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mand a good days work; give as a rule, steady employment, and provide for their comfort at our works, and look after them when sick or injured.
We believe in the piece work system whereby a competent man can car'll what he is worth and a poor workmen the same thing by his worth.
We submit, it is the Heaven Born right of every man to labor: To-wit: No boy should be prevented from learning a trade, which unions do endeavor to prevent, neither should a man be intimidated, beaten or killed because he is satisfied to work when another man refuses to work.
Gentiemen: In regard to the question raised in yours of the 24th as to our plan, if we have one, for the prevention of strikes, beg to say we have no plan other than to treat our men as well as we know how, and if they have disagreements of any kind to get together and adjust same, beiore it is time to cause any ill feeling on the part of either parties and in this connection beg to say we have been especially free from strikes or trouble with our help for a great number of years past.
Dear Sir: I have before me your circular letter of December 24th.
There are many difficult phases to be carefully considered in each case where a strike is brought about.
Our shop is of moderate size, most of the employes skilled machinists, and therefore intelligent.
In our particular case, while the papers had it that our men were out on a strike, the men, with exception of fifteen, said that they did not have any grievance, but if the "union" (one-half dozen only of our men being members) declared a strike, they should not work, nor seek work elsewhere, but quietly take a vacation until settlement was made, being in fear of personal violence and being called scabs by the strikers.
We asked our men to be represented by one of the workmen, who had our mutual confidence, and we readily made a satisfactory agreement by which we close our shop at 1 P. M. Saturdays, instead of This gives the men an opportunity to get home to dinner, get dressed and have an outing with their family.
We could not afford to give the men ten hours pay for nine hours work-Profits would not allow it. We concede them two and onehalf hours each week, making fifty-seven and one-half instead of sixty hours.
As a result of the strike, fifteen men remained out, and we pay by the hour, instead of by the week.
I do not think that the men endeavor to produce any more work per day than before, which was one of the claims put forward by the union. To my mind, the so-called unions need to be governed by a better educated class of men than at present—leaders who are broad-minded and not self-seeking. Until then, the skilled workman is better off out of a union.
I favor examination as early as possible, where dissatisfaction is found to exist, and arbitration by fair-minded representatives if possible. There are two sides to every dispute.
Dear Sir: Regarding strikes we beg to say that we think the only way to avert them is to pass some laws that will make punishable for labor agitators, who make a living out of their agitation, to disturb labor conditions in any factory in the State or Nation. They are only nuisances, not only to the manufacturers, but also to the hands.
We had a strike last summer—some men concluded that, because other shops were having strikes, there should be one here also, and a delegation of our highest priced men waited on me one day, and asked what I was going to do? About what? I said. About giv
. ing us a nine hour day. I said, I am perfectly willing to grant you a nine hour day, because to tell the truth I do not believe the average man can give his employer a fair amount of work during ten and three-fourth hours. (This is the length of the usual day here, because we give the men Saturday afternoon, and the only way to do it is to inake up the sixty hours during the other days.) They saidWell what about pay? I said they would get just as many hours' pay as they did hours' work. No. they wanted to get ten hours' pay for nine hours' work. Well, I said, you cannot get it here, and if you are not satisfied you better go where you can do better. They then said –Well, we guess we can shut up your shop-I said I had been running this shop for 25 years without trouble, and I thought I passed through the shop, and found nearly all the men packing up their tools, and in a few minutes all had taken their departure, except the engineer, the foreman and about two other men. For two or three days they hung around the premises, and in one case tried to interfere with the men coming to work; but this soon became burdensome to them, as they were not making a living, and most of them had families to support. In a week we were running again about as usual with a new set of men, and not one of those old hands will ever have the chance to work here again. We have not seen them since, but we have heard that some of them are pretty badly off. Now, there was not the slightest reason for this strike, and we do not think most of them wanted to go out, but they were overinfluenced by the leaders, and they have had to suffer for it.
