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Title: 30,000 Locked Out: The Great Strike of the Building Trades in Chicago

Author: James C. Beeks

Release date: February 14, 2011 [eBook #35275]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Odessa Paige Turner, Martin Pettit and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This book was produced from scanned images of public
domain material from the Google Print project.)


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Press of The Franz Gindele Printing Co.

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The attention of the world has been called to the great strike and lockout in the building trades in Chicago because it rested upon the question of individual liberty—a question which is not only vital alike to the employer and the employe, but which affects every industry, every class of people, every city, state and country. It is a principle which antagonizes no motive which has been honestly conceived, but upon which rests—or should rest—the entire social, political and industrial fabric of a nation. It underlies the very foundation of free institutions. To antagonize it is to thrust at the beginning point of that freedom for which brave men have laid down their lives in every land since the formation of society. With this question prominently in the fight, and considering the magnitude of the interests affected, it is not at all surprising that the public has manifested interest in the agitation of questions which have affected the pockets of thirty thousand artisans and laborers, hundreds of employers, scores of manufacturers and dealers in building materials, stopped the erection of thousands of structures of all classes, and driven into the vaults of a great city capital amounting to not less than $20,000,000.

The labor problem is not new. Neither is it without its perplexities and its grievances. Its entanglements have puzzled the brightest intellects, and its grievances have, on many occasions, called loudly for changes [Pg 4]which have been made for the purpose of removing fetters that have bound men in a system of oppression that resembled the worst form of slavery. These changes have come none too soon. And, no doubt, there yet remain cases in which the oppressed should be speedily relieved of burdens which have been put upon working men and women in every country under the sun.

But, because these conditions exist with one class of people, it is no justification for an unreasonable, or exacting demand by another class; or, that they should be permitted to reverse the order of things and inaugurate a system of oppression that partakes of a spirit of revenge, and that one burden after another should be piled up until the exactions of an element of labor become so oppressive that they are unbearable. When this is the case, the individual who has been advocating the cause of freedom—and who has been striving for the release and the elevation of the laboring classes—becomes, in turn, an oppressor of the worst kind. He stamps upon the very foundation on which he first rested his cause. He tramples upon the great cause of individual liberty and becomes a tyrant whose remorseless system of oppression would crush out of existence not only the grand superstructure of freedom, but would bury beneath his iron heel the very germ of his free existence.

The laborer is a necessity. If this is true the converse of the proposition is equally true—the employer is a necessity. Without the employer the laborer would be deprived of an opportunity to engage in the avocation to which his faculties may have been directed. Without the laborer the employer would be in no position to carry forward any enterprise of greater or less magnitude.

All cannot be employers.

All cannot be employes.

There must be a directing hand as well as a hand to be directed. In exercising the prerogative of a director the employer would be powerless [Pg 5]to carry to a successful termination any enterprise if liberty of action should be entirely cut off, or his directing hand should be so fettered that it could not exercise the necessary freedom of action to direct. At the same time, if the employe should be so burdened that he could not exercise his talents in a manner to compass the line of work directed to be done, it would be unreasonable to expect from him the accomplishment of the task to which he had been assigned. There is a relation between the two around which such safeguards should be thrown as will insure that free action on the part of both that will remove the possibility of oppression, and at the same time retain, in its fullest sense, the relation of employer and employe. The necessity of the one to the other should not be forgotten.

That the employer should have the right to direct his business in a manner that will make it successful, and for his interest, none should have the right to question. The successful direction of an enterprise by an employer results, necessarily, in the security of employment by the employe.

A business which is unsuccessfully prosecuted, or which is fettered by the employe in a manner which prevents its successful prosecution, must, of necessity, result in displacing the most trusted servant, or the most skilled artisan.

An employer, in the direction of his business, should not be denied the right to decide for himself whom he shall employ, or to select those who may be best fitted to accomplish his work.

An employe should expect employment according to his ability to perform the work to be done.

A skillful artisan should not be expected to accept the reward of one unskilled in the same trade.

An unskilled workman should not receive the same wages paid to a skilled workman.

Had these rules been recognized by the bricklayers in Chicago there would have been no strike, no lockout. The fight was against the right of the employer to direct his own[Pg 6] business. It was originated by a class of men who claimed the right to demand that all bricklayers should be paid the same rate per hour, regardless of their ability; that none should be employed except those who were members of The United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons of Chicago; and that every edict issued by this union should be obeyed by the Master Masons, including the last one made viz: That the pay day should be changed from Monday, or Tuesday, to Saturday.

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The National Association of Builders convened in Chicago March 29th, 1887, and continued in session three days. This convention was composed of representatives of the building trades from almost every section of the country. They came together for the purpose of perfecting the organization of a National Association in pursuance of a call which had been made by a committee which met in Boston the previous January. Delegates were present from twenty-seven cities, as follows:

Cleveland, Ohio: Thos. Simmons, H. Kickheim, John T. Watterson, S. W. Watterson.

Milwaukee, Wis.: Thos. Mason, Garrett Dunck, John Laugenberger, Richard Smith.

Charleston, S. C.: D. A. J. Sullivan, Henry Oliver.

Nashville, Tenn.: Daniel S. Wright.

Detroit, Mich.: Thos. Fairbairn, W. E. Avery, W. J. Stapleton, Jas. Roche, W. G. Vinton.

Minneapolis, Minn.: Thos. Downs, F. B. Long, H. N. Leighton, Geo. W. Libby, Herbert Chalker, F. S. Morton.

Baltimore Md.: John Trainor, John J. Purcell, Geo. W. Hetzell, Wm. H. Anderson, Wm. Ferguson, Philip Walsh, Geo. Mann.

Chicago, Ill.: Geo. Tapper, P. B. Wight, Geo. C. Prussing, W. E. Frost, F. V. Gindele, A. W. Murray, J. B. Sullivan.

St. Paul, Minn.: Edward E. Scribner, J. B. Chapman, E. F. Osborne, G. J. Grant, J. H. Donahue, J. S. Burris, J. W. Gregg.

Buffalo, N. Y.: Chas. Berrick, John Feist, Chas. A. Rupp.

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Cincinnati, Ohio: J. Milton Blair, L. H. McCammon, I. Graveson, Jas. Allison, H. L. Thornton, J. C. Harwood, Wm. Schuberth, Jr.

Philadelphia, Pa.: John S. Stevens, Chas. H. Reeves, D. A. Woelpper, Geo. Watson, Wm. Harkness, Jr., Geo. W. Roydhouse, Wm. Gray.

Columbus, Ohio: Geo. B. Parmelee.

St. Louis Mo.: Andrew Kerr, H. C. Lindsley, John R. Ahrens, John H. Dunlap, Anton Wind, Richard Walsh, Wm. Gahl.

Indianapolis, Ind.: John Martin, J. C. Adams, Fred Mack, G. Weaver, C. Bender, Wm. P. Jungclaus, Peter Rautier.

New Orleans, La.: A. J. Muir, H. Hofield, F. H. West.

Boston, Mass.: Leander Greely, Ira G. Hersey, John A. Emery, Wm. Lumb, J. Arthur Jacobs, Francis Hayden, Wm. H. Sayward.

New York City: A. J. Campbell, A. G. Bogert, John Byrns, John McGlensey, Marc Eidlitz, John J. Tucker.

Troy, N. Y.: C. A. Meeker.

Albany, N. Y.: David M. Alexander

Worcester, Mass.: E. B. Crane, O. W. Norcross, Henry Mellen, O. S. Kendall, Robt. S. Griffin, Geo. H. Cutting.

Grand Rapids, Mich.: John Rawson, James Curtis, H. E. Doren, J. D. Boland, C. H. Pelton, W. C. Weatherly, C. A. Sathren.

Sioux City, Iowa.: Fred F. Beck.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny City, Pa.: Geo. A. Cochran, Saml. Francis, Alex. Hall, R. C. Miller, Geo. S. Fulmer.

Providence, R. I.: Geo. R. Phillips, Richard Hayward. Geo. S. Ross.

Rochester, N. Y.: Chas. W. Voshell.

Washington, D. C.: Thos. J. King.

George C. Prussing, of Chicago, presided, and William H. Sayward, of Boston, was secretary of the convention. Mr. Sayward appointed as his assistants J. Arthur Jacobs, of Boston, and W. Harkness, Jr., of Philadelphia.

In adopting a constitution the objects of the organization were set forth in the following article:

Article II. The fundamental objects of this association shall be to foster and protect the interests of contractors,[Pg 9] manual workmen, and all others concerned in the erection and construction of buildings; to promote mechanical and industrial interests; to acquire, preserve and disseminate valuable information connected with the building trades; to devise and suggest plans for the preservation of mechanical skill through a more complete and practical apprenticeship system, and to establish uniformity and harmony of action among builders throughout the country. The better to accomplish these objects, this association shall encourage the establishment of builders' exchanges in every city or town of importance throughout the country, and shall aid them to organize upon some general system that will not conflict with local customs and interests, in order that through these filial associations the resolutions and recommendations of this National Association may be promulgated and adopted in all localities.

Not content with setting out the objects of the association in a short section of a constitution, the convention deemed it advisable that its objects should be defined in a manner that could not be misunderstood. The members were aware of the fact that the convention was being watched by builders everywhere, and that the eye of the public was upon every movement made. But they more fully understood that the artisans and laborers connected with the building trades throughout the country would criticise their every act, and unless their position was definitely and clearly set out they might be misunderstood. To avoid this, and to place the objects fairly before the public, the convention unanimously adopted the following:


1. This association affirms that absolute personal independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed; that upon it depends the security of our whole social fabric and business prosperity, and that employers and workmen should be equally interested in its defense and preservation.

While upholding this principle as an essential safeguard for all concerned, this association would appeal to employers in the building trades to recognize that there are many [Pg 10]opportunities for good in associations of workmen, and while condemning and opposing improper action upon their part, they should aid and assist them in all just and honorable purposes; that while upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer or arbitrate, there are still many points upon which conferences and arbitrations are perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it is a manifest duty to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances may be prevented.

When such conferences are entered into, care should be taken to state clearly in advance that this fundamental principle must be maintained, and that such conferences should only be competent to report results in the form of resolutions of recommendation to the individuals composing the various organizations participating, avoiding all forms of dictatorial authority.

2. That a uniform system of apprenticeship should be adopted by the various mechanical trades; that manual training schools should be established as a part of the public school system; and, that trade night schools should be organized by the various local trade organizations for the benefit and improvement of apprentices.

3. This association earnestly recommends all its affiliated associations to secure, as soon as possible, the adoption of a system of payment "by the hour" for all labor performed, other than "piece work" or "salary work," and to obtain the co-operation of associations of workmen in this just and equitable arrangement.

4. That all blank forms of contracts for buildings should be uniform throughout the United States. That such forms of contract, with the conditions thereof, should be such as will give the builder, as well as the owner, the protection of his rights, such as justice demands. That whenever a proper form has been approved by this association, after consultation with the American Institute of Architects, and the Western Association of Architects, we recommend its use by every builder and contractor.

5. The legislatures of the various states should be petitioned to formulate and adopt uniform lien laws and every organization represented in this association is recommended to use its best endeavors to secure the passage of the same.

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6. Architects and builders should be required to adopt more effectual safeguards in buildings in process of construction, so as to lessen the danger of injury to workmen and others.

7. We recommend the adoption of a system of insurance against injuries by accident to workmen in the employ of builders, wherein the employer may participate in the payment of premiums for the benefit of his employes. Also in securing the payment of annuities to workmen who may become permanently disabled, through injuries received by accident or the infirmities of old age.

When this declaration was sent out it set the laborer to thinking, and the public generally to reflecting upon the relation between the employer and the employe, especially in the building trades.

The first paragraph affirming "that absolute personal independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed," was regarded as a declaration of right, justice and liberty that ought to be universally accepted. And yet it has not been so accepted. It is utterly rejected in practice, if not in so many words, in almost every case of strike. In one way or another the strikers prevent others from exercising that right to work and to employ, or attempt to do so, thus assuming for themselves superior rights and despotic powers.

While the builders emphatically affirmed the fundamental principle of right and liberty, they did not condemn associations of workmen. On the contrary, they recognized the fact that there were "many opportunities for good" in such associations, and appealed to employers in the building trades to assist them in all just and honorable purposes. This was certainly liberal, in view of the fact that labor organizations are continually used as agencies for interfering with men in the exercise of their rights.

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The convention declared that upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer, or arbitrate. The members did not even stoop to notice the nonsensical notion of compulsory arbitration, or arbitration under the forms of law, which has found expression in one or two state laws and in one or two bills that have been introduced in congress, and which is not arbitration at all. But, while upon fundamental principles they perceived the uselessness of arbitration, yet they declared that there were many points upon which conferences and arbitration were perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it was a manifest duty to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together, to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances might be prevented. They did not, however, lose sight of the fundamental principle first affirmed, but held that the results of conferences should take the form of resolutions of recommendation, and that all forms of dictatorial authority should be avoided. They are evidently willing to meet the men half way when there is really anything to confer about.

As a whole, the platform of principles upon which the convention planted itself is unassailable by the most critical objector among the disturbing element of labor. It was to be hoped that they would be fully accepted and thoughtfully regarded by the workmen in the building trades.

But, such was not, generally, the case. The leading element in the labor organizations has cultivated an antagonistic spirit that rebels against every proposition or suggestion from any association that is not in strict accord with their own distorted views. This element watched the National Association of Builders very closely, and to them the fact that the constitution and the declaration of principles were eminently just and fair to the workingman, was the greater reason why they should exercise toward the whole a spirit of bitter antagonism. Otherwise, that element of labor which permits others to do their thinking, could not be moulded in the hand[Pg 13] of the leader whose leadership depends upon the ability to make every act of the employer to appear in a hideous light. The fairness of the convention, and the justness of the principles enunciated, stimulated the leaders to renewed efforts to widen the breach between the employes and the employers in the building trades. They saw that unless the rebellious, revengeful spirit was nurtured, the thinking better, more reasonable element, might break away and follow the "master." New demands were made upon the employer with a full knowledge that they would not be acceded to, for the purpose of precipitating a general strike, and it came.

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The immediate cause of the great lockout dated to a proposition for Saturday as a pay-day, which was made April 11th, 1887, by the passage of a resolution by the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons of Chicago, declaring that from and after that date the contracting masons should pay their employes on Saturday. The contractors were not asked to change the time of payment—from Monday or Tuesday, as had been the custom for many years—the union simply resolved that they should do so. No official notice of the passage of the resolution was sent to the Master Masons' association. They were not conferred with to see if it would be convenient, nor were they requested to change the time. The resolution itself proposed to do the work for the employer without consulting him in reference to the change. The first intimation the Master Masons had of the passage of the resolution came in the shape of a demand of the foreman on each job to know if they were to be paid on Saturday. This demand was coupled with a statement that they would not work if they were not paid on that day, as the union had changed the pay-day.

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With some employers such a demand would have been a great surprise. It was not so with the Master Masons of Chicago. They had endured so much of an arbitrary character from the Bricklayers' union that they were not surprised at anything, unless it might have been the absence of a demand upon them for a change of some kind. This demand—had it come in the form of a request, or had a conference been invited to consider the proposition for a change of the pay-day—might have been conceded. But the manner in which it was presented gave notice to the Master Masons that the time had arrived for them to assert a little manhood, and to show to the great public that they had some "rights" which should be recognized.


This—apparently minor—proposition dates back to "a long and distinguished line of ancestors," whose exactions have been of a character bordering upon oppression. They had their beginning with the strike of the bricklayers in the spring of 1883, when there was a stoppage of building for nine weeks on account of what were believed to be unreasonable demands of the Bricklayers' union.


Jan. 1, 1883, the Union passed a resolution fixing the rate of wages at $4 a day, and another that they would not work with "Scabs." Previous to this the wages had been $3 and $3.50 per day. An attempt was made to put these resolutions in force the first week in April. The contractors had not been considered in arranging these questions, and for this reason they rebelled against what they regarded as arbitrary action. After a struggle which lasted nine weeks, three prominent architects, Messrs. D. Alder, W. W. Boyington and Julius Bauer, addressed communications to the Master Masons and the Union, requesting them to appoint committees to arbitrate their differences. The request was promptly acceded to by both sides, and on the 29th of May, 1883, the joint committee made the following award:

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In order to end the strike of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons of Chicago (hereinafter designated as the union), who quit their work on March 31, 1883, and in the belief that, by the establishment of a standing committee of arbitration, all differences may be settled satisfactorily, and strikes and lockouts prevented in the future, and that this will lay the foundation for a better understanding and amicable relations such as should exist between employer and employe; now, therefore,

We, the undersigned, Joseph J. Rince, William Ray and Peter Nelson, being a committee appointed for this purpose in special meeting of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons, held on Monday evening, May 28, at Greenebaum's hall, and empowered to act for and in behalf of said organization, and to bind its members by our action, on the one part, and Messrs. George Tapper, George C. Prussing and E. F. Gobel, being the executive committee of the Chicago Master Masons' and Builders' Association, and who are fully authorized to act for the said organization in the premises, on the other part, have, and do agree that from and after this 29th day of May, 1883:

1. Foremen shall not be members of the journeymen's union, and when a member is made foreman he shall be suspended from active membership while employed in that capacity. Foremen may work on the wall.

2. Competent journeymen bricklayers and stonemasons working in the city may join the union in the regular way, should they so desire, by paying $10 as an initiation fee, but they shall not be compelled or forced to join in any way until July 1, 1883, and then only as provided in section 3 of article 4 of the by-laws of the union.

3. Former members of the union who returned to their work on or before May 26, 1883, and are for that act expelled, shall be regarded and treated in all respects like other outsiders. The members who returned to their work on and after May 28, 1883, are hereby declared in good standing.

4. The wages of competent journeymen are hereby declared to be 40 cents per hour. To such of the members of the union who can not earn the wages hereby established, their employer shall certify, upon application, this fact and the rate paid them, and the presentation of such certificate at the union shall entitle them to an "instruction card," and they shall be[Pg 17] enrolled as "working under instructions" until they produce proof of being full and competent journeymen.

5. In January of each year a joint committee of conference and arbitration, consisting of five members of each—the Union and the Chicago Master Masons' and Builders' Association—shall be appointed and serve for one year. To this joint committee shall be referred all questions of wages and any other subject in which both bodies are interested, and all grievances existing between members of one body and members of the other, or between a member of one body and a member of the other. This committee, properly constituted and assembled, shall have full power to decide all questions referred to them, and such decision shall be final and binding on all members of either organization. A majority vote shall decide. In case of a tie vote on any question, which consequently can not be decided by the committee as constituted, a judge of a United States court, or any disinterested person on whom the members thereof may agree, shall be elected umpire, who shall preside at a subsequent meeting of the committee and have the casting vote on the question at issue. All members of the union shall remain at their work continuously while said committee of arbitration is in session, subject to the decision of said committee.

6. Journeymen shall be paid by the hour for work actually rendered, with this exception: From April 1 to Nov. 1 work will be suspended at 5 o'clock on Saturdays, and all employes who have worked up to this hour on that day will receive pay for an extra hour. And we also agree and declare that the article of the constitution and by-laws of the union which refers to apprentices is wrong, and shall be referred to the joint committee of arbitration hereby provided in January next, for amendment, revision, or repeal.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 29th day of May, 1883.

Joseph J. Rince,
William Ray,
Peter Nelson,

Committee of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons of Chicago.

George Tapper,
George C. Prussing,
E. F. Gobel,

Committee of the Chicago Master Masons' and Builders' Association.

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The bricklayers met May 31, and repudiated the action of the joint committee. William Ray made the remarkable announcement to the Union that section four—relating to journeymen under "instructions"—was not in the original draft, and that he never would have signed the agreement if it had been. He charged Mr. Prussing with slipping that section in after the agreement had been signed. On motion of Mr. Mulrany the agreement, or award, was referred back to the joint committee. In view of the fact that it was the award of a committee which the Union had created, its repudiation was a startling act. But, under threats of violence to the union members of the committee, this action had to be taken as a precaution of safety.

The Master Masons met the same day and unanimously approved the action of the joint committee. While they were in session information was received of the charge made against Mr. Prussing. The charge was not only denied by Mr. Prussing, but he at once procured affidavits from William E. Mortimer and two others, who had heard the original draft of the agreement read, all of whom swore that the document had not been tampered with, but contained section 4 when the committee signed it.

Even this did not satisfy the Union. They met again June 1, and again repudiated the action of the joint committee by adopting the following, which they addressed to George Tapper, president of the Master Masons' and Builders' association:

In view of the present difficulties which have arisen from the action of a committee appointed May 28 from this Union in acting contrary to their instructions, we offer the following for your consideration:

1. On April 1, this year, we asked $4 per day from April 1, 1883, to Nov. 1, 1883, and 40 cents per hour from Nov. 1, 1883, to April 1, 1884, as the minimum wages for all members of this Union, and this we strictly adhere to.

2. We accept the situation as it is, take back all deserters[Pg 19] from our Union, and deal with all strangers according to article 4, section 3, contained in our constitution and by-laws.

3. We believe in arbitration, and will agree to appoint a committee of five for one year to meet a like committee from your association, to which joint committee will be referred all grievances which may hereafter arise, and for the purpose of preventing strikes in the future.

Instead of showing a disposition to confer and adjust differences, the Union passed upon all question and notified the employers that the ultimatum must be accepted, as the Union would "strictly adhere to" the action of April 1, notwithstanding the fact that all differences had been adjusted by arbitration. In the face of the act of repudiation the Union made this amendment: "We believe in arbitration" ... "for the purpose of preventing strikes in the future."

Two days later, June 3, the Union held another meeting which was enlivened by charging the arbitration committee with treason, and threatening to lynch them. William Ray, one of the committee, made the announcement that he had done right in signing the award, and if it was to do over he would do the same thing again. This statement inflamed the crowd to such an extent that Ray was attacked and severely beaten. The other members of the committee escaped without injury. On June 5, at another meeting of the bricklayers, President Rince was deposed, the open charge being made that he had "sold them out." A resolution was then passed directing the men to go to work at $4 a day wherever they pleased, provided they did not work under a non-union foreman. This section had the effect of settling the strike. It was a drawn battle. The men were only too glad to go to work, and took advantage of the first order made on the subject. They worked by the side of non-union men for a time, but gradually drove them out of the city or took them into the Union for the purpose of increasing their strength. They then cut loose from the International association, made the initiation fee $25, and shut out every bricklayer who would[Pg 20] not join their Union. As has been frequently remarked, "they built a wall around the city," and then demanded everything and got it, because the "bosses" were powerless to refuse their demands.

While the result of the strike of 1883 was referred to as a drawn battle, it was a defeat for the Master Masons, because they then laid the groundwork for other demands and strikes, the fruits of which they have been forced to eat when they were bitter as gall. The battle should have been won then, and the troubles which have since come might have been unknown.

During the strike the International union had assisted the Chicago bricklayers to the extent of $13,000, which had enabled them to hold out longer than they otherwise could have done. After they recovered from the effects of the strike they were assessed $4,600 to aid the Pittsburgh strikers, which sum they repudiated, and then withdrew from the Internationals, claiming that they were independent of any other organization, and would pay tribute to no other trade. Their base ingratitude made them objects of scorn among the honest laborers. Their assessment to aid Pittsburgh was never adjusted.

Following the strike of 1883 demands were made from time to time by the union, as follows:

That the hours of labor be reduced while the pay remained unchanged.

That the wages be increased.

Cutting down the number of apprentices.

An apprentice over eighteen years of age must be the son of a journeyman.

Foremen must be members of the Union, "but shall not work on a wall."

No non-union bricklayer shall be employed in Chicago.

An acknowledgment of the potency of the "Walking Delegate."

[Pg 21]

Payment of uniform wages to all, irrespective of their qualifications.

Full pay for all delays, however unavoidable.

Pay for a discharged employe on a job, or for his time while waiting for his pay to be taken to him.

Time and a half for all work in excess of eight hours.

Double pay for work on Sunday.

Establishment of the "Walking Delegate."

These are a few of the more important exactions which have been made, and to avoid strikes had been granted. There were many others, and they presented themselves from time to time when least expected.

It was supposed that the entire vocabulary of demands had been exhausted, and that the season of 1887 would pass without a strike, when the Saturday pay-day bobbed up as a warning to the contractor that the striker was not without resources, and that there were more to come.

The demands of the bricklayers had been met from time to time by the Master Masons, and they were generally met in a weak way. Some were conceded without question, and others were agreed to, after a mild protest, in order to prevent the stoppage of some important work. The striker had always been possessed of the knowledge when to strike, and this had been one of the secrets of his success. The rule has been to make a demand at a time when it was believed the employer would make the concession, because he could not afford to do otherwise—that the interest of the pocket of the employer would move him when his sympathy could not be enlisted.

In the last strike the strikers were disappointed. They inaugurated their movement upon the contractors at the opening of the building season and went at it in the old way, assuming that the bosses, who had so generally conceded everything, would not dare to refuse a simple proposition like that which contemplated changing the pay-day. But they struck a snag[Pg 22] which grew to immense proportions, especially when the manufacturers of and dealers in building material stepped up and said they would quit manufacturing, and would stop selling material until there was a settlement of the trouble and the principle of "individual liberty" was recognized. They became an important and strengthening root to the old snag. They held the key to the situation, and asserted the right to handle it. They turned it and thirty thousand employes were locked out.

[Pg 23]


The strikes of 1887 originated with the carpenters. In January steps were taken which contemplated getting every carpenter in Chicago into a union. Notice was given by publication that on and after April 4th, 1887, eight hours should constitute a day, and 35 cents an hour should be the minimum wages for a carpenter. When the time came for the new order of things to go into effect the Master Carpenters were expected to meet the demands without objection. They had not been requested to grant the concessions, and no official notice was sent to the Master Carpenters' association of the fact that the carpenters had decided to change the working hours and the rate of pay per hour. On Saturday, April 2d, 1887, the carpenters made individual demands upon their several employers for eight hours a day instead of ten hours, and 35 cents an hour instead of 25 and 30 cents an hour, which had been the rule. Not receiving favorable answers to their demands a meeting was called for Sunday, April 3d, at Battery D. At this meeting four thousand carpenters assembled. Reports were made from one hundred and twenty "bosses," of whom but twenty favored the proposed changes. Seventy-nine had positively refused to grant any concession. After a lengthy discussion of the situation in secret session the question of ordering a[Pg 24] general strike was submitted to a vote, and it was carried by what was said to have been an overwhelming majority. This was the manner in which the strike was ordered.

After the meeting adjourned the cool announcement was made that if the Master Carpenters had any propositions to submit, or desired to communicate with the striking carpenters, they "would be received" at room 8, No. 76 Fifth avenue.

An order was issued to the effect that no carpenter should be allowed to work for any contractor, no matter what wages might be offered, until permission was obtained from the executive board of the Carpenters' Council, or the strike had been declared off.

On Monday morning there were six thousand idle carpenters in the city, and the threat was made by the strikers that if the "bosses" did not accede to their demands all workmen engaged in the building trades would be called out, and there would be a general strike.

Before 6 o'clock Monday morning, the following notice was sent out to every carpenter in the city, it being the intention to officially notify each one of the action taken before they could reach their work:

Dear Sir: The decision of the executive board of the United Carpenters' Council, ratified by mass-meeting held April 3d, is that no union carpenter be allowed to work on any job whatever until the demand is acceded to by the bosses as a body. The committee is open to conference with the bosses as a body at their earliest convenience.

J. M. Sterling,
J. Brennock,

There were hundreds who were willing to work, but they were forced to obey the mandate of the union. They were receiving good wages, and were satisfied; but, because every "wood-butcher" would not be paid the wages which a good carpenter could command, they were forced to leave their[Pg 25] work and suffer the consequences of idleness. If they attempted to work their lives were in danger.

There were three hundred contracting carpenters in the city who employed from fifteen to two hundred men each. The number of carpenters in the city working on buildings was about 7,500, and 5,800 of these belonged to the union. The wages paid ranged from $2.50 to $3.50 a day. Those who were receiving the smaller amounts were not satisfied, and the strike was originated for the ostensible purpose of bringing the so-called "wood-butcher" up to the standard of a carpenter on the question of wages.

On Monday, April 7th, the Carpenters' Union met and adopted the following as their ultimatum:

These are the conditions upon which we will settle this strike: That contractors conduct their work under the eight-hour system and pay the regular scale of wages—35 cents per hour, subject to discharge for incompetency, said conditions to remain in force until April 1, 1888, subject, however, to arbitration in case of grievances of any kind on either side.

Executive Board, United Carpenters' Council.

On the same day the Carpenters and Builders held a mass-meeting at the Builders' and Traders' exchange. The first action taken was to agree to stand together on the questions of wages and hours. A resolution was adopted that eight hours should constitute a day's work, fixing 30 cents an hour as the minimum price, and to grade the wages from that price up, according to the worth of the employe.

The executive board of the United Carpenters' Council made the following announcement:

In view of the fact that no communication has been received from the bosses, it is ordered that no union carpenter be allowed to go to work until further notified. The board will be in session at 8 A. M., April 7, at room 8, Nos. 76 and 78 Fifth avenue. All carpenters not on committees are requested to report at 10 A. M.

The strike of the carpenters had begun to affect labor of all kinds on buildings. Many walls were advanced as far as[Pg 26] they could be without the intervention of the carpenter. No man, other than a union carpenter, would be allowed to even set a joist. Any attempt to infringe a union rule was sure to precipitate a strike in another trade. A nervous feeling pervaded the building interests generally. Every other trade was in a state of apprehension. The Master Masons were among these. In order to guard against complications with the bricklayers and stonemasons the Master Masons' association had a meeting April 7th and adopted the following resolution:

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed with full power to represent this body in all matters relating to the Bricklayers' union, and with instructions to pave the way for the appointment of a standing committee of arbitration, to which all questions and controversies shall be referred for settlement, in order to prevent pecuniary losses to both sides in the future and foster a friendly feeling among the members of both bodies.

