The consideration of English trades unions of the medieval period and the treatment accorded to them by the laws of England has been extended over a space of time far in excess of what is usually called the Middle Ages. This has been done for the purpose of bringing the subject to a date where the conditions peculiar to the era treated became obsolete by reason of new discoveries and inventions which were destined to revolutionize the entire system of manufacture and commerce and impress upon the leading white nations of the world new ideals of political liberty and a new economic philosophy. Before we proceed to their consideration, we shall briefly review what has been stated at length in the preceding pages of this chapter and draw our conclusions from them.

Beginning with the thirteenth century England gradually emerged from the state. of a pastoral and agricultural country and entered upon that course of manufacture, trade and commerce that placed it in the forefront of the world's commercial nations. With the beginning of that era of venture and enterprise there becomes manifest a tendency among its artisans, tradesmen and merchants, who crowd into the towns and cities of the land to form societies among themselves by means of which they endeavor to advance their interests and to obtain many advantages. At first, those working at a common trade or engaged in a common occupation join into one society, but as opulence begins to grow among them those who become well-to-do draw away from those less favored by fortune. The rules of the trade societies or guild are made more stringent and it becomes difficult for the journeymen of the trade to establish themselves in shops of their own in the trades of their choice. House industry becomes more extended and loses much of its former patriarchal character. As the capital of the masters increases they employ greater numbers of journeymen. The journeymen in turn find it to their advantage to form societies exclusively composed of journeymen by means of which they can obtain better conditions of employment and greater remuneration for their labor.

There comes now into evidence that competition between employers and employed for the division of the product of industry. It is the historic struggle of capital and labor

and the strong arm of the law is invoked and called to the aid of those who can command it with their purses and influence.

The employers, by reason of their wealth and position being the more powerful, invoked the law to suppress the united effort of the employed for better conditions and more pay. Statutes were enacted and proclamations issued forbidding "congregations, covins and conspiracies of workmen." They were forbidden to ask and receive more than the rate of wages fixed by the magistrates; were forbidden to limit the hours of labor or seek work in other than their native parishes; forbidden to refuse to accept anybody's employment who wanted to employ them. Their organizations were put under the ban and suppressed.

Much has been said and written about the growth of constitutional liberty in England; but with all due respect for the heroic work done by Englishmen in liberty's behalf it must be stated that English liberty from Runnymede to the days of George the Third was a liberty mainly of the powerful and wealthy. Magna Carta conferred no liberty upon the workingmen and laborers. The Revolution gave them no rights. Bad laws hampered their progress and hindered their development at every hand. The vast wealth that their skilled hands produced only served to increase the chasm that separated them from the favored classes and made their own poverty the more oppressive to them.

Yet withal the English workingmen managed to keep alive a spirit of protest and revolt at conditions so unfair and unworthy of their people. Despite the laws made for their suppression the workingmen managed to maintain their societies and, taking advantage of their opportunity, succeeded in obtaining concessions. Bad laws became dead laws and the old notions of regulation and suppression gradually gave way to a more enlightened and liberal view.

It becomes apparent to the unprejudiced observer that conditions, bad as they were in England for the working people of those times, were nevertheless never such as to preclude the possibility of progress. A fullblooded high-spirited people, there was that in the English people which never said die and manfully kept up the struggle in the face of the most discouraging circumstances for what they considered their rights. That

liberty which was wrested from King John at Runnymede by the English barons and sustained and enlarged by later contentions that eventually found their highest expression in the Declaration of Independence of the American colonies, was bound to result in the liberation and advancement of every class of the English nation. Although rebarded by costly wars and frequently by nternal dissensions, the tendency of the

(To be continued.)

English people has been toward liberty for all the people. The laws of England, for centuries opposed to the organizations of its workingmen, have outgrown their suppres sive tendency and now embody and pro-. claim the full and free right of workingmen to associate themselves together into societies for their mutual protection and advancement. But of this we shall treat in our next chapter.



The Seattle Convention of the American Federation of Labor adopted a resolution which urged all national, international, local and federated bodies to put forth every effort at their command to establish as soon as possible a system within their own organizations providing weekly financial assistance for members when involved in strikes or lockouts. Strikes which occur when there has not been the proper preparation for financial support cause needless misery and suffering and increase the difficulties of winning the strike. When those who are conducting the strike must depend for funds upon circular and personal appeals the movement loses in force and well-directed procedure. The Philadelphia Convention instructed the editor of the AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST to publish bi-monthly articles dealing with the subject-matter of this resolution. Several officers of internationals have been asked to contribute articles describing the systems in their organizations to provide funds. President Tobin wrote the following suggestive account of the experiences of the Boot and Shoe Workers' Union.-Editor.

My conclusions upon the subject of inion dues are based upon the experience of our own organization under low dues and requent strikes and later under what is called the high dues, which have resulted in almost liminating strikes.

Previous to 1895 we had in the shoe trade the Lasters' Protective Union, representing one branch of the trade and the Boot and Shoe Workers' International Union representing the other branches of the trade, both affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. There was also a shoe workers' organization connected with the Knights of Labor.

