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U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

JAMES J. DAVIS, Secretary
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
* ETHELBERT STEWART, Commissioner




WASHINGTON
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
1923




CONTENTS,

Page.
Chapter I.—History of International Seamen’s Union of America, 1892
to 1914___________________________________________________________ 3-15
Early history, 1892 to 1899---------------------------------------------------------- 3-7
Origin of existing marine unions------------------------------------------3
Formation of National Seamen’s Union of America___________ 3, 4
Difficulties confronting organization__________________________ 4, 5
Efforts to organize Atlantic district__________________________
5
Aims and accomplishments_________________________________
6
Early national legislative efforts_____________________________
6
Jurisdictional problem recognized____________________________ 6, 7
Revision of constitution_____________________________________
7
Success in early years of the new century, 1900 to 1907____________ 7-11
Membership progress________________________________________ 7, 8
Strike funds and uniform dues advocated_____________________
8
Success in organizing Atlantic firemen________________________ 8, 9
Progressive resolutions passed_______________________________
9
New affiliations and extended activities_________________ ,-------- 9,10
Uniform practices again recommended_______________________ 10
Lower initiation fees urged_________________________________ 10,11
Progress in affiliations and membership_______________________ 11
Retardation and stagnation, 1907 to 1913___________________________ 12-15
Panic of 1907 and its lessons________________________________ 12
Pacific and Atlantic coasts dull_______________________________ 12,13
Strike on Great Lakes______________________________________ 13
Steps toward uniform practices---------------------------------------------- 13,14
Reverses on Great Lakes and on Atlantic coast------------------------ 14,15
Summary_______________________________________________________ 15
Chapter II.—History of International Seamen’s Union of America, 1914
to 1922___________________________________________________________ 16-28
Internal reverses followed by legislative victory, 1914 to 1916---------- 16-19
Reorganization on the Atlantic--------------------------------------------- 16
Hostility on the Lakes_______________________________________16,17
Legislative progress and victory-------------------------------------------- 17
The seamen’s act____________________________________________ 17
Setbacks in membership and finances-------------------------------------- 17
Progress toward uniform practices____________________________18,19
Unusual activity and progress, 1916 to 1920________________________ 19-23
Large increase in membership----------------------------------------------- 19
The Atlantic war agreement-------------------------------------------------- 19
Marked increase in membership and wages____________________ 19,20
War-time activities_________________________________________ 20
Situation on the Great Lakes________________________________ 20, 21
Legislative activities________________________________________ 21
Progress toward uniformity_____________________________________ 21,22
Membership growth continued_______________________________ 22
Need of guarding gains emphasized__________________________ 22, 23
Postwar conditions, 1921, 1922____________________________________23-27
Largest membership------------------------------------------------------------- 23
The need of new policies____________________________________ 23
Importance of skill recognized__________________________________ 23,24
Industrial unionism proposed___________________________________ 24,25
Better cooperation among affiliated unions urged_________________ 25,26
The fight against radicalism____________________________________ 26,27
The year 1921______________________________________________ 27
Summary--------------------------------------------------------------------28




hi

IV

CONTENTS,
Page.

Chapter III.—The seamen and the law________________________________ 29-54
Early legislative changes------------------------------------------------------------- 29-33
Early navigation laws_______________________________________ 29
Effect of laws on organization________________________________ 29, 30
Attempts to change laws_____________________________________ 30
Essential features of the Maguire Act________________________ 30, 31
The Arago case------------------------------------------------------------------- 31, 32
The decision condemned_____________________________________ 32
Legislative efforts renewed__________________________________ 32
The White Act______________________________________________ 32,33
Organization urged__________________________________________ 33
Intermediate years, 1900 to 1915___________________________________ 33-39
A public appeal------------------------------------------------------------------- 34
Action begun________________________________________________ 34
A political issue------------------------------------------------------------------- 34,35
A fresh start-----------------------------------------------------------------------35, 36
The seamen’s campaign--------------------------------------------------------- 36, 37
Approval of the seamen’s bill_____________________________
37
Leading provisions of the act________________________________ 37-39
Penalties removed---------------------------------------------------------- 37, 38
Money in port___________________________________________ 38
Improved working conditions_____________________________ 38
Safety provisions_______________________________________ 38,39
Expressions of the seamen___________________________________ 39
Enforcement of the seamen’s act__________________________________ 39-44
The language test-----------------------------------------------------------------39-41
Hours of labor at sea_______________________________________ 41, 42
Forecastle accommodations__________________________________ 42
Wage payment provisions_____________________________________ 42-44
Certain criticisms and replies------------------------------------------------------- 44-47
Shipowners’ leading objections_______________________________ 44, 45
Sections 4 and 7------------------------------------------------------------------ 45
Navigation laws reviewed------------------------------------------------------ 45,46
Replies of the seamen------------------------------------------------------------46, 47
Other alleged discriminatory factors--------------------------------------------- 47
The seamen’s denial---------------------------------------------------------------------47-51
The act and wages---------------------------------------------------------------- 47-51
Subsistence costs------------------------------------------------------------------ 51
Summary---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 51-54
Conclusions------------------------------------------------------------------------- 54
Chqpter IV.—The war and after---------------------------------------------------------- 55-69
The Atlantic coast---------------------------------------------------------------------- 55-61
Early war conferences----------------------------------------------------------- 55
The Atlantic war agreement------------------------------------------------- 55, 56
Calls to sea-----------------------------------------*-------------------------------56, 57
The marine conference---------------------------------------------------------- 57
New wage scales------------------------------------------------------------------ 57
Further increases granted---------------------------------------------------- 57. 58
Existing wage scales renewed------------------------------------------------58, 59
Employers ask for revision of wages------------------------------------- 59, 60
Promulgation of new wage scale------------------------------------------- 60, 61
Further reductions announced______________________ '-------------- 61
The Great Lakes------------------------------------------------------------------------- 61-66
Background of situation on Great Lakes-------------------------------- 62
Lake strike threatened-------- ------------------------------------------------- 62, 63
Continuous discharge book abolished-------------------------------------- 63
Labor issues become more serious------------------------------------------ 63, 64
Employment system again considered-------------------------------------- 64
Training station established______________________
64
Adverse postwar conditions-------------------------------------------------- 64, 65
Agreements signed__________________________________________ 65
Aid again extended to cooks-------------------------------------------------- 65
New wage rates_____________________________________________65, 66
Another strike--------------------------------------------------------------------- 66
The Pacific coast_________ ______________ .-----------------------------------67-69
Early war agreements----------------------------------------------------------- 67



CONTENTS.

V

Chapter IV.—The war and after—Concluded.
The Pacific coast—Concluded.
PageWage increases in 1918 and 1919_____________________________ 67, 68
Reductions in 1921--------------------------------------------------------------- 68
Further setbacks------------------------------------------------------------------68, 69
Summary---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 69
Chapter V.—International relations_________________________________ 70-83
Early activities-------------------------------------------------------------------------- 70-71
Early aspirations for international cooperation________________ 70
International federation turned down_________________________ 70, 71
Affiliation with International Transport Workers’ Federation___ 71
The international strike_____________________________________ 71, 72
World-wide transfer system favored__________________________ 72, 73
International cooperation retarded___________________________ 73, 74
Atlantic and British cooks arrange transfer system____________ 74 «
The war and internationalism___________________________________ 74-82
President of international union visits Europe_________________ 74, 75
Conference of International Seafarers’ Federation_____________ 75, 76
Objections to League of Nations and to its conference on inter­
national labor legislation__________________________________ 76, 77
Opposition of British seamen to extension of seamen’s act______ 77
Fear of “ crystallization ” ___________________________________ 77
European relations summarized______________________________ 78
First committee on international relations____________________ 78, 79
Special conference of InternationalSeafarers’ Federation_______ 79
International Labor Conference of League of Nations__________ 80, 81
Biennial meeting of the International Seafarers’ Federation____ 81, 82
Agreement on transfers______________________________________ 82
Summary_______________________________________________________ 82, 83
Recent steps toward international cooperation________________ 82, 83
Conclusions_________________________________________________ 83
Chapter VI.—Jurisdictional disputes--------------------------------------------------84-97
The seamen and the longshoremen_______________________________ 84-91
Pacific coast relations-----------------------------------------------------------84, 85
The problem recognized_____________________________________ 85, 86
Early attempts at settlement and action of longshoremen_______ 86
Direct dealing with lake firemen--------------------------------------------86, 87
Attempted adjudication------------------------------------------------------- 87
Decision of Mr. Gompers____________________________________ 87, 88
Longshoremen dissatisfied___________________________________ 88
Agreement between seamen and longshoremen________________ 88
Further trouble but new accord--------------------------------------------88, 89
Misunderstandings adjusted__________________________________ 89, 90
Longshoremen again aggressive--------------------------------------------- 90, 91
Present relations____________________________________________ 91
The Pacific coast________________________________________ 91
The Great Lakes________________________________________ 91
The Atlantic district------------------------------------------------------ 91
The seamen and the cooks_______________________________________91-93
Disputes with other shore organizations__________________________ 93
Internal jurisdictional problems__________________________________93, 94
The international union and licensed officers_____________________ 94-96
Summary_______________________________________________________96, 97
Marine transport department proposed_______________________ 96
Attitude of seamen__________________________________________ 97
Conclusions_________________________________________________ 97
Chapter VII.—The fight against radicalism___________________________ 98-107
The I. W. W. on the Atlantic____________________________________ 98-100
Pre-war activities___________________________________________ 98
Spur to radical activity------------------------------------------------------- 98
Minority dissatisfaction_____________________________________ 99
Open break begun___________________________________________ 99
Legal status of Eastern & Gulf Sailors’ Association------------------ 99,100
Summary___________________________________________________ 100
The I. W. W. on the Pacific_____________________________________ 100-104
Marine Transport Workers’ Federation active-----------------------100,101




VI

CONTENTS,

Chapter VII.—The fight against radicalism—Concluded.
The I. W. W. on the Pacific—Concluded.
PageEditor warned to change his policies_________________________ 101
Expulsion of radicals---------------------------------------------------------101,102
Revolutionary aim of transport workers--------------------------------- 102
Perplexing attitude of shipowners__________________________ 102,103
Summary-------------------------------------------------------------------------103,104
Action of international union against I. W. W____________________ 104-106
The Seamen’s Journal---------------------------------------------------------- 104
Constitutional changes_____ ________________________________ 10^-106
Provisions as to individual eligibility_____________________ 105
Extended powers of international union___________________ 105
Cooperation between district unions____________________ 105,106
Significance of these changes-------------------------------------------- 106
Summary---------------------------------------------------------------------- -------- 106,107
Conclusions---------------------------------------------------------------- -----106,107
A p p e n d ix I.— Constitution of International Seamen’s Union of America- 108-il5
II.—Membership of unions affiliated with the International
Seamen’s Union of America, 1899 to 1921_________ ._____ 116
III. —Letter to President Harding—marine strike of 1921____ 117
IV. —Predominant wages paid able seamen and firemen, 1895 to
1922_________________________________________________ 118
V.—Appeal to the world__________________________________ 119,120




BULLETIN OF THE

U. S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
NO. 342

WASHINGTON

JUNE, 1923

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF AMERICA: A STUDY OF ITS
HISTORY AND PROBLEMS.

INTRODUCTION.
In making this study the writer has examined every issue of the
Coast Seamen’s Journal and of its successor, the Seamen’s Journal,
since 1895, and has carefully read the printed proceedings of every
convention of the International Seamen’s Union of America from
1899 to date, in order to secure accurate and definite information on
the history of this union.
Attention is centered on the aspirations and activities of the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union of America as such, no attempt being
made to take up the history of the various district unions. It is of
interest to note that this union is an affiliation of unions which are
independent of one another in most of their activities, yet controlled
to a limited extent by the international union. For the purpose of
administration the country is divided into the Atlantic and Gulf,
the Great Lakes, and the Pacific districts. In each district there
are unions of sailors, firemen, cooks, and fishermen (sometimes
harbor workers), separately chartered by the International Sea­
men’s Union of America. Each union has a headquarters and
is permitted to have branches in its particular district. Thus, there
are the Marine Firemen, Water Tenders, and Oilers’ Union of the
Atlantic, the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, etc. In a general way
these district unions bear the same relations to the international
union as unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor
bear to that organization. It has always been the intention of the
officials of the International Seamen’s Union to have the relations
existing between the various unions function on a voluntary basis.
That is, the international union has never dictated a policy but has
always outlined and urged acceptable plans. The adherence to this
practice explains the long time that was required to effect the ac­
ceptance of a uniform transfer system. While this procedure in
this instance involved slow progress, it nevertheless permitted the
various unions to function as autonomous units and has perhaps
prevented the acceptance of other programs that might have involved
disintegrating forces. On the other hand, a too individualistic
policy would have been fatal to the feeling of brotherhood that is




1

2

INTERNATIONAL, SEAMEN ?S UNION OF AMERICA.

essential to the life of a national body. Through discussion and
adoption of resolutions at annual conventions and by means of edu­
cational activities such as thole carried on in the Seamen’s Journal,
there has been a tendency to offset the drawbacks that might come
out of uncorrelated, laissez-faire individualism.
The history of the international union has been briefly sketched
in the first two chapters of this work and the special activities in
succeeding chapters. The outstanding activities of the union have
been those connected with changing the laws of contract relating
to seamen. Probably in no other American union has so much time,
money, and energy been spent in securing desired legislation. The
struggle began in 1892 and culminated in 1915 with the passage of
the seamen’s act. In order to make intelligible this apparently
peculiar emphasis of the international union and in order to correct
the misinformation that has always surrounded the seamen’s act,
two chapters have been devoted to these purposes.
The activities of this union in connection with international rela­
tions form Chapter V of this bulletin. These relations for the most
part grew out of certain conditions peculiar to the work of seamen.
Jurisdictional disputes, the attempts to maintain war-time gains,
and the struggle against the I. W. W. form separate chapters.
No attempt has been made to record the minute details of the
history of the International Seamen’s Union of America, but the
intention has been to record the outstanding facts of the past in the
light of the present. Wherever possible the author sought to search
out the underlying purposes of the various activities. While this
work of necessity has been largely descriptive, some attempt has
been made to interpret events in the summaries and conclusions of
certain chapters.




CHAPTER I.—HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S
UNION OF AMERICA, 1892 TO 1914.
EARLY HISTORY, 1892 TO 1899.

As early as the fifties of the last century attempts were made to
organize seamen’s unions, yet none of the resulting organizations
remained in existence long enough to have any influence on the
unions which now are part of the International Seamen’s Union of
America. That the sailors had an organization in the middle of the
last century is shown by mention of their presence at an industrial
congress in New York City in the New York Daily Tribune of June
7, 1850. In addition, scattered reference to sailors’ and firemen’s
unions may be found in shipping pamphlets issued in the sixties and
seventies of the last century. Nothing further, however, is recorded
of these unions, which were perhaps local organizations with small
memberships.
ORIGIN OF EXISTING MARINE UNIONS.

The Lake Seamen’s Union, organized in 1878, was the first Great
Lakes union to join the International union. The year 1883 was
marked by the inception of marine trade-unionism on the Pacific
coast with the formation of the forerunner of the present Marine
Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Union of the Pacific. In 1888
the first permanent organization of seamen of the Atlantic coast was
begun. Up to 1891 the work of these unions was effective to a lim­
ited extent with regard to wages and local conditions. In that year,
at the Birmingham convention of the American Federation of Labor,
Mr. Andrew Furuseth, representing the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific,
outlined his plans for an organization of seamen, which called for
the granting of autonomy to affiliated unions, and the “ exchanging
and extending of mutual privileges, benefits, and protection to bona
fide members by general agreement throughout the world.”
FORMATION OF NATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF AMERICA.

The records of the headquarters of the Sailors’ Union of the
Pacific show that on January 18, 1892, that organization voted to
refer the question of a national union to its branches. On approval
of the affiliated membership a convention was called to form a
national organization of seamen, and in due course the National
Seamen’s Union of America was formally organized in Chicago on
April 22, 1892, by seven seamen, representing three districts—the
Pacific coast, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf coast of the Atlantic.
The Atlantic Coast Seamen’s Union, which had been in existence for
less than a year, was unable on account of deficiency in funds to send
delegates, but sent its fraternal greetings. The difficulty of organ­
izing a national union with centralized authority was recognized at




3

4

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN^ UNION OF AMERICA.

this time in that the unions in the different sections of the country
were not only not organized along the same lines, but each union
desired to maintain its local powers. Nevertheless, there was enough
unanimity of purpose on the part of the delegates to adopt a con­
stitution, which defined the scope of the new organization as embrac­
ing “ all unions whose members make a living by following the sea
or on the lakes in any capacity in steam or sailing vessels.” At the
same time the principle was laid down that “ membership in one dis­
trict shall be recognized in another without charge of initiation fee.”
Provisions were made whereby any member on leaving his district
could procure a traveling card from his secretary, which would admit
him to membership in any of the other affiliated unions upon pay­
ment of the regular monthly dues.
DIFFICULTIES CONFRONTING ORGANIZATION.

Soon after its inception the national officers realized that they had
to meet not only the usual organization and financial problems that
fall to the lot of officials of a new union but that they would have to
meet problems peculiar to the seamen’s calling. The first difficulty
that confronted them was the existence of the “ crimping ” system,
the origin, development, and evils of which were discussed by the
present writer in the Seamen’s Journal of July 9, 1919 (p. 1). The
leading characteristics of this system were described as follows:

It has long been the custom for crews of ocean and coastwise vessels to be
discharged after the completion of a round trip. In the past it was the general
practice to rehire only those men actually needed to care for the vessel while
it was in port. The rest of the crew was not rehired but had to be replaced a
few days before the vessel was ready to leave port. As the men who left the
vessel had no home, they secured board and lodging at seamen’s boarding
houses.
The steamship companies soon found that crews could be secured by turning
to the boarding-house keepers. These men soon became known as “ crimps,”
for they not only charged the steamship companies for the men supplied but
they also exploited the seamen. While the seamen had ready money the crimp
was in no hurry to ship the men. However, when the men had spent all their
wages and were indebted to the crimp for board and often for clothes a job
was secured for them.
The seaman paid the money due to the crimp by signing an allotment note
known as an advance, which was collected by the crimp at the company’s office
a few hours after the ship had left port. As a result of this iniquitous system
many a man toiled the greater part of the voyage not for himself but for the
crimp.

When the officials began to cope with the evils of this vicious sys­
tem they found that at no one time in a period of usual industrial
activity could they have the entire membership behind them, as
about 60 per cent of their men were at sea under contract and about
15 to 20 per cent were on board vessels in harbors under contract,
violations of which were punishable by imprisonment or capture and
compulsory labor until the contract was finished. Consequently,
only 20 to 25 per cent of the members were left on shore unemployed,
yet they were the only ones who could fight for better conditions.
Under these circumstances the ordinary* trade-union method of strike
could not be generally resorted to and the officers of the union were,
therefore, forced to study the maritime law as it applied to seamen
and to attempt to change it so that the seamen might leave their ves­




CHAPTER I.— HISTORY, 1892 TO 1914.

5

sels when in a safe harbor without fear of imprisonment or compul­
sory labor. The efforts made to abolish the crimping system and to
have the various States and Congress change the State and Federal
laws so as to abolish imprisonment for desertion are discussed in
Chapter III.
At the second annual convention of the National Seamen’s Union,
held in New Orleans in April, 1893, it was decided to affiliate with
the American Federation of Labor.
Owing to extreme business and shipping stagnation throughout
the country and also owing to lack of funds on the part of affiliated
unions, no convention was held in 1894. The executive board, how­
ever, made arrangements for the transfer of members between the
maritime unions of this country and the British organization. These
arrangements, however, did not get beyond the “ paper ” stage for
several years.
In 1895 it was again thought necessary to hold a formal meeting
of representatives in order to cope with conditions existing at that
time on the Atlantic seaboard. As that coast was most in need of
attention and as the seamen of that section could not afford to send
their delegates to any other part of the country, the third annual
convention was opened in New York City on December 4, 1895.
Eleven delegates were present and represented the following organi­
zations: Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, Seamen’s Union of British
Columbia, Columbia Biver Fishermen, Lake Seamen’s Union, and
Atlantic Coast Seamen’s Union.
EEEORTS TO ORGANIZE ATLANTIC DISTRICT.

The 1895 convention elected Delegate Andrew Furuseth, of. the
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, to look after legislation of interest to
the seamen in the National Capital, and, in addition, instructed him
to help organize the Atlantic coast. At this convention the name of
the National Seamen’s Union was changed to the International Sea­
men’s Union of America.
No convention was held in 1896, but the following abstract from
an editorial in the Coast Seamen’s Journal of December 23, 1896,
briefly summarizes the work of that year:
Our struggle to improve our condition has been hard and the outlook duU, and
the work is not by any means smooth sailing yet, but the past year has given us
more encouragement than any of its predecessors. The spirit of unionism is
stronger and the union itself is in better condition than for a long time back.
Our work in Congress and in the courts has been successful.

During the next few years much attention was given by the execu­
tive board of the international union to the organization of seamen
of the Atlantic coast, and under its auspices Mr. Andrew Furuseth,
of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, and Mr. Joseph Havelock Wil­
son, president of the British Seamen’s Union, made an organization
tour of the Atlantic ports in the latter part of 1897 and in the early
part of 1898. In spite of these strenuous efforts to organize the At­
lantic coast seamen, shipping was so dull that not enough seamen
could be organized to warrant holding another convention until
December, 1899.




6

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF AMERICA.
AIMS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

An editorial published in the Coast Seamen’s Journal of Novem­
ber 1, 1899, described the aspirations and accomplishments of the
International Seamen’s Union as follows:
It is the hope and the purpose of men now in that organization to rally
firemen, cooks, and stewards—in short, every individual and class of men who
make their living by going to sea—in one compact and expansive body. The
International Seamen’s Union of America, composed of deck hands only, is
to-day one of the leading labor organizations in the world. What power might
it not wield if its membership embraced all the different classes of labor that
properly come under its jurisdiction?

A more critical editorial in the Coast Seamen’s Journal of the
following week, addressed to the delegates of the coming convention,
called their attention to the necessity of formulating a plan to
organize thoroughly the seamen and to the need of preparing meas­
ures for the protection and improvement in the condition of seamen.
The writer, in part, said:

So far the work of that organization [the international union] has been in
the moral rather than in the maritime field; it has served the purpose of a
representative body in which the views of the seamen at large have been focused
and directed upon a given point, but it has been unable, through lack of au­
thority and resources, to do anything in the way of practical organizing and
relief work.

At the convention the secretary-treasurer reported that the organ­
izations in good standing were the Atlantic Coast Seamen’s Union,
with 332 members; the Lake Seamen’s Union, with 1,012 members;
and the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, with 2,026 members. Cor­
respondence with nonassociated marine unions made the secretary
hopeful that many of these might soon join the international union.
EARLY NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS.

In the early years of the International Seamen’s Union consider­
able attention was paid to legislative matters. Regarding this branch
of its activities, the secretary said:

The work of the International Seamen’s Union has necessarily been confined
largely to drafting and prosecuting legislative measures in the interest of our
craft. As a result of that work, two measures have been enacted by Congress.

The two acts referred to were the Maguire Act of February 18,
1895, and the White Act of December 21, 1898. The most important
provision of the Maguire Act was the abolition of imprisonment as
a penalty for deserting in the United States from coastwise vessels.
The White Act amended the Maguire Act by abolishing the penalty
of imprisonment except in the case of American seamen deserting in
foreign ports. Foreign seamen deserting in American ports still
remained subject to arrest. Both of the foregoing acts embodied
certain provisions against the payment of allotment and advances.1
JURISDICTIONAL PROBLEM RECOGNIZED.

The delegate chosen to represent the International Seamen’s
Union of America at the American Federation of Labor convention
was instructed to arrange with the International Longshoremen’s
1 For further details, see Ch. III.




CHAPTER I.— HISTORY,

1892 TO 1914.

7

Union and the Firemen’s Union of the Great Lakes to effect the
the transfer of the latter organization to the jurisdiction of the
International Seamen’s Union of America. Out of this effort grew
a long-standing dispute with the Longshoremen’s Union, which was
not settled until 1907.2
REVISION OF CONSTITUTION.

The revision of the constitution in 1899 was another important
step in the reorganization of the efforts of the international union.
The revised constitution provided for the formation of unions com­
posed of bona fide seamen and divided the country into three geo­
graphical districts—the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Great Lakes.
In each of these there was to be only one union of a given craft.
(On shipboard there are three distinct departments or crafts—the
deck, the engine room, and the cooks’ and stewards’ departments.)
The new organization was thus a federation of affiliated autonomous
unions, similar to the American Federation of Labor in structure
and function. Provisions were made for each union to have juris­
diction over the workers in its district and over its local affairs.
An annual convention was provided for in the constitution, and
delegates were to be sent to this convention on the following basis:
One delegate for unions having 300 but less than 500 members,
three delegates for unions having 500 members, and thereafter one
delegate for each additional 500 members. The voting was to be
on the basis of one vote for each 100 members. The following
powers of the convention were specified in the constitution: To
pass upon credentials, to audit all accounts, to elect officers and
organizers, to adjust grievances, and to act upon all appeals and
upon all measures that might be brought before it. Provisions were
made for an executive board, which was to act between sessions of
the convention. A president, one vice president, and a secretarytreasurer were to be elected annually. The adoption of this consti­
tution in 1899 was considered by the secretary-treasurer of the inter­
national union 10 years later to have been the “ real inception or
reorganization of the International Seamen’s Union of America.”
This constitution, with certain changes which will be noted later, is
still in use.
SUCCESS IN EARLY YEARS OF THE NEW CENTURY, 1900 TO 1907.
MEMBERSHIP PROGRESS.

The first convention of the twentieth century was held in Novem­
ber, 1900, and was marked by a large number of delegates represent­
ing an increased membership. The four delegates from the Atlantic
coast represented 1,150 members, as compared with only 332 mem­
bers in 1899; the three delegates from the Pacific coast represented
2,072 members, or only a slight increase over the previous year;
while the nine delegates from the Great Lakes represented 3,587
members, or more than three times the number in the previous year.
2 The manner in which this dispute was handled, the attem pts of the American Federa­
tion of Labor to adjudicate it, and its final recommendations are discussed in further
detail in Chapter VI.




8

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S U NIO N OF AMERICA.

This large gain in membership was due to the provisions made by
the 1899 convention for putting five organizers to work on the Great
Lakes and one organizer to work on the Atlantic coast. To defray
the expenses incurred in this undertaking the monthly per capita
tax was raised in that year from 9 cents to 15 cents.
During the next year the Marine Firemen’s Union of the Pacific
and the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Union of the Pacific affiliated
with the international union, and at the sixth annual convention,
held in November, 1901, the secretary of the international union re­
ported that the Pacific Coast Marine Firemen’s Union had 1,060
members and the Cooks and Stewards’ Union of the Pacific had 500
members. In addition, he reported that the Sailors’ Union of the
Pacific had 3,633 members; the Lake Seamen’s Union, 3,658 mem­
bers; and the Atlantic Coast Seamen’s Union, 2,272 members.
STRIKE FUNDS AND UNIFORM DUES ADVOCATED.

The first step toward the creation of a strike fund controlled by
the international union was taken when the committee on constitu­
tion recommended that an amendment to the constitution be adopted
to give the executive board of the International Seamen’s Union
power to levy an assessment of not less than $1 per month in time
of a strike. This amendment also provided that no assessments be
made for a sympathetic strike unless a majority of the members of
unions not on strike approved of such assessment and unless the
amount of the assessment was stated on the ballot. The proposed
amendment was referred to the vote of the affiliated organizations.
So little interest was shown in the matter, however, that, although
definite balloting provisions were made by the 1902 and 1903 con­
ventions, less than 10 per cent of the membership had voted on the
adoption of the amendment by the time the 1904 convention met. At
this gathering the proposed amendment was dropped and another
amendment, specifying certain details in the procedure of levying
assessments, was substituted and adopted. At the next year’s con­
vention this amendment was eliminated and a new one approved.
The most important feature of the new amendment was the section
that made it obligatory on the part of the affiliated unions to sub­
mit unadjustable grievances for redress to the grievance committee.
This committee was to attempt to effect a peaceable settlement or to
secure the cooperation of other district unions. The amendment
also gave the executive board power to suspend disbursements if it
found that no advantages could be gained by further payments.
This amendment with certain minor changes and additions now
forms article 17 of the constitution. (See pp. 114, 115.)
The policy of uniform dues was first advocated at the 1901 con­
vention in a resolution which urged the affiliated unions to raise their
monthly dues to a common higher level in order that every member
of the International Seamen’s Union would be paying the same dues
and would receive the same strike or other benefit payments.
SUCCESS IN ORGANIZING ATLANTIC FIREMEN.

At the next annual convention, held in December, 1902, seven
unions were represented, the Marine Firemen’s Union of the Atlantic



CHAPTER I.— HISTORY, 1892 TO 1914.

9

and the Fishermen’s Union of the Atlantic having become affiliated
with the international union since the previous convention.
The reason for the somewhat later organization of marine firemen
is due to the fact that it had been the policy of the international
union to attempt to organize the firemen as part of the sailors’
unions. The secretary, however, had pointed out the failure of this
method at the previous convention, and in consequence five organizers
were voted to organize the firemen of the Atlantic coast independ­
ently, and the result by the time of the 1902 convention was a new
affiliated union from the Atlantic coast.
PROGRESSIVE RESOLUTIONS PASSED.

This gathering again passed resolutions protesting against the
penalty of imprisonment of seamen for leaving their vessels when in
a safe harbor; it spent a great deal of time in dealing with the juris­
dictional dispute with the longshoremen’s union; and, as it was re­
ported that the affiliated unions had not as yet acted upon the adop­
tion to the constitution of article 13, which provided for the strike
benefit fund, a resolution providing that all unions take a vote on this
amendment before July 1, 1903, was adopted. Agitation for uniform
regulations and practices among the various affiliated organizations
was continued, and the convention issued an appeal to all affiliated
unions to adjust their fees, dues, assessments, and benefits uniformly.
This step was taken after the committee on organization had shown
that membership dues in the affiliated unions ranged from 50 to 75
cents per month. There was also found to be a wide range in the
initiation fees and in strike, death, and shipwreck benefits.
NEW AFFILIATIONS AND EXTENDED ACTIVITIES.

During the next year (1903) all of the old organizations increased
in membership, and three new organizations were affiliated—the In­
land Seamen’s Union, the Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific Coast and
Alaska, and the Bay and River Steamboat Men’s Union. Thus 11
separate unions with 59 branches were represented at the eighth an­
nual convention held in New York City at the end of November,
19°3.
An extension of the activities of the international union was pro­
vided for in a resolution introduced by the Atlantic Coast Marine
Firemen’s Union, which recommended that provision be made by the
incoming executive board to organize the deck hands on sound and
river boats plying on the Atlantic coast. This recommendation was
approved by the convention, and the matter was taken up during
the following year by the executive board with the Atlantic Coast
Seamen’s Union, which decided to take in deck hands.
In discussing the work of the International Seamen’s Union at the
1904 convention, the president made the following statement con­
cerning the rights and duties of the members of that organization:

Our own conduct as a union should be such that it will inspire confidence in
all with whom we have dealings. Our word should be as good as our bond; we
should be careful that the power we have gained through organization is not
misused; we should respect the rights of others; we should learn to look upon
questions from the international point of view as well as from our own. Each




10

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

individual member should consider himself a stockholder in our organization,
be thoroughly conversant with its affairs, and take an active part in conducting
the union.
UNIFORM PRACTICES AGAIN RECOMMENDED.

At the 1904 convention efforts again were made to create a uniform
financial system with respect to dues, initiation fees, and benefits
among the affiliated unions. Attention was also given to the possi­
bility of creating a uniform transfer system between unions of the
same craft. The committee on constitution, to whom resolutions
relating to this matter had been referred, while in favor of uni­
formity in regulations and policies of the affiliated unions, thought
that at that time there existed a strong disinclination on the part of
the affiliated unions to change their existing customs and practices.
The committee, however, recommended that the secretary-treasurer
submit the matter during the coming year to the various unions for
discussion, and report his findings to the next convention. Progress
in the matter of uniformity was retarded, however, for many years,
due to lack of interest on the part of the affiliated unions. In fact,
the extension of a uniform transfer system was given a setback in
1907 by the action of the Marine Firemen’s Union of the Great
Lakes, which at the convention of that year introduced a resolution
declaring that it did not believe it wise or necessary that there should
be any transfer system between that organization and the firemen’s
unions of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This resolution called for
an amendment to the section of the constitution providing for trans­
fers so as to read, “ but transfers between marine firemen’s unions
should be only by mutual understanding.” The proposed change was
approved by the convention, which, perhaps, was willing to make
this concession, as the Marine Firemen’s Union of the Great Lakes
had just been transferred from the jurisdiction of the Longshore­
men’s Association.
LOWER INITIATION FEES URGED.

The policy of lower initiation fees was strongly advocated at the
1906 convention by the general organizer of the international union.
He pointed out that experience had proved there was a direct relation­
ship between the initiation fees of unions and the number of new
members secured. He found that the unions which had low initiation
fees usually made substantial gains in membership when organiza­
tion efforts were made, while on the other hand, in spite of member­
ship drives, organizations having high initiation fees showed little
progress. As proof of the soundness of the policy of low initiation
fees, he showed that as a result of his efforts he was able to induce
three times as many men to join a new organization with a $1 fee as
he could induce to join an established organization with a $5 initi­
ation fee. The immediate outcome of his discussion was the intro­
duction and passage of a resolution which recommended the Atlantic
district unions to reduce their initiation fees to $2.50 and which
pointed out that high initiation fees were practically nullifying the
organization work of the international union, which was being
carried on at a great expense on the Atlantic coast. The resolution




CHAPTER

I.— HISTORY, 1892 TO 1914.

11

further provided that a new organization, however, need not comply
with the recommended reduction during the first six months of -its
existence. The delegates also requested the Pacific Coast Marine
Firemen’s Union to submit the question of a reduction of its initiation
fee to a vote of its members.
PROGRESS IN AFFILIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIP.

The Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Association of the Atlantic and
the Inland Seamen’s Union again sent delegates to the 1905 con­
vention, while the Bay and River Steamboat Union of California was
not represented. At the 1906 convention the place of the Fishermen’s
Protective Union of the Pacific Coast and Alaska was taken by the
United Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific, which had been formed in
April of that year by an amalgamation of the Fishermen’s Protective
Union and a nonaffiliated local organization, the Columbia River
Fishermen’s Protective Union.
During the year 1907 the Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tend­
ers’ Union of the Pacific, the Harbor Boatmen’s Union of New York,
and the Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Benevolent
Association of the Great Lakes became affiliated with the inter­
national union. The Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’
Union of the Pacific was formed by an amalgamation of an inde­
pendent firemen’s union and the then affiliated Pacific Coast Marine
Firemen’s Union. Up to that year the firemen of the Great Lakes
had been under the jurisdiction of the International Longshore­
men’s Association, but decided by a referendum vote to withdraw
from that association and to affiliate with the International Seamen’s
Union, which granted the firemen in March, 1907, a charter under
the name of Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Benevolent
Association of the Great Lakes.
None of the organizations represented at the previous convention
had dropped out, but in addition to the three new unions just men­
tioned delegates were again seated from the Bay and River Steam­
boat Men’s Protective Union of California. Forty-six delegates,
representing 12 affiliated unions with a membership of more than
25,000, were present that year to take up several matters relating to
the seamen’s welfare. It is of interest to note that this was the first
convention at which delegates representing all branches of marine
work were present.
The delegates voted to continue the employment of the organizers
on the Atlantic coast, sustained the executive board in granting a
charter to the New York Harbor Boatmen’s Union, and defined the
jurisdiction of this organization as extending only to nonself-pro­
pelled craft, such as barges, scows, and lighters. Several minor
amendments to the constitution were adopted, including the en­
largement of the executive board from six to eight members. A
resolution was adopted to urge that regular meetings of the various
locals be held in the evenings in order that as many members as
possible might be able to attend. The convention also urgently rec­
ommended the affiliated unions to raise their fees to 75 cents per
month in order that they might have adequate treasuries.
44668°—23-----2




12

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

RETARDATION AND STAGNATION, 1907 TO 1913.
PANIC OF 1907 AND ITS LESSONS.

The financial panic and the subsequent industrial depression of
1907, coupled with attempts of certain employers to take advantage
of business conditions to lower wages and to disrupt the seamen’s
organizations, retarded to some extent the progress of the affiliated
unions in the latter half of 1907 and in 1908. Although the unions
were forced in many instances to accept conditions that were objec­
tionable, all of them succeeded in weathering the storm. The in­
dustrial depression sharply brought home to the delegates at the
1908 convention that “ the history of the labor movement proves
that the presence of a body of unorganized in any community con­
stitutes a standing menace to the organized workers at any time, and
particularly during times of disputes with employers.” In order
to remove this menace a resolution was introduced and passed to
urge that affiliated unions fix their initiation fees low enough to en­
able anyone possessing the other qualifications to become a member.
In order to make this suggestion effective, the resolution instructed
the executive board to withdraw its funds and its organizers from
any union which charged more than a $10 initiation fee. This reso­
lution was in harmony with the one passed in 1906, which called
upon Atlantic district unions to reduce their initiation fees to $2.50.
For the purpose of strengthening the hands of the executive board,
an amendment was added to the constitution giving the board power
to make its decisions binding between conventions.
PACIFIC AND ATLANTIC COASTS DULL.

At the 1909 convention 10 affiliated unions were represented.
During the year various Alaskan branches of the United Fishermen
of the Pacific withdrew from that organization and applied to the
executive board for a charter as the Alaska Fishermen’s Union.
The charter was granted, and at this convention its delegates repre­
sented 2,218 members. Representatives of the Harbor Boatmen’s
Union and of the Marine Firemen’s Union of the Atlantic were
again present after having been absent at the previous year’s gather­
ing. The secretary reported that conditions on the Pacific coast
were dull and that the only noticeable accomplishment was an
agreement with the Puget Sound Shipping Association.
Internal differences in the Atlantic Coast Marine Firemen’s Union
disrupted that organization, and it became necessary for the inter­
national union to confine its work on the Atlantic coast to the organi­
zation of a new firemen’s union. In spite of this concentrated work
and the expenditure of $8,000, the general organizer reported no
great increase in either membership or finances of the new organi­
zation. He said, however, that the lack of progress was due to the
effects of the industrial panic and to the opposition of some of the
officials of the former firemen’s organization. A great deal of help
in organizing the firemen was given by J. Havelock Wilson and
Thomas Chambers, president and treasurer, respectively, of the
National Seamen and Firemen’s Union of Great Britain.



CHAPTER

I. —

HISTORY,

1892 TO 1914.

13

Vice President Bodine, who had been authorized'by the previous
convention to reorganize the marine firemen of the Gulf coast, re­
ported that the British fruit ships were gradually replacing Ameri­
can-owned fruiters manned by union crews in New Orleans, and that
in consequence he had lent his efforts to the organization of Spanish
firemen on other liners sailing from that port. As a result of his
activities about 100 had joined. Mr. Bodine also reported that the
firemen sailing from Mobile were being reorganized and that wages
were being raised.
STRIKE ON GREAT LAKES.

