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with almost a complete absence of the bitterness that has marked the debates in previous years. It is too much to hope that jurisdiction disputes are a thing of the past, but it can safely be said that they will not occupy so much of the time anl attention of future conventions of the American Federation of Labor.
The only debate in which feeling ran high was that upon several resolutions urging that the officials of the A. F. of L. and its affiliated organizations resign from membership in the National Civic Federation. The merits of the question were largely lost sight of through the injection into the discussion of matters concerning the internal affairs of the United Mine Workers, in connection with which rather serious charges were made against a former unnamed official of that organization. The resolutions were defeated. Regardless of their opinion as to the usefulness or otherwise of the National Civic Federation, the majority of the delegates were unwilling to endorse what might be considered an unwarranted invasion of the personal liberties of others.
The Direct Election of Officers.
After an interesting debate upon a resolution favoring the election of the officials of the Federation by popular vote of the membership of the affiliated organizations, the convention declared itself in favor of the principle and instructed the Executive Council to investigate the practicability of the method and to report to the next convention.
The convention again endorsed the principle of workmen's compensation legislation, the Executive Council commenting as follows on the law recently enacted by the State of Washington:
"The state of Washington enacted possibly the most progressive compensation law of all the states, in that it created a state insurance department, through which every industry is taxed a percentage of its payroll, the entire funds thus collected going to pay for injuries received in the course of employment, the state bearing the burden of the administration. A case under this act was speedily carried to the courts of the state, and on September 27th, under decision of Justice Fullerton, concurred in by the full court this excellent measure was declared constitutional, the last words of the decision reading: 'We conclude, therefore, that the question violates no provision of either the state or the Federal constitutions.""
The speeches of the fraternal delegates from Great Britain and Canada were full of interest. Delegate Crinion reviewed the history of the British Trade Union Congress and graphically described the con
ditions of the workers in the English textile industry.
Delegate Roberts, who is a member of the British Parliament and official whip of the Labor party, discussed the progress made by organized labor in Great Britain in the political field through which our fellow-workers across the sea have gained so much in recent years.
Delegate Glocking emphasized the fact that the labor movements of the United States and Canada are one and that the few differences constitute no greater obstacles to united action than do the imaginary lines upon the map which seem to separate the two peoples.
Mrs. Raymond Robins eloquently voiced the good wishes of the Womans' Trade Union League and urged a greater interest in the better organization of the women workers.
Miss Fitzgerald told of the good work done by the Womans' Label League and Miss Hines made an eloquent appeal for help for the striking Button Workers of Muscatine. Rev. Mr. McFarland and Rev. Mr. Deneschaud spoke, respectively, for the Federation of Churches of Christ of America and for the American Federation of Catholic Societies.
Reports of Delegates.
Delegates Tobin and McFarland briefly reported their experiences as fraternal delegates to the British Trade Union Congress and recommended that, in future, each delegate be allowed $700 allowance for expenses in place of the $400 hitherto allowed. Delegate Duffy gave an interesting account of the proceedings of the Canadian Trade and Labor Congress which he attended in the stead of Brother Tracey, who was elected at the St. Louis convention. A Splendid Report.
The report of Vice-President Duncan as delegate to the convention of the International Secretariat held at Budapest, Hungary, in August last, was a delightful surprise. Vice-President Duncan had evidently resolved to make his report worthy of the great organization he had represented and a credit to himself. As the delegates listened they realized the care with which he had made his observations, the thoroughness of his investigations, the accuracy of his statements and the fairness of his deductions-all the requisites, in fact, to the making of an ideal report. It is all so good that it would be an injustice to quote any particular part except, perhaps, this one short paragraph in which he sums up his conclusions regarding the future of the
struggle of the working people of Europe for industrial, political and social liberty:
"The European movement is an education in itself. The harmony which exists between the trade unionists, attending to trade affairs and the socialists attending to political affairs, is everywhere in evidence. Where a trade dispute exists there the socialists are helping, and where a political contest is going on the trade unionists perform their part in supporting the social program, and between the two the future welfare of the masses of the people will be worked out, perhaps along lines of legislation and evolution, provided that the process is not unwarrantably retarded; but if by revolution then let us wish that the result will be equal to our own revolution, which laid the foundation for the best system of popular government that has so far stood the test of time and practice."
