The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), June 28, 1861

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The Strike of the Ship-Carpenters

To the Editor of the Oswego Commercial Times:

Dear Sir: In your paper of Wednesday evening you refer to the "Strike of the Ship Carpenters," and in such a way, that the public, as a general thing, would think that the Ship Carpenters were bound to have their $1.75 per day, whether the times were good or bad, or whether the men were worth that amount or not. I would inform you, sir, that such is not the case.

I will try to give you an explanation and the cause of this so-called "strike," as I, "a friend of the Union," understand it. There has been a considerable amount of boat-work done in this city during the last year or two. As a natural consequence, it has taken quite a number of men to do it. Now the owners of the boats that have been repaired, say that their repair bills are very large, and think that, by cutting down the men's wages, their bills will not amount to so much.

Now, what is the cause of these enormous bills? Is it is this, Mr. Editor: There are in this city from 150 to 200 ship-carpenters. There are, also at the present time, from 50 to 75 barn-joiners, wagon-makers, coopers and all sorts, who, as a general thing, are getting the same wages that the ship-carpenters receive. Now, a ship carpenter goes to work and does his day's work. These other fellows, although there is once in a while a good one among them, don't care whether they do a way's work, in a day, or a half-day's work in a day, as long as they get their day's pay.

For instance thee are twenty of these ship-carpenters and ten of these other men, put on to a job, and they work at it four or five weeks. When the work is done, there is an awful big bill to pay. Now, these Union men claim that these bar-joiners etc., are the cause of making these large bills. All the Union men ask, under the present circumstances, is to let them (the Union men) go on to a job, and no one else, and if when the job is done, it costs more to do it in this city, than it does in any other place along the canal, then these Union men are willing to come down on the wages, and not before.

There are a great many who think that this was got up, on purpose to keep the wages, and to ask things that are unreasonable; but they are laboring under a grad mistake. But, Mr. Editor, I am taking up more room than perhaps you will allow me. I must confess that I don't think that these Union men are asking anything unreasonable at all.

A Friend of the Union.
Oswego, June 26, 1861.

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June 28, 1861
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), June 28, 1861