"Rationality & Welfare: Public Discussion of Poverty and Social Insurance in the United States 1875-1935"

by Professor Theron Schlabach

Chapter 6: Labor Unions: Organization without Rationalization

VI. Labor Unions: Organization without Rationalization

Trade unions were not reliable allies of the pre-1935 social insurance movement, despite the universal desire of social insurance crusaders to benefit the working class. Some unionists supported social insurance, and some opposed. Most were quite indifferent, taking no position or lackadaisically approving some programs and rejecting others. Scarcely any grasped the central issue of the movement, the drive for reliable, automatically-functioning welfare institutions. Instead, supporters argued from vague sentimentality and rudimentary but unanalytical welfare-statism, or from a more or less doctrinaire set of socialist assumptions that social insurance was evidence of the breakdown of capitalism and a stepping-stone to a higher stage of socialist progress. Opponents were even more doctrinaire. By the late 'teens and the 'twenties they had transformed the American Federation of Labor's early, pragmatic decision not to get entangled with government and legislation into a formalistic belief system, and were keeping that system intact even though its pragmatic basis had disappeared. Only now and then did a labor spokesman evaluate social insurance against the ideal of organizing better-rationalized welfare institutions. Unionists did, of course, have a notion of a higher degree of organization in the social and economic structure; but their principle of social organization differed from that which underlay the social insurance movement.

The need to replace haphazard remedies with rationalized structures was most evident in the case of industrial accidents, yet trade union spokesmen were at first skeptical even of workmen's compensation. In the early years of the twentieth century virtually all compensation bills proposed to release the employer from all liability beyond this compensation payment, as a quid pro quo for losing his three main common-law defenses (the assumption of risk, contributory negligence, and fellow-servant doctrines). Unionists hesitated to see employers escape that liability, even in exchange for automatically provided benefits. Perhaps it was their gambling spirit, the glitter of a possibly large settlement being more attractive than the dullness of a certain but unspectacular award. But they also had more substantive reasons to hesitate. Most proposals set the compensation at only about half the wage level. Unionists suspected that employers who favored such bills merely wished to escape obligations placed on them by increasingly liberal liability laws.

In the late nineteenth century labor leaders had worked hard to get employers' liability written into statute law. When proposals for workmen's compensation appeared, unionists were deep in the effort to narrow the application of the hated common-law defenses. Thus it was that when the AFL began in 1909 to face the compensation issue squarely, its Executive Council declared that while compensation was the proper solution "ultimately," it would still work to strengthen employers' liability laws. Railroad unions were even slower to switch. Compensation smacked too much of a practice that railroad companies had developed in the late nineteenth century, that of setting up company benefit systems to aid accident victims, and then requiring employees to sign away their right to sue for further damages. Also, since railroads operated in interstate commerce, railway unions found it possible to get special federal legislation reforming the liability system as it applied to their men. So railroad labor often refused to approve workmen's compensation if it meant destroying the liability laws and the right to sue for large awards. As late as 1931 one union, the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, successfully blocked passage of a federal compensation act for railway workers. [1]

Nevertheless, by the time that workmen's compensation came to fruition in the second decade of the century, the AFL and most unions were behind the reform. Union men did perceive that workmen's compensation was better than cumbersome, expensive, and uncertain lawsuits, and occasionally said so in language that suggested appreciation for the process of rationalization. In 1910 John Mitchell, ex-president of the United Mine Workers, argued in favor of workmen's compensation laws, "working automatically as they do." Merely improving employers' liability laws would be neither as good for the worker nor as cheap for the employer, because compensation eliminated "long and expensive litigation." Mitchell and others also frequently emphasized that workmen's compensation had a built-in incentive for employers to prevent accidents. [2]

Meantime, an occasional unionist hinted at the ideal of more orderly and systematic provisions for other hazards as well. In 1910 and 1911 the United. Garment Workers' Weekly Bulletin and the United Mine Workers' Journal, deploring existing means of caring for the aged as "haphazard," found old age pensions to be a more just and "scientific" plan. In 1914 John H. Walker, president of the Illinois State Federation of labor, presented unemployment insurance as one of a number of measures for dealing with the unemployment hazard "on the basis of reason in an orderly, progressive way." [3] But the great majority of unionists who favored social insurance in the years before 1915 offered defenses that reflected the rationalizing ideal hardly at all, or at best only very indirectly.

Most unionists who supported social insurance did so out of negative feelings--against companies' welfare programs, private insurance companies, and especially the prevailing methods of private and public charity. As far back as the 1880s The Railway Conductor pointed out that accident, sickness, and death benefit schemes which companies were beginning to furnish hardly served the welfare of the worker when they relieved companies from further liability for accidents, and when the employee who changed jobs or was discharged lost all benefit rights. "Sing a song of welfare," mused a writer in The Carpenter in 1914, /"A pocket full of tricks/To smooth the weary worker When he groans or kicks./ If he asks for shorter hours/or for better pay/ Little stunts of welfare/ Turn his thoughts away." With a more solid argument, the same writer pointed out that welfare plans lacked "vesting"--that is, unless a worker stayed with his employer continuously he invariably lost all right to pensions and bonuses. The Conductor wanted union welfare plans instead, and The Carpenter's writer put his faith in high wages. [4] Other spokesmen, however, sometimes reasoned directly from the shortcomings of company welfare schemes to public compulsory social insurance, especially old age pensions.[5] Another alternative, insurance through commercial companies, they found even worse than company schemes. Commercial insurance was "notorious as a method of graft and exploitation" and gave "scant protection" to "the life and property of the wage earners," the Wisconsin State Federation of Labor resolved in 1906. The Federation called for a system of "compulsory life and other insurance."[6] Its stand for compulsory insurance was not typical of all unionists, but its hostility to commercial insurance was.

Even stronger was unionists' universal contempt for private and public charity as they knew it, and some translated that contempt into support for social insurance. A Knights of Labor mouthpiece, declaring in 1888 that Americans often preferred suicide to the "cold protection" of ,the much-despised charity, called for a "workers' fund" financed by a tax on machinery. Faithful workmen deserved far better "than a bunk in a poor house, or a lot in a potters' field," argued the United Mine Workers' Journal, one of the most persistent spokesmen for old age pensions and other social insurance measures before World War I. Poorhouses and potters' fields were especially potent images, but unionists had similar contempt for social workers and their outdoor charity. In 1915 the Mine Workers' Journal, angered at social workers for opposing mothers' pensions, accused New York charity agencies of taking in $20 million and spending only $640,000 on the poor. Social workers opposed mothers' pensions, the Journal charged, because they feared a loss of contributions.[7]

Sometimes unionists who favored social insurance did so out of positive rather than negative reactions, but still out of emotional ones. Very often they indulged in a romanticism that was paradoxical, coming as it did from men who supposedly were tough, pragmatic fighters. Their stock in trade was references to workingmen as always self-respecting, industrious, efficient, useful, and productive. Edwin R. Wright, president of the Illinois federation, argued that workers deserved pensions because they committed no crimes and hence caused society no other expense, while William Green, then a United Mine Worker official, pictured workmen as needing their money to indulge in their love of "art, music, and culture" rather than to support aging relatives.[8] Countless unionists, in an effort to compare workers favorably with lavishly-pensioned war veterans, evoked the image of laboring men as "soldiers of toil" or of peace. The romantic arguments had both a judgmental and a liberal side. Judgmentally, they tended to perpetuate the ancient distinction between the worthy and the unworthy poor, and to entrench into social insurance theory notions of one kind of system for normally self-supporting workmen and another for the economically unproductive. On the liberal side they shaded off into a rudimentary welfare-statism. Honorable old age pensions were "the duty of society--the state," declared Frank J. Weber, General Organizer of the Wisconsin federation, in a typical statement following the usual romantic references to workers' sterling character.[9] Unionists almost invariably expressed their welfare-statism so vaguely and off-handedly that it remained more sentiment than real rationale for social insurance.

Whatever their arguments, rationalist, negative, or romantic, until about 1915 union spokesmen generally were quite open toward social insurance. The AFL endorsed workmen's compensation in 1909, and by 1915 even railroad unions were inclined to favor it if drawn liberally. [10] Old age pensions were quite popular among unionists by the 'teens, with some labor journals, letters to editors, and a few state federations such as Illinois and Wisconsin offering support, and virtually none opposing. The AFL had rejected an old age pensions resolution that socialist Victor Berger sponsored in 1902. But in 1908 it reopened the subject. Although president Samuel Gompers warned against constitutional difficulties and provisions that would hurt unions, his Executive Council asked in 1908 that a bill be drafted; and in 1909 it presented a strange bill from the pen of Congressman and ex-miner William B. Wilson, proposing to organize the aged into an "Old Home Guard" so that they could receive military pensions. [11] Mothers' pensions received less attention, probably because most unionists expected to get old but did not expect to be mothers. But some favored them, and virtually none opposed. Health insurance received support from some labor spokesmen, including an AFL vice-president, the AFL Treasurer, and the Railway Conductors' president who, as the three labor members of the landmark U. S. industrial Relations Commission of 1912-1915, signed a final commission report that included support for the measure. [12] Unemployment insurance received scant attention before World War I. Unionists deplored employment, but most put their faith in shortening hours, strengthening unions, and other supposed remedies. Nevertheless, in 1912 Ohio federation president Harry Thomas called on government to subsidize trade union out-of-work benefits, European-style; and in 1915 Weber of the Wisconsin federation asserted that the time was close when states and municipalities would have to provide some sort of unemployment insurance.[13] Except for workmen's compensation, social insurance had not penetrated deeply into organized labor's consciousness before 1916. Yet in general, unionists were open to the reform.

Among top AFL leaders, however, attitudes were uncertain. Gompers, the domineering president, seemed at times receptive, at times negative. In 1912 the American Federationist which he edited declared that England was "atoning for some of her sins" by having social insurance, and that the measures were "open to argument." In 1914, in a tense exchange with the prominent Socialist lawyer and politician Morris Hillquit, Gompers declared unequivocally that the AFL favored old age pensions; and when Hillquit asked whether the federation had doubts about state health and accident insurance, Gompers answered, "I think not." But the AFL president explicitly rejected unemployment insurance, and laid down what was to be the doctrine of his federation for nearly two decades: that the American workman refused "to regard unemployment as a permanent status in the industrial and economic forces of our country." And he indicated that he associated German social insurance with German police surveillance of labor activities.[14]

Gompers had, of course, long been afraid of entangling his union with government. Several years before his equivocal exchange with Hillquit he had warned, referring directly to sickness and unemployment insurance, that such "interweaving of the functions" of trade unions and government was "dubious business." The state, he feared, might at any time "throw out its trade union partner" and alter a social insurance system in ways that would hurt unions. He was referring to social insurance other than workmen's compensation, he hastened to add: unlike sickness, old age, invalidity, or unemployment insurance, workmen's compensation was just a free contract between employer and employee, not "paternalism." It dealt with a truly industrial problem, demanded neither extensive tax funds nor a vast bureaucracy, and did not set up a relationship between the insured and the state that was alien to "free and equal citizens."[15] Gompers did not explain why gratuitous old age pensions (which he approved) were less paternalistic than contributory old age insurance; and apparently he did not contemplate workmen's compensation through a state-run fund, the pattern that the AFL later endorsed. [16]

AFL policy reflected Gompers' uncertain but dubious attitude. In 1913 the convention instructed the Executive Council to investigate all aspects of insurance. The following year the Council encouraged member unions to extend and expand their union-run benefit systems, and suggested that the central federation might wish to establish its own insurance company--the insurance to be voluntary and to begin merely with life insurance, extending "to other forms of benefits as experience and resources warranted." Social insurance would require more study, but the Council was already prepared to warn that the increasingly-mentioned health insurance would be a threat to continuous employment, inasmuch as workers would have to take physical examinations. "The workers should be on their guard against provisions of this nature which are only disguised methods of eliminating workers," the Council argued, and of decreasing cost of production at the expense of creating "an unemployable class." [17]

On that uncertain but negative note, the AFL entered the second phase of labor attitudes toward social insurance. The second phase began with the acceleration of the health insurance movement about 1916. It lasted, though much muted in the 'twenties, until the onset of the Great Depression.

In 1916 the American Association for Labor Legislation finished preparing a model bill to establish contributory health insurance, and introduced it into several state legislatures. In 1916 Meyer London, Socialist congressman from New York, asked the House of Representatives to resolve that while there was no hope of eliminating unemployment in America's "chaotic and anarchical" economic system, a comprehensive social insurance program could mitigate the situation. London called also for a commission to report on social insurance and other unemployment solutions. (His resolution did not succeed, but it let him hold hearings on the subject and otherwise stimulate discussion.) And in 1916 Samuel Gompers' attitude toward social insurance hardened perceptibly. "Labor vs. Its Barnacles," he entitled an article in which he replied to the AALL. "Shall the Toilers Surrender Their Freedom for a Few Crumbs?" he labeled his answer to London. [18]

Gompers' rejoinders were mixtures of American chauvinism, profound distrust of government, and belief that business-unionism could solve all of the workers' problems--the ingredients, of course, of his famous "voluntarism." America need not look to countries that had social insurance, he argued, for she had neither the appalling poverty of Great Britain, nor Germany's habit of state control and regulation. Government bureaucracies and commissions were always bad enough, but they were intolerable when dealing with something so intimate and personal as the worker's physical well-being. Since reformers agreed that living conditions in the home affected workers' health, Gompers raised the specter that health insurance would mean government inspection of workers' homes, just as workmen's compensation had multiplied factory inspectors. At any rate there would be the physical examinations, at best a constant worry to workers, at worst a weapon in the hands of unscrupulous employers. And any program that assumed that workers were unable to look after themselves was "repugnant to freeborn citizens," a threat to workers' "independence of spirit and virility." Gompers had an alternative: voluntary benefits through union-run systems. Instead of London's resolution, Gompers proposed a congressional inquiry into social insurance but "with a view of its being voluntarily established." Any report should emphasize the regulations necessary in a governmental system, and the way that wage earners would have to give up rights in order to receive insurance benefits. "Sore and saddened as I am by the illness, the killing and maiming of so many of my fellow-workers," Gompers told London, "I would rather see that go on for years and years, minimized and mitigated by the organized labor movement, than give up one jot of the freedom of the workers to strive and struggle for their own emancipation through their own efforts." [19]

In keeping with Gompers' hardening attitude, the labor movement as a whole began to offer greater resistance and to become a brake, certainly not an engine, for the social insurance cause. Labor members of the National Civic Federation almost outdid their businessman colleagues in the NCF's vigorous 1917-1922 campaign against health insurance. [20] Especially vehement was Warren S. Stone, Grand Chief of the Locomotive Engineers and chairman of the NCF Social Insurance Department. Not only did Stone repeat arguments in the style of Gompers' voluntarism, he added the bromide that prevention was better than insurance and insisted that insurance would divide wage earners into dependent and non-dependent classes; put reserve Funds into the hands of unreliable politicians; allow medical doctors to profiteer; force unwanted doctors on workers; and nevertheless offer nothing for the poorest 25% of the population, whom technicalities would exclude. Such opposition from top leaders clearly hurt health insurance bills. In Massachusetts, a key state in AALL strategy, the Boston Central Labor Union in 1918 vehemently rejected health insurance, parroting Gompers and citing specifically the position of the AFL. In New York, even more a key state, some labor leaders favored health insurance and the state federation endorsed it in 1918; but adverse testimony by AFL spokesmen, joined at first by state federation president James P. Holland, created confusion as to what labor's wishes were. In other important states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, state labor leaders were also slow to give their support, partly out of unfamiliarity with the issues, but also, no doubt, because of the AFL's opposition. [21]

The AFL itself, meeting in its 1916 convention, declared "against compulsory insurance of any kind;" and its Executive Council, which earlier had begun a study of health insurance, never bothered to report on the subject. Later, in 1921, the Executive Council led the convention to a clear rejection of unemployment insurance, albeit only after long floor discussion. In that discussion Gompers offered the same arguments he had used against health insurance, plus the further assertion that "so-called unemployment insurance is not insurance against unemployment. but is compensation for lack of employment." Reflecting unionists' greater friendliness to old age pensions, the 1921 and 1922 AFL conventions did revive the quixotic "Old Home Guard" bill. But the federation soon let the matter drop for most of the 'twenties. [22] For the long run, the most tragic casualty within the AFL was the attitude of William Green, AFL president after Gompers died in 1924. Earlier, as a mine worker official and Ohio state senator, Green had staunchly supported old age pensions, written Ohio's state-fund workmen's compensation law, and strongly supported the AALL's health insurance efforts. In 1917 he had explicitly rejected Gompers' reliance on voluntary union systems, arguing that voluntary efforts had already proven their inadequacies and that the working class should not have to pay the whole cost of insurance against industrial hazards. But by the mid-twenties he had shifted to the Gomper's position.[23]

The hardening voluntarism of union leaders was not all rhetoric, for they tried to improve the union-run insurance and benefit plans. As Gompers conceived it, help gotten through one's union was personalized help. But not like that from charity organizations: it was "neighborly" help, "rendered without a quibble or cross-examination." Like Gompers, Cigar Markers' president George Perkins took unconscious pride in union benefit systems' not being too highly rationalized: they did not, he noted with satisfaction, "base their payments upon cold, methodical, actuarial analysis."[24] In truth, however, there was in the second and third decades of the century a trend to put the systems on a more rational basis. Too many of them, including the systems run by the Cigar Makers, were running into financial difficulties. As a result unions such as the United Mine Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers began in the early 1920s to set up real insurance companies, operated on fully actuarial bases. The movement reached its height in 1925 when the AFL, following the suggestion made eleven years earlier, finally set up the Union Labor Life Insurance company. Although primarily devoted to writing life insurance, the company offered sickness insurance also.[25]