A strike on the Great Lakes was reported at the time of the 1909
convention to be in progress against the establishment of a “ welfare
plan ” by the leading shipping associations. Under this plan each
seaman was to receive a certificate extending to him the privileges of
the associations’ clubrooms and entitling him to share in certain
insurance benefits. In addition, the seaman was to be given a “ rec­
ord discharge book,” which he was to present when seeking employ­
ment at any one of the club or assembly rooms, each of which had a
shipping or employment office. When the seaman signed the ship­
ping articles on board the vessel, the discharge book was to be
turned over to the master or chief engineer, and on termination of
the voyage the executive officer was to enter in the book a statement
of the service rendered. The book was to be returned to the seaman
if the service was “ good ” or “ fair,” otherwise to the office from
which the seaman had shipped.
Since the various Lake associations had declared themselves in
favor of the open shop, the Lake union officials believed that the
record discharge book was designed to discriminate against the
seamen who were active on behalf of their union. As a protest
against the foregoing system a strike was called on May 1, 1909.
Although the strike was not declared off until 1912, it had little
influence on shipping conditions after 1910. The welfare plan, how­
ever, was again given prominence in October, 1917, when another
strike was called on the Great Lakes.3
The financial condition of the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Union
of the Great Lakes was so poor on account of the welfare plan strike,
that its per capita tax to the international union, at the time of the
1909 convention was in arrears for three quarters. However, it was
permitted to be represented by one delegate.
STEPS TOWARD UNIFORM PRACTICES.

The 1909 convention instructed the affiliated unions which were
not recognizing the “ exchange of cards system ” to submit the mat­
ter of its adoption to a vote of their members. At the next annual
convention, however, the committee to whom the matter had been
referred could not state what action had been taken. Upon its
recommendation the convention instructed the secretary of the inter­
national union to open a discussion in the Seamen’s Journal and to
urge the adoption of a transfer system by those unions which were
not yet recognising transfers.
3 For details regarding the “ welfare plan,” see Bulletin No. 235 of U. S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics. For details regarding the Lake strike in 1917, see pp. 62, 63 ot this
bulletin.




14

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S UNION OF AMERICA.

A further hindrance to uniform practices, as pointed out by the
president, was that not all of the unions had reduced their initiation
fees in accordance with the policy of the international union and
the resolution adopted at the 1908 convention. In urging all unions
to adopt the international’s policy in this regard he said: “ High
initiation fees are of the past; they belong to unions that seek to
protect their membership against their fellow workers instead of
against the greed of employers.” He also urged all affiliated organ­
izations to equalize the payment of monthly dues for the reason that
“ the difference in the payment of monthly dues such as exists in
our organization leads to misunderstandings and complications.”
A very important step to facilitate the interchange of members
from one section of the country to another was initiated at the De­
troit convention in 1910, when a plan for a universal membership
book was suggested and referred by the convention to a special com­
mittee. Such a book was recommended because every union issued
a separate and distinct membership book,4 and when a member was
transferred from his union to a union of his craft in another sec­
tion of the country it was necessary for his old book to be canceled
and a new one to be issued. Uniformity was especially desired in
that part of the book where payment of dues, assessments, and dates
of voting were recorded, so that transfers might be granted without
canceling the holder’s original book. The committee to whom this
matter had been referred reported after a year’s study that the
sentiment among the members seemed to be in favor of such a book,
and that, furthermore, such a book would not only save time and
money but would broaden the feeling of brotherhood and solidarity.
The delegates thereupon voted in favor of the proposed book, but
referred its final approval to a vote of the affiliated unions. On
account of lack of interest, however, on the part of the affiliated
unions this subject was dropped by the next convention but was
taken up again a few years later.
REVERSES ON GREAT LAKES AND ON ATLANTIC COAST.

In reviewing the relationships existing between the various unions
and employers, the president, at the 1911 convention, said that con­
ditions were fairly satisfactory on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts,
but that the struggle against the so-called welfare plan was being
continued by the unions on the Great Lakes. This strike, which gave
the Lake unions a severe setback, was called off in March, 1912.
The year 1912 witnessed the carrying on by the Atlantic unions
of an unsuccessful strike, which reduced the funds of the firemen’s
and sailors’ unions and weakened the morale of their members to such
an extent that internal dissension developed. The Marine Firemen,
Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Union, which had been granted a full
charter in January, 1911, after a period of internal dissension severed
its connection with the International Seamen’s Union shortly after
the strike, joined the I. W. W., and attempted to affiliate the cooks
and sailors. Although the Sailors’ Union of the Atlantic had urged
the international union to take steps to combat the I. W. W. activities
of the firemen, nothing definite had been done.
4 Membership books generally contained a copy of the constitution and by-laws of the
district union, a certificate of membership, a page for personal description, and a number
pages for an account of dues Daid.

of




CHAPTER I.— HISTORY, 1892 TO 1914.

15

The sailors were also having difficulties in that the Sailors’ Union
of the Atlantic and the Eastern and Gulf Sailors’ Association were
contesting with each other as to which organization was the “ real ”
union. The International Seamen’s Union, at the 1913 convention,
pledged itself by resolution to take no part in the dispute. Further­
more, it urged that both unions be recognized by other unions and
instructed the executive board to aid either or both unions as it might
deem proper in order to unite the seamen on the Atlantic coast.
SUMMARY.

The years 1892 to 1913 were marked by a continual struggle to
better the seamen’s position through legislation and by attempts to
organize all classes of seamen. In the early years, 1892 to 1899, the
International Seamen’s Union succeeded in having the Maguire Act
(1895) and the White Act (1898) enacted. The year 1899 saw im­
portant revisions in the constitution.
In the first seven years of the new century there was a large in­
crease in the number of affiliated unions and in their membership.
In this period many important strides were made by the various
district unions toward uniform and sound practices.
The next period, 1907 to 1913, opened with the panic of 1907 and
was marked by other unfortunate events. The panic was followed
by retardation and stagnation in activities and by a long drawn out
strike on the Great Lakes. Shortly after this strike was called off
one was begun on the Atlantic coast. It was not only unsuccessful
but was followed by internal dissensions in both the Atlantic fire­
men’s and sailors’ unions. The former organization was disrupted
by I. W. W. agitators.




CHAPTER I t —HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S
UNION OF AMERICA, 1914 TO 1922.

The history of the International Seamen’s Union since 1914 may
be divided into three periods. The first period covers the years
1914 and 1915 and is marked by very unsatisfactory organization
conditions in all districts. On the other hand, this period saw the
culmination of the seamen’s legislative activities in the enactment
of the seamen’s act early in 1915. The second period extends
from 1916 to 1921 and is marked by the greatest membership growth
and progress ever experienced by the international union. The third
period dates from 1921 to the present time and is characterized by a
loss in membership and the fight against radicalism.
INTERNAL REVERSES FOLLOWED BY LEGISLATIVE VICTORY, 1914
TO 1916.
REORGANIZATION ON THE ATLANTIC.

The outlook for an effective sailors’ organization on the Atlantic
coast was exceedingly dull at the time of the 1913 convention. As
has been indicated, the Sailors’ Union of the Atlantic and the East­
ern and Gulf Sailors’ Association were contending for official in­
dorsement by the International Seamen’s Union. To unite the sea­
men of these districts and to restore harmony, the executive board
was instructed by the 1913 convention to act as it might deem proper.
Shortly after the convention, the Sailors’ Union of the Atlantic
changed its name to Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union of the Atlantic
and persistently attacked the International Seamen’s Union. Under
these attacks the executive board decided to recall the charter of
the Atlantic coast seamen held by the Sailors and Firemen’s Union
of the Atlantic. After this action was taken a charter was granted
to the Eastern and Gulf Sailors’ Association on August 22, 1913.
The firemen on the Atlantic coast were without a union after their
organization joined the I. W. W. and then passed out of existence.
In order to reorganize the firemen the executive board granted a
charter to the Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Union
of the Atlantic and Gulf in December, 1913. At that time the secre­
tary of the Eastern and Gulf Sailors’ Association was instructed to
act in the capacity of secretary for the firemen and to permit them
to use the sailors’ hall.
HOSTILITY ON THE LAKES.

Three organizations of shipowners on the Great Lakes, namely, the
Lake Carriers’ Association, the Lumber Carriers’ Association, and
the Association of Passenger Steamship Lines, were all antagonistic
to the seamen’s organizations. This hostile attitude, coupled with the
fact that the navigation season on the Great Lakes is closed in the
winter, interfered with effective organization work on the Lakes.
16




CHAPTER II.— HISTORY, 1914 TO 1922.

17

For the purpose of increasing the membership of the Lake and the
Atlantic unions, the 1914 convention voted to provide these unions
with organizers and financial assistance.
LEGISLATIVE PROGRESS AND VICTORY.

Apart from committee reports, most of the material in the printed
proceedings of the 1914 convention deals with legislation which at
this time was being given special attention. In view of the fact that
the seamen’s bill,1 which had been introduced in the Senate by Sen­
ator Robert M. La Follette on April 7, 1913, had made considerable
progress, discussions and resolutions concerning it seemed worthy of
considerable attention.
THE SEAMEN’S ACT.

The most important announcement made at the next convention
(1915) was:

Since our last convention the International Seamen’s Union has won a great
legislative victory. It has, with the aid of many friends of human liberty,
brought to a successful culmination the legislative campaign which was in­
augurated by the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific more than a score of years ago.
The main purpose during these many years was to abolish involuntary servi­
tude which for ages held the seamen in bondage.
With the enactment of this legislation, crystallized in the passage of the
La Follette seamen’s bill, by the Sixty-third Congress, a new era is dawning in
the seamen’s status.
SETBACKS IN MEMBERSHIP AND EINANCES.

Although the convention found cause for rejoicing over this legis­
lative victory, business depression and the European War played a
large part in creating a slight setback in membership in most of
the affiliated unions. The unions of the Great Lakes were reported
to have experienced one of the worst seasons in their history as far
as employment of their members was concerned. Strikes in the
building trades, continuing for more than three months, eliminated
practically all shipments of lumber to Lake Michigan ports. This
lack of activity, coupled with the general business depression, caused
the movement of all commodities on the Great Lakes to be much
below normal. Conditions were but little better on the Atlantic
coast, as the European war caused the citizens of the belligerents,
who had found refuge in the cities on that coast, to overcrowd the
seaports to such an extent that the Atlantic coast unions could
barely maintain existing wages and conditions. In the matter of
membership and income, however, the unions reported a small gain.
The unions of the Pacific coast, on the other hand, experienced a
slight setback in membership and funds during the year, which again
was due to the decrease in water transportation brought on by dullness
of trade all over the country and to the European War. In order to
cope with these conditions the convention recommended that organi­
zation campaigns be started and maintained on the Pacific and
Atlantic coasts and on the Great Lakes. To provide the funds nec­
essary for the carrying out of this campaign the executive board
was authorized by the convention to call upon the affiliated unions
for funds.
1 For a discussion of the bill, see Ch. III.




18

INTERNATIONAL, SEAM EN’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

PROGRESS TOWARD UNIFORM PRACTICES.

After considering a resolution which provided that “ one uniform
initiation fee shall prevail in all branches of the International Sea­
men’s Union of America,” the committee on constitution recom­
mended nonconcurrence, but nevertheless urged that continued agi­
tation and education be carried on to convince the members that low
initiation fees and high dues, which had been the policy of the inter­
national union since its inception, were the best assurances of an
increased membership.
The possibility of a uniform membership book was again brought
to the attention of the delegates by a resolution calling for the adop­
tion of such a book. The committee on constitution, to whom this
matter was referred, reported that it had received the attention of
previous conventions, and although it had been found expedient to
drop the matter in 1913 because of the disinterest on the part of the
affiliated unions, it might be desirable to have the unions of one
craft, at least, test the efficacy of such a book. On recommendation
of the committee the executive board was instructed by the dele­
gates to submit the plan for adoption to the Eastern and Gulf Sail­
ors’ Association, the Lake Seamen’s Union, and the Sailors’ Union
of the Pacific.
A very definite forward step was taken at the 1916 convention
when a section was inserted in the constitution which provided that
the membership books issued by unions composed of sailors should
be of the same general form and that they be supplied by the execu­
tive board. This section also empowered the board to extend the
use of such a book to any affiliated union upon request.
During the ensuing year the uniform membership book was put
into operation by the sailors on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and
on the Great Lakes, and the proposal to extend its use to the firemen
and cooks was submitted to the respective unions. The Atlantic
fishermen and the deep-sea fishermen indicated their willingness
to use the book.
The value of this book was brought to the attention of the 1917
convention by the secretary, who said:

It is noticeable that the results [of uniformity] are steadily paving the way
for a more thorough and compact international union of seamen, and that by
continuing this policy it will eventually bring about uniformity between all
districts, making possible the establishment of an international office whose
function will be more general in character and whose scope less restricted than
that of the present office.

Further progress toward uniform practice was made possible by
the action of the 1916 convention, which added two new sections to
article 8 of the constitution. One of the new sections provided
that no district or local organization could increase its initiation
fees without the approval of the International Seamen’s Union.
This section did not apply, however, to those unions which had initi­
ation fees of less than $10. The other new section provided that
dues could not be reduced without the approval of the international
union at a convention. These two amendments were in accordance
with the policy of the international union officials and were the out­
come of the agitation begun at the 1906 convention, where it was
shown that high initiation fees defeated the purposes of member­



CHAPTER II.— HISTORY,

1914

TO

1922.

19

ship drives. As has already been pointed out, in 1906 the Atlantic
unions were urged to reduce their initiation fees to $2.50. In 1908
the executive board was ordered to withdraw its funds and its organ­
izers from any union charging more than a $10 initiation fee, and
affiliated organizations were urged to reduce their initiation fees
to a reasonable amount. In 1910 the president again restated the
policy of the international union, and five years later further edu­
cation and agitation along these lines were recommended.
UNUSUAL ACTIVITY AND PROGRESS, 1916 TO 1920.
LARGE INCREASE IN MEMBERSHIP.

Growth in membership during 1916 is indicated by the fact that
at that year’s convention 15 unions with a total membership of
30,000 were represented. During the year the Halibut Fishermen’s
Union of the Pacific had been rechartered by the executive board as
the Deep-Sea Fishermen’s Union, and its jurisdiction had been ex­
tended. The Bay and River Steamboat Men’s Union, which had
officially withdrawn in 1911, was readmitted during the year, but
wuth the privilege of only one vote. The New England Coast Fish­
ermen’s Union, which had been organized in the latter part of 1915
at Boston, was represented for the first time this year with 10 dele­
gates. As evidence of its progress an agreement made in August
with the Bay State Fishing Co. was read to the delegates.
The unusual activity and success of that year were considered by
the secretary-treasurer to have been due to three important factors,
the most important of which was the seamen’s act, which had gone
into effect on American vessels on November 4,1915, and in full effect
on foreign vessels on August 1, 1916. The two other important fac­
tors were the organization campaign provided for by the previous
convention and the unanimity of action between the unions in han­
dling important problems.
THE ATLANTIC WAR AGREEMENT.

The most important feature in the progress made by the seamen
during 1917 was considered by the secretary at the 1917 convention
to have been the Atlantic war agreement which had been drawn up
between the unions of the sailors, firemen, and cooks of the Atlantic
coast and most of the shipowners of this seaboard. The agreement
was approved by the United States Shipping Board, the Department
of Labor, and the Department of Commerce. A tentative approval
was given to the agreement in May, 1917, and final ratification was
made in August of that year. This subject has been treated in fur­
ther detail in Chapter IV.
MARKED INCREASE IN MEMBERSHIP AND WAGES.

Early in 1917 the New England Coast Fishermen’s Union re­
quested the executive board to change its name to the Fishermen’s
Union of the Atlantic and to extend its jurisdiction over all men in
that industry along the Atlantic coast. This request was granted by
the executive board. During the course of the year the Harbor Boat­
men’s Union had dropped out of the International Seamen’s Union



20

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN ’ S U NION OF AMERICA.

in order to join the International Longshoremen’s Association. The
Bay and River Steamboat Men’s Union ceased to function during the
year, although it had been reorganized only in the previous year.
Almost all of the larger unions represented at the 1916 convention
were represented in 1917 in larger numbers, and the president of the
International Seamen’s Union complimented the delegates upon the
increase in membership and upon the improvement in wages, since
the total membership had nearly doubled and in some instances wages
had more than doubled. The president considered it a serious error
to attribute the increase in wages to war conditions. He held that
the increases were due to the passage of the seamen’s act and to
such enforcement of it as the international union had succeeded in
obtaining.
WAR-TIME ACTIVITIES.

The annual convention was omitted in 1918 on account of war
conditions, and the next gathering was held in January, 1919. Dur­
ing the interval between the 1917 and the 1919 conventions the most
important activity of the international.union and its affiliated or­
ganizations was the concentration of efforts on the winning of the
war.2
At the 1919 convention the international union was reported to
have 50,000 members and to be more effectively united than at any
time in its history. The secretary-treasurer pointed out that the
organization had earned for itself more recognition than it had ever
achieved before, and that, although the international union so far
had stood its ground under severe tests, the problems growing out
of the reconstruction period would have to be dealt with wisely in
order to maintain its position.
SITUATION ON THE GREAT LAKES.

On October 1, 1917, a strike was called on all vessels of the Great
Lakes for the abolition of the welfare plan and for higher wages as
well as to force the shipowners to work in cooperation with the In­
ternational Seamen’s Union and the United States Shipping Board.
The strike was postponed, but a new one was called for July 29,1918.
The latter strike was averted by the United States Shipping Board,
which ordered the Lake shipping associations to drop the discharge
book.3 Conditions relating to wage rates, overtime rates, and the
training and developing of young men in seamanship were also
agreed upon.4
In accordance with instructions of the 1917 convention, the vice
president proceeded to the Great Lakes to investigate the situation
there and found that active organizers and competent officers were
needed to build up the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Association of
the Great Lakes. He was elected administrator of the union for the
year 1918, and as such appointed a secretary of the organization and
tried out various agents at the different branches. Funds to finance
the work were furnished by the International Seamen’s Union and*
2 The war activities of the international union are discussed in Ch. IV.
8 For description of discharge book and w elfare plan, see p. 13.
* For further details on previous strike against welfare plan, see p. 13. For Lakes'
strike of 1917 and 1918, see pp. 62 to 64.




21

CHAPTER II.— HISTORY, 1914 TO 1922.

by the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Association of the Atlantic
Coast. The quarterly report for the first three months of 1918
showed that there were about 400 members in good standing. It
was reported that it would take at least another season to organize
thoroughly the passenger boats on the Great Lakes, as most of the
people employed in the steward’s department on the various passen­
ger lines had no conception of what organization meant. In addi­
tion, the Lake Carriers’ Association had issued orders to their cap­
tains to keep all union delegates off their ships. At a meeting held
in July, 1918, the term of the administrator was extended for one
year.
LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES.

In regard to the matter of legislation, the 1919 convention placed
itself on record as being opposed to any and all amendments to the
seamen’s act that might attempt to repeal that law or which might
in, any way change the spirit of the law. The convention instructed
the executive board to keep itself informed of any cases that might
come up under the seamen’s act. The cost of taking or contesting
appeals was to be borne by the international union. A bill that had
been introduced in the Senate by Senator Hiram W. Johnson, re­
lating to seamen’s compensation, was approved, and two bills nulli­
fying important features of the seamen’s act were condemned.
PROGRESS TOWARD UNIFORMITY.

Substantial progress had been made toward uniformity by the
time of the January, 1919, convention. At that time the secretary
pointed out that as a result of the international’s continued advocacy
of a more uniform practice in regard to financial matters, many of
the former differences existing among the various affiliated unions
had been eliminated. The amount of initiation fees, monthly dues,
death, shipwreck, and hospital benefits of the various affiliated
unions, as of January, 1919, is shown in the following table, taken
from the Proceedings of the International Seamen’s Union of
America, 1919, page 18:
INITIATION FEES, MONTHLY DUES, AND BENEFITS PAID.
District unions.
Atlantic cooks...................................................
British Columbia cooks...................................
Great Lakes cooks............................................
Pacific cooks.....................................................
Alaska fishermen.............................................
Atlantic fishermen...........................................
Deep-sea fishermen..........................................
Atlantic firemen...............................................
British Columbia firemen...............................
Great Lakes firemen........................................
Pacific firemen..................................................
Atlantic sailors.................................................
Great Lakes sailors..........................................
Pacific sailors...............................................i ..




Initiation Monthly
fees.
dues.
$10.00
5.00
5.00
10.00
10.00
5.00
5.00
5.00
5.00
5.00
15.00
5.00
5.00
5.00

$1.08*
1.00
1.00
1.00
.83*
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00

Benefits.
Death.
$100.00
100.00
100.00
75.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
75.00

Hospital
Shipwreck. (per week).
$25.00
30.00
50.00
50.00
50.00
50.00
50.00
30.00
50.00
50.00
30.00
50.00

$7.00
.50
1.00
1.00
.50
.50
.50
.25
1.00
1.00
.25
.50

22

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

The dues of the Atlantic cooks were on a higher basis than those
of any other organization, as the cooks paid a higher hospital benefit
fee. The death benefits of the Pacific cooks and Pacific sailors were
lower than all other district unions, because these two organizations
had their own cemetery lots for members.
MEMBERSHIP GROWTH CONTINUED.

During 1919 the various affiliated unions added 25,000 men to their
membership lists, thus bringing the total membership to 75,000. The
marine firemen as a group made the largest gains during the year,
while the fishermen experienced a slight loss. The cooks and sailors
also showed a gain. The largest progress was made in the Atlantic
district. During the year the executive board, on recommendation
of the various Lake unions, had granted a charter to a “ mixed local ”
of Canadian seamen on the Great Lakes and had expended $1,000
in organizing its offices. The new organization became known as the
Sailors, Firemen, and Cooks’ Union of Canada, and the convention
felt that the organization was showing sufficient progress to warrant
the expenditure by the international office of an additional $1,000 for
organizing purposes. The policy of admitting mixed locals had been
thoroughly discussed at the 1917 convention, and the committee on
constitution at that time reported that “ the general plan of district
organizations with separate district unions of sailors, firemen, cooks,
and fishermen is manifestly the best.” However, the committee
pointed out that “ cases may arise in which it may be necessary, in
order to safeguard the international union or its district unions or to
prevent the discouragement of local men who are attempting to build
up an organization, to issue temporary charters to mixed locals.”
After a brief discussion the recommendation of the committee was
adopted.
Another union which had been organized in 1919, the Ferryboat
Men’s Union of California, was made up in large part of men who
had formerly belonged to the Bay and River Steamboat Men’s Union.
On advice of officials of various Atlantic unions, a charter was
granted by the executive board to the Eastern Marine Workers’ Asso-*
ciation of New Haven, Conn. At the time of the 1920 convention
this organization had 300 members.
NEED OF GUARDING GAINS EMPHASIZED.

In summarizing the progress of the various district unions, the
secretary reported that in 1919 more advancement in wages and im­
provement in working conditions had been made than in any other
year. He pointed out that equal wages were being paid on the
Atlantic and the Pacific coasts and that the “ three watch system ”
(the 8-hour day) and overtime pay had been established on both
coasts. He, however, urged that all efforts should not be directed to
these problems alone, but that the results of the past years be guarded
and maintained. He especially emphasized the need of paying atten­
tion to the various unorganized workers in the different crafts and
urged that efforts during the next year be made to organize “ all
seamen engaged on vessels in harbors, bays, and sounds, as well as
the men employed in the deep-sea fishing industries.”



CHAPTER

n .—

HISTORY,

1914

TO

1922.

23

In view of the very unsettled industrial conditions and after a
discussion of seamen and general labor legislation then pending in
Congress, the committee of the whole recommended that affiliated
unions give careful and painstaking consideration to all movements
either to advance or to lower existing wages and working rules.
POSTWAR CONDITIONS, 1921, 1922.
LARGEST MEMBERSHIP.

The year 1920 was marked by maintenance of wages and working
conditions on the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts and by a resumption
of an antiunion policy on the part of the Lake Carriers’ Association
on the Great Lakes. The total membership in December, 1920, was
115,000, which was the largest ever recorded.5 Nineteen unions, rep­
resenting all branches of the seamen, were affiliated. The largest
district was the Atlantic, with 85,750 members; the Pacific second,
with 19,950 members; and the Lakes third, with 9,300 members.
THE NEED OF NEW POLICIES.

The large growth in membership did not, however, give either the
president or the secretary a false sense of security. The president,
in his opening address at the January, 1921, convention, urged that
the members be taught to understand the purposes and the real hopes
of the seamen’s movement. If this were not done, he warned that in
spite of a large membership, destruction would be certain. He also
stressed the need of developing skill and a sense of responsibility
among the members in the performance of duties aboard ship. In
order to further cooperation among the various unions he recom­
mended the fuller use of the universal membership book and the
development of uniform practices.
The secretary, in his report to the convention, outlined the splendid
progress that the international union had made. In view of the gen­
eral industrial depression and the very serious slump in shipping
which was being experienced, he asked all officers and members to
“ economize in expenditures and utilize all energy and ability that
we possess in order that we may hold what has been gained.” In
closing his report, he said: “ In the year to come our problems and
responsibilities will not be lessened. Issues of far-reaching im­
portance must be met by new policies.”
IMPORTANCE OF SKILL RECOGNIZED.

A careful study of some of the resolutions introduced shows that
the delegates were desirous of responding to the president’s and the
secretary’s suggestions. One of the resolutions unanimously adopted
provided for the creation of a new committee, the committee on
policy and education, to whom questions of publicity, education,
and policy were to be referred during the convention. In its re­
port to the delegates, this committee, after reviewing the opening
sections of the president’s address, especially called attention to the
need of developing seamanship and skill among the members of the
international union. With this purpose in mind it presented nine
5 For growth in membership, see Appendix II.




24

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S UNION OF AMERICA.

recommendations, which were adopted. These recommendations, in
brief, provided for securing the services of a vocational expert, who
was to make a survey of the entire industry to ascertain its needs
in respect to seamanship, general trade skill, and efficiency, and to
work out plans whereby this skill might be transmitted to its mem­
bers. The committee’s recommendations further included arrange­
ments for lectures, discussions, pamphlets embodying technical in­
formation, and practical training. The responsibility and the au­
thority for carrying out the foregoing educational policy was to be
vested in the executive board, and the necessary funds, amounting to
about $15,000, were to be raised by contributions from the affiliated
unions. The committee also recommended further organization
work for the purpose of inducing seamen to join the union. All of
these recommendations were approved by the convention.
In the discussion that preceded the adoption of the foregoing rec­
ommendations, it was brought out that the Marine Cooks and
Stewards’ Association of the Atlantic and the Gulf had already
taken steps to establish a school* for its members, and that the
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific had taken similar steps. In urging the
adoption of these recommendations the chairman of the committee
on policy and education pointed out that the existing business de­
pression, with its tendency toward lower wage rates, which seemed
generally to be approved by the public and the press, would again
cause attempts to be made to reduce the seamen’s wages. It seemed
to the chairman that one of the ways shipowners could reduce oper­
ating expenses was not to reduce wages but to hire more efficient
crews, and that it was the function of the seamen’s unions to im­
prove the efficiency of their members. He also said that greater skill
on the part of the seamen would make them less helpless in times of
business depression when conditions forced them to accept other
jobs in which they had to compete with skilled or semiskilled shore
workers. The chairman pointed out to the representatives of the
firemen that the adoption of the plan would result in a great num­
ber of assistant engineers being drawn from the ranks. In conse­
quence, there ultimately would evolve a better understanding be­
tween the engineers and the firemen working on the same vessel and
among the two organizations.
Although the plans for the improvement of the seamen’s skill
were unanimously adopted by the delegates to the 1920 convention,
the president was compelled to report at the next convention that
these plans had not been carried out. “ There was neither time nor,
unfortunately, was there any inclination to organize any campaign
to develop skill.”
INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM PROPOSED.

Industrial unionism as a policy for the international union was
debated at this convention for the first time. Two delegates of the
Marine Firemen’s Union of the Atlantic, which had the largest
membership of any union in the international union, presented a
resolution in which they urged that changes be made in order to
amalgamate the sailors, firemen, cooks, and stewards of the three
districts. The resolution further proposed the immediate calling of
a constitutional convention for the purpose of changing the existing



CHAPTER II.— HISTORY, 1914 TO 1922.

■ 25

form of the international union into an industrial union. The com­
mittee on organization, to whom the resolution was referred, recom­
mended nonconcurrence on the ground that it conflicted with the
constitutions of the respective district unions. The delegate who
had introduced the resolution said that he had drawn it up after
having heard various delegates plead for greater solidarity, union of
action, and tolerance. The delegate of the Deep-Sea Fishermen’s
Union, in discussing the resolution, said that he believed that its
adoption would compel the turning over of the entire affairs of the
district unions into the hands of the executive board. In other
words, the I. W. W. form of organization would have to be adopted.
He pointed out that the existing system was one of democracy, in
which each craft decided its own questions, and that a question involv­
ing more than one craft was referred to the grievance committee,
as provided for by the constitution.
A delegate of the Sailors’ Union of the Great Lakes said that
the natural way to solve the difficulties of their organizations seemed
to be for everybody to get together at the same time and in the
same general organization. He said that he was not opposed to this
solution in theory on the ground that it was radical but was opposed
to it because of his experience. He pointed out, in reviewing the
history of the Lake Seamen’s Union, that originally that union
included every unlicensed seaman* on board ship. When the organi­
zation consisted of about 300 men there was harmony among the
members, but as soon as it became larger the members of each craft
felt that their particular problem could be solved only in a union
of their calling. In consequence the various crafts on the Great
Lakes formed their own unions. He said that, although for years he
had stood for greater unification and solidification through the
establishment of a greater degree of understanding and good will
among the officers and members, he was opposed to great centralized
power. On the other hand, he remarked that because of a large
membership it was necessary to establish good will and cooperation
on a voluntary basis in order ultimately to prevent division within
their ranks. He thought it was necessary to make the members feel
in some way that the international organization was not a tempo­
rary organization that functioned only a few days in the year when
conventions were being held. He urged that more attention be
devoted to securing complete understanding of the purposes and
objects of the international union and that members of the various
crafts be made to realize that their organizations had a common
fight and a common aim, but that mutual suspicion and antagonism
were entirely out of place.
BETTER COOPERATION AMONG AFFILIATED UNIONS URGED.

The president of the international union stated that while griev­
ance committees were provided for by the constitution specifically
for the purpose of drawing the different crafts in the same district
closer together, one of the great troubles experienced was that these
committees did not meet often enough to take up the questions that
might lead to suspicion and misunderstanding. A delegate of the
Firemen’s Union of the Great Lakes believed that the solution of the



20

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN ’S U NION OF AMERICA.

problem would be found in the adoption of the universal membership
book on the part of all affiliated unions.
Regarding the adequacy of this solution, the following sentence
from the report of the secretary may be quoted: “ The enthusiasm
which existed for the adoption of an international membership book
when we were struggling for existence is diminishing as we are gain­
ing in strength.” He was of the opinion that the idea of such a book
harmonized with the general policies of the union and that such a
book was “ of great advantage to the individual whose occupation is
transitory in character, and its adoption by all the district unions
will assist in eliminating local obstacles as well as to broaden the
international idea among the membership in general.” The com­
mittee on resolutions, to whom this part of the secretary’s report had
been referred, concurred in the expressions of the secretary, but
stated that it was only through the initiative of the respective groups
in the international union that the purposes of such a book could be
realized. The adoption of this report was laid over, because a similar
resolution had been referred to the committee on constitution. This
committee approved the extended and fuller use of the plan em­
bodied in the secretary’s report and offered three technical provisions
for the furthering of this plan. These proposals, though approved
by the convention, were not made binding upon the various affiliated
unions.
To further mutual understanding, the committee on constitution
recommended that the unions of the same craft in the various dis­
tricts have as far as possible uniform by-laws and benefits and “ that
no more than two delegates from each district union of the same
craft be elected, such delegates to suggest a way to draw up uniform
constitutions for each department in the international.” This recom­
mendation was based upon a suggestion by the president in his
opening address. Although the recommendation was adopted by the
convention, the possibility of immediate action was considerably
weakened by a delegate who, on behalf of the committee, explained
that the recommendation had been made with the thought in mind
that the delegates would take up the matter for serious consideration
on their return and “ would get the opinion of the membership of
the various groups on it.”
THE FIGHT AGAINST RADICALISM.

i

That the process of “ boring from within ” by the radicals had
already begun was intimated at the 1921 convention by the president,
who reported that at a meeting of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific
an editor of the Seamen’s Journal had been selected “ of whose
discretion we have no definite knowledge.” He, fearing that this
editor was likely to make statements which might make the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union responsible in civil and criminal law in
that the paper was the official organ of the international union,
moved that the Seamen’s Journal no longer be considered as the
official journal. In making this resolution he pointed out that the
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific had a perfect right to elect any editor
it saw fit, but that it was his duty as president of the international
union to protect the membership from having any responsibility
whatsoever for anything that might be published in the Seamen’s



CHAPTER

n .—

HISTORY,

1914

TO

1922.

27

Journal. Not only did the convention adopt the foregoing resolu­
tion, but, in order further to weaken the influence of the editor of
the Seamen’s Journal, indorsed the recommendations of the com­
mittee on constitution, which urged that the section of the constitution
providing for the attendance of the editor of the official journal at
annual conventions be stricken out and, furthermore, that the editor
be dropped from the executive board. It was not until November 9,
1921, that the Seamen’s Journal announced that its editor had been
expelled on the grounds that he was an advocate of revolutionary
doctrines and principles wholly contrary to the policy of the union,
and that he had violated the constitution of the Sailors’ Union of
the Pacific because he was a member of another organization (I.
W. W.) which was hostile to the aims and principles of the sailors’
union.
At the same time that the activities of the I. W. W. were being
directed against the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, an onslaught was
also being carried on against the unions of the Atlantic coast. Up
to the present time (June, 1923) all organizations have successfully
withstood the undermining efforts of the I. W. W.e
THE YEAR 1921.

Since the January, 1921, convention the membership of the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union of America has fallen off from 115,000 to
50,000. A recapitulation of the changes since 1920, by districts and
groups, follows:
M EMBERSHIP OF INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF AMERICA, 1920 AND 1921.
[Source: Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1922, pp. 32, 33. For
details of membership, see Appendix II, p. 116.]
Membership.
Occupation or district.

Occupation:
Sailors.................................................................
Firemen..............................................................
Fishermen..........................................................
Cooks...................................................................
Miscellaneous.....................................................
Total................................................................
District:
Atlantic..............................................................
Pacific....................‘............................................
Great Lakes.......................................................
Total................................................................

1920
41,000
45,400
9,600
17,300
1,700
115,000
85,750
19,950
9,300
115,000

1921

20,100
15,700
6,800
6,400
1,000

Loss, 1920 to 1921.
Number.

Per cent.

50,000

20.900
29,700
2,800
10.900
700
65,000

51.0
65.4
29.2
63.0
41.2
56.5

26,700
16,900
6,400
50,000

59,050
3,050
2,900
65,000

68.9
15.3
31.2
56.5

The great loss in membership is due to the effects of the world­
wide industrial depression, the open-shop drive of the various steam­
ship companies, and the efforts of the I. W. W. to disrupt the
unions.6
6 For further details on activities of the I. W. W., see Ch. V II.

44668°—23----- 3




28

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN ’s UNION OF AMERICA.

SUMMARY.

A brief survey of the history of the International Seamen’s Union
of America shows that steady progress in membership was made
from 1915 to 1920. The severe decline in membership since the latter
year has shown the officials of the international union that although
their membership has been vast they have failed in certain respects.
One of the failures, according to the president, is due to the fact that
the membership has not become one body, conscious of its purpose
and willing to do its best to attain it. He says:

It is my belief that this failure to educate the membership made it possible
for other forces to get in amongst us, to steal our ideas and our purposes, to
change them to suit their own ends, and to feed them to those whom we had
failed to feed.
We succeeded in repealing the laws that shackled us. Again our education
was faulty or inefficient, because while the new freedom attained by us gave
to us weapons that we might use effectively, we so little understood the weapons
that we couldn’t use them.7
7 Proceedings

International Seamen’s Union of America, 1922, p. 11.




CHAPTER III.—THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW.
EARLY LEGISLATIVE CHANGES.

When the I. W. W. and other critics recently belittled the accom­
plishments of the International Seamen’s Union of America, the
reply of its president was brief. He said that the outstanding ac­
complishment of his union was the change that it had wrought in
the legal status of the seaman. When the international union was
founded, American seamen had the “ status of slaves.” Gradual im­
provements of this condition were secured by the union through a
number of legislative changes, culminating in the La Follette Sea­
men’s Act in 1915. This act has been termed the Magna Charta of
American seamen. The importance which the seamen have attached
to their legal position, the activities leading up to the seamen’s act,
and the subsequent changes which have been effected in the condition
of the seamen are discussed in this chapter.
EARLY NAVIGATION LAWS.

Conversance with the essential laws relating to seamen is neces­
sary for an understanding of the legislative changes sought by the
International Seamen’s Union. The earliest act of importance in
this connection was that of June 20, 1790. Under section 7 of this
law provision was made for the arrest and detention of deserting sea­
men until such time as their vessel or vessels were ready to again
proceed to sea. The cost of the seamen’s commitments could be de­
ducted from their wages.1 By the act of March 2, 1829, provision
was made for the arrest and delivery of foreign seamen deserting in
this country upon the application of any consul or vice consul of any
foreign Government with which the United States had a treaty to
that effect. American citizens were exempt from delivery to foreign
vessels.1*
2
By the act of June 7, 1872, desertion was made punishable by im­
prisonment for not more than three months, by forfeiture of clothes
or other effects left on board, and by loss of all or any part of wages
earned. For neglecting or refusing to join his vessel without rea­
sonable cause or for being absent without proper leave not amount­
ing to desertion, a seaman could be punished by imprisonment for
one month and by forfeiture of two days’ wages for each day’s
absence.8
EFFECT OF LAWS ON ORGANIZATION.

The influence of these laws in preventing the use of the strike as
a means toward higher wages and better conditions was soon recog­
1 U. S. Revised Statutes, 4598, section 7 (second edition), or U. S. Statutes at Large,
Vol. I, p. 134.
2U. S. Revised Statutes, 5280 (second edition), or U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. IV,
p. 359.
8U. S. Revised Statutes, 4596, section 51 (second edition), or U. S. Statutes at Large,
Vol. XVII, p. 273.




29

30

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S U NION OF AMERICA.

nized by the seamen. In the case of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific
it was found that in normal times about 60 per cent of their mem­
bers were at sea under contract for varying periods. Secondly,
from 15 to 20 per cent were on board vessels in harbor but under
contract to start or complete a voyage. Hence, only from 20 to 25
per cent of the membership, which were on shore unemployed, were
left to begin a struggle for better conditions.4
ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE LAWS.

The foregoing circumstances compelled the seamen to study exist­
ing maritime law with a view to changing it so that all those on
either incoming or outgoing ships in harbor might drop their work
in the advent of a strike, without the penalty of imprisonment. In
January, 1892, the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific appointed a com­
mittee to suggest legislation on behalf of the seamen. The appoint­
ment of this committee marked the beginning of those legislative
activities which were to become an important part of the work of
the International Seamen’s Union. Soon after its appointment the
legislative committee drew a rough draft of a bill to abolish im­
prisonment as a penalty for violating contracts on coastwise vessels
lying in a safe harbor. A copy of this bill was shown to Judge
James G. Maguire, of California, during his first campaign as candi­
date for Congress. He promised to introduce the bill in the event
of his election. Accordingly, he introduced it in the Fifty-third
Congress, which, however, failed to pass it. The bill was reintro­
duced by Congressman Maguire in the next session. The Inter­
national Seamen’s Union sent Mr. Furuseth, then secretary of the
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, to Washington to represent its interests.
The American Federation of Labor assisted Mr. Furuseth to secure
the passage of this bill, which became law on February 18, 1895.
ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF MAGUIRE ACT.

