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Social Workers Unpopular with Labor, Amalgamated Representative Asserts

May 17, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Unless the social service worker will “bite the hand that feeds him” during a strike and stand by the workers as against the employers, organized labor will regard him as an enemy, the six hundred delegates to the National Conference of Jewish Social Service were told yesterday by Paul Blanchard, of the Rochester Joint Board of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, during the morning session at the Hotel Washington.

“Acid tests”, said the speaker, applied by “class conscious progressives” who are the predominating clement in labor unions, to the social service workers, are the following:

“Are you opposed to a social order on industrial inequality?”

“If you are, how often do you say it?”

“Any social worker who knows what organized labor has done, and won’t stand by it in the struggle for economic equality is not fit to be a worker in the field of organized charity”, is another poser put by the progressives to the social worker, according to Mr. Blanchard.

“What sort of charity does organized labor want?”, Mr. Blanchard asked. “We are moving towards a social order in which the people can help themselves; when the people, working through the Government, can gradually take over most of the social agencies now supported by private means. Those things are the people’s job; it is not to be left to the ruling classes”.

“Charity is part of the present social order”, the speaker said. “Its funds come from investors and employers who, if they really wanted to help us would give it to us in the first place. Class conscious progressives will say that ‘charity makes robbers respectable’. He would point to Judge Gary of the Steel Trust, who spent over $1,000 a day on steamship accomodations when he went abroad on a vacation recently, while his workers remained in the mill seven days a week, and twelve hours a day, and say of him: ‘He is a robber’. I agree with them. So long as charity takes money from men of Judge Gary’s typs, it is taking money in order to make men who ought to be in jail, respectable.

“Charity also tends to maintain the economic status quo. In the opinion of the progressive laborite, charity allays discontent and oppresses the truth, therefore it is retarding the march towards a better social order. The class-conscious progressive therefore regards the charity worker as one who lives on human suffering, and as one having no right to exist since he is not doing all in his power to destroy the root-causes of poverty.

“The replies to these charges”, the speaker conceded, “is that organized charity is really helping to build the new social order. It is not merely palliative, it is doing work now that would have to be done even if labor controlled the social order.”

Judge Jacob H. Moses, former impartial chairman for the clothing industry of Baltimore, declared that it was absolutely untrue that organized Jewish labor was radical.

The great, majority of Jewish workmen are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. They conceive their membership in this conservative organization as a good business proposition. It moves slowly, attempting moderate gains, such as better wages, shorter hours, and holding these gains. The rest, mainly those in the needle trades, belonging to the “Amalgamated” look upon the union as an instrument of social service. They are not content with mere present gains. They are looking into the future, when they can throw off the yoke of labor. They want also to educate their children.

“When a strike broke out in Baltimore the organized charities were appealed to for workers. Thus they came to be regarded by the unions as strike-breakers when the charities helped suffering strikers they were denounced by employers as their enemies, and the employers refused to contribute to the charities.

“Unemployment is the curse of labor”, said Judge Moses, “and in this field the unions and the social service workers have a common ground for cooperation. The opening of labor banks in New York and Chicago is due to the fact that ordinary banks have so often been used against workmen. The employers can borrow money during strike. Strikers cannot; their Unions cannot; workmen wanted knowledge of the banking business, and unions look forward to the time when they will want to go into business themselves on a cooperative basis, on the basis of industrial democracy.”

The Conference adopted by an overhelming vote the proposal of the majority committee on social service training, that special courses for Jewish social service workers he arranged during the period prior and subsequent to regular courses in general social service at various universities and schools of philanthropy. The Executive Committee was authorized to make arrangements with the Theological Seminaries, religious institutes, and universities all over the country for the instruction (in regular and extension courses) in Jewish history, religious tradition, Yiddish and problems of contemporary Jewish life.

The following officers were elected by acclamation:

Maurice B. Hexter, of Boston, President, after Dr. Ludwig B. Bernstein had withdrawn in his favor; Morris D. Waldman of Brooklyn, 1st Vice President; Dr. C.D. Spivak of Denver, 2nd Vice-President; and Sidney E. Fritz, of Cincinnati, 3rd Vice President; Samuel A. Goldsmith of New York, Secretary; Louis M. Cohen of Chicago, Treasurer; Cecil B. Weiner, Buffalo; Ruth Berelsheimer, Chicago; Benjanin Schwartz, Baltimore, and Dr. A.M. Dushkin, New York, Assistant Secretaries; And the following Executive Committee: M.J. Karpf, Chicago; Dorothy C. Kahn, Baltimore: Dr. Ludwig B. Barnstein, Pittsburgh, and Francis Taussig, the outgoing President, Ex-officio.

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