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PLASTERERS - LOWELL.
On April 1 a strike of plasterers, involving 17 employers and 40 workmen, took place in Lowell, to enforce a demand for a working day of 8 hours instead of 9, as had been the vogue, without reduction from the old rate of $3.25 a day. The Board promptly offered its services, and suggested a conference as a speedy means of settlement, which advice was not immediately accepted. The workmen, after some delay, however, concluded to invoke the assistance of the Board, but the masters remained obdurate. The strike soon ceased to attract public attention, although prolonged for several weeks.
HOOD RUBBER COMPANY – WATERTOWN.
Some 575 employees of the Hood Rubber Company's factory at East Watertown struck on the 17th of April, on account of a grievance against the foreman of the making department, claiming that a padrone system existed in his department, and that preferences were given to Armenians, and discriminations made against other workmen, by reason of gifts, etc., that had been made to the foreman. On the 23d of April the representatives of the corporation met the Board in its rooms, and later in the day a committee of the men waited upon the Board. Arrangement was made for a conference of both sides with the Board the following day. At the conference the grievances of the men were fully set forth by witnesses whom they called, and at the close of the conference the company desired the employees to return to work and leave the settlement of the difficulties to the officers of the company, to be met and disposed of as they should see proper. The men proposed that all the employees should return to work and that the foreman should be suspended, and that thereupon the matter should be submitted to the State Board for its opinion. This proposition was declined by the officers of the company, and the conference closed.
On the 2d of May the representatives of the company called at the rooms of the Board by invitation, and stated that they could not take back all the old hands, in case there were a settlement, because they had hired in the mean time at least 150 persons to fill the places of the strikers. They seemed to be satisfied with the situation as it was, but authorized the Board to state to the employees that the abuses complained of and which had arisen out of the so-called padrone system, in case any such existed, would be stopped, and in case of a repetition of same, would be suppressed. The matter of re-employment of old hands, or as many of them as could be employed, was to be left to the foremen of the respective departments. They stated that all employees in future would receive equal treatment; that no discrimination would be allowed; and that it was the desire of the company to see all their employees contented and satisfied. This statement was conveyed by the Board to the strikers.
On the 4th of May the strikers, through their agent, the president of the central labor union of Boston and vicinity, asked for a public hearing; and a few days later the Board visited the factory of the company, for the purpose of ascertaining whether, in its discretion, a public hearing should be held. It appeared that the factory was running well in all other departments than the making department, where about one-half the usual number of hands were at work. After interviews with the committee of the strikers and with the officers, the Board concluded that it was not best to call a public hearing in the case.
During the spring the newspapers of the country were discussing a strike of machinists which was to take place on May 1. Toward the middle of April the Board made inquiries at the headquarters of the Boston machinists, with a view to learning what, if anything, could be done to avert the difficulty. In response to an invitation from the officers of the machinists' union, a visit was paid to them in the last week of April. They expressed a desire for instruction in the law regulating the adjustment of industrial difficulties through State conciliation and arbitration, and information as to the methods of the Board. In response, the Board set forth the superiority of peaceful adjustment over the harsher methods of strikes and boycotts. The officers of the union said that a large number of employing machinists had not as yet responded to their demand, and that before proceeding with the strike, and for the purpose of setting themselves right before the public, they intended to present their demands in a formal way to each employer, and then perhaps to invoke the assistance of the State Board of Conciliation and Arbitration for the purpose of bringing the parties together for a conference with a view to settlement.
On the 30th of April it was learned that the strike had been postponed to May 20. On May 1 a committee of the Boston union called in response to invitation, and stated that the strike had been postponed to May 20; that there were 2,800 machinists in Boston and its vicinity, about onefifth of which number was enrolled in the union. The demand was for a nine-hour day, without reduction from existing rates of pay. In view of a conference that had been appointed for May 8, the committee said that there was no present need for the services of the Board, but that later on its good offices might be availed of. The strike, it appears, was general throughout the country on May 30, having been ordered by the International Association of Machinists. The cause of the strike was the refusal of the firms to agree to the following propositions :
Machinists: A machinist is classified as a competent general workman, competent floor hand, competent lathe hand, competent vise hand, competent planer hand, competent shaper hand, competent milling machine hand, competent slotting machine hand, competent die sinker, competent boring mill hand, competent tool maker and competent linotype hand.
Hours : Nine hours shall constitute a day's work on and after May 20, 1901. (Note. This arrangement is not to interfere in any way with shops where a less number of hours per day is already in operation.)
Over-time: All over-time up to 12 o'clock midnight shall be paid for at the rate of not less than time and one-half time, and all over-time after 12 o'clock midnight, Sundays and legal holidays, shall be paid for at the rate of not less than double time. (Note.
- The following rates are not to interfere in any way with existing conditions; that is, where higher rates than above are paid, no reduction shall take place.)
Night gangs: All machinists employed on night gangs or shifts shall receive over-time as specified above for all hours worked over 54 per week.
Apprentices : There may be 1 apprentice for the shop, and in addition not more than 1 apprentice for 5 machinists.
It is understood that in shops where the ratio is more than the above no change shall take place until the ratio has reduced itself to the proper number by lapse or by the expiration of existing contracts.
Wages : An increase of 127 per cent. over the present rates is hereby granted, to take effect May 20, 1901.
Grievances : In case of grievances arising, the above agrees to receive a committee of their machinists to investigate, and, if possible, to adjust the same. If no adjustment is reached, the case shall be referred to the above company and the representatives of the International Association of Machinists. If no satis
factory settlement can then be agreed upon, the whole subject matter shall be submitted to a board of arbitration, consisting of 5 persons, 2 to be selected by the above company, 2 by the above lodge of the International Association of Machinists, and the 4 to choose a fifth arbitrator; and the decision reached by this board is to be binding on both parties to this agreement.
The strike had hardly been declared when concessions were made in one quarter and another with varying success. So far as the general strike was concerned, it was impossible to get a committee that felt warranted in negotiating a settlement on any other terms than those laid down by their International Association. In one or two instances, after the strike had been prolonged, committees in Boston and vicinity were willing to negotiate with a view to a settlement, and appealed to the Board. These cases are treated of elsewhere in this report. The strike lingered throughout the summer and finally disappeared from notice, being successful in most places in this State.
LINEMEN - BOSTON.
Local Union No. 104 electrical workers submitted to various telephone, telegraph and electric railway companies a plan of an agreement involving shorter hours, to go into effect on May 1. Until the 30th of April no conference had been held between the parties, and the men applied to the Board to obtain interviews for them with the various companies. The Board met the president of the Elevated Railway Company, who stated that he was willing to confer with a committee of his own employees, and the Board accordingly introduced the men to the president and then retired, leaving the parties in conference. On the same day