Imágenes de páginas

wbich has its office in Saint Louis, and which asks bids from the hoop-iron companies and furnishes the ties itself.

To go back to this north of England irop-trade. I spoke of arbitration and conciliation. There is a decided difference between the two which I would express in this way: That arbitration is formal and conciliation informal. Most of the difficulties between capital and labor are settled by conciliation. I suppose that at least 90 per cent. of the difficnlties that arise are settled by conciliation in this north of England iron-trade. The boarıl is established in this way. Every establishment that becomes members of the board has a right to two members in the board, one of thein being a workman and one of them an employer. This board elects a president, vice-president, and two secretaries. The president is generally a manufacturer, the vice-president an employé, and a secretary from each side, one of the secretaries being an operative and the other a manufacturer. These four with eight members of the board form what is known as a standivg committee, who take cognizance of all cases in the first instance.

Mr. Jones. They do not organize that board as the emergency arises ?

Mr. WEEKS. Not in the north of England trade, although they do organize arbitration boards for special cases in some districts and trades.

Mr. Rice. They are elected by those who enter into the arrangement?

Mr. WEEKS. Yes; the workmen of each establishinent elect its own workman member, and the employers as a body the employer member.

Mr. Rice. Although there is no recognized legal action !

Mr. WEEKS. There are three laws on the English statute-books in reference to arbi. tration. One of them, I think, was passed in 1824, which is known as the master and workman act (5 George IV, cap. 96); one passed in 1867, which is known as Lord St. Leonard's act; and one in 1872, which is known as Mr. Mundella's act. So far as I have been able to tind out, there never has been a case in which these acts have been iisel, arbitration in England being parely a voluntary thing in all its pbases. It is voluntary in its submission, it is voluntary in its progress, and it is voluntary in the enforcement of its awards. The only power to force the men to abide by the awards is the individnal sense of honor, or what Mr. Kettle so happily terms the “ collective sense of honor”--the esprit du corps of the trades-union.

The CHAIRMAN. Then your conclusion is that the laws are not necessary and probably not desirable in order to bring about arbitration and conciliation ?

Mr. WEEKS. That is my conclusion.

The CHAIRMAN. Did you ascertain whether there has been any change of feeling on the part of the employers within the last twenty or thirty years in regard to meeting their workmen for the purpose of conciliation ?

Mr. WEEKS. Yes, there is an entire change in many trades. Parties who have studiod the subject in England give a great deal of credit for this change to the formation of arbitration and conciliation boards. The representatives of the manufacturers and of the workmen meet as equals. They do not get now, as they used to, half of them on one side of a table or room and half on the other, antagonizing ench other, but thoy now seat themselves promiscnously abont the board. A good president, if he sees them beginniug to separate, stops the separation.

Mr. Joves. They act judicially ?

Mr. WEEKS. Except in the case of conciliation. In conciliation they have no power to give an award. The parties who act as conciliators siarply act as friends of the fainily, as it were.

Mr. Rice. As advisers ?

Mr. WEEKS. Yes, as advisers. Arbitration has not only brought about a better feeling between the two parties, and served to take away that idea of domination and of servitude which runs throngh English labor, but it has also given the men a better idea of the conditions and demands of the trade. The boards hold quarterly meetings, as a general thing. They sit there to take an oversight of the trade, and to get information as to the influences at work in the way of foreigu or home competition and otherwise, and they ascertain the demands which the workmen bave to concede in order to meet the cheap labor of Germany for instance. By this means the barrier of prejudice and suspicion is broken down, and the workmen become informed as to the needs of the trade, and what they have to do in order to meet the competition. The converse is of course true.

The Chairmax. Do you consider that it would be of great advantage to the trado in Pittsburg if the workmen and the employers were to meet togethur in that way to talk over the conditions of trade?

Mr. WEEKS. I do.
The Chairmax. Is there any difficnity in bringing it about?

