Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Grace should seek information and advice regarding Judge Taft's attitude toward the railway employes of the country from the very one whose influence and administration were used to bring about his nomination, and is now being used to secure his election, when Mr. Taft's labor decisions have been discussed in the lodge rooms and printed and commented upon in the magazines of various organizations of labor, including those of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, of which Mr. Grace and myself are members.

"Misled by President."

Had he consulted such publications he would have been given the complete labor record of Mr. Taft, rather than a partial one, and both he and his fellow-employes throughout the country who read your reply would be in possession of the facts, rather than being in the position of having been misled by the President of the United States. The most important part of Mr. Taft's labor record is conspicuous by its absence, from your reply, and it is to supply this deficiency that I write this letter."

Mr. Fuller then refers to the decision of Judge Taft in the United States circuit court for the southern district of Ohio, April 30, 1894, refusing the petition of employes of the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railroad that an order of the receiver reducing wages 10 per cent be rescinded. He quotes at length from the decision, in which Judge Taft stated that "from a strictly legal standpoint the employes have no standing in this court to call for an adjudication of any rights." The reduction was approved by Judge Taft.

Mr. Fuller then cites decisions of Judge Caldwell and other federal judges in similar cases, where proposed reductions in wages by receivers were prohibited by the court.

Eight Hour Law and Canal. Taking up another phase of Judge Taft's record, the letter states:

"You also failed to give all of Mr. Taft's record with regard to important labor matters on the Panama Canal. On January 15, 1906, Mr. Taft, together with his staff from the Panama Canal, went before the House Committee on Appropriations and asked that the operation of the eight hour law be suspended on that work.

"Congress placed a provision in the urgent deficiency bill suspending the operation of the eight hour law in the construction of the isthmian canal. True it is that this provision applied to alien labor only, yet so far as Mr. Taft and his staff were concerned, they desired it to apply to all classes of labor, Americans included."

The letter also states: "In rendering his decision in the Ann Arbor case, Judge Taft went so far as to call the late P. M. Arthur, then grand chief engineer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and one of the most conservative labor leaders in the world, a conspirator."

What a jolt Mr. Fuller's letter must be to President Roosevelt, in his effort to elect his candidate, Injunction Judge Taft. The railroad brotherhoods were the one labor asset most conspicuously advertised as friendly to Judge Taft. Mr. Fuller is a most representative railroad brotherhood man. He has for years represented their legislative interests before Congress; yet Mr. Fuller finds himself forced to protest against the misrepresentation by President Roosevelt of Judge Taft's record.

President Roosevelt has always gone out of his way in an effort to cajole the railroad brotherhood men. But despite all Administration efforts, the railway workers of our country are determined to elect their friends and defeat their enemies.

PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S INCONSISTENCY. President

President Roosevelt, in his attacks upon Labor, professes to be deeply outraged because Samuel Gompers has criticised the action of the courts in certain instances, because he has intimated that judges are not always infallible and that injustice had often been done to Labor.

Has Mr. Roosevelt always refrained from criticising or attacking the court's decisions?

It is notorious that the President always attacks fiercely anybody who does not agree with him. His naive assumption of infallibility is almost ludicrous. He really seems to think that he has a monopoly of all right-thinking and good intentions. He simply can not conceive how anybody can differ from him and yet be right.

It was President Roosevelt who made

the Government Printing Office a so-called "open shop." A fact which has been exploited to the fullest by the Parry-PostVan Cleave outfit, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Buck's Stove and Range Company.

It was President Roosevelt's executive order of January 25, 1906, which prohibited, upon pain of instant dismissal from the service, workingmen in Government employ from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right of petition to Congress to secure redress for any grievance or wrong; yet President Roosevelt imagines he can cajole the workers into voting for his candidate, Injunction Judge Taft.

He says that he helped the labor unions when they were right and disciplined them when they were wrong. Who was the judge of whether they were right or wrong? Always President Roosevelt!

Yet, strange as it may seem, the workers themselves are very much of the opinion that there are more competent judges of their rights and wrongs even than President Roosevelt. They prefer the leaders chosen from their own ranks, who have made a careful study of economic problems for a lifetime, and whose judgment and experience fit them to decide as to Labor's rights and wrongs.

This view seems to be lese majeste in President Roosevelt's eyes. He goes farther and assures the country that Injunction Judge Taft is always right because he selected him for his successor.

But it is indeed a fact that Mr. Roosevelt has abused the courts roundly whenever the whim struck him. He has used language far more intemperate than any ever used by us.

In a letter to Judge Taft, written sometime ago, but published recently, President Roosevelt spoke of the "dull purblind folly of very rich men, their greed and arrogance and the way they have prospered-too often through the weakness and shortsightedness of the judges and by their unfortunate possessions of meticulous minds."

Now, we never used such language in speaking either of the very rich or of the judges by whose favor they may have prospered.

In a special message to Congress, President Roosevelt waxed very abusive of Judge Humphries and declared his decision in the

Beef Trust case was "a miscarriage of justice" and came "measurably near making a farce of the law." This is one illustration of how President Roosevelt attacked the wisdom and integrity of the federal courts.

Again, President Roosevelt attacked the United States Circuit Court of Appeals when it reversed Judge Landis' decision fining the Standard Oil Company $29,000,000. Then he said:

The President would regard it as a gross miscarriage of justice if through any technicalities of any kind the defendant escaped the punishment which would unquestionably have been meted out to any weaker defendant who had been guilty of such offense. The President will do everything in his power to avert or prevent such miscarriage of justice.

Even when it was a matter of the abuse of the injunction the President in his messages has been wont to speak even more severely of the courts than do the men of labor, although he has in this campaign assumed a dense ignorance of the real issue on this point.

In his message at the opening of the 59th Congress he wrote of judges who "wantonly and oppressively" use the power of injunc tion. Again, in his message to the 60th Congress last December he spoke of the abuse of injunctions and called attention to the tyrannical use of what is nominally a temporary injunction to accomplish what is in fact a permanent decision." May not the men of Labor assume that he spoke more truly in his messages than in his efforts to elect candidate Taft?

[ocr errors]

We might quote at still greater length, but enough has been given to show that President Roosevelt has by no means any great respect for the infallibility of courts when they do not meet his views.

As to the remedy, he is the individualist who wishes to keep in his own hands as far as possible the power to dispense good and evil, therefore he will roundly abuse a judge who does not please him, but do nothing to help correct the judicial system that gives the unjust or tyrannical judge undue opportunity to oppress those who come to him for the administering or interpretation of the law.

The wage-workers hold that the judiciary must come to an appreciation of modern conditions of industry, that it must apply and interpret the laws in the broad spirit which makes for the uplift of the whole people, that it must emerge from the "twi

light zone;" that as wealth and corporate power advance, the judiciary should be the bulwark of the common people to defend and protect their rights and see to it that the workers have an equal right before the law with all other citizens.

President Roosevelt and candidate Taft and everybody else who has given the matter the slightest investigation knows that our courts, especially of late years, have often reverted to medieval methods in construing the rights of the workers while the greatest latitude has been allowed the corporations. Labor justly complains of this state of affairs, and not only asks legislation to correct the evils, but endeavors to build up a healthy public sentiment which will insist upon justice to all and special privileges to none.

President Roosevelt could have done a great public service by standing for the rights of the people and urging that judicial abuse and perversion be rooted out, but in his desire to elect the candidate of his own selection he misrepresents the cause of the workers and then gives them an additional grievance by insisting that candidate Taft should be elected because President Roosevelt says he is their friend.

The workers judge candidate Taft by his record and by his campaign utterances. In both he is found to be quite the opposite of a friend to the workers. Misrepresentation and abuse of their cause before election gives them no hope of fair and sympathetic treatment could he be elected President. President Roosevelt has weakened his own prestige and has not helped Injunction Judge Taft.

Justice Holmes Favors Principle of Pearre Bill.

The Roosevelt-Knox discussion of the injunction question opens up a number of critical issues in the campaign.

Mr Roosevelt denounces the Pearre bill to regulate injunctions, which he characterizes as cruel, wicked, and unconstitutional, and charges that if Mr. Bryan and the Democratic party would support that bill it would be offering Labor a sham in place of substantial relief. He asserts that the Supreme Court judges would not uphold it unless the court was "packed' by Mr. Bryan for that purpose. This suggests the possibility that Mr. Taft if elected might "pack" the court for the corporations.

