Page images

for an advance in wages of 11 per cent., that being the reduction made in their wages one year before; when the cut took place, it appears that a promise was made to the workmen that the old rate would be restored when business conditions became more favorable. The strike terminated successfully in two days, but the shop, which had been closed when it began, was not reopened until one week had elapsed. The wage loss, as reported by the firm, was $1,000.

NOVEMBER 18-A strike of all the union workmen of various trades employed on the annex to Public School No. 1, Weehawken, was ordered by the Hudson County Trades Council, because the painting contractors, Bergman Bros., employed non-union men. The accused firm claimed to have been incorporated recently, and that all the workmen in its employment were stockholders, and therefore under union rules, should be regarded as bosses. The Trades Council demurred to this plea, and at the same time pointed out the fact that even admitting its validity, the union rules provided that only one boss could be employed on a job at any one time.

NOVEMBER 18–Owing, as reported, to a belief among the iron workers employed on the new Prudential Building, Newark, that the contracting firm - Post & McCord, had manifested leanings toward the “open shop,” twentyfive of these workmen went on strike after a conference between the business agent of the local union, and the representatives of the New York organization; the following day about ten men returned to work, and as no definite statement of grievances could be obtained from the others, nonunion workmen were employed in their places. Unsuccessful efforts were made to induce workimen of other trades employed upon the building to join the ironworkers, and the strike practically ended two days after it began, although the men concerned did not return to work. Wage loss for the two days, $210.

NOVEMBER 24-Sixteen employees of the Hudson County Window and House Cleaning Co., at Jersey City, struck for an increase in wages and recognition of a union to which they had attached themselves. Some of their demands having been conceded, the men returned to work one week later. During the strike an effort made by the company to have the work done by women was not successful. Wage loss could not be ascertained.

NOVEMBER 27—Thirteen of the 100 girls employed by the shirtwaist firm of Beerman and Frank, Lawrence street, Newark, quit work in sympathy with the shirtwaist operatives then on strike in New York city, and complained to the police that others desired to leave the factory with them, but were forcibly detained by a member of the firm and some of his assistants. This statement was investigated by a police official and found not to be true. The girls who quit work did so without advancing any reason for the step, and no response was made to a request by the forewoman for a statement of grievances which, she assured them, would receive full and fair consideration. Apparently the girls were influenced by representatives of the shirtwaist makers union of New York city, the members of which were then on strike; the purpose being to establish a branch of their organization among the Beerman & Frank operatives and so prevent the making of goods in Newark for New York manufacturers affected by the strike in that city.

In justification of their course, some of the strikers claimed that prices paid were very low, and that an experienced operator could earn no more than $5 or $6 per week; it was also asserted that earnings were much diminished by fines for violation of petty and annoying rules for regulating the conduct of the girls while in the factory. These statements were denied on behalf of the firm, and the claim was made that operators earned from $9 to $16 per week, that the comfort of the girls was studied in every possible way consistent with maintaining production; coffee was served to them whenever desired, and supper money was furnished whenever the factory was run overtime. A union of the striking operators was formed, but its membership from first to last, so far as this firm was concerned, was limited to fifteen members—the thirteen that inaugurated the strike and two others that joined them subsequently. Within a week after the walk out, some of the strikers requested permission to return to work but were refused, the firm taking the ground that all vacancies being filled, the matter was closed.

NOVEMBER 27–Fifty-six painters residing and working in and about Passaic, demanded the union wage scale of $3.28 per day of eight hours, and quit work on being notified of the employers' refusal to pay the same. Painters wages in this district up to the time the demand was made, had ranged from $2.25 to $2.75 per day. Eighteen employers were affected by the strike, and after a delay of one day, three of these had agreed to the demand of their men.

Inside of one week, all had made the same concession and the strike was ended. Estimated wage loss, $140.

NOVEMBER 29—Twenty peach basket "nailers,” employed in the Hoffman factory at Califon, quit work because of a new regulation requiring that nine additional nails be driven in each basket without allowing any addition to price therefor. The strikers demanded an increase of five cents per hundred baskets for this extra work, claiming that as makers "put up” from 350 to 450 baskets per day, they will, under the new regulations, have to drive about 4,000 nails in addition to what they were required to do before. The strikers returned to work on December 2 at the old rates. Wage loss about $120.

