Page images
[blocks in formation]

New Brunswick also has considerable illicit traffic in liquor, and the same thing is true of the unlicensed portions of Ontario.

The Premier of Nova Scotia refused to close the bars of Halifax, because he was of the opinion that harm instead of good would result.


The Labor Bureau, under the direction of the Labor Committee, during the twelve months elapsing since the Fifty-third Annual Convention, has assisted members and non-members in the following cities: Detroit, Mich.; Boston, Fall River, Pittsfield and Springfield, Mass.; Albany, Troy, Syracuse, Hudson and Middletown, N. Y.; Hartford, Conn.; Ogden, Utah; Kansas City, Mo.; Washington, D. C.; Alexandria, Va.; Portsmouth, N. H.; Springfield, Ill.; Davenport, Ia., and Memphis, Tenn. Assistance was also rendered to the members of the Lehigh Valley Brewers' Association, the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Brewers' Association, and the Rhode Island Brewers' Association.

The work has been of the usual routine-assisting in contract negotiations, and the adjustment of casual disputes.

Twenty-one strikes have occurred, involving a few more than two thousand employees (less than 5 per cent. of the total number employed) and a loss of 9,814 days; making the average time so lost less than five days for each striking employee. Nine of these

strikes were due to failure to reach an amicable settlement of questions of contract renewal; the others arose from minor disputes of one kind or another. All were of short duration. But one strike remains unsettled, namely, that at Harrisburg, Pa.

More than two hundred cities have entered into new contracts -which fact throws into bold relief the fewness of strikes in our industry. It is to be regretted, however, that of the strikes reported almost half of them are claimed by the Brewery Workmen to have been due to "contract violations." Without expressing an opinion on this charge against the employers, your committee is at a loss to understand why strikes should be resorted to for alleged violations when every contract—at least those entered into by our members contains within itself means whereby to adjust in a peaceful and rational manner not only questions of interpretation but also all disputes of an ordinary nature. If this be not the case, then the arbitration clause in the given contract is but a mere grouping of words without merit or substance. Under the arbitration clause all disputes lying within the purview of the contract, and not specifically exempted from such clause, should be amenable to the peaceful adjustment so provided. The Union, no less than the employer, which takes a different view not only rejects a self-evident proposition, but, what is of more importance, violates its contract in a most vital particular and strikes a blow at the good will and mutual confidence upon which the Labor Agreement as an instrument of industrial peace and progress is predicated.

Nor do we concede that when the Union claims that an employer refuses to arbitrate such disputes a strike should be resorted to. The controversy should be made the subject matter of an official report to the national executive officers, who should at once lay the matter before the Labor Committee of the United States Brewers' Association, which committee would not hesitate to urge upon the employer the necessity of his keeping inviolate his labor contract. This would be your committee's course, not with the purpose of saving him from the consequences of his own actions, but rather to preserve the industry's reputation as one singularly free from strife as between employer and employee, and always intent upon treating employees considerately and justly.

And that, we believe, should be the procedure and the consideration when arbitration is refused by the Union. The employer should feel confident that he may at all times be guarded against

such precipitate action by communicating with the Union's higher authorities directly or through your committee.

Wage increases have been general. The Brewery Workers' officials estimate these at ten per cent., and there have been several instances of reduction in hours.

The question of constantly mounting wages, and more or less accompanying reduction in hours, is rapidly assuming proportions that must challenge the serious attention not only of those who pay but also of those who receive them. An industry which pays higher wages than most others, if not all industries, and which, in addition, has to meet expenses always increasing, must of necessity sooner or later reach the limit of its ability. Already a reaction has set in, as is seen in the ever-widening use of labor-saving machinery, and the scarcely less pronounced tendency to cease making malt and to buy it from maltsers instead. This is the inevitable law, and its operation must more and more be accelerated until such time as it is more fully comprehended by those whose interests it more adversely affects.

The general conditions of the industry, none too good during the past twelve months, known to our employees no less than ourselves, should bring home to all concerned the importance of viewing aright this question of a continually ascending wage scale and its probable ultimate effect upon a business that is conspicuous for good wages and decent treatment of those for whom it provides a livelihood.