The new act, which became popularly known as the Maguire Act,
was the first to modify the penalty of imprisonment of seamen for
deserting a merchant vessel. This act amended previous legislation
by changing certain sections of the Revised Statutes5 which applied
to seamen in the coastwise trade when engaged in the presence of a
shipping commissioner. 44The changes were intended to relieve the
seamen from certain of the more drastic disciplinary measures, while
extending to them other features of a protective nature.” 6
The most important section of the Maguire Act abolished impris­
onment as a penalty for deserting from coastwise vessels. This act
also provided for the omission in coastwise shipping articles of
any stipulation as to punishment for offenses. Any assignment of
wages by seamen in the coastwise trade was prohibited. An addi­
tional provision made the attachment of the clothing of seamen
4 Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1911, pp. 4, 5.
5 For changes see U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. XXVIII, p. 667, and Vol. XVII, pp.
264, 273.
6Walter Macarthur, The Seaman s Contract, J. H. Barry Co., San Francisco, 1919,
p. 219.




CHAPTER III.---- THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW .

31

illegal. The result of these two changes was to grant “ seamen in
the coastwise trade freedom from the control of their persons and
earnings either by their employers or by their ‘ creditors.’ ” 7
THE ARAGO CASE.

Within a few months after the passage of the Maguire Act the
efforts of the International Seamen’s Union to change the status of
the seamen were transferred to the Federal courts. This sudden
shift was due to the arrest of four seamen who had shipped on the
American vessel A r a g oat San Francisco in May, 1895. They had
signed on for a voyage to Astoria, Oreg., thence to Valparaiso,
Chile, and return to San Francisco. On the way to Oregon the sea­
men became dissatisfied with conditions on board and on arriving
at Astoria left the vessel. They were thereupon arrested and im­
prisoned. At the end of 16 days, when the A r a g owas ready to sail,
the seamen were placed on board. They refused to work on the voy­
age down the coast and the vessel put in at San Francisco, where
they were arrested on the charge of refusing to perform their duty.
Pending the trial, the International Seamen’s Union sought to sue
out a writ of habeas corpus on the ground that the seamen were
placed aboard the vessel against their will and therefore contrary to
the thirteenth amendment to the Federal Constitution, which pro­
hibits involuntary servitude. The writ was dismissed. Finally an
appeal was taken to the United States Supreme Court. The Su­
preme Court rendered its decision 8 on January 25, 1897, and sus­
tained the lower courts.
The essence of the Supreme Court’s decision was that the enforce­
ment of a seaman’s contract by imprisonment or by returning him
to his vessel was not involuntary servitude in the sense of the thir­
teenth amendment to the Constitution. According to the court, this
amendment “ was not intended to introduce any novel doctrine with
respect to certain descriptions of service which have always been
treated as exceptional.”
The principal grounds of the decision were as follows:

From the earliest historical period the contract of the sailor has been treated
as an exceptional one and involving, to a certain extent, the surrender of his
personal liberty during the life of the contract. * * * The laws of nearly
all maritime nations have made provision for securing the personal attendance
of the crew on board and for their criminal punishment for desertion or absence
without leave.

The court thereupon referred to the maritime law of the ancient
Rhodians, which antedated the birth of Christ by about 900 years,
and to other long-standing laws. Finally, the American statutes
regarding punishment for desertion, absence without leave, and laws
protecting seamen were cited.

Indeed, seamen are treated by Congress * * * as deficient in that full
and intelligent responsibility for their acts which is accredited to ordinary
adults. * * *
In face of this legislation upon the subject of desertion and absence without
leave, which was in force in this country for more than 60 years before the
7 Walter Macarthur, The Seaman’s Contract, J. H. Barry Co., San Francisco, 1919,
p. 219.
8U. S. Supreme Court case No. 334, October term, 1896. Appeal from District Court
of Northern District of California.




32

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN ’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

thirteenth amendment was adopted, and similar legislation from time imme­
morial, it can not be open to doubt that the provision against involuntary servi­
tude was never intended to apply to their contracts.

Justice Gray took no part in the decision and Justice Harlan ren­
dered a dissenting opinion. The concluding part of his opinion
read:

In my judgment, the holding of any person in custody, * * * against his
will, for the purpose of compelling him to render personal service to another in
a private business, places the person so held in custody in a condition of invol­
untary servitude, forbidden by the Constitution of the United States; conse­
quently that the statute as it now is and under which the appellants were ar­
rested at Astoria * ♦ * is null and void.
THE DECISION CONDEMNED.

The decision of the Supreme Court was immediately condemned
in no uncertain terms by the International Seamen’s Union and the
American Federation of Labor, as well as by affiliated unions. Even
the California Legislature passed a joint resolution condemning the
decision of the Supreme Court.9
President Gompers, in his report to the 1897 convention of the
American Federation of Labor, spoke on this matter in part as
follows:

In the opinion accompanying the decision the court gave expression and laid
down doctrines entirely inimical to the interests of the people, and in so many
words invalidated the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United
States prohibiting involuntary servitude. Your attention is called to the dis­
senting opinion of the court in order that the full measure of the wrong may be
appreciated. The decision is the most far-reaching which the Supreme Court
has issued since its famous Dred Scott decision.10
LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS RENEWED.

Essentially the decision of the Supreme Court meant that seamen
engaged in foreign trade were still subject to the penalty of im­
prisonment for desertion. The Supreme Court denied a rehearing
on the case. Thereupon the International Seamen’s Union again
turned its attention to legislation as a means of abolishing the im­
prisonment penalty. A bill to effect this purpose was introduced in
the Senate by Stephen M. White, of California, and in the House of
Representatives by James G. Maguire, of California. Owing to the
war with Spain, which created an immediate need for a large number
of seamen, Congress was spurred to action. On being passed, the
bill was approved by President William McKinley on December 21,
1898, and became effective February 20, 1899.
THE WHITE ACT.

The new act, commonly known as the White Act, limited the
penalty for desertion in any port of the United States, Canada, New­
foundland, the West Indies, and Mexico to forfeiture of wages
earned and to loss of clothing left behind on the vessel. In addition,
the penalty for deserting in a foreign port was reduced from three
9Coast Seamen’s Journal, Mar. 31, 1897, p. 7.
1 Report of the Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Convention of the American
0
Federation of Labor, quoted in Coast Seamen’s Journal, Dec. 15, 1897, p. 7.




CHAPTER H I.---- THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW .

33

months’ imprisonment to only one month. The signing away of
wages as an “ advance ” or “ allotment ” was absolutely prohibited in
the domestic trade. In the foreign-going trade no more than one
month’s wage could be signed away to creditors. Any allotments,
however, were permitted to be made to wife, children, parents, or
other dependent relatives. Wages could not be garnisheed, attached,
or seized in any court.
Corporal punishments of seamen by officers were prohibited under
penalty of imprisonment. Provisions were also made under the new
law for the prompt payment of wages.
The majority of a vessel’s crew, exclusive of the officers, was given
the power to compel a survey of any vessel believed to be unseaworthy. Improvements were also made in forecastle space and in the
food scale.11
ORGANIZATION URGED.

The officials of the International Seamen’s Union were the first to
realize that the new law would be effective only if the seamen in the
foreign trade would compel its enforcement through organization.
Thus, an editorial in the Coast Seamen’s Journal of January 1, 1899,
called upon all seamen in the foreign trade to organize. For u if
they do this, the new law will benefit them; if they don’t, it will be
of no more account to them than if it had never been passed.”
INTERMEDIATE YEARS, 1900 TO 1915.

In the first decade of the twentieth century the legislative activities
of the International Seamen’s Union were for the most part concen­
trated on the abrogation of the State and Federal laws under which
American seamen deserting in foreign ports and foreign seamen
deserting in American ports could still be punished by imprisonment
and loss of wages and clothing. In addition to working for the abro­
gation of these laws, the International Seamen’s Union advocated
also certain changes relating to allotments and working conditions.
In the year 1900 Representative Chandler, of New York, introduced
a bill in Congress which included provisions for a 9-hour day in
port, a manning scale, payment of one-half wages in any port, an
entire abolition of advance payments, and a clause prohibiting the
employment of Asiatics on American vessels.
The next few years were barren of any legislation beneficial to the
seamen. However, the annual conventions of the International
Seamen’s Union continued to petition Congress to repeal the laws and
to abrogate the treaty provisions under which deserting foreign
seamen m American ports could be returned to their vessels and by
which American seamen could be imprisoned for deserting in other
countries.
On solicitation of the International Seamen’s Union, Representa­
tive Spight, of Mississippi, in April, 1906, introduced a bill to amend
the laws relating to American seamen, to prevent undermanning and
inefficient manning of American vessels, and to encourage the train­
ing of boys in the merchant marine. The bill was in large part very
similar to the Chandler bill which failed of passage in 1902. Al11 For

further details, see Coast Seamen’s Journal, Feb. 8, 1899, p. 7, and Apr. 19, 1899,




34

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S U NION OF AMERICA.

though the Slight bill had the indorsement of the 1906 and subse­
quent conventions of the International Seamen’s Union, it failed to
be approved by Congress.
A PUBLIC APPEAL.

At the 1909 convention the Spight bill was not only again in­
dorsed, but a special effort was made to arouse public support for
the bill. With this end in view a mass meeting was held in Cooper
Union, New York City, on the evening of December 6, 1909, which
was a few days previous to the adjournment of the fourteenth an­
nual convention of the International Seamen’s Union. The president
of the Sailors and Firemen’s Union of Great Britain, the president
of the American Federation of Labor, the president of the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union, and a delegate from the Great Lakes
spoke at this meeting, which was preceded by a parade in which
1,800 seamen marched. The main purpose of the meeting was
clearly stated in a resolution, which was adopted, calling a on all
peoples and governments to repeal such laws and to abrogate such
treaties as before mentioned, to the end that seamen may be the
owners, in fact and in law, of their own bodies, and that thus the
last vestige of serfdom may be abolished among civilized nations.”
ACTION BEGUN.

Soon after the mass meeting in New York, Senator Robert M.
La Follette, of Wisconsin, introduced in the Senate a bill (S. 6155)
similar to the Spight bill. In May Representative Spight reintroT
duced his former bill as H. R. 26152. In the course of the year
hearings were held on both bills, and at the December, 1910, conven­
tion of the International Seamen’s Union the president spoke rather
encouragingly on legislative matters. He felt that Senator La Fol­
lette and Congressman Spight were not only working earnestly on
behalf of the seamen, but that the hearings had revealed other
friends in both Houses.
The bills were not passed by either House in 1910 and were ac­
cordingly reintroduced in the next Congress by Senator La Follette
and by Representative William B. Wilson, of Pennsylvania. The
bills, which were substantially identical, were both indorsed by the
seamen in their 1911 convention. The House bill was generally re­
ferred to as the Spight-Wilson bill. In order to further the passage
of this bill, the convention of that year, which met in Baltimore,
adjourned to Washington, D. C., for a day and appeared before the
Committee on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries. On August 3,
1912, the House of Representatives, after holding extensive hearings
and revising the original bill, passed the seamen’s bill. It met
opposition in the Senate, but after extensive hearings in December,
1912, was finally passed and was pocket vetoed by President Taft.
A POLITICAL ISSUE.

In the 1912 national campaign the question of the seamen’s status
and an adequate manning system for vessels was made a political
issue. In the platform of that year the Republican Party inserted
the following plank:

We favor the speedy enactment of laws to provide that seamen shall not be
compelled to endure involuntary servitude, and that life and property at sea




CHAPTER III.— THE SEAMEN AND TH E*LAW ,

35

shall be safeguarded by the ample equipment of vessels with life-saving appli­
ances and with full complements of skilled, able-bodied seamen to operate
them.12

In the Democratic platform, adopted at Baltimore on July 2,
1912, a similar plank was found:

We urge upon Congress the speedy enactment of laws for the greater security
of life and property at sea, and we favor the repeal of all laws and the abroga­
tion of so much of our treaties with other nations as provide for the arrest
and imprisonment of seamen charged with desertion or with violation of their
contract of service. Such laws and treaties are un-American and violate the
spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution of the United States.11
A FRESH START.

Senator La Follette, of Wisconsin, slightly modified the House
bill which had been passed in 1912, and introduced it as Senate bill
4 on the first day of the new session, April 7, 1913. Senator Nelson,
of Minnesota, on the same day introduced a substitute measure which
had previously been passed by both Houses but had been “ pocket
vetoed ” by President Taft. About a month later Representative
Alexander, of Missouri, introduced practically the same bill which
had been passed by the House in August, 1912. The new bill was
known as H. R. 4616. Within a few days Senator Burton, of Ohio,
introduced S. 2221, which the seamen regarded as a shipowners’ bill,
as it contained many provisions objected to by the International
Seamen’s Union.
The La Follette bill was sent by the chairman of the Committee
on Commerce to the Departments of Commerce and of Labor for an
opinion. Secretary William C. Redfield, of the Department of
Commerce, and Secretary William B. Wilson, of the Department of
Labor, sent a joint reply in which they stated that the La Follette
bill was almost identical with H. R. 23673, passed in the previous
Congress. By way of approving the La Follette bill the Secretaries
concurred in the report made by the Committee on Merchant Ma­
rine in H. R. 23673. The report reads, in part, as follows:

The recent terrible disaster to the steamship T itan ic , by which many hun­
dreds of lives were lost, has attracted universal attention to the necessity for
stricter laws and regulations in order to promote the safety of passengers and
crews at sea. Several additions to our laws are needed in order to accomplish
that purpose. Among these are * * * a crew with sufficient knowledge of
the language of the officers to be able to understand their orders and skill
enough to obey those orders when given.
The committee has reported three bills dealing with these subjects: One bill
* * * proposes to extend the operation of the thirteenth amendment to sea­
men, provide a manning scale, and establish a standard of efficiency based upon
experience. In the judgment of your committee this bill will be more farreaching than any measure now pending in Congress. There is no other por­
tion of our citizens or residents who can be compelled, under penalty of im­
prisonment, to fulfill a civil contract to labor. The seamen alone remain as the
last remnant of serfdom. The seaman may be, and is, compelled to sign a con­
tract to labor before he can secure employment, and to fulfill such contract
after he has signed it, and the inevitable result has followed, that the selfrespecting man or boy prefers employment on land to that of employment at
sea, and only those accept a seafaring life who by propinquity or necessity are
compelled to do so. * * *
u Coast Seamen’s Journal, June 26, 1912, p. 7.
* Coast Seamen’s Journal, July 10, 1912, p. 6.




36

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN ’ S UNION OE AMERICA.

By relieving the seaman from any criminal proceedings for violating a con­
tract to labor, leaving only the civil process as a remedy, you place him ex­
actly in the same position as other workmen, and the result would be to grad­
ually improve the standard of the men who go down to the sea, not only of
those in our own shipping but of those in all ships entering our ports, until
it has reached the same standard as that of workmen on land.
Two things are essential to the building up of our merchant marine—one
is * * * an equalization of the operating expenses.
This bill will tend to equalize the operating expenses. Under existing laws
men may be and are employed at the ports where the lowest standard of liv­
ing and wages obtain. The wages in foreign ports are lower than they are in
the ports of the United States. Hence the operating expenses of a foreign
vessel are lower than the operating expenses of an American vessel. It is not
proposed to prevent vessels from employing seamen in ports where they can
secure them cheapest; but it is proposed by this bill to give the seamen the
right to leave the ship when in a safe harbor, and in time this will result in
foreign seamen engaged on vessels coming into ports of the United States be­
ing paid the same wages as obtain here, as a means of retaining their crews
for the return voyage. That will equalize the cost of operation so that vessels
of the United States will not be placed at a disadvantage.*

In addition to indorsing the bill the Secretaries offered amend­
ments to strengthen the bill and recommended “ that this bill (S. 4)
be passed at the earliest convenient time.” * * Soon after several
15
4
1
provisions of the Nelson bill (S. 136) were incorporated in the La
Follette bill (S. 4) and the latter was passed on October 23, 1913.
The bill was then referred to the House Committee on Merchant
Marine and Fisheries, which held extended hearings on this bill.

The most bitter opposition was waged against it by the shipowners, not only
of the United States but of the whole world. Every financial interest, includ­
ing local chambers of commerce, brought tremendous opposition to bear against
it. On the other hand, the organizations of labor and friends of freedom and
justice urged the House of Representatives to pass the La Follette bill pro­
viding for greater safety at sea, better working conditions for sailors, and for
the abolition of involuntary servitude among seamen.*
THE SEAMEN’S CAMPAIGN.

In order to offset the campaign of the shipowners against the bill, a
series of seven short letters relating to the important provisions of
the bill were sent by Mr. Furuseth to Congressmen and newspapers
early in 1914.17 In these letters the passage of the La Follette bill
was urged on the grounds that it would put American shipowners on
an equal basis with foreign shipowners; that it would build up a mer­
chant marine manned by Americans under better working conditions;
and that safety at sea would be more adequately safeguarded. The
first letter stated that if foreign ships were deprived of u certain
special privileges,” the effect would be to equalize the wage cost of
operation. An explanation of this proposition was developed in
detail in the final letter. He here explained that the “ special privi­
leges ” were the means by which foreign ships were enabled to hold
forcibly on board crews secured at lower wage scales in foreign ports.
Under existing laws and treaties the United States Government used
its powers, at the request of foreign shipowners, to capture and return
u Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1914, p. 76.
14 For copy of letter, see Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1914.
pp. 75—
80.
^Proceedings International Seamen’s Union Of America, 1915, p. 28.
17 For copies of letters, see Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1914,
pp. 107-113.




CHAPTER H I.---- THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW .

37

seamen who left their ships while in this country. In this way the
wage rate of foreign ships was kept down below American levels.

This marks the one advantage which foreign ships now hold over American
ships in the foreign trade, and which prevents the proper growth of onr mer­
chant marine. * * * If conditions can be brought about whereby the wage
cost of operation will be equalized, the development of our merchant marine
and our sea power will be unhampered.
* * * ^ 0 remedy is to set free the economic laws governing wages
* * * which in their application to seamen are now obstructed by treaties
and statute law .18

To clarify the idea of how equalization of wages would be brought
about, Mr. Furuseth in his letter asks the reader to imagine an
American vessel and a foreign vessel docked near each other at New
York. The assumption is that the crew of the American vessel has
been hired at New York at wages prevailing in that port, and that the
crew of the foreign vessel signed on in a low-wage Mediterranean
port. Normally the two crews would come in contact and learn the
wages and conditions of each other. “ Unless prevented by force the
crew of the foreign vessel would either get the same wages as paid on
the American vessel or they would quit. The foreigner would then
have to hire a new crew at the wages of the port.” Under such
conditions foreign shipowners would pay their crews the American
scale in advance of arrival in an American port, so as to prevent
desertion and delay when the vessel arrived in America.
The effect of abolishing the penalty of imprisonment in the for­
eign trade would, according to Mr. Furuseth, remove the taint of
slavery from the seamen’s calling. “ Then the United States will
have the pick of the world’s best seamen, while it is developing a
much-needed native personnel.” Under the proposed law improved
conditions would further encourage American seamen by providing
for a shorter working day, namely. 8 hours for firemen and 12 hours
for sailors. Safety at sea was also to be provided for through a
scale prescribing the number and qualifications of seamen for vari­
ous classes of vessels.
APPROVAL OF THE SEAMEN’S BILL.

The Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries of the House
of Representatives finally reported the bill in an amended form to
the House on June 19, 1914. It was then passed by the House on
August 27, 1914, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Com­
merce. After considerable disagreement the Senate and the House,
in January, 1915, appointed five conferees each to consider the possi­
bility of drawing up a bill acceptable to both bodies. On February
25, 1915, the report of the conferees was agreed to by the House and
on February 27 by the Senate, and on March 4, 1915, the bill was
signed by President Wilson.1*
LEADING PROVISIONS OF THE ACT.
PENALTIES REMOVED.

The provisions in the new act of most importance to the seamen
were those which abolished imprisonment for desertion. Section 16*
** Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1914, p. 112.
u For detailed chronology, see Proceeding* International Seamen’s Union of America,
1915, pp. 28, 29, 83, 84. Idem, 1914, pp. 28-30.




38

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S UNIO N OF AMERICA.

called for the abrogation of those treaties with foreign Govern­
ments which provided for the arrest and imprisonment of seamen
deserting from merchant vessels of the United States in foreign
countries, and for the arrest and imprisonment of seamen deserting
from merchant vessels of foreign nations in the United States.
By section 17 the existing laws were modified to conform with the
changes provided for in section 16. Section 8 abolished the power
of consuls to arrest seamen deserting in foreign ports. By section 7
the penalty of imprisonment in foreign ports was abolished, and
various penalties for disobedience, neglecting to join, or quitting a
vessel were reduced.
MONEY IN PORT.

Under the law of December 21, 1898 (R. S. 4530), seamen were
entitled to one-half of the wages which were due them at any port
where the vessels might stop before the expiration of the voyage
unless the contrary was “ expressly stipulated in the contract.” In
practice “ the contrary ” was usually stipulated and the intent of
the law defeated. The La Follette Act provided (sec. 4) that “ all
stipulations in the contract to the contrary shall be void.” Under
the new law seamen could demand payment of one-half their wages
not oftener than once in five days. Failure of the master to comply
with the seaman’s demand was to be deemed a violation of contract
and the seaman thereupon became entitled to full payment of the
wages earned. The new provisions also applied to foreign vessels
in the harbors of this country.
Under section 11 allotments to original creditors were abolished,
and in the coastwise trade the right to make allotments to certain
relatives was permitted.
IMPROVED WORKING CONDITIONS.

By section 2 of the La Follette Act provision was made for divid­
ing the sailors into at least two watches at sea (12-hour day) and
the firemen into at least three watches at sea (8-hour day). Nine
hours were to constitute a day’s work in port, and no work was to be
required in port on Sunday or on certain specified holidays, except
on vessels ready to proceed to sea. It was also provided by this
section that seamen were not to work alternately in the fireroom and
on deck.
Working and living conditions were made more attractive by so
amending existing laws as to raise the minimum daily food require­
ments (sec. 10) and by providing larger forecastles, hospital space,
wash rooms, mess rooms, and emergency exits (sec. 6).
In any suit for damages by injured seamen, officers were held by
section 20 not to be fellow servants.
SAFETY PROVISIONS.

In order to provide for greater safety at sea, the La Follette Act
made certain new provisions as to the qualifications of seamen. Sec­
tion 13 provided for an increasing number of able seamen in the
deck department. Four years after the approval of the act 65 per
cent of the deck department, exclusive of officers and apprentices,
were to consist of able seamen. The qualifications for rating as an
able seaman were also specified in this section.



CHAPTER III.— THE SEAMEN AND THE LA W .

39

It was further provided that no vessel was to be permitted to leave
any port of the United States unless not less than 75 per cent of
the members of each department were able to understand any order
given by the officers.
The Secretary of Commerce was given the power to make the
necessary rules and regulations to carry out the foregoing provisions.
Under section 14 the number and character of lifeboats and other
life-saving appliances were fixed, as well as a manning scale for
passenger vessels.
EXPRESSIONS O F THE SEAMEN.

The passage of the La Follette Act was hailed as a great legis­
lative victory and as the emancipation proclamation of the seamen.
As a result of the new act a new era was said to be dawning in the
seamen’s status after a campaign of more than 20 years. After
another year the secretary of the International Seamen’s Union said:

It is impossible * * * to describe all the improvements that have taken
place. The change has been not alone in improved safety, in the working condi­
tions, and to some extent in the wages of the men, but the whole life on ship­
board has been improved, and instead of the old spirit of bitterness and hatred
* * * there is an air of freedom and a growing recognition of rights and
responsibilities on the part of everybody connected with the ship.2®

ENFORCEMENT OF THE SEAMEN’S ACT.

In December, 1916, at the first convention of the International
Seamen’s Union held after the beginning of the operation of the La
Follette Act, the legislative committee, elected by the 1915 convention
to report on marine legislation, maintained that the new act was not
being properly enforced. The Department of Commerce, according
to the committee, had construed many important sections of the act
in such a way as to prevent the improvements sought by its provi­
sions. The attempts of the International Seamen’s Union to obtain
more friendly interpretations of the La Follette Act stretched over
a period of years. Discussion of controversies regarding the enforce­
ment of the more important provisions of the act will be found in
the following paragraphs:
THE LANGUAGE TEST.

Instructions concerning section 13 of the seamen’s act, relating to
the language test, were issued by the Department of Commerce on
September 18, 1915. The interpretation of this section by the de­
partment was unsatisfactory to the seamen and continued to be so for
six years. Section 13 provided, among other matters, that on certain
classes of vessels not less than 75 per cent of the crew in each depart­
ment should be able “ to understand any order given by the officers.”
According to the Department of Commerce, the quoted words re­
ferred only to such orders as might—

normally be given to members of the crew in each department * ♦ * in the
course of the usual performance of their regular duties. Among these duties,
however, should be included lifeboat work or emergency work for such members
of the crew as might be called upon to perform these classes of work. * * *3
0
30 Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1916, p. 32.




40

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN ’ S U NIO N OF AMERICA.

A demonstration in the presence of the customs collector or his deputy, by the
proper proportion of the crew, in executing the actual orders of an officer would
be sufficient proof of compliance with the law. It will be noted that the orders
are to be given “ by the officers ” and not by the customs collector or any one
acting in his behalf.21

The International Seamen’s Union took exception to this ruling
on the ground that it defeated the intentions of the seamen’s act.
The seamen held that the language clause was designed to test the
understanding of emergency orders rather than customary com­
mands. Objection was also made to the section that prohibited the
customs collector from conducting the examination, on the ground
that this prohibition prevented the collector from ascertaining
whether the crew was properly qualified. Moreover, the ruling fur­
ther ordered that examinations of the crew be held at such times as
not to delay any vessel’s sailing time. To the seamen this provision
was interpreted as giving masters a loophole to escape the law. The
International Seamen’s Union maintained that if a master engages
a crew that can not meet the requirements of the law, then he should
suffer the penalties and the administrative officers should not be
concerned about the inconvenience to which the ship may be sub­
jected. The seamen wanted the regulations so drawn as to compel
compliance by permitting an examination of the crew at any time
when there might be ground for belief that the crew was not
qualified.
In order to clarify some of the matters left in doubt by its origi­
nal ruling the Department of Commerce issued a second edition of
Circular No. 265 on July 1, 1919. In addition to the changes which
were made, chiefly in phraseology, two new provisions were con­
tained in the revised circular. The collectors of customs were au­
thorized to direct the ship’s officers to give such orders as might be
deemed necessary by the collectors. This provision was designed to
prevent coaching or the crew by the officers beforehand. The other
new provision permitted collectors themselves to examine any sea­
man who was signed on to take the place of anyone previously re­
jected.
These revisions met with the approval of the officials of the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union. However, as no instructions had ever been
given as to a definite procedure to be followed in conducting the
language tests, collectors in the various ports continued to use their
own discretion. The International Seamen’s Union called upon the
Department of Commerce to remedy this situation. After an in­
vestigation of the current practices, Secretary Hoover, of the Depart­
ment of Commerce, on November 12,1921, issued instructions amend­
ing the second edition of Circular No. 265 of July 1, 1919. Under
the new regulations, effective January 12, 1922, it was provided
that—
The order should be given directly by the officers to each member of the crew,
and not through an interpreter or interpreters; signs, gestures, or signals
should not be used in making the test. The collector of customs or his repre­
sentative should suggest to the officers of the vessel the orders to be given,
which should touch upon matters ordinarily arising in the daily routine work
of the crew in each department, as well as orders involving fire drills, boat
a C ircular No. 265, U. S. D epartm ent of Commerce, Sept. 18, 1915.




CHAPTER m . — THE SEAMEN AND THE LA W .

41

drills, the handling of boats, and orders involving any emergencies that may
be expected to arise in handling, operating, or navigating the ship*
*

The rulings of Secretary Hoover were received with satisfaction
by the officials of the International Seamen’s Union. The editor of
the Seaman maintained that if the instructions were properly car­
ried out it would no longer be possible for foreign ships coming to
American ports to employ cheap Asiatic seamen. For example, if
a foreign vessel manned by an Asiatic crew which could understand
its officers only through interpreters arrived at an American port
after January 12, 1922, it would have to discharge the Asiatics,
make provision for their return to their home ports, and hire a new
crew of seamen who were able to understand the language of the
officers. Since the law applied to all vessels leaving American ports,
regardless of the flags under which such vessels were sailing, the
tendency would be to nationalize the personnel of each vessel in
accord with the nationality of its officers who were citizens of the
country’s flag under which they sailed. Thus, English and Ameri­
can vessels would be compelled to carry English-speaking crews,
German vessels would carry Germans, and French vessels French­
men. By thus eliminating the cheap Asiatic crews from foreign
vessels competing with American vessels, the wage costs on the
former would tend to be raised somewhat nearer the American level.2*
HOURS OF LABOR AT SEA.

The legislative committee at the 1916 convention reported that the
Department of Commerce had also improperly construed that part of
section 2 of the La Follette Act which provided that “ the sailors
shall, while at sea, be divided into at least two, and the firemen,
oilers, and water tenders into at least three watches [shifts], which
shall be kept on duty successively for the performance of ordinary
work.” This clause had been inserted by Congress, according to
the committee, in order to increase safety by compelling vessels to
have one-half of their deck crew on duty at sea at all times, so as to
be able to meet any emergency.
The decision of the Department of Commerce, however, was that—
the clause in question contemplates only equality in the length of time of the
required watches and does not prescribe that each shall consist of an equal
number of persons. Its purpose is to insure equal watch hours to all employees,
irrespective of how they may be divided as to number. In other words, if there
are 10 sailors they must be divided into at least two equal watches as to time
but not as to number; i. e., seven may serve in one watch and three in the
other. The same applies to the watches prescribed for the firemen, oilers, and
water tenders. The division as to numbers is a matter to be determined by the
officers of the vessel.84

A protest against this construction was drawn up by Mr. Furuseth
and printed as Senate Document 693 of the Sixty-fourth Congress,
second session, under the title “ Watch and watch at sea.” In his

38 Amendment to second edition of department’s Circular No. 265, dated July 1, 1919,
Dept, of Com., Nov. 12, 1921.
* For further discussion, see To Amend M erchant Marine Act of 1920, joint hearings
before the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate, and Committee on the Mer­
chant Marine and Fisheries, House of Representatives, Sixty-seventh Congress, second
session, May, 1922, Vol. II, pp. 1362, 1363, 1457, 1458, 1474, 1475. (H ereinafter
referred to as joint hearings. 1922.)
_
_
. .,
34 Circular letter, Mar. 9, 1916, U. S. Department of Commerce, Steamboat-Inspection
Service.




42

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S UNIO N OF AMERICA.

protest he stated that from time immemorial it had been the custom
to divide the deck crew into two watches or shifts and, as far as
possible, with an equal number of sailors on each watch. The divi­
sion of the firemen into three watches, with an equal number on each
watch, was a modification demanded by consideration for the men’s
health. This protest was of no avail and lacked sufficient support
of the membership to make it desirable to carry the interpretation of
the Department of Commerce to court for proper determination.25
FORECASTLE ACCOMMODATIONS.

A dispute as to the time of the application of the act grew out of
section 6, which related to enlarged forecastle accommodations. This
section read—

That section 2 of the act entitled “An act to amend the laws relating to
navigation,” approved March 3, 1897, be, and is hereby, amended to read as
follows:
“ Sec. 2. That on all merchant vessels of the United States the construction
of which shall be begun after the passage of this act. * * * ”

The Department of Commerce notified collectors of customs that
this section would apply to all vessels whose keels were laid after
March 4, 1915.26 The officials of the International Seamen’s Union,
on the other hand, insisted that the words “ this act ” in the phrase
“ after the passage of this act ” was intended to mean the act of
March 3, 1897, and not that of March 4, 1915.
Soon after the department’s circular letter of March 9, 1915, had
been issued, Mr. Furuseth petitioned President Wilson to submit the
question as to the proper construction of the section to the Attorney
General. This was done, and that officer decided that the seamen
were correct in their contention. Accordingly a revised circular
letter, conforming with the opinion of the Attorney General, was
issued by the Department of Commerce.27
However, upon appeal to the courts by the New York & Porto
Rican Steamship Co., the opinion of the Attorney General was over­
ruled. Enlarged forecastle space, therefore, must be provided only
on vessels built after November 4, 1915, the date when the La Follette Act went into effect on American vessels.
WAGE-PAYMENT PROVISIONS.

The seamen soon experienced strenuous opposition, especially
among foreign shipowners, to section 4 of the seamen’s act, which
stated:

Every seaman on a vessel of the United States shall be entitled to receive
on demand * * * one-half part of the wages which he shall have then
earned at every port where such vessel * * * shall load or deliver cargo
before the voyage is ended. * * *
Such a demand shall not be made before the expiration of nor oftener than
once in five days. Any failure on the part of the master to comply with this
demand shall release the seaman from his contract and he shall be entitled to
full payment of wages earned. * * *
* See joint hearings, 1922, Vol. II, pp. 1408, 1404.
2 Forecastle accommodations. Department Circular No. 258, Department of Commerce,
6
Washington, Mar. 9, 1915.
2 Circular letter under date of Jan. 5, 1917. Department of Commerce, Steamboat7
Inspection Service.




CHAPTER III.— THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW .

43

This section shall apply to seamen on foreign vessels while in harbors of the
United States, and the courts of the United States shall be open to such seamen
for its enforcement.

This section the seamen soon found difficult of enforcement. When
seamen asked for half pay in other than home ports and were re­
fused they informed the masters that their contract had been vio­
lated and that they were therefore entitled to full pay. In a number
of cases where payments were refused the seamen took the matter
into the courts and were told that they would have to put up bonds
for the costs. The seamen protested against this condition, which
was later remedied by an amendment in a sundry civil appropriation
bill which provided that the courts of the United States be open
without bonds for the purpose of prosecuting suits arising in the line
of their work.
This section was especially objectionable to foreign shipowners,
who were of the opinion that Congress had exceeded its powers in
extending to foreign seamen in American ports the privilege of
asking for one-half of their wages earned. This matter soon came
into the courts for a decision. In May, 1916, a British subject shipped
at Liverpool. His contract provided for a voyage not exceeding three
years, with wages payable at the end of the voyage. In July, 1916,
the ship arrived at Pensacola, Fla., and while in that port he de­
manded one-half of the wages which he had earned up to that time,
but payment was refused. He then filed in the United States dis­
trict court a libel against the ship, claiming $125. The district court
found against the seaman, but the United States Circuit Court of
Appeals (fifth circuit) reversed the decision. The shipowners, by
a writ of certiorari, brought the decree of the court of appeals before
the United States Supreme Court, which, on March 29, 1920, upheld
the constitutionality of those sections of the seamen’s act which per­
mitted seamen to demand one-half of their wages earned, at any port
at which the vessel stopped. The court also upheld that part of
the section which extended this privilege to foreign seamen on for­
eign vessels.
In reply to the contention of the shipowners that the provision in
question should be limited to American seamen, the court said:
Such limited construction would have a tendency to prevent the employment
of American seamen and to promote the engagement of those who were not
entitled to sue for one-half wages under the provisions of the law. But, taking
the provisions of the act as the same are written, we think it plain that it
manifests the purpose of Congress to place American and foreign seamen
on an equality of right in so far as the privileges of this section are concerned,
with equal opportunity to resort to the courts of the United States for the
enforcement of the act.

With regard to the contention that this construction would render
the statute unconstitutional, as destructive of contract rights, the
court held:

We have no doubt as to the authority of Congress to pass a statute of this
sort applicable to foreign vessels in our ports and controlling the employment
and payment of seamen as, a condition of the right of such vessels to enter and
use the ports of the United States.28*
* Dillon v . Strathearn (256 Fed. 631).
pp. 187-189.
44668°— 23------4




See also Monthly Labor Review, June, 1920,

44

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S UNION OF AMERICA.

The seamen hailed this decision as of far-reaching importance,
because foreign seamen were in a position to demand in American
ports one-half of their wages earned. They were assured of enough
money to maintain themselves until they could get another job on
ships paying higher wages. In this way foreign shipowners, it was
said, would be forced to pay higher wages to prevent their men
from deserting in American ports. Accordingly the seamen held
that foreign wages would tend to be equal to American wages and
American ships would be in a position to compete successfully with
foreign ships.29
Although this decision was in favor of the seamen and clarified
section 4 of the seamen’s act, we are told that they later found that
the effectiveness of the section had been whittled away by various
constructions until it became necessary to amend that section of the
law. This was done by section 31 of the merchant marine act of
1920, which made the existing section more definite and clear as to
its intent.30
CERTAIN CRITICISMS AND REPLIES.

Most of the opposition in the courts against the seamen’s act came
from foreign shipowners or from those supported by foreign inter­
ests. The lack of opposition on the part of the American shipowner
is perhaps due to the fact that he has learned that the act “ is plac­
ing him on an equality with his competitors, and he is not looking
to have it destroyed.” 31 A close scanning of the literature issued
by American shipowners and shippers shows that the foregoing
statement is generally true regarding what Mr. Furuseth calls the
main principles of the seamen’s act. American shipowners have,
however, protested against what they call “ the discriminatory pro­
visions ” of the act.
SHIPOWNERS’ LEADING OBJECTIONS.

The criticism and opposition of shipowners have, therefore, been
concentrated on sections 13 and 14. Section 13, it will be recalled,
specifies certain qualifications as to the skill, experience, and age
required of able seamen. This section also imposes a language test
on vessels leaving American ports. Section 14 specifies the number
and character of lifeboats and fixes the manning scale for passenger
vessels. Shipowners are generally opposed to these provisions, as
they require a longer term of service than owners deem necessary
before an ordinary seaman can receive his certificate as an able sea­
man or as a lifeboat man. Owners also object to these provisions on
the ground that larger crews are required on American vessels than
on foreign vessels of the same size.32 These criticisms may be re­
garded as typical, as they were made by a committee of 16, repre­
senting shipping and foreign trade interests.
2 The Survey, May 1, 1920, p. 192.
9
8 Joint hearings, 1922, Vol. II, p. 1267. It is of interest to note that sec. 10 of the
0
Jones Act made an important amendment to the seamen’s act by providing, among other
matters, that if any advances or allotments were made in a foreign country, seamen could
demand that they be repaid if they were paid off in the United States.
8 From Mr. Furuseth s annual report in Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of
1
America, 1921, p. 24.
3 Merchant Marine. Report of the Merchant Marine Committee of the United States
2
Chamber of Commerce. Washington, D. C., April, 1922, p. 13.




CHAPTER III.---- THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW.

45

An editorial in Everybody’s Magazine (May, 1916, p. 656), while
in general approving sections 13 and 14, because they raised stand­
ards on vessels leaving American ports, pointed out what it con­
sidered a real discrimination which had for the most part been
overlooked. The editorial stated that if an American vessel carried
a cargo to Buenos Aires under American manning standards its
costs would be greater than those of a vessel from London sailing
under less drastic English standards. The Outlook (May 17, 1915,
p. 602), criticized the seamen’s act in that it was too detailed in its
scope and therefore practically unworkable.
SECTIONS 4 AND 7.

There was also some criticism against section 7, which abolished
the penalty for imprisonment in foreign ports, and against section
4, which provided for payment of one-half the wages earned and
due to seamen. Opposition was based on the ground that the com­
pulsory payment of these wages to seamen in foreign ports seriously
affected discipline and involved expensive delays. Protests from 40
consular representatives in foreign ports against the continuance of
such large payments of wages abroad were said to have been re­
ceived by the State Department.33
NAVIGATION LAWS REVIEWED.

In addition to the alleged discriminatory provisions o f the sea­
men’s act which have been outlined in the foregoing paragraphs,
American shipowners found other sections in the navigation laws
which needed revision. This dissatisfaction with the prevailing
maritime laws was brought to the attention of the United States
Shipping Board, who appointed a committee to study and recom­
mend any necessary revisions of the law. This committee, in Octo­
ber, 1919, and in April, 1920, made special reports on the seamen’s
act. One of the recommendations urged that section 13 of the sea­
men’s act be amended so as to reduce the preliminary period of
service required before men could be rated as able seamen and to
reduce the percentage of able seamen required in the deck crews.
Another recommendation in part provided that American vessels be
placed at no disadvantage with foreign vessels in the number of men
in their crews.
Regarding section 4 of the seamen’s act, the committee recom­
mended principally that it be changed so as to provide for the pay­
ment of only one-fourth of the wages earned, instead of one-half.
This change was urged because “ of the use which the seaman made
of his money, especially in foreign ports, rather than upon the num­
ber of desertions.” 34
The committee also urged the repeal of that part of the law which
entitled seamen who had signed an agreement and who had been dis­
charged before the commencement of the voyage to a month’s wage.
S3 j . Parker Kirlin. The Operating Problem of the American M erchant Marine (pam­
phlet American Steamship Owners’ Association, New York, 1920), p. 9. For digest of
consular reports referred to, see Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of Ameriea.
1921, pp. 377-379. writer from Lawrence B. Evans, counsel for the codification of the
MLetter to the
navigation laws, U. S. Shipping Board, No. 14, 1922.




46

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S UNIO N OF AMERICA.

A continuous discharge book was recommended in j)lace of the ex­
isting certificate of discharge. The codification of existing maritime
laws was also strongly urged.
The recommendations of the navigation laws committee were care­
fully examined by the United States Shipping Board, which reached
the conclusion that—
While our navigation laws, including the seaman’s act, need some revision
or modification, they do not constitute as serious a handicap upon American
shipping as they are often represented to be.
The additional cost to American shipping companies resulting from the
alleged disabilities in our navigation laws is not an important item in the cost
of operation of American ships.*5
REPLIES OF THE SEAMEN.

Mr. Furuseth, who was a member of the navigation laws revision
committee, lost no time in drawing up a minority report in opposition
to the proposals of the majority. His first objection was directed
against any amendment of the law intended to reduce the qualifica­
tions needed for an able seaman’s certificate. He was also opposed
to any reduction in the number of able seamen required to be carried
on passenger vessels. His objections to these changes were based on
the fact that the existing laws had been found necessary by Congress
for safety at sea. He also took exception to the generally accepted
point of view that the employment of competent able seamen meant
high operating costs. He argued that it was real economy to employ
skilled men who knew how to handle and keep a vessel’s gear in re­
pair as well as how to keep the vessel itself in proper order. Accord­
ing to him, the nation having the highest proportion of skilled men
was in the most advantageous position to meet competition. In
reply to the popular contention that there were not enough able
seamen to keep vessels running in compliance with the law, he stated
that reports of the Department of Commerce showed that there were
about twice as many men wuth able seamen certificates as were neces­
sary for our merchant marine.36
With reference to the recommendation that American vessels
should not be placed at any disadvantage with foreign vessels in the
number of men carried, Mr. Furuseth replied that when American
shipowners learn to use the crew to the best advantage they will carry
more men than they now do. He proposed that efficient seamen be
given continuous employment instead of being discharged at the end
of every voyage.37
The relatively high manning scale specified by the seamen’s act was
further defended by Mr. Furuseth at the joint hearings in the spring
of 1922. At this time he pointed out that section 14 provided that
“ foreign vessels leaving ports of the United States shall comply with
the rules * * * as to life-saving appliances, equipment, and the
manning of same.” He felt that if this section were properly en­
forced foreign passenger vessels coming to American ports would have
to come up to the requirements specified on American vessels.38*
86 Governmental aid to M erchant Shipping. Prepared and multigraphed by U. S. Ship­
ping Board, W ashington, D. C., 1922, pp. 75, 76.
“ For details of Mr. Furuserth’s contentions, see Proceedings International Seamen’s
Union of America, 1921, pp. 324-332.
** M inority report, April, 1920, reprinted in Proceedings International Seamen’s Union
of America, 1921, p. 374.
“ Joint hearings, 1922, Vol. II, p. 1458.




CHAPTER III.— THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW.

47

The proposal to alter section 4 so that no more than one-fourth
of the wages earned could be demanded was especially criticized by
Mr. Furuseth, who thought that the change would have the effect of
wiping the seamen’s act from the statute books. He felt that under
the proposed amendment the sum to which a deserting seaman would
be entitled would be too small to make it possible for him to desert
his ship.39
OTHER ALLEGED DISCRIMINATORY FACTORS.

Although Shipowners have called attention to the importance of
making certain changes in the maritime law, they have attached
more emphasis to certain economic differentials which have been
working against the success of the American merchant marine. It
has been said that the disabilities imposed on American shipping by
the seamen’s act and by earlier laws are minor when compared with
the differences in fixed charges (due to higher initial construction
costs), wages, and subsistence costs against which American ships
are compelled to operate. The first factor—higher fixed charges—■
has no relation to either the International Seamen’s Union or the
seamen’s act, and its consideration has therefore been omitted as
not coming within the scope of this work.
Shipowners are unanimous in their contention that it costs more
to operate American vessels than foreign vessels. This condition is
said to be due in most part to higher wages and higher subsistence
expenses on American vessels. The United States Shipping Board
holds that the higher wages and larger subsistence charges on Amer­
ican vessels are not due to any legislative enactments, but are merely
a reflection of the higher wages and better living standards that
prevail generally throughout this country as compared with those
prevailing in other countries. The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic
Commerce likewise believes that the general higher average of Ameri­
can wages affects the wages of seamen sailing from American ports.
THE SEAMEN’S DENIAL.

The contention that wages are higher on American vessels than
on foreign vessels has been denied time and again in no uncertain
terms by Mr. Furuseth. If American wages have been higher than
foreign wages since 1915, then the seamen’s act has admittedly failed
in its purpose. It must be recalled that when the passage of the
seamen’s bill was being urged, Mr. Furuseth asserted that one of its
chief aims was to raise foreign sea wages to American levels.
In the following pages the writer has essayed to present the point
of view of the officers of the International Seamen’s Union, whose
belief in the soundness of the “ equalization theory ” remains un­
shaken.
THE ACT AND WAGES.

Shortly after the seamen’s act went into operation on foreign ves­
sels, Mr. Furuseth found evidence which demonstrated to him the
success of the act, which had been hailed as a new Magna Cha#a.
Thus at the December, 1917 convention of the International Sea­
8 Minority report, April, 1920, reprinted in Proceedings *International Seamen’* Union
9
1921, pp. 372, 373.

o America,
f




48

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ^ UNION OF AMERICA.

men’s Union, Mr. Furuseth stated that there was a distinct tendency
toward higher wages, due to the operation of the seamen’s act. He
found proof of this in the 1917 report of the seaman’s branch of the .
New York Legal Aid Society, which read in part:
As a rule, seamen on foreign vessels demand one-half their wages and then
quit. The result is the foreign ship’s master must refurnish his vessel with a
crew before leaving. To do this he must apply to shipping masters or one of
the seamen’s institutions who supply seamen, but he has to pay the going rate
of wages in whatever port he happens to be. The seamen then take the precau­
tion to see that there is incorporated in their contracts a provision that assures
them that they will always be discharged in a port paying wages as high as the
ones in the United States or that they shall be returned by such foreign owners
to ports of the United States where they will again have an opportunity of
securing the best rate of wages.

The most recent explanations and evidences in support of the sea­
men’s act by the officials of the International Seamen’s Union were
advanced at the joint hearings of the House and Senate held in May,
1922, when bills were being considered to amend the merchant ma­
rine act of 1920. In support of his contention that the seamen’s
act had brought about an equalization of wages, Mr. Furuseth, at
the hearings, submitted a copy of a report that had been prepared
by the United States Shipping Board for President Wilson in 1918.40
This report was based on a study of American wages made by the
United States Shipping Board, the United States Bureau of Labor
Statistics, and the Bureau of Navigation. The figures were checked
with those furnished by various union officials.
In the case of foreign wages it was not possible to get figures com­
parable in completeness with those presented for American vessels.
In the report there may be found, in addition to American and for­
eign wage data, wage agreements, and other miscellaneous matter.
In no place, however, is there an attempt made to summarize the
wage data or draw conclusions from them. Some of the wages pre­
sented in the report are herewith summarized in tabular form:
MONTHLY WAGES OF AMERICAN AND FOREIGN ABLE SEAMEN.
Date.
1914.
.Tnlv_________
Anomst.
__________ _____ .. .
1915.
Jnlv________
November.........................................................
Dfiopmhfir______________ - . _____
1916.
March______
April........................... ......................................
June...................................................................
Julv.................... ................................................
1917.
March......... ..
April...................................................................
May.....................................................................
November .. ___ ___ ____ __
191S.
March.............
October..............................................................
November........................................................

American.

British.

$30.00

$30.00

30.00
30.00
30.00

30.00

30.00
45.00
45.00

30.00

45.00
60.00
60.00
75.00
75.00

75.00

Danish.

20.25
20.25
20.25
20.25
20.25

Dutch.
$27.00

$17.55

45.00

«• See joint hearings, 1922, VoL II, pp. 1271-1289.




45.00

Swedish.

$30.00
45.00
45.00
60.00
75.00

28.00

45.00
65.00

70.00

CHAPTER H I.— THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW .

49

Mr. Furuseth’s conclusions from the wage statistics, which have
been summarized in the foregoing table, are that wages on European
vessels followed the American 64as a cart follows a horse.” Some­
what later in his testimony he explained the foregoing remark a little
more fully. He said that on the Atlantic, wages out of American
ports before the seamen’s act ranged from $25 to $35 per month
for able seamen and remained so for nearly two years after the war
began in Europe. The seamen’s act became effective on American
vessels on November 4, 1915, and wages approximated $35 a month
in February, 1916. Three months later they were increased to $45.
In September of that year seamen began to receive a war-zone bonus
of 25 per cent of each trip’s wages.
On foreign vessels the act went into effect on June 4, 1916, and
by August 1, 1916, wages on British vessels were equal to those paid
on American ships. Mr. Furuseth said that this equalization was
effected by British seamen demanding one-half of their wages when
they landed at American ports. If they received them they quit and
shipped on some other vessel at wages prevailing in the American
port at which they deserted their ships. If their demands for onehalf of their wages were refused, they quit, nevertheless, and took
proceedings against their vessels in the United States courts.41*
An extract from a report by the Investigation and Inspection Serv­
ice of the Federal Department of Labor was also approvingly
quoted by Mr. Furuseth. According to this report the high cost of
living and the increased perils of submarine warfare brought about
substantial increases in 1917 and resulted in wages being equalized,
first on American ships and later, especially in 1918, on practically
all foreign vessels. 44The American rate led the pace, and foreign
rates soon equalized with the exception of the French. This excep­
tion is due to the fact that the French merchant marine was con­
trolled by the French Government.”
Mr. Furuseth found further evidences of the practical working
out of the seamen’s act in a statement made by a court in Copen­
hagen, Denmark, and from another made by a police court in South­
ampton, England. He also quoted from an article in the Liverpool
Journal of Commerce of January 27, 1921. The Danish court con­
cerned itself with four Danish seamen who came to American ports
and used the seamen’s act to demand higher wages from their cap­
tain. After a dispute higher wages were paid, but on arrival in
Copenhagen the seamen were arrested under the Danish lav? for
desertion. As the seamen had deserted under pressure of the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union, the court decided to release the seamen
with small fines.
In the Southampton police court three seamen were prosecuted
for 44jumping ” the I m p e r a t oatr New York and signing on an­
other English vessel for a return trip at a higher rate. The ship’s
master, in testifying against the seamen, said that on its first trip as
an English vessel from Southampton, the I m p e r a t ohad lost 107
r
men by desertion at New York. In punishing the prisoners with
the choice of a fine of £20 ($97.33, par) or two months’ imprisonment,
the judge remarked that he was determined to stop desertion in
American ports.
41 For complete testim ony of Mr. Furuseth, see joint hearings, 1922, Vol. II, pp. 1308,
1309.




50

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

The Liverpool Journal of Commerce was quoted to show that
British shipowners were complaining that the seamen’s act had
caused wholesale desertion of British crews in contravention of
their articles of agreement.
These three incidents were cited as evidence that foreign seamen
took advantage of the seamen’s act to raise their wages when Ameri­
can wages were higher. Further testimony regarding this matter was
presented by a field representative of the International Seamen’s
Union. He informed the joint committee that the unions had made
special efforts to make foreign seamen cognizant of the privileges of
the seamen’s act. They were told of the higher American wages
and were helped in the courts. In many instances habeas corpus
proceedings were secured to release men who wished to leave their
vessels under rights granted them by the seamen’s act but denied
to them by their captain. These steps had been taken by the
unions because calculations for the success of the act were based
upon the equalization of foreign and American marine wages.
As additional evidence of the functioning of the seamen’s act,
Mr. Furuseth called attention at the joint hearings to the reduction
in marine wages which were being effected by American and foreign
shipowners. He cited the United States Shipping Board42 as au­
thority for the statement that in recent years steamship owners in
Great Britain had generally awaited announcements of wage reduc­
tions on American vessels before reducing wages on their own
vessels. According to Mr. Furuseth, British owners allowed Ameri­
can owners to take the initiative in reducing wages because the
former wished to minimize or to prevent the desertion of British
seamen visiting American ports. In other words, the seamen’s
act also acted as a wage leveler in times of depression because
foreign wages followed American wages in their downward course.
From time to time various articles have appeared in the Seamen’s
Journal and other periodicals purporting to show how the seamen’s
act was responsible for raising wages on foreign vessels. One of the
most recent and most comprehensive appeared in the Seamen’s
Journal of March 8, 1922 (pp. 1, 2). The most important part of
this article criticized one appearing in the October 17, 1921, issue of
the Commerce Reports (pp. 421, 422) of the Federal Department
of Commerce. The Government report showed that the wages of an
American crew on a 7,500 dead-weight ton coal-burning steamer were
50 per cent greater than on a similar British vessel, with the
pound sterling converted at $3.73. Data for the American vessel
were based upon the wage scale effective May 1, 1921, and for the
British vessel upon the scale in use during July, 1921.
To these statements the writer in the Seaman’s Journal took ex­
ception. In the first place he pointed out that American wages were
given at the rate set May 1, 1921, a rate soon greatly undercut by
private owners, especially on the Atlantic. In the second place Brit­
ish wages were not stated to be for vessels touching American ports.
This was held to be fundamental, as only ships touching American
ports (i. e., directly competing with American vessels) were effected
by the seamen’s act.
“ Report on M arine and Dock Industrial R elations, p. 27*




CHAPTER H I.---- THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW.

51

Testimony by Mr. Raymond B. Stevens, of the United States
Shipping Board, and by various shipowners at congressional hear­
ings was quoted to show that wages on foreign ships in the Atlantic
trade had tended to approach American levels. The writer of the
article concluded, however, by stating that the seamen’s act had not
been fully used by foreign seamen on the Pacific coast.

The preference of American shipowners to ship oriental crews rather than
carry Americans at American wages; the Chinese exclusion law s; the restraint
of Japanese seamen for fear of giving offense on the ground of violating the
“ gentlemen’s agreement ” ; the influence brought to bear upon Japanese sea­
men in urging them to postpone taking advantage of the law pending decisions
of the United States Supreme Court—[On November 13, 1922, the United
States Supreme Court decided that Japanese could not become naturalized citi­
zens]—all these factors have prevented the full operation of the act and the
equalization of wages in trans-Pacific shipping.*

In conclusion, it may be stated that the seamen still believe that
any existing difference in wages between American ships and foreign
ships coming to American ports is due to local, temporary, or ab­
normal conditions, and that on the return of normal times, with
an increased demand for seamen, the free play of economic forces
will tend automatically to bring foreign wages up to the American
standard.
Furthermore, the seamen are “ convinced that the enforcement of
the different clauses of the seamen’s act will bring wages of sea­
men under all nations’ flags to an equality. A very small differential
may exist, because men may determine to stay by the vessel on which
they are employed if the differential between wages received and
wages expected would not be sufficient to bring a gain by leaving and
obtaining employment on some other vessel.” 44
SUBSISTENCE COSTS.

Regarding the statement that the cost of subsistence is higher on
American than on British vessels, Mr. Furuseth recently said:45

The same contention was made many years ago. The present American scale
of provision was arranged by the Marine Hospital Service for the Committee
on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and it is in the form in which it was
reported to the committee and enacted in 1898, with this exception, that 1
ounce of butter and 1 quart of water per day were added with the passage of
the seamen’s act. The English scale of provision was enacted in 1906.
The differential between them in cost, if there is any differential, considering
that each vessel buys provisions where it can buy cheapest, might be said to be
microscopic. It has been continually said here [at the hearings] that the
American shipowner feeds his men above the scale. There are some shipowners
who do, there are some shipowners who do not; and the best evidence of that
is that we have had to go to court several times to compel some of the ship­
owners to pay extra money because they did not come up to the scale.

SUMMARY.

In this chapter the writer has attempted to present the leading
activities of the International Seamen’s Union in the legislative
field and to show how that union sought to improve the conditions
" T h e Seamen’s Journal, Mar. 8, 1922, p. 2. See also joint hearings, 1922, Vol. II
p. 1322.

4 From a letter of Mr. Furuseth to President Harding, Jan. 28, 1922, Quoted in joint
4
hearings, 1922, Vol. II, pp. 12G4, 1265.
J
4 Joint hearings, 1922, Vol. II, p. 1298.
4




52

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’ S UNION OE AMERICA.

of American seamen by modifications in the marine law. The
changes brought about, beginning with the Maguire Act in 1895
and culminating with the seamen’s act in 1915, are fundamentally
the embodiment in law of the economic theories of Mr. Furuseth.
For this reason citations from his articles, reports, and addresses
were rather numerous throughout this chapter. In his efforts to
effect the changes he, however, has been loyally supported by the
officials and general membership of the International Seamen’s
Union.
In the opinion of the writer, Mr. Furuseth’s program for change
rests on the following basis: That in any given market at any given
time there can be only one price for the same article. In other
words, if the world’s labor markets for seamen are openly and freely
competitive, then a uniform wage will be paid for the same class of
work. When the International Seamen’s Union was founded, the
world’s markets were not freely competitive, as American seamen
were not permitted to desert in foreign ports and foreign seamen
were not permitted to desert in American ports. The former cir­
cumstance, according to Mr. Furuseth, kept Americans from going
to sea. The latter prevented wages on foreign vessels from reaching
the somewhat higher American levels and so discriminated against
American vessels. In order that foreign wages might approximate
American wages, Mr. Furuseth proposed that the penalty of im­
prisonment for desertion in American ports by foreign seamen be
abolished. This purpose was the outstanding feature of the sea­
men’s act. Permitting seamen to demand one-half of their wages
earned, abolishing certain advances, and calling upon the President
to abrogate treaties conflicting with the main intention of the act
were merely subsidiary provisions to make the “ equalization proc­
ess ” effective.
The seamen’s act was never given a real opportunity to demon­
strate its effectiveness because of the opposition of foreign ship­
owners in American, courts and because of interpretations and con­
structions by the Department of Commerce unfavorable to the sea­
men’s understanding of the law. These circumstances caused the
seamen to understand that the seamen’s law was not an end but
merely a means which, if properly used, could improve working and
living conditions. After the passage of this act the legislative com­
mittee of the International Seamen’s Union had to be continuously
on guard in order to prevent unfavorable rulings from nullifying
the main provisions of the act. Attempts to secure an acceptable in­
terpretation of the language provision stretched over a period of
years. At the present time the seamen find that it is difficult to
enforce this provision, owing to the fact that agents of the union
find it almost impossible to board vessels to detect any violations.
In spite of strenuous efforts the legislative committee of the In­
ternational Seamen’s Union was not able to secure a favorable in­
terpretation from the Department of Commerce regarding equal
wages at sea, nor was its point of view regarding forecastle accom­
modations sustained by the courts.
The seamen found especially strenuous opposition among foreign
shipowners against the provisions of the act which made it possible
for seamen to secure the payment of one-half their wages earned.



CHAPTER 331.— THE SEAMEN AND THE LAW .

53

The United States Supreme Court, however, in March, 1920, finally
upheld the constitutionality of the seamen’s act so far as it related
to these provisions. Even the effectiveness of this decision was
gradually destroyed by various technical interpretations. It was
subsequently found necessary to clarify the meaning of the seamen’s
act by certain amendments in the merchant marine law of 1920. A
recent court interpretation upheld the amendment in the foregoing
act.
In addition to the above-mentioned objections to the seamen’s act,
there are some which were advanced primarily by American ship­
owners. Their criticisms and the replies of the seamen are con­
sidered in this chapter.
As a class, American shipowners have not criticized what the sea­
men regard as the leading principles of the seamen’s act. The ship­
owners have, however, concentrated their criticism and opposition
on those provisions of the seamen’s act which lay down certain speci­
fications as to skill, experience, age, and number of seamen to be car­
ried. According to the owners these provisions make the operating
labor costs higher on American than on foreign vessels.
The seamen assert that while American legal standards are above
those of foreign countries, American shipowners suffer no discrimi­
nation, as the seamen’s act provides that foreign vessels touching
American ports must comply with the regulations applying to Amer­
ican vessels. The International Seamen’s Union maintains that the
proper enforcement of the seamen’s act will thus bring standards on
foreign vessels up to the American requirements. Shipowners, on
the other hand, are of the opinion that the only way to equalize
American and foreign standards is to reduce those required by the
seamen’s act to European standards. To this proposal the seamen
reply that the existing standards are necessary to the safety of life
and property at sea. Moreover, they hold that wages are only a
small proportion of the total operating expenses 46 and that lower
wages ana inferior living and working standards would result in
inefficiency and perhaps in a larger number of disasters. A recent
report of the navigation laws revisions committee of the United
States Shipping Board shows that the existing navigation laws are
not so great a handicap as they are frequently represented to be.
Reports of the Federal Department of Labor and of the Shipping
Board show that during the war wages on foreign vessels tended to
approach those on American vessels. Furthermore, desertions of
foreign seamen in American ports were frequent and numerous
enough to attract unfavorable comment in foreign countries.
After the armistice foreign shipowners seemed to have awaited
announcement of American wage reductions before reducing wages
of their own seamen. American shipowners were permitted this
initiative because foreign owners wished to minimize the desertion
of their seamen in American ports. More recently it has been diffi­
cult to trace the effects of the seamen’s act on wages, as both foreign
and domestic seamen have not been in a position to avail themselves
of the privileges of the act. In general, it appears that the wages
on vessels directly operated by the United States Shipping Board
« According to the U. S. Shipping Board labor wages aboard ship represent less than
10 per cent of the total cost of operation. (Report on Marine and Dock Industrial Rela­
tions, U. S. Shipping Board, W ashington, D. C., March, 1922, p. 20.)




54

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

have recently been somewhat higher that those prevailing on Brit­
ish vessels, while the actual wages on privately operated vessels have
been lower than on British vessels. The indications, however, are
for somewhat higher wage rates on American vessels, as rates here
have been too low to maintain competent American seamen at sea.
One of the indications favorable to the seamen is the amendment
of certain sections of the seamen’s act by the Jones Act of 1920.
Accordingly, a revival of the shipping industry will find the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union in a better legal position than in 1915 to
demonstrate the effectiveness of the seamen’s act as a means to im­
proved working conditions and as a means to a better American
merchant marine.
CONCLUSIONS.

To the International Seamen’s Union the La Follette Act means
primarily that seamen are no longer “ slaves ” but freemen, and
that by their own efforts wages can be equalized on American and
competing foreign vessels. American shipowners, who attach no
significance to these statements, charge that the act means larger
crews and higher operating costs. They hold that American marine
wages must be higher than foreign marine wages because of the
higher wages generally prevailing in America. The seamen, on the
other hand, assert that American and foreign wages must tend to­
ward an equality, provided that seamen receiving lower wages can
bring these up to higher levels by leaving their* vessels in higherwage ports. It is important to note that the effectiveness of the
seamen’s act can be fairly judged only if all of its provisions are
properly enforced.
The recent reverses in the tide of the International Seamen’s
Union will prove serviceable if the present members of that organiza­
tion have learned that the seamen’s act is a means toward a desired
end and not an end in itself. On the return of more normal condi­
tions the present loyal members may prove a valuable nucleus around
which an informed membership may be created.
Chapter V will show that the International Seamen’s Union is
attempting to have the seamen’s unions throughout the world urge
the passage, in each of the maritime nations, of a law similar to the
seamen’s act. The International Seamen’s Union realizes that uni­
form conditions must ultimately prevail all over the world or at­
tempts to abrogate the seamen’s act may be successful*




CHAPTER IV.—THE WAR AND AFTER.
THE ATLANTIC COAST.
EARLY WAR CONFERENCES.

Soon after the declaration of war against Germany by Congress
on April 6, 1917, the necessity for an adequate number of seamen
for the manning of transport and supply ships began to be realized.
Initial steps were taken as early as May 8, 1917, toward insuring
the requisite number of seamen. On that day a conference was held
between the members of the United States Shipping Board, the
steamship owners sitting on the shipping committee of the Council
of National Defense, and representatives of the International Sea­
men’s Union of America. The conference entered into a tentative
agreement out of which grew what later became the Atlantic war
agreement.
On June 29, 1917, the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary
of Labor issued a joint call for a conference between officials of
their departments, officials of the Shipping Board, and representa­
tives of the shipowners and seamen of the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf,
and Great Lakes. The conference was held in Washington, D. C.,
on August 1 and 2, 1917. The meeting was called for the purpose
of “ considering the whole subject of the training * * * of the
necessary seamen for the merchant vessels of the United States and
its allies trading in American ports, and all questions affecting the
same.”
The first important outcome of this conference was the appoint­
ment of a standing committee composed of six members representing
the shipowners, six representing the employees, one the Department
of Commerce, one the Department of Labor, and one the Shipping
Board. The committee, according to Mr. Furuseth, could not be
considered as representing the shipowners of the Pacific coast
because they were not appreciably represented in the conference
which appointed the committee. Moreover, the committee could not
be considered as representing the shipowners of the Great Lakes
because these employers were entirely unrepresented at the con­
ference.
THE ATLANTIC WAR AGREEMENT.

The second accomplishment of the conference was the readoption
of the tentative agreement of May 8, 1917, with certain changes
regarding overtime and wages of cooks and stewards. The agree­
ment, dated August 8, 1917, was approved on August 17 by the
Secretary of Commerce and by the Secretary of Labor. This com­
pact, which is generally referred to as the Atlantic war agreement,
was the first ever made between the Atlantic shipowners as a body
and the International Seamen’s Union. With certain modifications,



5
5

56

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S U NION OF AMERICA.

this instrument constituted the basis for marine war-time adjust­
ments on the Atlantic coast. By its terms a standard scale of wages,1
overtime, and a war-zone bonus of 50 per cent of the wages were
agreed upon; also representatives of the seamen’s unions were per­
mitted access to docks and vessels. The seamen’s unions agreed to
join with the shipowners in an appeal urging seamen then employed
on shore to come back to sea. Furthermore, the seamen were to
cooperate with the ships’ officers to teach seamanship to boys and
ordinary seamen and were to permit 40 per cent of the deck crew
to be made up of ordinary seamen and boys.1 This latter proposal
2
was originally submitted by Mr. Furuseth, who guaranteed that the
organized seamen would do everything that could be done to teach
boys and ordinary seamen the work of able seamen if the shipowners
would cooperate by admitting the representatives of the seamen’s
unions to the docks and ships.
CALLS TO SEA.

In order to encourage men to join the new merchant marine, the
standing committee drafted a “ call to sea,” which read in part as
follows:

The United States Government, the shipowners, the seamen jointly issue
this call to the sea.
The message to those who have left the sea is this: The conditions which
caused you to leave no longer exist. Seamen are no longer bound by laws to
the vessels on which they serve. The seamen’s act has conferred this and
many other blessings upon them. Economic and working conditions affecting
the calling have been immeasurably improved. Attractive wages are being paid.
The message to the young man, the novice, is th is: You can give ear to the
call of the sea and respond to its lure with confidence that upon the sea a
career is again a possibility. The improvement in the conditions affecting the
seaman’s calling has necessarily increased its opportunities for the ambitious
and industrious to secure advancement. Conditions on board vessels have been
materially improved. When vessels are in port the seamen are as free as men
ashore.
The message to all followers or would-be followers of the sea is this: The
United States of America, above all other countries, has proven itself the
friend of the seaman. That Nation needs you now. Our country is building
many steamers and it needs the men and the officers to man them as never
before.
An agreement has been reached between the shipowners and the seamen
concerning conditions and wages, calculated to assure adequate recompense and
reasonable comfort to those who return to the sea or for the first time respond
to its lure, and such agreement has been countersigned by the Secretary of
Labor, the Secretary of Commerce, and the chairman of the Shipping Board
of the United States Government.*

As this call failed to get the signature of the shipowners, the sea­
men, when they met in their annual convention in December, 1917,
adopted a call, which was made public in The Seamen’s Journal
and in other publications of the international union. This call read,
in part:
The Nation that proclaimed your freedom now needs your services. America
is at war. Thousands of skilled seamen, seafaring men of all capacities, who

1 Sailors and firemen were granted $60 a m on th ; coal heavers, $50; oilers and w ater
tenders, $65 ; boatswains, $70; carpenters, $75.
2For full text of agreement, see Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board. Wash­
ington, 1919, pp. 169-171.
* Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1917, pp. 31, 32.




CHAPTER TV.---- THE WAR AND AFTER.

57

left the sea in years gone by as a protest against the serfdom from which no
flag then offered relief, have now an opportunity to return to their former
calling, sail as freemen, and serve our country.
America has the right, a far greater right than any other nation, to call upon
the seamen of all tlte world for service. By responding to this call now you can
demonstrate your practical appreciation of freedom won.
THE MARINE CONFERENCE.

While the Atlantic agreement marked a good beginning in the
adjustment of marine labor problems, it had the shortcoming of
applying only to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Moreover, changing
conditions were making certain provisions obsolete. To handle
some of the new problems, the United States Shipping Board called
another marine conference, to which were invited representatives of
the shipowners, officers, and crews from every section of the United
States. The conference met in Washington, D. C., from April 29
to May 4, 1918. The chief outcome of this gathering was the agree­
ment to leave to the Shipping Board the fixing of all rates of pay
and the determination of working conditions on the Atlantic and
the Gulf. In order that the Shipping Board might be in a position
to act intelligently on matters relating to the recruiting of seamen
and their living conditions, the marine conference arranged for the
creation of a standing committee of five, representing employers,
employees, and the Shipping Board. This committee took up such
questions as the establishment of a system of employment offices,
the putting of forecastles in sanitary condition, and the operation
of the selective draft with respect to seamen.
NEW WAGE SCALES.

Shortly after the determination of wage scales and working condi­
tions had been left to the Shipping Board, it issued (May 18, 1918)
a wage scale for unlicensed members of the deck and engine room
departments. Wages of able seamen were fixed at $75 a month,
ordinary seamen at $55, boatswains at $85, and carpenters at $90.
In the engine room department wages of coal passers were set at $65
a month, firemen at $75, and oilers and water tenders at $80. On
vessels sailing into the war zone the war bonus of 50 per cent was
continued. On June 1, 1918, an award covering the stewards’ de­
partment gave a $20 flat increase to all chief stewards and a $15
flat increase to all other members of the stewards’ department, re­
troactive to May 4, 1918. The war bonus of 50 per cent was con­
tinued on vessels sailing into the war zone.4
FURTHER INCREASES GRANTED.

Early in 1919 the various Atlantic unions requested several
changes in working conditions. The 8-hour day in port and the
three watches at sea (equivalent to the 8-hour day) were requested
for sailors, as it was said that several European nations had adopted
these conditions. The firemen asked that the number of fires each
had to handle be reduced and that wages be increased. The Ship­
ping Board, early in June, called a meeting, to which were invited*
* For full text of awards, see Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Skipping Board, Washing­
ton, 1919, pp. 184-186.




58

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN^ UNION OF AMERICA.

representatives of the shipowners of the Atlantic, Pacific, and the
Lakes, of the licensed officers’ associations, and of the seamen’s
unions. The shipowners in their tentative proposals gave no prefer­
ence to union men. The seamen, however, demanded the prefer­
ential union shop. As the various parties could not agree, the meet­
ing ended without accord, and a strike lasting about 20 days ensued.5*
In the meantime negotiations were reopened, and on July 26,
1919, a committee representing the American Steamship Owners’
Association and a committee representing the sailors’, firemen’s, and
stewards’ unions of the Atlantic coast came to an agreement with
regard to wages and working conditions. On July 29, the United
States Shipping Board approved this settlement, which was to run
for one year. The new provisions called for an increase of $15 a
month over the May, 1918, scale for all members of the fireroom
with the exception of coal passers and wipers, to whom an increase
of $10 was granted. All members of the deck department were
given a flat increase of $10 a month except boys, who received no in­
crease. On freight ships the chief stewards and chief cooks were
awarded a $15 increase and all other members of the stewards’ de­
partment a $10 increase. On passenger ships an increase of 20 per
cent was granted to chief stewards, 15 per cent to chief cooks and
bakers, and $10 a month to all other members of this department ex­
cept waiters and stewardesses, who received an increase of $5.
The section on working conditions provided for an 8-hour work­
day in port for members of the deck department and an 8-hour
workday at sea under certain conditions. Access to the piers was
granted to the delegates of the seamen’s unions.*
EXISTING WAGE SCALES RENEW ED.

About two months before the expiration of this agreement nego­
tiations for a new one were begun between the shipowners, the
Shipping Board, and the seamen’s unions. The negotiations were
successful, and on May 1, 1920, the American Steamship Owners’
Association and the United States Shipping Board signed agree­
ments with each of the Atlantic unions. Although wages were not
changed, certain revisions were made in working rules, one of which
provided for increased subsistence and lodging allowances to the
men when not eating or sleeping on board in port—75 cents a meal
and 75 cents a night for a room being allowed as against the earlier
rates of 50 cents for a meal and 50 cents for a room. Each of the
agreements ran for one year. Provision was also made for a
grievance committee to interpret the agreements and to prevent
small but troublesome misunderstandings.7
At the time these agreements were signed, the chairman of the
committee of the American Steamship Owners’ Association on
wages and working conditions is reported as having said that he
• Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1920. d. 28: of FonH-h
Report of the U. S. Shipping Board, W ashington, 1920, p. 69
P
’
fou rth Annual
8Mimeographed report of settlem ent of U. S. Shipping Board of July 30, 1919 (no
7 For full text of agreements, see Appendixes C, D, and E, Proceedings
Seamen’s Union of America, 1921, p p f l8 5 -1 9 3 ; cf. Wages and Working
1920-21 (published by the American Steamship Owners' A w odation? New x S k ) 5n

9-16.




'*

CHAPTER IY.— THE WAR AND AFTER.

59

was impressed with the sincere and fearless manner with which the
union leaders had approached the questions involved. He believed
that the negotiations had brought about a distinct improvement in
the relations between the shipowners and the unions.
EMPLOYERS ASK FOR REVISION OF WAGES.

A revision of existing wage scales and working agreements was
asked for by the American Steamship Owners’ Association in January, 1921. At that time the association asked the unions to make
provisions for an immediate elimination of overtime, a readjust­
ment of subsistence and room allowances, and a substantial reduc­
tion in wages. These revisions were urged by the shipowners in
order that they might be in a position to meet the serious depression
in the shipping trade caused by the general decline in overseas trade
and to meet successfully the wage costs of foreign competitors.
To the proposals of the shipowners the Atlantic district unions
replied that they did not believe a revision of the wages and work­
ing conditions would have any influence on the volume of sea-borne
of foreign vessels operated at lower costs, seemed to the seamen to
commerce. The shipowners’ second reason, the intensive competition
have some merit. The unions, therefore, suggested the calling of a
conference to go into the matter.
No conference, however, was held until April 19, 1921, when the
shipowners and the United States Shipping Board proposed a reduc­
tion of about 25 per cent in the basic wage, the abolition of overtime
pay, and a reduction in subsistence. No mention was made of the
three watches for sailors nor of admission of union officials to the
docks and vessels. The seamen found especially objectionable a new
proposal which stated that there would be no discrimination against
the employment of anyone on account of affiliation or nonaffiliation
with any labor organization.
On receiving these new conditions the unions submitted six coun­
terproposals. Three of these proposals referred to the proper en­
forcement of certain sections of the seamen’s act; one asked for the
abolition of the Sea Service Bureau (operated by the Shipping
Board as an employment bureau for seamen) ; and another called
for preference being given to union men 66for the purpose of develop­
ing efficiency.” Under the terms of the sixth proposal the unions
were not to admit to membership anybody who was not reasonably
efficient.
At the next meeting, on April 25, the shipowners replied that the
enforcement of the seamen’s act rested with the Government, and the
maintenance or abolition of the Sea Service Bureau was a matter to
be determined by the Shipping Board. In addition, the shipowners
refused to grant preference to union men. In other words, the sea­
men’s proposals were entirely rejected.
A few days later Admiral William S. Benson called a meeting of
the shipowners and seamen in Washington, D. C. At this conference
he presented his terms, which, in brief, provided for the continuance
of the Sea Service Bureau and the rejection of any preferential em­
ployment of union men. He held that the seamen’s act should be
44668°—23---- 5




60

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN ’ S UNION OF AMERICA.

enforced by the department charged with its enforcement (the De­
partment of Commerce).8 He also declared for a reduction of 15
per cent in wages and the abolition of all overtime. Discussion
started by the seamen also brought out the fact that the sailors would
not be permitted to retain their three watches. This conference
thereupon broke up without any agreement between the shipowners
and the seamen or the Shipping Board and the seamen.
The seamen then wrote to President Harding for his intervention
in the impending strike.9 The President did not intervene and the
Shipping Board put its new wage rates and rulings into effect on
May 1, 1921. All seamen who wanted to sail after that date had to
sign articles that contained the new terms. Those who refused to
do so were not permitted to sail.
PROMULGATION OF NEW WAGE SCALE.

The new wage scale and the new working conditions, effective
May 1, 1921, were made public by the United States Shipping Board
in a multigraphed bulletin, entitled “ Wages and Working Condi­
tions Aboard Ship.” The new wage scale reduced the wages of able
seamen from $85 a month (the rate prevailing since July, 1919) to
$72.50 a month; ordinary seamen were reduced from $65 a month
to $52.50. Boatswains were to receive $80 and carpenters $85, in­
stead of $95 and $100 a month, respectively. Firemen were reduced
from $90 a month to $75; coal passers and wipers were to be paid
$65 instead of $75. Oilers and water tenders were reduced from $95
to $80. All grades of cooks and stewards were reduced $10 a month.
All overtime pay was eliminated and subsistence rates were reduced
from 75 cents to 60 cents a meal for each man. No mention was
made of many details as to working conditions contained in former
agreements. There was included, however, a new provision: “ There
shall be no discrimination against the employment of any man on
account of affiliation or nonaffiliation with any labor organization.”
A strike followed. When three boat lines were reported to have
renewed their agreements with the seamen at the old rate of pay the
Shipping Board insisted that the scale of wages promulgated May
1, involving the proposed reduction, be observed on all Shipping
Board vessels.
The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, which had also
refused to accept the drastic reductions in wages and radical revi­
sions in working conditions, struck on May 1. During the course of
the strike the efforts of the Shipping Board and the Department of
Labor were centered upon securing a settlement with this union,
which was the backbone of the strike. After disagreements within
their own ranks the .engineers signed an agreement with the Ship­
ping Board on June 15, 1921, and accepted a 15 per cent reduction
in wages and other conditions laid down by the Shipping Board.10
The unlicensed seamen remained out a few weeks longer, but by
the end of June they decided by a referendum vote to return to
work. When the struggle was over the Shipping Board continued
to pay the wages which it had offered, but the private owners did
8Proposals of Admiral Benson printed in pamphlet, Statem ent of Facts Concerning the
Present Lockout in the M erchant Marine. I. S. U., W ashington, D. C., 1921, p. 34.
9New York World, Apr. 30, 1921; for letter to President Harding, see Appendix III.
Journal of Commerce (New York), June 14, 1921.




