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Results of Strikes and Lockouts, 1915.
17 Employees returned, pending arbitration 28
31 Not reported
513 63 Grand total
THE "PROTOCOL” IN THE NEEDLE INDUSTRY.
BY MORRIS HILLQUIT. One of the most interesting recent experiments in the adjustment of labor disputes is that represented by what is generally known as the Protocol System in the garment industry. The system derives its name from the collective agreement made between the Cloak Makers' Union of New York with an association of employers on September 2nd, 1910. The agreement, formally designated "Protocol of Peace,” was adopted at the conclusion of a long and embittered strike. It was drafted with great care and with the aid of several eminent students
of social problems, prominent among whom was Mr. Louis D. Brandeis, now a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. It was a unique instrument in the labor movement of the country. Essentially it was a collective agreement between an association of employers and a union of workers, regulating hours of labor, overtime-work, holidays, week-wages, methods of adjusting piece rates and other shop conditions. The novelty of the arrangements consisted mainly in the attempt to abolish all struggles between the individual employer and his workers and to substitute for them a peaceful method of adjusting disputes. To this end the workers surrendered their right to call shop strikes for any grievance whatsoever, and the Union bound itself to order its members back to work in all cases in which such shop strikes would break out.
In return for this surrender of their most effective weapon, the workers were promised peaceful, fair and speedy adjustments of all their grievances. "To secure such adjustments an elaborate joint machinery was devised, consisting of Chief Clerks with numerous staffs of assistants to investigate and adjust grievances, a Grievance Board, and subsequently a Committee on Immediate Action, to pass upon disputed cases, and finally a Board of Arbitration, acting as the supreme tribunal in the industry and vested with judicial and legislative powers.
It is this joint machinery, which constitutes the distinguishing feature of a Protocol, as the arrangement has come to be generally known.
The “Protocol system" seemed to be well adapted to the peculiarities of the needle industries with their highly seasonal character, their irregular workings and countless daily problems and shop disputes. Within the first few years after its adoption in the New York cloak trade the system spread to a number of kindred trades. Collective agreements generally patterned after the “Peace Protocol” were adopted by associations of employers and unions of the workers in the various branches of the garment trade in the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and other centers of the tailoring industry. At the beginning of 1916, no less than 150,000 workers operated under that system. The majority of these still adhere to the “protocol” arrangement, but the industry responsible for its introduction, the cloak making industry of New York, has practically abandoned it at a recent date.
So long as the strike of 1910 was still fresh in the memory of the employers the Protocol worked comparatively well, but after a time the workers began to chafe under its operations. The process of adjusting grievances became increasingly slow and uncertain.
The workers began to feel that the Protocol had tied their hands and paralyzed their action and had given them little in return. Countless disputes ensued over the interpretations of certain provisions of the Protocol and several attempts were made to amend the instrument. An acute crisis was reached in the summer of 1915, when the Manufacturers' Association abrogated the Protocol and the Union made active preparations for a general strike. The threatened strike was however for the time being averted by the interposition of Mayor Mitchell, of New York, who, with the consent of both sides, appointed a “Council of Conciliation" charged with the task of composing the differences between the parties. The Council, consisting of Dr. Felix Adler, Mr. Louis D. Brandeis, Prof. George W. Kirchwey, Judge Walter C. Noyes, City Chamberlain Henry Bruere and Charles L. Bernheimer, Chairman of the Board of Arbitration of the
New York Chamber of Commerce, made a thorough investigation of the problems confronting the industry, and after twenty-three sessions, drafted an instrument in the shape of an amended protocol, which both parties accepted. But the new agreement failed to allay the irritation in both camps, and the long-deferred fight in the industry broke out violently in the shape of a combined lock-out and strike in April, 1916.
The strike lasted fourteen weeks, and resulted in a general increase of wages, a reduction of hours, and the adoption of an agreement on entirely new lines.
The principal distinction between the present agreement and its predecessors consists in the machinery for the adjustment of grievances. The former joint organs for the settlement of complaints, such as Chief Clerks, Committee on Immediate Action and Board of Arbitration or Council of Conciliation, are abolished. The present procedure is very simple. All complaints of the workers are investigated by the Union itself. If substantiated on such investigation they are presented to the Association, which has twenty-four hours within which to remedy the grievance. If the action of the Association is satisfactory to the Union, that settles the controversy; if not, the Union is free to secure redress by its own methods—it is free to call shop strikes, whenever and wherever such strikes seem to it justified and expedient. The special feature of the “Protocol” arrangement is thus eliminated, and the ordinary collective trade agreement between a labor union and an employers' association is adopted. The Union is deprived of the “industrial court” as an instru-. ment for righting the complaints of its members, but on the other hand it is freed from the tutelage of the employers, and has had restored to it the most potent weapon of trade unionism, which has been withheld from it for six years—the right to strike in order to redress grievances.
