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The Elevator Constructor
PERRY BUILDING, PHILADELPHIA 16th and Chestnut Streets
FRANK J. SCHNEIDER, Editor
Entered as second-class matter April 8, 1907, at the Post Office at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, under Act of Congress of March 3, 1879.
The plight in which the hatters of Danbury, Connecticut, find themselves arouses the concern and the sympathy of all the workers as well as of all liberty-loving citizens of America. The Danbury hatters have performed a service of historic importance in the struggle for industrial freedom.
Efforts of employers in America to keep their workers in subjection have been particularly heartless and unrelenting. They have used all their power and influence, economic, political and particularly the courts. The legal theory that has enabled the employers through the courts to restrict the industrial freedom of their employes was based upon a concept that labor power was a commodity and that employers possessed rights derived from a kind of ownership of the labor power of their employes and “vested rights” derived from the right to do business. This principle was the basis for flagrant abuse of the injunctive writ and for interpretation
of anti-trust law to apply to voluntary organizations of workers associated for the establishment of better conditions of work and for the maintenance of their personal rights and freedom.
When this abuse of the injunctive process and perversions of trust laws became so frequent and so dangerous as to menace the very existence of organizations of workers, the organized labor movement sought for pending in the courts that could be used as test cases to establish clearly through a decision from the highest court of the land whether there was judicial sanction for this principle which classified labor power as a commodity and which had been used to restrict efforts of workers to better conditions of life and work.
Organized labor could not, of course, begin to institute such cases. We had to wait until the cases were brought against our movement and select those which presented the fundamental principles involved.
Two cases were found illustrative of most flagrant injustice. They were the contempt cases against Messrs. Gompers, Mitchell and Morrison, and the suit that the so-called "Anti-Boycott Association" through D. E. Loewe & Co. brought against the hatters of Danbury, under the provisions of the Sherman Anti-trust Law.
During the early period of the case before the courts, the United Hatters of North America bore all the legal expenses involved. Then the membership of the entire organization throughout the country was involved in a great strike in which every available dollar of the organization was expended, and expended with victory resulting. It was during the time when the United Hatters of North America was in financial embarrassment that the American Federation of Labor was appealed to, and the A. F. of L. then assumed the financial obligation of meeting every expense of the case before the courts, involving the amount of $98,756.02.
Twice the case was before the Supreme Court of the United States: In 1908, on a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court held that Sections 1, 3 and 7, of the Sherman Anti-trust Act, were applicable to the case and to all organizations of wage-earners organized not for profit, but for the securement of higher wages, a shorter workday and better working conditions, that is, for human welfare; and again when the case came before the court upon the appeal from the decision of the Federal District Court, on January 5, 1915, when the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a final decision upon this case which had been pending in the federal courts for more than eleven years.
That decision reaffirmed the legal fiction that human beings, wageearners, could be legally classified in the same category with commodities, control over which was to be regulated by the Sherman Anti-trust Act. Under this decision, the Sherman Anti-trust law, which was intended for the protection of the citizens of the United States, could be utilized as an instrumentality for depriving them of their rights as free men and women and for denying them control over their own labor power, a control inseparable from their personalities and from their living bodies. Should such a decision prevail, they could
not maintain their freedom as workers or as citizens.
However, in the course of this case, legal opinions were given which established clearly the judicial attitude toward organizations of workers and the legal rights of workers. These decisions established the basis necessary for demanding and securing remedial legislation, which should remove human beings from the purview of trust laws and for changes in injunction procedure, so as to insure to the workers their rights as free men and women and to differentiate clearly between human rights and rights derived from the ownership of property.
Before the final decision of the Supreme Court was handed down in the hatters' case, there was enacted into law the labor provisions of the Clayton Anti-trust Act, which declare
That the labor power of a human being is not a commodity or article of
In addition to declaring formally the difference between labor power and articles and commodities to which trust laws properly apply, the Clayton Act limits and regulates the uses of injunctions and forbids their use for purposes against which the workers had so long and so justly complained. Thus the hatters' case has been of incalculable service to all of the wageearners of the country, establishing their rights and securing opportunities necessary for their protection and the continued betterment of industrial relations.
But as a result of the last decision of the Supreme Court, many of the hatters of Danbury, Connecticut, find themselves in dire distress, for, in addition to deciding the principle against which they contended, the court also reaffirmed the award of damages against them. The award was for three-fold damages and interest accruing on that amount and costs, amounting in all to something over $300,000.
During the early history of the case, the bank deposits and the
homes of these members of the Danbury Hatters' Union were attached to insure payment of any award that the court might fix. During the more than eleven years that the case had been pending, some of the members of this union have died. The survivors were always and are now under the burden of imminent loss of their little savings and their homes, and suffered in mind and in body, and so have their dear ones and those dependent upon them.
