Minutes of the IWW Founding Convention - Part 12
Industrial Workers of the World
Tuesday, July 4
Chairman Haywood called the convention to order at 2 P. M.
THE CHAIRMAN: When the convention adjourned it was to meet at two o’clock and take up the report of the Committee on Constitution. Is the Committee on Constitution ready to report?
The committee not being ready to report, a recess was taken, and the convention reassembled at 2.50 P. M.
THE CHAIRMAN: Have the different groups selected their members for the Ritual Committee?
The various groups handed in their selections, and the Chairman announced the following as the Committee on Ritual:
American Labor Union—W. Shurtleff.
S. T. & L. A.—S. J. French.
U. B. R. E.—J. S. McDonald.
Western Federation of Miners—(Selection deferred.)
Individuals—C. C. Ross, Guy E. Miller, James Murtaugh.
REPORT OF CONSTITUTION COMMITTEE
THE CHAIRMAN: We will now have the report of the Committee on Constitution. Proceed with the reading of the Constitution.
DEL. MOYER: Mr. Chairman and brother and sister delegates, the Constitution Committee appointed by the convention, who, I may say for my associates on the committee, have worked faithfully since their appointment, have made an effort to present a body or constitution to this organization which we believe will be sufficient to govern this industrial organization that may be launched until a convention may be called some time in the future. It is not necessary for me to enter into any preliminaries in regard to the work of the committee, so I will proceed to read, beginning at the Preamble. I might say that I have understood that the Preamble drawn up by the committee on constitution has already been adopted by this convention. I have no personal knowledge of it, as I was not present on the floor of the convention when this part of the work of the committee on constitution was adopted. I will begin by reading the Preamble, and then the constitution.
Delegate Moyer then read the Preamble and the first two articles of the Constitution, after which, at his request, Delegate T. J. Hagerty, Secretary of the Committee on Constitution, completed the reading of the report.
At the conclusion of the reading of the Constitution, Chairman Moyer, on behalf of the Committee, added the following:
DEL. MOYER: The Committee on Constitution, selected by this convention a few days ago, submit their report at this time. We fully realize that the matters set forth in the report submitted may not be sufficient to govern this organization in the future. We believe that we have submitted a form of constitution sufficient to launch this industrial movement. We have agreed upon this constitution, this report as read by the secretary of the Committee on Constitution and myself, with the exception of one member of the constitution committee. With the exception of that one member we believe that this report, this form of constitution, should be adopted by this delegation and this industrial movement launched at this practical time, and that such changes as may be necessary in the government of this organization after being launched should be left in the hands of an Executive Board or an Executive Council that may be selected by this convention. In support of their report to this convention the Committee on Constitution has the following motion: “Moved by De Leon and seconded by Hagerty that if any amendments, changes or alterations are offered to this report by the convention, Chairman Moyer of the Committee on Constitution, shall demand in our name a roll call thereon.” We submit the report of the Committee on Constitution to you and it is now your property. (Applause.)
DEL. COATES: Mr. Chairman, I move you that the report be taken up and read and acted on seriatim. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been regularly moved and seconded that the report of the Committee on Constitution be taken up seriatim. Are you ready for the question? (Question called for). All those in favor of the motion will signify it by saying aye. Contrary no. The motion is carried, and the secretary will please read.
DEBATE ON NAME
Delegate T. J. Hagerty, secretary of the committee, then read Section 1, Article 1, as follows: “This organization shall be known as ’The Industrial Workers of the World.”’
DEL. COATES: I want to offer an amendment to the first section. Instead of “Industrial Workers of the World,” I want to offer the name “The Industrial Union of America.” If I can get a second to the motion I will give you my reasons for this. (Amendment seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: You have heard the amendment. Are you ready for the question?
DEL. COATES: Mr. Chairman, the only reason I offer this motion is the fact that I realize that we, on the American continent, have no right to organize a union for the workers of the world. I realize that we can only organize the American part of the industrial workers’ union of the world. I believe, Mr. President and fellow delegates, that when we go into an industrial workers’ organization of the world we must go into an organization made up of like organizations as this from every nation in the world into an international labor union of the world; and I do not believe that we ought to begin with the idea of stretching ourselves beyond the real domain of this organization. I believe that England, Germany, France, and all the various nations of the earth should be given their equal right in organizing their great national and international industrial organizations, and then we ought to come into an international congress such as has already been organized and has its headquarters now in Germany; and I believe we are, as I say, beyond our territory when we attempt to launch this movement, which must necessarily confine itself at least to America, Canada, and the nearby nations that wish to come in with us in this organization. I really believe that it would be more attractive, if you please, to the workers of America, this latter name that I suggest, I believe it will cover our entire territory, and I believe that is the kind of name that we ought to have, limiting ourselves to the American continent.
DEL. BARTLETT: I second the amendment, for this reason: We are trying to launch an industrial union movement. Industrial unionism is gaining more prominence among the workers, and by calling this the Industrial Union of America we can explain the idea of industrial unionism more intelligently. I therefore second the amendment.
DEL. BERNINE: I have only one object in seconding this motion. It was not because I wanted to confine it to a nationality, because no one recognizes more than I do the international character of the working class, being a member of that class. There is throughout the world but one working class. (Applause). Believing as I do that this union of the working class in America is organized only for one purpose, one ultimate aim, one object, and that the overthrow of the capitalist class, and knowing as I do and as the members of the delegation with whom I am here, that the workers of each country, although they unite with the workers of the whole world, that the workers of each country must settle with their own capitalist class ; and that is the only reason that that point might be kept in view, that when the time is opportune here for us to seize that for which we are organized, and if we are not organized for that purpose we are simply wasting our own time and deluding the workers with a false hope. That purpose can only be, and it is the only purpose for which we stand on the floor of this convention, the final and complete emancipation of the working class and the absolute, unconditional surrender by the capitalist class of all the means of production to the people, namely, the working class. (Applause). Therefore I believe that while we bear in mind that there is but one working class and that we ought to be intimately joined with that class, that the interests of the workers in Europe or in China are identical with the interests of the workers in America, yet we should not lose sight of the fact that we must finally settle with our own capitalist class.
DEL. WRIGHT: I want to say, with regard to the name as settled on by the Committee on Constitution, that we did not understand the name to be a definition or an indication of the jurisdiction of this organization. We understood the name of this organization to be a general designation of our position with regard to all the workers of the world. Now, I cannot conceive, nor do I, that any name for any organization does define the jurisdiction of the organization. And I cannot conceive, therefore, that the questions that the other delegates have raised with regard to the amendment and against the original proposition as presented by the Committee on Constitution are valid. If they were valid it would be different, but I do not believe that they are, under those circumstances, since this name does not define the jurisdiction of this organization. It simply sets forth to all workingmen that we recognize the principle that we are all workers of the world and belong as such in that category as workers of the world, industrial workers of the world; and I think that if we fly that banner as a name for the organization a good deal, as some other organizations have flown the banner “Workingmen of All Countries Unite,” we recognize the fact nevertheless that the working class of each country would have to settle with its own capitalist class in each respective country. (Applause.)
