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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/220

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A FAILURE AND A SUCCESS

was at hand, I returned to New Rome and inaugurated a policy quite unlike the combative one that had been proposed. It was the policy of laissez faire—to which I have always adhered, to which, I trust, I shall always adhere. 'Organize?' I said to the men. 'Why, certainly. An excellent thing for you to do if you want to. It will mean for you certain sick and death benefits—not that you're in need of them, for, as you know, the company always tries to do the right thing at such times—and also it may give you more of a feeling of brotherhood—which of course is to be encouraged.'

"That was the way I met the union, and since then I have always been on the friendliest terms with it. As it happens, I have been able to pay my men somewhat better wages than those required by the union scale in other mills. I find my union men are as willing as my non-union men to accept this better rate. They have arranged it with their parent organization so that they are permitted to accept my scale. Some of the mills at New Rome are union, others non-union, others half and half. There is no difference in smoothness and efficiency, there is no visible friction. I have not had a strike at New Rome in twenty years."

He passed on here to the subject of strikes, and became more general, ceasing to draw from his own personal experience. His tolerance was comprehensive; he believed that if all the strikes were analyzed, employers and workmen would be found to share about equally the blame. As to the charges of violence and lawlessness made against strikers, it was only fair to consider the temptation which often confronted them. "When a man is out of work and has a family starving on his hands and sees another man employed to fill his place, he is perhaps not fully accountable for his actions; at least he should not be judged with the harshness that rightly attaches to an ordinary case of assault. After all, when men are sacrificing themselves for a principle,—even