I came across this passage while reading Glorious Summer: Class Struggle in Britain in 1972, by Ralph Darlington and Dave Lyddon. This was originally quoted by Sidney and Beatrice Webb in their The History of Trade Unionism as "a graphic description of trade union life". Comrades Darlington and Lyddon preface it, noting how "it can hardly be bettered" as a portrait of trade union full-timers:
To the ordinary Trade Unionist the claim of the workman is that of justice. He believes, almost as a matter of principle, that in any dispute the capitalist is in the wrong and the workman is in the right. But when, as a District Delegate [full-time officer], it becomes his business to be perpetually investigating the exact circumstances of the men's quarrels, negotiating with employers and arranging compromises, he begins more and more to recognise that there is something to be urged on the other side.This was originally published in 1894. It's as though it could have been written yesterday.
There is also an unconscious bias at work. Whilst the points at issue no longer affect his own earnings or conditions of employment, any disputes between his members and their employers increase his work and add to his worry. The former vivid sense of the privations and subjection of the artisan's life gradually fades from his mind; and he begins more and more to regard all complaints as perverse and unreasonable. (Darlington and Lyddon 2001, cit. p.26)