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other authorities, and all of them are supported in their claims by the charts and figures of the Labor Department of the government.
Indeed it's a very discouraging situation when we come to reason it out, for there appears to be no hope for relief. You must remember that we have before us the huge war debt; the increased cost of government, the new excessively high tariffwhich economists estimate will add at least four billions to the cost of living each year; we have the excessive transportation costs arising from the inefficiency of private ownership; we have the manipulation of currency; squandering of the nation's natural resources; looting of the people's public treasury, and several other things that cannot be overlooked in connection with this question of the cost of living.
Now I do not refer to these conditions, and the opinions of these authorities, because of any feeling that wages should be based upon or fixed in accordance with what it costs a man to exist. While living costs are indeed subjects for consideration in fixing wages, we hold that it is neither fair nor just to attempt to measure a man's wages by what it costs him to eat and put a roof over his head. Such a theory or policy is neither sensible nor sound. It implies only the right of a man to mere existence, the same as a horse or mule, and not to any the comforts of life. We feel justified in insisting that a big margin be allowed for progress and development, for it is not only food and clothing that we want; it is sunshine, rest, education, recreation and independence, and freedom from worry and want in old age.
So we contend, my friends, that the wages of the workers in this city have been and are now insufficient to enable a man and his family to live decently, to enjoy some of the little pleasures of life, and to permit him to live unhampered by the fear of unemployment and want in old age. We insist upon proofnot mere guesswork—that our demands are not just, and that our position is not sound and entirely social in effect. We demand proof that we have ever received an adequate wage. We contend that costs do not go up but are put up; that wages always follow costs up, and precede them down, which causes the workers to lose both going and coming. Behind our position stand the opinions of the country's leading authorities, and the records of the government, and we submit to you that these are the best evidence.
Helpless Without Organization
H. H. Broach
A talk made at an organization meet-
The point has been reached where it should be unnecessary to talk about why men should organize. We never hear any one now—not even an employer-argue that men should not organize. And it ought to be enough to know that through all these years men have clung to their unions, have supported and built them up in the face of the most powerful influences of society, in the face of misrepresentation and abuse, in spite of courts, jails and starvation. In good repute and bad they have clung to the labor union as the one thing that has stood between them and the serfdom whence they came. The opposition is not now so much against unions, in the abstract, as against everything they do. Most people are now willing that the workers organize, provided they do nothing but pass resolutions, pay dues and care for their sick and wounded. But any organization fighting the battle of human beings-of men, women and children who need food, clothing and shelter every day in the yearwhose needs are constantly pressing—such organization cannot be content with simply “resoluting” and caring for its sick; it must drive, and it must drive hard at the very bottom from where most evils comeat graft, low wages, long hours, filthy and undesirable working conditions. And when it does this it cannot be considered a "good" or a "respectable" union.
You men and women well know that today a wage worker has little independence and does not know prosperity. He is often discharged for a look or a mere word. He lays away little or nothing for his declining years. Soon he sees his strength and ability to hold a job waning; soon he sees younger and stronger men pass him by in the mad race of life; soon he is last where once he was first. Always he is laboring under a constant strain; his nights are filled with worry-worry about his job, worry about making all ends meet, about illness, approaching old age, and about what will happen to the wife and the children after he has passed on and out. Life with him is a constant struggle, with all odds against him; and it would burn your very hearts if you could go among the workers as I often do, and see the desperate struggle they are making to obtain enough to keep their bodies and souls together.
So when they are without organization they are totally helpless, and they cannot expect to live any better than cattle; in self-protection, they have simply got to belong to labor unions. Reason it out for yourself. Without collective action, especially during slack periods, wages always go down and hours up. When the employers are organized, and the employees unorganized, the former fix the pay and the conditions as they will. You must take the job under the conditions fixed or go jobless. Always it is a "take it or leave it" attitude, with all advantages on the side of the bosses. Of course, you may hold out for a time, but the very fact that you sell your energy and skill from day to day, and are without the protection of a strong organization, is proof that you cannot hold out long.
You must realize that the employer, good or bad, is primarily interested in profits; you in a living wage. He owns the tools, the material and machinery, and has the business established. Few of you own little more than your hands. see his case is not the same as yours. He has a surplus and can wait; you cannot. Soon your savings are all gone, and with no organization behind you, you are forced to surrender to the terms fixed by the employer. Now all this is not said against the employer, because there are many sincere and honest employers. But you must remember that all employers are victims of the market in which they operate; and this market is not patterned after the best employer, but is as stupid and brutal as its worst. The fair minded employers often do things not to their liking, but they are compelled to do them rather than be put out of business by cut-throat competition.
