Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

By Andrew Carnegie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
PROBLEMS OF LABOR

I SHOULD like to record here some of the labor disputes I have had to deal with, as these may point a moral to both capital and labor.

The workers at the blast furnaces in our steel-rail works once sent in a "round-robin" stating that unless the firm gave them an advance of wages by Monday afternoon at four o'clock they would leave the furnaces. Now, the scale upon which these men had agreed to work did not lapse until the end of the year, several months off. I felt if men would break an agreement there was no use in making a second agreement with them, but nevertheless I took the night train from New York and was at the works early in the morning.

I asked the superintendent to call together the three committees which governed the works -- not only the blast-furnace committee that was alone involved, but the mill and the converting works committees as well. They appeared and, of course, were received by me with great courtesy, not because it was good policy to be courteous, but because I have always enjoyed meeting our men. I am bound to say that the more I know of working-men the higher I rate their virtues. But it is with them as Barrie says with women: "Dootless the Lord made a'things weel, but he left some michty queer kinks in women." They have their prejudices and "red rags," which have to be respected, for the main root of trouble is ignorance, not hostility. The committee sat in a semicircle before me, all with their hats off, of

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