網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

an accident which had befallen Mr. Hanna during a trip on the Great Lakes. He had been going around on crutches, but on this day he walked with a cane. "When he boarded my car I said to him that I was glad to see him without crutches. He then told me the story of his accident, being as friendly and going into as many details as he would in case I were a close business associate. He said he had been to Duluth or some other northern port, that he had left the vessel at the dock, and and while returning to it he had fallen from a long ladder. I had the whole story. I never saw a man like him and I have worked for many. He always talked freely and confidentially to his men, no matter who they were."

The same conductor gives an account of an interview between Mr. Hanna and an employee with a grievance. "The barnmen wanted an increase of wages. They had gone to the company's offices and had sent in petitions for a raise of pay, but they had not received an answer. Times were good and the trackmen were all getting raises, but the barnmen were not. In those days each barnman had fourteen horses to take care of; they had to be cleaned and watered — other men did the feeding — and the harness had to be thrown on and off. One of the barnmen waited at Detroit Street and Lake Avenue, where Mr. Hanna took the car, and when he came up the man said, 'Mr. Hanna, I have appointed myself a committee of one to wait upon you and see about a raise of wages.'

"Mr. Hanna looked at him a minute and replied, 'I am hardly the one for that; you ought to see Mulhern.' [George G. Mulhern, superintendent.]

"'Well,' the man went on to say, 'we have sent petitions and got no answer. So I thought I would go to the fountainhead myself.' Then the man told how the trackmen had had their wages increased. 'But your job,' Mr. Hanna answered, 'is good for three hundred and sixty-five days a year if you want to work. The job of the trackmen is only good in summer, and in rainy weather they can't work.'

"'Yes,' the barnman replied, 'but our work can't be done by your high-priced trackmen. Put them in our places and they would fail.'

"Mark Hanna stood there and argued with that man as he would have argued with President McKinley. After a while he said, 'I will talk with George and James and you will hear from me.' [George G. Mulhern and James B. Hanna, son of Kersey Hanna and cousin of M. A. Hanna, who was general manager of the road.] Afterwards Mr. Hanna asked the general manager, referring to the man who had talked with him, 'Who is that old fellow?' And he was told it was Frank Hunter, one of the best barnmen they had. Mr. Hanna said, 'He is a damned smart old fellow.' And the first thing the men knew they got their raise."

The management of all of Mr. Hanna's enterprises was liberal to injured employees. When one of the stage hands of the theatre fell ill, he was paid eighteen dollars a week for a year and a half. A workman who had been injured on a dock of M. A. Hanna & Co. was put on the Opera House pay-roll until he recovered — which was a mixture of kindness and prudence. The man was taken care of in this way so that his fellow-workmen should not know of it. On the street railway the men who met with accidents or fell ill drew half pay as long as they were laid off. The company had its own physician and surgeon, whose services were at the disposal of any employee, free of charge. Mr. Hanna personally loaned money to the men, with which to buy homes; and they were allowed almost to name the terms on which they paid him back. The motormen and conductors always had a lay-over of ten minutes at each end of the line — with a lounging room to spend it in, a billiard table and reading matter. No employee was allowed to drink while on duty; but whenever a man was dismissed for disobedience of this or any other rule, he was given a second chance. Mr. Hanna would frequently reinstate a man over the head of the superintendent.

The street railway employees repaid the kind and fair treatment they received by an unusual feeling of loyalty; and on one occasion this loyalty received an effective expression. In the spring of 1899 Mr. Hanna had planned to go to Europe, chiefly for his health; but at the last moment he hesitated, because of probable labor troubles in Cleveland. His own employees were content; but a strike was threatened on the lines of his larger competitor—the "Big Consolidated." He did not dare to leave without some assurance that his own men would not be drawn by sympathy into the strike, and he asked the superintendent to send a delegation of thirty men to him, so that he could reach an understanding with them. "Boys," said Mr. Hanna, when they arrived," I have been preparing to go to Europe for a little rest. But it looks as if there would be trouble on the other road, and before I go, I want to know whether you will be drawn into it. If there is any chance of trouble on our road, I won't go. But if you are satisfied and agree to keep at work, I will go." There was not a man in the delegation who did not personally assure him that he was to go to Europe and that they would look after the railroad.

