1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Trade Unions
TRADE UNIONS (see 27.140).—The history of Trade Unionism in the United Kingdom and in the United States, during 1911-21, is dealt with in detail, in separate sections, below; and in the various articles under country headings information regarding foreign countries will be found. The industrial unrest of the years immediately preceding the World War was not by any means confined to Great Britain, and in the chief industrial countries notable developments took place in the growth of trade unionism. Trade unions in such countries as France, Germany, Belgium and Austria, where the movement was of comparatively early growth, received large accessions of membership, and trade unions arose in other countries where any form of labour association had been hitherto unknown. Even before the war, however, there were certain notable exceptions. In Russia and Japan, for example, every form of trade union was illegal, and persons participating in trade union organizations did so at the risk of death or imprisonment. Trade unions, therefore, in those countries, either were secret associations working underground, or masqueraded under the guise of friendly societies or other bodies of a similar character. The war had many diverse effects on the various trade union movements. In the Central European countries the privations of the last two years of the war were reflected in a great falling-off in trade union membership. In Germany this was more than compensated for by the reliance of the Republican governments which followed the Armistice upon the help of the trade unions. This brought to the trade unions a great number of new members, with the result that in 1920 the German trade union movement was actually the largest in the world. In Hungary, on the other hand, the “White” government of the regent Horthy, which succeeded the short-lived Soviet republic of 1919, put down Trade Unionism with the utmost severity, some 70% of the leaders being executed. In the new States created by the Treaty of Versailles, trade unionism was in 1921 generally weak, owing to the existence of strong nationalist movements which absorbed the energies of the population; but in some, such as Czechoslovakia, having a large industrial element, there was a trade union movement of some size. In Russia, on the other hand, the trade unions were an integral part of the Soviet Government, and hence the inducement to the average workman to become a trade unionist was greater than in any other country.
International Trade Union Associations.—The chief international trade union body is the International Federation of Trade Unions, to which most of the chief national trade union bodies are affiliated. Its headquarters are in Amsterdam, and in 1921 it had a membership of just under 24 millions. There was an International Federation of Trade Unions in existence before the World War, to which 19 countries were affiliated, with a membership of about seven and a half millions. The structure of this Federation was extremely loose; its activities included the issue of statistics and reports, the passing of resolutions on social legislation, the promotion of unity within the national movements, and the arrangement of international appeals for funds; but as a whole it was of little importance. For instance, the British Trade Union Congress was not affiliated, Great Britain's representative on the International being the General Federation of Trade Unions. Its centre was at Berlin. During the war this Federation fell to pieces, and a new one, the present Federation was founded in 1919. Twenty-four countries were affiliated in 1921, the most important exception being the American Federation of Labor.
The structure of the International Federation of Trade Unions remains very loose. It endeavours to promote the interests of the affiliated bodies and of trade unionism in countries not affiliated, to prevent international blacklegging, to provide funds for purposes laid down in the rules and to promote combined action on questions of trade union interest. In 1920 the Federation attempted, in pursuit of the last object, to carry out a blockade of the White Government in Hungary by international action, but the blockade was unsuccessful. The Federation makes no attempt to interfere with the policy or organization of its affiliated membership. In contrast, the International Council of Trade and Industrial Unions (the “Red” Trade Union International) was found to act, in its own words, as a “militant international committee for the reorganization of the trade union movement.” Its headquarters in 1921 were at Moscow and it was dominated by the ideals and influence of the Russian Communist party. It would only accept as members trade unions or minorities of trade unions which it recognized as revolutionary bodies. Besides these two general groupings, there were in 1921 a number of international federations of workers in different trades, of ever varying membership and importance. A list of these, with their membership, where known, and headquarters, is given in the table on page 744.
A table is also given showing comprehensively the membership of trade unions in different countries after the war. This table does not take into account some minor associations and trade unions which are not for various reasons affiliated to any of the important central bodies. Nor does it include overlapping membership, e.g. in Great Britain the General Federation of Trade Unions, whose members are also affiliated to the Trades Union Congress. In such countries as Brazil, Armenia, Lithuania, Turkey, Ukraine, China, the state of organization is not sufficient to include them. In some countries which have been included the figures of membership given are approximate only. This is naturally the case where trade unionism is subject to severe repression, or where a particular organization, such as the Industrial Workers of the World in the United States, has come under the ban of the executive.
Membership of Trade Unions in Different Countries after the War.
|Central Organization|| No. of Trade
| Membership of |
|Austria (1919)||Trade Union Commission||928,146||1,000,000|
|Belgium (1920)||Industrial Branch of Parti Ouvrier Belge||670,000||718,410|
|Bulgaria (1920)|| General Federation of Trade Unions
|Czechoslovakia (1920)||Federation of Czechoslovakia Trade Unions||352,000||740,000|
|Federation of German Trade Unions||360,000||. .|
|Denmark (1919)||Federation of Trade Unions||277,392||279,255|
|Association of Free Trade Unions (Syndicalist)||80,000||. .|
|Esthonia (1919)||Trade Union Congress||30,000||. .|
|Finland (1920)||Trade Union Federation||55,000||. .|
|France (1920)||Confédération Générale du Travail||1,500,000||1,500,000|
|Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund||7,338,132||. .|
|Hirsch-Duncker Trade Unions||102,108||. .|
|Federation of German Trade Associations||1,700,000||. .|
|Independent Unions (1918)||214,360||. .|
|Alliance of Clerical and Technical Employees (1918)||270,000||. .|
|Great Britain (1920)||Trade Union Congress||6,505,482||6,600,000|
|Greece (1920)||General Confederation of Labour||60,000||170,000|
|Holland (1920)||Federation of Trade Unions||250,000||216,581|
|National Labour Secretariat (Syndicalist)||50,000||. .|
|Christian Trade Union Federation||70,000||. .|
|Roman Catholic Trade Union Bureau||150,000||. .|
Membership of Trade Unions (Continued).
|Central Organization|| No. of Trade
| Membership of |
|Holland (continued)||General Trade Union Federation (non-political)||50,000||. .|
|Hungary (1920)||Ungarländischer Gewerkschaftsrat||215,000||152,441|
|Iceland||Four Trade Unions||Not||known|
|Ireland (1920)||Irish Trades Union Congress and Labour Party||300,000||. .|
|Membership of Ulster Unions||40,000||. .|
|Italy (1920)||Confederazione Generale del Lavoro||2,000,000||2,055,773|
|Unione Sindacale Italiana||150,000||. .|
|General Secretariat of Professional Unions (Catholic)||100,000||. .|
|Latvia||. . . .||25,000||30,000|
|Luxemburg (1920)||Commission Syndicale de Luxembourg||27,000||27,000|
|Norway (1920)||National Trade Union Federation||150,000||150,000|
|Poland (1920)||Trade Union Congress||948,000||403,138|
|Portugal (1919)||Confederação General do Trabalho||100,000||. .|
|Rumania (1920)||Trade Union Wing of Social-Democratic Labour Party||200,000||. .|
|Russia (1920)||All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions||5,222,000||. .|
|Spain (1920)||Confederacion General del Trabajo||800,000||240,113|
|Union General de Trabajadores||300,000||. .|
|Sweden (1920)||National Federation of Trade Unions||280,987||277,242|
|Switzerland (1920)||Federation of Trade Unions||225,000||223,558|
|Yugoslavia (1920)||Centraluo Radmitchko Sindikalno Vetche||250,000||25,000|
|United States (1920)||American Federation of Labor||4,079,740||. .|
|Industrial Workers of the World (1919)||about 70,000||. .|
|Canada (1919)||Dominion Trades and Labour Congress||173,463||260,000|
|Total Trade Unionists in Canada||378,047||. .|
|“One Big Union” (1920) about||40,000||. .|
|Argentina (1920)||Federacion Obrera Regional Argentina||70,000||749,518|
|Other Unions and Federations||40,000||. .|
|Chile (1920)||No Central Authority||c.20,000||. .|
|Mexico (1921)||Regional Confederation of Labour||c.500,000||. .|
|Syndicalist and Communist Federation||. .||. .|
|Peru|| Federation of Artizans and
General Federation of Workers
|India||Indian Trades Union Congress||unknown||. .|
|Japan||Japanese Federation of Trade Unions||unknown||. .|
|Federation of Trade Unions of Western Japan||unknown||. .|
|South Africa (1920)||South African Industrial Federation||60,000||60,000|
|Australia (1919)||No Central Body||627,685||. .|
|New Zealand (1920)||New Zealand Workers Union and Alliance of Workers||82,553||. .|
International Trade Union Federations and Estimated Membership,
|Boot, Shoe, and Leather Trades||. .||Germany|
|Commercial and Clerical Employment||1,000,000||Holland|
|Food and Drink Trades||331,374||Switzerland|
|Fur Trade||. .||Germany|
|Glass Trades||. .||Germany|
|Hat Trades||. .||Germany|
|Hotels and Restaurants||200,000||Holland|
|Lithographic Printing||. .||Belgium|
|Pottery Trades||. .||Germany|
|Printing Trades||. .||Switzerland|
|Mercantile Marine||. .||Belgium|
|State and Municipal Employment||. .||Holland|
|Tailoring Trades||. .||Holland|
|Textile Trades||. .||Great Britain|
|Tobacco Trades||. .||Holland|
|Transport (excluding Railways and Mercantile Marine)||2,560,000||Holland|
The history of British trade unionism in 1911-21 was one of almost continuous and unparalleled expansion. Not only did the percentage of trade unionists in all trades materially increase, and the trades and industries in which trade unionism was previously almost unknown reach a comparatively well-organized condition, but the status of trade unions enormously increased and their programmes and policy were canvassed in quarters where before 1910 they met with no attention.
In numbers alone the growth is sufficiently remarkable. At the end of 1910 the Board of Trade reckoned the total number of trade unionists as 2,435,704; at the end of 1919 the official figure was 8,023,761. At the annual Trades Union Congress of 1910 the number of trade unionists represented was 1,639,853; in 1921, it was 6,389,123. This increase was not, of course, evenly distributed between the several industries, though all received a certain share. It was most remarkable on the railways and in agriculture, among employees of the State, such as postal workers and civil servants, among semi-skilled and unskilled workers and women, in several minor industries, particularly those affected by the Trade Boards Acts, and in the later years among professionals and “salary-earners.” Draughtsmen, foremen, architects, professional engineers, actors, law clerks and commercial travellers are only a few of the classes in which trade unionism found a new foothold, while in professions such as teaching and journalism it gained a great deal of ground.
The causes of this great increase are many, some operating generally and some in particular cases only. Undoubtedly a very potent factor in all cases was good trade. Trade unions have always, throughout their history, tended to flourish in times of good trade and to decline in trade depressions, when unemployment makes the weekly contribution a serious drain on their members' pockets, and unemployed benefit uses up the central funds. The years from 1910 to 1914 were years of comparatively good trade, and, after the first shock of war was over, they were followed by such a trade boom as had never been known. With five millions of workers withdrawn to the colours, needing to be clothed and provisioned and supplied with munitions, the demand for the services of those who remained was enormous. There was practically no unemployment during the war, and, although wages did not begin to rise until many months after the war started, they yet rose much more rapidly than trade union contributions, so that the worker found the burden of contributing to a trade union relatively light. The boom continued long after the Armistice, and it was not until 1920-1921 that the subsequent depression began to be heavily felt.
The factor of good trade would reflect favourably upon trade union membership whether in war or peace; but the war years gave an impetus of another kind to organization on trade union lines. From the Treasury Agreement (March 1915) onwards, the Government recognized the trade unions in essential industries as part of the economic and political structure of the country. They were called in to assist in the production of munitions, to share in the running of Government controls, in such cases as the Cotton and Wool Control Boards, and particularly to coöperate in the selection of men for the army. In many cases the trade unions succeeded in gaining exemption for men engaged upon certain occupations, and at one time certain unions were even empowered to issue Trade Cards to their members, protecting them from military service. They were also of necessity consulted in the “dilution” and “substitution” of labour, and they entered into a very large number of agreements fixing the conditions upon which dilutees should be employed, the wages they were to receive, and the restoration of normal practices at the end of the war.
At the same time the cost of living was rising rapidly, and the trade unions were the bodies concerned with demanding commensurate increases in wages. Thus the average worker found that whether he wished to preserve his standard of life, to retain his exemption from the army, or to secure his job against his return, the best way was to become a member of his trade union; and the Government, which preferred in general to negotiate with representative bodies, whether of workmen or employers, contributed in no small degree to their growth.
