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Labor must govern itself through
instructed _delegates_, while such work can be done only by
_representatives_, who must often have the power to act without further
consultation with those who elected them.

[243] George H. Shibley in the _American Federationist_, June, 1910.

[244] Samuel Gompers in the _American Federationist_, 1910.

[245] John Mitchell, "Organized Labor" (Preface).

[246] Eugene V. Debs, _op. cit._

[247] Karl Kautsky in _Die Neue Zeit_, 1909, p. 679.

[248] Karl Kautsky in _Die Neue Zeit_, 1909, p. 680.

[249] Winston Churchill, _op. cit._, pp. 77, 336, 337.

[250] _Die Neue Zeit_, June 11, 1911.

[251] The Weekly Bulletin of the Garment Trades (New York), 1910.

[252] The _Mine Workers' Journal_ (Indianapolis), Aug. 26, 1909, and
April 21, 1910.




CHAPTER V

SYNDICALISM; SOCIALISM THROUGH DIRECT ACTION OF LABOR UNIONS


In America, France, Italy, and England, as well as in Germany (in a
modified form) a new and more radical labor-union policy has been
rapidly gaining the upper hand. This new movement--in its purely
economic, as well as its political, bearings--is of far greater moment
to Socialists than the political tendencies of those unions that
continue to follow the old tactics in their direct relations with
employers.

In America and in England, unfortunately, the name given to this new
movement, "industrial unionism," is somewhat ambiguous. A more correct
term would be "labor" unionism as distinct from "trade" unionism, or
"class unionism" against "sectional unionism." By "industrial unionism"
the promoters of the new movement means that all the employees of a
given industry are to be solidly bound together in a single union
instead of being divided into many separate organizations as so often
happens to-day, and so as to act as a unit against the employer, as, for
example, the steel workers, machinists, longshoremen, structural iron
workers, etc., are all to be united against the Steel Trust. The
essential idea is not any particular form of united action, but united
action. Certainly the united action of all the trades at work under a
single employer or employers' association is of the first importance,
but it is equally important that "industrial" unions so composed should
aid one another, that the united railway organizations, for example,
should be ready to strike with seamen, dockers, etc., as was done in the
recent British strike. An interview with Mr. Vernon Hartshorn, who
recently headed the poll in the election for the executive committee of
the important South Wales Mining Federation, indicates the tendency in
Great Britain at the present moment--when both coal and railway strikes
are threatened on a national scale--not merely towards industrial
unionism, but towards the far more important _union of industrial
unions_, which is really the underlying idea in the minds of most,
though not all, of the propagandists of "industrial unionism."


"I think it a very silly business," exclaimed Mr. Hartshorn
emphatically, "for the workers in different industries to be
proceeding with national movements independently of each other. A
short time ago we had a national stoppage on the railways; that, as
a matter of course, rendered the miners idle. Before that we had
something in the nature of a national stoppage in the case of the
seamen's dispute; that, also, in many districts paralysed the
mining industry and rendered idle the workmen. Now it appears
likely that the miners will be taking part in a national stoppage
which, in turn, will render the railway men and seamen idle.

"The idea is gradually dawning upon all sections of organized labor
that the right thing to do would be for these three unions, through
their executives, to establish a working alliance by means of which
united action should be taken to secure reforms which would result
in the raising of the standard of living of the whole of the
workmen employed in these undertakings. Of course the grievances in
different trades differ considerably in points of detail, but they
all have a common basis in that they relate to wages and conditions
of work. If the three organizations could be got to act together
with a view of establishing a guaranteed minimum wage for all
workmen employed, then not all the forces of the Crown, nor all the
powers of government, could prevent them from emancipating
themselves from their present deplorable position."[253]


It is equally necessary for the unions in order to obtain maximum
results that a special relation should be established between the
members of such trades as are to be found in more than one industry.
Teamsters, stationary engineers, machinists, and blacksmiths, for
example, whether employed by mines, railways, or otherwise, can aid one
another in obvious ways--as by securing positions for blacklisted men
and preventing non-unionists from obtaining employment--by means of a
special "trade" organization or federation that cuts across the various
"industrial" unions or federations. All this, indeed, is provided for in
the plans of the "industrial unionists," in the idea of gradually
reorganizing the present loose Federation of Labor into "a union of
unions," or, as they express it, "One Big Union." This last term also is
not very fortunate, for it is by no means proposed to form one
absolutely centralized organization, like the former Knights of Labor,
but to preserve a considerable measure of autonomy for the constituent
industrial unions. Neither does the new unionism require, as some of its
exponents allege, the abolition of the older _trade_ unions, either
local or national, but only that all unions shall be democratically
organized and open to unskilled labor, and that the general
organization, of which they are all a part, shall be the first
consideration, and the local groupings whether by trade or industry only
secondary.

