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There are now in this country at least 3,000,000 and with the efforts made to organize so-called unskilled labor, the number will increase. Temporary checks and setbacks have been constant in the labor movement. They have not prevented it from forging ahead. Local, trade, State and national federations have grown to power, and then been crushed or have gone to pieces because of foolish efforts, corruption, inefficiency, social conditions or other causes. The Knights of St. Crispin, the Knights of Labor and others have exercised power only to be swept away.
Industry in this country is more minutely divided than in any other, and little, individual organizations have grown up within an industry, amalgamated, separated, fought and come together again.
The whole swirl of American life is reflected in the Trades Union.
And yet it has gone on, accomplished much, and now sets itself to still greater tasks.
For all the heartache in it, in spite of the wrangling and jealousies in the ranks, in spite of blunders, the organized labor movement has attained a momentum that is sweeping society on to things that are good for labor, and therefore good for society.
THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR.
"Whereas, a struggle is going on in all the nations of the civilized world between the oppressors and the oppressed of all countries, a struggle between the capitalist and the laborer, which grows in intensity from year to year, and will work disastrous results to the toiling millions if they are not combined for mutual protection and benefit;
"It, therefore, behooves the representatives of the Trade and Labor Unions of America, in convention assembled, to adopt such measures and disseminate such principles among the mechanics and laborers of our country as will permanently unite them to secure the recognition of rights to which they are justly entitled.
"We, therefore, declare ourselves in favor of the formation of a thorough Federation, embracing every Trade and Labor Organization in America, organized under the Trade Union system."
Objects "Section 4. An American Federation of all National and International Trade Unions, to aid and assist each other; to aid and encourage the sale of union label goods, and to secure legislation in the interest of the working
people, and influence public opinion, by peaceful and legal methods, in favor of organized labor."
The character of the American Federation of Labor, which was organized in 1881, though not named "A. F. of L." until five years afterwards, was influenced to no' small extent by the character of its predecessor-the Knights of Labor. This organization, which reached its zenith in 1886, came to grief largely because of its combining in the local assemblies laborers of all varieties and many employers and non-wage-earners; its dual organizations of labor assemblies and trade assemblies; its over centralization; its frequent participation in sympathetic strikes and its peculiar political ventures.
The A. F. of L. desired to avoid these pits. It therefore sought to preserve the distinctive character of each trade, kept out, at least at first, of politics; eliminated the dual organization and organized a loose federation of trades, in which the component parts have complete liberty of action.
The A. F. of L. is in reality a federation. Local unions are generally affiliated with it through the nationals. At the end of 1915 it contained 110 national and international unions, 44 state federations, 673 city central bodies, 489 local trade and federal labor unions, 21,887 local unions, 5 department and 389 local department councils. Its membership was reported as 1,946,347. The number of organizers employed during 1915 was 1,754.
The real factors in the conduct of the Federation are the conventions, called annually on the second Monday of November-between election and the opening of congress. National and international organizations are represented therein by one delegate for approximately every 4,000 members.
The officers of the Federation are a president, eight vice presidents, a secretary and a treasurer, each elected the last day of the convention. All elected officers must be members of unions connected with the Federation. The responsible administrative work rests with the Executive Council, composed of the eleven officers. The council watches legislative measures, initiates legislation, schedules speakers and performs many necessary administrative tasks.
National and international unions must pay to the Federation two-thirds of one cent per member per month; local trade unions and federal trade unions, ten cents, five cents of which must be set aside for strikes, etc. State and Central bodies pay $10 per year. All national unions are supposed to instruct their locals to join the Central labor bodies and
state organizations in their vicinities. Seven wage workers of good character favorable to trade unionism, whose trade is not organized and who are not members of any body affiliated with the Federation, may form a local body to be known as a "Federal Labor Union."
The State Federations look after legislation in their respective states and urge more effective organization among the workers. The city councils-meeting generally once a week and composed of representatives from the various locals in their vicinity-look after the general organized labor interests of their respective communities.
The federation also possesses five departments whose objects it is to get various unions to co-operate for mutual advantage—the Union Label, the Building Trades, the Metal Trades, the Railway Employees, and the Mining Departments. Each department, after its establishment, supports itself and manages its own affairs, and has its representative at the meetings of the Executive Council.
The Union Label Department, organized in 1909 for the purpose of inducing unions to have the label placed on their products and unionists to purchase goods bearing the union label, had affiliated with it in 1915, 39 national and international unions. The Bakery & Confectionery Workers were reported to have issued during the year 630,170,000 labels, and the tobacco workers, 446,794,950. The department in its educational campaign, issued 200,000 pieces of literature, scheduled a number of stereopticon lectures, held union label exhibits, etc.
The Building Trades Department, organized in 1908– though an evolution from a similar organization formed in 1903-contains most of the trades engaged in building, and the Metal Trades, those in the metal industries. The Mining Department contains the United Mine Workers, Western Federation of Labor, Brotherhood of Steam Shovel and Dredgemen, Iron, Steel, and Tin workers, and the Machinists.
Although most of the unions connected with the Federation are trade organizations, there are a few industrial unions, including the United Mine Workers, the Brewery Workers, and there is ever more discussion regarding industrial unionism in the ranks of organized labor.
Growth of Membership.
The average paid up and reported membership for 1915 is 1,946,347, a decrease of 74,324 members, the first decrease there has been in the total membership of the organizations affiliated to the American Federation of Labor since 1908. While the average membership for the year shows a decrease of 74,424, the September membership of the year was 1,994,
111 a decrease of only 26,560. National and international organizations are required to pay per capita tax only upon their full paid-up membership, and therefore the 1,946,347 membership reported does not include the members involved in strikes and lockouts, or those who were unemployed during the fiscal year, for whom tax was not received. Forty-three national and international unions of the 110, showed an increase in their average membership over last year of 46,772 members, which is an encouraging growth. Thirtythree organizations showed no increase. Thirty-four organizations showed a decrease of 118,019 members. The directly affiliated local trade and federal labor unions showed a decrease of 3,077 members. The decrease in the membership of the directly affiliated local trade and federal labor unions is confined to the nine local unions that joined international unions and the local unions suspended for non-payment of per capita tax. A number of tne suspended unions will be reinstated during 1916.
The following are the receipts and expenses for the twelve months ending September 30, 1915:
Cash balance on hand Sept. 30, 1915..
In general fund
In defense fund for local and federal labor unions
Cash balance on hand Sept. 30, 1915
On account of amount advanced on office building loan from defense fund
Balance on hand Sept. 30, 1915, including building loan $110,632.39
THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR
Of more than usual interest to the entire country as well as to the world of organized labor was the A. F. of L. Convention of November last. To the outside public, the proposal for a Labor Peace Conference, and the attitude of the delegates on the questions of "preparedness," immigration, Pan-American relations and other questions with an international bent were of the greatest interest. To labor, the heated controversies over legislation for the eight hour day, industrial unionism and the proposal to apply the principles of the referendum and recall to the election of the officers of the A. F. of L., were perhaps, of the most vital importance.
Labor Peace Conference.
A most hopeful decision or rather re-decision, from the standpoint of the internationalist, was the adoption by the convention of the suggestion of the Executive Council to hold a Labor Peace Conference immediately after the cessation of hostilities in order to inject something of the human element in international relations and demand "the democratic control and democratic organization of international agencies and international methods."
"During the previous history of the world," the report of the Council truly states, "international relations have been