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A couple of instances of his successful interference in these disputes must suffice. For instance, there was a disagreement between the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and its employees, which had been carried so far that the men were about to strike. The officers of the road would not consent to an interview with the officers of the Brotherhood, because the latter were not their own employees. The men appealed to the Committee of the Federation, and Senator Hanna was called up at Washington by the Secretary of the Committee. He inquired as to the real merits of the dispute and asked particularly whether “the boys were right.” The next day E. E. Clark, Grand Chief Conductor of the Order of Railway Conductors, went over to Washington to state their case, and after hearing it Senator Hanna telephoned to Mr. J. P. Morgan and arranged an interview between the banker and the union leader. As a result of the meeting the strike was averted, and the incident is said to have resulted in a change in the management of the road.
In the heat of his last campaign in Ohio, when he was a candidate for reëlection to the Senate, and when he was overworked and in bad health, he responded with similar celerity and success to another demand made upon him. Mr. William D. Mahon, President of the Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees, came to the Committee and reported a disagreement between the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey and its employees. The officials of the Corporation refused to see him, and unless he could meet them a strike was bound to follow, because hard feeling had been aroused and the men could no longer be restrained. Senator Hanna was notified of the situation by telegraph. The President of the Public Service Corporation was a fellow-Senator—Mr. Dryden; and Mr. Hanna contrived a conference between him and Mr. Mahon, whereby the strike was prevented. In both of these instances the success of the Committee was due chiefly to the personal influence of the Chairman. The men responsible for the direction of large corporations could not afford to disregard the suggestions of a man to whom they owed so much. Even in those cases which were managed by the Committee without Mr. Hanna's help, his prestige was behind it and often enabled it to obtain a hearing and carry on its work of conciliation. The accusation of the operators that Mr. Hanna's interest in the settlement of labor disputes was due to an ambitious politician's desire for personal popularity was frequently repeated; but as soon as a man had once heard Mr. Hanna talk about his plans and expectations they became convinced of his disinterestedness and sincerity. Mr. Ralph M. Easley states that an interview with Mr. Hanna was usually sufficient to convert not merely lukewarm and mildly antagonistic people, but radical and suspicious unionists and strong personal opponents. When an attempt was made to organize a local conciliation committee in Chicago, Judge Murray F. Tully, an able and influential Democrat, was invited to coöperate. Although he believed in the arbitration of labor disputes, he refused, because the Civic Federation looked to him merely as an annex to Mr. Hanna's Republican organization. He was, however, persuaded to attend a public meeting and hear Mr. Hanna and Mr. Mitchell talk. After the end of the Senator's speech, Judge Tully arose and said: “Mr. Chairman, I came to this meeting deeply prejudiced against the whole idea. I will be frank. I was against it because I deemed Senator Hanna to be nothing but a politician, and I did not think it was a good thing to have him at the head of the local federation. But I have heard him and I am with you.” From the foregoing account the Industrial Department of the Civic Federation may appear to have been merely a vessel wherein Senator Hanna's personal prestige was converted into a soothing industrial balm. But such a sneer would be very unjust both to Mr. Hanna and to the Federation. Undoubtedly the temporary success of the Committee was largely due to Mr. Hanna's personal influence with the heads of corporations, and the importance of this branch of the work of the Federation has since his death very much diminished. The program of the association was nevertheless based upon a sound analysis of the immediate cause of the majority of strikes, and it specified a practicable method of averting them. Strikes can usually be avoided, in case some means exists of bringing the two disputants together for the purpose of a full discussion of grievances,
demands and differences of opinion. But conferences of this kind implied in practice the existence of some form of association among the employees and their representation by influential leaders. It implied as the result of a successful conference some sort of an agreement defining the terms of employment for a specified period; and it implied also the recognition of a set of rules which would help to determine the justice of the conflicting demands of the economic litigants. It implied, in short, the organization of both employers and employees, a definite theory of the economic relations between them and of the social and economic issues involved in their disputes. Like every serviceable piece of practical machinery its successful working embodied a creed, and it could not make any very permanent conquests, until that creed was defined and somewhat generally accepted. Senator Hanna did not seem to be the man to give an explicit and persuasive expression to such a creed. He was not a student of economics. He had no knowledge of the history of industrial conflicts in other countries and other times. His general economic point of view was that of an extreme individualist