We are not inclined to see anything discouraging in the labor movement. We must prefer and always try to see in everything in and about it and everything that happens to it an indication of its growing power and a promise of its final victory. Even the very worst that happens we try to construe as an evil necessary to the experience of its membership and to its ultimate success.
But now and then something happens, sometimes an incident of minor importance of itself, that is downright discouraging in spite of our buoyant optimism.
We have just read in the papers that some union miners in Indiana have presented their capitalist congressman with a solid gold-mounted umbrella for what he has “done” for them in congress. Not long before this the same union miners presented the same capitalist congressman with a magnificent gold watch. The next thing in order, we presume, will be to present him with a gold-mounted automobile. Just what this capitalist congressman has “done” for these slaves of the pits to inspire them to shower him with gold out of their wretched wages it would be interesting to know solely as a matter of curiosity.
This sort of thing, we confess, is discouraging to contemplate. It really makes one sick at heart to think of these hard-working coal diggers who live in shacks, subsist at best upon coarse food, and are dressed in shoddy, ofttimes in rags, giving up their hard earnings, their blood-bought pittance, to buy costly and extravagant gifts for a capitalistic politician. Ye Gods! And this from union miners after Ludlow and Calumet and Cabin Creek.
How many of these slaves, deformed and starved, body and soul, by their underground toil and their paltry wages have gold watches and gold-mounted umbrellas for themselves? How dare they rob their wives and children to attest their cowardice and servility to the sleek political agents of their fat economic masters?
Of course, these disgraceful deals originate in the crafty brains of the two by four politicians who are in the unions to pull of just such stunts for the benefit of the politicians who represent the masters and exploiters.
Every real union miner in Indiana should register his protest against having his union disgraced and discredited by such cheap and nasty performances which reduce men wearing union badges to the level of bootlicking degenerates.
-from “Discouraging Signs”