DEVOTED TO THE INTERESTS AND VOICING THE DEMANDS OF THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT

Vol. XII,

JANUARY, 1906.

No. }

THE FATHER INVISIBLE.

A STORY OF CHICAGO.

By STUART REID.

IERCING winds swept the streets of Chicago. A cutting sleet, driven into the faces of pedestrains, sent them hurrying to their homes and

the warmth of the genial fire.

Kindly hearts prayed for homeless wanderers abroad on such a night, and prayers in their behalf ascended to the Father invisible.

In a mission room, on Halsted street, a young man was addressing a class of street arabs, a majority of them paying but slight attention to his teachings. They had been attracted by the warmth, and appreciated the physical comfort more than they did his interest in their souls.

‘‘Not even a sparrow falleth to the ground but He knoweth,’’ he said. His earnest tones gave evidence of a great zeal in his Master’s cause, and the expression of his face told of a great faith in the Father invisible. He told the arabs of a Father’s love greatly exceeding that of all earthly parents, and of how He had sent

(13)

His Son on earth to suffer and die for sinners like them.

Then he called Him the Redeemer of mankind and the friend of little children. ‘*He is looking down on you now,”’ he said, ‘and will see you when you leave this room. He is with you at all times; is glad when you do right, and grieves when you do wrong.’’ Then he added, ‘‘ He knoweth all things, and careth for us always.’’

One of the little arabs had been paying attention, and as the wonderful story was unfolded, gazed at the teacher in astonish- ment. His little pinched face and prema- turely withered frame gave evidence of a close acquaintance with hunger and misery. His garments were in tatters, and his shoes, many sizes too large, were kept from fall- ing to pieces by portions of old rope.

When the words, ‘‘He knoweth all things and careth for us always,’’ were delivered in all sincerity by the teacher, the boy gasped, and then broke loose in a volley of denunciation and unbelief. ‘‘Ah!

14 AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

wot are yes tryin’ tu trow down our necks?”’ he exclaimed. ‘‘ Dosdis guy know me? Dos dis high guy know dat dis kid snoozed in noospaper alley last night? Dos he see dat big stiff, Cop Mulligan, wen he jolts me an de oder kids wid de boot, and dos he know dat dis guy hasn’t chewed ter day?

‘*Did dis wise guy, wot knows all tings, git de tip dat Maggie, wat woiks in de tin can jint, wus goin’ tu git her finn cut off wid de ’chinery? If ’e did, woy didn’t he bust the ’chinery ’fore it busted her finn?

' ‘* Ver said dis guy, wot yer gasses erbout, liked us bett’rn our faders and muders. Dat’s de wurst con, dat is. Wen me fader an muder wos livin’ dis kid hed someting ter eat and er jint ter snooze in. Me fader an muder wos good ter me, dey wos.

‘But wot dos dis high guy, dat yer chins erbout, do fer us? Nuttin’! We lays in alleys, and if we gets stuck on our pa- pers we gits nuttin ter chew. An dis kind guy wot yez are nutty erbout lets dat big stiff Mulligan, de cop, boost de kids out ov dere warm doses and giv dem de boot if dey sasses’im. Wot du yer tink we are. Dis pipe ov yers is full ov dope.’’

The whole class was now all attention, and the little fellows backed up the state- ments of their fellow sufferer and declared that the teacher was ‘‘nutty.’’ Cries of ‘* Dat’s right, Chimmy ; der bloke got out ov der bug house; der guy’s tryin’ ter giv us der con,’’ came from every quarter, and although the teacher tried to quiet them they refused to be silenced. Great suffering had been the lot of his listeners, and they could not be persuaded that the teacher was not having fun at their expense.

The teacher received a shock that was never forgotten. He gazed in horror at his scholars; then his lips moved in silent prayer. The Father invisible was implored to give him an answer to satisfy the chil- dren. No response came, and the class re- mained in disorder until the mission was dismissed.

