Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/54

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ship in a Chamber of Commerce to use it for the advancement of the proletarian interest. Craft unions, in our day, are not labor unions; they are gatherings of workers under the control of capitalist agents. They are not designed to further the labor interest but to restrain the laborers in the interest of capitalist property. As long as the working people regard them as well-intentioned but poorly constructed and ignorantly wielded working class weapons, attempts will be made to remodel and regenerate them. Only when they recognize them for the capitalist instruments that they are, will the workers cast them aside and fashion a weapon suitable to and capable of successfully furthering the working class end of a world-wide battle. An augur may bore a hole that will empty a tank, but a tank cannot be remodelled with an augur or a gimlet. It is impossible to change the A. F. of L. It is as impossible to change it as to change a timber wolf into a lap dog, or to make a house pet of a skunk.

171. If the A. F. of L. is not a labor organization, what is it?
It might be called a national association of labor brokers. In the first years of its existence there were some influences at work trying to mould it into a national economic body. For ten years these influences and others tending in the opposite direction were in conflict. The forces that made for an economic function were out-manouvered, and the A. F. of L. settled itself down to solicit political conventions and implore legislative bodies, while the international unions through all their branches undertook to obtain the control of jobs and to deal in labor power. The unions were prostituted from their job-regulating functions to instruments for the aggrandizement of the officialdom. For many years the official machines that have been built up have controlled these unions and used them as political levers and stepping stones to power and financial security for the official groups.
Any city craft union movement will bear out this contention. The building trades achieved great power at a time when the margin between journeymen and contractors was slight. Rival contractors vied with each other for the favor of men who stood high in union circles, and as a result vicious combinations with business and