The Strike, AFGWU strike

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Crockery & Glass Journal

New York, NY, United States
vol. 26, no. 25, p. 24-25, col. 1-2,1




                                                                                                        December 19.


ALL the pressed ware factories in this city and vicinity, except those hereinafter mentioned, are shut down, and some of them have nailed up their windows in seeming recognition of the belief that the trouble is not likely to be a temporary one. In the city itself Atterbury & Co. are the only firm at work. They make principally specialties in opal ware and patented goods, but not regular lines of tableware like the rest of the houses. In this neighborhood the pressed houses running are the Windsor Glass Co., Homestead, and the Beaver Falls Glass Co., Limited, of Beaver Falls. All the rest are closed as tight as a drum. The two lead glass factories in the vici»ity, namely, the Phoenix, of Phillipsburg, and the Dithridge, of New Brighton, are, of course, not included in the trouble, as they manufacture only blown ware and cut glass.

The executive committee of the Workers' Association were in session for several days in the early part of the week, preparing a statement explaining their objections to the new rules and list presented by the manufacturers, and they sent it to the executive committee of the latter on Wednesday, December 14. Its substance has not been made known yet, but it is understood to refer chiefly to Rule 2 of the manufacturers' propositions as well as to the question of the gatherers' wages. The manufacturers' executive committee have made no reply to the workers' communication as yet, but they have expressed their intention of doing so after it receives due consideration, and it is thought generally that their answer will be adverse to the claims of the workers. It is utterly impossible to forecast with any degree of accuracy for how long the struggle may last, nor can anyone tell what a day may bring forth. The only favorable feature of the case is that while the factories are closed negotiations are still in progress, though, indeed, neither side seems in a temper to make many concessions. The men at McKee & Bros.' and Jones, Cavitt & Co.'s returned to the factories on Monday, after the strike was on, and worked out the glass that remained in the pots from Saturday, having finished the same work all the other factories before quitting on Saturday. Accounts are printed in the papers of large sums being daily received by the Workers' Association to enable them to carry on their strike, but these reports must be taken with a great deal of allowance. Mention was made in one of the papers last week that the glass workers in an adjoining town would contribute $2,000 a week toward the support of the strike while it lasted. The fact is that there is only one factory at work in the town alluded to, and the total wages of all the hands employed in it would not amount to nearly one half the sum mentioned per week. And so it goes in other cases.

The executive committee of the associated glass factories have not met up to the time this correspondence goes to consider the answers of the workers to their propositions. As the members of the committee reside far apart from one another, those outside of this city being located at New York, Philadelphia, Wheeling and Steubenville, it is not always convenient to bring them together on short notice, and it is probable nothing further will be done in the matter until the latter part of next week — not much sooner in any event.

W. J. Dillon, secretary of the Flint Glass Workers' Union, and H. Burt, of the same organization, went to Baltimore early in the week for the purpose of enlisting the aid of the American Federation of Labor, now holding a convention there, in the strike now prevailing here.



                                                                                                         December 17, 1887,


The workmen handed the executive committee of the manufacturers the following official reply to the rules and price list submitted by the manufacturers the first of this month, the rules being published in the JOURNAL at the time:

We accept the change made in the time of fixing the wage scale in the pressed ware branch, conditionally upon both sides having an equal chance to arrange it.

We suggest that Rule 1 be altered to read: The manufacturers' right is acknowledged to discharge employes for sufficient cause, as, for instance, drunkenness, incompetency, or neglect of work, or the violation of any acceptable factory rule.

As to Rule 2, if adopted it would work to the destruction of our Association. We ask that it be stricken out.

We suggest that Rule 3 be allowed to read: The hours of work in engraving shops and the press department (factory) shall not exceed 55 per week, nor shall the hours of work in mold shop exceed 58 per week.

We suggest that Rule 4 be altered to read: Each firm shall be entitled to employ in the press department for each ten pots 2 gatherers who shall each work one year at 10 per cent, less than schedule prices.

Rule 5 accepted.

Rule 6 we accept but suggest that in the absence of the manager some other person in authority be designated to receive reports of bad metal, etc.

We suggest that Rule 7 be altered to read: The number and kind of apprentices and workmen employed in the several departments of pressed ware factories shall be limited on a basis to be agreed upon by both sides.

Rule 8 accepted.

We suggest that Rule 9 be altered to read: Such employes as the manager shall deem competent may finish on plugs or formers small miscellaneous ware not exceeding in size a 4 1/2-inch nappy.

We suggest that Rule 10 be altered to read: Pressed ware shops shall be paid for all seconds caused by bad workmanship if the same are packed; if to be broken down the workmen shall have the right to examine.

Rules 11 and 12 accepted.

