Held in Cleveland, Ohio
November 21, 22, 23, 24, 1882
Third Day – Afternoon Session
Eight-Hour Work Day
The eight-hour declaration of the Chicago Trades Assembly being next in order that document was read by the Secretary as follows:
We, the Trades and Labor Assembly of Chicago and vicinity, representing the organized working people, declare that the eight-hour work day will furnish more work at increased wages. We declare that it will permit the possession and enjoyment of more wealth by those who create it. It will lighten the burden (of carrying the useless classes). It will diminish the power of the rich over the poor, not by making the rich poorer, but by making the poor richer. It will create the conditions necessary for the education and intellectual advancement of the masses. It will diminish crime and intemperance. It will increase the power of wage-laborers to control the conditions that affect them. It will enlarge the wants, stimulate the ambition, and decrease the idleness of wage-laborers. It will stimulate production and increase the consumption of wealth among the masses. It will compel the employment of more and better labor-saving machinery. It will not disturb, jar, confuse, or throw out of order the present wage-system of labor. It is the only measure that will permanently increase wages without at the same time increasing the cost of the production of wealth. It will decrease the poverty and increase the wealth of all wage-laborers. And it will after a few years gradually merge the wage-system of labor into a system of industrial co-operation in which wages will represent the earnings and not (as now) the necessities of the wage-laborer.
Messrs. Crawford and Powers moved the endorsement of the declaration as the sense of the Congress.
Mr. Gompers opposed it on the ground that he did not think the majority of his constituents were ready for the practical endorsement and enforcement of the measure.
Mr. F. K. Foster moved to amend by striking out the words “the only,” and inserting the indefinite article “a.”
Messrs. Gompers and McIntyre moved to amend by striking out the sentence, “It will lighten the burden of carrying the useless classes,” and inserting “It will lighten the burden on society by providing work for the unemployed.”
The amendment was accepted, and the declaration as amended was endorsed.