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Thomas O'Reilly, an American unionist from Brooklyn, New York, was elected president of the Brotherhood of Telegraphers in 1885, and in 1886, was a master workman of KOL DA 45 (the telegraphers' trade assembly), and was an editor of the journal of the Knights of Labor from 1889 to 1893.

"Q. Has your organization ever engaged in boycotting?
A. No, sir.
Q. What is your opinion of that?
A. We don't see where we could avail ourselves of the utility of boycotting, because our profession is so peculiarly different from what might be called other trades, in so far as if we made an attempt to boycott the Western Union Company it would be an absolute failure, because we would require not the co-operation of any single division of the community, but the entire public, and that we never could hope to obtain; now, for instance, the shoemakers can boycott a certain shoemaker's shop; that shoemaker may have only a certain amount of patronage which it would not be difficult to divert in another direction, and it would consequently prove successful.
Q. Have you ever assisted in a boycott?
A. Oh, yes; individually we refused to purchase the New York Tribune, and sent out orders all over the country to members of the fraternity to have nothing to do with that paper.
Q. What are your views as to the utility of the system of boycotting?
A. I think the system of boycotting is a very powerful lever in the hands of organized labor; the system is as old as the hills; there is nothing new in it, but its general adoption certainly has become so very popular and unquestionably so very successful, that where arbitration fails and strikes may not be opportune, a system of boycotting will have the desired effect.
Q. In your judgment has it been too generally resorted to in this country?
A. I do not think so."

—Testimony of Thomas O'Reilly

on Boycotting before the New York Legislature

Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics of Labor of the State of New York

for the Year 1885

(transmitted to the Legislature 21 January 1886)

"Women are engaged in the profession of telegraphy to a considerable extent; but the average salary of female operators, although they are required to work the same number of hours per day, is much less than the average salary of male operators.... Well, with all due deference to the capabilities of the opposite sex, I do not think [females are as good as males].... While there are many capable and expert [women] in the profession, their numbers are limited. In cases where female operators do equally as good work, they do not receive the same remuneration, although I am decidedly of the opinion that they should In fact, one of the stipulations in the bill of grievances in 1883 was 'equal pay for both sexes.' Female operators are not usually as successful as those of the opposite sex, but it is because of their physical inability only, and not for any lack of skill. It is not to be expected that their powers of endurance would enable them to perform the excessive work done by male operators."

—Testimony of Thomas O'Reilly

on Wages Paid to Workingwomen before the California Legislature

Third Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the State of California

for the Years 1887-1888

(transmitted to the Governor 1 October 1888)

The Song of the Proletaire


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