« AnteriorContinuar »
The CHAIRMAX. Are they, as a rule, able to turn to something else when they want to quit puddling?
Mr. EDWARDS. Many of them, owing to a habit contracted in the places from which they came in the old country, are very fond of their beer. Many of them have become confirmed in this habit and could not avoid it. But in the old country, during the last thirty years, they have been raising up schools. There are the national or British schools in England. Some of the iron masters in England have been spreading these schools around, and a better class of workmen appear to be coming forward. I think there is nothing that will do more good in any country than schooling. If I had my own way, I would say “educate all." I wonld have compulsory education, if you call it that. Furthermore, I would make a law, one stringent enough to secure its purpose, that no child should work at any labor whatever before he was fourteen years of age, and should be compelled to go to school under that age. When we have done this, we will have less idleness among mechanics and more robust men and women than we have now. Just think of your little boy of ten or eleven years being sent to the rolling-mill to work. I have seen children employed at so tender an age that they had to be carried to the mill on their fathers' backs and carried home again from work. That was what they did to me, and if it had not been for the care that I took of myself in youth and when I began to pick up, I would have been more of a runt than I am.
The CHAIRMAN. I suppose there is no branch of business that actually requires a boy of less than fourteen years of age?
Mr. EDWARDS. Not in the iron business.
Mr. EDWARDS. They would be sure to learn the business so far as having time enough for that purpose is concerned. It would be early enough for them to begin, and the education they had received before that in school would be more beneficial to them than that which they would pick up if employed earlier. Let me say here that we require education in a rolling-mill, and that the necessity for it there is as necessary as in any branch of business. The carpenter has his rule, the mason his implements, and each appreciates the importance to himself of an intelligent application of them to their several nses; but how often you will find a roller in a mill who is a poor mathematician. Yet it would assist that man materially if he was a good mathematician. It would not injure a puddler at all if, especially when he is at a blast-furnace, he is something of a chemist.
The CHAIRMAN. It would save the lives, occasionally, of the men about a blast furnace ?
Mr. EDWARDS. We have a practical education of our own, by which we get a crude knowledge; but it is not one that gives us the chemistry of the theorist. We want the chemistry of the theorist to come down to us in the same shape that the mathematician hands down the rule and scale to the other craftsmen, so that we can understand it.
Mr. Rice. I would like to ask Mr. Edwards a single question. The section of country in which he lives was quite famous a year or more ago owing to the riots that took place there. Now we, who are at a distance from there, would like to get the views of an intelligent resident and looker-on to know what was the cause of those outbreaks. What was it, in your judginent!
Mr. EDWARDS. I could not tell you." I was there at the time. I generally go up to visit a friend of mine on Saturday evenings, and I was there on the street on the Saturday evening when the riots began, taking a walk around. The first thing that I heard was that there had been four or five men killed. It created an agitation, and this agitation was not confined to any one class. You would find merchants on the corners, men from this or that oftice, all alike excited. I would pass men on the street whom I did not know, and they seemed to show the same agitation. In fact, the city was all a mob. On Sunday morning I went along the streets when the rioters were burning the railroad property. At every corner the same scene of excitement was visible. In the crowds were policemen, judges, and the mayor of the city, and, apparently, they were all rioters. I do not blame it on the railroad men.
The CHAIRMAN. Who were doing the burning ?
Mr. Rice. Were they residents of Pittsburg?;
The CHAIRMAN. Did you ever hear that the internationalists had agents out to fan this spirit of violence ?
Mr. EDWARDS. I may have heard it on the street, but I never knew any of the internationalists.
Mr. Rice. Was the ontbreak caused by want of labor, or by suffering for want of the necessaries of life?
Mr. EDWARDS. In fact, I did not understand their business and did not interfere with them.
Mr. Boyd. You know nothing at all about the origin of the outbreak?
I did not know any of these railroad men, and did not converse with them on the subject.
Mr. Rice. Your idea was that it was started by the railroad men ! Mr. EDWARDS. That it was a railroad strike. But, as far as I know, none of the railroad hands there were setting fire to buildings. They tried all they could to stop the conflagration.
Mr. Rice. Who did set fire to the buildings !
Mr. Edwards. I do not know. There did not appear to me to be any organized mob at any time. It always appeared to me that any time on Sunday fifty prominent, first-class citizens could have stopped it.