Again, certain legislative enactments played a large part in increasing trade union membership. Of these, undoubtedly the most important was the National Insurance Act of 1911, with its subsequent amendments. The Act of 1911 was divided into two parts, Health and Unemployment Insurance, and these parts were subsequently amended by separate Acts. Under the Act dealing with Health Insurance, State benefit payable to insured persons who fell ill is administered by Approved Societies, and a number of trade unions, in order to secure closer contact with the workmen in their industries, decided to form Trade Union Approved Societies for the purpose of administering Health Insurance. Many trade unions thus gained a number of members who joined for health insurance and became full trade unionists, as in most cases they were not allowed to join the Approved Society only.
Unemployment Insurance was originally a much smaller experiment, covered by Part II. of the 1911 Act; but it gained considerably in importance when the Government in 1920 compulsorily included under unemployment insurance all the industries of the country in which there was any appreciable amount of unemployment. Under the new Act, trade unions which ordinarily paid unemployed benefit were allowed, subject to certain conditions, to administer the State benefit to their members, an allowance being made to them, under certain conditions, for administration costs, and a considerable number of them availed themselves of these provisions. Some trade unions, particularly those catering for skilled workers, also act as labour exchanges for their trades, notifying vacancies and supplying workers, where they are wanted.
Two further enactments, the Trade Boards Act of 1909 (amended and widened in 1918), and the Corn Production Act of 1917, which set up Agricultural Wages Boards with power to fix binding rates of wages, did much to increase the membership of trade unions, particularly in lowly paid industries. It is a commonplace of trade union organization that very low wages make labour difficult to organize, and the Trade Boards and the Agricultural Wages Boards, by raising the rates of the lowest paid classes, enabled them for the first time to afford trade union contributions. The results of this can be seen from the agricultural industry, whose trade union membership rose to approximately 300,000 in the summer of 1921, when the repeal of the Corn Production Acts abolished the Agricultural Wages Boards. Something of the same result was achieved by the fixing of rates of wages under the Munitions of War Acts for women and unskilled workers in the munitions trades, and their subsequent stabilization for a year and a half after the Armistice.
The last of the causes contributing to trade union growth is impossible to estimate in terms of figures. From 1910 onwards the working classes showed a diminished faith in political action, and a belief in industrial action, strikes and the power of large industrial organization. The theories of French Syndicalists and American Industrial Unionists, and later of English Guild Socialists, began to gain ground, and these all stressed the importance of strong trade unions, and the necessity for “blackleg-proof” organizations. All these tendencies combined to drive the workman into his trade union, and to induce him to canvass among his fellows, and the assumption that a worker must be a trade unionist steadily gained ground.
Nearly every trade union showed an actual increase of membership in the decade. But beside this, there was a marked tendency towards larger industrial groupings. A large majority of the trade unions known to the Ministry of Labour are small local societies, survivals of an earlier period, having in many cases no more than a hundred or two hundred members, and of no practical importance. Even in 1910 practically the whole effective force of the trade union movement was confined to about a hundred societies, and further amalgamations, speeded up by the Trade Union Amalgamation Act of 1917, which lessened the restrictions upon amalgamation, had by 1921 reduced the number to something like fifty. Thus, large national associations have come into existence on the railways, in road and water transport, in the Post Office, the iron and steel trades, the building trades and the woodworking trades, and the distributive industry; the various unions of general workers are now united in a single federation, and many other schemes of union were in 1921 either in process or under discussion. The movement towards federation is no less important than the amalgamation movement proper. In many cases, where the existence of many trade unions on differing financial bases render amalgamation difficult, there are often formed strong federations which fulfil many of the functions of a single organization. Of this kind are the federations in the building, printing and transport industries, and among general workers. In contrast to this unitary tendency must be mentioned the newer unions of non-manual workers, who are in most cases organized separately from their manual fellows, but even here the tendency to federate or in other ways to ally themselves with the unions of manual workers is evident.
This tendency towards large aggregations must be set down partly to the increased integration of capital since the beginning of the century, and partly to the theories of workers' control and industrial unionism, which have been making rapid headway. The day of the small master, and even of the single firm, is all but over, and the tendency of workers in the employ of one employer or of one company to unite in a single union is a natural sequel. The influence of the movement towards workers' control is equally obvious. Where trade unions were content to be “continuous associations of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment” (S. & B. Webb, History of Trade Unionism, 1892 edition), the “craft” or “kindred craft” union, which organized together workers employed on a single process or on processes nearly related, was a sufficient instrument. But as the plans of the Syndicalists, the Guild Socialists, and others for the “control of each industry by the workers engaged therein” gained ground, the old craft union was regarded as ineffective, and plans were made on all sides for the absorption of all workers engaged in a single industry into one organization. Many of the important amalgamations mentioned above are due to this idea, though it must not be assumed that the whole or even the major part of the British trade union movement is organized on industrial lines. Craft unions and “kindred craft” unions continue to exist in a number of trades; many amalgamations are directed merely to the abolition of competing craft unions, as in the printing industry; and there is the further complication of the General Labour unions, which, beginning by enrolling the real “general labourer,” the man whose skill is in the strength of his muscles, and who shifts from industry to industry as he finds an opening, have gone on to organize the mass of semi-skilled workers which machine industry requires, and even in certain cases to compete with the skilled unions on their own ground. There is thus no clearly defined principle governing the whole of British trade unionism, and bitter disputes over membership have not by any means ceased to occur; but the tendency to unite, by differing means in differing cases, the trade unionists of a single industry with one another, and even, as in the case of the Triple Industrial Alliance of miners, railwaymen, and transport workers, to unite several separate industries, made very great progress during the decade.
Apart from increase in membership, the trade union movement as a whole gained considerably in consideration and importance after 1910. This was shown in two ways. The trade unions secured, by general public consent, a much larger place in the mechanism of society than they had hitherto held, and at the same time they steadily turned their attention to new fields of activity. Before the passing of the Trade Disputes Act in 1906, the trade unions were hardly recognized as a political factor of importance. Even in 1910, though their importance had greatly increased and they were known to be the main support of the Labour party, that support had in many people's opinion been knocked away by the Osborne Judgment; and both before and after the Trade Union Act of 1913 enabled trade unions to take a direct part in politics, the view was openly expressed in many quarters that trade unionism was a dangerous growth, unwisely fostered by the legislature, which would be well advised to sweep it away at the first favourable opportunity. Dismissal of workmen for belonging to a trade union was comparatively frequent, and many strikes were fought on the question of the right of a trade union to negotiate on behalf of its members. The great Dublin strikes of 1913, the most considerable industrial upheaval before the war, arose out of Mr. W. M. Murphy's refusal to recognize the Irish Transport Workers' Union as a body competent to negotiate with him on behalf of his employees. Similarly, up to and during the war the three unions of railway workers were engaged in a struggle to obtain recognition from the general managers of railway companies, who, during the war, formed the Railway Executive Committee for administering the railways under Government control. The position was entirely changed by 1921. The Government itself had contributed to raise the status of the trade unions during the war, offering them a semi-partnership on many industrial questions, and both the Government and the larger employers found that they preferred on the whole to negotiate with organized than with unorganized bodies of workmen. During the war, for instance, the practice gradually grew up of appointing a representative of organized labour to any committee whose subject was of importance to the working classes, and such representatives were generally chosen from the trade unions. Recognition given at headquarters could not be denied locally; trade unionists qua trade unionists were appointed to Local War Pensions Committees, Food Advisory Committees, and the like, and were generally recognized as qualified to speak on behalf of their fellow-members. The result was to raise the trade union movement to a position such as it enjoyed in no other country save Germany or revolutionary Russia. Although cases might still be known where workmen were discharged because their individual trade union activities were not approved by their employers, the “victimization” of a man simply for being a member of a trade union was no longer likely to occur. Discrimination is, however, occasionally exercised both by public and private employers against a particular union's claim to organize a particular section. Thus the Railway Clerks' Association was long forbidden to speak on behalf of station masters. The most important instance of this is the Government's refusal to permit members of the police forces to belong to the Police and Prison Officers' Union.
All this growth has naturally led trade unions to expand their activities, and in many cases to amend their internal administration. The constitutions of some unions in 1921 dated back 50, 60 and 70 years, and were obviously inadequate to the changed situation, so that many experiments in altering them had come under discussion. One particular point of contention, the “shop branch” versus “residence branch” controversy, is dealt with below. Other difficulties centre mainly round the representation, in a large union, of the interests of different crafts and sexes, the method of electing the governing body, the relative power to be assigned to the governing body, to the officers, and to the members themselves, the amount of local autonomy, financial and otherwise, to be granted, and so on. Different unions adopt different solutions. The executive committee or council, for example, is generally elected by vote of the members, either by districts (as in the Iron and Steel Trades Association), or by departments (as in the National Union of Railwaymen); but it may also be elected by general vote of the whole union. Only two important unions, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and the United Society of Boilermakers, have adopted the principle of an executive committee in permanent session. In some unions the executive committee is theoretically the final governing body, though in such cases the practice of taking a referendum upon most questions of importance really leaves the decision in the hands of the members; others have a general council or delegate meeting sitting for some time which has power to override the decisions of the executive committee on certain subjects; most, though not all, held at fixed intervals a conference or meeting of representatives to receive the report of the executive committee and to discuss policy. The merits of delegate and other representative conferences and of ballot, secret or otherwise, in ascertaining the will of the membership is one of the problems most frequently-canvassed among the trade unions. In some cases the general secretary and other officers are appointed and paid by the executive committee, in others they are elected by vote of the members. It will readily be understood that the latter method gives in effect much more power to the secretary than the former, and the position of a trade union secretary and the extent to which he is able to speak for his union and to conclude binding arrangements on its behalf is another problem claiming much discussion.
Differences of practice also exist with regard to the autonomy of branches and sections of trade unions, and the method of declaring or calling off a strike. Some societies allow great freedom of action to their branches and district committees or councils; others, such as the Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Association, retain all contributions in the hands of the head office, and only allow money to be spent by branches or districts for purposes specifically approved by the central organization. Between these two extremes there is room for a large variety of different methods. Some unions specifically provide in their constitutions that a ballot of the membership must be taken before a strike is declared. In many other cases this is secured by the general practice; and some unions, such as the Miners' Federation insist further that a two-thirds majority in favour of a strike must be secured. The National Union of Railwaymen, on the other hand, allows a strike to be declared by the executive committee, without prescribing any consultation of the membership. Local strikes may in some cases be declared by the local committee, but in most cases, since the strike pay is centrally administered, the sanction of the central office is necessary for a local strike, and the central executive has also power to order the men back to work. All these problems of administration require the services of trained men, and the position and education of the trade union official has begun to receive consideration. The trade unions have been slowly coming to the opinion that the work of a trade union official is specialized and requires special training; salaries have been raised, and classes and summer-schools for trade union officials and organizers are regularly held. Specialization, however, upon organizing and routine work often tends to remove the trade union official from contact with and understanding of the problems of the members whom he serves, and this difficulty has not yet been satisfactorily solved.
Trade unions have gradually extended their activities in many new directions, of which the principal are politics, education, and the control of industry. The political Labour party in its origin rested upon the support of the trade unions; but in 1909 their political activities appeared to have received a check. This was removed by the passing of the Trade Union Act in 1913, which enabled every trade union, after the prescribed ballot had been taken, to collect contributions for political purposes. By 1921 almost every trade union had its political fund, lists of Labour candidates backed by trade union money appeared, and locally the trade union branches played a regular part in the activities of local Labour parties and supported Labour candidates at local elections. Trade unions also began to show considerable interest in the education of their members. During these years the movement towards adult working-class education experienced a great revival. The Workers' Educational Association, a body which in connexion with the universities ran a large number of evening courses and summer-schools for working-class students, was supported by the trade unions, some of which became actual partners in its work. The Central Labour College—now the Labour College— a residential college for students of Marxian economics, founded in 1909 by a secession of students from Ruskin College, and subsequently supported by the National Union of Railwaymen and the South Wales Miners' Federation, extended its activities; and class-centres called Labour colleges, on more or less Marxian lines, were set up in Manchester, Glasgow and elsewhere. Trade unions provided a number of scholarships for their members at the Labour colleges and at Ruskin College, Oxford; and in 1921, when the General Council of the Trades Union Congress was set up, a resolution was carried to provide for the unification of working-class education under it.