We suggest that inasmuch as a complete list of moves and wages (except wages of gathering boys) has already been mutually agreed upon by a committee from your association and a committee from ours, this list be substituted for yours with the following exceptions. We ask that the gatherers shall be paid on a piecework basis — the prices submitted in the last offer of your committee and affirmed by your association, to wit, $1.60, $1.30, $1.25, $1.20 and $1.15.

Signed,                                                   W. J. SMITH.


The above is an exact copy of the paper as signed by President Smith, of the American Flint Glass Workers' Association, and on which the executive committee of the Manufacturers' Association have not yet acted. As indicating the position or feeling of the manufacturers, however, the following paper, which is semi-official, is given. Nothing official can come now except from the Executive Board, but the presumption is that the Board acts in accordance with the views of those they represent; hence we give the following as semi-official because it comes direct from the Ohio Valley manufacturers, members of the Association, but not on the Executive Board, That Board, however, is cognizant of the contents of what here follows:

The change suggested in Rule 1 carries the idea that manufacturers might want to discharge employes because of their connection with an association.

The adoption of Rule 2 positively prohibits such a discharge.

Rule 2 is a just rule, equally binding upon employer and employe. It plainly prevents unjust discrimination on the part of either employer or employe.

Rule 8 does not contemplate changing the working hours of employes working by the piece, but all other employes may be required to work ten hours per day.

It is possible that the manufacturers may modify Rule 4,but certainly not to the extent of limiting the number of learning boys as wanted by the workers.

The manufacturers are determined to advance meritorious boys, not for any gain in the matter of wages, but as an inducement to work carefully.

In Rule 7 manufacturers claim the right to decide the number and kind of apprentices and workmen rrquired in the several departments of their works.

In Rule 9 the manager is without doubt the proper person to decide the skill required in finishing ware on plugs, and he certainly would not place incompetent workmen at such work, as that would entail a loss on both the manufacturer and the employe.

The workers say a complete list of wages and moves, except wages of the gatherers, was mutually agreed upon. True, a list was agreed upon, but it was not a satisfactory list to the manufacturers. It was made up largely of concessions on the part of manufacturers to avoid a strike, and on the whole was an advance in wages. The manufacturers' committee protested against advance, but allowed them in the interests of harmony. Their efforts in this direction failed, as is well known, and the workers gave notice of a strike. In consequence of that notice the manufacturers cancelled contracts, called in their agents, and made general preparations to cease work November 26th. The withdrawal of the strike notice came too late to repair the damage; hence the manufacturers would not again offer the proposition the workers had refused to accept. The failure of the workers to accept what was clearly an advance in wages, and an unexpected advance on their part, discouraged the manufacturers in their attempt to mutually settle the difficulty; hence they decided to prepare a list of wages and rules for the government of their works; and while the rules conflict in some respects with those of the workers it must be borne in mind that the workers' rules were arbitrary and one-sided. The manufacturers had no voice in their production and consider them unjust in many cases. The manufacturers claim their rules are fair, and should not be objected to by fair-minded employes. The wage list while not as good for the workers in some respects as the conference list, is certainly not as much below as the conference list is above the average heretofore paid, and more has been demanded than has been done heretofore in union factories.



                                                                                       December 19.


The glass factories in this city are still running, the workmen at Hobbs, Brockunier & Co 's and at the Central not coming under the general order of the president of the American Flint Glass Workers' Union to quit until an adjustment of pending difficulties could be had. They ate at work, however, and have been without giving any assurance of how long they will continue, bat the operators are cautious enough not to be caught unawares. These factories will continue to make glass in all probability until noon of Saturday, the last day of this month, at which time they will be closed down in accordance with the agreement of the manufacturers unless a compromise is effected in the meantime. Mr. C. W. Brockunier is a member of the manufacturers' executive committee, which is vested with authority to confer and arrange matters with the workmen when they desire, and as both sides have been heard from it is probable something definite will be known soon.

The glass manufacturers are better prepared in the way of new designs, shapes and styles of glassware to take a more formidable position than ever. The uncertainty which characterized the starting of the fires this fall, however, suggested secrecy, and the various factories have their own new shapes all to themselves so far, and may be able to hold them all right until a good fresh start is made.

It may not be out of place to suggest here as the glass makers and manufacturers are about to get together that had the workmen conceded the point on the gatherers in the wage scale during the conference, as they have since done, there would have been no trouble this season, and all would have been at work at more satisfactory wages and rules than they are now likely to get. This is apparent to any one conversant with the facts, and we only mention it here in the hope of suggesting by it more caution in the pending trouble. A trifle then would have saved an immense amount of worry and money, and it was held to unyieldingly only because of a false notion that the manufacturers could not afford to fight for it.


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:August 20, 2010 by: Bob Stahr;