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Labor movements can best be seen from the following Declaration of Principles:
“The constant oppressive economic condition of the worker and the frequent illness which for the most part is a result of the workers' friendlessness and need have called into existence the ‘Workmen's Circle.'
"The mass of the workers realized that through united efforts and through mutual relief, the problem of alleviating and improving their unendurable condition will be made much easier.
"But the Workmen's Circle is convinced that destitution, need and its accompanying disease, are unavoidable occurrences in the present economic scheme of things, and that mutual relief alone could eradicate all the existing evils which are a part of the present social order. Therefore, in order to liberate the worker from his perpetual material and social oppression we must aspire to alter the entire present system.
“And because of this, the Workmen's Circle has automatically be. come a part of the Socialist and trade union movement and puts before itself the aim of helping the working class as a whole, of bettering the condition of the worker, of increasing his wages and of' strengthening his social and political influence.
"Because of this viewpoint every member of the Workmen's Circle is in duty bound to belong to a trade union. If he desires to utilize his political right as a citizen at any election he must vote for the parties that have as their ultimate function, the abolition of private property.'
This Declaration of Principles must be read by the Chairman of the meeting at the initiation of every candidate, and only when the candidate declares himself in sympathy with them, may he be accepted as a member of the Workmen's Circle.
Table showing growth of membership and assets of
634,658.80 The organization is managed by an executive committee of 30, divided into five sub-committees, on Benefits, Education, Grievances, Office, and Sanatorium, each composed of five members. All officers and committeemen are elected by referendum vote of the entire membership. The office of the Workmen's Circle is at 175 East Broadway, New York City.
The officers for the current year are:
Ab. Epstein, President; Sh. Bulgatch, Vice President; Max Perlowitch, Treasurer; Joseph Baskin, Acting Secretary; Meyer London, Legal Adviser.
WORKMEN'S SICK AND DEATH BENEFIT FUND
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
This Society was founded by a few dozen of German Socialists most of whom were practically forced out of their native country by the German Government under the so-called Anti-Socialist Laws and who had emigrated to the United States.
It was organized and commenced its business on October 19, 1884, in New York City, incorporated February 13, 1899, under the Laws of the State of New York and is now licensed to do business by the Insurance Departments of seven other States.
The Society has branches in 28 States and one Territory, Its territory of operation is limited to the United States proper. The number of branches at present is 346 and that of its members 52,500 of which more than one-sixth are
The main object of the Society's operation is the payment of benefits to its members in cases of disability, caused by sickness or injury and to the members' families in cases of death of the members.
The main conditions of admission are: Only workingmen and women are admitted. Examination and recommendation to admission by the society's physician required. Age limit: from 16 to 45 years.
80 For members of the 3rd Class.
Benefits. 1. Sick and Accident Benefits, payable as follows:
(a) To members of the first class $9.00 per week for
40 weeks, and $4.50 per week for another 40
weeks, $540.00, or 80 weeks for whole life. (b) To members of the second class $6.00 for 40
weeks and $3.00 for another 40 weeks, $360.00 or
80 weeks for whole life. Payments of assessments for sick benefit ceases with exhaustion of sick benefit account. 2. Death Benefit of $250.00 uniformly without regard to class,
sex, age at entry or occupation is payable to legally entitled beneficiary or beneficiaries after death of member:
The steady growth in membership, the amounts of benefits paid and funds accumulated from the inception of the Society to the close of the year 1915 is best illustrated by the following table: Table showing status of the Society at the end of years stated
in 5 year periods.
Even though it was founded by Socialists, the Workmen's Sick and Death Benefit Fund can not rightly be called a socialist organization. Still it is of a strong socialist bent of mind and almost all of its individual branches are connected with the labor movement. Their meetings are open for the Socialist propaganda, they contribute liberally towards the strike funds of the big national strikes. Many thousands of dollars have been donated for the assistance of the Socialist press and the socialist propaganda out of their local funds. Many a socialist has been recruited in the meetings of the Branches of the Workmen's Sick and Death Benefit Fund and almost all over, the socialist element is dominating in the administration of this Society.
THE LABOR SECRETARIAT.
By S. JOHN BLOCK. The Labor Secretariat of New York City is a federation of labor unions, organized to protect the legal rights of the unions and of their members and the wives and minor children of the members. For this purpose it employs a lawyer whose services are at the command of the unions and their members and families. The organization is managed by the unions through a board of delegates and a board of directors.