A DELEGATE: I would like to ask the secretary or the committee for the reasons for giving the name that the committee has?
DEL. T. J HAGERTY: As Brother Wright, of that committee, has explained the meaning of the committee as far as I understand, I do not think anything can be added to it except that in confining the name to America it would shut out, for instance, one of our brothers here in New Jersey who is in communication with the members of his association in Hamburg, and would shut out a great many in South America and Mexico who are not, so far as the word “American” goes, practically, of the United States.
DEL. BERNINE: Since the point I made seems to be fully understood by this convention, I will withdraw my second, with the consent of the maker of the motion.
Question called for.
DEL. RIORDAN: I do not suppose there are very many delegates here who care very much about international boundary lines, but I am going to speak about how this name will be taken in the country across an international boundary line, namely, Canada.
There are many organizations over there which at the present time are affiliated with organizations that are to become a part of this organization. I am sure that they will protest or find a little fault with the name “America.” We have over there a great number of patriotic Canadians who do not agree with the name of an organization defining itself too closely. At the time that the American Labor Union changed its name from that of the Western Labor Union it created a great deal of feeling throughout British Columbia owing to the fact that they had made the change without their approval. Now, I want to say, delegates, that it creates more or less of a prejudice when you define things so closely as to name or designate international boundary lines. We have some over there, I will acknowledge, who realize the fact that they must be cosmopolitan in a matter of this kind. They do not want to recognize international boundary lines. I for one do not. But there are many who are members of organizations that are about to affiliate themselves with this organization who will oppose a name of that kind, and I object to the name of “American” in naming this organization.
DEL. KLEMENSIC: Brother Chairman and fellow delegates, when you try to define what the boundary line is between one nationality and another one, the only thing that is plausible is this: it is the common submission of a common lot of men and women to a common set of men that are ruling them in the name of some supreme being or some supreme power, and this supposed-to-be boundary is something that you neither can see nor feel, but it is the plutocracy that organized it that way. We know we have got Austrians, Chinamen, Japs, and people of all nationalities here in this country. So we have got Frenchmen, Germans and Italians, and we are a cosmopolitan crowd. Now, then, as it is, all lines that were ever established have always been established by men who were a bunch of robbers, thieves and exploiters, and we want to combine ourselves as humanity, as one lot of people, those that are producing the wealth of our oppressors, and we want to have under that banner our brothers and sisters of the world.
Question called for.
THE CHAIRMAN: The amendment is that Section 1 of Article 1 shall be changed to read “The Industrial Union of America” instead of “The Industrial Workers of the World.” Those in favor
DEL. MOYER: Roll call, Brother Secretary. (Roll call seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: We will have a roll call if there is any question as to the result of this vote.
DEL. COATES: Allow me to say a word in conclusion, and that is, that if there is anybody here who believes that I am a stickler for a national or international boundary he is very much mistaken. But I think we ought to be at least sensible on the matter. The idea is simply this with me: Of course we do not care anything about the name of America or anything else. I agree largely with my fellow delegate over here who spoke of the fact that every nationality must settle its own questions, especially industrial and political. There is no doubt about that. It is true that perhaps it is not settled finally in any nation until the rest of the world shall have acted. Nevertheless those are national questions at the present time. But the chief idea that I had in mind was this we have no right to take away the privilege of any other nation to organize such a union as we here are organizing. What complications will we get into if we accept the membership in this organization of a man who lives in France or in England or in any other nation? Are we going into all those various nations to accept membership into this organization? If we do we will have no end of turmoil in the ranks of organized labor. We will perhaps get mixed up with men who do not want to belong to their organizations there, who believe that they are following the best policy in the interest of the workers and who do not believe we have things right, and in fact we are going to get into trouble if we attempt to stretch ourselves over the world. We simply want to confine ourselves to the people who are working closely together. There is no doubt in my mind but what we will get along well with our fellow workmen in Canada or Mexico or on the American continent. That was my idea of limiting this extension or this boundary of the organization to the entire American continent, where practically our interests are all identical as far as the political features and the industrial features are concerned. But I think we are going to get ourselves mixed up with every other nation if we attempt to stretch this to the industrial workers of the world and let individual organizations, or individual members, if you please, of the working class of every nation come into this organization. All I want is some practical, sensible organization.
Question again called for.
THE CHAIRMAN: The debate has been closed on this amendment. The amendment is to change the name of this organization from “Industrial Workers of the World,” to “Industrial Union of America.” Those in favor of the amendment will signify it by saying aye. Contrary no.
A division and a roll call were called for.
THE CHAIRMAN: If a roll call is desired the secretary will proceed.
The secretary proceeded to call the roll. Before the call of the groups was finished Delegate Fitzgerald changed his vote from no to yes. Delegate Sherman, in the absence of his colleague, Kirkpatrick, stated that there was an understanding that the vote of the United Metal Workers was to be cast as a unit. A delegate suggested at this point that the further calling of the roll be dispensed with, but the Chairman directed that it proceed. After a few of the individual names had been called Delegate Murtaugh suggested the uselessness of continuing the roll call in view of the apparent result, but the call of the individuals was completed. At the conclusion of the call—
THE CHAIRMAN: The amendment on the face of the count has been lost. The secretary will count it up and give the correct result of the vote. The amendment is lost.
(Later in the proceedings the result of the vote was announced by the secretary as: Ayes, 3540; noes, 47,728.)
DEL. LUCY E. PARSONS: I recognize, at least I believe, that the original name covers too much ground, and the one that has been offered and lost covers too little, so I move that we substitute “The American Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World.”
DEL. DE LEON: Can we make an amendment to the motion?
THE CHAIRMAN: There is no second to the amendment. The motion occurs on the paragraph, Section 1 of Article 1 as already submitted by the Constitution Committee. Those in favor of the motion will signify it by saying aye, contrary no. The motion is carried and the Section adopted. (Great applause). The secretary will proceed to read.
Secretary Hagerty, of the Committee, then read Section 2 of Article 1, as follows:
Section 2. (a) And shall be composed of thirteen international industrial unions, designated as follows Division 1 shall be composed of all persons working in the following industries: Clerks, salesmen, tobacco, packing houses, flour mills, sugar refineries, dairies, bakeries and kindred industries.
Division 2. Brewery, wine and distillery workers.
Division 3. Floriculture, stock and general farming.
Division 4. Mining, milling, smelting and refining coal, ores, metals, salt and iron.
Division 5. Steam railway, electric railway, marine, shipping and teaming.
Division 6. All building employes.
Division 7. All textile industrial employes.
Division 8. All leather industrial workers.
Division 9. All wood working employes excepting those engaged in building departments.
Division 10. All metal industrial employes.
Division 11. All glass and pottery employes.
Division 12. All paper mills, chemical, rubber, broom, brush and jewelry industries.
Division 13. Parks, highways, municipal, postal service, telegraph, telephone, schools and educational institutions, amusements, sanitary, printing, hotel, restaurant and laundry employes.
