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S. D. Smolev '15 won the Pasteur Debating Medal in the fourteenth annual contest held in Fogg Lecture Room last evening. Nine contestants spoke on various phases of the subject "Resolved, That a Strike by Postal or Railroad Workers in the Service of the French Republic should be deemed a Criminal Offense."
S. D. Smolev '15, the winner of the Pasteur Medal, showed how labor conditions in France are especially peculiar. The mass of government employees can not be held responsible for the serious strikes of the last decade, but rather a small body of men who openly declare their revolutionary sentiments and who are in a position to force a strike. Of course the ideal way to deal with the strike problem would be to get rid of these revolutionary instigators. But under the present condition of affairs such a plan would be impossible. There is, then, but one way to meet the baneful influence of this element, namely, make it understood that the government will consider a strike of postal or railroad employees in the nature of a crime, virtually treason against the state.
I. Witkin '14 treated the question from a purely practical standpoint. Government employees acting in postal or railroad positions are identical with employees of private corporations, and as such ought to have the right to seek an amelioration of their condition. Past history has shown that parliamentary action is useless. Hence the only satisfactory method is by open strike.
S. Z. Kaplan '15, the next speaker, pointed out the distinct political aspect of the question. Involving the stability of the government, strikes take on a serious political aspect, that of treason and still more, of revolution. In such a light they can only be deemed criminal acts.
F. F. Greenman '14 emphasized the fact that in a general strike France faced two alternatives--monarchism or syndicalism, either of which would mean a change of government. Such a possibility is too serious to be overlooked; the only way to avoid it, then, is to do as New Zealand has done: consider strikes by government employees criminal acts.
I. Levin '14 based his argument on the fact that strikes by government employees are of the same nature as those by employees of private corporations and so can not be justify considered criminal.
J. A. Donovan '13 showed that a strike was an offense against the government itself and not, as has often been maintained, against business interests. The government must have some method of protecting its property and consequently considers a strike against itself a crime.
H. H. Breeland '12 pointed out the fact that a strike can not be considered treason unless already considered a criminal offense. Government employees should have the same right to strike as is granted private employees.
S. M. Seymour '13, explained that a strike must be considered a criminal act if its end was syndicalism, while A. A. Berle '13, brought out the injustice of treating as criminals those who by striking are simply seeking to improve their condition.
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