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Columbia, in May, 1909, upon our appeal, rendered a decision modifying the terms of the original injunction.
This decision was fully discussed in the American Federationist, April, 1909, and as the limits of this report will not permit a full review of the editorial opinions there expressed it is to be hoped that all those who are interested in the preservation of our liberties will familiarize themselves with this and other editorial matter in relation to this case which has been published in the American Federationist since the injunction was obtained by the Buck's Stove and Range Company.
Through efforts of our officers and members, through our own magazine the American Federationist, and through the labor press, through the great mass meetings and public speeches which voiced our protest there was kindled throughout the country among all the people the spirit of liberty, the spirit of patriotism, the spirit of protest which'demands that there shall be no tampering with our constitutional liberties by the courts, whether under the guise of injunction order or of prejudiced judicial decree and sentence.
I say advisedly that the whole people of our country are aroused to the seriousness of the situation. They realize that this attack upon free press and free speech among the workers is only the insidious beginning of the entire withdrawal of those rights from the whole people whenever it might suit the plans of those who desire to profit by injustice and tyranny.
The response of the masses of the people to the campaign of the American Federation of Labor for the preservation of constitutional rights shows how thoroughly our labor movement is in harmony with the spirit of liberty and the love of justice and right which makes a nation great.
The struggle is far from ended. Eternal vigilance ever was and always will be the price of the liberties of a people.
Let no one doubt my great respect for the judiciary of our country; I have confidence in their integrity, no matter what their decision, still they are human beings and as such liable to err. I say this with respect not only to the three justices of the District Court of Appeals, but with reference to the judiciary generally.
COURT OF APPEALS' DECISION.
It was generally expected that the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia would hand down its decision early in October, 1909. Indeed, it was to meet the issue, whatever it might be, that I was careful to be within the jurisdiction of the court when the decision would be handed down. The decision was rendered Tuesday, November 2d-that is, on Election Day throughout the country. The court stood two to one in affirming Justice Wright's decision and sentences of one year, nine months, and six months' imprisonment for "Gompers, Mitchell, and Morrison," respectively, on the ground that they had violated the terms of Justice Gould's injunction. Chief Justice Shepard dissented from the decision and opinion of the court, and declared that Justice Wright's decision and sentences should be reversed, on the ground that he issued an order entirely beyond the power vested in him, and that the order was therefore void. Concretely stated, the decision of the court declares that no matter whether the injunction of Justice Gould was right or wrong, valid or void, we were compelled to obey. Against that concept, at least for myself, I enter a most emphatic protest. When a judge so far transcends his authority, and assumes functions entirely beyond his power and jurisdiction, when a judge will set himself up as the highest authority in the land, invading constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens, when a judge will go so far in opinion, decision, and action, that even judges of the Court of Appeals have felt called upon to characterize his action "unwarranted" and "foolish," under such circumstances it is the duty of the citizen to refuse obedience and to take whatever consequences may ensue.
It is common knowledge that a judge has issued an injunction against municipal officers enjoining them from performing their duties in the enactment of laws. Assume that a judge will so far forget himself as to issue an injunction prohibiting a legislature, or Congress itself, from enacting laws. Will it be contended that obedience must follow? Let a judge issue an injunction enjoining the President of the United States from performing the duties of his office. Does it follow that the Chief Executive of our nation must yield obedience, and perhaps thereby fail to perform the duties of his great office, to the injury of the people of the country? Were the matter involved merely material, or of such a character that time would not destroy, the situation would be vastly different. All realize that for the orderly continuance and development of civilized society, obedience to the orders of the court is necessary, and to that there would be no dissenting voice.
I repeat and emphasize this fact, that the doctrine that the citizen must yield obedience to every order of the court, notwithstanding that order transcends inherent, natural, human rights guaranteed by the constitution of our country, is vicious and repugnant to liberty and human freedom, and that it is the duty, the imperative duty, to protest.
The history of the human race has been full of tyranny and the denial to the people of the right of expressing freely by speech or in the press their opinions. After our people established a government they recalled that they had omitted to safeguard this vital right in framing our constitution. Therefore, the first amendment to that instrument was that guaranteeing the right of freedom of speech and press.
That means something. We do not need this right to please those entrusted with the authority of government. Free press and free speech were guaranteed that men might feel free to say things that displeased. Demand for reform coming from the people is generally distasteful to those entrenched in power and privilege.
It was not necessary that we be given the privilege for the purpose of singing the praises of the powers that be. No Russian needs constitutional guarantee of the right to sing the praises of the Czar.