Central bodies. Central bodies (first) composed of seven or more local unions in two or more industries shall be known as industrial councils; (second) Local unions, in such industries as are not organized and represented on the General Executive Board; (third) Individual members in such places where there is not a sufficient number of workers to organize a local union in any industry.
THE CHAIRMAN: You have heard the reading of Section 2 of Article 1. What is the pleasure of the convention?
DEL. DINGER: Mr. Chairman, I move that we concur in the recommendation of the Committee on Constitution on that Section. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been regularly moved and seconded that we concur in the recommendation of the committee.
DEL. COATES: Mr. Chairman, I want to offer an amendment. The amendment is that the second paragraph of Article 1 shall read “This organization shall be composed of national and international unions embracing all workers of an industry,” instead of thirteen division as made up.
THE CHAIRMAN: Have you got the amendment written? If so, please hand it up.
DEL. COATES: Yes, sir. (Handing written amendment to the Chairman.)
The amendment was seconded by a number of delegates.
THE CHAIRMAN: An amendment has been offered to Section 2 of Article 1. There are lots of seconds. The amendment is that Section 2, Article 1 be amended to read “Shall be composed of national and international unions embracing all workers of an industry.” You have heard the amendment. Are you ready for the question?
DEL. COATES: Mr. Chairman, I offer that amendment for the reason that I think we are making a very serious mistake indeed in trying to divide the workers of the world into thirteen industries, or rather thirteen industrial divisions. While I agree that an injury to one worker is the injury of all, nevertheless my experience in trades unions has shown me that a peculiar thing that directly affects one industrial branch does not directly affect the workers in another industry; the particular feature of their complaint, the particular demand that they make for their working conditions. And I believe that an international organization ought to be made up of solely those—or one of the departments rather of this organization ought to be made up solely of those people in a single industry. Now, tell me, if you please, what connection the hotels, the public parks, the theatres, the musicians, the restaurant employes, and the laundry employes have with the printing or the publishing industry, if you please? And I want to call your attention to the fact that the fundamental principle underlying this organization says that when one part of this industry strikes, the entire industry strikes; and just as soon as we begin to take out the printers for a remedy of the conditions in the line of publication in whatever field it may be in that branch of industry, we are practically forced, by bringing these other people into their section, or rather, into their international union, to take out the restaurant employes, the laundry employes, the musicians and the various other ten or twelve or fifteen separate industries grouped under this thirteenth head. I think we are going purely crazy as far as the practical feature of lining these people into an organization is concerned. I won’t attempt at this time, nor do I desire to attempt to put into the constitution the limits of any industry. That has been a mooted question in the organized labor world for a number of years. Why, we have a division of all kinds of crafts in an identical trade, men who work practically on the same material, in the same shop, and yet they are contending for a division. I want to throw everybody in that industry into one organization and make it an industrial organization; not merely to fix a set principle for this organization at this time, grouping ten, twelve or fifty different and separate industrial organizations under one head and one international organization. I think if we are to accomplish anything at all in the way of working up this organization to a practical organization, to an organization of usefulness to the workers of this country, or of the world, if you please, we must begin on a practical basis, simply attempting at this time to wheel into line the men and women who work shoulder to shoulder every day in the year as wage workers.
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY: As I understand, the economic organization of the working class is devised to meet the organization of the capitalist class. It must correspond, organ for organ, tissue for tissue, to the structure of capitalist industries, rather than to the craft divisions that exist at present among the workers. Those who have read Charles Edward Russell’s articles in Everybody’s Magazine on “The Greatest Trust in the World,” know that the beef trust to-day is no longer a beef trust, it is a food trust, an international commissary department. That fact is recognized by our fellow-workers in Switzerland, who have practically the same arrangement that we have here in their culinary industrial union of Switzerland, in which they take in tobacco workers, bakery workers, brewery, wine and distillery workers, and all cooking trades, as one industry. To-day we have in this country no longer a few corporations owning a few railroads; to-day we have a department of transportation, with its own international steamship lines, owning and buying up electrical interurban lines—a distinct department of transportation. It is declared to be the ultimate aim of this organization to train the workers to take over—to take and hold that which they produce by their labor; to administer the things that they take; to administer them according to the best developed system. The system of industry to-day is no longer a system of old international crafts or trades. Even the system of government is not such to-day. We have men representing in the government, not electoral constituencies, but industries. We have Senator Aldrich, general manager of the United States, representing the transportation department of the capitalist system of society. (Applause). Now, we propose to organize the workers to meet the structure of the capitalist class. The employe in Odessa, as we read in the papers of this week, is being exploited by exactly the same employer as the employe of the McCormick Harvester Company and the International Harvester Company here in Chicago, because we read that the International Harvester Company’s plant is involved in the troubles in Odessa. The workers are beginning to have one master the world over. There is one capitalist class the world over. We may talk about meeting a particular capitalist class in this country, but it is not true. We are meeting the one world capitalist class, and we must not be afraid to meet that class on their own ground and according to their own forms. We must no longer fight with the little popguns of craft unions in a small international union against the modern shrapnel of the capitalist system, but we must be prepared to meet their conditions and go them one better. We must be prepared to meet their class according to the economic groupings demanded in the Manifesto that called this convention, and not through the narrow emphasizing of the old craft spirit that divided and split up the workers and allowed them to be scattered by the capitalist class in a divided and disorganized craft unionism. (Applause.)
DEL. C. O. SHERMAN: Mr. Chairman and fellow delegates, Delegate Coates seems to be wonderfully fearful that the workers of the United States will become acquainted with those who under circumstances that they were not responsible for, happen to be governed under some other nation. The first point he made in his argument was that he believed we were going too far when we called ourselves the workers of the world.
DEL. POWERS: I rise to a point of order. We have got through with the discussion of that matter, and it doesn’t matter what this gentleman has said about a separate question.
DEL. SHERMAN: The second argument he makes he also brings in that same point when he offers an amendment that we shall have national and international organizations. Who is to be the judge of that class of workers in the United States that should not be international with the world? What class shall be given the especial privilege in the United States that they shall be classed under “international organization?” I am not unmindful of the fact that the chart as set forth here is quite contrary to the old-fashioned and rotten system under which the trades unionists have gone along so many years. I am not unmindful of the fact that we are going to meet opposition that will support the brother who has offered the amendment. But those who were instrumental in drawing up this Manifesto which has resulted in this magnificent representation of the producers of the United States, took into consideration this: that this organization must take the initial step forward, if we were going to break down the old system of craft organization. (Applause). And it is on the Manifesto that this committee has drawn up this constitution. We have stood by the lines of that Manifesto. If I understand the proposition right, Mr. Chairman and delegates, that is what we are here for—to form an organization as outlined by that Manifesto. (Applause). And the first delegate that raises up any objection to any part of that Manifesto, I will all the time object to his position. We are called here with the expectation, according to that Manifesto, to form an organization that would represent the producing class of the world. (Applause). I want to say to my brother delegate who has offered this resolution that he need not be afraid we will offend anybody. If there is one Frenchman in France, one Englishman in England, one German in Germany, or one man in any other country that desires to take out a membership in our organization, if I had anything to do with it I should always stand up and say that we must protect that individual to the full ability of our organization. (Applause). It is that way, and that way only, brothers and sisters, that we are going to break down this rotten system called trade autonomy, which has been so detrimental ever since it has been introduced. He says, “What difference does it make if the printers strike?” To me it makes a difference if anybody strikes; it is my grievance (applause), and I want to be in an organization that can be of use to protect that worker, no matter whether he be a printer or a candy maker. (Applause.) Your Committee on Constitution felt at this time that thirteen groups was as small as we could reduce them at this time. But for myself, I do expect, if I live to be ten years older, that it will be reduced to three groups instead of thirteen. I believe that this is going to bring forth an education that will bring to the workers a realization that the injury of one is the injury of all (applause), and that there is no distinction between the workers. The producing class, whether they work in metal, wood, paper or any other way, as long as they sell their labor in the open market in a competitive system, their interests are identical, and there is no common ground between the producer and the exploiter. (Applause), I hold that if this organization now in its birth should go out after issuing this Manifesto, and recognize a national organization, that that would destroy the whole force of the Manifesto calling for this gathering. I for one as a member of that Constitution Committee will stand first, last and all the time for everything that has been read before this audience this afternoon in that constitution. I thank you. (Applause.)
