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Compulsory arbitration or some
similar device must therefore replace such crudely restrictive and
oppressive measures as have hitherto been applied to the unions.

In the United States all "dangerous" strikes are at present throttled by
court injunctions forbidding the strikers to take any effective action,
and boycotts are held to be forbidden by the Sherman law originally
directed against the "trusts." Recently the Supreme Court decided that
the officers of the American Federation of Labor were not to be
imprisoned for violation of the latter statute. But the decision was
purely on technical grounds, and the court upheld unanimously the
application of the law to the unions. There is little question that the
attorney for the manufacturers, Daniel Davenport, was right when he thus
summed up the court's opinion:--


"It held that the boycott is illegal; that the victim of the
boycott has the right to go into court of equity for protection by
injunction; that such court has the right to enjoin any and every
act done in enforcing the boycott, including the sending out of
boycott notices, circulars, etc., that the alleged constitutional
right of free speech and free press affords the boycotter no
immunity for such publication; that for a violation of the
injunction the party violating it is liable to be punished both
civilly and criminally."


Against this law and the use of injunctions in labor disputes the
Federation of Labor has introduced a bill through Congressman W. B.
Wilson, which aims to free the unions from these legal obstacles by
enacting that no right to continue the relation of employer to employee
or to carry on business shall be construed as property or a property
right; and that no agreement between two or more persons concerning
conditions of employment or its termination shall constitute a
conspiracy or an offense against the law unless it would be unlawful if
done by a single individual, and that, therefore, such an act is not
subject to injunctions. While neither of the great parties has
definitely promised to support this particular measure, one party has
made a vague promise to restrict injunctions, and the leaders of the
progressive wings of both are quite definite about it. Nearly half of
the House of Representatives voted for the repeal of the Sherman law as
applied against union boycotts. Senator La Follette has demanded the
abolition of this species of injunction, and Governor Woodrow Wilson has
accused our federal courts of "elaborating a theory of conspiracy
destined to bring 'the sympathetic strike' and what is termed 'the
secondary boycott' under legal condemnation."

Such reforms are not as radical as might appear to Americans, for the
boycott is legal in Germany, while the crime of "conspiracy" was
repealed in Great Britain in 1875, and the rights of strikers were
further protected in that country by the repeal of the Taff Vale
decision against picketing a few years ago, and yet unions are in no
very strong position there. And weak as they are, the talk of compulsory
arbitration is growing, and it seems only question of time until some
modification of it is adopted. And, though the abuse of injunctions and
the other forms of anti-union laws and decisions now prevailing will
probably be done away with in this country, there is little doubt that
here also employers will use some great coal or railroad strike as a
pretext for enacting a compulsory arbitration law.[73]

Similarly, as governments continue to take on new industrial functions,
great importance is attached to the right of government employees, now
denied, to organize and to join unions. Senator La Follette and other
progressives also champion this right against President Taft, and will
doubtless win their fight, but, as I shall show later a right to
organize does not mean a right to strike--and there seems no probability
that any government will fail to answer the effort to strike on any
very large scale either by punishment for conspiracy against the State
or by excluding the strikers permanently from government employment.
They will doubtless be offered, as in France, instead of the right to
strike, the right to submit their grievances as a body, if they wish it,
to some government board (see Part III, Chapter VI).

The Australasian labor leaders were the first and are still the chief
advocates of compulsory arbitration among the unionists, and if they
find it used against them they have nobody but themselves to blame. That
Labor is disappointed in the result in those countries is shown by the
fact that of late years, both in Australia and New Zealand, the most
important strikes have been settled outside of the compulsory
arbitration acts, and Mr. Clark states that he is unaware of any
important exception.

