« PreviousContinue »
work. And also until these and still in may put off his hardness and unsling his other ways different days are on us, I gun and ask for no dog. But until he shall go a-hunting, and for reasons which does I must go with him, when I may. I are the same as for meat-eating, and for shall try to be decent about it. If I canother and for better reasons.
not find the charge that may reasonably “For I must away. The 'medicine ' be counted on either to miss or finish, I of the red gods is making, even only a shall leave the pursuit of that kind of township or two away, in a very ancient game. If I think first or much of filling commonwealth, thick-haunted of men, the pockets or the meat-room, — when but often with the open near the door. necessity is not present, then I shall And as I enter the fields of 'proved de- know it is all leading me far afield. If I light' there come, winging faster than grow harder, more willing to see the birds in flight, memories and instincts dumb creation suffer, or more inured to and passions, under whose ministries and the keener suffering of higher lives, I spurs I slip the leash of natural feeling, hope I shall have it in my heart to give fling the wrinkled rolls of care and con- it up altogether. vention to free airs, and open smoky cor- “But since and so long as it acts upon ners of hesitation and doubt to bright, me in ways quite the opposite, and since clear lights. Some day, perhaps, I shall the big, hard game of the every day and wander through these fields and woods of the world seems the easier because of delight with only wild flowers for the re- this holiday game of the hunt; and so ward of the chase, and without a beloved long as I can keep a few friends who dog to divide companionship of beloved understand and a few others who forget tree and my brothers, the field and the the things they don't understand, I have sky. But now it is the trail that draws me, made up my mind to keep at it. I have and I go more willingly and gladly on it gone over the question now and again than on any other quest. Some day the these last twenty-five years and my talk bruising, hard fellow within
who about it with myself is over. I shall still harks back to days of spear and bow, go a-hunting."
CONFESSIONS OF A RAILROAD SIGNALMAN
BY J. O. FAGAN
In the days of the Roman Republic, cussing questions relating to these interwhen a consul was invested with su- ests, such as, for instance, those which preme power, he received a caution or have arisen between labor and managecommand somewhat as follows: "See to ment on our railroads, public opinion, it that the Republic receives no injury.” as represented by the press and the laws,
This injunction is quite as significant should insist upon a fair field, no favor, and important to-day, both to individuals and absolutely open play on all sides. and to public officials, as it was a thou- We need only glance at the safety sand years ago. Then, as now, the inter- problem on American railroads to apests of the community were the first and preciate it thoroughly. During 1907, paramount consideration. But in dis
on a single well-known railroad, thirty ago,
passengers were killed and 1596 injured, rived at, which, if you choose, you may 572 trespassers killed, and 526 injured; call a compromise. So far so good. But 72 people were killed at grade crossings now to-day, these same men, or rather and 518 injured; twelve contractor's men two of them, representing different orwere killed and ten injured; the total ganizations, have been up here again. killed numbered 686, and the injured Some kind of a dispute has arisen be2651. These figures are not inclusive of tween these organizations, and they called employees. The biggest single item of upon me, with assurances of belief in my the year's disaster for personal injuries ability and impartiality, to act as final fell under the head of collisions, 76 of arbitrator between them. This means, them resulting in 456 claims, to the ac- of course, that I must devote two or three count of which the charge was $145,748. hours of my time to their private interThe total was 876 claims for personal in- ests. Be this as it may, I consented to act juries, costing $746,075, still leaving 2345 as arbitrator, but at the same time I unsettled cases at the expiration of the could n't help wondering how these men year.
could find it in their hearts to accept my Some time in the Chicago Record- verdict in their private affairs, about Herald, E. P. Ripley, president of the which I know comparatively little, while Santa Fé system, was quoted as follows: they persistently question my judgment, “One of the most serious conditions and practically my honesty of purpose, which this country is facing to-day is the in matters of discipline and management. indifference and disregard which the em- In a word,” he concluded, “why don't ployee has for the interests of the em- the employees trust the management to ployer."
administer the affairs of the railroad “The Santa Fé,” continued Mr. Rip- conscientiously and fairly, and to give to ley, “hopes to establish a better esprit de each employee a square deal ?”
? corps among its employees and expects During the palmy days of what may be that a liberal pension system will have called autocratic management, when a that tendency. We have on this system railroad man started out in the morning, as much loyalty as most railroads enjoy, the paymaster, or the office-boy, for that
, if not more, but it is not what it should
matter, could have told you the exact be. The lack of loyalty among employees amount the man would have been enis a condition from which all corporations titled to on his return. The employee was are now suffering, and it presents a most willing, and in fact had agreed, to travel serious problem."
