Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

plan are not maintained in a shop or on a job by employers or employees not parties to this plan, the plan shall not apply in this particular shop or job for the time being: Provided the nonmaintenance is proven to the satisfaction of the executive committee of the General Arbitration Board and the dispute can not be adjusted by it within 24 hours." In effect, the above section permitted sympathetic strikes against employers not members of the plan. In compliance with section 32 of the plan, the unions had agreed "to maintain the wages, hours, and other conditions of employment prescribed by the several trade agreements within the territory covered by the plan."

The incorporation of this section afforded an opportunity for the unions to proceed against independent firms in an effort to maintain these conditions. The number of complaints of this kind was 381, of which 343, or 90 per cent, were decided in favor of the unions, 27 cases, or 7.1 per cent, against the unions, and 11 cases, or 2.9 per cent, were withdrawn.

INFRINGEMENT UPON TRADE JURISDICTION.

Controversies involving trade jurisdiction are the third largest in number in the chronicle of disputes considered by the General Arbitration Board, but in relative importance are considered first. The interest manifested in these cases by employers and employed is generally coequal, but at times the interest of the employers greatly exceeds that of the unions themselves.

The aggrieved unions presented 263 complaints on account of jurisdictional disputes or infringement upon trade jurisdiction. Regarding grievances of this character, the plan provides that "in case of a dispute concerning a question of jurisdiction of trade or a dispute caused by conflicting provisions of two or more trade agreements, the complainant shall notify the general secretary," who is authorized to call a conference of the unions and employers' associations interested. In the event of a refusal or failure of the parties concerned to adjust their differences within 21 days after the complaint has been filed, the General Arbitration Board or the executive committee must determine whether the question at issue is a subject for arbitration. Of the 263 complaints, 102 were decided in favor of the contenders, 82 were decided adversely, 22 were compromised, 13 were referred to trade boards, and 44 were withdrawn.

The judgments rendered and awards made by the arbitrators, particularly in cases of this nature, are believed to have eliminated a great source of trouble and have also insured and maintained friendly relations between the trade-unions, by which the building of structures progressed without interference.

With the evolution in the building industry, new ideas in architecture, the introduction of new inventions, new materials, new practices and processes, which in turn involved the control of those processes as well as the installation of new appliances, have kept the several trades constantly in controversies as to jurisdictional claims. Naturally the keenness for possession or dispossession at times is fought with much personal or local feeling, as the determination of the claim usually secures much more employment for the union into whose possession the jurisdictional claim is awarded, and a corresponding decrease in employments to the dispossessors.

The charter rights and prerogatives of the several international unions are jealously guarded, the theory being that the least encroachment upon their jurisdiction as claimed in their charter must not be tolerated. It is not always because the personnel in one trade as against another is better able to perform the particular kind of work in dispute, but rather because certain particular occupations are becoming increasingly more technical and subdivided in their character and every effort is made to control each and every item of employment possible in order to secure more employment for its members, and in just the proportion that one union deprives another union of employments, it increases the opportunities for employment of its own membership. For example, take the jurisdictional disputes of the plumbers and steam fitters; while the steam fitter and the plumber have a uniform wage scale and uniform conditions of employment, and both handle pipe as the principle material of their respective trades, the rights of the steam fitter to the installation of pipe for the conveying of steam are carefully protected from the encroachment of the plumber, who installs the identical kind of pipe for the conveying of water.1

Again, for example, take the installation of an elevator which involves seven trades, the machinist, electrical workers, steam fitters, steam fitters' helpers, structural iron workers, carpenters, and cement masons. The electrical workers do all the electrical wiring, the machinists set the electric elevator machinery, including the lining up of the motor to the winding portion of the machine, the electrical workers commence at the terminals of the motor and do all the wiring for operating and controlling circuits, and when the elevator is ready to start the electrical workers make the adjustments, start the machine, and set the automatic stops where elevators are controlled by a switch in the car or on the landings. When an elevator is controlled by a hand rope or mechanical wheel or crank device in the car the machinists start and adjust the elevator and machinery.

1 Since January 1, 1913, on account of the amalgamation of the plumbers and steam fitters, jurisdictional disputes in the pipe-fitting trades have been eliminated in cities other than New York.

The structural iron workers erect all structural work, including elevator towers, division beams for hatchways, and structural supports for overhead work; the machinists drill and set the sheave beams and supporting beams for the machines and the necessary leveling shims or chairs. The machinists install all elevator car and counterweight machined steel guide rails and the necessary brackets for fastening them in place, except when rivets are used; rivets are driven by the structural iron workers.

The machinists also install the mechanical control speed governor and its appurtenances and the installation of fabricated car frames and platform and guardrails on freight elevators.

The ornamental-iron worker sets all cabs on passenger elevators, and when elevators used for freight purposes are provided with ornamental-iron cabs the ornamental-iron workers set them also. When wood guideposts with wood car or counterweight guides are used they are set in place and the fastenings made by carpenters.

The steam fitters and steam fitters' helpers do all hydraulic pipe work in connection with hydraulic or other elevators, and when the steam fitting for pump or engine is included the steam fitters and steam fitters' helpers do that also. The machinists assemble the hydraulic machinery.