Mr. Rice. You do not, then, connect these riots with the want of employment and the depression that existed among laborers at the time?
Mr. EDWARDS. I do not know what caused the riot, because there did not seem to me to be any excitement existing among the working classes at the time. In fact there did not seem to be any necessity for calling the soldiers at the time. There may have been without my knowledge. I only happened to be on the street on Saturday, and I know there was great excitement about these men being shot down; and I saw some of the militia throwing down their arms to go home because other soldiers had shot down citizens.
The CHAIRMAX. The riot was rather provoked and intensified by the use of the soldiers.
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes; I think a few prominent citizens could have stopped it at any time. As for the railroad men I can say this : So soon as the rioters began their work at Pittsburgh, the railroaders in Allegheny City went to work to protect the property of the company, and even shipped the cars ont from Allegheny City. The railroaders done that themselves. They even guarded the property of the railroad company with guns.
The CHAIRMAN. Was there more distress in Pittsburgh then than there is now!
Mr. EDWARDS. No, sir; but I have not had much experience in that way for the last few years. The men in that part of Allegheny from which I come have worked pretty steady right along in the last five years.
Mr. Rice. What is the feeling among the laborers now, so far as you know, as to whether there is any improvement in their condition over what it has been in the past !
Mr. EDWARDS. The general feeling among the class who do not study these things is this: Take, for instance, a common laboring man who, a few years ago, got $1.75 a day. He finds now that they pay but $1.12 and $1.25 a day, and he feels the loss of the difference, and naturally complains that wages are low.
The CHAIRMAN. Do they not know that supplies, that the ordinary necessaries of life, are also low?
Mr. EDWARDS. That is a matter to be argued with them.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you ever known in this country the necessaries of life in food and clothing to be as cheap as they are now?
Mr. Edwards. I do not know that I have. Labor has been as cheap as at any time, if not cheaper, and clothing a great deal cheaper than at any time since 1854.
The CHAIRMAN. Then your idea is that if we could find some means by which we could alleviate the condition of labor in this country, the grievances would disappear. Mr. EDWARDS. That is it exactly.
VIEWS OF MR. JOSEPH BISHOP. Mr. Bishop appeared before the committee in response to its invitation, and stated, in reply to the chairman, that he resides in Pittsburg; that he is not of American but foreign birth, having been born in Wales, and having come to this country when a little less than two years old; and that he is an American citizen.
The Chairmax. What is your occupation ?
Mr. Bishop. No, sir ; not directly at the furnace. I have not been working directly in the mill for a little over three years.
The CHAIRMAN. But you were formerly a working puddler in the mill and were such up to within three years?
Mr. BISHOP. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAX. During the past three years, what occupation have you followed
Mr. Bishop. From August, 1875, until August, 1876, I was president of the United Sons of Vulcan, or Iron Puddlers' Union, as it is commonly called.
The CHAIRMAX. Is that the successor of the society of which Mr. Edwards has been speaking ?
Mr. Bishop. No, sir; it is the same society. From Angust, 1875, to August, 1876, I was president of the socity of which Mr. Edwards was formerly the president. From August, 1876, until the present time I have been president of a society made up partly of what was formerly the United Sons of Vulcan, together with other iron-workers' unions, principally the heaters and rollers.
The Chairman. What is the name of your society at present?
Mr. Bishop. Yes, sir. You mean common laboring hands? Of course, speaking of workingmen, they all come under that.
The CHAIRMAN. Certainly; we all agree to that, because we hope we are all laborers here according to our fashion. If you have no objection, I would like you to explain the objects of this association of which you are president.
Mr. Bishop. The object of the association, in a general way, is the improvement of its members. We state it in these words—morally, mentally, financially, and intellectually.
The CHAIRMAN. Yon adopt, of course, certain methods to bring about this improvement. Will you describe what those methods are, or in what way you attempt to make the improvement!
Mr. Bishop. Take, for instance, the improvement financially. We believe that our men in many ways have been extravagant. Mr. Edwards, a moment ago, dilated somewhat on that point, and I do not know that I could add much to what he said, because he covered all the ground.
The CHAIRMAN. I might ask you the question there, how you try to make them less so—whether it is by trying to establish a better general tone; whether you have any special means of admonishing them; or what the association has to do with them in order to make them more economical and saving?
