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DETROIT, MICH., DECEMBER, 1908 568069 No.1
Above appears a picture of Seventh International Vice President Wm. Jacobs, of the Amalgamated Association. In the summer of 1899 Vice President Jacobs became an active local member of Div. No. 110, then instituted among the Louisville street railway men. He was later elected president of the local, which, under his administration, brought improved wages and conditions to the motormen and conductors of that city. At the Buffalo convention in 1901 he was a delegate from Div. 110, and was elected second I. V. P. He was later dis
missed from the service, but maintained his membership and lead an active campaign before the Kentucky legislature for Vestibule protection, and was active in work for the movement, serving at one time as president of the State F. of L. At the Pittsburg convention he was elected a member of the G. E. B., in which position he continued for two and one-half years. Div. 110 was later reorganized as Div. 451, and at the New Orleans convention, where he represented the local as a delegate, he was elected to his present position.
which may be assumed as the most accurate barometer of industrial life as applying to labor, from which the most reliable deductions may be made. Thus, to size up the general labor situation the reports of the American Federation of Labor officers are more instructive, if not more interesting, than any other feature of the Convention.
The recept Convention of the A. F. of L. was held a Denver, Colo., November 9th to 21st. The Officers Reports conclude the of
ficial year ending September, 31st, 1908, a period wholly within the present industrial depression. The year beginning October 1st, 1907, perhaps, found the labor movement yet in its full strength, as its progression had been limited by less than one month of the panic that started in that year. So the report must show the effect of a serious depression upon a labor movement of SO vast a magnitude as the American Federation of Labor had reached at that time.
It must be admitted that any effect the depression has had upon organized labor must indicate a much more serious effect upon labor in general, as it is natural to assume that the membership of the various labor organizations has been fairly well employed during the period covered by the report, and any dropping off in membership of any of the respective organizations must signify, to some extent, the idleness that has been imposed upon labor so far as it has touched the organized workers. Those who did not have the advantage of united effort in protection in employment must have naturally suffered from lack of employment far more than those who had the united protection that comes with organization, and which has an adhesive force in that great bond of human sympathy that naturally comes from close association in an alliance in which a common cause is at stake.
There is just as much incentive for organization today as there was one year ago. The incentive is just as forceful to the conviction of the wage-earner now as then. This being true, any general loss of membership in any organization or any retarding of the development must be accepted as that of depletion or restraint from idleness. Other causes are exceptions met with as well in prosperous times as in times of depression.
But it is here determined to place in an abbreviated way extracts of the reports to the Twenty-eighth Annual Convention before the readers, as there are many other interesting features aside from those purely statistical. It is only to be regretted that space herein denies the full publication of the various reports.
Report of President Gompers.
Denver, Colo., November 9, 1908. To the Officers and Delegates of the Twentyeighth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor:
Fellow Workers: Fourteen years ago we met in this city, and then, just as now, the workers were suffering from a paralysis of industry resulting from the manipulations of the "Princes of Finance" or from the incompetency of our modern "Captains of Industry." I declare now, as I did then, that it is an indictment against our civilization that in a land so bountiful, broad and fertile as ours, with the workers so earnest, energetic, industrious, anxious and willing to produce, that such a paralysis of industry should be possible, and I believe we should hold ac countable those who are responsible for the
unnecessary and wanton misery of so large a mass of workless workers.
In our country there must not be permitted to grow up or to be maintained a permanent army of unemployed.
In the midst of such adverse circumstances, that our trade unions have maintained their existence, speaks well of them and of the sound economic and fundamental principles upon which they are based. That they have not succumbed to the fearful antagonism arrayed against them, to the lack of employment and to other insidious influences, is the best evidence that the movement of labor has found the citadel of its protection, its noblest inspiration, in the hearts and minds of the workers.
Coming as we do to this magnificent western city, where, by the hand of labor, the brain and brawn of our people, a waste land has been made to blossom like a rose, is there not an appropriateness in our meeting here, when the wrongs of the past are still extant? May we not indulge the hope that these wrongs may spend their force and find rectification at the foot of the mighty Rockies, and that the toilers may here be still further inspired and encouraged in their struggle and hope for the triumph of justice?
Westward the course of empire makes its way, over mountain and plain and desert. No obstacle is insurmountable in the course of human progress, when real empire and sovereignty dwell in the heart, the minds, and the conscience of the manhood and wom. anhood of our country.
Our Constitution and custom have made it incumbent upon the President to give an accounting of the work in connection with our movement for the year. It has been my pleasure, and is my duty, to make my report to the Convention as comprehensive as possible, but the manifold duties devolving upon the President of the Federation preclude the thought that anything but a few of the extraordinarily large number of important matters with which he has had to deal can be submitted.
