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

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30,000 LOCKED OUT.







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

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

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

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

All cannot be employers.

All cannot be employes.

There must be a directing hand as well as a hand to be directed. In exercising the prerogative of a director the employer would be powerless to carry to a successful termination any enterprise if liberty of action should be entirely cut off, or his directing hand should be so fettered that it could not exercise the necessary freedom of action to direct. At the same time, if the employe should be so burdened that he could not exercise his talents in a manner to compass the line of work directed to be done, it would be unreasonable to expect from him the accomplishment of the task to which he had been assigned... Continue reading book >>

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