History of Employers' Associations in the United States

By Clarence E. Bonnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16
THE ERA OF UNION-ASSOCIATION COLLABORATION AND BEGINNING OF PERMANENTLY BELLIGERENT ASSOCIATIONS
THE YEARS 1897-99 form an era of sharp conflicts. Of these conflicts, there were extensive combinations of unions and associations against the consumer on one hand, and the development of permanently belligerent associations on the other hand. Collective bargaining became collusive bargaining in both the building and the coal industries, while other associations became disgusted with collective bargaining, turned to the open shop as the better way to industrial peace.The year 1897 was largely a depression year in which manufacturers and other employers welcomed general strikes as a means of restricting production in a trade or industry. In other words, a strike on an individual employer was often disliked, while one on an industry-wide association was usually highly desirable. However, there were exceptions, and in those industries, the associations became tired of the endless bickering of collective bargaining with all sorts of strikes from the wildcat and the polecat, to the housecat (friendly, corusive) strike. Collective bargaining seemed to conduce to all three types, not to prevent them.A picture of the strikes in 1897 is shown by the summary of 16 in Indiana in that year:
(1) 29 manufacturers of cigars and tobacco over nonunion goods.
(1) 10 manufacturers of electrical appliances over rule on imperfect work.
(1) 13 manufacturers of furnaces, stoves and ranges over non- recognition of the union.
(12) 63 manufacturers of glass over higher wages.
(1) 6 manufacturers of leather over reduction in wages and union dictation.

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