Tri-City Manufacturers’ Association
Tri-City Manufacturers’ Association Of The Cities Of Davenport, Rock Island And Moline. The Tri-City Manufacturers’ Association was organized in the year 1900, with C. H. Deere of Moline as president, and E. H. Sleight of Moline as secretary. The general object at that time was the promotion of the interests of the three cities along manufacturing lines. Although started with some enthusiasm, it soon languished and practically ceased to exist until two years later. When the machinists through-out. the country struck for a shorter work-day, the Tri-City Manufacturers’ Association awoke to life again, and practically reorganized as a defense association to check the rising tide of trade unionism. The movement here was simultaneous with others throughout the country, the ever increasing and arbitrary demands of labor unions making it necessary for employers to unite in order to offer effective resistance. The work of this association as indicated above, has been principally of a defensive nature, but it has also been influential in various other ways. Its influence was exerted in behalf of the Interstate Commerce Bill, and in opposition to the so-called Uniform Bill of Lading, and an active campaign was carried on under its auspices for the cause of reciprocity. The principal membership of this association is in Moline, and while the association as a whole cannot act, yet the Moline members have frequently met for the. consideration of matters pertaining to the welfare of their city. The Moline members of this association paid for a new private water .main along the river front from the water works west, which forms a very important secondary water supply in case of fire; indeed superior to the Third Avenue main. A recent fire at the Mutual Wheel Works was checked by this new water main only, when the Third Avenue main had collapsed. It seems quite probable that a very disastrous conflagration would have been started had it not been for the new main. The Moline members of this association purchased a lot and also advanced the money for a new fire station north of the railroad tracks. At their suggestion the city is putting down a new water main on Third Avenue, for which the property owners are being assessed. These improvements, although paid for by the manufacturers or the property owners on Third Avenue, are for the benefit of the whole city, which is practically de-pendent upon manufacturing for its prosperity. The members of the Manufacturers’ Association have also contributed liberally to many public objects. I might mention the new bathing house on Eighteenth Street, also the various conventions which come to this city, the Manufacturers’ Hotel, the Moline Theatre, etc. Tri-City manufacturers are liberal givers toward public functions and enterprises. The great victory in obtaining a handsome congressional appropriation for a Government lock was brought about largely through the efforts of the manufacturers, and the establishment of such lock will prove of untold value to the community. A standing committee co-operates with other civic organizations in public benefactions., the reception and entertainment of conventions, and securing desirable and representative assemblages for local entertainment. Information of general importance is communicated to the membership by a systematic series of bulletins from the secretary’s office. From the same source items of general interest are bulletined from the association’s affiliated organizations, including such far reaching associations as the National Association of Manufacturers, National Founders Association, National Association of Agricultural Implement and Vehicle Manufacturers, Metal Trades Association, Citizens Industrial Association, National Association of Credit Men, and others. Along defensive lines mentioned above, our association defended against the machinists’ strike in 1900 and the moulders’ strike in 1903, successfully in both instances, and this we believe was not only on account of our firm front, but because we were essentially right in our position. The manufacturers conferred with the men and offered a reasonable compromise settlement, but in neither instance would the unions accept less than their full demands in every particular. This arbitrary stand gave the manufacturers the moral support of the community, and of a large part of the workmen as well. In conclusion would say that the Tri-City Manufacturers’ Association is only one of many institutions which of late years have sprung up all over the country in response to the pressing necessity of maintaining a check against the warlike attitude of trade unionism. The public in general will readily perceive the necessity of these organizations. Employers must look to themselves largely to maintain their own rights, which no one else will do if they neglect it. Whatever the benefit of trades unionism, and without entering into further discussion, it is evident that they have been the cause of prices advancing fully as fast as they have affected wages, that they have sowed discontent and warfare in peaceful communities, and that strikes have caused an immense amount of misery. They have aimed to destroy kindly relations between employer and the individual employee. The Tri-City Manufacturers’ Association stands for the open shop, but it also stands for a high standard of wages. If we should ever lose our influence, or fail to accomplish the results we aim at, it will be ‘because we have neglected to pay high enough wages to an intelligent and manly class of workmen.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908