We must have the right to freely speak and print for the wrongs that need resistance and the cause that needs assistance.
There is no persecution, no injustice, to a great movement but if met in the right spirit bears its harvest of good. In this case the tremendous popular indignation at the attempt to abolish the right of free press and free speech brings our union members into closer relations and more in sympathy with each other throughout the country, and, more than that, it brings to the attention of the people as a whole the noble aspirations and the splendid achievements of the labor movement in behalf of right, justice, and humanity.
Out of this attempt to seal the lips of the men of labor I believe will come good.
We know that the people of our country and the labor movement will be found united in patriotic protest against any curtailment of the liberties for which our forefathers struggled in order that we might be free.
We have come too far in the march of human progress for any set of influences to drive us back into slavery.
I see a silver lining to the clouds and a bright star of hope in the heavens, and I see ultimately the spirit of humanity, justice, and the brotherhood of man obtaining in the minds and hearts of the people of the country. Like Jefferson, I am willing to trust the people, and I have a certainty of their final triumph.
Congress has thus far failed to pass any amendment to the Sherman Anti-Trust Law relieving the labor organizations from the operations of that lawas interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States in the suit of Loewe & Co., hat manufacturers of Danbury, Conn., against the United Hatters of North America for threefold damages claimed by Loewe-that is, $240,000. Though it is true that since this decision has been rendered but few suits have been instituted against organized labor under the provisions of the new interpretation placed upon the law, yet it is also true that every labor organization and every individual member of the organization are menaced by the present status.
Now any action taken by our voluntary organizations of labor for the protection and the furtherance of the interests of the workers makes them amenable to the law with its penalties of imprisonment and threefold damages which anyone may allege he has suffered by reason of a strike by men withholding their labor from employers or their patronage from business men.
There are different contentions as to what Congress had in mind when the Sherman AntiTrust law was enacted. From the assurances given the representatives of labor and the declarations made upon the floor of Congress at the time when the bill, now a law, was under consideration, the workers were justified in believing that the Sherman Anti-Trust Law was the result of an aroused indignation among the people against the combinations of great corporations which prey upon the public. And that, as the very title of the,bill conveys it is a law contemplated to reach, regulate, and deal with the trusts whose operations are not with labor, but with the products of labor; that as the organizations of the working people concerned themselves, not with the labor products, but with human beings, the law ought not and could not properly have application to them. But the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the law applies to the workers' organizations instituted for their own physical and
moral protection and advancement, and from that decision there is but one appeal-to the people of our country.
The Sherman Anti-Trust Law is not what it is now superficially supposed to be, but is, indeed, a re-establishment of the oldest laws proclaimed by tyrants more than a thousand years ago, laws which had for their effect the prohibition of associations and organizations of the people of whatsoever kind.
The Sherman Anti-Trust Law, as it now exists, may more appropriately be styled an anticoalition law. Under the anti-coalition laws of the dim, distant past every association or organization of the people was disrupted and disbanded; their liberties were destroyed, and ignorance, darkness, misery, and demoralization enveloped the people for a thousand years; a period when the arts, the sciences, industry, and progress were strangled and inanimate, when but one in every five hundred of the people could either read or write.
Take away the right and opportunity of the workers, the masses of the people, to associate themselves for their common protection against oppression, whether by king or industrial potentate; curb the power of the workers, the people, for effective protest, and a new era of blighted life will have been inaugurated. Against the possibility of such a condition of affairs America's workers must not only protest, but they must make that protest effective and complete.
There is no factor in all our public life so potent to maintain and perpetuate the liberties of the people as a well organized movement of the workers.
In all times and under all forms of government wherever slavery existed, the workers were the slave class. Other portions of society may have been deprived of rights and liberties, but only in degree and in proportion as the workers were driven into the forms of slavery. And particularly under modern industrial conditions with wealth concentration, if from the workers is filched by government the right to associate peacefully and voluntarily and in their association and organization to exercise the natural, normal functions of such organizations to protect their rights and interests against greed, avarice, and overbearing tyranny, then the first elements of slavery have been injected into our lives and future.
The rights and the liberties of the people have never been, and will never be, taken from them with one fell swoop. Oppressors are more adroit. The invasion of rights is gradual, and by specious assurances the people are often lulled into a fancied security only to find themselves enmeshed, circumscribed and almost crushed, requiring ages of struggle and travail for their awakening and their rehabilitation.
Today our wage-workers' organizations existence legally considered is by the sufferance of the powers that be. Such a condition of affairs is intolerable.