But that the workers in Australia still hope to use this legislation for
their purposes is shown by the referendum of 1911, by which they sought
to nationalize the State laws on the subject. At the time of the
railroad strike in Victoria, Australia, in 1903, a law was passed which
imposed a penalty of "twelve months' imprisonment or a fine of one
hundred pounds" for engaging in a strike on government railways, and
made a man liable to arrest without warrant or bail "for advising a
strike orally or by publication, or for attending any meetings of more
than six persons for the purpose of encouraging strikers." Even then the
limit had not been reached. In 1909 the Parliament of New South Wales
passed an act especially directed against strikes in any industry which
produced "the necessary commodities of life [these being defined as
coal, gas, water, and food] the privation of which may tend to endanger
human life or cause serious bodily injury," and the penalty of twelve
months' imprisonment of the Victorian law was extended to all this vast
group of industries also. The law of New South Wales was most stringent,
providing that any one taking part in a strike meeting under these
circumstances is also liable to twelve months' imprisonment, and that
the police may break into the headquarters of any union and seize any
documents "which they reasonably suspect to relate to any walk-out or
strike." Under this law the well-known labor leader, Peter Bowling, was
sentenced to one year of imprisonment.

The unions violently denounced this enactment, but chiefly as they had
denounced previous legislation, on the ground that it permitted
_unorganized_ workmen to apply for relief under the law. That is to say,
while the employers were using the law to make striking a crime, they
were extending such benefits as it produced to the nonunion workers who
can often be used as tools for their purposes. But the astounding hold
that "State Socialism" has on the Australian masses, especially on the
working people, is shown by the steadfast belief that this measure can
be amended so as to operate to their interest. Bowling and his unions
made a serious agitation for the general strike against the coercive
measure just mentioned, but it was only by a tie vote that the New South
Wales Labour Congress even favored protest in the form of cancelling the
agreement which the unions had made under the Industrial Disputes Acts,
while in the next elections New South Wales returned a majority of labor
representatives opposing Bowling's policy of radical protest. That is,
the majority of the working people still express confidence in the
possibilities of compulsory arbitration, and even want to extend it.

Professor Le Rossignol of the United States and Mr. William D. Stewart
of New Zealand have undertaken a careful and elaborate investigation of
compulsory arbitration in New Zealand.[74] A reference to a few of their
quotations from original documents will show the nature and
possibilities of this coercive measure as it has developed in the
country of its origin. The original law in New Zealand was introduced by
the Honorable William Pember Reeves, the Minister of Labor, in 1894, and
was supported by the labor leaders. Mr. Reeves says: "What the act was
primarily passed to do was to put an end to the larger and more
dangerous class of strikes and lockouts. The second object of the act's
framer was to set up tribunals to regulate the conditions of labor."

"Mr. Reeves' chief idea," say our authors, "was to prevent strikes, and
a great deal more was said in Parliament about industrial peace than
about the improvement in the conditions of labor which the act was to
bring about. But there can be little doubt that the unionists, without
whose help the act could not have been passed, thought more of the
latter than of the former result, and looked upon the act as an
important part of the new legislation for the benefit of the working
class." Here is the contrast that we must always keep in mind. _The
purpose of the unionists is to see if they cannot obtain improvements in
their conditions; the purpose of the employers and also of "the public"
is to prevent strikes._ One of the most able students of the situation,
Mr. MacGregor, has shown that since the passing of the law the latter
purpose has been thoroughly accomplished, since it has been used not
only as was originally intended, to settle labor disputes which become
so serious as to threaten to "arrest the processes of industry," but
that it has practically built up a "system of governmental regulation of
wages and conditions of labor in general." That is to say, the law has
accomplished rather the purposes of the employers than those of the
employees.

In another point of the most fundamental importance the law has become
something radically different from what the labor leaders who first
favored it hoped it would be. The act of 1894 was entitled: "An act to
encourage the formation of industrial unions and associations and to
facilitate the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and
arbitration." By the amendment of 1898 the words, "to encourage the
formation of industrial unions and associations," were left out. Thus
the law ceased to be directly helpful to the very unions which had done
so much to bring it about and are the only means employees possess to
make the law serve them instead of becoming a new weapon for employers.

An early decision of the Arbitration Court in 1896 had declared that
preference should be given to the unionists.



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Keywords: australia, serious, important, liable, injunction, months', states, purposes, decision, latter
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