DEL. H. S. DAVIS: I wish to address the convention. To the local in which I hold a membership in the American Labor Union, that chart as now organized means the destruction of that local. I wish to know in what particular position that local will be placed. I refer to the Butte Working Men’s Local Union No. 5, of the American Labor Union, composed principally of ditch diggers, etc., with a jurisdiction extending over all unorganized crafts and callings there, till another organization of that kind with jurisdiction begins; all over Silver Bow county and clear into the other counties until the jurisdiction lines of some other organization of that kind begins; principally in Silver Bow county.
THE CHAIRMAN: Do you ask for information?
DEL. DAVIS: Yes, where do we get off as a local?
THE CHAIRMAN: It is the opinion of the chair that you would be in Division 13, Highways and municipal work.
DEL. DAVIS: All right; that is a question that will be put to me as soon as I arrive home.
DEL. DUNCAN MCEACHREN: I desire to find out wherein this grouping that is in the chart as outlined by Comrade Hagerty conflicts with industrial organization. I cannot see, as far as I am able to see, wherein Delegate Coates finds any conflict. He seemed to argue along the same lines and come to the same conclusion, with the exception of some difference as to national and international unions. I cannot see where they conflict. Their arguments are alike. They sound similar to me, and I believe they are alike.
THE CHAIRMAN: We will hear the explanation of the secretary.
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY, of the committee: The section here calls for thirteen divisions, thirteen departments or groups in which the workers shall be internationally organized. As I understand Delegate Coates’s amendment, it does away entirely with these thirteen groups and means any number of national and international industries. It might mean 60; it might mean 500 for all I know; it might mean 1,000. We might call the business of making toothpicks a separate complete industry, so that there would be a department of toothpick makers, including all the fellows in the business of toothpick making, and so on interminably. This means a logical arrangement, so far as we can see to-day; a logical grouping of the workers in thirteen economic groups or departments, bringing together more closely the workers on the basis of the class struggle, and the eliminating and blotting out as far as possible of all craft lines, craft jealousies and trade aristocracies.
DEL. GILBERT: Comrades, Delegate Coates asked a question that has not been answered. That is my only reason for rising in order to say something to this effect: He mentioned a number of trades or callings to be grouped under the one head, and of course they appeared very divergent and disconnected, and he said, “What has the printing trade got to do with those?” For fear that he or some member might think that we are carried away by sentiment, I am going to answer his question. If he will revert to the wording of the original document he will see that it says that they “will strike in a given industry when necessary.” Don’t forget that “when necessary.” Each particular calling will make its own especial rules, as far as those kinds of dealings with the capitalists are concerned, they apply only to them. But it is said, “I cannot see any rightful connection between laundry workers and printers.” Supposing the laundry workers are having some kind of trouble, why should the printers print lies about the strike, under the pretext that it was not their fight? If the printers are called upon to print lies concerning them, then it takes up the cause of the laundry workers right then and there, and this is one of the times when it is made necessary for the whole group to battle together in common.
DEL. J. C. SULLIVAN: I make no contention at this time that the imaginary lines drawn between the industries by this committee are absolutely correct, but they are, in the judgment of the committee that this convention saw fit to turn the matter over to, as just and equitable as they could arrange at this time. If you will notice in the constitution further on, there are certain powers given to the Executive Board to classify organizations. If it should be found that some unions are classed with or identified or attached to a division, and it would be to their interest to be attached to another division, reason would naturally cause us to believe that the change would be so made, but in order to make a start the first step must be made. This, as I understand, is to be an organization organized on the industrial plan, wherein all the industries revolve around one center—that is, the management of the organization—where the workers in any one industrial center look to it for advice, assistance and support in making their contentions in its industrial battle for existence. Now, it may be possible to change some of those lines so as to be fairer than what is represented by that chart at the present time. It might be better, to the minds of some, to make fewer divisions or a greater number of divisions. But, as I stated a moment ago, to the minds of the committee to whom this convention delegated the power of preparing a constitution for your consideration, that is the result of their efforts. If it is wrong, if it is unfair, I believe that I can safely say that it is the fault of the heads of those individuals and not of the hearts. It is in accordance with the best judgment and the ability of which they are possessed. If it is not for the best interests of the organization it is your fault in not placing people on the committee who had more ability. (Applause.)
DEL. FAIRGRIEVE: I am one of that committee who would not vote for the report of the committee. Brother Moyer mentioned one man who dissented; I am the dissenter, for several reasons. In the State that I come from, Montana, the question of uniting the workers into one organization has been something that has been agitated by the people there in their local unions, in their State and central organizations, for years. I believe there went from Montana into the first convention in Denver calling for a resolution of this kind, from Brother Sullivan of Butte. They had tried to devise an organization that would be most effective. After they got this Manifesto they looked over and read the Manifesto thoroughly, but they thought that when we came here the men who had issued this Manifesto would have a constitution drawn up that they thought the workers should work under. Now, then, I was put on the special committee to draft a part of the constitution. We brought in a report on the lines of this resolution that I submitted to the first committee, on State lines, to organize the workers in State organizations, but to unite them by a national congress of labor that would have a control over the entire organization of any and all kinds, for the purpose of eliminating any jurisdictional fight that might come up between different crafts and different industries, grouped all together. The intellectuals of that committee opposed it on the ground that it would place too much power in the hands of the State, within State lines, that they might use it for political prestige. Now, it seems that they were afraid of their horses, since if you leave the power in the hands of the collective membership in the State or in the organization, and have the imperative mandate controlling your representatives, the leaders will never dare to use their power for the advancement of any political party, whatsoever. We were told by the committee that the chart did not mean anything, that the Manifesto was the work of one single individual. Now, we did not confine ourselves to that chart, but we brought in a report for an organization along certain lines. The committee threw it in the waste basket because the convention has committed itself to a certain policy and you cannot inject this part or any part into it. I want to say this, that I cast my vote on the first part, the name of this organization—
DEL. MOYER: I rise to a point of order. I take the position that the brother is not confining himself to the matter before the convention, and I ask the chair to rule on it.