The interest and value of the report were fully appreciated by the delegates. It was ordered printed in full in the proceedings and to be published in pamphlet form for distribution. All who wish to inform themselves of the conditions of the workers in the countries of Europe, visited by VicePresident Duncan, should request Secretary Morrison, of the American Federation of Labor, to forward them a copy of the report. It is an educational document. Defining the Position of the A. F. of L. in Politics.
In reporting in favor of a resolution urging all union men, women and their friends to support the candidacy of Job Harriman for mayor of Los Angeles, the Labor Representation Committee, consisting of President Gompers, Secretary Morrison and Vice-President O'Connell, defined the political position of the Federation as follows:
Your committee feels gratified that the assurarce is given that any action by this convention upon this subject will not be regarded as any general or other endorsement of the Socialist Party or its principles, and that any action this Convention may take in the matter will not be so construed. We cannot refrain from pointing out a misconception contained in the statement of the National Executive Committee when it says that that body thoroughly understands the "non-political" character of the American Federation of Labor. As a matter of fact, the trade union movement as typified in the American Federation of Labor, in its constant struggle, aims, and methods could not avoid being political even if it sought to be. Every economic, industrial and legislative effort made by the organized labor movement of our country has its political influence and signifilcance. The American trade union movement is not non-political, it is politically non-partisan.
Union Label Paper.
All international and national unions, state and central bodies and local unions with official publications and all managers of labor journals were urged to arrange for the use of union label watermark paper.
A New Department.
The delegates of the United Mine Workers and the Western Federatiton of Miners announced the formation of a Mining Department.
For the appointment of a committee that, with the Porto Rican delegation and President Gompers, shall call on President Taft and transmit to him recommendations, which he in turn is requested to submit to the Governor of Porto Rico, in favor of the enactment of legislation that will provide for the education of the children of the island, prohibit the exploitation of convict labor for private profit and for social and industrial legislation in the interest of the working people of Porto Rico.
Opposing the spirit of militarism and the creation of enormous navies, but urging that such warships as are constructed by the United States government be built in the government navy yards and under the eight-hour day.
To work unceasingly for a comprehensive national old age pension system and for the pensioning of widowed mothers.
For the amendment of the Federal Arbitration Law of June 1, 1898, so as to cover all railroad employes.
That independent unions of hod carriers and building laborers now affiliated with various state and local building trades departments and central bodies, be required to affiliate with the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers' Union.
Calling upon the Department of Commerce and Labor to publish a special edition of one hundred thousand copies of each volume of the report of the national investigation of the condition of working women and children.
For compulsory education of all children between the ages of six and eighteen, the providing of text books free and the establishment of night schools for those over sixteen years of age.
Election of Officers and Delegates.
President Gompers, Secretary Morrison, Treasurer Lennon, and all of the members of the Executive Council were unanimously re-elected. Delegates George L. Berry of the International Printing Pressmen's Union and John H. Walker of the United Mine Workers of America were elected as fraternal delegates to the British Trade Union Congress. Delegate John T. Smith of the Cigar Makers' Union was unanimously elected delegate to the Canadian Trades and Labor Congress.
Rochester, N. Y., was chosen as the city in which the next convention will be held.
N welcoming to Atlanta and Georgia the delegates to the Fifth Annual Convention of the Building Trades Department of the A. F. of L., Congressman Howard greeted them as builders in the broader sense-builders of men and of a nation. He spoke in favor of an effective Federal eight-hour law and said that the present Congress is inclined to treat the wage earners with more fairness than its predecessors. In the past, all questions involving the interests of labor had been referred to the unfriendly Committee on Judiciary, a veritable graveyard from which nothing ever came back; in future such proposed legislation will go to the Committee on Labor.
Local Unions No. 193, 573 and 676 combined to entertain the Brotherhood delegates at a delightful banquet and in every way tried to make pleasant our stay in the city of Atlanta. We attended their meetings, also that of the District Council, and must compliment them on the excellent manner in which their business is transacted.
OF THE BUILDING TRADES DEPARTMENT OF THE A. F. OF L.
Report of Brotherhood Delegates.
GEO. F. HEDRICK,
Mr. Carl Carlson spoke for the Atlantic Federation of Labor and the only Jerome Jones, in a characteristic speech, told of the radical changes in social and economic conditions in the South, wrought through the trade union movement. Vice-Presidents Duncan and O'Connell of the A. F. of L. spoke for the parent organization and President Huber and Secretary-Treasurer Duffy assured the convention of the cooperation of the Carpenters.
In the afternoon Presdient Gompers of the A. F. of L. greeted the delegates. He emphasized the difficulty of enforcing strict discipline in the labor movement and deprecated arbitrary rulings. Illustrating his argument, he said:
"To take the card away from a man, to expel him from membership of a union has one of two results. If the union is capable of enforcing its decree of expulsion, that is, can deprive him of the opportunity to work at his trade, you have inflicted upon him capital punishment, you have taken away his opportunity to make a living. If, on the other hand, you cannot enforce that decree to that deIn gree, then the vote of expulsion is ridiculous. either event it is, to my mind, unjustifiable.
"I am opposed to taking the life of a man by the state. I do not believe that we want to take the life of any man by our act. The logic of it is, if there be any logic, that we must try to win in our movement by the righteousness of our position and by the civilization which dominates our action.
"Remember Friar Lawrence's advice to Romeo when in his desperation he wanted to rush to his Juliet-Many a man loses his goal by overrunning.'
Down to Work.
The fifty-one delegates present represented nineteen international unions with a total membership of 294,345. During the year two international organizations, the Slate and Tile Roofers' Union and the International Association of Machinists, were admitted to the department.
The Secretary-Treasurer's report shows that the receipts for 1911 were $18,492.94, the expenditures $19,086.09, leaving a balance in the treasury of $3,235.96, there having been a surplus at the close of the previous year of approximately $3,800.
In his annual report President Short regretted that a number of independent local councils stand aloof and that local unions of constituent trades fail to affiliate with local departments; he characterized jurisdiction disputes as the bane of our lives and urged greater charity and breadth of mind, the petty quarrels over trade rights, he said, are suicidal waste of energy and time.
He vigorously denounced the vicious "permit system" under which some organizations refuse to admit applicants for membership, but allow to work at the trade during the busy season upon the payment of a daily "permit fee." This system is an imposition and an invitation to dishonesty and should be unreservedly condemned.
He expressed satisfaction at the truce agreed to between the United Association of Plumbers and the International Association of Steamfitters in the city of Chicago, and hoped that the consolidation of the two organizations would end the strife that had so long prevailed.
The Executive Council reported its action upon the many matters that had been submitted during the year and presented a draft of a proposed constitution and by
laws for local councils. In closing, the Council said:
"If the Building Trades Department and the Trades Union movement are to continue their growth and progress, strikes by union men against union men over trade jurisdictional controversies can not be countenanced. The right to cease work is the only effective weapon labor has in the last resort. It should be used only when necessary for the preservation and upbuilding of the organizations."
References From the A. F. of L. Convention.
Secretary Morrison submitted various resolutions referred to the Building Trades Department by the convention of the A. F. of L. and reported the action of the parent body upon matters affecting the department. Among these were the recommendation that the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners be reinstated in the department and that one organization, to have jurisdiction over the pipe fitting industry, should be established by the amalgamation of the International Association of Steam and Hot Water Fitters and Helpers with the United Association of Plumbers and Steam Fitters.
The convention unanimously decided to comply with the ruling of the American Federation of Labor Convention and instructed the Executive Council to request the Executive Council of the A. F. of L. to notify the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners to re-affiliate with the department. In connection with this, the Executive Council of the department was ordered to make an earnest effort to adjust the differences between the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the Sheet Metal Workers.
The convention also adopted the recommendation of the American Federation of Labor relative to the amalgamation of the two organizations hitherto existing in the pipe fitting industry under the banner of the United Association of Plumbers, Gas Ftters, Steam Fitters and Helpers.
Other Matters of Interest.
The following matters were considered and disposed of as stated:
The Executive Council was authorized to reduce the per capita tax collected from the affiliated organizations upon the reaffiliation of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners with the department.
The Executive Council was instructed to confer with the Executive Council of the A. F. of L. with the view of inducing independent locals of Hod Carriers, seated in Central Bodies and Local Building Trades Councils, to affiliate with the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers' Union.