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Full text of "The railroaders' next step--amalgamation"






UC-NRLF 



6515 
KIR 




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LABOR. I1CRALD LIBRARY 
Mo. 1 



me 



flE TRADE Union EDUCATIONAL 

LEAGUE 



IIS n. L>A9ALLE 9T. 




SECOND EDITION 



Militants, Notice! 



Organize! Join the Trade Union Educational 
League. This is a system of informal committees 
throughout the entire union movement, organized to 
infuse the mass with revolutionary understanding and 
spirit. It is working for the closer affiliation and solidi- 
fication of our existing craft unions until they have 
been developed into industrial unions. Believing that 
all workers should stand together regardless of their 
social or other opinions, it is opposed to the common 
policy of radical and progressive-minded workers quit- 
ting the trade unions and starting rival organizations 
based upon ideal principles. That policy is one of the 
chief reasons why the American labor movement is not 
further advanced. Its principal effects are to destroy 
all radical organization in the old unions and to leave 
the reactionaries in undisputed control. 

The Trade Union Educational League is in no 
sense a dual union, nor is it affiliated with any such 
organization. It is purely an educational body of 
militants within existing mass unions, who are seeking 
through the application of modern methods to bring 
the policies and structure of the labor movement into 
harmony with present day economic conditions. It 
bespeaks the active cooperation of all militant union 
workers. For further details apply to the 

Trade Union Educational 
League 

118 North La Salle Street, Chicago 



Labor Herald Library 
No. 1. 

The Railroaders' Next Step 
Amalgamation 

CHAPTER I 
THE THIEVING RAILROADS 

The supreme need of railroad men at the present time is 
a consolidation of our many labor organizations into one 
compact body. The power of the companies has become 
so enormous, their solidarity so intense, and their greed 
so voracious, that the prevailing type of federated craft 
unionism is no longer able to cope with the situation. If 
we are to maintain existing labor conditions, not to speak 
of making further advances, we must arrive at a more 
solidified form of organization. The tremendous latent 
power of the great army of railroad workers will have to 
be fully developed. This can be done successfully only by 
the amalgamation of the sixteen principal railroad craft 
unions into one industrial union covering every branch of 
the railroad service. 

As I write this (March, 1922) events are taking shape 
that render more pressing than ever the need for the ut- 
most possible power and solidarity on the part of all rail- 
road workers. The companies are now making a big drive, 
politically as well as industrially, to crush the unions and 
to force us down to serfdom. They have secured the pass- 
age of the Esch-Cummins law limiting the right of railroad 
men to strike. And not content with that they are forcing 
through the Poindexter bill, abolishing this right alto- 
gether and providing fines, of from $500 to $10,000 and im- 
prisonment not to exceed ten years for those who even 
"solicit, advise, induce or persuade, or attempt to induce 
or persuade" railroad workers to quit their jobs. Besides 

977439 



2 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

this they have induced the pliable Railroad Labor Board 
to abolish the national agreements, and in many cases the 
eight hour day itself ; wages have been slashed to the bone 
and more reductions are in sight. Piece work is being 
established on many roads, likewise company unions. In 
fact the railroads are carrying on a great drive which is 
^all top ; stlGesful to reestablish pre-war conditions of 
slavery 'for t'he^ir workers. The only way this campaign 
<iaft 'e; j-esjs^Gd... effectively is for the workers on the rail- 
'roa3s t'6 tfevelbp the strongest, most closely-knit organiza- 
tion possible. And this cannot be achieved until the entire 
body of them are fused together into one all-inclusive or- 
ganization. 

This anti-union campaign is, of course, calculated to re- 
duce railroad workers to utter helplessness so that we may 
be ruthlessly exploited by the railroad owners. The latter 
are in business solely for profit. In their greed to make 
money they consider all means legitimate. They are the 
biggest single gang of thieves in the world. Humanity and 
fair play cut no figure with them. So long as their own 
profits are forthcoming they care not a rap for the suffer- 
ings of their workers. That is why they have so bitterly 
fought every working improvement in the railroad indus- 
try ; collective bargaining, better wages, shorter hours, the 
sixteen-hour law, the safety appliance laws, etc. Because 
it paid them well, they were entirely content to have their 
workers exhausted by from 25 to 60-hour runs, abused like 
dogs by tyrannical foremen, pauperized by low wages, de- 
stroyed by piecework systems, crushed to death by faulty 
equipment, etc., etc. The only protection the workers have 
had from the most savage exploitation, the sole thing that 
has kept us from sinking into complete degradation is our 
trade unions. These organizations have achieved results 
entirely upon the basis of the amount of power they have 
been able to exert. The railroad owners can appreciate 
no other argument than that of might. With them might 
is right. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 3 

Plundering the Public Domain 

In order to develop a militant union policy the very first 
requisite for railroad workers is a clear understanding of 
what powerful and unscrupulous crooks are our opponents, 
the companies. Hence, in the following pages will be cited 
some of the shady exploits of the transportation magnates ;* 

From its very inception railroading in this country has 
been a process of brazen thievery. Every means that hu- 
man ingenuity could devise has been used without stint or 
limit to prostitute the nation's transportation system to the 
benefit of a few social parasites. Merciless exploitation of 
the workers, land-grabbing, stock-watering, rebating, brib- 
ing of legislators and judges, embezzlement, perjury these 
are some of the criminal methods habitually resorted to 
in building up the present ownership of the giant railroads. 
The man who could figure out some new scheme to rob 
the people was hailed as a great inventor by the railroad 
crooks; and his fortune was made. The cleverest thief has 
always been the most successful railroad magnate. 

A rich source of plunder for the railroad owners was the 
Government land. They literally stole an empire of it. 
Their usual method was to have corrupt lobbyists push bills 
through the National and State legislatures giving them 
vast grants of land for building the railroads. Thus the 
Northern Pacific got 47,000,000 acres, the Southern Pacific 
18,000,000, the Union Pacigc 22,000,000, and others accord- 
ingly, until 160,000,000 acres in all oi the people's heritage 
had been stolen. This enormous stretch of land is equal 
in extent to the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, 
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New 
Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and In- 
diana. It fell into the maw of the railroad thieves. 



*A11 railroad workers should read Gustavus Myers' "History of the Great 
American Fortunes," and C. E. Russell's "Stories of the Great Railroads." 
Both are full f well-authenticated accounts of the amazinpr robberies com- 
mitted upon the American people by the railroad companies. Many of the 
incidents cited in this chapter are taken from their pages. The books are 
procurable from Chas. H. Kerr & Co.. Chicago. 



4 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

Most of this is rich farming, mineral and timber land. It 
is now worth billions of dollars. One unacquainted with the 
greed of the railroad companies might think that they would 
have been satisfied with this gigantic steal. But not they ; 
they are money mad ; they want the whole country. It 
happened that some of their land grants included desert 
land; so, in the guise of helping poor settlers, they had a 
law passed allowing anyone who had received government 
desert land to exchange it for government farming land. 
Then they hastily dumped in 50,000,000 acres of desert land 
and took in exchange, not farming land, but 50,000,000 acres 
of Northwest timber land, the finest on the globe. This 
was a typical railroad fraud. 

Besides the land grants, the Government (inspired to ac- 
tion by big campaigns of open bribery) gave the early rail- 
road builders large money subsidies. These were a fruit- 
ful source of loot. For example, the men behind the cor- 
rupt Central Pacific got in land and other subsidies $86,000,- 
000 wherewith to build their road. The total cost of build- 
ing, including the greatest extravagance and graft, was 
$42,000,000. The remaining $44,000,000 of the Government 
gift they calmly pocketed. Thus the Government paid for 
the road twice over and still it belonged to Huntington and 
his fellow-crooks. These gentlemen, whose descendants 
are highly honored citizens, started out in 1861 with a capi- 
tal of $108,987. Twenty-three years later they had suc- 
ceeded in stealing 5,906 miles of railroad capitalized at $454,- 
000,000, not to mention other properties. Up till the pres- 
ent time this project has yielded its owners $700,000,000 
that is to say, the grafters have been paid enough to build 
their roads seven times over and still they own them com- 
plete'y- 

Robbing One Another 

It would be wrong, however, to leave the impression that 
the lailroad magnates have confined their efforts to ex- 
ploiting Labor and defrauding the Government. That 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 5 

would be to misrepresent their nefarious business ethics. 
Their policy is to grab everything in sight that is not 
nailed down, no matter whom it may belong to. They are 
impartial in the matter. They rob each other as freely as 
they do outsiders. A time-honored device to do this is for 
the controlling clique in a company to milk the rest of the 
stockholders (and thus the people at large) by setting up 
an outside company, owned by themselves, to do construc- 
tion and repair work for the parent railroad and then vot- 
ing it contracts at fabulous prices. Thus the grafters have 
sucked in millions and millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, 
and thus many a railroad has been bled white, thrown into 
a receiver's hands and left for the people to re-finance. We 
see the same policy in operation at the present time, with 
the railroads letting out immense quantities of work to 
"independent" equipment companies while their own shops 
and workers stand idte. 

Bitter, dog-eat-dog wars have raged between rival in- 
terests for many years over the control of the railroads. 
In these brutal encounters the law of fang and claw prevail. 
Everything from petty larceny to murder is considered 
legitimate. The struggle for the Erie was typical : Orig- 
inally this road was built by public subscription, but as 
usual a bunch of thieves got title to it. They sucked it 
dry with the customary methods, and finally lost it to one 
Daniel Drew by a mortgage foreclosure. Drew used the 
road for speculative purposes, making millions. But the 
greedy Vanderbilt, whom Gustavus Myers calls "the fore- 
most blackmailer of his time, the plunderer of the National 
Treasury in the Civil War, the arch-briber and corruption- 
ist," outwitted him, ruined him and seized the road. He 
made the mistake, however, of putting Drew, Jay Gould 
and Jim Fisk in charge of it. These worthies promptly 
double-crossed him and, by an illegal issue of stock, got 
control. Vanderbilt's crooked judge thereupon issued an 
order against them. But they fled his jurisdiction with 
$7,000,000 in cash, the proceeds of their robbery. Later on 



6 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

Gould and Fisk bribed the New York Legislature for $500,- 
000 to make their stock issue legal. This left them mas- 
ters of the situation. Then, freed from the threat of jail, 
they turned on their partner, Drew, and bankrupted him. 
Some time afterward Fisk was shot, and finally Gould was 
ousted by an English syndicate that, copying Gould's meth- 
ods, spent $750,000 in bribery to do the job. Eventually 
the road fell into the grip of the great railroad octopus, 
Morgan & Co., and there it still remains. For these jungle 
fights, which raged everywhere, of course the workers had 
to pay the bill. 

When the workers demand a few cents more per hour 
in wages the railroad companies always raise a howl about 
the dire things that will happen to the widow and orphan 
stockholders. But in their own brutal struggles for finan- 
cial mastery they show no mercy to these elements. The 
robbery of the widow Colton was a case in point : Colonel 
Colton, her husband, was one of the four men who en- 
gineered the notorious Central Pacific land-grabbing, stock- 
jobbing steals for many years. It might have been thought 
that when he died his three partners in guilt would have 
shown his widow some consideration. But the principles of 
humanity never trouble railroad magnates. True to their 
kind, and like a pack of wolves rending one of their number 
that has fallen, the three remaining partners stole almost 
the last cent Mrs. Colton had. To do this they had to bribe 
her confidential adviser, her lawyer and a judge. But such 
matters are only details in the day's work of railroad 
owners. 

A Sea of Watered Stock 

A favorite thieving device is the watering of railroad 
company stocks. Every worker should know how this 
chicanery is operated. Let us explain it briefly : Suppose, 
for instance, a certain railroad is capitalized at $100,000,000. 
To water its stock the controlling capitalists, on the pre- 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 7 

text of improving the property, issue, say, another $100,- 
000,000 of stock. Thus the burden of the industry is dou- 
bled. Thereafter it has to pay dividends upon $200,000,000 
instead of $100,000,000. The advantages .to the crooks 
engineering the hocus-pocus are many. For one thing they 
are enabled to steal scores of millions at a blow; and an- 
other is that the resultant cutting of the dividend rate 
(which in the case cited would be 50 per cent) puts the 
road in the position of being poverty-stricken and furnishes 
an excellent excuse for beating down wages and screwing 
up passenger and freight rates. When, however, through 
wage-cutting, rate-raising and the natural increase in busi- 
ness, the dividend rate rises on the watered stock, then the 
crooks inject more water and the whole process is gone 
over again. 

