THE spectacle of the thousands of employés of garment manufacturers on strike in New York City, while their wives and children starve in their cheerless homes, affords, among other things, an illustration of the workings of the “labor trust.” There is truth in the remark made by ex-Senator Edmunds: “They may talk about our honest men with wives and families to support who are willing to work for one and two dollars a day, but they can’t get it,—why? Because their union, or their trust, won’t allow them. The standard is set for them, and if they don’t wait and starve their families until they reach that standard they can’t get work anywhere.”
Sad, indeed, is the condition to which industry has been reduced by the selfishness of man toward his fellows. The “labor trust” represents a desperate effort by the workingmen to interpose an effectual resistance to the relentless power which from some higher stratum of society is steadily forcing them and those dependent on their earnings, beneath the surface of a respectable existence. In reply to ex-Senator Edmunds a New York journal says:—
“If he will go over to the East Side of New York, look into Walhalla Hall, or make a trip through the teeming tenements, he will gain some idea of a standard of wages and the standard of living which has resulted from free competition in labor. He will find tailors, to the number of tens of thousands, reinforcing their labor unions and saying to each other. ‘We will starve if need be, we and our wives and our babies, but we will not return again to the practice of bidding against each other for work at starvation wages.’ If he will look into the conditions which have caused the tailors’ strike, he will find them bred of exactly the procedure which he would substitute for that of organized labor. One family, either out of the union or indifferent to its rules, agrees to work for a certain contractor for less than the union rates. Presently that contractor underbids his fellows. They investigate, discover the cause, and meet the unfair competition by cutting down the pay of their workers. The process is repeated until the wages become barely sufficient to support the workers, nor does it always stop there, for there are not infrequently some who will work for less than a living wage, supplementing it by vicious or dishonest practices. In every badly organized trade this process goes on.”
Nevertheless the “labor trust,” at its best, is an evil, however necessary it may seem to be. Man was not designed by his Creator to maintain his existence by means of the trust. To do this is to destroy his own individuality. God would have men learn the great truth that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” He would have men learn to put their dependence upon Him as the author and preserver of life, rather than upon a human organization.
Many remedies are proposed for this deplorable condition of affairs, but the Christian student knows that the only effective remedy is righteousness. And therefore the counsel of God’s word to those who experience the evils of this situation is, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” See James 5:1-7. Christ is coming the second time, in “power and great glory,” to set up righteousness in the earth, by destroying sin and sinners out of it. This is the true hope for the toiling, groaning myriads of old earth to-day.