We, as employing brewers, would regret no less than our employees the coming of a condition that should compel a readjustment of wages on a basis less than liberal. For we believe it may be permitted us to say that liberal wages and fair treatment of our employees have long been a mark of the industry. Testimony to the truth of this could be supplied from many sources outside our ranks. Only a few weeks ago the leading central labor union of New England, representing thousands of wage earners of many diverse trades and occupations, said:

The employing brewers of this country, in sharp contrast to the attitude of many large employers. pay a higher rate of wages and provide more decent working conditions than any other industry in this country.


The joint board of conciliation and arbitration in the industry at St. Louis, which was described in our 1913 report in consid

erable detail, seems to have justified in substantial measure the expectations of its sponsors. That it has developed faults, and has not by any means wholly eliminated partisanship, may be due more to the fact that it is as yet in the experimental stage rather than to any inherent defect in the underlying principle. With the demonstrated success of such boards in other industries before us there appears to be no good reason why employer and employee in our own industry should not be able to develop and perfect such machinery for the prompt and equitable determination of petty disputes arising from time to time. Mr. C. Norman Jones, who is Chairman of the St. Louis Board, states that he considers the general effect of the Board to be beneficial. He further says:

It prevents the unions and the various foremen coming to an open breach resulting in a strike, and therefore in the preliminary negotiations between the Union and the brewery they often come to an understanding rather than bring it up to the Conciliation Board. On the other hand, many trivial questions which are not provided for in our agreement are brought before the Board by the unions in the hope of getting some concession which does not appear in the


I think the Board has had the effect of creating a better feeling between the two parties, as every question that is brought before it is thoroughly thrashed out, usually without any high feeling on either side. While the findings of the Board are not binding, they are usually accepted by the contracting parties and no further trouble


While, as Mr. Jones has explained, the findings of the Board are not binding, it is true nevertheless that under the current contracts no strike may take place pending or following action of either the conciliation or the arbitration board.

This plan of disposing of casual disputes, though not yet fully tested in its application to our industry, has been adopted, on the lines of the St. Louis Board, also by the industry in Chicago. Here it is has worked as well as it appears to have done in the city of its origin. Mr. Austin J. Doyle has stated that so far it has worked very well.

Your committee quite cordially recommends that this idea be taken up in other brewing centres, but does so with the proviso that not too much should be expected from it until, in the given centre, it has rightly found itself, and has had time for mature development With the more general adoption of this idea, as exemplified in St.

Louis and in Chicago, substantial advantages must accrue to the industry as a whole.


Your committee, in the person of its chairman, having particularly in mind the potential value of these boards of conciliation and arbitration, recently proposed to the International Executive Board of the Brewery Workers the creation of a joint conference board representative of that organization and the United States Brewers' Association. The immediate object being to formalize more fully the relations of the one to the other-to create an atmosphere which should inspire each more and more to view side by side those larger interests which, as organizations, however, diverse their immediate aspects, they must and do have.

The Brewery Workers' Board has replied that the proposal was considered by their recent convention and referred to the Board for further consideration. Your committee will be glad to confer quite fully with these gentlemen, and at present can only express the hope that in due time it may be in a position to report to you the forma tion of such a board.


The refusal of union men to install machinery made in "Unfair" shops continues to give trouble from time to time. As stated in previous reports of the Labor Committee this is a quarrel between the manufacturers and the unions, one in whose origin we have had no part. Nor are we in a position to induce the disputants to settle their differences. Any effort upon our part to act as an intermediary, much less to act in a partisan manner, would be to make a bad situation worse.

As so often happens the innocent are made to suffer for the derelictions of the guilty. The only thing your committee can do at this present time is to repeat the advice given in our report to the Fifty-third Convention, which was to the effect that when contracting for machinery, our members should in every case provide for its installation by the respective manufacturer and that the contract should be so written as to stipulate that a substantial portion of the purchase price should be paid only after installation has been fully completed.

We shall be glad, however, to furnish members about to con

« PreviousContinue »