It would be idle to speculate whether the “Protocol" arrangement with its elaborate machinery is superior or inferior to the system of the simple trade agreement. Such questions cannot be answered in the abstract, but depend upon the special circumstances and conditions of each case. The “Protocol” was probably a very suitable instrument for the cloak industry of New York in 1910, when the Union was new and untrained. To-day the Union no longer requires the artificial stimulant of an elaborate outside machinery.
On the other hand a “Protocol” arrangement may still be very serviceable in industries and places in which our organizations are new and weak or in industries mainly composed of women and subject to frequent changes of the working force. At this time the two extremes are represented
by the agreement of the New York Cloakmakers and the Protocol of the New York Dress and Waist Makers. One accords the utmost freedom of action to employers and workers, the other represents the most elaborate arrangement of joint machinery for peaceful adjustment of difficulties and scientific solution of trade problems. Both are new, both are on trial, and the labor movement will watch their workings with close attention.
HOURS OF LABOR.
tics, Feb., 1916, p. 37.
Workers in many firms in the machine trades have decreased their hours of labor to 8 hours per day without appealing to the legislatures. In most cases a reduction of seven hours a week was involved.
Connecticut, 28 firms; Delaware, 1; Illinois, 3; Louisiana, 1; Maryland, 2; Massachusetts, 24; Michigan, 2; New Jersey, 28; New York, 15; Ohio, 16; Pennsylvania, 1; Rhode Island, 1; Wisconsin, 1. Total, 127.
Other, smaller, reductions are as follows:
Fifty hours per week: Connecticut, 2 firms; New Jersey, 2; New York, 1.
Fifty-four hours per week: Connecticut, 2 firms; Pennsylvania, 1; Massachusetts, 5; Ohio, 3.
A. F. of L. Data. The Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor reported to the last annual convention that the eighthour day generally prevailed in the following industries:
Carpenters and Joiners, Coal Miners, Typographical Printers, Cigarmakers, Granite Cutters, Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers, Plasterers, Plumbers and Steamfitters, Lathers, Tile Layers, Composition Roofers, Railroad Telegraphers, Stone Cutters, Marble Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, Elevator Constructors, Bookbinders, Hodcarriers and Building Laborers, Brick, Tile and Terracotta Workers, Cement Workers, Compressed Air Workers, Steam Engineers (in Building Construction), Pavers, Rammermen, Flagg Layers, Bridge and Stone Curb Setters, Paving Cutters, Plate Printers, Printing Pressmen, Stereotypers and Electrotypers, Tunnel and Subway Constructors, Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, Asbestos Yorkers, Quarry Workers, Metal Miners, Flint Glass Workers, Slate and Tile Roofers, Cutting Die and Cutter Makers, Stationary Firemen, Papermakers, PhotoEngravers, Powder and High Explosive Workers, Bricklayers.
LABOR AND THE LAW
LABOR LEGISLATION IN 1915.
Whole No. 186, December, 1916.
Laws relating to contract of employment were passed in California, Indiana, Nevada, Wisconsin, Massachusetts (action for damages by workmen against employers failing to give notice of strikes in advertisements for labor), Iowa, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin (in regard to apprenticeship).
The Lafollette Bill passed by Congress deals with seamen's conditions. It divides the crew and officers into watches, provides for holiday observance, compels coasting vessels to pay wages within two days, and ocean-going vessels within 24 hours; one-half the amount due must be paid at any port reached if demanded; requires inspection in any foreign port on demand of 1st or 2nd officers or majority of crew. Seventy-five per cent of crew must understand the language in which orders are given, and 65% must be able seamen. Other provisions relate to comfort and convenience of crew.
Attachment of wages, and assignments are forbidden. Adequate life-saving equipment is prescribed. Officers are not fellow-servants of crew.
The examining and licensing of workmen was the subject of new laws in Connecticut, Vermont, Wisconsin, California, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Utah, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, Philippine Islands, Florida, Maine, Oklahoma, and New York. Trades affected in one or more of these states included barbers, chauffeurs, electricians, stationary engineers, firemen, engineers of traction engines, seamen, moving picture machine operators, and plumbers.
Laws mainly concerned with limiting employment on public works to citizens were passed in Arizona, California, New York, Idaho, Washington, Minnesota, Oregon, Porto Rico and New Hampshire. A federal law dealt with the use of domestic material in the manufacture of ordinances. Hawaii, California and Oregon legislated regarding wages and hours of labor on public works.