When the boys had left the room, the young teacher related his experiences to the superintendent. He was an old man, had been in charge of the mission for years, and the teacher was assured this old dis- ciple of the Nazarene would be able to ad- vise, comfort, and bring to him the message which the invisible Father had been pleased to hold back. He was disappointed. The superintendent shook his head and mur-

mured, ‘‘ Truly His ways arejjbeyond our understanding.’’

The fury of the storm had increased since the opening of the service, and the teacher, on his way home, had not only to contend with the raging elements, but with a storm that raged in his soul. ‘‘ Poor little chaps,’’ he murmured; then he began to realize that it was hard to explain some of the ways of the Father invisible. The storms, within and without, raged mercilessly.

He reached home and was soon free from the fury of the storm that enveloped the city, but still battled with the storm in his soul. He thought of Jimmy and others like him, and could find no rest. Then upon his bended knees he implored the Father invisible for light. And the light came, but with it no joy. It only showed him how little he had been doing for his Master.

This was the message: ‘‘ Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

‘*Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

‘**Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.

‘** My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.’’

He had often read the words in his study of the scriptures, without paying any special attention tothem. Now they seemed to come as a revelation. He rose from his knees, satisfied that great wrongs were being perpetrated against helpless humanity. It was a revelation, but it showed only the crime, and not the remedy. It brought no peace to his soul.

He realized that he had done nothing to relieve the sufferings of his brethren, but that like others he had been saying ‘* Lord, Lord!’’ and letting it go at that, without doing the will of the Father in- visible.

He was only a worker, and had to toil for his daily bread. Almost all of his leisure time had been given to the church, and he had believed he was doing his duty. Yet little children were starving and freezing, women were selling their virtue and men struggling hopelessly for bread, while he and other religious zealots had closed their

THE FATHER INVISIBLE 45

ears to the wail of human misery all around them.

Little Jimmy’s ‘‘ attack’’ on the Father invisible, and its indorsement by his arab comrades, had opened the teacher’s ears, and his soul rebelled against the inhumani- ties practiced almost on the threshold of his beloved church.

The little ones had been calling for bread, and he and his associates had been giving them astone. ‘‘ Yet,’’ he argued, ‘‘I am only a worker myself. What can I do to assist my fellow men in a material way ?”’

For hours the battle raged in his breast. Then nature asserted itself, and he went to sleep, but only to dream of the slaughter of the innocents.

‘*Cop’’ Mulligan was having a busy night. The storm raged with terrible fury, and the policeman was on the alert for little figures huddled in doorways and other places fre- quented by homelessarabs. Tosleep abroad on such a night meant death, and Mulligan wanted no ‘‘stiffs’’ found on his beat.

Stretched on a grating, from which came heat from a boiler below, Mulligan found Jimmy asleep. His little face was emaciated and pale, and when the policeman prodded his little body with his night stick, he mur- mured, ‘‘Ah, g’wan!’’ and slumbered on. ‘Git up, yez young divil,’’ growled Mulli- gan, ‘‘or it’s afther being run in yez’ll be.’’ At the sound of the voice of his enemy

Jimmy’s eyes opened wide, and when he °

saw the officer standing over him, he rose, limped painfully away, and disappeared into the storm and the darkness.

‘* Poor little divil,’’ murmured the police- man, as Jimmy disappeared. ‘‘ I wonther where he’ll make for now, after meself roustin’ him out ov the warmest sphot on me beat.’’ Then Mulligan growled some- thing that sounded like a curse, not on Jimmy, but on the ‘‘ nobs that feed their mangy curs on veal cutlets, whoile poor kids starve and freeze on the streets.’’

‘* It’s meself that hated to roust the kid,’’ said the officer, ‘‘ but it’s meself that had to do it, for it’s sharp eyes the sargeant has, and it’s me own poor kids that would be up agin it, if he found me neglectin’ me duty, and the dirthy duty it is, to roust poor little kids loike that.

“‘Ugh! but it’s a bad noight,’’ growled Mulligan, as an icy blast struck him and chilled his bones, despite his heavy cloth- ing. ‘‘Begorra! and it’s to the station

I’d betther be takin’ that kid, or he’ll freeze, sure.’’ Then he hurried after the boy and called him, but he did not reply. All night long Mulligan searched for him, but failed to find him.