Mr. Bishop. We believe that if we improve men morally-for instance, in the matter of intemperance; if we create an improvement in them in that respect-we are benefiting them financially, because it will be the means of having them save the money that they would otherwise have been spending. Through improvement in that particular way their general condition is bettered. We have talked to the men upon the subject. The matter is embodied in our laws. It is, in fact, a part of the understanding upon which they become members of the association.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose that a man, after he becomes a member, continues to be intemperate, and you admonish him, do you do anything else? Do you let him stay in, or exclude him?
Mr. Bishop. We have rules covering cases of that kind. A man may, of course, practice that to such an extent as to incur, we will say, the displeasure of the society to which he belongs. That may subject him to the penalty of a by-law, which may call for a fine, for suspension, or for expulsion.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose the man is expelled, is he permitted to work in the factory with your members the same as if he still belonged to your association?
Mr. Bishop. We do not try to stop bim.
The CHAIRMAN. You have no rule, then, which requires that the employers shall have only union men?
Mr. Bishop. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Where a man is not a member of your union, do you take any steps to prevent his working alongside of your union men in the works?
Mr. BISHOP. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. When I use the word "official,” I mean do you take any action at all-are your members under any rule or constraint to exclude the man from working with them in a mill?
Mr. BISHOP. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. None at all? Of course, unofficially, there is a feeling which every man has a right to exercise, and I suppose your feeling is that you would rather have members of the union than not to have them?
Mr. Bishop. We feel as to that in this way, that the union is intended for the benefit of those who follow the trades it represents. Being for their good, we think it is worthy of their consideration, and of course we believe it would be better for them if they would become members of it.
Mr. RICE. Suppose there is a shop or works where there are a hundred men, of whom ninety belong to your union and ten do not. The ten who do not belong-are they as comfortable, and do they get along as well, as the ninety who do? Is anything done to make it unpleasant for them?
Mr. Bishop. Not that I am aware of. I have no knowledge of any case of that kind.
Mr. Rice. It is, I suppose, the same as with those who belong to a church, that those who belong think themselves more fortunate than those who do not; but beyond that, there is no ditference between those who belong to a union and those who do not in the same works.
The CHAIRMAN, Have you ever known of a demand made upon employers to discharge men under a threat that if the discharge was not made, the men who were working would stop work?
Mr. Bishop. I do not get your idea exactly.
The CHAIRMAX. The idea is this : Have you ever known a case in which a demand has been made on the part of the workmen that the employer should discharge a particular individual or individuals or else they would decline further to work?
Mr. Boyd. You mean, Mr. Chairman, by the workmen connected with this union! The CHAIRMAN. I mean, of course, by workmen connected with this union.
Mr. Bishop. Of their making a demand upon their employer for the discharge of a man who was not a union man and for that cause! No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Not for that cause, but for any cause ?.
The CHAIRMAN. You seem to have known of it being done in some way, I infer from your answer. Will you state for what cause?
Mr. Bishop. I could not state. I have known of cases, but they were not cases that occurred under the jurisdiction or rules of the association, and the question was not one for which the organization was responsible.
The CHAIRMAN. Then I have already your answer on that point: the organization does not undertake to support a demand of that sort made by its members. Now with regard to foremen. Would your association take any action where the members of the association in any particular works demanded the removal of a foreman! Suppose a foreman became obnoxious and they demanded a discharge, would your association take any action in such a matter?
Mr. Bishop. No, sir.
Mr. Bishop. We certainly would not take any action upon it; we do not believe it would be right. We believe, Mr. Chairman, just on that subject that you as an employer have a right to engage as managers of your works whomever you may feel disposed to engage, and of course, while you would exercise your own preference in that respect, we would be glad to have those who are thus selected as managers to deal fairly with us.
The CHAIRMAN. We are upon the moral ground of this subject now and I want to ask, before we leave it, in what way a grievance would be dealt with. Suppose the workingmen in a particular works think they are not receiving fair wages and propose to strike—the employer says, “I cannot give any more"-what action would the association take in the case of a representation such as that being made by those workingmen?
Mr. Bishop. Yon mean, I presume, a representation made by members of the association to the officials.
