Friday, December 7, 2007

Annexation And The Working Man - Part II

Here is a follow-up on an earlier entry. In A Long Wait For A Paycheck, I posted an article that told the story of men who did work for the Town of West Roxbury at the eve of annexation, and were refused their pay from the City of Boston. As always, there was another side of the story, and here are presented a response and counter-response.

Boston Daily Globe March 8, 1878

West Roxbury District.

Has the City Oppressed the Workingmen? - Captain McDonald's Statement.

In reference to the statement published in yesterday's Globe about the city refusing to pay certain laborers their wages and compelling the men to sue for their money, Captain McDonald of Station XIII says that the city does not legally owe the men any money; that after the vote of annexation was passed, and before the act was consummated, a certain class being in the majority, illegally voted at a town meeting to appropriate $20,000 for work on the roads. Next day a gang of about 250 men with many teams swarmed into the gravel-pit working there at digging and carrying off the gravel, dumping it here and there on streets, or carrying it home. Notice was given to the Selectmen, and in three or four days a majority of the Board, accompanied by Captain McDonald, then Chief of Police, went to the pit and warned the men to desist, which they then did. Subsequently the Town Treasurer refused to pay their demands for compensation, hence the lawsuit. In the case of the two men who have been successful in court, it is said that those two were a part of the regular gang employed by the town, and had not been discharged.

West Roxbury District.

A Statement of the Claims of the Laborers Against the City

To the Editor of The Globe:

Sir: Statements having been made disputing the claims of the West Roxbury laborers, it may be well to state that the facts in the case are that $20,000 was appropriated by the Selectmen and the men were employed by the direction of two of the Selectmen with the knowledge of the whole Board. These laborers received no notice to quit work until the political opponents of the two Selectmen raised objections, when the men obtained their time from the respective overseers. Some of the latter were recognized and their men were paid, while the remainder were ignored, the alleged intent being to cast odium upon Mr Dolan. The statement that the cases of two of the men were different from the others is untrue, the latter being merely test cases. It is conceded that it is a matter of injustice towards the laborers to compel them, at great cost, to seek redress before the courts, in order to obtain their just dues. The original amount of the claims was about $1800, which has been increased to $6000 at the present time, and should the cases be continued for the next four years, the tax-payers will learn that it costs considerable for legal hire, even though paid by the year. The offer of the city officials to pay the claims with interest appears to be rather poor justice, considering that the costs are double the amount of the claims.


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