The building laborers do all the digging and concreting of all foundations relative to elevators or machinery pertaining to systems, except finishing work, which is done by cement masons. The foundation bolts are set by machinists.

NONPAYMENT OF WAGES.

The nonpayment of wages was never considered as a serious dispute directly between employers and employees under the plan, but rather between subcontractors indirectly parties to the plan. There were 42 complaints of this nature filed by the unions. Of these 42 cases, 36 were decided in favor of the unions, 3 adversely, and 3 were withdrawn.

USE OF NONUNION PRODUCTS.

Restriction against the use of nonunion products is claimed by the unions in practically all contracts made between the employers and the unions, and has been kept inviolate except in a few instances. Of the 38 complaints recorded, 26 were filed by the carpenters' union. Controversies over the use of nonunion material has caused many injunctions to be issued by the courts against this union, but a recent decision of the courts is believed by the carpenters to confirm their contentions against the use of nonunion products. Out of the 38 complaints filed 16 were sustained, 9 were not sustained, 3 were referred to trade boards, and 10 withdrawn.

FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH DECISIONS.

Failure of employers to comply with the decisions or obey the orders of the arbitrators occasioned serious consideration at the hands of the executive committee. While the executive committee acting as a committee of the Board of Arbitration had no authority to inflict punishment upon employers for failure to comply with the decisions. of the arbitrators, the records show that a recommendation from the executive committee to the board of governors of the Building Trades Employers' Association that cognizance be taken of the offense committed and that the offenders be disciplined never failed to have the desired result. In many instances the punishment was considered severe. The character of the punishment meted out to the offenders varied from expulsion from the association, suspension from membership, fines ranging as high as $5,000, or both fine and suspension, to the lighter punishment of imposing a censure with a warning against future disobedience. There were 41 complaints of this kind, 39 of which were sustained, the remaining 2 being withdrawn.

NONPAYMENT OF UNION WAGE scale.

Complaints against firms for nonpayment of union wage scale numbered 28. Approximately one-half of these were made by the unions of carpenters and painters. This issue usually resolved itself into the question of the responsibility of a subordinate in charge of a piece of work and his authority to fix the rate of wages of men hired by him without the knowledge of his superior in charge. Of the 28 complaints filed 12 were adjusted by conciliation. The remaining 16 were referred to arbitration with the result that 9 were decided in favor of the unions, making a total of 21 cases decided favorably as against 7 cases decided adversely.

UNIONS v. UNIONS FOR ENGAGING IN STRIKES.

Complaints of unions against other trades for engaging in strikes usually involved the question of jurisdiction of trades. Of the whole number recorded with the Board of Arbitration the majority were filed by the plasterers and gas fitters. These disputes also involved the question of the removal of the protection of the plan of arbitration as well as the employment of nonunion workmen. The complaints of this nature usually cited the fact that several trades were striking in opposition to the complainant and in defiance of the plan. Twentyfour cases of this kind were referred to arbitration, 14 of which were decided favorably, 7 adversely, and 3 were withdrawn.

REFUSAL TO ADMIT BUSINESS AGENTS TO BUILDING.

Refusal of employers to allow business agents to enter buildings was the cause of serious discussion on the part of the executive committee and resulted in the passing of a resolution empowering the

97394°-Bull. 124-13- -3

committee to issue cards or credentials to business agents permitting them to enter buildings. Eight of the 12 complaints recorded were filed by the Sheet Metal Workers' Union. The objection on the part of the sheet metal employers was that they believed the business agents were endeavoring to obtain possession of secret processes and they did not propose to allow them to secure access to these processes. The other complaints were for a variety of reasons, but the executive committee decided favorably in 11 of the 12 cases.

REFUSAL TO INCREASE WAGES.

Refusal of employers to increase wages occasioned 12 disputes distributed among as many associations and for a variety of causes. Chiefly among them, however, was the inability of employers and employees to enter into new agreements which represented an advance in the wage scale. One prominent case kept the interested parties in conference over this one point for a period of eight months without arriving at a settlement. The final outcome of the majority of such cases was that the executive committee usually brought the representatives of the unions and associations to an understanding of their obligations to each other by assisting in the formation of a new agreement. Of the 12 complaints referred to the arbitrators, 3 were decided in favor of the unions, 1 was decided adversely, 4 referred to trade boards, and 4 were withdrawn.

SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF TYPICAL GRIEVAnces filed BY EMPLOYERS.

The total number of complaints filed by the employers was 318. Of this number 214 were against unions for engaging in strikes and 18 for threatening to engage in strikes, or a total of 232 complaints of the above nature. It is of special interest to note that this character of complaints constituted 73 per cent of all the complaints recorded by employers.

Section 2 of the plan of arbitration provides that "the unions as a whole or a single union shall not order any strike against a member of the Building Trades Employers' Association, nor shall any number of union men leave the works of a member of the Building Trades Employers' Association, nor shall any member of the Building Trades Employers' Association lock out his employees.'

The records of the Board disclose the fact that there was a multiplicity of reasons given by the unions as excuses for their constant violation of the section referred to, but chiefly they are as follows: "Because the employers had violated the trade agreement"; employment of nonunion men"; requests to "erect unfair material"; refusing to "scab it on another local union"; "against subcontractors not a party to the plan"; "encroaching upon jurisdiction"; "employers

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »