An Article in the St. Louis Republic
[October 3, 1910]
HOTELS AND BOMBS TOPICS FOR GOMPERS
The attitude of the Central Trades and Labor Union in criticising the Executive Board of the American Federation of Labor for choosing a nonunion hotel for its headquarters during the coming convention is picayunish and too small for such a body of men, was the declaration of President Samuel Gompers of that organization.
He declared the arguments made in the meeting of the Central Trades and Labor Union last Sunday and which were printed by the newspapers, made a scandal, and informed the body he had contracted for the Planters Hotel and intends making that his headquarters.
During the speech, which was of almost two hours duration, he took up the dynamiting of The Los Angeles Times-Mirror' and declared in no uncertain terms his belief that organized labor had nothing to do with it. He told his audience he believes the blame can be placed much closer than General Otis' statements would make one believe and places the responsibility on some other persons the paper is fighting.
"The criticisms of myself and the members of the Executive Board of the American Federation of Labor, which I am informed by the newspaper stories and letters from Secretary Kreyling, were made at the last meeting of the Central Trades and Labor Union," said Mr. Gompers, in speaking of the hotel incident, "are too small for such a body of men to be mixed up in.["]
Made Hot Newspaper Stuff.
"From the standpoint of the newspapers it made good stuff, but from the standpoint of organized labor, it is a scandal. I do not blame the newspapers for printing it, but it is a picayunish thing for such a body of men to do.
"There have been a few conventions where the same problem has not faced the officials of the American Federation of Labor. We would gladly stop at union hotels, but when there are none, what are we going to do?
"Take, for instance, some of us who have to travel from city to city. Why, only yesterday I came in on a train and the men running it are not unionized. Am I going to walk because I will have to ride on a nonunion road?
"I also ate a meal on the train. They did not have union bread. What am I going to do--starve to death, or carry a union loaf with me?
"I would be glad to patronize a union hotel if there were one in the city, but you know there are none and we have to have some place to hold committee meetings where we will not be disturbed.
"Someone suggested we go to the homes of the men in this city, but I take it you are not millionaires and have not room to spare without inconvenience, and I think you had better let things alone. The time for organizing a hotel was a year ago. You should not wait until the last minute and then have things slide back into the same old rut."
After telling the delegates what he thought of the action of that body, Mr. Gompers took up The Los Angeles Times-Mirror dynamiting.
"I wish now to talk with you a little on the subject of a great catastrophe, which is one of the worst outrages of the time. The destruction of a great industry, especially in the manner in which the printing plant at Los Angeles was destroyed, is deplorable.
"That organized labor had anything to do with it I most emphatically deny, and it is up to all members of organized labor to refute the statements of anyone who says the unions committed this horrible crime.
"I will never believe any of the boys placed or exploded that dynamite until it is proven beyond doubt and if they did they should suffer for it.["]
Only Moral Force Used.
"We are not fighting our fights by physical force. Our methods of fighting are moral, and we do not want to have anything to do with such methods."
At this point Mr. Gompers vehemently denounced the statements issued by General Otis, owner of The Los Angeles Times-Mirror, in which the destruction of his paper was laid to the labor unions.
"The fight with General Otis has been going on for years and years," Mr. Gompers said. "He is a man who fights everything he does not want, and he has not confined his fight to the Typographical Union. Neither has he confined it to labor.
"The paper has at the present time more than a dozen slander suits in the California courts, I am told. I am inclined to believe the perpetrator, when found, will be proven to be some person he has denounced or wronged through the columns of his paper. It also seems queer to me that the bomb found near his house was placed so far away it would do no great damage."
At this point some overzealous labor unionist shouted, "How about Otis doing it himself?"
"Well," replied Mr. Gompers, after a moment's thought, "I wouldn't say that. He is completely unbalanced on the subject of labor unions, but I would hesitate before making such an accusation, because I can hardly believe he would have perpetrated such an outrage."
Mr. Gompers then returned to the question of the American Federation of Labor convention.
"My reason for coming here to-day," he said, "was what I read and was told of your action on the hotel business.
"I wish you would think it over. Ever since I have been here the newspaper men have asked me nothing else but 'What about the hotels?' 'Are you making any headway in organizing the hotels?' and 'Are you going to make the Planters Hotel your headquarters?
"Usually when I get into a city the newspaper men are asking me about the progress of labor and what we are doing in different parts of the country or how some fight or other is getting along."
He then closed with another reference to dynamiting. "I want everybody to understand organized labor does not countenance dynamiting or methods of violence. I never have been a dynamiter and have never sat in council with dynamiters.["]
More Loyal Than Otis.
"Organized labor is made up of loyal citizens. We love our country and are more loyal than all of the Otises and Posts in the country. We believe in our rights and insist on getting them, the same as any other man, and we submit to no wrong without making a fight."
Mr. Gompers stated every effort is being made to push the contempt of court cases against John Mitchell, Morrison, and himself through the Supreme Court in the October term. They are set for that month and it is the desire of the defendants to have them disposed of before the annual convention.
Mr. Gompers will be in St. Louis until this afternoon. He will be in conference with John F. Lee and Frederick W. Lehmann, attorneys for the Buck's Stove and Range Company, co-defendants with American Federation of Labor in the suit of C. W. Post of Battle Creek, Mich. Post asks $750,000 damages, caused the Buck company through the boycott of labor, which was ended two months ago.
Attorney Mulholland of the American Federation of Labor will also be here.
St. Louis Republic, Oct. 3, 1910.