A History of Trade Unionism in the United States

By Selig Perlman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
THE WAR-TIME BALANCE SHEET

The outbreak of the War in Europe in August 1914 found American labor passing through a period of depression. The preceding winter had seen much unemployment and considerable distress and in the summer industrial conditions became scarcely improved. In the large cities demonstrations by the unemployed were daily occurrences. A long and bloody labor struggle in the coal fields of Colorado, which was slowly drawing to an unsuccessful end in spite of sacrifices of the heaviest kind, seemed only to set into bold relief the generally inauspicious outlook. Yet the labor movement could doubtless find solace in the political situation. Owing to the support it had given the Democratic party in the Presidential campaign of 1912, the Federation could claim return favors. The demand which it was now urging upon its friends in office was the long standing one for the exemption of labor unions from the operation of the anti-trust legislation and for the reduction to a minimum of interference by Federal Courts in labor disputes through injunction proceedings.

During 1914 the anti-trust bill introduced in the House by Clayton of Alabama was going through the regular stages preliminary to enactment and, although it finally failed to embody all the sweeping changes demanded by the Federation's lobbyists, it was pronounced at the time satisfactory to labor. The Clayton Act starts with the

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