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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/228

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within two weeks there was not a skilled iron worker in New Rome who was not a member of the Affiliated. Hugh Farrell had been among the last to surrender. Floyd, going through the works one day, passed into the rod-mill, where Schneider, the new foreman, had just taken charge. He passed near Farrell, who was at the old work of drawing out the long steel rods with the tongs, stepping back and forth with the same active grace which had impressed Floyd years before; and Farrell returned only a curt, unsmiling nod to his greeting. The unfriendliness of it hurt Floyd, even though he knew that he could not escape the suspicion of holding his grandfather's ideas.

Hitherto the men at the New Rome works had been paid by tonnage. Improvements in machinery had, however, so enlarged the output of certain workmen that their earnings had grown out of all proportion to those of the machinists, tool-dressers, and others, and were indeed so great as to eat into the profits of the business. In many other mills the sliding scale of wages had been adopted to counteract this difficulty, but the conservative management of the Halket Company had been reluctant to inaugurate a change of custom. When the skilled mechanics who built the improved machines were earning only a sixth or an eighth as much as the men who pulled the levers, and when steel workers who were exceptionally fortunate in their branch of employment were some of them practicing the luxurious habit of driving to and from their work in carriages, the necessity for reform was imminent. "It's all right for them to make good earnings," Floyd said in one of his conferences with Gregg, "but we can't increase the percentage all along the line without running the mills at a tremendous loss. As it is now, the expert machinists are sore at seeing some of these other fellows, who are really less skilled than they, making so much more money. Another thing that makes for trouble is that the machinists are ineligible for mem-