hour movement, 94. The question of national federation, 94. The move by trades' assemblies, 94. New York State Workingmen's Assembly, 95. The move by the national trade unions, 96. The compromise, 96.
Labor Congress of 1866. Representation, 96. Attitude toward trade unionism and legislation, 98. Eight-hour question at the congress, 98. Resolution on political action, 99. Land question, 100. Co-operation, 101. Form of organisation, 101.
Eight Hours and Politics. Congressional election of 1866, 102. Independent politics outside Massachusetts, 103. Eight-hours before Congress, 104. Eight-hours before President Johnson, 104. Eight-hours before the General Court of Massachusetts, 105. Special commission of 1865, 106. The commission of 1866, 107. E. H. Rogers, 107. Eight-hour bills in other States, 108. Causes of the failure, 109.
Co-operative Workshops. Productive co-operation in various trades,
Labor Congress of 1867. Activity of the National Labor Union during the year, 112. Address to the Workingmen of the United States, 113. Viewpoint of the "producing classes," 114. Representation at the Congress of 1867, 115. The constitution, 116. The immigrant question and the American Emigrant Company, 117. The question of the Negro, 118.
Greenbackism. Popularity of greenbackism among the various elements at the Labor Congress, 119. A. C. Cameron, 119. Alexander Campbell, 120. The "new Kelloggism," 121. Greenbackism contrasted with socialism and anarchism, 121. Greenbackism as a remedy against depressions, 122. "Declaration of Principles," 122. The depression, 1866-1868, 123. Progress of co-operation, 124.
Eight Hours. Government employés and the eight-hour day, 124. Labor Congress of 1868, 125. Conference on the presidential election, 125. Representation at the congress, 126. Discussion on strikes, 129. The first lobbying committee, 130. Sylvis' presidency, 130.
The International Workingmen's Association. The international regulation of immigration, 131. Sylvis' attitude towards the international, 132. Sylvis' death, 132. Cameron's mission to Basle, 132.
Labor Congress of 1869. Representation, 133. Effect of Sylvis' death,