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The membership of the National Metal Trades Association embraces at the present time over 320 corporations and firms, employing any of the following classes of mechanics : Machinists, blacksmiths, boilermakers, pattern makers and other metal working craftsmen, not including molders, who are under the jurisdiction of the National Founders' Association.
Local organizations of similar interest in the metal manufacturing world have been formed from time to time, principally under the stimulus of the machinists' strike, beginning May 20, 1901. These locals gradually gained in strength by confederation with new concerns. After the institution of the national organization, the larger establishments generally affiliated with it, while the smaller ones usually joined the local group. At present, however, the tendency to the direct joining of the national organization is becoming more and more pronounced among these smaller unions. Sixteen new members of the national body have joined from Massachusetts since the middle of September, 1903, and the State is represented in the administrative council by Mr. M. H. Barker, of the American Tool and Machine Company of Hyde Park.
The National Metal Trades Association is the wealthiest organization and its defense fund the largest in the world. The membership of the national organization is augmenting rapidly, the records of the annual meeting held April 1, 1903, showing an increase in membership of 52 per cent during the preceding fiscal year, while the subsequent gain to September 1 was 48 per cent. The association is officered by a president, first and second vice-presidents, secretary, treasurer, commissioner, and deputy commissioner, and has in addition a board of councillors, consisting of eight active members and one honorary member, the latter, from his early connection with movements along these lines, being called the father of trades associations.*
The commissioner, under the authority of the councillors, has charge of the business affairs of the Association, and solicitors or traveling agents are employed, whose business it is to explain the system of the Association, encourage the establishment of local employers' unions, and distribute the literature of the Association.
The Association, among its other publications, issues once a month a bulletin containing strike reports and papers bearing upon the labor situation. In the pamphlet containing its constitution and by-laws is a declaration of the principles of the Association, which are as follows:
We, the Members of the National Metal Trades Association, declare the following to be our principles, which shall govern us in our relations with our employees:
1. Since we, as employers, are responsible for the work turned out by our workmen, we must, therefore, have full discretion to designate the men we consider competent to perform the work and to determine the conditions under which that work shall be prosecuted, the question of the competency of the men being determined solely by us. While disavowing any intention to interfere with the proper functions of labor organizations, we will not admit of any interference with the management of our business.
* The National Metal Trades Association: What It Is, pp. 2 and 3.
2. Disapproving absolutely of strikes and lockouts, the members of this Association will not arbitrate any question with men on strike. Neither will this Association countenance a lockout on any arbitrable question unless arbitration has failed.
3. Employment. - No discrimination will be made against any man because of his membership in any society or organization. Every workman who elects to work in a shop will be required to work peaceably and harmoniously with all his fellow-employees.
4. Apprentices, Helpers, and Handymen. — The number of apprentices, helpers, and handymen to be employed will be determined solely by the employer.
5. Methods and Wages. — Employers shall be free to employ their work-people at wages mutually satisfactory. We will not permit employees to place any restriction on the management, methods, or production of our shops, and will require a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.
Employees will be paid by the hourly rate, by premium system, piece work, or contract, as the employers may elect.
6. It is the privilege of the employee to leave our employ whenever he sees fit and it is the privilege of the employer to discharge any workman when he sees fit.
7. The above principles being absolutely essential to the successful conduct of our business, they are not subject to arbitration.
In case of disagreement concerning matters not covered by the foregoing declaration, we advise our members to meet their employees, either individually or collectively, and endeavor to adjust the difficulty on a fair and equitable basis. In case of inability to reach a satisfactory adjustment, we advise that they submit the question to arbitration by a board composed of six persons, three to be chosen by the employer and three to be chosen by the employee or employees. In order to receive the benefits of arbitration, the employee or employees must continue in the service and under the orders of the employer pending a decision.
In case any member refuse to comply with this recommendation he shall be denied the support of this Association unless it shall approve the action of said member.
8. Hours and Wages. - Hours and wages, being governed by local conditions, shall be arranged by local Associations in each district.
In the operation of piece work, premium plan, or contract system now in force or to be extended or established in the future, this Association will not countenance any conditions of wages which are not just, or which will not allow a workman of average efficiency to earn at least a fair wage.