There had been a few slight differences between employers and employes which were not readily adjusted, because there seemed to be nobody with whom an adjustment could be made. A copy of this resolution was sent to the Bricklayers' union.

April 8th a few boss carpenters called on President Campbell, of the carpenters' union, and asked for men in order to finish a little pressing work. They were refused, the president of the union saying: "Not a man will be allowed to go to work until the bosses recognize the union and the demands that have been made."

The announcement was made that two hundred and sixty non-association bosses had signified their willingness to accede to all the union had asked, and that they would meet at 3 o'clock in Greenebaum's hall to organize a new association. None of them arrived until long after the hour, and at 4 o'clock nineteen of the two hundred and sixty got into the large hall and were comparatively lost. They adjourned to a small room where they remained but a few minutes and then[Pg 27] dispersed. They acknowledged they had been misled by the strikers, some of whom had arranged the meeting for the purpose of ascertaining how much disaffection there was in the ranks of the employers.

The small attendance was a great disappointment to those in charge of the strike. But they determined to secure an organization among the "outside bosses," believing it would weaken the effort of the "bosses" who were standing out against the demands which had been made.

The United Carpenters' Council held a meeting and adopted a resolution that no terms should be accepted looking toward a settlement of the difficulty other than a full recognition of the union and every demand that had been made.

The Bricklayers met and decided to take a hand in the strike of the carpenters. They adopted a resolution providing that members of their union should set no window frames, handle no joists, nor do similar work on buildings in course of construction until the pending trouble was adjusted. The carpenters were delighted when they were officially notified of this action, and once more reaffirmed their determination to stand out. Similar action was taken by the Hodcarriers' union.

Eight union carpenters were arrested for intimidating non-union men employed on a building on Canal street. They became so violent that the patrol wagon was called and they were taken to the Desplaines street station. They were heavily fined.

Prominent Knights of Labor were of the opinion that the offer of the Master Carpenters of eight hours and 30 cents an hour should have been accepted. Believing this, they called a meeting of the Knights of Labor at Uhlich's hall for the purpose of ordering the carpenters to return to work. This meeting was held April 10th. The hall was packed by a crowd that was opposed to conceding anything.[Pg 28] Those who called the meeting soon discovered that they would be mobbed if they presented any proposition to order the carpenters to go to work. A. Beaudry, who was one of those who called the meeting, and who strongly favored accepting the offer of the bosses, presided at the meeting, but he dared not present such a proposition. Instead of the meeting accomplishing the object for which it had been called, it reversed the expected order and advocated unity of action, expressing its sentiments by adopting the following resolution:

Resolved, That this meeting sustains the action of the United Carpenters Council and pledges our individual support in their future efforts during the struggle.

The result of this attempt to restore harmony was enough to satisfy fair-minded men that the demands were not those of reason, but were backed by an element which was composed of the rule-or-ruin class, and they were satisfied that it was uncontrollable.

A feeble attempt was made to hold a meeting of the "consulting" bosses at No. 106 Randolph street for the purpose of settling the strike, but less than a half-dozen appeared on the scene, and the meeting was not held.

In the evening the Carpenters' and Builders' association met at the Builders' and Traders' exchange. Vice-President William Hearson presided. A delegation of sixty representatives of the Carpenters council invaded the corridors of the exchange. A committee composed of Messrs. Frost and Woodard, was sent out to see what they wanted, and returned with the statement that the carpenters were very pleasant, but full of fight and disposed to stand out all summer.

William Mavor read a communication from the United Carpenters' Council, stating that it would stand by its original proposition for 35 cents an hour, and that the union must be recognized. Mr. Mavor stated that the latter proposition was the sticker, and a great many voices said that they would never[Pg 29] consent. They were willing to treat with the men as individuals. The report of the committee was received and laid on the table by a unanimous vote.

S. H. Dempsey presented the following resolution, which was adopted by a unanimous vote, followed by loud applause:

Resolved, That the secretary of this association be instructed to notify through the newspapers all carpenters who are willing to go to work on Monday morning at the rate of wages offered by this association to appear at their respective places of work, and that they will be protected. Otherwise the Master Carpenters will advertise for outside workmen.

The following committee was appointed to look after the general interests of the association:

Francisco Blair, S. H. Dempsey, J. W. Woodard, Jonathan Clark and John Ramcke.

Monday, April 10th. The executive committee met and organized by electing officers as follows: J. W. Woodard, chairman; Jonathan Clark, secretary; John Ramcke, treasurer. The committee issued the following notice to the public:

As a notice has been circulated to-day among the master carpenters of this city, calling a meeting of the master carpenters for this afternoon, we would respectfully ask you to publish the fact that this meeting is in no way authorized by the Master Carpenters' association, and we will not in any way voice its sentiments or recognize its action. Also, that this association will hold no meetings, except those authorized by the president or secretary of the executive committee. We would also like to make public the fact that there are now 175 members in this association, and they represent about seven eights of the carpenters in the city. Because incorrect reports are apt to be published, and the public interests will suffer if this occurs, we would be glad to receive reporters at all meetings and place all information in our possession at their disposal.

An erroneous idea of the present situation, or cause of disagreement exists, not through the fault of the press, but rather through an inaccuracy in presenting the matter. What we would lay down as our statement of principles is the [Pg 30]following, which were formulated as a part of those adopted by the National Association of Builders:

This association affirms that absolute personal independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed; that upon it depends the security of our whole social fabric and business prosperity, and that employers and workmen are equally interested in its defense and preservation.

While upholding this principle as an essential safeguard for all concerned, this association would appeal to all employers in the building trades to recognize that there are many opportunities for good in associations of workmen, and, while condemning and opposing improper action upon their part, they should aid and assist them in all just and honorable purposes; that while upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer and arbitrate, there are still many points upon which conferences and arbitrations are perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it is a manifest duty to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together, to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances may be prevented.

When such conferences are entered into, care should be taken to state clearly in advance that this fundamental principle must be maintained, and that such conferences should only be competent to report results in the form of resolutions of recommendation to the individuals composing the various organizations participating, avoiding all forms of dictatorial authority.

The present question is not one of wages or hours, but is solely upon our recognition of the union and our acceptance of the conditions proposed by the letter received from the Carpenters' Union at the meeting of this association Saturday night and printed last week. As our code of principles state, we do not oppose unions, as we affirm the right of all individuals to form associations. This body has received but one communication—that referred to—and that a week after all the carpenters in the union had struck work. This communication purported to be from the executive committee of the Carpenters' Union, but there was neither seal nor letter press on the stationery, and there were no names representing the executive committee. This association means to treat the[Pg 31] present disagreement with all fairness, recognizing the entire rights of the journeymen, but claiming that we, as contractors, have rights as well. Very respectfully,

Jonathan Clark,

Secretary Executive Committee Carpenters' and Builders' Association.

About thirty carpenters met at No. 106 Randolph street and organized an independent Master Carpenters' Association. Among them were several members of the union who were bosses in a small way. The new association at once agreed to the terms demanded by the carpenters, and a list of the members was sent to the United Carpenters' Council, after which an order was issued by the council, permitting the employes of the members of the new association to return to work. This action, it was claimed, would compel the members of the Carpenters' and Builders' Association to yield every point demanded, but it had no such effect.

The agitation was kept up, and a mass-meeting was held by the strikers at No. 311 Larrabee street, at which they were urged to stand out. They were also told they never could win if the bricklayers did not support them.

The council expected its action would meet the wishes of the men, but it did not. They saw that only a very few would be given work, and demanded that all remain out until the success of the strike was assured. A mass-meeting was held April 13th, at Twelfth street Turner Hall, at which the action of the council was severely criticised, and a resolution was adopted that all should remain out until their demands were recognized by every master carpenter in Chicago.

The members of the new association of bosses were disappointed at the reflex action of the carpenters. They regarded it as a breach of faith, and were on the eve of breaking up their organization, but concluded to obey the mandates of the union and held together a few days longer.

In the meantime a number of the carpenters had gone to work. These were immediately taken off by walking [Pg 32]delegates, and the little bosses became satisfied that the fight was all on one side. But, as many of their members belonged to the union as well, they were forced to remain in the association and be laughed at.

Many of the workmen were incensed at the breaking of the agreement and threatened to leave the union and return to their old employers. Some of them did so, and they took others with them afterwards. They lost confidence in the council and in the leaders of the strike.

On Thursday, April 14th, the executive committee of the Carpenters' Council thought to heal all defection by the issuance of the following form of agreement, which, they said, they would require all master carpenters to sign before they would settle the strike:

We, the undersigned contracting carpenters, agree to the following terms of settlement, and pledge ourselves to the following propositions, which shall be in force and binding upon us from this date until the 1st day of April, 1888, with the understanding that the carpenters' council pledges that there shall not be another demand for increase of wages or reduction of hours before said date—April 1, 1888.

1. We agree to pay as the minimum rate of wages to carpenters 35 cents per hour.

2. We agree that eight hours shall constitute a day's work.

3. We reserve the right to employ men of our own selection and to discharge anyone for reasons of incompetency, intemperance, or disorderly conduct, and we will co-operate with the carpenters' council in all their efforts to elevate the mechanical and moral standard of the craft.

4. We indorse the principle of arbitration as preferable to strikes, and will co-operate with the carpenters' council for the establishment of a board of arbitration.

5. The probable number of men each of us will require, at once on resumption of work is set opposite our respective names.

Two hundred members of the Carpenters' and Builders' association met April 14th. William Hearson presided.[Pg 33] Seventy new members were admitted. The executive committee submitted a basis upon which it was proposed to settle the strike. It was unanimously adopted, as follows:

Resolved, That the Master Carpenters will, as a preliminary to any negotiations with the carpenters now on strike, require that the men now on strike without notice to their employers agree to resume work at the following scale of wages, to be agreed to by employer and employes—viz.: eight hours to constitute a day's labor, the wages to be 30 cents an hour and upward.

Resolved, That the Master Carpenters lay down the following rules as a declaration of principles as the unquestionable rights of employers and employes, upon which there can be no arbitration or question. These rights to be conceded by both parties before any further action is taken looking toward a final settlement of differences for the future:

Rule 1. The right of the employer to employ and discharge employes whether belonging to carpenters' unions or not.

Rule 2. The right of the employe to work or not to work with non-union men.

Rule 3. The right of the employer to hire unskilled labor that will best suit his purpose at any price at which he can get it.

Rule 4: The right of the employe to get the wages he demands or not to work.

Rule 5. The right of individuals to associate for all honorable purposes.

After the meeting adjourned, the executive committee delivered a copy of the report to the Executive Council of the carpenters. The document was respectfully received, Mr. Parks remarking that the Master Carpenters would have to "come again," but the communication would be carefully considered.

The resolutions and rules were also sent to the new carpenters' association. A motion was made to fully endorse them, especially in view of the recent action of the union in repudiating their agreement. The proposition was unanimously voted down.

[Pg 34]

On Friday, April 15th, the Executive Council prepared a lengthy reply to the action of the Carpenters and Builders. It contained an extended statement of the situation, concluding as follows:

In conclusion, we will agree with rule No. 1 in your document if the words "the right to discharge rests in and is confined to the individual employer and not the associated employers," were added. And you understand that under your own rule, No. 2, union men would have a right to refuse to work with non-union men, and to quit any job where such were employed, unless they were discharged when the request was made.

Rule No. 3 must have the words: "But no unskilled man shall be allowed to do work which properly belongs to the trade of carpentering, or which necessitates the use of carpenter's tools," before we can accept it.

The other rules in your document are immaterial and do not need review.

Now, for a few words. We will state the terms upon which the journeyman carpenters of this city will return at once to work.

There must be an agreement made and signed by the contractors, individually or collectively, through an authorized committee, and signed by the executive committee of the United Carpenters council on the part of the journeymen, and in addition to the two rules given as amended the following:

The minimum rate of wages paid to journeymen carpenters shall be 35 cents per hour.

Eight hours shall constitute a working day; overtime shall be paid as time and a half and double time for Sunday work.

There shall be an arbitration board for the settling of grievances.

The agreement shall be in force until the 1st day of April, 1888, and notices of desired changes at that time must be given by the party so desiring to the other party to the agreement on or before March 15, 1888.

Hoping you will look at this communication from a business as well as humanitarian standpoint, and that you will keep in mind the fact that we are as desirous as you can possibly be of ending the strike, and that nothing is here set[Pg 35] down in malice, every word being uttered in the spirit of harmony and justice.

The statement was signed by J. B. Parks, Ed. Bates, Alfred A. Campbell, M. S. Moss, William Kliver, John H. McCune and William Ward, Executive Committee of the United Carpenters' council.

The Executive Committee of the Carpenters' and Builders' association carefully considered the document and at once formulated and transmitted to the headquarters of the striking carpenters the following reply:

To the Representatives of the Carpenters Now on StrikeGentlemen: Your communication has been respectfully received and carefully considered by the executive committee of the Master Carpenters' association. We respectfully inform you that we can not in any manner deviate from the action of the association of Thursday night, which was embraced in the report delivered to you, and there is nothing in your communication which in the opinion of this committee justifies the calling of a meeting of the Master Carpenters' association. Very respectfully yours,

J. W. Woodard,
Jonathan Clark,
Francisco Blair,
John Ramcke,
S. H. Dempsey,

Executive Committee Carpenters' and Builders' Association of Chicago.

The new association of bosses became exasperated at the action of the Carpenters' Council with regard to their agreement, and sent the council notice that unless the proposition for a settlement of the strike was agreed to by noon of April 16th, the association would not consider itself bound to pay 35 cents an hour, recognize the union, or make eight hours a day's work. They demanded that their employes be directed to return to work on Monday, April 18th.

Early Saturday morning, April 16th, the executive [Pg 36]committee of the Carpenters' and Builders' Association issued an address, as follows:

Believing that the great majority of you are fair and honorable, the executive committee of the master carpenters take this means to address an appeal to you, as we believe you can not be reached in any other way, plainly, calmly, and without a coating of socialistic ideas being spread over by your so-called leaders, whose business it is to be agitators and disturbers of our mutual interests, and whose occupation would be gone if they could not find a constituency gullible enough to listen to and support them. It is impossible to say how much farther we would be advanced in material prosperity in this free country if we were free from the antagonistic feeling caused by this class of agitators, who are really out of their element here, and should be confined to the source of the oppression of labor, on the ground and among the institutions which support class distinction. Now we are all workers with you, our business is not speaking or writing, and we venture to say that nineteen-twentieths of the men who employ you started in from your body, and did not get where they are by listening to or following these imported ideas, but did the work they found to do, made the most of their opportunities, and we hope the same course will be left open to yourselves, and that the same spring will furnish more of the same stock, and that notwithstanding the foothold these perverted maxims (each for all and all for each) have gained among us, in the long run our plain judgment will lead us away from them and each will make his own endeavor to rise as high as his opportunities will allow him, and by doing so will stimulate his brother to follow in his footsteps. Is not this better than "each for all and all for each," which will load you down heavier than you can bear, so that none can rise, and a class will have to be furnished from some source to employ you who will surely not have your interests more at heart, and, in that event, we would be back again to whence we sprung from, or some other, where we can not tell. You surely will not be improved in your condition by wasting your time in contending with your employer for more than there is in existence to give you, for he can not give you what he has not got, nor can he give you wasted time nor the advance he has offered without risking a present loss in the hope of being[Pg 37] able in the future to gradually increase the cost of production to cover his outlay.

Men, go to work; form associations if you will; better your condition by that means if you can, but do not risk the driving away from this fair city that which supports you, nor listen, except to learn, to those born contenders who have no other gifts than "gab."

Think of the $20,000 at least you are losing every day in wages, besides what you are spending, and think of those who are likely to suffer most by it. The wife and children, who have no voice in the matter, and also believe that your employers are not doing any better.

Boys, this advice is from a committee of five who got every penny they possess from hard knocks and the work of their own hands and brains.

J. W. Woodard,
Jonathan Clark,
Francisco Blair,
John Ramcke,
S. H. Dempsey,

Executive Committee Carpenters' and Builders' Association of Chicago.

The firmness of the employers and the disaffection among the carpenters, after two weeks of fruitless agitation, had produced no good results. No agreement was reached between the bosses and the strikers. The strike was simply declared off by what was regarded by the carpenters as competent authority. The edict which settled the strike was as follows:

To All Organized CarpentersBrothers: You are ordered to report to your various jobs Monday at 8 A. M., and if your employer accedes to your demands for eight hours a day and 35 cents an hour, go to work, but on no account are you to work if your demands are not granted, neither will you work with scabs.

You will make it your duty to see that every man has the working card issued by the United Carpenters' council for the months of April, May and June, and consider as a scab anyone who is not in possession of one.

If your employer objects to the conditions do not stop to argue the question, but immediately report to headquarters.

[Pg 38]

Some of you may not work the first nor the second day, but we will without fail win this battle if you follow instructions.

Every brother in distress shall be assisted, and we pledge ourselves that not one of you shall want if only brought to our notice.

Carefully take note of all jobs working more than eight hours, or employing scabs, and report to your headquarters. Also, any boss who defrauds brothers of their pay, with evidence necessary for prosecution.

It shall be the duty of every man, especially foremen, to bring all influence they can to bear on their employers to induce them to join the new Builders' association.

Now, brothers, with joy we say to you, go to work. You will get your demands. And we beseech you not to work for less. If you do, you will be found out. There are enough to watch those who will not do their duty, and you must be subject to a call when it is necessary.

Executive Board United Carpenters' Council.

When the news of the collapse of the strike reached the executive committee of the contracting carpenters at the Builders' and Traders' exchange it was at first discredited. When it was confirmed Chairman Woodard said he was glad such action had been taken, and that he knew the bosses would put the men to work Monday. "But," said he, "the members of the Carpenters' and Builders' association will not deviate from the action of Saturday night. We recognize eight hours as a day, but reserve the right to employ union or non-union men, and will pay from 30 cents an hour upward. We shall not hesitate to pay 35 cents, or more, to carpenters who are sufficiently skilled to earn such sums, but we must not be expected to employ men who are not able to earn more than 25 or 30 cents an hour. Our association has a membership that employs fully seven-eighths of the working carpenters, and we shall claim the right to employ competent men at fair wages and to discharge incompetent men at any time. I think it will be but a short time until nearly all of the carpenters will be at work, but not at 35 cents an hour."

[Pg 39]

Francisco Blair said it would be unjust to require the bosses to discharge competent non-union men who had stood by them during the strike. He was satisfied that no member of the association would do so. There were plenty of bosses who would pay skilled workmen 35 cents an hour—a few men would receive 40 cents, as they had before the strike.

Many of the assemblies of the carpenters met Saturday afternoon and evening and heartily endorsed the order directing them to return to work. They were tired of enforced idleness which had lasted sixteen days, and were ready to go to work on almost any terms.

The following Monday—April 18th—four thousand of the striking carpenters returned to work, many of them secretly accepting the terms of the Carpenters and Builders, working for 30 cents an hour and upward, and pushing a plane or a saw by the side of a non-union carpenter who had not seen an idle day.

[Pg 40]


Trade organizations of almost every character had experienced difficulty in securing all they demanded from time to time, because of a want of co-operation—in their semi-tyrannical efforts—from kindred organizations. If the carpenters made a demand which was refused by the bosses, and non-union men should thereafter be employed on a building, they wanted the union employes in all other trades, working on the same job, to lay down their tools and walk out—a boycott must at once be established. If an employer assumed the right to carry on his own business in a manner which was distasteful to one or more employes in one trade, he must be forced to quit business until he was ready to obey the mandate of the trade affected. If he interposed an objection to such interference, he should be taught a severe lesson under the tyrannical, barbarous rule of the boycott.

In order to lay the foundation for joint action in the direction indicated, a meeting was held April 10th, at which a plan of organization of the building trades was discussed. It was then deemed advisable to secure the consent of the various trade organizations in the city to the creation of a council for what was called "mutual protection." The proposition met with most hearty approval by ten trade organizations, the members of which saw at once how much more[Pg 41] tightly the rein of tyranny could be drawn over a contractor who might be able to successfully vanquish one trade, but would have to accede to anything when employes in ten building trades were arrayed against him.

Delegates were appointed to what it was proposed to call "The Amalgamated Council of the Building Trades of Chicago," from the following trade and labor organizations: Carpenters, Painters, Derrickmen, Hod-carriers, Steam-fitters, Lathers, Gas-fitters, Galvanized-iron and Cornice workers, Slaters and Stair-builders.

A meeting was held at Greenebaum's hall on Sunday, April 17th. A constitution and by-laws were adopted and officers were elected as follows: President, J. H. Glenn; Vice-President, P. A. Hogan; Secretary, Ed. Bates; Financial Secretary, J. Burns; Treasurer, V. Carroll; Sergeant-at-Arms, J. Woodman.

As soon as the organization was perfected it affected dictatorial powers, assuming the right to regulate nearly everything of any consequence for the unions which were represented. The objects of the Council were declared to be "to centralize the efforts and experience of the various organizations engaged in the erection and alteration of buildings, and, with common interest, prevent that which may be injurious, and also to properly perfect and carry into effect that which they deem advantageous to themselves. When any organization represented in the Council is desirous of making a demand for either an advance in wages or an abridgement of the hours of labor, it is required to make a report thereon to the Council, through its delegates, prior to the demand being made, when, if the action is concurred in by a two-thirds vote, it is to be declared binding."

In effect, the Council became an offensive and defensive body, the principal business of which was to take advantage of every employer in the building trades. If one should refuse to yield a point demanded by one trade, however[Pg 42] unjust the demand might be, it was the business of this boycott Council to "carry into effect that which they deemed advantageous to themselves," which, on ordinary occasions, would result in a stoppage of work of every kind upon a building until the employer should yield. They also expected to be in a position to compel all non-union men to obey the mandates of the organization.

At a meeting of the Council, April 23d, the constitution was amended by adding the following section:

It shall be the special duty of this Council to use the united strength of the organizations represented therein to compel all non-union men to conform to and obey the laws of the organizations to which they should properly belong.

This stroke at personal liberty was strictly in furtherance of the "advantage" sought to be taken of the employer. The same power was to be brought to bear upon the workmen, who assumed the right to be independent, by seeking to "compel" them to "obey laws of the organizations to which they should properly belong." Not content with boycotting the employer, they must arrange a boycott upon a fellow-workman, because he might decline to join one of their unions. As if to "compel" a free man to do that against which his manhood revolts!

[Pg 43]


There was comparative quiet for a week, during which time the carpenters were pushing their work rapidly. But the smooth order was soon broken. The first week in April the Hodcarriers' union had passed a resolution changing their pay from 25 to 30 cents an hour, and that of laborers from 22 to 25 cents an hour, and demanding recognition of their union. This order—for it was nothing less—was directed to take effect the first Monday in May. On Saturday, April 30th, the Hodcarriers and Laborers were instructed to make their demands, and report to a meeting to be held on Sunday, in order that the union might determine whether a strike should be ordered and the men called off on Monday.

The bosses decided that under no circumstances would they recognize the Hodcarriers' union, maintaining that they were fully justified in so doing because the Bricklayers' union had refused to aid any proposition on the part of the Hodcarriers and Laborers to strike. The employers expected nothing less than a strike, as they universally refused the demands, claiming they could at once fill the places made vacant from the ranks of idle men in the city. In order to make their cause appear stronger the laborers claimed that numbers of bosses had acceded to their demands, but this was not true.

[Pg 44]

Laborers in the stone yards took up the cause, concluding it was an opportune time to make some demands. They insisted upon eight hours a day, and two gangs of men when required to work overtime.

The Stone-Cutters association met at once and put an end to the proposition for a strike by adopting the eight-hour day, resolving to work overtime and pay one-fourth extra for it—but not work two gangs of men—and at the same time refused to obey the dictation of the union by resolving that they would "employ men whether they belong to a union or not." This prompt action ended the strike of the laborers so far as the Stone-Cutters were concerned.

The Bricklayers union met Friday night, April 29th, and discussed the proposed strike of the Hodcarriers and Laborers, and in a very peculiar manner lent assistance to their weak brethren. They passed a magnanimous resolution that "in the event of a strike no bricklayer should consent to do a hodcarrier's work." But further than this no action was taken.

On the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st, four thousand hodcarriers and laborers assembled in the vicinity of Taylor street hall, near Canal street. At 3 o'clock the proposed meeting was held, but not more than one-half of those present could gain admission to the hall. The men inside and outside of the hall were discussing their grievances and "rushing the can" in a manner that promised a famine in beer on the following day. Patrick Sharkey presided at the meeting, at which there was a decided sentiment in favor of a strike. Speeches in English, German, Polish, and Bohemian were made to this effect, and a resolution was passed for a committee to wait on the contractors to see what they would do in answer to the demands that had been made. It was decided to allow men to work where the bosses acceded to the union demands, but no union man should work where there was one man employed who was not receiving the full scale of wages.

[Pg 45]

It was decided that no man who could get the union wages should be asked to leave his work, but he would be asked to aid in supporting those who were compelled to take part in the strike. It was claimed, before the close of the meeting, that four thousand of the seven thousand Hodcarriers and Laborers in the city would remain at work, while the other three thousand would "be forced to strike."

On Monday morning, May 2d, the promised strike of the Hodcarriers and Laborers began. More than four thousand quit work because their demands for 25 and 30 cents an hour, and recognition of their union, were not met. The men had reported at their respective jobs where they made their demands. When they were refused they were grievously disappointed, and sat and stood around waiting for the arrival of the "Walking Delegate," or for orders from the bosses to go to work at the increased rate of wages. In many instances they had to stand aside and see their places taken by non-union men. This was galling, but they remained, almost universally, quite orderly. What irritated them more than anything else was the fact that union Bricklayers offered no objection to working with non-union laborers. They had confidently expected that one union would support another, but the Bricklayers refused to recognize them as members of a union. They appeared to be too common for an aristocratic Bricklayer.

Eight Walking Delegates paraded the city and endeavored to persuade non-union men to quit work and join the union. They were successful in but few instances. Non-union Laborers who had secured a good job were disposed to stick to it, and it seemed to require more than persuasion to draw them away from their work.

In the treasury of the Hodcarriers' union there was the sum of $12,000, but that amount would not reach very far in a general lockout of five thousand members, each of whom was entitled to receive $5 a week while unemployed. They could expect no assistance from the Bricklayers, who had snubbed[Pg 46] them; or the Carpenters, who had exhausted their treasury while on a strike lasting sixteen days; or the plasterers, who were not strong in numbers or finances, and had business of their own to look after. Their cause was helpless from the start, especially in view of the fact that there were thousands of idle laborers who were only too glad to step into the places made vacant without asking any questions about wages.

On Tuesday the places of the four thousand strikers had been so nearly filled that but three hundred vacancies were reported. This was a hard blow to the union, but they stubbornly refused to yield a single point.

A special meeting of the Master Masons' and Builders' association was held Tuesday night, May 3d, at the Builders' and Traders' exchange, at which a resolution was unanimously adopted to not accede to the demands of the Hodcarriers' and Laborers' Union for an increase in wages. There were eighty-seven of the members present, only thirty being absent. Expressions were taken from those present in regard to the course that should be pursued in reference to the strike, and there was not a dissenting voice on the proposition to refuse the demands made. The absentees were all heard from, and the president of the association said they were all of the same opinion. It was a quiet, earnest meeting, at which the members exhibited their determination to stand together, no matter what the result might be. On inquiry as to the number of Master Masons who needed laborers it was ascertained that there were but six members of the association who were without laborers, while less than a dozen others needed a few men. It was agreed that the members who had laborers to spare should lend some of them to those who most needed them until they could secure as many as they required. An executive committee was appointed, composed of Joseph Downey, Thomas E. Courtney, and Herman Mueller. This committee was instructed to hold daily sessions at the Builders' and Traders' exchange for the purpose of hearing complaints from[Pg 47] members and supplying them with laborers, and to have a general supervision of the labor question pending a final settlement of the strike. They had no difficulty in securing all the men they wanted, the laborers being perfectly satisfied with the wages paid.

On Thursday, May 5th, the Master Masons' association learned that a number of cases of intimidation had been attempted with their non-union laborers, but they passed them over because the battle had already been won.

[Pg 48]


On Friday, May 6th, Joseph Downey, President of the Master Masons' Association, sent the following communication to D. Adler, President of the Illinois Association of Architects. It was sent for the purpose of endeavoring to secure the co-operation of the Architects of the city—in view of a general strike in the building trades, which it was plain to be seen was impending:

To the Architects of ChicagoGentlemen: Owing to incessant and unreasonable demands being made upon us from time to time by our employes, causing incalculable delays, which mean disaster to those signing time contracts, the members of this association have, therefore, unanimously agreed to sign no contracts after May 1, unless the words "except in case of strikes or epidemics" are inserted in the time clause.

Very respectfully,

Joseph Downey, President.

[Pg 49]


The Master Masons' Association unofficially received information that the Bricklayers' union had passed a resolution fixing Saturday as pay-day, instead of Monday, or Tuesday, which had been the rule for many years. This action was not taken by the union because it was believed greater good could be accomplished, or because it was a necessary change; but was for the purpose of further testing the temper of the employers and notifying them that they were subject to the dictation of the union.

On Friday Mr. Downey sent the following unofficial communication to A. E. Vorkeller, President of the Bricklayers' union, hoping to secure a rescinding of the Saturday pay-day resolution, and avoid a strike:

To the United Order of American Bricklayers and StonemasonsGentlemen: It has come to the knowledge of the Master Masons' and Builders' association that at your last meeting you passed a resolution that the members of your union should hereafter be paid on Saturday, instead of Monday and Tuesday, as is now and has been the custom.

There has been no official action by the Master Masons' and Builders' association, but I have conferred with a number of them, and am impelled to write this letter to notify you of the fact that while we might prefer to comply with your request, we find it will be impossible to make up our pay-rolls in time to pay on Saturday, especially in the busy season,[Pg 50] when some of us have from two hundred to three hundred men employed.

