International Association of Machinists Biennial Convention of 1911

The 14th biennial convention of the International Association of Machinists took place right across the street from us at the Hotel Davenport. The convention lasted nearly 2 weeks, beginning on Monday, September 18th, and closing on September 29, 1911.

The first to arrive at Davenport on Sunday, September 10th were President James O’Connell of Washington, DC; secretary-treasurer George Preston of Washington, DC; Members of the executive committee: Hugh Doran of Chicago; E.L. Tucker of Washington; J.A. Reynolds of Cleveland; A.E. Ireland of Pittsburgh; and R.G. Cook of Seattle; Members of the law committee: Arch McGillivery of Birmingham; J.A. Taylor of Seattle; Thomas Buckley of Providence; and D.E. McCallum of Winnipeg.

William Baumbeck, chairman of the program committee, was in charge of arranging the entertainment for the delegates. An automobile tour of the tri-cities and a visit to the Arsenal were planned for Monday, September 18th. The local lodges hosted an event at Industrial Hall in Rock Island on Tuesday, September 19th. A banquet and concert by Petersen’s Band at Schuetzen Park were scheduled for Wednesday, September 20th. Lodge 548 hosted an event at the Moline Turner Lodge on Friday, September 22. Mississippi River excursions aboard the steamers Wenona and Columbia were scheduled for Sunday, September 24. A grand ball was given at the Coliseum on Tuesday, September 26th.

The 4 local unions hosting the festivities were No. 388 of Davenport, No. 81 Rock Island Arsenal lodge, No. 548 machinists working in shops in Rock Island and Moline, and No. 695 machinists working at the Silvis shops.

The executive committee arranged the handling of the convention. They heard appeals from decisions made by the board during the preceding 2 years and considered requests by various locals for endorsement of strikes.

The law committee met first to consider recommendations for amendments to the constitution by local chapters throughout the country. J.A. Taylor of Seattle, WA was elected chairman. The committee presented its report on Tuesday, September 19th.

Speakers at the opening of the convention, which took place at 10 am in the auditorium on the 6th floor of the hotel, included A.L. Urick, president of the Iowa State Federation of Labor, Congressman L.S. Pepper of Muscatine, B.W. Newton, president of the Tri-City Federation of Labor, and Davenport Mayor Alfred Mueller.

Delegates to the Women’s Auxiliary convention met jointly with the men for the opening ceremony, then moved to the new Kimball auditorium. Mrs. J.A. Kaps, secretary of the Toledo, OH branch of the women’s auxiliary to the I.A.M. gave a speech:

How man of you men have wives at home spending your hard-earned dollars for scab goods?

There is a great necessity that the wives and daughters of the machinists be organized so that they can learn something of trades unionism. At the present time the franchise is being exteded to women, but they are going to the polls with no adequate knowledge of the trade union movement.

Most people think our auxiliary is organized for social purposes, but that is the smallest part of our purpose. We are banded together not for charity’s sake but for purely business purposes. Whenever the women of the country, wives of laborers, are organized, there will be no more sweat shops, and there will be more hapier homes among the working people when the wife as well as the husband understands the principles of trade unionism.

Mrs. J.A. Kaps, secretary of the Toledo, OH branch of the women’s auxiliary to the I.A.M.

The delegates voted to elect members to the following committees:

  • Grievance Committee
  • Credentials Committee
  • Committee on committees
  • Special Committee on Federal Trades
  • Railway
  • Navy and Arsenal employees
  • Extension of Organization
  • Piece Work
  • Resolutions
  • Appeals and Grievances
  • Legislation
  • Officers Reports
  • Federated Trades

The union drafted several resolutions in opposition to the proposed “Taylor System” in government Navy yards and arsenals. $5,000 were appropriated for the campaign for the 8-Hour Law to be used in the coming year. A referendum was called to abolish the “district” system and centralize all the trades under the “federation” plan.

On the last day of the convention, the union authorized a strike of railway shopmen on the Illinois Central and Harriman lines. 40,000 workers including machinists, boilermakers, sheet metal workers, and pipemen were affected. They demanded the recognition of the federation of 5 allied trades, known as the “System federation.”

The souvenir program was distributed on opening day. The returns from advertising were expected to foot the entertainment bill for the convention. Below are scans of some of the pages.

(posted by Cristina)

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