Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

groups of labor which hold opposing views as to rights and methods. I hold no special brief for the left or the right wing of the American Federation of Labor, nor for the American Federation itself as opposed to the Industrial Workers of the World, nor for the Railroad Brotherhoods, independent of the one or opposed to the other.

My object has been to interpret each one of these organizations as it interprets itself, with this difference: I have noted the criticisms made by the different groups within the labor movement of each of the others, when these criticisms deal with fundamental things. I have disregarded the differences based on personal rivalry. The criticisms made by one group of another are as much a part of the labor movement to-day as are the established principles of any one section. It is the disposition of all leaders of all organized movements to regard divisions within a movement as a sign of weakness. This is particularly true of the labor movement, whose universal aim is unity. But there are members of organized labor throughout the country who look on the criticisms and even the divisions as signs of new life and strength. They regard each group as an experiment or trial in theories and methods for the overcoming of labor's deadliest foe,—the apathy of labor itself. Viewed in this light, the factions may be a promise of approach toward an eventual unity of like interests if not a solidarity of all labor.

The total number of men, women, and children employed in gainful occupations, according to the United States census of 1909, was 29,073,233. The number of workers in each occupational group was as follows:

Agriculture ......

.........10,381,765 Professional Service .......

.... 1,258,538 Domestic or Personal Service........ · 5,580,657 Trade and Transportation...... .... 4,766,964 Manufacturing and Mechanical Pursuits..... 7,085,309

The President of the American Federation of Labor, before a recent hearing of the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate, pointed out that the field in which the labor organizations operate is confined to the last two groups, that is, Trade and Transportation, and Manufacturing and Mechanical Pursuits, which together numbered 11,852,273 workers.

Taking no note of the members and adherents of the Industrial Workers of the World and other independent groups, he stated that the membership of the American Federation of Labor and the Railway Brotherhoods together was about 2,500,000, or 18 per cent. of the workers eligible to membership in labor organizations. If some 50,000 were added, to include the members or adherents of all other labor unions, there would still be left a large field for experimentation in the theories and methods of working class action.

The membership alone is no indication of the actual power of existing organization or of group action. The simple facts that organizations do exist, and that new ones may form at any moment, for purposes either temporary or permanent, create a potential force equal in ultimate results to the recognized accomplishments of the labor unions. The very rapidity with which one labor event has followed another is a measure of the potential power of organized labor. While the rapid succession of events is making history old before the events can be recorded, the comparative values of the principles and methods preached and practised, can be gaged as never before on account of their diversity and extended appeal.

« PředchozíPokračovat »