Gompers testified before a Congressional committee about his organization.)
. . . There
is nothing in the labor movement that employers who have had unorganized
workers dread so much as organization; but organization alone
will not do much unless the organization provides itself with
a good fund, so that the operatives may be in a good position,
in the event of a struggle with their employers, to hold out.
. . .
evolves these organizations out of the existing conditions where
there are two classes in society, one incessantly striving to
obtain the labor of the other class for as little as possible,
and to obtain the largest amount or number of hours of labor;
and the members of the other class, being as individuals utterly
helpless in a contest with their employers, naturally resort to
combinations to improve their condition, and, in fact, they are
forced by the conditions which surround them to organize for self-protection.
Hence trades unions. Trade unions are not barbarous, nor are they
the outgrowth of barbarism. On the contrary they are only possible
where civilization exists. Trade unions cannot exist in China;
they cannot exist in Russia; and in all those semi-barbarous countries
they can hardly exist, if they can exist at all. But they have
been formed successfully in this country, in Germany, in England,
and they are gradually gaining strength in France. . . .
unions have organized and are most firmly organized, there are
the rights of the people most respected. A people may be educated,
but to me it appears that the greatest amount of intelligence
exists in that country or that state where the people are best
able to defend their rights, and their liberties as against those
who are desirous of undermining them. Trades unions are organizations
that instill into men a higher motive-power and give them a higher
goal to look to. . . .
unions are by no means an outgrowth of socialistic or communistic
ideas or principles, but the socialistic and communistic notions
are evolved from the trades unions' movements. As to the question
of the principles of communism or socialism prevailing in trades
unions, there are a number of men who connect themselves as workingmen
with the trades unions who may have socialistic convictions, yet
who never gave them currency. . . . On the other hand, there are
men—not so numerous now as they have been in the past—who
are endeavoring to conquer the trades-union movement and subordinate
it to those doctrines, and in a measure, in a few such organizations
that condition of things exists, but by no means does it exist
in the largest, most powerful, and best organized trades unions.
There the view of which I spoke just now, the desire to improve
the condition of the workingmen by and through the efforts of
the trades union, is fully lived up to. . . . I believe that the
existence of the trades-union movement, more especially where
the unionists are better organized, has evoked a spirit and a
demand for reform, but has held in check the more radical elements