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Encyclopedia > Commission on Industrial Relations

The Commission on Industrial Relations (Also known as the Walsh Report)[1] was a commission created by the US Congress on August 23, 1912. The commission studied work conditions throughout the industrial United States between 1912-1915. The final report of the Commission, published in eleven volumes in 1916, contain tens of thousands of pages of testimony from a wide range of witnesses, including Clarence Darrow, Louis Brandeis, Mother Jones, Theodore Schroeder, William "Big Bill" Haywood, scores of ordinary workers, and the icons of capitalism, including Daniel Guggenheim, George Walbridge Perkins (of U.S. Steel), Henry Ford, and Andrew Carnegie.[2] Clarence Seward Darrow ca. ... Louis D. Brandeis Louis Dembitz Brandeis (November 13, 1856 – October 3, 1941) was an important American litigator, Supreme Court Justice, advocate of privacy, and developer of the Brandeis Brief. ... Mother Jones Mary Harris Jones (August 1, 1837 – November 30, 1930), better known as Mother Jones, was a prominent American labor and community organizer, and a Wobbly. ... William Dudley Big Bill Haywood (February 4, 1869–May 18, 1928) was a prominent figure in American radical unionism as a leader in the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and later as a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). ... Daniel Guggenheim (1856-1930) American industrialist and philanthropist, was a son of Meyer Guggenheim. ... Time Magazine, January 14, 1935 Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was the founder of the Ford Motor Company. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Contents


Predecessors

In 1871 there was a failed attempt to create a Industrial Commission. There was also the Hewitt committee hearings of 1878-79, the three-year study of the Blair committee which ended in 1886, there was also a probe conducted by President McKinley's Industrial Commission,[3] and the United States Industrial Commission from 1898-1902.[4] The U.S. Industrial Commission (1898-1902) was appointed by President William McKinley to investigate railroad pricing policy, industrial concentration, and the impact of immigration on labor markets, and make recommendations to the President and Congress. ...


Origins

Rubble of the Times building after the bombing
Enlarge
Rubble of the Times building after the bombing

In 1910 two leaders of the Structural Ironworkers Union, the McNamara Brothers dynamited the Los Angeles Times building, killing twenty people. There was public outcry as a result and so President William Howard Taft proposed and Congress approved the creation of a nine-person investigative committee called the Commission on Industrial Relations.[5] The Commission on Industrial Relations got its name from a petition presented to President Taft on December 30, 1911, entitled "Petition to the President for a Federal Commission on Industrial Relations", signed by twenty eight prominent people,[6] Members of the Committee on Standards of Living and Labor of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, many who were charity workers involved with Survey magazine began a petion drive calling for a federal commission set up to investigate the causes of industrial violence.[7] Real photo postcard of rubble of the Los Angeles Times Building after the 1910ish bombing This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Real photo postcard of rubble of the Los Angeles Times Building after the 1910ish bombing This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... James and John McNamara were Irish-American Los Angeles trade unionists. ... The Los Angeles Times (also known as the LA Times) is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California and distributed throughout the western United States. ... William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was an American politician, the 27th President of the United States, the 10th Chief Justice of the United States, a leader of the progressive conservative wing of the Republican Party in the early twentieth century, a chaired professor at Yale Law...


Commission members

Taft then nominated three AFL union officials to be part of the nine-member commission, James 'O Connell, Austin B. Garretson, and John Lennon. Taft was unable to confirm these appointments by the Senate before the 1912 election, Senate Democrats instead elected Frank P. Walsh as the head of the commission.[7]


Two months after entering the White House,[8] Woodrow Wilson choose the following commission members: Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States (1913–1921). ...

  • Chairman of the commission was Frank P. Walsh, a labor lawyer and agitator who once told a friend "I hate like hell to be respectable".[9]

Named to represent the public at large was:

Named to represent employers was: The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public university located in Madison, Wisconsin. ...

  • Henry Weinstock, a progressive California businessman
  • Thurston Ballard, a Kentucky democratic flour mill owner
  • Frederick A. Delano, an executive for the railroad (Franklin Roosevelt's uncle)[8]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882–April 12, 1945), often referred to as FDR, was the 32nd (1933–1945) President of the United States. ...

Investigation

The Commission's responsibilities were to:

"inquire into the general condition of labor in the principal industries of the United States, including agriculture, and especially in those which are carried on in corporate forms ...; into the growth of associations of employers and of wage earners and the effect of such associations upon the relations between employers and employees ..."[10]

The commission held 154 days of hearings. [4] Some of the commission findings included:

  1. The Commission found that lumber workers in the Northwest labored at their jobs for ten hours a day at only twenty cents an hour.
  2. Seasonal unemployment caused tens of thousands of people in Pacific Coast cities, where only the fortunate averaged more than a meal a day.
  3. In California, migrant laborers work in fields with temperatures up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit on farms where growers refused to supply them water in the fields.
  4. One Paterson, New Jersey silk mill fined workers fifty cents for talking and fifty cents for laughing while at work.[11]

"In an era of...muckraking, the [commission] raised the technique to an unprecedented height."[11]


The commission studied several major strikes which occurred during its investigations, including:

  1. The Paterson, New Jersey silk mill strike (1911-1913), led by the Industrial Workers of the World,
  2. New York City garment workers strike (1909-1910),
  3. Illinois Central and Harriman lines stuggles with the railroad shopmen (1911-1915),
  4. The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company strike, where the Ludlow Massacre occurred (1913).[12][13]

Walsh embarrassed President Wilson and Senator Hoke Smith attempted to but Walsh's budget 75% when Walsh suggested investigating the southern states.[11] The vote failed, and Walsh promptly sent investigators to Smith's state, making lasting and powerful enemies.[14] The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. At its peak in 1923 the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. ... Michael Hoke Smith (September 2, 1855 – November 27, 1931) was a newspaper owner, United States Secretary of the Interior (1893-1896), Democratic Governor of Georgia (1907-1909,1911), and a United States Senator (1911-1920) from Georgia. ...


Journalist Walter Lippman stated there was "an atmosphere of no quarter" when Walsh subpoenaed then questioned John D. Rockefeller, Jr. about the Ludlow massacre. For three days Walsh publicly chastised Rockefeller.[15] Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 - December 14, 1974), was an influential United States writer, journalist, and political commentator. ... John D. Rockefeller Jr. ... Ludlow massacre monument The Ludlow massacre was the death of about 20 people during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families, including women and children, at Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914. ...


Historian Montgomery stated that the commission found:

"repression by police, judicial, and military agencies, which envisaged themselves as the defenders of society's "good people." And in each case but Philadelphia, where the public as a whole was irate over the general conduct of the transit company, the "good people" in turn indorsed the repression. Small wonder that in all these strikes, and above all in the sanguinary three-year conflict on the Illinois Central Railroad, workers simply took the law into their own hands."[3]

Commission conclusions

Unable to agree, the nine man Commission published three different final reports.[16] One of the reports was written by John R. Commons, who feared that the Commission's report would "throw the [labor] movement into politics." Common's report, instead of calling for "industrial democracy", advocated instead the creation of impartial labor boards.[16] John Rogers Commons (1862–1945) was a well-known institutional economist at the University of Wisconsin. ...


The Frank P. Walsh, Lennon, and O'Connell report, written by attorney Basil Manly is cited below.[17][1]


The report explained the conditions of agricultural estates:

"It is industrial feudalism in an extreme form. Such estates are, as a rule, the property of absentee landlords, who are for the most part millionaires, resident in the eastern States or in Europe."[18]

In regards to conditions in company towns the Commission on Industrial Relations observed that they displayed "every aspect of feudalism except the recognition of special duties on the part of the employer."[19] A company town is a town or city in which all or almost all real estate, buildings (both residential and commercial), utilities, hospitals, small businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations, and other necessities or luxuries of life within its borders are owned by a single company. ...


The 1929 report concluded:

"Where (labor) organization is lacking dangerous discontent is found on every hand; low wages and long hours prevail; exploitation in every direction is practiced; the people become sullen, have no regard for law and government, and are, in reality, a latent volcano, as dangerous to society as are the volcanoes of nature to the landscape surrounding them."
"We hold that efforts to stay the organization of labor or to restrict the right of employees to organize should not be tolerated, but that the opposite policy should prevail, and the organization of the trade unions and of the employers' organizations should be promoted...This country is no longer a field for slavery, and where men and women are compelled, in order that they may live, to work under conditions in determining which they have no voice, they are not far removed from a condition existing under feudalism or slavery."[20]

Public response

Walsh has a gift for attracting media attention and publicity.[14] [12]


The New Republic observed that the commission had gone well beyond its duties to investigate the "cause and cure" of labor unrest. In promoting industrial democracy, it offered a "tonic" for American democracy itself.[1] The Seattle Union Record exclaimed that the report was "an indictment against organized capital.[16] The journal the Masses stated the report signaled "the beginning of an indigenous American revolutionary movement.[16] For other uses, see the disambiguation section. ...


Others criticized the report. The New York Herald characterized the commissions president as "a Mother Jones in trousers."[16] In 1916, Republican Presidential candidate Charles Evans Hughes called the commission "one of the tragic incidents of the present administration" which had "accomplished nothing".[21] The president of the Pittsburg Employers' Association stated publicly that Walsh "should be assassinated."[22] The New York Herald was a large distribution newspaper based in New York City that existed between May 6, 1835 and 1924. ... Mother Jones Mary Harris Jones (August 1, 1837 – November 30, 1930), better known as Mother Jones, was a prominent American labor and community organizer, and a Wobbly. ... Charles Evans Hughes (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was Governor of New York, United States Secretary of State, Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the United States. ...


Longterm influence

The influence the report had on US politics is debated.


Historian Adams argues and historian Galambos agrees that the Commission's hearings and reports influenced the passage of such labor legislation as the Adamson Eight-Hour Act.[23][24] Historian Rayback explains that the commission's report influenced the decisions of the War Labor Board and the authors of New Deal labor legislation.[13] The Adamson Act was a United States law passed in 1916 that established an eight-hour workday, with additional pay for overtime work, for railroad workers. ...