Mr. WEEKS. I think that the prospect is very flattering that there will be such a lvarı. Mr. Bishop, I nnderstand, has been talking of the advisability, and Mr. B. F. Jones, onr largest employer of labor there. I bad a conference with bim ou Monday,

and I am to address the Chamber of Commerce on Saturday next, and I hope that out of this movement wijl come arbitration.

The CHAIRMAN. I have a letter from Mr. Edwards, in which he expresses most unqualified approbation of the plan of conciliation and arbitration, and a desire to help it in Pittsburg.

Mr. WEEKS. We had in Pittsburg generally a temporary conciliation board to settle wages, until 1875. Some time between 1860 and 1870 there was a sliding scale established there which worked np to 1875. There was a maximum and a minimum. In 1875 the minimum was reached. That was the point where bar iron was three cents a pound. The agreement when that scale was formed was that when iron reached there, the maximum or minimum, there should be a conference and the scale of prices readinsted. There was a conference held, but the men refused to concede anything, and there was a strike, lasting fronı November, 1874, to April, 1875, and out of that came a sort of arrangement. That has been abrogated, and there is a something in Pittsburg which is called a sliding scale, but it is a scale made by workivg-men, who come to the manufacturers and say, “Sign that, or we will not run your mill.” This is called a contract, but there is no sliding scale in the proper sense of the word in puddling.

The CHAIRMAN. Are the relations between employer and employed in Pittsburg as favorable to conciliation at present as they are in England ?

Mr. WEEKS. I think that they are more favorable tban they were in England when those boards were formed originally. I think that those boards have affected both sides, and that perhaps the relations of the trade in Pittsburg are not quite as favor. able to the formation of such boards as they are in England at the present time-the boards baving bad au existence there.

The CHAIRMAN. But there is a feeling in Pittsburg now on the part of the emplos. ers that the working-men have a right to be informed of the state of the business, and to know just what wages they ought to bave.

Mr. WEEKS. Yes; but I think there would be an opposition to what bas been claimed by the workmen, viz, that they should see the books of the establisbment, in order to ascertain its profits. I do not think that the employers would be willing to concede that. They do not do that in England, either.

The Chairman. I am aware of that, but in England the umpire has access to the books.

Mr. Weeks. Yes, the umpire or a sworn accountant, but not for the pnrpose of determining profits. It is simply for the purpose of determining selling prices, and the basis of wages there bas been on the selling prices.

The CIIAIRMAN. The question of profits wonld not be a material question, because one establishment might be making profits while another was making no profits, and if wages were based upon profits, then there would be a different grade of wages in every mill. The selling price is the only thing on which wages can be graded, and the arbitration boards in England proceed on that principle !

Mr. WEEKS. Yes.
Mr. Rice. You say that they pay in England $1.56 for puddling compared to $3 in

Mr. WEEKS. Yes.
Mr. Rick. That is, that what costs $1.56 in England costs $5 in Pittsburg!
Mr. WEEKS. Yes; but the rate is lower in Massachnsetts.

Mr. Rice. Is there any such discrepancy between the wages received by the laborers in England and in this country generally as that discrepancy in the iron business!

Mr. WEEKS. No, I tbink the discrepancy is greater in the iron business.
The Chairman. How is it in heating; is not the discrepancy just as great!
Mr. WEEKS. Not quite.
Tbe CHARMAN. Well, nearly as great!
Mr. WEEKS. No, I think not.

The CHIRMAN. How is it for common labor; what are they paying for common labor around the English mills now!

Mr. WEEKS. I have forgotten.
The CHAIRMAN. What are they paying iu Pittsburg!
Mr. WEEKS. As a general thing $1 ; from 90 cents to $1.25. One or two mills only
pay 90 cents.

Mr. Rice. What do you suppore is paid in England!
Mr. WEEKS. I suppose about three shillings to three shillings and sixpence.

Mr. Rice. Then you mean that wages are about twice as high here as they are in England ?

Mr. WEEKS. Not quite; three shillings is equal to about seventy centa.
Mr. Rice. Do you know whether that same difference exists in other kiods of labor!

