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move made by an employing corporation which involves the expenditure of the corporation's funds.
It is unfortunate that improvidence is so general a trait of human nature. Seemingly the average person believes in literally applying the scriptural injunction to give no thought to the
There are altogether too many men who are content, if left to their own inclinations, to continue in most hazardous employment and to grow old knowing, if they ever think of it, that it is merely a question of time when they or their families, or both, will be dependent upon charity. And
influences and education which encourage and teach reasonable thrift and providence must work good to present and future generations.
Self respecting, steady, reliable and thrifty employes are greatly to be desired by a railway company.
The man who spends his hours off duty in procuring full amount of necessary sleep and in reputable amusements and reading is a more reliable and efficient and valuable employe than if his habits were of a more questionable nature. He is less apt to make mistakes; is less likely to antagonize patrons; less apt to be injured himself and he sets a good example for his fellows. It is, therefore, a good investment from a purely business standpoint for the employing company to assist in affording opportunity for employes to so occupy their time by contributing to reading rooms, libraries, etc. The services of an intelligent employe are always of more value and prove most economical in the long run.
The railway employes are quasi public servants. Those employed on trains face dangers more appalling than the average person dreams of. A President of the United States, in recommending to Congress legislation intended to afford them more safety in their employment, called attention to the fact that the men in service on the freight trains of the country were in greater danger of being killed or injured in the discharge of their duties than were the average soldiers in time of war. The latest official
records show that in the year ending June 30, 1903, one in every 123 of them was killed and one in every 10 was injured, and this record is not materially different from the average of the ten years preceding it.
I do not wish to belittle or underestimate the spirit which has led some railway companies to provide pensions for employes who have worn themselves out in their service. No occupation is so exacting as railroading. No workmen have such irregular hours and none, with the possible exception of sailors, are obliged to expose themselves to the extremes of weather to the same degree. If a man lives to be sixty-five or seventy years old in such work and has been a faithful employe as he must have been, he has certainly earned a pension and it should be viewed more in the light of according something which is his due than as granting him some special consideration in the form of a gratuity. And when consider the public character of the corportation and the growing interest in its affairs by the, general government it does not require a very wild stretch of imagination to imagine a time when such care of worn out employes as is given through pension funds will be imposed by legislative requirement.
Any reasonable assistance which the employing company can render or any fair inducement which it may offer in the direction of thrift and saving on part of employes is good work in a good cause.
Hospital departments have been maintained, to the support of which employes have been required to contribute, with benefit to both employes and employing companies. This has been especially true in the less thickly populated regions of the far West. Except in isolated cases where someone charged with management failed to inspire or to hold the confidence of the employes they have contributed to this department willingly and cheerfully.
Stock-sharing plans have behind them the theory and belief that if an employe owns even a small interest in the property he will be a better and more valu
able employe who will take greaterinterest and care in the discharge of his duties. This is a rational theory and it would be a splendid thing if the employes of every railway owned enough of its stock insure against having the property managed and operated with an eye principally to the stock market.
Mr. Rienbenack says that there are nine “roads" which conduct purely Relief Departments, representing 31,000 miles of railway. I wish he had named the “roads" which he referred. Systems of railway are made up of several “roads" each having a porate name, but when we speak of the Pennsylvania railway the average person understands that speak of the system. It is well known that the Pennyslvania, the Baltimore and Ohio and the Burlington systems conduct relief departments. The mileage of the Pennyslvania system, covered by the relief department, as given by Mr. Riebenack, is 10,271 miles. The mileage of the Baltimore and Ohio system, taken from official guide, is 4,410 miles, and that of the Burlington system, taken from the same authority, is 8,442 miles. We, therefore, have 23,123 of the 31,000 miles accounted for in these three systems, and it would hardly be fair in discussing such a subject to bewilder the average reader with disstinctions in technical names of roads which for all purposes in which the public is interested lost their identity when they became part of the system.
In a little further analysis of Mr. Riebenack's figures we find that he gives the total number of the ployes of the “nine roads” as 318,000, and that 159,704 of them, or just about half, are on the Pennsylvania system.
Information is not at hand as to the date upon which the Baltimore and Ohio relief department was established. It was, however, at a considerably earlier date than that on which the Pennsylvania system instituted its relief department, viz., February, 1886. The Burlington relief department was organized about 1887. It will thus be seen that the establishment of such departments is
not appreciably on the increase and that they are not maintained by many railway systems. It is well known that in some instances railway companies have proposed to their employes the institution of such departments and that the employes have promptly and emphatically negatived the proposal. It should be here remarked that in many others of the lines of provident effort referred to by Mr. Riebenack railway companies are receiving cordial support from their employes in their general and increasing interest and efforts in those directions.
OBJECTIONS RAISED BY EMPLOYES. And now we come to the question of why the employes object to relief departments.
There are two principal objections. One is that, despite the fact that the word “voluntary" is included in the official name of the department; despite the fact that it is emphasized and italicised; despite the fact that a United States statute prohibits compulsory membership on part of employes, or discrimination against applicants for employment because of their unwillingness to join such department, the employes of the companies which conduct such departments in speaking where they are not afraid to speak plainly generally express the conviction that in so far as an employe who is a member of the department is concerned, he feels that if he should withdraw from it he would incur the displeasure of his employers and that, when the opportunity offered, a fellow employe who retained membership in the department would be given preference over him, and that so far as applicants for employment are concerned, the man who is not ready and willing to join the relief department, is not needed and does not secure employment. In reply to inquiry as to how the practice followed affected applicants for employment, an old and reliable employe of one of these companies recently said: "An applicant for employment is required to fill out an application for employment, which also contains application for membership in the relief department.
He then goes
to the examining physician, who is also the physician for the relief department, and if he is accepted as an employe he at the same time becomes a member of the relief department.” It would be interesting to know how many men who did not become members of the relief department have been given employment within the past five years by the several important systems of road that conduct such departments.
If membership in the relief department carried with it nothing more than the requirement that certain reasonable sums be paid periodically as dition of being entitled to certain specified sick, disability or death benefits, the objections entertained by the employes would not be so strong or so well founded. If that were all that the department undertook to do the men would feel that in paying their contributions they were providing for their fellows as well as for themselves and were removing the necessity for circulation of subscription papers for the purpose of relieving or burying unfortunate fellow employes.
If the relief department simply undertook to require men, through mutual or co-operative means, to provide some financial assistance for themselves and their families in the hour of sickness injury or death and did not attach conditions to the acceptance of the benefit, for which the employe has, in fact paid full or practically full value, which conditions operate wholly in the interests of the employing company and against the injured employe, there would not be such general distrust of, and opposition to, them on part of the employes. Neither would there be such broad and justifiable ground for criticism of the relief department as now presents itself.
The applicant for membership in a relief department is required to execute a contract that, in the event of his being injured in the performance of his duties and of his accepting the benefits provided in the department for such cases, he thereby releases the employing corporation from all liability under the statutory or common law. This means that if a mem
ber of the department is injured through neglect of the company or of its agents and, believing that no permanent disability is to ensue, he accepts the first month's benefits provided by the relief department and tendered by the company, and, later, finds that he is disabled for life or his death ensues, all efforts to recover damages from the company are frustrated by the company pleading the contract which the employe signed when becoming a member of the relief department.
Instances of this kind have not been rare and a sufficient number of them, accompanied by distressing conditions and surrounded by facts which clearly demonstrated the injustice involved, occurred in the State of Iowa to lead the Legislature to place upon the statute books of that State a law which specifically provides that such contract is and shall be null and void.
The fact that the company insists upon such a contract is sufficient evidence that the relief thus afforded to it from legal liability is one of the strongest reasons for its interest in the relief department. The fact that the department is thus made a shield against liability which would otherwise attach to the company leads one's thoughts away from the idea that the company's interest is purely philanthropic.
Mr. Riebenack furnishes figures which show that in the eighteen years of the existence of the Pennsylvania system's relief department the company has contributed to it the sum of $2,544,348.11, and that the cost of management has been $1,815,641.54. The company has, therefore, contributed $728,706.57 more than the cost of management. And the cost of management is entirely within the control of the company.
But if we dismiss from consideration the cost of management we find that in eighteen years the Pennsylvania system containing 10,271 miles of railway covered by its relief department, on which are employed 159,704 men, has paid as its contribution to this fund-and this includes the purchase of relief from legal liability as above mentioned-$2,544,
348.11, or a fraction over $15.93 for each employe. Considerably less than one dollar per year per employe.
I quote figures for the Pennsylvania system because they are the ones at hand, having been furnished by Mr. Riebenack.
Mr. Riebenack argues that the contract under discussion is a legal and voluntary agreement. Its legality is not here questioned. It has been sustained by numerous courts. It was found necessary in
Iowa to enact legislation clearly making it illegal. The contract is voluntary in this: That the employe and the seeker for employment sign the agreement believing that if they do not
do so they will have to go elsewhere for employment.
All men who work for railways are not fully informed as to their legal rights. Most railway employes find it difficult to lay up much against the rainy day and hence find it almost absolutely necessary to accept the assistance which the relief department provides. The railway employes of the country generally object strongly to relief departments being made agencies through which the corporations evade liabilities which the law places upon them and which they should not be permitted to thus escape.
CHIEF DISPATCHER'S DREAM.
Broke in two coming down hill,
Last night after leading a strenuous day
One night the telephone rang three times,
I dreamed that it was nineteen-ten
*Third Sixty is here; has nineteen-four
It was nothing to give them two thousand tons,
I had hardly said “Yes, ninety tons more.
You would never see on the “Three-ninety-nine"
Imagine my sorrow, you who can
Or "sanders not working; engine slipped down;
Which showed the same old loss of time.
“Flues leaking badly; gave up train;
Ran into a washout caused by the rain;
3 LADIES S
This department is intended to serve the same purpose among the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of our members that the Fraternal Department serves among our members. The rules at head of Fraternal Department will also apply to this one.
and to be just to all, have to divide our time and labor
A silk quilt, which we spent many pleasant afternoons putting together, was
also recently disposed of. Every one was anxious to hold the winning ticket, but when Sister Bingham, of Philadelphia, a charming and welcome visitor, drew the winning ticket in favor of Sister Simons, no one wished it had gone elsewhere.
We raffled three cushions among our own members as consolation prizes.
Reading the Fraternal Department it seems to me it would take more than the proverbial Philadelphia lawyer to straighten out all the different ideas and questions. However these letters, breathing interest in our work, are a great stimulant to all members of our Order and its Auxiliary. Toronto, Canada.
Editor Railway Conductor:
In the April CONDUCTOR Brother Middaugh, from Pa., writes: "I always read Brother Gray's letter twice. We have a lot of grand and good men in Canada and I believe it would be to the best interests of the Order, to always elect a Grand Officer from among the Cadanian conductors." Thank you, Brother Middaugh, “them's my sentiments too, "both for the O. R. C. and L. A.
It is pleasant news, to us, to know Brother Gray is appreciated abroad as well as at home. He is indeed one of those grand and good men and it requires a personal acquaintance to fully understand his greatness.
Our late lamented Brother Purdon was another grand and good man. He is still missed and mourned by all. The following quotation, to my mind, fittingly describes our president, Sister Purdon, under her great bereavement.
"Suffering becomes beautiful when any one bears great calamities with cheerfulness and not through insensibility, but through greatness of mind."
We have had many deaths and a great deal of sickness, in our railroad circle within the last year. Visiting and ministering to them, in our small way, keeps the more fortunate ones from that narrowness of view, which we are apt to run into, when confined to one set of interests, be it house work or any other one kind of work. If we come out of our shells, visit the hospitals or those sick or in distress I tell you it takes the bitterness out of our own lives. This contact with the outer world educates us to magnanimously rule ourselves and our own household.
We have successfully, both socially and financi. ally, conducted two “at home" this last winter. Brother Harshaw, C. P. R. trainmaster, claimed we should hold one every month.
Now while we appreciated and were highly flattered with his unique compliment, yet we could not fully endorse hisidea. One can have too much of even a good thing and make a vice out of virtue, were we to devote the necessary time to getting up a dance once a month during the winter, we would not be able to give the proper care and attention to our sick or our homes. We have a small membership compared with the vast field we have to work in,
Editor Railway Conductor:
I want to make good my oath of office. Tinsman Division No. 206 is doing well. The last of March we gave a little reception to all the conductors and their wives or sweethearts, as we have some unmarried conductors, and truly a most delightful evening it proved to be. Mr. E. M. Dennis, our retiring trainmaster was present, as was also his wife. Brother Orrin Young, in his characteristic way made a pleasant little speech and presented to Mr. Dennis, a handsome suit case, and umbrella, in behalf of the conductors. Mr. Dennis responded in a happy manner.
Our Auxiliary rneeting are well attended, and interesting too, as we initiated two new Sisters at our last meeting.
We will be well represented at Portland. And we expect the Sisters to return filled with enthusiasm, and a good report to enthuse us all.
Trenton, Missouri. MRS. D. G. SHREVE.
Editor Railway Conductor:
I am fearful lest under "new business and good of the Order," President of Volunteer Division will declare the office of correspondent vacant.
We held a very profitable social, Feb. 22. George and Martha Washington honored the Division with their presence.
The hall was gayly decorated