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the Board arranged a conference between the officers of the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company and the committee of their men, to be held the following day. The next day the men were introduced to the officers by the Board, a conference was granted and the Board retired, leaving the men and the management together. After several interviews, the parties failed to agree on any concessions to the men.
CARPENTERS' STRIKE-LOWELL, On May 1 a strike involving about 350 workmen and 45 master carpenters took place in Lowell, for the purpose of enforcing the workmen’s demand for an 8-hour day, at a minimum rate of $2.25; and on the following day the secretary of the executive committee invoked the mediation of this Board, for the purpose of adjusting the difficulty. On May 3 the Board had separate interviews with the parties, with a view to bringing about a conference on the question of a settlement. The master carpenters said that they would hold a fuller meeting at the Builders' Exchange on May 7, and expected to be better able to reply to the Board's invitation, and requested that the Board's invitation be put in writing and directed to the Builders' Exchange.
The following correspondence thereupon ensued :
MAY 4, 1901. To the Master Carpenters of Lowell and their Past or Present Employees.
GENTLEMEN : - This Board has considered the difficulty existing in your industry. A preliminary investigation of the questions involved has been made through separate interviews with employers and workmen in interest. Representative and public-spirited men have stated their opinions of the difficulty as affecting the welfare of the entire community. In view of important circumstances, the Board believes that the time has come for the clearing away of possible misunderstandings.
You are hereby invited, therefore, to meet the Board at the Richardson Hotel, in Lowell, on Thursday next, May 9, 1901, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, by committees fully empowered to effect a settlement, and to that end confer with each other in the presence of the Board.
BERNARD F. SUPPLE, Clerk.
LOWELL, Mass., May 7, 1901. Mr. BERNARD F. SUPPLE, Clerk, State Board of Arbitration.
DEAR SIR: - In consequence of the action to-night, I have no authority to represent the contractors in a conference, therefore your request to meet you the 9th inst. would avail nothing.
CHARLES P. CONANT, Secretary.
A copy of this reply was sent to the secretary of the executive committee of the journeyman carpenters in a letter saying:
To the letter of May 4, which we sent in duplicate to you and the master carpenters of Lowell, the Board has this day received from the employers an official response, which, in view of published reports, appears to decline the invitation to meet the journeymen and confer with them in the presence of the Board. The attitude which it appears to indicate renders useless the attempt to bring the parties together. The Board will be pleased to accept any suggestion you may choose to offer, and desires to be notified of any change in the situation, and regrets that no conference can be held.
Toward the 1st of June 11 master carpenters granted the demands, and about 70 strikers returned to work.
The strike, which was protracted through the summer, ceased to occupy public attention; many of the carpenters involved sought and obtained employment in other places.
SAMUEL USHER - BOSTON.
In 1899, Samuel Usher, engaged in the printing business in Boston, adopted a system of regulating the hours of labor with the aid of record clocks. In May, 1901, the workmen complained to their union that the method of recording time occasioned a loss of one hour to them in the course of a week. The pressmen's union served notice on the employer to the effect that the rule should be changed, being in violation of the Syracuse agreement, which established a 54-hour week, and, moreover, stated that if the rule were not changed they would quit work. On Monday morning, May 6, about 12 pressmen and feeders went out on strike. The Board put itself in communication with the employer and the officers of the union, and brought about a conference on the 8th, which resulted in an agreement whereby the existing method of taking time for beginning work was abolished.
THE BERNARD RICHARDS COMPANY
In the spring of 1901 a difficulty arose in the press room of the Bernard Richards Company of Boston, publishers of the “ Brown Book,” concerning the relations of a certain employee with the union. It was claimed that the man in question had refused to pay his dues to the union. Having a long record of similar delinquencies, the man had become so obnoxious that his shopmates demanded his discharge. The superintendent refused to discharge him and the union men went out on strike on May 6.
On May 8 the Board brought the representatives of the employees and the superintendent of the press room into a conference, with a view to ascertaining what, if anything, could be done in the way of settlement. It appeared that both parties were firm in their determination, on the one hand to retain the man, on the other not to work with him. Another conference was had upon the 10th and another on the 11th, but without immediate result. Nothing further was heard of the case, but it was learned unofficially that subsequently the company discharged the non-union man for reasons which they deemed sufficient, and expressed a willingness to reinstate their former employees, many of whom had found work in other places.
G. W. & F. SMITH - BOSTON.
On the 13th of May 22 housesmiths struck for refusal to meet their demand for a wage of 3342 cents per hour for mechanics and 28 cents per hour for helpers. The number of strikers was soon increased by about 100.
The company and its men endeavored to settle their difficulties, but in the course of their negotiations a misunderstanding arose, and the men called upon the Board to assist in settling the difficulty. The Board met the employer on the 16th of May, to see if a further conference could be obtained between the parties. The employer said that it was then too late to enter into any negotiations, by conference or otherwise, regarding a settlement, as many of his old housesmiths had returned to work, and his business was moving satisfactorily at the works. About half of the men in all were re-employed, and the remainder were refused reinstatement.
LUDDY & CURRIER - LYNN.
On May 13, 35 lasters in the factory of Luddy & Currier at Lynn quit work for the purpose of resenting the discharge of a laster and the conduct of a foreman. The Board
offered its mediation to both parties. It appeared that a new lasting machine had recently been introduced into the factory, and the firm desired to retain the old hands and have them taught to run the machine. For this purpose the machine company sent a man as instructor, who subsequently became foreman in the factory. The workmen claimed that his language and manner were offensive, and, as the result of an altercation on May 13, one of the lasters was discharged, whereupon all the rest of the lasters left work. The firm was incensed against the workmen, and was not disposed to re-employ men whose conduct might impair the discipline of the factory; and the feeling was intensified by the belief that the firm's agreement with the lasters' union, still in force, should have sufficiently protected both parties; moreover, it was well known that when the instructor became foreman he acquired the right to hire and discharge. The difficulty was further complicated by the fact that he had hired in 10 men already, and promised employment to 6 whom he expected at any moment; and, feeling that he was compelled to fill all places vacated, the employer was loth to treat with the union. The agent of the union felt that the difficulty lay in the fact that the foreman did not have the ability and tact necessary for handling men without friction; that complaint had been made some time ago about the trouble in the lasting department, and that nothing had been done except to refer the matter to the superintendent, in spite of the fact that the trouble was threatened.
The officers of the union were willing to adopt any conciliatory course as soon as the firm's attitude would permit it. This state of affairs lasted until about the 22d, when the union voted to declare the strike off, on the ground that it was unjustifiable. The men thereupon went to work.