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at work pending the general slackness in trade. In these efforts he was successful. The matter was then taken up with the employers in a number of conferences and finally at a joint meeting of the Employers' Association of Niagara Falls and the chamber of commerce of that city the following resolution was adopted:
Whereas the manufacturers of Niagara Falls realize that there is likely to be unemployment during the period of readjustment from war to peace basis; and
Whereas the United States Department of Labor has requested the manufacturers in the interest of industry in the community during this period of readjustment to agree that the hours of labor in the factories will, where practicable, be cut down in lieu of making a reduction in the force: Therefore be it
Resolved, That we are willing and anxious to cooperate in any measure to reduce unemployment and we hereby adopt the said request of the United States Department of Labor.
No action on the proposition was officially taken by the employers of Tonawanda and Bradford, but the individual employers in those cities expressed sympathy with the action taken at Niagara Falls. In view of this resolution the employees were generally disposed to waive their demand for the adoption of the “Buffalo award,” and a disposition was soon evidenced by both sides to wait until such time as a change in the industrial situation should warrant some other
Bakersfield & Kern Electric Railway Co.-On March 14 the Bakersfield & Kern Electric Railway Co. requested the good offices of Commissioner Charles T. Connell in adjusting a controversy which had arisen between that company and its employees at Bakersfield, Calif. The employees were platform men, and were members of the Amalgamated Association of Street & Electric Railway Employees of America, Local No. 869. The employees were demanding recognition of the union, an increase in wages, and better working conditions. Commissioner Connell suggested a modification of these demands in lieu of the fact that the National War Labor Board in its awards had consistently refused to allow recognition of the union where such recognition had not prevailed previous to the war-time period. On April 5 the local voted to strike as soon as it received the sanction of the international union. The commissioner immediately got in touch with the employees and urged that no precipitate action be taken pending further negotiations. In this he was successful. After a number of conferences in which the questions in dispute were vigorously discussed the men finally agreed to waive their claim for recognition. A joint conference was then arranged at which were present three union men, three nonunion men, three representatives of the company, and the commissioner. Every effort was made to obtain some sort of concession from the company in the nature of an increase of wages, but the result was unsatisfactory and a strike again threatened.
An international officer of the union appeared at this time and by his moderation and sense of fairness assisted materially in avoiding an open break.
The company finally agreed that at some time subsequent to July 1 the question of additional compensation for the men would be given very careful consideration, and that if possible some advance would be made. This proposition was accepted by the employees and the threatened strike was averted.
Building trades, Memphis, Tenn.-On April 2 the secretary of the Memphis Builders' Exchange, Memphis, Tenn., wired the Department that the journeymen painters of that city had gone on strike after making excessive demands which had been turned down by the exchange. It was stated that arbitration had been refused by the painters but insisted upon by the employers association. The assignment of a commissioner of conciliation was req ted. Commissioner William C. Liller was detailed to the case.
It soon developed that the painters were but one of several crafts involved in the controversy. The carpenters, plumbers and steam fitters, and paper hangers and decorators had also made demands which had been refused in part by the contractors. Conferences were held in an effort to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. The old agreements were used as a basis of settlement and efforts to amend them to the satisfaction of both sides proved difficult. The manner of reaching an adjustment, however, finally proved successful and new agreements were signed to be effective until April 1, 1920.
Georgia Railway & Power Co., Atlanta, Ga.-On July 15, 1918, the Georgia Railway & Power Co. wired the National War Labor Board, stating that the employees of that company who were affiliated with the Amalgamated Association of Street & Electric Railway Employees of America had called a strike to be effective on the morning of the 16th of July, and that such a strike would undoubtedly result in complete cessation of street, suburban, and interurban traffic, including service to Camps Gordon, Fort McPherson, and Jessup. The War Labor Board referred the case to the Division of Conciliation for disposition and Commissioner of Conciliation J. W. Bridwell was immediately assigned and instructed to prevent a strike if possible.
The company had previously operated under nonunion conditions, but in compliance with the program as enunciated by the National War Labor Board it had recognized the right of its employees to organize into trade-unions and to bargain collectively through chosen representatives. The company maintained that in spite of this recognition the union employees had called a strike without notice or warning. Commissioner Bridwell worked energetically to prevent the inauguration of the strike, but the men nevertheless ceased work on the morning of the 16th. A strike had occurred on the lines
of this company in 1916, which after a long struggle had been lost by the men. They now demanded the reinstatement of the men who had been discharged at that time. However, after almost continuous conferences the men finally agreed to waive all demands except that for recognition of their union, and they stated that such recognition need not necessarily mean a closed shop. Both sides seemed anxious for a settlement and concessions were graciously made by both sides and an agreement reached which brought the strike to a close.
Cleveland building trades.-On May 2 the Building Trades Council of Cleveland, Ohio, wired the Department claiming a violation of the agreement existing between the Building Employers' Association of Cleveland and the various crafts constituting the building trades. The agreement mentioned had expired on May 1, and had by mutual consent been extended to May 6. The various crafts had remained at work pending an adjustment of their claims, except the electrical fixture workers who had ceased work on May 1. Acting upon the advice of the commissioner, A. L. Faulkner, the joint conciliation board agreed that negotiations between all trade committees should be resumed, and May 15 was set as the time limit for adjustment in all trades. If agreements could not be reached by that time, the disputes were to automatically revert to the conciliation board.
The magnitude of the controversy may be seen from the fact that 25,000 men were directly affected. Probably one-half as many more would also be involved if a strike were called. It was finally agreed to refer the questions in dispute to a board of arbitration. Each side then elected an arbitrator and these two agreed upon Commissioner Faulkner as the third man. The decision of the arbitration board granted the following award: Bricklayers, masons, and plasterers, $1 per hour, effective May 29, ending April 30, 1920; electrical fixture workers, 80 cents per hour beginning May 1, 1919, and ending May 1, 1920, and 87} cents per hour for the succeeding year; electrical workers, $1 per hour, effective July 1, 1919, terminating May 1, 1920 (this was an increase of 10 cents per hour); carpenters, 85 cents per hour, effective May 1, 1919, with an additional increase of 5 cents per hour effective October 1, 1919. The adjustment of the building trades dispute in Cleveland was hailed. with great satisfaction by both sides, and enabled business operations in that city to proceed uninterruptedly.
Nordyke & Marmon Co., Indiana polis, Ind. A case of peculiar interest was brought to the attention of the Department on December 16, 1918, by Mr. L. C. Schwarts, business agent of the machinists' union at Indianapolis, Ind. It was alleged by Mr. Schwarts that the Nordyke & Marmon Co. had threatened to blacklist a number of
female employees who had recently left the employ of the company. Commissioner John J. Walsh was assigned to look into the matter and prevent, if possible, any serious consequences. This plant employed fully 4,000 workers and was engaged largely on Government contracts. It appeared that the difficulties arose through a misunderstanding which caused a number of female employees to tender their resignations. These employees were then advised by a tactless foreman that they would be blacklisted and would be unable to secure employment in Indianapolis. When this rumor spread to the large body of employees of the plant it caused murmurs of disapproval and dissatisfaction which threatened to become serious. Commissioner Walsh promptly got in touch with the general manager, who promised that under no circumstances would any employees be blacklisted or discriminated against in any way, and that he would gladly furnish recommendations to employees leaving the service of the company, and that letters of merit would be presented the female employees who had patriotically responded to the needs of the Government. The situation was then explained to the employees of the plant, who expressed their satisfaction at the outcome.
Dubuque Boat & Boiler Co., Dubuque, Iowa. A case of alleged discrimination against a union employee threatened to bring about a strike at the plant of the Dubuque Boat & Boiler Co., located at Dubuque, Iowa. The matter was brought to the attention of the Department on May 3, 1919, by Mr. L. H. Bathurst, representing the boiler makers. Commissioner L. R. Thomas was detailed by the Department. Upon Mr. Thomas's arrival at the seat of the trouble he found that the employees of the plant, in addition to making a charge of discrimination, were also demanding recognition of a union committee and requesting adoption by the company of the scale of wages put into effect by the United States Shipping Board for the Great Lakes and Atlantic coast regions. The company positively denied the charge of discrimination, expressed a willingness to meet with committees of its employees, and agreed to submit the wage question, jointly with its employees, to the National War Labor Board for a decision. This proposal was agreeable to the employees and the difficulties seemed satisfactorily disposed of. The matter of presenting the matter to the board was then taken up, but by the time the data had been prepared the board had ceased to function. The men then to the number of 175 went out on strike. Commissioner W. H. Rodgers, who was then in the vicinity of Dubuque, was assigned to the case. He conferred with both sides concerned and then arranged a joint conference at which a settlement satisfactory to all concerned was finally negotiated. The men returned to work and a much better feeling was engendered. This company was engaged on the construction of barges for the Government.
Building trades, Sharon, Pa.-On May 14, the Department was requested by Mr. Bascress, of the Sharon Building Co., Sharon, Pa., to assist in adjusting a strike of carpenters and other building craftsmen which was interfering with the building operations at Sharon and vicinity. Commissioner of Conciliation James A. Smyth was selected to take up the matter. About a thousand men were involved in the dispute. Commissioner Smyth at once arranged for conferences at which the matters in dispute might be discussed. The carpenters had been on strike since April 1 for increased wages and better workng conditions. They were demanding $1 per hour for journeymen carpenters and a corresponding increase for helpers and less-skilled workmen. The old rate had been 70 cents per hour. After a number of conferences, the contractors were finally prevailed upon to grant an increase of 10 cents per hour. This increase, while not entirely satisfactory to the men, was finally accepted by them and building operations were resumed on May 26.
Steacy-Schmidt Manufacturing Co., York, Pa.-Lodge No. 243, International Association of Machinists, York, Pa., requested the assistance of the Department in adjusting a controversy which had arisen at York, between the Steacy-Schmidt Manufacturing Co. and its machinists. Commissioner L. R. Thomas was assigned by the Department on September 20, 1918. This controversy was brought about by the alleged discharge of an employee for union activities. About 400 men were involved. Mr. Thomas called at the office of the company and secured the reinstatement of the discharged employee, which satisfactorily disposed of the controversy and brought about much better relations between the company and its employees.
Building trades, tri-cities.-A controversy affecting the operations of the United States Housing Corporation in the tri-cities of Rock Island and Moline, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa, was reported on November 7, 1918. Commissioner G. Y. Harry was assigned to the matter. About 2,000 men were involved, including carpenters, electrical workers, painters, bricklayers, sheet metal workers, plumbers, and steamfitters. A joint conference was arranged and an agreement drawn up which contained a plan of procedure for taking care of all grievances then existing or which might come up thereafter. The following rates of compensation were agreed upon to be in effect for a period of six months. Plumbers and steamfitters, 80 cents per hour; carpenters, 75 cents per hour; bricklayers, 814 cents per hour; electrical workers, 70 cents per hour; painters, 70 cents per hour; sheet-metal workers, 75 cents per hour. This agreement satisfactorily disposed of the controversy and enabled the housing corporation to proceed uninterruptedly with its program.