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.

=Profit-sharing.=—­Another proposal for drawing capital and labor together was to supplement the wage system by other ties.  Sometimes lump sums were paid to employees who remained in a company’s service for a definite period of years.  Again they were given a certain percentage of the annual profits.  In other instances, employees were allowed to buy stock on easy terms and thus become part owners in the concern.  This last plan was carried so far by a large soap manufacturing company that the employees, besides becoming stockholders, secured the right to elect representatives to serve on the board of directors who managed the entire business.  So extensive had profit-sharing become by 1914 that the Federal Industrial Relations Committee, appointed by the President, deemed it worthy of a special study.  Though opposed by regular trade unions, it was undoubtedly growing in popularity.

=Labor Managers and Welfare Work.=—­Another effort of employers to meet the problems of the new age appeared in the appointment of specialists, known as employment managers, whose task it was to study the relations existing between masters and workers and discover practical methods for dealing with each grievance as it arose.  By 1918, hundreds of big companies had recognized this modern “profession” and universities were giving courses of instruction on the subject to young men and women.  In that year a national conference of employment managers was held at Rochester, New York.  The discussion revealed a wide range of duties assigned to managers, including questions of wages, hours, sanitation, rest rooms, recreational facilities, and welfare work of every kind designed to make the conditions in mills and factories safer and more humane.  Thus it was evident that hundreds of employers had abandoned the old idea that they were dealing merely with individual employees and that their obligations ended with the payment of any wages they saw fit to fix.  In short, they were seeking to develop a spirit of cooeperation to take the place of competition and enmity; and to increase the production of commodities by promoting the efficiency and happiness of the producers.


=The American Federation of Labor.=—­Meanwhile a powerful association of workers representing all the leading trades and crafts, organized into unions of their own, had been built up outside the control of employers.  This was the American Federation of Labor, a nation-wide union of unions, founded in 1886 on the basis of beginnings made five years before.  At the time of its establishment it had approximately 150,000 members.  Its growth up to the end of the century was slow, for the total enrollment in 1900 was only 300,000.  At that point the increase became marked.  The membership reached 1,650,000 in 1904 and more than 3,000,000 in 1919.  To be counted in the ranks of organized labor were several

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