We trust, gentlemen, that you will reconsider the action taken which resulted in the adoption of the resolution mentioned, as we are particularly anxious that the good feeling which has prevailed between your union and our association shall be continued without interruption. Very respectfully yours,

Joseph Downey.


The evening of the same day a meeting of the Hodcarriers was held at West Twelfth street Turner Hall, at which a resolution was passed declaring it to be the duty of all employes in the building trades to go out in a body in order to support the strike which they had inaugurated, and in which they had been unsuccessful.


A result of the strikes and unsettled state of affairs was to be seen in the disposition of contractors to go slow in bidding for new work, fearing they might be stopped by a strike and prevented from completing a building after the work had gotten well under way. Similar experience in past years had made them wary.

[Pg 51]


Saturday, May 7th, was the first pay-day after the passage of the resolution by the Bricklayers' union fixing that day for payment. When the hour arrived for quitting work demand was made of the foreman on each job for payment in accordance with the resolution. It was refused, the Master Masons having determined that if the men were to strike because their demand was not conceded, they should be given an opportunity to do so at once. This general demand was taken as official notification that the resolution had passed. There was a universal expression of opinion among the Master Masons that they would refuse the demand—because of the spirit and manner in which it was made—and that they would stand firmly together upon the question.

On Monday, May 9th, about two hundred bricklayers quit work because they had not been paid on the previous Saturday, but they were returned to work by President Vorkeller, of the union, because, he said, the rule for Saturday pay-day did not take effect until May 14th. Mr. Vorkeller called on President Downey and asked that a conference be held on the question of Saturday pay-day. In view of the action of the union in first resolving that the pay-day should be changed, this request was looked upon as very strange.[Pg 52] But Mr. Downey notified him that he would present the question to the Master Masons' association.

In referring to the situation Mr. Thomas Courtney voiced the sentiments of the builders when he said the only way to settle the prevailing uneasiness would be to stop all building at once and let it remain stopped until the strikers were tired of it. This seemed like a harsh measure, but it was the only sure way to success. All were tired of this labor agitation, and as the building of residence property especially was overdone, it was the best time he ever saw for a lockout. The workmen were not only fixing their own hours for work and their own pay, but now they wanted to fix their own pay-day. With so much labor disturbance it was a marvel to him that there was any disposition to erect a building in Chicago.

A committee from the Amalgamated Trades Council called at the Builders' and Traders' exchange to see the executive committee of the Master Masons' association for the purpose of talking about the strike of the Hodcarriers. The committee was composed of Messrs. Brennock of the Carpenters, Carroll of the Stonecutters, and McBrearty of the Hodcarriers. They found President Downey, to whom they stated that they had called to see if the differences could be adjusted. Mr. Downey stated that the members of the executive committee were out paying their employes, and that another time would have to be fixed for the conference. He hoped the result of the conference would be satisfactory to all, and that at its conclusion they could say the strike was ended. The committee said that was what they wanted. Mr. Downey wanted to know what authority the committee had in the matter, and was told that they represented twelve of the building trades, and had the power to order every union man in those trades off a building where the union scale of wages was not paid or where non-union men were employed. But, they did not desire to exercise that power, as it was more the[Pg 53] business of the Council to arbitrate and effect settlements than to encourage strikes. It was agreed that a conference should be had Tuesday morning, at which time the entire situation with reference to the Hodcarriers would be discussed.

In order to exhibit the venomous spirit of some of the strikers an effort was made by the union Hodcarriers and Laborers to make the life of non-union Laborers a burden. A scheme was started for dropping mortar and pouring water on them in order to drive them away from any job where union men were at work.

On Tuesday evening, May 10th, the Master Masons' association met. President Downey read a letter from the Bricklayers' Union which contained an unqualified statement that the union would not rescind the resolution making Saturday the pay-day.

Mr. George C. Prussing submitted the draft of a communication to be sent to the Bricklayers' Union, and stated that he thought it was highly proper to send it, in the hope that by courteous treatment the differences would be settled with less difficulty. The proposition to send the communication was unanimously adopted. The communication was as follows:

To the United Order of American Bricklayers and StonemasonsGentlemen: Notice of your resolution fixing pay-day every Saturday two weeks has been laid before this association.

We submit to your consideration that a subject of this kind can hardly be "fixed" by a resolution in a meeting of employes, but should be referred to and properly discussed by a joint committee of both employers and employes before action is taken.

Thus far the rule has been to pay up to and including Saturday on the following Tuesday among the members of this association, and as far as heard from no complaint of any irregularity in paying workmen has been made. In a city as large as this, covering such immense area, and where it is not infrequent for the same firm to be engaged upon work on the North, South, and West sides at the same time, two days at[Pg 54] least are necessary to make up pay-rolls and envelope money properly. If, therefore, the change of pay-day from Tuesday to Saturday should be adopted, it would necessitate the closing of pay-day on Thursday night preceding. This, we submit, would not serve either you or us as well as to pay to the end of the previous week. You have not given us any reasons for your arbitrary demand for a change, and we have failed to find any in our judgment good and sufficient. If any such reasons exist we shall be pleased to know them. Until then we shall continue to pay as before, regularly every second Tuesday, up to the preceding Saturday night.

By order of the

Chicago Master Masons' Association.

The communication was at once taken to the Bricklayers' Union by C. P. Wakeman, it having been stated that the union was in session and would receive any communication that should be sent. In about thirty minutes Mr. Wakeman returned from his visit to the Bricklayers, and reported that he had been received in grand shape. The hall was packed full, and when he took his place on the platform to read the communication he was loudly cheered. He asked the Bricklayers to lay the question of pay-day over and appoint a committee to see if the matter could not be settled. He was satisfied that two-thirds of those present were in favor of a compromise. They agreed to telephone the Builders' and Traders' exchange as soon as a conclusion was reached.

The telephone was not used, but a committee from the Bricklayers' union called at 10:30 o'clock and notified Mr. Wakeman that the union had unanimously passed a resolution making Saturday the pay-day, and that it would not recede from it, but was willing to allow two days in which to make up the pay-roll, closing it on Thursday night. The report was received, after which a motion was made to lay the report on the table, but it was withdrawn.

William O'Brien said the demand for pay on Saturday, if acceded to, would result in another demand for pay at noon on Saturday and give the men the afternoon, and then the[Pg 55] contractors would have "blue Monday" in fact. He was in favor of acting like men and standing firmly by their principles, and they would command the respect of everybody. [Applause.]

Mr. Charles W. Gindele said if the bricklayers had done the fair thing they would have conferred with the contractors before passing the resolutions, but they had made the demand arbitrarily. The community and the material men were watching the action of the association, and were ready to stand by it if it stood by its members. It was only a matter of time until the strike would have to burst, and he was in favor of bursting it then. If it was not done the community could not be expected to stand by them. If all building was stopped there were enough vacant buildings in the city to house everybody. [Applause.]

A motion to not concur in the report of the committee was unanimously adopted, which was equivalent to a refusal to accede to the demands of the bricklayers in regard to making Saturday the pay-day.

A resolution was then adopted refusing to comply with the demands of the bricklayers in regard to Saturday as a pay-day, fixing Monday or Tuesday of every other week as the day of payment, and agreeing to shut down all work if the bricklayers should strike on account of this action. There was but one opposing vote.

President Downey submitted an agreement which had already been signed by a large majority of the members of the association. It embraced a proposition to stand together upon the question of pay-day, and to all stop work, if it should be necessary, in order to maintain their rights against unjust exactions of the laboring men. After the agreement was read an opportunity was given for members to sign it who had not done so, and twenty names were added to the list. The association then voted to approve the sentiments expressed in the agreement, the vote being unanimous.

[Pg 56]

The Executive Committee submitted a report of the doings of its members in regard to the labor troubles. It was as follows:

To the Chicago Master Masons' AssociationGentlemen: Your executive committee does respectfully report that a committee of three, claiming to be appointed by and to represent the Amalgamated Trades council, and to be clothed by it with power to settle the existing laborers' strike, did call by appointment this morning at the exchange and met us, together with a number of members of this association whom we asked to join us for this particular purpose. After quite a lengthy and exhaustive discussion of the situation said committee of three insisted:

Firstly, on the establishment of a minimum rate of wages for all masons' laborers at 23½ cents per hour.

Secondly, one time and one-half to be granted for all work done over and above eight hours per day, no matter during which hours such work may be performed.

Thirdly, for double pay for Sunday work, and,

Lastly, on the recognition of their union.

The first three propositions are debatable and might have been acceded to by your committee and this body, and if the fourth had been understood to mean an acknowledgement of the fact that a union of masons' laborers more or less numerous has been formed, and is now in existence, your committee would have been ready to go to that length. But the gentlemen wanted more—far more. They informed us that a recognition of their union means that the members of this association pledge themselves to employ henceforth none but laborers belonging to their union, to grant to it the practical control of the labor market, and to drive every laborer now employed from our buildings, and in reality out of the city all who have not now, or do not in near future, join the ranks of their union. In other words, to make ourselves the whippers-in of said union. It means that we sanction and support the aim and object of said union, which is that none shall work in Chicago at their calling except upon surrender of his manhood into its keeping and at its beck and call. It means that we sanction the employment of brute force to coerce men into their ranks. It means that we sanction and approve of the outrages committed daily against men now at work upon terms mutually satisfactory to themselves and their employers.

[Pg 57]

We, the members of this association, must plead guilty, in common with the entire community, to suffering the fundamental principles underlying the very fabric of our government, and guaranteed by our constitution—principles called inalienable rights of man—to be overridden and practically abrogated by lawless bodies throughout the land.

Thus far are we equally guilty with all other citizens in neglecting our duty as such. To uphold this government and constitution is the duty of all citizens. We are part of this community, and comparatively a small fraction.

This community will awake from its lethargy and to its duty when that time comes, and God speed the coming. The voice of this association will give no uncertain sound. In the meantime, let us never voluntary do or sanction wrong. We may suffer, but we can not cope against it without the active support of the community. But never let it be said that we approved of the methods employed recently by trades-unions.

Your committee would not make you liable to such charge by its act, and reports the whole matter to you for final action.


Joseph Downey,
H. Mueller,
Executive Committee.

We, the undersigned members, who were present at the committee meeting this morning do join in the report.

G. C. Prussing,
George Tapper,
C. P. Wakeman.

The report was adopted by a rising vote, followed by prolonged applause.

President Downey stated that he had recently seen a great many of the brick manufacturers and the officers of the stone pool in regard to selling materials in case of a lockout, and they had assured him that they would stand by the contractors in case of a general strike, and not sell a dollars' worth of building material while the strike lasted.

The pulse of the manufacturers of and dealers in building materials was felt, and it was ascertained that they fully realized they were standing on a volcano that was likely to burst at any time and stop them. One of them covered the case fully when he said they were practically dependent upon[Pg 58] the contractors, and if it became necessary for the Master Masons to shut down, the brick manufacturers and stone men would support them by shutting down their yards and stopping the manufacture of brick and the production of building stone. They were on the eve of a strike among their own employes, instances of discontent cropping out almost every day, and if the producers of building materials should elect to stand by the contractors he was satisfied the strike questions would not only be settled for the season, but for all time.

The committee from the Amalgamated Building Trades Council, composed of Messrs. Brennock, Carroll and McBrearty again met the executive committee of the Master Masons' association and made its demand for the Hodcarriers. The Master Masons were asked to recognize the union, pay 25 cents an hour and agree to employ none but union hodcarriers and laborers. The executive committee of the Master Masons, composed of Messrs. Downey, Courtney and Mueller, with Mr. Prussing added, told the council committee that they would not accede to the demand. They insisted that they could not pay 25 cents an hour to laborers, and under no circumstances would they discharge the army of non-union laborers, as it would be an injustice to poor men who were dependent upon their labor for support. Mr. Courtney told them these men were not able, if inclined, to join the union, and it would be almost inhuman to throw them out of employment when they were faithful employes. Mr. Carroll admitted that the Council was not ready to order the union laborers to stop work, as there were too many non-union hodcarriers and laborers in the city, and until these were brought into the union a general strike would not accomplish what was wanted. He also remarked that the Council had decided to call off all union men on jobs where non-union men were employed, but he could not say whether it would carry out the declaration. The hodcarriers had inaugurated the strike, and might conclude to drop it until they were in better shape by having more non-union men in their assemblies.

[Pg 59]


On Monday, May 11th, the strike of the Bricklayers materialized. Two thousand members of the union dropped their trowels because the employers refused to recognize their edict in regard to Saturday pay-day. This act threw out of employment an equal number of Hodcarriers and Laborers, many of whom were not in sympathy with the movement of the Bricklayers. President Vorkeller of the Bricklayers' union, insisted that no strike had been ordered, but the men would not work unless the Saturday pay-day was granted. No "strike had been ordered," but the men were striking as fast as they could. Upon being informed that the pay-day would not be changed they stopped at once, all understanding that they must quit. Yet, according to the president of the union, "there was no strike ordered." They were simply "standing by the resolution." Some of the men quit work very reluctantly, remarking that it was the height of nonsense to strike on such a frivolous proposition. But they had to obey orders, and did so with military precision. The Walking Delegate was promptly on hand to see that every man obeyed orders, and the snap of his finger did its work on a great many jobs where the men were in no hurry to quit work.

The president of the union claimed that they could endure a long lockout, as they had real estate and cash [Pg 60]representing $75,000, and could make it $100,000 by assessments. But the Bricklayers were not Knights of Labor, and were not amalgamated with any other labor organization, and consequently were not in a position to give to or receive assistance from any other labor union.

At the Builders' and Traders' exchange there was considerable bustle among the contractors. They realized that the strike for which they had been looking had commenced, and they put their heads together as if they were preparing for a long and hard fight. There was not a dissenting voice to be heard in regard to the question. Everyone who entered the exchange wore an earnest look, and expressed determination to not yield on the question of pay-day if the building business of the city was to stop a whole year. They had wrestled with the strike problem in almost every aspect in which it could be placed, until it had become a burden too heavy to bear. A period had been reached when the trouble could be settled for all time, and they were determined to settle it in a manner that would be effective. They realized that they might lose thousands of dollars while engaged in the effort, but with the co-operation of the material men they could reach a conclusion that would be lasting.

It was not a question of hours or wages, as those had been conceded with many other exactions. It had become a question whether the contractor was to allow his employes to domineer over him and dictate everything, or whether he should have a little to do with the management of his own affairs. The building interests had been hampered for years by demand after demand, nearly all of which had been of an arbitrary character. It was more convenient for the contractors, and better for the men, that they should be paid on Monday or Tuesday. A majority of the Bricklayers did not object to the pay-day, but the leaders demanded the change, and they were forced to submit. Labor unions are generally managed by the leaders for their own interests.

[Pg 61]

The Bricklayers were the best organized body in the city. They had no affiliations with other unions. If a Bricklayer entered Chicago with a card from another union in his hand he would not be permitted to work until he paid the Chicago Union $25. The result was that Bricklayers were driven from the city and the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons dictated for years rules, not only for their own government, but for the control of every Master Mason that attempted to fill a contract.

Among the contractors the fight had become one for principle, and every element that was in sympathy with the maintenance of the right was invited to unite with the contracting Masons in their effort put forth to attain that object.

In furtherance of the movement a committee was appointed by the Master Masons' association to confer with dealers in building materials and procure their signature to an agreement that they would not sell and deliver building material to any one pending a settlement of the labor troubles, except upon the authority of Joseph Downey, president of the Master Masons' associations. The agreement was as follows:

Whereas, We believe the position taken by the Chicago Master Masons' association in the present building trade strike to be correct; and,

Whereas, We believe that the more complete the cessation of all building work during the strike can be made, the shorter will be the interference with business.

Now, therefore, Do we, the undersigned, hereby agree with and among one another not to sell or deliver materials to any building in Chicago or suburbs during the continuance of this strike, except as may be allowed or requested by the executive committee appointed by the Chicago Master Masons' association in charge of the strike.

The committee was composed of Joseph Downey, president; Thomas Courtney, treasurer, (who went to Europe June 1st, and his place was filled by E. Earnshaw); Herman Mueller,[Pg 62] secretary. A sub-committee was appointed, composed of C. W. Gindele, Daniel Freeman and E. S. Moss. The three divisions of the city were created "districts," and were put in charge of the following members: South side, William O'Brien; North side, John Mountain; West side, William Iliff. Visitors were then appointed and the city was thoroughly canvassed and patrolled in order to secure full co-operation of the material dealers, and to protect the interests of the members generally.

Dealers in stone, brick, lime, cement, sand, architectural iron, tile, and every other class of building material, flocked to the exchange and appended their signatures to the agreement. They were only too glad to lend their assistance to break the backbone of a species of tyranny under which they had been oppressed for years. The committee reported that nearly every important dealer had signed the agreement. Backed by this element the contractors were relieved. They felt assured of success.

There was joy in the camp of the Hodcarriers when it was announced that the Bricklayers had gone out. Their joy was not on account of the strike, but because it would result in throwing out of employment the non-union Hodcarriers and Laborers who had stepped into their places when they struck for an advance in pay, and were locked out. The idle men who were needy drew on the treasury of the Hodcarriers' union and took out of it nearly every dollar it contained.

The Amalgamated Building Trades' Council met and attempted to order a general strike of all building trades, but discovered that they were powerless to do so, because the delegates had not been given "power to act" by their respective unions. The desire to order the general strike was present, but the authority was absent. There was no lack of willingness on the part of the leaders. They are always ready and willing to keep their positions at the sacrifice of anything and anybody.

[Pg 63]

The leaders of the striking bricklayers were quietly, but actively engaged in laying plans for the future. They claimed to be ready to meet any emergency that might come. At the same time the contractors claimed to hold the key to the situation, and said they would never give up until they could have a little to say in the management of their own business.

The executive committee of the Master Masons' association decided that there should be a general shutting down of all work on which bricklayers and stonemasons were engaged, and in pursuance of this decision the following notice was issued May 10th.

Notice.—The members of the Master Masons' association now working men are hereby requested to stop work Friday night, May 13th, and to report to the executive committee.

Joseph Downey,    

On Friday, May 13th, the idle army was largely increased. Of bricklayers, stonemasons, hodcarriers, laborers, teamsters, helpers, carpenters, and a few in other trades, there were fifteen thousand out of employment. Many of these were willing to work, but they were forced to be idle because of the strike of the bricklayers.

The strikers threatened to bring into the city building material from Michigan, thinking by such a proceeding they could force the bosses to give in. The proposition was laughed at.

In support of the Master Masons the North and Northwest Brick Manufacturers' association met and resolved that from May 14th no brick should be delivered from any of the yards in the association until the strike was ended, and that the yards would stop manufacturing brick May 18th. The association yards had a capacity of 1,250,000 brick per day, and employed 1,300 men.

The bricklayers attempted to hold a meeting at Greenebaum's hall Friday night to discuss what they termed "the[Pg 64] bosses' lockout." Every member of the union was on hand, and at least half of them were prepared to express their views on the subject. Over five hundred men were unable to gain entrance to the hall owing to its crowded condition, and finding themselves thus cut off from debate proceeded to interrupt those who were inside, so that it was impossible for anyone to hear what was said. A good many who were on the floor were determined to express disapprobation at the trivial demand that had precipitated the trouble, and to request that something be done to settle the dispute, but finding that the malcontents outside were bent on stopping all discussion it was determined to close the meeting. Upon a motion to this effect another noisy faction began to oppose it, and the shouting and stamping of feet became deafening. The floor quivered under the tumultuous mob, and many left the hall for fear it would give way. President Vorkeller could not control the men, and after two hours' labor to bring order out of chaos he made a proposition that battery D, or the cavalry armory, be secured, and thus obtain room for all. This met with favor, and the meeting adjourned with the understanding that the men assemble at battery D at 10 o'clock Saturday morning, May 14th.

[Pg 65]


In order to inflame the strikers and keep them together they were frequently regaled by such poisonous talk as the following:

"In a week the men will begin to get uneasy. They will assemble on the streets. The Internationalists [red-flag bandits] will be among them, notwithstanding the fact that they are alleged to have disbanded. Do you suppose that 50,000 or 100,000 men are going to starve and allow their families to die before their eyes without lifting a hand? It is against human nature. I am going to leave Chicago. It is not safe for men of my views to be around in times like these. If the lockout is continued, the people will arise and overthrow a system which permits a few men to starve the vast majority into slavery."

It was of little use to point out to angry and ignorant men the absurdity of these revolutionary predictions of their worst enemies. It availed nothing to tell them that Capital had not refused to give them employment; that Capital was ready and more than willing to employ them, and was suffering loss every day and hour of their idleness; that Capital was the best friend they have in the world, a friend that respected their rights and required of them only that they should have equal respect for its rights; and that to maintain its rights against their annoying and persistent attacks was its sole aim in meeting them on their own ground and fighting them in their own fashion. Their blatant demagogues asserted the contrary, and they continued to listen to their blatant demagogues.

[Pg 66]


The Bricklayers' union was such a close corporation that it not only failed and refused to affiliate with bricklayers who were members of the International union, but proposed to debar every other mechanic from earning a living and force them to assist in securing a benefit for its own members. It was attempting to oust from employment all other building trades in order to carry a trivial point for its own benefit. A meeting of the Amalgamated Trades' Council was held May 14th, at which the action of the Bricklayers was discussed. Expressions of sympathy were made for the Hodcarriers—who were represented in the Council—and condemnation of the Bricklayers,—who were not represented,—and the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the Bricklayers' union be requested to send a delegation to this Council and take part in its work, and failing so to do that this Council consider itself purposely ignored, and at liberty to support such members of the International Union of Bricklayers as may seek work in Chicago, and that the hodcarriers may supply said International men.

A committee was appointed to convey the resolution to the president of the Bricklayers' union.

When asked if he had received the resolution President Vorkeller at first emphatically denied it. But when James Brennock, Secretary of the Council, exhibited a reply to it[Pg 67] from Vorkeller, he changed his manner of expression, and admitted that he had decided to send a committee to meet the members of the Council, but the union would not send delegates. He said he would have nothing to do with amalgamation, as the union was independent, and able to take care of itself. He afterwards changed his mind, however, and the Bricklayers' union, which was so independent, so powerful, so well organized—under a threat by the Hodcarriers to bring International bricklayers to Chicago—sent delegates to the Council and amalgamated.

[Pg 68]


The executive committee of the Master Masons' association busied itself in securing signatures to the agreement to not sell or deliver any building material pending the strike, and they were eminently successful. It divided the city into districts and appointed sub-committees to visit each job to see who were working and if any disposition was shown to violate the agreement. They daily added signatures to the document, fully realizing that by procuring a hearty co-operation from the material men they could build a wall so high that there would be no question of success in combatting the tyrannical acts of the union. The question of individual liberty was brought home to them in such a manner that they could not ignore it.

[Pg 69]


Saturday, May 14th, a large meeting of representatives of the building trades met at the Builders' and Traders' exchange. The spacious rooms were crowded to their full capacity. George Tapper presided. The sentiments of the meeting were fully expressed in the following statement and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

The members of the Builders' and Traders' exchange of Chicago, in special meeting assembled, in their capacity as citizens and as employers of labor, believe the time ripe to protest against the arrogant interference of labor organizations with business and the rights of man as guaranteed by the constitution of the United States. From year to year this evil of foreign importation has grown worse and worse, because the people, whose duty as citizens it is to uphold and enforce the laws, have not taken the time to oppose actively the aggressions and outrages committed in the name and by the instigation of the various labor organizations. We have seen this evil brought to and planted in our soil; we have allowed it to sprout and grow, and put forth new and stronger shoots every year, until now it is plain that it must either be stamped out by the active co-operation of all law-abiding citizens or it will overwhelm and destroy our very form of government. The dividing line between the permissible and objectionable, between right and wrong, should be clearly and unmistakably drawn, and the voice of the community should be heard with proper earnestness and determination, saying to the ignorant as well as the vicious, "thus far shall you go, but go no farther."[Pg 70] We believe that the large majority sin from ignorance. Others have seen the wrong exist and tolerated, and wrong-doers prosper, until their moral perceptions are dulled and blunted. Those who know better, whose opportunity and education is superior, have neglected their duty to their misled fellow-citizens full long enough. A crusade must be inaugurated, and should be participated in by each and all who love and desire the perpetuation of this government, founded, in the words of the immortal Lincoln, "of the people, for the people, by the people." Let all unite and stand shoulder to shoulder in solid phalanx for the right and frown down the spirit of anarchy now rampant, and ere long the rights of the individual shall again be respected, and this country shall again and in fact become the "home of the free."

Whereas, We recognize that the Master Masons' and Builders' association has taken a proper stand in its opposition to the arbitrary dictates of organized labor, and that its battle is our battle, and in the belief that the more complete the cessation of all building work during the present strike the shorter will be the interference with business; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That we indorse the action of said Master Masons' association and make its position our own, and will actively aid and assist it in and during this strike.

Resolved, That while we condemn and oppose improper actions by trades unions, we still recognize that there are many opportunities for good in associations of workmen, and shall aid and assist them in all just and honorable purposes; that while upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer or arbitrate, there are still many points upon which conference and arbitration are perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it is a manifest duty to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances may be prevented.

Resolved, That this exchange do, and it does hereby, call upon all contractors and builders, be they members of this exchange or not, for co-operation and active assistance; it calls upon all architects; upon the owners of buildings in course of construction or about to be started; upon the press and pulpit; upon each and every citizen, and particularly upon all mechanics and laborers who believe that absolute personal [Pg 71]independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed; that upon it depends the security of our whole social fabric and business prosperity, and that employer and workman should be equally interested in its defense and preservation.

Each association in the building trades, and the Illinois State Association of Architects, and the Chicago Real Estate board were requested to appoint three delegates to be present at a conference of building trades on Monday, May 19th.

Mr. Prussing was asked to state the position of the Master Masons. In doing so he said: "It is no more walking delegate! [Cheers.] No more interference with the boy who wishes to learn a trade that he may earn an honest living. [Cheers.] But why ask for particulars? We ask that the wrongs and outrages perpetrated by the trades unions be wiped out, and we ask every minister in his pulpit and every editor in his chair to aid us. If we present a solid and united front the victory will soon be won. * * * * The spirit of anarchy is rampant and must be put down, or it will put you down." [Applause.]

Just as the meeting adjourned a telegram was received from Boston, signed by William H. Sayward, secretary of the National Association of Builders. The assembly waited to hear it. It read as follows:

We are watching your course with great sympathy and interest. Individual liberty must be preserved at any cost.

It was received with a burst of applause, followed by three cheers and a "tiger."

[Pg 72]


A meeting of the directors of the Chicago stone pool was held, at which there was a full attendance. The building situation was carefully and thoroughly discussed, and without a dissenting voice it was agreed to sustain the Master Masons in the action taken relative to the strike. A resolution was adopted not to sell or deliver stone to anybody pending a settlement of the labor troubles. It was also agreed to stop work at the twenty-two quarries controlled by the pool if it should become necessary.

The key to the situation was held by the stone pool, and when this action was taken the cause of the Master Masons was strengthened in a manner that caused a feeling of relief. Without stone building could not go on for any great length of time.


There was some work under contract which had to be done in order to protect it, or to avoid violating an agreement, and in such cases President Downey arranged for the issuance of permits for the sale of such material as was needed to complete the work.

[Pg 73]

The Architects met and expressed approval of the course of the Master Masons, and the following resolution, presented by W. L. B. Jenney, was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the secretary be and he is hereby instructed to send to the Builders' and Traders' exchange, through its president, the announcement of our sincere co-operation.

[Pg 74]


A mass meeting of the Bricklayers was held on the same day at Battery D, ostensibly for the purpose of discussing the strike, but really for the purpose of anathematizing the employers and forcing into line the dissatisfied and discontented Germans who had been forced to strike against their will. There was a majority of the Germans present, and if they had not been frightened into following the leaders, they could have rescinded the resolution making Saturday the pay-day. But they were timid and unorganized. Mr. Richter spoke in favor of rescinding the resolution, but his own German friends were not brave enough to accord him a cheer, while the opposition howled him down.

When the orators thought they had the meeting in proper temper the following resolution was presented by George Childs:

Resolved. That we strictly abide by the resolution that was passed by our Union as to a Saturday pay-day every two weeks, and refuse to work on any other terms.

It was read in six different languages that it might be understood by the "congress of nations." President Vorkeller then requested those who favored its adoption to take a position on the right of the hall. A rush was made and but one man voted against the resolution. The objecting Germans had been intimidated to such an extent on that and[Pg 75] previous occasions that they feared to vote against the edict of the leaders. A viva voce vote was then taken and the resolution was adopted without a dissenting voice.

When the result of the meeting at Battery D was announced in the committee-room of the Master Masons there was a significant smile on the faces of those present. President Downey stated that a rescinding of the Saturday pay-day resolution by the bricklayers was not expected, and if it had been done it would not have restored the building interests to their normal condition. The contractors had been forced into a fight which they had staved off for years by making concessions, but now that they were in it they would not stop short of a permanent settlement of every grievance which had been borne until they were no longer to be endured.

On Monday, May 16th, there were 18,000 mechanics locked out, and 1,100 laborers were being supported by the Hodcarriers' union. Four hundred bricklayers left the city to look for work.

[Pg 76]


Tuesday evening, May 17th, the Master Masons' association met and unanimously adopted the following platform of principles:

Your committee does respectfully report in favor of the reaffirmation of the following planks from the platform of the National Association of Builders as fundamental principles upon which must be based any and all efforts at settlement of the now existing lockout in building trades:

We affirm that absolute personal independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed; that upon it depends the security of our whole social fabric and business prosperity, and that employers and workmen should be equally interested in its defense and preservation.

