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George Scott

Generally recognized as the veteran of veterans, George Scott, of the AFL Metal Polishers Union, believes he has been in the labor movement longer than any other man in Rochester, and he is probably right.

Dick Whittington dreamed of being thrice lord Mayor of London, and made good. George Scott, born in 1858, in Chicago, dreamed of becoming a dry goods clerk, gained his objective and then found the business was monopolized by women.

So he quit clerking, came to Rochester and became a railroad man, first with the old Buffalo, New York & Pennsylvania, now the Western New York & Pennsylvania, and later with the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh, now merged with the Baltimore & Ohio. He began as a trainman and soon became a conductor, running on the trains between Rochester and Bradford, Pa.

Scott first became a union man in 1877, as a member of the Knights of Labor, Railroad Division, the Eugene V. Debs industrial union which preceded the American Federation of Labor. Scott knew Debs well, once was on the speakers’ platform with him at a Buffalo rally and says he considered Debs a great leader and orator. The Knights of Labor did not last long, folding up after the bitterly fought Pullman strike in the early nineties. Scott also was well acquainted with the late Sam Gompers, long president of the AFL.

In 1898, Scott quit railroading and became a metal polisher. As a member of Metal Polishers Union No. 113, he has filled almost every office, from president down, and now is vice-president of that union. His son, Seymour L. Scott, is corresponding secretary.

The veteran unionist has been a delegate to the Central Trades and Labor Council for more than two decades and says he has not missed more than ten meetings in all that time. He has served on many important committees for the central body and for a time was a local AFL organizer.

Still active in union circles, Scott is closely associated with William H. Mostyn, now president of the local metal polishers. William B. Allen is financial secretary and Luke Cooper, a charter member, is sergeant-at-arms.

Scott resides with his son, Seymour, in Charlotte. He has four other sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His wife died in 1928.

Recalling his early experiences, Scott likes to tell of meeting a banker, named George Scott, in a small Michigan town, who liked him so well he made him his ward, intending eventually to take him into the banking business.

But young George was determined to become a dry goods clerk. So the banker apprenticed him to a merchant, where he served three years, in the meantime living in the home of the banker, who employed a tutor to school him in the ways of business.

Considering himself a full-fledged clerk, Scott then hit the road, but soon found competition of the women clerks were his undoing. In his reflective moments, the veteran now wished he had taken up the banking business.

Last December Scott was tendered a testimonial dinner at Hotel Rochester, where he was liberally dined, wined and lionized by prominent AFL leaders.

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