By means of this watered stock swindle every railroad 
system in the United States has been used as an instrument 
of extortion and robbery. Dozens of railroads have had 
their equipment ruined and themselves thrown into bank- 
ruptcy because of it. At a hearing a few years ago in 
conection with the financial wrecking of the Rock Island 
it was found that the Moore & Reid interests had poured 
$350,000,000 of watered stock into the original capitalization 
of $75,000,000. It was more than the road could stand and 
it went under. In 1907, according to C. E. Russell, of the 
$409,946,845 capitalization of the New York Central, at 
the very least $175,000,000 was nothing but water. By 
watered stock and other crooked schemes the infamous 
Credit Mobilier gang similiarly ruined the Union Pacific. 
Then, when everyone thought it had been bled to death, 
Russell Sage and Jay Gould came along and stole another 
$100,000,000 from it. Later, Standard Oil, operating 
through Harriman, got the road and is now exploiting it 
more vigorously than ever. Up to 1908 the Great North- 
ern clique, grace to their various land-grabbings and stock- 
waterings, had taken in profits from that rich property and 
had values in sight to the enormous amount of $1,526,016,- 



8 . THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

521. Investigating the New York, New Haven & Hart- 
ford, which had collapsed financially, the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission found that the bandits owning that 
concern had increased its capital stock 1500 per cent in 
eight years, and had pocketed almost all of the money. 

The general result of this stock-watering continued over 
many years, has been to enormously over-capitalize the 
railroad industry. Many experts declare that all the rail- 
roads in the United States could be replaced for ten billion 
dollars. But the companies have them capitalized at nine- 
teen billions, and insist upon returns on that basis. And 
the powers-that-be are quick to recognize their claims. The 
Interstate Commerce Commission is always very obliging 
in the matter of rates. And the Government does what it 
can, too. The infamous Esch-Cummins law, which Sen- 
ator LaFollette fittingly characterized as marking "the un- 
conditional surrender of Congress to Wall Street," guaran- 
teed the railroads a return of at least 5^ per cent on their 
swollen capitalization during its term. Under its provi- 
sions the railroads were paid on the basis of $940,000,000 
per year, or at the rate of enough to rebuild all of them in 
ten years. Such a price are we compelled to pay for being 
dominated and abused by our railroad autocracy. 

To share in the great loot from the railroads there were 
officially listed on December 31st, 1918, 647,689 stockhold- 
ers. But many of this number are duplications, because 
although one individual may hold stock in numerous com- 
panies he is counted separately for each holding. It is 
extremely doubtful if the total number of railroad stock- 
holders will run over 100,000. And the great majority of 
these are small fry, owning only a share or two apiece. It 
has been estimated that one per cent of all the stock- 
holdrs own over 50 per cent of all the stock. It is to sup- 
port in luxury this minority of parasites that the vast army 
of 1,850,000 railroad workers keep the 235,000 miles of rail- 
roads in operation for beggarly wages and under the most 
unfavorable working conditions. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 9 

The Big Fish Eat the Little Ones 

The foregoing examples of orthodox railroad methods 
will suffice to indicate the moral caliber of the unprincipled 
lot who have managed to steal their way into ownership 
of our transportation systems. Now, let us glance for a 
few moments at the way in which they are concentrating 
and consolidating their forces, in order to exploit Labor 
the better. 

The pioneer railroad capitalists were men of compara- 
tively small means. In the early days hundreds of small 
companies sprang up, each operating a little stretch of rail- 
road, furnishing transportation to a limited district. But 
soon a strong current towards combination set in. Gradu- 
ally the stronger financial groups absorbed the weaker ones 
(mostly by chicanery and fraud) and linked their many 
little "jerk-water" roads together, eventually building up 
the gigantic railroad systems of today. 

The history of the New York Central is typical : Orig- 
inally between New York and Buffalo, the present main 
line of the New York Central, there were sixteen separate 
railroads, each owned and operated by a distinct company. 
But the notorious Vanderbilt he who gave expression to 
the two working principles of capitalistic railroading; 
namely, "All the traffic will bear," and "The public be 
damned" grabbed control of all these petty roads and 
jammed them into one. Then he reached out and seized, 
one after the other, a whole series of big railroad systems, 
including the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, Michigan 
Central, Big Four, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie, Boston & Al- 
bany, Erie, etc., each of which in turn had been built up of 
many small roads. Besides this, the growing octopus se- 
cured strong hold of such roads as the Delaware & Hud- 
son ; Delaware, Lackawanna & Western ; Philadelphia & 
Reading; New York, Ontario & Western; Lehigh Valley, 
etc., and large numbers of trolley lines, coal mines, indus- 



10 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

trial plants, express and telegraph companies, etc., etc. It 
is an industrial Colossus. 

Another case in point is that of the great New York, 
New Haven & Hartford system, controlled by the Morgan 
interests : Like the New ^ork Central, this company built 
itself up from a lot of smaller ones, until, at last, it had 
secured a stranglehold on the entire railroad transportation 
system of New England. Then it proceeded to secure an 
almost complete monopoly of water traffic in its territory 
by absorbing the Fall River Line, Stonington Line, New 
Bedford Line, New Haven Line, Maine Steamship Com- 
pany, Bridgeport Line, Hartford Line, Rock Island Line, 
and many so-called independent steamship companies. And, 
finally, it sought to do the same thing with the trolley 
lines. By means of flagrant legislative corruption it se- 
cured control of the entire electric transportation systems 
of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Thus, in 
transportation of all sorts, the New York, New Haven & 
Hartford was dictator for the several states in which it 
operated. 

The titanic Pennsylvania Lines were similarly brought 
about by the assimilation of small roads and affiliated in- 
dustries. It is now accredited with 21,389 miles of track- 
age, the ownership of 72 subsidiary railroad companies and 
heavy interests in 254 related industries. Normally it em- 
ploys about 275,000 workers. 

The tendency towards consolidation shown in the three 
big systems cited above manifests itself in all sections of 
the railroad industry. Already the whole business has re- 
solved itself into a few financial groups. In 1916 the World 
Almanac (page 216) listed these groups as follows : 

Name Mileage Stocks Bonds 

Vanderbilt 26,126 $ 628,924,000 $ 765,441,600 

Pennsylvania 21,389 779,916,000 576,600,000 

Harriman 22,716 756,600,000 1,098,775,400 

Hill . .. 14,183 417,527,000 432,812,000 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 



11 



Name Milage Stocks Bonds 

Morgan 14,117 573,619,000 545,118,000 

Gould 22,318 541,220,000 822,613,000 

Moore-Reid 29,173 372,906,000 490,209,000 

Rockefellers 18,119 259,116,000 319,204,000 

Walters 11,914 150,116,000 204,119,000 

Erb Syndicate 13,104 345,100,000 524,146,000 

Independent 34,069 653,108,000 486,113,000 

Total 227,228 $5,478, 1 52,000 $6,265, 1 5 1 ,000 

Since this table was compiled many changes have taken 
place in railroad ownership. The monopolization of the 
industry has proceeded apace. A close study now demon- 
strates (The New Majority Chicago, March 5th, 1921) that 
financial control of the systems as a whole has simmered 
down practically to four great, closely-related, interlocked 
capitalistic interests ; viz., Morgan & Co., The National City 
Bank (Rockefeller group), The First National Bank of 
New York (Baker group) and Kuhn, Loeb & Co. It is said 
that Morgan & Co. alone control 300 railroad directorships, 
besides owning 54 "independent" railroad equipment and 
construction plants and innumerable other enterprises. 

The time is close at hand if it has not already arrived 
unbeknown to us when our entire transportation system 
will be ruled by a single financial interest. And at its head, 
backed by the nineteen billions of railroad capital and un- 
told billions from other industries, will stand some super- 
Gary, the industrial emperor of America. 

Workers Versus Exploiters 

This tremendous consolidation and combination of the 
enemy's forces is of vital importance to railroad Labor. 
In years gone by there was real competition on the rail- 
roads. Between the many independent companies rate 
wars raged. Often in these struggles passenger and 



12 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

freight schedules were slashed to the bone. In one mem- 
orable case a transcontinental railroad reduced its passenger 
fare from Chicago to California to $1.00. Whereupon its 
rival retaliated not only by cutting its rate to $1.00 like- 
wise, but also by furnishing free meals to its patrons en 
route. 

Naturally, such unorganized, competitive conditions 
played into the hands of Organized Labor and made its 
fight easier. If the unions tied up a road the other roads 
usually left it to its fate. They seldom gave it any prac- 
tical assistance, instead they grabbed what they could of 
its business. The consequence was that the companies 
were reluctant to enter into strikes, and comparatively 
more eager to settle them when they did occur. 

But now things are altogether different. This is the era 
of railroad monopoly. Competition has been almost en- 
tirely eliminated. On the employers' side the railroad in- 
dustry is practically united into one country-wide organ- 
ism. National ownership has been concentrated into the 
hands of a few magnates, keenly conscious of their mu- 
tual interests ; the national rate-making power is wielded 
by the tractable (to the companies) Interstate Commerce 
Commission rate wars are now merely a matter of his- 
tory ; the national administration of labor- matters is looked 
after by the Association of Railway Executives ; and the 
national technical problems are handled by the American 
Railroad Association.* Everywhere is system, organiza- 
tion, standardization. And now it is proposed in powerful 
railroad circles to secure legislation fusing all the railroads 
into one gigantic system of ownership and operation. This 
is the logical outcome of the ceaseless tendency towards 
combination. 



*The American Railroad Association is a recent amalgamation of the 
American Railway Master Mechanics' Association; Association of Railway 
Telegraph Superintendents; Association of Transportation and Car Accounting 
Offices; Freight Claim Association; Railway Storehouse Keepers' Association, 
etc. It is divided into five departments: Operating, Engineering^ Mechanical, 
Traffic, Transportation. If the need arose it would prove an efficient strike- 
breaking agency. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 13 

Now the effect of all this consolidation and interlocking 
of company interests is to make railroad Labor's fight much 
more severe. Today when the unions enter into battle 
with one company they have them all to fight. No more 
do other roads abandon one that has a fight on its hands, 
or try to take advantage of its crippled condition. Far 
from it ! Now they rush to its support, furnishing it with 
financial backing, re-routing its traffic over their lines, lend- 
ing it locomotives and cars, etc. Thus, through co-opera- 
tion with one another, the resisting power of all the com- 
panies is enormously increased. Moreover, they have the 
united support of the courts, the newspapers, the banks, 
and the industrial interests generally. 

This is a situation which the railroad unions, on pain of 
extinction, must meet effectively. And they can do so only 
by the complete elimination of the competitive principle 
from their own ranks. Faced by a united opposition, we 
railroad men cannot afford to have sectionalism, such as 
now exists, in our forces. We must not allow one part of 
our organization to be played off against the rest. We 
must present an unbroken front to the enemy. The rail- 
road union situation must be brought to a uniform, national 
proposition. To do this it is necessary to amalgamate the 
sixteen railroad craft unions into one industrial union. 

Now let us see to what extent in their long years of 
experience with unionism, the railroad workers have under- 
stood the need for closer affiliation, what has been done 
about it, and how the next step should be taken. 



14 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

CHAPTER II. 
THE FAILURE OF DUAL UNIONISM 

Faced by the growing power and limitless greed of the 
railroad companies, railroad workers have for many years 
past sensed more and more clearly the need for the great- 
est possible solidarity among themselves. In the main this 
urge for united action may be said to have expressed it- 
self in two general ways: (1) Utopian dual unionism, (2) 
natural trade unionism. The dual unionism has been a 
product mostly of the more militant and energetic minori- 
ties, chiefly radicals, among the railroad workers. These 
minorities, consciously weighing the factors in hand as 
best they could and with an intense desire for united ac- 
tion, have for many years advocated the founding of an 
industrial union to include all railroad men. With charac- 
teristic impatience they have believed that this could be 
done only by discarding the old trade unions altogether 
and starting afresh with a new, theoretically perfect or- 
ganization. On the other hand, the natural trade union- 
ism is a product of the sluggish, conservative masses. More 
or less blindly and without plan, the latter have re-acted 
to the pressure of the companies, first by joining together 
into the most primitive types of unions, and then, gradually 
extending and developing them into ever-more wide-spread- 
ing and inclusive organizations, as the need for such be- 
came apparent. The method of the radical minorities has 
been largely to leap into industrial unionism, whereas that 
of the conservative masses is to drift into it gradually. 

The question of solidarity is one of paramount interest 
and importance to railroaders, but there is an appalling con- 
fusion and lack of knowledge about the whole matter. A 
large body of radicals still have a highly unwarranted faith 
in the dual industrial program, and, together with the con- 
servatives, are very much in ignorance of the true signifi- 
cance of the evolution towards greater solidarity constantly 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 15 

taking place in the old trade unions. Hence, before we 
can hope to successfully outline a rational program for 
further strengthening railroad unionism, we must examine 
in detail what has resulted from the radicals' conscious 
striving for industrial unionism and the conservatives' un- 
conscious drift in the same general direction and profit 
from the lessons both tendencies have to teach us. Let 
us first consider what has been accomplished by dual union- 
ism: 



Knights of Labor and American Railway Union. 

