Trusts Will Drive Labor Unions Into Politics by Arthur Brisbane

Story type: EssayA workman should use the best tools at his command–the workman’s best tool is his ballot. Everything that men want it can give them if used intelligently …

Story type: Essay

A workman should use the best tools at his command–the workman’s best tool is his ballot. Everything that men want it can give them if used intelligently. The reasons urged against its use by labor unions are conscientious but not strong. They are based upon the fact that labor men fear to trust each other, and fear especially to trust their leaders. They will not vote as unions because they fear that they may be sold out–that is the plain, unpleasant fact.

We cannot believe that their fears are well founded. We know that leaders both able and honest can be found among American workingmen, and we say that they should be found and trusted promptly. —-

For mark this:

THE TRUSTS WILL INEVITABLY COMPEL THE LABOR UNIONS TO BECOME POLITICAL UNIONS.

TRUSTS WILL MAKE IT CLEAR TO UNIONS THAT THEIR ONLY HOPE IS IN POLITICAL ACTION WHICH SHALL GIVE THEM THE POWER TO CONTROL LEGISLATION.

When individual firms are competing the injustice of one firm may be punished and controlled by a strike.

THE TRUST WILL RENDER THE STRIKE LAUGHABLE AND USELESS.

Suppose all the shops or manufactories of a certain kind to be under the control of one trust. What good will a strike do? The concern in which the strike occurs will simply stop work. Its business will go to other concerns in the trust; the firm in which the strike occurs will calmly draw its share of the trust profits and laugh at the strikers. The latter will lose their wages and time–no one else will lose anything.

What does one paper mill care for a strike if all the other mills in the Paper Trust are running, and making the money which it nominally loses? —-

Perhaps the workingmen think they can stop ALL the manufactures of a certain kind. In the first place they probably cannot–with trusts that reach across 3,000 miles of country.

And if they could, what about the TRUST OF TRUSTS?

If the trusts are not already formed into a formal union for mutual support they soon will be. And the union of trusts already exists so far as practical sympathy goes.

Havemeyer will gladly spend millions of trust money–not his own–to help Morgan in a coal-trust fight.

Rockefeller will spare a few hundred thousand if necessary to buy a small State Legislature and prevent passage of laws threatening a weak little trust now and dangerous to him in the long run. —-

Jealousy, mistrust, and the lack of really competent leaders may delay political union among workmen for a time.

But the political union must come. Bigger work must be done by American workmen than chattering about little local wage regulations or quarreling about hours or overtime.

The question at issue is:

SHALL ORGANIZED CAPITAL CONTROL THE PEOPLE, OR SHALL THE PEOPLE CONTROL ORGANIZED CAPITAL AND LIMIT ITS POWER?

The workingmen are the people. They are the interested parties, and they have got to vote together pretty soon or fight together a little later.

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