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In connection with the situation which developed in the Bureau an article in The Washington Times on the day following the meeting of protest said that:
"Thomas F. Flaherty, Secretary of the National Federation of Postal Employees, wrote Miss Rankin a letter congratulating her upon the outcome of her campaign for an eighthour day for the female employees of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Throughout the postal service, he said, overtime work is general, and this is particularly true of the mail distributing divisions.”
The article goes on to say:
"Recalling various efforts made to get action in Congress, Mr. Flaherty suggests to Miss Rankin that the overtime evil. apparently can be eradicated only by making it expensive to the Post Office Department. He asks her aid in obtaining legislation for time-and-a-half or double time pay when clerks are worked more than eight hours."
This gentleman loses no time in seizing the opportunity for imposing, if possible, the time-and-a-half or double time on the Government for work in excess of eight hours. He uses the same old platitude that it might be sufficient to prevent the Government from working the men more than eight hours, but it is perfectly obvious that the purpose of it is to secure the increased pay which would come from time-and-a-half or double time, and not to limit the actual working day to eight hours. It is interesting to turn to an article which appeared in the Independent of May 12, 1917, on page 282, dealing with the question of hours of labor. There it says:
"To make this country efficient in the highest degree cooperation between the agencies of the Government and particular units is necessary. That co-operation is dependent very largely upon the men and women who handle the tools They must not be asked to work over eight hours a day, six days a week."
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This statement was made in the columns of the Independent by Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, who in this public way continued to pose as an advocate of the eight-hour day solely for humanitarian reasons.
It has been difficult to dissipate this fiction of an eight-hour day, but the action of the employees of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has called public attention to the situation in a way which could not be done otherwise.
The eight-hour day is used by organized labor leaders simply as a means for securing increased wages, and they have not been honest enough to point out the real resaons, but have insisted that the health of the worker demanded such a limitation of hours.
It has been estimated that only 51⁄2 per cent of the workers of the country who are on an eight-hour basis are working actually eight hours. The others are working as many hours as they can secure, and drawing punitive overtime pay which is usually provided where an eight-hour day is adopted.
It does not matter that punitive overtime means increased cost of production and decreased competitive power on the part of our industries. That is a side issue with labor. The purpose of punitive overtime is not to restrain the employer from working his people more than eight hours, but to secure for those people additional and unnecessary increases in pay which could not be obtained otherwise.
The time has arrived when organized labor will have to admit that its plea for an eight-hour day is not merely fiction, but a sham and a plain distortion of facts. The employees of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at Washington do not want to be limited to eight hours work. It is true that they want an eight-hour day, but only a basic eight-hour day, that is, one in which after working eight hours at the regular rate they can work from two to four hours additional even at the same hourly pay.
No one will contend that the workers are not entitled to sufficient wages for the time they work, but workers should be willing to go before the country on a basis of straight wage demand, and not upon the sham and pretense that an eighthour day is necessary to the conservation of their health. Their health is just as much impaired by three hours excess time at double-time wages as by three hours excess time at normal wages.
Too much publicity cannot be given to the action of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing employees in Washington. It is the final and conclusive answer to the plea of organized labor with regard to the eight-hour working day. It emphasizes amazingly the tortuous methods by which organized labor seeks to accomplish its purposes, and the thin disguise which it uses for the purpose of fooling the people of the country.
Organized labor should abandon its humanitarian cant and meet the issue by a square declaration that what it wants is increased wages, or a larger pay envelope, irrespective of its effect on industry or on anything else.
MAKE LABOR A PARTNER
Every laborer is a partner with his employer. He may not get as much as he thinks a partner should get, but he cannot expect to get as much as the employer, because the latter takes all the risk of making the investment in the business and whether the enterprise fails or not, whether the employer receives a dividend or not, he is obliged to meet his payroll first. It may be said that labor doesn't get all that it should from its partnership with capital. Perhaps it does not, but it is getting a great deal more today than ever before and more in this country than in any other. Partners in a business are not always satisfied with the division of the profits but such matters adjust themselves.
In these times of progress when the great industries like the Steel Corporation and others are offering their shares for subscription on easy terms to their employees, and thus making the latter partners, and giving them precisely the same dividends that the employers get on their shares of stock, we are bringing capital and labor into the more intimate touch necessary to do away with contention.
The day will come when every great business enterprise will be on a profit-sharing basis. Then very little will be heard of strikes and lock-outs and the demagogue who is constantly seeking to antagonize labor and capital will find his occupation gone.
Labor will have no more use for him. It will recognize the utter selfishness of his purpose. Leslie's.