Mr. WEEKS. I will be able to tell you, but not to-day. I intended if I had time to make ont a table showing the wages in Warrenton, near Liverpool, in Middleborough, apd in Staffordshire, near Birmingham, as compared with wages in Pittsburg in the

iron-trade, and also the comparative price of living. I will make out a statement and furnish it to the committee.

Mr. RICE. These being the recognized relative prices received by laborers in the two countries, how are you going to briog the labor of America down to the price of English labor ?

Mr. WEEKS. I do not know anybody who wants to do so.

Mr. Rice. Then how are you going to have the product of American labor compete with the product of English labor ?

Mr. Weeks. In the first place, I think that American labor is much more effective than English labor.

The CHAIRMAX. Take boiling, for instance; how about that? Mr. WEEKS. That I do not know about, because the work of boiling in England is a great deal harder than it is here.

The CHAIRMAX. Is labor more effective in boiling pig-iron in America than it is in England ?

Mr. WEEKS. No; but that is one of the roughest kinds of labor in the trade.

Mr. Rice. Is there any such difference between the quality of American labor and of English labor as to make up for the difference in the rate of wages which each receives

Mr. WEEKS. No, sir ; I do not think there is.

Mr. Rice. Are the rates of English labor going to increase in the future? Is there any prospect of their increasing?

Mr. WEEKS. That is a subject I have thought considerably about, and the more I think abont it the more I am unable to decide.

Mr. Rice. Is it not more likely that the rates of wages in England will go down?

Mr. WEEKS. I do not know how they can go down any farther unless the people starve. Mr. RICE. How will they go up?

Mr. WEEKS. I do not know unless they can get markets for their products, and even then I do not see how, with provisions as high as they are in England, wages can go down.

Mr. Rice. If the English can get the markets, they cannot.

Mr. WEEKS. I cannot see why the English should have the market completely as against us.

Mr. Rice. Why not, if they pay less for the labor that enters into their products than we do?

Mr. WEEKS. Take the iron trade, for instance. The pig-iron puddled in the north of England at those prices does not give bar-iron that begins to equal that from onr pig. iron. The tensile strength of their common iron will be about 35,000 pounds, whereas tbe tensile strength of our Pittsburg common iron is 50,000 pounds and upward. That is, our Pittsburg iron (what we call our common irons bere) are superior to their common and eqnal to the best English irons. Their best bar-irou to-day is but a fraction, if any, better than our common Pittsburg irons. They sell their Lord Dudley iron for, say £7 a ton (egnal to about $35), while we are selling onr Pittsburg iron for something like $33 a ton.

Mr. RICE. And we are paying the difference for labor ?

M. WEEKS. Yes. Our material, to begin with, is better than theirs. They have to rework their iron so much in order to get it up to a good grade, or else they have to take certain grades of pig-iron that are expensive.

Mr. Rice. I understand that this discrepancy in wages runs throngh all kinds of employment in the two countries; that the wages are nearly double in this country what they are in England. Now this difference in the quality of production which you speak of as existing between the Pittsburg iron and the English iron does not extend to everything. How are you going (where the qualities are the same) to have the product of the labor of this country compete with that of England ?

Mr. WEEKS. While I cannot say that the difference in quality does extend to all classes of goods, it certainly does to a great many. Our common cottons (what we used to call in Lowell cotton cloths) and our prints are much better than the English common prints; onr shoes are better, and I think that our common woolen cloth is better than the common woolen cloth of England, although perhaps in the finer grades of goods the superiority is with the English. When it comes to the very fine grades of everything, they perhaps surpass us in some things, especially in those things where the quality depends on the amount of labor expended.

Mr. Rice. Take an iron ship built in England and an iron ship built in this country, und which of them would you say is best built ?

Mr. WEEKS. I know a gentleman who told me that he has seen iron plates put into a ship in England that he would not risk his life on. I should judge that an English ship made of the same quality of plates that we put into our ships would cost bonewbat less than our ships cost, but not much less.