Trade union interest, however, has not been confined to education proper. The Daily Herald, a newspaper founded during a printers' strike in 1912 by the London Society of Compositors, was supported by Labour and trade union funds, and became an important political force, although it was forced temporarily to become a weekly soon after the outbreak of war. Later, in 1913, the trade unions revived an ancient project of running their own newspapers, and the Daily Citizen appeared as the first daily newspaper entirely owned and conducted by the British trade union movement. This paper had a short career, and ceased publication in 1915, mainly owing to war conditions, but the trade unions played a large part in the reissue of the Daily Herald as a Labour daily, early in 1919. Besides the daily papers, there are a number of local weeklies and monthlies to which trade unions contribute, and some of them also run papers and printing presses of their own. The Labour Research Department, which in 1916 became a federal body composed of trade unions and other Labour bodies contributing to the endowment of research into the history and problems of the Labour movement, shows the increasing interest of the trade unions in specialized research work.
The inclusion of the phrase “control of industry” (see Guild Socialism) in the aims of the trade unions has played a considerable part in forming their policy, although it has not been generally translated into fact. In the early years of the century, most trade unions, like the Labour party and the Socialists, were assumed to be in favour of the transference of the important industries of the country to the ownership and control of the State. The experience of workers in State-owned industries, notably in the Post Office, suggested that this was inadequate to fulfil trade union aspirations, and between 1911 and 1921 most of them altered it to a demand for “nationalization of industry, with control by the workers engaged therein,” amounting in some cases to a demand for a National Guild (see Nationalization). The establishment of a National Guild was part of the official programme of the Union of Post Office Workers (founded in 1920). Perhaps the fullest exposition of the new demand was made by the Miners' Federation in its programme presented to the Coal Commission in 1919, but by the autumn of 1921 it had only been translated into action in the building industry. The unprecedented shortage of houses following the war encouraged the Building Trade Unionists of Manchester to form a Building Guild, which offered to produce houses at cost price for the City Council, themselves controlling and providing the labour, guaranteeing full pay in sickness and bad weather to all members of the Guild, and relying upon the credit of the municipality to obtain the necessary materials. The example proved infectious, and after many experiments had been made in different towns, the National Building Guild was formed in 1921, with a number of branches, prepared to undertake work upon the same terms for local authorities or private companies or persons. In every case the Guild was initiated by the local branches of the Building Trade Unions, and none but trade unionists were admitted to membership.
falls into three well-marked periods: the period of industrial unrest which had already begun by 1910 and which increased in intensity right up to the outbreak of war, the war period, and the revival of activity immediately following the Armistice. The two latter, as has been observed, coincided with great trade union prosperity, which continued unbroken for some months after the Armistice, and gradually came to an end, as the slump in trade became more pronounced, from 1920-1921. It may be said that the miners' strike, in the summer of the latter year, and the subsequent acceptance by the miners of heavy reductions in wages, brought to an end the first post-war period in trade union history (see Strikes).
The years 1910 to 1914 were years of growing industrial unrest. The chief factor underlying this was the steady rise in prices after the year 1906, which more than offset the slight increase in money wages, and produced a feeling in the workman's mind that his real wages were imperceptibly disappearing. Retail prices in London, which in 1906 stood at 2% above the figure for 1900, had reached, in 1911, 9.4% and in 1914, 16.8% above that figure.
Four of the industrial disputes which occurred during those years were of importance in trade union history—the railway and transport strikes of 1911, the miners' strike of 1912, the Dublin strikes of 1913 and 1914, and the London building lock-out of 1914. The principal interest of the first series of strikes lies in the fact that the railwaymen's unions succeeded in paralysing for some days the greater part of the railway system of the United Kingdom, and thereby brought home to many who had not previously realized it, the potential power of trade unionism. The actual disputes, though partly connected with wage-rates, centred mainly around the question of recognition by the employers of the unions of shipping and railway workers. In the former case the owners agreed after some time to negotiate with the trade union representatives, and a settlement was eventually reached; in the latter, a Royal Commission was set up to investigate the working of the Conciliation Board, established in 1907, which had given rise to many complaints, and the Commission's report was accepted by both sides in conference, although the point of “recognition” of the trade unions was never conceded by the railway companies, and remained in dispute until the end of the war. An important result of these strikes was the consolidation of the railwaymen's trade unions. The existence of several separate unions was felt to be a weakness, and in 1913 three of them united to form the National Union of Railwaymen, which enrolled members rapidly and became by far the largest trade union representing railwaymen.
The coal dispute of 1912 brought to the forefront one of the most important principles of trade unionism, that of the legal minimum wage. In the case of “sweated” industries, this had been recognized in the Trade Boards Act of 1909 but had not yet been applied to comparatively highly-paid workers, although in many industries, minimum rates, established by agreements between both sides, but not enforceable at law, were in existence. These rates varied generally from district to district. The principle of a legal minimum, it should be stated, does not necessarily demand that the minimum should be national in its scope, though many trade unions, especially during the war, demanded national minima, and even a national minimum wage for all workers. The Miners' Federation first claimed that miners working in abnormally unfavourable places should be guaranteed a minimum daily rate, and, when this was refused by the coal-owners, extended their demand to cover all men and boys working in coal-mines, and further put forward a schedule of minimum district rates for the various coal-fields. The strike was terminated by both sides' acceptance of the Miners' Minimum Wage Act. This Act provided that rates should befixed by joint boards, representative equally of mine-owners and
board failed to agree upon a rate, the rate should be fixed by the chairman. The Miners' Federation thus secured the principle of a minimum, but failed to get their schedule generally adopted. They were very unwilling to accept this position, but the ballot having failed to disclose a two-third majority in favour of continuing the strike, it was declared at an end.
The Dublin dispute raised the question of “recognition” in a more acute form, and also provided many examples of “sympathetic” strike action. The employers in Dublin, as a protest against the aggressive trade union policy of the Irish Transport Workers' Union, discharged its members in their employment, bound themselves not to employ in future members of the union, and in many cases insisted that applicants for work should sign a form undertaking to have no dealings with the union. This action roused a great deal of feeling both in Ireland and Great Britain; sympathetic strikes occurred, and in British ports dockers and railwaymen refused to handle goods loaded in Dublin by non-union labour. The imprisonment of James Larkin on a charge of sedition greatly increased the upheaval. Dublin shipping was practically paralysed by a general strike of dock labourers, and large contributions in money and in kind were sent to the Irish Transport Union by English trade unions and the Coöperative Wholesale Society. The points in dispute were never definitely settled, but the strike petered out gradually in the early months of 1914.
Two important pieces of legislation, the National Insurance Act of 1911 and the Trade Union Act of 1913, were passed during this period.
The War Period.—On the outbreak of war, a general truce between Capital and Labour was immediately arranged. Outstanding disputes, such as the building lock-out, were settled by one side giving way, or by compromise. Trade unions such as the National Union of Railwaymen, which had prepared a national programme of demands, delayed its presentation indefinitely, and the number of industrial disputes dropped from 682 in the first seven months of 1914 to 107 in the last five. For some time trade union history was in abeyance, until the rapid rise in prices and the necessity for increased production, in the munitions trades in particular, turned public attention to it again. The natural concern of most of the unions, as soon as the cost of living began seriously to rise, was with negotiating increases of wages. Other developments of interest took place mainly in two directions, of which the first was the abrogation of trade union conditions and the establishment, over a large number of trades, of compulsory arbitration under the Munitions of War Acts, and the effect of these two upon trade union government; and the second, the tendency, already mentioned, of the Government and the employers' association to admit the trade unions to a quasi-partnership on certain questions a partnership which endured, as a rule, only as long as rising prices made increased wages both possible and inevitable (see Labour Supply).
The necessity for greater production, particularly of munitions and other stores required for the army, early began to be felt, and a series of strikes upon the Clyde brought the question to the fore. The Committee on Production, appointed by the Government in Feb. 1915, reported that one great difficulty in the way of increased production lay in the existence of certain rules and customs of the trade unions. These “trade union conditions” became, of considerable importance during the war. Every trade union of any size had before the war certain regulations, some written, but mostly unwritten, under which its members were allowed to work. These regulations related mainly to the class of labour which was permitted to perform any particular job, to the length and character of apprenticeship required, the rates to be paid, and the conditions under which work was to be done. Thus, certain jobs were reserved to fully-skilled craftsmen, had to be paid at the craftsmen's rate, and might only be performed by men who had received a certain training, which in some cases occupied several years. The demand for munitions in large quantities, and the loss of many thousands of skilled men to the army, made it inevitable, in the first place, that semi-skilled and unskilled workmen should be “upgraded” on to skilled work, in order that the necessary increase in the amount of skilled work performed should take place, and secondly, that a great number of new workers should be introduced into the munitions industries, many of whom would only be able to receive a comparatively short training. The Government therefore, in March 1915, invited a number of the leading trade unions in the industries concerned with war production to the famous Treasury Conference, attended by all the unions invited with the exception of the Miners' Federation, at which it was agreed (a) that strikes and lock-outs in the munitions industries should cease for the period of the war, wage disputes being settled under a system of compulsory arbitration; (b) that the trade unions would relax for the period of the war such of their customs as were necessary for the purpose of accelerating war output, it being understood that all such customs should be restored at the end of the war, and that, where labour of a lower degree of skill (such as women's labour) was introduced on work hitherto performed by skilled men, the rate of wages previously paid should not be reduced; (c) that the Government would limit the profits of owners in the munitions industries. The latter clausewas made a condition of coöperation by the Amalgamated Society of
Acts. Profits in other industries were dealt with by means of the Excess Profits Duty. The Treasury Agreements were given legislative force for the trades concerned with the supply of munitions under the Munitions of War Act of 1915. The Act reaffirmed the Treasury Agreements with regard to establishments “controlled” by the Minister of Munitions: it set up machinery for compulsory arbitration in wage disputes, limited the profits of controlled establishments to one-fifth in excess of their pre-war standard, forbade munition workers to leave their employment without permission from a munitions tribunal, ordered all customs restricting production or employment to be suspended for the period of the war only, and provided that “the relaxation of existing demarcation restrictions or admission of semi-skilled or female labour shall not affect adversely the rates customarily paid for the job.” In practice, disputes arising out of the last clause claimed an enormous proportion of trade union attention during the war. In 1916 the Minister of Munitions found it necessary to take powers, in an amending Act, to fix general minimum rates for women employed in the munitions industries, but the Government was freely accused of breaking its pledges to the trade unions in the matter of wages to be paid to substituted labour, and as dilution proceeded apace during the war the controversy became more and more bitter.
The clauses in the Act dealing with restoration of the suspended customs were also the subject of dispute. These clauses merely stated that the suspension should be for the war period only, and made no explicit provision for their restoration. The trade unions contended that the Government was pledged to bringing a Bill for their restoration, and negotiations on this subject continued throughout the war period. Eventually, nearly a year after the Armistice, the Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act was passed, which provided that, where the existence of a pre-war practice could be proved, it should be incumbent upon the employer to allow its restoration.
The institution of compulsory arbitration in the munitions industries had one remarkable effect in the government of trade unions. As the trade unions concerned had practically pledged themselves not to strike for the period of the war, and as drastic penalties were provided under the Munitions Acts for any workman who struck, it followed that any strikes which did take place in the munitions industries must be unofficial, that is, conducted without authorization, or dispute pay, from trade union leaders. It was not to be expected that disputes would not arise, but these disputes fell to be conducted in the main, not by recognized trade union officials, but by unofficial committees elected from the workmen in a particular shop or factory, and known generally as Shop Stewards' or Workers' Committees. This had relation to an interesting problem of trade union organization.
