Page images
PDF
EPUB

body in convention assembled has repeatedly declared for peace between the unions, and has advocated the submission of all matters in dispute to the arbitrament of third parties, the jurisdiction disputes seem to grow in number and in intensity. We regret to state that while many of the unions so engaged in controversies over jurisdiction are willing to accept any reasonable arrangement arrived at, a number of unions refuse to abide by the decision of an impartial arbitrator and insist narrowly upon their own interpretation of the boundaries of their trade.

“The Executive Council feels called upon to issue to the unions composing this body a solemn note of warning as to the dangers which lie in the continuance of jurisdiction disputes. Many of the unions appear to be more engrossed in the problem of securing new adherents from unions already existing, or to extend the work of their members at the expense of other organizations, than they are in resisting the aggressions of employers, or securing higher wages, shorter hours, and better conditions of work."

Since that time, several important jurisdictional fights have been settled, but there are yet some irritating cases, especially when capital is tied up while two unions, so completely organized as to monopolize the craft, battle as to which shall do the work.

The contest between autonomists and industrialists has been a menace to organized labor. The autonomists would organize each craft in national unions. The industrialists would organize in one body all the craftsmen engaged in a single industry, which method proved a failure in the case of the Knights of Labor. Socialists and socialist writers have thought that they saw in this contest a possible wedge to split in twain the American Federation of Labor, and with that motive have urged industrialism with vehemence. But this controversy is adjusting itself in accordance with special and local conditions.

The boycott, the union shop and the sympathetic strike are targets for the shafts of the enemies of unionism. These

are questions that are in the process of solution through the evolution of experience. For instance, the boycott ranges from the “white list” of the Consumers' League, composed in part of wealthy society women,

which is a negative black-list, to such extremes as the organized persecution of a physician who ministers to the needs of a dying non-union man, or of the druggist who sells the doctor medicine, or such as parading with a denunciatory banner before a grocery that offers for sale a brand of soap whose wrapper was printed in a non-union shop. Somewhere between these extremes lies the freedom of action that may be justified by its motive. The courts are progressing toward a determination as to how far it is legal to make effective a force that is recognized wherever men associate together for a common object.

But the most perilous internal weakness of organized labor is the apathy of the mass.

That is a peril that must be met and overcome if unionism is to endure the stress of concentrated assault or to resist insidious disintegration. The one obvious process of overcoming that apathy, with its evil results, is education. That is necessarily a slow process, demanding patience and persistence on the part of those who teach an awakened interest and faithful attention on the part of the taught. These are the very qualities essential to the life of any democratic movement; and in its development, unionism is industrial democracy.

Organized labor is doing much on its own account to remove its weakness of apathy. There are indications that the number is increasing of those who work for the cause, not spasmodically, or only in times of excitement, but steadily, faithfully, throughout the year. When a question was submitted to the referendum of the International Typographical Union, four years ago, the returns showed that only one member in four in the New York local voted. But in another referendum this year, over 30,000 votes out of a membership of 42,000 were cast. This showing is the more encouraging, because it is more difficult

some

to poll such a vote in a large city than in a smaller community. The cigarmakers' union shows a similar increase in the active participation of its members in its affairs. This participation is encouraged by the development of benefit funds, which stimulate individual interest. It is also true, as a general proposition, that the greatest advance in overcoming apathy is made in the skilled crafts. The more unskilled the calling, the greater the need of education and the greater the difficulty of stimulating ambition among the workers.

That the vital importance of its own education is realized by unionism is shown by the adoption of the following resolution at the last convention of the American Federation of Labor:

"Whereas, it is evident that this Nation is destined to take the lead in this grand struggle for better conditions and higher culture; therefore, be it

"Resolved, That we hereby recommend to all organizations affiliated with the American Federation of Labor to have their members study the economic conditions; to have lectures upon these subjects in their lodge rooms, homes, and in meetings set apart for this purpose, and to do everything in their power for the enlightenment and intellectual advancement of the proletariat.”

There are other evidences that the unions appreciate the necessity and are gaining the advantage of education. The official periodicals of the railway brotherhoods contain technical articles upon the practical work of engineers, firemen and trainmen. The same statement is true of the stationary engineers' publication, and of the journals of the building trades and of other mechanical callings. Many of these articles are illustrated by diagrams and are sufficiently lucid and simple to interest the lay reader. Moreover, the constant discussion of various phases of the labor question in these and other publications can not fail to enlighten the mass of their readers upon social and economic questions.

An example that merits imitation is that of the International Union of Steam Engineers, that conducts a regu

lar winter course of lectures in New York City. The official journal of that union states: “The prime object of these monthly lectures is to educate our men in all the latest electrical and mechanical devices, so as to fit them to perform their duties in the most efficient manner. It is also our desire to teach the employer that a union engineer, while asking for the eight-hour day and the prevailing rate of wages, wants to give in return a class of service of which the non-union engineer is incapable." That is an illustrative method of how to win the “closed shop" through superior union merit; and it is a practical method also of substituting interest for apathy in the membership

The organized laundry workers of Chicago have arranged a course of lectures this winter, covering a wide range of subjects. Many of these lectures, like those delivered in the evenings in

me of the public schools in the larger cities, are illustrated with stereopticon views. The lectures are so arranged as to stimulate systematic reading at home. The legislation authorizing this use of public school buildings received the earnest support of organized labor.

Other efforts at education aim to'encourage the reading of papers and the conduct of debates upon the social and industrial topics at the regular meetings of local unions. This is a movement that the labor press generally favors, and it deserves to receive the approval of all friends of organized labor. The more advanced members of a local union have in this method an opportunity for the guidance of the more backward. It is method of self-help that, properly directed, must result in mental development and in improving the capacity of the mass. It is a method that should go far to meet the cynical assumption that the average wage-earner will abuse the additional leisure that a shorter work-day would grant.

Another force at work for moral education among the unions is their machinery for discipline.

Almost every offense for which labor organization provides a penalty is an offense against moralty.

Its prohibitions are directed

against disorderly conduct; intemper- terment of labor is the betterment of the ance; fraud; non-payment of debts; un- entire social structure. truthfulness. The trials of such of- As Edgar Gardner Murphy has well fenses, especially where there is an ap- said: “The problems of labor and capipeal from the decision of a local union tal, like the problems of science and reto a higher body, should afford good ligion, yield to no precise formulæ; they parliamentary. practice

are problems of life, persistent and irThus do we see that, more or less un- reducible. And yet they are subject to consciously, organized labor is striving approximate adjustments, increasingly to overcome its most dangerous weak- righteous, intelligent and effective, and ness through education and through yielding an increasing measure of social the establishment of systems of benefits. peace, of industrial coöperation, of inIt is the task of education, as endless as dividual freedom and happiness. the generations, that organized labor Toward the establishment of such a should not be left to perform alone. working adjustment of any national Labor has had to struggle upward, not problem, it is well to labor, in order that only alone and unaided, but through the problems of American life may becenturies of opposition, even of perse- come the occasions of a keener and more cution. But, although its progress has widely distributed sense of social oblibeen impeded, it has now reached a gation, a larger and saner political tempoint where it is receiving the helping per, a purer civic devotion, rather than hand of those who realize that the bet- the occasions of national demoralization."

W

THE SALVATION OF SOULS.

BY JOSE GROS.

“The Literary Digest” of New York for February 4th, gives a very interesting symposium about the views recently expressed by a lady writer in some of the important monthlies, such as

Munsey” and “The Cosmopolitan," and also what clergymen have said about the great modern question of which arethe best methods for churches not to perish, or flourish, as an influence in the destinies of humanity. Some stand by what they call the secular action of the churches, in the sense of their becoming centers of philanthropy so that to help the people to make both ends meet, and centers of amusement, so that to give men healthy forms of recreation, and thus check the healthy tendency toward low amusements. Some depreciate all such systems and stand for the old theory that the only function of the churches is the salvation of men's souls.

One of the lady writers says: “The minister of to-day has no living message;

the old theology has gone-the religious belief of to-day is very problematical, the theory of tomorrow is a greater conundrum.” And that lady is the wife of a minister.

The above discussion, or any similar one, proves the intense disorganization of modern nations. As such it belongs to the realm of the social reformer, the kind of social reform which does not antagonize religion but wants the real article, such as taught by that beautiful Christ who stands and shall forever stand as the grandest social reformer the earth ever saw or ever shall see.

Before we proceed perhaps we had better copy

short editorial from Harper's Weekly, June 4, 1904, giving the previous thoughts of two eminent clergymen on present social developments. It is as follows:

“Dr. Charles C. Hall, president of the Union Theological Seminary of New York thinks that the moral standard of the American people is degenerating.

a

un

common

a

asso

In his address on May 18 before the Religious Association in Chicago he spoke of the relatively good state of the

morality of the American people, but a deeper examination of the social side of our American life reveals, he thinks, situation that causes everything but satisfaction. Our activity has astonished the world, but morally we are rapidly going asternso rapidly that one is dumfounded at the contrast after a visit to some of the countries of Europe. Religion, he finds, has very little part in our civilization today; our home might be better, and our people are apathetic about their spiritual interests. To much the same intent but more specific are the conclusions of Dr. Coyle of Denver as disclosed by him on May 19th at the opening of the Presbyterian General Assembly at Buffalo. He noted the drift of the people away from lofty ideals and from organized christianity. It meant something he thought, when conservative observers called our time, “ The Age of Graft." He quoted a distinguished Roman Catholic prelate as declaring that the most pronounced of our sins was dishonesty. He spoke of our vanishing sense of sin, by which we seem to think that there are no sinners any longer, especially in the high places of respectability. Our ideals of the home have been lowered; we suffer from the social scourge of easy divorce; childless firesides are taking the place of family circles. It is the ring of the telephone we hear nowadays, says Dr. Coyle, and not the cry of

the baby. He thinks a restoration of ethical ideals is imperatively needed."