Political scientist Michael Rogin has pointed out that with time AF L voluntarism became less and less a matter of pragmatism, and more and more an abstracted formal philosophy to be followed regardless of practical considerations. [26] Such formalism was evident in unionists' faith in their benefit systems, for the faith scarcely rested on the systems' having worked well. From the beginning of American unionism local unions had offered various benefits for sickness, death, out-of-work and strike periods, and the like. In the latter quarter of the 19th century national unions began to organize benefit systems on a broader and more formal basis, so that by 1916 some 69 out of 111 national unions had some such systems. But for unemployment, where the AFL was most adamant against government insurance, only three nationals offered benefits. And for all types of benefits, total union benefits in 1916 were only about $3.5 million. To be sure, that figure grew by 1925 to something more than 20 million, but for the development of a systematic, comprehensive solution to problems of economic insecurity, even that growth was of doubtful promise. Only a handful of unions paid out the greater part of the funds. As late as 1929 only about 11,000 :people received old age pensions from unions, only about half the number receiving pensions from policemen's and firemen's funds alone. Sick benefit systems scarcely ever paid for medical, surgical, and hospital treatment. Not all union benefits, especially of local unions, got reported, but such benefits were very haphazard and uncertain. [27]

Structurally, most union systems were jerry-built and inadequate. Founded usually on the subscription rather than the actuarial principle, with few safe-guards against diverting funds to strike benefits or other extraneous purposes, many of them were in financial difficulties by the 1920s. Old age pension systems were in deepest trouble, as more and more unionists reached retirement age without adequate reserves set aside for their pensions. Moreover, as critics hastened to point out, the union systems put the whole financial burden on workers themselves, and benefitted only the small minority of relatively well-off workers who were unionized. Indeed, the systems were negligible even as compared to company welfare plans, which themselves benefitted only a minority of workers (and one important impetus for expanding union systems in the 1920s was response to employers' initiative in welfare). [28] By the criterion of rationalizing welfare institutions, the union systems were not solving the welfare problem. To believe in them required a formalistic adherence to voluntarism or some other non-welfare criteria and assumptions.

There were other considerations. Opposition to social insurance among unionists was not merely a matter of lofty philosophical principle, formalized voluntarism or otherwise. Serving only a minority of relative well-off unionists, for instance, suited very well the many labor leaders who were elitist in their outlook and preoccupied with the narrow interests of skilled craftsmen, or even more narrowly with the organizational strength of their unions. Though the formalized voluntarism was doubtlessly a potent factor, the opposition grew also out of elitism, group interest, and human prejudices.

Elitism permeated the arguments of the staunchest opponents. Gompers accused Meyer London of framing his social insurance resolution to hold the $5/day man back until the $1.50 man caught up, and Peter Brady, president of the New York Allied Printing Trades Council, argued that the AALL's health insurance bill would do his men no good because they earned more than $1200 per year, the upper limit for being insured. James W. Sullivan, who conducted inquiries into European health insurance for the AFL and represented the federation on the NCF's committee, put it most bluntly: health insurance, he charged, obliged the worker "to take common part in a system which includes classes of other working people, skilled and unskilled, of every degree of thrift and unthrift." Thrifty trade unionists would be compelled to help "weaker members among the wage-workers of all occupations." Sullivan contended that reformers' appalling accounts of poverty were based primarily on the misery to be found among immigrants. But the poverty was only temporary. American workers were not in a "stationary cast."[29]

Though they dissociated themselves from poorer workers, unionists who opposed social insurance got angry when anyone else--social workers, professional promoters of labor legislation, socialists, or whoever, presumed to speak on behalf of impoverished laborers. One key to the AFL's historical success, of course, had been its success in warding off the kind of panacea-peddlers who had plagued the Knights of Labor and other early labor organizations. The progressive movement of the early twentieth century, with an emphasis on labor legislation, exacerbated AFL antipathies for reformers; the AALL, for example, did not succeed in retaining the cooperation and participation of Samuel Gompers, while the businessman-dominated NTCF did. Unionists' chief complaint was reformers' refusal to rely on union strength to win labor's gains, "If all the welfare workers, the social uplifters, the social legislative enthusiasts" would apply their efforts and money "to the work of promoting organization," Gompers declared in 1915, they would hasten the day when workers could solve their own problems, fight their own battles, and promote their own welfare as free, equal men and w:omen." In so saying, Gompers typically lumped all such groups into one category. He and his fellows made few distinctions among reformers, and reformers' motives. In general they charged them bitterly (though with the unconscious compliment that they acted like trade unionists) of making social uplift a profession, using it to create positions and empires for themselves, and operating "for revenue only." [30]

Sometimes the complaints were more specific. Social workers, the unionists repeatedly charged, failed to distinguish between the working and the pauper classes. As for the AALL, Gompers had broken with it and withdrawn his membership in 1915, over an issue involving labor's political control of workmen's compensation and other labor legislation in New York. In 1916 he and the AFL Executive Council complained loudly that the AALL had not asked them how to write health insurance. Similarly, they were hurt that Meyer London had not consulted them in framing his congressional resolution, and had not called on them to testify until Gompers had asked to be heard. [31]

Gompers and his colleagues might have taken to social insurance more happily had the reform not had the support of London's fellow-socialists, who made up a vociferous opposition bloc within the AFL. AFL leaders quarreled with socialists not only over Berger's resolution of 1902 and London's of 1916, but also over provisions of workmen's compensation laws. They ignored the Socialist Party platform of 1912 which, like the Bull Moose Progressives', called for social insurance. [32] And as AFL attitudes hardened around a formalized voluntarism, militant socialists in turned hardened their attitudes toward the AFL leadership--as evidenced in the publication Labor Age, the workers' education and labor college movement, and the emergence of the Conference for Progressive Labor Action around men such as A. J, Muste, Israel Mufson, and Louis Budenz following the AFL's famous repudiation of Brookwood Labor College in.1928.[33] Social insurance was of course not the only cause the socialists espoused, or even their most pressing one (the cooperative movement stirred them to greater enthusiasm in the 1920s). But as self-appointed gadflies of the AFL leadership, they supported a comprehensive social insurance program. [34] The lines were already drawn in 1916 when Gompers' anger flared at Isaac M, Rubinow, a socialist promoter of social insurance at Meyer London's hearings. Gompers understood Rubinow to say that the Socialist Party spoke for all workers in America, and took umbrage; and when Rubinow referred to a recent decline in real wages Gompers testily took it as a charge that trade unionism had been a failure. He scolded London himself for constantly criticizing trade unions and for inviting a half-dozen socialists to testify while snubbing Gompers. [35] Irritation with socialists, even more than with social workers and the AALL, hurt any chances social insurance may have had with top AFL leaders.

Thus the AFL leaders' opposition was a matter of elitism, political interests, and personal jealousies, as well as of voluntarism. And when added to the sodden indifference of most unionists, their opposition was enough to brake the social insurance movement.

Nevertheless, by no means all unionists got onto the AFL platform. Not only militant left wingers but many pragmatic, even conservative unionists dissented from the AFL's social insurance stance. Although supporters held less powerful positions than the chief opponents, probably more union spokesmen favored the reform than rejected it.

The supporters were amorphous, their patterns confused. The United Mine Workers and James Maurer, president of the Pennsylvania federation and Socialist politician, supported old age pensions most zealously; but somehow they generated very little enthusiasm for insuring against sickness and unemployment. The Advance, journal of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, unequivocally supported a comprehensive social insurance program. That was perhaps a product of the Amalgamated's pragmatically socialist, industrial-union orientation--but then, the organ of an old-line craft union such as the Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen also went beyond old age pensions and supported unemployment insurance. Among leading state federations, New York's rose above its squabbling to give health insurance its vigorous support in 1918 and 1919; yet it failed to promote unemployment insurance until the Great Depression. The Ohio; Pennsylvania, and some other state federations gave scattered support to various programs with California, Illinois, and Wisconsin among the most enthusiastic. Here and there local groups, labor editors, and individual leaders added their endorsements.[36] The patterns were haphazard. Yet enough unionists encouraged the crusade to show that social insurance did appeal to workingmen.

The unionists who contributed most to the actual building of social insurance institutions between 1916 and 1930 were leaders in several needle trades, who induced employers to cooperate with them to set up joint employer union unemployment insurance systems. The Cleveland branch of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union sponsored the first of the systems, in 1921. The Amalgamated Clothing Workers followed with plans in Chicago in 1923 and in New York and Rochester in 1928; while in 1924 the New York and Chicago branches of the ILGWU and the Cloth Hat and Cap Makers of New York engineered similar schemes. In Cleveland the ILGWU aimed to provide a guaranteed wage rather than unemployment insurance per se, but it included unemployment benefits as a penalty for the employer who failed to deliver forty weeks' pay per year. The other schemes were clearly unemployment insurance. [37] All were, of course, private rather than governmental systems, but they contributed much to the movement for public unemployment insurance, by providing a rationale and by pointing ahead to the governmental efforts of the 1930s.