In April of 1895 the three organizations

named, together with several independent local shoe unions, held a joint convention in Boston and amalgamated under our present organization.

We began with weekly dues of 10 cents, following the example of other organizations above named. The per capita tax to the general union from the locals was fixed at eight cents per month per member, which if paid regularly would amount to 96 cents per year for each member, and if continued regularly for five years providing none of the per capita tax was spent for any other purpose sufficient would be paid in to furnish each member with less than one week's strike benefit on the basis of $5 per week.

The organization provided for $3 per week strike benefit but inasmuch as per capita tax was barely sufficient to meet the experises of the general office, there was no provision made to pay the strike benefit. Consequently we had to beg and borrow to finance many strikes which we were obliged to enter into, as manufacturers were not disposed to yield any consideration to an organization which was not financially able to assert itself effectively.

After four years of precarious existence upon a poverty basis, a strike of about 3,000 members occurred in Marlboro, Mass., in November, 1898, and continuing for over six months, taught us the folly of trying to finance a strike by depending upon voluntary contributions from affiliated trade unionists who had to take care of their own troubles.

In the following June, with a bankrupt organization, we held a convention in Rochester, New York, in which thirty-two delegates participated. Dues were raised to 25 cents per week and the officers promised that if only seven members would subscribe to the constitution there adopted, a successful organization would be guaranteed. The constitution was adopted, but our members at the beginning were very reluctant to assume the new rate of dues, which looked high by comparison with ten cents per week. A prediction was made that the shoe workers would not pay the increased amount, but the answer was that inasmuch as they did not pay the ten cents we could not be worse off than we were under the old system.

The officers' faith in the constitution has been fully vindicated by the fact that from the very beginning until the present time there has been continued and uninterrupted progress, and during the present unusual depression in business generally our members have not suffered reductions in wages. On the contrary we have secured increases in many instances. Our members enjoy the highest rate of wages prevailing in the trade, and the manufacturers with whom we have contract relations are the most prosperous, due to the fact that the waste through strikes has been converted into profits for the employer and into increased wages for the workers.

We pay out an average of $100,000 per year in sick and death benefits, the weekly sick benefit being $5 and the death benefit $100. Our strike benefit is $5 per week, and we have in every single instance been able to pay to our members on strike the ful amount to which they have been entitled by the constitution. We have conducted suc strikes as we have had without diminishing our general funds and without appealing for assistance or the levy of assessments. We have paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars on union stamp advertising and have met every financial obligation to the last cent. We have become a permanent i stitution and our trade agreements are considered valuable to our members as wel as to the employers. During the past six months of unusual business depression our cash reserve has been gaining steadily and is $50,000 greater now than it was six months ago. Thus we are prepared to meet any emergency that is likely to arise which may call for financial stability.

While we began our present system of high dues with only thirty-two delegates at a convention in 1899, we had at our last convention in June, 1913, 287 delegates, indicating a very substantial growth.

In my opinion one of the greatest obstacles to higher dues in unions now paying low dues is the fear of the officers that the rank and file will not pay high dues and that the officers may by advocating higher dues lose their popularity. Other organiza tions promise they will provide for high dues after they have become larger, but in my opinion this is a mistake, as the larger the organization the more difficult it will be to establish high dues. We were successful in establishing high dues because we had everything to gain and nothing to lose.

I unqualifiedly recommend high dues and the elimination of per capita tax to the n tional unions, and in its place substitute percentage of the dues and initiation fees collected. Our organization provides that one-third of the dues and initiation fee shall be retained by the local union, and two thirds forwarded to the general union. The due books and standing of the membership are determined at headquarters and benefits are paid from the general funds.


The Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor at its January meeting directed that this appeal for help for the Belgian workers be published in the AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST. Contributions should be sent to MR. Oudegeest, REGULIERSGRACHT 80, AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND.-S. G.

AMSTERDAM, December, 1914. THE TRADE UNION NATIONAL CENTERS. DEAR SIRS AND BROTHERS: It is more than four months now since the Belgian people were, against their own will, forced to take part in this war which has set aflame the larger part of Europe. For more than tour months this war, with all its horrors, has completely paralyzed the economic life of that little country, plunging the whole population and especially the working classes into the most pitiful misery.

It will scarcely be necessary to explain to you in detail the general conditions prevailng in a country so ravaged by the war. You have no doubt learned all this from the daily press of your own country.

It appears necessary however to call your attention to the consequences this war 1as had for the Belgian laboring classes.

Work has been stopped in all factories and workshops since the first day hostilities comnenced, condemning the employes who were not called upon to defend their country to he terrible consequences of complete unemloyment.

One part of the country after another has Deen conquered and occupied by German roops. Wherever battles and other miliary engagements took place the inhabitants had to leave their dwellings, fleeing to some ther city or to some other part of the counry under continual fear that they might oon be compelled to flee anew to some new lace of refuge.

It will be easily understood that under uch conditions unemployment has deeloped to such an extent that the trade aions are powerless and unable to fight fectively the miseries accruing there


Everything necessary has been suggested ad done by all public boards where the orkers are represented with a view of roviding for the maintenance of this nhappy, semi-starved population. Food Las been distributed on a very modest scale, and, once in a while, money as well.

