History of Employers' Associations in the United States

By Clarence E. Bonnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGAIN INTENSIFIED THE CONFLICT

NOTED DEVELOPMENTS OF 1892 include a large number of sympathetic strikes especially in the building industry of New York City. They also include many double exclusive agreements between association and union -- only union men were to be employed and they were to work exclusively for association members. In contrast, there was the great growth of nonunion concerns. In other words, the issues were growing sharper, and the strikes were more bitterly contested, often bloody, like at Homestead. These events -- and others detailed below -- foreshadow a panic or marked business recession. In fact, unemployment in certain industries was increasing and making the combating of strikes easier because of the surplus men anxious to take the jobs claimed by the strikers. Another outstanding development was that of high union officials (former or resigning) taking jobs as association or corporation officials. In union circles, such shifting has been usually regarded as the highest order of treason. Whatever motives caused the shifting, loyal unionists regularly denounced these officials for "selling out to the enemy." But it is conceivable that their shifting, at least in part, reflected a general reaction toward unionism.

In February, it was noted that cheap prices penetrated every section and were going lower, and that there were too many immigrants. It was recognized that it was "a day of small margins" because of competition and low prices. On one hand it was pointed out that wages were leveling off, they had not fallen correspondingly to prices. On the other hand, associations were combining with unions -- giving the unions their "spoils" in "stabilized" or higher wages -- to "stabilize" the industry restricting production and preventing price cutting. Undoubtedly, these were the main factors in the Stove Founders' National Defense Association's becoming negotiatory with the Iron Molders' Union

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