The needle-trades' leaders were well-informed and in touch with social scientists; and, more than any other unionists, they perceived of their reforms in terms of rational institution-building, rather than of sentiment, tradition, or fixed doctrine. Most were socialists of sorts but their socialism was pragmatic, and an inducement to think in terms of a more rational social system. An industry-wide exchange, guaranteed wages, and an insurance fund, declared Morris Sigman, ILGWU president, "would introduce system and order" into his trade. Like the scientific-management wing of business and like Wisconsin economist John R. Commons (one architect of the Amalgamated's Chicago plan), these unions sought not merely to rationalize welfare but to eliminate disorder from industry itself. The clothing industry was exceptionally chaotic, and one argument was that the cost of insurance would weed out the small, inefficient firms that created most of the confusion. More importantly, needle-trades unionists hoped that the insurance would induce employers to hire only those whom they could keep steadily employed. The guaranteed wage plan in Cleveland was "primarily not" unemployment insurance at all, thought Fred Butler, Manager of the Cleveland Garment Manufacturers' Association; rather, it was a device to eliminate seasonality in employment. Although the Amalgamated's Chicago plan was clearly insurance, Amalgamated president Sidney Hillman was equally emphatic that the purpose was stabilization. To induce regularity the Amalgamated's designers built a labor exchange into the system, and let larger employers maintain their own separate reserve funds with the proviso that a firm could stop contributing when its fund equaled ten week's unemployment benefits for its entire force. To be sure, with time and experience, the unions shifted their concerns more to benefits paid out, and away from stabilization. Segregation of employers' funds, as the Amalgamated's Executive Board noted in 1926, made for unevenness of benefits among the union members.[38] Yet, on the whole, rationalization through stabilization was a strong note in the plans.

The needle-trades' experience laid the ground-work for public unemployment insurance not only by providing a rationale, but also in other ways. Architects of the plans, far from following the AFL logic of posing their schemes as alternatives to public action, presented them as stopgaps to serve until government established really comprehensive social insurance systems. The plans offered experience to men such as John R. Commons and Bryce Stewart, who helped administer the Amalgamated's systems, and provided them with blue-chip credentials for roles in the public insurance movement. The needle-trades' effort made quite clear that unemployment insurance of some sort could work. And finally, it pointed up some of the limitations, and the trends, in the unemployment insurance movements. ILGWU systems in New York and Chicago collapsed in 1927 when Communists opposed them because they made workers contribute, or once in control depleted the funds with overly-generous benefits; managers of both the Amalgamated system in Chicago and the ILGWU fund in Cleveland had to scale benefits down from the levels they had originally promised; and the recognition that devices for stabilization created inequities, along with a perceptible shift toward emphasizing benefits over stabilization, presaged what was to become the great issue of the public unemployment insurance movement in the 1930s. [39]

Few unionists, however, made the kind of original contribution to the social insurance movement that needle-trades unionists made. Advocates joined their opposition in giving social insurance much lower priority than extending and strengthening the trade union movement. The arguments, of course, differed. Gompers, as the leading opponent, professed to believe for instance that unemployment insurance would undermine the organization of labor by forcing workmen to take jobs as strikebreakers or be denied benefits; more generally, he confused governmental compulsion in protective labor legislation with a very different principle, governmental compulsion in the direct relations between unions and management.[40] Supporters, on the other hand, used the goal of strengthening unions as an argument for social insurance. Governmental social insurance, they contended, would undermine companies' "loyalty insurance" schemes and thereby take from the employers one anti-union weapon. Unlike union-administered programs, government programs would also leave the worker free to fight the more important battles of organization and higher wages. And, in the eyes of militants on the left, the social insurance cause offered one more opportunity to agitate and educate, and thereby to attract the unskilled. [41] But although their arguments proceeded differently, on one point opponents and supporters agreed: whether social insurance enhanced or undermined unions' fighting strength, it should be judged. by that test. The direct welfare that social insurance might provide was distinctly a second-rate concern.

Even labor spokesmen who supported the cause made original contributions to it all too seldom. The overwhelmingly most popular program, old age pensions, they continued to defend mostly with vague and sentimental reference to rewarding "veterans of toil", to granting a few days of happiness to faithful workers who had sapped their vitality in service to humanity, and to saving dear old couples from separation and the horrendous poorhouse. "Progressives" of the Labor Age-CPLA variety cast their arguments in the standard language of left-wing militancy. When a unionist did speak in a more analytical vein, it was most often a paraphrase of some outside voice, most notably the AALL or Rubinow on health insurance, or (before 1930) John R. Commons on unemployment insurance. Or a man such as Maurer might associate with the "progressives," yet view his persistent campaign for old age pensions primarily as a chivalrous joust to unhorse the infamous "poorhouse brigade." For his strategy, Maurer depended on the professional old age pension propagandist, Abraham Epstein. Although vociferous, like most unionists Maurer rarely indulged in really hard-headed thought on behalf of his reform. [42]

Unionists simply were not equipped to contribute much either to the idea of, or to the actual process of, building well-rationalized institutions for meeting industrial hazards. The leaders of the AFL had a concept of social organization, but it turned on the idea of creating a power bloc--in contrast to the social insurance movement's central idea of rationalization, and of creating well-engineered institutional structures. The "progressives" at the opposite pole were propagandists, not social engineers. Their typical institution was the labor college, not a structure as stodgy and utilitarian as social insurance. Between the two poles were social insurance supporters whose understandings of institution-building ranged from the AFL's organization-for-power to vaguely socialist principles. A few, most notably of course the leaders of needle-trades unions, consulted with genuine social engineers and contributed both to the idea and to the process of rationalization. Most supporters of social insurance, however, depended on a stock of intuitive judgments. And so, while the period from 1916 to 1929 might have been an opportune time for unionists to discuss social insurance carefully and deliberately, they added little from their particular perspective to the overall discussion.

With the onset of the Great Depression, discussion of social insurance among unionists increased by many decibels. Massive unemployment subjected the labor movement to stresses and pressures that in the end overwhelmed virtually all opposition to the reform. But the time for careful, deliberate thought had passed. Trade unionists' enthusiasm for social insurance surged upward, but their understanding hardly deepened. Somewhat hazily, union leaders fit the reform into the philosophy of "more, now", scarcely grasping the notion of careful institutional structuring.

From 1930 until at least 1932, other solutions were far more popular with unionists--even with many social insurance supporters--than was social insurance. The other solutions ranged from simple exhortations that the government must do something to a suggestion by the Locomotive Engineers' Grand Chief that government extend $500 to each unemployed worker and allow him ten years to pay it back. The AFL's 1930 and 1931 lists of unemployment remedies covered the variety: statistics-gathering, a federal system of employment offices, pre-planning of public works, job-training and special counsel for the technologically displaced, management efforts to stabilize operations, unemployment insurance on the needle-trades pattern, higher wages, a shorter workweek, having each employer hire a few additional workers, longer schooling for youths, public and private relief, preferential hiring of workers with dependents, and guarantee of work to a core labor force. This last suggestion, the elitist idea of a workforce divided into a regular group with jobs assured and a standby group taking the hintermost, was a special favorite also of railroad brotherhoods. Further to the left, Sidney Hillman, while still a friend of unemployment insurance, got enthused with the idea of a National Economic Council, to plan and direct the economy. Among all unionists, the favorite "other solutions" were the hoary calls for shorter hours and higher wages. Here and there a voice warned that high-wages-and-short-hours would not come soon, be spread evenly, or solve all problems. Nevertheless, first the five day week, then the five six-hour-day week, without wage cuts, were the great panaceas--even after 1932.[43]

In their more sober moments, unionists doubted their own panacea and called loudly for massive relief. Their attitudes on relief were pregnant with irony. Contempt for charity was, after all, the bedrock of labor spokesmen's approach to welfare. Yet unionists easily squelched any qualms they had about accepting gratuities in other forms.

Before the Great Depression, unionists favorable to social insurance had been quick to laud the superiority of pensions over the "barbaric poorhouse," and glib to call for "insurance, not alms," justice and rights, not charity." [44] Yet old age pensions, the program most popular with unionists and supported even by the AF L, was a form of social insurance not far different from older forms of public charity. Moreover, unionist-supporters had almost universally called for gratuities to be built into social insurance contribution and benefit structures, on the theory that social insurance would shift some of the cost of workers' dependency to other elements of society.[45] To deepen the irony, as the Great Depression worsened the most militant unionists, like left-wing social workers and commentators generally, emphasized relief more and more and social insurance relatively less. In mid-1930, the CPLA decided to concentrate its energies on agitation for unemployment insurance, and later in the same year it produced two liberal, but not extreme, unemployment insurance bills: one for states, to create benefits for a relatively long twenty-six weeks but at only 40% of wages; the other for the federal government, to grant the states one-third of the cost of their systems. But a December, 1931 statement of the CPLA's program made only casual reference to unemployment insurance, and a CPLA conference of March, 1932 put forward proposals for dealing with unemployment without mentioning insurance at all. "Emphasis should be placed," the conference declared, "upon mass pressure for city, state, and federal relief." [46] This despite unionists' long history of denouncing charity.