or to work from a point A to a point B for It matters little to what railroad one a certain fixed sum. So far as his pay turns for information on this subject, Mr. was concerned, it made no difference Ripley's remarks, in a greater or less whether he covered the distance in eight degree, apply to them all. Quite recently, hours or eighteen. If a yardmaster dein discussing this topic, the manager of layed him for two or three hours before another railroad uttered the same opinion starting, and if he lost half a day on the from a somewhat different standpoint. road by reason of wrecks, disablement He remarked, in substance, “During the of locomotive, or a washout, so much the past week, at three different sessions, a worse for him. His duty was to go from committee of employees came to this A to B and to do what he was told to office for the purpose of arbitrating, or on the way, without question, even if it coming to some understanding about, a took him from sunrise to sunrise to cover matter of discipline. These men fought the distance. There was no help or rescue tooth and nail for what they considered in sight, no appeal from the discipline in their rights in this case, and finally, at those days, and if the work was not to his the third hearing, an agreement was ar- liking, the world was wide, and a dozen
men were ready to step into his place. cials, and to the world, that we had grievNevertheless, the onesidedness and
ances. Before long, rumblings of disconinjustice of the whole proceeding were tent were heard on all sides. Between manifest to everybody, and from year to ourselves we began to discuss matters of year it remained to be talked about, right and wrong. The men got together objected to, and brooded over. But with in groups, in small gatherings. Here and ever-increasing business and complica- there, all over the country, little Runnytion of conditions, a much better-educated medes were attended by conscientious, class of men found their way into the rail- determined railroad men. With an everroad service. In moving a train from increasing demand for our services, came place to place, greater intelligence was consciousness of importance and power. required. A conductor to-day can fre- Attention was called to the injustice, the quently run from one end of the road to inconsistency of the situation. We petithe other in a purely mechanical fashion; tioned and agitated for trifles. Inch by but in the early days of railroading, with inch ground was gained. Frequently we a single track, a confusion of flags and were beaten back, sometimes routed, at train orders, and a multitude of unfore- other times the battle was drawn; but seen difficulties awaiting him at every after every encounter, regardless of result, station, it took little less than genius to the ghost of the future remained on the make a successful railroad man.
field to disturb the slumbers of the manThe really heartbreaking story of the agement. So, through the years, the hardship and heroism of the trainmen of struggle proceeded, concession followed those days has never been written, but a concession, until all kinds of injustice and touch of the stern reality and pathos of favoritism, and in fact the whole system it all can be imagined from the single con- of purely autocratic management, had sideration, that of seventeen freight con- gone by the board, and fair play for the ductors who in the year 1883 ran trains railroad trainman was an accomplished through the Hoosac Tunnel, only five in fact. For the future, to ask was to rethe year 1888, that is, five years later, ceive. Face to face with organizations of were still to be found on the pay-rolls. determined men, with the crops and manIn nearly every instance, death in violent ufactures of half a continent waiting to form had removed the others. Of course, be moved to the seaboard, what was a as we all know, the most popular type of management or a combination of manheroism is to be looked for on the battle- agements going to do about it? field, but there are hundreds of railroad Thus, by evolution and revolution, a veterans on the streets to-day, undeco- mighty change has come over the scene. rated and unremembered, whose services To-day when a railroad man makes a trip to the country are all worthy of popular from point A to point B, it is altogether sympathy and national gratitude. different from the performance to which
As a result of these extraordinary con- I called attention at the beginning of this ditions and the continual killing of em- article. At the end of his trip, the man ployees, a new and more intelligent class now takes out his pencil and does some of men was called upon, in course of time, figuring. Neither the superintendent nor to undertake the dangerous duties of the paymaster has the slightest idea what railroad service. With increased intelli- the engine-man's, the conductor's, or the gence and broader mental equipment, brakeman's bill for a day's work is going the thinking process in the brain of the to be. If a man is delayed on the road railroad man expanded, and very natur- by the negligence of a fellow employee, ally his awakened attention was not ex- the company will have to pay for the clusively centred on the business of his extra time. If he makes a straight trip, employers. It soon became known to offi- with one or two stops, he has a certain
rate; if in the performance of his duties the employee, and the millions of dollars he is called upon to make an extra stop that have been expended for his social or to pick up a car of perishable goods, and intellectual betterment, must also he will call for a special rate and much be taken as direct evidence of
square and more money. His day's trip frequently honest treatment. To combat the evils bristles with possibilities in the way of of the saloon, and in the interest of good special rates and overtime. In the matter citizenship, both on and off the railof overtime, he may have the opportun- road, the corporations have gone extenity to be just or unjust, as it pleases him; sively and expensively into the construcanyway the company is at his mercy. tion and maintenance of reading-rooms Again, if at the end of a hundred-mile and hospitals, as well as relief, savings, run, or thereabouts, for which an engine- and loan associations. There is, indeed, man would receive from four to five dol- a fine sense of business judgment hidden lars, he is requested to take his engine away in these different methods of lookout on the road again and move ing after the interests of the employees a distance of twenty feet, he will turn in and there is hardly a road in the country his bill to the company for a greater
that does not recognize the principle that amount than a gate-tender or a switch- to obtain competent, trained assistants, man would receive for his whole day's especially in the operating department, work, from six in the morning until six it is essential that the men be surrounded at night, without a minute for meals. with all sorts of inducements to remain
Again, if a man gets into trouble, he is in the service, and to be loyal to the incalled into the office for an investigation. terests of their employers. This philanIf it turns out that the accident was un- thropic and betterment work is to be questionably the fault of the employee, found on all railroads, and conspicuously he, of course, is liable to be disciplined for so on the Baltimore & Ohio. The folit in some way, but if as a result of the ac- lowing particulars of relief and bettercident, the whole road is tied up for twelve ment work on the above railroad may
be hours, and he remains on duty half a day taken as a lesson of what corporations longer than his usual time, he will re- with souls are doing in the interests of ceive payment for this overtime in full, employees. regardless of the fact that he himself was Membership in the Relief Department wholly responsible for the delay.
of the Baltimore & Ohio is compulsory Far from criticising this state of affairs, on the part of all employed in the direct I consider the demonstration I have giv
nstration I have giv- operation of the road. The employees en of the exact status of the railroad man themselves have part in the direction of at the present day, a magnificent tribute the affairs of the organization. The comto righteous and necessary organization. pany makes all collections and payments, Up to this point the public has had no under its guarantee of responsibility for cause to complain, and discipline has not every penny coming into or going out been interfered with. The treasury has through its hands. The company also borne the whole burden. While it is pledges itself to pay four per cent interest doubtless true that the liberal terms and on the monthly balances of current acconcessions to which I refer have been counts; no charge is made for office-rent, brought about, so to speak, at the point and all the facilities of the road are at of the bayonet, nevertheless many privi- command, without cost. Operating exleges and advantages are enjoyed by penditure is thus reduced to a minimum, railroad men, which cannot be said to and upon transactions during the past owe their origin to compulsion or pres- fiscal year, which represented a million sure of any kind. The care shown by dollars distributed in benefits, the nearly all railroads for the welfare of pense averaged but a dollar and sixty
eight cents per capita of membership. senting the building of two thousand The aggregate of the benefits paid from houses and the purchase of three thouthe founding of the Relief to the close of sand homesteads. The transactions of the last fiscal year, was thirteen millions the loan section to June 30 represented of dollars.
six and three-quarter millions of dollars, The Baltimore & Ohio plan for pen- when there was also a million and a quarsion payments, in vogue for the past ter in the treasury, upon which the comtwenty-three years, is in conjunction with pany's guarantee of four per cent held the Relief Department, but is not, as that good. is, maintained by the contributions of Rest-houses are another form through employees. The pension system is main- which welfare work in the direct interest tained entirely by the company, which of the employee is carried on as part of contributes for the purpose about $90,000 the regular operation of the Baltimore annually. During the past year the fund & Ohio Railroad. The aim is to furnpaid in pensions was over $95,000, to ish a comfortable and convenient place, about 400 pensioners. Since its inaugu- open at all hours, to the employee comration in 1884, there has been paid out ing in from his run, whose first want is in pensions, $1,008,000.
a bath, with plenty of hot water, and subAgain, the foundation of two other feat- sequently a restful bed. The work car
Savings and Loan -- in the Balt- ried on by the Railroad Y. M. C. A. is imore & Ohio dates back a full quarter of a similar nature. The old-time dark of a century. The Savings is strictly cabooses, dingy freight cars, and decrepit a trust fund, around it being thrown coaches, serving as night-holes into which the unequivocal protection of the United to crawl for the sleeping hours till the States government in the decision handed time for the next run, are now nothing down by its courts. Of course this is but an unpleasant memory. The Railunderstood by employee depositors; con- road Y. M. C. A., with its commodsequently there is absolute confidence. ious lounging-rooms, bright and airy dinThere are no runs, no anxiety as to sav- ing-rooms, clean lunch-counters, wellings, and no fear that what has been laid appointed kitchens, billiard rooms and aside for a rainy day will be risked. Mean- bowling alleys, general assembly halls, time, upon it the company is guaranteeing libraries, attractive bedrooms and baths, four per cent and earnings; the interest is the practical exemplification to-day of and dividend returns thus amount to the fitness of things. The disbursements never less than five and sometimes five of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad for and a half per cent. The total of the sav- these
have in single years exings deposits to June 30 last reached ceeded fifty thousand dollars, and every eight and a half million dollars, and in- penny is profitably expended from the terest and dividends paid to employee purely business standpoint. Bettering depositors to that time came to a million the man betters his work. and a half dollars.
Furthermore, incident to the adminThe Baltimore & Ohio loan feature istration of the Relief Department, the is still more remarkable. The object is to company, through a corps of medical enable the employees to own their own examiners and surgeons, closely superhomes. All are real-estate transactions, vises the health of its employees and the and it is a remarkable fact that the sanitary conditions of the places where administration of this feature, through their duties are performed. This corps out twenty-five years, has been entirely is in charge of a chief surgeon and chief without appreciable loss on any single medical examiner, both prominent in investment. Employee borrowers have their professions, and although the numentered into personal obligations repre- ber of men in their charge exceeds forty