Another policeman found all that was left of him in the gray of the morning. A little, dead, frozen shell. Was his soul with the Father invisible ?

When the Sunday-school opened on the following week, Jimmy was missing. The teacher made inquiries about him, and reeled when, in answer, one of the children replied, ‘‘ He’s dead—he was frozed tu deat last Sunday night.’’

Yes! frozen to death, while the teacher was battling with his comscience, and thousands of professing Christians were rolling in luxury, and dogs were being fed on choice veal cutlets.

After the scholars had been dismissed the young man, with a face blanched with horror, related the story of the tragedy to his friend, the aged superintendent. With a voice thrilling with honest emotion, he declared that something would have to be done to save the perishing children.

He expected comfort and advice from the aged disciple, but was disappointed and enraged when the superintendent mur- mured, as he had done the Sunday before:

~ “*Truly His ways are beyond our under-

standing.’”’

Then fire flashed from the eyes of the horrified teacher. Shaking with honest indignation, he shouted:

‘‘His ways are not beyond our under- standing. When on earth he said: Heal the sick, feed my lambs ’—I haven’t been doing it—you haven’t been doing it. He fed the hungry and healed thesick, but you and I have only been saying: ‘Lord, Lord,’ while the lambs have been freezing and starving to death. The people have been crying for bread, and we have been giving them a stone.

‘“The boy who was frozen to death last Sunday died scoffing the idea of a merciful Father in Heaven, and hundreds of others will perish in this land of ours before the winter is over. Do you dare to believe that such will die praising the sort of God we have been worshipping? No, sir, they will not, and you must confess they will not if you dare to be honest.

‘* What is the use of talking about a mer- ciful God to a starving people? They will

16 AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

laugh you and your God to scorn. If you believe in this omnipotent being, you will follow His teachings. If you don’t you will be responsible for the rejection of the Re- deemer; you will be crucifying Him afresh.

‘‘T pray the forgiveness of my heavenly Father. I need it, and so do you—aye, and so does the church. Not even a sparrow falleth to the ground but He knoweth. How, then, can you dare to expect that He will not notice the fall of His children, and hold you and me responsible for our neg- lect and their sufferings? If your religion is of the ‘Lord, Lord’ kind, I have had enough of you and your religion. It is a hollow mockery.’’

The face of the superintendent flushed; then he upbraided the young man, and ad- monished him to pray for control over an ungovernable temper. The teacher refused to take the advice, and an argument ensued, in which the old man was worsted and ex- hibited a temper that certainly needed praying over. Horrified teachers who over- heard the argument were of the opinion that both were fit subjects for much prayer.

There was a great stir in the shop where the teacher had worked for years. An agitator had appeared and invited the men to attend a meeting, to be held in the even- ing, for the purpose of forming a union. To the teacher the union had been an insti- tution built on very objectionable lines. Employers had frowned upon it, and he had regarded unionists as a lawless class. Prominent members of his church society had denounced it in scathing terms, and their opinions had prejudiced him against all labor organizations.

The superintendent of the mission had _

been vehement in his denunciations of all things connected with the unions, but now his ideal, the superintendent, had been shattered. Heretofore his advice had been a guide to the young man, but his brutal indifference to human suffering had ex- posed the false shepherd. Like a drowning man, the teacher grasped at the first thing that floated near him. He decided to go to the meeting and find out what there was in unionism.

‘**This is my commandment, That ye love one another even as I have loved you.’ This is my text, and I propose to demon- strate that upon this foundation the unions are built.’’ These were the first words spoken by the agitator, and a hush fell over

the audience of working men when the words of the Nazarene, uttered in mellow, sympathetic tones, were heard.

Surely this could not be the agitator. The speaker was a man of slight build. Lines of suffering marked his features. He was mild of manner and impressed his hearers as being a man of great intelligence and benevolence.

