“You do!” cried Bannon, jumping to his feet. “Do you think you’re going to get a cent of it? I might pay blackmail to an honest rascal who delivered the goods paid for. But I had your size the first time you came around. Don’t you think I knew what you wanted? If I’d thought you were worth buying, I’d have settled it up for three hundred dollars and a box of cigars right at the start. That’s about your market price. But as long as I knew you’d sell us out again if you could, I didn’t think you were even worth the cigars. No; don’t tell me what you’re going to do. Go out and do it if you can. And get out of here.”
For the second time Bannon took the little delegate by the arm. He marched him to the head of the long, straight flight of stairs. Then he hesitated a moment. “I wish you were three sizes larger,” he said.
The organization of labor unions is generally democratic. The local lodge is self-governing; it elects its delegate, who attends a council of fellow-delegates, and this council may send representatives to a still more powerful body. But however high their titles, or their salaries, these dignitaries have power only to suggest action, except in a very limited variety of cases. There must always be a reference back to the rank and file. The real decision lies with them.
That is the theory. The laborers on Calumet K, with some others at work in the neighborhood, had organized into a lodge and had affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Grady, who had appeared out of nowhere, who had urged upon them the need of combining against the forces of oppression, and had induced them to organize, had been, without dissent, elected delegate. He was nothing more in theory than this: simply their concentrated voice. And this theory had the fond support of the laborers. “He’s not our boss; he’s our servant,” was a sentiment they never tired of uttering when the delegate was out of earshot.
They met every Friday night, debated, passed portentous resolutions, and listened to Grady’s oratory. After the meeting was over they liked to hear their delegate, their servant, talk mysteriously of the doings of the council, and so well did Grady manage this air of mystery that each man thought it assumed because of the presence of others, but that he himself was of the inner circle. They would not have dreamed of questioning his acts in meeting or after, as they stood about the dingy, reeking hall over Barry’s saloon. It was only as they went to their lodgings in groups of two and three that they told how much better they could manage things themselves.