Mr. Rice. Is the work on an iron ship better than it is here?

Mr. WEEKS. No; I think that our work here as a general thing is better than theirs. Mr. Rice. Ou iron sbips ?

Mr. WEEKS. I am speaking of iron itself. Iron ships I know very little about. I know that our tools are better than theirs.

Mr. Jones. The sbips that Mr. Plympsoll refers to were iron ships.

Mr. WEEKS. Some of them. When you get upon ship-building you are ont of my latitude,

Mr. Rice. The fact of there being so great a discrepancy rather surprises me.

The CHAIRMAN. It has always existed. (To Mr. Weeks:) Is there a discrepancy between the rate of wages paid in Pittsburg and in New England ?

Mr. WEEKS. Yes, a very large discrepancy.

The CHAIRMAN. Take puddling, for example. What are the rates of wages in New England and Pittsburg?

Mr. Weeks. Io New England the price varies from $2.50 to $3 a ton of 2,240 pounds, as against $5 a ton in Pittsburgh.

The Chairman. If you should succeed in getting wages in Pittsborg down to the rate paid in New England, what would bappen to the New England mills in tbe present condition of the iron trade? Would they bave to shut up shop?

Mr. Weeks. I think that that would be the result, although they have a home market there for a good deal of their product. A large number of the New England mills are nail-mills, and they have a demand for their product in New England.

The CHAIRMAN. Would the freight from Pittsburg to New England be sufficient to counterbalance the difference in cost?

Mr. WEEKS. I do not think it would. There is a new railroad almost finished, and which will be open in two months, from Pittsburg to Youngstown, connecting with the Lake Shore road, that will reduce freight to Now England from Pittsburg somewhat.

The CHAIRMAN. Then the same process of competition that now exists between the English workmen and the American workmen would inevitably take place between Pittsburg and New England, and would result in the same way?

Mr. WEEKS. think so. The CHAIRMAN. Would you recommend us to have a tariff in New England against Pittsburg!

Mr. WEEKS. The tariff is an entirely different ng, which I can give my views npon if desired. I would like to see New England prosperous, for although I live in Pittsburg, I am New England born.

The Chairman. Would you think that the solution of the difficulty would be a protection of New England against Pittsburg?

Mr. WEEKS. No; I think that the trouble in New England is lack of fuel, and that that is a thing which no tariff or anything else can help.

The CHAIRMAN. If they had free trade, they could get fuel from 'New Brunswick cheap. Do yon not tbink that with a tariff of a cent a pound as against Pittsbarg iron, the New England mills conld continue to run ?

Mr. Weeks. I have no doubt but that such a tariff would enable the New England mills to run, but then other considerations would come into question.

The-CHAIRMAX. Then the iron consumed in New Englaud would cost consumers more than it now costs.

Mr. WEEKS. I do not think it would.

The CHAIRMAN. If New England had free trade in fuel and a cent a pound proteetion on iron against Pittsburg, do you not think that the iron would cost the consumers in New England more than it now does ?

Mr. WEEKS. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Why not?

Mr. WEEKS. That brings up the whole question as to whether the tariff is a tas upon the consumer.

The Chairman. If it wonld not cost the consumer of nails in New England more inoney than now, why not let the New England iron manufacturers have protection! In the first place, you say that the Pittsburg nails (if your labor and the New EngInnd labor were on the same grade of price) would go into New England cheaper than the New England mills produce nails. That would be so unless the price of labor were reduced in New England, and you say that you do not want to reduce the price of labor. Therefore, if you were to put a tariff of a cept a pound on the Pittsbarg naile, would it not make nails cost more in New England?

Mr. WEEKS. At first it might. You are taking a special case and trying to get me to give judgment in that special case. I say that there are other considerations in regard to it.

The Chairmax. I want yonr opinion as to that point.

Mr. WEEKS. I presume that at tirst it might. A tariff generally results at first in increasing the price to the consumer, but it would ultimately make nails less in New England.