How does President Roosevelt explain the fact that he appointed as associate justice of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Holmes of Massachusetts after he had made a judicial record in favor of the principles of the Pearre bill. Mr. Justice Holmes, in the case of Vegelahn vs. Gunter (167 Mass., 72), in a dissenting opinion, said:

"But there is a notion which latterly has been insisted on a good deal, that a combination of persons to do what any one of them lawfully might do by himself will make the otherwise lawful conduct unlawful.

It would be rash to say that some as yet unformulated truth may not be hidden under this proposition. But in the general form in which it has been presented and accepted by many courts, I think it plainly untrue, both on authority and on principle."

And afterwards, in 1900, Mr. Justice Holmes in the case of Plant vs. Woods (176 Mass., 492), sustained in the most implicit terms the secondary boycott in the most extreme form the wit of man could imagine.

Judge Holmes laid down the very principle on the law of conspiracy which Labor contends for, and upheld the legality of the secondary as well as the primary boycott, and of peaceful picketing.

President Roosevelt's denunciation of the Pearre bill as a sham is discredited by the fact that he appointed a judge of the Supreme Court who upheld the very doctrines which the President now declares are abhorrent and preposterous.

Mr. Roosevelt's assertion of sure unconstitutionality of the Pearre injunction bill is also discredited by the opinion of the Supreme Court of the state of Montana, rendered June 1, 1908, which is on all fours with Judge Holmes' dissenting opinion. How does President Roosevelt get around the decision of the Montana court and the opinion of Judge Holmes. The Montana decision is as follows:

Opinion of Supreme Court, of Montana,

Rendered June 1, 1908.

"We hold, then, that a labor organization may employ the boycott, as herein defined, in furtherance of the objects of its existence, if, however, the means by which it enforces the boycott, are illegal, then it may render its members amenable to the processes of the law, but if they are not the courts are powerless to render assist

ance to the person or firm boycotted, even though financial loss results as the direct consequence of the boycott. It may be true, that, speaking generally, no one has the right intentionally to do an act for the purpose of injuring another's business, but injury, however, in its legal significance means damage resulting from the violation of a legal right, and it is the violation of the legal right which renders an act wrongful in the eye of the law and makes it actionable. If, then, these defendants and their associates did not violate any legal right of the plaintiff in withdrawing their patronage from the company, or in agreeing to withdraw their patronage from the company, or in agreeing to withdraw their patronage from anyone who might patronize Lindsay & Co., they can not be enjoined from continuing the boycott in force, so long as the means employed to make the boycott effective are not illegal.

"The evidence shows that the only means used in this instance was the publication of the circular in question.

"It is held by the court that if any of the individuals in the union could publish the circular all may join in its publication. Certainly it can not be said that Lindsay & Co. had a property right in the trade of any particular person.

"In this country patronage depends upon good will and we do not think that it will be contended by anyone that it was wrongful or unlawful or violated any right of the plaintiff company for any particular individual in Billings to withdraw his patronage from Lindsay & Co., or from any other concern which might be doing business with that company; and that, too, without regard to his reason for doing so.

"But there can be found running through our legal literature many remarkable statements that an act perfectly law ful when done by one person becomes, by some sort of legerdemain, criminal when done by two or more persons acting in concert, and this upon the theory that the concerted action amounts to a conspiracy. "But with this doctrine we do not agree. "If an individual is clothed with a right when acting alone he does not lose such right merely by acting with others, each of whom is clothed with the same right.

"If the act done is lawful the combination of action is not an element which gives illegal character to the act.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

The final decree was of the most drastic and far-reaching character, and besides enjoining the late employes from doing acts which were clearly illegal, it also enjoined them from any form of picketing, from inducing employes to leave the service of the company by persuasion or otherwise, and from any kind of interference with the company, direct or indirect."

The case was carried to the circuit court of appeals and the provisions of the injunction struck out which prevented peaceful picketing, the right of persuasion in inducing employes to join a strike, and also all reference to boycotting, on the ground that there was no boycott, as the members had the right to refuse to handle struck" work wherever they found it.

[ocr errors]

"The opinion is important," writes the President, "especially in showing that much can now be accomplished in getting the courts to correct abuses against employes in the exercise of the power of injunction, if such abuses are in effective form brought to their attention, as, thanks to the advice of Judge Taft, they were brought in this case.”

Here President Roosevelt himself admits that the courts have abused the power of injunction by forbidding things which the workmen had a legal right to do. Mr. Roosevelt shows in this instance that he does know that the power of injunction is abused by the courts. What is his remedy? Is it the enactment of a law to define the injunction power and limit its abuse? No; he would have the workmen send embassies to the White House to ask him and Mr. Taft to bring pressure on the courts to reverse such injunctions. President Roosevelt would have himself, or Judge Taft, made the Czar, who would by

"It is the illegality of the purpose to be gracious exercise of personal favor when

1

he happened to be in the mood occasionally condescend to help a poor workman by the suggestion of the employment of experienced and able counsel to get the justice which should have been accorded to him in the first place.

The decision reversing the worst features. of this injunction in the iron molders' case was made only recently.

It looks like a desperate effort to manufacture campaign material to bolster up Judge Taft's injunction record.

Even giving this partial reversal of an injunction all due weight, let us point out that neither President Roosevelt nor Mr. Taft touch upon the principle involved in the abuse of the injunction power.

The labor unions are asking Congress to define and limit the injunction power to its proper function and to make it impossible for a judge or a President to exercise his personal whim as to whether or not the injunction power shall be abused.

President Roosevelt mentions Mr. Frey, the editor of the Iron Molders' Journal, in connection with this injunction case. He evidently wishes the inference to hold that Mr. Frey and his organization are perfectly satisfied with this method of dealing with the injunction abuse. The illustration is hardly well taken. Frey is at the present moment on the stump advocating the American Federation of Labor political program. The American Federation of Labor political program includes the endorsement of the Pearre bill to limit and define the use of injunctions. This is the bill which President Roosevelt so bitterly attacked a week ago. In a letter dated September 26 Mr. Frey

says:

[blocks in formation]

President, A. F. of L. DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: I beg to advise you that my service as a speaker will be at your disposal after the 8th of October.

I would like to visit those places where the election may be close and where our most prominent opponents-such as Speaker Cannon-are running for re-election and where some of our staunch friends are also making a fight.

With kindest personal regards, and assuring you of my hearty co-operation in the present campaign, I am,

Yours fraternally,

JOHN P. FREY.

In a previous letter Mr. Frey said: The crisis in our affairs has been reached and unless there is a complete change in the majority of the next Congress we are going to have it rubbed

in so hard that it may for the time being check our progress completely.

which lies in my power to carry out the political You may rest assured that I will do everything program which has been adopted by yourself and the Executive Council. I feel that it is the duty of every man, both to his organization and to his fellow-unionists of other crafts, to support the hands of those who are representing them in the present political program for labor.

President Roosevelt neglects to state while talking about this Allis-Chalmers case, in which the iron molders were involved, they were so harassed and wronged by the unjust injunction that they were obliged to give up the strike months before the injunction was modified. The injunction killed the strike.

While President Roosevelt is in this mood of getting injunctions modified, we would like to suggest that he need not go so far afield as Wisconsin.

An injunction has been issued by Justice. Gould in the District of Columbia, at the request of the Van Cleave Buck's Stove and Range Co., against the officers of the American Federation of Labor, the affiliated unions and their members. This prohibits the exercise of free press and free speech. John Mitchell, Frank Morrison and Samuel Gompers are now being tried for contempt of

court. The Van Cleave Buck's Stove and Range Co. alleges that in discussing the principle involved in the injunction we have been guilty of contempt. Surely President Roosevelt and Mr. Taft read the newspapers. Surely they know something of this case. Why do they not bestir themselves to help us to justice? This injunction is based on Judge Taft's injunctions. Justice Gould quotes him as authority for issuing the Van Cleave Buck's Stove and Range Co. injunction. While tilting at windmills why not try his lance on the one labeled, "Van Cleave Buck's Stove and Range Co. vs. John Mitchell, Frank Morrison, Samuel Gompers?"

Stand by Your Union, and Justice Will Triumph.

Labor has been and will be accused of partisanship, but in performing a solemn duty at this time in support of a political party Labor does not become partisan to a political party, but partisan to a principle.

No Trickery Must Rob Labor of Victory.

« ForrigeFortsett »