Shop Stewards.—Originally, nearly all trade unions were built up of local branches, composed of all the men working at a particular trade who lived in a particular district. In the early days of machine industry, when towns and factories were comparatively small, this seemed the natural arrangement. Men working in a particular factory generally tended to be in the same residential branch, which thus achieved a trade as well as a neighbourhood unity. But as factories increased in size, and large urban aggregations became the rule, this unity disappeared. Workmen residing in a particular London suburb might be spending their working life in any one of a dozen widely separated and entirely different establishments, and might be faced with quite different industrial problems. This resulted in a stagnation of trade union branch life, which was reflected in a meagre attendance at branch meetings, and created one of the greatest problems of the trade unions. The favourite solution of the difficulty, advocated particularly by the Industrial Unionists, Guild Socialists and latterly by the Communists, was the break-up of the old residential branches, and the reformation of the trade unions in branches composed of all members who worked together in a single establishment, the several trade union branches in such establishments then to join their forces to make a single industrial unit for the whole. Certain steps in that direction had already been taken before the war. The Miners' Federation, for example, had always based its organization upon branches composed of all the men working at a single pit or group of pits, the printers' trade unions had in every printing works committees of very ancient establishment, known as chapels, and the engineering trade unions had in most cases officials, called “shop stewards,” who were responsible for the inspection of the contribution cards of members at their place of work in order to see that they were “genuine trade unionists”—and for various other minor duties. These shop stewards, both those officially recognized by the trade unions, and Others unofficially appointed by the trade unionists in a particular works, enjoyed during the war a great access of importance. They included, in a majority of cases, the most active members of the trade unions, and those most imbued with the policy of “workers' control,” and though general advances in wages and the broad principles of dilution and substitution were negotiated by the national bodies, all the concrete details of both the latter processes and the application of wage advances had to be dealt with on the spot, and an active man who was not deterred by possible fines and imprisonment under the Munitions Act, could wield real power inbig engineering centres. Practically all the important munitions
of those which excited great public attention being the Clyde strikes of 1916, which resulted in the temporary deportation from the Clyde area of a number of the leading shop stewards, and the widespread engineering strikes of May 1917, caused by the proposal to extend dilution and substitution from the production of munitions of war to ordinary commercial work. These strikes succeeded in their object, and throughout the war dilution was confined to public work.
The shop-stewards' movement attained its greatest importance in the engineering industry, because of the existence of compulsory arbitration, the enormous increase in engineering work, and because, owing to the multiplicity of trade unions catering for skilled and unskilled engineers, common action in the localities had been hitherto difficult to secure, and the appearance of a single flexible instrument uniting all sections resulted naturally in a great increase of activity. Parallel movements did, however, exist in industries connected with the production of munitions, and in other industries such as shipbuilding, cotton and woollen textiles. The shop stewards in these industries occasionally made common cause with the engineering shop stewards on questions of policy, but except in shipbuilding they were of very much less importance. The shop-stewards' movement during the war contained a large revolutionary element which was hostile to the employing class and in many cases to official trade unionism, and aimed at securing workers' control of industry. The existence of this element led ill-informed observers to conclude that the shop stewards as a whole were a revolutionary force, and to attack them as dangerous and unpatriotic. In fact, even in the centres such as the Clyde, in which the revolutionary element was strong and vocal, and inclined to defy the executives of the trade unions on principle, there were throughout the war many shop stewards who aimed at no more than the recognized trade unions' objects of wages, hours and conditions of employment and had no concern with industrial theories. Shop stewards were in fact a recognized feature of trade unionism before the war. The Amalgamated Society of Engineers, in particular, demanded that shop stewards should be recognized as official spokesmen of the union on certain matters, and succeeded in carrying their point after lengthy negotiations. This agreement applied, of course, only to official stewards, who are now recognized by the Employers' Federation in the engineering trade as part of the official trade union machinery. At the end of the war, with the stoppage of work on munitions and the discharge of large numbers of workpeople, the importance of the unofficial element of the shop-stewards' movement declined rapidly, and public attention was therefore almost entirely diverted. The official trade unions resumed control of policy and disputes, the revolutionary elements among the shop stewards became part of the general Communist movement, and the rest returned to ordinary trade union activities, such as those laid down in the shop-stewards' agreements of 1918 and 1919. The influence of the movement on trade union government remained, however, and may be seen in various proposals for remodelling trade unions on a “workshop branch” basis.
Trade Union Action under War Conditions.—Compulsory arbitration had always been heartily disliked by the British trade union movement, and, but for the war, it is exceedingly doubtful whether it would ever have been accepted. The acceptance by the trade unions of war conditions, however, made its introduction possible, and although it did not by any means prevent the occurrence of a strike, when a dispute reached a certain point of bitterness, a large number of disputes, particularly in the munitions industries, which under other circumstances would have resulted in strikes, were settled under compulsory arbitration. The clauses, however, which enabled a dispute in a non-munitions industry to be “proclaimed” under the Munitions Act, and thereby rendered illegal, were less successful, and their unsuccess can be readily understood from asingle instance—that of the South Wales mining strike of 1915.
Treasury Agreements, had never abrogated its right to strike, and the South Wales Miners' Federation, its largest constituent, was the first body to challenge the Munitions Act. In the summer of 1915 the South Wales miners threatened to strike for the purpose of enforcing a revision of a wage agreement under which they had worked for five years, and though the dispute had been “proclaimed” under the Munitions of War Act, the strike nevertheless took place. It was clearly impossible to apply the penal clauses of the Act to a body of 200,000 miners, and after some discussion a settlement was reached which conceded to the miners the majority of their demands. ( >t her important disputes, such as the strike of employees of the Coöperative Wholesale Society in 1918, were also “proclaimed” under the Munitions Act, but in every case the number of men who left work was sufficient to enable them to defy the proclamation.
Consideration of the miners' case leads us to the second important branch of trade union activity during the war, namely that of securing wage advances to their members. For some time this activity was practically in abeyance, unions having agreed, at the beginning of the war, to hold over their demands for an advance in their members' standard of life. Only certain sections, such as the railwaymen, to whom an advance was known to be overdue,obtained any additions to their wages during the first six months of
war would be of short duration; and when it appeared that this was not to be the case, and further that food prices and employers' profits, particularly at first in the shipping trade, were rising very rapidly, the trade unions changed their policy, and by the spring of 1915 it may be said that as far as wage claims were concerned, the industrial truce had come to an end. All trade unions began to put forward claims for increased wages, these claims, for the most part, being based on the rise in the cost of living; and although in the first two years it was not invariably held to be a sufficient ground and wages rose comparatively slowly, by 1917 it was generally accepted, and arbitrators and Government tribunals were usually willing to consider claims based upon it.
Very early in the war the system of granting wage advances in the form of “war bonuses” was introduced, the railwaymen being the first to accept it. A “war bonus” was an advance explicitly granted owing to “the abnormal conditions arising out of the war,” and it was argued, though not stated in any award, that “war bonuses” ought therefore to lapse automatically when these conditions were removed. The trade unions never accepted this interpretation, and both during and after the war negotiations were continually in progress for converting war bonuses into permanent wages. Certain permanent advances were in fact granted, usually in the early stages of the war, before the system of war bonuses had become general, but subsequently it became the rule for all wage advances in the majority of trades to be granted in the form of war bonuses, which amounted to anything from 20 to 40 shillings a week in the skilled trades. War bonuses were generally granted nationally to all members of the particular trade concerned, on a flat rate. This conceded an important point in trade union principle. It had always been the object of most trade unions, particularly those whose members are paid by time, to establish a national minimum wage or guaranteed rate for their trade. Before the war, national minima, legal or otherwise, were rare; in the better organized trades, distinct minima had been secured, but in many cases there was no standard at all, and individual wages had to be negotiated with individual employers. The war, particularly in its later stages, gave the trade unions an opportunity for standardizing wages. Actual national minima were not secured in many instances, but in a number of trades, notably in building, printing, baking, tramways, gas and electricity supply, several area rates were fixed which between them covered the whole country, and in far more the principle of national advances or war bonuses, applying equally to every worker in the industry, was secured. This was the case, for example, with all subsequent advances to miners, all advances to railwaymen, and practically all advances in the munitions industries. The volume of wage negotiations undertaken by trade unions during the war was naturally enormous, but most of it was detailed negotiation for separate trades or branches of a trade. Towards the end of the war there was a movement to consolidate all war advances in the permanent wage rates, and to establish new minima for each industry; but the trade slump which began in 1920 strengthened the resistance of the employers to the principle, and many set-backs were recorded.
From 1915 onwards the Government began to make more and more use of the trade unions both in political and industrial questions. The general course of events was for the Government to initiate a particular piece of legislation without the coöperation of the trade unions, and then to amend its administration in order to admit the trade unions as partners. Thus the recruiting of men for the army was originally entrusted entirely to the administration of the staffs of the War Office, but it was found that this led to the crippling of essential industries by the sudden withdrawal of large bodies of skilled men, and also gave rise to a great deal of industrial unrest. Accordingly, trade unionists were invited to sit on the important committees dealing with recruitment, and in most of the chief industries the Government adopted the method of discussing recruitment with the representative bodies of employers and workmen. The mines, in particular, were practically excluded from the operations of the Military Service Acts, special colliery recruiting courts, composed of representatives of miners and mine-owners, with a Government chairman, being set up under the authority of the Home Office, to deal with the recruitment of miners for the army. In the munitions industries a scheme was put into operation in 1917 under which certain trade unions catering for skilled workers were allowed to issue “trade cards” to their members protecting them from military service, but this scheme met with a great deal of opposition from other trade unions as well as from the employers, and was dropped. In addition to participating in recruiting, trade unions during the war acted as the defenders of members whom they believed to be unjustly taken into the army, and concerned themselves with other cognate questions, such as the securing of civil rights to enlisted men.
In the case of Government control of industry, the same progression is visible. The early cases of Government control were administered by civil servants, without official coöperation either by trade unions or employers' associations. Later the Government adopted the principle of consultation of the trades concerned through associations of employers, and many industries were administeredunder Government control by boards consisting of civil servants and
form of control; but in two important industries, cotton and woollen textiles, the trade unions were taken into partnership. The Wool Control Board was set up in the autumn of 1917, after several experiments had failed, and consisted of eleven representatives each of the employers, the trade unions, and the War Office Contracts Department. It had a free hand in organizing the civilian trade in wool and in allocating supplies of wool—bought by the Government—to the various firms. The Cotton Control Board, set up a short time previously, was composed in a somewhat similar way. It administered the Raw Cotton Order, prohibiting the purchase of cotton except under licence, restricted the amount of machinery which was allowed to run upon work other than Government orders, and when the supplies of cotton were insufficient to keep all members of the industry in employment, the Board levied the firms which were working full time in order to pay allowances to unemployed workmen, thus putting into practice a principle on which many trade unions insist, namely that each industry should provide for the maintenance of its own reserve of labour. The Food Ministry, again, when reorganized by Lord Rhondda, set up a Consumers' Advisory Council, on which the trade unions were officially represented, and Food Vigilance Committees and War Pensions Committees were among the local bodies to which theyregularly sent delegates.
existence of the control of industry propaganda, induced the Government, when in the spring of 1917 industrial relations appeared to be very much embittered, to appoint a committee to consider means of improving the relations between employers and employed. The report of this committee—known as the Whitley Report—recommended that in each of the well-organized industries joint standing industrial councils, representative of employers' associations and trade unions, should be set up to discuss all matters affecting the industry. The Government officially adopted the report (though for some considerable time it refused to set up Whitley Councils in the Civil Service, the Post Office, and other Government establishments) and between 1917 and 1919 50 or 60 such councils were set up, but they did not produce much permanent result. For trade unionism, their chief importance lies in the fact that they brought large accessions of membership to some unions (since no workman could be represented on an industrial council, save through a trade union), and that they facilitated the fixing of national and area minimum rates. They were also used by the Government as the regular channels for disseminating information and receiving advice from the trades concerned. The trade unions, however, showed no great enthusiasm, discerning in them possible taints of profit-sharing and compulsory arbitration, to both of which trade union policy is definitely opposed, and were inclined to be definitely favourable to them only in State-owned industries. So long as wages and profits continued to rise no very serious disputes occurred, but as soon as the fall began several councils were abandoned owing to disagreementson wage questions (see Industrial Councils).
of the Corn Production Act led to a great revival of trade unionism among the agricultural labourers, who since the failure of Joseph Arch in the 'seventies had been almost untouched by trade unions. The Corn Production Act guaranteed a minimum price to the farm and a minimum wage to the farm-workers; and boards, representative of the employers and the three trade unions organizing farm-workers, the National Union of Agricultural Labourers, the Workers' Union and the Scottish Farm Servants' Union, were appointed to determine what the minimum should be in the different counties. The work done by these trade unions in forcing up the minimum rates and in assisting their members to claim arrears of pay due to them under the Act, brought them in a large number of new members up to the time of the repeal of the Act and the disbandment of the wages boards in the autumn of 1921. The Trade Boards Act was also drastically amended in the following year, with the result of extending legal minimum rates, fixed by tribunals representing employers and workers, to between 50 and 60 new trades and stimulating trade union organization within these trades.
