History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on the side of the great captains of industry, recognized the same facts.  He said:  “In the early days of the development of industry, the employer and capital investor were frequently one.  Daily contact was had between him and his employees, who were his friends and neighbors....  Because of the proportions which modern industry has attained, employers and employees are too often strangers to each other....  Personal relations can be revived only through adequate representation of the employees.  Representation is a principle which is fundamentally just and vital to the successful conduct of industry....  It is not consistent for us as Americans to demand democracy in government and practice autocracy in industry....  With the developments what they are in industry to-day, there is sure to come a progressive evolution from aristocratic single control, whether by capital, labor, or the state, to democratic, cooeperative control by all three.”


=Company Unions.=—­The changed economic life described by the three eminent men just quoted was acknowledged by several great companies and business concerns.  All over the country decided efforts were made to bridge the gulf which industry and the corporation had created.  Among the devices adopted was that of the “company union.”  In one of the Western lumber mills, for example, all the employees were invited to join a company organization; they held monthly meetings to discuss matters of common concern; they elected a “shop committee” to confer with the representatives of the company; and periodically the agents of the employers attended the conferences of the men to talk over matters of mutual interest.  The function of the shop committee was to consider wages, hours, safety rules, sanitation, recreation and other problems.  Whenever any employee had a grievance he took it up with the foreman and, if it was not settled to his satisfaction, he brought it before the shop committee.  If the members of the shop committee decided in favor of the man with a grievance, they attempted to settle the matter with the company’s agents.  All these things failing, the dispute was transferred to a grand meeting of all the employees with the employers’ representatives, in common council.  A deadlock, if it ensued from such a conference, was broken by calling in impartial arbitrators selected by both sides from among citizens outside the mill.  Thus the employees were given a voice in all decisions affecting their work and welfare; rights and grievances were treated as matters of mutual interest rather than individual concern.  Representatives of trade unions from outside, however, were rigidly excluded from all negotiations between employers and the employees.

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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