DECEMBER 2—Thirty teamsters employed by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, at Jersey City, went on strike because the superintendent had discharged three of their number. Drivers from New York were employed to take their places, and these, on their first appearance next day, were attacked by the strikers and a large number of their sympathizers. The disturbance was promptly quelled by the police, and arbitration of the matter in dispute following, the discharged men were re-employed and the strikers returned to work. Wage loss, $65.

DECEMBER 2—Eighty-nine operatives of the Duplin Silk Co.'s mill at West New York, demanded an increase of 10 per cent. in piece prices and went out on strike because the same was refused. The strike, which lasted thirteen days, ended on December 15th, with the return of all who went out, under the old conditions. The wage loss was, as reported, $1,825.

DECEMBER 9–One hundred and fifty Italian laborers employed on the new sewer system of Bordentown, went on strike to enforce a demand they had made on the contractors for an increase of twenty cents per day in wages. They had been receiving $1.40, and asked for $1.60 per day. There was some incidental disorder which threatened to develop into a riot, and the leader of the strikers, who attacked the foreman with a razor, was arrested and held for the Grand Jury. A few hours later the strike was abandoned, and work resumed on the old terms.

DECEMBER 13—Two hundred operatives employed in the Givernaud Bros. silk mill at Hackensack, refused to submit to a reduction of 10 per cent., in the wage of weavers and quit work in a body on being assured of the firm's intention to enforce the same. The strikers, headed by a brass band, left the mill and marched to a local hall, where an agreement was reached not to return until the old wage scale was restored. The weavers had been earning from $11 to $12 per week, which, under the new scale would be reduced to $9.90 and $10.80. About thirty-five men were directly affected by the reduction, the others having gone out in sympathy with them. The strike from start to finish was without one incident of disorder on the part of the men or their sympathizers, and for that reason, together with a firm belief in the justice of their cause, the strikers from first to last enjoyed the cordial good will of the people of Hackensack. Through the efforts of the Men's Club of the Unitarian Church, supported by many influential residents of the city, an agreement was reached to submit all questions involved in the struggle between the firm and its employees, to a board of arbitration consisting of five disinterested persons—two selected by the firm, two by the strikers, and the fifth chosen by these four. Both sides had agreed to abide strictly by the decision of the board, which when rendered, was found to be a compromise under the terms of which neither side could claim a victory. One of the conditions of settlement insisted upon by the firm, and to which the strikers were at last forced to submit, was that the leader of the movement, Salvatore Gerafino, should not be re-employed. The decision of the arbitration board was, apparently, acquiesced in by both sides, and on February Ist the mill was re-opened, only however, to be closed down again by order of the firm, because, it was claimed, of a misunderstanding of that part of the terms of settlement relating to the re-employment of all the men who had gone out. The general opinion in the town of Hackensack was that the company, because of unfavorable conditions in the silk trade at that time, did not wish to re-open the mill, but would prefer continuing the strike, to having to declare shutdown, as in the former case, operatives would be more likely to remain in the vicinity of the mill hopeful of a speedy settlement and return to work, while a shutdown for an indefinite time would almost certainly bring about an exodus from the place in search of employment elsewhere. This, however, was an assumption susceptible of neither proof nor disproof; the actual facts were that the mill was re-opened and that the firm had modified its attitude toward the demands of the strikers, in order to bring about a resumption of work. On their return many were informed by the superintendent that there was no work for them just then, and because all were not taken back at once the men again walked out in a body, claiming that the terms of settlement had been violated.

During the long winter months covered by the strike, much good work was done by the charitable people of Hackensack for the strikers and their families, but after the second walk out, many who had secured employment elsewhere left the town. A gradual resumption of work took place at the mill, and about March ist the strike had died out. The wage loss—as nearly as could be ascertained, was approximately $25,000.

DECEMBER 21—About one hundred carpenters residing and working in the Shark River district, comprising Belmar, Spring Lake and Sea Girt, quit work because a demand they had made for an increase of fifty cents per day in wages had been refused. The rate previously paid was $3, which would be raised to $3.50 by the increase demanded. Five days later several employers yielded, and within ten days all had agreed to the new wage scale. Wage loss estimated on the basis of $3 per day, $1,400.