As we understand the situation, we believe, if a map puts his money into a plant, and pays as high wages as he can afford to pay, and manages to sell his product for enough to make a very small profit, he runs all the risks, and hires his men for whatever wages he can pay. If they are not satisfied, and think they can get more else. where, he has no hold over them, and they are free to go wherever they please. This is certainly the case in all other walks of life.
I am not against the men trying to get higher wages. I believe that that is the way to raise the standard, but all men are not worth the same. Where one man is worth $3.00 another is not worth $1.50, and there is no reason or justice in his expecting to get the higher figure. As a rule the strikes are not organized by the men who get the highest wages, but the lowest; the men who have brains enough to get high wages usually have sense enough to keep the place that gives them those high wages, and he is not fool enough to enter any action that will deprive him of the opportunity to work for those wages.
Of course the great trouble comes when one employs great masses of men, and they are not individuals, but so many parts of a great machine, and they have to be treated in a mass. Not having been in that position we do not feel that we are competent to make recommendations.
When the men get more education, and have some ambition to save their money for the benefit of their families, and treat those families as if they were really their own, the case will be better.
But as long as the State allows a parent to put his children into some reformatory institution simply because he is too lazy or shiftless to support him, that man will be ready to strike, or to commit any other breach of the peace. The State at present allows a man to shift his family responsibilities onto some one else too easily, and all means in the power of the people, and everything possible must be done to preserve the family life in the country.
I did not start out with the idea of making a lecture, but perhaps you will wade through this, and I trust may get an idea.
Dear Sir: We are in receipt of yours in regard to the labor question.
For some years we treated with our men through “shop committees,” and were always in trouble. Fourteen years since we abandoned that practice, and since then have dealt with our men indi: vidually. They have prospered and seem entirely satisfied. The general objection to a shop committee we have found to be due to the fact that the members of it too frequently seem to feel that they are appointed by their fellow workmen for the special purpose of regulating the business of the company and to keep matters generally in a state of agitation, and that otherwise they would be held to be unenterprising
HARDWARE AND CASTINGS.
Gentlemen: With reference to the matter of your favor of 24th December last that is, strikes and remedies for them, we remark that these works are conducted on a plan by which the employes so far as they decide to do so are owners of stock, that is, entitled to subscribe for stock, and therefore receive whatever dividends accrue, besides their wages. The percentage who have done this is comparatively small, say one in one hundred, even this small number seems to have the effect to establish a sentiment against any labor agitation, at least we are not troubled in that way to any serious extent.
Dear Sir: In reply to your circular letter of December 24th in reference to the labor question, would say: We have two (2) plants. In $1,000 worth of stock of that company, with the understanding that they would leave from their wages an amount equal to the earning capacity of $1,000, and in a few years they would own that $1,000 worth of stock by purchase, and they did own it in the time specified, and have bought considerable more since then.
We find that plan worked satisfactorily, giving no more than the usual friction of stockholders, but it also demonstrated to the men in question that we treated them fairly, and did not eat up all the profits by large salaries, as the president of the company only received $1,000 a year salary, and gave his services for a number of years gratis, in order to establish the business on a solid basis, which we have succeeded in doing, as everything is working in harmony, and we trust will continue to do so.
Dear Sir: Replying to your favor of the 24th inst., requesting information concerning any plan which we have put into practice for the purpose of improving the conditions existing between ourselves and our employes, would say that, owing to the unsettled condition of labor, we have only endeavored to come into closer contact with our people than in the past.
We have no special plan, simply a general policy to have our men come to us and tell us frankly and plainly anything they have to say, and we endeavor to meet them on a fair and equitable basis.
We are members of the National Founders' Association of the United States, which organization has been, we believe, of very great benefit in adjusting differences between labor and capital in the foundry interests.
During the agitation this year among machinists for a nine hour working day, many of our older hands were persuaded, even against their will, to join in with such of our men as belonged to labor unions in asking for the nine hours. We talked the matter over plainly with them, giving them to understand that what we wanted was a certain amount of work during each day, and if they could turn out as much in the nine hours as they had been in the ten we would be very glad to grant their request, they assured us that this could and would be done, and it gives us pleasure to say that they have lived up to this promise.
We are interested and pleased to see the constantly increasing at