The men were as good as their word. The strike occurred on the "Big Consolidated," and it proved to be the worst of its kind in the history of Cleveland. For days together there were scenes of wild disorder. No cars could be run unless guarded by the police. The strikers did their best to establish a reign of terror, even going so far as to post observers, who were to take down the names of business men and politicians boarding the cars. Feeling ran extremely high, and the most strenuous attempts were made to induce the employees of the "Little Consolidated " to strike in sympathy. They were surrounded by men of their own class, and were told that victory would be easy if they would only leave their cars and absolutely tie up traffic in Cleveland. Every possible pressure was brought to bear upon them, but they did not waver. They continued to operate the road, and so kept their word to the man who always kept his word with them. After Mr. Hanna returned from Europe, a five-dollar gold piece was placed in the pay envelope of every employee as a small evidence of appreciation.

During the course of his business career Mr. Hanna was involved in only one serious strike. It occurred in the Massillon coal district in the spring of 1876; and it resulted in violence, bloodshed, the calling out of the militia, the shooting of at least one striker and the criminal prosecution of others. It made a deep impression on Mr. Hanna. Late in life when he became interested in a very promising attempt to diminish the number of labor disputes, and when he was delivering speeches all over the country, urging upon employers and employees a program of conference and conciliation, he referred constantly to this early experience. It had convinced him, he said, that some better method must be found to adjust the differences between capital and labor; and his own subsequent accessibility to his employees may have been partly due to his consequent determination to avoid, so far as possible, any serious misunderstandings and differences.

The first conspicuous period of American industrial expansion occurred during the few years previous to 1873. It involved among other things an enormous and sudden growth in the production of coal — a growth so sudden and enormous that very unwholesome conditions came to prevail in the industry. Many mines were opened by individuals or companies with insufficient capital, the most dangerous and wasteful methods of mining were used, and for a while extremely high prices were paid to labor. After the panic of 1873 a process of purging took place, which brought severe losses or suffering to every one interested in the production, particularly of bituminous coal. The demand for it was cut suddenly by fifty per cent. The operators were poorly organized. Cut-throat competition took place. Conservatively managed companies found the ground cut from under their feet by weak competitors, who must get the business or fail. The whole industry was disorganized.

The panic of 1873 and the prolonged business depression fell with terrible effect on the wage-earner — particularly in overexpanded industries like that of soft coal. The operators were obliged to reduce wages — in case they were to continue to produce; and the reductions were severe because the excessive rate of expansion previous to 1873 had made the wagescale a burden on the industry. One cut succeeded another, and the miners could make no effective resistance. They were organized after a fashion, but the union was young and weak, and in any event could not have withstood the avalanche. The more disorganized a business is, the more certainly it follows that the expenses of any period of acute depression will fall largely upon the wage-earner. No employers' organization would need or dare to be as remorseless and inhuman in its bargains with labor as are a number of competitive producers, each one of whom is fighting for his life.

In the year 1873 a national association of coal miners had been organized as the result of a convention held at Youngstown, Ohio. Its officers were conservative men, and the policy of the association looked towards the strike only as a last resort. Its announced object was to secure conferences with the operators and arbitrate differences. When the crash came, the price of coal began to tumble and wages were cut. John Siney, the president of the association, knowing that the disorganized operators were helpless, counselled against strikes and advised the local organizations to make the best terms they could. In the meantime efforts were continued to increase the membership of the association, whose enrollment towards the end of 1874 amounted to 20,000 names.

The officers of the association soon felt strong enough to make overtures to the operators for the establishment of friendly relations, but they met with little success. The "History of the Coal Miners of the United States," by Andrew Roy, states that Rhodes & Co. was the only exception to a series of peremptory refusals to recognize the union which they received from the producers in Cleveland. Messrs. Siney and James (the president and secretary) saw Mr. Hanna himself, and received his assurance that if they were true to their policy, as described to him, that he would support them and do his best to get the other operators to arbitrate future differences.

About this time (that is, in the fall of 1874) the miners of Tuscarawas Valley were notified that the price of mining would be reduced from 90 to 70 cents a ton and other labor in proportion. The miners in this district had been enjoying exceptionally good wages and were unusually well organized. They determined to strike rather than accept the reduction. Both sides finally agreed, partly under the influence of President Siney of the national association, to submit the difference to arbitration. Judge Andrews of Cleveland was appointed umpire. The board met in the office of Rhodes & Co., and Mark Hanna was one of the representatives of the operators. The decision went almost wholly against the miners, the price being fixed at 71 cents a ton. The latter accepted the award reluctantly and sullenly. They continued to work, but they felt that a strike would have forced from their employers better

« 上一頁繼續 »