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State were killed and 17 injured, and that in the year ending December 31, 1908, but 3 were killed and 14 injured. The reports show that the fatalities were due to such accidents as might occur in any industry, such as falling with elevator, falling down elevator shaft, falling from platform, falling on stair, being struck by a falling casting, and being caught by machinery. Obviously the perils which beset the packing-house employee arise from disease rather than from accidents.
The national organization of packing-house workers dates from 1897. Its membership was largest and its power and influence were greatest in the years from 1901 to 1904. The strike of 1904 resulted in a severe setback for the organization, from the effects of which it has not as yet recovered.
There have been local unions of butchers in some of the centers of the packing industry for a number of years. In the fall of 1896 a call was sent out by the American Federation of Labor for delegates to take part in the formation of an international body to include all the workers of the industry. A meeting of the delegates was held at Cincinnati and the new organization came into existence early in 1897 under the name of the International Union of Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America."
All packing-trade unions previously affiliated with the American Federation of Labor were required to take out charters from the new international body. At the beginning the organization was made up of skilled workmen only, but about the year 1902 its activities were expanded to include the unskilled men of the trade. It is stated that in 1904 at the time of the great strike, fully one-half of the entire membership of the unions was unskilled. Local unions are organized, in general, according to the occupation of the members or the department in which they are employed; but in some cities, where the departments are smali, it seems to have been the practice for several departments to unite to form a mixed local. In Chicago a number of unions were at one time organized upon a racial basis.
Previous to 1904 there were, on a middle plane, between the locals and the international body, a number of packing-trade councils,'s each embracing all the unions of a given trade center. These councils, which consisted of delegates from the different unions of a locality, met at stated intervals, and were designed to bring the different locals more completely into touch with one another, making the interest of one the interest of all. Since the strike of 1904 all of these organizations, with the exception of those at New York and Chicago, have ceased to exist. The international organization has as its officers a president, a secretary-treasurer, and five vice-presidents. All of these officers together make up the international
. executive board, in which is lodged the general supervision of organized labor in the industry, including the adjustment of disputes and questions of jurisdiction arising among the local bodies. The headquarters of the international body are at Syracuse, N. Y., and conventions are held biennially. Both the president and the secretarytreasurer are salaried officials and devote their entire time to the business of the organization.
During the years previous to 1904 the unions were able to secure from the packers agreements controlling wages and conditions of employment. These agreements related not only to almost all of the skilled workers, but to the unskilled workers in certain departments. The defeat suffered by the unions in the strike of 1904 was a serious blow to organized labor in the packing industry. One of the first and most important results was the disbandment of nearly all the locals made up of unskilled workers. It is stated that, while before 1904 fifty per cent of the total membership of the international body consisted of unskilled laborers, since that time it has been confined, except in one or two of the smaller centers, to the skilled workers only. Moreover, since the strike not even the skilled workers have been able to secure agreements of any sort from the principal packing houses. For this reason and because of the general weakening of the hold of organized labor upon the industry the membership of existing unions has materially decreased during the past four or five years.
The labor disturbances of 1894, arising out of the strike at Pullman, Ill., and the sympathetic strike of the railway employees, centering in and about Chicago, affecting as they did either directly or indirectly, most classes of labor in the locality, were the occasion of a strike of some importance in the packing industry. This strike was an unorganized affair of rather brief duration and had apparently but little effect upon the relations between employers and employees. The striking workmen had no special grievance against the packers or, if they had grievances of a minor nature, these were not their reason for striking, the demonstration being wholly sympathetic.
Early in the month of July, 1894, the labor leaders of Chicago and the vicinity gathered to discuss plans for a sympathetic strike by all the organized workmen. Such a strike was agreed upon. The employees of the packing industry were at the time unorganized, but on the evening of July 11 a considerable number of butchers affiliated in a body with the Knights of Labor. On the following day these men, numbering probably between 600 and 1,000, went out on a strike. The packers apparently suffered but little inconvenience by reason of the strike; killing was continued, though upon a reduced scale, the work being done by foremen, by employees transferred from other departments, and by the new men who were hired as rapidly as possible to take the places of those who had left.
THE STRIKE OF 1993.
The most serious labor dispute in the history of the meat-packing industry of the United States occurred in 1904. While the strike of that year was participated in to a greater or lesser degree by a majority of all the packing-house employees of the country, Chicago, as the principal packing center, was the scene of the severest and most important contest. The result of the strike was complete defeat for the strikers and the serious weakening or destruction of the labor organizations of the industry.
For some years previous to 1904 the packing-house workers, both skilled and unskilled, had been organized, and agreements had been made between the packers and the unions, fixing wages and conditions of employment. The strike of 1904 grew out of the inability of the packers and the unions to reach an understanding satisfactory to both parties relative to such an agreement. It appears that in the month of May, 1904, the agreements for the previous year having expired, the unions asked for a new agreement covering all the employees and fixing the minimum compensation for unskilled labor at 20 cents an hour. This demand was later reduced to 18} cents an hour. The employers, who had before assented to such a minimum for the unskilled laborers in certain departments, refused to allow it to apply to the laborers of all departments. During the months of May and June a reduction of 1 or 2 cents an hour was made in the pay of unskilled laborers.
