« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
expense for the maintenance of military forces to enforce the laws of our common people: Now, therefore, be it resolved, for a better protection of the lives and property of our citizens, this Legislature appoint a special committee of five of its members to examine into the causes leading up to the strike, fix the basis of responsibility therefor, and report to this Legislature at the earliest possible moment their conclusions, with such recommendations as will prevent a recurrence of the same. That said committee shall have full power and authority to investigate all and singular the aforesaid matters and charges, and that such committee have full power to prosecute its inquiries in any and every direction in its judgment necessary and proper to enable it to obtain and report the information required by this resolution. That said committee report to the Assembly with such recommendations as, in its judgment, the public interests require. Said committee is given authority to send for books, persons and papers, and to employ one stenographer, one counsel and one messenger, and to hold its sessions at such tiine and places as they may deem proper. But the total expense authorized by this resolution shall not exceed the sum of $6,000, and the report of said committee shall be presented to the Assembly not later than March 15th, 1895. The sergeant-at-arms of the Assembly shall attend such committee and serve all subpoenas issued thereby, and perform all duties as sergeant-at-arms of said committee.” The time to report was subsequently extended to April 8, 1895.
Your committee held its first meeting in the city of New York on the 7th day of February, and by unanimous resolution employed Mr. William M. Ivins to act as its counsel in the prosecution of the investigation under the terms of the foregoing resolution. It began to take testimony in the city of Brooklyn on the 14th day of February, and has prosecuted its inquiry with expedition and thoroughness, bearing in mind the limitation of time imposed by the resolution and it's amendments. Subject to this limitation, it has exhausted all the means within its command to discover the true cause of the strike, its extent and duration, its consequences, and those things which have contributed to its prolongation; to fix the responsibility, not only for the strike
itself, but for the disorders consequent upon it, and particularly for the calling out of an armed force of about 7,500 men to maintain the public peace. It has, moreover, taken all steps possible within the time given, thoroughly to consider what legislative remedies, if any, there may be for the prevention, in the future, of similar social and economic disorders within this State.
The strike began on the 14th of January, 1895, and resulted in disorders which continued until about the 24th day of February, 1895. During the greater paiit of this time about 5,000 men, who had left their employment, remained, so far as your cominitiee is able to ascertain, entirely unemployed. The operation of the surface railroads upon which the strike occurred was, for the time being, more or less completely paralyzed, and the fear of serious breaches of the public peace led to the calling out of the First and Second Brigades, N. G. S. N. Y.
Your committee have taken over 1,100 pages of testimony, representing all phases of the trouble and the conditions that brought about this great labor disturbance. It was no ordinary stike. It was a culmination of negotiations that had been ging on between employer and employe for a period of eight years. Five thousand motormen, conductors, car-cleaners, switch-turners, truckmen and other employes on four of the largest systems of street-surface railroads, embracing nearly 50 different lines of cars, kad agreed to strike on Sunday evening, January 13, by voir of the executive board of the Knights of Labor, and, before the strike could be officially declared, and in anticipation or a general tie-up the next morning, the railroad companies took the precaution of dismissing until further orders, the pitmen and electrical workers in the various sheds, barns and shops where motor cars are housed and repaired.
There was no time during the strike when the railroad 001panies so wholly failed to perform their duty as carriers as w justify a forfeiture of their charters; but from the 13th and 19th of January such performance was technical and nominal rather than actual, owing to the inability, on the part of the roads, at that time to secure men to act as motormen and conductors, in sufficient number to run the customary number of cars and the customary number of trips, without submitting to the terms of their late employers.
The companies advertised in Brooklyn, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago, and other cities in this State, and elsewhere in the United States, for employes. Men came from all parts of the country, and, as a result, the railroad companies were able entirely to reorganize their working staffs, although the strike of the former employes was not officially declared off until the 24th day of February.
During all of this time the community was receiving only a partial service at the hands of the companies; for the first fortnight, the most incomplete and unsatisfactory, and, for the last fortnight, gradually approximating the usual and customary condition.
During the greater part of this time, also, the municipal police force was, in the opinion of the mayor, inadequate to secure the public order, and peace was maintained by an armed military force ranging from 3,000 to 7,500 men.
The strike was declared by the Knights of Labor, District Assembly No. 75, and affected the employes of the Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company, Brooklyn, Queens County and Suburban Railroad Company, Brooklyn City and Newtown Railroad Company, and the Atlantic Avenue Railroad Company. The conductors and motormen of these companies were practically all members of the Knights of Labor, belonging to District Assembly No. 75.
Up to the 1st of January preceding the strike they had been employed under contracts negotiated and entered into between the railroad companies on the one part, and the Executive Board of District Assembly No. 75, Knights of Labor, on the other part, except in the case of the Brooklyn City and Newtown Railroad Company, as will hereafter appear
For many years the employee of these roads have constituted a district assembly of the Knights of Labor, and the contracts entered into between the Brooklyn City Railroad Company and the companies now merged in it, on the one part, and their conductors, drivers or motormen, had been made, not between the companies and the employes individually, but between the companies and the employes through the intermediation of the Executive Board of the Knights of Labor, and these contracts 80 made have governed the companies and the men in their relations to each other.
None of the corporations have of late years shown any dis. position to discriminate against organized labor, but have, in fact, favored dealing with their employes through the intermediation of labor organizations.
In treating with the companies for a renewal of the contract for the year 1895, these men had all been represented by the Executive Board of the Knights of Labor, consisting of Messrs. Martin J. Connolly, John Giblin, Andrew Best, William H. Holcomb, W. H. Davidson, and P. J. Collins
Previous to January 14th the employes of the companies were receiving wages on the following scale:
*3 00 Trolleymen
> 50 Trackwirers
2 25 Conductors and motormen, on full day cars. .
2 00 Conductors and motormen, on so-called tripper cars. 1 50 Laborers and employes at the depots, such as car-cleaners and others..
A careful estimate shows that the loss to the employes who went out on the strike, and who were wholly out of employment froin the 13th of January to the 24th of February, was not less than $350,000, and that the loss to these men as a body, the great majority of them being still unemployed, may be estimated from the beginning of the strike to the date of this report at not less than $750,000.
The interests of these persons and their welfare, and that of their families, were entirely in the hands of the representatives of the railroad companies, on the one part, and of the executive board above named, on the other.
The District Assembly of the Knights of Labor, to which they belonged, covers the territory of the county of Kings, and is
divided into twenty-one Tocal assemblies, each of which assemblies is made up of the employes of one or more of the surface railway lines.
On Sunday, the 13th of January, each of these local assemblies received a communication from the executive council, stating the conditions of the negotiations between the council and the companies, and thereupon each local assembly passed a vote instructing its delegates to the district assembly to vote in support of whatsoever might be done by the executive council.
The council having determined to stand by certain demands which were refused by the officers of the corporations, the disdrict assembly on the evening of January 13th voted in favor of a strike, and notified the local assemblies of their action, whereupon the men went out.
One of the witnesses, Mr. Connolly, the master workman of District Assembly 75, K. of L., testified that, in his opinion, there had beeen no strike, that the entire difficulty had been caused by the so-called lockout of the electrical workmen upon one of the lines of the Brooklyn City road. When asked the question:
“When did the men strike; on the 14th of January ? His answer was, “ “ Did not strike at all."
Q. When did they stop work? A. On the 14th.
Q. This matter of the proposed increase of wages was abandoned by your committee on Saturday, was it? A. On Saturday; yes, sir.
“Q. Was that abandoned in the negotiation with all of the companies on that Saturday? A. So far as I know.
“Q. So that that was no longer in the controversy at the time the men stopped work? A. Yes, sir?
“Q. And in your opinion, then, the matter is confined for its real causes to the infraction of the ten-hour law, and to the question of the trippers and the payment by trip rate? A. And the locking out of the electricians.
“Q. And the locking out of the electricians? A. Yes, sir."
This witness had already testified to the matter of the 80-called lockout, although his testimony in this regard was entirely hearsay, so far as touches the occurrences connected