It must be understood also that the suit was brought against members of the Hatters' Union who had reached ripe old ages, ages ranging from 60 to 80 years. They were selected by Loewe simply because they had some little savings, some ownership in their modest homes. Because of their ages and enforced indigent condition, made indigent by the attachment, every device was planned that their condition might be relieved.
It is a matter of common information that the framers of the Sherman Anti-trust Act did not intend that law to apply to the normal activities of wage-workers. This fact augmented the injustice of the decision against the Danbury hatters and the award of three-fold damages and interest thereon. The Danbury hatters were the innocent victims of the government, due either to the fact that the Congress of the United States had not been able to write plainly into law its intentions, or to the fact that the judiciary had misinterpreted the law enacted by Congress. Whether the fault lay with Congress, or with the judiciary, the consequences of the fault ought not to fall upon the Danbury hatters. The contentions of organized labor in this matter were manifestly strengthened by the action of Congress in enacting the labor sections of the Clayton Act. Therefore, the hatters presented to Congress a petition asking for a special appropriation for the payment of this award that thereby the government should assume the consequences of
the mistake, made either by Congress or by the judiciary.
The representatives of the A. F. of L., and of the hatters' organization, and members of the Danbury Hatters' Union appeared before the House Appropriation Committee in behalf of this petition. However, the committee failed to report the appropriation to the House.
The Executive Council of the A. F. L., realizing the awful plight in which these aged Danbury hatters were thus placed, reported these matters to the San Francisco convention. The convention authorized and instructed the Executive Council to send out a notice and an appeal-which is hereby made -to all international and national uni to all local unions, and to State, county and city central bodies urging all members of organized labor to contribute their earnings for the second hour of any shift worked on Thursday, January 27, 1916, to the relief of their fellow-workersthe aged Danbury hatters. That date was selected as particularly appropriate, because it is the birthday of the President of the American Federation of Labor, who has given a lifetime of devotion to the cause of labor and humanity.
The Danbury hatters did not falter in that which they did for the benefit of all organized labor and for all of the workers of the country. They did their duty; they made the test and upon them has fallen the consequences of the injustice of the then existing conditions. All other workers participate in the benefits which have grown out of their struggle, and it is but just that they should also If the help to relieve the victims. Danbury hatters or the hatters' organization were left to bear the full weight of the burden, it will mean to them great suffering and great hardship. Every member of organized labor is urged to do his duty in this matter and to bear his share in the common struggle to establish industrial justice.
In order to perform our whole duty
and to manifest our entire appreciation and sympathy with the hatters of Danbury in their plight it is particularly fitting that special meetings. of central bodies and local unions should be held before, upon or approximately near to January 27, 1916, that local unions and central bodies impress upon the members of organized labor their duty to
Contribute the wages of an hour's labor, the second hour of the workday or shift of January 27, 1916.
Men of Labor, give an hour-an hour of your labor-in a most right
SAM'L GOMPERS, Pres.
FRANK MORRISON, Sec. James Duncan, 1st Vice-Pres. James O'Connell, 2d Vice-Pres. D. A. Hayes, 3d Vice-Pres. Jos. F. Valentine, 4th Vice-Pres. John R. Alpine, 5th Vice-Pres. H. B. Perham, 6th Vice-Pres. Frank Duffy, 7th Vice-Pres. William Green, 8th Vice-Pres. John B. Lennon, Treas. Executive Council, American Federation of Labor.
NOTICE TO SECRETARIES OF LOCAL UNIONS
Secretaries of Local Unions affiliated with the International Union of Elevator Constructors are requested to pay this contribution to the Secretary-Treasurer of the International,
who will send total sum collected to Mr. Frank Morrison, Secretary of the American Federation of Labor, who will credit in total to the I. U. E. C. and who in turn will forward same to Mr. Martin Lawlor, Secretary, United Hatters of America, who will use the money for the exclusive purpose of relieving the hatters who were made the victims of the greed and rapacity of the so-called "Anti-Boycott Association" and Loewe, the Danbury hat manufacturer. Mr. Lawlor will publish a complete list of all contributions received and the payments made and to whom paid.
FRANK J. SCHNEIDER, Secretary-Treasurer, I. U. E. C.
HE COULD RUN
An anxious traveler on a street car, with watch in hand, seeing he had only a few minutes in which to catch a train, said to the conductor, "Can't you make any faster time than this?"
"Yes," answered the conductor, "I can, but I have to stay with the car."
NO NOVELTY TO HER Miss Gigglegum (single and mantic "The shower of soot and ashes from Vesuvius must be an aweinspiring sight. Would you not like to witness it?"
Mrs. Pottson Pans (married and prosaic "Oh, I don't know I've seen my husband take down a stovepipe." Judge.
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