N.P. Ry.

Tell Tale Extra

The USRA Era, 1919-1921, Part IV




1919
US railroad trackage (in miles): 231,385.00
US freight equipment: 2,304,301
US length of haul (average in miles): 181.01
US rate per ton-mile (average): .00971
[Loree, pp. 274-5]

US railroad operating revenues (12 months): $5,184,064,221
US railroad operating expenses (12 months): $4,419,441,949
US railroad net operating income (12 months): $516,290,090
[Daggett, via Annual Report of the ICC, 1922, p. 651]

US revenue tons carried one mile: 362,962,480,000
US average miles per car per day: 23.1 (b)
US average car capacity (in tons): 41
US average tons handled per loaded car: 25.51
US percent of average tons per car to average capacity: 64.66
US aggregate car capacity (in tons): 98,400,000 (c)
(b) via USRA
(c) estimated
[Loree, p. 278]

US average tons per train: 631
[Daggett, pp. 668-69, via Annual Report, 1924, ICC, pp. 105-06]

US railroad employment: 1,913,422
US railroad compensation: $2,843,128,432
US average compensation per hour: .565
US average compensation per employee: $1,486
(Includes General and Divisional Officers)
[Daggett, p. 660, via Annual Report on the Statistics of Railways in the United States, ICC, 1922, p. xxi]

US freight locomotive mileage: 623,948,172
US switching locomotive mileage: 335,917,768
[Loree, p. 485]

US railroad workers killed on the job: 1,693
US railroad workers injured on the job: 36,280
[Loree, p. 645]

USRA price for rental (12 months): $963,401,158.29
[Daggett, p. 648]

Average miles per car per day: 23.1. Car surplus reaches a peak of 500,000. [Loree, pp. 270-1]

March 20
ARA's Car Service Section advocates the PRR-inspired Sailing Day Plan. ''With the passing of actual war conditions, however, there was a noticeable amount of criticism directed against the plan by various shippers.'' [Loree, p. 376]


1920
US freight equipment: 2,393,962
[Loree, p. 297]

US average miles per car per day: 28.6
US average tons handled per loaded car: 30
[Loree, pp. 298-99]

US average tons per train: 647
[Daggett, pp. 668-69, via Annual Report, 1924, ICC, pp. 105-06]

US railroad operating revenues (12 months): $6,225,417,245
US railroad operating expenses (12 months): $5,830,326,686
US railroad net operating income (12 months): $58,151,863
[Daggett, via Annual Report of the ICC, 1922, p. 651]

US average tons handled per loaded car: 26.72
US average length of haul (in miles): 303.52
US average tons per train: 647
[Daggett, pp. 668-69, via Annual Report, 1924, ICC, pp. 105-06]

US railroad employment: 2,022,832
US railroad compensation: $3,681,801,193
US average compensation per hour: .676
US average compensation per employee: $1,820
(Includes General and Divisional Officers)
[Daggett, p. 660, via Annual Report on the Statistics of Railways in the United States, ICC, 1922, p. xxi]

US railroad workers killed on the job: 2,107
US railroad workers injured on the job: 46,920
[Loree, p. 645]

USRA price for rental (two months): $158,133,538.71
USRA price for rental (26 months): $2,087,323,593.97
USRA payout for under maintenance: $185,308.306.08
USRA railroad revenues: $1,276,782,307.75
USRA final cost: $810,726,631,900.05
[Daggett, pp. 648-49]

Association of Railway Executives announce railroads have reduced the accumulation of loaded but unmoved cars from 103,237 on March 1 to 21,991 on December 3, of which only 6,386 were detained because of the inability of railroads to move them, relocated approximately 180,000 box cars from the East to the West to move farm products, relocated approximately 180,000 open top cars from the West to the East for the production of coal. [Loree, pp. 298-99]

Approximate increase by this time from the 1915 level of wages were:
Trainmen: 106.7 percent
Firemen: 105.4 percent
Engineers: 72.4 percent
Conductors: 72.2 percent
[Loree, p. 619]

Esch-Cummings Act [Transportation Act of 1920]. ICC was increased from nine to 11 members, allowed to establish minimum and maximum rates, to fix these rates at a reasonable rate of return, which was initially set at 5.5 percent, along with a stipulation that one half of any excess income above six percent was subject to recovery by the Federal government. The ICC was also granted supervision of all railroad security issues, approval of all mergers consolidations, abandonments and certain construction projects. Finally, the ICC was tasked with taking steps to consolidate the country's railroads into a limited number of systems, for this Professor William Z. Ripley of Harvard was retained, who settled on 19 systems, some combinations of which had previously been declared illegal by the US Supreme Court. Nine man Railroad Labor Board, consisting of three members representing the railroads, three the employees, and three the general public, was created and given jurisdiction over railroad labor disputes concerning grievances, rules, working conditions and wages. Railroads were guaranteed a net operating income equal to half the annual rental paid during the USRA's control from March 1 to September 1 of 1920. At the end of the guarantee period higher rates went into effect. Freight rates increased roughly 25 percent in the South and West and roughly 40 percent in the East. [Stover, pp. 195-6]

