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STATE BOARD OF ARBITRATION AND CONCILIATION,
Boston, October 8, 1901. Master Steamfitters' Association of Boston, ARTHUR C. WALWORTH,
President. GENTLEMEN : - In reply to your inquiry of September 16, " Whether the agreement of October 24, 1895, between ourselves and the Boston Journeymen Steamfitters' Union, is still in force,” I am directed to say that it is the opinion of this Board that, as far as the facts have come to its knowledge, the agreement is still in force.
BERNARD F. SUPPLE, Clerk.
It is to be regretted that, notwithstanding the earnest efforts of all concerned, another year has passed without the much-needed agreement in the steamfitting trade. On the other hand, the parties are to be congratulated that, despite the provisions now in force, which so many have come to regard as inadequate, the relations of employer and employed should continue to be so friendly.
Two years ago the retail clerks of Lynn inaugurated a movement for the early closing of stores, as set forth in the following:
LYNN, February 26, 1900. DEAR SIR: — At a regular meeting of the Lynn Retail Clerks' Association it was unanimously voted to request the proprietors of the retail stores to shorten the hours of labor by adopting the following schedule:
Open at 8 A.m.; close on Monday at 9 P.m. ; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 6 P.m.; and on Saturday as usual. Also to close all day on holidays, keeping open the night before and every night for one week previous to Christmas.
The association proposes to furnish, free of expense, copy
righted display cards to all merchants who adopt the above schedule, and to induce the buying public to trade with such stores as display the cards.
We have the endorsement of the Central Labor Union, representing every labor organization in the city, and their agreement to .stand by us in obtaining shorter working hours.
If this meets with your approval, will you kindly sign the enclosed agreements, keeping one, and return the other to P. O. Box 403, Lynn, Mass., in enclosed stamped envelope on or before March 15..
LYNN RETAIL CLERKS' ASSOCIATION.
We quote the following to show that we do not ask for more than is granted to our fellow clerks in other manufacturing cities :
Springfield, Worcester, Hartford and Providence open at 8 A.M. ; close 5 nights at 6 P.M., Saturday at 10 P.M.
Lowell, open at 8 A.M.; close Monday at 9 P.M., 4 nights at 6 P.M., Saturday at 10.30 P.M.
Manchester, N. H., open at 8 A.M.; close Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 P.M., Thursday at 9 P.M., Saturday at 10 P.M.
By the following February nearly all the store keepers in Lynn had conformed to the demand. There was some hesitation, however, on the part of the store keepers in that part of Lynn called West Lynn, who claimed that their business was subject to conditions quite different from those affecting the “ down-town” stores of Lynn.
Mr. Osborne was the proprietor of three stores, two of which were down town. In these he had experienced no difficulty in closing on schedule time agreeably to the requirements of the union. The third, which was a department storé in West Lynn, was conducted largely on the credit system, with payments on the instalment plan.
Mr. Osborne had closed his West Lynn store, according to the demand, for two weeks; but finding that other stores in West Lynn had not complied, reopened his store on Friday nights.
The customers of this store were principally employees of a large factory in the neighborhood, who were occupied until 6 o'clock daily, and who were paid on Fridays. The business with them as buyers or as payers on account was almost exclusively performed in the evening, and principally on Friday evenings. Mr. Osborne felt that it was imperative he should keep open on Friday evenings late, but was willing to close early on Mondays, instead. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays he would be obliged to keep open until half-past 6, in order to accommodate his customers. The union, however, expressed an opinion that it would be an unfair discrimination to make an exception in his favor.
In February the Board's attention was called to the matter by the president of the Retail Clerks' Association, Local No. 175, who was also the chairman of its grievance committee.
On learning that negotiations were under way, the Board's advice to all concerned was to continue their conferences on the subject of a settlement, but to report to the Board whenever negotiations might be broken off.
This phase of the difficulty was protracted into May, when the unions' committee notified the Board that they had exhausted every means for coming to an understanding with Mr. Osborne, and felt impelled to invoke the Board's assistance.
On May 14 an application was received from the committee, and the Board set about to procure a conference of parties, and several interviews to that end were had. Mr. Osborne's consent having been obtained, a conference between the parties, the employer on the one hand, and the association's committee on the other, was held in the presence of the Board on the 18th of July, and again on the 25th of the same month. On this latter occasion the difficulty was nearly adjusted, the controversy having narrowed to a question of the hour for closing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; the employer would agree to closing on these nights at 6.30; the committee, however, could not consider a later hour than 6.15. The firm requested further time for observation, in order to see how business might be adjusted to suit the modified demand, and expressed the belief that he would be in a better position to treat upon the subject after two weeks. The conference was thereupon adjourned to August 8; but on the 7th it was further postponed to the 15th, on the employer's motion. On the 15th it was postponed again until the chairman of the conference committee should have returned from his vacation. The matter lapsed until the latter part of September. In the mean time, the Retail Clerks' Association objected to the negotiations as conducted thus far by its committee, and declared a boycott against Mr. Osborne, or, as some would have it, revived an old boycott which had never been officially declared off. On the 21st of September Mr. Osborne notified the Board of the boycott, and submitted as evidence a notice which had been sent to a customer of his in Boston, saying, substantially, that the customer must not use any more of Osborne's goods until notified by the Central Labor Union of Boston, “or the trouble in Lynn is settled satisfactorily to organized labor." The Board thereupon requested an explanation of the committee, the chairman of which had returned from his vacation, and received in response a statement to the effect that the committee had acted in good faith throughout the negotiations, having been vested with full power to effect a peaceful settlement; that the boycott was a surprise to them, and the responsibility therefor rested upon the union.
On the 22d of September Mr. Osborne advised the Board that the Central Labor Union of Lynn had notified him that they wished to discuss the difficulty; he was disposed to accept the invitation, provided such a conference should take place in the presence of the State Board. In view, however, of the fact that the union had without notice substituted for peaceful negotiation, through their committee, a hostile expedient known as the boycott, and had assumed the management of the controversy, the Board notified the employer and the committee that no further steps would be taken in the matter except upon written application of the union. The controversy was protracted still further, and attracted the attention of the public in various ways. The conference committee was powerless to act; the union made no application to the Board, and at the time of writing this report there is no evidence that the parties have approached any nearer to a settlement.
THAYER, MAGUIRE & FIELD-HAVERHILL. On January 29, 220 turned workmen, stitchers and cutters went out on strike from the shoe factory of Thayer, Maguire & Field, because of the firm's refusal to sign the stitchers' union price-list. On the 12th of February the Board went to Haverhill and met the firm and Agent Donovan of the shoe council. The parties conferred on the question of a settlement, and in the course of four or five days a compromise list of prices for the stitchers was agreed upon, and the stitchers, together with the turned workmen and cutters who had gone out in sympathy with the stitchers, returned to work.