All this, however, is in no way sufficient

to keep the workers, their wives and children alive. Extreme misery prevails all round and this threatens to become more acute with the approaching winter.

The Belgian trade unions have used every possible means to save their organizations from complete destruction and to support their members during these tragic moments, but there is a limit to everything and the means at the disposal of the Belgian trade unions are entirely exhausted.

The National Center of the Trade Unions of Holland (the "Nederlandsch Verbond van Vakvereenigingen"), after thorough examination of this sad state of affairs, has decided to issue an urgent appeal for help on behalf of the Belgian fellow workers. have been communicating with the management of the International Federation of Trade Unions (President Carl Legien in Berlin), whom we informed of our intention. Whereupon we received his immediate reply that he had taken notice of our plan.

We now approach your organization, dear sirs and brothers, praying that you might render whatever help you can give to the Belgian unions who are at present undergoing the most serious and sinister trial.

Will you kindly take cognizance of the fact that our Belgian friends have been brought to these trist conditions without any fault of their own and we are convinced that you will do everything within your power to render practical help to the Belgian working class which desires nothing else but to be permitted to continue quietly their efforts for the improvement of their economic conditions and their struggle for social liberation.

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Let him who questions the value of unionism pause and consider for a moment just one thing that unionism has accomplished.

It is well known that in the early days of the present factory system the day's work extended usually to fourteen or sixteen hours.

This long day existed for all workers, the skilled and the unskilled, the children as well as the men and women.

The workers had not yet learned to organize and as individuals they were utterly helpless to effect a change in the hours of their labor or in the scale of their wages.

There were, of course, no laws to protect them, and so they were entirely at the mercy of their employers.

The normal condition that existed in the factory system little more than half a century ago in England and elsewhere throughout the world are equaled today only in certain plague spots.

When one reads the story of the misery and oppression, the long hours and low wages of those days, one wonders how the workers managed to live at all.

How much the condition of the workers generally has been improved it is by no means easy to say, but we do know that the condition of the workers has vastly improved wherever they have learned to value unity.

In those trades where the men have known enough to fight for their rights and to stand together there has arisen what some scoffers like to call an "aristocracy of labor.”

And if in certain trades there are indeed aristocrats of labor, it is simply because they have had intelligence enough to fight together, to pay dues to one organization and to battle always with unity and solidarity.

And what they have done, all other workers can do.

▷ The "aristocrats" hold no patent on their method of action, and by acting in the same manner all other toilers can win all the "aristocrats" have won.

Now it is difficult to ascertain just how much union workers have benefited by higher wages.

In that matter there is always the question as to the increased cost of living which makes difficult any comparison of wages here and abroad or of wages now with those of forty years ago.

The best one can do is to compare wages and hours today in one trade that is organized with the wages and hours in another trade that is unorganized.

This has been well done by the Department of Labor at Washington, and the figures gathered by that department show beyond dispute the enormous benefits that have come to labor as a result of organization.

Consider for one moment the following facts: We all know that the workers in the iron

and steel trade are poorly organized and we find that the hours of labor in this trade are eighty-four hours per week.

On the other hand, we all know that the stone and granite cutters are well organized. When we look up the figures of their hours we find that they work about forty-eight hours per week.

The bricklayers, the carpenters, the hodcarriers, the painters, the paperhangers and the plumbers are highly organized trades, and when we inquire into the hours worked by these, we find that they rarely average more than fifty hours per week.

These workers, then, are the "aristocrats" of labor simply because they are well united in their trade, are loyal to their organization, pay their dues and fight a common battle.

It would be difficult to find an argument in support of unionism so potent as this one.

To find one set of workers like the stone cutters working forty-eight hours per week and another set of workers in the iron and steel trade working eighty-four hours per week should alone be enough to convince every toiler in this wide land of the value of unionism.

But this is not all. The hot blast men, who work an average of eighty hours a week, obtain only about 16 cents per hour for their labor.

The stone cutters, who work on an average of forty-eight hours per week, receive an average of 41 cents per hour.

In other words, the stone cutters, working about half the time of the hot blast men, receive at the end of a week much larger wages.

To look at it in another way, a hot blast man during his life sells to his boss an amount of labor equal to that sold by two stone cutters during their life.

The hot blast worker gives in one life what one stone cutter would need two lives to give, and he gives the labor of two lives for less money than a stone cutter receives for the labor of his one life.

Think of this and then consider how tragic it is that one must actually persuade workingmen to believe in industrial unity.

It is almost impossible to believe that any class of the workers should be blind to the value of unionism or loath to suffer almost anything to achieve it.

And what astounding evidence of working class stupidity it would be if the workers of this country should, without a fight, allow their unions to be crushed and their right of organization taken away by the capitalist legislatures and courts.

The value of unity is so clear, the gains for those who have united are so evident, and the necessity of organization for all workers is so great, that it would seem that men, if they have intelligence to fight for anything, they would surely fight for this.

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