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https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 141 W. 818t St., Nez Y-rk, N. Y. Aprtl 17, 1918. To the Labor Adjuotment Board, Labor De—rtment, rashington, D. C. Dear Sirs:The worY.ing agreenent between the Wharton Miners' Ubion and Oxford Milers Union, International Union of Mine, and Smelter WorkeA3, and the Empire Stee] nd Iron Co., and the Thomas Iron Company, operating at Oxford and near Wharton, N. J. expired April 1st inst. Prior to that date conferences were held betweeR officials thn companies and represeltatives of the local and Internatinal unions for the purpose of deeding 'uori terms of a new agreement for the ensuing year. The miners had several modifications 7hich they wanted to make to the old agreTent, but as a representative of the International union, I went over the natter with them, and suggested, that in view of the war situation and the necessity for Taximum -rodtction they ask for no new concessions at present r.qd b- satisfied with a renewal of the old agreement. This they agreed tu do and entered the conference with that purpose. The operators, however, asked for several modifl.cations, along them, a reduction of wages for some of the skilled and unsktlled workers, an increase of the woring hours for some, and the introduction of tIlr cutri,ct, c;r "Piece wort system. These the.representatives 6f th- unions, after Putting the matter before their locals, decided not to accept, taking the nIsition that as they ''ere ready to continue the old agreat that there migJ'it be no strike danger, the operatoroshould do the sane, which, however, the oTerators refused to do, and the conferences ended in a disagree. Tne Tatter was then tahen up in Washington with Mr. Kirwan of the Labor Derartment, Mr. l'ord of the Mining Department of the American Federation of Labor, Joseph D. Cannon of the International Union of Mine Vill and Smelter Workers, and r. Leonard Peckett, President of the pire Steel and Iron Co. present. The outsome was renewal of the old agreement at the Properties of the Empire Steel and ITOU Co. involved. But Mr. Barrows, who withdrew from the conference, held at Dover, N. J. previously, when the unions refused the modifications he demL,nded In the agreement, was not Present, and later refused to consider the renewal of the sgr7entont. The Labor Department was again appealed to by the unions, and Conciliator, John J. Casey was sent In an attempt to adjust the differences, for which purpose, a conference was held at the office of the TIL)mas Iron Co., near Wharton, N. J. today. The union re7resentatives maintained their nreviously stated eosition, in support of which they quoted a ruling made eY Secretary of .Labor Wilson neo.rly a year zgo the crux of which Was that during the war, unions should not insist In enforcing union shop conditions Where they had not obtained before the country's entrance into the war, and that employers should not change from union shoP https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 111 2 War Labor adjustment Bonrd. conditiceis to non-union shop conditions during th- war, a ruling, Siwhwsesoawe to which the International Union of Yine, Mill and Smelt4'r Wor-'ers responded last year by withdrawing demands that had been made for unt_n shoP conditions. Now their representatives take the position that as they had withdrawn such demand In response to the patriotic aepeal of Secretary Wilson, emp Dyers should not insist on refusing to renew such agreements where they now exist. In further sue'ort of this position they presented the following from the report of the WAR LABOR CONFERTNCE BOARD: "In establehmente wheee the union shell) exists the same shallcontnue and the union standards as to wages and hours of labor and other conaltions of employment shall be maintained." 7r. Barrows forlthe Thomas Iron Company refused to renew the agreement, saying he would maintain the present conditions. This, however, is a contradiction, as theeresent conditians"imply the signed working agreeeent. Further evidence that he "present conditiels'i are not being maintained is seen in the fact, that the wages of the expiring agreement are based on a sliding scale, up and down, according to thP price rec(Aved by the operatrs for their iron. This has worked satisfactory, and as iron went to a high level, the miners got high wages; but now, that this sliding scale has brought the wage of the miners high, Yr. Barrows wants it. modified, and for the current month he has posted a notice to the effect thst eaees will be the same as eate in -arch, which Is from ten to eeventAen cents P day slower than that for which the sliding scale for this month calls, and that much lower than is being paid by the Empire Steel and Iron Co., the comnpnv wor-ing the adjoining eines, giving rise to s deep feeling of dit§atisfaction among the men working-'for the Thomas Iron . ComPany and Providing the undesired provocation for strikes, the to want we thing avoid. Mr. Barrows says he will continue the union conditions until the develoPment work now being done is completed, when he will meet with the r- 'nto frame a new agreement,Providing the concessions he asks ar embodied therein. He says now that the reason he does not want to renew the agreement, is tnat the company Is not producing ore, but developing, but last month he was satisfied to renew the agreement, if we consented to reduced pay and lengthened hours 'nd accepted other disadvantages. This is not in accordance with the ruling of Secretary Wilson last year, nor in agreement with the provisions of the report of your honorable body, and as Per instructions of the local union Involved, I herewith submit the matter to the WAR LABOR CONFERENCE BOARD, and the union has promised not to strike unless actually forced to so do by the company, Pending your decision in the case. Hoping for an early and satisfactory adjustment, I am Sincerely, / 4 ! P. S. This action of tte Thomas Iron Co., is a violation, also, of the proclammtion, thin metal prices and wages, Presedsntial https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis f their determining c-- ,a-ipleted. than any of the propos _ No existing rate hlfsher rates, vialither day iork or piece work, :Thall be diminish( ad. The retro acti v hitchers, wireinen and 9 pay for cra.te men, crane rep air men, wipers shall be figured fro m aiay 1, 1918. RetrOaCtiVf I pay for .13 oth er exployed at the Pittsfield :;orks sh all be figured from 1918. ELECTION OF Caudgail TEES The elec tion by the Norker d of their representati ve (Alt17-committee s to preeent grievances -ialtor ani medi,Ite Nith the Co apany shall be held in so ae convenient pubiic building in the nei liborhood of the shop, to be selected by the examiner of this Board. assitwied to -mpervise the execution of this case of his absence, by som award, or e Lii—rtial person, resident in 2ititefield, to be selected by such examiner. Such exaniner, or his substitute, shall preside ve the po-er to maKe aver elections tel-1 the proper regulations9 secol urt i:te rness ;a election, the eta miner shall provide, wherever practi .ble or minority refresen tt ion by limiting the right of ,:ach voter to vote for les s than the total number of he cmrnjttee to be selected.. ,L CfRC The individual c)ntra cts shall be abolis hed -Ind shall ot be orZered to e -l arloyes unless thf_.y :n nycific1ly _tak it be grrtnted them. https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis