Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/55

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political connections were established. Slight advances to the rank and file had to be conceded, and the business agent or labor leader who fixed a deal whereby his union constituency benefitted even slightly won the devotion of the men. He became automatically a personage for politicians to connect up with and for business interests to deal with. One of the consequences was the establishment of a new, or go-between element in the union movement with their own peculiar interests to serve—neither capitalists nor workers — who shared with the capitalists and preyed upon the workers. They "called" and "settled" strikes as their interests dictated and when in their judgment situations were ripe.

Graft had become an institution in the name and under the auspices of unionism. So true is this, that, while real labor people deplore that graft, the grafters are seldom challenged or impeached; so great has their power become. This refers principally to local labor movements, but these had to depend upon national and Canadian connections. So, raised upon this basis, the international offices could only differ in the modification of the means employed. Where the business agents connected up with local politicians, the higher-up officials sat in with the Big Capitalists and national party riggers in the Civic Federation, and the whole craft union system was dominated by an influence foreign, alien and inimical to the working class interest. The so-called labor movement of the United States and Canada is a business institution for the purpose of controlling and guiding labor discontent into chanels where it threatens least injury to the capitalist interest, which is only another way of saying that the least possible benefit is conferred upon the workers.
172. Is it meant that the A. F. of L. is consciously so?
Just that. Any visitor to an A. F. of L. convention who is conversant with and interested in the welfare of the American workers is struck by the alertness of the international officers in suppressing or diverting expressions of rank and file opinion, which challenge their wisdom and sincerity, or the effectiveness of their organizations. This convention truly represents the dominant labor movement in America. The interests or opinions