The international unions have done magnificent work in regard to membership, as well as in uplifting their respective crafts and callings. They have at least partially supported their unemployed. The declared policy of our Federation against wage reductions has found fruition, despite the industrial panic. Organized labor, even those unions unaffiliated, have taken up and accepted the advice given by our Federation. to resist wage reductions under any and all circumstances; aye, even the unorganized have taken some degree of courage and partially resisted.
For the first time in the history of our own or any other country, an industrial crisis has come and will pass away, and a wholesale cutting in wages has practically been averted. Time has demonstrated the wisdom of our Federation's declaration on this, as upon other economic and political questions. We have clearly proved the
soundness of the philosophy that wage reductions are not only injurious, but their resistance and prevention are the most rational and most rapid method of an emergence from an industrial crisis or panic, whether brought on by the manipulations of "Princes of Finance" or the blundering of the "Captains of Industry." I again strongly urge Labor's persistent resistance to any wage reductions. Nor can I permit this opportunity to pass by without expressing my great appreciation of the readiness with which the officers of our international unions responded to the invitation to meet last March in conference in Washington, to meet the emergencies which arose in our industrial and political life.
State Federations and City Central Bodies.
As already indicated, we have now 38 State Federations and 608 City Central Bodies. There is a marked advancement in the growth of our organized labor movement, and there are no bodies more effective in carrying into execution the policies and principles for which our movement stands, than these state federations and city central labor organizations. Their influence for good is marked and widespread. By reason of their local and constant mingling with the rank and file of the toilers in their respective states and localities, they inspire the feelings of unity, fraternity and solidarity among the workers and all right-thinking men. It is, therefore, all the greater gratification to find so general a feeling of respect and confidence among the officers and delegates to state federations, central labor bodies, and the local unions of our great movement, in full accord with the officers of our international unions and our general labor movement.
Labor Movement in Canada.
It is with much satisfaction that I can report the great growth in the labor movement among our fellow-workers in the Dominion of Canada. Those intrusted with the affairs of the movement, both local and provincial, in the Dominion, are so earnest and loyal that they see to it that the interests of the workers are promoted, both nationally and internationally.
It is interesting to note that, despite the efforts of those who would sunder the reciprocal and beneficial international fraternal relations which exist among the workers of Canada, the United States, and the entire continent of America, the bonds of unity and fraternity are constantly and more firmly cemented. The frequent intercourse of representative labor men with our fellows on both sides of the border, aided by our special organizer, Mr. John T. Flett, and the volunteer organizers' work of unification of the aims and aspirations of the workers, are bringing beneficial economic and material results. The exercise of legislative and political rights must, of course, always be mutually recognized and conceded.
Porto Rican Labor Movement. We have continued our efforts to help our fellow-workers and the people generally of
Porto Rico to the very fullest of our opportunities. This has been accomplished by visits of our representative labor men, including myself, to Porto Rico, by considerable correspondence and literature sent there, as well as the permanent service of an efficient organizer, with whom a considerable corps of volunteer organizers co-operate. There is a spirit of solidarity among the people there, and their feeling or entire sympathy with true American ideals has been fruitful of good results.
I can do no better than quote here the report made to me by our organizer there, the representative of the labor movement of that island, Santiago Iglesias:
"The American Federation of Labor is at present the only source from which we hope to secure liberty, justice, and happiness, not only for the workers, but for the people in general in Porto Rico.
"The labor movement in Porto Rico has no doubt been, and is, the most efficient and safest way of conveying the sentiments and feelings of the American people to the hearts of the people of Porto Rico. If the people of Porto Rico should really become Americans, the American Federation of Labor would be the only institution to be held responsible for it. The trusts, the bureaucracy and the capitalistic combinations have been imported from the United States to exploit the ignorance and unhappiness of the farmers and workers in general for the purpose of building great fortunes as a product of cheap labor. None of these institutions, indeed, will ever transform the Porto Rican people into Americans. The American sentiments now existing among Porto Rican people are due to the labor, faithfulness and kindness of the American Federation of Labor, as well as to its principles of justice, and the aid we have received, and what it shall be capable of doing for us in the future.
"Organizations have greatly progressed during the present year, and their efforts have been more successful than ever before. Up to this date we have organized 38 new local unions, belonging to the different trades, through the island, and we have succeeded in reorganizing 27 out of those which were disbanded. The principles, aims, and beneficial results of the labor movement are now more clearly understood by our workmen, and this is one of the reasons which will make their respective unions more permanent.
"We number 112 unions in good standing at present, which are actively working and affiliated with their respective international labor unions and with the American Federation of Labor. You may rest assured that this island of Porto Rico, whose first years of trial and experience in labor questions have already passed, has a brighter prospect within the ranks of the American Federation of Labor.
"The State Branch Free Federation of Workingmen of Porto Rico has succeeded in securing from the legislative assembly the passage of the following labor bills:
"An Act regulating the working hours of