Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/53

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

only by avoiding everything which a labor organization should have attempted. If it had aimed to be a body influencing legislation to be consistent it should have formed a political party. It has not done so. If it had aimed to influence legislation by a show of economic power it should have become a national economic expression. This it has not done. It has attempted, or pretended, to advance and improve the legal status of labor by making its appeals for consideration upon moral and humanitarian grounds. That it has not been successful as a legislative getting body is testified by the fact that the legal status of labor is on a lower level now than ever before. What laws have been secured are of a minor character, and many of these laws have been declared unconstitutional by the courts. It is capitalistic and militaristic — both anti-labor features. It never meets adverse decrees or legislative inaction with the challenge of economic power. It is a belly-crawling organization at best, which deludes the workers and holds them helpless before every onslaught of capital. Its failures in regard to labor, if not its betrayal of the labor interest, is the price it has paid for capitalist tolerance.

169. Was the A. F. of L. ever a real Labor Organization?
No. Common's History of Labor in the United States says of the unsuccessful attempts by national unions to effect a national organization: "The initiative which was finally crowned with success came apparently from a non-trade union source. A disaffected group of the Knights of Labor, who desired to establish a rival order, called a conference for this purpose." It was significant that 68 of the 107 delegates were from the Pittsburgh vicinity and mainly Knights of Labor. Common's history says: "The large attendance of Knights was due to fear that a rival to their order was to be established." Their fear was well founded.
170. Is it possible to change the A. F. of L. by boring from within?
About as possible as irrigating the Sahara desert with a garden hose. The A. F. of L. is capitalistic and cannot tolerate the spreading of working class ideas within its ranks. Those who preach boring from within capitalist unions are on a par with workers who pay for member-