Samuel Gompers: TESTIMONY BEFORE THE SENATE INVESTIGATING COMMITTEE

THE Committee on Education and Labor of the United States Senate, pursuant to adjournment of yesterday, met at 10 o'clock a.m., in room 235, Senate Office Building, Hon. William S. Kenyon, presiding. . . .

THE CHAIRMAN. What are the issues involved in this strike?

MR. GOMPERS. The issues involved in the iron and steel industry strike are varied. The right of the employees to be heard through their own representatives, through spokesmen of their own choosing; the right to have a voice in the determination of the conditions of employment, is of the most vital interest to them.

For many, many years, surely for the past 25 years, the right of association of the workers has been denied with all the power and wealth and domination of the Steel Corporation, not only through the exercise of lawful power, but directly, and more often indirectly, through denial by illegal and unwarrantable and brutal means.

. . . The right of association, the attempt to organize on the part of the working people themselves, has always met with stern opposition from the highest corporation authorities and from subordinates who carry out either the immediate direction or the understood policies of the companies.

I have not heard the testimony that has thus far been elicited before this committee, but I want to say this upon my own authority. Perhaps it may not have been presented to you: I refer to the requests which have come from the workers themselves to be organized, their appeals to us to organize them, to organize them secretly, but, in any event, to organize them. Many of the men, most of the men, who made any such effort were stopped by the detectives, by the espionage of the company agents or their detectives.

It has been elicited before committees of Congress that two years ago fully 8 per cent of the activities of detective agencies in the United States consisted in dealing with agents and detectives in the factories, shops, mills, mines, plants of employers, or in spying, watching, following, dogging men from their work to their homes, or to any place that they went; in supplying agents, or what is better known as agent provocateur to bring men into contests prematurely in order that they might commit some overt act, or that they might enter upon premature strikes for which they were unorganized and unprepared; in reporting men who had expressed some little discontent or great discontent with conditions in the plants or the mills. Men were discharged for no other reason than because of their grumbling against conditions. Men who expressed the thought or the hope that they would like to be organized or who had the temerity to go

____________________

From Hearings before the Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. Senate, Sixty-sixth Congress, Pursuant to S. Res. 202 ( Washington, Government Printing Office, 1919), pp. 87-103, 106-107, 110-112,142-143.

-41-

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