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A. B. FRANKLIN - BOSTON.
On October 9 notice of a threatened strike at the shop of A. B. Franklin in Boston was received from the business agent of the Steamfitters and Helpers' Unions.
At a subsequent interview between Mr. Franklin and the business agent, the former claimed that the union had no right to order a strike until they had brought the matter before this Board, and suggested that both parties should appear before it.
After some delay, due to the illness of one of the parties, a conference was held in the presence of the Board on the 23d, and assurance was received from the business agent of the two unions involved that pending the Board's mediation no strike should be declared.
A controversy arose as to the interpretation of the agreement of October 24, 1895, which had been effected through the medium of this Board. In the discussion which ensued it was evident that both parties desired a peaceful settlement. Accordingly, when the question of revision of the agreement arose, the Board advised them to meet again, for the purpose of adjusting their views in such a manner as would enable them to maintain friendly relations, and to report the result to the Board. If, after further discussion, the matter was found too difficult to adjust in mutual conference, the Board would willingly renew its assistance. The advice was accepted. On October 30
each party called at the State House and reported to the Board that no adjustment had been made.
Mr. Franklin undertook to lay the matter before his associates in the Master Steam and Hot Water Fitters' Association for collective action, and the case then merged into the next following, in which an earnest effort was made to establish rules satisfactory to all engaged in the business.
No further threat of strike was heard from the employees of A. B. Franklin; and up to the time of writing this report the relations of employer and employed, pending the formulation of a general agreement, has been all that could be desired.
MASTER STEAM FITTERS - BOSTON.
The controversy discussed in the preceding case of A. B. Franklin developed the fact that the agreement of October 24, 1895, regulating the relations of employer and employed in the steam and hot water fitting industry of Boston and vicinity was in some respects susceptible of improvement. This having been brought to the notice of the Massachusetts Master Steam and Hot Water Fitters' Association, a committee on revision was appointed, to confer with the regular committee of the wage earners. The steam fitters' helpers were not directly represented at the time said agreement was drawn up, it being thought that their interests were fully safeguarded by reason of the organic connection existing between their union and that of the fitters, the two being accustomed to act in all important matters through a joint committee, and having one business agent to conduct the ordinary affairs of both bodies; but difficulties with the helpers had arisen from time to time within the past five years, and, though amicable relations prevailed, the provisions of the agreement had been more or less disregarded. On the one side it was thought that the helpers were not sufficiently protected by an agreement which did not mention them in terms, and on the other side the opinion was gaining ground that the helpers were not sufficiently bound by 'such covenant.
The agreement of October 24, 1895, which it was proposed to revise and extend, was as follows:
I. That on and after May 1, 1896, eight hours shall constitute a day's work, without any reduction of pay.
II. That nine hours shall constitute a day's work on all out-oftown work where board and expenses are paid, except in cities or towns where eight hours are recognized as a day's work by the master fitters and steam fitters of said cities or towns.
III. That, in hiring steam fitters in the future, members of the Boston Steam Fitters' Union shall be given the preference, when of equal capacity and skill.
IV. That all differences arising shall be referred to an arbitration committee.
V. In case any dispute shall arise between the Master Steam Fitters' Association and the Steam Fitters' Union of Boston which the parties are unable to settle by agreement, the matter shall be submitted to the State Board of Arbitration and Conciliation without strike or lock-out, the decision of the State Board to be final: provided, however, that, in case a sympathetic strike or suspension of work is ordered by the Building Trades Council of Boston and Vicinity on any building upon which members of the Boston Steam Fitters' Union are at work, a compliance with such order on their part shall not be considered a violation of this agreement.
In response to invitation by the Board, conferences were held in its presence on November 5 and 12, and on November 24 an interview was had with the legal counsel of the employees in interest.
The workmen were represented by two committees of three each from the steamfitters and the helpers' unions, and the masters by a committee of five. In these conferences, which were conducted with great earnestness on both sides, but with evident fairness, most of the articles were settled upon, but two or three remained in dispute.
The last meeting adjourned subject to a call of the Board, and, although interviews have from time to time been had