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RAILWAYMEN, FIGHTING FOR THE WORK-
It is interesting to know that the method of distribution of these Communist hand bills both in New York and elsewhere by rapidly passing automobiles, which escaped identification, was copied from the method used by the Bolsheviki agitators under Lenin and Trotzky when they were preparing in October their revolution in Petrograd. The description of the automobile propaganda-laden brigade rushing through the streets, tossing out handbills, is common in all the descriptions that have been written of the outbreak of the Soviet movement in Russia.
Organized Labor and Education
In the field of educational work the most vital and valuable single subject of study, if we look upon it from the point of view both from efficiency and of co-operation, is the education of the workmen in the truths and the facts of industrial economics.
One of the best examples of the way in which this can be accomplished is the system developed by Henry C. Osborn in his American Multigraph Company, at Cleveland. Its object is to counteract the purposely misleading statements of agitators in regard to the proportion that wages bear to the total cost of running any industrial plant. It is a commonplace fact that an agitator will tell the workmen that such and such a plant does a business amounting to so many millions during the year. He then foots up the wages of workmen, which amount to perhaps 10 or 15 per cent. of this total, and he peruades them that instead of this 15 per cent., they should receive the entire amount because the product is entirely their creation. Of course, such a theory, in this bald form, would not be absorbed except by extremely ignorant workers, but it is dressed up in more plausible form for practically every class of worker. Knowledge of the facts is sufficient to dispel such an illusion.
The scheme of Mr. Osborn was to show, by moving pictures, by lectures given by experts and by pamphlets and statistics illustrating the manufacturing processes, how many elements enter into the expense account. In the first place, the proper return on the capital invested in buildings, in machinery, in deterioration, in managing, in buying and selling, in the purchase of raw materials, in spoiled work, in light, in heat, taxes, insurance, and in the personnel outside of the industrial workers, such as stenographers, bookkeepers, clerks, and the supervising corps.
The American Labor World for February, 1920, gives a summary of an educational plan which is proposed on behalf of trade unionism by George Stein. It was outlined at a meeting before the teachers' training course for the continuation schools on January 24, 1920. It says:
"For many years both the American Federation of Labor and the New York State Federation of Labor conventions. have appointed committees on education to study educational
problems, and to define what the attitude of labor should be on this fundamental, social and civic essential, and to present to the assembled delegates a program clearly setting forth what organized labor regards as necessary to insure physically sound, intelligent, efficient and law-abiding workers.
Three of the twenty-seven items of labor's educational program have received legislative attention and are embodied in our state statutes. They are: the Compulsory Continuation School Law; Teachers' Salary Increase, and the Educational Program on Americanization.
"We hope that each year other items will be checked off by enactment into law, until all of them find their rightful places in an educational system assuring to future generations opportunities for merit, through physical and technical improvement that will give them a better understanding of and bring them in closer harmony with our national ideals and aspirations, by planting in the minds and hearts of those elements in our population, who give expression to feelings of bitterness and discontent, a fairer view of American institutions. ...
"The ideal progression for a boy who has a mechanical trend is to have two years' preparation in a vocational school and then at sixteen years enter the trade for which he has prepared. After being established in his chosen vocation, if he gets the four hours' weekly tuition required under the Continuation School Law, his habits of study are not interrupted and under proper guidance he can develop into a skilled, useful artisan and is sure to become the right type of citizen. ...
"From reliable sources we have established that there are (in the State of New York) 440,000 boys between fourteen and nineteen years. About 200,000 of these will be subject to part-time instruction. We can safely assume that every boy has one sister. We then get 400,000 children for whom instruction must be furnished.
"The co-operation of the organized employer and the organized worker is necessary if the law is to be carried to anything like a satisfactory fulfilment. I believe organized labor is ready for this co-operation and I base my belief on my participation and experience in the councils of labor dur ing the past three years. . . ."
Several unions are considering plans to bring within the scope of the law the whole of their apprentice groups. The plan proposed is as follows:
"(1) The parties to this agreement hereby pledge themselves to co-operate with the public school authorities to foster the education and vocational training of the apprentices in the trade to the end that each apprentice shall become a thorough mechanic, with the requisite knowledge of the science and physics of the trade; instruction in mechanical drawing and mathematics of the trade; the mechanical processes and the manipulation of tools required for full mastery of the trade. Attention shall also be given to the study of civies, history of the industry, Americanization and such other subjects as seem proper to develop the technical, moral and patriotic standards that make for good citizenship and sturdy manhood.
"(2) Apprentices must have reached the age of sixteen years and passed the eighth grade in school before entering the trade. Preference shall be given to boys who have attended trade classes in the public vocational schools. Apprenticeship to cover a period of four years.
"(3) The .. Employers' Association agrees to allow apprentices four hours off each week with pay to attend a continuation school during the school term. (Sec. 601e, Continuation School Law.)
"(4) The ....
.. Union will withhold membership in the Union from any apprentice failing to attend such continuation school.
"(5) Attendance shall be for the full term of four years (subject to approval of the school authorities for apprentices in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth years).
"(6) The parties to this agreement shall each nominate two of their members as members of an advisory board to be approved by the Board of Education. This advisory board shall counsel and advise: (a) to employ competent teachers or instructors, (b) to provide proper courses of study, (e) to purchase or acquire sites and grounds and to purchase, acquire, lease or construct and to repair suitable shops or buildings and to properly equip the same, (d) to purchase necessary machinery, tools, apparatus and supplies. (Sec. 604, Continuation School Law.)
"(7) One of each of the representatives on the advisory board of the parties to this agreement, together with a representative of the teaching staff of the continuation school, shall constitute an examining board, whose duty it shall be to pass on the fitness of apprentices to continue in the trade. "(8) Examinations shall be held at the end of five months' period of the school term. Apprentices who do not show progress consistent with the standard set by the school and the trade can be discharged as not having the qualifications necessary for a competent mechanic. Additional attendance at an evening school can be recommended.
"(9) Apprentices completing the full four years' course shall receive a certificate signed by the presidents of the organizations, parties to this agreement and the examining board, stating that the apprentice is competent to begin work as a journeyman.
"(10) Apprentices temporarily out of regular employment shall attend school not less than twenty hours per week. (Sec. 601e, Continuation School Law.)"
The above gives a good synopsis of the recent situation in New York State and of the program which labor is trying to carry out in connection, not with the advanced workers, but in treating with the apprentice situation.
There is an interesting report on recent developments in educational work for radical labor in an article contributed by H. W. L. Dana to "Young Democracy" for October, 1919. Prof. Dana until recently was on the faculty of Columbia University and is now lecturer for the Rand School and the Boston Trade Union College. He says, after referring to the old attitude of laboring men, that they wanted their sons to have the best in education, a similar education to that of the upper classes:
"Today, however, the workers do not want to be educated out of their class, but to be educated within their class for the service of their class. They realize that our university education only reaches one one-thousandth of our population. Organized before labor had gained its present power, our colleges had failed to adapt themselves to the needs and aspirations of the working people. Since then the workers feel that they cannot rely on the universities to accomplish the tremendous task of labor education, they are busy organizing colleges of their own.