THE CHAIRMAN: The point of order is well taken, Brother Fairgrieve.
DEL. FAIRGRIEVE: I realize this, that this is about the only place that I can be heard on this question, and I take the opportunity for the view of the unions of Montana to get before the convention on this question.
DEL. CLARENCE SMITH: I have seconded the amendment of Brother Coates. It seems to me that every great national movement has certain central underlying principles that make that movement necessary. The material facts, the underlying principles that called the industrial union conference together in January, were in my judgment the almost universal demand on the part of organized labor in America and a great part of the unorganized working people of this country for industrial unionism. It seems to me that the economic development of the United States and of the world at this time emphasizes the necessity for industrial unionism. It seems to me that the working class want industrial unionism. On the other hand, it does not seem to me that the material facts, the underlying principles of economic development indicate a desire on the part of the working people of this country or any other to divide the working people into certain arbitrary groups named divisions or by any other name that may be given them. And I dispute the fact, Mr. President, that the Manifesto adopted by the conference in January provided for the arbitrary grouping of the working people into thirteen fixed divisions outlined on the chart now facing this convention. I maintain that the conference in January declared straightforwardly and in unmistakable terms for industrial unionism as provided for in the amendment now pending before this convention. I maintain that the conference in January protested strongly against craft unionism; not for the reason that it intended to declare for certain arbitrary fixed groups, but for the reason that it intended to declare and did declare for industrial unionism. The amendment offered by Delegate Coates, in my judgment, does not provide for craft unionism in any sense of the word, and it seems to me ridiculous for a delegate to get on the floor of this convention and say that he cannot understand how many groups there would be in an industrial union organization with the limited industrial organization of this country. It seems to me ridiculous for him to mention the possibility of there being 100 or 500 such groups. Regardless of how the delegate may feel on this question, I feel certain that the great mass of the American working people recognize what industrialism means, and they recognize that it means the combining together in one international industrial organization of the world the crafts or trades embraced in one particular industry. And industrial unionism is further emphasized by the industrial union conference in January; it means the banding together of all such international industrial organizations in one general union of the working class. It seems to me that if we can confine this organization to the thirteen arbitrary groups or divisions as set forth by the Constitution Committee, that we are going to put before the working people of this country a proposition that they do not want and do not know anything about, and it will be absolutely unworkable when it goes before them. I do not think, Mr. Chairman, that a clear declaration for industrial unionism would result in any appreciably greater number of departments than thirteen as stated in the chart now before this convention. I do not see how from a study of that chart there could possibly be, if all of the working people of this country were organized, more than sixteen or eighteen international industrial organizations. But it seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that if this organization is going to succeed it must follow the natural lines of economic development, and not follow the arbitrary fixed lines that may be set forth by this convention or this Constitution Committee, saying that certain men should be placed in a certain place, and these women there, and that they shall not be welcome in any other places in this organization. I believe that the natural course of economic development is for organization by industries. I believe that the working people want organization by industries, and I believe that it will not involve this organization in any greater number of international organizations than the Constitution Committee provides for, and I believe that the plan submitted by the Constitution Committee is unworkable.
DEL. W. L. HALL: As there has already been some difference between those who have been instrumental in calling this convention, and the precedent for manifesting this difference has already been established, it occurs to me that I have a right to intrude some of the ideas that I had as a signer of the call for this convention. It occurs to me that there is one general principle underlying what might be termed an economic organization of the working people, and that one principle is centralized administration. It occurs to me that that one factor in labor organizations, administration, has a greater influence upon the individual character towards bringing about solidarity of the working people than any other factor with which we have to contend. We have already departed from the true spirit of those who called this convention by establishing thirteen different administrations in this one union that was called for. The Manifesto clearly states that “an organization fulfilling these conditions must consist of one central union embracing all workers”; and it establishes itself upon that principle a little further on by saying, “All members must hold membership in the local, national or international unions covering the industry in which they are employed.” Now, that does not mean that this national or international union is set aside as a separate administration; it simply means that for clerical purposes, for purposes of grouping the members and recognizing their groups economically, they are placed in that position to each other. But the idea was to centralize administration. The idea, as I say, has been departed from by the committee, but I presume the committee considers that we are not in a perfect state of development; therefore that it was necessary for them to depart in certain measures from the ideal of an economic organization. Now, then, if we follow Delegate Coates’s suggestion and establish 50 or 60 different or further administrations in this one economic organization, it occurs to me that we will rob it of the force that it will have; it seems to me that we are weakening the movement by establishing these different administrations. What is meant by an administration? What is meant by Brother Coates’s motion to have them grouped as international unions? It means simply the setting up of another administration within this one great administration. Now, then, I claim that the fewer of those that we have, the better it will be, the more strong will your movement be, the more we will be in accord with that which is demanded by the working people; that is, a form of an organization that will serve their economic needs. Now, I do not care to occupy much of your time, but I would like to call attention to that one general principle underlying a perfect economic organization of the working people, and whenever you divide that administration—it may be for reasons that you cannot avoid, or it may be for various reasons but for whatever reasons, whenever you divide that administration, we are thus far departing from the true principles underlying an economic organization. I claim that to have a perfect economic organization we must have a centralized administration and an absolutely centralized financial system before we can accomplish it.
Otherwise, if you give any independence, which you do through separate administration by a division of the organization, you have separated that to that extent from the general movement. Now, I do not pretend to say that we can form a perfect economic organization of the working people, but what I do say is that we can get as close to it as possible, and I believe the grouping suggested by the committee, if that is as close as they can get, is reasonably far enough away from the idea. I do not like even this grouping, but I think it is better than leaving it to a board of directors to decide what is an international. I venture to say that there is no one well enough posted upon the condition and the economic development of this country to ascertain what is a real industrial union. If they cannot decide, it suggests the idea of jurisdictional strife between different divisions. Now, we are going to have that with this division. Here are thirteen grand divisions that we are going to have according to this plan. We are going to have men who are sitting at the head of these different divisions struggling for their organizations. We are going to have them contending that there is some other division of the organization making unfair rates or taking in men that do not belong to them. Now, the more you extend that, the more internationals you organize, the more of this jurisdictional strife you are going to have in the organizations, and it will be the running sore that will destroy us eventually. I claim that we should have our eyes upon the future economic organization of the working people, and if we cannot adopt it now, let us at least announce that that is the correct principle and have something in the future to work to, and be assured, the fewer the number of groups in this organization we shall have, the shorter road to travel. We must avoid all that we possibly can anything that will suggest a jurisdictional struggle between these divisions, because that is what is really destroying the American Federation of Labor; that is the one thing that has made it really ineffective. If there had been perfect peace and harmony between the different organizations of the American Federation of Labor, they would have been just as much an economic organization of the working people as this one that we are forming, and we should not follow the American Federation in failing to recognize those facts. They have been dividing men by reason of the tools that they work with, but we must divide them by industries as much as possible. I claim that we need to absolutely centralize the administration of this organization, absolutely centralize it into one general administration. You can divide it for clerical purposes if you will, or for statistical purposes, as the legislation of the future is going to be largely a matter of statistics. We will probably need to divide the working people for statistical purposes only. But to divide them for administrative purposes is, I say, establishing a sore in the organization that will destroy us. I venture to say now that if we establish the principle that these thirteen different divisions of labor are an absolute fact that we must deal with, in the period of ten years from now we will have to do exactly what we are doing now, destroy this organization in order that we may establish one that more closely states the needs and requirements of the working people. I believe this will be destroyed eventually unless we establish firmly the principle that centered administration and a centered financial system must be the thing that we are to work to in the future. Let us, if we cannot do better, not do worse by establishing a greater number of divisions of this organization. (Applause.)