who wanted public interference in business confined to the encouragement of private and class interests. Nevertheless, the desirable creed obtained a rough but very effective popular expression at his hands, and it did so because in his own life he had always lived up to the creed which he explained and advocated. The wholesome aspect of all his thinking was the close, the inseparable relation between it and his own personal experience. In so far as his business and political life had restricted his personal experience, his theories were correspondingly partial and inadequate. But in all the human aspects of business his personal experience had been large and edifying; and the thought in which it was reflected became luminous as well as sincere. The ideas contained in his capital and labor speeches of 1902 and 1903 had for years been lurking in his mind. They had received occasional and very partial expression irr his conversation and letters. But no immediate practical exigency had arisen which compelled them to overflow, and the only references to the labor question in his earlier speeches had been prompted by the vindication of his own personal relation with his employees. But between the spring of 1901 and the summer of 1902 he was, as we have seen, actively interested in several attempts to settle labor disputes by the use of certain methods. These experiences fermented in his mind, and stimulated his thought. Even then his ideas might have gone unexpressed, had he not consented, as usual without premeditation, to address in August, 1902, two Chautauqua meetings. The speeches delivered at that time, an article in the National Magazine on “Socialism and Labor Unions” and a final speech made before a labor union in Columbus, Ohio, in April, 1903, constitute his longest and most important utterances on the labor question. They deserve careful consideration, not merely for the light which they shed upon their subject-matter, but because they enable us to understand Mr. Hanna himself very much better. For the first time in his public career, some of those essentially social values, embodied in his personal life, received explicit expression. He almost always began with an account of his own practical experiences with a prolonged and embittered strike — that of the Massillon coal miners in 1876. This one terrible instance, nearly thirty years before, had taught him to see the waste, the futility and the criminal danger of allowing such conflicts to settle themselves without any recognition of the endangered public interest. He had believed ever since that some effective machinery should be provided for the settlement of industrial disputes, and he welcomed the program of the Civic Federation, because it recognized a public responsibility in the matter and attempted seriously and intelligently to grapple with it. In his own words the Civic Federation was merely trying to apply the “Golden Rule” to the adjustment of such a quarrel — which meant that each of the two contestants should not oppose the legitimate demands of the other and that each should abandon any practices of their own, inimical to the best interests of society. The employers, on their side, should recognize that unions were an indispensable and useful agency, not merely to protect labor against capitalistic selfishness, but for the gradual creation of a better understanding between the wage-earner and the wage
payer. Mr. Hanna never went so far as to advocate a thoroughgoing policy of recognizing and favoring union labor, but the tendency of his doctrine looks in that direction. If the laborer can obtain his fair share of the industrial product only by organization, his attempts to organize should be approved rather than opposed. “The natural tendency,” he said in his Chautauqua speech, “in this country, ay, and in the world over, has been the selfish appropriation of the larger share by capital. As long as labor was in a situation which forced it to submit, that condition would to a very large degree continue. If labor had some grievance and each laborer in his individual capacity went to his employer and asked for consideration, how much would be shown to him 7 Not much. Therefore, when they banded together in an organization for their own benefit which would give them the power, if necessary, to demand a remedy, I say organized labor was justified.” It is essential, he adds, that employers should admit the existence of such a justification, and establish a foundation for joint action and mutual good-will by conferring with the unionized laborers and their representatives and entering into agreements with them. He had the utmost confidence in the practical value of such conferences. Frequently misunderstandings would be avoided, unreasonable demands mitigated, and comparative good-will restored merely by a frank discussion and ventilation of mutual grievances. “It is truly astonishing,” he says in his article on “Socialism and Labor Unions,” “to consider what trivial disagreements have occasioned some of the most serious strikes. I have seen two parties stand apart, each with a chip on his shoulder, defying his opponent to knock it off and moved by emotions and considerations that were very far from promoting the welfare of either party. There is more to overcome in the way of feeling on the part of capital than on the part of labor. Capital has been for many generations intrenched behind its power to dictate conditions, whether right or wrong; and the abrogation of this power is not going to weaken in the least degree the strength of the hitherto dominant party, for a manufacturing corporation can make no better investment than in the hearty coöperation and good feeling of its employees.” While he justified the organization of labor in the interest