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THE RAILWAY CONDUCTOR, PUBLISHED MONTHLY AND ENTERED AS Second Class MATTER AT THE Pest.
OFFICE IN CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa.-Subscription $1.00 per year.
W. N. Gates, Advertising Agent, Garfield Building, Cleveland, O.
C. D. KELLOGG, Associate.
EMPLOYES OBJECT TO RATE REDUCTION IN ILLINOIS.
The Railroad and Warehouse Com Chief Conductor of Division No. 1, mission for Illinois has for some time 0. R. C. at Chicago, was chosen chairbeen conducting hearings on petitions man of the joint committee. Grand from shippers and shippers' associa. Chief Conductor, E. E. Clark, responded tions for reduction in freight rates on to the urgent invitation of a number the railroads in that state. It is of the Illinois Divisions and met the significant that the petitions were princi committee at Springfield. It was the pally from middle men who are between unanimous wish of the committee that the producer and the consumer and he speak for them in conference with whose interests are necessarily con the Governor, which he did. He then, fined to the margin of profit that can by request of the committee, made an be made in passing from producer to argument before the Commission which
the commodities in which was taken stenographically and which they deal.
we here present, by request. He said: The Chicago Shippers' Association GENTLEMEN
RAILROAD was one of the most active of the peti WAREHOUSE COMMISSION: tioners up to the date upon which argu I think, perhaps, it is proper for me ments were to be made before the Com to make some explanation of my presmission, on which morning a telegram ence here. I will say that the railroad was sent to the Commission by their employes of the State of Illinois have representative expressing the desire of been much interested in this subject for the Association to withdraw its petition. some time, and as you know, have been
The Divisions and Lodges of the addressing from time to time, comdifferent organizations of railway em munications to the Commission, and ployes addressed many communications similar communications to the Governor, to the Governor and to the Commission voicing their objections to a horizontal voicing protest against granting the or general reduction of the freight rates petitions for reduction in rates. They of the state, which would necessarily also formed a large committee and affect, seriously affect, the earnings of arranged for an interview with the these railroads. Governor and to be heard before the Within the
few days they Commission. Brother W. M. Clark, decided to arrange for a committee of
their own to come to Springfield. The committee came to Springfield and asked for an audience with the Governor which was accorded to them yesterday. No effort was made to get as large a committee as could be gotten, but the committee or delegation that met the Governor yesterday consisted of representatives of the engineers, firemen, conductors, trainmen, switchmen, machinists, freight handlers, boiler makers, car repairers and clerks.
At the solicitation and invitation of these employes, many of whom members of the organization which I have the honor to represent in its international capacity, I came and made a brief argument of their view's before the Governor. That is one excuse of my being here before you today, and the other is, the gentleman who was expected to make the argument before the Commission got mixed up with a sky rocket and has not been, as yet, able to get around. I don't mean to infer that he went up with the sky rocket, but it put him out of commission.
Chairman Neville: Went up like one, perhaps.
MR. CLARK: Perhaps he would if he had been here.
I haven't heard the testimony in this case throughout these protracted hearings, and I shall endeavor to be concise and brief in voicing the opposition felt by railroad employes to the granting of the requests which have been made upon this
Commission. I shall not indulge in statistics to any great length. Whatever I shall present in that line will be from official records, very easily verified beyond contradiction.
To begin with, this delegation that was here yesterday and who left a subcommittee here today, represent practically all of the more than one hundred thousand employes of the railroads in the state of Illinois. These employes drew from the pay cars of the several railroads of this state, in
the year 1904, some seventy millions of dollars compensation for their services. Now, taking the usual basis of computation, these railroad employes
half million of the population of the state of Illinois and they represent, I think, generally, as high a standard of citizenship and character as is represented by any like number of citizens of the state.
It may be said that the wages of the railroad employes of this state are what would be considered good, as compared with wages received by men in industrial trades and other capacities. If it be true that the employes of these railroads have good wages, it is because of two reasons: First, and principally, because they are right; and second, because of the fact that in their organized capacity they have been able, through friendly negotiations and conferences with the managements of these railroads, to reach agreements carrying with them the rates of pay which they now receive. But it is not fair to compare the wages of railroad employes, especially in the operating department, with the wages of men in other employments requiring an equal amount of skill, intelligence or education because the railroad employes, in addition to the services which they perform and the labor or the work which they do, assume a risk that can not be ignored and can never be compensated for entirely in money and which is, and should always be, taken into consideration in fixing their wages.
