Page images


To the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled. It has been the custom of the Board during the fourteen years of its existence to submit, as its annual report, a concise statement, in narrative form, of the facts in each controversy which has engaged its attention during the preceding year. We see no reason for change in this respect. No other form of report would be likely to furnish a better record of the actual work done by the Board or illustrate more clearly its scope and methods. And yet, when these details have been recounted, there seems something still left to say. The interest of the public in industrial conciliation and arbitration is increasing. The subject is, perhaps, as important as any of those occupying the minds of the people to-day. It may not be amiss, therefore, if suggestions that have occurred to the Board while attending to its duties are added to the reports of cases.

Considering the comparatively short time that has elapsed since the question of an amicable settlement of industrial troubles has been before the community, its solution has made satisfactory, even remarkable, progress. Although strikes took place in this country even in the eighteenth century, and for many years prior to 1877 were not uncommon, still, the latter date, when the first great historic strike occurred, may be said to mark the beginning of the

public attention to the subject. During the last quarter of a century our people have been getting acquainted with the problem. The fear and timidity of a large part of the community who saw a Robespierre or a Marat in every labor leader have largely given place to a feeling of confidence that in these questions the American people will use that reason and good sense which have stood them in good stead so often before. Twenty-five years is a short period in which to bring forward a social question of such magnitude as this, and to place it fairly and fully before the public at large. And yet it appears to be true that the public is fully awakened on this subject and is rapidly advancing towards steps for its solution. It is not advancing, however, as rapidly as it would wish. Impatient of waiting, now that the problem has been enunciated, it would reach the end of the matter in one step. Some ready-made plan is hoped for which will settle the whole question; some formula, which will bring the correct answer every time. Notwithstanding its eagerness, however, it is not improbable that the community will need to exercise a large amount of patience before it has its riddle read. Such questions as these have an exasperating way of taking their own time for a solution.

The truth is, a good many different interests will have to be harmonized before we can go very deep into this subject. Whether the public has any rights or duties in the matter of an equitable solution of the labor problem, and, if so, what is their nature and extent? What are the rights of organized labor, unorganized labor and organized capital? When are combinations lawful and when are they conspiracies? All these questions must be worked out in a spirit of fairness and definitely settled. It is not to be

« PreviousContinue »