Historian Montgomery states:

"The uniqueness of the efforts of the Commission on Industrial Relations between 1913 and 1915 lay in its staff of Wisconsin-trained experts and in the steadfast refusal of its nine members to allow any diversion of their attention from immediate problems of industrial relations. These very qualities paradoxically imparted to the commission a political significance greater than that of all previous investigations combined, for out of its work emerged both a labor program for the Democratic party in 1916 which shattered the narrow limits of its 1912 platform and, through the minority report of John R. Commons and Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, a series of proposals that were to become widely infused into the welfare capitalism of the 1920's."[3]

On the other hand, historian Harter argues that the commission had been established to determine the roots of labor problems, but its liberal leanings caused Congress to ignore its findings.[25][26]


Historian Brooks, reviewing Adams book, contends that despite Frank P. Walsh later became cochairman, with William Howard Taft, of the War Labor Board during World War I that "it is an exaggeration to assume that the Commission was the principal, or even a major, cause of subsequent developments and to attribute to it, as [Adams] does, the development of "a more steeply graduated tax structure, promotion of collective bargaining, minimum wage scales, and the eight hour day... ." There is nothing in [Adams book] which would support the view that the Commission ever had the importance of the La Follette or McClellan Committees."[12] William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was an American politician, the 27th President of the United States, the 10th Chief Justice of the United States, a leader of the progressive conservative wing of the Republican Party in the early twentieth century, a chaired professor at Yale Law... Capitalizing on labor shortages during Americas entrance into World War I, unions led by Samuel Gompers under the American Federation of Labor organized mass strikes for tangible gain. ...


Notes

  1. ^ a b c McCartin, Joseph Anthony (February 1, 1998). Labor's Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor. UNC Press. ISBN 0807846791. p. 12.
  2. ^ Bobertz, Bradley C. (February 1999). "The Brandeis Gambit: The Making of America's "First Freedom," 1909-1931". William & Mary Law Review 40. 40 Wm and Mary L. Rev. 557 p. 573
  3. ^ a b c Montgomery, David (April 1967). "Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15 (Review)". Technology and Culture 8 (2): 234-237.
  4. ^ a b Kaufman, Bruce E. (December 1, 1992). The Origins & Evolution of Industrial Relations in the United States. Cornell University Press. 0875461921. p. 3
  5. ^ Kaufman p. 8
  6. ^ Kaufman p. 200
  7. ^ a b McCartin p. 18
  8. ^ a b c McCartin p. 19
  9. ^ McCartin p. 22
  10. ^ Guide to the Commission On Industrial Relations Special Agents' Files. (HTML) Martin P. Catherwood Library. Retrieved on May 7, 2006.
  11. ^ a b c McCartin, p. 25
  12. ^ a b c Brooks, George W. (1967 July). "Age of Industrial Violence 1910-1915 (Review)". Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 20 (4): 712-714.
  13. ^ a b Rayback, Joseph G. (December 1966). "Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15 Review". The Journal of American History 53 (3): 630-631.
  14. ^ a b McCartin, p. 26
  15. ^ McCartin, p. 26, 28
  16. ^ a b c d e McCartin, p. 13
  17. ^ Commission, p. 269
  18. ^ United States House of Representatives (1916). Commission on Industrial Relations, 1912—1915, Final Report of the Commission on Industrial Relations. Washington: GPO. p. 25 64th Cong., 1st sess., 1916, S.Doc. 415 (Google Print--Entire document online)
  19. ^ Churchill, Ward (Spring 2004). "From the Pinkertons to the PATRIOT Act: The Trajectory of Political Policing in the United States, 1870 to the Present". The New Centennial Review 4 (1): 1-72. p.10
  20. ^ Commission, p. 165.
  21. ^ McCartin, p. 34.
  22. ^ Pope, James Gray (January 1997). "Labor's Constitution of Freedom". Yale Law Journal 106. p. 115 106 Yale L.J. 941
  23. ^ Louis P., Galambos (Summer 1967). "Age of Industrial Violence 1910-1915 (Review)". The Business History Review 41 (2): 240-242.
  24. ^ Adams, Jr., Graham (January 1971). Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15: The Activities and Findings of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231028016.
  25. ^ Kaufman, p. 9.
  26. ^ Harter Jr., LaFayette G. (1962). John R. Commons: His Assault on Laissez-Faire. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. ASIN: B0006AY9HE.

May 7 is the 127th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (128th in leap years). ... 2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Further reading

  • United States House of Representatives (1915). Commission on Industrial Relations, 1912—1915, Final Report and Testimony. Washington: GPO. 11 volumes
  • United States House of Representatives (1916). Commission on Industrial Relations, 1912—1915, Final Report of the Commission on Industrial Relations. Washington: GPO. 64th Cong., 1st sess., 1916, S.Doc. 415 (Google Print--Entire document online)
  • Adams, Jr., Graham (January 1971). Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15: The Activities and Findings of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231028016.

 
 

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