It has been, and is, the aim of the American labor movement to be in fullest accord with the American concept of gradual,rational progress and devolopment, and by natural evolutionary process peacefully to work out labor's emancipation. For one, I feel assured that we shall secure both by law and by the public conscience the full lawful right to carry on the work and the necessary functions of our organizations as time, industry, and conditions afford. Of one fact I am fully persuaded and have no hesitancy in asserting; it is that the labor organizations of America will live, be maintained, grow, toil, and struggle for the amelioration of the conditions of the workers, the improvement of their standard of life and citizenship, and to work out their salvation for a higher and better manhood, womanhood, and childhood, all the bitter antagonistic elements to them to the contrary notwithstanding. Rapacity, greed, tyranny, and ignorance can not and will not subjugate or enslave America's workers.
In order that all the blessings of civilization may keep pace with industrial development the toilers of the United States have repeatedly urged Congress and the State legislative bodies to grant certain specific remedial economic reforms which the toilers are unable to obtain in any other way, than by legislation at the hands of the representatives of the people.
If the wage-earners could have obtained these reforms through the regular channels of economic force as expressed in their trade organizations or in any other way by their own efforts, relief and protection would have been successfully secured years ago.
In response to the instructions of the Norfolk and Denver conventions legislative measures were presented to the 60th Congress, asking for relief from the exactions of the so-called Sherman Anti-Trust Law, but that Congress adjourned without daring to assert its own power, even after an overwhelming majority of its members had individually pledged themselves in favor of the measure, which after much deliberation was prepared and which was introduced by the Hon. William B. Wilson, member of the United Mine Workers, and representative of the 15th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. That bill, known as H. R. 20584, did not ask for,
nor would it have added, any special privilege to laborers' or farmers' organizations. There was no semblance of class legislation in this proposed measure when fairly and honestly analyzed. Its purpose was and is to carry out the premeditated and emphatically expressed intent of the framers of the original Sherman Anti-Trust Law. The mental giants who debated that measure in its course through the United States Senate were better informed in modern economics than to confuse property rights with human rights, and they almost unanimously agreed that no court in the land would ever construe a law designed to curb grad-grinds and moneymongers into a scheme to persecute the wealth producers, the bread winners of the nation.
When the representative government of the United States was demanded by the colonists and established, it had for its basis the government of, by and for the people, they having their respective property and property rights. In its very concept and declaration of independence, it placed first, and recognized, man above the products of man. It had for its purpose the affirmation and maintenance for all time of the rights of living, breathing, liberty-loving man. The decision of the United States Supreme Court has affirmed that in the law as it now stands, there is no distinction between the combinations formed for the manipulation, control, and sale of the products of human labor and the voluntary organizations of the working people formed for the protection and advancement of the physical, material, moral, and social welfare of the masses of the people.
it would seem that the Congress of the United States, the representatives of the people, would have afforded the relief from the onerous conditions brought about by the Supreme Court decision. If the 60th Congress had possessed in the slightest degree the conception of its duties, if it had observed the commonest rules of legislative independence and the simplest methods of self-assertive honesty, it would not have permitted the first session to dally its time away while one man (Mr. Charles E. Littlefield) went through the questionable farce of "subcommittee hearings" on the merits and demerits of the Wilson Bill. When that gentleman became thoroughly saturated with the grim humor of his transparent hold-up scheme, he resigned his seat in the House in the middle of the term without sufficient respect for the Judiciary Committee, which he was presumed to represent, even to make a formal report to it. In the second session of the 60th Congress, Mr. Charles Q. Tirrell, of the Fourth Massachusetts Congressional District, who succeeded Mr. Littlefield as chairman of the subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, having charge of such measures, played a game of battledore and shuttlecock with Mr. John L. Jenkins, chairman of the full committee. Together they contrived so to shift the responsibility (under the plausible guise of parliamentary courtesy), that they effectively denied your Executive Council and myself an opportunity to make & brief statement in order to have a complete record on the subject in the printed hearings before the committee.
For full details concerning this peculiar parliamentary transaction, I refer you to the Legislative Committee's report on page 375, American Federationist for April, 1909, and I urge every delegate and all others interested to again read it and bring it to the attention of every organization and every citizen of every congressional constituency. In connection therewith should be read the report of Labor's Legislative Committee published in the August, 1908, issue of the American Federationist under the heading "Congress and Labor."
This illustration is a glaring example of how to avoid duty and responsibility, and is merely one instance of the subserviency of Congress to the absolute will of its dictator, Speaker Cannon. He is the potential instrument of every predatory interest that infests the halls of Congress, whose tactics are and whose motto should read: "They shall take who have the power, and they shall keep who can."
