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resort of all humanity to the union of many units for a common purpose.





Our topic is confined to the restraint upon individual liberty involved in association in industry; and to my mind, observation and experience both show That industrial association involves, for its success, a considerable degree of willing sacrifice of the theoretical right to do as one pleases, so long as one does not infringe upon the rights of others. This is true whether the association be one of employers or of wage earners; and it becomes conspicuously true in the collective contract between organized employers and organized wage


industry, group

of allied industries, known as the trade agreement. Any such contract involves a series of acceptances of restraint of individual freedom, beginning with the individual employer or the individual shareholder in an employing corporation on the one side, and with the individual wage earner and his local union on the other. This series of successive waiving of individual freedom proceeds in the case of an employing industry, from the formation of a simple partnership to the organization of a corporation and to the merging of several constituent corporations. It proceeds in a parallel way in the case of the employed in an industry, from the acceptance of mutual obligations by individual wage earners in a local union to the combination of such unions in city, state, national and international federations. At every step on either side, there must be some acceptance of restriction of individual liberty for the sake of concerted action for the common benefit.

TRADE AGREEMENTS DEFENDED. There undoubtedly exists a good deal of misunderstanding as to this necessity of the curtailment of personal rights through trade agreements.

There are some employers who still protest that the signing of a trade agreement regulating hours, wages and conditions of work infringes on his personal right to conduct his business

sees fit.

success or the failure, of democracy. And the public which is so interested is not "three quarters of the American people” but the whole.

Chairman Belmont:

It will interest us, gentlemen, now, to hear from one to whom the subject is more a question of practice than of theory; a man standing at the head of large industrial interests and who makes it a part of his daily life to adjust in that industry, which is one of great importance, the different questions which divide the laborer and the employer. I call upon Mr. Francis L. Robbins.

I have just been informed that for reasons Mr. Robbins cannot be present but has sent a paper to be read, and I will ask Mr. Easley to read it to you.

Trade Agreements and Individual Liberty. By FRANCES L. ROBBINS, President Pitts

burg Coal Company. In considering the query presented to us this evening, “How far does associated effort in industry involve the curtailment of individual liberty?" I have been led tothe general reply that no associated effort in any field of human activity is at all. possible without the voluntary surrender or modification of some measure of individual freedom of action. This proposition is supported by all human experience in attaining progress in any direction. Whether it be in the formation of governments, from the family to the clan, the tribe, the promotion of a religion, through missions, parishes, dioceses, national and international ecclesiastical bodies or federations of denominations; whether it be the sustaining of national autonomy and rights against other powers, through the Tamifications of diplomacy or by war. with all its sacrifice, discipline and many branches of organization; whether it be the advancement of morality, the prevention of crime, the reformation of the depraved, the rescue of the oppressedwhatever the effort, from the elimination of the “white plague" to the creation

new republic, both history and current activity show the instinctive

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Such an employer forgets that he is continually making contracts, other than with labor, and entering combinations, that restrain and modify his conduct of business.

An example of this adverse attitude to the trade agreement is found in the following quotation from a recent issue of the Industrial Independent, the official organ of the national arganization, that practically opposes all dealings with organized labor.

“The trade agreement would form a monopoly of employers, form a monopoly of labor, and induce them to make terms with each other to the advantage of both monopolies. It would deprive the individual of his constitutional right to work for whom and what he pleases, compelling him to surrender his allegiance as a free American citizen before he could work and live. The right to do wich one's labor as one pleases is guaranteed by this free government of ours, but under trade agreements this guarantee would not be sufficient. It would have to receive the stamp of organized employers and employes before it would be considered good.

This is an exaggerated and perverted statement. The trade agreement involves no “surrender of allegiance as a free American citizen," and deprives the individual of constitutional rights. The individual exercises his constitutional right, whether an employer or wage-earner,

when he enters voluntarily into association with others for the attainment of advantages which he could not secure by individual effort. When two such associations deal with each other, it is for the purpose of increasing the efficiency and productivity of an industry, which necessarily implies that their agreement is for the good of all the community.

It is indeed the benefit of society at large that inspires and justifies sacrifice of individual liberty. I regard the trade agreement, involving as it does a voluntary adjustment of personal freedom to the common weal, to be of the highest importance to the future of the country

a method of reaching harmonious relations between capital and labor.

THE BITUMINOUS AGREEMENTS. In no great field of industrial activity, enlisting billions of capital and em

ploying a vast army of men, is there a more signal example of benefit to the general social welfare than in the operation of the trade agreements between the Bituminous Operators' Associations of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and the wage earners organized as the United States Mine Workers of America. These agreements would be impossible did not each of the parties to the contracts recognize that the exercise of individual liberty must be made to accord with the interests of society as a whole.

