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Unionism

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UNIONISM, the principle of operating in dustries by union labor; that industrial system through which corporations or other employers hire their men by collective bargaining with organized bodies of workmen. (See AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR; TRADE UNIONS; STRIKES AND Locxours). Although less than 2 per cent of the active workers in America belong to trades unions, yet this organized fraction domi nates the policies in all the large industries, and has been very active for a generation in raising wages, shortening hours and improving shop conditions. It is a notable fact that the six leading countries in the Great World War are each imbued with unionism. In 1913, the year before the war broke out, the number of trade unionists in the leading nations was as follows: United Kingdom, 4,000,000; German Empire, 3,800,000; United States, 3,000,000; France, 1,050,000; Italy, 975,000; Austria-Hungary, 750, 000. No other country had as many as 225,000 union workers. The unions of Great Britain, Germany and the United States each close upon $20,000,000 in that year to maintain their organizations, provide benefits, etc.

In the United While the unions of Great Britain increased from 1,500,000 to about 2,800,000, those of the United States grew from 548,300 in 1900 to over 2,000,000 in 1910. The causes for this growth were, in the main, the great prosperity of all workers, the trust or combination idea, the many strikes and finally labor's natural growth. In 1895 the American Federation of Labor, the most powerful repre sentative body in the United States — compos ing the great majority of organized workers, had perhaps 200,000 members. In 1910 the Federation had upward of 1,800,000, and in 1918 their membership totals a full 2,500,000. There are about 500,000 unaffiliated union workers.

The growth of trade-unionism in America is due in large part to the trust and combination movements of capital, and the many strikes in every trade, many of which were so successful that the workingman got a revelation of the power of organization, and the membership of some of the trades — the building and mining in particular—increased with leaps and bounds.

The Necessity for Labor Unions, as Il lustrated in the Building Trades.— Great con struction companies, wholesale employers of labor in the building trade, have been at war since 1899 more or less incessantly with the trade-unions. Strikes, lockouts and boycotts have been common in all the larger cities. Since 1901 the building industry has involved in the United States an annual outlay of some thing like $400,000,000 and employs more than 1,000,000 men. The experiences of the building trades in 1904 and the printing trades in 1906 demonstrated to the workmen the necessity for trades unions operating together, and this is now the fixed policy, accomplished through the American Federation of Labor.

Demands of The demands of the American Federation of Labor made in resolu tions will show what is sought by the American trade-unionists. These were: I. Compulsory education.

2. The repeal of all conspiracy and penal laws affecting seamen and other workmen, incorporated in the Federal and State laws of the United States.

3. A legal work day of not more than eight hours.

4. Sanitary inspection of workshops, mines and homes. S. Liability of employers for injury to health, body and life.

6. The abolition of the contract system in all public works.

7. The abolition of the sweating system.

8. The municipal ownership of street cars, waterworks and gas and electric plants for the distribution of heat, light and power.

9. The nationalization of telegraphs, telephones. railways and mines.

10. The abolition of the monopoly system of land holding and the substitution therefor of the title of occupancy only.

11. Direct legislation and the principle of referendum in all legislation.

12. The abolition of the monopoly privilege of issuing money and substituting therefor a system of direct issuance to and by the people.

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