‘* The world is filled with good things,’’ he continued, ‘‘and the Creator never in- tended that a few should monopolize all his blessings, while the multitude groveled in poverty and thousands perished through lack of the bare necessities of life. I have here a copy of a newspaper that tells of a banquet given to dogs at Newport, and in the same paper is unfolded a tale of horror that makes my blood and yours run cold.

‘While the dogs were being pampered and feasted on choice viands, a woman and her children were found homeless and starving on the streets of New York. Think of this, and then denounce us as rabid agitators, if you dare, because we want to bring about conditions that will make our children and yours as precious as dogs.

‘*The Carpenter of Nazareth—the Re- deemer of mankind—said, while on earth: ‘It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs;’ but this very thing is being done today, and thousands of the professing followers of the Christ are not only allowing it to be done without protest, but are found among those who are doing it.

‘*While passing the morgue the other day, I was attracted by a number of children, who exhibited great evidences of grief. I asked a bystander what caused the commotion, and he carelessly replied: ‘Oh, not much ! It’s only a bunch of street arabs. One of them was frozen to death last night, and he’s in there.’

‘* Why do you tolerate such conditions without protest? Because your attention has been all taken up in your own struggle for bread? This little fellow was only a street arab, they said. Yet he was a human being, made after the image of God.

The street arab, human and madein the image of God, rests in an unmarked grave in the potter's field.

** Surely the Christ, who said, ‘Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me,’ wilh hold men responsi- ble for such inhumanities. And when I say this, I mean that He will hold you equally

THE FATHER INVISIBLE 17

responsible with the favored classes. You have the remedy at hand, and you will be condemned if you do not embrace it. You are your brother’s keeper, and will be called to account if you fail in your duty to him.

‘‘The labor organization seeks to instill into the minds of men the doctrine of love, and is condemned for doing it.

‘‘T say again, the world is filled with good things, provided by a merciful Father, and that the masses can not secure them, because they have allowed themselves to be exploited by the few, who seek to keep them in subjection, and coin their bone, muscle, and blood into yellow gold.

‘*T am adisciple of the Christ. Tome He is the greatest ideal of all that is good. He was a workman himself, and experienced the privations of the common people. He condemned the oppressors of the widow and orphan, and rebuked the rich young man who wanted to know how he could enter heaven while in all probability the op- pressor of the poor and defenseless.

‘*Do you remember His command to that representative of the pampered, fa- vored classes? Here it is: ‘Go sell all that thou hast and give to the poor.’ He might have said, and probably the young man un- derstood Him to say, Go give to the poor that which belongs to them and that which thou hast taken from them by extortion and other unfair methods.’ I am convinced that is what the Redeemer meant. If the rich young man had done this he would very likely have had little left, and he went away exceedingly sorrowful.

‘* There are others today who profess to honor this Christ, but, like the young man, are not willing to obey His commands.

‘‘ Christianity is all right. It is a glorious doctrine. It teaches the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Our labor or- ganizations are founded on this doctrine, and we bow our heads in adoration to the Saviour, the workman, the champion of the people and the Redeemer of mankind.

‘‘Organizations of workers have been forced to take up the work that belongs to the church, and are carrying out the com- mands of the Nazarene today. They are caring for the sick, and pangs of hunger are less frequent since they have attained strength.

‘* They have taken the children from the factories, and placed them in the schools.

‘‘ Take the child from the factory, shop,

and mine. Give Bobby and Jennie a happy childhood, and their hearts will be lifted in praise and adoration to the giver of every good and perfect gift.

‘* Give the people something to thank God for, and their voices will be raised to Him in praise and adoration.

‘* Do you know that Christ was crucified for preaching this very doctrine? Yes! and men are being crucified today because they dare tell the people of their wrongs. If you want to be men, and are prepared to suffer in order that right may prevail, I invite you to become members of the great organized labor movement. If you are afraid to make a stand for your own rights and the rights of others, you had better stay out of it. The pioneers of this movement bore the brunt of this fight, but there are still great tasks to be undertaken, and it will require men to perform them. Cowards will only be a hindrance, and the movement can not be hampered with such. We do not want im- pressed men in our organizations. We want volunteers. Are there any here ready to voluvteer ?’’

