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A. B. HOFFMAN, WEBER LEATHER COMPANY,
PEVEAR & CO.-LYNN.
The difficulty in the morocco factory of Thomas A. Kelley & Co. at Lynn was coincident with a feeling of unrest in the other morocco factories, where strikes occurred in one department or another at short intervals. The conditions of work, the attitude of one party to the other in the different factories, and the specific grievances, varied to some extent.
On November 16, 15 stakers and glazers went out on strike in the morocco factory of A. B. Hoffman, as a result of a dispute concerning a change from weekly wage to piece-work prices. These strikers contended for an increase of $1 a week. Mr. Hoffman stated that the glazers could earn more money under the piece system, and those who had worked for him under the piece system were well satisfied.
On November 13, 20 glazers, and on November 10 the stakers, in the employ of the Weber Leather Company quit work. The glazers had made a demand for an increase of $1 a week, which had been conceded to some but not to all. The firm offered the glazers work on the piece system as an alternative, but it was declined. The stakers left work in sympathy.
On November 16 some of the glazers quit the employ of Pevear & Co., and went out on strike to resent the suspension of 10 glazers because of membership in the union. On the 21st, 14 other glazers quit work in sympathy with those who first went out. The firm's attitude was that it had plenty of machines running, and all the help needed; but the 10 men had been laid off because they were not needed for a while, and it was immaterial whether or not a man belonged to one union or to several unions.
Mr. Kelley, of Thomas A. Kelley & Co., having expressed a desire to know why his beamsters had gone out, while they were under an agreement with him not to do so, as an expression of sympathy with stakers and glazers with whom he had had no controversy, a conference in the presence of the Board was suggested, for the purpose of considering the difficulty in his factory, and, if possible, in the above-named factories also. On the 18th of November all the parties to the difficulty were interviewed, and arrangements made with the Lynn Board of Trade for a conference at their chambers in the presence of the State Board on the 21st of November.
All the employers were represented. The workmen appeared by committee, and the difficulties in the beaming, glazing and staking departments of the Kelley factory were discussed, the other manufacturers saying they would accept for their shops such settlement as might be made in case of Kelley. On the following day the conference was resumed, all the manufacturers being present, including the Eastern Kid Company. A plan of settlement was framed, which the 'workmen's committee undertook to bring before the union.
On the 25th it was learned that the union had rejected the plan ; but further conferences were promoted by the Lynn Board of Trade, and after several delays a settlement was reached which it was hoped would be permanent.
FALL RIVER MILLS.
The difficulty of the late summer and autumn in the textile industry of Fall River was due to an almost unanimous opinion on the part of employers in favor of a reduction of wages, beginning with September 3. The necessity for changing the class of goods to be manufactured, the competition of southern mills, and overproduction, were alleged in one quarter or another as the reason therefor. The point was raised how large a reduction should be made, and it occasioned some difference of opinion ; for any reduction acceptable to the operatives would, in the circumstances, be necessarily too small for successful competition, while a larger reduction might occasion such a strike as would not be exempted by the strike clause of the then existing contract. Mills producing different classes of work were variously affected, and the manufacturers separated into groups, the largest of which, on August 12, voted a reduction of 15 per cent. ; but before proceeding to cut down, it was necessary to obtain a certain number of signatures. The operatives met and voted to strike whenever the demand pursuant to the vote of the manufacturers' association might be made ; but, before there was any occasion for such a proceeding, a prominent manufacturer increased the wages of his operatives 5 per cent. on September 30. This led to a demand on the part of mill hands for a similar increase in other mills. The reduction of pay was not enforced, neither was the increase granted. Rumors of a strike filled the industrial world with apprehension ; conferences were sought and obtained, with no practical result.
On the 22d of October the same prominent manufacturer posted notice in his mills that the wages of the operatives would be increased by another 5 per cent. over the existing schedule in that factory, the increase to go into effect on the fourth day of November. The demand of the operatives was then increased to 10 per cent. ; but the 5 per cent. demand having already been refused, it was evident that the demand for 10 per cent. would not be granted without a struggle. On the 25th of October the Fall River Manufacturers' Association voted that the ten per cent. increase could not be granted under the conditions then existing, for reasons based on the so-called margin or difference between the cost of raw material and the price of the product.
According to rule, when four of the five unions of Fall River so vote, a strike may be inaugurated. On October 4 such was the fact, and the apprehensions of 26,000 textile workers ceasing work on the following Monday, October 7, filled the minds of all who were interested in the situation.
On October 5 the Board went to Fall River, in the hope of averting the difficulty. Interviews were had with the mayor, and, through his assistance, with the president and secretary of the manufacturers' association ; and, moreover, the difficulty was carefully investigated at the rooms of the textile council; here one of the unions held a second meeting, reconsidered its vote of the night before, and voted not to strike. No strike being likely to occur, the Board withdrew.
Threats were again renewed during the month of October, and a day for a strike was again set for the 31st. At last, on the day appointed, word was received that the operatives had resolved not to strike, and no further difficulty in that quarter was heard of.
GARMENT WORKERS' STRIKE- BOSTON.
On October 9 there was a strike of garment workers in Boston and the vicinity for more pay and a shorter work day, and almost as soon as announced, settlements with individual houses began to be made.
The strikers were reminded that the Board was ready to mediate whenever negotiations began to flag. The chairman of the strikers' committee expressed his gratitude, and said that they were quite confident of gaining their point; but in case of failure in any direction he would notify the Board, with a view of having a conference arranged, wherein the matter might be fully discussed in the presence of the Board. In a few days the difficulty disappeared from notice, the last employer having concluded a satisfactory agreement with the union.
VEST MAKERS' STRIKE
On October 10, the mediation of the Board was offered to vest makers in Boston and the vicinity, men and women, engaged in the manufacture of waistcoats, who had gone on strike for higher wages. Advice was given to the men, conferences were held, and in a few days settlements were reached.
COAL DRIVERS - BOSTON.
On October 15 a representative of the Metropolitan Coal Company called, in response to invitation, and said that a strike had been threatened to take place on the 21st of October, according to a circular which he had been informed was sent to all coal dealers in Boston and the vicinity. The dealers knew nothing of the fact of this threat save what they had read in the newspapers, and no proposition for a conference had been made. They were having a meeting to-day to consider the difficulty, and would be pleased to learn of anything affecting the relations which the Board might be enabled to give. The officers of the drivers' union were thereupon communicated with and informed of a meeting of employers. Advice was given to appoint a con