The railroad craft unions were in their infancy when 
the dual unionists began to set afloat their all-inclusive in- 
dustrial unions. And they have followed their separatist 
policy vigorously for a generation, even up till the present 
day. During this long period they have launched manv 
such organizations, all of which have gone down to deteat. 
Let us glance briefly at the most striking examples : 

The first important attempt to disregard the trade unions 
and to form a general union of railroaders occurred in 
1877, when R. H. Ammon, in Pittsburgh, founded an or- 
ganization to include engineers, firemen, conductors, train- 
men and yardmen. The companies were slashing wages 
right and left, and the new union was designed to stop 
them. But it soon collapsed because of internal difficulties 
Shortly afterward, however, the deep discontent of the 
men blazed forth spontaneously in one of the greatest 
and most violent railroad strikes in history, that of July- 
August, 1877. 

But a far more serious and extensive effort was the one 
made by the Knights of Labor not long afterward. This 
famous organization was frankly revolutionary and aimed 
to combine the whole working class into one union. It 
was formed in 1869, but for the first dozen years of its life 
it led an anaemic existence. In the middle '80's, however, it 
caught the imagination of the masses and raged across the 
country like a prairie fire. Hundreds of thousands were 



16 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

swept into its ranks, among whom were large numbers of 
railroad workers. The organization secured an especially 
strong grip on several Western and Southwestern roads, 
winning big strikes on the Union Pacific, Wabash, Missouri 
Pacific, Missouri, Kansas & Texas, etc., in 1884-5. But the 
following year the wily and unscrupulous Jay Gould 
crushed the union on these roads in a bitterly fought two 
months' strike. A few years later, as the power of the 
Knights of Labor waned generally throughout the country, 
its railroad organization went to pieces, leaving the em- 
battled, feeble craft unions alone in the field. 

But not for long; soon the greatest of all dual railroad 
unions was under way. This was the American Railway 
Union, launched by Eugene V. Debs and a few others in 
Chicago in 1893. It was opposed by the craft unions, but 
as they were still weak, they could offer no effective re- 
sistance and it spread rapidly over the systems. By the 
Spring of 1894 it was said to have 465 local lodges and 
about 150,000 members. It included all classes of railroad 
workers. 

Its first struggle with the employers came in April, 1894, 
on the Great Northern. That system was tied up from end 
to end by a general strike. The autocratic Jim Hill capit- 
ulated after eighteen days, coming to terms with the or- 
ganization. But this brilliant victory bred an over-confi- 
dence among the men that soon brought about the destruc- 
tion of their union. In an effort to force a settlement of 
the then pending Pullman strike, the militant railroad men 
placed a boycott against all Pullman cars which action pro- 
duced a general strike, June 26th, 1894, on twenty-four 
roads centering in Chicago. 

The tieup was highly effective and the companies were 
on the way to defeat, when the Government and courts took 
a hand. Troops were rushed to Chicago ; injunctions were 
issued against the strikers ; their leaders were jailed, and 
such a general reign of terror set up that the conservative 
mass became terrified and straggled back to work. Before 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 17 

three weeks had passed the strike was lost. The A. R. U. 
lingered along until 1897, when it turned itself into a co- 
operative political organization the Social Democratic 
Party, forerunner of the present Socialist Party. 

The advent of the American Railway Union, as is always 
the case with dual organizations, did great harm to the 
railroad craft unions. All of them were weakened and 
some nearly destroyed. Thousands of their best members 
quit them to take part in the A. R. U., only to find them- 
selves blacklisted out of the railroad service later on be- 
cause of the lost strike. The case of Debs himself is a 
striking example of the damage done. When he resigned 
his position as General Secretary-Treasurer and editor of 
the official journal of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Fire- 
men in order to form the A. R. U., he was a great force 
for progress in the old unions. Had he but stayed with 
them he would have been a big factor in their future devel- 
opment. But he was lost to them, and that they have suf- 
fered much in consequence no unbiased observer will deny. 
This constant sucking of the best blood out of the craft 
unions is one of the very worst features of dual industrial 
unionism. 

A Flock of Dual Unions 

Hard upon the heels of the American Railway Union 
came a whole series of dual unions on the railroads, some 
of them being but parts of general separatist movements, 
whilst others specialized in railroad workers alone. But 
all were alike in that they advocated the industrial form of 
organization and sought to realize it by going outside of 
the old unions and beginning anew. They are also alike 
in that none of them succeeded in establishing itself firmly 
on the railroads. 

The first of these dual unions was the Socialist Trades 
and Labor Alliance, organized in 1895. A general labor or- 
ganization, it made war upon the whole trade union move- 
ment. But it secured little or no hold on the railroads. 



18 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

In 1905 it was one of the organizations that were merged 
together to form the I. W. W. 

An organization somewhat similar to the S. T. & L. A. 
was the Western Labor Union, organized in 1898 by the 
Western Federation of Miners. It was designed to sup- 
plant the entire existing labor movement, the railroad or- 
ganizations included. But it was still-born, and after an 
anagmic struggle re-named itself the American Labor 
Union. It later went to make part of the I. W. W. at the 
latter's foundation. At no time did it become strong in 
the railroad industry. 

A much more militant dual union on the railroads was 
the United Brotherhood of Railway Employes. This or- 
ganization was started in 1900. It worked mostly in the 
West, and succeeded in getting a strong hold on several 
roads in that section. It had agreements with a few com- 
panies. But it finally went the way of all dual industrial 
railroad unions and collapsed. Just as it was about to ex- 
pire it was fused with the other unions going to form the 
I. W. W. 

The Canadian Order of Railwaymen was in existence 
during part of the period covered by the U. B. R. E. It 
was launched in 1901. It claimed jurisdiction over en- 
gineers, firemen, conductors, trainmen and yardmen in 
Canada. But it was unable to make good its claim in the 
face of the craft unions. It made no important headway 
and soon died off. 

The next important one in the long list of dual indus- 
trial railroad unions was the Industrial Workers of the 
World. This organization was formed in 1905 in Chicago 
by an amalgamation of several industrial unions. It was 
intended to replace the entire trade union movement. Debs, 
Hall, Estes and many other active railroad militants gave 
it their hearty support for a time. But it has never been 
able to make substantial progress on any of the roads, ex- 
cept in the Canadian Northwest, where it organized the 
railroad construction workers ten years ago and waged 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 19 

several strikes in their behalf. At the present time it is 
not a big factor on the railroads. 

The Workers^ International Industrial Union is an off- 
shoot of the I. W. W. It split off because of internal 
squabbles in 1908. Like its parent, it is a general dual 
union. But it has never been able to make a strong show- 
ing among railroad workers. It still exists in skeleton 
form. 

Two later attempts to start dual railroad unions were 
those of the Industrial Railway Union and the Brother- 
hood of Federated Railway Employes. Both these organi- 
zations, bred of internal strife in the old unions, led brief 
existences in 1915-16 on a few Eastern roads. Neither se- 
cured any considerable following. 

American Federation of Railroad Workers, One Big Union, 
and United Association of Railway Employes 

The American Federation of Railroad Workers occupies 
a unique position among the many dual industrial unions 
that have sprung up from time to time on the railroads. 
While all the others have been radical, it is markedly con- 
servative. It has had a checkered history. Originally it 
was the International Association of Car Workers, an A. 
F. of L. union. But as there was a conflict in jurisdiction 
between it and the Brotherhood Railway Carmen of Amer- 
ica, the A. F. of L. ordered the two bodies to amalgamate. 
The president of the I. A. of C. W. refused point blank to 
agree to this salutary measure, and surrendered his char- 
ter to the A. F. of L. at the Atlanta Convention in 1911. 

The organization struggled along for a few years as a 
craft union, and then, in 1915, it extended its jurisdiction 
to take in all railroad workers, calling itself thereafter the 
American Federation of Railroad Workers. Its member- 
ship at the present time is estimated to be about 9,000, 
principally car workers. It has contracts on two or three 
railroads. 



20 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

From its inception, the A. F. of R. W. has been a thorn 
in the side of the old unions. It has done them much harm 
and compromised the interests of railroaders generally. 
One of its latest exploits was a clear betrayal of union 
principles. During the recent big struggle to maintain the 
national agreements and to preserve the system of bar- 
gaining upon a national scale rather than with individual 
companies, the officials of the A. F. of R. W. promptly 
stepped in and signed up a separate agreement with the 
Philadelphia & Reading, which not only gave up the prin- 
ciple of the shopmen's national agreement, but also many 
of the conditions established by the same. Similar agree- 
ments have since been made on other roads, to the sad 
compromise of the interests of railroad workers as a whole. 
But such are the fruits of dual unionism generally, no mat- 
ter in the name of what high-sounding purpose the dual 
union operates. 

The One Big Union was set afoot in Western Canada in 
1918. It is a general dual union, organized upon the indus- 
trial plan and claiming all classes of workers. For a time 
it made great progress in Canada, assembling large num- 
bers of workers, among them many railroad men, into its 
fold. Some railroad locals were established in the United 
States also, notably in Chicago. But the movement has 
lost its impetus ; it is waning rapidly and seems about to 
be eliminated. 

The United Association of Railway Employes is an after- 
math of the great, so-called "outlaw" yardmen's strike of 
the Spring and Summer of 1920, headed by John Grunau. 
It was formed of the various groups of strikers and black- 
listed men. Numerically it is not strong. So far as the 
writer can learn, it has no agreements with the companies 
anywhere. It, too, appears to be moribund. 

The strike that gave birth to this organization is a typi- 
cal illustration of the unfortunate dualistic tendency that 
has long afflicted railroad men. It must be admitted that 
the men affected had crying grievances and that the union 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 21 

officials were asleep at the switch when it came to taking 
care of these grievances. But the wiser thing to have 
done, rather than to call the unauthorized strike, was to 
fight out the matter within the confines of the old unions. 
Had this been done there can be no doubt but that with 
the tremendous spirit of unrest and resentment prevailing, 
the leaders would have been spurred into action. Had a 
strike become necessary, it could have been widespread and 
official, and it would have surely resulted in a victory, so 
favorable were economic conditions. Undoubtedly the 
most wholesome effects would have been produced upon 
the unions. But no, impatiently the men first went out 
on the unauthorized strike and then into the new, dual 
unions. The results, easily to be foreseen, were the loss 
of the strike ; the blacklisting of thousands of first-class 
union men out of the railroad service ; the general weak- 
ening of the old unions ; the strengthening of the conserva- 
tive bureaucracies in these organizations, and the affliction 
of the railroad industry with one more dual union to create 
disharmony and division. 

At present there are five dual industrial unions on the 
railroads : The I. W. W., W. I. I. U., A. F. of R. W., 
O. B. U., and U. A. of R .E. All of them advocate the sol- 
idarity of labor, and at the same time all are waging war 
upon each other, as well as upon the craft unions. Their 
combined membership is only a fraction of the total num- 
ber of railroaders organized. 

Such are the results of the dual industrial union program 
after more than thirty years of effort on the part of thous- 
ands of active and earnest militants. Could a showing be 
more disappointing? It amounts to a failure complete in 
both theory and practice. Not only have the dualists failed 
to rally the masses to their program, but they have also 
failed to grasp the principles of solidarity. The spectacle 
of five dual industrial unions in one industry, all conceived 
in the name of solidarity, is tragically ridiculous. But that 
is the logical result of deserting the old unions and setting 



22 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

up Utopian organizations. Other industries where similar 
tactics have been used show identical results. 

In view of these facts should it not be evident that the 
long-hoped-for industrial union of railroad workers will 
not come through dual unionism? And is it not clear that 
this disruptive program should be finally and definitely 
abandoned? In the next chapter we will see how the in- 
dustrial union is really being brought about through the 
evolution of the old trade unions. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 23 

CHAPTER III. 
THE EVOLUTION OF RAILROAD TRADE UNIONISM 

Now, having- seen the utter failure of the dual union pro- 
gram of the concious minorities, let us examine the drift 
of the conservative masses towards industrial unionism, 
for as yet it can hardly be called a concious movement. 

Like the radical minority elements, the great body of 
railroad men have responded to the oppression of the rail- 
road companies. But their manner of doing so has been 
vastly different. It is not their method to throw away 
their old unions, built through so much stress and struggle, 
and to begin all over again on a supposedly perfect basis 
as the dual unionists have so long urged them to do. No, 
they are far too sluggish for that. Their way is the evolu- 
tionary way, the way followed almost universally by work- 
ers in improving their organizations, and the one taken 
by the railroad companies in building up their own power. 
They have no plan or theory, but move pretty much as 
circumstances imperatively dictate. As they sense the need 
for more united action they build up and extend their old 
unions and then strike up closer and closer affiliations with 
sister organizations. The general result is a constant and 
steady, even if unrecognized, approach to the industrial 
form. 

This unceasing evolution has gone on for many years, 
in fact from the very inception of railroad unionism. The 
stages making it up are many and complicated. Beginning 
with a whole series of primitive and isolated local unions, 
the organization has constantly marched on expanding and 
developing until it has reached its present condition of six- 
teen more or less loosely federated national craft unions 
covering the whole railroad industry. These unions are: 
Engineers (B. of L. E.), Firemen (B. of L. F. & E.), Conduc- 
tors (O. R. C.) Trainmen (B. of R. T.), Switchmen (S. U. 



24 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

of N. A.), Telegraphers (O. R. T.), Clerks (B. of R. & S. C. 
F. H. E. & S. E.), Signalmen (B. of R. S. of A.), Stationary 
Firemen (I. B. of S. F. & O.), Maintenance of Way (U. B. 
M. W. & R. S. L.), Machinists (I. A. of M.), Blacksmiths 
(I. B. of B. & H.), Boilermakers (L B. I. S. B. & H. of A.), 
Carmen (B. R. C of A.), Electrical Workers (L B. E. W.), 
and Sheet Metal Workers (A. S. M. W. L A.). In order 
that we may understand the coming together process that 
has developed these craft unions and the alliances between 
them, and so* we will have a guide for future progress, it 
will pay us to review some of the details of the evolution. 
We will consider the sixteen principal unions in their three 
natural divisions of transportation, miscellaneous, and shop, 
beginning with the transportation section. 

Development of the Transportation Unions 

Originally the five unions actually engaged in the direct 
moving of passengers and freight, the Engineers, Firemen, 
Conductors, Trainmen, and Switchmen, like all the other 
railroad trade unions, followed a policy of individual action. 
That is, each craft group fought its own battles, regard- 
less of the interests of the others. When one struck the 
rest stayed at work, with the natural result that much bit- 
terness prevailed among them. This was intensified by 
raging jurisdictional wars and mutual scabbery. The gen- 
eral result was to seriously weaken them all and to make 
them pay dearly, through many lost strikes, for their lack 
of solidarity. 

The evolution of the transportation unions, like all 
others, is to be measured chiefly by the extension and 
solidification of their fighting front against the employers. 
The first fighting unit used by the transportation unions 
consisted simply of the few workers in a single trade em- 
ployed in only one town of a railroad system. For exam- 
ple, the conductors working out of a certain division town 
would negotiate an agreement with the company. Thus 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 25 

there might be a dozen agreements in effect for this one 
craft on the whole railroad. Naturally such a primitive 
method developed but little strength for the workers. 
Fighting as they did in such small detachments it was easy 
for the expanding companies to defeat them. So eventually 
they came to learn that they would have to operate on a 
broader scale. Then came the enlargement of the fighting 
unit until it included all the workers in a given craft upon a 
whole railroad system. Thereafter, the conductors, in- 
stead of acting together only in each division point, moved 
in concert all over the many divisions comprising the road. 
This type of one craft on one system became general quite 
early in the history of railroad unionism. 

But it was only a step. The companies, waxing rapidly 
rich and powerful, found that with all the departments of 
a system in operation, save one, it was not difficult to de- 
feat a striking craft. Hence the need for a still more ex- 
tended battlefront pressed heavily upon the workers, and 
in 1889 an effort was made to finally solve the problem by 
federating the several transportation unions together on a 
national scale in the United Order of Railway Employes. 
But this federation was premature, and it fell to pieces in 
1891 because of internal strife. Out of its ruins, however, 
grew one of the most important types of organization yet 
produced in this country. This is what is called the sys- 
tem federation. 

System federations are alliances of several crafts on 
individual railroad systems. They operated to extend the 
fighting unit from one craft on one system to several crafts 
on one system. In the transportation department they 
brought about active offensive and defensive co-operation 
between the four brotherhoods* on all matters relating 
to single railroads. This type of organization was pro- 
posed by the Engineers in 1890. It was adapted in 1892, 



*The bitter jurisdictional warfare between the Trainmen and Switchmen 
resulted, among its many other evil effects, in keeping the latter organiza- 
tion out of the many federations mentioned in this section, and in having them 
practically isolated until quite recently. 



26 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

under what is known as the Cedar Rapids Plan, but it did 
not get wide application until within the last fifteen years. 

The system federations have done much to break down 
the intense sectionalism of the brotherhoods. Tending to 
make the crafts better acquainted with each other, they 
have checked jurisdictional quarrels and produced a better 
co-operation all around. Naturally their component unions 
greatly increased in power from the extended scope of 
solidarity. This was clearly manifested in the big strikes 
on the southern Pacific (1913), the Delaware & Hudson 
(1914), and the Chicago Belt (1915). All three were clean- 
cut victories. In each case the four organizations struck 
almost to a man and compelled the companies to grant 
their demands. 

While the system federations were spreading through- 
out the country, the transportation unions, responding to 
the ever-present urge to get together, still further ex- 
tended their scope of action by means of territorial or di- 
visional organizations and movements. In order to make 
it clear what these important developments signify it is 
necessary to explain that the Government, the railroad 
companies and the workers consider the railroads of the 
United States as falling into three "territories" or divisions : 
Western, Eastern and Southern. The Western Territory, 
or Division No. 1* comprises all the railroads West of and 
including the Illinois Central; the Eastern Territory, or 
Division No. 2, all those East of Chicago and North of the 
Chesapeake & Ohio; the Southern Territory, or Division 
No. 3, all those East of the Illinois Central and South of 
the Chesapeake & Ohio, including the latter system. 

The divisional type of organization enlarged the fighting 
unit of the crafts from the one system basis to that of 
the scores of roads that are to be found in each division, 



*Following for simplicity's sake the terminology in use among the A. F. of L. 
railroad unions, a Territory will be hereafter in this booklet referred to as 
Division No. 1, 2 or 3, accordingly as it is Western Eastern or Southern. 
The railroads of Canada comprise Division No. 4 in union practice, while the 
Independent railroad locomotive and car equipment plants in both countries 
constitute Division No. 5. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 27 

a significant advance. Henceforth, instead of the roads 
being handled separately on the questions of hours, wages, 
etc., they were dealt with in large numbers. But the divi- 
sional movements varied in character. Some consisted of 
only one craft, as, for example, those of the Engineers 
(Div. No. 1, 1908) and the Firemen (Div. No. 1, 1907) ; but 
eventually they came to consist of two crafts, thus doub- 
ling their scope. The Conductors and Trainmen inaugur- 
ated the latter type, when an alliance was struck up be- 
tween them in 1901. The Engineers and Firemen followed 
suit by a similar alliance in 1913. Several of these two- 
craft divisional movements were made. A typical instance 
was that of the Engineers and Firemen in 1915 on all the 
roads in the West, comprising Division No. 1. Approxi- 
mately 65,000 men were involved. 

The system and divisional federations were vast im- 
provements over the primitive types of organization and 
they did much to develop the latent power of the brother- 
hood men, but evolution could not stop with them. In 
the face of the growing intelligence of the workers and 
the intensified power of the companies they had to give 
away to a still broader type. This was a concerted move- 
ment of the four organizations on all the railroads in the 
whole country. This big advance manifested itself in the 
great struggle for the eight-hour day in 1916-17. Over 
350.000 engineers, firemen, conductors and trainmen were 
involved. It constituted the largest, well organized wage 
movement known in America up to that time, and resulted 
in a victory for the men. To stem the threatened gigantic 
strike, Congress hastily passed the Adamson eight-hour 
law, and the mossback Supreme Court, under the lash, 
hopped around, and for about the first time in its history 
gave Labor a square deal by calling the law constitutional, 
just on the eve of the strike. 

Thus, so far as we have gone, we find that the brother- 
hood men, responding to the pressure against them, have 
gradually extended their fighting unit from the narrow 



28 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

confines of one trade in one railroad town to broad-sweep- 
ing movements of the four trades on all the railroads in the 
United States. To one familiar with the gradual manner 
in which workers improve the structure of their labor 
unions this tremendous advance will stand out as a long 
stride towards the inevitable industrial union in the rail- 
road industry. 

Development of the Miscellaneous Unions 

Before going further with the four brotherhoods let us 
turn our attention to the unions in the miscellaneous sec- 
tion; viz, Telegraphers, Clerks, Signalmen, Stationary 
Firemen, and Maintenance of Way Workers. Their evo- 
lution is comparitively simple. Before the war the latter 
four led a very precarious existence, as they possessed lit- 
tle organization upon the various roads. When the war 
came, however, they underwent a mushroom growth and 
swarmed nearly all of the eligible workers into their ranks. 
At one blow almost they advanced from the primitive 
status of negotiating separate agreements for each system 
to the establishments of national agreements for their re- 
spective crafts on all interstate systems. 

Because of their long quarrel with the Trainmen, the 
Switchmen remained in the detached condition character- 
istic of the unions in the miscellaneous section. In fact, 
although properly a transportation union, they usually 
found themselves left out of the joint movements in that 
department. 

Development of the Shop Unions 

The principal shop unions are the Machinists, Black- 
smiths, Boilermakers, Carmen, Electrical Workers, and 
Sheet Metal Workers. Their evolution was much more 
lengthy and involved than that of the miscellaneous unions. 
It is comparable to that of the transportation unions and 
merits our attention. It illustrates clearly the constant 
get-together tendencies of the railroad unions. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 29 

Like the members of the brotherhoods, the shop workers 
began early to perceive that their trades could not success- 
fully fight alone. It was not enough that their respective 
crafts be highly organized. It was necessary also that 
they should co-operate together as against the common 
enemy, the companies. Dozens of lost strikes emphasized 
this lesson. So the shopmen entered upon a long course 
of drawing up their unions into federations, much as the 
brotherhood men have done, but without quite so many 
complications and refinements. 

The first definite form of active co-operation among the 
shop trades was the familiar system federation. This type 
of organization did for the shop men what it did for the 
transportation men, expanded their scope of action from 
one craft on one system to several crafts on one system. 
They began to spread over the railroads of the country 
about 1905, and in a few years were established on many 
systems. But the shop men, less strategically situated in 
th t industry than are the brotherhood men, have always 
had to fight harder to win concessions from the companies. 
Consequently their system federation movement met heavy 
resistance from the companies in a number of strikes, chief 
among which was the great Harriman Lines-Illinois Cen- 
tial walkout. 

This big strike started in September, 1911, and lasted 
forty-five months, until June, 1915. It was one of the most 
bitterly contested strikes in American labor history, and 
one of the most important. About 38,000 men were in- 
volved, scattered over the twelve railroads comprising the 
'enormous Harriman Lines-Illinois Central system. The 
issue at stake was the question of federation ; the nine 
unions insisting upon dealing collectively with the man- 
agement, and the management insisting that they act one 
at a time. Both sides desperately fought out their issue. 
President Markham of the Illinois Central explained the 
company's opposition as follows : 



30 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

"It would only be a question of years until the 
operating men became members of the system fed- 
eration. That would place the company at the mercy 
of a compact body of labor to enforce its demands 
by tying up the system at all points. It would mean 
taking the control out of the hands of the board of 
directors and placing it in the hands of organized 
labor. That's why I am opposed to the system fed- 
eration plan of organization." 

Nominally the strike was lost, the workers being com- 
pelled to go back to work without either their unions or a 
settlement. But practically a large measure of victory 
was achieved, because the company paid so dearly for its 
victory that other companies hesitated to go into similar 
struggles; with the result that the shopmen's federations 
thereafter were quite generally recognized wherever the 
crafts had any strength of organization. The big strike 
definitely established the system federation movement. 
It also resulted in making the Railway Employes' Depart- 
ment the best department in the A. F. of L., by bringing 
about the amalgamation of the original half-dead depart- 
ment with the Federation of Federations, an organization 
called into being to unite all the system federations. 

As in the case of the transportation unions, the divisional 
type of organization developed among the shop unions side 
by side with the system federations. The first divisional 
movement of shop men took place in Division No. 3 in 
1916. Twelve Southern railroads were involved. In Di- 
vision No. 1 an effort was made along similar lines shortly 
after; but the unions, not yet recovered from the big 
strike on the Harriman Lines-Illinois Central system, were 
unable to win their point. The companies blocked them, 
and compelled them to continue along with the old method 
of one craft or one system federation at a time, as the case 
might be. 