We recognize that there are many opportunities for good in associations of workmen, and, while condemning and opposing improper action upon their part, we will aid and assist them in all just and honorable purposes; that while upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer or arbitrate, there are still many points on which conference and arbitrations are perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it is a manifest duty to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances may be prevented; or, in other language, that "the walking delegate must[Pg 77] go;" that the laws of the state shall prevail in regard to apprentices and not the dictates of labor organizations; that "stewards" in control of the men employed at buildings will not be recognized, and that "foremen," as the agents of employers, shall not be under the control of the union while serving in that capacity.

We report in favor of the above, and believe that no time should be wasted now in the discussion of details which can readily be adjusted by arbitration when an association of workmen shall be in existence which acknowledges the justice of the above principles.

With such association, questions of detail or policy, such as minimum rate of wages to be paid, the hours of work per day, or any complaints or grievances now existing or hereafter arising, can readily be settled by a joint committee of arbitration, and we hold ourselves ready and willing to do so.

The need of the day is a firm stand upon the question at issue—namely, the constitution-guaranteed rights of the individual.

In our efforts to maintain these we have received the unanimous and hearty co-operation of the community, and we are sure of its continued support. All other questions are trivial in comparison, and the consideration thereof may well be postponed. And in this connection we take pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of sympathy and co-operation of the architects of this city, the active support of the manufacturers of and dealers in building materials, the uniform and readily-granted assistance of the building public and the many letters of sympathy with the cause received from people entirely disconnected with building interests, who feel with us that it is the duty of the American people to oppose this form of tyranny and crush it out now and forever.

It is time, indeed, that the men in charge of unions should learn that they are not fighting this association, but run counter to the sentiments of the entire people and the institutions of this free country.

They must learn to distinguish between liberty and license, between right and wrong. All who aid in this work deserve well by their country.

In conclusion, we recommend the appointment of a committee of three by the president to represent this association[Pg 78] at a conference to be held by representatives of all building trades at the Builders' Exchange to-morrow, and until the present lockout is finally settled.

George C. Prussing,
George Tapper,
George H. Fox,

When that portion was read stating that the "walking delegate must go" there was loud applause, and every section of the platform was cheered.

[Pg 79]


A special meeting of the Real Estate board was held at which the labor question was fully discussed by Messrs. W. D. Kerfoot, H. L. Turner, M. R. Barnard, E. S. Dreyer, Bryan Lathrop, W. L. Pierce and others. The following resolution was presented by M. R. Barnard and adopted by the board:

Resolved, That the Chicago Real Estate Board is in full sympathy with the Builders' and Traders' exchange, the contractors, architects, and owners in their efforts to check the evils of the labor troubles, and that the Real Estate Board expresses a willingness to co-operate with them in their efforts to devise such means as will result in an equitable and final settlement of the question.


The Amalgamated Trades' Council held a meeting—which was attended by delegates from the Bricklayers' union—at which threats were made to prosecute Messrs. Downey, Prussing and other builders for "conspiracy" because they had been prominent in securing the co-operation of the dealers in building material, and a refusal to sell and deliver pending the strike. This movement had struck its mark. It hurt.

[Pg 80]

In the meantime the poor Hodcarriers and Laborers were lost sight of. They had exhausted their treasury and were assessing members at work $1 a week to partially defray expenses of those who were idle. Very few were engaged in building, but were shoving lumber, working in ditches and sewers, and performing labor of any kind they could find to do. Their cause was lost.

[Pg 81]


The conference of Building Trades, which had been called by the Builders' and Traders' exchange, met Wednesday, May 18th. The various organizations were represented as follows:

Architectural Iron-Work—Robert Vierling, A. Vanderkloof, M. Benner.

Plumbers—Robert Griffith, William Sims, J. J. Wade.

Steam-Fitters—H. G. Savage, L. H. Prentice, P. S. Hudson.

Stone-Cutters—F. V. Gindele, T. C. Diener, John Rawle.

Plasterers—J. N. Glover, A. Zander, John Sutton.

Roofers—M. W. Powell.

Master Masons—George C. Prussing, George Tapper, George H. Fox.

Painters—J. B. Sullivan, H. J. Milligan, J. G. McCarthy.

Galvanized-Iron-Work—Edward Kirk, Jr., F. A. E. Wolcott, W. B. Maypole.

Carpenters—William Hearson, William Mavor, W. T. Waddell.

North Side Brick Manufacturers—A. J. Weckler, F. Zapell, A. Hahne.

Non-Union Stone-Cutters—C. B. Kimbell.

Real Estate Board—Henry L. Turner, W. L. Pierce, E. S. Dreyer.

Builders' and Traders' Exchange—F. E. Spooner, H. C. Hoyt, B. J. Moore.

Architects—F. Bauman, J. W. Root, M. Pierce.

Hollow-Tile Manufacturers—P. B. Wight.

[Pg 82]

George Tapper was made president and F. C. Schoenthaler secretary.

The members discussed the situation, all agreeing that it was necessary to stand together, and that prompt action should be taken to settle the strike. On motion of F. E. Spooner the two sections of the platform of the Master Masons, which were taken from the declaration of principles of the National Association of Builders, were read and adopted without a dissenting voice.

The following committee was appointed to submit a plan for future action:

George C. Prussing, Henry L. Turner, William Hearson, J. B. Sullivan and Edward Kirk, Jr.

[Pg 83]


Wednesday, May 18th, nearly all of the brick manufacturers in and adjacent to the city shut down their yards to not resume the manufacture of brick until there was a settlement of the labor troubles. Their action threw out of employment six thousand brickmakers, helpers, yardmen, and teamsters. This action was precipitated by the fact that there was a supply of brick on hand which could not be delivered until building operations were resumed, and the manufacturers saw nothing in the situation that made it necessary for them to make brick when their product could not find a market. They did not desire to invest large sums of money in making brick to store at a large expense, and few of them had an outside demand for their product. In nearly every yard in the vicinity of Chicago there had been strikes, and others were threatened. The feeling of uncertainty and insecurity was so prevalent that the brick manufacturers were more ready than ever to co-operate with the movement of the Master Masons in order to be placed in a position to begin anew on whatever basis might be adopted for a settlement of the labor question. They wanted to run full time when they did run, and not be regulated by the "gang" rule as to what should constitute a day's work for a machine and the attendant man. When a machine was guaranteed to make 50,000 brick in a day they[Pg 84] objected to shutting it off at 35,000, and calling that number a day's work. Such rules were regarded as too arbitrary, and as the brickmaking season was limited to from 120 to 150 days it necessarily shortened the crop and prevented a fair income on the capital invested in machinery and grounds.

[Pg 85]


Thursday, May 19th, the conference of the Building Trades held a second meeting, and the committee on platform submitted a report which was discussed by the members and slightly amended. As adopted it was as follows:

In order to carry into effect the platform adopted by us, your committee recommend:

1. That from this time forth the signature to the following code of principles by the employe be made a universal condition of employment by all building interests of Chicago, viz:

I recognize the right of every man to decide for himself, without dictation or interference, when he shall work or cease to work, where he shall work, for whom he shall work, how many hours he shall work, and for what wages he shall work.

I recognize the absolute right of the employer to decide for himself, without interference from any source, whom he shall employ or cease to employ; to regulate and manage his business with perfect independence and freedom, provided, only, that he deal lawfully, justly and honorable with all men.

I recognize the right of every father to have his son taught, and of every son to learn, any lawful trade as on a plane with his right to a knowledge of reading, writing, or any other branch of learning, and should be subject to regulation only by the laws of the land.

I hereby pledge myself, in all my relations and intercourse with my employers and fellow-workmen, to maintain and live up to these principles.

[Pg 86]

Your committee recommend, second, that the same code of principles be presented for signature to every employer with the pledge therein changed as follows:

I hereby pledge myself to maintain and live up to these principles in the prosecution of my business, and to lend my aid to the full extent of my influence and power for their maintenance and protection among my fellow employers. I further pledge myself not to employ any workmen except upon his signature of this code of principles.

Your committee recommend, third, that this conference recommend to our respective organizations to request of each of its members to employ such workmen only who recognize the inalienable rights as above set forth, and evidence their position by subscribing their names thereto.

Your committee recommend, fourth, that public announcement be made at once that business will be resumed on or before June 1, with this code of principles as a basis.

Your committee recommend, fifth, that a standing committee of one member from each of the building trades, Real-Estate Board, and the Illinois State Association of Architects, to be known as the central council of the building interests of Chicago be appointed, whose duty it shall be to see to the carrying out of these principles; that it shall have a sub-committee of safety, whose province it shall be to see that ample protection to all is afforded; with sub-committees on grievances, strikes, arbitrations, and such as may be found necessary, but that it work always and solely for the maintenance and protection of the principles herein laid down.

Your committee recommend, sixth, that an address to the workingmen of the building trades and to the general public be prepared, setting forth your action and your reasons therefor; that fifty thousand copies be printed and immediately distributed.

Your committee recommend, seventh, that the declaration of principles be printed at once and circulated for signatures.

Your committee recommend, eighth, that a fund be created to defray the expenses of this central council, and that we request each association here represented to transmit to the order of George Tapper, chairman, the sum of 25 cents for each of their members, and that individual contributions of people interested in this work be accepted.

[Pg 87]

The committee was instructed to have the report printed in six different languages for general distribution.

A meeting of the Master Masons' association was held the same day at which objections were made to that portion of the platform which require the employe to sign an agreement to abide by what had been laid down as the principles of the employers. It was regarded as impracticable and the association refused to approve it, deferring action until there was a full meeting.

The Carpenters' and Builders' association met in the evening and unanimously approved the platform presented by the Conference of Builders, although some objection was offered to the clause requiring the employe to sign his name.

[Pg 88]


At the rooms of the Builders' and Traders' exchange the members congregated in large number and earnestly discussed the situation and platform of principles adopted by the conference committee of the building trades. Everyone seemed to be loaded with an opinion which he wanted to shoot off at everybody else. The burden of the discussion was upon the proposition to require employers and employes to append their signatures to the declaration of principles. There was no disagreement as to the correctness of the principles, but a great many questioned the ability of the employers to put the first section into practice—requiring the employe to sign before going to work. It was generally stated that this proposition was impracticable with the building trades, because many of the men were constantly moving about from one job to another, and unless they were known to have previously signed a new signature would be required on each job, to which the men would object. Masons generally favored a proposition to require the employes to assent to the principles enunciated, and if they did not want to work then they could remain idle. Some of the bosses, however, insisted that they would not only vote against the signing clause, but would refuse to put it into execution if it should be indorsed by a full meeting. It was suggested that an arrangement could be[Pg 89] made for opening the doors and inviting the men to go to work. Each applicant for a job could be asked if he knew the principles which had been adopted, and under which work was to be resumed. If not, he could have a copy delivered to him to read, or have them read to him, and if he was then willing to resume work, all right. If not, he could reconsign himself to idleness. It was thought this would not antagonize the unions, and that a large majority of the men would return to work within a week.

[Pg 90]


Notice having been received by the president of the Builders' and Traders' exchange that the officers of the National Association of Builders were to be in Chicago, the board of directors of the exchange met and appointed the following committee to receive them: George Tapper, Joseph Downey, George II. Fox, James John, M. Benner, Charles A. Moses, William E. Frost, F. C. Schoenthaler, and James C. Beeks.

The officials were met and were fully informed by the committee of what had occurred in Chicago from the inception of the labor trouble which had paralyzed the building trades, and were furnished with a copy of the platform of principles adopted by the Conference committee of the building trades. The situation was informally discussed by the officers of the National Association and the reception committee, in order to put the visitors in a position to fully understand the ground upon which action had been taken. They were apprised of the demands which had been made from time to time for years, and of the fact that these demands had been generally acceded to until they had become almost unbearable, and that the builders of Chicago thought the time had arrived when decisive action should be taken in order to insure a permanent settlement of the troubles which had disrupted the employers and the employes.

[Pg 91]

Referring to the situation William H. Sayward said it was not alone Chicago builders who were affected by the movement, but the whole country was interested in it. The builders of Chicago and those of other cities could see the benefits which were expected to be derived from a national association. Before that, when there had been a strike of any magnitude in any city, the builders engaged in the complications received not even a word of sympathy from their associates in other parts of the country. In their troubles the Chicago builders had received messages of sympathy and approval from almost every part of the country, because all felt and had a common interest in the questions at issue.


The Central Labor union men met Sunday, May 22d, and compassed the situation by the passage of the following sympathetic resolution:

Resolved, That the present lockout of the bosses is in every way unjustified; that the Central Labor union declares that it is a conspiracy against the rights of the working people, and extends to the locked out workmen hearty sympathy and financial as well as moral aid.


The Trade and Labor assembly met the same day and threatened to prosecute the Master Masons for "conspiracy" and agreed that they should be boycotted. The proposition to prosecute the bosses did not materialize, as wiser counsel prevailed, and showed that there was no foundation upon which to build the charge.

[Pg 92]


Telegrams were received as follows:

Boston, Mass., May 19, 1887.

George Tapper, President Builders' and Traders' exchange—The executive board of the National Association of Builders to Builders' and Traders' exchange of Chicago, Greeting: We have carefully examined the position you have taken, and the conditions which have led to your action, and hereby extend to you our most hearty approval and indorsement. Your position is entirely in accord with the principles of the National association. Opportunity should always be given for amicable settlement of differences that come within the rightful province of associations on either side. But when the line of right and justice is crossed, the prerogative of employers disregarded, and attempts made to coerce and force them from the exercise of their rights in the conduct of their business, then all lovers of law and order, all believers in individual liberty, will stand together with unbroken ranks until the recognition of this fundamental principle is thoroughly acknowledged.

J. Milton Blair, President.
William H. Sayward, Secretary.

Boston, Mass., May 19, 1887.

George Tapper, President of the Builders' and Traders' exchange of Chicago: The Master Builders' association of Boston, in convention assembled, have unanimously adopted the following resolutions, and have ordered them sent to the Builders' and Traders' exchange of Chicago, as follows:

[Pg 93]

While we acknowledge that in Boston the situation is fortunately harmonious between the employers and employes in the building trades, owing to the fact that reason has prevailed, the proper rights of the workmen having been recognized and the distinctive rights of the employers recognized by the workmen, and as a result thereof no organized attempt has been made in this city to overstep the bounds of proper jurisdiction by either party, we can not ignore the fact that our brother builders in Chicago have had forced upon them a problem which can only be solved by a firm denial of the assumed right of voluntary associations to disregard the rights of others, trample upon individual liberty, and blockade the progress of business thereby. We therefore hereby approve of the course taken by the Builders' and Traders' exchange, and assure them of our constant support upon that line. Let the principles for which we are all fighting be clearly defined, then stand. We are with you in behalf of right and justice for all and for the untrammeled liberty of every American citizen.

William H. Sayward, Secretary.

Cincinnati, May 19, 1887.

George Tapper, President Builders' and Traders' exchange: The Cincinnati Builders' exchange has just passed strong resolutions heartily commending your action and guaranteeing practical support. Stand by your colors.

James H. Finnegan, President.

Cincinnati, O., May 20.

Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: The Builders' exchange of Cincinnati again indorse you, and if necessary will follow suit. Stand by your colors. Your cause is right.

J. H. Finnegan, President.

Philadelphia, May 20.

Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: At a special meeting of the corporation held this day at noon the preamble and resolution adopted by the Builders' and Traders' exchange of Chicago, together with the code of principles, was unanimously approved.

William Harkins, Jr.,
George Watson,
F. M. Harris,

[Pg 94]

New York, May 20.

Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: At a special meeting of the Mechanics' and Traders' exchange it was resolved that we tender you our sympathy in your present difficulties and assure you of our cordial support in the position assumed.

D. C. Weeks, President.
E. A. Vaughan, Secretary.

Worcester, Mass., May 20.

Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: We heartily indorse your efforts to crush out unwarrantable dictation and exalt labor to that position of dignity to which it belongs and which is truly expressed only in individual and personal liberty.

E. B. Crane, 
President Worcester Mechanics' Exchange.

Providence, R. I., May 20.

To Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: The Mechanics' exchange heartily approve your action, and are in full sympathy with you.

William F. Cady, Secretary.

St. Paul, Minn., May 20.

Mr. F. C. Schoenthaler, Secretary Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: At a meeting of the board, held yesterday, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the Contractors' and Builders' Board of Trade of St. Paul, Minn., heartily and unreservedly approve of the stand taken by the Builders' and Traders' exchange of Chicago in determining to transact their business in their own way and time. Respectfully,

J. H. Hanson, Secretary.

Albany, N. Y., May 21, 1887.—Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: The Master Builders' exchange, of Albany, N. Y., in meeting assembled, heartily endorse the action taken by you and trust you will manfully stand together.

Edward A. Walsh,
David M. Alexander,
Morton Havens,

[Pg 95]

Baltimore, Md., May 21, 1887.—George C. Prussing: Maryland Trades exchange express their formal approval of your position in present labor troubles, and wish you success.

William F. Bevan,

Indianapolis, Ind., May 21.

Builders' and Traders' Exchange, Chicago: The Builders' exchange of Indianapolis at its meeting to-night endorses and approves of the action of the Chicago Builders' and Traders' exchange in their existing difficulty.

William Jungclaus,

Cincinnati, Ohio, May 21.

George Tapper, President Builders' and Traders' exchange, Chicago: Every true American will indorse the sentiments promulgated in your code of principles.

James Allison,

President National Association Master Plumbers.

Milwaukee, Wis., May 23.

George C. Prussing: The Milwaukee association wishes to convey to the Chicago exchange the fact of its full concurrent sympathy in the position it has assumed, as it believes the battle must be fought just on this line.

O. H. Ulbricht,

These telegrams were read in the exchange and were received with rounds of applause.

[Pg 96]


On Monday, May 23d, the Conference of the Building Trades met and modified the platform of principles which had been adopted May 19th. The principle change was in eliminating the clause requiring employes to sign the code of principles, and making it necessary only for them to "assent to" them. The platform as amended was as follows:

1. From this time forth the assent to the following code of principles by the employe be made a universal condition of employment by all building interests of Chicago—viz.:

I recognize the right of every man to decide for himself, when he shall work or cease to work, where he shall work, for whom he shall work, how many hours he shall work, and for what wages he shall work.

I recognize the right of every employer to decide for himself, whom he shall employ or cease to employ; to regulate and manage his business with perfect independence, provided only that he deal lawfully, justly and honorably with all men.

I recognize the right of every father to have his son taught, and of every son to learn, any lawful trade, to be the same as his right to a knowledge of reading, writing, or any other branch of learning, which should be subject to regulation only by the laws of the land.

By accepting of employment I agree in all my relations and intercourse with my employers and fellow workmen, to maintain and live up to these principles.

2. That this conference recommend to our respective organizations to request each of its members to employ such[Pg 97] workmen only who recognize the inalienable rights as above set forth.

3. That public announcement be made at once that business will be resumed on or before June 1, 1887, with this code of principles as a basis.

4. That a standing committee of one member from each of the building trades, the Chicago Real Estate board, and the Illinois State Association of Architects, to be known as the Central Council of the Building Interests of Chicago, be appointed, whose duty it shall be to see to the carrying out of these principles; that it shall have a sub-committee of safety, whose province it shall be to see that ample protection to all is afforded; with sub-committees on grievances, strikes, arbitrations and such as may be found necessary, but that it work always and solely for the maintenance and protection of the principles herein laid down.

5. That an address to the working men of the building trades and to the general public be prepared, setting forth your action and your reasons therefor; that fifty thousand copies be printed and immediately distributed.

6. That a fund be created to defray the expenses of this Central Council, and that we request each association here represented to transmit to the order of George Tapper, chairman, the sum of 25 cents for each of their members, and that individual contributions of people interested in this work be accepted.

The officers of the National Association of Builders were present, and through Mr. Sayward congratulated the builders of Chicago for the noble stand that had been taken in the cause of individual liberty, adding that the whole country was looking to Chicago for a solution of the question of labor.


In the evening the Master Masons met and by a rising vote unanimously adopted the amended code of principles. Working rules were adopted as follows:

[Pg 98]

The following shall be the working rules for workmen employed by members of this association:

Nine hours to constitute a day's work, except on Saturdays, when all work shall be suspended at 12 o'clock noon.

Work to start at 7 o'clock A. M. Minimum wages for bricklayers and stonemasons to be 45 cents per hour.

Pay-day to be regularly every two weeks on either Monday or Tuesday.

[Pg 99]


The officers of the National Association of Builders invited the Bricklayers to meet them and to state their grievances. The invitation was accepted, and on Monday, May 23d, A. E. Vorkeller, president, and William Householder, C. J. Lindgren, James Sedlak and John Pierson, called upon the officials. After a session of three hours, during which the committee ventilated its opinions on almost every subject of grievance known to mortar-spreading humanity, the issue was finally reduced to the vexed question of a Saturday pay-day. Interrogated upon all subjects, the protesting committee acknowledged itself perfectly satisfied with every existing condition except that of being paid on Monday or Tuesday, instead of Saturday. This the committee claimed was an encroachment upon their Sabbatarian rights which no honest and industrious bricklayer would submit to with obedience or patient humility.

Bankers, merchants, architects, builders, and all classes of citizens responded to an invitation to confer with the officers of the National Association, and offered suggestions in regard to the troubles which were prostrating business and unnecessarily causing losses to employer and employe which could never be recovered. After carefully considering the situation the Executive Board of the National Association made a comprehensive report, which is as follows:

[Pg 100]Chicago, May 24th, 1887.

To the Builders' and Traders' Exchange of Chicago and all filial bodies of the National Association of Builders, and to the general public:—

In view of the serious disturbance to building interests in the City of Chicago, and the widespread influence likely to flow from it to other localities, affecting not only the building trades, but all branches of industry in the United States, it has been thought wise to call the Executive Board of the National Association of Builders to this city, to carefully examine the situation, investigate the causes which have produced the existing conditions, and report thereon to all filial bodies for their information, together with such suggestions for their future action as may seem wise and best. All interested parties (and every business has interests more or less directly involved in this question) should thoroughly understand that the National Association of Builders assumes no powers of a dictatorial character; it simply acts as an advisory body, and communicates its conclusions only in the form of recommendations, which its affiliated associations may or may not adopt or follow, as the circumstances by which they are surrounded demand. But it should also be borne in mind that the National Association endeavors to confine its expressions of advice and recommendation to the general principles that underlie and affect conditions in all localities, and in this especial issue and crisis which has arrived in one of the most important business centers in this country, the Executive Board intends to be particularly careful, while considering the facts that exist in this city, to avoid as much as possible in its advice or recommendations, all local or superficial issues, and deal largely with the problem that is rapidly demanding solution in every city and town in the land.

It is one of the purposes of the National Association to keep watchful guard over the interests of builders everywhere throughout the country, giving its advice and assistance to all its members when difficulties arise, using its influence with them to secure and maintain just relations either in their contact with each other or in their relations to owners, architects or workmen, and prevent the encroachment of other interests upon ground that belongs to them.

The exact circumstances that have brought about the present blockade of business in Chicago may not be absolutely[Pg 101] identical with the issues that have caused similar disturbances in other cities, and they may not be exactly reproduced in the future in any other locality; but the root from which they spring has been planted everywhere, and while the plant may be good and worthy, it is a matter of the greatest concern to all that the growth from it be carefully watched and held in check, lest it assume such rank and oppressive proportions that other interests, equally valuable and necessary, be overgrown and choked. It is sometimes necessary to prune a vine of rank and unhealthy growth, in order that it may bear good fruit. We apprehend that the experience of the builders of Chicago in this crisis will be of great importance to builders in other cities, and we hope to utilize their experience in such a way that general business interests will be better protected and preserved in the future, the proper purposes, opportunities and interests of organizations of workmen maintained and encouraged, and that the individual workman himself, whether he be connected with organizations or independent of them, may be placed in a position where he may exercise unquestioned his rights as an American citizen.

In this endeavor we ask the co-operation of all business men, particularly those whose affairs bring them into direct contact with the difficult and perplexing questions incident to the employment of labor, and the community generally, for the public as a whole has an immense stake in this question of individual liberty. We have endeavored to make our inquiries in a disinterested spirit, and, in pursuance of this purpose, have given hearings to the employing builders, the Bricklayers' Union, non-union workmen, manufacturers, merchants, bankers, architects and business men generally, believing that we could only consider the question fairly by listening to all sides and opinions.

The result of our investigation leads us to report as follows:

The demand for pay-day on Saturday by the Bricklayers' Union, which precipitated the present blockade of business in the building trades in Chicago, was in itself inconsequent and trivial, and a concession or denial of it, on its merits, would have been immaterial; but it was presented in such a manner, at a time when the hodcarriers' strike, in progress, had been supported by the Amalgamated Building Trades, and had been preceded by such concessions on the part of the[Pg 102] employers, that they felt this to be the "last straw," and that their duty to themselves and others compelled them to make a stand and demand a surrender of the rights which had been previously abrogated. In this course, and in the manner in which the builders have presented their convictions and method of future action, we believe that nothing has been done beyond what the situation imperatively demanded, and the safe and proper conduct of business required; we are only astonished that the crisis has not been sooner reached. It seems to us that this strike or lockout was not caused by a demand that it was impossible to grant, but was the direct result of the assumption by organizations of workmen, for a number of years, of rights not properly within their jurisdiction, and the demand coming, as it did, under such aggravating circumstances, occasion was properly taken, in our opinion, for a complete cessation of business, in order that it might finally be decided and settled whether the employer should for the future be free from further encroachments, and that he might recover those rights and prerogatives which properly belong to him. It is worthy of note that this issue or demand was not made in the dull season, when it might have been more easily arranged, or at least considered, but after the busy season was reached, and in addition to and in support of existing strikes. The Union making it did not seek to consult the employers in regard to its feasibility, although after it was promulgated (the employers requesting a re-consideration), a slight alteration was made in one of the details.

It appears, according to the testimony of the Bricklayers' Union, that there has been no general strike in their trade for the last four years, but they admit that during that period they have been successful in enforcing certain rules and regulations in regard to control of journeyman and apprentices (which are set forth in their printed Constitution and By-laws), and that the enforcement of these rules has caused strikes or stoppages of work in many cases, upon certain jobs.

It is in the rules or regulations referred to that conditions are imposed which the builders claim are an encroachment on their peculiar rights as well as the rights of independent workmen, and that in submitting to them they have made concessions which they can no longer endure.

In this opinion we entirely and heartily concur.

[Pg 103]

We will cite a few of these rules, calling attention to the fact that although the employers have at least an equal interest in the matters treated, they have never been even consulted in their formulation, but have been expected to comply with them as presented, and have so complied, for the reason, as they claim, that they could not help themselves.

The first rule, or regulation, or custom, which demands notice is that which prevents workmen, not members of the Union, from obtaining work. This is excused by the declaration of the Union that they do not claim that the non-union man shall not work—they simply will not work with him; but this explanation is purely a clever evasion of the point at issue, for the workman is by force of circumstances deprived of opportunity to labor, and the position taken by the Union is manifestly a conspiracy against the rights of the individual.

It may truly be considered the first step towards setting up an oligarchy in the midst of a free people.

This assumed right is most tenaciously held and is one of the most dangerous expedients ever adopted by a voluntary association. We believe it to be a direct attack upon individual liberty, and an evil that will re-act upon those who attempt to establish it. We also believe it to be entirely unnecessary for the welfare of Unions—that all the ends they wish to gain can be secured by legitimate measures, and that not until they cut out this cancer will harmony be restored and reforms established. This custom should be constantly and absolutely denied.

The next rule which we wish to consider is that establishing a "walking delegate."

Some of the functions of this officer (if he may be so designated), as explained by members of the Union, are perfectly harmless, and possibly quite a convenience; but if proper relations were permitted to exist between employer and workman these functions could be equally well sustained by the foreman on the job. There are other powers, however, with which he is invested, which are so arbitrary in their character, which deprive the employer so completely of that control of workmen necessary to the prosecution of his work, that it is simply ridiculous to submit to it. For instance, "He shall be empowered to use his personal judgment on all points of disagreement between employer and employe, between regular meetings."—Article V., Sec 4.

[Pg 104]

The simplest mind can readily see how little control the employer has left him, when a man not in his employ is permitted to come upon his work and "use his personal judgment" in questions of disagreement, the workman being obliged to then obey his orders. The employer seems to be a mere cipher under this arrangement, and can only fold his hands and wait till the "regular meeting" (at which he has no opportunity to be heard) settles whether the "personal judgment" exercised be just and fair. The result can be imagined. In the hands of an exceptionally honest and discreet person such a power would be dangerous enough, but in the control of a man who may not possess these qualities, or possess one of them without the other, the chances of stoppage of work under his orders, the constant annoyances to which employers, architects and owners may be subjected, makes this infliction too grievous to be borne. The thousands of unnecessary strikes, stoppages and obstructions to work for every conceivable cause, or no cause, which have occurred in all parts of the country in the name of justice and the walking delegate, are evidence enough that to owner, architect, employer and workman, he is an abomination not to be tolerated. As an adjunct to the walking delegate comes the "steward," who, like him, has some functions perfectly unobjectionable, but who in other ways is empowered to assume certain direction and control which surely is not consistent with the duties of a workman, that is, if the workman is considered to have any duty to his employer. It is noticeable that in the description of the duties of these two gentlemen, it is the "interests of the Union" only that they are directed to observe; it is true that the walking delegate is not an employe, but he is to have free access to the work, can interfere and obstruct as he pleases, but the interest of the employer seems to have been omitted in the recital of his duties. When it is considered how much is taken off the hands of the employer by these two persons, it is somewhat a matter of surprise that owner and architect burden themselves with the useless middle man, the nominal employer, when they can have the whole matter handled by the Union and its agents.

The rules in relation to apprentices are peculiarly restrictive and leave nothing whatever that is worth possessing in the hands of the employer. We cannot imagine why any contractor would care to have apprentices at all, if their direction and control is to be so completely out of his hands.

[Pg 105]

These rules declare that "no contractor shall be allowed to have more than two apprentices at a time;" "he will not be allowed to have any more until their time is completed;" "he may then replace them."

