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The Ten Commandments


The Ten Commandments of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, submitted to The Carpenter by John Quinn of Local 714 in Queens, 1915.

1. Thou shalt be a union carpenter, a member of the U.B. (United Brotherhood)
2. Thou shalt not belong to any other organizations.
3. Thou shalt keep whole the Saturday half-holiday and all other holidays.
4. Honor and respect thy officers.
5. Thou shalt not become “boisterous” in the meetings of thy local union and want to lick anyone who may disagree with thy opinions.
6. Thou shalt not commit offenses against the laws of the U.B.
7. Thou shalt not steal from the boss. Show him it pays to employ U.B. members.
8. Thou shalt be charitable toward fellow members. Thou shalt not try to gain favor with the foreman by pointing out their shortcomings. Thou shalt not be a “boss’s stool pigeon” for in his heart he shall despise thee.
9. Thou shalt not be envious of they fellow member if he should happen to be working while thou art on the sidewalk. He may need the money as much as thyself.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy fellow member’s good fortune, and if he should happen to own his own little home he may have scraped all his life for the few dollars he has in that home, and will keep on scratching the remainder of his days paying the interest on the mortgage.

This definitely reflects the starkly not radical philosophy of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. Regardless of that, it’s kind of cool.

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  • jim, some guy in iowa

    i read them as saying ‘stand on your hind legs, honor your commitments, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes once in a while’

    dunno about 1915, but for *our* times that seems radical enough, in a clear eyed way

  • Mister Harvest

    Fucking Communists.

    • In my experience, generally more fun than fucking capitalists.

  • Riggsveda

    Erik, I enjoy reading all this blog’s posters, but even if it was only you here on the page I would never miss it. There are too few people writing on behalf of labor, and I can’t think of anyone else doing labor history, except for David Brown over at The Daily Bleed. I think you’re indispensable. Thanks.

  • Jo

    Nice post. It tangentially reminds me of a story Thurgood Marshall told about his first day on the court of appeals. He arrived at his office in Manhattan and the secretary asked him if he was the electrician she was expecting. He later said that he couldn’t believe she thought they’d let a black man into the electricians’ union in NYC.

  • A lot of these unions has their own libraries for their members recreational reading. I myself have a couple of books from the Marine and Mechanics Union library, San Francisco, CA, and they were best-sellers, not mere penny-dreadfuls.

  • maurinsky

    My father was a proud union carpenter, and I read Carpenter magazine devotedly as a child, especially their humor page, Plane Gossip. Just had a wave of nostalgia envelop me reading this post!

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