These agreements are formed biennially at a convention composed of representatives of the operators' associations and of the organized mine workers. The agreements are worked out in detail and by localities. Upon them rests the stability of the production, transportation and marketing of fuel. Only their existence and the fidelity to their obligations of the wage earners themselves prevented the immeasurable disaster of a strike of the bituminous workers in 1902, simultaneously with the anthracite strike. Only the recognition of the mutual advantages of these agreements led the operators to propose a compromise scale at the convention of 1904, and led the miners to accept, by a referendum vote that compromise, although it involved a reduction of wages. The appreciation of the value of those agreements could have no vincing evidence than their withstanding this dual test—that the associated employers should propose a reduction far less than they believe to be warranted by the conditions of trade then existing and that the mine workers should accept a share of the burden of decreased profits due to adverse market ditions.

Now, who are the parties to these agreements, whose value I have but cursorily indicated? On the one side they have the organized operators of four states, on the other, the organized mine workers. But they are individual operators, whether in business as persons, firms or corporations. They cannot form themselves into the four state associations without some sacrifice



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of their individual liberty to do as they please with their own properties. The owner of one mine, producing coal of a peculiar quality, or enjoying special facilities of transportation, or having measures worked with particular economy of labor, might find temporary advantage in refusing to enter into an association with other operators that would destroy or lessen these fortuitous advantages in competition. But looking beyond his immediate, temporary personal advantage, he surveys the whole range of the industry and extends his prospect over a period of a year or two years. He takes into consideration the superior advantage in the long run of being assured a steady market, of the absorption of a reasonably continuous output, and of the opportunity to enter a joint agreement that will enable him to calculate with some assurance of certainty the great factor of labor cost entering into his production and sales.

operator is a corporation, its officers carry into this joint agreement the waiving also of the individual liberty of its shareholders. This statement applies, indeed, to the business transacted by all corporations.

The confusion that would arise, should every individual shareholder demand the exercise of individual liberty of judgment as to every act by and on behalf of a corporation, is indescribable. Indeed, it is plain that in the modern business world no transaction between corporations

between corporations and persons would be possible unless shareholders waive their individual liberties of action and entrusted them in block to directors and executives.

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conditions as he pleases. He surrenders that right when he joins the union, in order that he may share in the advantages of a collective contract, even at the risk that errors may be made in that contract that will work during its term to his disadvantage. The employer makes a similar surrender and takes a corresponding risk. It is conceivable that in some cases local conditions may make the union scale less than the individual mine worker might be able to exact from

individual employer.

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It is equally conceivable that in other local conditions might make it possible for an individual operator to impose the acceptance of a lower scale than that agreed upon between the association operators and the miners for that district. But both the miner and the operator have learned by experience that there is a larger and more permanent advantage in the subordination of individual liberty to joint agreement through th

chosen representatives of their two organizations.


All that I have said applies also to trade agreements between shippers and the

wage earners organized under the title of the International Longshoremen, Marine and Transport Workers' Association, with whose representatives we meet yearly and make contracts covering the terms and conditions of hauling and transporting coal from every port in the Great Lakes to the mouth of the Mississippi. These contracts

the stability and prosperity of transportation, throughout a territory imperial in extent, of fuei, ores, lime, lumber, stone and grain. It is these contracts, taken together, that make the capitalists and the wage earners interested in the production, transportation and marketing of bituminous coal the leaders, during the past seven years, in the actual accomplishment of peace in their own industry throughout an immense area of this country, and affecting favorably in turn all the other industries of transportation by land and water, and of manufacture, that consume fuel. The mine operators realize that this result




But to

the interstate bituminous agreements. The other party to them is the union of mine workers, as represented in the interstate convention, According to the theory of individual liberty, every mine worker in the bituminous field of the four states concerned has the right to sell his labor to the owner of the mine where he works, upon such terms of wages, hours and

with its benefits to invested capital, could not be attained without restraint of their individual freedom of action. The mine workers realize that in their corresponding individual sacrifice labor is concerned all along the line—the labor of the man who delves, the labor of the mine worker above the ground, the labor of those who load and unload vessels and cars, the labor of the vessel

crews and trainmen, the labor of the men who deliver the fuel to the consumer.

Thus, with all their faults of detail, trade agreements in principle and in practice are the very embodiment of far-reaching benefits to employers, wage earners and the general public, through the voluntary surrender of individual liberty. (Applause.)