The speaker was interrupted by the teacher, who at this point jumped from his seat and cried: ‘‘ I’ll volunteer. You have told the truth tonight, sir. That boy who was frozen to death was my Sunday-school scholar, and he derided the idea of a mer- ciful God a few hours before he met his death. I am and have been a church mem- ber, and thought I was doing my full duty, but the horrible death of that poor little chap has shown me that I have failed in my duty to my fellow men. Boys! you all know me. I have had no use for the unions, but my late experiences and the truth told by this speaker tonight has converted me.’’

The teacher walked to the platform, and was met by the speaker, who grasped him by the hand, amid the cheers of the as- sembled workmen. Then the men arose in a body, and crowded around the desks of the secretaries. The speaker had not fin- ished his address, but further talk was un- necessary. The workmen were aroused, and few left the meeting place before their names had been inscribed on the books of the new labor organization.

A temporary organization was formed, and the teacher was proclaimed its presi- dent amidst great enthusiasm. He had been led to Damascus, and was about to take up the cross of his Master.

18 AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

‘*You have disappointed me, and you can not tell how shocked I am to find you the leader of a pestilential union. From all I hear, a union would not have been formed last night had you not gone out of your head and deliberately assisted that rabid agitator in his work.’ I have always regarded you as a conservative young man, and had intended to look after your in- terests, but you must realize it will be im- possible for me to do so now since you have arrayed yourself against my interests.’’ The speaker was the employer of the teacher, and the admonition was given on the morning of the day succeeding the meeting at which the labor organization had been formed. The young man listened impatiently to the condemnation of his em- ployer and then replied: ‘‘ You are mis- taken, sir. I have not arrayed myself against your interests. I have decided to stand for the rights of my class, but if you are an honest emplover, there will be no conflict between you and the organization that was formed last night. I thank you for the

interest you profess to have had in my wel- fare, but if my action last night has changed your opinion of me, it will have to be so.

I have been deluded long enough, and have been influenced to look upon labor organiza- tions as iniquitous institutions, but Iam now assured that my place is with the unions.’’

His firm stand for his new-born princi- ples astonished the employer, and for the time being he was left undisturbed. But not for long. A few days later he was offered a foreman’s position if he would withdraw from the organization. He refused to sacrifice his manhood, and told the super- intendent he was not a Judas that could be bought for either silver or position. Then indignities were heaped upon him, and he began to realize that cross-bearing was not nearly so pleasant as the ‘‘ Lord, Lord ”’ business had been.

ae “aP

At the mission, the superintendent and the workers treated him coolly, and his burden became almostintolerable when his sweetheart intimated that he must either surrender the union or her affections. This was indeed a hard, heavy cross, but when he read in his testament the words, ‘‘And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake, but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,’’ it seemed as if the Father invisible was talking to him, and he stood fast.

His sweetheart and some of his friends did desert him, but he had the satisfaction of converting many of his old church friends, and he and they are working con- tinuously for the advancement of the in- terests of their class.

Several years have passed since the teacher decided to take up his cross and follow the Master. His troubles have been many, and his disappointments have been legion. He has found it a hard matter to induce the workers to work out their own salvation, but he labors on patiently, realiz- ing that every year brings nearer the day when the laborers shall be free from the thraldom of an unjust capitalistic system.

He has now a home and a wife and a lit- tle fellow, who is named Jimmy. He lost his first love when he became a unionist, but the little woman who sits by his fire- side amply repays him for the loss of his former sweetheart. She is sweet, kind, sympathetic, and is his partner in all his undertakings. She is his comfort and main- stay in all things, and they find time and opportunity together to help suffering hu- manity.

Sorrows have come to their home, but the sunshine of true love has always light- ened the dark places, and they find joy and satisfaction in fulfilling the true mission of the Father invisible.

eae aie aaa P a ay ie \————————_

NK 4

WOMEN IN UNIONS.

NEED OF ORGANIZATION AMONG SHIRTMAKERS.

By SOPHIE YUDELSOHN, Member of Laundry Committee, Woman’s Trade Union League.

[Fifth article in this series.]

URING the last half century the shirtmaker’s trade has been spec- ialized into two almost distinct branches; first, men’s shirts and

boys’ waists, and, second, collars and cuffs. But the conditions affecting the life of the shirtmaker as an individual have not been improved.

Home work is said to be ‘‘No Man’s Land in the Industrial World,’’ as it is peopled with ‘‘casuals, dreary phantoms who come and go whence and whither no man can tell.’’ Upon a closer analysis, however, the home workers in any trade may be classified into three distinct groups.

First, women whose husbands are either irregularly employed, poorly paid, ill, run- away, drunk, or dead. These women are bound to the home either by a flock of little children, old age (most often premature), or by lack of skill. They may be found in the villages and small towns, in the tene- ment and yard-houses of the slums of a large city. Here all the horrors of poverty, hunger, ignorance, and dirt are found. In the dingy little cells called homes, these women work from gray dawn until long after midnight by the flickering light of a smoking kerosene lamp.

Second, farmers’ wives, not theeighteenth century ‘women who might be and were proud of their big rolls of homespun clothes and chests full of linen fashioned by their hands. The twentieth century farmer women do home work generally because they must contribute their mite towards paying the interest at least on the mortgages that so often are a crushing weight upon the uncertain yearly income of a small farm.

Third, the wives and daughters of the ‘‘shabby genteel,’’ small salaried clerks and the like. These women do not wish to shock the social conscience by going to the factory as ordinary womenfolk do. Out they go, then, singly, book in hand, round

about and into the factory, where, without the least bargaining as to prices, they ask in a whisper for a bundle of work to be delivered at the home.

As to the application of earnings, the last group may again be roughly subdi- vided into two classes:

(a) Those women who feel or assume the duty of assisting the ‘‘ male supporter ”’ when his income is not commensurate with the standard of living to which the family has been accustomed or to which it aspires.

(6) Those women who are in the finan- cial circumstances, but do not share in the scruples of the women in the first class. They are inclined to ‘‘ conspicuous waste ’’ in dress and living, while at the same time they wish to preserve a spirit of independ- ence. The work of these women, especi- ally, is of the capricious kind, most irregular, intermittent. Their work is a squandering of their own energies, and it degrades and lowers the standard of wages of that large and increasing majority of women who have little or nothing else to depend on.

All these different classes of house workers are employed mainly on the surplus of the factory orders—the unskilled, poorly paid work which the factory hand rejects or which the pressure of a big order prevents her wholly completing.

Home workers are extremely poorly paid, and at the same time act as parasites on the regular factory hand; the employers use them as a threat to discourage any self- assertion on the part of workers whose daily bread is at stake. In this respect the home worker performs a function similar to that of the strike breaker.

Owing to the presence of home workers in the trade, it is almost impossible to state with any degree of accuracy just how many women are engaged in work at men’s shirts, boys’ waists, collar and cuff making. The meager statistics we have are from the

(19)

20 AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

special report of the census for 1900, which gives 30,941 women (8,491 men) shirt, collar, and cuff makers in the United States. An extraordinary proportion, 90 odd per cent of this number, are located in New York State, in and around Troy.

Collar and cuff making is indigenous to the women of the town of Troy on the Mohawk. They seem to have it ‘‘ bred in the bone’’ is the saying, and many of them have been trained for years to perfect some of its little details. The first separate collar for sale was made by the wife of a Troy blacksmith about seventy-five years ago. Since that time the number of families de- pendent upon thisindustry steadily increased until, at the present day, nearly every one within a radius of twenty-five or thirty miles is vitally interested in the manufac- ture. Almost all of it is in the hands of women at home or in the factory.

It is stated that the female population at Troy is proportionately larger than any- where else in the United States and so are their aggregate earnings in proportion to those of men. In fact, many a man de- pends upon the wages of women relatives, as there are very few vocations open to men at Troy, except cutting shirts, collars, and cuffs, shirt ironing, driving, and work- ing in the few iron foundries.