The principle of the new union policy is exactly the same translated
into terms of economic action, as the principle of revolutionary
Socialism as conceived by Marx, and hitherto applied by Socialists
chiefly on the political field. In the Communist Manifesto Marx says
that the chief thing that distinguishes the Socialists from the other
working-class parties is that the former "always and everywhere
represent the interests of the movement as a whole." So while the older
unions represented the economic struggle of certain more or less
extensive parts of the working class, the industrial unionists aim at a
unionism that represents the whole of the working class, and, since the
ranks of labor are always open, all non-capitalist humanity. A closely
organized federation of all the unions will rely very strongly upon
numbers and embrace a large proportion of unskilled workers. It will,
therefore, be forced to fight the cause of the common man. But this can
only be done by fighting against every form of oppression and
privilege--all of which bear on the men at the bottom.

The industrial policy idea has received its most remarkable indorsement
in the great British railway strike of 1911. Before showing what lay
behind this epoch-making movement, let me refer to the great change in
the British Union world that preceded it.

In 1910 there occurred an unprecedented series of strikes in the four
larges industries of the country, the railroads, shipbuilding, cotton,
and coal-mining--all within a few months of one another, _and all
against the advice of the officials of the unions_. The full and exact
significance of this movement was seen when the hitherto conservative
Trade Union Congress, after a very vigorous debate, decided, on the
motion of Ben Tillett, to take a referendum of the unions on the
question of the "practicability of a confederation of all trades" and on
the "_possibility of terminating all trade agreements on a given date
after each year_."

In the same year a great agitation began, led by the most prominent
advocate of industrial unionism in Great Britain, the Socialist, Tom
Mann, who with John Burns had been one of the organizers of the great
dockers' strike in 1886, and who had returned, in 1910, from many years
of successful agitation in Australia to preach the new unionism in his
home country. That this agitation was one of the causes of the great
seamen's, dockers', and railway strikes that followed is indicated by
the fact that Mr. Mann was at once given the chief position in this
movement.

His first principle is that the unions should include _all_ the workers,
in their respective industries:--


"Skilled workers, in many instances doing but little work, receive
from two to seven or eight pounds a week, whilst the laborer,
having the same responsibilities as regards family and citizenship,
is compelled to accept one third of it or less.

"This must not be. We must not preach social equality and utterly
fail to practice it; and for those receiving the higher pay to try
and satisfy the demands of the lower-paid man for better conditions
by telling him it will be put right under Socialism, is on a par
with the parson pretending to assuage the sufferings of the
poverty-stricken by saying, 'It will be better in the next world.'
It must be put right in _this_ world, and we must see to it _now_."


Unions composed exclusively of skilled workers, as many of the present
ones, operate against the interests of the less skilled--often without
actually intending to do so. Mr. Mitchell, for instance, concedes that
the trade unions bring about "the elimination of men who are below a
certain fixed standard of efficiency." This argument will appeal
strongly to employers and believers in the survival of the fittest
doctrine. But it will scarcely appeal to the numerous unskilled workers
eliminated, or the still more numerous workers whose employment is thus
lessened at every slack season. Mr. Edmond Kelly shows how the principle
acts--"Where there is a minimum wage of $4 a day the workman can no
longer choose to do only $3 worth of work and be paid accordingly, but
he must earn $4 or else cease from work, at least in that particular
trade, locality, or establishment."[254] The result is that the highest
skilled workmen obtain steady employment through the union, while the
less skilled are penalized by underemployment.



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Keywords: political, important, another, organization, economic, organizations, example, unskilled, socialists, stoppage
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