Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/4

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Historical Catechism of the American Unionism

1. What is a labor union?
An organization formed by wage workers to serve their interest as wage workers.
2. What is the interest of the worker as a wage laborer?
To secure an adequate wage, reasonable hours, and good working conditions under capitalism. To overthrow capitalism is the objective of the labor movement.
3. Has the worker no other interests that these?
None that are not conditioned upon these.
4. Then the labor union has no other function than to enable the workers to regulate their jobs?
None whatever. When a labor union attempts to function in any other capacity it is undertaking something foreign to its purpose, and which retracts from its usefulness as an instrument of labor.
5. What is an adequate wage?
A wage which will enable the worker to live according to a decent standard and to make provision for periods of sickness and old age.
6. Should it be the purpose of the union to bring about the establishment of such a wage?
That is the purpose of a union. Together with the regulation of hours and conditions, this is the sole mission of a union in the every-day struggle on the job.
7. Is it not functioning within its proper sphere when it provides for sick and death benefits?
It is not. If the union functions successfully in its proper sphere—the job—the workers will be able to attend to their own sick wants. As to death benefits, the union is intended to serve the living laborers; and, as a union—a body with an economic function—is not, at least should not, be concerned about the dead.