Story type: Essay
WISELY HANDLED, IT MEANS EMANCIPATION FROM INDUSTRIAL SLAVERY.
We refer again to the much discussed rule in labor unions limiting the amount of work that a man shall do in a day. As a matter of fact, in many unions no such rule exists. In some it does exist, and MUST exist.
There is nothing in the notion that limiting the day’s work will diminish the excellence of American workmen. On the contrary, the BEST work is done slowly and carefully. The WORST work is done at high speed.
That very aristocratic financier who denounces the regulations as to a day’s output will say to the man who is doing something FOR HIM, “Take your time; I want this done very carefully.”
Why should not EVERYBODY’S work be done carefully?
But it is not merely careful work that is involved in the regulating of the day’s work. The welfare of the nation and of the nation’s future is involved.
Go with the man who denounces labor unions for limiting the amount of work that a good American mechanic should do in one day, to the stable in which that man keeps his fine horses. You can easily bring about this dialogue:
“That mare in the box stall is a beautiful horse. Is she fast?”
Rich Owner–“Yes, very fast. I value her more highly than any horse I have. “
“How many miles do you drive her every day?”
“Oh, I don’t drive her EVERY day. I drive her one day, and have her jogged quietly the next. When I do drive her, I jog her for two or three miles to warm her up, then speed her a mile or two, and then take her home. She covers perhaps six or seven miles in an entire day’s work.”
“But you COULD drive her twenty-five miles, couldn’t you, and drive her as far as that EVERY day?”
“Oh, yes, I COULD, of course, if I was only thinking of using her up and getting all I could out of her now. But, you see, I mean to use her for a brood-mare; I expect to get some splendid colts from her, and I don’t want to wear out her vitality. I might get a little more fun or a little more work out of her just now, BUT I WOULD LOSE IN THE LONG RUN.” —-
Now, gentlemen, the labor union rule limiting a day’s work simply considers the workingman as that imaginary rich person considers his beautiful horse.
And the feeling of the labor unions should be shared by the entire country.
The highly skilled American mechanic is one of the chief assets of this country; the intelligent, scientific, up-to-date American farmer is another highly important asset. These two classes of citizens ARE THE UNITED STATES. Between them they are more important than all the rest of the nation put together.
AND YET THEY ARE NOT AS IMPORTANT AS THEIR CHILDREN.
The workingman of to-day is the father of the future.
The trouble with us is that the employer, unlike the owner of the fine horses, has no interest in that workingman’s future or in his future family.
He employs and treats the workingman as the casual heartless customer would treat that fine horse if it were rented by the day at a livery stable.
There is much to be said, no doubt, on the side of harassed employers, many of whom are fair-minded men, and many of whom are put to unjust annoyance by some of the labor unions’ mistakes.
But, first of all, the employer must realize the RIGHTS and the EQUALITY of his workmen. And as a patriotic citizen he must realize that the welfare of the future is in the health and vitality of parents to-day.
By limiting the amount of work which they do in one day our mechanics enable themselves to preserve some of their vitality for mental work, for educating talks with their children. THEY GIVE TO THEIR CHILDREN THE VITALITY WHICH THE SWEATSHOP SLAVE CAN NEVER GIVE.
What are our laws against sweatshops but laws acknowledging the justice of regulating the amount of the day’s work?
And why do we refuse to permit unions to do for themselves what we do on a sentimental, philanthropic, haphazard basis, through our “sweatshop laws,” for the miserable, unorganized workers of the slums?
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