DECEMBER 27—Four hundred union bricklayers, masons, plasterers and helpers, quit work on the Prudential Company's new building, Newark, because the general contractors-Hedden Construction Company, had sub-let the plastering under contract to the Klee-Thompson Company, of New York; this practice being unqualifiedly condemned by a rule of the union, the strike followed as a matter of course. After many conferences between a committee representing the three local unions whose members were involved in the strike, the Hedden Construction Company cancelled the contract under which the plastering of the new building 'had been sub-let to the New York firm. The strike was, however, further prolonged by a demand for "waiting time” wages, or in other words, pay for the time lost in the strike. The construction company would not agree to this when first proposed, but on January 13th, an arrangement was made under which all the strikers returned to work, and the question of allowance for "waiting time” was referred to a disinterested board of arbitration composed of three men selected by the company, three by the unions, and one by agreement of these six. The wage loss involved unaffected by any award on account of "waiting time" that may have been made by the arbitrators, was approximately $20,000.

DECEMBER 30—Seventy broad silk weavers employed by the Stehli Silk Company, of Paterson, went on strike to force a change in mill regulations under which they were frequently fined for faulty work, caused, as they claimed, not by carelessness on their part, but by defective material supplied to them by the firm. The strikers also demanded recognition by the firm of a union which they had just formed.

In the course of the strike, one man was arrested and sentenced to fifty days imprisonment for assaulting a mill employee who had refused to quit work when the weavers went out. The strike continued to nearly the end of March, and was finally settled by a compromise which provided for an allowance for imperfect material and a slight increase in prices per yard. The strike was formally declared off on March 25, although most of the operatives had returned at an earlier date. Wage loss, approximately $9,000.

JANUARY 3—Two hundred weavers and other employees of the Paragon Silk Works at Paterson, quit work because of dissatisfaction with prices paid for their work; a demand made for an increase of five and one-half cents per yard for weaving was refused by the firm, whereupon a strike was declared that practically closed the mill for one week. Work was resumed under a compromise agreement which, on the part of the company, conceded the largest part of the increase demanded. The wage loss is estimated to have been $2,000.

JANUARY 14-Fourteen kilnmen employed in the Jones Bros. pottery, Trenton, went on strike because of a change in the process of dipping and placing glass ware, claiming that the same was not sanctioned by the laws of the union. On January 19, all returned to work on advice of the first vice-president of the National Brotherhood of Operative Potters, having been idle five days. The wage loss is reported at $100. No change was made in the process to which the kilnmen took exception, but working time was reduced five minutes per day.

JANUARY 15—One hundred male and ten female operatives employed in the clothing factory of Sigmund Eisner at Red Bank, quit work without assigning any reason for their action. Several men had been laid off temporarily, on account of work being slack in the departments in which they were employed; these induced others to join them and efforts were made to close the factory by forcibly preventing the employees from going to work. The striking operatives were practically Italians, and fearing an attempt by them to forcibly enter the works for the purpose of interfering with employees, twenty special watchmen were employed by the proprietor for duty about the factory, and the protection of female employees to and from their homes. Men brought from New York city had to be guarded in transit from the Red Bank station to the factory, and from time to time police protection was required to prevent assaults on the new operatives by strikers, several of whom were arrested and held in bonds.

The strike failed, as those who went out were replaced by non-union operatives brought from outside places. The wage loss for the time between the discontinuance and the full resumption of work in the factory toward the end of April, was $16,800.

JANUARY 19—As a result of an agreement for the equalization of wages between three large shoe manufacturing firms in Newark, viz.: The James A. Bannister Co.; Boyden Shoe Co., and the Johnson & Murphy Co., the lasters employed by the first named concern quit work because of a reduction of two cents on each of a certain grade of shoe. The Bannister Company had been paying two and one-half cents per pair more for these goods than was allowed in the other factories, an inequality which, for business reasons, it seemed desirable to remove. Nine lasters of the Bannister Company refused to accept the reduction, and the lasting department in that and the other establishments named above, were closed down pending a satisfactory adjustment of the question of lasters' prices. The suspension of work in the three plants—for it was not a strike in the general acceptation of the term, continued four days, and besides the nine men directly concerned, nearly 300 employees of other departments were necessarily idle because of the cessation of work in the lasting departments of the three establishments.

« EelmineJätka »