Lapas attēli


The entrance into the operating forces of the mines and manufacturing establishments, in such large numbers, of the races of recent immigration, has also had the effect of weakening the labor organizations of the original employees, and in some of the industries has caused their entire demoralization and disruption. This has been due to the character of the recent immigrant labor supply, and to the fact that so large numbers of recent immigrants have found employment in American industries within such a short period of time. On account of lack of industrial training and experience, low standards of living, as compared with native American wage-earners, their necessitous condition on finding employment in this country and their tractability, southern and eastern Europeans, as already noted, have been willing to accept the existing rates of compensation and working conditions. The thriftiness and industriousness of recent immigrants have also made them unwilling to enter into labor disputes involving loss of time, or to join labor organizations to which it was necessary to pay regular dues. As a consequence, they have not affiliated with labor organizations unless compelled to do so as a preliminary step toward acquiring work; and then, after becoming members of the labor union, they have manifested but little interest in the tenets or policy of the organization. In the instances where they have united with the labor organizations, on the occasion of strikes or labor dissensions, they have usually refused to maintain membership for any extended period of time, thus rendering difficult the unionization of the industry or occupation in which they are engaged.

Furthermore, the fact that recent immigrants are usually of non-English-speaking races, and their high degree of illiteracy, have made their absorption by the labor organizations very slow and expensive. In many cases, too, the conscious policy of the employers of mixing the races in different departments and divisions of labor, in order, by a diversity of tongues, to prevent concerted action on the part of employees, has made unionization of the immigrant almost impossible.

The significant result of the whole situation has been that the influx of the southern and eastern Europeans has been too rapid to permit of their absorption by the labor organizations which were in existence before their arrival. In some industries the influence and power of the labor unions are concerned only with those occupations in which the competition of the southern and eastern European has been only indirectly or remotely felt, and consequently the labor organizations have not been very seriously affected. In the occupations and industries in which the pressure of the competition of the recent immigrant has been directly felt, either because the nature of the work was such as to permit of the immediate employment of the immigrant or through the invention of improved machinery his employment was made possible in occupations which formerly required training and apprenticeship, the labor organizations have been, in a great many cases, completely overwhelmed and disrupted. In other industries and occupations in which the elements of skilled training and experience were requisite, such as in certain divisions of the glass-manufacturing industry, the effect of the employment of recent immigrants upon labor organizations has not been followed by such injurious results.

Racial Displacement as a Result of Immigrant Competition

Competition of the southern and eastern European has led to a voluntary or involuntary displacement, in certain occupations and industries, of the native American and of the older immigrant employees from Great Britain and northern Europe. These racial displacements have manifested themselves in three ways:

(a) A large proportion of native Americans and older immigrant employees from Great Britain and northern Europe have left certain industries, such as bituminous and anthracite coal mining and iron and steel manufacturing.

(b) A part of the earlier employees who remained in the industries in which they were employed before the advent of the southern and eastern European, have been able, because of the demand growing out of the general industrial expansion, to rise to more skilled and responsible executive and technical positions which required employees of training and experience. In the larger number of cases, however, where the older employees remained in a certain industry after the pressure of the competition of the recent immigrant had begun to be felt, they relinquished their former positions and segregated themselves in certain other occupations. This tendency is best illustrated by the distribution of employees according to race in bituminous coal mines. In this industry all the so-called "company" occupations, which are paid on the basis of a daily, weekly, or monthly rate, are filled by native Americans or older immigrants and their children, while the southern and eastern Europeans are confined to pick mining and the unskilled and common labor.

The same situation exists in other branches of manufacturing enterprise. It is largely due to the stigma which has become attached to the working in the same occupations as the southern and eastern European that in some cases, as in the bituminous coal mining industry, has led to this segregation of the older class of employees in occupations which, from the standpoint of compensation, are less desirable than those occupied by recent immigrants. In most industries the native American and older immigrant workmen who have remained in the same occupations in which the recent immigrants are predominant are the thriftless, unprogressive elements of the original operating forces.

Another striking feature of the competition of southern and eastern Europeans is the fact that in the case of most industries, such as iron and steel, textile and glass manufacturing, and the different forms of mining, the children of native Americans and of older immigrants from Great Britain and northern Europe are not entering the industries in which their fathers have been employed. All classes of manufacturers claim that they are unable to secure a sufficient number of native-born employees to insure the development of the necessary number of workmen to fill the positions of skill and responsibility in their establishments. This condition of affairs is attributed to three factors: (1) General or technical education has enabled a considerable number of the children of industrial workers to command business, professional, or technical occupations apparently more desirable than those of their fathers. (2) The conditions of work which have resulted from the employment of recent immigrants have rendered certain industrial occupa

tions unattractive to the wage-earner of native birth. (3) Occupations other than those in which southern and eastern Europeans are engaged are sought for the reason that popular opinion attaches to them a more satisfactory social status and a higher degree of respectability. Whatever may be the cause of this aversion of older employees to working by the side of the new arrivals, the existence of the feeling has been crystallized into one of the most potent causes of racial substitution in manufacturing and mining occupations.

Immigration Has Checked Increase in Wages

As regards the effects of the employment of recent immigrants upon wages and hours of work, there is no evidence to show that the employment of southern and eastern European wage-earners has caused a direct lowering of wages or an extension in the hours of work in mines and industrial establishments. It is undoubtedly true that the availability of the large supply of recent immigrant labor prevented the in'crease in wages which otherwise would have resulted during recent years from the increased demand for labor. The low standards of the southern and eastern European, his ready acceptance of a low wage and existing working conditions, his lack of permanent interest in the occupation and community in which he has been employed, his attitude toward labor organizations, his slow progress toward assimilation, and his willingness seemingly to accept indefinitely without protest certain wages and conditions of employment, have rendered it extremely difficult for the older classes of employees to secure improvements in conditions or

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »