You have read the pages of this catechism. You have learned how the craft union system grew on the ruins of the Knights of Labor, how it provided good livings for the officials of the craft unions, not to mention banks and mines and farms and office buildings. You are yourself a constant reminder of its failure to provide you with all that you desire. You are yourself, as this pamphlet is published, witnessing how the ebb and flow of economic laws, decide your wages and working conditions for you. You have seen and can see, for yourself, how markets, panics, "good business" eras, and "hard times" whip you about like a straw in the wind, from work and temporary security, to unemployment and starvation, without your craft union or your insurance association, whichever it should properly be called, being able to solve your problems.
In the summer of 1923, as this pamphlet issues from the presses of the Industrial Workers of the World, a series of great craft strikes has failed. The Railroad strike has broken down after months of struggle. The few roads on which the battle still (theoretically) drags along, are operating more and more efficiently with scabs, organized into company unions in most cases. The old Grand Chief of the Brotherhood of Railway Engineers has become a great banker, and mine owner, and finds himself an exploiter of Labor. He is widely quoted in the capitalist press as registering his undying disapproval of any general railroad strike. "It is loaded with dynamite," he says, "for the public, for the employers, and for us". (Us evidently meaning the bureaucracy of the Railway Brotherhoods, which might lose some of its mines and banks, if a general strike took place.
As this is written, the coal miners are writhing in their realization of the fact that they have been sold out in the Cleveland agreement. A portion of the Rosslyn Cle-Elum fields in Washington is operating under a company union, which includes in its preamble a statement that the interests of Capital and Labor are identical, that the union shall be controlled by a board on which the Employers have a majority of votes, and that no member shall belong to the United Mine Workers of America, nor shall any person who does belong to the A. F. of L. be employed in the mines. In Kentucky, an over-lapping contract has been signed, by which one group, one district of coal miners, binds itself to remain at work while the rest of the union goes on strike, if it is able to once more resist intolerable conditions by the strike.