At this stage of the shop unions' development the war 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 31 

broke out and the whole situation was revolutionized. The 
railroads were taken over by the Government; Director- 
General McAdoo issued his famous order No. 8 guarantee- 
ing railroaders the right to organize ; the workers streamed 
into the unions ; local, system and divisional federations 
were hastily organized, and the shop unions fairly leaped 
even beyond the point of development reached by the 
brotherhoods in their great eight-hour movement of a 
couple of years before. They not only carried out na- 
tional campaigns for hours, wages, etc., but in addition suc- 
ceeded in negotiating a national agreement covering the 
whole six shop crafts upon all the railroads of the United 
States thereby taking another long stride towards firmly 
uniting the great body of railroad men in one organiza- 
tion. 

Transportation, Miscellaneous and Shop Unions Unite 

To recapitulate : So far as we have gone we find the 
sixteen railroad unions operating as follows : First, the 
four transportation unions, consisting of the Engineers, 
Firemen, Conductors and Trainmen, acting in close co- 
operation upon a national scale. Second, the six miscella- 
neous unions, consisting of the Telegraphers, Clerks, 
Switchmen, Signalmen, Stationary Firemen and Mainten- 
ance of Way Workers, each proceeding separately, but all 
working upon a national basis. Third, the six shop unions, 
consisting of the Machinists, Blacksmiths, Boilermakers, 
Carmen, Electrical Workers and Sheet Metal Workers, all 
working under a single national agreement. 

This situation was a far cry from the primitive type 
of unionism described above. But evolution could not stop 
there. The same forces that had brought the organiza- 
tions to this stage of development must continue to oper- 
ate until there is complete solidarity among all railroad 
workers. It was inevitable that the two compact groups 
of transportation and shop unions and the scattering group 



32 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

of miscellaneous unions should strike up a co-operation 
among themselves upon a national scale.* 

The first step in this direction had to do with political 
measures. The unions clearly recognized their industrial 
relationship and mutual interdependence in the Plumb 
Plan. To advocate this proposal they formed themselves 
into the Plumb Plan League, issued the joint journal, 
"Labor," and launched a general publicity campaign. But 
it was not long until this new co-operation also manifested 
itself on the industrial field, and in 1920 all the organiza- 
tions united in a national movement for wage increases. 

Thus, after many long years of evolution, the enormous 
army of railroad workers, beginning at the simple system 
of one trade acting at a time in each division town, finally 
arrived at the stage where all the trades acted together 
simultaneously on every railroad in the United States. 
Although the lineup was yet far from perfect, the 1,850,- 
000 railroad men, for the first time in their history, were 
moving in a body against the common enemy. The ap- 
proach made to industrial unionism by this long evolution 
is unmistakable. 

Much of this national, all-trades co-operation is unques- 
tionably flimsy as yet, as we shall see farther on. It may 
be that the present alliances will be partly dissolved 
through the shortsightedness of the men though the six- 
teen trades strike on the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic 
augurs well. But such setbacks can only be temporarily. 
The evolution of the unions will go on, in spite of occa- 
sional reverses, until all the railroad workers of America 
stand stolidly united in one organization, fully conscious 
of their common interests against the common foe, and de- 
termined to fight shoulder to shoulder to make them pre- 
vail. 



*A forerunner of the all-craft movement occurred on the Chicago & Eastern 
Illinois in 1915, when all the trades on that road joined forces in a system 
federation, the first of its kind. The system federation was unique in that 
it comprised all the railroad crafts, and not merely several of the more 
closely related grroups. as had previously been the case. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 33 

For industrial unionists the facts cited in these two chap- 
ters should bear an important lesson. They make it clear 
as day that the dual unions have failed utterly, and that 
the trade unions provide the means for the realization of 
industrial unionism on the railroads. Not only have the 
latter organized the vast bulk of all railroad workers ; but 
they are also constantly closing up their ranks in a man- 
ner that can only end in transforming them all into one 
organization. The part of wisdom then is to give up dual 
unionism and to devote all our efforts to the development 
of the trade unions. 

The worst of the dual industrial unions is not so much 
that they have failed of themselves, but rather that they 
have greatly retarded the progress of the trade unions. 
In the first place, they have discredited the very name of 
industrial unionism by associating it with secession, dis- 
ruption and failure. And, then by pulling thousands of live 
wires out of the trade unions they have robbed these or- 
ganizations of tremendous support. It is safe to assume 
that if the large body of industrial unionists, for all these 
years, had stayed in the old unions, set up their ideal of 
industrial unionism there, and then worked for every prac- 
tical measure making in that direction, we would have had 
an industrial union of railroad workers by now. But bet- 
ter late than never. This sensible policy should be fol- 
lowed henceforth, and a lasting goodbye said to dual 
unionism. 



34 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

CHAPTER IV 
THE NEXT STEP AMALGAMATION 

Sooner or later, the unions in all industries and in every 
country find themselves at the point where they are based 
upon industrial rather than craft lines. In arriving at this 
stage of development they ordinarily pass through a more 
or less lengthy evolutionary process, marked by three dis- 
tinct phases, which I shall call: (1) isolation, (2) federa- 
tion, (3) amalgamation. 

In the first, or isolation phase, the several craft groups 
in a given industry act independently of each other, rec- 
ognizing few or no interests in common. Eventually, how- 
ever, grace to their own unfolding intelligence, to the grow- 
ing power of the employers, to the elimination of skill by 
machinery, and to various other factors, they awaken to 
the ineffectiveness of this individualistic method, and begin 
to set up offensive and defensive alliances with each other. 
This brings them into the second, or federation phase. 
And, finally, when by the working of the same factors, they 
perceive their loose federated form, although a big im- 
provement over the previous system, does not develop their 
maximum power, they gradually fuse themselves together 
into a unified body along the lines of their industry. Thus 
they reach the third, or amalgamation phase. 

This is the normal course of labor union development, 
the natural way of building industrial unions. Dozens of 
industrial unions in Europe have taken it, and our Amer- 
ican trade unions are following suite. In common with 
other groups of unions in the food, clothing, metal, trans- 
port, building, printing, and other industries, the railroad 
unions are now in the secondary, or federation phase of 
development. That is the significance of their multitudi- 
nous local system, divisional and national alliances, which 
constitute the most elaborate maze of federation ever con- 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 35 

structed by unions anywhere. Nor will they stop with 
federation. They must go on to the next phase, amalga- 
mation. In so doing they will be merely following the dic- 
tates of reason and acting in harmony with labor union 
evolution the world over. It will be the logical and in- 
evitable climax to all the get-together movements, radical 
and conservative, among railroad men for a generation. 
Amalgamation of the sixten railroad craft unions into one 
industrial union that's the railroaders' next step. 

The Failings of Federation 

The situation is over-ripe for a general amalgamation 
of all railroad unions. Solidly united and inspired by a 
boundless voracity for profits and power, the railroad com- 
panies are resolved to smash the workers down to slav- 
ery. In this unholy task they have the active assistance of 
every branch of the powerful capitalist class. Common 
sense demands, therefore, that the enormous army of rail- 
road men be brought to the highest possible state of effi- 
ciency in unflinching opposition to our would-be masters. 
Under the prevailing federated form this cannot be done. 
Amalgamation is the only solution. 

Federation is all right so far as it goes. It marks an 
important stage in the workers' development from craft 
to class unionism. It is at once an admission of the in- 
effectiveness of craft action and a striving for industrial 
solidarity. Federation always sounds the death knell of 
pure and simple trade unionism. But the trouble with it 
is that it does not go far enough. It is essentially only a 
halfway measure. Afflicted with lingering craft weak- 
nesses, it develops only a fraction of the workers' potential 
power. Despite federation the employers are still able to 
play one group of workers against the others and thus beat 
them all. 

Whenever a federation goes into action, whether in con- 
c erence or in strike, its weaknesses are instantly apparent. 



36 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

The autonomous unions lack cohesion and unity of pur- 
pose. The craft point of view prevails. Each union, ani- 
mated by its particular craft prejudices, and selfishness, 
looks first to the interest of its own members. Little or no 
power is conceded to the federation, which is looked upon 
pretty much as a mere matter of convenience. The idea of 
the general good remains in the background. Jealousies, 
squabblings and even betrayals are the order of the day. 
Consequently united action is out of the question. Federa- 
tions can neither agree definitely upon a program, nor fight 
vigorously to put one through. 

The Steel Workers' Federation 

Railroad men have had a wide experience with federa- 
tion. But before going into that it may not be amiss to 
mention something of what happened in the great organ- 
izing campaign and strike in the steel industry for federa- 
tion always works out the same. 

The National Committee for Organizing Iron and Steel 
Workers was a gigantic experiment in federation. It con- 
sisted of twenty-four international unions ,numbering over 
2,000,000 members. While its work, like that of all federa- 
tions, was a big improvement over the primitive condition 
of each union going it alone, still it was afflicted with the 
customary faults of such organizations. These contrib- 
uted much to its final defeat. 

In the great steel fight the need for the solidarity of 
labor was imperative. The Steel Trust was solidly united ; 
its forces worked together like a perfect machine. But not 
so on the side of Labor where there should have been 
unity, harmony and power, there was division, disagree- 
ment and impotency. Federation failed to make good. 
The twenty-four unions never really combined their forces, 
or organized their many wills into one firm determination 
to win. From first to last they lacked cohesion and sin- 
gleness of purpose. And under their federated form of 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 37 

organization not even the great stake of the organization 
of the steel industry could spur them to unified action. 

The National Committee, like all federations, lacked 
authority to command the resources and co-operation of 
its component unions. Instead of the campaign being con- 
ducted from one central point, as the situation impera- 
tively demanded, it was practically handled from the 
twenty-four union headquarters scattered all over the 
country. It proved impossible to get all the international 
presidents (who held the reins of power) assembled in one 
meeting, even in the most critical periods of the movement. 
Notwithstanding the most desperate appeals, the most got- 
ten together at any one time was seven. The usual thing 
for the unions to do was to send some minor official with- 
out power to act, which of itself condemned the National 
Committee to powerlessness. Then, when the committee 
attempted to function through these straw delegates and 
took important action, word would soon come from some 
headquarters, far from the scene of action, that they would 
not go along with the program outlined. Then other 
unions, hearing of this, would likewise balk, with the con- 
sequent collapse of the plan. This was the fate of many 
vital measures. Constantly the movement was paralyzed. 
It had to drift along as best it could with only a fraction 
of the strength of the twenty-four unions behind it. 

Jurisdictional fights and craft jealousies embittered the 
unions and still furthed weakened their co-operation. There 
was also endless confusion in starting and finishing the 
strike, many local unions refusing to respond to the Na- 
tional Committee. In one case the officials of the Inter- 
national Union of Steam Operating Engineers deliberately 
betrayed the whole movement because of a fight with the 
Electrical Workers over jurisdiction. They ordered their 
men to disobey the strike call and to remain at work. Sim- 
ilarly, the officials of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, 
Steel and Tin Workers sabotaged the organizing campaign 
and strike from beginning to end, because of jealousy 



38 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

towards the other unions, if nothing worse. The regular 
attitude was for each organization to hold back, waiting 
for the others to take the lead, and fearing that if it stirred 
the others would take advantage of its good will. This 
meant paralysis all around ; the unions weakest in resources 
and spirit seemed to set the pace for the rest. Nor could 
anything change the situation. 

In the matter of finances the holding back tendency was 
particularly noticeable. Although actually with millions 
in their treasuries, the twenty-four unions gave the Na- 
tional Committee only the beggarly sum of $100,000 to 
carry on the whole organizing campaign and the strike. 
If hard-pressed almost any one of them could have done 
as well alone. Three outside unions, the Amalgamated 
Clothing Workers, the Ladies' Garment Workers, and the 
Fur Workers, contributed more than the twenty-four 
unions combined; viz., $190,000. Had the twenty-four 
unions been really united, instead of merely federated, they 
could, and certainly would have put in fifty times as much 
money as they did ; not to speak of the strength they 
would have added in other ways. An industrial union of 
steel workers, under similar circumstances, would have 
surely defeated the Steel Trust. 

Some Foreign Experiences 

Federation always demonstrates such defects. The 
British Labor Movement has just had a disastrous experi- 
ence with it. There the miners, railroaders, and transport 
workers were federated together in the world-famous 
Triple Alliance. The understanding was that if one of 
the three groups got in serious trouble the other two would 
rally to its support. The workers thought they had a 
wonderful weapon in this gigantic labor combination,, num- 
bering about two million people employed in the most 
vitally necessary industries. 

But events sadly undeceived them. The Triple Alii- 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 39 

ance, when put to the test, collapsed like federations al- 
ways do under pressure. The trouble started in the Spring 
of 1921, when the miners were bitterly attacked by the 
mine owners. They called upon the two affiliated groups 
of railroads and transport workers to help them. This the 
latter made a show of doing, going so far even as to call 
a general strike in support of the miners. But this never 
materialized. On the contrary, the three great unions, 
simply because they were separate organizations and 
manned by timid officials, quarrelled among themselves 
over the usual technicalities, personalities, etc. and finally 
declared off the threatened strike. The miners were left 
to make the fight alone, and the general result was far 
worse than if there had been no Triple Alliance at all. 
The affair was a terrific defeat for the whole working 
class. 

Above all the labor movement is a fighting organization, 
and a successful fighting machine can never be constructed 
on the basis of federation. This was clearly demonstrated 
during the World War in the military forces of the Allies. 
In the beginning the Allied armies were practically fed- 
erated. But naturally no real concerted action was possi- 
ble among them, just as it is impossible among federated 
trade unions and for the same reasons. No general strat- 
egy could be developed. When France was making a drive 
against the Central Powers, England, Italy, Russia and 
the rest would invariably be doing the reverse of what they 
should be, and vice versa. Nor could the most pressing 
danger of defeat put an end to this condition and make 
the federated armies function effectively. When they had 
nearly lost the war then the Allies applied the remedy, 
amalgamation. The several armies were placed under one 
head. This doubled their power and sounded the death 
knell of the opposing military forces. Whether in social 
or military warfare, unity of thought and action can come 
only through unity of organization. That is the great les- 
son railroad men have yet to learn. 



40 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

Insufficiency of Railroad Federation 

But railroad workers have no need to look afield for 
weaknesses of federation. The history of our own organ- 
izations is replete with such. One of many illustrations 
that may be cited was the great Illinois Central-Harriman 
Lines strike. That affair was a glaring illustration of the 
divided authority and lack of solidarity produced by feder- 
ation. There was the customary manifestations of craft 
selfishness at the expense of the general interest ; the same 
unwillingness of the various organizations to concede the 
necessary control to the federation; the same planlessness 
and confusion in financing and directing the walkout. It 
was truly said that there were nine craft strikes, rather 
than one general strike. From first to last the various of- 
ficials, jealous of their respective prerogatives, quarrelled 
bitterly among themselves. Charges of indifference, sa- 
botage, and sell-out flew back and forth between them. 
Torn with dissention, the whole movement constantly 
faced disruption. Under such circumstances, so typical of 
federation, a really effective strike was altogether out of 
the question. All chances for victory went glimmering. 
Defeat resulted. 

But could a more damning argument be found against 
federation than our present situation? The employers 
have declared war to the knife against the unions. And 
the latter, despite the many federations, are cringing under 
the blow, unwilling and incapable of helping each other. 
The railroad owners select one union or group of unions 
after the other and give them a beating, while the others, 
safe from attack for the moment, refuse to go to the at- 
tacked ones' assistance. Thus the transportation unions 
stand about shrugging their shoulders while the shop 
unions have their national agreement taken away from 
them. And in turn the shop unions consider it none of 
their funeral when the Stationary Firemen, Maintenance 
of Way, and other groups lose the eight-hour day. Thus 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 41 

S^ 

it goes, with the companies defeating us piecemeal, one 
section after another. Divide and conquer is the eternal 
motto of the exploiter. And never was it put more effec- 
tively into practice than it now is as against the railroad 
workers. 

If we should be forced into a strike, as well we may, 
how would it go with us then? We are ill-prepared for 
such a vital struggle. The chances are, if present indica- 
tions do not lie completely, that only a group of the unions 
would strike, and the others, with characteristic craft sel- 
fishness, would stay at work and thus help defeat the 
strike. But even if all the sixteen unions should strike to- 
gether, which is most unlikely indeed, the situation would 
be critical for us. Chronically divided by their craft char- 
acter, the organizations would go into the fight with a 
fraction of possible efficiency. Instead of a homogenuous 
machine, we would have sixteen autonomous unions, each 
with its own set of officers and each its own will ; sixteen 
sets of organizers working at cross purposes with each 
other and creating endless confusion ; sixteen different 
strike relief systems, with the disruptive condition of the 
richer ones paying high benefits and the poorer ones none ; 
sixteen headquarters scattered all over the country dab- 
bling in the management of the strike and quarreling with 
each other. 

Under such circumstances, inevitable in the present state 
of our organization, limitless confusion, disharmony, and 
weakness would result. A properly conducted strike, one 
that would bring out the real power of the workers and 
give them better than a desperate chance to win, would be 
impossible. It would be the steel strike and the Illinois 
Central-Harriman Lines strike all over again, only this 
time on a far larger scale. Of course, such a strike might 
be won. But if victory did come it would be due to the 
weight and stragetic position of the workers, and not to 
the skill shown in organization. And the winning would 
amount to only a fraction of what it would if the workers 



42 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

were really united. But the strike might also be lost. 
This is the chance that cannot be taken. If we are going 
to have a general struggle the workers must go into it 
properly organized and prepared to effectively support each 
other to the limit. 

Federation must give way to amalgamation, just as iso- 
lation gave way to federation. There is no other way out 
of it. In the phase of isolation the unions, in spite of their 
handicaps, made considerable headway and abolished many 
abuses. In federation they have vastly increased their 
power and established conditions that amount to a semi- 
revolution in the railroad industry. But infinitely greater 
tasks lie ahead, tasks that will demand the utmost unani- 
mity of purpose and action from the whole army of rail- 
road workers. And this unanimity federation cannot give. 
So long as the unions remain autonomous bodies, each with 
its own set of officers, just that long will they stand first 
for their respective craft interests,, to the detriment of the 
general welfare, and just that long will real unity among 
railroad men be impossible. This can only be had when 
the unions are all amalgamated into one body. Then the 
resultant organization, with one set of officials, one in- 
terest and one goal, will develop such tremendous power 
that the workers will be able to make real progress on the 
long, hard road to emancipation. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 43 

CHAPTER V. 
A PLAN OF AMALGAMATION 

When American railroad men embark upon the amalga- 
mation of all their trade unions into one industrial union 
they will not be pioneers blazing- a trail through an un- 
known wilderness. On the contrary, they will be setting 
forth on a well-travelled road, long since gone over by the 
railroad workers of France, Italy, England, Russia, Ger- 
many, Belgium, etc., on their way to freedom for in all 
these countries all classes of railroad workers, save an oc- 
casional craft fragment here and there, are to be found in 
single organizations. In fact, the United States is the 
only important country in the world where the industrial 
form of union is not predominant among railroad workers. 
Here alone, where the need for solidarity is greater than 
anywhere else, is the antiquated craft type supreme which 
does not speak well for our spirit of progress. 

In considering measures to be taken by us for amalga- 
mation we will do well to bear in mind the experiences of 
railroad workers of other countries. Great Britain, for 
instance, contains a lesson for us. In that country, it is 
true, the railroad organizations are not so completely in- 
dustralized as they are in Continental Europe ; but the gen- 
eral conditions of unionism are so similar to those here 
and the British unions have made so much progress 
towards industrial organization, that their achievements in 
this direction should prove valuable to us as a criterion. 

The National Union of Railwayman 

The basic organization on British railroads is the N%- 
tional Union of Railwaymen (N. U. R.), which includes all 
classes of railroad workers. But it has not yet succeeded 
in completely industrializing the situation. The Associated 
Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, which con- 



44 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

trols a portion of these two crafts, remains separate. Like- 
wise the Railway Clerks' Association; but between this 
organization and the N. U. R. complete understanding- ex- 
ists. The two would amalgamate, but it is felt that inas- 
much as the Clerks still have something of a "white collar 
psychology," it may be better to let them go alone until 
they know more about unionism and can stand fusion with 
the mass of less genteel workers. However, both unions 
work in closest co-operation. Besides the two separate 
craft groups there is also a dispute over the shop men, the 
metal trades unions putting in claims for and organizing 
numbers of these workers. But this difference bids fair to 
be settled along industrial lines. Notwithstanding these 
ragged edges, however, the N. U. R., with its industrial 
structure, is overwhelmingly the most important union on 
the railroads. Having over 400,000 members, or about 
four-fifths of all organized railroad workers, and enjoying 
great prestige, it dominates the whole situation. It may 
well serve as a type for us to go by. 

The National Union of Railwaymen is the product of an 
evolution essentially the same as that which American rail- 
road unions are now going through. It experienced the 
three familiar phases of isolation, federation and amalga- 
mation. At first the various craft unions went it alone, 
with the usual unsatisfactory results. Then they tried 
federation; but that developed the same failings as it does 
here : the organizations wrangled among themselves and 
lacked the power that comes from real unity. So finally 
the three most important among them, the Amalgamated 
Society of Railway Servants, the General Railway Work- 
ers' Union, and the United Signalmen and Pointsmen, fused 
themselves together and formed the National Union of 
Railwaymen. 

This was in 1913. The effect of the amalgamation was 
electric. Immediately the whole movement leaped to the 
front. When the amalgamation took place the three com- 
bining unions had 156,000 members ; eighteen months later 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 45 

the new organization had 300,000. A new spirit seized 
hold of the railroad workers. For the first time they were 
able to give unified expression to their needs and their 
power. They marched forward amazingly, and today their 
union stands in the very forefront of the British labor 
movement. It is playing a part in the industrial life of 
Great Britain such as the old railroad craft unions hardly 
dared dream of. The organization of the N. U. R. marked 
a new day for British railroaders. 

The National Union of Railwaymen is an industrial union 
in the true sense of the word. For all the classes of work- 
ers under its jurisdiction it has one general headquarters, 
one set of officials, one financial system, and one point of 
view. Of its organization machinery, which is strictly 
modern in type, a very important feature is the manner 
in which it ascertains, harmonizes and defends the in- 
terests of its variegated membership. To do this properly 
is always a big problem for broad-sweeping unions of the 
industrial type to at once give expression to the many 
crafts, and yet to avoid the bitter wranglings that ruin the 
efficiency of the unions in the two primitive stages of iso- 
lation and federation. In fact, it is to solve exactly this 
problem that industrial unions are called into being, and 
their value is to be measured by the degree in which they 
succeeded with its solution. 

The National Union of Railwaymen deals with this situa- 
tion through a departmental form of organization similar 
to that of other European industrial unions. Its national 
executive committee is composed of four sections, con- 
forming to natural divisions of the industry; viz., (1) Lo- 
comotive, (2) Traffic, (3) Goods and Cartage, C4) Engineer- 
ing Shops and Permanent Way. Each section numbers 
six men, or twenty-four for the whole committee. The 
effect of this is to give all the trades adequate representa- 
tion, so that their interests may be intelligently looked 
after at all times. 

In framing wage and other demands each section works 



46 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

out its own proposition and then submits it to the whole 
committee to pass on before it is incorporated in the gen- 
eral demands which in turn have to be ratified by either 
an annual or a special convention. Experience shows that 
these trades sections are able to agree upon a common 
program and to give each other a square deal much more 
readily than would a group of federated trade unions. Very 
few disputes occur between the departments. This is be- 
cause all the workers are members of one organization, 
which is shot through and through with the conception 
of the welfare of the general mass of railroad men. Nar- 
row craft selfishness, always fostered, developed and 
strengthened by separate organizations, is conspicuous by 
its absence in the industrial union. There is a distinct get- 
together tendency, a decided urge for solidarity. The gen- 
eral practicability of the system is shown in the wonderful 
growth and influence of British railroaders since the organ- 
ization of the National Union of Railwaymen. 

Locking the Unions Together 

In joining their forces into one common body, as inevit- 
ably they must sooner or later, American railroad unions 
will do well to adopt a departmental form similar to that of 
the N. U. R. Such a system would make for order and power 
throughout the entire union structure. In fact, it is the 
most practical and efficient method yet evolved to handle 
so many categories of workers as are to be found in the 
railroad industry. Conditions here make it advisable, how- 
ever, that for a time at least there be more departments in 
the proposed industrial union than there are in the N. U. R. 
For it is idle to suppose that our highly individualistic craft 
unions, accustomed as they are to so much autonomy, 
would rush into an industrial union that would at once 
wipe out their trade lines. A better plan would be to as- 
similate them gradually. Therefore, to begin with, it 
might probably be found expedient to have one department 
for each of the amalgamated organizations. This would 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 47 

be no very serious disadvantage. And then, later on, when 
the varous trades, through contact with each other, hal 
lost their narrow craft spirit ; when they had become di- 
gested by the amalgamation, the number of departments 
could be decreased to conform more clearly to the natural 
divisions of the industry. Closely allied groups of trades, 
such as the Engineers and Firemen, could eventually be 
placed in one department ; the Conductors, Trainmen and 
Switchmen in another; the metal trades (as fast as their 
organizations amalgamated nationally) in a third, and so 
on. Finally, the number of departments could be cut to 
eight, or if necessary, less. 

