Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- December 29, 1879Labor Unions (Editorial)
The American people are generally sympathetic toward strikes whenever higher wages are the goal, and even the employers bear no particular resentment when they must pay more. We are liberal here, much more so than the European proponents of free trade, and so we recognize the dictum that every worker may demand as much as he thinks he can obtain. If the worker overestimates his worth, that is, insists on more than an employer can afford to pay, the demands are simply denied; but if the latter thinks that the higher wage scale can be met and that a reasonable profit can still be made, then the higher rates are paid. In either case there is no animosity between them. Workers know that, when circumstances permit, employers will treat them fairly.
However, the matter is quite different if workers form unions, not for the purpose of increasing their wages, but to prevent others, who are not members, 2from earning a livelihood. That was what the butchers and other employees tried to accomplish at the stock yards during the past few weeks. There were no complaints about insufficient wages or unfair treatment. The men simply demanded that the management discharge a number of honest, capable men, because they did not belong to the union. In other words: the union workers wanted the authority to decide who should or should not work. This was somewhat similar to the reason for the ancient tailor's strike, so aptly described by Kopisch:
"O King, do not let the seamstresses ply their trade, they interfere with our living. King, we beseech you to hear our plea:"
Such conduct, calculated to enable a certain union to ban anyone who did not belong to their association, would never be countenanced by the American people. In religious matters we have a right to choose the means of our own salvation, and the same principle applies to trades. Discrimination because of nonunionism cannot be tolerated. The conduct of the butchers at the yards is quite at variance with the Socialistic doctrine of the brotherhood of man, and presents 3the same aspects as the Christian creed about the divine origin of man. This religion, notwithstanding its existence for eighteen centuries, found it perfectly compatible to slaughter millions of nonbelievers as well as an equal number of dissenting Christians. Men at first segregated themselves and became Christians. They later created new distinctions by forming sects. In the same manner our international brotherhood of workers shrinks to a national unit and then to a local union which is just as ruthless in its treatment of nonconformists as a religious sect is in its conduct toward heretics and backsliders. The brutal instincts of mankind remain unchanged throughout the ages even if various high-sounding modernized appellations are resorted to during different periods to hide the primeval, beastly behavior.
Labor unions may exact their demands in some cases and under certain conditions, but in the long run they will be as unsuccessful in this land, where the belief in personal liberty is so deeply ingrained in the people, as it would be difficult to form a hierarchy in Pomerania where the inhabitants are definitely in favor of a kingdom.4
Unions, regardless of whether they embrace master craftsmen or merely laborers, and a state religion, are but remnants of medieval views and conditions, akin to slavery, and do not fit into a nation or social order which is based on personal liberty, as in the United States.
I D 2 a 4, I D 2 a 2, I D 2 a 3
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