The opponents of social insurance were no more consistent. In 1916 Gompers had denounced social insurance with the epithet he had earlier used for charity: "a patch upon our social system" (Gompers did not stop to consider that some sort of welfare sector might be a necessary supplement to capitalism.) In a lucid statement of the AFL's position the following year, AFL Legislative Committeeman Grant Hamilton made the same identification. Social insurance, he said, was "a new form of charity" which like the old offered no fundamental remedy. And in the 1920s unionists of the Gompers persuasion joined other social insurance opponents in denouncing the British unemployment insurance, with its extensive gratuitous benefits, as a shameful "dole." But, ironically, the union benefit system that Gompers and his followers advocated very often had an even stronger flavor of charity, giving benefits on a discretionary basis and using the means test. In the Depression, moreover, AFL leaders demanded "millions, even billions if necessary" for relief. And although they called increasingly for the more liberal forms of relief--work relief and large federal subsidies--from 1930 through 1932 they supported the Hoover administration's two committees on unemployment, despite those committees' heavy reliance on traditional, haphazard patterns of local and private relief. At their own conventions, even as they asked the federal government to coordinate relief-giving, the AFL emphasized local resources, with each community free to adopt local standards and practices. [47] All this as they denounced unemployment insurance with the cry of "no dole for American workmen." Such inconsistency could not long withstand the pressures of the Depression.

In 1930 and 1931, AFL leaders made their last desperate stand against unemployment insurance. Their arguments were legion, ranging from worshipful references to the "strong, capable, and able" leaders of the past who had opposed the measure, to the assertion that the reform was beyond the federal government's constitutional authority. Mainly the arguments turned on three ideas. First, as Gompers had said, unemployment insurance would signal an acceptance of unemployment as inevitable, and indeed would help make it permanent. Pro-insurance unionists insisted that unemployment was already a permanent fact. By late 1931 even the AFL Executive Council admitted that unemployment would not be abolished immediately, and Green hinted gloomily at the AFL's having to demand "some form of permanent relief protection." But for some time the AFL leaders cheered President Hoover's platitudes on abolishing poverty, and spoke optimistically of stabilizing employment. Second, the solution was management's responsibility. By 1931, to be sure, AFL leaders spoke more and more of government-led national planning. But they continued a rhetorical pattern of finding fault with management, and exhorting it to do better.[48]

Third, and most persistent, was the AFL's appeal to its ancient and formalistic belief in voluntarism. Much of that appeal, also, was rhetoric. "This question is so fundamental it strikes at free labor and free democratic government," intoned Charles Howard, the typographers' president, in 1931. Sometimes the rhetoric was pure self-helpism: unemployment insurance advocates, declared AFL vice-president and resolutions committee chairman Matthew Woll, ignored "our own ability to do and to accomplish that which is intended we should do by ourselves and for ourselves." They spurned "the great gifts and opportunities that God, our Creator, has given us." More often the rhetoric pictured the threat that unemployment insurance allegedly posed to unions as organizations. Opponents reminded their members that American unions, unlike British unions, had not yet reached the majority of workers nor found a secure place within the legal and institutional structure. Since public officials would consult with employers on the circumstances of a man's dismissal, the employers would certainly use unemployment insurance as an anti-union weapon. And, as always, organizational strength was more important than income security. "Here we are, the guardians of our movement," declared Green during the AFL's bitterest debate on unemployment insurance (in 1931). "The Ark of the Covenant is here. . . Let us build our union first, let us extend it, let us strengthen it, and then think about coming forward along more progressive social justice lines."[49]

With the AFL leaders stubbornly holding back the tide, unionists who favored unemployment insurance were in a quandary. Some hesitated because of the AFL stance: in 1931, for instance, the New York federation, "awaiting the decision" of the AFL, rejected a pro-insurance resolution; in 1931 and 1932 leaders of the Illinois federation, whose organization had endorsed the reform in 1928, managed to hold back any active agitation for the reform until the AFL changed; while in 1932 the Ohio leadership switched from hesitation to support when it learned that the AFL Executive Council was about to do the same. Others boldly defied or ignored the AFL position: the Wisconsin federation, the needle-trades unions, the Machinists, the Railway Clerks, and even the Locomotive Engineers' Journal, for examples. To some of the defiant, opposition to the AFL leadership was natural, of course, because of their socialist or other dissenting attitudes. But in the bitter AFL debate of 1931 no less a member of the AFL old guard than Teamsters president Daniel Tobin joined the defiant ranks. Tobin wanted no more of the Salvation Army and local community type of charity, he declared, and he took a low view of those who prejudiced minds with the cry of "dole." Every labor-hating employer and institution in the country, he pointed out, opposed unemployment insurance. And while he had never listened to the "impossible ravings" of socialists, he thought it was time labor became militant and demanded unemployment insurance, federally-financed relief, or something. [50] With Tobin's outburst, it was clear that the AFL dam was about to break.

The dam had other cracks. In the late 1920s, the federation had reiterated its support for old age pensions. It did so without enthusiasm, to be sure. In 1928, after nineteen years of ostensible interest, it still recommended little more than further study. In 1929, citing the inadequacies of existing means of support and appealing to social conscience, it gave stronger support. But two Executive Council members, Metal Trades Department head John P. Frey and Seamen's president Andrew Furuseth, argued that old age pensions would distract the unions' attention from more important goals. And the Council as a whole admitted to having "no constructive plans" for pension reform. Thereafter the federation repeated its endorsement each year, and supported certain structural improvements, still without great zeal.[51] But while its enthusiasm was not great, its support was one fissure in the anti-social insurance dam. Another developing rupture was the attitude of Green. In 1930 Green took care to point out that he had always supported workmen's compensation, mothers' assistance,-and old age pensions. Early in 1931 he remarked that the AFL was studying unemployment insurance sympathetically, concerned mainly that there be features built in to protect the interests of workers and their organizations, And in the AFL's historic debate late in 1931, Green not only hinted at the need for some form of permanent relief, he also sounded only half convinced that unemployment insurance would really undermine his union as AFL leaders were predicting. [52] The widest crack in the dam was the attitude of union members. One miner at the 1931 convention asserted that ninety percent of the rank-and-file in his union wanted the reform. The embattled 1931 convention rejected unemployment insurance by voice vote only, but journalist Louis Stark, a close observer, estimated that a roll call would have revealed about forty percent of the delegates in favor.[53] And as compared to rank-and-file, delegates probably reflected a strong bias toward the party line.

In July, 1932, its dam about to break, the AFL Executive Council instructed Green to prepare an unemployment insurance bill. The Council itself prepared a report to accompany it, by which it told the federation's convention in November that "work or relief must be provided," management had failed to offer jobs, and unemployment insurance was "absolutely necessary." Beyond that, the Executive Council had little to say. But into its thought vacuum stepped three leaders of the United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis, Philip Murray, and Thomas Kennedy, with the most complete rationale for unemployment insurance that labor up to then had produced. They offered a historical synopsis which emphatically vindicated British unemployment insurance, and explained such technical matters as the need for compulsion, the handling of reserve funds, contribution and benefit structures, and the like. The various forms of unemployment--technological, seasonal, and cyclical--and indeed the general fact of interdependence in modern society, they argued, meant that society would certainly have to furnish either charity or more substantive economic adjustments; and certainly workers whose unemployment was not their own fault deserved better than public or private charity. Industry needed the unemployed as a reserve labor force, and proper cost accounting required that industry support markets for business. And unemployment insurance was not radical: its purposes were limited, it would help save capitalism, and it was constitutional. To these points, lucid but not particularly original, the three Mine Workers added something of labor's peculiar perspective: unemployment insurance, they argued, was quite compatible with efforts for shorter hours, vocational training, industrial stabilization, and technological change; and it would help unions standardize wages and working conditions. [54}

In reply, Furuseth warned that if the convention approved unemployment insurance, it would travel "the road that leads to the destruction of humanity." Howard argued that unemployment was not insurable, and insurance would not offer immediate relief. Frey tried to introduce an amendment that would have shifted the imperative to achieving shorter hours and higher wages. But Green defended the unemployment insurance resolution, and the convention adopted it "overwhelmingly." [55]

Organized labor was at last clearly inside the camp of social insurance supporters. Yet in the period leading up to 1935 unionists never fully appreciated the reform as a device to create a well-rationalized welfare sector in an essentially capitalistic economy. To be sure, the idea occasionally appeared. In the period from 1930 to 1932, for instance, the California federation endorsed unemployment insurance, and among other arguments declared that "haphazard relief measures" were a national disgrace, there ought to be "more scientific ways" than charity and doles, and the reform would provide "a permanent institution in the community" for both prevention and relief.[56] But on the whole labor viewed social insurance in terms that were either sentimental or, if more tough-minded, conceived quite narrowly to protect unions and workers' special interests.

