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PROGRESS OF THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT IN GERMANY
BY HANS FEHLINGER, MUNICH, GERMANY.
Germany trade unionism is now stronger numerically than in any other country. In 1911 the average membership of all unions was 3,042,203, as compared with 2,688,018 in 1910, being an increase of 354,185 members or 13 per cent. However, the labor movement in this country is not a united one. There are three principal groups of unions, nameiy, the so-called socialist unions affiliated to the General Federation; the Christian trade unions, favoring a close connection between the labor mevement and churches; and the Hirsch-Duncker unions, the last named called after two Prussian liberal deputies who played a prominent role in the establishment of unions which aim at "industrial harmony."
The unions affiliated to the General Federation admit to membership every workman of good character without regard to his religious or political conviction. It is true that, with few exceptions, the leaders of the unions of this group are avowed socialists and members of the Social Democratic party, which in almost every question affecting the welfare of the working classes co-operates with the General Federation of Trade Unions. But the leaders do not interfere with union members not belonging to that party. Within the union everyone has equal rights and duties, yet nobody is allowed to act against the interests of his fellow-members.
Groups of Unions
Total, 3 groups. --
The number of national unions belonging to the General Federation decreased from 53 in 1910 to 51 in 1911, because the unions of bricklayers and masons, hod carriers and building laborers, and insulator workers amalgamated to form the "building trades union;" during the current year the plasterers' union also joined this amalgamation. At the close of 1911 there were seven unions of building trades workers in existence, namely, the building trades union with 295,688 members, the painters' union with 45,926 members, the asphalt workers with 1106 members, the roofers with 8339 members, the pavers with 10,537 members, the carpenters with 59,320 members, and the plasterers with 10,781 members.
Thirty-three unions included female members; the total female membership was 191,332, as compared with 161,512 in 1910.
Total Total Income Expenditure
The income, expenditure, and funds of the unions affiliated to the General Federation were always much higher than those of all other groups combined. The figures of the following table, relating to the year 1911, serve to illustrate this fact:
Doll. Doll. Doll. 17,164,000 14,292,000 14,787,000 625,000 549,000 402,000 1,487,000 1,260,000 1,686,000
19,276,000 16,101,000 16,875,000
Figures concerning the finances of the unaffiliated unions are not available.
The payments for this benefit cannot be accurately gauged by any one year's expenditure; strikes and lockouts occur at irregular intervals, whilst the other benefits are tolerably regular in their recurrence, year by year. But the total as well as the per capita expenditure for dispute benefit is always highest in the unions affiliated to the General Federation. The expenditure on benevolent benefits and legal assistance amounted, in 1911, to the sum of $4,876,000 in case of the last named unions; the Hirsch-Duncker unions expended $277,000 and the Christian trade unions $296,000 on benefits of this kind. Of the $4,876,000 expended on benevolent benefits by the 51 unions affiliated to the General Federation there were paid on unemployment and traveling benefit $1,842,000; sick benefit $2,444,000; permanent disability benefit $128,000; funeral benefit $249,000, and on other benefits $213,000. In the earlier period of trade union development in Germany there was considerable oppo. sition against the introduction of complicated schemes of benevolent benefits. Many prominent men feared that if the unions adopted benevolent benefits, their primary object, the securing of better conditions of work, would be subverted. But as mutual assistance is the essence of a trade union, nothing was more natural than that some provision should be made for the common casualities of life among workmen, such as sickness and privation. Furthermore the benefit provisions of the unions tended to minimize the fluctuations
in membership and to steady the organizations.
During the 21 year period from 1891 to 1911 the unions affiliated to the General Federation expended on strike, lockout and victimization benefit a total sum of 28 million dollars, while the total cost of the various benevolent benefits amounted to 32 million dollars.
By Berton Braley.
War-and the tramp of the troops once more.
War-red war in the world again,
On the land's best strength and finest youth.