CHAPTER IV.-- THE W
AR AND AFTER.

61

not consider themselves bound by any conditions and reduced wages
to any levels that were accepted by those who sailed. One of the
unfortunate results of this strike was the internal dissension that
developed in the ranks of the Atlantic unions. This condition made
it easy for the I. W. W. to take hold on that coast. (See Chap­
ter Y II.)

FURTHER REDUCTIONS ANNOUNCED.

Toward the end o f the year 1921 the employers again discussed
among themselves the need for further reductions. Wage revisions
were urged on the ground that the extreme depression in the marine
industry and the necessity for meeting foreign competition com­
pelled such steps. Early in December conferences began between
the American Steamship Owners’ Association and the United States
Shipping Board for the purpose o f adopting a uniform readjust­
ment o f wages after January 1, 1922. The outcome of these con­
ferences was the adoption by the American Steamship Owners’
Association o f a uniform scale for privately owned vessels on the
Atlantic coast. The association promulgated, on January 5, 1922,
the following rates without conferring with any of the seamen’s
unions: 1 Able seamen, $47.50; ordinary seamen, $35; boatswains,
1
$65; carpenters, $70; firemen, $50; coal passers, $40; water tenders
and oilers, $55.1
1
2
The United States Shipping Board, early in January, 1922, pro­
mulgated a revised set of wage scales and working conditions, effec­
tive February 6. The reductions ranged from 15 to 25 per cent, but
were less drastic than those made • by the American Steamship
Owners’ Association.
The board’s new scale made the following changes from the
May 1, 1921, scale: Able seamen were reduced from $72.50 a month
to $55; ordinary seamen, from $52.50 to $40; boatswains, from $80
to $65; and carpenters, from $85 to $70. The wages o f firemen were
reduced from $75 a month to $57.50; coal passers, from $65 to $50;
water tenders and oilers, from $80 to $65.1 A comparison of the
3
new rates with those established in the Atlantic wage agreement in
August, 1917, shows that the wages of sailors, firemen, boatswains,
and carpenters are about $5 a month less under the new scale. The
wages of coal passers, oilers, and water tenders are identical.1
4
THE GREAT LAKES.

The situation on the Great Lakes was very different from that on
the Atlantic coast for the reason that—

On the Great Lakes marine labor issues have centered very largely around the
policy of the Lake Carriers’ Association. The vessels of this association carry
the iron ore and other bulk cargo, which constitute about four-fifths of the
total Lake tonnage; and whatever action the Lake Carriers’ Association takes
is naturally of vital significance to everybody, including unaffiliated lines.15
11 Report on Marine and Dock Industrial Relations, U. S: Shipping Board, Washington,
1022, p. 17.
1 For wage scale on other ratings of unlicensed personnel, see Wages and Working
2
Conditions Aboard Ship, adopted Jan. 5, 1922 (published by the American Steamship
Owners’ Association, New York), pp. 6—
8.
13For wage scale on other ratings of unlicensed personnel, see Report on Marine and
Dock Industrial Relations, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington, 1922, pp. 50-54.
1 For wage rates of able seamen and firemen from 1895 to 1922, see Appendix IV.
4
3 Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington, 1919, p. 23,
6




62

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN * UNION OF AMERICA.
S

BACKGROUND OF SITUATION ON GREAT LAKES.
In 1903 the Lake Seamen’s Union entered into an agreement with
the Lake Carriers’ Association regarding hours, wages, and working
conditions. Agreements were renewed every year until the spring
o f 1908, when the association announced an open-shop policy, with
which were coupled a new employment system and a “ welfare plan.” 1
6
As a protest against the action o f the association, the Lake Seamen’s
Union called a strike on May 1, 1909. This strike, which was not
successful, lasted until 1912.
A t the December, 1916, convention o f the International Seamen’s
Union o f America, the Lake Seamen’s Union again demanded the
abolition o f the association’s employment system and threatened
that its continuation would bring about a serious strike on the Great
Lakes.

LAKE STRIKE THREATENED.

Upon the outbreak o f the war with Germany, the maintenance of
uninterrupted traffic on the Great Lakes became the task o f the Ship­
ping Board. The prevention o f strikes and lockouts was imperative,
as the Lake vessels carried ore essential to the munition and ship­
building industries and wheat necessary to feed our overseas forces.
Soon after the outbreak o f the war there was noticeable a sharp
difference between the Lake Carriers’ Association and the Lake Sea­
men’s Union as to what should constitute a patriotic attitude toward
the war. The association had not signed the “ Call to the Sea,” and
had refused to enter into any ^arrangement similar to the Atlantic
war agreement. It had not cooperated with the Lake unions in
developing a system o f recruiting and training, although it had given
such cooperation to the Naval Reserve.1
7
In order that an agreement regarding the manning of vessels, the
recruiting o f seamen, and the wages o f seamen might be entered
into with the Lake Carriers’ Association and other associations, the
Lake Seamen’s Union demanded that the various associations meet
it in conference by October 1,1917. In the event o f refusal or failure
o f any association to agree to the conference, the seamen were to
refuse to continue to sail on the vessels o f such an association until
a conference with the union was agreed to.1 * By the end of Sep­
8
tember, 1917, none of the associations had announced its desire for
a conference, and accordingly a strike was announced to begin on
October 1,1917.
In view o f the existing war emergency Vice Chairman R. B.
Stevens, o f the United States Shipping Board, effected a prompt
settlement o f the wage dispute. Effective October 1, 1917, wages
were fixed at $95 a month for all members of the deck and engine
crew, except ordinary seamen and coal passers, whose rates were
fixed at $60 a month.1
8
According to the Shipping Board, wages were not the real issue
o f the dispute, as the Lake Carriers’ Association paid relatively high
18For discussion of this system and plan, see p. 13 and Bulletin No. 235, of U. S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
17 Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington, 1919, p. 25.
18For full text of the demands of the Lake Seamen’s Union, see Proceedings Interna­
tional Seamen’s Union of America, 1917, pp. 33, 34.
** Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington, 1919, p. 120.




CHAPTER IV.— THE W
AR AND AFTER.

63

wages. To remove the more fundamental grievances, Mr. Stevens
announced that the Shipping Board would investigate the associa­
tion’s employment system, of which the continuous discharge book
system was an important part. The union leaders thereupon or­
dered an indefinite postponement of the strike.

CONTINUOUS DISCHARGE BOOH ABOLISHED.

After an investigation the Shipping Board announced on November 21, 1917,
that what had been known as the continuous discharge book should be abol­
ished. In its place individual certificates of discharge might still be issued;
but only such specified data could be given as would describe the seaman and
the nature of his service, thereby eliminating the objectionable “personal
opinion ” feature or any other notation that might indicate a seamen’s union
activities. By this regulation it was hoped that the good features of the Lake
Carriers’ welfare plan might be saved, but that the possible use of its records
as a “ black-listing device ” might be prevented.20
LABOR ISSUES BECOME MORE SERIOUS.
With the opening o f navigation the next spring the Shipping
Board found that marine labor issues on the Lakes had become more
serious. The seamen complained that while the Lake Carriers’ As­
sociation had abolished the continuous discharge book, it was never­
theless violating the order o f the Shipping Board. In place of the
book the association had substituted a “ certificate of membership.”
Each certificate contained a pocket to be used as a container for in­
dividual discharge certificates issued at the end of each voyage.
On signing up for a trip all certificates had to be deposited with the
ship’s officer. The seamen believed that the new device was intended
to serve exactly the same purpose as the former continuous discharge
book.
The aversion to the Lake Carriers’ Association by the seamen was
further intensified by the fact that the association had refused to
take part in the Washington marine conference of May, 1918. The
association declined to be represented on the ground that attendance
would mean the recognition of the seamen’s unions as representatives
o f their employees.
The issuance by the Lake Carriers’ Association o f the certificates
o f membership, the refusal o f that association to meet the seamen,
and its unwillingness to sign the “ Call to the Sea ” aroused the Lake
Seamen’s Union and the Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Ten­
ders’ Union o f the Great Lakes. By a referendum vote a strike was
declared by these unions, effective July 29, 1918—

Until such time as the said Lake Carriers’ Association shall express its
willingness to abide by the decisions of the United States Shipping Board, and
to give its full support to the Government of the United States, by cooperating
with all maritime agencies now endeavoring to safeguard the interests of the
Nation.21

In addition, an increased wage scale was demanded for members
o f the deck and engine departments. The unions, however, ex­
pressed their willingness to submit the adjudication o f wage ques­
tions to the Shipping Board for decision. Accordingly, on August
9,1918, the board announced a new wage scale, retroactive to July 29,
2 Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington, 1919, p. 24.
0
2 From joint strike resolution printed in Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of
1
America, 1919, pp. 27-29.




G4

INTERNATIONA!, SEAMEN * UNION OF AMERICA.
S

on vessels operated by independent (nonassociation) operators. By
this award the wages o f ordinary seamen and coal passers were in­
creased $10 a month. This increase brought their rate up to $70. By
a $5 increase the wages o f all other deck and engine employees were
brought up to $100 a month. Wage increases o f from $10 to $20 a
month were authorized in the stewards’ department. The foregoing
scales were subsequently put into operation on the vessels o f the Lake
Carriers’ Association. Ordinary seamen, however, were paid $72 a
month by the association instead of $70, and lower members o f the
stewards’ department were also given slightly higher increases.2
2

EMPLOYMENT SYSTEM AGAIN CONSIDERED.
In the meanwhile the Shipping Board again had taken up the
much disputed employment system. In the early summer o f 1918
the board suggested, and in July ordered, that the certificate of mem­
bership should not be accompanied by any container. It further or­
dered that there should be a statement on the face of each discharge
certificate that it was the property of the man to whom it was issued.
The order also stipulated that it was “ the intent o f this finding that
seamen should be employed solely with reference to their fitness for
the work and not with reference to membership in the welfare plan,
nor with reference to affiliation with or activity in any union.” 2
3

TRAINING STATION ESTABLISHED.
The demands o f the unions regarding the recruiting and the train­
ing o f seamen were met a few days before the strike was to become
effective, which was on July 29,1918. Two days previous to this date
the Shipping Board announced the establishment of a training sta­
tion on the Lakes and instructed all lake associations and shipowners
to cooperate with that school. The next day Chairman E. N. Hurley,
o f the United States Shipping Board, directed the Lake Carriers’
Association to sign the “ Call to the Sea ” and recommended the tem­
porary discontinuance o f registering seamen in the Lake Carriers’
assembly halls.
The various aforementioned orders and recommendations disposed
o f most o f the reasons advanced by the unions for a strike, and on
July 28,1918, the strike was declared off.

ADVERSE POSTWAR CONDITIONS.
The termination of the European war in November, 1918, brought
with it the discontinuance of munition manufacturing and ship­
building. In consequence the movement o f ore on the Great Lakes
was greatly reduced in 1919. The subsequent light shipping re­
duced the employment o f seamen and retarded the rapid growth
in membership o f the three Lake unions. By the end o f the year
1919 the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Union had the same number
o f men on its rolls as at the end o f the previous year. The Marine
Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Union and the Sailors’ Union
each had added only 200 members to its membership list in 1919.
Wages, however, generally remained unchanged.

28
28

Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington, 1919, p. 120.
Order summarized in Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington,
1919, p. 26.




CHAPTER

IV.-- THE

WAP AND AFTER.

65

In order to assist the Lake unions in their membership campaigns,
the executive board of the International Seamen’s Union was author­
ized by. the January, 1920, convention of this union to expend $4,000.
Furthermore, the services of two organizers for a period of six
months were granted to the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Union of
the Great Lakes.

AGREEMENTS SIGNED.

In April, 1920, the three Lake unions signed a joint agreement,
running one year, with the Great Lakes Transit Corporation. This
agreement gave an increase of 25 per cent over the 1919 scale to all
unlicensed employees. The wages of all deck and engine room em­
ployees were thus brought up to $125 a month, with the exception of
ordinary seamen and coal passers, who were increased to $87.50 a
month. The eight-hour day in port and the three-watch system in
the deck and engine departments were also specified.2 Similar
4
agreements were entered into with the Lumber Carriers’ Association,
the Passenger Boat Managers’ Association, the Car Ferry Managers,
and vessels o f the United States Shipping Board. It was impossible
to secure any agreement with the Lake Carriers’ Association, the
largest organization o f shipowners on the Great Lakes.

AID AGAIN EXTENDED TO COOKS.
In the year 1920 the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Union and the
Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Union lost 100 members
each. The Sailors’ Union neither gained nor lost any men. In
view o f these conditions the 1921 convention of the International
Seamen’s Union continued the services of the two organizers for the
cooks, but recommended that the cooks “ make a special effort to
reduce the expenses of their union.” In spite of this aid, figures
for the end o f the year 1921 show that the cooks had 1,500 members
at that time as compared with 1,600 at the end of the previous
year. The firemen lost 1,100 men in 1921, and had at the end of
that year a membership of 2,200. The Sailors’ Union had 2,000
members at the end of 1921 as compared with 3,200 at the end of
1920.

NEW WAGE RATES.

The conditions prevailing on the Great Lakes during the 1921
season were described in a joint report made by the three unions
o f that district. The secretary o f the International Seamen’s Union
summarized this report in his annual convention message. The
summary shows that the Lake Carriers’ Association cut wages 36
er cent in 1921. This reduction brought the wages o f whedsmen
own from $130 a month, the prevailing rate on vessels of the Lake
Carriers’ Association in 1920, to $85 a month. In 1920 Canadian
wheelsmen received $110 a month. On recommendation of the
Canada Board o f Conciliation this rate was reduced in 1921 to $99.
In spite o f the great reduction on the association’s vessels, the
three unions signed agreements in August, 1921, with the managers

S

8 For full text of agreement, see Proceedings International Seamen's Union of Amer­
4
ica, 1921, p. 183.




66

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF AM
ERICA*

o f the steamers operated by the Grand Trunk Railroad, the Pere
Marquette Railroad, the Ann Arbor Railroad, and the Wabash Rail­
road for a wage rate o f $100 a month for wheelsmen, able* seamen,
and firemen, and $70 a month for ordinary seamen and coal passers.
The wages o f cooks and stewards were also somewhat reduced from
the previous season. The three-watch system and the eight-hour
day for the deck and engine room crews were retained. These
agreements were effective until April 16, 1922. A t about that
time the agreements were renewed. Satisfactory wage rates were
secured ana the three-watch system for the deck and engine de­
partments was again granted. A similar agreement was concluded
with the Passenger Boat Managers’ Association o f the Great Lakes.
The Lake Carriers’ Association continued its open-shop campaign,
and accordingly reduced wages to $80 a month for experienced men
and to $55 a month for inexperienced men. Moreover, in the spring
o f 1922 the Lake Carriers’ Association reintroduced the “ continuous
discharge book.” Without this book no one can sail on any o f the
association’s vessels.2
*

ANOTHER STRIKE.
In August, 1922, plans were laid for a strike to bring about the
eight-hour shift for deck crews and higher wages on the vessels
o f the Lake Carriers’ Association. The membership of the three
Lake unions, in a referendum vote, practically unanimously indorsed
the calling o f the strike. A t the request of the United States Depart­
ment of Labor the executive officers of the sailors’, firemen’s, and
cooks’ unions were asked to come to Washington for a conference with
the Secretary o f Labor. After hearing the grievances o f the sea­
men, the Secretary invited the officers of the Lake Carriers’ Assocition to Washington in order to meet the representatives o f the
seamen. After a few days the association replied that it stood by
the open-shop policy that it had adopted in 1908. While it re­
fused to meet the officials o f the seamen’s unions, it, however, an­
nounced an increase o f $15 per month, effective September 1, 1922.*6
2
Upon receipt o f this information the officers of the union referred
to its members the calling o f a strike regarding the eight-hour work­
ing day. In the meantime the I. W. W. had advised its members
to get aboard the lake boats.2
7
In spite o f the increase in pay and the possible menace o f the
strike-breaking I. W. W., the Lake seamen voted for a strike to begin
on October 1 on vessels o f the Lake Carriers’ Association. This date
was held to be very opportune, because at that time shipments of
grain to the East and coal to the West were at their peak.2 This
8
strike was still unsettled at the close o f navigation on the Great
Lakes. The union intends to renew the strike with the opening o f
navigation in the spring of 1923.2
9
3 The foregoing information was received by the writer from Secretary T. A. Hanson
8
in a letter of May 25, 1922.
2 In August the Lumber Carriers’ Association announced that the wages of all un­
6
licensed men on the steamers and mates, sailors, and cooks on the barges would be
increased $15 per month, effective Sept. 1. (Buffalo Courier, Aug. 17, 1922.)
3 The Seamen’s Journal, September, 1922, pp. 3, 4.
7
* New York Times, Sept 26, 1922.
®
3 The Seamen’s Journal, December, 1922, p. 8.
8




CHAPTER IV.— THE W
AR AND AFTER.

67

THE PACIFIC COAST.

A majority of the individual employers and most of the ship­
owners’ associations on the Pacific coast, prior to the war, entered
into agreements from time to time with the various seamen’s unions.
During the war the seamen and the shipowners made their own agree­
ments as to wages and working rules. The conditions so determined
were accepted by the Shipping Board for its own Pacific vessels.8 8
0
2
1

EARLY WAR AGREEMENTS.
The Pacific unions jointly, in May, 1917, met their employers and
succeeded in obtaining considerable improvement in working con­
ditions and increases in overtime pay and wages. The new agree­
ments called for $60 a month for sailors and all unlicensed mem­
bers o f the fireroom,3 and increases in the stewards’ department in
1
the coastwise trade. The exclusive employment of union men,
whenever available, was also stipulated.
After these agreements had been in operation for a few months, it
was found that not enough seamen were being recruited on the
Pacific coast. To increase the number of new seamen, the unions
agreed to a proposal for the dilution of labor similar to that con­
tained in the Atlantic war agreement. In accordance with this plan
the proportion of boys and ordinary seamen to able seamen was in­
creased. As the proper operation of this plan made it necessary for
the seamen to relinquish the closed shop, they did so. This voluntary
surrender was especially noteworthy because, at the outbreak of the
war, the Pacific seamen were understood to have been 95 per cent
organized.

WAGE INCREASES IN 1918 AND 1919. •

During 1918 the wages o f sailors and firemen were increased 25
per cent. Wages of able seamen and all members of the fireroom
were thus brought to $75 a month. Members o f the stewards’ de­
partment received increases of $15 a month. These increases were
granted by the shipowners and were, in due course, approved by the
Shipping Board. Increases in overtime pay and m subsistence
money, and improved working conditions were also allowed.3
2
Further wage increases and improvements in working conditions
were secured by the Pacific unions by agreements with shipowners
on August 1, 1919. Wages of able seamen and firemen were in­
creased by this agreement from $75 to $90 a month and wages in
the stewards’ department were again increased $15 a month. A
notable improvement in working rules was made for the crews of
all sailing vessels by the introduction o f a regular Saturday half
holiday, both at sea and in port. Increases were again made in
overtime and subsistence rates. Similar agreements were made with
the United States Shipping Board.
The advances in wages and improvements in other respects were,
according to the editor o f the Seamen’s Journal, largely due to “ the
8 Marine and Dock Labor, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington, 1919, p. 23.
0
8 For copy of working rules of Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Union of
1
the Pacific, see Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1917, pp. 143-147.
8 Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1919, pp. 58—
2
61.




68

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN * UNION OF AMERICA.
S

fact that the three unions involved have faithfully observed the
terms o f previous agreements. The organized seafarers on the
Pacific coast have been frank in recognizing that collective bargain­
ing with employers creates obligations and responsibilities no less
than advantages.” *8
8

REDUCTIONS IN 1921.
Early in 1921 the agreements made in 1919 and renewed in 1920,
with the customary optional 30-day revocation clause, were still in
effect. After notice given by the employers o f the termination o f
the Pacific coast agreements, negotiations were held with representa­
tives o f the seamen’s unions. These resulted in a deadlock and set­
tlements were postponed until after wages and working conditions
had been decided upon on the Atlantic coast.
In A pril an employers’ meeting was held between “ the Pacific
Steamship Association, the American Steamship Owners’ Associa­
tion on the Atlantic, and the United States Shipping Board, at
which it was decided that a 15 per cent general reduction ought to
be made on May 1, together with certain modifications in working
rules.” 3 These conditions, which were offered to the affiliated unions
4
o f the International Seamen’s Union and to the Marine Engineers’
Beneficial Association, were rejected, and a strike was begun on May
1, 1921. The strike was lost on both the Atlantic and the Pacific
coasts.
The wage scale which was promulgated by the Shipping Board
for the Atlantic coast was also made to apply to the Pacific coast,
and, effective May 1, 1921, able seamen were reduced to $72.50 a
month and firemen to $75 a month.3
5
One o f the unfortunate outcomes o f the strike was the dissatis­
faction that its loss caused among the members o f the Sailors’ Union
o f the Pacific. The newly elected editor o f the Seamen’s Journal
and other ^radicals held that the strike was another failure to be
charged against craft unionism and against the alleged conservative
leaders o f the union. After a few months, when the rank and file
had in turn become dissatisfied with the new doctrines, this editor
and other advocates o f the I. W. W. policies were expelled from the
union.8
6

FURTHER SETBACKS.
On February 6, 1922, the Shipping Board simultaneously reduced
wages on the Atlantic and on the Pacific coasts. Able seamen were
reduced to $55 a month and firemen to $57.50. Prevailing rates be­
fore this reduction were $72.50 a month (since May 1, 1921) for
able seamen and $75 for firemen. The newly promulgated rates
were somewhat lower than those established in May, 1917. A t that
time wages for unlicensed members o f the deck and engine depart­
ments were established at $60 a month.
« For details, see The Seamen’s Journal, Aug. 20, 1919, p. 6.
*

u Report on Marine and Dock Industrial Relations, U. S. Shipping Board, Washington,

1922, pp. 14, 15.
8 See p. 60; also Wages and Working Conditions Aboard Ship, a multigraphed report of
8
rates effective in summer, 1921, issued by U. S. Shipping Board.
••For further details, see Ch. VII.




CHAPTER XV.— THE WAR Affix AFTER.

69

In the spring o f 1922 some shipowners on the Pacific coast in­
creased wages about 15 per cent. Overtime pay and former work­
ing rules, however, were not restored. Furthermore, in the period
following the unsuccessful strike in May, 1921, the union book was
superseded by a “ record book ” similar to that in use on the Great
Lakes vessels o f the Lake Carriers’ Association.
SUMMARY.

Owing to the stimulus o f the war and the opportunity for higher
wages under collective agreements, men were attracted to ship on the
Great Lakes and on the Atlantic and the Pacific. In the course o f
five years (1915 to 1920) the membership of the International Sea­
men’s Union grew from 20,000 to 115,000. Unsuccessful strikes
against reductions in wages in 1921 and the stagnation o f shipping
in that year not only caused a sharp drop in membership but gave
an opening to the advocates o f industrial unionism. These cir­
cumstances weakened the efforts of the International Seamen’s
Union to resist further wage cuts and led to the breaking down of
working conditions. In turn, the membership dwindled to lower
levels.
Among these setbacks the seamen find a redeeming feature in the
fact that “ the policy o f the shipowners is daily proving the help­
lessness o f the seamen in the absence o f the power o f self-protec­
tion.” 8 Although the membership has been considerably reduced
7
within the past few years, it is felt that the remaining members are
those that are convinced that the International Seamen’s Union is
based on sound principles.
The future o f the various unions depends on how well the sea­
men get together in the coming months to take advantage of the
expected industrial revival.*
** The Seamen’s Journal. May, 1922, p. 4.




CHAPTER V.—INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.
E A R LY ACTIVITIES.

EARLY ASPIRATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION.
The word “ International ” in the title of the International Sea­
men’s Union o f America means more than when used in connection
with other American unions. The broader understanding o f that
word by the seamen may be traced partly to the inheritance o f the
idea of international cooperation and brotherhood by the Interna­
tional Seamen’s Union from its parent union, the Sailors’ Union of
the Pacific. In 1890 the latter organization sent three members to a
convention of the British Seamen’s Union in England in order to
effect a world-wide federation. The plan for such an organization was
premature and therefore failed, but the aspiration for cooperation
with organized marine workers of other countries persisted. Per­
haps the strongest impetus to cooperation with foreign unions may
be found in certain conditions peculiar to the work of seamen. Occa­
sionally American seamen, through shipwreck or other accident,
found themselves stranded in foreign ports with little or no money.
I f they desired to return to their home port, they were compelled to
find work on a vessel sailing to the United States. In an unorgan­
ized port the finding of a new job on such a vessel was relatively
simple; in a well-organized port it was practically impossible with­
out first joining the foreign maritime union. To so join was a hard­
ship to seamen with little money and almost an impossibility to sea­
men with no money.
The existence of these conditions was known to the officials o f the
Sailors’ Union o f the Pacific, who sought to remedy the situation by
the establishment o f a transfer system. Under this system any mari­
time union was to recognize the membership cards o f any other bona
fide seamen’s union and was to transfer any member holding a paidup card to its own organization. Within a few years after its first
attempt at a world-wide federation the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific
effected such transfer arrangements with the Australian maritime
Unions. A few years after the formation of the International Sea­
men’s Union the idea o f cooperation was further extended and ar­
rangements were made for the recognition of transfers between the
Atlantic Coast Seamen’s Union and the British Union o f Sailors
and Firemen. These arrangements, however, did not get beyond the
“ paper ” stage for a good many years.

INTERNATIONAL FENERATION TURNED DOWN.
In 1896 the matter of affiliation o f the International Seamen’s
Union with the seamen o f other countries was brought to the atten­
tion o f the international union by the British Seamen’s Union. In
discussing this matter the secretary o f the international union wrote
70




CHAPTER V.— INTERNATIONAL, RELATIONS.

71

in the October 7,1896, number o f the Coast Seamen’s Journal (p. 7) :
“ The unanimous opinion o f the executive board is that, while
heartily in favor o f a world-wide federation, the first need is for
federation among ourselves.” An editorial in the Coast Seamen’s
Journal o f January 12, 1898, on the invitation of the International
Transport Workers’ Federation1 to the International Seamen’s
Union stressed the same point: “ As a necessary preliminary to inter­
national federation, the work o f strengthening the local organization
is now receiving the largest share of attention.” In order to hasten
American-British cooperation, Mr. J. Havelock Wilson, of the
British Sailors and Firemen’s Union, assisted in the organization
work on the Atlantic coast.

AFFILIATION WITH INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS’ FEDERATION.
Although the officers of the international union had begun to con­
sider the question of affiliating with the International Transport
Workers’ Federation in 1898, important matters relating to internal
organization overshadowed consideration o f international subjects
until 1904. That year’s convention referred the matter o f affiliation
with the International Transport Workers’ Federation to a referen­
dum vote o f the affiliated unions. Affiliation with the federation,
however, did not greatly interest the rank and file, as only about 5
per cent o f the total membership had voted on the matter by the
time the delegates again assembled. An interval of another year
did not dampen the enthusiasm o f the delegates, and in 1906 they
voted to affiliate with the International Transport Workers’ Federa­
tion, beginning with January 1, 1907. By the time the 1907 con­
vention met the International Seamen’s Union was reported as part
o f the federation, and international matters had aroused such inter­
est that the president of the international union was not only elected
representative to the International Transport Workers’ Federation
convention in Vienna, but was further instructed to visit the differ­
ent seamen’s unions in Europe to secure information on the general
movement o f the organized seamen. A t the Vienna conference he
introduced a petition entitled “ Appeal to the W orld,” which called
attention to the status o f the seamen throughout the world. The
petition urged that the seamen be made “ freemen and that the
blighting disgrace o f bondage be removed from our labor.” His
appeal was voted down by the federation as a “ Utopian dream.”
It was, however, adopted at a mass meeting o f American seamen in
Cooper Union, New York City, in 1909, and approved by the con­
vention o f that year. In 1910 it was again submitted to the Inter­
national Transport Workers’ Federation at Copenhagen and was
adopted by a narrow margin.

THE INTERNATIONAL STRIKE.
After considering the report on the Vienna convention and on
European conditions, the 1908 convention decided to arrange for the
holding o f an international seamen’s conference. Following in-i
i The object of this organization was to support affiliated national organizations in
their efforts toward improvement and regulation of wage and working conditions. Any
organization of transport workers, either on land or sea, was entitled to affiliation in the
federation.




72

INTERNATIONAL, SEAMEN ’ s U NION OF AMERICA.

structions to arrange the details for this meeting, the secretary at
the 1909 convention reported that the various seamen’s unions
throughout the world would meet in Copenhagen in 1910 under the
auspices of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. The
purpose of this meeting was primarily to work out means whereby
the seamen of the world might unite to remove the legislative dis­
advantages under which they worked. The work of the convention,
which met at the specified time and place, may be summarized as
follow s:

The International Transport Workers’ convention at Copenhagen recom­
mended that each country shall submit demands upon the shipowners for a
conference to consider and remove at least some of the greatest evils imposed
upon seamen by the International Shipping Federation, and failing to obtain
such conference or conciliation to enter upon a strike in all countries at the
same date, the date to be set later. From information received, it appears that
the shipowners have refused and that this international strike will take place
in the spring.2
As the shipowners of the various countries did not adjust matters
to the satisfaction of the seamen, an international strike was called
on June 14, 1911. After a struggle that was well led in England
the strike in that country was formally settled on July 3, and as a
result the seamen of Great Britain won recognition and secured cer­
tain wage increases. The Belgian and Dutch seamen also secured
certain satisfactory settlements. The Danish and German seamen
settled with their employers early in the course of the strike.
In America the Atlantic coast unions also struck, and a tele­
gram quoted in the Coast Seamen’s Journal, June 28, 1911 (p. 6),
from Secretary William H. Frazier, reported that the union had
won “ a victory over the Morgan, Clyde-Mallory, Old Dominion,
and Savannah Lines. The concessions gained from these lines estab­
lish a new standard to which all shipping must conform. Our com­
rades on the Atlantic coast have waited long and patiently for the
improvements which they have now gained.”

WORLD-WIDE TRANSFER SYSTEM FAVORED.
The participation o f the International Seamen’s Union in the
Copenhagen conference and in the subsequent international strike
did not hinder that organization from taking certain practical steps
to further international cooperation and solidarity. For example,
the Marine Firemen’s Union of the Atlantic and Gulf was instructed
by the 1909 convention of the International Seamen’s Union to trans­
fer members from any firemen’s union in the world. Furthermore,
all affiliated organizations were recommended to give u friendly con­
sideration ” to the policy of issuing transfers to foreign bona fide
union seamen who desired to join any of the district unions. In ad­
dition to advocating consistently the “ brotherhood of the sea,” the
president of the international union, in 1910, recommended that mem­
bership cards from any foreign bona fide seamen’s union be recog­
nized and that the holder be admitted to membership in the union of
his craft without payment of initiation fee, if he understood sufficient
English to obey commands aboard ship. In accordance with this
P roceedings International Seam en’s U nion o f A m erica, 1910, p. 7.




CHAPTER Y .— INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

73

suggestion the convention adopted a resolution stating that the inter­
national union favored a free system of transfers on the part of th$
affiliated unions to all foreign bona fide union seamen.
The extent of international cooperation on the part of American
maritime unions and the common aspirations, difficulties, and
struggles of all seamen were eloquently expressed in 1911 by the
president of the International Seamen’s Union in his annual conven­
tion address:

Nearly all of our affiliated unions recognize the membership cards, and trans­
fer without initiation fee members of seamen’s unions of all European countries.
Most of them do the same with our members. Their struggle is the same as
ours; they work under the same conditions as we do; they are subject to the
same legal discriminations. Our condition and the oceans bring us together,
though we may be divided by national boundaries and differences in language.
Our condition, our hopes, and aspirations are the same, and the slight differ­
ences in the forms of organization neither can nor will keep us apart.

The presence of delegates from the British maritime unions at the
1911 convention of the International Seamen’s Union inspired that
gathering to return the courtesy by electing one delegate to the next
convention of the British Seamen’s Union.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION RETARDED.

During the next few years the intense struggle of the International
Seamen’s Union for the passage of the seamen’s bill did not leave
much time or energy for the consideration of detailed arrangements
necessary for international cooperation. Indeed, in 1917, the Ameri­
can firemen on the Atlantic coast found that certain British admin­
istrative details interfered with the carrying out of the spirit of
good will and of the brotherhood of the sea.
At different times during 1917 various members of the Marine
Firemen’s Union of the Atlantic found themselves stranded in
British ports. In order to return to this country they were com­
pelled to transfer their paid-up American union membership books
for British books at a charge of from 10 shillings to £1 ($2.43
to $4.87, par). This practice was thought by officials of the Marine
Firemen’s Union of the Atlantic to work an unnecessary hardship
on stranded American firemen. They therefore introduced at the
1917 convention a resolution calling upon the British union to elim­
inate this practice. So as not to rebuke officially the British union,
the committee on resolutions, to whom the resolution had been re­
ferred, recommended that the matter be brought to the executive
board’s attention “ for investigation and such action as may be
deemed advisable.” The committee’s recommendation was adopted.
The executive board, however, was unable to make any satisfactory
settlement and therefore the firemen’s delegates at the next conven­
tion warned the officials of the International Seamen’s Union that
if they did not take immediate action the Atlantic firemen would
adopt retaliatory measures. They were persuaded, however, to
allow the secretary of the international union to communicate di­
rectly with the secretary of the British union with a view to having
him settle the grievances of which the Atlantic firemen had com­
plained. Although several efforts were made by the secretary of the
international union during the next year to adjust this problem, no



74

INTERNATIONAL, SEAM EN ’ S UNIO N OF AMERICA.

satisfactory results were obtained. It was finally settled by mutual
.agreement at the 1920 meeting of the International Seafarers’ Fed­
eration.
ATLANTIC AND BRITISH COOKS ARRANGE TRANSFER SYSTEM.

During the year 1919 the Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Associa­
tion of the Atlantic and Gulf and the British National Union of
Ships’ Stewards, Cooks, Butchers, and Bakers entered into an
agreement covering the transfer of members. This agreement pro­
vided that members of the British union who were signed on and
paid off in ports of the Atlantic and the Gulf were, after one trip,
to transfer their union books to the American union. Members of
the British union who had paid up one year’s membership were to
be entitled to a free transfer. Likewise, members of the American
union sailing on ships out of British ports were to transfer their
books to the British union after one trip. This transfer was to be
provided free to those men who were fully paid up for one year in
the American union. The British union agreed to render any
necessary legal assistance to American cooks and stewards in Eng­
land and the American union pledged itself to extend the same
privileges to British members in America.3
THE W A R AND INTERNATIONALISM .

The European war acted as a drawback to the development of
international cooperation, as all the warring nations had, upon the
outbreak of the war, impressed their seamen to serve their respective
countries. The hatred felt by the seamen of the allied countries
against the German seamen was extremely great on account of the
German submarine policy. Nevertheless, at the December, 1917,
conference of the International Seamen’s Union a resolution was
introduced which favored the calling of “ a conference of all seamen
immediately upon the termination of the present war for the purpose
of initiating such measures as may be deemed essential for the elimi­
nation of dissension and hatred among men of our calling.” The
resolution further instructed the international secretary, “ if peace
should be declared during the ensuing year, to communicate with all
the seamen’s organizations of the world with the purpose in view as
set forth by these resolutions.” This resolution was adopted after
the committee on resolutions, to whom it had been referred, called
special attention to the following excerpt from the president’s
address:

Our organization’s chief concern ought to be directed to prevent any hatred
of seamen by seamen. Seamen have no choice but to obey. He' is not morally
responsible for his action under command in war. By hating he will become
morally responsible. Hatred once developed does not cease with the war and
will then be used by shipowners to pit seamen against seamen.
PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL UNION VISITS EUROPE.

Five days after the armistice the president of the international
union held that the Peace Conference would “ in some way seek to
either wholly or partly nullify the seamen’s act,” and elaborated this
8 For fu ll tex t of th is agreem ent, see P roceedings In ternation al Seam en’s U nion of
A m erica. 1920, p. 311.




CHAPTER V.— INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,

75

idea in a letter of November 16, 1918, to President Wilson. After
consultation with the executive board of the International Seamen’s
Union, its president left for Europe on December 5,1918, to present
the case of the seamen to the Peace Conference. Soon after his
arrival in London he attended a meeting of the executive board of
the British Seamen’s Union and reported on the effect of the sea­
men’s act on the welfare of American seamen. The purpose of his
visit was to show the British seamen the need of indorsing and work­
ing for a similar law in their country. The executive board, how­
ever, agreed with their president, who said that although his or­
ganization would do everything possible to support the seamen’s
act in the United States, it would not indorse a similar act for
British seamen.
Immediately after this meeting Mr. Furuseth left for France and
interviewed the representatives of the French seamen, who stated
that they desired the principles of the seamen’s act made applicable
to France. In addition, he saw various secretaries and representa­
tives of the American commissioners to the Peace Conference in order
to protest in advance against any efforts that might be made by
any foreign shipping interests or by foreign Governments to nullify
the seamen’s act by means of an international treaty. During a
short trip to Norway Mr. Furuseth saw the premier and the minister
of the merchant marine, to both of whom he explained the seamen’s
act. While in that country he had published an explanation of the
seamen’s act, which was given wide publicity.
CONFERENCE OF INTERNATIONAL SEAFARERS’ FEDERATION.

While Mr. Furuseth was in Europe the annual convention of the
International Seamen’s Union (January, 1919) decided to affiliate
with the International Seafarers’ Federation, which was to hold a
convention in London in February, 1919. As the International Sea­
men’s Union felt that the London convention might have great in­
fluence on the delegates at the Peace Conference, it elected four
members as representatives to the London convention. When the
federation conference met, delegates from the United States, Den­
mark, Norway, Sweden, England, France, and Italy were present.
The conference unanimously adopted a resolution acknowledging
the great value of the seamen’s act to American seamen and to all
other seamen visiting the United States, and, in addition, protested
against any treaty or other agreement which might interfere with
the operation of that act in the United States or in any country
which might adopt its principles. The resolution, however, left
the extension of the principles of the seamen’s act to the “ judgment
and efforts of the organized seamen of each respective country.” 4
Another resolution was adopted indorsing the language clause of the
seamen’s act, while a third pledged the seamen of all nations to fight
for the wages of American seamen as an international standard.
One of the resolutions, which was fought by the American delegates
to the utmost but which nevertheless was passed, asked the Peace
* For full text of resolution, see Proceedings International Seamen's Union of America,
1920, pp. 226, 227.

44068°—23-----6




76

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’S UNION OF AMERICA.

Conference to create a commission empowered to make laws govern­
ing seamen. This commission was to be made up of one Govern­
ment delegate from each nation, one delegate from each country to
represent the shipowners, and one delegate from each country to
represent the seamen.
The convention lasted for seven days and adjourned to meet
again in Paris on March 11, 1919. At the session in Paris no busi­
ness of special importance to American seamen was considered.
OBJECTIONS TO LEAGUE OF NATIONS AND TO ITS CONFERENCE ON INTER­
NATIONAL LABOR LEGISLATION.