The first step, and a mighty important one, in bringing 
about the proposed amalgamation, would be to popularize 
the plan in all the organizations and to put them on record 
in favor of it. But let us suppose for a moment that this 
big job had been accomplished. Then the next step would 
be, at the amalgamation conference, or convention, to 
throw out a super-structure in front of the whole sixteen 
unions, definitely locking them together. This would be 
done by creating a national executive committee, based 
upon the departmental system, to handle the affairs of the 
new industrial union. In a pinch this committee might con- 
sist of the united executive boards of the amalgamated or- 
ganizations ; but the part of wisdom would be to construct 
it of about three delegates from each department; or but 
it is not so good a system of about 50 delegates chosen 
by the various departments on the basis of their respective 
voting strengths. Of course, the necessary general offic- 
ers and subcommittees would also be provided for. This 
would lay the foundation of the industrial union. 

One vital thing, the very essence of the amalgamation, 
and the measure without which it could have no meaning, 
is that the individual craft unions would completely sur- 
render their autonomy to the industrial union. Thence- 
forth the latter would be supreme. It would formulate the 
demands of all trades, present them together to the com- 



48 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

panics as one proposition, and, if necessary, strike as one 
man to make them prevail. Craft autonomy would be a 
thing of the past. 

The process of industrialization, begun by linking to- 
gether the heads of the trade unions, would be extended 
as fast as possible throughout all their ramifications. The 
local, system and divisional federations would be extended 
to conform to the new, closer relationship. Wherever prac- 
ticable the local unions would be actually amalgamated. 
The many sets of officials, national, divisional, system and 
local, would be gradually transformed into one homogenu- 
ous force. The many journals would be combined into one 
powerful publication. Standardization of the dues and 
benefit systems would be introduced; grading the dues of 
the various departments to fit the differently paid classes 
of workers, and preserving, if wanted, the heavy insurance 
features carried now by the transportation unions. A free 
transfer would be made to prevail between the different 
departments, and also a standard, uniform initiation fee, 
etc., etc. 

A revolution in the prevailing convention system would 
be necessitated. Instead of sixteen craft conventions, as 
there are today, then there would be but one general gath- 
ering of representatives of all classes of railroad workers 
the departments would not have either the need or the 
right to hold separate conventions of their own. The 
united railroad workers of America, possessed of one or- 
ganization and one will, would meet in general national 
convention to work out their common problems. Along 
with the obsolete craft conventions would go their equally 
obsolete system of representation. As the industrial union 
would be a huge organization containing many thousands 
of local unions, naturally the local union as a basis for con- 
vention representation would have to be discontinued. 
This would be a blessing for it is a primitive, expensive and 
impractical method. A much more fitting unit of repre- 
sentation is the system federation now used by the Rail- 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 49 

way Employees' Department. This system unit would 
probably be adopted, and the industrial union convention 
would be made up of representatives of the system organi- 
zations, either upon the basis of one delegate from each 
department of each system amalgamation ; or, what is more 
likely and practical, three or four delegates from each sys- 
tem amalgamation, selected by general election and with- 
out regard to their respective departments. This would 
at once insure a democratic and representative convention 
and keep its size within reason. It is instructive to note 
that the big National Union of Railwaymen of Great Bri- 
tain limits its annual conventions to eighty delegates, 
elected at large from the various districts into which the 
organization is divided. The antiquated system of local 
union representation is not recognized. 

Partial Amalgamation 

The foregoing propositions have been written around the 
thought of the whole sixteen unions making a concerted 
move for amalgamation for that is what should happen. 
The proposed industrial union should contain all the crafts, 
as the situation demands complete solidarity all along the 
line. Each of the organizations, no matter what its spe- 
cial conditions, has at once much to contribute to such a 
combination and much to gain from it. The amalgamation 
can never be thoroughly effective until all the railroad 
unions, large and small, strong and weak, become part of 
it. 

But in view of the fact that the unions are afflicted with 
large reactionary elements, who block every progressive 
movement, we have to consider the possibility that all of 
the organizations will not move for amalgamation simul- 
taneously. It is very probable that amalgamation, like 
federation, will being to show itself first in two or more 
streams among the closest related trades. In such an 
event, say, where several unions desired to amalgamate, 
they could do so exactly along the general principles out- 



50 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STPE 

lined above. Thy could set up their departments, one for 
each of the amalgamating- trades, just as though all the 
unions were parties to the plan. Later on, as the out- 
standing organizations woke up and came into the amalga- 
mation, new departments could be provided for them, and 
representation given them on the national executive com- 
mittee. The foregoing plan is feasible whether the unions 
all join hands at once, whether they first form several sets 
of amalgamations among themselves, and then link these 
together, or whether the various trades come in in ones 
and twos. 

Should all the unions amalgamate simultaneously one 
effect would be either the remodelling of the Railway Em- 
ployes' Department, along the lines suggested above, so 
that it could serve as the national executive committee of 
the industrial union ' (which would be the logical thing to 
do), or, in failure of such remodelling, its entire elimina- 
tion as superfluous. But should the unions amalgamate 
piece-meal, two or more at a time, the Railway Employes' 
Department might probably continue much as it is, with 
the same system of representation, the same autonomy 
between the affiliated organizations, etc. ; until finally the 
amalgamation had been completed, when the department 
would be faced by the same necessity as though all the 
organizations had fused together at the same time ; namely, 
remodelling to meet the new condition, or abolition. 

Of course, such partial amalgamations of two or more 
trades would be steps in the right direction. But they 
would not meet the needs of the situation. The thing that 
is wanted, and the thing that must be put through is the 
amalgamation of the whole sixteen railroad unions at the 
same time. 

The Matter of Non-Railroad Affiliations 

In working out an amalgamation project for the rail- 
road industry consideration must be given to the very im- 
portant fact that the unions therein divide into two dis- 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STPE 51 

tinct classes: (1) those whose membership is confined en- 
tirely, or practically so, to the railroads; (2) those that 
have large bodies of members in other industries. Of the 
first class, or purely railroad unions, are the Engineers, 
Firemen, Conductors, Trainmen, Switchmen, Carmen, Tel- 
egraphers, Clerks, Signalmen and Maintenance of Way 
Workers, ten in all. Of the second class, or semi-railroad 
unions, are the Machinists, Blacksmiths, Boilermakers, 
Electrical Workers, Sheet Metal Workers and Stationary 
Firemen six in all. 

Now a special problem arises from the fact that amalga- 
mation would affect these two classes of unions very dif- 
ferently. In the case of the purely railroad organizations 
the matter is comparatively simple. Their whole member- 
ship would be involved and they would simply merge com- 
pletely with the industrial union. But with the semi-rail- 
road organizations the matter is much more complex. Only 
that portion of their membership working upon the rail- 
roads would be affected, and an unmodified amalgamation 
project would oblige them to surrender these large sections 
of members to the industrial union. 

But it might just as well be recognized at the outset that 
the six semi-railroad unions would never agree to that at 
least not within measurable time. In trade union practice 
all over the world it is found that while it is feasible, al- 
though difficult, to get unions to merge together com- 
pletely, it is next to impossible to induce one organization 
to surrender any considerable part of its members to an- 
other. This would especially be the case with our six 
semi-railroad unions. Deeply imbued as they are with craft 
union principles, and accustomed to fight bitterly over the 
control of a man or two, they could be depended upon to 
fight to the last ditch against giving up such large portions 
of their membership to the industrial union. They would 
wreck any amalgamation proposition based on such a pro- 
gram. 

However, there is a way out of the difficulty. It lies in 



52 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

a modified amalgamation : As the basis of their refusal to 
give up their members, the six semi-railroad unions would 
argue with great weight that the mechanics have not only 
an industrial interest as railroad workers, but also a craft 
interest as tradesmen. They would contend that the ma- 
chinist or boilermaker who is now working on the railroad 
may be working next week at his trade in some other in- 
dustry ; and that, consequently, he has a direct interest in 
maintaining good conditions for his craft in all industries, 
and a moral obligation to belong to the organization that 
is doing that work. Whether right or wrong, this conten- 
tion would have to be met, and it could only be met suc- 
cessfully by giving the men involved a double affiliation 
to correspond to their double interest. That is to say, 
the shop mechanics would at once be affiliated to the rail- 
road industrial union and also to their respective craft 
unions. The two unions would divide between them the 
control over these classes of workers, each organization 
reserving the functions necessary to its proper working. 
Likewise, they would apportion the dues and per capita 
according to the services rendered by each organization.* 
Already there is a beginning of this system in the Rail- 
way Employes' Department. That organization is an em- 
bodiment of the recognition of the common industrial in- 
terests of the many crafts going to make it up. It is con- 
tinually encroaching upon the authority of its component 
trade unions. It has succeeded in securing a large meas- 
ure of control over the shop mechanics, together with a 
share (all too small) of per capita to finance this control. 
But as yet only a start has been made. In an amalgama- 
tion along industrial lines the general railroad organization 
would necessarily exercise a far greater degree of con- 



*In a recent agreement between the Miners' Federation and the Amalga- 
mated Engineering Union of Great Britain this principle was recognized. 
The A. E. U. gave the Miners' Federation industrial control (strike power) 
over its members working in the mines together with a portion of their dues 
to cover the cost of negotiations" with the mining companies. In return the 
A. E. U. members were given cards by the Miners' Federation, in addition 
to their regular A. E. U. cards. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 53 

trol than the Railway Employes' Department now does. 
It would have to have full sway over the bargaining and 
striking activities of all the railroad metal trade workers, 
and be financed with portions of their dues to correspond. 
Nothing- short of this would do, because genuine solidarity 
and unity of action is out of the question in an industry 
if one or more outside organizations have to be consulted 
and harmonized before definite action can be taken. 

in other words, the industrial union would handle the 
immediate interests of the shop mechanics in the railroad 
industry, and the craft unions would look after their more 
remote interests in other industries, their fraternal bene- 
fits, etc. Such an arrangement would, of course, throw 
the weight of the affiliation to the industrial union. The 
railroad metal trades worker would be a railroad man first 
and a boilermaker or machinist second. But even this 
double affiliation could hardly be considered final. Sooner 
or later the movement would reach the stage that it has in 
Continental Europe, where the shop mechanics usually 
belong entirely to the railroad industrial unions and have 
no connections whatever, except a free transfer, with the 
metal trades unions. But it will take a lot of education 
before we come to that. The bi-union system of control 
will probably have to be used for considerable time. 



54 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

CHAPTER VI. 
ADVANTAGES AND OBJECTIONS 

The supreme advantages of the amalgamation of all the 
railroad craft unions into one industrial union would be, 
of course, the enormous increase in economic power com- 
ing from the greater scope of activity, intensified solidar- 
ity and clearer vision of the larger body. From a series 
of detached, semi-organized fragments, incapable of out- 
lining a real general program, or of making a concerted 
fight for it, the army of the railroad workers would be 
transformed into a co-ordinated whole, animated by a com- 
mon purpose for every man in the industry and able to 
exert united, tremendous strength to achieve it. 

But there would be other, special advantages. One of 
these is the killing of the dual industrial union idea. In 
Chapter II we have seen something of the ravages caused 
by this idea ; how for over thirty years the old unions have 
been devitalized by the loss of thousands and thousands 
of first class militants who have quit them to start new 
organizations. And unless this splitting off tendency is 
stopped it may well result, some time or other, in a general 
smashup of the unions that will set them back for many 
years. Only the amalgamation of the craft unions into an 
industrial union can put an end to this standing menace. 
Once such a combination is brought about then many in- 
valuable militants, now lost to the movement, will devote 
their great potential strength to the productive work of 
building up the fused organization. 

Amalgamation would also stop the many jurisdictional 
wars that now sap the strength of the railroad trade unions. 
Sidney Webb, a well-known English labor writer, once said 
that trade unions lose 90 per cent of their efficiency because 
of fighting among themselves. That there is much truth 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 55 

in this assertion railroad men know to their cost. Who 
can estimate the serious injuries wrought our cause by the 
long-drawn, fratricidal struggle between the Trainmen and 
the Switchmen? And that is only one of many. Except 
for amalgamation, there is no cure for such jurisdictional 
disputes between closely related railroad trades. So long 
as these trades are in different unions (even though feder- 
ated) just so long will they steal each other's members and 
work, and just so long will internecine fights go on be- 
tw^en them and ruin their efficiency. Only when they 
actually 'fuse together can these clashes cease. In an amal- 
gamated organization there are no separate sets of officials, 
each preaching craft prejudices, and each trying to fatten 
its particular trade at the expense of the others. On the 
contrary, the officialdom of all industrial unions is homo- 
genuous. Its point of view is the welfare of all the work- 
ers in the industry ; it naturally seeks the elimination of 
craft narrownesses, not their perpetuation. Hence, what 
few spats do occur between the various groups are easily 
settled in a spirit of brotherhood. 