DEL. GOODWIN: As I understand that chart there with its subdivisions of industries, I look upon it as mirroring the industrial field. Further, I look at this organization that we are trying to launch here or are going to launch as the economic organization of the working class, as a class union which, by virtue of the fact of capitalist development and in the peculiar way in which it is developed, we must make our organization conform to that development. We see capitalist production divided into several departments, but the principle of division is no more important than for economic organization. As Brother Hall has just remarked, the necessity of economic organization is shown by the experience of the past few years in reference to the differences between international organizations dealing with different kinds of commodities, which Brother Hagerty mentioned in his remark about the toothpick business. But if we have an organization where we have got to be continually changing our organization in the same proportion as the changes in capitalist production, wiping out an old industry and starting a new, we will be constantly tearing down and building up again. If industry could be divided up into certain specific groups according to certain commodities that never changed, then we might group men in a certain division. Flying machines might come and we could put them in their place. If we divide up our organization into various parts with reference to the commodities that are changing, we have got to launch a new industrial union every time a new commodity is introduced. I think it is far preferable to have fewer divisions. The anatomist looks at the human body in the light of so many organs. You might divide the anatomy in another way, but you never change those functions or those parts. You might change the classification, but still at the same time the old functions are there. I look upon this movement, and I think those most progressive in this movement look at it in the same way, that we should only mirror the industrial field. We see capitalist production, and that it very much resembles the human anatomy, divided up into separate functions something like the brain, heart, etc. You cannot tell nor you cannot lay down a line of demarcation between two industries and do it exactly, any more than you can lay down the line of demarcation between the functions of the heart and stomach, because those two functions intermingle. You cannot separate them and take one out without taking the other. Hence these divisions, however important they are, should be commensurate, should be in line with the real divisions of capitalist production in the way industries are carried on and largely divided. It should be a reflection of the industrial field and practically set it forth.
DEL. FRENCH: I do not desire to take up time, but I want to go on record as indorsing the statement made by Delegate Hall, and in doing so I wish to say that I think the delegate voiced the sentiments of the S. T. & L. A. as well.
DEL. O’BRIEN: Last fall there was an international conference held in St. Louis, and if you would go over the general scope of that conference you would see that its scope was almost identical with this. There was a chart with groupings and sub-groupings. It appears to me from the remark of a brother on the floor that there is a question involved in the main groupings and what are termed the sub-groupings, and that it might be necessary in an economic organization to have sub-groupings. I believe you can have the departments and the sub-groups without destroying the general function and general solidarity of the organization. I believe it will be necessary for other departments of this organization to have a working principle. I believe in the development of that system of organization. In order to inaugurate a working class republic it will be necessary to have some groupings without destroying the one purpose for which this convention is called together.
DEL. GLASGOW: I desire some information, so that when I go back to my organization I can answer the questions that may be asked of me. I think this will be practical and that we will be able to work along that line, but there are certain questions that I imagine will be asked of me by all the brothers in the branch in which I may be grouped: “Who is going to determine the rates of wages and hours of labor in each particular occupation or trade?” Questions of that kind will probably be asked. We want to get down to the practical working of the organization. When we go to a member and present this proposition to him and ask him to vote to bring his organization in, he will want to know what this is to be before he will consent that his organization shall go into this. Now, who can tell who is to determine these matters? Will it be those in charge of the particular industries or groups that will determine for themselves? And supposing some one organization, say in the building trades, wants to fix wages and hours one way, and another organization says “That is unfair,” and they are asking if a strike shall be ordered to carry out their ideas, would all the others in that particular group be compelled to go on strike because this one trade asked that which may be unfair? Supposing all the others would not consent to it. I want to get at the practical working method, and if some one will give me the idea I will be prepared to answer them, but at the present time I could not. Perhaps Brother Hagerty can answer me that, or some one else.
DEL. KNIGHT: I do not care to argue this one way or the other, but as I understand, this convention cannot settle the technical subjects that will arise. In order to organize we have formed these groups. We realize that it is an evolutionary process and will develop in the future. This is the foundation process, and from that the Executive Board, the President, the Secretary-Treasurer and the organizers can go before the working class and put this proposition up to them. We will depend upon the knowledge of the working class in the various branches of labor, and the organizers and the Executive Board can then develop this question. It will require human brains and human activity to make any of these things go. We should not imagine that when we set this thing down that that settles the question. There is going to be an application of mind and intelligence to this proposition, and that is exactly the way the committee proceeded in drawing up this proposition. I agree with what has been said in favor of a strongly centralized organization, and we want to centralize this as much as possible at the present time so as to get out to the worker and begin the work of organizing the workers and get the material and proceed to divide it up technically and place them, in the position in which they belong. I say that because I thought it might clear up somewhat the proposition.
THE CHAIRMAN: Any further remarks? When Delegate Coates addresses the convention again on this question that will close the debate on this question.
DEL. PARKS: It seems that one member of the Constitution Committee could not concur in the report of the committee, wishing to set up a department of State autonomy or something to that effect. I believe that a study of this plan in the light of the industrial development of the world will reveal to you the fact that capitalism is organizing the business of the world, and the great factories of the future are to be marked not by State lines, not by geographical lines laid out by a surveyor, but by great industrial departments such as we have before us in the world to-day, such as the Standard Oil Company, the great trans-continental lines of railway that run between the Gulf of Mexico, and the great world-wide telegraphic organization of the means of communication, which, with industrial development, are wiping out State lines. Over a hundred years ago there was brought into existence a new nation that was organized by a lot of middle class capitalists and a lot of businessmen. Thirteen States were inaugurated at first, but that group of thirteen States down in the East have changed to a very great extent, and one or two of the States to-day have a great deal more power than the half dozen New England States. If we start out with this division, which is merely suggestive as an organization, it does not necessarily follow that it will always remain as it is outlined here to-day. I think I have been informed by the Constitution Committee that there is provision in the constitution made whereby workers in a department or working in an industry will be able, by a vote or by the Executive Board, to take themselves out of one department and put themselves over in another department if they find that their interests are identical with those of the workers in that department. So I do not think we need to be alarmed about dividing the workers into thirteen different groups. The question has been asked, “Who will regulate the wages and the hours of work?” etc. Who do you think ought to have the right to regulate the hours of work and the wages of the railroad employes, or the telegraphers, or the mail clerks? It is laid down in the Manifesto that there is to be craft autonomy locally, industrial autonomy internationally. I think that the employes of the great trans-continental transportation division ought to be internationally united, with power to regulate their own affairs, hours of labor, rates of wages, etc. My friends, I do not think we need to be carried away with the idea that we are dividing the workers by groups yet as suggested by the Committee on Constitution, or that they have made an attempt. If you will look over this long list of thirteen groups, it classifies the workers according to the industry in which they are at work and with the workers whom they probably are in harmony with altogether.