In connection with the present status of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law, the Executive Council had an extended conference with the President of the United States and had the opportunity of fully discussing the subject with him. He freely expressed his judgment that the law required change, particularly for definiteness to accomplish the purposes for which the law was enacted, and he suggested that he would be pleased to confer later with any representative of the Executive Council and also with Judge Parker, our attorney. Later, by direction of the Executive Council, I had an extended interview with the President and the subjectmatter was again discussed. Then I had an interview with Judge Parker, and conveyed to him the President's suggestion, to which he gladly assented. The following letter in connection with the matter is of interest: "BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND, July 1, 1909.
To the Honorable WILLIAM H. TAFT,
President of the United States, Washington, D. C., U. S. A.
SIR: When I had the honor of an interview with you in Washington, in June, you suggested that when you had discussed with the members of your Cabinet the subject of the
amendment of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law, and particularly in reference to its present application to the labor organizations, that a conference with the Honorable Alton B. Parker would be agreeable to you.
I left Washington within two days after our interview for New York, and brought the matter to Judge Parker's attention. He expressed himself as in entire accord with the suggestion, and authorized me to say that he would be glad to call upon you at any time and place when so advised by you.
The few days I had in New York prior to my departure for this side of the Atlantic on June 19th were so taken up by a meeting of the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor, that I could not get to write to you in regard to this matter. Then, again, I was aware that there existed no necessity for immediate haste. I take great pleasure, however, in communicating the above to you at this, my earliest opportunity. I have the honor to remain, Yours very respectfully, SAMUEL GOMPERS, President, American Federation of Labor."
A copy of this letter was sent to Judge Parker. Though the interview has thus far not taken place there is no doubt that it will in the very near future.
We asked the 60th Congress for relief from the abuse and misuse of the writ of injunction; we asked for a restoration of the ancient and cherished right of a trial by jury, so that the people may be safeguarded from the absolutism of judicial tyranny; but in spite of all hitherto accepted rules of procedure and of evidence, one man, a judge, presiding in an equity court may disregard all such established methods and absolutely set his own opinion as a finality, in spite of the fact that no written statute in this or any other land grants him such extraordinary authority.
Instead of the beneficent injunction writ being a safeguard of human liberty as it was originally intended, it has been so wilfully perverted that it has been made an instrument of coercion and tyranny and is wielded for the sole purpose of those who not only possess wealth but arrogate power never legally granted or intended in order to hold and keep the men of labor and the masses of the people in awe and subjection.
The American people have fondly nursed the sentiment in their hearts that the government of our Republic was founded upon the inherent principles of justice and right, and that these righteous principles are adhered to by their representatives; but such chicanery as this record shows should arouse every citizen in the land to a sufficient sense of the danger that threatens the very life of a free government that a renewed public energy and vigilance should and must be exerted to correct existing evils.
To do this the American Federation of Labor and all its members should bend their efforts and take the lead. No men are more loyal to the fundamental institutions of our Republic or more jealous of their maintenance than those who are enrolled in the American labor movement; to foster and spread the growth of intelligence, to instill character, to improve and elevate the general standard of life among all our people, to cultivate a sterling manhood and selfreliant spirit, and to establish a recognition of the interdependence of one man with his fellows are some of the praiseworthy purposes of our unions, and we have faith that all liberty-loving, clean-thinking American citizens will not only extend us their sympathy but will in every honorable and lawful way possible, actively assist us in securing these justifiable and commendable results.
The congressional record heretofore given on the Wilson Bill, H. R. 20,584, for the purpose of restoring to the workers the rights which were so summarily taken from them by the United States Supreme Court is so identical to that on the Pearre Anti-Injunction Bill, H. R. 94, that it would be tedious to repeat it, but a word on another phase of the situation is very essential as a warning to many of our zealous members, especially those of our members who are officials in central labor unions, state federations, or national and international organizations.
During the life of the 60th Congress it almost became a fad to introduce a bill, ostensibly to regulate the issuance of injunctions and restraining orders, limiting the meaning of "conspiracy" in certain cases, authorizing the right of trial by jury in contempt cases, direct or indirect, change of venue, etc., etc.
The number of such bills introduced was legion; they became so numerous, in fact, that our legislative committee dubbed them "life savers." They were invariably introduced by members for the purpose of popularity among their constituents, who are members of labor organizations and others whose love of justice is still alive. In a few cases there was a spasmodic effort by the member introducing it to make it appear there was going to be some genuine consideration given it; but in the majority of instances such bills were merely introduced and printed copies franked to constituents at home-for a purpose.