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Labor Day

On this Labor Sunday the appeal of John B Lennon of Bloomington and the Federal Industrial Commission was for the public, and especially employers, to take a Christian attitude toward employees. He spoke before a large gathering of workers at the Second Presbyterian Church. He chose the text "Our Father," the first two words of the Lord's Prayer. He said that these two words should remind all men that we are all in subjugation to God and that we are all brothers. He went on to say that no Christian should obtain labor at the cheapest price that he can, or that is a mockery of the Christian message.

He gave many statistics that he said explained the labor unrest and violence that had some American cities in turmoil -- the rate of death in towns known labor violence (and extremely low wages) had a higher rate of death than other cities and the death rate of children in those cities was twice that of others. In Johnstown, PA the infant mortality rate was 130, but among families making less than $520 a year (the average among working people) the infant mortality rate was 255. In New York City one out of every twelve men working for a wage who died was buried as a pauper. Thirty seven percent of the women among the working families of American cities were required to work for the support of the family and made less than $6 a week.

His premise was that working families should be paid enough to live in conditions that allowed them to enjoy the same safety and comfort that the rich have, or a bare minimum, have the same death rate. He stated that 44 families of the United States had income that equalled that of 150,000 families. Not quite the same dramatic chasm that currently exists today, but given time, the 1 per cent would rise.

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