DEL. WHITE: I want to ask one question, so that I will be cleared up. No matter what sort of an organization we form, no matter what plan we get, can we avoid the aristocratic feature in the organization, can we get rid of the aristocratic idea that separates locomotive engineers from laborers?
DEL. CRONIN: The Constitution Committee, in making this report, reported to this convention that they intended to submit to the convention for their consideration a skeleton of the constitution. Therefore I say that they have no right to draw up a large chart setting forth the different departments for the various organizations that desire to affiliate whenever it shall be established. For this reason there is a lot of international unions formed upon the industrial line in America to-day that I believe are all ready to join this organization, providing they can come in here as an industrial union and not be combined with any other distinct craft or calling or any other industry. Consequently I say that we should form our industrial union on industrial lines, not upon a chart where you put together different industries in certain departments.
DEL. MURTAUGH: I have listened very attentively to the various remarks on this subject, and it seems to me that the entire thing is a tempest in a teapot. I can see absolutely nothing in the grouping as put forth in that chart other than an apology for craft unionism as it exists to-day. We each and every one of us who believe in industrial organization, perhaps have in our own minds a plan drawn upon which we believe the industrial organization should be built. I want to say that in so far as my conception of industrial organization is concerned, it means entirely the solidarity of which we spoke so much in the beginning of this convention and of which we are beginning to lose sight now when confronted with the practical problem. That was all I desired to say, Mr. President.
THE CHAIRMAN: Any further remarks on the question?
Question called for.
THE CHAIRMAN: Delegate Coates has the floor for the closing remarks.
DEL. COATES: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates: I am not dismayed by anything that has been said in opposition. I am rather surprised, however, to hear some remarks that have been made, particularly the remark of Delegate Sherman when he intended to carry out the impression that I stood for the old-line craft organization. Now, he knows better than that. I want to say to the delegates of this convention that another impression that Delegate Sherman gave out, I think is an error; not deliberately used, I don’t believe, to sway this convention, but at the same time having that tendency; and that was that this “wheel of fortune” up here—I cannot call it anything else—was a part and parcel of the Manifesto. I want to deny that it is a part of the Manifesto. It has been said so by one of the originators of this call. It was not, and I have not heard anybody on this floor say that it was except as intimated by Delegate Sherman—if he intended to stick to the Manifesto—maintaining or intimating that that was part of it.
I can agree with every argument that has been made upon this floor for one general centralized head and one general central organization. Mr. President and fellow delegates, I would rather, I would prefer, if you please, to vote for a motion to make it one organization of all the workers of the world if it was practical. (Applause.) The only plea that I have to make now is for a practical organization; an organization that is going to be built up and succeed and go to the lengths that you want to go finally. I want the delegates to remember this Preamble to the constitution as you have heard it read, and see if my amendment does not fit absolutely in place with that Preamble and constitution, and that this wheel does not fit in it. In my opinion the wheel limits this organization. One craft or trade that has been mentioned that usually makes up a part of an industrial group must go in that industrial group. If it does not it will simply be turned over, as somebody has said, into another industrial group. But nevertheless, it must go into some other group of those thirteen. My amendment simply is, and really carries out the intent and spirit of the constitution further on, to give the Executive Board the power to really limit or designate the limits of an organization. It does not fix any limit. It simply says that it shall be made up of national and international organizations organized upon the industrial plan, and that it shall be left to the Executive Board of this organization to say what plan they shall organize on.
In that connection, before I forget it, I want to see, fellow delegates, that we are organizing something now that is the most practical plan, the most feasible plan, to give us a year or two years from now just exactly the groupings into which we should form the workers of these United States—or of this organization, rather. I believe that if we go into the field purely and solely on the central idea that brought this convention together, on the industrial plan, and leave the lines of that industrial organization to the Executive Board, we will be in a far better position a year hence or two years hence to put this organization on the best possible foundation to bring the desired results, the abolition, if you please, of the wage system itself. I believe that just as soon as we go before the mass of the workers with this division, you are immediately going to build up a Chinese wall that you are not going to get over in time to organize this movement. That is the only thing I am afraid of, and I want to say that I want to see this movement go. I have no desire except to build it up and see it go.
Now, there has somebody said—and it seemed to be the general idea, the principal argument he made against the amendment—that capital is organized world-wide and operates world-wide. I want to say to every one of the delegates that have made that statement, that the development of capital is industrial, and you cannot deny it or you cannot prove it otherwise. Whenever capital goes into the railroad business it organizes a railroad company, and the railroad companies, variously as they are grouped together, come together as railroad companies. Whenever the same men who are interested in these railway companies want to go into the newspaper business they organize a separate company and go into the newspaper business, and that company has absolutely nothing to do with the railroad business. When they go into the restaurant business—
DEL. DE LEON: Tut! Tut! Tut!
DEL. COATES: Well, I want somebody to prove otherwise, and I will be very willing to have them do it—whenever they go into the restaurant business they operate along the same line. That is just exactly how capital is operating in the present development of the economic system. That is the way, Mr. President, I am satisfied every one of the originators of this call had the intention that we should form this organization. I do not believe it was the intention to do anything else except to organize an industrial union.
Let me bring out another feature. Delegate Gilbert over here, in attempting to align the hotel or laundry people with the printers, attempted to say that identity of interest came in this direction, that when the laundry people went on strike, was it right to see the newspaper employes, for instance, continue to set up and print lies about the laundry people? This organization has already put it into the power, and we have all agreed on it—put it into the power of the Executive Board that just as soon as, within their judgment, another industry should be called out in order to protect the interests of those on strike, that that too shall be added to the strike number. We can group one industry after an another until we get them all. That is exactly the way that we ought to operate, and that is exactly in line with the amendment that I made to this motion.
THE CHAIRMAN: The question now devolves on the motion—
DEL. COATES: I ask the convention to kindly allow me just a few more words.
DEL. DE LEON: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN (Delegate J. C. Sullivan in the chair): The rule is ten minutes. The, question is on the—
DEL. SHERMAN: I move that his time be extended. I move a suspension of the rules. (Seconded.)
DEL. MCDONALD: I move a suspension of the rules and that Delegate Coates be given further time. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: The motion is that the rules be suspended and that Delegate Coates be given further time. Are you ready for the question? (Question called for.) Those in favor of the question will say aye. Contrary no. The motion seems to be carried. The motion is carried. Delegate Coates has the floor.