The CHAIRMAX. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bishop. In the first place, no local or subordinate society is the judge of its own grievances. We have, according to our laws, in each works a committee whose duty is that of dealing with or, in other words, of 'standing between the men and the employers or managers. If a grievance arises—it may be a question as to wages or some other matter-it is presented to this committee. The committee, being the representative of the men, present the subject to the management or the employers, as the case may require; talk it over in a friendly manner without any disposition to create trouble; and after an investigation in this manner, if it is found of sufficient importance and they fail to agree with the proprietors of the works, it is then reported to the society to which those men belong.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean of the local district ? Mr. Bishop. Yes, sir. The society then, after due consideration and investigation of the matter, if they are impressed with the idea that it is of sufficient importance, will report to what we term “the district.” This district may cover a large stretch of territory. For instance, the district in our association called the second takes in all of the Ohio Valley from Steuben ville as far as Ironton, Ohio; going out to Zanesville and Columbus, and taking in West Virginia, Southern Ohio, and Kentucky.
The CHAIRMAX. It does not take in Cleveland ? Mr. BISHOP. No; that would be in another district. Cleveland would be in the fourth district. In this district we have what we term an executive committee, composed of the vice-president, two deputies, and three persons elected by the various lodge or society presidents, together with the president of the society having the grievance, making in all a committee of seven persons. They are required to make a thorough investigation of the matter, and, if necessary, visit the locality where the grievance exists and talk the subject over with the management or the employers, witli a view to avoiding, not to seeking, trouble.
The CHAIRMAN. As men who come to make peace?
Mr. Bishop. As men who come to make peace; not to make a positive demand as much as to make a thorough investigation and use all honorable means to keep the matter peaceable and harinonious. After doing this, if they should fail to get what is deemed right (of course we do not mean by "what is right” that the representations made by the men should be taken alone, but that we should hear both sides, put their statements in the balance, and try to weigh them), and if the matter is deemed to be of sufficient importance, and the employers fail to do what is right and just under the circumstances, the committee would have the authority to order a strike. But the men under no circumstances could stop work until this investigation had been made.
The CHAIRMAN. As the result of these investigations, in practice, have strikes ever been ordered ?
Mr. Bishop. Very rarely.
The CHAIRMAN. You observe that, according to your statement, while you take great care to get at the facts, the decision rests with a committee who are elected by your members principally, and that that is a part of your body?
Mr. Bishop. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose that the employers should say to you: “We believe that you are trying to do what is right, nevertheless we differ with you in your conclusions; now we suggest that somebody comes in to arbitrate; you propose to decide the matter for yourselves, but we have some rights; let us have have an arbitration." Would your rules permit an arbitration under such circumstances ?
Mr. BISHOP. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, you reserve to yourselves the final and absolute right to decide whether you are right or not?
Mr. BISHOP. Yes, sir; for the reason that we believe we are able to judge of the merits of the case and know what our labor is worth.
The CHAIRMAX. On the other side, the employers claim that they are able to judge of the case and to know how much they can afford to pay; and in that state of things both sides are desirous to avoid a strike and avoid trouble. Still there is nothing in your arrangements which would authorize your governing body to agree to an arbitratiop ?
Mr. Bishop. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you refuse an arbitration in case it was offered under such circumstances ?
Mr. Bishop. You mean as an organization ?
Mr. Bishop. I could not say. No question of that kind has ever arisen, and consequently I could only presume an answer, and that I would not like to do.
The CHAIRMAN. But if such a thing as an arbitration was offered under such circumstances, do you suppose your association would take the question into consideration, or would they simply say, “We will not even consider it;.our decision is final"?
Mr. BISHOP. There may be cases where they would do it. Mr. Boyd. Let me ask, Mr. Bishop, whether there is anything in your rules or regulations which prevents an arbitration ?
The CHAIRMAN. I understand him to say that it is not dealt with at all. [To the witness.] There is nothing with reference to an arbitration in your rules?
Mr. Bishop. Our rule on that subject reads: “To obtain by conciliation and all other honorable means just and right pay for the work performed,” &c.; local regulations, of course, being considered.
The CHAIRMAN. Then there is nothing in the rules that would prevent an arbitration if you approved of it?
Mr. BISHOP. There is nothing said on that subject.
The CHAIRMAN. Since you have been at the head of this organization and known of its existence, what do you think has been the effect of it? Has it been to diminish collisions or strikes or to increase them? Mr. Bishop. We have had less trouble since its formation than we had before.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you find the employers ready to meet you half-way and talk over the troubles in a friendly spirit ?