At this point I might remind you that it has been only a few years since practically all wage workers were absolutely voiceless in industry; whenever they sought redress or complained in any way, they were promptly discharged and ordered out. Safety measures were unheard of, and not a penny's compensation was provided them whenever they were injured or became ill; all tools were paid for out of the meager pay envelope; and the workers acted as truck horses, carting great loads of material from place to place. Twelve and fourteen hours' toil brought only $1.75 to $2.00, and overtime rates of pay were unknown. And all too many of us have forgotten the day when the workers were in a state of bondage, when the boss stole their wages at will; when they were denied a vote on account of adverse property qualifications, when there were no free schools, and ignorance reigned supreme.
Of course, most of this has now been changed. Thousands upon thousands are now enjoying the eight-hour day, one-half day on Saturday and one day's rest in every seven; means have been set up in thousands of cases to adjust grievances; much has been done towards getting rid of the dog-eat-dog competition between the workers for jobs; wages and overtime rates for pay have been pushed up and up, and thousands of anti-labor, antiunion employers have been compelled to make concession after concession to their unorganized workers to keep them out of the unions. And we now have free education; we have lien laws, sanitation laws, safety, compensation, and health laws. . Yet in spite of all this, you still hear some men say “the unions never did anything for me.” They might just as well say that civilization never did anything for them. What the unions have done is civilization itself.
Of course, present conditions are far from being satisfactory, but let us remember that as disagreeable as they may seem to some, the improvements brought about are positively the result of protest after protest, and struggle after struggle on the part of the organized workers who were dissatisfied with the unbearable conditions of the past; and they have brought about these changes in spite of all their mistakes and all their blindness. Now it won't do to say that these changes would have been brought about by the church, the fraternal or any other organization, for the facts show that always it has been the unions that have blazed the trail forward, and if it had not been for them we would still be in the jungles.
I have briefly told you of some of the things the organized workers have done. Now I want to ask you frankly, and in all fairness, just what have the unorganized workers ever done. What have they ever done to lighten the loads and brighten the paths of those who toil? What have they ever done to shorten the work day, to increase the size of the pay envelope, and to curb the slave driving foreman? Who ever heard of unorganized men insisting that weak mothers and children of tender years be kept out of the factories and not be sacrificed to the machines ? Who ever saw them appearing before law-makers and demanding legislation to protect the lives and limbs of the workers? And what have they ever done to help the sick and crushed victims of industry? What have they ever done to provide for the widows, mothers and little ones left behind them? Nothing! And you know it. And what's more they cannot do anything. They cannot do anything because they are unorganized. No advance was ever made by working men at any time in the history of the world that the unorganized have been responsible for. Whenever an advance is to be made, they must be picked up and dragged along. This has been the story from the beginning of time.
Perhaps you unorganized men have never thought of it in just this way. Perhaps you do not realize that you—not the unscrupulous employers-are the worst enemies of the organized workers. This is because you have failed to organize and stand up and fight; and all too many unorganized men have simply been offering feeble and silly excuses for taking the things created by others, for their selfishness and cowardice. You have simply been helping the labor haters to destroy real manhood; many of you have refused to fight even your own battles; you have run away from the fighting and seemed to lack the courage to defend even yourselves. Many of you have been deaf to reason, have been so weak and stupid that you won't protest even your own wrongs.
Now I know that I am speaking very plainly, because the facts demand plain speaking; and I am sure that plain words will harm no one. I simply want to have you understand how we feel, and we want to understand how you feel.
Let me have a word more in connection with what I have just said, and then perhaps you will better understand me. Here the organized workers are, struggling against the most shameful odds, fighting with every ounce of their strength to retain what they have, and to gain more—not alone for themselves but for all those at the bottom of the social scale. And where are the unorganized workers? They are right where they have always been-riding on our backs, too blind and timid to attempt to help even themselves—always cringing at the feet of the employer like a dog before its master; always the dupes of their enemies; always allowing themselves to be used to betray, to knife in the back, and to beat down the very people who do their fighting—the union men and women. They don't seem to care about the sacrifices, about the bruises and the wounds of the union workers who keep all of us from going back to jungle ways. Most of them don't seem to care about men being on the square with one another, about such a thing as honor and principle. What does it matter to them that the union workers bear all the burdens in an effort to get more for all? At times they seem to be without all shame, pride or understanding—always ready to grab everything that comes their way.
But I believe you men do understand, I believe you look at things differently from the others or you would not have come to this meeting. I believe you will look at the situation as we look at it, and understand that if it were not for the indifference of the unorganized workers, all unfair and unreasonable employers would be helpless. So I invite you to join our forces now. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You will be proud of your action; it will make you better realize what it means to be a self-reliant, independent man.
So join us now, when the going is hard—not tomorrow when it will be easier; then you will prize your membership more highly.