UPON November 8, the Senate Committee, having completed its hearings, made public its report. This document is a strange mixture of progressive and reactionary principles. In some respects, especially where it grants, however confusedly, the right of collective bargaining and the eight hour day, it is just and meets the situation; but in other respects it is so unfair to the workers' cause as to be grotesque. For one thing it shoulders upon the unions the entire responsibility for the failure to postpone the strike, choosing to disregard completely the clearly established fact that the steel companies were discharging men so fast that for the unions it was a case of strike or perish. In fact, the report ignores altogether the bitter grievance of men being discharged for union membership. Mr. Gary had said that this practice was not engaged in, and that apparently settled it so far as the Committee was concerned,--the testimony of dozens of victimized workers (with thousands more available) to the contrary notwithstanding. Other sins of the Steel Trust, the suppression of free speech and free assembly, etc., were passed over lightly; but the alleged virtues of its housing and welfare plans were very highly lauded.
Nowhere are the workers more ruthlessly robbed and exploited by their employers than in the steel industry. Speaking recently in Brooklyn on the subject of profiteering, Mr. Basil Manly, formerly Joint Chairman of the National War Labor Board, cited Page 367 of the Treasury report as showing one steel company "earning" $14,549,952 in 1917 on a capital of $5,000, or a profit of 290,999 per cent. As the department conveniently suppresses all details, it is impossible to learn the name of this company or how it made such fabulous profits. On the same page appeared another steel company with a profit rate of 20,180 per cent. Speaking of the United States Steel Corporation's returns, which of course were garbled so that no outsider could understand them, Mr. Manly said:
For this reason I am unable to tell you, on the basis of the Treasury Department's figures, what the net income of the Steel Corporation is, but on the basis of its own published report I can tell you that in two years, 1916 and 1917, the net profits of the Steel Corporation, after payment of interest on bonds and after making allowance for all charges growing out of the installation of special war facilities, amounted to $888,931,511. This is more by $20,000,000 than the total capital stock of the Steel Corporation (which is $868,583,600). In other words, in 1916 and 1917 every dollar of the capital stock of the Steel Corporation was paid for in net profits. In this connection it should be remembered that when the Steel Corporation was formed its entire $500,000,000 worth of common stock represented nothing but water.
The other steel companies did as well or better, proportionately. W. Jett Lauck, acting on behalf of the railroad workers, submitted figures to the United States____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Steel Strike of 1919. Contributors: Colston E. Warne - Editor. Publisher: D. C. Heath. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1963. Page number: 81.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.