We don't believe these wages have yet reached a point where they fairly compensate the men for the work which they do and the risks which they assume. There are several of the classes of employes for whom I speak whose wages are far below what we believe they ought to be. We expect in the proper time, in the proper way, and at the opportune moment, to ask railroads to increase the wages of these employes until they do reach or have reached what we believe to be reasonable and fair limit.
If the railroads earn liberal incomes, we will have an opportunity of getting what we hope for in time, but if we have to go to a lot of railroads that are on the verge of bankruptcy and are struggling along under every economy which their ingenuity can devise, we
don't think our prospects of success are very bright.
It may be pointed out that at times the wages of these railroad employes, and especially the men in the engine or train department, are high. That, perhaps, is true, but we must not lose sight of the fact that there are two wages in this country. One is the economic wage, and the other is the sociological wage.
It may be said that three dollars a day is good pay for a certain line of work. So far as the sia' ement goes, it may be true, but we must, in order to arrive at a reasonable scciological wage, take into consideration the number of days the man is permitted to work and the amount of money he earns in the whole year, which is the amount he has got to depend upon for sustenance, because he has to live the year through whether he works or not.
Now, the public, the shippers and the traveling public demand continually better facilities, additional train service, more rapid movements, and
many other things, all of which mean additional expenditure of money on the part of the railroads. The continually changing conditions of transportation, faster movement and the increased volume of tonnage necessitate large expenditures in the maintenance and equipment of the railroads.
We, as employes of these railroads, have secured some little legislation at the hands of the legislators of this state which necessarily imposes additional expenditure of money upon the railroad companies. We expected that when we asked forit, and we intended it should cost them some money, and we expect to ask for more legislation some of these days which will cost-these railroads some money.
I was amused at the little tilt between General Hamlin and some of these other gentlemen about personal injury suits. We hope to see the day when the railroads will be obliged to assume more liability in that regard and we them to have enough earnings so they can assume those things and so they can pay what they ought to pay.
In looking over this question of a horizontal or general reduction in rate for transportation in this state, we, in our homely and practical way naturally look to where the amount involved is going to go, and how it is going to be distributed. We are not able to see any practical benefit in it or that the producer will receive any more for his product, or the consumer get his necessitities any cheaper as a result of any general reduction of freight rates which is possible within the limits of sanity. We believe the interests of the half a million people represented by the railroad employes themselves as well as the interesis of retail dealers with whom they trade in the towns where they live, will be much more seriously affected by any important reduction in the freight rates of this state than possibly could be compensated for by any reduction which you could make. We believe the amount involved will go to just such associations as the one that has undertaken this morning to withdraw by telegraph from this controversy, and that neither the farmer who grows the wheat or the workman who eats the bread will derive one penny of benefit from it.
I want to call attention for a few moments to the increased cost of the necessary comforts of life and will refer briefly to a report made by Carroll D. Wright, United States Commissioner of Labor, as the result of a special investigation prosecuted in 33 states and confined to families of men earning not more than $1200 a year, in which he says that the price of food in 1903 was 154 per cent. higher than in 1896. The price of beef was lowest in 1896, and in 1902 had increased 100 per cent, as compared with 1896. In 1904, the wholesale price of farm products was 26 per cent. higher than the average price between 1890 and 1899. Of 52 articles of food it was shown that all but 14 commanded higher prices in 1904 than in the period between 1890 and 1899. Of 70 articles under the head of clothing, the average price was about 10 per cent. higher, while fuel
and light are found to have increased commodity. The carrying charges on in cost 32.6 per cent. in the same commodities probably represent about period.
two per cent. of their price and it should Inquiries along the same lines with also be noted that this five per cent. regard to supplies which must of neces- increase in the freight rates was upon sity be purchased in large quantities by the lowest rates that ever existed. railroad companies, develop the fact I was chatting pleasantly yesterday that the United States Industrial Com- with a gentleman who is on the other mission reports that from 1897 to 1900 side of this case, and he jokingly rethere was a percentage increase in the marked they were going to reduce rates price of such staple supplies as steam
and raise wages. coal of 44 per cent.; ties, 20 per cent. ; It is no joke gentlemen, when I say iron and sheet steel, 48 per cent.; nails, that for the past fifteen years the rates 109 per cent.; lubricating oil, 120 per for hauling freight have steadily decent; while steel rails increased in cost creased, except as to the raise of five from $18 to $35 per ton, an increase of per cent. already spoken of, an the 94 per cent.