Dr. Coyle comes very close to the bottom needs of all modern nations. A little amendment may be necessary to his final thought. We can hardly speak of restoration of anything humanity never had, in any specific, tangible form. Men have always talked about the need of ethical conceptions, but they have never tried to devise any social or national plan resting on equity. In that sense at least, the present generation is not any worse than previous ones, nor is our nation worse than any

other. But do you know what happens with all that is wrong? It simply happens that any given social wrong produces more fatal results in proportion as population increases and we manage to produce a larger ratio of wealth per capita of population. These two elements make life more complex, invite greater temptations, bring more anxieties and frictions, and so we have a decrease in

the physical and mental stamina, of the righteous, serene mentality. For instance, under primitive, simple methods of life, ten degrees of equity towards each other in national life will produce better results than twenty degrees under a less simple or primitive life. In the last thirty years or so humanity has managed to complicate life so dreadfully, that we need—one hundred degrees of equity in all our bottom essential national relations.

In the natural order of things, where should equity teachings come from? From religion, from what we call the churches, or from any human ciation of important men trying to become humanity's teachers or leaders. By the word equity we should mean“The science or philosophy of symmetrical honest human growth, and hence the evolution of honest, symmetrical nations

social groups, respecting the Godgiven cardinal rights of all men.

Take now that old expression—“The Salvation of Souls,

as the

rand desideratum of religious teachings. Can we properly save souls as long as we do our best to force upon ourselves the most distorted lives possible through an industrialism which has not an atom of equity towards any body, rich or poor, wiseor ignorant employer or employe,capitalist orla borer? What kinds of souls can

evolve, anyhow, through sickly bodies forced to go through life as mere fragments of machinery, to either make both ends meet or to keep the wealth we may have obtained? How can souls do anything right, in the order of life terrestial or in any kind of spiritual activity, as long as all the faculties of that soul have to be concentrated in living an excited, crooked, materialistic life, forced upon all of us by the crooked, material

or

we

a

istic laws that we are taught to stand by?

Why to divorce the soul from the body, the individual from the social group,

the nation from humanity, humanity from God, human laws from divine laws, the order of social development from the divine morality of Jesus. Yet, that is what we are bound to do as long as we refuse to teach every soul how to respect the equity of the universe, the moral code of God, not any less needed on earth than in the heavens beyond. Why not to be sensible even in the salvation of souls, by the building up of manly souls in healthy bodies, instead of simple trying yet to save souls through distorted minds and unhealthy bodies, because of a

distorted, unhealthy civilization?

Man must be here to complete himself, otherwise he would not have

received the image of his complete Creator. He can only complete him. self through the evolution of a complete humanity, and so with complete nations in peace with God because under laws respecting all divine equity. All God's forces and laws actually decree the inevitable completion of the human family as soon as what we call the good, important men of the important nations see fit to collectively co-operate with the divine order of the universe."

To be sure, the wise and the prudent claim that many would prefer to be wicked even in the midst of a Godlike civilization, but that can only be proved, when, for at least 30 or 40 years, we have seen fit to have that God-like civilization, and we have thus tried to work for the salvation of souls in a sensible and not in a foolish way as thus far.

THE RAIN UPON THE ROOF.

BY MRS. F. D. GAGE.

Long aga a poet dreaming,

Weaving fancy's warp and woof, Penned a tender, soothing poem

On the “rain upon the roof." Once I read it and its beauty

Filled my heart with memories sweet; Days of childhood flittered round me,

Violets sprang beneath my feet; And my gentle loving mother

Spoke again in accents mild, Curbing every wayward passion

Of her happy, thoughtless child Then I heard the swallows twittering

Underneath the cabin eaves, And the laughing shout of Willie

Up among the maple leaves; And I blessed the poet's dreaming

Blessed his fancy warp and woof, And I wept o'er memories treasured,

As the rain fell on the roof. Years ago I lost the poem,

But its sweetness lingers still, As the freshness of the valley

Marks where flowed the spring-time rill, Lost to read, but not to feeling,

For the rain drop never falls O'er my head with pattering music

But it peoples memory's halls

With the old, familiar faces,

Loved and treasured long ago; Treasured now, as in life's spring-time

For my heart no change can know, And I live again my childhood,

In the home far, far away; Roam the woodland, orchard, wildwood

With my playmates, still at play. Then my gray hairs press the pillow,

Holding all the world aloof, Dreaming sweetly as I listen

To the rain upon the roof. Every pattering drop that falleth,

Seemeth like an angle's tread. Bringing messages of mercy

To the weary heart and head; Pleasant thoughts of years departed,

Pleasant soothings for to-day,
Earnest longings for to-morrow.

Hoping for the far away,
For I know, each drop that falleth

Comes to bless the thirsty earth,
Making seed to bud and blossom,

Springing all things into birth, As the radiant bow that scattereth

All our faithlessness with proof Of a seed time and a harvest,

So the rain upon the roof

« PreviousContinue »