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pathetic strike of teamsters, engineers and others was threatened. The company said, in response to the Board's inquiries, that the coopers' strike in no way embarrassed it, since barrels could be bought as cheaply as they could be made, and that the matter was of no consequence.
On June 3 a committee of the coopers called upon the Board, and requested that the Board communicate with the employer, with a view to arranging a settlement. The committee, on being informed of the company's view of the matter, replied that repairs always required the help of coopers, and there were certain kinds of cooperage, specially adapted to the business, that could not be bought. The Board thereupon communicated with the treasurer, and was informed that he had made some effort to get his executive board together to consider the matter, and had so far failed, but he would make another endeavor on the following day, and give some answer. This was conveyed to the coopers' committee, who expressed their satisfaction, and said they would call the following day. On the following day the company said in response to inquiry that after a full meeting of the board of directors they saw no reason to confer with the strikers with a view to a settlement; that they had already secured enough help at the old rates, and that, owing to a change in the prices which economized labor, there was no necessity for any more men than what they already had. This information was promptly conveyed to the committee. A boycott was inaugurated and a long industrial war was waged; after several further efforts to bring about a conference, the matter was apparently dropped from public notice until January 17 of the present year, when it was reported that an adjustment had been reached on the basis of $14 a week, and a recognition of the union.
HEBREW BAKERS - BOSTON.
On May 24, 79 bakers employed in 16 bake shops struck, to resist a requirement of what they deemed excessive hours of labor, and demanded that the maximum day should be 12 hours. All the parties to the difficulty were Hebrews, and their ritual was involved in the consideration of the difficulty. On the 27th there was a conference between the two parties which was without practical result, whereupon the Board offered its mediation, which was accepted by both parties. Before appointing a time for the conference it was ascertained that arrangements had been made for a meeting in the presence of Rabbi Freidman on the 28th, and the Board awaited the outcome of that meeting. The conference in the presence of the Rabbi resulted in a settlement whereby 12 hours was established as the maximum day's work, with extra pay for over-time. The case was settled, and the men returned to work.
BOSTON ICE COMPANY.
On the last day of May all the drivers and assistants employed by the Boston Ice Company in the South Boston division struck, to resist supervision by inspectors and to obtain higher wages.
The Board's services as intermediary were promptly accepted by the employer, and after some hesitation the workmen agreed to send a committee to confer with the company in the presence of the Board.
A conference was arranged for that evening, at the Essex House. It appeared that ice was sold at different rates, according to the quantity bought by the consumer, and that gratuities for good service, etc., were received by the drivers or their assistants, and that for such reasons it was difficult to ascertain the amount of money received in the course of the day by the driver, - at least, such amount as should be
accounted for. Inspectors had been sent from time to time over the routes, with a view to assisting the company in estimating their value. The company disclaimed any accusation of dishonesty, and sought only to understand, as far as might be, the details of its own business. That point was waived, however, by the employer, pending further proceedings before the Board, and also the question of wages. Other points then raised were, that before returning to work there should be an assurance that the company would not punish anybody by reason of his participation in the strike; that pay should be given for the day of the strike; and that the rule requiring an invariable, minimum amount of cash for every ton of ice delivered should be abolished. The president of the company assured them that no discrimination whatever should be used against returning strikers, and that they should be paid for the day lost. Concerning the alleged rule requiring a minimum rate per ton, he knew that it had once been in vogue, but did not know that it still existed. The company desired all that was coming to it, but no more ; and, at any rate, he would investigate, and do what was right upon this point. On these several points the workmen expressed their satisfaction. No controversy remained, and yet, when the foregoing points were about to be reduced to writing, notwithstanding the fact that the workmen's committee had full power to settle, they preferred to report back for further instructions from their organization, and the conference adjourned without satisfactory result. One hour later, however, the committee expressed a desire to sign the agreement; but it was then after midnight, and the representatives of the ice company could not be reached.
The drivers' association, wavering between opposite extremes, finally rejected the concessions of the company, and inaugurated an attempt to induce sympathetic strikes in other departments.
Report of a threatened strike in the Jamaica Plain division led the Board to investigate in that quarter, and it was found that there was considerable apprehension and a good deal of uneasiness, but no definite action had as yet been taken. Failing to induce the other divisions to join with them, the strikers in the South Boston division on June 3 declared the strike off, pending deliberations before the Board, and began to return to work. On June 5 an application was received from the president of the company, presenting an issue which involved but one point, — that relating to the
inspectors. The men objected that he did not include all the points conceded temporarily at the Essex House conference; but the employer stated that, those offers not having been accepted, he was no longer bound by them, and would not include any other question in the reference to the Board. The employee signed the application, on condition that the pay of helpers was considered. There was plainly nothing that the Board could pass judgment upon, the parties not yet having agreed upon an issue. By this time the men were all at work, the “spotter system,” as the inspection of ice routes was termed, was now abolished. They were content with their pay, and were not disposed to renew the strike unless the grievances occurred again. The temporary concessions insensibly grew to be permanent, and nothing subsequently occurred to break the harmony of the relations.
Having heard that the ice men of the Jamaica Plain division had appointed a strike committee, investigation was renewed in that quarter, and it was learned that they had
nothing to submit to arbitration, but were merely ready in case they should be wanted to act quickly. They said they did not anticipate trouble anywhere; that the knowledge that the difficulty was before the State Board of Arbitration was assurance enough to them that it would be settled satisfactorily.
On May 1 the stationary firemen of Holyoke made the following demand on the paper manufacturers of Holyoke. The demand was granted by the Whiting Paper Company, while the American Writing Paper Company expressed a willingness to grant the demands if the other manufacturers would do so.
On May 20 there began to be apprehension of a strike on June 1. Toward the end of May the American Writing Paper Company made the following reply to the circular of the firemen. On June 3 the following letter was received by the Board :
JUNE 1, 1901. GENTLEMEN : — The stationary firemen employed in the various mills in the city have made demand for an 8-hour day and a minimum wage of $2. The bulk of the manufacturers of the city have refused to concede this demand, and the firemen have voted to go out this afternoon at 3 o'clock. The paper makers' union has voted also to go out this afternoon unless the demand of the firemen is complied with. It looks as if all but two or three of the paper mills of the city would be tied up with the strike on Monday morning. I would therefore request that your Board go to Holyoke at your earliest convenience, to see if any settlement can be made.
The Whiting Paper Company has conceded the demands of the firemen, so there will be no trouble there.
Very truly yours,
ARTHUR B. CHAPIN, Mayor.