The contractor must sign such indentures as are prepared by the Union without consultation with him. "No contractor will be allowed to have an apprentice over eighteen years of age unless he be the son of a journeyman who is a member of the Union." Apprentices must also be members. The contractor is thus debarred from putting his own son at apprenticeship if he happens to be eighteen years of age. This appears to be most emphatic special legislation. In fact the whole management and control of apprentices is virtually in the hands of the Union, and we submit again that such action as this is most indefensive and pernicious. It has already caused a tremendous reduction in the number of young men learning the trade, and, if practiced in other branches of business, would create a state of revolt among the people, and would be denounced throughout the length and breadth of the land as a violation of rights heretofore supposed to be secured when this country became a Republic.

Foremen upon the work must be members of the Union. Inspectors upon public buildings must be practical bricklayers in the opinion of the Union, and members of it; in fact there are so many points that demonstrate the development of this one-sided power of the Union, and showing abuse of their place and mission that we cannot take time or space to enlarge upon them.

To our mind the Constitution of this Union, and many others, is framed upon the assumption that all employers are dishonest and bad men, so all are to suffer alike.

The Union seem to have come to the conclusion that the laws of the land are not sufficient, and they propose to be not only a law unto themselves but a law unto all others who come in contact with them.

This assumption, if permitted to stand and grow, will tend to disintegrate the whole social and political fabric upon which citizens of this country depend for protection; and we believe it to be our duty to call upon all good citizens to deny it in unequivocal terms.

We submit that these "rules" which we have quoted, and other customs which have naturally grown from such[Pg 106] development of power (which are neither written or admitted by the Union, but which nevertheless exist), are distinctly an encroachment upon the province of the employer; that under them he is robbed of that control and authority absolutely essential to the proper conduct of his business.

Submission to such dictation as this simply opens the door wider for interference, and the employer is not secure from day to day from new and harassing demands, so that eventually he will have practically nothing left to him but the "privilege" of paying the bills.

The crisis here in Chicago is of tremendous importance and significance to every builder and every business man, not alone in this great and rapidly growing city, but in every city of the country, for here is seen a demonstration of the tyranny which becomes possible when improper methods are submitted to; a tyranny which holds the workman in its grasp quite as surely as the employer, and this experience and demonstration should be a timely warning to all.

Labor Unions have gone too far.

They have mistaken their functions and over-stepped their boundaries.

The time has come to "call a halt," and to demand a surrender of that which has been improperly obtained.

To do this will require some patience and some sacrifice, but the end to be gained is but justice and right, and worth all that it may cost.

Better that not another brick be laid or another nail be driven in Chicago for a year than this opportunity be lost to regain the rights and prerogatives which make it possible for employer and workman to be independent and successful.

Let nothing be done to injure the Union in the prosecution of their rightful purposes; they have a most important mission and a great field for usefulness. Aid and assist them in these things by every means in your power, but for their own good, as well as your own safety, stand constantly and steadfastly opposed to any and every attempt to take away that which makes you an employer, or from the workman himself the right to work.

Trade Unionism in theory, and as it may be consistently and intelligently carried out, can be a most useful aid to all concerned; but, as at present managed, clinging fast as it does to the cardinal principle of the right to prevent any and every[Pg 107] man from working who does not happen to belong to the order, it is a bane to society and a curse to its members. We approve of the position taken by the builders of Chicago in this emergency, and we congratulate them that other branches of business, whose interests are so closely interwoven with theirs, have had the courage and willingness to make common cause with them, recognizing, as they evidently do, that if this sort of dictation is permitted to grow, that their own position will become undermined and security vanish. We congratulate them also that general business interests have given them such hearty co-operation and support, and we feel assured that will continue until the victory is won.

We recommend all filial associations of this body to assume the same attitude in the event of an issue being forced upon them by further encroachments, and we suggest to them, as well as to the Builders' and Traders' exchange of Chicago, that, in order to encourage all workmen who wish to have an opportunity to freely work, untrammelled by the improper requirements and rules of voluntary associations (membership in which, as far as most workmen are concerned, have become involuntary), and be protected in their work, it will be wise to create and establish at once a Bureau of Record in connection with their associations, where any and all workmen may put themselves on record as assenting to the principles of individual liberty, announced here in Chicago, and by and through which the workmen so assenting will be kept at work, and protected in it, in preference to those who deny these principles.

Let steps be taken, after a certain time given to develop the honest purpose, good character, skill and ability of the workmen, to make them members of your own associations, and so institute, for the first time, a union wherein employer and employe shall be joined, and their interests considered in common, as they properly should be. We believe this would be a step in the right direction, and the dawn of the day when the two branches of workmen—the directing workman and the manual workman—will not be arrayed against each other, but will consider and act in concert for their mutual benefit.

Closing now our report to filial associations, we wish to address a few words to the public at large, whose servants we are.

We believe that the builders of this country stand to-day[Pg 108] in a position which commands the attention of all kinds and classes of business men everywhere.

We wish to do only that which is right and in accordance with the principles upon which this Republic was founded.

Individual liberty is the dearest possession of the American people; we intend to stand by it and protect it in every emergency, and, to our mind, there has never been before presented an occasion more significant and decisive than the present, and in doing all we can to sustain it we feel that we are fighting not for our selfish ends alone, but for the welfare and protection of every individual in the land.

Individual liberty is not incompatible with associations, and associations are not incompatible with individual liberty; on the contrary, they should go hand in hand.

We call upon all to sustain us in maintaining all that is good and in defeating all that is bad in this difficult problem of labor.

Liberty is our watchword, and this struggle is but a continuation of that endeavor which began a hundred years ago, when a little band of patriots, at Concord Bridge, "fired that shot heard round the world," which was the first blow in establishing American independence.


J. M. Blair,
John S. Stevens,
Edward E. Scribner,
Wm. H. Sayward,
John J. Tucker,

Executive Board of the National Association of Builders.

[Pg 109]


It having been decided by the conference of building trades that work might be resumed by any contractor on or before June 1st, and the Master Masons' association having approved of the platform of principles and adopted rules for the government of its members, the executive committee of the Master Masons' association adopted the following form of notification for its members of their readiness to resume work and their willingness to adhere to the principles approved by the association at its last meeting:

Joseph Downey, President Master Masons' Association—Sir: We are ready to start work, and hereby agree on our honor to abide by the rules and platform adopted by the Master Masons' association.


In pursuance of this action a number of contracting masons notified President Downey of their readiness to resume work, and they were given permits for the purchase of building material, the following form being used:

[Pg 110]


This form of permit was continued in use to contractors who were not members of the Master Masons' association. A different course was pursued with members, who were required to sign a request for a general permit, the form of the request being as follows:

Chicago, May 24th, 1887.

Executive Committee Master Masons' Association.

Gents:—I hereby make application for permit to resume work, and I agree on my honor to adopt the rules and platform as passed by the Master Masons' and Builders' Association, May 23d, 1887.

Hermann Mueller.

Upon the presentation of such an application to the executive committee a general permit was issued, which was in form as follows:

Master Masons' and Builders' Association.

Chicago, May 24th, 1887.

Hermann Mueller.—In consideration of your signing an agreement to adhere to the Platform and Code of Working Principles adopted by the Master Masons' and Builders' Association May 23d, 1887, you are hereby granted a permit to resume work.

Joseph Downey, President.

In attempting to resume work the mason contractors were disposed to give preference to such bricklayers and [Pg 111]stonemasons as had been working in Chicago, and who evinced a willingness to return to work under the code of principles and the rules of the association which had been adopted. A few workmen took advantage of the proposition at once, and went to work, but fear of fines by the union and assaults from the members of the union, deterred a great many from going to work who were perfectly willing to subscribe to the principles enunciated. The leaders of the strikers announced that under no conditions would the union accept the offer of 45 cents an hour and nine hours a day.

By May 25th more than one thousand of the union bricklayers had left the city and were working in outside towns ten hours a day for $2.50 to $3 pay, rather than accept the offer of the Master Masons.

Not being able to secure a large number of the home workmen the Master Masons' caused to be published in important towns in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri, a notice that there were wanted in Chicago one thousand bricklayers who would be given steady work at 45 cents an hour and would be guaranteed protection. They did not expect that the whole number would be secured, as it was the busy season for building everywhere, but they looked for a sufficient number of responses to meet the immediate demand.

In this they were disappointed. The experience of outside bricklayers in Chicago had been of an unsavory character, and they respectfully declined to advance upon the city in a body. A few bold fellows made their appearance, but they numbered less than one hundred. Many of those who went to work were put under police protection in order to keep the strikers from committing depredations.

[Pg 112]


The Hodcarriers became disgusted. Their feeling against the Bricklayers was very strong, and they said if the Bricklayers were possessed of more sense all the employes in the building trades would be at work at good wages and the Hodcarriers would be getting all they asked for. They were out of work and out of means, and the funds of the union were so low that little or no relief could be obtained from that source. The union funds had been exhausted for some time, and the weekly assessments upon men employed did not average over $200, while there was a demand for more than $10,000 per week to pay the $5 weekly, which was guaranteed to every member of the Hodcarriers' union who was on strike and in need. The outcome to the most of the men looked bad, and serious trouble was expected. Men with starving families and no prospect of getting work were not likely to long keep quiet. Only a few men showed themselves at headquarters, but there was an undercurrent of discontent that could not be kept down. Fears were entertained that it might lead to riot, and efforts were put forth to keep the rougher element out of the way. There were good grounds for apprehension, and it required careful manipulation to keep the dangerous element subdued.

[Pg 113]


On Friday, May 27th, the executive committee of the Master Masons' association appointed a sub-committee to make a list of jobs in the city giving the names of all the contractors, the location of the work, the number of bricklayers, stonemasons and laborers required, and the number at work, and this sub-committee rapidly got its work in shape. It also kept a memoranda of the character of material needed, and the quantity supplied from time to time, with the names of the dealers from whom it was procured. It was empowered to designate members of the association to visit jobs as often as necessary for the purpose of rendering any service that would facilitate the work, and contractors who were resuming business were requested to report to the committee what progress was being made. The executive committee realized that it would take no little time to get the business in good running order, and the organization was put in such shape as to make it effective in a long or short campaign.

[Pg 114]


In order to create a break in the ranks of the material dealers, who were bravely supporting the Master Masons, the strikers circulated a report that permits for the purchase of building materials would only be issued to members of the Master Masons' association. When the attention of President Downey was called to the fact he said with considerable earnestness:

"It is not so. I can not understand how such an impression got out, as there has been no thought of making or enforcing such a rule. There is no disposition on the part of the executive committee to take such action and there never has been. The fact is that more permits for material have been issued to builders who are not members of the Master Masons' association than have been issued to members. All that is required of an applicant for a permit is that he will agree to abide by the code of principles and the rules adopted and sign the card which has been prepared setting forth these facts."

The only discrimination made by the executive committee was in its positive refusal to issue permits to small contractors or jobbers who were members of the Bricklayers' and Stonemasons' union. They were told that when they resigned from the union and brought evidence of the fact, and agreed to the code of principles and the rules, they could have all the material they wanted.

[Pg 115]


The following telegram was received at the Builders' and Traders' exchange:

Rochester, N. Y., May 27.

Joseph Downey, President Master Masons' Association, Chicago: On behalf of the New York State Masons' association I wish you Godspeed in your code of principles.

H. Gorsline, President.

[Pg 116]


On Saturday, May 29th, the Master Masons' association met and talked over the situation, congratulating each other on the promised success of their movement for freedom.

At the request of Mr. Tapper Mr. Victor Falkenau made a statement to show the corrupt methods of the walking delegate. He said that in October, 1886, he was erecting a building on Astor street for Mr. Post, when Walking Delegate Healy appeared on the scene and objected to some pressed brick being put into arches that had been cut at the manufactory, insisting that they should be cut on the job. Healy insisted on calling the men off the job, but in consideration of $5, which was then paid to him, he let the work proceed. A committee from the Bricklayers' union had called on him to ascertain what had been done, and he had put it in possession of the facts in the case. The money was paid to Healy Oct. 21st. In the face of this statement, which was backed by ample proof, the walking delegate was not removed from his high position. Other members referred to similar cases in which walking delegates had shown themselves to be walking blackmailers.

When Delegate Healy heard of the statement of Mr. Falkenau he threatened to bring suit against him for $10,000 damages. Mr. Falkenau remarked that he was glad he was to[Pg 117] be sued as a hearing of the cause in a court would bring out the facts under oath in a manner that would satisfy anyone as to the truth or falsity of the charge. A contractor who was familiar with the facts in the case said the statement of Mr. Falkenau would be supported by other testimony when the time came, but he was satisfied there would be no libel suit. And there was none.

[Pg 118]


The Association of Manufacturers in Metals met Saturday, May 28th, and unanimously adopted the following resolutions:

Whereas, We know there are organizations existing which deny the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the constitution of the United States; and

Whereas, We believe it our duty as citizens to range ourselves with others in the assertion and defense of the rights of man, be he employer or workman; now, therefore,

We affirm that absolute personal independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed; that upon it depends the security of our whole social fabric and business prosperity, and that employers and workmen should be equally interested in its defense and preservation.

We recognize that there are many opportunities for good in associations of workmen, and we will aid and assist them in all just and honorable purposes; that while upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer or arbitrate, there are still many points upon which conferences and arbitrations are perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it is a manifest duty to avail ourselves of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances may be prevented.

We recognize that permanent harmony between employer and workman can only exist when both agree on the justice and right of the principles set forth. Now, therefore, be it

[Pg 119]

Resolved, That all members of the Association of Manufacturers in Metals be, and they are hereby requested to display in office and workshop, the above declaration and the following code of principles:

"I recognize the right of every man to decide for himself, with employers, without dictation or interference, when he shall work or cease to work, where he shall work, how many hours he shall work, and for what wages he shall work.

"I recognize the right of the employer to decide for himself whom he shall employ or cease to employ, and regulate and manage his business with perfect independence, provided only that he deal lawfully, justly and honorably with all men.

"I recognize the right of every father to have his son taught, and of every son to learn any lawful trade, to be the same as his right to a knowledge of reading and writing, or any other branch of learning, which should be subject to regulations only by the laws of the land.

"By accepting employment I agree in all my relations and intercourse with my employers and fellow-workmen to maintain and live up to these principles."

Resolved, That full powers be and they are hereby granted to the executive committee to take all steps by them deemed necessary to carry into effect the principles heretofore set forth and to express the concurrence of this association with the position taken by the Master Masons' and Builders' Association.

This action, it was stated during the discussion of the resolutions, was not the outgrowth of sympathy only, but caused by the fact that Metal men were suffering just as much as anybody under the then existing trouble in the building trades. There were not cast seventy-five tons of building ironwork a day in the city when there ought to have been three hundred tons at least. The depression of trade was so marked that two foundries shut down, throwing 250 men out of work, and all the establishments were glad to have a pretext for closing.

[Pg 120]


At the headquarters of the Bricklayers the statement was made that there had been an important meeting of the dealers in Building material, May 30th, at the Builders' and Traders' exchange, at which it was agreed that the material men would not wait longer than June 1st for the Master Masons to get to work, as their agreement to not sell and deliver building material only extended to that date. When asked about the meeting, Mr. Mulrany, of the Union, could not say how many attended, or give the names of any who were present. He insisted that the Bricklayers would break the backs of the Master Masons, and would make them give up for good. He was sure the lockout would not last long, because there was so much disaffection among the bosses. Diligent inquiry was made at the Exchange to learn if such a meeting had been held as the one mentioned by Mr. Mulrany, but assurance was given that none had been. A dozen dealers in building material protested that such a meeting had not been held and would not be. The agreement to not sell or deliver material was limited only by the duration of the strike. The statement was on a par with many that emanated from the strikers.

[Pg 121]


The Hodcarriers' Union, as a body, seemed to have entirely collapsed. The funds of the Union having entirely run out, the men found no attraction to the headquarters on West Taylor street. A great portion of the men found work in other quarters, and those still out were ready to go to work at the first opportunity which might offer, regardless of the demands which were made when the men struck six weeks previously.


May 31st the Chicago Master Plumbers' association met and adopted the following resolution, which was sent to the Council of Building Interests:

Resolved, That we, the Chicago Master Plumbers' association of Chicago, recognizing the right of employers heretofore jeopardized by the arbitrary interference of trades unions, do hereby tender our hearty sympathy and support to the Master Masons in their present struggle for the individual rights of employers.

Robert Griffith, President.
J. R. Alcock, Secretary.


The Chicago Brickmakers' association, which represents all brick yards in the South and West Divisions of the city, met May 31st and adopted the following rules:

We the brick manufacturers of the South and West divisions, believe the adoption of the following rules will tend to establish a system that strikes may be avoided in the manufacturing of brick in our divisions of the city:

[Pg 122]

1. By the appointment of a committee of three members from the Brick Manufacturers' association and three from the Brick Laborers' union, with full power to act in all matters pertaining to the interests of those they represent.

2. To hold regular meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month for the transaction of any business that may come before them.

3. No member of the organization represented shall strike or cease operation of their work for any individual grievance pending a meeting of any committee.

4. Any question said committee fails to agree upon they shall call in outside assistance and use all honorable means for a settlement before ordering a strike or lockout.

5. When said committee, after due care, fails to agree, they shall, before ordering a strike or lockout, give one week's notice.

6. All brick manufactured up to date of said strike or lockout shall be cared for by the men before abandoning their work.

7. The committee shall in no way interfere in any difficulty arising between the brick manufacturers and any other organization other than the one from which they were appointed.


June 1st. The executive committee of the Master Masons' association issued an address to their former employes, as follows:

To the Bricklayers and Stonemasons of ChicagoGentlemen: To those of you who have families to support; who, by frugal saving, have laid by a store for rainy days; who, perhaps, have invested surplus earnings in a house and lot or made partial payments on a piece of land for a future homestead, and thereby have acquired an interest in Chicago—to you we speak.

To those of you who have joined the now existing union under compulsion, and are to-day afraid of personal injury, should you in any way assert your independence; to those of[Pg 123] you who feel the abuses practiced, who are not in accord with the ruling clique, who have informed us time and again that you are not granted a hearing when your opinion is not in harmony with that of "the gang," and that you consequently do not attend the meeting of said "union"—to you we appeal.

To those of you who believe in arbitration as a better mode of redressing grievances or adjusting differences than the strike or lockout; to those of you who are old enough to remember that the members of our organization have all been journeymen bricklayers and stonemasons, that there are none among us who may not be compelled to take up tools again, nor any among you who may not at any time become employers, and that, consequently, there are no questions concerning one branch which are not of interest to the other—to you we address ourselves.

This association, together with other associations of builders, has issued a platform affirming our adherence to the fundamental principle of individual liberty. Read it, discuss it, digest it. It is right. It is guaranteed by the constitution of the United States, and he who denies the rights of man is not an American citizen, and by his denial affirms that he does not intend to become such, although he may have gone through the form of acquiring citizenship.

We are not opposed to all unions.

In the second paragraph of our platform we recognize the right of organization among workmen for all just and honorable purposes. But we are opposed to the methods employed by the present union. Brute force is used in all directions to compel fellow-workmen to join and keep them in line in support of any action taken, no matter how unreasonable; to enforce the assumed control of the business of employers; to arbitrarily keep boys from learning the trade; to deny the right of mechanics to support their families by working at their trade in this city, etc. In all directions brute force is the foundation of the present union. This is wrong. Brute force can only be opposed by brute force, the strike on the one hand opposed by the lockout on the other, resulting in loss and suffering to both, and without any permanent results, for no matter which side is successful, the only thing proven is that it had the strongest organization, not that its position is right. Strikes and lockouts, with all the train of resulting evils, can only be prevented by organizations among both[Pg 124] workmen and employers, both recognizing the same fundamental principles and agreeing to refer any question of temporary policy, such as the amount of wages to be paid, number of hours to be worked, pay-day, and others, or any grievances or differences arising in the future, to a joint committee of arbitration—work to continue without interruption, and questions at issue to be decided definitely by the committee.

The "walking delegate" has proved himself an unmitigated nuisance. To give into the hands of one man power so absolute will always be dangerous and sure to be abused. Nor will the necessity exist for a "walking delegate." His place will be filled by the arbitration committee. That the laws of the state shall prevail in regard to apprentices, as well as on other subjects by them covered, needs no argument.

All must recognize that foremen are hired to be the agents and representatives of the employer for the faithful and economic performance of the work, and, as such, should be under his exclusive control.

Of "stewards" we not treat here. Acting for an organization which acknowledges as right and just the principles contained in our platform, their duties can not interfere with the proper prosecution of the work.

To sum up, form a union on the same platform we uphold and men will join it because of the benefits to be derived—brute force will not be necessary in any direction,—and whenever one hundred, yes, fifty, members shall have enrolled themselves we will gladly recognize it and appoint members to serve on a joint committee of arbitration to have charge of all matters of mutual interests.

We mean what we say.

Fault has been found with the "working rules" adopted. These will be subject to joint discussion and adjustment when a joint committee of arbitration shall be in existence. Until then we have agreed to nine hours as a working day, because that is the rule adopted by other large cities, and Chicago should not be at a disadvantage as a point for investment in comparison with them. We believe the Saturday half-holiday has come to stay with us as one of the recognized institutions of the country, and we have adopted it freely and voluntarily. By agreeing to 45 cents per hour as a minimum rate of wages[Pg 125] we trust to have proved that we do not desire to lower rates. A regular fortnightly pay-day has been guaranteed.

These are our conditions. Discuss them as to their fairness, and if you find them just come to work, and we shall be glad to employ you as far as still in our power, for it is true that each day of continued strike does lessen the chance for a busy season.

The situation in brief is as follows: The general public recognizes the present necessity of coming to a fair understanding between employer and workman—and thereby laying the foundation for future harmonious action—by refusing to build under present circumstances. Some work must be done, no matter what the conditions. But there is not one-fourth of the work on hand now there was last year at this time.

For its future growth and prosperity Chicago needs manufacturing enterprises. In the selection of a site for such people with money to invest look for security from violent and arbitrary interruption to their business. Abolish the "walking delegates;" show that you have profited by the lessons of the past, and establish arbitration; lay the foundation for peace and harmony between employer and workmen, and Chicago will be the place selected; business, now dull and dragging, will revive, and steady employment will reward both you and us for sense and moderation shown.Fraternally yours,

The Chicago Master Masons' Association.
By Executive Committee.

[Pg 126]


A final meeting of the Conference Committee of the Building Trades was held June 1st. Reports were made showing that every organization represented had unqualifiedly endorsed the platform of principles which had been enunciated.

The cut-stone contractors, through Mr. T. C. Diener, made the following report, premising it by saying that the members of the association were in accord with the principles which had been enunciated by the conference committee:

To the Conference of the Building Trades: The Cut-Stone Contractors' association has carefully considered the code of principles adopted by your committee, and, although approving of the principles laid down, we could not adopt them as a whole, and therefore deem it not advisable to ask the assent of our employes as a condition of further employment after June 1st for the reasons hereafter mentioned:

Fully endorsing the right of an employe to work for whom he chooses, we do not concede that individually he can regulate the number of hours he desires to work, but in that respect must comply with the established rule of number of hours per day.

In our trade eight hours per day for stone-cutters has been the system for the last twenty years. It has been a success in every respect, for to-day, with improved machinery, cut-stone is fully 50 to 100 per cent cheaper than during the ten hour time.

[Pg 127]

Conceding the right to each man for what wages he will work—we maintain that it is to the interest of the building trade generally that a rate of wages be adopted at the opening of the season, thus making it a standard basis for contractors to estimate by.

In the matter of apprenticeship we also maintain that it is to the interest of the boy and the employer of the same. For by employing too many boys in our trade a foreman would not have the opportunity to train the boy, and he would turn out a poor mechanic.

It is a rule and regulation similar to educational institutions. To make these rules has been the motive which has prompted employes and employers to organize. In the cut-stone trade we have an association of stone-cutters and an association of cut-stone contractors. These two bodies recognize each other, and at the beginning of the season, as has been done heretofore for years, they have agreed on a rate of wages, number of hours per day, and number of apprentices to a yard (which is about one to six men), and, therefore, we are in duty bound to abide by the same.

We have, furthermore, a written agreement between our two organizations, of which article 1 is as follows:

"All disputes or misunderstandings of any kind that may arise shall be submitted to committees, who shall report to their respective associations before final action shall be taken."

And article 6 is as follows:

"These rules not to be changed or altered except by the consent of each association, and in that case a thirty days' notice to be given by the party desiring to terminate said agreement."

In our discussions and conclusions we have also been guided to a certain extent by the press, to avoid, if possible, a general lockout, and by that part of the platform of the National Association of Builders, "that good may be derived from proper organizations," and it is our aim that our associations shall not only be a benefit to themselves, but to the general public. Respectfully submitted.

T. C. Diener, Secretary.

The conference then adjourned sine die.

[Pg 128]


Immediately after the adjournment of the Conference Committee the Central Council of Builders—which had been recommended by the Conference Committee—met, the various interests being represented as follows:

Metal-Workers, Robert Vierling.

Steam-Fitters, H. G. Savage.

Cut-Stone Contractors, T. C. Diener.

Master Plasterers, John Sutton.

Gravel Roofers, M. W. Powell.

Master Masons, George Tapper.

Master Painters, J. B. Sullivan.

Galvanized-Iron Cornice, Edward Kirk, Jr.

Carpenters and Builders, William Hearson.

North-Side Brick Manufacturers, A. J. Weckler.

Fire-Proofers, P. B. Wight.

Non-Union Stone-Cutters, C. B. Kimbell.

Builders' and Traders' Exchange, F. C. Schoenthaler.

Real Estate Board, Henry L. Turner.

A delegate from the Master Plumbers was not present, because none had yet been appointed.

On motion of William Hearson, George Tapper was elected chairman and F. C. Schoenthaler secretary. At the suggestion of Mr. Vierling a committee of three was appointed to prepare a plan of organization, with instructions to report at the next meeting. The committee was as follows: H. G. Savage, Edward Kirk, Jr., William Hearson.


A union bricklayer appeared in the corridor of the exchange and was boasting that he could buy all the brick he wanted of A. J. Weckler, a north-side manufacturer. The statement was denied by a contractor. About that time Mr. Weckler appeared on the scene and was informed of the statement that had been made. His reply was: "The only price[Pg 129] I have had brick at my yard since the strike began was $1 a brick, and I think Mr. Downey would give a permit for me to sell every brick in the yard at that price. But, if a man thinks he can get any brick from me at the regular price, or for less than $1 a brick at present, he is very much mistaken." The bricklayer subsided and had no more statements to make.


Groups of idle bricklayers gathered in and around their headquarters, at Greenebaum's Hall, discussing the situation, and sometimes branching off into earnest conversation on the natural outcome of the labor movement. They claimed that they were a conservative body, seeking all reforms through the ballot, and all demands by legal and peaceful organization; yet it was plain that socialistic ideas were not uncommon to many of the talkers. All of them were determined to hold to their position to the end, and seemed confident that the bosses would have to give way, and that their combination was weakening and disintegrating. When it became known among them that the union had been called in to complete a large building at the corner of Chicago and Milwaukee avenues, and a four-story structure near the corner of Madison and Union streets, they became very jubilant and pointed them out as evidences that contractors were powerless. "They must come to our terms," was the general comment, "for they can not get men from abroad to fill our places." The opinion prevailed among them that they were the only bricklayers in the country that could work on a Chicago building.

[Pg 130]


The Carpenters' and Builders' association met June 2d and adopted the following working rules:

We agree to begin on the 13th day of June to work nine hours in each working day, beginning at 7 o'clock A. M. and ending at 5 o'clock P. M., with the usual hour at noon for dinner; under payment by the hour.

All work done before 7 o'clock A. M. and after 5 o'clock P. M. to be paid for as overtime at such price as may be agreed upon by the workman and employer.

The above number of working hours per day applies only to workmen engaged at buildings in course of construction or repair.


The consistency of the union bricklayers was exhibited in a case where a building was taken from a contractor and given to bricklayers to complete. The moment they became "bosses" they showed their regard for union principles by employing non-union hodcarriers and laborers. This action incensed the hodcarriers, and they forced the "union" bosses to discharge their non-union helpers and employ members of the laborers' union.


June 3d the Bricklayers' union met at Berry's hall. An attempt was made to read a proposition to return to work, leaving the question of pay-day and hours to arbitration; but the proposition was howled down, and not even permitted to be read. The following resolutions were adopted:

[Pg 131]

Whereas, The Bricklayers' and Stonemasons' union of Chicago, on May 11th, in special meeting assembled, adopted Saturday as their regular pay-day, and

Whereas, The so-called Master Masons' union of this city have refused to grant our reasonable request, and have entered into a conspiracy with the Builders' and Traders' exchange, the object of which is to disrupt our organization; therefore, be it

Resolved, That we, United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons, in regular meeting assembled, pledge our honor to stand firmly by the resolutions adopted May 11th.

Resolved, That we condemn the Builders' and Traders' exchange for their cowardly action in locking up the building materials and forcing a lockout, thereby paralyzing the business interests of this city, and causing loss and suffering among thousands of our citizens who are in no way responsible for the differences existing between our organization and the master masons, so-called.

[Pg 132]


The Central Council of the Building Interests of Chicago met Friday, June 3d, for the purpose of hearing a report from the committee appointed to prepare a working plan for the Council. Mr. H. G. Savage, of the committee, submitted the report, which was considered by sections and adopted as follows:

1. This body shall be known as the Central Council of the Building Interests of Chicago.

2. The object of this Council shall be to promote the building interests of Chicago, harmonize the different branches, and adopt such measures as from time to time may be found beneficial, carrying out the following platform of principles, which has been adopted by the various associations herein represented:

We affirm that absolute personal independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed; that upon it depends the security of our whole social fabric and business prosperity, and that employers and workmen should be equally interested in its defense and preservation.