The only other development of importance to the trade union movement during the war was the revision, early in 1918, of the constitution of the political Labour party, which led to an extension of the political activities of the trade unions. Under the new constitution the trade unions were, as before, the main constituents of the national Labour party, but more attention than before was given to the organization of local parties in the constituencies, and a number of trade unions took part in the formation of local Labour parties or in adding a political wing to the activities of trade councils. Nearly every trade union had by this time taken a ballot of its members enabling it to establish a fund for political action, and the results of this were seen in the increased contributions, local and national, of trade unions to the Labour party, and the number of Labour candidates, supported largely by trade union funds, who stood in the general election of 1918. No trade union which has set up a political fund has applied that fund to the assistance of any other party than the Labour party.
After the Armistice.—Up to the end of the war no furtherdevelopment of special importance took place. The trade unions were
advances, dealing with fresh proposals for the “combing-out” of industrial workers for the army, and in other activities mentioned above. With the Armistice, however, a revival took place, and every trade union formulated a programme of advance. The programmes differed in individual cases. All included shortening of hours, consolidation of war advances into permanent wages, and the establishment of national or area minimum rates; and some added nationalization with workers' control, and full maintenance, by the industry or the State, for workers out of employment. The movement for shorter hours first took shape. During the war, the working hours in many industries had been reduced, generally to 48 or 50, and researches made under Government auspices had established the fact that long hours of work did not result in greater production. The Factory Acts, however, and other legal enactments governing the hours of work remained unaltered, and there was a general demand for the enactment of a universal 48-hour minimum for all labour, when, in Jan. 1919, a series of strikes in favour of a 40- or 44-hour week broke out in many of the industrial centres. These were suppressed, but almost immediately the trade unions began to put forward their programmes, of which the most complete was that of the Miners' Federation, which included a national advance of wages, a shorter working week, and a full scheme for the nationalization of the mines and their administration under boards composed of representatives of the Miners' Federation and of the Government. On this programme a national mining strike was threatened. There was also grave unrest on the railways and in the engineering industry, and a great industrial upheaval was generally predicted. To prevent this, the Government appointed the royal commission on the coal industry (the Sankey Commission) and also called together a large national industrial conference, representative of employers' associations and trade unions, to discuss necessary changes in the laws governing industrial conditions. The Committee elected by the conference (on which the unions in the Triple Industrial Alliance refused to serve), after long discussion, agreed upon changes relative to hours, wages, and the relief of unemployment. It had been understood that proposals agreed upon by both sides of the conference would be translated into legislation, and upon this basis the discussions had been held; but when the time for legislation came, fresh difficulties were discovered, and the legislation was never introduced. Finally in 1921 both sides of the conference, finding their efforts useless, tendered their resignations. Individual reductions in the hours of labour, however, continued to take place during 1919, but these had no legislative force. The Coal Commission sat in session for a long time, taking evidence from widely differing sources, and creating a great public sensation by the appearance for the first time of trade union advocates cross-examining the leading owners of mines and mining royalties. An advance of wages and a shortening of hours was recommended and became law in the summer. On the question of nationalization the Commission was divided; the members appointed by the Miners' Federation recommending the acceptance of the miners' programme, while the mine-owners' representatives declined to accept it. The chairman's report, recommending nationalization with a measure of workers' control, but conceding only a part of the miners' demands, was presented to the Government, which after some deliberation declined to accept it. The miners thereupon threatened a strike, and brought the matter up before the meeting of the Trade Union Congress in the autumn, but failing to obtain adequate promise of support from their fellow trade unionists by March, they decided to accept the situation. The Coal Commission was the first instance of a tribunal, equally representative of employers and trade unions, being set up under Government auspices to pronounce upon a particular dispute, and considerable disappointment was expressed in trade union circles at the Government's refusal to carry out its findings. The precedent was, however, followed in the Industrial Courts Act of the same year, under which the Minister of Labour was empowered to refer any dispute to an industrial tribunal similarly constituted. This Act was used by the trade unions in several instances, notably in the case of disputes at the docks and on the tramways, to obtain a public hearing of their claims. When the trade depression came, however, the Industrial Courts Act was not used. The employers preferred to present their demands for wage reductions direct to the trade unions, and the attempts of the latter to invoke the assistance of the Act were uniformly unsuccessful. During the year the trade unions continued to press forward claims for shorter hours, wage advances, and consolidation of war wages, and in most cases met with some meed of success. The exception was a strike of policemen in London and some other large centres for an increase of wages, which was met by the immediate dismissal of all policemen on strike, the disbandment of the National Union of Police and Prison Officials, and its replacement by a Police Federation under official auspices and prescribed in an Act of Parliament. The disbanded union, however, continued to exist as a rallying ground for the dismissed policemen. This is the sole occasion in Great Britain in recent years when membership in a trade union has been made illegal.
The railway strike of the autumn, which arose out of a wage dispute, was remarkable for the extensive counter-preparationsmade by the Government. The Government, as well as adopting
offers and arguments in the public press—a practice which was followed by the National Union of Railwaymen—organized an extensive system of road motor transport, and arranged for the enrolment of volunteers prepared to work on the railways. These preparations were repeated on a more extended scale in the spring of 1921, when a strike of the three unions composing the Triple Alliance was feared, and the Emergency Powers Act of 1920 very considerably strengthened the hands of the executive in dealing with a strike in an “essential industry.” The establishment of the principle that the Government was immediately concerned in the case of strikes in “essential industries” to see that necessary services were carried on materially affected the position of the trade unions in those industries. The railway strike ended in a compromise under which the National Union of Railwaymen accepted rates of wages which rose and fell automatically with the rise and fall in the Government figure of the cost of living, a means of adjusting wages which had already been accepted in a number of othertrades (see Strikes).
led to the remarkable development known as the Building Guild movement. This was the most direct application yet seen of the industrial theories of the Guild Socialists (see Guild Socialism). A Government committee had previously estimated the shortage of working-class houses at five hundred thousand, but owing to the very high cost of building and materials, the dearness of credit, and the difficulty of recalling to the building industry the many operatives who had left it in the depression prior to the war, hardly any building was in progress. Under these circumstances, led by Mr. S. C. Hobson, a Manchester Guild Socialist, the building trade unionists of Manchester formed themselves into a Building Guild, and offered to build houses for the Manchester Corporation and other local authorities in Lancashire at cost price plus a percentage to cover office expenditure, incidental charges, and the cost of maintaining every member of the Guild at full wages in sickness, bad weather, or unemployment, thus putting into practice the principle, advocated by many trade unionists, that each industry should be responsible for the full maintenance of all its workers, whether or not there was work available for them at any particular moment. No profits of any kind went to members of the Guild. The credit of the local authority was to suffice for the purchase of plant and materials, many of which were in the first instance bought with the assistance of the Coöperative Wholesale Society. The tenders of the Manchester Guild were accepted in a number of instances, though the limitation placed by the Government on the total number of Guild contracts which could be placed by local authorities considerably restricted their field, and the example of Manchester was followed by over a hundred bodies of trade unionists in various parts of the country, including London, which in the following year united to form a single National Building Guild. The Government's restriction of their work upon public contracts led the Guilds to solicit work from private companies and persons, which in a number of instances was secured. Trade Union Guild Councils, formed for the purpose of inducing other industries to take up the idea, were set up in several districts, and the furnishing trade was among the first to follow suit. The particular interest of the Building Guilds, distinguishing them from other experiments in industrial self-government by the working-classes, lies first in the absence of profits, secondly in the principle of industrial maintenance of all workers, thirdly in its limitation to trade unionists, and fourthly in the coöperation of technical as well as manual workers, representatives of architects and surveyors being given a place on theGuild committees.
important place in social life by the end of 1920. But in that year the trade prosperity came to an end. The trades producing for export had been gradually losing practically the whole of their European markets owing to the financial collapse of a great part of Europe, and their workmen were discharged in large numbers. This in its turn reacted upon the home market; there was a sharp fall in wholesale prices, a general and rapid decline in trade, resulting in the total unemployment of between one and two million workpeople in the summer of 1921. As soon as the trade depression became apparent, there was a general move to reduce wages. The legislation confirming war rates of wages for a time had expired during the previous year, and the way was therefore clear for immediate reductions. In many of the minor trades, where trade unionism was weak, these were enforced immediately, the widespread unemployment inclining the workers to accept any reduction rather than run the risk of losing their employment; the well-organized trades were faced during 1921 with demands for wage reductions, of which that presented to the miners was the most important.
Council of Action.—One event of this period needs describing in some detail, because it was the most successful attempt of the trade union movement to intervene in foreign politics. The events in Russia, since the revolution of 1917 and the establishment of the Bolshevik Government in Nov. of that year, had been followed with great interest by trade unionists. More from sympathy with anti-capitalist Governments in general than because any but a few of itsmembers were in agreement with Bolshevik theories, the Labour
isolated protests, such as that of the dock-workers who refused to load a ship with munitions intended for use against the Bolshevik Government, had been made from time to time. When in the summer of 1920 it appeared that Poland, then at war with Russia, was likely to receive active help from the French and British Governments, the trade union movement rose in protest. The members of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress and the Executive Committee of the Labour party formed themselves into a Council of Action, called a conference of the governing bodies of all the important trade unions, and this conference announced to the Government that a general strike would be called if Great Britain were to enter the Polish war. It was obvious that the general feeling among trade unionists was entirely in agreement with this declaration, and the protest was successful. No active assistance was given to the Polish Government. After the emergency was over, the Council of Action, despite attempts to place it on a permanent basis, gradually ceased to function. During the crisis local Councils of Action, consisting generally of the trade unions affiliated to the local Trade Councils, or Labour party, were formed in most of the large towns. These also gradually lapsed after thecrisis was passed (see Syndicalism).
year, after the failure of an attempt to force a reduction in the selling-price of coal—the first important instance of a trade union trying to interfere with the price of its product—had accepted a settlement under which wages varied nationally with the quantity of coal produced. As a result of this settlement, during the following months the quantity of coal produced was considerably above what could be disposed of at a profit. The Government then announced the termination of their control of the coal industry which had been exercised during the war, and of the subsidy which had been previously paid. The mine-owners therefore gave notice of a series of heavy reductions in wages, varying in the different coal-fields and amounting in some cases to 40 and 50%, and when the Miners' Federation refused to accept these reductions, locked the members out. A “sympathetic” strike of the other members of the Triple Industrial Alliance was announced, and the Government made extensive preparations, including the calling up of the army reserve and the enrolment of a national Defence Force under military discipline, for coping with it; but at the last moment the sympathetic strike was cancelled. The Miners' Federation, after a long struggle, was forced to come to terms, and to submit to large reductions in wages, varying from district to district, and thus their object of securing national minimum rates for mine-workers received, for the time at least, a severe set-back. The issue of the miners' case seemed to settle the fate of other industries. Few trade unions pursued their resistance to wage reductions to the length of ceasing work; and in fact wages in all industries were considerably lowered during the year. Nor were reductions confined to cases in which the rates were a matter of mutual agreement only; the Agricultural Wages Boards, which fixed the rates for the poorly-paid agricultural industry, were swept away on the repeal of the Corn ProductionActs, and an attempt was even made to abolish the Trade Boards.
from offensive to defensive action, from advancing wages and shortening hours, to holding as much as they could of what they had already gained, particularly in the matter of shorter hours, and from enrolling thousands of new members to keeping those they already had. It was to be expected that some of these would lapse; and there was a distinct fall in membership, particularly among the unions of unskilled workers and women, towards the end of the year. But the fall was considerably less in proportion than had been experienced in any previous period of bad trade, and in the newer unions of non-manual workers, whose members were less affected by unemployment, it was comparatively slight. There was also, of course, a depletion in the large reserve funds which had been built up during the war, when unemployment benefit and strike benefit were both at their lowest level. The new activities of trade unionism, however, were not curtailed as might have been expected. Trade unions continued to find money to pay the election expenses of Labour candidates; they continued to show interest in research and education, and one of the most important schemes, that for unifying working-class education under the Trade Union Congress, was actually passed during the first year of the depression.
