Page:What Social Classes Owe to Each Other.djvu/100
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WHAT SOCIAL CLASSES
were in a thoroughly congenial environment. It needs to be supported by special exertion and care. Two things here work against it. First, the great mobility of our population. A trades-union, to be strong, needs to be composed of men who have grown up together, who have close personal acquaintance and mutual confidence, who have been trained to the same code, and who expect to live on together in the same circumstances and interests. In this country, where workmen move about frequently and with facility, the unions suffer in their harmony and stability. It was a significant fact that the unions declined during the hard times. It was only when the men were prosperous that they could afford to keep up the unions, as a kind of social luxury. When the time came to use the union it ceased to be. Secondly, the American workman really has such personal independence, and such an independent and strong position in the labor market, that he does not need the union. He is farther on the road toward the point where personal liberty supplants the associative principle than any other workman. Hence the association is likely to be a clog to him, especially if he is a good laborer, rather than an assistance.