We recognize that there are many opportunities for good in associations of workmen, and, while condemning and opposing improper action on their part, we will aid and assist them in all just and honorable purposes; that while upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer or arbitrate, there are still many points upon which conferences and[Pg 133] arbitrations are perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it is a manifest duty to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together, to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances may be prevented.

3. All associations of building-trade employers, the Real Estate board, the Illinois Association of Architects, and the Builders' and Traders' exchange shall be entitled to one representative each.

4. The officers shall be elected at the annual meeting, and shall consist of a president, vice-president, and financial secretary, to hold office for one year, or until their successors are duly qualified.

5. Regular meetings shall be held the first Friday of each month at 2 o'clock P. M.

The first regular meeting in June shall be the annual meeting. Special meetings may be called by the president or any three members of the Council.

6. The following standing committees, consisting of three members each, shall be appointed by the president at the annual meeting, to hold office for one year, or until their successors are appointed:

Credentials—To whom shall be referred all applications for membership.

Safety—Whose duty it shall be to see that ample protection to all is afforded against unlawful interference.

Strikes and Grievances—Whose duty it shall be to investigate all strikes and grievances and to report to the Council fully in regard to the same, with such recommendations as they may deem necessary.

Arbitration—To whom shall be referred all questions of differences between employers and employes.

7. Annual dues shall be 25 cents for each member of the various associations belonging to the Council, and assessments may be made upon the same basis of representation.

Officers were elected as follows:

President, George Tapper; Vice President, H. G. Savage; Financial Secretary, F. C. Schoenthaler.

[Pg 134]

Standing committees were appointed by the president as follows:

Credentials—J. B. Sullivan, T. C. Diener, A. J. Weckler.

Safety—H. L. Turner, C. B. Kimbell, Robert Vierling.

Strikes and Grievances—P. B. Wight, H. G. Savage, M. W. Powell.

Arbitration—Edward Kirk, Jr., William Hearson, John Sutton.

[Pg 135]


Saturday, June 4th, the Illinois State Association of Architects met. In calling the meeting to order President D. Adler read a letter from the executive committee of the Builders' and Traders' exchange thanking the Association for the stand it had taken upon the labor troubles. He said that those present knew the demoralized condition of the building trades and the low character that they were drifting to in regard to the workmanship of mechanics engaged therein. It was becoming almost impossible to replace good men, because the trades-unions arbitrarily prevented the education of a sufficient number of apprentices to replace the good and competent mechanics, who appeared to be rapidly dying out. The difficulty was staring them in the face that soon they would not be able to secure competent mechanical skill at all. It was the architects' duty to assert the right of every American citizen to work at any trade he pleased, without interference from the walking delegate. It was the architects' duty to assist every young man who desired to learn a trade. There was more at stake in the contest than their own immediate interest as architects—more than the mere stoppage of work. The architects should strengthen the hands of those who were battling for the freedom of American citizens.

[Pg 136]

Mr. John W. Root offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That the Illinois State Association of Architects heartily indorse the general principles set forth in the recently published "platform and code of principles" adopted by the Builders' association and the Real Estate board of Chicago, and that we will use our utmost endeavors to see that these principles prevail in all building operations in Chicago.


The committee of safety of the Central Council of Building Interests met June 4th and issued the following document:

The Central Council of the Building Interests of Chicago having appointed, among other committees, a committee of safety, whose duty it is to "see that ample protection to all is afforded against unlawful interference," the committee desires to announce to all concerned in the building interests of the city that they are prepared to follow up and prosecute all offenders unlawfully interfering with or intimidating any workman or employer in the legitimate performance of his business. This announcement is hastened by the publication in the morning papers of an unlawful and unprovoked attack upon peaceable workmen at a job at the corner of Harrison street and Western avenue on Friday, June 3d. The committee will promptly investigate any such case when reported to Secretary Schoenthaler at the Builders' and Traders' exchange, where the committee will be in daily session at 2 o'clock P. M.

[Pg 137]


Monday, June 6th, a mass meeting of carpenters was held to receive P. J. McGuire, of Philadelphia, grand secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Mr. McGuire made an inflammatory speech, in which he said he came to Chicago to throw down the gauntlet to the master builders and was ready to make Chicago the battle ground for the fight on the nine-hour question. He came to stand by the carpenters. J. Milton Blair, of Cincinnati; William H. Sayward, of Boston; George C. Prussing, of Chicago, and other leaders in the Carpenters' and Builders' association were attempting to stamp out the carpenters' organizations, but they would find they had a bigger job on hand than any contractor in this country ever undertook. The master builders combined for mutual protection, and yet they denied the carpenters the same right. The speaker then took occasion to abuse the master builders for assuming the title of "masters." The contractors, he asserted, had not brains enough to carry out their work without the assistance of the foreman, who did the actual work, and yet the master builders assumed to dictate to their employes in such a manner as to place them on the same level with the slaves who were freed by Abraham Lincoln. Workingmen in 1887 ought to receive some of the benefits which machinery had brought.[Pg 138] They did not believe in socialistic theories, or that the property of railroad companies, for instance, should be divided up and each man given a tie; but workingmen wanted to be given some of the benefits which they produced but which were appropriated entirely by the employers. Every carpenter who applied for work in Chicago after Monday, June 13th, should ask for 35 cents an hour and an eight-hour day, and if that was refused he ought not to go to work.

[Pg 139]


Tuesday, June 7th, the Central Council of the Building Interests met, and the committee on strikes and grievances, through P. B. Wight, its chairman, submitted a lengthy report. It defined strikes of two kinds—general and special. The general strike, which was more frequent, was a demand by a number of employes, acting in concert, for an increase in wages, or a change in working rules, or methods of conducting business, followed by a united refusal to work. A special strike was concerted refusal to work on a particular job, or for a particular employer, based on the assumption of a contract between employer and employe which never existed, and a pretense of a violation of a contract. A general strike was legitimate, in a business sense. A special was based on false premises, and was practically an attempt to regulate an employer's way of doing business by visiting upon him embarrassment in a temporary stoppage of his business. It was often settled by the employers paying a "fine" to the offended "union" as a condition of the men returning to work in a body. This was nothing less than blackmail, and a receipt of the fine was a criminal act. It was in the nature of conspiracy. It might be an attempt on the part of the strikers to obtain some advantage, which might occasion great annoyance or damage to the employers. Such was the demand of the United[Pg 140] Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons on the 29th of April last for a Saturday pay-day, which was resisted and refused by many employers. The report then gave a detailed account of the immediate and consequent results of the strike, with a statement of action taken by all building organizations to date, showing the manner in which the question affected all building trades, and resulting in locking out thousands of well-trained and well-behaved artisans, who obeyed the dictates of the handful of officials, committeemen, and a small army of walking delegates, who were to be seen daily at the union headquarters and who were paid by contributions from men whose dues were really filched from their wives and children. The report concluded as follows:

We believe that the Master Masons' association has acted with the purest motives toward their employes, and in the spirit of self-sacrifice with regard to their own interest. They have gone so far as to encourage their men to form a union devoted to higher principles than the rule-or-ruin policy which actuates the present organization. This may all be well in the future, but it does not help to do away with the objection of the men to taking up their tools. A contract for labor differs from a contract for anything else only in that the confidence of him who disposes of his labor must be unqualified to the last degree. If the employer appeals to the man as an individual he must inspire him with confidence in his representations. If the Master Masons' association intends never again to recognize the union rules, let it say so in terms so unqualified that no one can misunderstand it. If the individual workman fully believes it, he will be only too glad to come out like a man, and there will be a scramble to see who gets there first. If the master mason intends to live up to his profession, let him guarantee his employe work for a stated time—long enough to convince him that it is more to his interest to go to work than to cling to his union and stand still. If no one mason feels confident that he can guarantee steady work, say, for six months, let the master masons agree among themselves to provide work, so that, if a man is laid off on one job he can be sure of work on another where he will not meet with any interference. If the employer expects his men to work he must guarantee them full protection in case of[Pg 141] interference. But more than all things he must guarantee his employe that he will never be displaced in consequence of any future compromise with any labor organization. If the master masons have faith in the stand they have taken, and mean to maintain it at all hazards, they will get all the help they want. If they have any idea that a strike is on their hands to be settled by compromise with any body of men, they may as well surrender to the union at once. We do not believe that this weakness exists among them, but the public and their unemployed mechanics must be convinced by their acts that they are thoroughly in earnest—as we believe they are—and that guarantees, such as have been suggested, will be carried out in good faith to the very letter, and at all hazards.

The public, which must sustain us or we fall, will then be convinced that there is no strike, except a strike for right and justice. And if needs be that the employers must be responsible for it, let them glory in it as our forefathers did.

There was a strike, as we admit. A strike did we say, for a Saturday pay-day? It was so called. It was resisted, and the men who were expected to pay on Saturday have not done so. It was a strike aimed at the Master Masons' association. It was not for any great benefit that Saturday pay-day should confer. It was a strike to show the power of the striker. It was an exhibition of strength from those whose strength has not been resisted or questioned for four years; a power which knew no resistance, but which must be periodically exhibited to make its presence felt. It is that same power which is still so strong that it makes your mechanics blind to all your heaven-born principles and deaf to all your promises.

You, gentlemen of the Master Masons' association, and all you who have nailed our banner of liberty upon your walls, have strength also. In a battle of endurance you can win, but if you do win by extermination, then your sin will be greater than the fruit of your victory. But remember that those who live by the sword, if they die so living, shall also die by the sword. Your weapon is the olive branch. Your principles are just. Let your faith be strong, and in the end you will find your best friends in the camp of your enemy.

The report was signed by P. B. Wight, H. G. Savage and M. W. Powell, who composed the committee. It was unanimously approved, and a copy was directed to be sent to the Master Masons' association.

[Pg 142]


The Amalgamated Building Trades Council decided to call a national convention to form a federation of journeymen builders in the United States. An "Important Call" was issued which recited the fact that there was a national organization of employers in the building industry which proposed to regulate all matters relative to that interest, and that to successfully defend their rights the wage-workers in the building industry must be thoroughly organized and ever on the alert. The following two reasons were given why a national federation of the building trades should be at once perfected:

1. It has been proved beyond all doubt that the interests of a craft can be best protected by the complete unification of those engaged therein; and so we have formed our unions and trades-assemblies of Knights of Labor. It is also an undeviating fact that the closer those whose interests are identical are drawn together the easier and more satisfactory is the management of those interests. And realizing the identity of the interests of the building trades we, therefore, necessarily believe in their thorough federation upon such basis as will not interfere with the complete autonomy of each distinctive trade. [There are scores of reasons why such a move would be beneficial, which are apparent to all men of experience in labor organizations, and they need not be enumerated here.]

[Pg 143]

2. Because it being a recognized idea that all large industries shall be regulated by organizations of the employers on the one hand and the employes upon the other hand, and there already being in existence a national organization of the employers, or contractors, under the name of the National Builders' association, we believe that further delay in perfecting a national organization upon our side would be suicidal to the best interests of the men of the building trades, and fraught with danger to our separate trade organizations.

We believe that steps should at once be taken to bring about this greatly-desired amalgamation, and that a convention looking to that end should be called together in this city as soon as practicable.

The date for the convention was fixed upon Tuesday, June 28th.


June 9th the Carpenters' and Builders' association appointed a committee to take charge of all matters of the association, to furnish men, protect them, and look after the interests of the members. The chairman appointed the following on the committee: North side, Messrs. J. L. Diez, John Ramcke and M. Bender; South side, Messrs. Wm. Goldie, Wm. Jackson and S. H. Dempsey; West side, Messrs. M. Campbell, J. F. Tregay and Peter Kauff. The committee retired and elected Mr. Goldie chairman, and agreed to meet daily at the Builders' and Traders' exchange.

[Pg 144]


June 9th a special meeting of the Bricklayers union, was held, at which an attempt was again made to have the code of principles of the Master Masons approved, but it was unsuccessful. The most that could be done was to secure the appointment of a committee to take steps looking to a settlement of the strike. This committee was composed of A. E. Vorkeller, John Pierson, C. J. Lindgren, P. J. Miniter and Fred Rebush.

On Friday, June 10th, this committee met, after which Mr. Vorkeller, president of the union, called upon Mr. Downey, president of the Master Masons' association, and asked him when he would have a committee ready to meet his committee. Mr. Downey notified him that if he had any communication to make it should be presented in writing, in order that he might be able to submit it to his association. Mr. Vorkeller returned to his office and prepared a letter, which he delivered in person to Mr. Downey in the afternoon.

Shortly after the delivery of the letter the Master Masons' association met in special session, with George Tapper in the chair. Five new members were admitted, which occasioned a remark from a member that it did not look like the association was falling to pieces, or that the members were weakening. The report of the committee on strikes and grievances[Pg 145] of the Central Council of the Building Interests, adopted on Tuesday, June 7th, was read. It was received with applause.

Mr. Downey then announced that he had received a letter from the president of the Bricklayers' Union, but before it was read he desired to make a statement in order that his position and the letter might be better understood. He said that on Monday evening, June 6th, Mr. A. E. Vorkeller, president of the Union, had called at his house, where they had a friendly chat. Mr. Vorkeller had then asked him how the strike could be settled, and he had informed Mr. Vorkeller that when the Union indorsed the platform of principles adopted by the builders they could arbitrate all questions of difference that were subjects of arbitration. On the following morning Mr. Vorkeller had called on him and suggested that he would bring with him four Union men to meet a like number of the Master Masons at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, to have an unofficial talk on the subject, it being agreed that no members of either executive committee should be present. Finding that he could not have one person present at that hour he had sent Mr. Vorkeller the following note:

Friend Vorkeller: It will be impossible for me to meet you before 3:30, owing to one of the men I appointed not being able to meet before that time. I trust this will not inconvenience you in any way. Yours, respectfully,

Joseph Downey.

They met at 3:30 o'clock Tuesday afternoon, there being present the following representatives:

Master Masons—Joseph Downey, George Tapper, George H. Fox, C. W. Hellman, William O'Brien and Charles W. Gindele.

Bricklayers—A. E. Vorkeller and Messrs. Taylor, Charles, Householder and Kraus.

At the conference it was distinctly understood that the code of principles was to be first adopted and then they would arbitrate other questions. The whole talk was agreed[Pg 146] and understood to be unofficial. Mr. Vorkeller then stated that he would call a special meeting of the union and see what could be done. Mr. Downey then read the following letter, which he had received from President Vorkeller:

Chicago, June 10, 1887.

Mr. Joseph Downey, President Master Masons' Association—Dear Sir: In accordance with interview with you on the 7th inst. in relation to appointing a committee with power to act, for the purpose of arbitration, and, if possible, end the differences which exist between our associations, and which are causing increased uneasiness, not only to those on both sides who are immediately concerned, but also to the public at large, who have been patient witnesses to this uncalled for and unnecessary lockout, so far as we are concerned we court the fullest investigation from the public of our side of the case without having the least fear of the result; but we are willing, and have agreed in special meeting, to send a committee to settle this difficulty honorably to ourselves as well as to you, according to the aforesaid interview. If this suits your convenience you will please notify us immediately, if possible, and oblige yours respectfully,

A. E. Vorkeller, President.

Mr. Charles W. Gindele remarked that when he entered the room where the meeting was held he made the announcement that the talk should be unofficial, which all acceded to. After a long conference they were led to conclude that the bricklayers would concede nearly everything but nine hours a day. The bricklayers were informed that they must adopt the platform of principles before there could be any arbitration.

Mr. George H. Fox said Mr. Gindele's statement was correct, and it was distinctly understood that the representatives of the bricklayers should go before their own people and adopt the platform of principles.

Mr. George Tapper, who was also at the meeting, said his impression of the conference was decidedly unfavorable. He had then called the attention of Mr. Vorkeller to the[Pg 147] clause in the constitution of the Union in regard to apprentices, and told him that if he (Tapper) had a son who did not get his schooling before he was 18 years of age he would be debarred from learning the trade of a bricklayer. In reply to this Vorkeller had made the astounding statement that there was no trouble in such a case. All the boy had to do was to say he was 18 years old and he was all right, as they had boys come to them with long mustaches and had fixed them all right. Mr. Tapper said he replied by saying that was teaching boys to lie, and gave them the first steps toward the penitentiary, and if that was their way of doing business he wanted nothing more to do with them. He also said that Vorkeller had agreed that the section of the platform of principles providing for the free right to employ or to work was right, but when asked if his men would work alongside a non-union man he had said: "No; they would quit and carry off their tools." Mr. Tapper said he was disgusted with the whole business.

Mr. C. P. Wakeman thought it would be no harm to appoint a committee to confer with the Union committee. He thought also that the appointment of the committee by the Union was an acknowledgment of the code of principles. If the Master Masons demanded more than partial justice they would lose.

Mr. A. J. Hageman said if the Bricklayers' Union had not acknowledged the principles of the Master Masons there was nothing yet to arbitrate.

Mr. C. W. Gindele said he understood the Bricklayers were to submit what they wanted to arbitrate, but they had not done so.

Mr. E. Earnshaw said from the reading of the letter the Union had nothing to concede. It was endeavoring to lead the Masons into a trap in order to make capital out of it. By saying they "court the fullest investigation" the unionists [Pg 148]emphatically claimed that they were right and the Master Masons were all wrong.

Mr. Downey stated that Mr. Vorkeller had frequently stated to him that he was in favor of the code of principles, but would have to "shin around" to induce the union to recognize them, fearing he would not be successful.

Mr. George C. Prussing said the arbitration movement had been instituted to keep the Union men together, as many of them were leaving, and an effort was being made to make these men understand that if a settlement should be reached they would be shut out. No arbitration should be had which meant only partial justice. There were principles that could not be arbitrated. When the Union amended its constitution so as to conform to their principles the Builders would be ready to join hands with them. Or, if a new Union should be organized on such a basis, it would be met with open hands. Compromise they would not. It would be stultification.

The vote on the motion to appoint the committee was lost, only eight voting in favor of it.

A motion was made to lay the communication on the table, which prevailed, only ten voting against it.

Mr. G. C. Prussing submitted the following, which was adopted as the sense of the meeting, with but one dissenting vote:

The position of this Association can hardly be misunderstood at this late day. It has been laid down in our platform in unmistakable language, and is further contained in an address to the Bricklayers and Stonemasons of Chicago and published by the public press.

We have addressed them as individuals, and shall continue to treat them as individuals, not an organization. Principles can never be subject to arbitration. And such matters as can properly be arbitrated—such as hours of work, wages, or other working rules—can not be discussed with any committee until an organization is in existence which has adopted[Pg 149] the principle of individual liberty freely and fully, and is governed by constitution and by-laws based thereon.

This community has suffered too often and too long, and the sacrifices brought have been too great to listen to any hint of a possible arbitration or compromise. We owe it to ourselves; to the other building trades who have taken the position held by us, we owe it to the entire community to settle the present troubles right. That is, on a basis that promises security against future arbitrary interruptions of business.

To individuals we are ready to give work; we guarantee them steady employment as far as in our power, and will protect them in every way, and if the men who now take up their tools should choose to form an organization for mutual protection and any other honorable and lawful purposes, based on the principles we acknowledge, we will aid and assist them in perfecting such organization, and will treat with them, and arbitrate any and all questions properly subject to arbitration.

After the meeting adjourned Mr. Downey sent a communication to Mr. Vorkeller in reply to his letter, of which the following is a copy:

A. E. Vorkeller, President, etc.—Dear Sir: Your letter of this day contained more than a surprise for me. Any and all interviews held with you by me and other members of our Association were at your seeking and request, and with the distinct understanding that we were acting in our own individual capacity, without any authority from any organized body, and that I, as president of the Master Masons' association, have no authority to appoint any committee for purposes set forth in your communication. Nor is your letter written in the spirit you proposed, or your position as given by yourself in interviews with me. You certainly must have understood, for it was repeated over and over again, that I would not consent to any effort at arbitration until your body shall have adopted, plainly and fairly, the principles held by us as an Association. I refer to principles as stated in our platform. Nor can such agreement be expressed by a simple vote, but must be shown by eliminating all sections of your constitution and by-laws in conflict therewith.

Your letter has been placed before our Association, and by it was laid on the table. Our position is again outlined by resolution adopted, and will be found in the daily papers.

Very respectfully yours,

Joseph Downey, President.

[Pg 150]


Monday, June 13th, the rule of the Carpenter bosses for a nine-hour day was put into effect. It occasioned no such break with the men as had been promised. Nearly all acceded to the rule, and those who quit had their places filled at once by non-union men who were only too anxious to get a job.


Tuesday evening, June 14th, a special meeting of the Bricklayers' Union was held, at which the depleted condition of the treasury was made known. The men working were asked to divide their earnings with the idle men, which they flatly refused to do. A resolution was passed requiring the men to work alternate weeks. This occasioned trouble, the men refusing to obey the order. They were willing to pay the regular assessment of $1 a week, but no more. The executive committee was authorized to sell a lot owned by the Union at the corner of Monroe and Peoria streets, to raise funds to meet the demands of the idlers. In order to keep up a show with the men the officers continued to claim that money was plenty, and more could be had; yet their demands for a few dollars were not met in cash—only promises.


The following invitation was sent to fifty prominent citizens of Chicago:

Union League Club, Chicago, June 11th, 1887.

Dear Sir:—You are requested to meet a number of gentlemen in the parlors of the Union League club, next Monday evening, June 13th, at 8 o'clock, P. M., sharp, to consider[Pg 151] the present labor troubles, in our city and elsewhere, and to discuss the propriety of inaugurating a movement, the object and aim of which will be to harmonize existing and imaginary differences between employers and employes, and to restore and re-establish every and all rights of citizenship guaranteed by the constitution of the United States, and to maintain the supremacy of the law throughout the length and breadth of the land. The vital questions of the day must be met, calmly considered and settled.

You are earnestly invited to respond to this call.

By order of
Committee on Political Action.

The guests assembled in the parlors of the club and were escorted to the library, where Mr. G. F. Bissell presided during a lengthy discussion of the labor question. At the close of the meeting resolutions were adopted for the appointment of a committee of seven whose duty it was to procure signatures of citizens to a paper endorsing the action of the Master Masons and Builders in the stand they had taken against the tyranny of the unions, and to request the press to keep the subject before the public.

On Tuesday the committee met and prepared a heading for signatures, which contained extracts from the code of principles of the builders, in regard to the right of every man to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, and the right of every boy to learn a trade. To these extracts were appended the following:

We, the undersigned, endorse the action of the Master Masons and other organizations of Builders and agree to use our best endeavors to bring about a resumption of building operations based on the Code of Principles at the head of this paper.

Signatures were procured to these papers in large numbers and were presented to the Master Masons' association. They had a good effect, as some of the weaker members needed just such endorsement to make them strong.

[Pg 152]


Applications for the small stipend promised by the Union to men out of employment grew to be more frequent. The demands were not met with the promptitude which the idle men thought should characterize the occasion, and some of them became loud and emphatic in their protestations against what they said was unfair treatment. They became so earnest in their expressions that they were called to one side and cautioned to not be so bold as to give the Union away. Many of them heeded the caution for the time being, but as they filed out of the office they were very angry because they got no money, claiming that they were needy and had as much right to assistance as anybody. One of them boldly and rather roughly asserted that "the whole thing was bursted," and the managers were "making a play to keep the men together," but he thought it would play out in a few days.

One of them who was well posted on some historical facts, made the following statement: "In 1883, at the time of the strike, the Bricklayers of Chicago got $13,000 from the International union in aid of the strikers. During the same year the Chicago union was assessed $4,600 to assist the strikers in Pittsburgh, but the assessment was never paid. The union then withdrew from the International union and became an independent organization. The cash in the treasury of the union has been exhausted, and if the lot is sold there will not[Pg 153] be enough money to pay up the claims for relief to date. The International union has refused financial aid to the Chicago union until the Pittsburgh assessment is paid, and all other assessments made since then, amounting to about $17,000. President Darrow, of the International union, has written a letter to the Chicago union notifying the officers that if they will join the International union again and agree to make good all back assessments, he will send the Chicago union $5,000. If they do not accept this proposition and join now he will establish a branch of the International union in Chicago as soon as the present strike is over, if not sooner. The Chicago union will not accept the offer, and where is it to get assistance from? If it kept faith with the idle men it would require $10,000 a week to sustain itself. Under such pressure the union can not be expected to hold out very long."

[Pg 154]


A mass meeting was called at Battery D by the Bricklayers' union for the purpose of eliciting sympathy from the public. It was held Thursday evening, June 16th, there being three thousand workingmen present. Revs. Lorimer and Goss and Gen. Beem were invited to be present, but they were not there. Persons who favored the builders' side of the question were conspicuous by their absence. One builder who was bold enough to get as far as the door was knocked down and driven away. Edward Mulrany, of the Bricklayers' union, presided, and the exercises were conducted by members of the union. The following lengthy preamble and resolutions were read and adopted unanimously, followed by great applause and loud cheers:

The United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons of the city of Chicago, in mass-meeting assembled at the armory of battery D, June 16, 1887, do adopt and declare the following preamble and resolutions:

Whereas, Certain questions and matters of difference have arisen between us and the Master Masons' and Builders' association of Chicago, and the controversy over the same has resulted in a widespread suspension of building operations in this city, to the immense injury of both the employers and the employed, and to the great damage of the community at large; and

Whereas, There is no adequate remedy for any such case under any existing law; and

[Pg 155]

Whereas, The working people have often been admonished through the public press and otherwise that they should not resort to a strike or boycott to obtain their rights, but should appeal to the law for protection and relief, and in case the existing laws are insufficient to the lawmaking power for new and better enactments; and

Whereas, In pursuance of such admonitions they earnestly appealed to the legislature at the last session to provide an adequate remedy for conflicts of employers and the employed; and

Whereas, The legislature nevertheless wholly neglected and refused to provide any such remedy, or even to consider and discuss the subject in any open and public manner; and

Whereas, There is now no other mode in which relief can be sought than retaliation by strike or boycott on the one hand, or by voluntary arbitration on the other; and

Whereas, The same legislature that refused to provide any remedy for such cases, has sought to make every participant in any strike or boycott punishable as a criminal, without extending the same penalties to the corresponding offense of a lockout, so far as we are yet informed; and

Whereas, We have heretofore offered and proposed, and do now again and openly and publicly offer and propose, to submit to the full and final decision of arbitrators, to be chosen in the usual manner, every question and matter of difference or controversy pending between us and said Master Masons' and Builders' association, and to abide by and perform such decision, and would be willing to have one of the judges of Cook county chosen to act as umpire in case of disagreement of the arbitrators; and

Whereas, The power of public opinion is the only force by which we can compel such submission to arbitration; and

Whereas, The public at large are deeply interested in the matter, and would be greatly benefited by an early resumption of the suspended building operations; and

Whereas, We are willing and desire that a decision by arbitration should extend over and include the entire residue of the building season of the present year, that any future difficulty may be avoided; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, As follows: 1. That we condemn in strong terms the neglect of the legislature to provide any adequate legal remedy by a state board of labor and capital, or [Pg 156]otherwise, for conflicts between employers and the employed, and that we will continue the agitation of this subject till proper laws have been enacted providing such a remedy.

2. That we condemn in equally strong terms the refusal of said Master Masons' and Builders' association to submit to arbitration whatever claims, charges, questions, controversies, or differences they may have with or against us; and we appeal to the mighty power of public opinion to uphold our cause, and to compel the submission to the arbitration we desire.

3. That we purposely abstain from attempting to argue in the present preamble and resolutions the justice of the points for which we contend with the Master Masons' and Builders' association, because that is the matter which should be discussed before and determined by the arbitrators whose appointment we desire.

4. That we appeal to the two great organs of public opinion, the pulpit and the public press, to advocate the righteousness of our demands, or to point out to us if they can wherein the same are contrary to justice or offensive to law and order; and in that case to show us some other lawful way, if any exists, by which justice may be secured.

When Drs. Lorimer and Goss and Gen. Beem could not be found in the assembly, the venerable Judge Booth, who has attended nearly every public meeting in Chicago for half a century, delivered a brief address in which he expressed himself in favor of arbitration.

Other speeches of the evening were made by M. L. Crawford, of the typographical union; George Lang, a bricklayer; William Kliver, president of the trades assembly; John Pierson, ex-president, and A. E. Vorkeller, president of the Bricklayers' union; William Davidson and C. R. Temple.


Friday, June 17th, the Chicago brick manufacturers met and agreed to resume work in their yards Monday, June 20th, and to continue to work until they made enough brick to fill their sheds. If by that time the strike was not settled they were to close their yards for the season.

[Pg 157]


June 18th the Central Council of the Building Interests issued the following address to the public:

The Central Council of the Building Interests of Chicago, which now addresses you, was organized June 1st, 1887, under the following circumstances:

When, on the 29th of April last, the United Order of Bricklayers and Stonemasons of Chicago decided, without consultation with their employers, that they would only receive their pay every two weeks on Saturdays, the Master Masons' association refused to comply with the demand, and the union men struck on their work wherever it was refused. The Master Masons' association then resolved to suspend all work on and after the 13th of May, and did so unanimously. The fire-proofing companies which employed men of the same union took the same action. The strike was made inoperative for the time being by the lockout of the employers.

The Builders' and Traders' exchange met on the following day, resolved to sustain the Master Masons, and called upon each trade represented to send three representatives to a general conference to consider the situation. The conference was organized with a full representation, and on the 25th of May adopted the following platform and code of principles to be submitted and be ratified by all the building organizations:

We affirm that absolute personal independence of the individual to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ, is a fundamental principle which should never be questioned or assailed; that upon it depends the security of our whole[Pg 158] social fabric and business prosperity, and that employers and workmen should be equally interested in its defense and preservation.

We recognize that there are many opportunities for good in associations of workmen, and while condemning and opposing improper action upon their part, we will aid and assist them in all just and honorable purposes; that while upon fundamental principles it would be useless to confer or arbitrate, there are still many points upon which conference and arbitration are perfectly right and proper, and that upon such points it is a manifest duty to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by associations to confer together to the end that strikes, lockouts, and other disturbances maybe prevented.