Organization in 1921.—British trade unionism in 1921 presented a picture which at first sight appears exceedingly confused. There were upwards of a thousand trade unions, varying in membership from a score to several hundred thousand, and organized upon all manner of different bases, from the pure craft union to the “all-grades” union enrolling everyone, skilled or unskilled, in any industry; and these unions were united in many different federations and cross-federations. Only two or three hundred of these unions were of national importance, the rest being mainly survivals from an earlier date, or local societies organizing localized industries. Even among the larger unions, however, there were important diversities of scope and structure. The largest single unit, the Miners' Federation, was industrial in its character, embracing most of the workers in or about the mines. The Miners' Federation wasalso the most important instance of a trade union basing its branch
trade unions, except the postal unions, adhering to the “locality” branch. Another large trade union on an industrial basis was the National Union of Railwaymen, though in this case two other bodies of some size, the Railway Clerks' Association and the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, also organized certain classes of railway employees. Other industries in which industrial unions of this kind existed were the iron and steel trades, the transport trades, other than railways, the distributive trades, the agricultural industry, and the Post Office, though in all these cases there existed rival societies of considerable importance, in some cases claiming a section of the industry, such as in the case of transport, the sailors and firemen of the merchant service, in some cases such as the Workers' Union in agriculture, ready to embrace the whole. On the other hand, the second largest group, the Workers' Union, was an “all-grades” union open to any workman of any trade, and this form of organization was to be seen, in a somewhat less all-embracing form, in the other general labour unions, which were allied with the Workers' Union in the National Federation of General Workers. The third largest group, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, had yet another basis, being formed by a fusion of kindred craft unions in the engineering trades, open to skilled engineers in all industries, and making little claim upon the unskilled workers in the engineering industry proper. The same principle was to be noticed in the chief trade union of woodmakers and in the clerks' trade union. The confusion was, however, less than would at first sight appear, owing to the existence of federation. Thus the transport trade union was united with other trade unions in the transport industry, by means of the Transport Workers' Federation, a printing federation included the various trade unions in the printing industry, the textile federation most of those in the cotton industry, an engineering and shipbuilding federation those in the engineering and shipbuilding trades, whether they catered for skilled or unskilled workers and so on. Certain bitter disputes continued to exist, of which the chief raged between the National Union of Railwaymen and the engineering and woodworking trade unions over the workers employed in railway shops; but, speaking generally, most of the trade unions concerned with a single class of workers or a single industry, whatever their private disputes, were all represented in the particular federation, and had a means of acting together in case of emergency. This applied for the most part only to the manual workers' unions. The trade unions representing professional, technical and administrative workers were only in a few cases affiliated to the manual workers' federation. They had, however, federations of their own which occasionally entered into coöperation, and individual unions had sometimes close ties with those of the manual workers.
Larger groupings also existed. Of these by far the greatest continued to be the Trade Union Congress, to which all the important trade unions of manual workers and a few of the unions of brain-workers were affiliated. In 1921 an attempt was made to provide out of the Trade Union Congress a more efficient governing machine for the trade union movement by electing its General Council from various industrial groups, instead of, as heretofore, electing it by general ballot vote of the whole Congress. The experience of the Council of Action and of the miners' strike of 1921 had convinced many of the need for a central executive and direction. Trade unions, however, are slow to surrender their individual autonomy, and little but general powers were given to the new General Council at first, though an increase in affiliation fees provided it with additional funds. It was instructed to work in coöperation with the political Labour party in order to arrange for a separation of function between the industrial and political sides of the Labour movement, and for their coöperation in policy. Such separation and coöperation were long overdue. Owing to the much greater age of the Trade Union Congress, it had formed the habit of dealing with political questions long before the Labour party was founded, and continued to do so. It thus happened that the same items, both industrial and political, would appear for discussion both at the Trade Union Congress and at the Conference of the Labour Party, and this led to a great deal of useless overlapping, even apart from cases, such as the miners' demand for nationalization, which might be considered both industrial and political. At the same time the machinery for consultation between the two bodies was very inadequate, and it often happened that they would take opposite lines of policy. The new scheme of coöperation was intended to remedy these defects. An alliance between the trade unions, the Labour party, and the working-class coöperative movement was also frequently proposed, but was never consummated except on specific occasions, though the coöperative societies frequently rendered assistance to members of trade unions in disputes. There were also other general groupings of less importance. The General Federation of Trade Unions, once regarded a body almost coequal with the Trade Union Congress, had gradually declined in power to the position of a strike insurance society covering about one-sixth of the trade union movement. The Triple Industrial Alliance was founded in 1915 by the Miners' Federation, the National Union of Railwaymen, and the Transport Workers' Federation, avowedly for the purpose of securing united action by those three bodies on industrial questions. At the time ofits formation it excited a great deal of interest, and had it ever
wielded immense power; but owing principally to lack of coördination between its three constituents, it never took effective action upon an important question, and its last failure to act in the miners' strike of 1921 destroyed much of its prestige among the trade unions. Locally the branches of trade unions were united in Trade Councils, which in some cases were separate from and in other cases united with the local Labour party. These Trade Councils, of which there were several hundreds in the United Kingdom, varied greatly in size and importance. In large towns—where the Trade Council could often trace its history as far back as the eighteen-sixties—it sometimes wielded important industrial and political influence, while in remote places it was little more than a rallying ground for a few trade union branches to discuss matters of common interest. The Trade Councils for the most part, being composed of trade union branches with little money to spare, suffered from a lack of funds, though in times of crisis these could be partly increased by means of local levies. Their functions were not generally defined. This meant in practice that they were limited by opportunity, and might include many types of activity, from the providing of a hall for local meetings or a local Labour weekly paper, to the temporary control of the whole life of a town during ageneral strike.
treatment. Originally trade unionism in Ireland was a weak copy of the British model; but in the first decade of the twentieth century, it became imbued with ideas derived from the American Industrial Workers of the World. Under the leadership of James Larkin and of Connolly (executed after the Easter Rebellion of 1916) militant industrial unionism attained to great power. Its strongest exponent was the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, which was the leader in the Dublin strikes of 1913, and subsequently went through a period of severe repression. It survived, however, and in 1921 was by far the largest constituent element in the Irish Trade Union Congress and Labour Party. The latter body, which adopted political as well as industrial functions in 1912, acts far more as a central executive for its affiliated societies than does the British Trade Union Congress. Affiliated to it are all the important Irish trade unions, with the exception of some located in Ulster, which are kept apart from it by political and religious differences. There are also affiliated a large number of Trade Councils (including the Trade Council of Belfast), which in weakly-organized districts serve as organizing centres, workers being invited to join the Trade Council until a branch of the appropriate trade union can be founded. This is an important respect in which the Irish Trade Councils differ from those of Great Britain. The Irish movement was strongly republican in its political policy, and had close relations with Dail Eireann on the one hand, and with the Irish agricultural coöperative movement on the other. Most of the Irish industries are organized in the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, though in certain cases British trade unions have a large Irish membership. The most important of these are the railway and postal employees (organized respectively by the National Union of Railwaymen, the Railway Clerks' Association, and the Union of Post Office Workers, though a purely Irish Postal Trade Union also exists), the engineering, shipbuilding and woodworking employees in Belfast and Dublin and some other large towns, and some women workers, mainly in the east and north, who are organized in the National Union of General Workers. There are also separate Ulster unions, principally in the textile industries, but trade unionism in Ulster, especially in Belfast, is liable to be rent asunder from time to time by politicaland religious upheavals.
relating to trade unionism. The most important of these was the Trades Disputes Act of 1913, which partially undid the effect of the Osborne Judgment. It provided that any trade union might take a ballot of its membership on the question of establishing a fund for political purposes. If a majority of the members is in favour of its establishment, contributions for political purposes may be levied, but no member can be forced to contribute to the political fund who does not wish to do so. In cases where there is a composite subscription, covering all purposes of the trade union, any member can reclaim that part of his subscription which would be devoted to political purposes. The political fund must in all cases be separately administered from the general funds. The Trade Union Amalgamation Act, passed in 1917, removed some of the previous legal restrictions on the amalgamation of trade unions by providing that, where a ballot is taken upon the question of amalgamation, it will be sufficient if fifty per cent of the membership votes, and if of those voting a majority of twenty per cent is in favour of it. Despite this Act, a number of amalgamations have failed owing to an insufficient total of votes having been recorded, and various deviceshave been adopted for getting round the difficulty.
the decade. Most trade unions slightly raised their subscriptions during the war, in about the same proportions, so that the unions of skilled workers have still a far higher subscription and provide on the average a larger number of benefits to their members than the unions of the unskilled. Again, most trade unions built up fairly large reserve funds during the war—which were considerably depleted during 1920-1,—but here again the increase was greater in the case of the skilled unions. All trade unions made large use of the levy, which is one of the most important elements of trade union finance. It is obvious that strike and unemployment funds, particularly strike funds, cannot be put upon an actually sound oasis, so that in most trade unions the method is adopted, when a particular fund seems to be in low water, or some special object demands that an immediate sum of money be available, of imposing, generally after a ballot vote, a levy upon the whole membership. Thus, a trade union may levy itself to provide assistance to a particular branch or strike, or to another trade union, or to finance the Daily Herald, or for any other of a variety of purposes, and the practice of imposing levies frequently renders the obligation of a member to his trade union very much greater than wouldappear from the subscription rates laid down in the rule book.
The Progress of British Trade Unionism, 1910-9.
|Mining and Quarrying||731,370||752,527||757,351||914,989||912,577||844,000||884,000||944,000||992,000||1,069,000|
|Metal, Engineering and Shipbuilding||370,093||414,896||479,308||538,751||557,741||641,000||699,000||849,000||952,000||1,074,000|
|Boots and Shoes||49,000||72,000||81,000||91,000||107,000|
|Other Transport (land and water)||129,009||328,023||312,345||374,588||379,016||304,000||313,000||326,000||376,000||528,000|
| Others, including Pottery,
Glass and Chemical
|Food, Drink, etc.||303,039||349,154||434,515||485,477||488,190||36,000||35,000||36,000||46,000||63,000|
|Clerks, Shop Assistants, etc.||111,000||120,000||150,000||193,000||267,000|
|Total number of members||2,397,821||2,969,037||3,225,499||3,928,191||3,959,863||4,388,000||4,669,000||5,540,000||6,645,000||8,044,000|
unionism has increased very rapidly. Official statistics are to be found in the Labour Gazette, published by the Ministry of Labour, in the reports of trade unionism issued by the Board of Trade (not since the war), and in the reports of the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies. Most of the available information will be found collected in the Labour Year Book. For the history, organization and theories of trade unions the standard works are The History of Trade Unionism (new edition, 1920) and Industrial Democracy (new edition, 1920) by Sidney and Beatrice Webb; Trade Unionism by C. M. Lloyd (revised edition, 1921); and An Introduction to Trade Unionism (1918) by G. D. H. Cole. All these contain full bibliographies. There are also special studies of trade unionism in particular industries. Of these may be mentioned Trade Unionism on the Railways (1917) by G. D. H. Cole and R. P. Arnot; Village Trade Unions (1920) by Ernest Selley; and Women in Trade Unions by Barbara Drake (1920). The standard work on trade union law is The Legal Position of Trade Unions, by H. H. Slesser and W.Smith Clark, and a smaller work by H. H. Slesser, The Law
Irish Labour Movement by W. P. Ryan (1920).
By far the most important up-to-date source of information, statistical and historical, for other countries is the Labour International Handbook. See also G. D. H. Cole, The World of Labour. For Germany see Trade Unionism in Germany by W. Stephen Sanders (1916). For Russia see A. Losovsky, etc., Trade Unionsin Soviet Russia (1920).
(M. I. C.)
