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Trade Associations

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TRADE ASSOCIATIONS, business or ganizations composed of the individuals, firms and corporations engaged in a trade or industry, formed and operated to deal with those things in which the membership have a community of interest, as wage scales, uniform rules and measures, guarding of legislative interests, maintaining prices, exchanging of information as to credits of customers, etc. These associa tions in the United States developed mainly after 1870, largely as a result of the growth and activity of the trade unions. (See UNIONISM). The demands by workmen for better pay and conditions were generally re sisted, and employers met and began to organ ize against their employees. Before such meet ings the proprietors in a particular trade rarely had any personal acquaintance, knowing each other only by name, and usually having a poor opinion of each other, because of sharp com petition and business rivalry. Brought into contact over labor difficulties, their views as to each other changed; they learned to respect their competitors, and warm friendships some times developed between them. They began to talk with each other about trade problems, and soon saw the wisdom of combined action in securing trade reforms. Their anti-union associations took on a broader scope; they en gaged secretaries and business managers, and began to do business in those things which were for the common interest and benefit of the trade. So came into being the American News paper Publishers' Association, the National As sociation of Stove Manufacturers, the Asso ciation of Wool Manufacturers, the Typothetx (q.v.), The National Erectors' Association, the Coal Operators' Association, the Photo-En gravers' Association, National Metal Trades Association, National Founders' Association and hundreds of others. As time went on, each of these associations tended to enlarge its scope and sometimes several organizations were formed in one trade, to care for different branches of the work. For instance, in New York City, the the oldest organiza tion among employing printers, concerns itself largely with exchanging information as to costs, bookkeeping, preserving fair competition, watch ing credits, etc. The Printers' League handles

all labor difficulties, makes agreements with the unions, settles disputes as to shop rules and the like. The Master Printers' Associa tion concerns itself with the well-being of the smaller printing offices, the job printers, insists on uniform treatment by paper jobbers, the charging of a fair profit on engraving, bind ing, etc., reports on customers who are slow pay, etc. In most cities, however, one local organization serves a trade wholly, and no need is felt for two or three to look after various branches of work. It is practically true that in every large city there is a trade organiza tion in every trade represented by a •consider able number of houses. These conditions have naturally led to combinations to keep up prices, and the public has been jealous at times of certain organizations, which they classed as a trust in certain trades and industries. At times the suspicion of taking unfair advantage of the public was well founded, and at other times the members of a trade association have only sought fair protection from competition that was ruinous and not advantageous to the com munity. Where the trade organizations have gone too far, and used their power of co-opera tion to push prices above a fair level, there has usually been a reaction; either district attor neys have brought criminal suits charging °com bination in restraint of trade,° and caused the dissolving of trade associations, or else the in creased prices have brought new firms into the field, that did not belong to the association, and these have undersold, and brought down the level of prices to a basis of keen competi tion. Of late years there is a tendency in the United States for the large trade organiza tions to work together for business reforms. They call upon each other for assistance in securing needed legislation, and they have formed a National Association of Manufac turers, whose influence is very_powerful. See TRADE, BOARD OF; CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE