Labor Legislation -- By: William Cox Cochran

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 057:226 (Apr 1900)
Article: Labor Legislation
Author: William Cox Cochran


Labor Legislation

William Cox Cochran

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When the objects of a labor-union are to promote good fellowship and esprit de corps among members of the same craft, to raise the standard of workmanship, to educate members up to that standard so as to make their employment particularly desirable, to assist them in finding places and securing good wages, to procure for them safeguards against special dangers, and to take care of them and their families in cases of accident, disease, or other misfortune, it deserves and is likely to receive the hearty sympathy of the whole community and the active pecuniary support of men of means and philanthropic disposition.

When, however, a union manifests itself chiefly in selfish and unreasonable attempts to monopolize positions open to labor, to prevent others from learning, or working at, its particular trade, thus adding to the army of the unemployed, to exact for the poorest and laziest workman (provided he is a union man) the same wages as the best and most industrious can command, and by strikes, or legislation, to secure unjust advantages, it will sooner or later arouse the hostility of the whole community.

I understand that the Typographical Union in Cincinnati recently objected to the publication of a little newspaper at the House of Refuge, because, by this means, several boys were being taught to set type; that it “boycotts” all establishments which employ non-union print-

ers; and that in the fall of 1895, it blacklisted the members of the Board of Education who voted to award a contract for printing to a non-union house. If these are facts, and they were generally known, could that union command any sympathy or support outside of its own organization? Hundreds of strikes have had their origin and sole motive in the intent to coerce employers to introduce, or retain, union men and to drive out non-union men, even when the latter are better workmen and willing to work for less than union prices.

Combinations of manufacturers to prevent competition and raise the price of their products have always been considered unlawful and contrary to public policy, and such combinations are rebuked whenever brought before the courts. Combinations of individuals to secure a monopoly of any article of merchandise, commonly called “corners,” are also condemned in the most severe terms. Combinations of laboring-men, in the dangerous form of secret societies, for monopolizing employment, excluding non-union men and raising the price of labor, are winked at and even considered praiseworthy by the unthinking. Can there be, indeed, one rule for the rich and another for the poor? If so, who is responsible fo...

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