Unionists who supported social insurance too often continued on the tone of the heart-rending exhortations to save dear, old, work-bent couples from the tears of separation and the poorhouse, Their compassion was admirable, but more hard-headed expression of that compassion might have done their cause more good. The sentimental approach was so simplistic that it took a depression, and the awful specters of strong men standing in soup lines and helpless children starving, to put then on the side of unemployment insurance. Then their opponents used their emotionalism against them. Howard of the Typographical Union attributed to their sentimentalism their mistaken notion that unemployment insurance would provide immediate depression relief (Howard in turn based his argument on the mistaken but nearly universal belief that unemployment insurance had necessarily to spread the risk. through time by accumulating reserve funds in advance--a notion that Kennedy of the Mine Workers tried to alter in 1934 by suggesting immediate benefits with funds advanced by the government). The typographers' president also accused his opponents of not analyzing carefully the structural details of unemployment insurance, especially those that interfered with unions' freedom. Green struck a similar note at the 1931 AFL convention. Supporters of unemployment insurance were speaking from the heart rather than the head, he asserted (and then he asked them to reject unemployment insurance to "protect the movement that we love!") [57]

When it supported unemployment insurance the AFL made some contribution to discussion of institutional structure, but a rather narrow one. It worked to improve old age and mothers' pension systems by promoting standardized administration and state and federal financing. It even suggested abandoning the term "pensions" because the word connoted relief. Yet it did not seriously examine contributory systems for the old age and survivors' hazards, despite the example of the railroad brotherhood, which in their own bailiwick had advanced discussion of contributory annuity systems very far by 1934. [58] On the crucial issue, unemployment insurance, the AFL did offer a set of structural standards along with its endorsement in 1932. Yet the standards were designed to protect labor's interests, more than to insure smooth and equitable functioning. The federation did not want workers to have to accept jobs that tended to "depress wages and working conditions"or that did not meet the "rules and regulation of their organizations." It wanted employers to pay the contributions (at least 3% of payroll, later upped to 5%) as a charge against production, with no worker contributions at all. It wanted funds invested securely, and government--not employers or private insurance companies--administering the system, with advisory councils on which labor would be represented. "The one great question," Green declared in 1932,''. . was the effect that unemployment legislation would have upon "the trade union movement." [59]

Nor, excepting a few generalized statements from left-wing "progressives," did labor spokesmen often invoke the rationalizer's ideal of a complete, comprehensive, well-coordinated social insurance system. In the 1920s when old age pensions represented about the only social insurance movement afloat, many of them supported that reform. Then, in the crisis of the Depression, they supported unemployment insurance. Health insurance they all but forgot, after the agitation of the late 'teens ran aground. In 1933, after the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care had published its findings, William Green took note. But just as the AFL had earlier exhorted businessmen that they were responsible to deal with unemployment, Green declared naively that the medical profession should accept primary responsibility for developing plans for universal medical care--adding only weakly that if the medicos did not act, "society must." As late as 1934 the AFL's support of health insurance went no further than a resolve to study the matter.[60]

Thus, even as the Roosevelt administration was belatedly piecing together a social insurance program, organized labor's understanding of the reform was sketchy, its support halting. Throughout the long crusade for social insurance, some of the unionists among the social insurance forces were interested more in agitation than in institution-building. And those who were or who might have been constructive institution-builders did not have the positions within the dominant AFL organization that could have enabled them to carry out solid research, develop carefully rationalized plans, and promote really intelligent and analytical propaganda. By 1935, of course, circumstances had broken the formalistic voluntarism that had so long prevented top AFL leaders from joining the crusade. But the influence of the unyielding philosophy had lasted too long and its hold had been broken too late for labor leaders to have developed a wide and deep understanding of social insurance as an institution.

And at bottom, unionists of whatever philosophy had always put the goal of strengthening their organizations above that of guaranteeing the incomes of their members. Their confusion over social insurance, then, grew out of a clash between two alternative concepts of social organization. Social insurance proceeded from the logic of creating well-coordinated, smoothly-functioning social and economic structures. But labor leaders still viewed society and social organization in terms of pressures, strains, conflicts, and struggles for group interests. Their view was understandable, but not well suited to the rationalizing process of which the social insurance movement was a part.

[1] "Trade Unions the Precursors of Progressive Thought," American Federationist, 3 (Sept., 1896) 142-43. The Railway Conductor, 7 (July 15, 1890), 507-08; 8 (Feb. 1, 1891) 93-94; 14 (Nov., 1897), 749- 50; and 16 (Apr. 1899), 297-98. Report of the Executive Council, American Federation of Labor Convention Proceedings (hereafter cited as AFL Proceedings) (1909), 106; "Railway Relief Imposture," Locomotive Engineers' Monthly Journal, 28 (Jan., 1894), 67-68; "The Employers' Liability Bill," The Railway Conductor, 23 (July, 1906), 521-24; W. N. Doak, "The Attitude of the Railroad Brotherhoods toward Workmen's Compensation," Monthly Labor Review, 33 (Nov., 1931), 1093-97. The Supreme Court in 1908 declared a 1906 federal employer liability law covering railroads unconstitutional, but in 1908 Congress enacted another law that survived in the courts.

[2] John Mitchell, "From the Standpoint of the Labor Leader," in William Hard and others, Inured in the Course of Duty: Being an Exposition and Some Conclusions on the Subject of Industrial Accidents...New York, 1910), 111-13; Mitchell, "Automatic Compensation--The Injured Workman's Right," American Federationist,_17 (Nov., 1910), 971-75; "Real Compensation," The Weekly Bulletin of the Clothing Trades, 11 (Apr. 19, 1912), 4; David Ross, "Employers' Liability Laws," American Federationist, 16 (Nov., 1909), 953-58; Samuel Gompers, "Editorial," American Federationist, 17 (Mar., 1910), 217-27.

[3] "Old Age Pension," The United Mine Workers' Journal, 22 (Aug. 10, 1911), 4; "Peculiar Negligence Case" The Weekly Bulletin of the Clothing Trades, 10 (Dec. 23, 1910) 4; John H. Walker, remarks, in Illinois State Federation of Labor Proceedings, 32 (1914), 14-17.

[4] See especially "More Light on the Relief," Railway Conductor's Monthly, 3 (Mar., 1886), 154-55, and "Relief Departments vs. Brotherhood Insurance," The Railway Conductor, 13 (May, 1896), 304-07. P. J. Doyle, "Welfare Work and the Labor Unions," The Carpenter, 34 (May, 1911), 5-7.

[5] See, for instance, "We Want an Old-Age Pension System That Will Not Enslave," Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen's Magazine, 48 (Apr., 1910), 548-49; Illinois State Federation of Labor, Proceedings, 32 (1914), 202.

[6] Wisconsin State Federation of Labor, Convention Proceedings, 14 (1906), 55.

[7] Ada Bowie Maurice, "Warriors and Workers," The Journal of United Labor, 9 (Sept. 13, 1888), 2; "Old Age Pension," The United Mine Workers' Journal 22 (Aug. 10, 1911), 4; Mothers' Pensions; It's Advocates and Enemies," The United Mine Workers' Journal, 25 (Jan. 28, 1915), 5.

[8] Illinois State Federation of Labor, Proceedings, 31 (1913), 39; William Green, "Old Age Pensions," The United Mine Workers' Journal, 22 (Oct. 19, 1911), l.

[9] Frank J. Weber, "General Organizer's Report," Wisconsin State Federation of Labor Convention Proceedings, 19 (1911), 21.

[10] Report of the Executive Council, AFL Proceedings, 29 (1909), 27. See "Workmen's Compensation vs. Employers' Liability," The Railway Conductor, 29 (Apr., 1912), 307; "The People Awakening to Labor's Needs," Locomotive Engineers' Journal, 44 (Apr., 1910), 346; "An Investigation of Special Interest to Our Members," Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen's Magazine, 49 (June, 1910), 91-93; etc.

[11] Lewis Lorwin and Jean Flexner, The American Federation of Labor: History, Policies, and Prospects (Washington, 1933), 109. AFL Proceedings, 22 (1902), 134, 135, 140; 28 (1908), 260; 29 (1909), 97-101, 330-31.

[12] U. S. Commission on Industrial Relations, Industrial Relations: Final Report and Testimony Submitted to Congress...(U. S. Senate Doc. no.4l5, 64th Cong., 1st Sess) , I, 124-27.

[13] Harry D. Thomas, "Unemployment Insurance," Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, (1912), 434-36; Frank J. Weber, "General Organizer's Report," Wisconsin State Federation of Labor, Convention Proceedings, 22 (1914), 26.

[14] Willis Bruce Dowd, "England's National Insurance Act," American Federationist, 19 (July, 1912), 555-56, esp. p. 555n; Morris Hillquit, Samuel Gompers, and Max Hayes, The Double Edge of Labor's Sword: Discussion and Testimony on Socialism and Trade-Unionism Before the Commission on Industrial Relations (Chicago, 1914), 72, 107. For Gompers' version of the Hillquit-Gompers exchange see Samuel Gompers, The American Labor Movement: Its Makeup, Achievements and Aspirations (Washington, 1914).

