With thunderclouds of labor warfare forming on the textile front, the National Association of Manufacturers reveals a plan to propose federal legislation outlawing general and sympathetic strikes. Similar to the British Trade Disputes Act of 1927, the program hopes to prohibit all strikes and lockouts where "the object is other than in furtherance of a trade dispute in industry."
The critical nature of the problem of industrial arbitration can be clearly seen if it is remembered that during the first nine months of last year over twenty million days of work were last in the United States as a result of strikes. Indeed, one of the chief problems of the current administration is to set the wheels of industry in motion with as few strikes as possible.
Regardless of the essential merit of the Association's proposal, the plan should be condemned at once on the basis of national expediency. In a critical period when labor and capital are attempting to adjust their relations to the exigencies of a new economic condition, every possible stimulus should be given to cooperative activity. In the current situation, it is the province of the government to act as an intermediary between the two opposing forces and to aid them to settle their mutual difficulties on principles of impartial justice.
Above all, the government must avoid taking any positive action which would appear to align it on the side of either antagonist. Such legislation as the Association new proposes cannot fail to prejudice labor against the government. The Trade Disputes Bill, indeed, was characterized by the Laborites in England, as a deliberate attempt made by the capitalists to utilize the forces of a democratic government in the class war. And when either party looks on the national administration as blassed in favor of the other side, all hope of the efficacy of the government as an impartial mediator will be gone.