The wages of factory women there are $2.50 to $4 per week for young recruits, $6 to $12 for those of mature experience, with perhaps a bonus for experts. The working hours are from 7 a. m. to 6 p. m., and a half-holiday on Saturday. Net wages are generally less than what they are pop- ularly estimated to be. During two to three months in the year, there is little work.

There are also numerous reductions, in fines and otherwise. For instance, a collar to be repaired is not only returned to the operator for repair, but a fine of five cents must be paid in addition ‘‘ to avoid careless- ness,’’ says the rule printed in heavy, black type, and located so that it is the first thing one sees on entering the room. When the belt around an operator’s machine cracks, the operator loses the time necessary for re- pair and also must pay 40 cents an hour to the machinist, who is, of course, an em- ploye at the establishment. The operator must own a machine or pay 25 cents a week for its use. Needles, thread, and even the

little time-book must be paid for. Finally, as there is no drinking water at Troy proper, and it has to be imported from out- side, every operator must pay three cents a week. These are only a few striking illus- trations. It goes without saying that, as the system of fines is entirely in the hands of a foreman with ‘‘ full power,”’ it is open to every abuse.

Prior to the strike of 1901, elsewhere re- ferred to, the operator’s union was one of the 18 locals:in the craft of Troy affiliated under a single district council.

Troy, being the center of the collar and cuff industry, typifies the conditions wher- ever the same work is done. The manu- facture of men’s skirts and boys’ waists is largely located in New York City, and this, like Troy, exemplifies the circumstances of its employes everywhere found.

The shirt and waist operators of Greater New York are estimated to number from four thousand to five thousand people. Forty-five per cent only of this number are women. The factory employes may be di- vided into two groups:

First, the ‘‘inside’’ workers, generally English-speaking, those who work in the few big factories on Broadway, employed on the very best custom work, that pays, perhaps, $3 per dozen. These form what may be termed the aristocracy in the trade, and many a white-haired woman among them, who seems to own that little corner of the world, makes it extremely difficult for a new hand to come in. In a sense, there is good reason for the resentment felt toward intruders. Shirtmakers have seen better days in their craft. About nine or ten years ago they had a strong union, but, at the very time when the union could be- gin to ask terms, the newcomers stepped in, underbid them, and unwittingly served as the employers’ tool against the union.

Second, the ‘‘ outside’’ workers, immi- grant men and women, mainly Hebrews, getting their work second-hand from a con- tractor. Little seems to be known about the factory workers by these outsiders. The latter, in turn, now believe that trade unionism among the ‘‘ Yankee’’ factory workers is impossible, since they are unap- proachable, In fact, the only organization in the trade in New York City is Local 142, which meets every Friday night on Ludlow street, in the same hall where the

A et Fe Fe bee hOCOUe hCU![CU Oe

oo mm OC st ah Off

oe.

fn 4

WOMEN IN UNIONS 21

Sabbath services of the synagogue are con- ducted an hour before the union meeting.

This union has existed for the last two years and has a membership of 250, nearly a third of which are women. These women pay the same dues as the men, 40 cents per month ahd $1 initiation fee. They are welcome to ‘‘act,’’ but do soonly when the special occasion arises.

There is a large and growing proportion of Jewish girls of the progressive type, who, if not diverted by other ‘‘isms,’’ are ardent adherents to trade unionism. They join the union of their respective crafts readily, and, although they may not attend regularly the weekly business meeting, they prove to be an invaluable factor whenever their sense of duty, their sympathy, their heroism is ap- pealed to.

The principle for which the Shirt, Waist, and Laundry Workers’ Union is fighting in New York is the recognition of the organi- zatioy by the employer. In the shops where the union people succeeded in carrying their point, the employer agrees not to en- gage other than union members.

An organized shop has comparatively good sanitary conditions and regular hours, from 7 a.m. to6p m. Wages are accord- ing to agreement.