[15] Gompers, "Editorial," American Federationist, 17 (July, 1910), 595-96.

[16]AF L Proceedings, 41 (1921), 393, 395.

[17] AF L Proceedings, 33 (1913), 251-52, 269; 34 (1914), 66-68, 361.

[18] Lloyd F. Pierce, "The Activities of the American Association for Labor Legislation in Behalf of Social Security and Protective Labor Legislation" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1953), 254-61; Gompers, "Voluntary Social Insurance vs. Compulsory: Shall the Toilers Surrender Their Freedom for a Few Crumbs?" American Federationist, 23 (May, June, Aug., 1916), 333-57, 453-66, 670-81; Gompers, "Labor vs. Its Barnacles," American Federationist, 23 (Apr., 1915); 268-74.

[19] Gompers, "Labor vs. Its Barnacles," 268-74; Gompers, "Voluntary Social Insurance vs. Compulsory," 674, 336, 347.

[20] See National Civic Federation, Compulsory Health Insurance: Annual Meeting Addresses,... January 22, 1917 (New York, 1917; National Civic Federation, Social Insurance Department, Second Report of the Committee on Foreign Inquiry (New York, 1920); National Civic Federation, Unemployment Insurance Conference: At Annua1 Meeting, The National Civic Federation...New York, 1922).

[21] Warren S. Stone, "Do Voluntary Forms of Insurance Furnish Adequate Protection to Wage Earners? Workers "Tant a Living Wage Not Paternalism," in National Civic Federation, Compulsory Health Insurance, 10-16; J.W. Sullivan, "Social Insurance and American Wage-Workers," in National Civic Federation, Second Report of the Committee on Foreign Inquiry, 84; California Research Society of Social Economies, Labor's Attitude Towards Compulsory Social Health Insurance: Socialistic Leaders Endorse This Scheme: Majority of Others Oppose, Los Angeles and San Francisco, 1918), 191; "Health Insurance Pro and Con," The Survey, 37 (Mar. 17, 1917), 695; "Second National Conference of Health Insurance Commissioners," The American Labor Legislation Review, 8 (June, 1916), 173-78.

[22] AFL Proceedings, 36 (1916) 300-01; Gompers, "Labor vs. Its Barnacles," 270. AFL Proceedings, 41 (1921), 330-33, 376; 42 (1922), 141-44, 360.

[23] William Green, "Old Age Pensions," The United Mine Workers' Journal, 22 (Oct. 19, 1911), 1; Charles A. Madison, American Labor Leaders: Personalities and Forces in the Labor Movement (New York,1950), 109-10,116-18; Green, "Trade Union Sick Funds and. Compulsory Health Insurance," The American Labor Legislation Review, 7 (Jan., 1917), 91-95; Green, "The Contribution of Labor Unions in Solving Social Problems," The American Labor Legislation Review, 16 (Mar., 1926), 88-94.

[24] Gompers, Labor and the Employer (compiled and ed. by Hayes Robbins; New York, 1920), 144-45; Sullivan, "Social Insurance and American Wage-Workers," 80.

[25] George W. Perkins, "Death Benefits," Cigar Makers' Official Journal, (Aug. 15, 1923), 9-12, reprinted in David J. Saposs, Readings in Trade Unionism (New York, 1926), 324; Report of the Executive Council, AFL Proceedings, 44 (1924), 47; C.J. Golden, "The John Mitchell: Miners' Own Insurance Company," Labor Age, 17 (June, 1928), 9; Report of the Trustees of the Electrical Workers' Benefits Association, in Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators, 22 (Oct., 1923), 565-68, reprinted in Saposs; Readings in Trade Unionism, 21; Frank Herman, "Labor Takes to Life Insurance," The Survey, 5 (Sept. 15, 1926), 635-37; Green, "The Contribution of Labor Unions in Solving Social Problems," 94.

[26] Michael Rogin, "Voluntarism: The Political Functions of an Antipolitical Doctrine," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 15 (July, 1963), 521-35.

[27] James B. Kennedy, Beneficiary Features of American Trade Unions (Baltimore, 1908), 9-12; Robert W. Dunn, The Americanization of Labor: The Employers' Offensive Against the Trade Unions, (New York, 1927), 266-67; Royal Meeker, "Social Insurance in the United States," Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work (1917), 528-35.

[28] Report of the Executive Council, AFL Proceedings, 44 (1924), 47, 48; Murray Latimer, "Old Age Pensions in America," The American Labor Legislation Review, 19 (Jan., 1929), 64-65, 61; Latimer, Trade Union Pension Systems, and Other Super-annuation and Permanent and total Disability Benefits in the United States and Canada (New York, 1932); Boris Emmet, "Operation of Establishment and Trade-Union Disability Funds," Monthly Review of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5 (Aug., 1917), 217-36; U. S. Commissioner of Labor, Workmen's Insurance and Benefit Funds in the United States: Twenty-third Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor (1908) (Washington, 1909).

[29] Gompers, "Voluntary Social Insurance vs. Compulsory" (cited note 18), 345; Peter J, Brady, "Health and Unemployment Insurance--Old Age Pensions--provided by the Photo-Engravers' and Other Unions," in National Civic Federation Compulsory Health Insurances Annual Meeting Addresses ...1917, 49; Sullivan, "Social Insurance and American Wage Workers," 104-06; Sullivan, "Proportions of the Indigent Class in the Old World and the New," in National Civic Federation, Second Report of the Committee on Foreign Inquiry, 111, 108.

[30] Irwin Yellowitz, Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State (Ithaca, N. Y., 1965); Gompers, 1915 and 1918 quotations in his Labor and the Common Welfare, 33, 35; Hugh Frayne, "The Attitude of Labor--Some Trade Union Funds," in National Civic Federation, Compulsory Health Insurance, 38; "Compulsory Health Insurance Opposed by Labor," Locomotive Engineers' Journal, 53 (July, 1919), 481.

[31] Gompers, 1910 quotation in his Labor and the Common Welfare, 33; John Mitchell, The Wage Earner and His Problems (Washington, 1913), 160-61; Sullivan, "Proportions of the Indigent Class in the Old World and the New," 108; Yellowitz, Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 120; Gompers, "Labor vs. Its Barnacles"(cited note 18), 268, 269, 271-72; Report of the Executive Council, AFL Proceedings, 36 (1916), 144; Gompers, "Voluntary Social Insurance vs. Compulsory" (cited note 18), 337-38.

[32] AFL Proceedings, 22 (1902), 134-35, 140; Hillquit, Gompers, Hayes, The Double Edge of Labor's Sword ,143-44; Socialist Party of America, Proceedings, (1912).

[33] Lorwin and Flexner, The American Federation of Labor, 264-66; Leonard Bright, "C.P.L.A. Organizes: Deliberations and Accomplishments of Two Day Conference, Labor Age, 18 (June, 1929), 3-6.

[34] Labor Age, 18 (1921-1930), passim.

[35] Gompers, "Voluntary Social Insurance vs. Compulsory," 351-54, 334.

[36] United Mine Workers of America, Proceedings, 25 (1916), 461-83; 27 (1919), 365-68; 29 (1924), 196-201; 30 (1927), 232-33. James Hudson Maurer, It _Can Be Done: The Autobiography of James Hudson Maurer (New York, 1938), 273-76; Maurer, "Battling for the Aged," Labor Age, (Jan., 1927), 1-4; Maurer, "American Labor and the Worn Out Toiler," in Old Age Security: Report of Proceedings, First National Conference on Old Age Security (New York, 1928), 16-21. The Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, Proceedings, 20 (1921), 30-32; 21 (1922), 18; 22 (1923) 132-34. The Advance (journal of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America), 14 (Mar, 30, 1928), 3; 14 (Aug. 17, 1928), 2-3; 15 (Mar. 1, 1929), 2; 15 (Mar. 22, 1929), 2; 15 (June 14, 1929), 2. Locomotive Firemen's and Enginemen's Magazine, 74 (May, 1923), 200; 81 (July, 1926),12; 83 (Aug., 1927), 112; 84 (May1928), 394; 86 (Apr., 1929), 250. New York State Federation of Labor, Proceedings, 1918-29, passim; proceedings of other respective state federations, 1916-29, passim. For lists of unionists who supported health insurance see The American Labor Legislation Review, 6 (Dec., 1916), 348-50, and 8 (Dec., 1918), 319, 322-24.

[37] International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, "Report on Unemployment Insurance, by Committee on Unemployment Insurance," Report and Proceedings of the Seventeenth Convention of the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union (Hereafter-cited as ILGWU Proceedings) (1924), 176; Charles E. Zaretz, The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: A Study in Progressive Trades-Unionism Age, 12 (Dec., 1923), 7-9; Wilfred Carsel, A History of the Chicago Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (Chicago, 1940), 174-75; Bryce Stewart, "American Experiments with Unemployment Insurance," The Survey, 62 (Apr. 1, 1929), 58.