On arrival in Paris the American delegates studied copies of the
covenant of the League of Nations and a copy of the proposed
constitution of the Conference on International Labor Legislation.
The delegates of the International Seamen’s Union objected to
Article XX of the covenant5 and, after studying the proposed
constitution of the Conference on International Labor Legislation,6
criticized the latter document on the general ground that too much
power was given to the various nations as such, to the employer
representatives, and to the British Empire. Their report in part
read :

We respectfully protest against the whole draft and fervently pray that
God in His mercy may save the working people of the world, the working
people of the United States, but more especially the seamen.
If we might suggest something, we would beg tentatively to propose that
an international labor bureau be instructed to collect information to be
collated under supervision of the governing body. Let it be submitted to a
yearly conference to make their recommendations to the several nations,
there to be dealt with as might be thought wise under pressure of public
opinion. Let the facts be obtained and the recommendations be advisory,
leaving to each nation its sovereignty and to each nation’s workpeople their
hope and possible power of influencing their own legislative authorities with­
out waiting the pleasure of the most backward of nations. * it try to lift
*Let
the lowest instead of depressing the highest.7

After having read a revised copy of the proposed constitution of
the Conference on Labor Legislation, Mr. Furuseth drew up a memo­
randum to the American delegates to the Peace Conference, in which
he protested against the whole constitution, which, however, was
adopted. He felt that Great Britain, which was opposed to the
seamen’s act, would seek to nullify it through the Conference on
Labor Legislation. He felt that his suspicions regarding the British
shipping interests were shown to be well founded when the con­
ference refused to adopt an amendment prohibiting slavery or in­
voluntary servitude, and when, in addition, because of the opposi­
tion, principally of Great Britain, it refused to adopt an amendment
providing “ that a seaman shall not be punished by imprisonment
for leaving his vessel in a safe harbor, nor shall he be arrested, de­

BThe proposed article read as follow s : “ The high contracting parties w ill endeavor to
secure and maintain fair and humane conditions of labor for men, women, and children,
both in their own countries and in all countries to which their commercial and industrial
relations exten d ; and to that end agree to establish as part of the organization of the
league a permanent bureau of labor.”
This article, with certain changes and additions, forms Article X X III of the present
covenant.
* For text of proposed constitution, see Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of
America, 1920, pp. 213-217.
1 Quoted in Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1920, pp. 218, 219.




77
tained, or surrendered to his vessel.” However, the convention
adopted the following as a protocol to be added to Article X IX of
the constitution:
CHAPTER V.— INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

In no case shall any of the high contracting powers be asked or required,
as a result of the adoption by the conference of any recommendation or draft
convention, to diminish the protection afforded by its existing legislation to the
workers concerned.

In commenting on the foregoing amendment, Mr. Furuseth wrote:

It seems that the seamen’s act is safe, together with such higher standards
for other workpeople as have been attained in the several other countries, but
there is nothing definite here. The conference and the nations to which its
draft conventions are submitted will, of course, be the parties to determine
what is to be considered as diminishing the protection afforded by existing
standards to the workers concerned.*
OPPOSITION OF BRITISH SEAMEN TO EXTENSION OF SEAMEN’S ACT.

A few days later, in order to ascertain for a certainty the opinion
of the British Seamen’s Union regarding imprisonment as a penalty
for desertion, Mr. Furuseth again came before the executive board
of that union and asked:

Are you in favor of a seaman being punished by imprisonment—in addition
to losing his earned wages—for leaving his vessel in safe harbor? Secondly,
are you in favor that he shall be arrested, detained, and surrendered to his
vessel? If you are in favor of the seaman being so treated, you will answer
“ Yes ” on both questions; if you are not in favor you will answer “ No.”

The board, however, did not answer with “ Yes ” or “ No ” but re­
affirmed the resolution adopted by the International Seafarers’ Fed­
eration Conference in London on February 27, 1919. This resolution
approved the seamen’s act for American seamen but left its extension
to the organized seamen of the various countries.
FEAR OF “ CRYSTALLIZATION.”

In a letter of May 7, 1919, the president of the International Sea­
men’s Union summarized the then existing situation by writing that
the best he could say about the constitution-making conference
on international labor legislation w§s that it endeavored to crystal­
lize existing labor conditions, including those among seamen. He
believed that if the League of Nations became a reality, “ European
nations would not be in a position to change the status of their sea­
men after they go into the League of Nations.”
The president brought his fears to the attention of the Norwegian
people so that they might abrogate, before their country became a
member of the league, the laws which imprisoned seamen for deser­
tion. As a result of his activities in Norway, a meeting of seamen of
all crafts was called and a resolution was adopted praying for the
abolition of arrest and punishment of seamen who left their vessels
in a safe harbor. This resolution was given wide publicity and was
sent to the Norwegian Government and to the headquarters of all
labor organizations, which were urged to approve it and to call upon
their Government to act.*8
9
8 Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1920, pp. 223, 224.
9 A cablegram in January, 1921, from an official of the Norwegian seamen’s union
stated that the seamen in Scandinavia had not succeeded in having their law s changed.




78

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S U N IO N OF AMERICA,

EUROPEAN REACTIONS SUMMARIZED.

After his European trip Mr. Furuseth felt that the seamen’s act
had few friends among shipowners or Government officials in either
England or France because they feared that its operation might take
away from them by desertion their best seamen. He felt that the
seamen in France did not understand the act and that the British
seamen were hostile to its extension.101
While shipowners in Norway were hostile to the act, Danish ship­
owners were said to be willing to have the existing laws changed in
the seamen’s favor.
In a letter to the secretary of the International Seamen’s Union,
the president of this union expressed himself regarding the European
situation as follows:
Judging by what can be gathered from public men and from the press, it
appears that if the seamen were to ask for big things, to exhibit a knowledge
of why they ask, and insist upon it, they could get those things from most
countries now or in the near future. If they ask for small things, it will please
the givers better, and they will get that. The real unfortunate thing is that it
appears that the officials of the seamen, at least, have neither the vision to
see nor the courage to ask.11
FIRST COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

The foregoing reports of the president of the International Seamen’s
Union were submitted at the time of his address to the 1920 conven­
tion, and were published in the proceedings. So important did this
convention regard international matters that for the first time, on
motion of the delegates, a committee on international relations was
appointed by the chairman. This committee, in discussing the poten­
tial danger to the seamen’s act from the labor clause of the League
of Nations, recommended that the executive board of the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union be authorized to use its best judgment in
dealing with this situation, and it further recommended that the
board be empowered in case of a crisis to call a special convention to
formulate a plan of action. All of these recommendations were
adopted. The committee called particular attention to the following
section of the president’s report:

To accomplish our purpose we must be associated with the seamen of the
world and send delegates to the gatherings of the representatives of the sea­
men from different countries. We need them. They need us. We all need the
strength that comes from knowing each other, and the help that we can give
to each other industrially and legislatively. We must all become free, or we shall
again all become slaves.12

Although the committee regarded the outlook for a greater and a
more effective world-wide seamen’s movement as encouraging, it felt
that the seamen of American had to take an active part in changing

10 President J. Havelock W ilson, of the B ritish Seamen’s Union, has held that he prefers
to have seamen punished by imprisonment for violation of their contracts rather than to
have them go free after having violated them. The executive board of the British Sea­
men’s Union has on all occasions sustained Mr. W ilson’s stand. A t a conference of the
International Seafarers’ Federation in August, 1921, it was decided to work in all coun­
tries for the abolition of penalties for desertion. It is reported that Mr. W ilson,
who is also a member of the House of Commons, changed his position and drafted a bill
to tli at effect.
11 Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1920, p. 211.
12 Idem, p. i l 9 .




CHAPTER V.— INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

79

the status of all seamen “ from bondmen to freemen.” Upon its
recommendation a resolution approving the selection of three deleAugust, 1920,
fates to the was adopted. convention of the International Seafarers’
'ederation
SPECIAL CONFERENCE OP INTERNATIONAL SEAFARERS’ FEDERATION.

During the summer of 1920 there were three international meetings
relating to seamen, two of which were held in Genoa and one m
Brussels. The first meeting in Genoa was a special conference
called by the International Seafarers’ Federation a few days before
the convention under the auspices of the League of Nations was
opened. This preliminary conference was one to which unions of all
grades of seamen, including licensed officers, were invited regardless
of affiliation with the federation. The specific purpose of the con­
ference was to make it possible for the seamen of all countries to
present a solid front at the League of Nations meeting. Twelve
nations were represented at this conference, which was open without
limit to the number of delegates from any one organization.
It is important to notice th a t u there were some rather serious dif­
ferences of opinion upon the ideals and aspirations of the organized
seamen, and these differences were of such a fundamental nature that
compromise was out of the question.” 13*
A verv lengthy and heated discussion followed the introduction
by the American delegates of the resolution calling upon all mari­
time nations to repeal the laws and to abrogate the treaties which
provided for the arrest and return of deserting merchant seamen.
The resolution also requested the coming League of Nations meet­
ing to recommend the foregoing changes to the respective Govern­
ments. A roll call on the resolution showed that 15 delegates were
for the resolution, 28 against, 5 not voting, and 10 absent. With the
elimination of the votes cast by the various ships’ officers, the different
countries were reported to have expressed themselves as follows:
For the American resolution—Italy, Holland, Norway, Sweden,
Germany, Japan. Against the American resolution—Great Britain
France, Belgium. Not properly recorded—Denmark, Spain,
Greece.
The American delegate said regarding this vote that after “ taking
into consideration all phases of this controversy, the seamen of
America should be quite well satisfied with the net results to date.
The great principle which found concrete expression through the
enactment of the American seamen’s law of 1915 is marching on.”
The matter of a shorter working-day had to be compromised, and
the following resolution was adopted:

The conference insists upon the principle of the 8-hour day and the 48-hour
week, and refers the working out of the details to each country, in a manner
best suited for its own trade, and apply them in the shortest possible time,
with the understanding that work in port shall be on the 44-hour week basis,
i. e., of 8 hours’ work for the first, 5 days of the week and of 4 hours’ work on
Saturday in order to respect the English system regarding the Saturday after­
noon.” “
u Quoted from report of American delegate. For his full report, see Proceedings Inter­
national Seamen’s Union of America, 1921, pp. 301-304.
M Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1921, p. 303.




80

INTERNATIONAL SEAM EN ’ S U NIO N OF AMERICA.

INTERNATIONAL LABOR CONFERENCE OF LEAGUE OF NATIONS.

The preliminary conference called by the International Seafarers’
Federation was adjourned after four days’ deliberation in order to
enable the delegates to attend the International Labor Conference,
held under the auspices of the League of Nations, to consider the
problems of seamen. The conference was opened in Genoa on June
15, 1920, in conformity with a resolution adopted in the October,
1919, International Lalx>r Conference of the League of Nations in
Washington, D. C. Four delegates from each nation, of whom two
were appointed by the Government, one by the shipowners, and one
by the seamen, attended the Genoa conference.15 The results of the
deliberations of this meeting were expressed in two ways—in rec­
ommendations and in draft conventions. The conference made four
recommendations to member and nonleague member nations to
enact legislation and adopted three “ draft conventions,” i. e., treaties
made ready for adoption by the various member nations.
Throughout the progress of the League of Nations’ meeting re­
ports were sent by the representatives of the International Seamen’s
Union to its secretary. These reports were placed in the hands of
the committee on international relations at the January, 1921, con­
vention of the International Seamen’s Union. This committee made
a synopsis of the work of the International Labor Conference and
presented the draft conventions and resolutions to the delegates for
consideration and action. The committee was gratified to note that
with reference to fishermen an 8-hour day and a 48-hour week (with
certain limitations) were recommended at the Genoa conference.16
An important recommendation of the Genoa conference provided
u that each member of the international labor organization under­
take the embodiment, in a seamen’s code, of all its laws and regula­
tions relating to seamen in their activities as such ” to be used for
preparing an international seamen’s code.17 The international rela­
tions committee of the seamen’s union viewed “ with suspicion this
attempt at this time to bring about an international code for sea­
men ” on the ground that “ the backwardness of the laws of some
of the nations of the league will retard and hinder the adoption of
real progressive laws and measures for seamen.” The convention
agreed with this interpretation and adopted the report of the com­
mittee.
The draft convention relating to employment provided that “ the
business of finding employment for seamen shall not be carried on by
any person, company, or other agency as a commercial enterprise.
Committees consisting of an equal number of representatives of ship­
owners and seamen shall be constituted to advise on matters concern­
ing the carrying on of offices for the purpose of providing employ­
ment for seamen.” The committee on international relations was
opposed to the foregoing provisions, which were coupled with un­
employment insurance for seamen, on the ground that the possibility
15 Delegates from the United States were present only as observers.
ie The first item of the agenda of the Genoa conference, which related to lim iting the
hours of seamen to 8 per day and 48 per week, failed to secure by a small fraction the
necessary two-thirds majority.
17 An Instruction to the code commission provided that im prisonm ent for desertion and
the right to place men back on ‘vessels by force, to labor against their w ill, be omitted
■ from such a code. (Statem ent of Mr. Furuseth to the w riter; see The International
Seamen’s Code, International Labor Office, Geneva, 1921, Ch. IV.)



CHAPTER Y .---- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

81

of establishing an effective blacklist system was great. The commit­
tee was sustained by the convention in its hope that this draft
convention would not be ratified by the various nations.
In discussing the draft convention which fixed the minimum age
for children employed at sea at 14 years, the committee on inter­
national relations regretted that the Genoa conference “ did not see
the necessity of raising the age limit of children employed at sea
to 16 years.” 18
The committee on international relations had no direct report to
make on the draft convention which provided for indemnity in case
of loss or foundering of the ship, or regarding the recommendation
of the League of Nations’ conference that the different nations using
the same waterways enter into agreements about the hours of work
of persons employed on inland waterways.
BIENNIAL MEETING OF INTERNATIONAL SEAFARERS’ FEDERATION.19

The international labor conference of the League of Nations was
adjourned on July 10,1920, and was followed a month later (August
9) in Brussels by the biennial meeting of the International Sea­
farers’ Federation, which was the third gathering held that sum­
mer for the consideration of problems relating to seamen. At Lhis
conference there were present 45 delegates from 14 affiliated sea­
men’s unions representing the unlicensed personnel in various parts
of the world.
The general secretary of the federation in his report said in regard
to the League of Nations’ conference: “ The seamen did not obtain
much of value at the last-mentioned conference, but I am of the
opinion that the conference helped all seamen to see the necessity of
combining in a strong seafarers’ federation.”
An early indication of the fact that the seamen were not satisfied
with the league’s work was the attack by the president of the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union on the draft convention which provided
for the establishment of employment offices for seamen. He intro­
duced the following resolution, which was adopted by the federa­
tion :

Whereas the “ draft convention ” about employment of seamen prohibits
employment of seamen, except (a) through an office maintained jointly by
shipowners and seamen with an independent chairman, or (b) through an
office under the sole control of the nation’s Government, any violation to be
punished by imprisonment; and
Whereas there is nothing to hinder the shipowners from establishing offices
to find men for their vessels; and
Whereas this “ draft convention ” is very dangerous to the seamen and their
organizations because the latter will in all probability be classified as illegal
employment agencies: Therefore be it
R esolved , That this conference of the International Seafarers’ Federation
protest against said “ draft convention ” and pray that it be rejected by the
separate nations.

The struggle for a wider application of the principles of the
American seamen’s act was furthered by the federation’s approval

18 Proceedings International Seamen's Union of America, 1921, p. 113. It is of interest
to note that the assembly of the International Labor Conference in November. 1921,
adopted two draft conventions relating to the work of young persons on ships. The first
prohibited the employment of persons under 18 years of age as trimmers and stokers ;
the second provided for the medical examination of those under 18 years employed on
ships.
10 For account of this meeting, see Proceedings International Seamen’s Union, 1921,
d. 312.



82

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S U NIO N OF AMERICA.

of the following proposals, which were introduced by the American
delegates:

1. A request to the separate nations to repeal all laws under which seamen
are or may be arrested and imprisoned for violation of the shipping articles
when a vessel is in a safe harbor.
2. The abrogation of all treaties under which seamen are arrested, detained,
and surrendered back to the vessel from which they have deserted.
3. That the seaman shall be placed upon the same level with the shipowner,
i. e., that violation of a contract to labor shall be a civil in lieu of a criminal
offense.
4. That the seaman’s clothes shall at all times be exempt from attachment
by the vessel or the master.

A resolution was adopted providing for the taking of immediate
steps to force the various Governments to grant the demands for a
shorter working day by means of legislation.
After prolonged debate on the establishment of an international
standard rate of wages, the determination of such a standard was
referred to the secretariat, with the understanding that the highest
rate paid in Europe should be the standard rate.
AGREEMENT ON TRANSFERS.

At this convention the following agreement in reference to the
transfer of members was also agreed upon:

That a member of any affiliated union joining a vessel of another nationality,
other than that of the union of which he is a member, should be permitted to
sail for three months, or one voyage if longer than three months, without
being compelled to transfer. At the end of three months, or at the end of the
voyage, such member be requested to transfer, but without payment of en­
trance fee, all contributions due to be the property of the union to which he is
transferred.

At the 1921 convention of the International Seamen’s Union the
foregoing resolution was made an addition to the constitution.
SUMMARY.

RECENT STEPS TOWARD INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION.

In order to secure closer cooperation with foreign seamen’s organ­
izations, the 1921 convention of the international union instructed
its secretary to communicate with the principal seamen’s unions of
the world and to procure literature from them for distribution by all
the branches of the International Seamen’s Union.
Early in 1920 the Dutch seamen became involved in a strike for
what was termed “ international wages ” and requested the assistance
of the International Seafarers’ Federation, which, in turn, called on
its affiliated bodies. With the object of demonstrating “ by action
that its motto 4The Brotherhood of the Sea ’ is not merely a theory,”
the International Seamen’s Union raised $7,500 for the Dutch sea­
men. In support of the Danish seamen who were also striking at
this time $1,000 was contributed by the treasury of the International
Seamen’s Union.
In order to keep in touch with the European situation the conven­
tion held it necessary to send a delegate only once a year to the execu­
tive council of the International Seafarers’ Federation, and at this
time one delegate was elected to the August, 1921, conference.20 The
20 For report of delegate, see Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America,
1922, pp. 69-71, 100-106.



CHAPTER V.— INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

83

question of representation at the International Seafarers’ Federation
convention at Geneva in August, 1922, was referred to the 1922 con­
vention. This convention elected Mr. Furuseth delegate to the an­
nual congress of the Seafarers’ Federation.
CONCLUSIONS.

In its early history the International Seamen’s Union of America
had but few relations with foreign organizations. It was not until
1907 that it joined the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
The American unions have always favored the recognition of mem­
bership cards held by members of bona fide foreign unions. Although
attempts were made as early as 1909 to effect an international trans­
fer system, it was not until 1919 that completely satisfactory arrange­
ments were made with the British unions.
The European war and the intense struggle of the International
Seamen’s Union for the passage of the seamen’s bill did not leave
much time or energy for international cooperation. The international
activities of this union in the period following the armistice can
be understood only in connection with the attempts of its president
to defend the seamen’s act from the attacks of foreign shipowners
and in connection with his attempts to spread an understanding of
the act among European seamen. He succeeded in preventing the
Peace Conference from adopting any measures unfavorable to the
seamen’s act. On the other hand, he was not entirely successful in
persuading European seamen that the act should be universally
adopted. Opposition to the extension of the act was especially strong
among English seamen. Mr. Furuseth was generally opposed to the
labor provisions in the covenant of the League of Nations on the
ground that too much power was given to the various Governments
as such, to employers, and to the British Empire.
The American unions expect progress to come only through
voluntary joint action with the seamen of the various European
countries. Thus, in 1921, the International Seafarer’s Federation
finally decided to work in all countries for the abolition of penalties
for desertion. The American seamen deem the universal abolition
of penalties for desertion essential to the life of the seamen’s act.
If foreign seamen on return to their home ports continue to be pun­
ished for deserting in American ports, then they will be unlikely to
take advantage of the seamen’s act. Should this condition continue
and be general, then the “ equalization ” of foreign wages up to
American levels will be seriously impeded.
In other words, conditions, wages, and terms of employment must
be brought up to American standards. These changes, American
seamen feel, can not be brought about through the International
Labor Office or any other body on which employers are represented,
but must be effected by the cooperation of the seamen themselves.
Union legislative activities, similar to those used in urging the
passage of the seamen’s act, are urged for each country by the Ameri­
can unions.21
21 Effective Jan. 1, 1923, imprisonment for desertion from Swedish vessels is allowed
only in cases where the safety of a vessel has been endangered. This law was drawn up
in cooperation with Norway, Denmark, and Finland. It is expected that these countries
w ill pass similar laws. (M onthly Labor Review of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
October, 1922, pp. 191, 192.)




CHAPTER VI.—JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES.

The most serious and the longest standing jurisdictional dispute of
the International Seamen’s Union of Ajnerica was that with the
International Longshoremen’s Association. Although this jurisdic­
tional problem was recognized at the fourth annual convention of the
International Seamen’s Union in 1899, its genesis may be found
in the early history of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific. The dis­
pute was finally settled by an arbitration decision in July, 1907.
After that date there were only occasional disputes between the
longshoremen and the seamen, and at the present time their rela­
tions are reported to be fairly harmonious.
At various times during its existence the International Seamen’s
Union has felt the encroachments of several other organizations.
None of the disputes, however, assumed the bitterness or the magni­
tude that existed in the struggle with the longshoremen. The rela­
tions between the seamen and the shore workers have been stated as
follows:

The effort to win and keep the good will and cooperation of the men on
shore failed in exact proportion of the distance that the seamen worked near
the shore workers. If the men on shore had no real interest in the seaman
and his work, the sympathy flowed naturally toward the seamen; but if the
work done by the men ashore was near to the seamen, the sympathy de­
creased with the reduced distance. If the work was competitive—if the work
was really seamen’s work—the feeling degenerated into downright hostility.1
THE SEAMEN AND THE LONGSHOREMEN.
PACIFIC COAST RELATIONS.

Jurisdictional disputes between the seamen and the shore workers
began early in the history of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific.
Shortly after the organization of this union the longshoremen, who
worked at discharging lumber from large vessels only, asked the
seamen to refuse to discharge smaller vessels. In return, the long­
shoremen promised not to discharge vessels which were manned by
nonunion crews. The seamen consented, and on coming into port
left the vessels. The shipowners thereupon refused to pay the sea­
men for any of their work on the ground that their contracts were
not finished until after the cargo had been discharged. The result
was that the sailors’ wages earned on the trip were paid to the long­
shoremen who unloaded the vessels. The seamen, having lost indi­
vidually up to $50 and collectively up to nearly $40,000, sued for
their wages, but the court dismissed the case.
It was the common practice for longshoremen on the Pacific coast
to discharge an$ load deep-water vessels, whereas this work was
generally done by the crew on coastwise vessels. In San Francisco,
1 Andrew Furuseth. Second M essage to Seamen (pam phlet published by the Inter­
national Seamen’s U nion), Chicago, 1919, p. 21.

84




CHAPTER VI.— JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES,

85

however, longshoremen discharged nearly all large coastwise vessels,
especially those carrying lumber. The seamen generally unloaded
the smaller vessels which carried less than 250,000 feet of lumber.
When the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific sought permission from the
longshoremen to discharge cargoes up to 400,000 feet, the long­
shoremen refused to give their consent. The seamen remembered
this incident, and when a few years later the longshoremen asked
the seamen to join them in a sympathetic strike they declined. The
strike was lost and the shipowners succeeded in breaking up nearly
all the longshoremen’s organizations.
As the seamen gradually gained strength in the nineties, the long­
shoremen again came to them for assistance. This was granted as—
It was much more pleasant to work with union men and much safer. The
longshoremen were now willing to recognize the seamen as their equals. They
needed help, they received it, and the feeling was good Agreements [between
the seamen and longshoremen] were entered into in San Francisco in 1900.
This agreement Acknowledged the seamen’s first right to do all work within
the rail of the vessel, the longshoremen’s right to all work on the dock, and the
first right to help on the vessel when help was needed. There was a further
clause to the effect that neither should receive cargo from or deliver cargo
to nonunion men. Agreements were entered into in nearly all ports along
the coast as the longshoremen organized.
The agreement signed by the San Francisco longshoremen was violated
through a secret understanding with the teamsters, who consented to refuse to
deliver cargo destined for the Hawaiian Islands to anybody but longshoremen,
thus boycotting the vessels until the seamen were dismissed. Of course the
dismissal was prompt. Fortunately there were not many of those vessels, and
the seamen consented to overlook the treachery. A new agreement was patched
up. Shortly after this occurrence—in less than one year—the so-called
teamsters’ strike broke out. The employers In San Francisco had combined to
crush all the labor unions in the State, and they arranged so that the
struggle began with the teamsters. All the water-front unions finally had to
come out. There was no choice. The struggle lasted for two months and a
half and ended in a “ draw.”
The result was the organization of the City Front Federation. There was
an effort to make the seamen carry the whole burden by providing that no one
should take cargo from or deliver cargo to any nonunion man. Since the
seamen received the cargo at the rail and delivered it at the rail, it would, of
course, fall on the seamen to fight for all the men on shore. Under this
arrangement the seamen could have no union as long as there was anybody
left on shore who was unorganized or on strike. The seamen finally saw
through the enthusiasm of their friends and refused to comply. Of course the
popularity of the seamen began at once to pass away. When they were not
willing to be called on strike by anybody and everybody, their usefulness was
at an end. The seamen began to insist strongly that they must be consulted
before they were expected to quit work, that they would not join any strike
except after a secret ballot taken by the seamen themselves after proper
discussion within their own organizations. The longshoremen along the
Pacific coast disregarded their agreements with the seamen at their own whim
or supposed interest, and the seamen’s organization was attacked and vilified
in every way.8
THE PROBLEX RECOGNIZED.

The foregoing problems were handled by the Sailors’ Union of the
Pacific and were not discussed in the conventions of the Interna­
tional Seamen’s Union until a jurisdictional issue on the Great Lakes
had received the attention of the fourth annual convention in 1899.
The first steps to handle a jurisdictional problem were taken at this
gathering, when the delegates to the American Federation of Labor
Andrew Furuseth. Second Message to Seamen, pp. 20, 22, 23.



86

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S UNION OE AMERICA.

convention were instructed “ to amicably arrange, if possible, with
the International Longshoremen’s Union and the Firemen’s Union
[of the Great Lakes] for the transfer of said Firemen’s Union to
the jurisdiction of the International Seamen’s Union of America,
and that should such effort fail, then the delegates are instructed to
enter protest with the American Federation of Labor.”3 The con­
ciliatory spirit of the International Seamen’s Union during the early
status of the dispute is shown in the following resolution, which was
approved by the delegates at the 1900 convention:

R esolved, That the delegates to the American Federation of Labor conven­
tion be instructed to endeavor to make ^some arrangements with the Inter­
national Longshoremen’s Association of America by which these two organiza­
tions can mutually assist each other on the coast and on the Great Lakes.4

EARLY ATTEMPTS AT SETTLEMENT AND ACTION OF LONGSHOREMEN.

The attempted arrangements for mutual assistance did not suc­
ceed, and in consequence the 1901 convention instructed the secreary of the International Seamen’s Union to inform the International
Longshoremen’s Association that, according to the maritime law of
the United States, all employees aboard ship are regarded as seamen.
The International Longshoremen’s Association not only took no
notice of this communication but early in 1902 changed its name to
the International Longshoremen, Marine, and Transport Workers’
Association of North and South America and the Island Possessions.
Had this change in name and extension of jurisdiction been approved
by the American Federation of Labor, it would have resulted ulti­
mately in the abolition of the International Seamen’s Union as an
independent organization. This proposed change in name and the
subsequently expected extension of jurisdiction caused the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union much apprehension. The 1902 convention
accordingly spent a great deal of time in discussing the attempt of
the longshoremen to obtain jurisdiction over all marine and trans­
port workers. A detailed report, defining the word “ Seamen ” and
quoting section 4612 of the United States Revised Statutes, was
adopted. This section defined “ every person (apprentices excepted)
who shall be employed or engaged to serve in any capacity on board
the same [any vessel] shall be deemed and taken to be 4a seaman ’;
and the term 4vessel ’ shall be understood to comprehend every de­
scription of vessel navigating on any sea or channel, lake or river.”
Attention was also called to Article I of the constitution of the
International Seamen’s Union, which defined all those who worked
on the sea, lakes, or rivers (with the exception of licensed officers) as
seamen. The action of the convention and its disapproval of the
attempted extension of the jurisdiction of the International Long­
shoremen’s Association were communicated to the officials of that
association, who, however, again ignored the protests of the seamen.
DIRECT DEALING WITH LAKE FIREMEN.

In order to persuade the officers of the Lake Firemen’s Union to
change their affiliation, direct negotiation with them was decided upon
by the 1902 convention. To effect this purpose, two members of the
* Proceedings International Seamen’s Union of America, 1899, p. 45.
4 Coast Seamen’s Journal, Jan. 16, 1901, p. 7.



87
Atlantic Firemen’s Union and one member of the Pacific Firemen’s
Union were appointed to visit the various officials and branches of
the Lake Firemen’s Union. Although the three firemen visited the
ports on the Great Lakes and were well received, the firemen of that
district had not, by the time of the next convention, decided to change
their affiliation. Indeed, it was not until 1907 that they decided by
referendum vote to do so. In that year a charter was issued by the
International Seamen’s Union to them under the name of Marine
Firemen, Oilers, and Water Tenders’ Benevolent Association of the
Great Lakes. This change in affiliation on the part of the firemen
was the culmination of efforts begun by the International Seamen’s
Union at its convention in 1899.
CHAPTER VI.— JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES.

ATTEMPTED ADJUDICATION.

Besides communicating with the International Longshoremen’s
Association and dealing directly with the Lake Firemen’s Union,
the International Seamen’s Union (at the 1902 convention of the
American Federation of Labor) filed a formal protest against the
new activities of the longshoremen. The committee on jurisdiction,
to whom the protest was referred, recommended that the longshore­
men and the seamen select two representatives each. These four
were to select another person to act with them to settle the pending
jurisdictional dispute. This attempt at settlement failed because
the four representatives could not agree upon a fifth member.
Not discouraged, the seamen at the 1903 convention of the Ameri­
can Federation of Labor renewed their protests against the action of
the longshoremen. The convention disapproved the change in name
by the longshoremen without permission of the federation. The
longshoremen, however, continued the use of their new name and
became more aggressive on the Pacific coast. Due to their tactics,
the seamen of that coast were unable in 1905 to secure the best con­
ditions in agreements with their employers. The longshoremen fur­
thermore refused to load or unload vessels on which any of this
work was done by the seamen.
Nothing definite toward an adjustment between the two organi­
zations was accomplished until the November, 1905, convention of
the American Federation of Labor. This body again recommended
that the longshoremen drop the long name and that arbitration pro­
ceedings be started. Each organization was instructed to select two
persons and these four were to meet within 60 days after the ad­
journment of the convention in order to select a fifth person. The
five so selected were to form an arbitration board whose decision was
to be final and binding upon both parties. The representatives of
the two organizations finally met in April, 1906, at Erie, Pa. As
they again could not agree upon a means of settling the dispute, they
selected Mr. Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federa­
tion of Labor, as the fifth member of their committee.
DECISION OF MR. GOMPERS.

The decision of Mr. Gompers was not made until June 25, 1907,
and its full text was reported in the Coast Seamen’s Journal for
the first time on July 10, 1907. This decision apparently settled
the matter that had engaged the attention of the International



88

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S U NIO N OF AMERICA*

Seamen’s Union since 1899. The outstanding features of the de­
cision were that the future use by the International Longshore­
men’s Association of the additional title “ Marine and Transport
Workers ” was to be discontinued and that the work of loading and
unloading vessels, with certain exceptions, belonged to the long­
shoremen. The exceptions embraced the claims made by the seamen
that the members of a vessel’s seagoing crew may work cargo from
“ tackle to tackle.” •
LONGSHOREMEN DISSATISFIED.

In defiance of this decision, the International Longshoremen’s
Association, at their convention held in July of that year (1907),
voted that the decision of the arbitration board be rejected and that
the long name be retained. Accordingly, at the next convention of
the American Federation of Labor the delegates of the longshore­
men presented their credentials as representatives of the Interna­
tional Longshoremen, Marine, and Transport Workers of America.
After protest by a delegate of the International Seamen’s Union,
the committee on credentials refused to recognize the long name and
recommended that the longshoremen’s delegates be seated as from
the International Longshoremen’s Association. This recommenda­
tion was adopted.
AGREEMENT BETWEEN SEAMEN AND LONGSHOREMEN.

Acting upon the suggestion made by the executive council at the
1908 convention of the American Federation of Labor, the delegates
from the seamen’s and longshoremen’s unions met during intervals
of the convention and entered into an agreement which specified
the details to be followed in carrying out Mr. Gompers’s decision.
This agreement provided that the longshoremen were to resume their
official title of “ International Longshoremen’s Association ” ; that
this change of title was not in any way to be construed as requiring
the longshoremen to relinquish any members or branches affiliated
under the title of “ International Longshoremen, Marine, and Trans­
port Workers’ Association that should any dispute arise as to the
work to be performed by their respective members, it was to be set­
tled by a conference oi the officers or representatives of the two
unions. The agreement, which was scheduled to run for six years,
also provided that every possible effort should be made for the resto­
ration of amicable relations.
FURTHER TROUBLE BUT NEW ACCORD.

Relations between the two organizations ran smoothly for a num­
ber of years, until the International Longshoremen’s Association,*
* This part of Mr. Gompers’s decision reads as fo llo w s:
“ 2. The work of loading and unloading vessels (w ith the follow ing exceptions) belongs
to the longshorem en:
“ Exceptions: (a) In the coastwise trade, when seamen bring a vessel into port,
remain w ith the vessel for its onward course or for its return to the in itial port, the
work of loading and unloading the cargo to the extent of the ship’s tackle may be per­
formed by the seamen, (ft) Seamen may load or unload cargoes beyond the ship’s tackle,
but only w ith the consent of or by agreement w ith the longshoremen.
“3. Under no circumstances (unless by the consent of or agreement w ith the long­
shoremen) may seamen load or unload cargoes unless they (the seamen) are of the
vessel’s sailing crew in an in or out bound voyage, and then only as above decided in
exception (a ).”




CHAPTER VI.---- JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES.

89

at the 1911 convention of the American Federation of Labor, charged
the seamen on the Pacific coast with violating the provisions of the
Gompers decision of June 25, 1907. The alleged violation was re­
ferred to President Gompers and to the executive committee, who
sent a letter to both organizations, informing them that they would
have to observe the decision which President Gompers had made.
In discussing this letter an editorial in the Coast Seamen’s Journal
of February 14, 1912, states that the seamen knew of no violation
of the decision on their part.
At the American Federation of Labor convention in 1913 the
International Longshoremen’s Association specifically charged the
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific with violating the Gompers decision
in that its members were loading vessels in offshore trade. The
seamen, on the other hand, requested the American Federation of
Labor to go on record by stating that the seamen were within their
proper rights when working cargo in any vessel as long as they were
members of that vessel’s crew. The contentions of both sides were
referred to the committee on adjustment, who recommended that the
delegates from the two organizations get together at once in an
attempt to adjust their differences. After several meetings the fol­
lowing was agreed upon:

1. In vessels that are always in the offshore trade and employing nonunion
crews, the longshoremen shall do the loading exclusively.
2. In vessels that are generally in the coastwise trade but occasionally go
offshore, the crew may do the loading from tackle to tackle.
3. In vessels going from one coastwise port to another, for the purpose of
loading for offshore, the crew may do the loading from tackle to tackle.
4. The coastwise trade to remain as it now stands.
5. The following is defined as offshore trade: On the west coast of South
America, any port to the south of the Panama Canal, New Zealand, Australia,
South Africa, China, and Japan.

The seamen’s delegates further agreed to take immediate action
against their members who were instrumental in forming a dual
longshoremen’s association in Portland, Oreg., in August, 1913. The
delegates of both organizations agreed also to submit any further
grievances in writing to the headquarters of the union complained
against.
MISUNDERSTANDINGS ADJUSTED.

About two months after these covenants had been made part of
the records it seemed that the amicable relations existing between
the seamen and the longshoremen were again to be broken off.
Early in January circulars were distributed in New York City
urging seamen, harbor men, and transport workers “ not to join any
union of seafaring men unless such union is legally chartered and
officially recognized by the International Longshoremen’s Union.”
This circular was signed by Transport Workers, Local No. 859,
I. L. A., which called itself the Sailors and Firemen’s Union of the
Atlantic. Upon inquiry at the headquarters of the International
Longshoremen’s Association it was learned that a charter had been
issued to this association upon instructions of President T. Y.
O’Connor. The secretary of the International Seamen’s Union tele­
graphed a demand for the immediate revocation of the charter and
wired President Furuseth to lay the matter before the American



90

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN ?S U NIO N OF AMERICA.

Federation of Labor. The executive committee of the federation
decided that the issuance of such a charter would be construed as a
violation of the Gompers decision. This matter was fortunately
settled without further trouble when Mr. O’Connor canceled the
charter of the organization in controversy.
Early in 1915, the secretary of the American Federation of Labor
notified the officials of the International Seamen’s Union that the
International Longshoremen’s Association had filed application for
jurisdiction over fishermen. However, before a conference could
be arranged between representatives of the seamen and the long­
shoremen, the secretary of the American Federation of Labor was
notified by the International Longshoremen’s Association that they
had no controversy with the seamen regarding the fishermen and did
not desire a conference.
The secretary of the International Seamen’s Union reported on
this matter to the 1915 convention and told that body that he thought
the letter from the longshoremen to the American Federation of
Labor closed the incident. The committee on constitution, to whom
this part of the secretary’s report had been referred, wanted to
make doubly sure that the incident was closed. It, therefore, de­
clared that the statement of the longshoremen “ means or amounts
in effect to a withdrawal of jurisdictional claims filed by the Interna­
tional Longshoremen’s Association with the American Federation of
Labor. If it should be construed otherwise at any time in the future,
it will then be proper to further defend and uphold our jurisdic­
tional claims over all fishermen now within the International Sea­
men’s Union of America as well as those who may desire to join.”
LONGSHOREMEN AGAIN AGGRESSIVE.

The committee on constitution further declared that it was aware
of the fact that members of the International Longshoremen’s As­
sociation had on several occasions refused to work with members
of the International Seamen’s Union. According to the committee,
tentative agreements submitted by the International Longshoremen’s
Association to shipowners on the Pacific coast contained 11
points regarding jurisdiction. Under one of these points the long­
shoremen claimed “ handling all hoists and machines used in con­
nection with handling cargoes.” Under another point they
claimed “ all work in connection with loading and discharging of
vessels along the water front.” The committee reported to the con­
vention that even if it desired to do so, it could not agree with the
contention of the longshoremen because the matter of loading and
unloading was governed by the laws of the various maritime nations ;
that the statutes of the United States in this matter provided that
cargo shall be delivered to the ship’s tackle and, when so delivered,
the vessel becomes responsible for the cargo until it is delivered on
shore either by boats or at the end of a ship’s tackle. The provisions
of this law would be enforced against the seamen of the United
States by dismissal and forfeiture of all wages earned. The com­
mittee recommended that the delegates to the American Federation of
Labor convention be instructed to protest against “ all exclusive
claims of jurisdiction to certain work on board ship, whether such



91
claims be made by longshoremen, hoisting engineers, riggers, scalers,
painters, machinists, or other trades.” The report of the committee
was adopted.
In spite of the protests of the seamen, the longshoremen continued
to negotiate with the shipowners for exclusive jurisdiction in loading
and unloading all vessels. The shipowners refused to agree to the
jurisdictional claims of the longshoremen and the latter called a
strike. They, however, were unable to effect a change in the status
quo.
CHAPTER VI.---- JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES.

PRESENT RELATIONS.
THE PACIFIC COAST.

Harmony on the Pacific coast between the longshoremen and the
seamen was again restored. Indeed, in January, 1920, the Pacific
coast district of the International Longshoremen’s Association not
only extended greetings to the convened seamen but invited them to
send a fraternal delegate to its next annual convention. These
amicable relations are said to have persisted on that coast until
the present.
THE GREAT LAKES.

In the late fall and winter of 1920 a local jurisdictional dispute de­
veloped in Buffalo, N. Y., between the longshoremen of that port
and the seamen. The matter was of minor importance and was
settled by agreement between the seamen and the longshoremen.
THE ATLANTIC DISTRICT.

In the Atlantic district there has never been any trouble between
the seamen and the longshoremen regarding the loading and unload­
ing of vessels because—

The seamen long ago gladly gave up their work in the port. They hated
the ship and wanted to escape from her when she entered harbor. The long­
shoremen are in a large measure doing their work. Some 30 years since the
longshoremen of the Atlantic were for a time organized. The stevedores wanted
the work; the longshoremen wanted it. There was no one to say them nay.
The shipowners wanted to be rid of the seamen. There was none to resist.®
THE SEAMEN AND THE COOKS.

Originally the Lake Seamen’s Union, which was founded in 1878,
included not only sailors but also firemen and cooks among its
members. Early in 1901 a number of cooks in the Toledo, Ohio,
branch of the Lake Seamen’s Union became dissatisfied and or­
ganized a separate local under the auspices of the Hotel and
Restaurant Employees’ International Alliance and Bartenders’ In­
ternational League of America. The Lake Seamen’s Union objected
to the extension of the alliance’s jurisdiction over marine workers
and presented its claims to the American Federation of Labor.
The executive committee of the American Federation of Labor
decided in favor of the Hotel and Restaurant Alliance. As this
decision was not agreeable to the Lake Seamen’s Union, the 1901
convention of the International Seamen’s Union instructed its
®Andrew Furuseth. Second M essage to Seamen, p. 16.

4466$°—23----- T




92

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN ?S U NION OF AMERICA.

delegates to the next American Federation of Labor convention
to protest against the decision. However, over the protests of the
seamen, the American Federation of Labor, at its 1901 convention,
not only indorsed the former action of its executive committee but
also approved a supplementary report of the committee, which
read:

In the dispute between the Seamen’s International Union and the Hotel
and Restaurant Employees’ International Alliance and Bartenders’ Inter­
national League of America as to which organization should have jurisdiction
over cooks employed on vessels, it was decided that jurisdiction over the
cooks employed on ocean-bound vessels be accorded to the Seamen’s Inter­
national Union. This is not to include cooks on coastwise vessels.7

Although this convention decided against the seamen’s unions as
far as the cooks of the Great Lakes and in the coastwise trade were
concerned,8 the local representative of the International Seamen’s
Union again opened up this matter at a meeting of the executive
council of the American Federation of Labor in San Francisco.
The council promised to recommend the reconsideration by the next
convention of the jurisdiction granted the Hotel and Restaurant
Employees’ International Alliance over the cooks and stewards em­
ployed on lake and coastwise craft.
The 1902 convention of the American Federation of Labor com­
promised by extending the jurisdiction of the International Sea­
men’s Union over marine cooks and stewards on coastwise vessels.
The jurisdiction over workers on boats plying the Great Lakes,
rivers, bays, and sounds was, however, not granted to the Interna­
tional Union. Nevertheless, during 1902 the Marine Cooks’ Asso­
ciation, Local No. 54, of Buffalo, severed its connection with the
Hotel and Restaurant Alliance and applied to the 1902 convention
of the International Seamen’s Union for a charter. The committee
on organization, to whom the application was referred, reported fav­
orably and worked out the details necessary to give the new or­
ganization a proper start. Although only a month previous the
American Federation of Labor had denied the International Sea­
men’s Union jurisdiction on the Great Lakes, the convention char­
tered the new organization as the Marine Cooks and Stewards’
Association of the Great Lakes. According to the secretary of
this union the Hotel and Restaurant Alliance made no protest on
the granting of a charter to its former local by the International
Seamen’s Union. A few weeks later, at a convention in Detroit, all
of the locals of the Marine Cooks’ Association unanimously voted
to return their charters to the Hotel and Restaurant Employees’
Alliance.
The decision of the American Federation of Labor convention,
granting jurisdiction to the International Seamen’s Union only over
cooks and stewards sailing on ocean-going and coastwise vessels, was
but a partial victory for the seamen. To the officers of the Marine
Cooks and Stewards’ Association of the Pacific this decision seemed
a menace to their organization. Accordingly, at the 1904 convention
7 Report of the Proceedings of the Twenty-first Annual Convention [1901] of the
American Federation of Labor, p. 227.
8Owing to this decision no organization efforts were made in 1902 in behalf of the
Marine Cooks and Stewards’ Union of the Atlantic. Consequently this organization was
in the same state at the end of the year as in January. (Proceedings International Sea­
men’s Union of America, 1902, p. 5.)




93
a resolution was introduced by that organization, urging the execu­
tive committee of the International Seamen’s Union to use its best
efforts to secure full jurisdiction over all vessels navigating all waters
of the United States. The resolution was approved by the conven­
tion.
CHAPTER VI.— JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES.

The 1904 convention also guaranteed assistance against the forma­
tion o f other cooks’ unions and especially against the Marine Passen­
gers and Freight Cooks’ Association, which had been chartered by
the International Longshoremen’s Association. Since 1904 none of the
cooks’ and stewards’ unions has referred any jurisdictional disputes
to the conventions o f the International Seamen’s Union. Although
the Atlantic and Pacific unions have not relinquished their claims
over members of their craft on river, sound, and harbor boats, they
have devoted their efforts almost exclusively to the organization o f
the stewards’ department on coast and deep-sea going vessels.

DISPUTES WITH OTHER SHORE ORGANIZATIONS.
Organizations other than those already mentioned were from time
to time involved in jurisdictional disputes with the International
Seamen’s Union or its affiliated unions. As early as 1906 one o f the
officials o f the international union saw that “ this troublesome ques­
tion will loom up with some magnitude in the near future because at
present several unions are doing business on a small scale in our
territory and as we go along extending our organization to new
fields we may be confronted with some disagreeable problems.”
Among organizations with which there were jurisdictional troubles
o f minor nature were the Brotherhood of Stationary Firemen in New
York, in 1906; the International Association of Machinists in San
Francisco, in 1911, regarding minor repairs; the Bay and River
Steamboatmen’s Union o f California, which secured a charter in
1914 from the American Federation of Labor after withdrawing
from the International Seamen’s Union in 1911; the International
Union of Pile Drivers, Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, in 1919,
which included several unions o f trap fishermen.
The plan o f President Furuseth for future relations with all shore
workers is as follow s:

We must insist that they shall quit trying to use us and leave our work
alone. On that road and on that road only is friendship and cooperation. He
[the shoreworker] can have our friendship and cooperation by acknowledging
our equal right to self-determination. It will not, it can not, be given upon any
other consideration. To the workers on shore generally we must learn to say:
We want your friendship, we want your aid, we are willing to give ours in
return, but only upon the frank acknowledgment that we are your equals as
men, and must be so treated in words and manners.*
INTERNAL JURISDICTIONAL PROBLEMS.
Not only has the International Seamen’s Union been involved in
jurisdictional disputes with other national organizations but it has
also had to deal with perplexing problems within its own ranks. In
May, 1917, the harbor boatmen’s branch (New York) of the Atlantic
Coast Seamen’s Union applied to the International Seamen’s Union
for a charter as the Harbor Boatmen’s Union of New York. Before

• Andrew Furuseth. Second Message to Seamen, pp. 28, 29.




94

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF AMERICA.

granting the charter, the application of this group was referred to
every affiliated union in the Atlantic district and was approved by
every organization except the Atlantic Coast Marine Firemen’s
Union. The executive board, however, granted the charter in July,
1907, but at the convention that year the Atlantic Coast Marine Fire­
men’s Union protested against this charter. The main points in con­
troversy were well stated in a summary o f the 1907 convention:

In point of time consumed in its discussion (two days), and also with respect
to its novelty, the most important matter dealt with by the convention was the
jurisdiction dispute between the Atlantic Coast Marine Firemen’s Union and
the Harbor Boatmen of New York and vicinity. The latter union claimed juris­
diction over all men employed on the vessels plying in and around the harbor
of New York. In the exercise of this claim a conflict arose between the harbor
boatmen and the marine firemen, the latter claiming jurisdiction over all
firemen regardless of the nature of the craft upon which they are employed.
The decision of the convention, which in effect grants the harbor boatmen
jurisdiction over all craft except ferryboats, passenger boats, and seagoing tugs
and steamers, was accepted by both organizations. Another feature of the
decision provides that Delegates Furuseth and Clarke [the latter representing
the marine firemen of the Great Lakes] shall proceed to New York for the pur­
pose of advising the organizations concerned while inaugurating the new rules
of jurisdiction.1*
In spite o f the avowed acceptance o f the decision o f the conven­
tion, the jurisdictional fight continued* and in consequence both
organizations were seriously handicapped. ' The energy that they
should have put into counteracting the effects of the panic of 1907
was wasted in fighting each other.
A fter a few years o f unsuccessful activity, the Harbor Boatmen’s
Union notified the International Seamen’s Union (in 1916) that it
had decided to withdraw from the international union, as it believed
that it could obtain better results by affiliation with the International
Longshoremen’s Association. The communication o f the boatmen
was referred to the committee on resolutions, who recommended that,
while that union should be permitted to withdraw, it should be noti­
fied that the International Seamen’s Union “ has not and will not
relinquish jurisdiction over sailors, firemen, or cooks employed on
harbor craft, and that we shall take whatever steps may be necessary
to protect the interests o f our international union in New York har­
bor and elsewhere.” Moreover, the seamen, at their 1917 convention,
in reply to a communication from the American Federation of Labor
asking whether the seamen’s jurisdiction extended over crews on
barge-canal crafts, said that they considered the^ crews of vessels,
exclusive o f licensed officers, as coming under the jurisdiction o f the
international union. In 1919 the Eastern Marine Workers’ Asso­
ciation, with headquarters at New Haven, Conn., and the Boatmen’s
Beneficial Association, with headquarters at Hoboken, N. J., were
organized to include workers on harbor craft in their localities.
Neither organization is now in existence.

THE INTERNATIONAL UNION AND LICENSED OFFICERS.
The relationship o f officers’ organizations to the International
Seamen’s Union was considered as early as 1902 by the committee
on jurisdiction at that year’s convention. The conclusions of this1
0

10 Coast Seamen’s Journal, Jan. 1, 1908, p. 7.




CHAPTER VI.— JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES.

95

coimnittee not only stated the position of the International Seamen’s
Union at that time but laid down the basis of a program which has
ever since been adhered to by the international union. The commit­
tee’s report read in part:

Your committee finds that the International Seamen’s Union of America
always recognized the absolute jurisdiction of licensed officers as vested in
either the Association of Masters and Pilots or the Marine Engineers’ Benevo­
lent Association of the United States. These organizations are composed of
and represent the men who are vested with the power to hire and discharge.
They properly and necessarily should have separate organizations in the in­
terest of and for the purpose that proper discipline on board vessels may be at
aU times maintained. The International Seamen’s Union of America has
always, and does now, recognize that under existing conditions the Masters and
Pilots and the Marine Engineers’ Associations can not be labor organizations
in the full sense of that term. But we have always desired, and do now desire,
the International Seamen’s Union of America and the members thereof to be
on such terms of friendship and mutual helpfulness with the Masters and Pilots
and Marine Engineers’ Associations and their members as are appropriate
and as will be to the best interest of the merchant marine and owners of vessels.
The Association o f Masters and Pilots was disrupted by a strike
in the spring o f 1904 and a licensed mates’ organization on the Great
Lakes, which the International Seamen’s Union had assisted, also
failed in 1905.
The formation of the American Association o f Masters, Mates, and
Pilots was enthusiastically hailed at the 1907 and 1910 conventions
o f the International Seamen’s Union, and the latter’s legislative dele­
gates were instructed to cooperate with this growing organization in
order to secure legislation o f mutual benefit.
In order to promote closer harmony with the officers’ association,
the delegates of the International Seamen’s Union, at the American
Federation o f Labor convention in 1910, introduced a resolution
inviting the deck and engine-room officers’ association to join the
federation. The resolution was approved, but it was not until 1916
that the American Association of Masters, Mates, and Pilots joined
the federation, and not until 1918 that the National Marine Engi­
neers’ Benevolent Association joined.
A t the 1917 convention o f the International Seamen’s Union the
president o f the Marine Engineers’ Benevolent Association spoke on
the need for closer cooperation between "the unions of licensed deck
and engine-room officers and the international union. The hope of
cooperation was reiterated in 1920, but it was not until 1921, that,
in order to bring about this desired cooperation, the international
union convention approved the appointment of a committee to
“ discuss the feasibility of having a general understanding and
meeting on some common ground.” This action was strongly in­
dorsed by the Pacific coast delegates, who explained how the Sea­
farers’ Council, composed of representatives from the unions of the
licensed and unlicensed personnel on that coast, had worked suc­
cessfully bv having meetings at regular intervals and by having an
identity or interest. A committee o f three was appointed by the
chairman to carry out the foregoing purposes.
A t the 1921 convention the Marine Firemen’s Union o f the A t­
lantic complained that the members of the Marine Engineers’ Benev­
olent Association were doing some of the work usually performed
by firemen, oilers, and water tenders in port and at sea. In a reso­




96

INTERNATIONAL S E A M E N ^ UNION OF AMERICA.

lution the firemen said that this state of affairs not only imposed
a tremendous hardship upon their members but that it lowered the
dignity and prestige of the marine engineers and encouraged ship­
owners to undermine the standard of conditions. The firemen be­
lieved these actions on the part of the engineers to be not only a gross
violation of the ethics of trade-union morality but also a jurisdic­
tional violation. The resolution introduced by the firemen instructed
the executive board to bring this matter to the attention of the
executive body of the Marine Engineers’ Benevolent Association for
the purpose of preventing similar recurrences. This resolution was
adopted by the convention and marks the first formal protest that
has ever been adopted by the seamen against a licensed organization.
SUMMARY.

At the present time the International Seamen’s Union is not in­
volved in any serious jurisdictional troubles with any A. F. of L.
union. Disputes in the past with the International Longshoremen’s
Association and other organizations have wasted energy and money
which might have been devoted to organizational purposes. The
frequent misunderstandings have been merely the natural consequence
of the desire of the International Seamen’s Union or that of related
organizations to expand in membership and influence.
MARINE TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT PROPOSED.

At the 1916 convention of the American Federation of Labor the
delegates of the International Longshoremen’s Association pro­
posed the formation in the American Federation of Labor of a ma­
rine transport department. The executive board of the Interna­
tional Seamen’s Union decided against the creation of such a
department, on the ground that its personnel would narrow down to
seamen and longshoremen, and that the former had no desire to
amalgamate with the longshoremen. The proposal was therefore
dismissed.
Five years later the delegates of the International Longshoremen’s
Association to the American Federation of Labor convention again
proposed the creation of a marine transport department. A resolu­
tion to this effect stated in part that—

Experience has shown ns, in the case of closely allied groups, that our activi­
ties can find a more intelligent and concrete expression on an industrial basis,
as witness the operations of the building trades department. The strike of
the marine workers illustrates the necessity of a greater degree of cooperation
between all groups that come under the classification of marine workers, par­
ticularly so in view of the efforts that are now being made to enforce the
so-called “ open shop ” throughout the country.11

This resolution was referred to the executive council of the Ameri­
can Federation of Labor with instructions to ascertain the wishes
of the several organizations which would be affected by the adoption
of such a resolution. The calling of a conference of the various
parties at interest was left to the judgment of the executive council.

11 For full text of resolution, see Report of the Proceedings of the Forty-first Annual
Convention of the American Federation of Labor [1921], p. 235.




CHAPTER VI.---- JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES.

97

ATTITUDE OP SEAMEN.

This subject was thereupon taken up at the next annual convention
(1922) of the International Seamen’s Union. The committee on
organization, to whom the matter was referred for action, reported—

That the experience' of seamen on the Pacific coast from 1899 to 1906, when
seamen were part of the City Front Federation, and the experience of seamen
as we have watched those experiences in Europe, have satisfied us that it
would be very unwise for the seamen to go into any such transportation sec­
tion or council, and we therefore can see no good to come from attending any
conference called for such purpose.
CONCLUSIONS.

The foregoing report was unanimously approved by the seamen’s
convention. Its adoption shows that former unsatisfactory cooper­
ative relationships have not been forgotten by the seamen. If
neither the International Seamen’s Union nor any of the other trans­
port unions extends the scope of its operations, then harmonious
relations are likely to continue because each organization, as a re­
sult of experience, perhaps, now knows the sphere in which it must
operate to prevent jurisdictional trouble. Should, however, any
organization become aggressive in its tactics, then jurisdictional
warfare will undoubtedly be renewed. Such a condition will be
welcome ammunition to the I. W. W., which will use it as an argu­
ment against craft unionism. In order to avoid such a possibility,
the first indication of jurisdictional trouble must be met by some
sort of voluntary adjudicational arrangement.




CHAPTER VII.—THE FIGHT AGAINST RADICALISM.
THE I. W. W. ON THE ATLANTIC.
PRE-WAR ACTIVITIES.

The activities of the Industrial Workers of the World among the
seamen of this country may be traced to the year 1912. After an
unsuccessful strike in that year all of the firemen’s unions on the
Atlantic coast and the sailors’ union in Norfolk, Va., joined the I.
W. W. The sailors, who found that they had made a serious error,
withdrew from the I. W. W. within two weeks and again affiliated
with their headquarters. In the meantime the radical activities
persisted and the National Industrial Union of Marine Transport
Workers was formed.1 In April, 1913, it affiliated with the I. W. W.
Although the International Seamen’s Union was urged to take steps
to combat the radical activities among the firemen, nothing was done
at the time. However, in December, 1913, steps were taken by the in­
ternational union to reorganize, under its supervision, the marine
firemen on the Atlantic and Gulf. The international union con­
tinued its reorganization activities until 1916, when the firemen
were again able to handle their own affairs. A year later the secre­
tary of the international union reported “ attempts at dual organiza­
tions on the part of ex-officials and the existence of I. W. W.’ism
among certain elements are disappearing.”
SPUR TO RADICAL ACTIVITY.

During the course of the war and in 1919 and 1920 satisfactory
wages and working agreements were secured by the seamen’s unions.
In consequence there were no activities <*n behalf of revolutionary
or industrial unionism. But in April, 1921, the Shipping Board
presented terms which were entirely unsatisfactory to the organized
seamen. On May 1, the seamen declared themselves unwilling to
accept the new terms and were accordingly “ locked out.” It was
not until late in June that the seamen’s unions on the Atlantic coast
permitted their members to return to work. The unsuccessful!
attempt to resist wage reductions and unsatisfactory working con­
ditions gave the members on the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts an
opportunity to attack their leaders and craft unionism. On the
Atlantic coast the radical onslaught was centered on the Eastern
and Gulf Sailors’ Association.
1 In a survey of marine unions in New York in 1919 the present writer found that the
New York branch of the National Industrial Union, known as Local 100, had a member­
ship of about 5,000, of whom 3,000 were in good standing. This branch took in workers
engaged in any kind of transportation work, but the m ajority of the members were
Spanish marine firemen. (See Coast Seamen’s Journal, July 9, 1919, p. 2.)
98




CHAPTER VII.— THE EIGHT AGAINST RADICALISM.

99

MINORITY DISSATISFACTION.

During the strike or lockout (as it was called) the Eastern and
Gulf Sailors’ Association provided meals for its needy members,
especially for those engaged in picket duty. On June 27, a week
after the calling off of the strike, a large meeting of the members
held in Cooper Union voted to discontinue expenditures for this
purpose after July 16.
After the seamen’s unions called off the strike, most of the members
of the Eastern and Gulf Sailors’ Association gradually found em­
ployment wherever possible. However, a small group who did not
find work continued to attend the meetings and carried on an agi­
tation for a continuance of the food funds. Although a large num­
ber of these members were in bad standing and not entitled to vote
at the regular weekly meetings, they nevertheless did so. Among
the active members of this group were those who were avowedly
members of the I. W. W., and others who probably were members
but who denied such membership, though advocating I. W. W.
principles and distributing radical literature among the sailors.
Through the votes and influence of this group resolutions were passed
on July 5 and July 11 to continue the commissary indefinitely.
These resolutions were contrary to the decision of the Cooper Union
meeting, and if they had been carried out would have cost the asso­
ciation $6,000 a week. The officers of the association thereupon
sought legal advice as to their duty, and were informed that they
had no right to permit the association’s funds to be used for food
purchases.
OPEN BREAK BEGUN.

Matters came to a head at the next weekly meeting of the Eastern
and Gulf Sailors’ Association (July 18), when the officials declared
that they would not comply with the resolutions calling for the pay­
ing out of funds for food purposes. The meeting thereupon became
so disorderly that the police were called in. The officials left after
adjourning the meeting, but the radicals reassembled the meeting
that night and had new officers elected. The newly elected secretary
shortly after caused the arrest of the old secretary on the charge
of illegally withholding the records of the union. This charge, how­
ever, was dismissed by the court. The radical group then called spe­
cial meetings and notified all branches of the association of the new
situation.
LEGAL STATUS OF EASTERN AND GULF SAILORS’ ASSOCIATION.

In order to determine definitely their rights, the bona fide officers
decided to employ counsel. They were informed by counsel that
under the certificate of organization and under the laws of Massachu­
setts the headquarters of the association could not be removed from
Massachusetts. The association was also informed that it was liable
to have its charter revoked because its books and records were not
being maintained at the headquarters in Boston as required by law.
While engaged in removing the necessary books to headquarters
the trustees of the association were interrupted by the radical group,




100

INTERNATIONAL SE AM EN ’ S U NIO N OE AMERICA.

who had the trustees arrested on the ground that they were wrong­
fully removing property of the association out of the State of New
York. The trustees were released by the court, but before they could
continue with their work they were restrained by an injunction
procured by the newly elected radical assistant secretary. After a
full explanation the injunction was vacated by the court and the
books were removed to Boston without further trouble.2
SUMMARY.

The present campaign of the I. W. W. to organize the seamen of
the Atlantic coast has all of the features of the drive of 1912-13. It
has the same economic setting, namely, stagnation in shipping, the
expiration of agreements between the unions and shipowners, fol­
lowed by an unsuccessful strike. Moreover, the same kind of propa­
ganda as was circulated in earlier years is again being put out by
the I. W. W. for the purpose of undermining the confidence of the
members of the craft unions in their officers.3
It is not possible to estimate the number of seamen in the I. W. W.
organization, which is known as the Marine Transport Workers’
Industrial Union No. 510, because this organization takes in not only
seamen but also workers on the smaller harbor and river crafts,
as well as longshoremen. Officers of the various Atlantic unions
roughly estimate that about 25 per cent of their former members
have joined the ranks of the I. W. W. The same proportion has
remained with the International Seamen’s Union. The remaining
workers have either given up sailing or do not belong to either
organization. While it is admitted that the I. W. W. have been a
demoralizing influence, the International Seamen’s Union officials
feel that the radical organization, which is forbidden by its consti­
tution to enter into contracts, has not done anything for its mem­
bers and therefore will not be able to show results on the return of
prosperity. With the revival of shipping, the International Sea­
men’s Union officers hope to make agreements with the shipowners
and thus have something concrete to offer to bring back some of the
former members.
THE I. W. W. ON THE PACIFIC.

At the 1921 convention it was reported that the Sailors’ Union of
the Pacific had elected a radical editor of the Seamen’s Journal.
The convention immediately took steps to prevent the new editor
from inflicting any possible injury on the International Seamen’s
Union in consequence of his expected policies.
MARINE TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDERATION ACTIVE.

The following paragraphs from a first-page article entitled,
“ Transport workers awake,” in the July 20, 1921, issue of the
Seamen’s Journal, show what was being attempted on the Pacific
coast:*
*The foregoing statem ents are based upon inform ation contained in a letter sent by
the Eastern and Gulf Sailors’ Association to its members and agents. For full text of
letter, see the Seamen’s Journal, Mar. 29, 1922, pp, 1, 2.
* Circular No. 3, H istorical Facts, published by the Port Committee of New York, 1922.




CHAPTER VII.— THE EIGHT AGAINST RADICALISM.

101

Realizing their helplessness under the system of organization prevailing,
both longshoremen and seamen have consolidated with other marine transport
workers of the Pacific coast. The formation of a powerful federation of marine
transport workers is now in full swing. Longshoremen, seamen, teamsters,
warehousemen, launch and tugboat men, and other bay, river, and harbor
workers are joining in one big federation, taking in every port of the Pacific
coast.

The efforts of the above-mentioned federation, which was known
as the Marine Transport Workers’ Federation, were extolled in an
editorial of the same issue, entitled “ Intelligent effort.” The indus­
trial form of organization was approved in the following words:
Our power also lies in organization, which must include a consolidation of all
the workers in one industry and all the industries together in one federation.
EDITOR WARNED TO CHANGE HIS POLICIES.

Several warnings were given to the radical editor to change his
editorial policy, but he failed to do so in spite of his promises.
Thereupon, on September 26, the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, at
the San Francisco headquarters, adopted the following resolution:4

Whereas the Seamen’s Journal has for some considerable time advocated
the ideas of the I. W. W., the Marine Transport Workers’ Industrial Union
No. 510, which is a section of the I. W. W., and of the one big union, which
is only another name for the I. W. W .; and
Whereas this propaganda is directly against the seamen and destructive
of all hopes and aspirations of the seamen; and
Whereas this propaganda is growing more virulent and aggressive; and
Whereas there can be no divided allegiance: Therefore be it
R eso lved , That the editor, John Vance Thompson, be and he is hereby in­
structed to cease all such propaganda in the Journal at once; and further
R esolved, That he edit the Journal on principles laid down in our constitu­
tion and according to our policy, namely, for the seamen as seamen, to the
end that the Journal shall again become what it was instituted to be, the
champion of the seamen’s cause.

Contrary to the expressed opinion of the membership, the editor
continued his work on behalf of industrial unionism. His policy
was defended in a letter from a “ comrade ” printed in the Seamen’s
Journal of October 26, 1921 (p. 7) :

The Seamen’s Journal has endeavored to keep up with the times. It has
taken the stand that workers in the marine industry must organize more
closely in order to be able to oppose the shipping octopus.
The Seaman (your so-called new organ) scorns the future welfare of your
union. It is a hindrance to the betterment of your condition. It does not
advocate the organization of labor. It is a personal mouthpiece and will
tend to keep you in ignorance of your true position.
EXPULSION OF RADICALS.

The foregoing letter, which was published a month after the
editor of the Seamen’s Journal was instructed to drop his advocacy
of industrial unionism, shows that the policy of the editor had not
changed. Because of his persistency in this direction charges were
preferred against him at the regular meeting of the Sailors’ Union
of the Pacific on October 31, 1921. The charges contained two
specific points: Refusal to obey the orders of the union and violation
of the solemn obligation which each member takes when joining the
union.
4 The Seamen’s Journal, Nov. 16, 1921, p. 6.




102

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF AMERICA.

At the next weekly meeting a resolution was adopted to enforce
strictly the third section of Article III of the constitution:

No one shall be admitted to membership * * * who is a member of
any dual organization or any other organization hostile to the aims and
principles of this union.

The resolution further provided that the penalty of expulsion for
violation of the constitution and by-laws be enforced. At the same
meeting a trial committee of five members was elected by secret
ballot to review the charges against the editor. At the next weekly
meeting the committee declared that they had found him u guilty
as charged ” and recommended his expulsion from the union. The
records of the meeting of that week show that he was expelled and
that the business manager of the Seamen’s Journal was elected in his
place.
The new editor’s first editorial (November 16) was entitled,
“ Triumph of sanity,” and stated his views and principles in part
as follows:

The membership may be assured that the columns of the Journal will be
open for all constructive criticism. At the same time there will be a stand­
ing challenge to all enemies of seamen, whether they be shipowning corpora­
tions, or any other organizations; whether they be unions trespassing, or the
dual unionists “ boring from within ” with intent to “ capture ” the unions of
seamen and firemen, marine cooks, and stewards, or fishermen. Disrupters
of every description will be fittingly exposed and against all enemies, whether,
within or without, we shall assume a firm, militant attitude, to the end that
existing rights for seamen may be maintained and steady progress assured.

At the next meeting, which was held on November 21, 20 mem*
bers were expelled, and two weeks later 7 additional members.
REVOLUTIONARY AIM OF TRANSPORT WORKERS.

The purposes of the Marine Transport Workers were set forth at
length in the December 25, 1921, issue of the Industrial Unionist.
This issue was almost entirely given over to the clash between the
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific and the Marine Transport Workers.
One of the articles urges the seamen and longshoremen to organize
industrially with a revolutionary aim. The article states that the
Marine Transport Workers’ Industrial Union of the I. W. W. not
only aims to better the immediate conditions of all marine workers,
but that it also hopes eventually to take control of marine trans­
portation.
PERPLEXING ATTITUDE OF SHIPOWNERS.

Another very serious aspect in the struggle of the seamen’s unions
on the Pacific coast is the attitude of the shipowners who, according
to the president of the international union, do not seem to be coop­
erating with him to rid that coast of the radical element.
In a letter of December 5, 1921, to the Pacific American Ship­
owners’ Association and to the Shipowners’ Association of the
Pacific Coast, which was published in the Seamen’s Journal of De­
cember 14, 1921, the president summarizes the events from the end
of July to December, 1921. Toward the end of July the seamen,
on his advice, called off the strike on that coast. After this action
he visited several shipowners and suggested that they reconsider the



CHAPTER VII.— THE FIGHT AGAINST RADICALISM.

103

advisability of establishing shipping offices at San Francisco and
San Pedro. In these offices men were to be registered and to be
shipped according to their turn as registered. He pointed out that
although the shipowners expected to drive the members of the
I. W. W. from the merchant marine, the registration system would
not only be ineffective but would drive the members of the Interna­
tional Seamen’s Union off the Pacific coast. On September 26 the
shipowners promised to postpone for 60 days the establishment of
registration offices and the issuance of a continuous discharge book,
provided the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific would rid itself of the
“ wobblies.” At this time he was convinced that the situation was
extremely serious and realized that if the seamen failed to clean
house they would be stamped, in the eyes of the public and of the
law, as an organization subject to prosecution under the criminal
syndicalist law of California. Yet, while he was aware of this, he
believed also that if the registration books of the shipowners were
issued, most of the union seamen would quit the Pacific coast. More­
over, the law would be enforced against the seamen, and the union
would temporarily pass out of existence.
The very night of the day (September 26) on which the president
met the shipowners, the resolution calling upon the editor to change
his policy was passed at a meeting of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific.
Subsequent efforts to drive the I. W. W. out of the Sailors’ Union of
the Pacific have already been described.
After 60 days’ grace had expired, the president of the interna­
tional union again visited the shipowners, asking them to give the
agents of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific passes to the docks and
ships in order to identify the members of the I. W. W. who had been
expelled from the sailors’ union. The labor committee of the ship­
owners met and decided against granting the passes. In the con­
cluding part of his letter to the shipowners, the president said that
the “ wobblies ” were being employed by the shipowners, and alleged
that there were quite a number of men who believed that the ship­
owners were not only carrying the “ wobblies ” but were protecting
them on their vessels and in the courts for purposes best known to
the shipowners. He said that he did not charge these conditions
existed but that it certainly looked as though they did. He thought
it reasonable to believe that the shipowners, for reasons of their own,
were employing and protecting the I. W. W. and he wondered
whether the shipowners were using them to kill “ real honest union­
ism, with the purpose of dealing with them later or not at all. Just
now the real seamen are certainly between two millstones—the ship­
owners and the ‘ wobblies.’ ”5
SUMMARY.

The struggle of the International Seamen’s Union against the
I. W. W. on the Pacific has encountered serious difficulties. The elec­
tion of a radical as editor of the Seamen’s Journal by the Sailors’Union
of the Pacific was a serious blow. Even after this editor and several
others had been expelled, the shipowners refused to cooperate in keep­
ing the I. W. W. off their ships. Indeed, it seemed that the shipowners
5 For full copy of this letter, see the Seamen’s Journal, Dec. 14, 1921, pp. 1, 2.




104

INTERNATIONAL S E A M E N ^ U NION OF AMERICA.

were using the I. W. W. to wreck the bona fide unions. The situa­
tion has been further complicated for the Pacific coast unions by the
presence of hordes of young men who come to the Pacific ports for
temporary employment at sea. In most instances, they care to sail
merely for a trip or two. In consequence, attempts to build up an
effective organization to combat the I. W. W. have been beset with
great difficulties.
ACTION *OF INTERNATIONAL UNION AGAINST I. W. W.
THE SEAMEN’S JOURNAL.

For many years the Seamen’s Journal, although published by the
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, had been the official mouthpiece of the
International Seamen’s Union. However, when a radical was elected
editor of the Journal, the January, 1921, convention withdrew from
that organ the privilege of speaking officially for the international
union. During the course of the year attacks on the officers of this
union and advocacy of industrial unionism became increasingly fre­
quent. Therefore, in order to defy the advocates of radical action
and to present the correct position of the International Seamen's
Union, which could no longer be done through the Seamen’s Journal,
the Seaman was established in October, 1921, by the international
union as “ an earnest, though belated, effort to set the American sea­
men right with the public.” The Seaman was published only four
times and devoted the greater part of each issue to attacking the
I. W. W. and to upholding the principles on which the International
Seamen’s Union was founded.
On November 9, 1921, the members of the Sailors’ Union of the
Pacific expelled their radical editor and the Seamen’s Journal was
restored to its former policy. As a result of this action the publica­
tion of the Seaman was abandoned by action of the 1922 convention.
At that gathering the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific asked to be re­
lieved of the publication of the Seamen’s Journal, which was becom­
ing expensive. By vote of the convention the executive board of
the International Seamen’s Union was instructed to take over the
publication of the Seamen’s Journal. Accordingly, on May 1, 1922,
the Seamen’s Journal again became the official organ of the interna­
tional union. With this issue, the Journal became a monthly.
CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES.

In order that the interests of the organization as a whole might be
“ guarded from what might be the results of excitement and passions
aroused by persons and conditions,” the 1922 convention of the
International Seamen’s Union adopted the following report of the
committee of the whole and referred it to the committee on consti­
tution :

First. That the constitution of the International Seamen’s Union of America
be so amended that it shall be authorized to step in and take charge of any
district union that fails to abide by its own laws or that violates the consti­
tution of the International Seamen’s Union of America.
Second. That the International Seamen’s Union of America be furnished
with sufficient funds from the district unions to keep organizers and edu­
cators in the field, subject to the supervision of the international union alone.



CHAPTER VII.— THE FIGHT AGAINST RADICALISM.

105

Third. That there must be nothing in the constitutions of the district unions
that will be contrary to the international constitution.
Fourth. That provisions be made in the international constitution defining the
duties and functions of district grievance committees.
The most important changes and additions in the new constitu­
tion, which for the most part make effective the report o f the com­
mittee o f the whole, have been classified and briefly summarized in
the following paragraphs. The new constitution, as amended by the
1922 convention, is printed as Appendix I, pages 108 to 115.

PROVISIONS AS TO INDIVIDUAL ELIGIBILITY.
The new constitution provides that membership is open only to
those who are eligible to become citizens o f the United States.
Moreover, no one may be admitted to membership, or if admitted, be
permitted to remain a member, if he is also a member of any organi­
zation hostile to the International Seamen’s Union.
An entirely new article (Article I X ) , entitled “ Duties and right
o f members,” was added to the constitution by the 1922 convention.
This article deals with such matters as the right of members to
educational facilities, legal protection, and to various benefits. The
duties of members in regard to attendance at meetings, to obedience
and loyalty to the constitution and by-laws o f the international
union and to those o f the district union are stressed.
Article X , which is also entirely new, outlines the correction or
punishment for such members as are “ charged with conduct bringing
the union or its members into ill repute, with violations of law, with
being untrue to the union and its purposes, or with using the union
as cover for purely selfish or sinister purposes.”

EXTENDED POWERS OF INTERNATIONAL UNION.
The acceptance and retention o f a charter from the international
union is deemed, under Article I I of the constitution, to constitute
a full agreement to the constitution and by-laws of the international
union. Article X V I I I further provides that the constitutions and
by-laws o f district and local unions must not be inconsistent with
those of the international union. Section 3 of this article provides
for weekly reports regarding finances and membership and other
items of interest.
Under the new constitution the executive board is given definite
powers to enforce the constitution against any offending branch of
a district union, against a district union, or against a local union.

COOPERATION BETWEEN DISTRICT UNIONS.
In order to bring about cooperation among the various district
unions without coercion, Article V I I I was adopted. This article
provides for the establishment of district committees in place of the
former grievance committees. Each district committee, which is
composed of three representatives from each district union,6 is given
6A district union is one that is directly chartered by the international union and
which embraces workers in either the deck, engine, or stewards’ department, or fishermen
in any district (section) of the country.




106

INTERNATI0&AL, SEAMEN ’ s U NIO N OF AMERICA*

wide power to guard the interests of the various district unions and
to adjust grievances among them, to promote harmony of action
and purpose, and to call joint meetings in the interest of unity and
organization. The new constitution provides that this committee
meet at least monthly. In addition, provision is made in this article
for the creation of a similar committee in each port, known as a port
committee, which is to meet weekly for the purpose of creating
harmony and unity of action among the marine unions representing
the sailors, firemen, stewards, and fishermen in each port.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE CHANGES.

The effect and possible influence of these changes in the constitu­
tion were excellently stated in an address to the delegates to the 1922
convention by the president of the international union immediately
after the new constitution had been adopted. He said in p art:

We [the international] are changing now from a government by discretion
laid in the hands of practically everybody who is in office at all into a govern­
ment by law. That is what we are doing and with penalties attached to the
violation of the law. Do we want it? Are we willing to go out and fight for
it, suffer for it, to be guilty of all kinds of things because of it, to defend our
actions and work as Aen should? If we are ready to do that I can promise
you success. If we are not ready to do that, then we have wasted two weeks
and a half here and we have been acting as pallbearers to the seamen’s
movement in America for years and years to come.

SUMMARY.

The various unions of the International Seamen’s Union have up
to the present time (June, 1923) withstood adverse industrial
conditions as well as onslaughts of the I. W. W. Although there
has been a tremendous loss in membership,7 it is felt that this condi­
tion may hold a lesson for the future. Events have demonstrated
that the rapid increase in membership (20,000 in 1915 to 115,000 in
1920) imposed the risk of internal disorder. For a while it seemed
as if tested principles and policies were to be swept away by the
sheer weight of the new arrivals. This was due to the fact that
members were at all times entitled to suggest ideas or to formulate
plans which would be considered, although not always accepted.
Jealousies, misunderstandings, stupidity, and personal grievances
were also responsible for the internal disruptions. The general criti­
cism of “ the system is wrong ” also found a somewhat ready ap­
proval among the members.
CONCLUSIONS.
In order to check the growth of the I. W. W. Transport Workers’
Union various remedies have been applied. The Eastern and Gulf
Sailors’ Association and the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific have ex­
pelled members of the I. W. W. The constitutions of the Interna­
tional Seamen’s Union and of its member unions have for the most
part been so revised as to make the advocates of revolutionary union­
ism ineligible for membership. In addition the International Sea­
men’s Union, and especially the port committee of New York, have

7 See Appendix II.




CHAPTER VII.---- THE FIGHT AGAINST RADICALISM.