Code of principles by the employe to be made a universal condition of employment by all building interests of Chicago, viz:

I recognize the right of every man to decide for himself, without dictation or interference, when he shall work or cease to work, where he shall work, how many hours he shall work, and for what wages he shall work. I recognize the right of the employer to decide for himself whom he shall employ or cease to employ, and to regulate and manage his business with perfect independence, provided, only, that he deal lawfully, justly and honorably with all men.

I recognize the right of every father to have his son taught, and of every son to learn any lawful trade, to be the same as his right to a knowledge of reading and writing, or any other branch of learning, which should be subject to regulation only by the laws of the land.

By accepting employment I agree in all my relations and intercourse with my employers and fellow-workmen to maintain and live up to these principles.

The conference also asked each organization to nominate one member to a Central Council of the Building Interests.

The platform was adopted by the several organizations, and representatives were appointed to this body, which is now recognized by the trades as the representative of all the building interests collectively, and is permanently organized.

At the same time the Master Masons' association resolved to resume business on or before June 1, and adopted a uniform set of working rules, defining the hours of labor and other conditions necessary to the prosecution of their [Pg 159]business, etc., in accordance with the platform that had been adopted. The fire-proofing companies did the same thing. The action of these bodies broke the lockout, which was of but brief existence.

It is naturally asked, therefore: Why this continued stoppage and stagnation in the building business? It may be briefly said, in reply, that the men have in large numbers refused the work offered to them in accordance with the dictates of the United Order of Bricklayers and Stonemasons, and upon that body rests the responsibility entirely.

Whatever dispute the Master Masons have had with their employes' union, has been taken up by the whole body of trades here represented, while the employers of the associations of master masons, fire-proofers, and carpenters have officially decided to treat no more with unions as unions, but with men as reasoning beings.

With these facts before us it behooves us to look the question squarely in the face and see how we stand to-day. Some of the masons have small forces of bricklayers and stonemasons at work and all the laborers they want, for there is practically no strike among the laborers. The fire-proofers are well supplied and have practically resumed business. There are a few buildings in progress, on which we are informed that the owners have employed foremen and journeymen appointed by the union. There are others again, the contractors for which are "union bosses," or members of the union, who have become employers without severing their membership, and hence are strictly bound to all union rules.

But we still see many deserted buildings where the sound of the trowel is not heard.

Thousands of well-trained and to their credit, be it said, well-behaved artisans may be seen in the streets and about their homes. Many are Bricklayers, obeying the dictates of the handful of officials and committeemen and small army of walking delegates who may be seen daily at the union headquarters, placed there by their votes, or, at least, allowed to be there by their indifference, and certainly well paid by their contributions. The time of these officials is partly devoted to receiving contributions from men whose dues are now really filched from their wives and children, partly to having their vanity flattered by the obsequious prayers of so-called capitalists for help to satisfy their greed and avarice in getting their[Pg 160] own buildings finished before their neighbors, and partly to giving out fulsome accounts of their victories over the bosses, in a supposed contest that really does not exist.

In consequence of this we see the public misled by the daily press into a belief that nothing is going on but a strike between the boss Masons and the Bricklayers' union on the senseless question of a Saturday pay-day, characterized by nothing but the obstinacy on both sides, while in reality the united employers in all the building trades are contending simply for the natural rights of a man whether he be employer or employe, against a score of professional agitators who temporarily control the skilled mechanics of this country.

Now, last of all, what do we see at the Master Masons' headquarters? A united body of men with large interests at stake, and great responsibilities, who have not attempted to enforce a long and exhausting lockout for bringing their misguided employes to terms through poverty and distress, but calmly and deliberately leaving to us, the representatives of the sister building trades, the arbitrament of their own interests. The principles that they have adopted are those which we formulated, and they have agreed to the broad doctrine of freedom and justice. They did not seek to prolong the contest with their employes which had arisen from such a slight pretext. But as soon as the conference advised they acted (and so have the Carpenters). They have offered immediate employment on a fair basis. Is it their fault that their employes do not all come back to them? They have used every means that they can with due regards to their own dignity and self-respect to bring their men back. If they do not come it is simply because of the authority which the Union holds over its members. They are more devoted to their Union, which says "no," restraining their individual acts, than to their employers, who say "come"—more even than to their wives and families. In other words, while individually they believe in the principles which we have enunciated, they hope for a reconciliation between the union and the bosses. From all past experience many of them believe that there will be a reconciliation or compromise, and they think their own safety is in waiting. We should remember that these men stand in a dilemma. Each one of them is in a state of mental perplexity trying to decide in his own mind which course to take for his own interest. Heretofore[Pg 161] he has not exercised his own mind on these subjects. He has left all the details of the contract for his labor to the officials of his Union. It has become a second nature to him to look to his Union for protection in all things. He has voluntarily ceased to be a free agent.

There has been much talk of late on the subject of arbitration. A proper understanding of the situation will show how impossible such a course is at present. The responsibility for the prevention of the men from working has been fixed where it belongs. It is useless to talk now of a settlement. There will be no solution until the idle men take up their tools and renounce their allegiance to the present Union. There will be no yielding until that is the case. The sister trades have and will continue to sustain the Masons and other trades affected by the encroachments of labor organizations until then.

In the following resolutions, passed at the regular meeting held June 10, the Central Council thus expressed its views upon the importance of uniform working hours:

Whereas, In the opening of this Council it is of the greatest interest to all of the trades here represented that the hours of work on buildings in course of erection should be uniform in all the trades.

Resolved, That while we recognize the right of every trade to establish its own working hours, we think those established by a large majority, not only in Chicago but in other cities, should be considered as a precedent for others to follow.

At the same meeting the stand taken by the Master Masons was thus indorsed:

Resolved, That the Association of Master Masons and Builders has the heartiest support of the building trades here represented in its battle against exactions of an unscrupulous and tyrannical trade union, which is the enemy alike to the building trades and the interests of its own members.

The position they have taken under the principles adopted by the conference is a just one, they have held out the olive branch to their former employes, and it only remains to inspire them with confidence in its representations to the end that work may speedily be resumed.

George Tapper, President.
F. C. Schoenthaler, Secretary.

[Pg 162]


Organized labor in Chicago had no sympathy for the Bricklayers' union. Members of other unions entertained for it a feeling of bitterness which was constantly being manifested. This was fully illustrated at a meeting of the Amalgamated Building Trades Council held Saturday evening, June 18th, at which delegates stated that the Bricklayers' union had taken contracts from Master Masons for the erection of buildings, and had then hired non-union hod-carriers, carpenters, cornice-makers, lathers and laborers of all classes. The Bricklayers' union was characterized as "the meanest organization on God's green footstool," and it was remarked that it would be a good thing for Chicago if it was wiped out of existence. The union was bitterly denounced for its selfish, mercenary, unjust, tyrannical conduct toward other labor organizations.

On Sunday, June 19th, at a meeting of the Trade and Labor Assembly, Edward Mulrany, of the Bricklayers' union, made a vicious attack upon James Brennock, of the Building Trades council, on account of the action of the previous evening. Mr. Brennock, an old man, attempted to explain the true situation, but his voice was drowned by Mulrany, who fairly yelled: "Lies! lies! you're a liar!" and heaped abuse upon the old man to such an extent that he was forced to subside.

[Pg 163]

The Bricklayers' union had for so long had everything its own way that the leaders assumed the right to not only dictate to the bosses and other unions, but they usurped the prerogative of trampling upon anything and everything that attempted to question a single act of the union. They had made servile tools of the members of every other organization until all had grievances of such a character that they were in a position to sympathize with even an employer, in a fight against the oppression of the Bricklayers' union. The Hodcarriers went so far as to threaten to take up trowels and lay brick for members of the Master Masons' association in order to aid in breaking up the Union that had been so abusive to all other labor organizations. Under these circumstances it was but reasonable to expect that the tide of the strike would turn in favor of the Master Masons.

[Pg 164]


A proposition was made for the organization of a new Union of the Bricklayers' and Stonemasons' which should recognize the principles of right and justice laid down in the platform of the National Association of Builders, and approved by every organization of builders in Chicago. Blanks were printed and placed in the hands of the members of the Master Masons' association upon which to procure the signatures of their respective employes. The blanks were in the following form:

We believe in the right of workmen to organize for mutual protection and all just and honorable purposes, and assert our right.

We recognize the right of every man to work or not to work, to employ or not to employ.

We recognize the right of every boy to learn any lawful trade.

We recognize that strikes and lockouts are baneful and may be prevented by arbitration.

We believe that all matters of joint interest to employers and workmen should be discussed and acted on by joint committees, representing organizations of both employers and workmen.

We believe that by organizing upon the principles set forth the foundation to future harmony is laid and the best interests of all conserved.

Now, therefore, do we, the undersigned, agree to attend a meeting to be called at an early day, to form ourselves into the "Chicago Union of Bricklayers and Stonemasons."

[Pg 165]

This paper was circulated among the bricklayers and stonemasons who were working under the rules of the Master Masons' association, and in three days the signatures of two hundred and fifty men were procured.

On Tuesday, June 21st, a committee issued a call for a meeting for the organization of a new union, which was as follows:

Mr. ............................

Dear Sir: Wednesday evening has been set for forming the Chicago Bricklayers' and Stonemasons' Union. Meeting will be held at the Builders' and Traders' Exchange at 7:30 P. M. Your presence is desired, with all the bricklayers and stonemasons in your employ, and if your men have any friends who wish to join said Union, bring them with you, for the purpose of taking your first step for liberty.

The Committee.

The call had been signed by 284 bricklayers and stonemasons, 225 of which met and took the first steps necessary to an organization. All but 30 of those present were ex-members of the old union. A committee was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws. Another meeting was held on Friday evening, at which a number of new members were received.

On Wednesday, June 30th, the new union met and adopted a constitution which embraced as its basis the code of principles of the Master Masons' association and declared the objects to be as follows:

The object of this Union is to carry into living effect the principles set forth; to do away with labor disturbances, such as strikes, lockouts, and boycotts; and to institute a practical mode of arbitration; to give all moral and material aid in its power to its members and those dependent upon them; to educate and elevate its members socially, morally, and intellectually; to establish and administer a fund for the relief of sick and distressed members, and for mortuary benefit.

Other provisions were as follows:

"Members shall consist of active, passive, and honorary members. Any bricklayer or stonemason who has worked in[Pg 166] Chicago one week at the minimum rate of wages for competent journeymen may become an active member, or any journeyman who presents evidence of membership in any other union in the United States or Canada, which is founded on the same principles, may be enrolled as a member."

"Members employed as foremen shall not be subject to the union during such employment."

The initiation fee was fixed at $5 and the annual dues at the same amount. Provision was made for committees on arbitration, house and finance. The powers of the committee on arbitration were defined as follows:

The arbitration committee shall have full power to adjust all grievances and make a written award after a joint meeting with the arbitration committee of the Master Masons' association. This committee shall have power to determine for the year all working rules, including the minimum rate of wages per hour for all competent mechanics, and for all overtime and Sunday work.

The constitution also provided for rules for running the union, and for benefits for injuries received, and for the payment of funeral expenses of deceased members.

Officers were elected as follows: President, Lewis Meyer; secretary, T. D. Price; treasurer, T. J. Fellows; sentinel, Henry Annes.

The officers were directed to procure a charter.

[Pg 167]


On Tuesday, June 28th, the first national convention of the Amalgamated Building Trades was held in Chicago. There were sixty-eight delegates present, of whom fifty were from Chicago. The others were from Detroit, 3; Washington, 1; Cincinnati, 2; New York, 3; Pennsylvania, 1; Bay City, 1; Brooklyn, 1; Denver, 1; Milwaukee, 1; Philadelphia, 2; Sioux City, 1; Pittsburgh, 1. P. W. Birk, of Brooklyn, presided during the session which lasted three days.

The objects of the council were defined as follows:

The objects of the Council are to assist in the organization of the journeymen workers of the building trades, and the federation of such trade organizations into building trade councils and central bodies in each locality of the United States; to create a bond of unity between the wage-working builders, and to aid by counsel and support all legitimate efforts made for the betterment of the condition of members of the building trades.

The following appeal to the building trade organizations was adopted and directed to be sent all over the country:

To all Councils, Federations, and Organizations of the Building Trades in the United StatesGreeting: The time has come in the wisdom of the soundest thinkers and most experienced workers in the ranks of labor when it is not only proper, but necessary, that the journeymen workers of the[Pg 168] building industry in the United States should be thoroughly organized and federated under a national council. Such an organization, by the conservative exercise of the control delegated to it by a constitution upon which all local organizations can unite, could do a great work in looking after the interests of the various crafts and callings engaged in the building industry; and, by a timely and wise supervision in cases of wage or other difficulties, exercise an incalculable influence in directing the course of events to a solution favorable to the workers, by keeping the craftsmen of the whole country fully informed of the situation and the necessities of the case. The contractors, or "Master Builders," have formed and are endeavoring to perfect a National Association with the declared purpose of opposing the efforts of the labor organizations to regulate wages and the hours of labor.

Pursuant to a call issued by the Amalgamated Building Trades' Council of Chicago, a convention of delegates from building trades organizations of the country met in this city on Tuesday June 28, and in a three days' convention perfected a national organization with the objects as set forth in the preceding paragraph. Notwithstanding the short notice given, there were in the convention delegates from fourteen of the principal cities of the union, representing one-half million journeymen builders. The result is that the National Building Trades' Council of the United States is now an established fact, working under a temporary constitution, copies of which accompany this circular. We submit the action of the convention and the constitution to the building trades organizations of the United States, and ask their prompt and active support of the movement. The convention, after due deliberation, decided, as it was hardly more than preliminary, that the first regular session of the national council should be held as soon as possible; that the delay in bringing all the building organizations under one head should not be greater than the time necessary to disseminate the work of the convention and to allow sufficient time for the many organizations to act; it was therefore decided to name the third Tuesday in September, 1887, as the date for holding such session. The place selected for the next convention is Chicago.

All organizations receiving a copy of this circular are urged to take action in accordance with the constitution, and at once to open correspondence with the general secretary of the council, who will furnish information to those desiring it.

[Pg 169]

Brothers, in conclusion, we urge you to give your support at once to this movement and to aid in perfecting an organization which may be made a power second to nothing of its character in the world, as its field is as broad as this great land, and its opportunities as limitless as humanity.

On the last day the following resolutions were adopted:

Resolved, That, in the event that the committee of the Chicago bricklayers do not succeed in making a satisfactory settlement with the Master Builders' association, the council declare the Chicago difficulty a national cause and appoint a committee on arbitration to meet the bosses, the power to appoint such committee resting in the hands of the president, in session or after adjournment.

Resolved, That, in the event of failure of such committee to settle satisfactorily the trouble, the president, with the concurrence of the executive board, make an appeal to the building trades organizations of the United States, asking support—financial and moral—for the building-trades organizations of Chicago.

Officers were elected as follows: President, J. S. Robinson, Cincinnati; Vice Presidents, George Keithly, Washington; William F. Abrams, Detroit; Louis Hartman, Milwaukee; Secretary, Peter A. Hogan, Chicago; Treasurer, L. C. Hutchinson, Detroit; Executive Board, W. H. Thomas, Philadelphia; Edward Farrell, New York; George E. Gray, Denver.

[Pg 170]


On Tuesday, June 21st, three members of the old union met three Master Masons and told them they were ready to concede anything to preserve their union. They were advised to adopt the code of principles of the Master Masons, and agreed to have the union do so. A special meeting of the Bricklayers' union was called and held Thursday night for the purpose of endeavoring to induce the members to take a sensible view of the situation by adopting the code of principles. When the subject was proposed it met with howls of disgust, and had to be withdrawn. The members were not in proper temper to overturn their Union, even at the request of one who had been a leader. Being unable to keep their agreement in full with the contractors, the committee finally concluded to accomplish something. They introduced the following resolution:

Resolved, That we withdraw our demand for Saturday pay-day, and declare the strike off.

Even this ingenious little paper caused a bitter fight, the claim being made that there was trickery in it, and that it meant a complete "backdown" of the Union. But, with many assurances that the resolution was a "square deal" it was finally adopted by a bare majority.

After the meeting it was stated that the stone pool—which held the key to the lockout—would have no excuse for[Pg 171] refusing to deliver building material, as the strike was "declared off"; and that owners could compel them to "come to time."

The action of the Bricklayers' union in rescinding the resolution in regard to Saturday pay-day, and "declaring the strike off," did not result in settling the differences between the two elements which had been at variance for nearly two months. Among the contractors this action was looked upon as a step taken toward a final settlement of the existing differences, and it inspired them with a belief that more would be done as soon as the arbitrary leaders of the union could be gotten in a proper temper. More was intended to be done, but the conservative, reasonable men in the union were not permitted to accomplish their whole purpose at once, and were forced to accept that which the union was willing at the time to concede. It was intended to fully recognize the code of principles of the Master Masons and accept the situation for the purpose of maintaining their union intact, but the temper of the men who made the most noise prevented any such action being taken.

The feeling among the contractors generally was one of confidence in their ultimate success, and they expressed themselves in a manner that showed that they were as united as they had been at any time on the questions at issue. They said there had been no union bricklayers applying for work in consequence of the action rescinding the resolution in regard to Saturday pay-day, and that the adoption of such a resolution meant nothing unless the Bricklayers followed it up by going to work under the scale which had been adopted by the Master Masons' association.

The executive committee of the Master Masons' association met Friday, June 24th, and decided to issue the following document, which, they said, might lead to an adjustment of the differences which had occasioned and prolonged the strike and lockout in the building trades:

[Pg 172]

To the Public: In order to permanently settle the differences existing between employers and employes in the building trades and to show to the public that the Master Masons' association is willing to go on record as ready to do what is fair and reasonable in the present difficulty, we, the executive committee of the Master Masons' association, hereby offer to submit the platform and code of principles adopted by our association—the Bricklayers' and Stonemasons' union to submit their constitution and by-laws—to four business men and a judge of the United States court, said judge to select the four business men, who shall have full power to act as a board of arbitration as between the Master Masons' association and the bricklayers and stonemasons, and we hereby agree to abide by the decision of a majority of said board of arbitration.

Joseph Downey,
Hermann Mueller,
E. Earnshaw,

Executive Committee Master Masons' Association.

When a copy of this paper was shown to some members of the executive committee of the Bricklayers' union, they grasped it eagerly, but suggested that they were afraid the four business men might not do them justice. One of them suggested that they might go so far as to agree to let the Master Masons select two and the Union two, and have a judge of the United States court for the fifth member, and then submit their constitution and by-laws and the code of principles of the Masons to them as proposed, and authorize the arbitrators to decide just what should be done by each party to settle the whole trouble.

Saturday, June 25th, a committee from the Bricklayers' union, composed of A. E. Vorkeller, C. C. Scouller and C. J. Lindgren, met a committee of Master Masons, composed of C. A. Moses, Thomas Nicholson and E. S. Moss. The Union committee asked for and received an official copy of the proposition to allow a judge of the United States court to select four business men to arbitrate the case. They objected to the manner of selecting the arbitrators, and suggested that they be permitted to select their representatives, and the Master[Pg 173] Masons do the same, and then select a judge as umpire. This action of the two committees was entirely unofficial, but the Union committeemen said they would officially present a proposition to the Master Masons on the subject.

Monday, June 27th, the executive committee of the Bricklayers' union replied to the communication of President Downey, as follows:

Joseph Downey, President—Dear Sir: In reply to your communication of the 25th inst., submitting a proposition to settle permanently the differences existing between our union and your association, we beg leave to say that said proposition does not meet with our approval for the following reasons, viz: There is a want of confidence on the part of workingmen in such high officials as United States judges from the fact that they are not brought in close contact with workingmen in the settlement of their difficulties. Further, we believe a board of arbitration selected in the manner suggested by your committee would not be satisfactory to either side. Neither do we believe they would be as competent as a board selected from the employers and employes directly interested.

We, therefore, take this opportunity to remind your association that we, on the 9th inst., appointed a committee of five from our organization to meet a like committee from your association (the joint committee to select an umpire) with full power to permanently settle the differences existing between our union and your association.

By order of the executive committee of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons.


A. E. Vorkeller,
Charles J. Lindgren,
Fred Reckling,
James Sidlak,
John Pearson.

The objection to the United States judge was amusing to those who fully understood the situation. If he had been a judge whom they had helped to elect, or was a politician, there might have been no objection on the part of the executive committee of the union. But they would not submit to a United States judge because, they said, he did not come in[Pg 174] "contact" with the laboring men. They wanted some one who did or had come in "contact" with them, because they believed such a judge or person would be afraid, for political reasons, to decide against the power of the union. The union was also afraid to submit to fair-minded men its constitution and by-laws in comparison with the code of principles of the Master Masons, because its rulers well knew that a decision would be against them, and their union would fall. It was well known that if President Vorkeller could have had his way, or could have controlled the union, a settlement would have been reached that would have been satisfactory to every builder in the city. But he was powerless, because every proposition he had made to adopt the code of principles of the builders had been howled down, and he had been threatened with violence if he persisted in his efforts to reach a settlement in that way. On one occasion, when Mr. Vorkeller insisted upon such a course, he was assaulted by an enthusiastic striker and was "struck like a dog."

Wednesday, June 29th, the Master Masons' association held a meeting, and by a vote of 41 to 30 decided to appoint a committee of arbitration, and named George C. Prussing, Joseph Downey, George Tapper, William O'Brien and Charles W. Gindele. After the committee was created it was instructed to stand firmly by the code of principles of the Association and to require their recognition by the Bricklayers before proceeding to a settlement of differences.

The action of the meeting did not meet the views of all the members of the Association, some of whom were fully determined that it was impolitic to appoint an arbitration committee, even when its powers were abridged by a demand for full recognition of the code of principles upon which they had been standing for weeks.

The committee did not suit the Bricklayers. A dozen of them were standing outside the Exchange to hear the decision of the meeting. When they were informed that Mr. Prussing[Pg 175] was on the committee they swore they would never arbitrate anything with a committee of which he was a member. What objection they had to Mr. Prussing they would not explain, but insisted that "it was of no use to talk of such a thing as arbitration with George C. Prussing." Some cooler heads among the party finally concluded that it would be time enough to object to the composition of the committee after they had received a communication from President Downey, and knew what they were expected to arbitrate. When it was suggested to them that they would be expected to subscribe to the code of principles of the Master Masons' Association, one of them said it made little difference who was on the committee, as that would never be done by the Union Bricklayers. Other members of the Union said this would make no difference, as the code of principles was just, but it would be very difficult to get the Union to adopt them. The conservative element on both sides of the question were encouraged by the action of the Master Masons, and said a settlement would be reached that would be satisfactory to everybody.


President Downey prepared and caused to be sent to President Vorkeller official notification of the action of the association, as follows:

A. E. Vorkeller, President United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons. Sir:—Chicago Master Masons' and Builders' Association has this day appointed a standing committee of arbitration of five of its members with full power to act for and in behalf of this organization in settlement of any and all differences existing. You have been informed of the platform and code of principles adopted by this body. On these it stands. All other questions may properly be arbitrated. Please inform this body whether your committee has been appointed with full power to bind your organization by joint action with us. If so, our committee is ready and shall be pleased to meet your committee at the earliest time convenient for the selection of an umpire and arrangement of preliminaries. The arbitration committee[Pg 176] appointed by this association consists of Messrs. George C. Prussing, George Tapper, William O'Brien, Charles W. Gindele and Joseph Downey. Respectfully,

Joseph Downey, President.
H. Mueller, Secretary.

In reply to this communication President Vorkeller sent to President Downey an acceptance of the proposition, as follows:

Joseph Downey, President—Dear Sir: Your communication notifying me that your Association has appointed a committee of five to meet a like committee from our organization for the purpose of settling, if possible, the present lockout, is at hand. In reply will say that we await your convenience and will hold ourselves in readiness to meet your committee at any time and place you may appoint.

Yours respectfully,
A. E. Vorkeller, President.

The time and place of meeting was fixed by President Downey in a note to President Vorkeller, as follows:

A. E. Vorkeller, President.—Sir: Your communication received, and would say in reply that our committee will meet your committee at 10 o'clock to-morrow morning at the Grand Pacific hotel. Respectfully,

Joseph Downey, President.

Friday morning, July 1st, the joint arbitration met. The members were on hand in full force, the opposing elements being represented as follows: Master Masons' association—Joseph Downey, George Tapper, George C. Prussing, Charles W. Gindele, William O'Brien. Bricklayers' union—Albert E. Vorkeller, P. J. Miniter, John Pearson, C. J. Lindgren, Fred Rebush. They pretended to be very glad to see each other, and smiles were exchanged freely. When they entered the committee room, President Downey introduced Mr. Prussing to President Vorkeller, and requested him to introduce him to the other members of the committee from the Union. This appeared to be an assumption that Mr.[Pg 177] Prussing was a comparative stranger to the members of the committee, but he had been so well known that the bricklayers had repeatedly asserted that they would not arbitrate if he was on the committee. It was amusing to witness the cordiality with which John Pearson grasped Mr. Prussing's hand, and to hear him say he was glad to see him, when the bitter words of denunciation of the previous day had hardly got cold on Mr. Pearson's lips. Mr. Prussing was introduced all around, after which he suggested that they at once proceed to select a chairman and get down to the business of adjusting their differences in a manner that would insure a permanent settlement of their troubles and an assurance that for all time the friendliest relations might be maintained between employer and employe. "The first thing to do," said Mr. Prussing, "is to select a chairman."

Mr. Vorkeller, president of the Union, half elevated his wiry form, and, looking toward four reporters in the room, said: "The first thing to do is to put these outsiders on the outside." The reporters retired. They had previously been advised that the Master Masons were in favor of an open meeting, but a secret session having been demanded by the bricklayers it was conceded by the masons. It was apparent that the bricklayers had determined that the public should know nothing of their deliberations, and as little as possible of the result.

At the morning session George Tapper was selected chairman. An effort was then made to agree upon the eleventh member of the committee. The bricklayers insisted upon the appointment of Richard Prendergast, Judge of the County court of Cook county, and the master masons urged that Walter Q. Gresham, Judge of the U. S. circuit court, should be the man. The bricklayers strenuously opposed any United States officer, and the names of both judges were dropped. An umpire was parleyed over for an hour, and a general discussion of the situation occupied the remainder of the morning[Pg 178] session without reaching a conclusion upon anything except a chairman.

The afternoon session lasted three hours. When the committee adjourned it was announced that the members had done nothing for the public, and had agreed to not make known their work until it was completed. However, the deliberations of the afternoon were of a progressive character. Many questions were discussed and some rules were agreed to, which meant that there was a strong probability that the contending elements would get close enough together to agree upon an award. During the afternoon the names of many prominent citizens were suggested for the position of umpire, but no selection was made. It seemed to be the desire of both factions to secure someone who would not be prejudiced in favor of "the other fellow." The sessions of the day were "perfectly harmonious," and as the members of the committee became "better acquainted" with each other, they gave stronger assurances of a permanent friendship, if nothing else.

The members of the committee slept over the list of names of prominent citizens, who had been suggested for the position of umpire, and on Saturday when they got together Judge Tuley, of the Superior court of Cook county, was unanimously chosen umpire. The judge was officially notified of the action taken, advised of the questions at issue between the contestants, and asked if he would accept the responsibility which was sought to be put upon him.

A reply was received stating that from a sense of duty he would accept. A short session of the committee was held in the afternoon to receive the reply, and an adjournment was then taken until 9 o'clock Monday morning.

The Fourth of July was celebrated by the joint committee sticking right to business. They believed the questions at issue were more momentous than a remembrance of the anniversary of the birth of the nation by a display of fireworks. According to agreement the joint committee met at 9 o'clock,[Pg 179] and Judge Tuley assumed the chair as umpire. The work began by acquainting the umpire with the situation as it was viewed from both sides, the differences and grievances being rehearsed in such a graphic manner that the judge was profoundly impressed with the importance of the questions which he had been called upon to settle, and he announced his readiness to proceed to such a conclusion as would forever put at rest all contention over the labor problem in Chicago, as far as it related to the building interests. The entire morning session was taken up in debates and the umpire discovered that he would be required to call into requisition not only his knowledge of the law, but all the parliamentary tactics with which he was familiar, with a possibility that he would have to occasionally invent a ruling to suit the special occasion. The code of principles of the Master Masons was submitted and discussed at length. The code was not adopted as a whole, but was held in abeyance in order that other questions should be submitted to ascertain what bearing the code might have upon them. It was decided that the real issue should be narrowed down to facts which directly bore upon the foundation for differences between the contestants.

At the afternoon session the order of business was first defined and then the struggle began over the items of difference, which were taken up in the order agreed upon and discussed. These points embraced the many hard questions which had occasioned strikes and lockouts for five years. They included the various demands of the bricklayers, which had been objected to or conceded from time to time, from the demand for an increase of wages in 1883 to the unsatisfied insistence upon a Saturday pay-day.

A sub-committee, composed of Messrs. Prussing, of the Master Masons, and Miniter, of the Bricklayers, prepared a statement showing all points upon which the contestants agreed and disagreed. Every disputed point was then so thoroughly argued by both sides that Judge Tuley was fairly[Pg 180] saturated with facts and eloquence. The umpire was very cautious, and asked a great many leading questions of both sides. He evinced a disposition to become fully advised and enlightened, not only as to the points of difference, but as to their effect upon the contestants. He wanted to know it all, but he expressed few opinions, and made very few decisions. His idea seemed to be to endeavor to lead the contestants up to points at which they might possibly be able to agree without the necessity for his casting a vote upon a disputed question, and in this course he was upheld by both sides, because it had a strong tendency to promote and preserve harmony between the two. In fact, the umpire endeavored to show them how they could reach a conclusion without the use of an umpire.

As the time for making the award drew near, the members of both organizations, and in fact, of all trades, became very anxious to know the result. They used every means within their power to obtain some information from the committeemen in regard to the manner in which points of difference had been or would be adjusted, but the mouths of the arbitrators remained sealed. They simply said: "Wait for the verdict, and you will be satisfied."

On Friday, July 8th, at 6 o'clock in the evening, the joint committee concluded its labors and adjourned, after having adjusted the differences between the Master Masons and the Bricklayers which had caused a strike and lockout in the building trades lasting nine weeks. The award was made and signed by the ten arbitrators and the umpire.

After the committee adjourned both factions acknowledged themselves perfectly satisfied with the award, and congratulated each other upon a result which, they said, they hoped and believed would forever settle their differences, and in the future prevent strikes and lockouts in the building trades represented by the Master Masons on the one part and he Bricklayers and Stonemasons on the other part. The[Pg 181] members of the committee parted as friends, and seemed to understand each other so well that if they could control the destinies of the two factions there would never be an occasion for an arbitration committee between the two to settle a strike. It was agreed that the award should be submitted to the Bricklayers' union and the Master Masons' association for ratification, and that building should be resumed on Monday, July 11th.

The award of the committee was as follows:

To the Union of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons and to the Master Masons' and Builders' Association of Chicago: The joint committee of arbitration, composed of an arbitration committee of five from each of your organizations, with Judge M. F. Tuley unanimously selected as umpire, have concluded their labors and respectfully report:

That, recognizing the fact that organizations of employes and employers, like these from which this committee originated, do exist and have become important factors in our industrial society, and that they will, in all probability, continue to exist, we do not attempt to determine whether the motive or basis of either organization was right or wrong. They appear to be a necessity arising out of the present conditions of society, and while such combinations keep "from violence or show of violence" no great danger need be apprehended. Nor did we attempt to determine which organization was to blame for the present paralyzed condition of the building industry of this great city. We recognized the fact that the two organizations between which there should be many "bonds of sympathy and good feeling" were carrying on a bitter war with each other, by which many thousands of men were deprived of work, much suffering and privation brought upon innocent parties, and immense pecuniary losses daily sustained; and we determined, if possible, to reconcile the differences and place the relations of the two organizations upon a basis by which strikes, lookouts, and other like disturbances might in future be avoided. We discussed the relations of the contractor and the workmen, and found much in which they had a common or joint interest, and were mutually concerned. We endeavored to discuss and settle each trouble and grievance in a conciliatory spirit, not in way of compromise,[Pg 182] to give and take, but in a spirit of fair play and upon just and equitable principles.

We found that the main cause of trouble was in the separate organizations endeavoring to lay down arbitrary rules for the regulation of matters which were of joint interest and concern, and which should be regulated only by both organizations by some species of joint action. We, therefore, determined upon and submit herewith a project for the institution of a joint standing committee for that purpose. The article herewith submitted, providing for such a joint standing committee, to be elected annually in the month of January, defining its powers and duties, we request shall be incorporated into the constitution of each association.

This joint committee will be constructed of an arbitration committee of five members from each organization (the president of each being one of the five) and an umpire who is neither a working mechanic nor an employer of mechanics, to be chosen by the two committees. This joint committee is given power to hear and determine all grievances of the members of one organization against members of the other, and of one organization against the other. To determine and fix all working rules governing employer and employes, such as:

1 The minimum rate of wages per hour.

2 The number of hours of work per day.

3. Uniform pay-day.

4. The time of starting and quitting work.

5. The rate to be paid for night and Sunday work, and questions of like nature.

And it is also given power to determine what number of apprentices should be enrolled so as to afford all boys desiring to learn the trade an opportunity to do so without overcrowding, so as not to cause the coming workmen to be unskilled in his art or the supply of labor to grossly exceed the demand therefor. It is also given exclusive power to determine all subjects in which both organizations may be interested, and which may be brought before it by the action of either organization or the president thereof.

It becomes necessary, in order that all questions and grievances which the committee has settled, and to make the constitution and by-laws of the organizations conform thereto, and to the powers given to future joint arbitration committees, that some changes should be made in such constitution[Pg 183] and by-laws. The adoption by the Master Masons' and Builders' association of the article for the joint committee, as recommended, together with some slight changes in their constitution, will be sufficient. The United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons will be necessitated to make changes in its constitution and by-laws to make the same consistent with and to conform to the spirit and intent of the powers and duties conferred on the joint committee; and among other things the officer heretofore known as the walking delegate is to be known hereafter as the collector, and all the objectionable duties and powers of the office have been done away with. The steward will remain guardian of the men's interests and mediator for them; his arbitrary powers are taken away. The interests of the members of the union are protected by the foreman being required to be a member of the union, but he is restored to his position as the employe of the contractor, and, while so employed, is not subject to the rules of the union. The eight-hour day has been conceded to the workmen. It is in accordance with the state and, we believe, in accord with the spirit and progress of the age. The question of pay-day, whether on Saturday or on Tuesday, was not considered a question of vital importance, but, it being one of the questions left to the umpire, he decided that inasmuch as Tuesday has been the pay-day with the principal contractors in the trade of this city for more than twenty years last past, and, as experience in other trades and occupations has demonstrated that the pay-day of Monday or Tuesday has worked more beneficially to the workmen and their families than the Saturday pay-day, and, inasmuch as contractors ought not to be required to change the pay-day in the midst of the working season, having presumably made their pecuniary arrangements to meet the Tuesday pay-day, he would name Tuesday as the regular pay-day until the same should, if desired hereafter, be changed by the joint committee on arbitration.

We have settled the differences between the two organizations. While every inch of the ground has been fought over, yet, having the task assigned us, we in good faith determined to do everything that was fair, just and honorable to accomplish our object. We feel we have succeeded without compromising the honor, the rights, or the dignity of either organisation, and hope that we have succeeded in establishing[Pg 184] a basis upon which all future troubles may be settled and probably be prevented. We respectfully ask your adoption of this report and the article as to the joint arbitration committee, by immediate action, to the end that work may be commenced on Monday, July 11th, it being agreed that neither organization shall be bound by its action if the other should refuse to take similar action.

A. E. Vorkeller,
P. J Minniter,
John Pearson,
Theodore Rebush,
Charles J. Lindgren,

Arbitration Committee for the U. O. A. B. and S. M. Association.

George C. Prussing,
Joseph Downey,
George Tapper,
William O'Brien,
Charles W. Gindele,

Arbitration Committee for the Master Masons' and Builders' Association.

M. F. Tuley, Umpire.

One of the troublesome questions which was considered by the arbitrators was the one in relation to apprentices. On this question there was no agreement by the joint committee, but Judge Tuley made the following statement and recommendations, all of which met the approval of both organizations:

A limitation upon the number of apprentices in a craft has always existed either by legislative action or by custom of the craft, and the number that should be taken must be affected to a large extent by the general principles of the demand and supply of labor.

In France, in the seventeenth century, masters were limited to one apprentice. In England, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, apprentices became so numerous, and because of their numbers—when they became workmen—were so unskilled, that some crafts were for a time utterly ruined. Laws were passed from time to time limiting the number of apprentices in the trades and crafts; some to two apprentices,[Pg 185] some to sons of master workmen and employes, and some to the sons of persons who had a £3 annual rental.

It is a law of self-preservation to the craft, and also of equal interest to the responsible Master Mason, that there should be some limitation on the number of apprentices. If the number is unlimited, unscrupulous contractors may secure a large number of apprentices, and, with the help of a few journeymen, underbid all contractors who employ journeymen skilled in their craft, and also necessarily throw upon the journeymen large additions of unskilled workmen, thereby making the supply of labor largely in excess of the demand, and destroying the standard of the craft for good work.

It is not a question whether everybody shall have the right to learn a trade, but whether the craft will teach every boy a trade, to its own destruction.

It is a matter, however, that neither the journeymen nor the Master Masons' organizations should arbitrarily undertake to decide. It is a matter of joint interest, and should be decided from time to time by the joint arbitration committee in such a manner that the number of apprentices shall be sufficient to furnish the requisite number of journeymen to supply the demand, and also so as to prevent an abuse of the apprentice system and an injury to both employer and employe by a too large number of apprentices being secured to do work that should be done by the skilled journeymen.

Three years, by common consent, is the period fixed for apprenticeship in these trades, and the Master Masons should be allowed, and if necessary required, to take one new apprentice each year.

The number of apprentices can be increased from time to time as the interests of the crafts and their obligations to the youth of the country should demand.

The apprentice should be allowed to join any organization of his craft, but in all respects be subject to the laws of the state and the contracts made in pursuance thereof.

The joint committee also agreed upon working rules, which were established by being adopted by both organizations interested. They are as follows:

Section 1. The minimum rate of wages shall be 40 cents per hour.

[Pg 186]

Sec. 2. Eight hours shall constitute a day's work throughout the year, work to begin at 8 A. M. and end at 5 P. M., but the noon hour may be curtailed by special agreement between the foreman and the majority of the workmen, but not in such a way as to permit more than eight hours' work between the hours named.

No member will be allowed to work overtime except in case of actual necessity. For such overtime time and one-half shall be allowed.

Sec. 3. Eight hours shall constitute a night's work. Night work shall not commence until 7 P. M., and shall be paid for at time and a half. Sunday work shall be paid for at double time.

Sec 4. Any member of this Union working for a Mason Contractor shall be paid every two weeks on Tuesday before 5 P. M.

Resolved, That all members of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons who have, from actual necessity, taken up their work during the present strike, or lockout, and have thereby violated any rule of said organization, shall be reinstated within two weeks of the execution of the award of this arbitration committee, and shall not be fined or suffer any penalty for said violation of rules; and further

Resolved, That all members of the Chicago Master Masons' and Builders' association who have, from actual necessity, started to work with union men, and in opposition to a resolution of such organization, shall not be fined or suffer any penalty for infraction of the rules, and shall be considered in good standing.

The working rules were signed by the joint committee and the umpire.

The following amendments to the constitution of the two organizations were adopted, fixing a permanent board of arbitration:

Section 1. This organization shall elect, at its annual meeting in January, a standing committee of arbitration, consisting of five members, to serve one year. The present standing committee shall continue in office until the election of its successor, in January, 1888.

Sec. 2. The president shall be, ex-officio, one of said five members. He shall be chairman of committee, and in his[Pg 187] absence the committee may designate one of its members to act in his place.

Sec. 3. Within one week after the election the president of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons shall certify to the Chicago Master Masons' and Builders' association, and the president of the Chicago Master Masons' and Builders' association shall certify to the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons, the fact that said committee has been regularly elected, and give the names of members thereof.

Sec. 4. When notice of the selection of a committee of arbitration by the other association shall be received, or as soon thereafter as practicable, and within the month of January, the two committees shall meet and proceed to organize themselves in a joint committee of arbitration by electing an umpire, who is neither a working mechanic nor an employer of mechanics. The umpire, when present, shall preside at meetings of the joint committee, and have the casting vote on all questions.

Sec. 5. Seven members, exclusive of the umpire, shall constitute a quorum of the joint arbitration committee, and in case of the absence of any member, the chairman of his committee shall cast the vote for such absent members.

A majority vote shall decide all questions.

Sec. 6. The joint committee of arbitration shall have all evidence in complaints and grievances of a member or members of one body against a member or members of the other, or of one organization against the other, referred to it by the president of either association, and shall finally decide all questions submitted, and shall certify by the umpire such decisions to the respective organizations.

Work shall go on continuously, and all parties interested shall be governed by award made, or decisions rendered, provided, however, that work may be stopped by the joint order of the presidents of the respective associations until the decision of the joint committee is had.

Sec. 7. The joint committee shall have exclusive power to determine and fix definitely from year to year all working rules. It shall also have all exclusive authority to discuss and determine all other subjects in which both organizations, or members of both organizations, may be jointly interested and concerned, which may be brought before the committee by either organization or the president thereof.

[Pg 188]

Sec. 8. Working rules are rules governing employers and workmen at work, such as the establishment of a minimum rate of wages to be paid practical bricklayers and stonemasons per hour, and of a uniform pay-day, to determine the number of hours to be worked per day, the time of starting and quitting work, the remuneration to be paid for work done overtime and Sundays, and other questions of like nature.

Sec. 9. The subject of apprentices being a matter of joint interest, and concern to both the union and the Master Masons' and Builders' association, the joint committee shall have power to decide from time to time the number of apprentices which master masons may take in service. Until further action by said committee all master masons shall be allowed a new apprentice each year, and the term of apprenticeship shall be three years, but any minor taken as apprentice shall be under 19 years of age. All apprentices shall be allowed to join any organization of their craft, but to be subject to the laws of this state and the contract of apprenticeship made in pursuance of such laws.

Sec 10. This article having been agreed upon by the union of the United Order of American Bricklayers and Stonemasons, and the Master Masons' and Builders' association shall not be repealed or amended by either organization except upon six months' previous notice given to the other organization, and such notice shall not be given until after all honest efforts to settle the grievance or difficulty shall have been made.

In addition to the provisions for changing the constitutions of the two organizations it was necessary for the Bricklayers' union to make a number of changes in its constitution in relation to the walking delegate, stewards, foremen, etc., but these could not be made at once, as there was a provision in the constitution of the union by which it could not be amended, except after two weeks' notice. This notice was given, and the amendments were made at the proper time. In the meantime the proposed changes were recognized and put into practice.

The Bricklayers' union and the Master Masons' association met and ratified the action of the joint arbitration [Pg 189]committee by unanimously indorsing the award and all accompanying recommendations. This ended the great strike and lockout.

In the settlement which was made the greatest accomplishment was the securing of a standing committee on arbitration to adjust all grievances before the employes are permitted to strike, or be locked out by the employers. This is a hard blow to the agitators, whose thrift largely depended upon their ability to create strife and contention between capital and labor. The establishment of a joint council of employers and workmen secures and protects free labor. Instead of the pernicious strike, it was agreed that arbitration should be recognized as the first move in the settlement of differences, and that it was the only true solution of all misunderstandings. As nations never take up arms against each other until they have exhausted the experiments of diplomacy, so the workmen, or their leaders, were made to understand that arbitration was the true course in the adjustment of differences between employer and employe. Associations of employers, as well as associations of employes, may well profit by the experience of the building trades in Chicago. It was a hot struggle, which, after all, was brought to an end by arbitration—an experiment which, however unsatisfactory to the hot-heads, might as easily have been resorted to at the beginning.

The employer, and not the Walking Delegate of the union, was given control over the employment of his own workmen. The declaration made at the first meeting of the Master Masons' association, that "the Walking Delegate must go," was put into force and effect by the award made. He has walked his last walk, and his finger has snapped its last snap in calling men off a job in Chicago. The tyrant's power was taken away. The foreman was made the servant of the contractor, who pays his wages, and is no longer the servant of the union, to which he pays taxes. The rights of the employer were recognized and harmony was secured.

[Pg 190]


The losses to thirty thousand employes and seven hundred contractors during the lockout aggregated more than $4,000,000. They are fairly shown by the following statement:

4,000   Carpenters, 16 days, @ $2.50 $160,000
2,000   Carpenters, 30 days, @ $2.50 150,000
4,000   Hodcarriers and Laborers, 60 days, @ $2.00   480,000
3,000   Bricklayers, 54 days, @ $3.60 583,200
1,000   Brick Makers, 54 days, @ $5.00 270,000
8,000   Brick Laborers, 54 days, @ $1.75 756,000
1,000   Brick Teamsters, 54 days, @ $4.00 216,000
1,000   Stonecutters, 30 days, @ $4.00 120,000
500   Cornice men, 30 days, @ $3.00 45,000
500   Gravel Roofers, 30 days, @ $2.50 37,500
700   Plasterers, 30 days, @ $4.00 84,000
250   Lathers, 30 days, @ $2.50 18,750
600   Painters, 30 days, @ $2.50 45,000
1,000   Mill men, 30 days, @ $2.50 75,000
  Iron men 10,000
  Slate Roofers 5,000
  Stair Builders 5,000
  Lumber Yard Employes 5,000
  Teamsters 5,000
  Boatmen 5,000
 Total $3,075,450

The actual loss of the seven hundred contractors would average not less than $25 per day for sixty days, which would[Pg 191] make their loss—exclusive of percentage on work delayed—$1,050,000. This sum, added to the loss of the idle man, makes a total loss in the building trades alone of $4,125,450. And this resulted from a demand for Saturday pay-day.

This calculation does not include the percentage of losses to the builders upon work which was in hand, and which could have been pushed to completion during the pendency of the strike. They would have amounted at least to $1,000,000. These figures should be a warning to projectors of strikes in the future, but when a strike is determined upon, the results, in a financial way, are never considered. Nothing is looked to but the present imaginary wrong, which reckless leaders insist must be righted without reference to the effect upon their own pockets or those of the employer upon whom their demands are made. It is about time for the strike and boycott days to end, in order that prosperity may be assured to both the employer and the employe—at least in the building trades of this country.

[Pg 192]


From the beginning to the close of the strike there were many difficulties to contend with, one of the most prominent of which was the timidity of some contractors, who were constantly exhibiting their weakness, and on the slightest pretext would have given up the battle and sacrificed principle for the sake of making a few dollars. These men were a constant care to the more earnest workers, who were compelled to put forth efforts at all times to strengthen the weak brethren and keep them in line. They believed in the correctness of the principles involved, but were ever ready to say they could not be enforced against the striking element, the strength of which at all times was made to appear in the unanimity with which the workmen seemed to stand together. If the strikers were weak they were so well drilled that they would not admit it, or show it to the contractors, while the few weak members of the Master Masons' association and material dealers who were disposed to give up, were constantly parading their cowardice to not only their associates, but to the strikers and to the public. But they were few in number.

Another source of annoyance was the exhibition of selfishness by a few owners of buildings which had been projected. They would not consider the principle involved; but, looking at the dollar in sight, took their contracts from members of the Association and gave them into the hands of[Pg 193] the strikers, thus furnishing aid and comfort to the enemy of liberty, and creating a feeling of discouragement in the ranks of the builders.

All honor to the brave men who stood firm in the fight from the beginning to the end; who sacrificed everything but principle to sustain the proposition of individual liberty; who were early and late in the front to do battle alike for the strong and weak; who shirked no duty, no responsibility, but floated the banner of freedom on all occasions. Their names are enrolled on the books of the haters of free labor for a boycott in the future, but they are also enrolled in the deepest recesses of the memory of every good and true citizen, and their manly efforts for the establishment of the principle of individual liberty will never be forgotten.

[Pg 194]


When the Master Masons adopted the nine-hour day the Carpenters' and Builders' Association promptly backed them up by receding from the eight-hour rule and making their hours of work correspond with those of the Master Masons. The award of the arbitrators having restored to the masons the eight-hour day, the carpenters considered themselves absolved from any obligations to back up the masons, and said they would fix the hours to suit themselves.

The satisfactory settlement of the strike of the bricklayers caused the working carpenters to move in the direction of arbitration. An uneasy feeling prevailed for some time among the employers and the workmen. On several occasions agitators tried to induce the men to order a strike for eight hours and 35 cents an hour as the minimum rate of wages, and the conservative element had great difficulty in preventing it. They succeeded in securing the appointment of an arbitration committee by the workmen, which was composed of Messrs. W. White, H. T. Castle, R. L. Hassell, Roscoe Palmer and A. S. F. Ballantine. This committee made several attempts to secure recognition at the hands of the Carpenters' and Builders' Association, but without success. The association met Saturday evening, July 23rd, and laid on the table three communications from the carpenters, all of which were in the direction of arbitration. The association then passed a resolution authorizing its members to work as they pleased during the remainder of the year, without reference to any rule in regard to the number of hours which should constitute a day's work, and almost universally work proceeded on the eight-hour basis.

[Pg 195]



J. Milton Blair, President, Cincinnati, O.
John S. Stevens, First Vice President, Philadelphia, Pa.
E. E. Scribner, Second Vice President, St. Paul, Minn.
Wm. H. Sayward, Secretary, Boston, Mass.
John J. Tucker, Treasurer, New York, N. Y.


David M. Alexander, Albany, N. Y.
Wm. Ferguson, Baltimore, Md.
Leander Greely, Boston, Mass.
Charles Berrick, Buffalo, N. Y.
Henry Oliver, Charleston, S. C.
George C. Prussing, Chicago, Ills.
James Allison, Cincinnati, O.
Thomas Simmons, Cleveland, O.
Thomas Kanauss, Columbus, O.
W. G. Vinton, Detroit, Mich.
W. C. Weatherly, Grand Rapids, Mich.
W. P. Jungclaus, Indianapolis, Ind.
Thomas Mason, Milwaukee, Wis.
H. N. Leighton, Minneapolis, Minn.
J. N. Phillips, Nashville, Tenn.
F. H. West, New Orleans, La.
Mark Eidlitz, New York, N. Y.
Wm. Harkness, Jr., Philadelphia, Pa.
Samuel Francis, Pittsburgh, Pa.
George R. Phillips, Providence, R. I.
Charles W. Voshall, Rochester, N. Y.
E. F. Osborne, St. Paul, Minn.
F. F. Beck, Sioux City, Iowa.
C. A. Meeker, Troy, N. Y.
E. B. Crane, Worcester, Mass.

[Pg 196]


John Byrns, President, New York, N. Y.
John Trainor, First Vice President, Baltimore, Md.
H. G. Gabay, Recording Secretary, New York, N. Y.
Walter T. Hudson, Corresponding Secretary, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Enoch Remick, Financial Secretary, Philadelphia, Pa.
M. J. Lyons, Treasurer, Brooklyn, N. Y.
D. J. Collins, Sergeant at Arms, St. Louis, Mo.


George D. Scott, New York, N. Y.
E. J. Hannon, Washington, D. C.
J. J. Sheehan, St. Louis, Mo.
Wm. Harkness, Jr., Philadelphia, Pa.
Rupert Coleman, Chicago, Ills.


Alex. W. Murray, Chicago, Ills.
D. G. Finerty, Boston, Mass.
D. O. McEwan, Omaha, Neb.
Joseph C. Mitchell, Baltimore, Md.
Richard Murphy, Cincinnati, O.
T. J. White, Denver, Col.
John Cameron, Detroit, Mich.
John Madden, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Michael J. Moran, Jersey City, N. J.
Henry Goss, Kansas City, Mo.
John E. Ford, Newton, Kas.
Simon Shulbafer, Louisville, Ky.
Wm. E. Goodwin, Milwaukee, Wis.
John Shea, St. Paul, Minn.
Robert Morgan, New Haven, Conn.
W. E. Foster, Norfolk, Va.
James E. Weldon, Pittsburgh, Pa.
J. L. Park, Nashville, Tenn.
Wm. Whipple, Providence, R. I.
R. G. Campbell, Washington, D. C.
J. L. Furman, San Francisco, Cal.
Wm. Young, New York, N. Y.

[Pg 197]


Titus Berger, President, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Jesse Cornelius, Vice-President, St. Louis, Mo.
J. G. McCarthy, Secretary, Chicago, Ills.
Maurice Joy, Treasurer, Philadelphia, Pa.


Titus Berger, Chairman, Pittsburgh, Pa.
J. B. Sullivan, Chicago, Ills.
George B. Elmore, Brooklyn, N. Y.
John Patterson, Philadelphia, Pa.
J. B. Atkinson, Louisville, Ky.
M. H. Godfrey, Detroit, Mich.
George Howlett, Cleveland, Ohio.
Charles H. Sefton, Boston, Mass.
E. M. Gallagher, San Francisco, Cal.
B. T. Collingbourne, Milwaukee, Wis.
J. F. Van Brandt, Dubuque, Iowa.
R. L. Hutchins, Wilmington, N. C.
James S. Dowling, St. Louis, Mo.
B. C. Bushell, Martinsburg, W. Va.
James Marks, Bayonne, N. J.
F. P. Martin, Atchinson, Kas.
P. Coughlin, Bridgeport, Conn.
Thomas A. Brown, Washington, D. C.
A. T. Davis, Memphis, Tenn.
E. W. Pyle, Wilmington, Del.


J. Wilkes Ford, President, Chicago, Ill.
Samuel D. Warren, First Vice President, St. Louis, Mo.
H. M. Reynolds, Second Vice President, Grand Rapids, Mich.
William K. Thomas, Secretary, Chicago, Ills.
H. R. Shaffer, Treasurer, Chicago, Ills.

[Pg 198]


M. W. Powell, Chicago, Ills.
John M. Sellers, St. Louis, Mo.
E. S. Bortel, Philadelphia, Pa.
J. L. Jones, Chicago, Ills.
G. W. Getchell, Chicago, Ills.


John W. Root, President, Chicago, Ills.
J. F. Alexander, Secretary, LaFayette, Ind.
Samuel A. Treat, Treasurer, Chicago, Ills.
W. L. B. Jenney, Secretary Foreign Correspondence, Chicago, Ills.


D. W. Millard, St. Paul, Minn.
H. S. Josseyline, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
D. Adler, Chicago, Ills.
J. J. McGrath, St. Louis, Mo.
J. G. Haskel, Topeka, Kan.
J. F. Alexander, LaFayette, Ind.
George W. Rapp, Cincinnati, O.
J. J. Kane, Fort Worth, Texas.


Dankmar Adler, Chairman, Chicago, Ills.
G. W. Rapp, Cincinnati, O.
Charles Crapsey, Cincinnati, O.
C. A. Curtin, Louisville, Ky.
G. M. Goodwin, St. Paul, Minn.


D. Adler, President.
S. A. Treat,    } Vice-Presidents.
M. S. Patton, }
S. M. Randolph, Treasurer.
C. L. Stiles, Secretary.


L. D. Cleveland,
C. M. Palmer,
John W. Root,
Wm. Halabird.

[Pg 199]



George Tapper, President.
Mat. Benner, First Vice-President.
Alex. W. Murray, Second Vice-President.
F. C. Schoenthaler, Secretary.
Joseph Downey, Treasurer.


Oliver Sollitt,
D. V. Purington,
Murdock Campbell,
E. A. Thomas,
F. W. H. Sundmacher,
Ph. Henne,
James John,
S. S. Kimbell,
Wm. Kinsella,
George H. Fox.


George Tapper, President
H. G. Savage, Vice-President.
F. C. Schoenthaler, Secretary.


Credentials—J. B. Sullivan, T. C. Diener, A. J. Weckler.
Safety—H. L. Turner, C. B. Kimbell, Robert Vierling.
Strikes and Grievances—P. B. Wight, H. G. Savage, M. W. Powell.
Arbitration—Edward Kirk, Jr., William Hearson, John Sutton.

[Pg 200]


Joseph Downey, President.
Thomas E. Courtney, Treasurer.
Hermann Mueller, Secretary.


William Grace, President.
William Hearson, Vice-President.
F. C. Schoenthaler, Secretary.
Peter Kauff, Treasurer.


C. G. Dixon,
William Mavor,
J. W. Woodard,
W. E. Frost,
John Ramcke,
J. W. Cassell.


B. J. Moore, President.
H. A. Sanger, Vice-President.
D. E. Corneau, Secretary.
E. F. Singer, Treasurer.
J. A. Pettigrew, Manager.


D. E. Corneau,
J. G. Bodenschatz,
B. J. Moore,
H. A. Sanger,
E. T. Singer,
H. L. Holland,
G. H. Monroe.

[Pg 201]


Gen. John McArthur, President.
John Rawle, Vice-President.
E. E. Worthington, Secretary.
C. B. McGenness, Treasurer.


E. T. Singer,
John Worthy,
M. B. Madden,
P. G. Hale,
W. Johnson.


F. V. Gindele, President.
T. C. Diener, Secretary and Treasurer.


John Tomlinson,
John Tait,
Henry Fürst.


R. T. Crane, President.
J. McGregor Adams, First Vice-President.
John T. Raffen, Second Vice President.
W. J. Chalmers, Third Vice President.
Robert Vierling, Secretary and Treasurer.


R. T. Crane,
W. J. Chalmers,
M. C. Bullock,
George Mason,
J. McGregor Adams,
Frank I. Pearce,
Louis Wolff,
John T. Raffen,
A. Plamondon.

[Pg 202]


H. Griffith, President.
J. J. Wade, First Vice President.
Wm. Sims, Second Vice President.
M. H. Reilly, Third Vice President.
Frank E. Rush, Fourth Vice President.
Wm. Wilson, Fifth Vice President.
J. R. Alcock, Recording Secretary.
Charles S. Wallace, Corresponding Secretary.
William Sims, Finance Secretary.
J. J. Hamblin, Treasurer.
P. L. O'Hara, Sergeant-at-Arms.


President, J. G. McCarthy.
Vice-President, H. J. Milligan.
Secretary, B. S. Mills.
Treasurer, N. S. Lepperr.


Henry G. Emmel,
Wm. H. Emerson,
James C. Burns.


H. R. Shaffer, President.
D. W. C. Gooding, Vice-President.
John L. Jones, Secretary.
S. E. Barrett, Treasurer.


M. W. Powell,
G. W. Getchell,
W. K. Thomas.

[Pg 203]


M. W. Powell, President.
A. L. Barsley, Vice-President.
J. J. Wheeler, Secretary.
S. E. Barrett, Treasurer.


C. W. Randolph,
J. W. Ford,
D. W. C. Gooding,
A. Burke,
L. Daley.


A. J. Weckler, President.
August Wehrheim, Vice-President.
F. W. Sundmacher, Secretary.
George Lill, Treasurer.


Thomas Moulding,
Fred. Zapell,
A. J. Weckler,
August Wehrheim,
John Labahn.


P. Lichtenstadt, President.
John McKenna, Secretary.
L. H. Harland, Treasurer.


William Piggott, President.
A. Zander, Vice President.
James John, Treasurer.
Andrew Corcoran, Secretary.

[Pg 204]


Edward Kirk, Jr., President.
James A. Miller, Secretary and Treasurer.


William D. Kerfoot, President.
M. R. Barnard, Vice President.
George P. Bay, Treasurer.
Edward F. Getchell, Secretary.
W. J. Gallup, Assistant Secretary.