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In its issue of May 15th, the Wil of this accident “may be justly and mington "Every Evening" editorially honestly attributed to the interference calls attention to the fact that “of all by people who have not the slightest the newspaper comments

practical knowledge of railroad business terrible accident on the Pennsylvania with the management and operation of railroad at Harrishurg, one, railroads, through the medium of unfar as it has seen, has given an inti wise and misdirected law.mation of the real responsibility for It also says: “Had the matter been this disaster.' “Not one,” says the left entirely with the managers of the Every Evening, “has gone to the truth railroads, as it should have been, they of the matter by ascribing the accident would no doubt have worked out the to the only cause to which it may be probiem in a satisfactory and reasonjustly and honestly attributed.”

ably safe manner.

* * * Had the folly of In this much of the editorial I heartily attempting to regulate the operation of concur. It was a fact, and one much railroads through laws enacted, and commented upon by experienced rail enforced also, by people who are enroad men, that the newspapers in giving tirely ignorant of railroad operation, their accounts of the wreck, placed so been avoided, this terrible accident in much stress upon the dynamite or all probability would not have happenpowder explosions, that the public ed.

The unwise and unwarranteye was in this way drawn from the real ed interference of the law has, thereof the catastrophe. But this

fore, brought about a great disaster." publication then takes upon itself the The position taken by the editor, duty of trying to shift the responsi that railroads should not be controlled bility for this deplorable accident from by law for the reason that the law the shoulders of the railroad company, makers know nothing of the details of where it justly belongs, and endeavors operation, is a novel one, and brings by a sort of legerdemain to show the to the mind of the practical railroad public that the real or primary cause man who has read his article the queswas the passage by Congress of the tion: Would it not be well also to Safety Appliance law, which requires limit the writing of editorials to men that the speed of trains shall be con who know whereof they speak? trolled by the use of air brakes, rather. It is true that the east bound freight than by the old hand brakes, and it is “buckled”, and caused one with this that I take issue.

cars to bulge out over the track upon The “Every Evening” makes the which the west bound express was apextravagant statement that the cause proaching. But what was the cause of

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this train “buckling”? It was not because Congress had passed a law requiring the use of air brakes, but because the railroad company was operating only a part of those air brakes in that train.

The brakes which were being operated were on the forward portion of the train, and when they were applied it caused the forward portion to suddenly slacken speed, while the rear portion, being unbraked, kept up its momentum, and came into collision with the forward portion, causing the cars in the middle of the train to be wrecked. Had all the brakes in this train been under the control of the engineer, the accident would not have happened, for the reason that they would have been applied simultaneously with equal force throughout the whole train, and all cars in the train would have stopped in unison, thus preventing any collision.

But the “Every Evening” says this train was composed of 68 cars, and that it is impossible to operate the air brakes along all the length of such a train from the locomotive. If the statement that a 68 car train is too long to operate all of the brakes-from the locomotive were correct, we should wer it by saying: Cut down the length of the trains, so that all of the brakes can be so operated, for this is admittedly the only proper and safe way to run trains. But it is evident that the editor and his advisor have had no practical experience in modern train braking, or they would not say it was impossible to operate the brake on 68 cars from the locomotive. I question whether in this instance the editor was as considerate as those “unwise, ignorant, interfering" law makers with which he finds so much fault. As a rule law makers hear both sides of a case before acting, while it is apparent that the editor in preparing his article did not consult those who were familiar with the practical operation of air brakes.

The writer has for many years been employed as a trainman on a road which operates long freight trainsmany of them having more than 68 cars-and it is his experience that they

can be, and have been, successfully handled with all of the brakes under the control of the engineer on the locomotive, and there is no good reason why this can not be done on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and had it been done there, this unnecessary loss of human life would bave been avoided.

The esteemed editor in speaking of the application of air brakes to freight trains says:

“How the system has worked is attested by the numerous wrecking of freight trains which has marked the operation of every railroad system in the country since the law has been in force."

Here again he displays his lack of knowledge of the true condition throughout the country.

It can be said without fear of contradiction, that systems where it is the practice to operate the brakes on all cars in a train under the direct control of the engineer, such accidents as the one which occurred at Harrisburg re practically unknown.

It is only upon those roads which operate a portion of the brakes from the locomotive that such accidents happen.

The great danger to life and property attending the unwise practice of operating a portion of the brakes from the locomotive, has been repeatedlv brought to the attention of the railroad managers both by their employes and the Government officials as well, but as the Harrisburg accident will evidence, this advice has been unheeded. It has been discussed before the committee of Congress. It has been brought out in the debates of Congress.

It has been commented upon by the Interstate Commerce Commission in its reports to Congress, and in the quarterly accident bulletins issued by it. Accident Bulletin No. 1, issued by the Commission, shows that for a period of only three months there were no less than 205 accidents due to this very cause, and in these accidents, 130 trainmen were killed and injured. And this is not all. The Bulletin adds:

“The above total, 130, includes only those cases which clearly come within


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