107

carried on counter propaganda by means of speakers, organizers, and
agents, and by the use of printed matter. By these educational means
it was shown that the I. W. W. offered no hopes for improvement, as
that organization made no agreements with employers and ignored the
powers given to the seamen by the seamen’s act. One of the recent
leaflets of the International Seamen’s Union showed that that union
had a record of accomplishments while the I. W. W. merely held
out promises. It has been suggested by some officials that the criti­
cisms of the advocates of revolutionary unionism be carefully con­
sidered so as to take such action as might obviate any existing defects.
44668°—23---- 8




APPENDIX I.—CONSTITUTION OF INTERNATIONAL SEA­
MEN’S UNION OF AMERICA (1922).
P re a m ble .

Recognizing that organization is the only means by which the seaman may
hope for amelioration and final emancipation from the many ills attending
our calling, and for the purpose of furthering organization, strengthening it
where it already exists, and bringing into closer relations the component parts
of our calling, we have organized the “ International Seamen’s Union of
America ” ; and having in view that we are migratory; that our work takes
us away in different directions from any place, where the majority might
otherwise meet to act; that meetings can have present only a fraction of the
membership; that the absent members, who can not be present, must have
their interests guarded from what might be the results of excitement and
passions aroused by persons or conditions; and that those who are present may
act for and in the interest of all, we have adopted this constitution.
A rticle I.—N am e, m em bership , and ju risd ictio n .
S ec tio n 1. This organization shall be known as the International Seamen’s
Union of America.
S ec. 2. Eligibles for membership shall be bona fide seamen, other than
licensed officers working as such, namely: Sailors (all men employed in the
deck department), firemen (all men employed in the engine department),
cooks (all persons employed in the steward’s department), and fishermen, all
of whom must be eligible to become citizens of these United States.
P ro vid ed , That no one shall be admitted to membership, or, if admitted, be
permitted to remain members, if they are members of or advocating principles
and policies of any dual organization or any organization hostile to the Inter­
national Seamen’s Union of America, its aims and purposes. It claims jurisdic­
tion over such work as the maritime law provides that seamen may be required
to perform and over such wT as fishermen usually do in connection with
ork
catching and handling of fish.
A rticle II.
S ec tio n 1. The powers of this organization shall be legislative, executive,
and judicial, with such limitations and in such form as the convention shall
from time to time provide in the constitution and laws enacted, and such con­
stitution and laws shall be binding upon all members and upon any union,
district organization, or district into which such members may be formed.
Acceptance and retaining of a charter shall be deemed to constitute a full
agreement to such constitution and laws. Any violation of the constitution and
laws shall work forfeiture of such charter, subject to decision of the convention,
or, between conventions, of the executive board: P ro vid ed , That powers not
specifically granted shall be deemed to be withheld unless inherent in and
necessary for the exercise of powers specifically granted.
A rticle III .— F orm of organization .
S ec tio n 1. In order to establish better unity in accomplishing the purposes
for which this organization is formed, and for the purpose of administration,
divisions, based upon difference in work performed, and districts shall be
formed, which shall be known by their locality: The Atlantic and Gulf district,
the Great Lakes district, the Pacific district, and such other districts as from
time to time it may be expedient to form.
Sec. 2. The districts shall be composed of sailors, firemen, cooks, and fisher­
men, organized and chartered separately, with headquarters and such branches
as each district union shall from time to time determine, and under such laws,
108




CONSTITUTION

OF

INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION.

109

not inconsistent with the international constitution, as each shall from time to
time deem expedient. Each such district union shall have a permanent pre­
siding officer, elected for not less than six months, to preside over meetings at
headquarters, and shall be represented in district committees for consultation
upon all matters of common interest.
Sec. 3. The district committee may call the membership of the different
unions together in joint meetings for the purpose of listening to reports or
addresses made with the view of education, the better cooperation between the
district unions, the districts, and the better understanding of the purposes of
the international.
Such joint meeting shall not vote upon any question that may be brought
before it. Voting shall be done in and by the district unions.
A rticle IV.— C on ven tion and rep resen ta tio n .
Section 1. Convention shall be held yearly or at such time and place as the
previous convention may determine.

S ec. 2. Representation at the convention shall be based upon the per capita
tax paid during the year. For the purpose of determining the number of mem­
bers in a district or local union, the monthly rate of per capita tax shall be
multiplied by 12, and the total amount paid during the year shall be divided by
the product of such multiplication.

District or local unions shall be entitled to one delegate for 200 members or
less, two delegates for 500 members or more, three delegates for 1,000 and one
delegate for each additional 1,000 members.
Sec. 3. A district or local union shall be entitled to one vote for 100 members,
or majority fraction thereof. When more than one delegate represents the
district or local union the votes shall be apportioned between them as equally
as possible.
S ec. 4. Delegates shall have the same qualifications as the elective officers of
the organization represented and shall be elected by each organization: P ro vid ed, That no one shall be seated as a delegate in the convention who is de­
linquent in or who has been expelled from any district or local union. In
case a vacancy in the regularly elected delegation occurs between the election
of delegates and the convention, the various organizations shall have the power
to fill such vacancies.
S ec. 5. The president and secretary-treasurer shall always attend the con­
ventions. If not delegates they shall have voice but no vote in the proceed­
ings of the convention. Their expenses shall be paid out of the international
funds.

S ec . 6. District or local unions should send at least one delegate to the
convention, and shall defray the expenses of such delegates as they send, unless
as specified in section 5.
S ec. 7. The secretary shall make arrangements at the convention city to
have daily proceedings printed.
Sec. 8 . All resolutions must be presented to the secretary before 6 o’clock

p. m. of the second day of the convention, unless by unanimous consent of the
convention.
A rticle V.— P o w er s o f con ven tion .
S ec tio n 1. The convention shall pass upon credentials, audit all accounts,
elect officers and representatives. It shall have the power to provide for or­
ganizers, adjust grievances, hear and act upon all measures that may be brought
before it by any officer or accredited delegate; to hear, act upon, and to finally
determine any appeal.
A rticle YI.— O fficers and election .
S ec tio n 1. The officers of the union shall consist of one president, seven
vice presidents, and one secretary-treasurer. They shall be elected at the
annual convention for the term of one year.
S ec . 2. All vacancies occurring between conventions shall be filled by the
executive board.
A rticle Y II. — D u ties

o f officers.

1. The president shall attend and preside over the meetings of the
convention. He shall enforce due observance of the constitution and by-laws
S ec tio n




110

APPENDIX I.

of the union. He shall submit a report to the convention annually, and to the
executive board, the district unions, or the district committees as often as may
be necessary. He shall be chairman of the executive board. He shall have
authority to travel to any port or city within the jurisdiction of the inter­
national union for the purpose of attending to the business of the organization,
and shall perform such other duties as the convention or the executive board
shall from time to time assign to him. His wages shall be determined by each
convention.
Prior to the meeting of each convention the president shall appoint a com­
mittee on audit and credentials. This committee shall meet with the secretarytreasurer in the convention city on the Saturday morning prior to the opening
of the convention for the purpose of auditing the books, preparing a report upon
credentials, and apportionment of the vote, having such report ready for the
convention.
In the event of a vacancy occurring in the office of president between conven­
tions, the first vice president shall perform the duties of president.
S ec. 2. The secretary-treasurer shall attend all conventions of the interna­
tional union and shall keep accurate record of proceedings. He shall have
charge of the seal and the records of the international union. He shall receive
and receipt for all moneys and pay all bills for and on behalf of the interna­
tional union. He shall keep correct account of all receipts and expenditures
and retain all receipted bills and shall submit a report to the convention.
He shall be secretary of the executive board. On request from two or more
members of the executive board he shall submit to the members a motion that
the board meet to act upon some stated situation or question; he shall submit
to the members by mail or wire any question requiring action by the board.
He shall keep a record of business transacted and meetings held and shall make
reports of the board's actions a part of his quarterly report.
He shall prepare quarterly financial statements showing the income and ex­
pense, the financial standing and the membership of the international union
and of district and local unions, as reported to him and a report upon the state
of the union. If any district union shall fail to send reports at the proper time
it shall be the duty of the secretary-treasurer to report such fact to the other
district unions in the district, to the district committee, and such members of the
executive board as are in such district, and he shall report any continued
neglect to the executive board. He shall furnish copies of such statements
and report to each subordinate union. He shall deposit all moneys in such
bank or banks as may be designated by the executive board, subject to the check
of the secretary-treasurer, not more than $10,000 to be deposited in any one
bank.
His books and accounts shall be submitted for inspection of the committee
on audit and credentials annually, and to the executive board, or an auditing
committee, or a certified accountant, selected by the executive board, at any
time the executive board may deem it necessary. He shall furnish a bond of
$15,000 with a reliable surety company, premium on bond to be paid by the
international union. He shall receive such wages as the convention may
decide and shall perform such duties, in addition to the duties herein specified,
as the convention or the executive board may from time to time assign to him.
He shall have the power to appoint an assistant whenever he deems it necessary,
at such pay as may be decided by the executive board.
The secretary-treasurer shall have authority to travel to any port or city
within the jurisdiction of the international union whenever necessary or to
send a representative, for the purpose of attending to the business of the union.
S ec. 3. The executive board shall consist of the president, the vice presidents
and the secretary-treasurer.

It shall meet at such times and places as the convention or a majority of its
members may direct, and shall promptly attend to such business as may come
before it. Business which can be transacted by mail or wire may be so trans­
acted. It shall have the power to issue charters. It shall be the duty of the
board to see that the constitution and laws of the international and of such
divisions thereof, as from time to time may be organized, are obeyed. For the
purpose of enforcing the constitution and law it shall proceed as follows:
(a) If the offender be a branch of a district union, it shall be the duty of
the headquarters of such offending branch to discipline such branch by removing
any officer or officers or to abolish such branch.
(b) If the offender be a district union, the executive board, after trying and
failing to induce the headquarters of such district union to obey the law, may,



CONSTITUTION OF INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN *S UNION.

I ll

for the protection of the loyal membership and pending reorganization, instruct
the branches of such offending district union to cease sending reports, moneys,
and other communications to said headquarters, to tie up all funds and to pro­
tect all property by equity proceedings, and shall organize such other head­
quarters as shall obey the law. If such shall be deemed necessary, it may re­
voke the charter of such offending district union and organize another in its
place.
(c) If the offender be a local union the executive board may revoke the
charter, and may organize another union or take such other action as may be
expedient.
It shall act upon appeals from district unions, and district committees, and
from branches of district unions or members where such appeals come through
the district unions and has there been acted upon or action has been refused.
It shall have power to remove any officer, organizer, or deputy, acting for or
in behalf of the international, and to fill vacancies. The board, any of its mem­
bers, or any deputy selected by it, shall have the right to participate in any
meeting for the purpose of reporting to, advising with, or performing such
duty as shall have been assigned to the board by the convention, or by the
board to any member thereof, or to any deputy. Members of the board shall act
promptly and definitely on any question brought before them and shall report
violations of law or other important matters to the secretary-treasurer, who
shall bring the matter to the attention of the board if so requested or if he
thinks it necessary or expedient.
L e g isl a t iv e C o m m it t e e .

The annual convention shall elect a legislative committee of five, whose duty
it shall be to watch legislation in Congress and in foreign countries for the
purpose of guarding the interests of seamen. In the United States such watch­
ing shall be specific and the committee shall report to the secretary-treasurer
and the district unions upon any bill introduced in Congress and of special
interest to seamen, and such action shall be taken thereon as may seem best
calculated to promote the welfare of seamen. The committee shall examine and
pass upon any legislation desired by any district union. Such desired legisla­
tion may be submitted to the committee, which shall, in such case, submit the
same to the convention with its report thereon, or it may be submitted to the
convention. In either case the convention shall pass upon it before it shall
become the duty of the legislative committee to advocate or support it.
A rticle VIII .— D is tr ic t com in ittee .
There shall be chosen in each district a committee to be known as the district
committee, composed of three representatives from each district union. Such
committee shall meet at least once a month and oftener if called by the
chairman.
It shall be the duty of said committee to adjust grievances between district
unions, between district unions and operators of vessels, to guard over the
interest of the district unions, to promote harmony of action and purpose; to
call joint meetings in the interest of unity and organization; to consider such
other matters as shall have been referred to it by any district or local union;
to pass upon appeals submitted by any member of a local union and to carry
out such instructions as shall have been given to it by the executive board or
agreed upon by the district or local unions. The committee shall have the right
to participate in any meeting of any district union.
The committee shall keep records of its proceedings and shall furnish copies
thereof to the secretary-treasurer of the International Seamen’s Union of Amer­
ica and to each district union in its district. Such committee, then called “ Port
committee,” shall be organized and shall function in ports and it shall report
to the regular district committee; such may be less than nine.
In case the district committee is unable to adjust any matter, it shall refer
same to the executive board of the International Seamen’s Union of America,
whose decision shall be binding between conventions.
A rticle IX .— D u ties and rig h ts o f m em bers.
S ec tio n 1. Members may be classified as probationary and full members with
such rights to benefits while in good standing as the district or local union may
by its laws provide. To be in good standing a member must not be more than



112

APPENDIX I,

three months in arrears and must have paid all assessments and fines. A mem­
ber suspended or in bad standing shall not be permitted at any official meeting
of any local or district union or any branch thereof, nor shall he be entitled to
any rights or privileges of the international union or any divisions or sub­
divisions thereof, except the right to appeal and reinstatement as provided by
the laws. The duty of a member shall be to be true and loyal to the union and
its purposes, and to obey such laws as the international and its district or local
union may from time to time adopt Members shall endeavor to teach to each
other the duties and traditions of our calling, to be patient with each other’s
faults and errors, as long as such are not based upon purely selfish motives or
serving as cover for sinister purposes, to teach each other what the union is for,
what it has done, what it has failed in doing and why, the importance of attend­
ing meetings, what the laws of the international union and its subdivisions are,
and generally to speak and work toward that unity of sentiment and action
indispensable in accomplishing our purposes.
S ec. 2. The member shall have the right to such educational facilities, in­
dustrial, legislative, and legal protection as the constitution and laws may
provide. Such legal protection shall only extend to such cases as have a
direct bearing upon the interests of all seamen or fishermen, and to cases
coming within the principles of maritime law not already declared by the
courts.
The member shall have the right to such relief in case of shipwreck, to
such supplies in case of sickness, and such funeral expense as the district or
local union may from time to time provide.
The member shall have the right of free transfer from one district union of
sailors, firemen, cooks* or fishermen, into any other district union of the same
division, paying such assessments and fines as may be due under such rules
as to identification, previous conduct, and rating as the district union may
provide. Whenever he thinks that he has been denied equal protection under
the laws, or that in their application to him he has suffered injustice, he may
appeal from the branch to the district union and from the district union to the
executive board. If a member of a local union, the appeal shall be to the
district committee, thence to the executive board. If a member intends to stop
sailing or is sailing as an officer of a vessel he may take out a retiring card.
Duties of members serving as union officials shall in addition be such as the
international, district, and local union may provide.
A rticle X .— C orrection s and pu n ish m en t .
A member charged with conduct bringing the union or its member into ill
repute, with violations of law, with being untrue to the union and its pur­
poses, or with using the union as cover for purely selfish or sinister purposes,
shall be tried and corrected or expelled under such rules as the district or local
union shall provide, and such action as may be taken shall, subject to appeals,
be binding upon all subdivisions of the international. Appeal must be entered
within 30 days. Provided a fine is imposed, the member may be reinstated by
paying the fine without his right to appeal being in any way affected. Exces­
sive fines shall not be imposed.
A rticle XI .— In itia tion f e e and dues.
S ec tio n 1. Initiation fees and dues shall be such as the district or local unions
may decide. It shall not, however, exceed $10 or such amount as is now
charged as initiation fee, or $1.50 per month as dues. Initiation fees shall not
be raised or dues lowered except by consent of the convention or the executive
board.
S ec. 2. Such initiation fees and dues shall be collected by the district and
local unions under such rules and safeguards as shall be provided by such
district and local unions, and indorsed by the international, and such per­
centage thereof as may from time to time be determined by the international
convention shall be transmitted to the international secretary-treasurer
monthly.
S ec. 3. Candidates for admission who have previously been members and who
have been away from the calling for some length of time and who failed to
take out retiring card, shall be reinstated or rejoined in accordance with the
laws of the district or local union.




CONSTITUTION OF INTERNATIONAL, SEAMEN ’s UNION.

113

A rticle XII .— C ertificate of m em bership.

The membership books issued by the district and local unions composed of
sailors shall be of the same general form and shall be supplied to said district
and local unions by the International Seamen’s Union of America, through the
secretary-treasurer, under regulations approved by the executive board, in suffi­
cient numbers to meet the needs of any district or local union: P ro vid ed , That
the executive board shall have the power to extend the use of such membership
books to any district or local union making application for same. Certificates
of membership shall always be the property of the union.
A rticle XIII.—R evenue.
The regular income of the international office shall be $10 for each charter
issued, and 10 per cent of all initiation fees and dues (to be based upon not
less than $1 dues per month) collected by the district or local union and to
be paid monthly.
Other income shall consist of such assessments or contributions as shall be
recommended by the convention or by the executive board and indorsed by a
majority of the district or local union.
If any district or local union is financially unable to meet the assessments
or contributions, such district or local union shall file a statement of its finan­
cial standing with the executive board, which shall have the power to release
such district or local union from paying the assessment or contributions in
whole or in part.
A rticle XIV.—D isbursem en ts.
Disbursements of funds shall be for per capita tax and assessments to the
American Federation of Labor, president’s and secretary-treasurer’s wages,
office expenses, traveling expenses, legislative, legal, and organizing expenses,
and such other expenses, disbursements, and donations as the convention or
the executive board may authorize. All officers and representatives of the
international union, except the president, shall, when traveling for and by the
authority of the international union, be paid a salary of $7.50 per day. The
railroad fare, while on such duty, and hotel expenses, shall be paid by the
international union. Two dollars and fifty cents per day shall be allowed for
hotel expenses.
Article XV.
S ection 1. All propositions submitted to referendum by the convention or
the executive board shall be voted upon in the manner prescribed as follows:
(1) The secretary-treasurer shall issue a notice of referendum vote in the
official paper and by communication with all district and local unions, stating
the question to be voted upon and the limit that has been fixed to the time
in which such vote shall be taken, and the results returned.
(2) He shall prepare, cause to be printed, and distributed to district and
local unions a sufficient number of ballots containing the subject matter to be
voted upon. Such ballots shall be arranged with voting squares for “ Yes ”
and “ No ” and members shall signify their choice by marking an X in either
square. The ballots shall bear the seal of the International Seamen’s Union
of America, and none but such official ballots shall be used by district and
local unions for this purpose.
(3) Members shall be qualified to vote: (a) If they are in good standing in
the district or local union, and (b ) if their district or local union is in good
standing with the International Seamen’s Union of America.
(4) The convention or the executive board may order the' polls kept open
during any number of consecutive meetings, not exceeding four, or any number
of consecutive days, not exceeding seven. District and local unions may regu­
late the manner of voting and of canvassing the vote, but shall permit no mem­
ber to vote more than once on the same proposition.
(5) Within 24 hours after the vote has been counted, secretaries of district
and local unions shall return all unused ballots to the secretary-treasurer, to­
gether with a report of the results obtained in headquarters and the branches.
Such report shall bear the seal of the district or local union and shall be certi­
fied to by the chairman of the meeting in which report is made.




114

APPENDIX I,

(6) The secretary-treasurer shall deliver said returns to the ballot com­
mittee, which shall be composed of three members of district unions to be desig­
nated by the executive board and who shall be elected for this purpose by
said district unions. Such committee shall canvass the returns and make a
correct transcript thereof to the secretary-treasurer,*who shall cause the same
to be printed in the official paper, and shall notify district unions of the result.
(7) If the proposition has received a majority of all the votes cast by
district and local unions in good standing, the secretary-treasurer shall declare
the same carried.
A rticle XVI.—A ppeals.
Appeals shall be based upon violation of law or right denied, and shall
show wherein such violation or right denied is claimed to exist. It shall
be accompanied by transcript of charges, of the main points of testimony
and the decision. It shall be submitted to the executive board and each mem­
ber shall, without delay, give his vote as he thinks just, and may add such
brief reasons as he may think important.
A rticle XVII .— S trik e or lockout.
S ec tio n 1. The following rules must be closely observed b y district or local
unions contemplating a strike or in danger of being locked out. Failure on the
part of any union to comply therewith shall work a forfeiture to all claims to
financial assistance, and subject the district or local union to loss of charter.
S ec. 2. In case a disagreement occurs between any district or local union
and any operator or operators, which may result in a strike or lockout, the
matter in dispute shall first be submitted to the local district committee for
adjustment. Should such committee fail to reach a settlement, the secretarytreasurer shall immediately be communicated with. He shall at once proceed
to the seat of the trouble, or appoint some other member, preferably a member
of the executive board, to act as his deputy. Together with the district com­
mittee, or a subcommittee thereof, he shall use all honorable means to reach a
peaceable settlement.
If his efforts shall prove futile, he shall order a vote to be taken by all
the district and local unions represented in the district committee on the ques­
tion of indorsing the proposed strike or of calling a strike of all the members
working for such operator or operators.
S ec. 3. Should such a vote be decided in the affirmative by a two-thirds
majority, the secretary-treasurer shall at once make a report to the executive
board, giving a full statement of the difficulty, the efforts at settlement, the
number of men involved, and also his recommendations as to the course to be
pursued, and the executive board may submit to a vote of the general member­
ship the proposition of levying an assessment for the support of such a strike.
S ec. 4. Such vote shall be taken in accordance with the provisions of Article
X V : P rovided, That the executive board may, in case of urgency, order the
results obtained in the district and local unions transmitted by telegraph.
S eo. 5. The executive board shall supervise the use and distribution of any
funds raised. Such strike benefit or subsistence as the member may receive
shall not begin until he has been on strike or lockout for two weeks, it shall
not exceed $5 per week and shall in no case be considered or treated as a
property right. Such strike benefit or subsistence shall not be continued after
the member has obtained work, and in no case after the strike or lockout has
been declared at an end.
S ec. 6. During the progress of the strike or lockout the secretaries of district
or local unions affected shall make weekly reports to the secretary-treasurer,
showing the amount of money paid out for benefits or subsistence.
S ec. 7. The executive board or its representatives shall, when satisfied from

facts or information in their possession that the strike or lockout has accom­
plished all that it can reasonably be expected to accomplish, lay such facts or
information fully before the district committee, and in agreement with such
committee shall call meeting or meetings and lay the facts before the members,
who shall vote to continue or cease. Such vote shall be taken by secret ballot:
P ro vid ed , That the executive board shall have the power to withdraw financial
assistance.




CONSTITUTION OF INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION.

115

Sec. 8. No funds of any district or local union entering upon a strike without
complying with constitutional provisions or the consent of the district commit­
tee and the executive board shall be used to pay any strike benefit, payment
to pickets, or payment to officers of such district or local unions as wages.
A rticle XVIII .— D istric t and local unions.
S ection 1. District and local unions shall adopt such constitution and laws,
not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the international, as shall
seem most serviceable, in furthering the aims and purposes of the international
union, the duties and right of members, the duties of officers, the carrying on
of strikes and lockouts, the collection, disbursement, donation, and investment
of funds, and such other laws as shall from time to time seem expedient
and wise.
Such constitution and laws shall provide rules for issuing of retiring cards,
which may exempt the member from payment of dues or assessments, under
such laws as the district or local union shall provide and be recognized and
accepted by other district or local unions as under rules provided in Article IX.
Sec. 2. No officer shall have power to call any member out of any vessel
unless so authorized and instructed by action of such union; nor shall any
donation be made to any member unless such member has been in prison for
the purpose of testing some question of law of importance to all seamen,
whether members or not, and this shall only be done upon the same vote as
may be necessary to amend the constitution.
Sec. 3. The secretary of each district or local union shall furnish the inter­
national secretary with a weekly financial report and shall also furnish a
quarterly report of receipts, expenditures, and the number of members in
good standing. He shall keep the international secretary informed of the
condition of his union, of all matters of interest to the seafaring class, and
shall communicate to him all suggestions, resolutions, and amendments offered
by his organization for the consideration of the international union.
A rticle XIX.—A m endm ents.
Section 1. This constitution can be amended in the following manner by
the convention in regular session, in which case a two-thirds majority shall
be required to carry such amendment. The convention may by a two-thirds
majority refer any amendment to a referendum vote.
N otice

of

A greement

with the I nternational S eafarers’ F ederation.

That a member of any affiliated union joining a vessel of another nationality,
other than that of the union of which he is a member, should be permitted to
sail for three months, or one voyage if longer than three months, without being
compelled to transfer. At the end of three months, or at the end of the voyage,
such member be requested to transfer, but without payment of entrance fee, all
contributions due to be the property of the union to which he is transferred.




APPENDIX IL—MEMBERSHIP OF UNIONS AFFILIATED
* WITH THE INTERNATIONAL SEAMEN’S UNION OF
AMERICA, 1899 TO 1921.1
Name O union and year formed.
f
Alaska Fishermen’s Union (1902)...........................

2
0
4
18 190 1901 190 190 190 1905 190
99
6
3

2,500 2,5001 2,500
3,0 0 2 , 0 0 0I 2 , 0 0 0 2 , 2 0 0
0
0
0 0
4 0 4 (1II 50 8 0
0
70 ! 1,500 2 , 0 0 0
0
0
5 0 8 0 1,400 1.400! 1 50 1,300
0( 01
9 0 1,300 1 , 1 0 01 9 0 9 0
0i
0
0
1 . 1 0 C 70 1 1 , 0 0 0 1 , 0 0 0 1 , 2 0 0 1 , 2 0 0
1
0
1 ,6 (1I
01
1 , 0 0 0 3 0 3,700, 4,8 0 7,500 4,700 8,300 7,700
1
1
0
2 , 0 0 0 1 2 , 1 0 0 3.600 3.60 1 3,900 4,400 4,500 4,600
1
1
1,400
00
0
0
5 HI. 0
Total...... .................................................. 3,3001 6,8 C 2 013.0 1 2 1 , 0 0 018. 2 022. 9 02 2 , 1 0 0

M. C. and S. Association of the Atlantic (1901).........
M. C. and S. Union of the Great Lakes (1902)...........
M. C. and S. Union of the Pacific (1901)__.............
M. F., O. and W. Union of the Atlantic (1902).........
M. F., O. and W. Union of the Pacific ( 2 1883)..........
Sailors’ Union of the Great Lakes (1878)..................

3 0 1,1501 2,300l
01

1
2 ,2 0 0

1

Name of union and year formed.

1

0
1907 19 8 190 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914
9

* 2 2 0 C 2 2 0 P 2 8 0 2,9 C 2,700 2,600
1
> 01 0l
Alaska Fishermen’s Union (1902)...........................
0
f> 0
01
0
Eastern and Gulf Sailors’ Association (1888)............. 2,90 1 2 6 0 2 30 2 3 0 2 8 0 ....... 1,300 1,400
I ...
Harbor Boatmen’s Union of New York (1911)..........
I 4 0 1 0 0l 3 0 2 0 0
01
0
7 0 9 0 8 C 8 C 1 , 1 0 01 2 , 2 0 cl 2 , 0 0 0 1,800
0 l 0 l 01
M. C. and S. Association of the Atlantic (1901).........
01
0! 01
M. C. and S. Union of the Great Lakes (1902).......... 1,500> 9 0 5 C 4 C 4 0 3 0 50 30
0> 01 0 l
0
0
0
0►
M C. and S. Union of the Pacific (1901).................. 1,4001 1 3 0 1 2 0 1 , 2 0 C 1,800• 1,5 G 1,300 1,600
►
0l
M. F., O. and W. Union of the Atlantic (1902)......... 1 , 2 0 0'I (« I......
10 0
50
0
)
C
01 01
M. F., O. and W. Union of the Great Lakes (* 1888).. 2.3001 2,30 1 2,3 C 2 3 C 2,30 1 7 C 1 , 1 0 0 9 0
0 01
0
0\
f
0>
,0 C
M F , O. and W. Union of the Pacific (* 1883).......... 1.3001 1 4 0 1 40> 1 4 C 1,9001 2 0 1 1,900 1,800
0
01
0)
0
Sailors’ Union of the Great Lakes (1878).................. 7.0001 5.400 3.20 1 2 7 C 2,60 l l’ 8 C 1,700 1,400
0) 0 >
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific (1885)......................... 5,100 4,5 C 3,8 C 4,10C1 5,40 l 4 0 1 4,400 3,800
0 ,£ C
).......
United Fishermen of the Pacific (1906)........... ....... 1.000 6 (X
7
0
0)
16 0 >
Total.................. ...................................... 24. 40019. 9 017. 7 C 17,400)21,500> ,0 C 17,30016,300
1
1 '

Name of union and year formed.
Alaska Fishermen’s Union (1902)............................. .
Boatmen’s Beneficial Association (1919).........................
Deep-Sea Fishermen’s Union (1913)...............................
Eastern and Gulf Sailors’ Association (1888)....................
Eastern Marine Workers’ Association (1919)....................
Ferryboatmen’s Union of California (1919)......................
Fishermen’s Union of the Atlantic (1915)........................
Fish Tran. Pile Drivers. & Web Workers’ Union (19201_
Harbor Boatmen’s Union of New York (19111..........
M. C. and S. Association of the Atlantic (1901).................
M. C. and S. Union of British Columbia (1918).................
M. C. and S. Union of the Great Lakes (1902).................
M. C. and S. Union of the Pacific (1901)..........................
M F., O. and W. Union of the Atlantic (1902).................
.
M F., O. and W. Union of the Great Lakes ( 5 1888)..........
.
M. F., O. and W. Union of the Pacific ( 2 1883).................
M. F. and O. Union of British Columbia (1917)...............
Sailors’ Union of the Great Lakes (1878)_1 ....................
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific (18851.................................
Sailors’, Firemen, and Cooks’ Union of Canada (1919).
United Fishermen of the Pacific (1906)...................
Total____ . _____________ _ .
_

1915 1916 1917 1918 1919

1920 1921

2,700 2,800 3,200 3,500 3,500 3,300 3,200
150
!
8 0 1 , 0 0 0 1,400 2 , 0 0 0 1 50 1,500 1 3 0
0
0
0
n ’
1,800 4,200 6 , 0 0 0 10,500 1 9 ’ 0 0 0 2 1 m 11 2 'nnn
’3 0 *2 0 0
0
6 0 1 , 0 0 0 70
0
0
8 0 1,500 1,600 3,500 3,000 3,700 1 50
0
0
350 *30
0
200
80
0
2 , 0 0 0 2,600 2,700 3,000 5,500 12,700 3,200
50 3 0 2 0 0
0 0
0
3 0 50 70 1,700 1,700 1 ooo! 1 50
0
0
0
0
o
1,700 1,900 2 , 0 0 0 2 , 0 0 0 1,800 2 6 0 I’ fin
8 0 2,600 4,800 8 , 0 0 0: 0 , 0 0 0 ss’ oooWooo
0
2
8 0 2,400 2,500 3,200 3,400 3,300 2 * 2 0 0
0
0
1,900 2 , 2 0 0 2,400 3,000 3 *50 3,800 3,3 0
*0
150
0
1,300 2,800 2,400 3.000 3 2 0 3,200 2 0 0 0
0
3,700 4,300 4,700 5.000 6*50 6 , 1 0 0 5 70
0
* 0
6 0 1 2 0 0 *70
0
0
200
40 6 0 60 6 0 1 ,1 0 0 80
0
0
0
0
0
19,00030 0
,0 035,00049,50075,500115,00050,000

1 Figures are from annual reports of the secretary or from other data submitted at annual conventions,
and seem to be given to the nearest hundred in most cases. Figures for 1922 not available; total mem­
ber ship estimated to be 25,0 0
0.
5 Affiliated with International Seamen's Union of America in 1901.
*New charter.
* Disrupted by I. W. W.
* Affiliated with International Seamen’s Union of America in 1907.

116




APPENDIX III.—LETTER TO PRESIDENT H ARDING MARINE STRIKE OF 1921.
W a s h in g t o n , D. C., A p ril 29, 1921.
Mr. P r e sid e n t : This is a report and a prayer. All the agreements and
arrangements between shipowners organized in the American Steamship
Owners’ Association, the United States Shipping Board, the organized marine
engineers, sailors, firemen, marine cooks, and stewards, these last three con­
stituting the International Seamen’s Union of America, will cease with to­
morrow night.
The shipowners offered us a reduction amounting to 25 per cent on wages
and subsistence and the abolition of all pay for overtime work. This took
place in the month of January. We wrote them a letter offering to meet
them to do the utmost possible to come to an understanding to take effect
immediately and to run until April 1st, 1922. There was no meeting until
the 19th of this month. Then they offered us conditions that were utterly
impossible for us to accept. We countered with certain propositions which
we deemed of absolute necessity for the upbuilding and preservation of the
personnel of the merchant marine of America. They refused. We met them
again on the 25th, and they refused to consider our proposals. This ended
the meetings in New York.
Admiral Benson, chairman of the Shipping Board, called everybody in­
terested to meet here in Washington on Wednesday, the 27th. There was
a 10 per cent reduction in the cut proposed to us here, making it 15 per cent
of the actual wages signed for on the articles, but the total cut would, under
the rules proposed, be from 40 to 60 per cent in the actual income of the
men employed; but no oth«r change in the other things, except that in so far
as the carrying out of the law was concerned the admiral declared himself
entirely in* favor of the carrying out of the law and that he would do what
he could to have the law enforced.
We submitted as a proposition that in the matter of employment the
American citizen would have the preference for any rating which he would
be qualified to fill, and that men with intention papers should have the next
chance of employment, basing their preference amongst them upon the length
of time that such intention papers had been held. This was refused. There
were several other propositions made and refused. Whereupon we made
the offer to submit the entire question to you, declaring ourselves willing to
accept whatever you should deem most advantageous to the building up of a
merchant marine for the United States, and that in order to prevent any
stoppage at all the present condition should remain until you had an oppor­
tunity to act upon the situation. This was first refused by Admiral Benson,
stating that he would not burden you with this matter. It 'was then peremp­
torily refused by the shipowners. We renewed our offer, and again were
refused. Whereupon it was stated by us that we felt that we did not burden
you by submitting our judgment to yours. We felt that we were doing our
duty to you and to the merchant marine.
We now respectfully submit the matter to you in the firm faith that you
will act for the development and maintenance of the merchant marine.
Most respectfully,
W . S. B r o w n ,
P r esid en t , M arine E n gin eers B en eficia l A ssociation .
A nd rew F u r u s e t h ,
P resid en t , In tern a tion a l S eam en's Union o f A m erica.




117

APPENDIX IV.—PREDOMINANT WAGES PAID ABLE SEA­
MEN AND FIREMEN SAILING FROM NEW YORK TO
EUROPE, 1895 TO 1922.1i
Able
seamen. Firemen.
Year ending June 30
—
1895..............................
1900..............................
1905............................
1910..............................
1915..............................
June 30 1915, to Apr. 15, 1916.
,
Apr. 15, 1916, to Apr. 1, 1917..

$22.50
25.00
25.00
25.00
27.50
30.00
45.00

$50.00
40.00
40.00
40.00
50.00

Able
seamen. Firemen.
Apr. 1,1917, to May 4, 1918...
May 4,1918, to July 26,1919...
July 26,1919, to May 1, 1920...
May 1,1920, to May 1,1921...
May 1, 1921, to Feb. 6, 19222 ..
Feb. 6, 19222.......................
May 1, 1921, to Jan. 5, 1922»..
Jan. 5, 1922»
........................

$60 0
.0
75.00
85.00
85.00
72.50
55.00
72.50
47.50

$60 0
.0
75.00
90.00
90.00
75.00
57.50
75.00
50.00

i In addition to wages, employees get board and living quarters. Data from annual reports of Com­
missioner of Navigation and from other sources.
* United States Shipping Board rates.
* American Steamship Owners' Association published rates.
118




APPENDIX V__ APPEAL TO THE WORLD.1
To those who govern nations, to those who make the laws, to humanita­
rians, democrats, Christians, and friends of human freedom everywhere, do
we, the seamen, the yet remaining bondmen, humbly, yet earnestly, submit
this our petition that we be made freemen, and that the blighting disgrace of
bondage be removed from our labor, which once was considered honorable,
which is yet needed in the world of commerce, and which has been held to be
of great importance to nations with seacoasts to defend.
Existing maritime law makes of seamen, excepting in the trade of the
United States, the property of the vessel on which we sail. We can not work
as seamen without signing a contract which brings us under the law. This
contract is fixed by law or authorized by government. We have nothing to do
with its terms. We either sign and sail or we sign it not and remain lands­
men.
When signing this contract, we surrender our working power to the will of
another man at all times while the contract runs. We may not, on pain of
penal punishment, fail to join the vessel. We may not leave the vessel,
though she is in perfect safety. We may not, without our master’s permis­
sion, go to a mother’s sick bed or funeral, or attend to any other duties of a
son, a brother, a Christian, or a citizen, excepting in the trade of the United
States.
If the owner thinks he has reason to fear that we desire to escape, he may,
without judicial investigation, cause us to be imprisoned for safe-keeping until
he shall think proper to take us out. If we have escaped, he may publish our
personal appearance along with a reward for our apprehension and return.
He may, through contracts between nations, cause the peace officers and police
to aid him in recovering his property. The captain may change, the owner
may change—we are sold with the vessel—but so long as the flag does not
change, there is nothing except serious illness or our master’s pleasure that
will release us from the vessel.
The master, acting for the vessel, may release himself and the vessel by
paying a few dollars, with no alternative.
He that owns another man’s labor power owns his body, since the two can
not be separated.
We stand in the same relation to the vessel as the serf did to the estate, as
the slave to his master. When serfdom was abolished in Western Europe we
were forgotten by the liberators and our status remained. When the slaves
of the United States and Brazil were emancipated our status continued.
When serfdom was abolished in Russia no change came to us.
We now raise our manacled hands in humble supplication and pray that
the nations issue a decree of' emancipation and restore to us our rights as
brother men; to our labor that honor which belonged to it until your power,
expressing itself through your law, set upon it the brand of bondage in the
interest of cheap transportation by water.
We respectfully submit that tlie serfdom of the men in our calling is of
comparatively modern origin. Earlier maritime law bound—while in strange
countries and climes—the seamen to his shipmates and the si:ip, and the ship
to him, on the principle of common hazard. In his own couutry he was free—
the freest of men. We further humbly submit that, as the consciousness of
the seamen’s status penetrates through the population, it will be impossible
to get freemen to send their sons into bondage or to induce freemen’s sons to
accept it, and we, in all candor, remind you that you, when you travel by water,
expect us—the serfs—to exhibit in danger the highest qualities of freemen by
giving our lives for your safety.1
1 This petition was submitted at Vienna in 1908 and there voted down as U top ian;
adopted by a mass meeting of seamen in Cooper Union in 1909 ; adopted by the Inter­
national Seamen's Union of America convention of 1909 ; submitted at Copenhagen, 1910,
and adopted by a narrow majority but never submitted to the nations.




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APPENDIX V.

At sea the law of common hazard remains. There must be discipline and
self-sacrifice, but in any harbor the vessel and you are safe, and we beseech
you give to us that freedom which you claim for yourself and which you have
bestowed on others, to the end that we may be relieved of that bitterness of
soul that is the heavy burden of him who knows and feels that his body is
not his own.
By order of the International Seamen’s Union of America.
A nd rew F u r u s e t h , P r esid en t .