The Labor Secretariat was organized in March, 1901, and it has rendered great and useful service for many labor unions and their members. It was founded upon the principle of co-operation and only through co-operation is it possible for the unions to secure continuous legal protection for themselves and their members.
Cost of membership in the Labor Secretariat is five cents per month or sixty cents per year for every member of each affiliated union. A part of the membership dues is paid to the attorney for his services and the remainder is used to defray disbursements and other necessary expenses, no charge whatsoever being made to the individual who requires the services of the attorney for the Labor Secretariat
The important matters in which labor unions and their members constantly require a lawyer's sevices include the following: Matters pertaining to union organization and agitation; collection of wages and law suits to recover same; defending actions for rent wrongfully claimed by landlords; preparing and enforcing agreements made with employers; defending injunction suits; defending men charged with criminal acts during strikes, such as assault, boycotting, picketing, etc.; registering union labels and prosecuting those who counterfeit such labels; preparing labor bills to be submitted to the legislature; accident cases; preparing notices and other papers in connection with claims under Workmen's Compensation Law, and appearing before State Industrial Commission on behalf of claimants and prosecuting or defending appeals from decisions of said. Commission; and general matters requiring legal service.
It is especially important that the unions protect their members in connection with claims under the Workmen's Compensation Law. In view of the recent amendments to the law, permitting direct settlements of claims by employers and their insurance companies, the unions need an experienced lawyer, in sympathy with labor, to safeguard the interests of their members.
In all cases in which money is collected for, members on claims for wages or for personal injuries under the Workmen's Compensation Law, the member receives the full amount collected, no deduction being made for lawyer's fees or disbursements. In such accident cases as are not covered by the Workmen's Compensation Law the attorney may retain twenty per cent. of the amount recovered, the usual charge of attorneys for such services being from one-third to one-half of the amount recovered.
The Labor Secretariat has, through its attorney, gained many important legal victories for the unions and their members in a variety of cases in which the unions and their members were vitally interested.
The present membership of the Labor Secretariat consists of about forty local unions in the following trades: Carpenters, bricklayers, stationary engineers, butchers, fur workers, diamond workers, bakers, janitors and superintendents of buildings, brewers, beer-wagon drivers, beer bottlers, carriage, wagon and automobile workers, painters, stationary foremen, and others.
One of the most unique and far-reaching criminal prosecutions against organized labor in this country was that undertaken against the leaders of the Intenational Ladies' Garment Workers' Union in 1915.
The prosecution was engineered by a notorious gang of professional strike and law breakers, who had been brought into the industry by a group of unscrupulous employers during a strike in 1913, and who had infested it ever since. Failing to destroy the Union by the usual methods of strike breaking, the resourceful heads of the strike breaking agency devised the expedient of organizing an alleged rival "union. They had the audacity of calling their outfit “International Ladies Garment Workers Union of the World,” thus appropriating the name of the regular organization of workers in the women's garment trade. An injunction was immediately obtained against the use of the misleading name. Checked in this move the leaders of the gang hit upon another and even more desperate plan to destroy the Union. Ву the unlimited use of perjured testimony they fabricated a series of criminal cases against some of the most active officers and members of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. The blow was planned with diabolical cunning. Wholesale charges of heinous crimes against the most responsible leaders of the International would naturally tend to discredit the entire organization; a possible conviction would demoralize its ranks, and a costly defense would drain its treasury.
Accepting the clumsy fabrication of the notorious scab agents and supplementing them with the alleged confessions of one of New York's most notorious gang leaders, the district attorney secured indictments against twenty-four officers and members of the Union, charging them with a variety of serious crimes, from extortion and riot to murder in the first degree.
The charge of murder involved eight defendants: Morris Sigman, then the General Secretary-Treasurer of the International; Saul Metz, Vice-President; Julius Woolf, one of the most active officials of the Cloakmakers' Union; Morris Stupnicker, Abraham Weidiger, Max D. Singer, Isidore Ashpitz and Louis Holzer. It was based upon what was probably an accidental death of a repentant strike breaker back in 1910. The “evidence” was wholly furnished by the ring above referred to, and was so fantastic and contradictory, that it seemed almost incredible that a prosecuting officer would place eight men of unblemished records on trial for their lives on the strength of it. But the District Attorney