From 1898 to 1904 craft unions in the United States grew in importance, and made substantial gains by aggressive action. In 1905 with a slackening of business prosperity came a loss of faith in trade unionism as the one sure solution of the problems of the working class. The American Federation of Labor had organized the skilled trades but the unskilled had been practically neglected. The crafts seemed unable to cope with the trusts and with an open-shop campaign which drew employers together. Attempts were made to capture the American labour movement for a more radical class struggle. In 1905 the Industrial Workers of the World were organized. A movement to organize the building trades into an industrial union was resisted by the American Federation of Labor, but resulted in the establishment in 1908 of the Building Trades Department of the Federation. In 1909 the United Mine Workers announced their championship of the principle of collective ownership of the means of production. In 1911 the machinists followed. From 1903 we find increasing tendency toward concerted movements of the railway crafts. In 1908 the Railway Employees' Department was formed in the American Federation of Labor to include all the railway unions affiliated with the Federation. In 1916 the four railway brotherhoods, not affiliated with the Federation, acted together to demand the eight-hour day. In 1912 the national convention of the Federation voted down the minority report of the Committee on Education in favour of the principle of industrial unionism, 72 for and 264 against; voting strength, 5,929 for and 10,983 against. The two miners' unions voted solidly in favour of the change. Others in favour were the bakers and confectioners, iron, steel and tin workers, printing pressmen, railway carmen and journeymen tailors. In 1912 labour was weak economically but strong politically, due to its support of the Democratic party, then coming into power. Public hearings before the United States Commission on Industrial Relations in 1914 brought industrial conditions into the light of public opinion; for the first time a commission representing the Government not only pronounced the trade union movement harmless to the best interests of the country, but gave its unqualified approval to labour organization as an institution indispensable in a democracy. The return of business prosperity in 1916, coincident with the sudden decrease of immigration, gave labour a new economic advantage. In 1917 the Government asked and won coöperation of organized labour in producing military supplies. Organized labour was given recognition on Government committees, and the policy of boards which represented the Government in its relations with its employees was to recognize trade union standards of working conditions. The leadership of the American Federation of Labor was strengthened by the attitude of the Government; possibly it was weakened by the fact that the War Labor Board dealt with groups of disaffected workers in the local unions rather than with the national officers, and so made for decentralized control in the unions. After the Armistice labour was again on the defensive, and the increasing number of the unemployed were more ready than they had been to listen to the philosophy of the radical, who can always promise a steady job and a pay envelope every week in the Utopian state. The membership in the relatively conservative American Federation of Labor increased nearly threefold between 1910 and 1920. In 1910 there was a paid-up membership of 1,562,112; in 1915 1,946,347; and 1920 4,078,740. If we include also the membership of organizations suspended from the Federation, the total for 1920 was 4,509,213. Outside the Federation are the four brotherhoods of railway employees with a membership of over 400,000, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, 200,000, the Amalgamated Textile Workers, 40,000; and other smaller independent organizations. There are five industrial departments in the American Federation of Labor— building trades, metal trades, railway employees, union label trades, and mining. The six largest of the affiliated unions are the United Mine Workers', the Carpenters' and Joiners', the Machinists', Electrical Workers', Railway Carmen, and the Ladies' Garment Workers.
The National Women's Trade Union League of America was founded in 1903 for the purpose of investigating and giving publicity to conditions of women in industry, and to undertake educational work for wage-earning women, to promote labour legislation and improved labour standards, and to aid trade unions in organizing women. The League stands also for the eight-hour day and the 44-hour week, for a living wage, and for equal pay for equal work regardless of sex. The League is indorsed by the American Federation of Labor and the Canadian Trades and Labour Congress and is represented at their conventions by fraternal delegates. It claims 600,000 trade union women, and has also a large membership of men. It publishes Life and Labor, and maintains a training school for organizers. Its headquarters are in Chicago.
The decade 1910-20 saw a movement develop to unionize the teachers as a trade group. The first teachers' union was organized in Chicago in 1902, following the failure of the Teachers' Federation to gain consideration from the school board. As the board insisted that it had no money to pay a “living wage,” the teachers investigated city finances, and found that many wealthy corporations had been evading taxes due to the city. In the struggle to force the payment of taxes the teachers received aid from organized labour. Then, at the invitation of the Chicago Federation of Labor, the teachers affiliated with that body. In 1916 the Board of Education dismissed those teachers who had been prominent in trade union activity. In order that these teachers might be reappointed, the union withdrew from the city Federation of Labor. In 1914 the teachers of Cleveland voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Labor, but were prevented by the Board of Education. In 1916 teachers' unions in a number of cities united to form the American Federation of Teachers and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, but forbade recourse to strikes. The official publication is the American Teacher. The first trade union of librarians in the United States was formed in New York City, in 1917, to demand salary increases and a regular system of promotions. In 1918 the Boston Library Employees' Union was organized and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Union organizers were active without success at the 1919 and 1020 conventions of the American Librarians' Association.
crystallized in trade agreements. Such expression of a joint partnership of Capital and Labour to stabilize industry on the basis of an accepted law is typical of the American labour movement. The earliest national agreement in the United States was that of the iron puddlers in 1866. A national agreement of the stove moulders established in 1891, providing for peaceful adjustment of disputes which might arise, continues in force. In 1897 a general strike in the central competitive district of the bituminous coal-mining industry led to an agreement between the operators and the United Mine Workers' Union. In 1902 the president of the union refused to join in a sympathetic strike on behalf of the anthracite strikers because such action would be disloyal to the agreement. For more than 20 years the International Typographical Union had been arbitrating disputes with the publishers of newspapers. At the convention of the National Publishers' Association in 1900, three publishers were chosen as a committee to deal with labour, to represent, however, not the whole convention, but only those employers who had favoured the measure. Contracts between individual employers and the union had been made prior to this time. This committee effected an agreement with the Typographical Union, to be in force from May 1901 to May 1902, which provided for local boards of three persons, one to represent the publisher, one the union, and the third to be chosen by these two. The board was to decide all disputes in its territory, the status quo to prevail until an award should be made. If either party should be dissatisfied with the decision, appeal might be taken to a national board, composed of the publishers' labour committee and the president of the Typographical Union. If they failed to agree, an impartial person was called in. A majority decision was then binding on both parties. In 1902 the agreement was renewed for a five-year period, and again in 1907, revised to eliminate the impartial person from the adjustment boards, and to reorganize the final arbitration board to consist of three members of the employers' committee and three from the executive council of the union. By the end of 1912 the American Newspaper Publishers' Association had in operation a total of 416 individual arbitration contracts: 217 with the Typographical Union, 108 with stenographers' unions, 47 with mailers' unions and 44 with photoengravers' unions. A fourth national agreement, 1912-7, made local settlements compulsory, since the business of the national board had been impeded by the number of the cases. In 1917 the agreement was renewed until 1922.
In the book and job printing industry the development of central government in 1919 added new features. Coöperating to preserve industrial peace there are four groups of closed-shop employers, united in a national association, and five trade unions, centralized for concerted action in the International Allied Printing Trades Association. In Feb. 1919 representatives of both sides met to discuss coöperation. In April they agreed upon a draft of an International Joint Conference Council, international since Canadian publishing companies were included. The Council was composed of four trade unionists and eight employers; each union representative had two votes. There was no impartial member, two joint chairmen sitting together—a trade-union president and an employer. Meetings were to be held usually every other month, in different places. Resolutions were to be passed unanimously by the Council and accepted by all the organizations represented, after which they were to become law for all member shops in the United States and Canada. Enforcement was left to the executives of the individual organizations. The Council drafted an arbitration code to be used by the members. The Council itself did not settle disputes. Its work has been to give its approval to a general labour policy, expressed as “five cardinal points.” It adopted for its slogan “Stabilization and Standardization.” The agreement provided that wages should be reviewed semi-annually, should be based on the cost of living and the economic conditions of the industry, to provide at least a living wage; also that employers should introduce a uniform system of cost-keeping, and that voluntary agreements should take the place of strikes and lock-outs. Economic conditions in the industry and cost of living having been determined by scientific investigation, the actual fixing of wages was left to bargaining between the two parties. The unions agreed not to work for employers who did not operate their business under the standard cost-keeping clause, and the employers agreed to employ only union labour. In March 1921 employing printers not members of the Joint Conference Council formed the 48-Hour League of America and called for the abolitionof the Council.
by trade union efforts is in the clothing industry, where “sweated” workers have been able to build up a system of industrial government respected by their employers. In Nov. 1909 discrimination against union members by employers led to a general strike of the shirt-waist makers of New York. More than 25,000 girls walked out. Other grievances were: the long overtime worked in the rush seasons, followed by long periods of unemployment; low wages, fines, and subcontracting. The employers formed themselves into a Mutual Protective Association. The police prevented picketing. This aroused public interest in favour of the strikers. The employers individually came to settlement with the girls. The workers gained better conditions, and the principle was inaugurated of adjustment of grievances between employer and representatives of the workers. During the same month, Feb. 1910, which marked the conclusion of this strike, 7,000 shirt-waist makers in Philadelphia struck for concessions similar to those secured in New York. The strike was short; the chief result was a plan for settlement of difficulties by adjustment in the shop, or by appeal to a permanent arbitration board of representatives of the union, the employer and the general public, and a promise not to discriminate against union members. The wage scale was to be fixed for each shop by a committee of that shop.
In July 1910 the cloak and suit makers struck in New York City, 45,000 strong. Their grievances were low wages, the system of subcontracting by which a few of the employees received wages from the employer directly, and engaged their own helpers, whom they “sweated” for a pittance. The strikers also demanded a 49-hour week with double pay for overtime, the installation of power sewing machines, and the closed shop. This last point was the most strongly contested by the employers. Finally a conference was held, with Louis D. Brandeis as chairman. He urged that the strikers modify their demand for the closed shop to one for the “preferential union shop.” After some further dispute an agreement on this basis was signed in Sept., which also pronounced in favour of the abolition of home work and subcontracting. But the most notable feature of the agreement was the provision known as the “protocol,” which established three joint boards to administer labour conditions in the future. The Board of Grievances, of two representatives from each side, was to take up differences of opinion between employers and employees, and to settle any disputes which might arise. Disputes which could not be settled in this way were to be carried to the Arbitration Board, made up of one representativefrom each side and an impartial member. The Board of Sanitary
union and one for the public, this impartial member to be appointed by counsel for the two sides. This Board determined a standard of sanitation for the shops. “Health strikes” to enforce the findings of the Board were permitted in shops remaining in any condition condemned. These three boards were financed jointly by the employers and the union.
In Oct. of the same year (1910) the men's clothing workers struck in Chicago, to demand shorter hours and higher wages and some method of adjusting grievances. After 19 weeks the strikers, beaten, went back to work but the important firm of clothing manufacturers, Hart, Schaffner & Marx, made an agreement with their employees which established a permanent arbitration board of one representative from each side. There was no impartial member until one year later, when a Trade Board of 11 members was instituted to settle the minor matters which were impeding the work of the Arbitration Board. The impartial chairman of the new board also presided at the old. A third part of the machinery was composed of the individual shop committees which met with the labour managers (employers' representatives) to try to smooth out grievances before bringing them to the Trade Board. In 1913, when the agreement was renewed, provision for the preferential union shop was added.
In Jan. 1913 several trades of the ladies' garment workers struck and secured an extension of the protocol plan to cover a larger number of the trades. A strike in Boston led to its introduction there. The Joint Board of Sanitary Control was extended to cover other ladies' garment workers and also the fur workers of New York. Medical supervision features were added, with individual examinations and preventive work. Early in Jan. the men's garment workers of New York also struck. The president of the United Garment Workers' Union submitted the dispute to arbitration. Many of the members were dissatisfied, and a plan was made to put a new union leader in office at the next national election. When the convention met in 1914, many of the more aggressive delegates found themselves debarred by the committee on credentials. The insurgents retired to another building, held a rival convention and elected officers. The union membership throughout the country was divided in its allegiance to the two groups of national officers, the overall and union label shops clinging to the old leadership, but the mass of the men's and boys' clothing workers acknowledging the new, although for this they were branded as “secessionists” by the American Federation of Labor. During a strike at this time in Baltimore the cutters remained subordinate to the old leaders, the tailors were led by the new, who managed to continue the strike to victory, although without strike funds. The new leaders then organized their forces throughout the country under the new name Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. This organization, while retaining the craft divisions, adopted industrial unionism as its working principle. The preamble stressed the aggressive character of the new union and the part it hoped to play in the “class struggle”; also the importance of education of the members.
In 1915 the new organization carried on and won two general strikes: a short one in New York, and one of four months' duration in Chicago, which cost the union over $40,000, and was finally lost through exhaustion. But the spirit of the workers was not broken. The year 1916 was marked by disputes in the clothing trades throughout the country. In New York the Manufacturers' Association abrogated the protocol in the cloak and suit trade. After a two months' lock-out and a general strike of 60,000 workers an agreement was made according to which grievances were to be adjusted by direct negotiation between union and employer. The Joint Board of Sanitary Control continued through the period of the strike. Protocols were established in the garment trades in Boston and Philadelphia. The Board of Standards of the dress and waist trade opened a test shop to time and standardize the operations.