rates of wages of employes and cost This United States Commission, speak- of supplies have steadily increased. ing of the slight increase of freight rates This can not go on indefinitely and in 1900, said that the plea of the rail- would have been impossible so far but roads that justification for the increase for the increased volume of business was found in the enlarged cost of op- and the increased train haul which the eration due to the higher cost of sup- companies have adopted as a means of plies, was based upon a substantial hauling freight at a less cost per ton foundation; and, that the steady fall in prices from 1873 had been rudely in- We recognize the public character of terrupted by increase all along the line the service performed by the railways, in 1900, which was peculiarly marked and yet we cannot lose sight of the fact in the case of supplies largely consumed that they are not permitted to apply by railroads, namely, coal, iron and to their business the same principles steel.
of wholesale and retail trade that are Now, this increase in the cost of living applied in their several businesses by supplies was accompanied by no in- those who now petition for this reduction crease in the carrying rates on rail
in rates. They are not allowed to do as roads, excepting the slight increase in coal operators and others do when the 1899, of about .045 of a cent per ton cost of production is increased, and per mile, and even after that increase pass that increase along to the consumer had been made, the rate per ton per in the form of higher prices. They can mile for moving freight was less than one- not raise the prices when there is half of what it was in 1870.
increased volume of business. They It has been shown that clothing, food, must maintain their properties and keep fuel, beef and so forth increased in their equipment in repair during a price to the consumer from ten to one dull time as well as during a busy time, hundred per cent. Now if railway rates and we all know that a railroad cannot earn had been reduced at the same time, any money whatever with locomotives would the producer or the consumer and cars that are standing still. Nothhave reaped any benefit whatever ing is more certain than that the railfrom that reduction?
roads can not live between the upper The only increase in carrying rates and the nether mill-stones of constantly which has occurred since this rapid increasing cost of operation and steadily raise in price began is that of about decreasing revenues. There is a limit five per cent. before referred to. It beyond which they can not be attacked may be well to note that this is five
without involving the material interper cent. of the carrying charges and ests of their employes, and we believe not five per cent. of the cost of the that limit has been reached.
This is not the only instance where which will show, as I have stated, a the employes of railroads have taken steadily decreasing rate for the transsimilar action. They have voiced sim portation of freight from 1870, when ilar protests in this state before, and in it was the merest fraction below 2 cents other states, the most recent instance, per ton per mile, down to 1899 when it perhaps, that in which they appeared
about 724 of cent per ton before the Railroad Commission of
slight the State of Texas in opposition to the increase
was noted, until in 1902 it proposed important decrease in the was about .763 of one cent per ton per freight rates for hauling cotton.
mile. That, of course, is the average The international Conventionsofthese for the railroads of the United States. organizations have taken up this ques Overcapitalization of railroads may tion of regulation or governmental con be alleged, and no doubt exists in some trol of railroad rates, more praticularly cases, but we don't believe that justifies with regard to the question of appoint any crippling of the earning power of ing a Commission with power to fix those that are not overcapitalized, or all of the rates. Two of the older of that it justifies jeopardizing the inthese associations which have recently terests of the army of employes of the held conventions, the Order of Railway railroads by taking away from the Conductors and the Brotherhood of railroads, to give to those who are: Railroad Trainmen, adopted resolutions more in need of money than are the voicing their opposition to that, and I railroads, and who certainly will not will leave with you a copy of the reso apply it in any way giving more benelution adopted by the International fit to the public. Convention of the Order of Railway We protest in the name and on beConductors in Portland, Oregon, in half of the railroad employes of this ‘May last.
state against any material or horizontal I can say without fear of successful reduction in the rates which may be contradiction that inquiry and investi- lawfully charged for the transportation gation will show that the American of goods. If there are discriminating railways furnish the best service in rates in individual cases, we concede, the world, pay the best wages known of course, the propriety of appropriate on railroads, and receive less for trans correction. portation than the railroads of any We believe that the railways should other country
have earnings sufficiently large to perMR. HAMLIN: Mr. Clark, let mc ask mit them to keep their equipment in you a question.
the best of shape, affording the best and MR. CLARK: Yes.
safest accommodation and service to MR. HAMLIN: Does that statement
the public and the safest possible con
ditions of employment for the employes, apply to local traffic, that these companies charge lower rates for local
provide needed betterments for increased traffic?
business and the permanent improve
ments which the future demands, leave MR. CLARK: In making that state
reasonable return for the capital ment I refer to the railroads of the
invested, and pay their employes full United States.
compensation for their services and for MR. HAMLIN: Yes.
the risks which they assume.
And, MR. CLARK: I haven't before me having provided the possibility and I have not had time to look up the for earnings and revenue permitting details of the local traffic that may such administration of their affairs, be in your mind. I make that state we believe that they should be obliged ment based
particularly to assume and meet all of the responsithe reports
the United bilities and liabilities that properly States Industrial Commission and of attach to corporations engaged in the the Interstate Commerce Commission, public service as they are.