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Divisions of the Workmen's Union exist in several towns and have founded small associations administered under domestic rules and not incorporated. The co-operative savings and advancing banks are located at Amsterdam, the Hague, Leeuwarden, Middleburg, Goes, Enschede and Veendam.
Most of the consumers' societies are upon the limited liability plan. The cash system is generally adhered to. Some sell only to members at as low rates as possible. Others sell to every one and divide profits among members yearly in proportion to consumption, allowing undrawn dividends to remain on interest.
The two co-operative bakeries enumerated are in successful operation at the Hague and at Koog aan de Zian (North Holland) respec. tively. At the Hague, members upon joining pay 1s. 8d. In April, 1885, the society had 1,050 members. Dividends are paid in bread during the year as demanded, each member's dividend being in proportion to his consumption during the previous year. At Koog, the yearly surplus is divided among widows of deceased members upon the basis of the consumption of the recipient during the previous year.
The agricultural societies conduct the business of transporting and selling farm produce for the common account of members, in foreign and native markets; besides which one society has a productive character.
THE ARLINGTON CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION, AT LAWRENCE, MASS.
[From the Manual of Distributive Co-operation by Carroll D. Wright.]
Distributive co-operation in the United States has been tried upon various plans, notably under the patronage of the Sovereigns of Industry, Patrons of Husbandry, Knights of Labor, and similar organizations. Being in most instances incidental only to the main purpose of such orders, the fate of these distributive stores has usually been determined by the success or failure of the primary objects of the organi zation.
In Texas a co-operative wholesale society and about 150 retail stores are in existence in connection with the order of Patrons of Husbandry.* Isolated experiments, not successful, have been made in New York City and in Brooklyn. The Arlington Co-operative Association, at Lawrence, Mass., however, furnishes an example of successful American distributive co-operation on substantially the Rochdale plan.
* J. B. Long, Rusk, Texas.
The association is limited to employes of the Arlington mills. In this feature of limitation the plan of the English stores is not adhered to, as membership in the latter is not restricted. Officers are elected annually, consisting of a secretary, treasurer, and ten directors, one of whom is chosen president by the board, and regular quarterly meetings are held. Special meetings may be called by the president with the consent of a majority of the directors, and must be called upon the written request of ten members. Auditors are chosen annually by the stockholders by ballot. The manager of the store is selected by the directors, and is at present a thoroughly competent person trained in the principles of distributive co-operation in England.
The administration of the society is similar to that of the English societies which we have described. Three members of the board of directors constitute an advisory committee whose duty it is to consult with the manager as to purchases of stock, and to approve all bills before the same are paid by the treasurer. The latter officer is placed under bonds. The manager is held responsible for the correct accounting of stock in trade, makes a daily report of sales and accounts to the treasurer, and takes account of stock quarterly. He gives such bonds as the directors require for the faithful performance of his duties.
Members may hold from one to two hundred shares. The per value of shares is five dollars. Members upon joining pay an initiation fee of fifty cents, all sums so received being carried to the sinking fund, to which fund is also carried not less than ten per cent. of profits annually. Under the rules the sinking fund is to be allowed to accumulate until it shall amount to 30 per cent. in excess of the capital stock. Amounts carried to the sinking fund, and other sums in excess of the business needs of the association, are placed on deposit in the savings bank until sufficient in the aggregate to purchase five shares of Arlington mills' stock, when the deposit, at the discretion of the directors, may be withdrawn and invested in such stock under such provisions as the treasurer of the corporation and the State law may require. "On all certificates of stock thus issued there shall be endorsed the provis ion that interest shall be paid at the rate of one per cent. less than the average dividend declared by the Arlington corporation for the current year."* This provision as to investments, taken together with the fact that members must be employes of the Arlington corporation, introduces indirectly a productive element.
The cash system is enforced. No intoxicating liquors are sold. Sales are made at the average retail price. Each stockholder has one vote in business meetings. Shares are withdrawable after thirty days' By-Laws of the Association.
notice, or if, for any reason, payment is delayed after thirty days upon shares which a member has duly signified his intention to withdraw, such shares may be transferred to any other member who has not already the maximum number of shares to which he is entitled under rules; but no transfer can be made to non-members, unless by the consent of the directors, in writing, signed by the president and secretary, and entered upon the records of the association.
After providing for the sinking fund, interest on capital stock at at the rate of five per cent. annually, and the payment of taxes, profits are divided quarterly in proportion to the purchases of the recipients, non-members sharing at half the rate allowed to members. After one dollar has been paid in on stock subscribed for, the subscriber is entitled to a full dividend. Dividends and interest declared on stock may remain on deposit. Interest on money paid in for shares commences on the first of each month. No interest is paid on shares withdrawn before the end of the quarter. When the undrawn dividends and interest placed to the credit of any person, amount to the par value of one share, interest is declared on the accumulation in the same manner as provided for money paid in for shares, provided that such accumulation, together with the original shares invested, shall not exceed the par value of 200 shares.
The association was incorporated July 8, 1884. Business was be gun September 15, 1884, and the first fiscal year was closed October 1, 1885. The average capital for the year, $3,320, was turned over more than eleven times and thus realized a return of nearly 74 per cent. in less than 13 months.
The following statistical statement from the directors' report exhibits the uniform progress of the association :
The totals of the foregoing table afford the basis for the following statement: The gross profit amounts to 16.02 per cent. on sales; sal aries and expenses 10.07 per cent. on sales; net profits 5.95 per cent. on sales; the profits divided represent an average on checks returned of 6.24 per cent. for full dividend, and 3.12 per cent. for half dividend; the sinking fund represents more than 14 per cent. of net profits besides initiation fees; the interest is 5 per cent. on capital, and the total return on capital is 73.68 per cent.
At the close of the first year's business the share capital represented 664 shares; merchandise in stock, including dry goods and fuel, amounted to $2,554.27; fixtures, $767.28; cash in bank, 1,249.26; and the association might well congratulate itself on the results accomplished, and the prosperous future apparently before it.
I have taken up a large amount of space on this subject because I firmly belief that co-operation will prove to bo the band by which capital and labor will be united, as it will bind employer and employe closer together, and lead the latter to strive harder for combined success. Under the present industrial condition the tendency appears to be, that the rich will grow richer and the poor poorer. Place the laborer in a position in which he will become a part sharer in the profits of his production, and where he will realize that he has a part interest in the workshop or factory in which he works, he will at once be lifted to a higher social standing, and the social relations between employer and employe will become more congenial.