The November (1903) number of the Association's Bulletin contains upon the inside of the back cover a full statement of the position of the Association upon the labor question, as follows:
1. We recognize that the interests of both employer and employee should be properly protected, and that these interests must at all times rest on the fact that employer and employee are equally interested in the results of the work in which they are engaged.
2. We recognize that any restriction of the enterprise of the employer or the energy of the employees, resulting in the depreciation of the quality or quantity of product, is detrimental to the mutual interests of both.
3. We recognize the justice of the recommendation made by the Coal Strike Commission appointed by President Roosevelt, “That no person shall be refused employment, or in any way discriminated against, on account of membership or non-membership in any labor organization; and that there shall be no discrimination against, or interference with, any employee who is not a member of any labor organization by members of such organization."
4. We recognize that there should be no restriction to the opportunities that may be offered to deserving boys to acquire a trade, and that employers and employees should join in their efforts to instruct such apprentices, provided they be employed under written contracts for a specific time of service.
5. We recognize that sympathetic strikes, lockouts, and boycotts are relics of barbarism, because they result in no permanent benefit to either side of the contest, and inflict unjust and unfair injury on the public, who depend on our joint efforts for their comfort and welfare.
6. We recognize that as the realization of mutual benefits, represented in profits and earnings from our joint labors, depends largely on the employer finding a suitable market for the product, he can best determine the methods of work, the selection of employees, and the character of work to be performed by each.
Recognizing these national principles, we agree that, should any other cause of difference arise between us and our workmen, which can not be settled by conference with each other, such matter shall be submitted to a Board of Arbitration composed of an equal number of such representatives as each may select, whose decision shall be binding on both, and pending said arbitration there shall be no strike or lockout.
For convenience of organization, the Association bas divided the territory embraced within the limits of the United States and Canada as follows:
1. Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and 1 8. Southern Ohio. Massachusetts east of Worcester County.
9. Northern Ohio. 2. Vermont, Western Massachusetts, and Con. 10. Michigan. necticut.
11. State of Indiana. 3. New York City and New Jersey north of and 12. Chicago and suburbs (25 miles radius). including Trenton.
13. Illinois (exclusive of Chicago), Missouri, and 4. New York State,exclusive of Greater New York: Iowa.
5. Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, 14. Wisconsin. Maryland, and Delaware.
15. Minnesota. 6. Erie, Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania, 16. All Southern States. and West Virginia.
17. Canada. 7. Cincinnati and suburbs (25 miles radius).
The National Metal Trades Association covers territory as far west as the Missouri River; but there is a Metal Trades Association on the Pacific Coast not affiliated, embracing practically all machinery manufacturers on that coast.
Among the earliest locals formed was the Cincinnati Metal Trades Association. This Association has continually developed new fields of work, one of the leading features being the establishment, about two years ago, of a free employment bureau for the purpose of recording names and qualifications of workingmen connected with the branches of industry represented by the association, furnishing them with situations when practicable, and supplying applications for help of manufacturers belonging to the association. It has been operated very successfully since its inception.
The idea has been taken up in other localities, among them Worcester, Massachusetts, where about nine months ago a Metal Trades Association was formed, with Mr. Charles E. Hildreth as secretary, and a labor bureau established, which was opened for business June 28, 1903. Mr. Herman S. Hastings is the secretary of the bureau, with an office at 44 Front Street.
At the beginning of the year 1903, a body of manufacturers, known as The Boston Metal Trades Association, was organized in Boston, and on January 28 a constitution was adopted. Mr. E. P. Robinson, of 70 Border Street, East Boston, was elected secretary.
Article 2, section 1, of the constitution gives as the objects of this Association (1) to secure a social relation between its members; (2) the discussion and consideration of, and co-operation on, any questions affecting their interests. Article 3, section 1, provides that the members of this Association shall be persons, firms, or corporations engaged as principals, owning or controlling plants in which are employed pattern makers, machinists, boilermakers, iron shipbuilders, blacksmiths, and members of kindred trades (other than molders) handling iron, steel, brass, or other metals.
The constitution provides for the usual officers and for carrying out the affairs of the Association.