In 1917 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America led other unions in establishing the 48-hour week by strikes in the different clothing centres. In 1918 they led with the 44-hour week. At the same time the industry in New York adopted an agreement for industrial government similar to that which had been introduced by Hart, Schaffner & Marx in 1910. In Feb. an impartial chairman took up his post. Studies were undertaken by both the union and the employers' association to ascertain the changes in the cost of living relative to wage increases, and an award was made of wage increases varying from 10% to 12.5%. Introduction of the 44-hour week followed in the other clothing centres. The financing of the New York strike by the union, except for contributions of $11,000, was viewed as a notable achievement for workers who until recently had been “sweated” and ill paid. Other firms in Chicago followed the example of Hart, Schaffner & Marx, and similar arbitration agreements were introduced also in the clothing centres of Baltimore, Boston, Rochester, Montreal and Toronto. An attempt of the A.C.W.A. to organize Cincinnati was as bitterly opposed by the old union as by the employers. In Rochester and Chicago, where the work is done in factories, the agreements still held in May 1921. But in New York and Boston, where most of the work is let out to contractors, the impartial machinery broke down in the autumn of 1920; it could not weather the period of industrial depression. The union in New York then went on strike to force the reinstatementof arbitration machinery. By the end of March 1921 the locals of
arbitration plan was renewed July 1921.
In the spring of 1919 during a strike in Lawrence, Mass., the Amalgamated Textile Workers of America were organized. A resolution of the executive board in April 1920 to affiliate with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers was favourably received by the latter in their convention in May. The constitutions of the two organizations are similar. The membership of the A.T.W. in Jan. 1921 was 40,000; that of the A.C.W.A. 200,000. In 1920 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the Ladies' Garment Workers were drawing together and affiliation was discussed.
Shop Unions.—In recent years some employers have offered substitutes for trade agreements with organized labour. The Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. recognized committees of its employees as a part of the welfare plan of 1915. In 1918 the Standard Oil Co. introduced a system of conferences with representatives elected by the employees. Committees on health, safety, sanitation and housing were formed, and individuals might present grievances through their representatives. By the summer of 1919, 160 companies in the United States had shop committees in their plants. In some plants elaborate industrial governments have been developed; the best known are those in the Filene store in Boston and the Leitch plan named after its originator, John Leitch of Philadelphia, and modelled on the checks and balances of the U.S. Government. Some employers associate the workers with themselves by profit-sharing and bonus plans. Others offer a “forum” in which workers may meet with the managers to discuss the problems of the business. One firm expressed the hope that the purchase of stock by employeeswould save it from the dictatorship of absentee financial control.
the labour turnover. Employment departments were instituted. In the course of placing and training the worker and securing his honest effort in production, and in organizing the working force for the safety movement, the science of personal management has been evolving. Persuasion takes the place of coercion or bargaining. The old “scientific management” introduced in 1911 by Frederick W. Taylor, an engineer connected with the Midvale and later with the Bethlehem Steel Co., looked upon the individual worker as a producing machine; effort to increase earning power was the only human reaction expected from him. The new scientific management obtains production through group action, by a general consensus of opinion in the shop. The labour problem is no longer left solely to the production engineer, who has been trained to deal with the forces of nature, but is given to a new official, a psychologist, the labour manager. The labour department is not responsible for getting out the product, but for building up a permanent and dependable labour force.
Criminal Unionists.—On Oct. 1 1910 the office of the Los Angeles Times was blown up and 21 people were killed. On the same night bombs were found in the homes of the publisher of the Times and of the secretary of the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association. On Dec. 25 the Llewellyn Iron-Works, also at Los Angeles, were dynamited. In May 1911 William J. Burns, a detective, secured the arrest, in Indianapolis, of John McNamara, secretary of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, his brother James, and Ortie McManigal. The men were taken to Los Angeles, where they were found to be responsible for these and other dynamite outrages in various parts of the country. McManigal confessed to dynamite plots involving also the McNamaras and others, and the brothers pleaded guilty to blowing up the Times building and the iron-works. The criminals were formally repudiated by the American Federation of Labor. An investigation by a Federal grand jury of the dynamite plots led to the indictment of 54 men, many of them officers of the Bridge and Structural Iron Workers. They were tried and 38 were found guilty. Burns was arrested for kidnapping, but acquitted. In June 1916 14 business agents of the Painters' and Electrical Workers' unions of Chicago were found guilty of extortion. The evidence showed that contractors and merchants had been compelled to pay sums ranging from $50 to $200 under the threat of damage to their property. In Nov. 1920 an investigation into the high cost of building in New York City brought to light a conspiracy among dealers in material, building contractors, bankers and labour bosses to keep up the bids for construction work. The labour leader implicated and convictedwas President Brindell of the Building Trades Council.
I.W.W., were organized in June 1905 at a convention in Chicago of 203 persons, representing over 40 groups in the working classes. Among the sponsors were the leaders of the Western Federation of Miners, the remnants of the American Labor Union (made up of workers from different industries, but chiefly railwaymen), and the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance, known to be the economic arm of the Socialist Labor party. The originators of the new association felt that a labour union based on craft autonomy, such as the American Federation of Labor, could not succeed in the struggle of the workers against capital. For success, “one big union,” the industrial workers massed in a single army, was felt to be necessary. Moreover, it was thought advisable to get the working class organized beforehand and accustomed to working together in “the samegroups and departments and industries that the workers would
Commonwealth.” The aim of the new organization, as intended by the founders, was first to provide a new central body in which the existing trade unions, consolidated into industrial unions, could be associated; and second, to organize and add to this nucleus the great mass of the unorganized, unskilled and migratory labourers. The philosophy of the movement, as expressed in the constitution adopted, was that “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common; there can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few who make up the employing class have all the good things of life”; the wages system must be abolished, and the capitalistic form of society must become extinct. This was to be accomplished by direct action; the final solution of the class struggle would be by the “social general strike,” when the toilers would “take and hold” that which they produce by their labour. “There is but one bargain that the I.W.W. will make with the employing class—complete surrender of all control of industry to the organized workers.” Some of the leaders insisted that political action should be discouraged as useless. This led to the split, in 1908, between the western, or direct-action faction, known as the Chicago branch, and the parliamentarian or doctrinaire group, represented by the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance, led by Daniel De Leon of New York, which became known as the “Detroit Branch,” until in 1915 it took the name of Workers' International Industrial Union. Its official publications are The Weekly People, Industrial Union News, and The Socialist. The Chicago di- rect-action branch, exclusively claiming the name Industrial Workers of the World, was led by W. D. Haywood. After being sentenced to prison (see below) Haywood fled to Russia in April 1921, leaving the office in Chicago in charge of Roy Brown. Their organs are One Big Union Monthly, New Solidarity, both published in Chicago, and The Industrial Worker, Seattle. Before 1917 they published seven papers in foreign languages. After the war the organization issued 19 publications in 13 languages. The I.W.W. have amended their original constitution to omit the clause calling for political action. At its origin the I.W.W. spoke hopefully of sweeping the working class into its ranks; at the end of its first year it had a paid-up membership of 14,000; in 1907, before the split, of less than half that number; in 1912 the Chicago branch reported 18,387; in 1913 14,851; in Jan. 1917 60,000; on Oct. 1 1919 100,000. The general office had issued 500,000 membership cards to that date. One department, the Agricultural Workers Union, reported 18,000 members enrolled between April 1915 and Nov. 1916. The turnover between 1905 and 1915 was very high, both as regards members and local unions. In 1915 7.5% of the enrolment had remained in active membership. By 1918 only one-fifth of the number of locals which had been chartered were in existence. The greatest loss was in 1907 when the Western Federation of Miners left the I.W.W. In 1911 it affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, and in 1916 becamethe Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers' International Union.
strike in 1909, and in the “free speech fights” at Spokane, Wash., and Fresno, Cal., in 1909, San Diego, Cal., in 1910, and Everett, Wash., in 1916. In 1907 the leaders Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone were accused of the murder of the ex-governor of Idaho; they were arrested in Colorado without warrant, carried to Idaho, imprisoned and finally tried. They were acquitted. In 1912 the I.W.W. leaders helped carry on strikes at Lawrence, Mass., and at Paterson, N.J. (see Strikes and Lock-outs). They were active among the lumbermen in Louisiana. In 1914 they organized the migratory labourers in the harvest-fields, lumber workers, miners and construction workers. In the spring of 1917 the lumbermen of the extreme north-west struck; soldiers rounded up the pickets and threw them into a stockade. By July 50,000 lumbermen were on strike, demanding an eight-hour day and better housing. The I.W.W. were considered responsible for trouble among the miners in Arizona in the summer of 1917 (see Strikes and Lock-outs). On Sept. 5 1917 I.W.W. offices throughout the country were raided by the Department of Justice, and their property seized. A few days later most of the officials were arrested. The grand jury in Chicago indicted 166 members for conspiracy to interfere with the nation's war programme. Over 1,000 members were arrested; aliens among them were held for deportation. At the trial in Chicago in Aug. 1918 97 of the accused were industrial workers, four were journalists and organizers. Ninety-eight were pronounced guilty, and 93 were sentenced to imprisonment of from 10 days to 20 years. Haywood received 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of $10,000. He appealed, and was released on bail. The sentence was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 1921, but, as stated, Haywood had escaped to Russia. At about the same time 46 reputed members of the I.W.W. were arrested in California under the Espionage Act. Others were added to their number. The indictment was added to six times. The defendants believed that the trial was a mere formality, and sat silent throughout the proceedings without offering a defence. They were found guilty and severe sentences were passed. Five of the defendants died in jail. In 1917 the lumber workers substituted “sabotage” for strikes. They would work for eight hours and then quit in a body. If anyone was discharged the whole crew quit. In Nov. 1917 the Construction Workers, an international union of theI.W.W., attempted to hold a convention in Omaha; all attending
were indicted. In Dec. 1918 those who had not been released were allowed to give bond. In the winter of 1917-8 local secretaries of the I.W.W. at various places were tarred and feathered. In Tulsa, Okla., 11 members had this treatment. At Red Lodge, Mont., two members were tortured in the basement of the courthouse.
As organized in 1905 the I.W.W. had 13 industrial divisions, each composed of a group of allied industries grouped together for administrative purposes; also certain locals of mixed occupation. Boundaries of jurisdiction are by industry, not craft. The organization is centralized in a General Executive Board, with power to call strikes and a referendum on agreements between local unions and employers. All acts of the Board may be appealed to the General Convention, and decisions of the Convention are subject to a referendum of the general membership. Local matters are to be settled locally. As amended at the tenth convention, in 1916, the unit of organization became the industrial union instead of the local union; each industrial union to have its own by-laws. Five or more branches in any locality form an industrial union district council. Industrial departments are also provided for by the constitution. There is also the general recruiting union, which takes in the workers from any industry not yet sufficiently organized to have its own industrial union. The only national officers provided by the constitution are the general secretary-treasurer and a general executive board of seven members. Each industrial union has a secretary-treasurer and an executive board of five members. Only wage-earners are eligible to membership in the unions. No officer of the I.W.W. may run for political office without a referendum vote of the entire membership. Since 1919 no officer may hold his position for two consecutive years, but must return to his industrial work after oneyear of office.
and Soule, The New Unionism (1920); J. H. Cohen, Law and Order in Industry (1916); J. R. Commons, Trade Unionism and Labor Problems (Second Series, 1921); S. Gompers, Labor in Europe and America (1910); G. G. Groat, Organized Labor in America (1916); R. F. Hoxie, Trade Unionism in the United States (1917); William R. Bassett, When the Workmen Help You Manage (1920); Daniel Bloomfield, Labor Maintenance (1920); H. L. Gantt, Industrial Leadership (1916); Carleton Parker, The Casual Laborer and Other Essays (1920); Sumner Slichter, The Turnover of Factory Labor (1919); Ordway Tead, Personnel Administration (1920); U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletins; American Labor Year-Book (Rand School); Government reports, especially that of IndustrialRelations Commission, 1914-6.
- These figures indicate the volume and page number of the previous article.