DEL. COATES: I want to thank the delegates for this extension of time. I want to say that perhaps to some of you I have seemed to occupy the time of this convention, but I do not believe anybody can say that I have occupied it uselessly. I have tried to occupy the time at least according to the best light that I had in me to see the proper thing to do. I want to bring this out as fair as I possibly can, to get the delegates to realize what we are doing. That is the only intent I have. I want to say that I do not believe that I have another single solitary objection to this entire constitution. The first amendment I made was serious to a certain extent, but not to a very great extent; but this thing I believe is a serious proposition. I believe that either the failure or the success of this organization depends on the very section of the constitution that we are going to adopt or amend right now.
At the request of a delegate the pending amendment was read by the Secretary.
DEL. COATES: This means that every man and woman working in an industry shall become a member of his or her organization, that is, the organization of that industry. To put it plainly I want the principle established that a man, woman or child that has anything to do with the printing industry shall go into one industry. I want the restaurant and hotel people to go into one industry. I want them simply, just as soon as they come into the same craft or the same calling where they work shoulder to shoulder, where their every-day lives are bound together—those are the people that I want to come into one industry.
There was something said about the centralization of power. I am not attempting to touch on that, because I said a few minutes ago that the Executive Board of this organization will have all power to wheel into line in every industrial controversy every member of this organization. Now, let me ask—I have tried to find out if I possibly can—how are the local unions of these various groups to be organized? If I had this section here, if I had the wheel very close to me, I could tell you the fourteen or fifteen different organizations that are grouped together in one group. Let us take the last one; that is the one I remember more particularly. The highways, the people who work on the streets and in the parks, the people who are musicians, the people who are working in hotels and restaurants, the people who work in laundries, the people who work in the printing industry and two or three other industries, are grouped together. And, my friends, that group, I want you to understand, simply means one organization. This means a number of organizations simply allotted in a group. It means that the laundry workers, the street car drivers, the workers upon the highways and in the parks, the musicians, the employes in restaurants and hotels, the employes in the printing offices, shall all become individual members of one great international organization. Here we are. Here we have got a local organization of that group. You are a printer; I am a clerk of some different kind. It means fourteen or fifteen of us in a distinct branch. Are we going to make that up that way, or are we going to separate all those various locals as restaurant employes, as printers, street car drivers, musicians and so on? If we do separate them—and some one has made the remark that we will have local trade unions—then you are doing the very thing perhaps that I want you to do, only you are going about it a hundred times more difficult. If you do not divide them up that way, I want to say to you that just as soon as the street car men or the laundry workers get into a difficulty that means a strike, that means a per capita tax on the printers and the other fellows, then in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he will be outvoted in his local craft union and he will never get a strike and he will never make a demand for a betterment of his condition. I want to say to the delegates of this convention that that was the fatal weakness of the Knights of Labor; that was the very thing that destroyed the Knights of Labor, if you please. We had the clerk, the building laborer, the street car man, the mill worker, the laundry worker in every one of these assemblies of the Knights of Labor. That was its very weakness, and after a while the K. of L. found that it had to organize assemblies of different trades and different crafts. That is the point that I am trying to make clear to this convention; that if we are to be grouped in this indiscriminate way we are not going to make any progress at all. If you are going to group us simply this way nationally and then separate us this way locally, you are going to destroy the very scheme of industrial union that we are here laboring so hard to bring about. I want to say to you delegates that there is only one feasible way for this organization to operate on, and that is to organize nationally or locally the industries as they are grouped upon the industrial field, and then wheel into line behind every section or every industry that is on strike or in difficulty every other industry that comes within the confines of this organization. (Applause.)
There are one or two features of this thing that I intended to bring out, but I believe with my last illustration you catch the idea that I am trying to bring out. You catch the scheme that I believe you will find yourselves involved in if you vote for the provision as brought in by the committee. And I want to say to every one of these committeemen, every single solitary one, that I will be the last on this floor to criticize their acts. I am not standing on this floor criticizing the acts of the committee, but I simply realize that they are a part of this convention and that the convention as a whole has a right to criticize or amend or change any work of any committee.
And now, Mr. President, in closing, I want again to appeal to this organization to look at this if they can in a practical light. A few days ago when I addressed this convention on the purposes of this organization, I said that we want to fix in mind the goal of this organization, the abolition of the wage system. But I warned you at that time that in order to bring the wage workers into an organization of that kind we must build a practical organization; an organization that will go out here to-morrow and begin the struggle for the bread and butter question of to-morrow; an organization that will battle, if you please, for a reduction of the hours of labor tomorrow, for an increase of wages to-morrow, for the right of the workers of the world to organize to-morrow; and I want the delegates to set all this other sentiment aside and give us for the emancipation of the workers an organization along the lines of the Manifesto that has called us together. (Applause.)
DEL. DE LEON: I rise for information. Have I the floor to ask a question?
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.
DEL. DE LEON: I would like to ask Delegate Coates through the Chair whether I understand him rightly to say that if his plan goes through there would be nothing else to change in this proposed program. Did I understand him to say that?
DEL. COATES: I said, as far as I know, I did not have another single objection. There may be, of course, if I find myself mistaken. I do not think so, however.
DEL. DE LEON: My next question is whether—
DEL. COATES: Just a moment, before you ask me another. I am not going to be tied up here. I meant that if there is something that comes up that is not in conformity with this amendment I am going to make it right.
DEL. DE LEON: I did not mean to tie him up; I simply meant to understand. He is an intelligent man, and seemed to understand the whole scope of the constitution, although he cannot have preserved an accurate memory of every detail, but he must have in his mind what that scheme is. Consequently in proposing a thing of this sort I understand him that it is his opinion that his plan can be substituted for these arbitrary groups and the whole scheme is not thereby smashed.
DEL. COATES: I think not.
DEL. DE LEON: I understand you rightly.
DEL. COATES: Yes.
DEL. DE LEON: My next question to him is, how many heads would there be in this industrial organization? Would we, according to his plan, have to recognize an executive head, a central administrative body? Of how many members would that executive body consist, as, a result of his plan?
DEL. COATES: He might ask me, if it takes me two-and-a-half hours to go over to my room when will the next 4th of July occur? It would occupy too much time to go over that now. If anybody wants to go over to my room I will go into the matter fully.
DEL. DE LEON: Well, I am glad of your answer.
DEL. COATES: I think it is just about as sensible as the question. How can I tell you? How can any man tell how many groups there will be? That is just exactly the reason I don’t want any line drawn.
DEL. DE LEON: That answer also suits me. I now want to ask the delegate this third question—whether I understand him rightly to say, that when the capitalists wanted to organize a railroad company it is made up of railroad men?
DEL. COATES: No, I didn’t say any such thing.
DEL. DE LEON: Let me put my question straight, and not cut my question in two.
DEL. COATES: Yes.
DEL. DE LEON: And when they want to organize a newspaper they gather as newspaper men and not as railroad men?
DEL. COATES: You did not understand me in that way. I said this, that when capitalists want to organize a railroad they organize a railroad company. I did not say the men on the railroad at all. I said that when they wanted to publish a newspaper they organized as a newspaper company. That is what I said. I don’t understand the purport of all these little foxy questions at all. (Laughter and applause).
At this point, at six o’clock, the convention adjourned until tomorrow, July 5th.