At present there are 65 firms embraced in the membership of The Boston Metal Trades Association, including two foundry establishments located in Connecticut, and one or two in Rhode Island. The completion of the organization of the metal trades in the latter State, however, will probably absorb the industries situated there. The Boston organization embraces subscribers in New England only. It acts in some matters in conjunction with the National Metal Trades Association, but otherwise is not identified with the latter. It is emphasized by subscribers to this organization that it is not a movement in opposition to trades unions, but that it aims to establish “ the principle of fair dealing between employers and employees, and to protect both in their individual rights as guaranteed by the laws of the land.”
A free Labor Bureau has been established under the patronage of the Boston Association, which acts upon the fundamental principle of the organization as established throughout the country, that “the labor bureaus shall be conducted in a broad and impartial manner, and shall be neutral ground where the workmen may express their complaints and present any difficulties in which they have been involved with employer or other employees, and the employers shall recognize the right of the labor bureau to investigate the complaint;" also that it is the aim of the labor bureau to assist in providing employers with satisfactory workmen, and the workmen with satisfactory employment.”
The Bureau is managed by a committee appointed by the Association for that purpose, and the details are supervised by a paid secretary who carries on the work under their direction. The secretary is Mr. Frank A. Wilson, who has an office at 34 Merchants Row, Boston, where all the business is transacted.
In establishing this Bureau it is provided that the secretary in charge shall be located in a “ central office separate from the plant of any member.” The management of the Bureau provides that the secretary shall keep a record of workmen employed and unemployed; shall secure, when possible, workmen for members requiring same; shall secure employment, when possible, for workmen applying for positions ; shall act as a disinterested intermediary between employer and employee, and endeavor to correct abuses wherever found; that he shall work in harmony with the commissioner of the National Metal Trades Association, and with the chairman of the district of the National Metal Trades Association in which the office is located. He shall assist workmen desiring to move to another part of the country to find employment, and he shall assist dissatisfied workmen to secure satisfactory employment. He shall keep a full record of workmen regarding their character, performance, and ability, but shall not attempt to prevent any workman from securing
employment. It is the duty of the secretary also to furnish, at the request of secretaries of other bureaus, information from the office records. The articles of organization of the Bureau provide that members shall make a statement, to the secretary, of every workman in their employ in the trades included by the association to which they belong, covering name and other desirable information obtainable. It is also provided that members shall make reports to the secretary covering the following: 1. Name, address, and other desirable information of workmen entering employment. 2. Name, address, and other desirable information of workmen leaving employment, and rate of wages paid. These reports are to be sent to the secretary on the day men enter or leave employment, if possible ; and if not, they are to be sent on the next business day. 3. Help wanted, with information to enable the secretary to select suitable applicants from his list of unemployed. There shall be no agreement to exclude any workman from employment. The Association may extend the services of the Bureau to members of other associations of employers. The maintenance of this Bureau is provided for by dues fixed in proportion to the number of operatives employed in an establishment, or in proportion to the payrolls of the same, the amount to be determined by the committee; and all subscribers to the Bureau covenant and agree to abide by its rules and regulations as now printed, and to such other rules as may from time to time be made.
The Bureau contemplates issuing a weekly bulletin of the registered unemployed, giving details regarding trades, including a list of situations open and workmen desiring situations ; this bulletin will be sent to all subscribers, and will mention exceptional qualifications in particularly efficient men, but will not give names.
In operating the Bureau, blanks are sent to all subscribers, upon which are entered the name, residence, approximate age, nationality, trade specialty, and approximate years of experience of all their employees.
One set of cards, of the card system adopted, gives all the information received from the blanks and in addition furnishes the same information regarding workmen who may apply at the Bureau for registration, and whose records have been investigated. The cards also contain information as to whether the applicant is married or single ; the number of years served in apprenticeship, and with whom ; the date of certificate of apprenticeship; and, in the case of a regular workman, the total experience at his trade in years. On the back of the card is the name of the firm by whom the workman was last employed ; when he was hired and left the concern ; the cause therefor; and rate of pay.
The Bureau has not taken up the subject of apprenticeship as yet, but will keep full records later on. The record of rates received by workmen from former employers is not taken for the information of persons who may desire the workman's services, and it is not disclosed.