Social Aspects of Industry: A Survey of Labor Problems and Causes of Industrial Unrest

By S. Howard Patterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
INDUSTRIAL ARBITRATION AND CONCILIATION

PROBLEMS OF INDUSTRIAL PEACFE

1. Methods of Adjusting Industrial Disputes . -- The "laissez-faire" philosophy of government was possible as long as competition prevailed, industries were small in size, and the workers were unorganized. The development of modern industrialism has made such an economic philosophy no longer tenable. The rise of collective bargaining has meant the growth of strong organizations of employers and of employees, some supervision of whose activities is clearly within the scope of modern government.

The economic and social costs of modern industrial conflicts are so great that the general public can no longer remain a mere spectator or a silent partner. Today, the social control of industry is crystallizing into new and varied forms. Industrial peace, like international peace, is seeking articulation in some practical forms as well as in mere idealistic expressions.

The chief methods for the settlement of industrial differences are trade agreements and arbitration within industry, and also mediation, arbitration, and investigation on the part of the state and Federal governments. In industrial as well as international relations, the prevention rather than the settlement of conflicts is receiving more attention.

Trade agreements are compacts as to wages, hours, recognition of the union, and general conditions of employment which are made between an employer or an association of employers and the organized employees. They represent the normal functioning of collective bargaining between parties of fairly equal strength. The agreement is generally reached at a joint conference between union officials and representatives of the employers. It has a specific time limit, at the end of which a new conference is held for the purpose of drawing up a new trade agreement or reaffirming an old one.

Trade agreements are statements of accepted usages or of approved conditions of employment within a given industry. They are moral rather than legal compacts, for there is no governmental machinery for their enforcement. Moreover, they are compromises reached at joint conferences between employers and organized employees, at which the general public or the state has no representatives.

The term "conciliation" is sometimes used for the settlement of industrial disputes without the interference of a third party, but the

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