Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/29

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portunity was provided, and the politicians were ready.

Similarly in Philadelphia in 1836, when some three hundred coal heavers were on strike for a 25 cent per day increase. Several of them were arrested. The bail was fixed by the mayor at $2,500. He is alleged to have declared when setting the bail that he was determined "to lay the axe at the root of the Trades' Union". The threat, and the excessive bail aroused the central labor union, which took up the fight on behalf of the coal heavers. The court dismissed both charges of conspiracy and riot. The union determined to strike at the mayor politically; the politicians were on hand, but the mayor was re-elected.
93. When was a general ten-hour day established in any section of the United States?
In Philadelphia, in June, 1835. It was obtained as the result of a general strike of all workers, which, curiously enough, was inaugurated by the common laborers and coal heavers of the city. The workers in every calling struck, and the employers conceded the ten-hour day. Three or four days of direct action accomplished what years of politics could not make a start on. The New York Journal of Commerce, which was very hostile to the workers, conceded that ten hours was a long enough day, when the workers already had it. Previously, that employers' sheet could not reconcile itself to the demand. But it stated that "What we object to is not the thing sought—but the means of attaining it. For the precedent is full of mischief; if such is to be the rewards of turn-outs (strikes), there will be no end to them."
That these strikers were predicated upon organization, and that organization was made necessary by the refusal of the interests for which this paper spoke is conveniently overlooked.
The strike brought the ten-hour day, and the lead was taken by the unskilled workers. This is worth remembering.
94. Did the unions rest upon the ten-hour day?
No. They immediately set out to obtain increased wages, and met with encouraging success.