The CUAIRMAX. Why would it make nails cost less ?

Mr. WEEKS. The only reason why nails are cheap in New England is that they have cheap labor there. Now you are going to have as cheap labor as they havo-the as. sumption being that the labor is equated on the same grado-either yours down or theirs np. Now I say I do not want to have labor put down. If they have protection in New England it would doubtless make nails cost more, but there wonld be countervailing advantages.

The CHAIRMAX. Then the consumer of nails would lose that much? Mr. WEEKS. I presume so, if New England should separate herself from the rest of the country of which it is an integral part.

Mr. Rice. Would the consumer of nails have compensation in any other way?

Mr. Weeks. Yes. For instance, a farmer would have an opportunity to sell bis produce to those parties at work in these mills. The workmen would become consumers of what the farm raised, and perbaps at bigher rates.

The CHAIRMAN. But does not New England now import very much the largest quantity of food used there?

Mr. WEEKS. Of certain kinds, yes.

The CHAIRMAN. Then the farmer is as well able to sell what he raises in one case as the other!

Mr. WEEKS. Yes.

Mr. Rice. Does New England import a great part of what her people eat, such as vegetables, meat, butter, &c. ?

Mr. WEEKS. I never looked into that question, but she does import a great part of the grain and flour consumed.

Mr. Rice. In your judgment, are the laborers in Pittsburg better off pow than the laborers in New England—do they live better, have better houses, better food, &c.

Mr. WEEKS. I cannot tell you. The CHAIRMAN. Compare the condition of the Pittsburg laborers with the condition of the English laborers.

Mr. WEEKS. The Pittsburg laborers live much better. It cannot be otherwise, be. cause with the single exception of rent and possibly of clothing (although I doubt if that is an exception), there are but very few of the necessaries of life that do not cost in England higher than here. Pittsburg, however, is hardly a fair point for comparison of the conditions of labor, because it is a place so hemmed in by the bluffs and the places of residence are so near to the mills and are so dirty from the smoke, that it is hardly a fair comparison to inake.

Mr. Rice. If labor is $3 à ton in Massachusetts and $5 a ton in Pittsburg, is that difference of wages going to continue ?

Mr. WEEKS. That I cannot say; on the other hand, I would say that the question whether a man can live on a given amount depends altogether upon how he lives.

The CHAIRMAN. If the tariff on iron were ripealed, could the Pittsburg mills continue to run in competition with England in the production of bar-iron ?

Mr. WEEKS. That would depend something on the question whether the English bar-iron would be sold at the rate which it would be sold for in England plus the freight and cost of handling. If the English should put their iron into New York for the purpose of breaking down the market

The CHAIRMAN. Do not assume a case of that kind, but take the regular normal business. If there is no duty on English iron, would the result be the closing of the Pittsburg mills!

Mr. WEEKS. No, sir. The CHAIRMAN. What would happen ? Mr. WEEKS. It would cut off considerable of their business. The CHAIRMAN. But conld they still go on and pay their present rate of wages? Mr. Weeks. No; I do not think they could. The CHAIRMAN. Woulil they not have to reduce wages? Mr. WEEKS. I think so. The CHAIRMAX. What is the present rate of duty on bar-iron ? Mr. WEEKS. I do not recollect. The CHAIRMAN. It varies; but suppose the ordinary rate to be tbree-fourths of a cent per pound on bar-iron, or from $15 to $17 a ton. That is the barrier between English iron and ours. If we were to remove that barrier, would not the English iron come into Pittsburgh itself and be sold ?

Mr. WEEKS. I do not think the common grarle and kinds of iron would. The tendency of importation lately has been to drop off from the commoner grades and import the higher grades, like rods, hoops, and sbeets.

The CHAIRMAN. You think that English iron could not be brought into Pittsburgh ? Mr. WEEKS. I think that these higher grades of iron might be, because the difference in the cost of labor in making these higher grades is inuch less than the difference in the cost of making the higher grades in Pittsburgh.

« AnteriorContinuar »