The bulk of the trade, however, really lies in the factories of the neighboring small towns. The women there are not organized, and work for ridiculously low prices. For instance, for the making of a dozen ‘‘ center pieces, side-pockets, and back-yokes’’ 19 cents is paid in the city; whereas in the country a dozen of these things may be made for five cents, since workers there are generally hired for the week, and the highest wage may not exceed $3.00.

Wages in this trade are consequently exceedingly low. In a busy week in season a man operator makes $9.00 to $10.00 a week, a woman $4.00 to $6.00. But there are only six busy months in the year—the rest are either ‘‘ slack’’ or ‘‘ dull,’’ especi- ally during the summer, when two or three days constitute a week’s work. In many cases the workers can not even resort to another industry during the dull season, as the one who does not ‘‘stick to the shop now is not likely to get a job later.’’ The average wage of a union man, the father of

a family, is thus $6.00 or $7.00 a week during the year; that of the union woman, probably about $4.00.

It is taken for granted that non-union men and women do not get as good wages as the unionists do. But besides low wages, the latter work at times 14 to 16 hoursa day, and the conditions in the shops are anything but sanitary. Crowded, dark, and filthy are mild terms to be applied to nearly all of them. In some the halls are not lighted even at night.

The people working late are obliged to crawl down the stairways in utter darkness, and accidents occur frequently. Under the circumstances it can not be otherwise. The contractor gets only a definite, limited price for a given dozen of work.

To make his own share of profit larger, he is tempted to reduce the wages of the operators or the expenses in running a shop. He generally does both at the same time; hence ‘‘short’’ wages, long hours, and deficient sanitary conditions.

The crying need in this trade is to or- ganize the workers in the small towns where factories have been established. To the uninitiated this may appear to be an impossibility, but quite a number of such little unions in various trades are already struggling into existence.

It is the only means whereby, under the present industrial organization, the manufacturer proper may be reached.

Only when the country workers are well organized may the general movement for increased wages be possible and success- ful.

The story of the shirtmaker’s life is a piti- ful one. Its best summary is still the ‘‘Song of the Shirt.’’ But, of course, the growth of crowded cities and the development of machinery have modified it. The ‘‘ shat- tered roof’’ over the shirtmaker’s head has been thickened into layers that hold swarms of men, women, and babes on top of one another, like so many bees in a hive, but ‘‘the walk that cost a meal’’ from the tene- ment to the factory is still longer.

The single needle and thread have been changed into the nine needle-threaded machine, but the ‘‘woman in unwomanly rags, with fingers weary and worn, with eyelids heavy and red,’’ is with us still.

AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

EDITORIAL.

By SAMUEL GOMPERS.

The Pittsburg convention of the American Federation of aa Labor was, without question, one of the greatest in the CONVENTION. history of the Federation. It was attended by 309 delegates,

representing 83 national and international unions, 22 state federations, 71 city central bodies, 19 trade and federal labor unions, and six fraternal organizations. The convention was marked by the highest order of intelligence, the delegates vying with each other to render the American Federation of Labor and its constituent unions the most practical and potent aid for the material, moral, and social benefit of the entire wage- earners of our continent.

The convention was indeed an inspiration to all who aim for the uplift- ing of the masses. The discussion of the various questions under consideration was characterized by keen, intelligent, and frequently eloquent debate.

As is the custom the sessions were entirely open and above board, a large number of visitors were present every day, and representatives and correspondents of the press of the city and of the entire country were in constant attendance.

We here quote au opinion written by Mr. Charles Stelzle, which was largely shared by visitors and observers. He says:

It was my privilege to attend practically every session of the American Federation of Labor convention, which was recently held in Pittsburg. The convention was re- markable for many things, but I want to confine myself to the personal side of the meeting, principally because the average delegate will hardly report upon this phase of the convention.

The first impression that an outsider got as he looked upon the four hundred dele- gates was their seriousness of purpose. It was an audience that would not be trifled with. They had evidently come there for business. Throughout the convention there seemed to be a keen appreciation of what was involved in the action of the delegates with reference to a particular resolution.

They were nearly all young men, but they were wise beyond their years in the practical things of life. ‘‘Executive ability’’ was plainly