Statement on Labor Actions, January 2, 1912

Such Is Opinion of Jane Addams, Famous Sociological Student.

CHICAGO, Jan. 2. -- Application of old laws to new conditions has a tendency to develop men of the McNamara type in the opinion of Miss Jane Addams, who returned to the city after presenting a petition to President Taft asking for the appointment of a commission to study the relations between employers and employees.

There is a vast hinterland between the "ballot" and the immediate economic needs and demands of workers, according to Miss Addams. The propaganda of the Socialists to "vote as you strike" does not meet the requirements, as men are interested in the immediate things which affect their bread and butter, and if they are denied them they are apt to resort to the use of dynamite, as did the McNamaras.

"It seems to me that all our laws dealing with labor unions are in need or [revision]," said Miss Addams. "The trusts are being prosecuted for violating laws, which they assert are not applicable to modern industrial conditions. So with the labor unions. Like the trusts, the labor unions are of recent origin, and laws enacted at a time when conditions were entirely different are being applied to them. The result is a growing distrust in the judiciary among large groups of labor, as they see employers appeal to the courts to thwart every movement made to improve the status of the worker. There is no denying the fact that the courts have shown a willingness to serve the interests of the employers and have placed property rights higher than human rights. The courts are following traditions and precedents that do not fit into the modern scheme of things. 

"It is not enough to condemn the use of dynamite and denounce the McNamaras as criminals. We should try and reach the underlying causes that suggest dynamite, and that is what I believe a commission could do. A federal grand jury is now investigating the shipping of dynamite across state boundary lines. We want light along a more crucial boundary line -- the borderland between industry and democracy.

"I have, of course, no idea what President Taft will do about a commission, but he received us very cordially and appeared to be much interested in the question. I am hopeful that such a commission will be created and I feel confident that it would accomplish good results."

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