After the failure of several attempts to reach an understanding, the strike began on July 12, 1904, nearly all the employees going out at noon on that day. Notwithstanding the great shortage of labor that resulted, the packing houses continued in operation, the work being done by foremen and by strike-breakers.
During the week following the 12th negotiations were carried on between the labor leaders and representatives of the packers, and an agreement was finally reached for the submittal of all differences to arbitration.
By the terms of this agreement the strikers were to return to work at once and the packers were to employ them as rapidly as possible. On July 22 the men reported at the packing houses as usual to go to work, only to be again called out an hour or two later, the charge being made by the labor leaders that the packers had been guilty of unfair discrimination in reemploying the workmen. After this second walk out the employers refused to carry on further negotiations with the labor organizations and continued to operate their plants with such nonunion labor as they could secure. In Chicago, at least, the strikers of all races appear to have been true to their unions. It is stated that the packers made a special effort through appeals to the Polish women to induce the men of this race to return to their work; but this attempt to split the forces of the strikers along racial lines was not attended with success. The many Bohemians employed in the industry held out, with the Irish, Germans, and other workmen, as long as the strike continued. Of the men employed as strikebreakers the great majority appear to have been negroes and recent immigrants. The negroes were probably the most important element numerically. Of the foreign-born workers a large proportion were Italians and Greeks.
The employment of Greeks as strike-breakers supplied the occasion for a boycott, by the labor forces and their allies, of the Greek merchants who, to the number of about three hundred, had at the time established themselves in business, chiefly as fruit and candy dealers, in and about Chicago. These merchants, suffering severely from the boycott, sought, through the Greek consul and their priests, to dissuade their countrymen from working in opposition to the strikers. Efforts to this end were, however, unavailing, and the Greek laborers continued in the employ of the packers until the end of the strike, at which time many of them left in a body for another part of the country. Many of the strike-breakers were brought into Chicago by the trainload or carload from other cities and in the case of the negroes, from the South. Their employment was occasionally attended by violence on the part of the union workmen and their sympathizers, but order was, in general, better preserved than at many strikes involving interests of like importance. It is stated that there were actually fewer arrests of union workmen while the strike was on than under normal conditions of employment.
After the abortive attempt at a settlement already referred to the strike dragged on for a number of weeks, the contest everywhere going against the strikers. The packers appear to have had but little difficulty in securing labor at any of the chief centers of the industry. At Kansas City the strike is reported to have caused very little trouble; and even at Chicago, where the strikers exerted all their energies and where the struggle was most severe, the issue seems hardly to have been open to doubt. During the latter part of the strike the packers were resolute in their refusal to concede or to arbitrate or even to treat with the strikers except as individuals. Finally, on the 9th of September, the labor leaders surrendered, and the men went back to work at terms dictated by the packers.
It is stated that the majority of the strike-breakers left the yards as soon as they found that they were required to equal in efficiency the former employees, and that most of the latter were soon back at work.
The strike of 1904 appears to have been ill advised and, upon the whole, poorly conducted. Had the labor leaders elected to abide by the terms of the agreement reached on July 20, and had the difficulties arising upon the 22d been submitted to arbitration as was provided for in the agreement, it seems probable that organized labor in the industry would have secured a substantial benefit. The packers, considering the second walk out in the light of a breach of faith on the part of the workers, thereafter refused to enter into agreements with the strikers, and there being at the time an excess of unemployed labor in the market, were able to carry on their business without serious difficulty. The defeat of the unions was, as has been said, complete. Since 1904, while the unions of the skilled workers of the industry have continued to exist, they have had no agreements with the principal packing houses. The body of unskilled laborers has remained, for the most part, wholly unorganized.
THE IMMIGRANT AND ORGANIZED LABOR.
The following table shows, by general nativity and race of individual, affiliation with trade unions of males 21 years of age or over, in the households studied, who are working for wages:
TABLE 61.- Affiliation with trade unions of males 21 years of age or over who are working
for wages, by general nativity and race of individual.
The foregoing table is chiefly of interest in showing that a very small proportion of any class of employees are affiliated with trade unions, only 2.5 per cent of the total foreign-born, 4.3 per cent of the native-born of foreign father, and 5.1 per cent of native-born whites of native father being members of, or connected with, labor organizations. In striking contrast with this general showing, it is seen, however, that 33.3 per cent of the North Italians and 19.2 per cent of the English of foreign birth are affiliated with trade unions, these comparatively high proportions of the races mentioned being due to the fact that they are more extensively employed in the Chicago plants and are engaged there in the occupations which are still unionized.
The following table shows the per cent of males 21 years of age or over, in the households studied, who were working for wages and who were affiliated with trade unions. The exhibit is by locality and by general nativity and race of individual.