[38] Fred C. Butler, "Guaranteed Employment in the Cleveland Garment Industry,'' The American Labor Legislation Review, 14 (June, 1924), 137; Sidney Hillman quoted in Zaretz, The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, 264; Stewart, "Unemployment Insurance Agreement," Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Convention (hereafter cited as Amalgamated Clothing Workers Proceedings) (1924), xxviii-xxxiii; Amalgamated Clothing Workers Proceedings (1922), 131; Zaxetz, Amalgamated Clothing Workers, 266; Amalgamated Clothing Workers Proceedings (1926), 29-30.

[39] The Advance, 15 (June 14, 1929), 2; Report of the General Executive Board, ILGWU Proceedings (1922), 97; "Report of Committee on Unemployment, Benefits, Group Insurance, Old Age Security, and Health," ILGWU Proceedings (1929), 95; Budish, "Union Controls--Employers Pay," 8-9; "Report of Committee on Unemployment Insurance, Labor Life, Insurance, Sick Benefit Insurance, and Old Age Security, ILGWU Proceedings (1928), 127; Carsal, A History of the Chicago Ladies' Garment Workers Union, 185-86; Zaratz, The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America; Wlliam J. Mack, "Safeguarding Employment: The Cleveland Plan of Unemployment Compensation," The American labor legislation Review 12 (Mar., 1922), 27; Stewart, "American Experiments-with Unemployment Insurance.," 58.

[40] Gompers, "Political Labor Party--Reconstruction--Social Insurance," American Federationist , 26 (Jan 6, 1919), 36; Gompers, "Voluntary Social Insurance vs, Compulsory" (cited note 18). 333.

[41] "America Is Backward in Care for the Aged," Locomotive Engineers' Journal, 61 (Mar., 1927), 188-89; Dunn, The Americanization of Labor, 178-81; Louis Budenz, "Outwitting Our Frankenstein Monster,"Labor Age , 16 (Nov., 1927), 23; Budenz, "Our Opportunity Knocks," Labor Age, 16 (Oct., 1927). 23.

[42] For Maurer's ideas and activities, see Maurer, It Can Be Done, especially pp. 273-74; and Maurer, "Battling for the Aged" (cited note 36),1-4.

[43] H. H. Siegele, 'The Unemployed," The Carpenter, 52 (July, 1932), 17-18; Locomotive Engineers' Journal, 66 (Oct. 1932), 778; "Proposals for Dealing with Unemployment, by President of American Federation of Labor,'' Monthly Labor Review, 30 (June, 1930), 1255-56; Reports of the Executive Council, AFL Proceedings, 15 (1930), 60-64, and 16 (1931), 78-79; "Is Unemployment Insurance Charity?" The Railway Clerk, 29 (Oct., 1930), 423-24; D. B. Robertson, "Grand Chief's Message." Locomotive Engineers' Journal, 66 (Mar., 1932), 126-701; Sidney Hillman, "What Unemployment Insurance Would Mean,"The Advance, 17 (Nov. 27; 1931), 6; P.T.A. Neumann, letter in The Typographical Zoo, (Jan., 1932), 24-25; Thomas Kennedy, "American Labor Stands Four Square for Insurance Against Unemployment. Made Compulsory by Law," The United Mine Workers Journal, 44 (Aug. l,1933), 10-12.

[44] See, for instance, Report of Committee on Unemployed, in Illinois State Federation of Labor Proceedings, 34 (1916), 112; "Recent American Opinion On Health Insurance," The American Labor Legislation Review, 6 (Dec., 1916), 348-50; and "Secretary Kennedy Makes Pointed Reply to Critics of Old Age Pension Legislation," The United Mine Workers Journal, 38 (June 1, 1927), 10.

[45] See for instance, Yellowitz, Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 138; Green, "Trade Union Sick Funds and Compulsory Health Insurance" (cited note 23); James M. Lynch, "Sickness in Industry as a Cause of Poverty--And a Remedy Therefor," The Typographical Journal, 57 (July, 1920), 14; Herbert S. Bigelow, "Old Age Pensions: An Answer to Objections Raised by The National Civic Federation," The Railway Clerk, 22 (Sept., 1923), 522; "Report of Committee on Union Labor Life Insurance. . ." (cited note 39), 178; etc.

[46] "Unemployment Insurance--The Next Step," Labor Age, 19 (June, 1930), 21; "C.P.L.A. Unemployment Insurance Bills," Labor Age, 19 (Dec., 1930), 21-23; A. J. Muste, "The C.P.L.A.:A Positive Statement of Program and Action," Labor Age, 20 (Dec, 1931), 18-21; "C.P.L.A. Program for Industrial Activity in the Present Period; Adopted by Active Workers' Conference, New York, March 19-20, 1932," Labor Age, 21 (Apr., 1932), 21-22.

[47] Gompers, "On the Attitude of Organized Labor Toward Organized Charity," Charities, 3 (Sept. 9, 1899), 6; Gompers, "Voluntary Social Insurance vs. Compulsory" (cited note 18), 357; Grant Hamilton, "Trade Unions and Social Insurance," American Federationist, 24 (Feb., 1917), 124-25; Jacob Fischer, "Notes and Comments," The Journeyman Barber, 24 (May, 1928), 186; "Jobless Insurance Assailed by Green," The New York Times, Sept. 8, 1930, 23; David Smelser, Unemployment and American Trade Unions, (Baltimore, 1919), 148-50; "Report of Committee on Unemployment, Benefits, Group Insurance, Old Age Security and Sick Benefit," ILGWU Proceedings (1932), 205-06; Zaretz, The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, 267-68; Report of Committee on Resolutions, AFL Proceedings, 50 (1930), 308-19, 305-06; Louis Stark, "Labor on Relief and Insurance," The Survey, 67 (Nov. 15, 1931), 187; AFL Proceedings, 51 (1931), 80. 362.

[48] AFL Proceedings, 51 (1931), 394, 375, 349, 161-2, 368, 371, 387, 397, 163, 81-82, 364-67; 50 (1930), 304, 308, 60-61, 47.

[49] Report of Committee on Resolutions, AFL Proceedings, 51 (1931), 380, 376, 382, 395, 389, 393, 396, 398.

[50] New York State Federation of Labor, Proceedings, 68 (1931), 140. Illinois State Federation of Labor, Proceedings, (1928), 150-51, 129; 49 (1931), 34-39, 122-28, 132-35; 50 (1932), 4th day, 12-14. AFL Proceedings, 52 (1932), 358, 357. "Report of Special Committee on Unemployment," Wisconsin State Federation of Labor, Convention Proceedings, 39 (1931), 65-67; Hillman, "What Unemployment Insurance Would Mean" (cited note 43); B. Hoffman, "From Time to Time," Justice, 12 (Sept. 26, 1930), 5 and 12 (Oct. 24, 1930), 5; "Is Unemployment Insurance Charity?" (cited note 43); "Unemployment Insurance Shelved," The Railway Clerk, 29 (Nov., 1930), 468; "Our Platform," The Railway Clerk, 29 (Dec., 1930), 57; George M. Harrison, "What Organized Labor Can Contribute to Prevention of Unemployment," The Railway Clerk, 29 (Dec., 1930), 518; "Unemployment Insurance," Locomotive Engineers' Journal, 65 (Mar., 1931), 166; remarks of Daniel Tobin, AFL Proceedings, 51 (1931), 386-89.

[51] AFL Proceedings, 48 (1928), 99, 102, 106-09, 249-50; 49 (1929), 48-55, 257-63; 50-54(1930-34), passim.

[52] Report of Committee on Resolutions. AFL Proceedings, 50 (1930), 308-09, 314-17; "The Progressive Conference," The Railway Clerk, 30 (Apr., 1931), 144-45; AFL Proceedings, 51 (1931), 395.

[53] AFL Proceedings, 51 (1931), 384; Stark, "Labor on Relief and Insurance" (cited note 47), 187.

[54] AFL Proceedings, 52 (1932), 409, 326-34.

[55] Report of the Committee on Resolutions, AFL Proceedings, 52 (1932), 336-60.

[56] A.W. Hoch, "President's Report," California State Federation of Labor, Proceedings, 31 (1930), 14; E-F. Nelson, "President's Report," California State Federation of Labor, Proceedings, 33 (1932), 14.

[57] AFL Proceedings, 51 (1931), 382, 380-81, 395; Thomas Kennedy, "Unemployment Insurance," American Federationist, 41 (Dec., 1934), 1297.

[58] AFL Proceedings, 54 (1934), 551-52, 598-99; William Green, "Unemployment Insurance," American Federationist, 41 (Dec. 1934), 1292-93; Report of the Executive Council, AFL Proceedings; 51 (1931), 122; "The Pension Racket," The Railway Conductor, 49 (Sept., 1932), 289-90.

[59] Green, "Unemployment Insurance," 1932; AFL Proceedings, 52 (1932), 41-44, 346.

[60] Green, "Provision for Medical Care," American Federationist, 40 (Apr., 1933), 345; Report of Committee on Resolutions, AFL Proceedings, 54 (1934), 602-03.