Further advantages of amalgamation would result from 
large financial economies. Merging the sixteen national 
headquarters into one would make a great saving. Like- 
wise the combination of the sixteen staffs of general offic- 
ers and organizers. As things now stand the waste in 
handling the business of railroad workers is enormous. 
Duplication of effort occurs to an unbelievable extent. The 
sixteen groups of officials run over the country without re- 
gard to each other. No real system or co-operation exists 
anywhere. Often local unions of one organization are al- 
lowed to fall to pieces for want of attention, while at the 
same time a half dozen paid organizers of the other trades 
are in the locality and not over-burdened with work; it is 
a common occurrence for two or more craft system chair- 
men to travel hundreds of miles together at big expense to 
look after some-trifling grievance or organization detail that 
one could attend to as well; and so on with similar non- 



56 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

sense that a modern business concern would not tolerate 
for a second. 

A general amalgamation woujld speedily straighten all 
that out. The work of administration would be unified and 
systematized throughout. With the departmental system 
in effect, vice-presidents, chairman and organizers would 
look after several (as many as circumstances permitted) 
categories of workers for everyone who has had contact 
with industrial unions such as the United Mine Workers 
knows how ridiculous is the current craft union notion that 
an official can represent and attend to only one trade, his 
own, efficiently. The saving in energy and money from 
this one item would be great. Moreover, the railroaders' 
affairs would be much better taken care of, and many or- 
ganizers would be rendered available to unionize the vast 
armies of non-union workers employed in the independent 
railroad equipment plants and on the industrial railroads. 

Additional financial economies would result from the new 
convention system. The present order of things is ruin- 
ously extravagant. Each of the sixteen organizations 
holds its own convention at enormous expense. With often 
as high as two or three thousand local union delegates in 
attendance (most of whom look upon such affairs as mere 
vacation trips) the cost runs -from $100,000 to $500,000 
apiece. The natural result of such absurdities is that con- 
ventions are becoming fewer and fewer. But with a gen- 
eral industrial union, basing its convention representation 
upon the system amalgamation instead of the local union, 
there would be only a few hundred delegates in attendance, 
and they would be there for business. National assemblies 
could be held annually for a fraction of what it now costs 
for the mass craft gatherings, misnamed conventions. 

Some Objections Answered 

From the standpoint of the workers' interests there are 
no valid objections to the amalgamation we propose. The 
bewhiskered contention that the various crafts of skilled 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 57 

workers would be swamped by each other and especially 
by the masses of unskilled, and their interests neglected, 
was exploded long ago. It will not bear investigation. 
The same reactionary cry was raised when it was urged a 
few years ago to admit helpers and handymen into some 
of the unions. But the prophesied dire calamity did not 
happen, nor would it occur in the proposed amalgamation. 
All over Europe there are industrial unions of building 
trades, metal trades, clothing trades, printing trades, rail- 
road trades, etc., and the various groups composing them 
function freely and effectively. It is a matter of common 
knowledge that the skilled workers, in American and every 
other country, are well able to take care of themselves in 
any kind of a labor organization. 

Those who fear the skilled workers being overwhelmed 
reason from wrong premises. They take it for granted 
that the latter have a free will choice in the matter, that 
they can co-operate with the mass or not, just as they see 
fit. But this is decidedly not the case. With the con- 
stantly increasing pressure against them, the skilled work- 
ers can no longer prosper going it alone ; they are com- 
pelled to seek the assistance of each other and of the un- 
skilled. It is a question of compulsion. By force of cir- 
cumstances the skilled workers are compelled to compose 
their craft differences and to act with the mass. At first 
they try to do so by federation; but eventually, because 
of the imperfections of this type of organization, they are 
brought to amalgamation. In this way alone can they 
achieve the power they must have. With the skilled 
workers' unions, even as with those of the unskilled, the 
alternative is, "Amalgamation or annihilation." 

Another objection (although a shameful one indeed to 
come from a movement based on the principle of "an in- 
jury to one is the concern of all") that is levelled against 
all projects to affiliate the trades more closely together is 
the assertion that in a general railroad amalgamation the 
strongest organized trades would have to pull chestnuts 



58 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

out of the fire for the weaker ones. Because the skilled 
workers have been unable to pierce its seeming truth, this 
pitiable sophistry has served to wreck many a promising 
get-together movement. Always contrary to fact, even 
when some of the trades were entirely unorganized, it no 
longer has a semblance of verity. Today every branch 
of the railroad service is so thoroughly organized that 
even the blindest cannot help seeing, if they only will, that 
each of the sixteen unions would add great strength to a 
railroad industrial union. Indeed, some of the trades long 
considered weaker sisters, are now in a position, if it came 
to a struggle, to give a better account of themselves, than 
many other crafts who take great pride in their skill, or- 
ganization and stragetic position in the industry. There 
is no longer even a pretense of a reason for the trades not 
to join each other in closest alliance. All would be gainers 
from such co-operation. 

A favorite argument against every improvement in the 
unions is the contention that the trade unions in this coun- 
try are the most effective of any in the world, coupled with 
citations of the higher wages prevailing in the United 
States to prove it. That wages are higher here than al- 
most anywhere else is incontestable; but to say that the 
superior efficiency of our organizations is responsible for 
them is ridiculous. Anyone acquainted with the facts 
knows that in many respects our movement lags behind 
that of Europe. Rather the credit for our higher wages is 
due to the unprecedented development of America's mar- 
velous resources, which has made our fight easier than in 
other countries. But in any event the more we improve 
our unions the better results we will get, and amalgama- 
tion is always a great improvement. 

Old-time craft unionists also object that the great size 
of the proposed amalgamation would make it unwieldly 
and unworkable. But there is no bottom to that conten- 
tion either. The fact is there are many such gigantic com- 
binations already afoot and functioning successfully, and 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 59 

with more in prospect. In Germany, for instance, there 
is the monster metal workers* union, with 1,800,000 mem- 
bers, ranging from jewelry workers to shipbuilders and 
steel makers. The German railroaders, who are organized 
chiefly into two unions, are also about to combine (if 
they have not already done so) with the telegraph, tele- 
phone and postal workers, which will give this great 
transportation-communication organization more than 
1,500,000 adherents. The British mine workers' union 
numbers almost 1,000,000 members. Practically the entire 
Belgian working class is organized in twelve industrial 
unions, and now a plan is being put into effect to combine 
all these industrial unions into one gigantic all-inclusive 
organization to cover the whole working class. The Aus- 
tralian trade unions went on record recently for a similar 
project. The possibilities of labor unions outstrip even the 
dreams of orthodox craft unionists. 

All these great combinations of labor, and many more 
that could be mentioned, have grown gradually through 
voluntary federation and amalgamation. They are the 
fruits of practical experience. The rapidity with which 
they are growing and multiplying is a standing proof of 
their superiority over the primitive, narrow types. The 
workers composing them have learned through actual prac- 
tice that only by massing themselves into such enormous 
aggregations can they properly defend their interests. No, 
the argument about size will not serve. If European work- 
ers can successfully construct such large organizations, so 
can American workers. 

A more powerful objection to amalgamation, however, 
than any of the foregoing is one that is never expressed 
by those holding it ; viz, the fear of the higher officials of 
the craft unions concerned that in the new, more econom- 
ically operated industrial union they will lose their author- 
ity, and probably their very jobs. This fear is by far the 
most serious hindrance to amalgamation ; it always does 
more to block the fusing of labor organizations than any 



60 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

other factor. Few officials can rise above it. No matter 
how badly amalgamation may be needed, the almost in- 
variable attitude of officialdom is to fight against it re- 
lentlessly. This is so well-known as to be a commonplace 
of the labor movement. Therefore, all over the world gen- 
uine amalgamation movements have to surge up from the 
rank and file. 

Unquestionably there would be considerable justifica- 
tion for some of this job-fear in a general railroad amalga- 
mation. Instead of sixteen presidents, as now, then there 
would be only one. The rest would have to play second 
fiddle, with a certain restriction of their power and prestige, 
and also a very probable trimming of their salaries down 
to more modest sizes. But as for an actual reduction in 
the number of officials, that does not usually occur in amal- 
gamations. There is always so much work to be done in 
an organizing and administering way, and the amalga- 
mated unions are so much better able to go ahead with it 
than were the individual unions, that the tendency is rather 
to increase the staff than to decrease it. But let that be as 
it may, earnest railroad union men will never let such con- 
siderations stand in the way of the combination of our 
many weak organizations into one strong one. 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 61 

CHAPTER VII. 
IN CONCLUSION 

In the foregoing pages we have pointed out the militant 
aggressiveness and fathomless greed of the railroad com- 
panies, how they are seeking to enslave their workers, and 
that the only hope of the latter is to make united resist- 
ance as one great army. We have also pointed out the 
glaring weaknesses of the unions as they now stand, and 
shown that only in industrial unionism can the workers 
exert their maximum economic power. But we have like- 
wise indicated the folly and ruin of trying to achieve the 
needed industrial union by going outside of the old unions 
and starting new organizations. We have explained that 
the natural development of labor unions to the industrial 
status is through the three phases of isolation, federation 
and amalgamation ; and also that our railroad unions, now 
in the federation phase, must inevitably pass on to the 
next one, amalgamation. And finally, we have outlined a 
practical plan of amalgamation, citing the many advantages 
that would come from industrial unionism on the railroads 
and answering the alleged objections thereto. 

Now, the big job is to put the proposed amalgamation 
into effect. This can be readily accomplished if the multi- 
tudes of progressives and radicals in the railroad industry 
will put their shoulders to the wheel. Industrial unionism 
through the amalgamation of the sixteen craft unions should 
be made a live issue wherever railroad workers congregate : 
in the shops and offices, on the roads, at the meetings of 
the local unions and of the local, system and divisional fed- 
erations; at the national conventions of the Railway Em- 
ployes' Department and of the individual craft unions. The 
many journals should be filled with the idea. If all this 
is done it will not be long before such a body of favorable 



62 THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 

sentiment is created that the sixteen unions can be com- 
bined into one, and the amalgamated organization launched 
into a career of power and success now hardly thought pos- 
sible. 

Of course, the standpatters in the unions will vigorously 
oppose this amalgamation project. They will argue that 
the present network of federation and semi-federation con- 
stitutes the highest attainable degree of solidarity. But 
that is only to be expected ; such reactionary elements are 
constitutionally against all progress. Blinded by ignor- 
ance, or dominated by some petty selfish interest, they have 
combatted every step in the evolution of the railroad 
unions. They are apostles of things as they are. When 
the system federation movement began to take root they 
denounced it as an unnecessary and dangerous innovation. 
It was the same with the divisional federations and every 
other progressive movement initiated by railroad men. 
Such conservatives are the greatest of all hindrances to the 
progress of the working class. They hang like a millstone 
about its neck. Their opposition is more destructive even 
than that of the employers themselves. Had we railroad- 
ers hearkened to the croakings of this "it-can't-be-done" 
element we would be still striking one craft at a time in 
each division town that is, if the companies had not de- 
stroyed all semblance of unionism in the meantime. Every 
pace forward has been won in spite of their bitter opposi- 
tion, and so it will be with amalgamation. To accomplish 
that task is a job for the progressives and radicals. 

But while we are working for the amalgamation of the 
railroad unions into one industrial organization we must 
never forget that that, too, is only a step on the workers' 
road to power. We cannot stop with that measure; we 
must press on still farther. Next we must form alliances 
with the miners and transport workers, as the British rail- 
roaders have done in the Tripple Alliance, but more effec- 
tive and militant. And then, with that accomplished' we 
will go on and on, building up still greater combinations of 



THE RAILROADERS' NEXT STEP 63 

Labor, until finally we have the whole working class solidly 
united in one militant organization. 

The trade unions are more than merely a means to win 
a few cents an hour more in wages or a few minutes a day 
less of work ; they are battalions of an army of emancipa- 
tion in the making. The greedy railroad autocracy is in- 
tolerable. It must go, and along with it the balance of the 
parasitic capitalist class. Private property in social neces- 
sities must be abolished root and branch. There is no other 
cure for our industrial troubles. Then, and only then, will 
war, poverty and exploitation come to an end. To do this 
great work is the supreme mission of the labor movement. 
At heart and in their daily action the trade unions are rev- 
olutionary. Their unchangeable policy is to withhold from 
the exploiters all of their product that they have the power 
to. In these days, when they are weak in numbers and 
discipline, they have to content themselves with petty 
acheivements. But they are constantly growing in 
strength and understanding, and the day will surely come 
when they will have the great masses of workers organ- 
ized and instructed in their true interests. That hour will 
sound the death knell of capitalism. Then they will pit 
their enormous organization against the parasitic employ- 
ing class, end the wages system forever and set up the 
long-hoped-for era of social justice. That is the true mean- 
ing of the trade union movement. 

(THE END) 



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