Secretary’s First Annual Report

Secretary’s Report from the OMA’s first annual meeting

The Secretary’s Report from the OMA’s first annual meeting, held on November 10, 1911, reveals no shortage of activity — or strong opinions. Secretary George S. Boudinot delivered a detailed report on the association’s work on key issues such as membership recruitment, “workmen’s compensation,” working hours for women and taxation.  Mr. Boudinot’s incisive prose provides a colorful glimpse into the news and views of the day. Here are some highlights:

“The work of building up this organization was delegated to the Secretary’s office. It was hoped that a total of four hundred members might be secured during the first year.  The total is 369, a little short of our hopes, but the best that could be done under the circumstances. A large number of manufacturers will never join an association of this kind, and there are a considerable number who will not join until most of the hard work has been done….”

Legislative Work
Mr. Boudinot reported that “About forty bills intended to inure the business of manufacturers were introduced. Some of them were so foolish that they worked their own death. Others were killed in committee, and some that reached the calendar never came up for consideration. In other cases amendments were secured that gave satisfactory results. The net result of our first legislative effort is that one adverse bill was passed, the Women’s Fifty-Four Hour Bill.”

Workmen’s Compensation
Passage of Ohio’s first “workmen’s compensation” legislation was a major focus of the OMA’s work in 1911. As passed, Mr. Boudinot believed “the present Compensation Act in Ohio is probably the best law on this subject in the United States today.”  However, he went on to note “we do not know that it is going to work satisfactorily.”  Mr. Boudinot foresaw the likelihood that the law would be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, and advised that “the only safe course for members of this Association to take is to await with patience the outcome of the test that must be made sooner or later.”

While today’s OMA cultivates positive relationships with members of the news media, Mr. Boudinot’s comments suggest that may not have been the case in 1910: “It is a matter of common knowledge that practically all of our newspapers, and most of our magazines, are overflowing with attacks on business interests. This has become popular amusement…. This is not because a majority of newspaper publishers are anxious to destroy or even impair business. It is so, however, because newspaper publishers have found so far that it aids them to sell papers, and the business interests are too cowardly to stop paying them for advertising space.”

1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention
In the early twentieth century, reform-minded Ohioans called for a Constitutional Convention. The upcoming convention was previewed at the Annual Meeting in less-than-flattering terms: “One hundred and nineteen delegates to the Constitutional Convention have been elected. A majority of them have been chosen from obscure, fanatical classes without responsibility to any party or reputable organization, without independent judgment, or even an acquaintance with the great questions of the day, acknowledging no dealers but wild-eyed demagogues, and no master but the yellow press.”