''Under Section 209, Congress agreed to guarantee to any carrier which chose to enter into an appropriate agreement, an operating income for six months which should not be less than one-half of the average annual operating income of such carrier for the three years ending June 30, 1917. Congress stipulated that agreeing carriers which earned more than the guaranteed amount during the six months in question should turn the excess into the federal treasury, but stood ready to make good any deficits that might occur.''
''This offer...was based on the theory that private carriers were entitled to government support for a limited time during the difficult period of reconstruction. Railroad expenses had reached a high level under federal management, and were likely to be further increased as a result of pending wage controversies; railroad rates had not been correspondingly increased, and time was required to make necessary adjustments.''
''There was some basis for this point of view, but the proposal proved exceedingly expensive to the government.''
''The standard return had amounted during the period of federal control to an average of $78,000,000 per month. It followed that the federal government exposed itself to the necessity of a payment which might well exceed $111,000,000 for one moth, or $666,000,000 in all.'' ''Fortunately, not all carries accepted the extended guaranty...'' The bill for the guarantee came to $536,000,000. [Daggett, pp. 650-52]

February
Average percentage of home cars to total cars on US roads slips to 21.5. [Daggett, p. 666]

March 1
USRA ends, railroad properties are returned to private control.

April
''As admitted by Hines...'the excess total of expenses and rentals over the total revenues for 26 months (the USRA control from January 1, 1918 to March 1, 1920) amounted to just over $900 million, not including an additional $204 million paid the railroads in settlements of their claims for under maintenance during Federal control.''' [Stover, pp. 193-4]

April 12
The USRA's General Order No. 27, resulting from the Lane inquiry, was extended through a series of supplements, which the USRA itself illustrated for the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations thus:
General Order 27, all employees receiving less that $250 per month, back dated to January 1, 1918, $360,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Supplement 4, Shop employees, back dated to January 1, 1918, $209,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Supplements 7 and 8, Maintenance of Way employees and clerks, effective September 1, 1918, $190,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Supplement 13, Agents and operators, effective October 1, 1918, $25,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Supplements 14, 17 and 18, Railroad police, dining and sleeping car employees, effective January 1, 1919, $8,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Supplements 15 and 16, Enginemen and trainmen, effective January 1, 1919, $60,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Equalization adjustment, Shop employees, effective May 1, 1919, $50,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Time and a half for overtime, Enginemen and trainmen in road freight service, effective December 1, 1919, $38,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
Time and a half for overtime and other adjustments, Maintenance of Way employees and clerks, effective December 16, 1919 [MoW] and January 1, 1920 [Clerks], $25,000,000 pay roll increase chargeable to operating expenses
The $965,000,000 total of these increases was later estimated in 1920 by the ICC as actually representing about $1,400,000,000. [Daggett, p. 659]

April 15
United States Railroad Labor Board is organized, as authorized in the Transportation Act of 1920. [Loree, p. 622]

Some of the more interesting criticisms and defenses of the Board offered by Daggett include: its three-person [one management, one union, one public] was unfortunate, as the design generally caused the issues before the Board to rely on the 'deciding vote' of the public representative, who usually lacked a detailed railroad knowledge, and that the permanent nature of the Board made it unsuited for long mediations, where any long series of decisions inevitably displeased one of the sides and thus destroyed the good will which a mediator must enjoy to be successful. On the other hand, ''The official adjudication of labor disputes in the railroad industry prevented a number of strikes, for it became practically impossible for any organization to win a strike over the decision of a tribunal upon which all parties were fully represented and before which the disputants were fully heard.''
''The [Railroad] Labor Board ultimately failed to maintain itself because it had no power to compel the acceptance of its decisions, because the absence of any adequate number of adjustment boards overwhelmed it with minor controversies, and because the employees came to regard it as a hostile organization in which their interests could not safely be intrusted.'' It was ultimately 'remodeled' [as Daggett puts it] by Congress in 1926. [Daggett, pp. 832-34]

Spring
The Railroad Labor Board entered labor disputes. [Stover, p. 195]

July 20
The Railroad Labor Board Decision No. 2 orders 22 percent increase in wages for all classes of railroad labor, back dated to May 1. [Loree. p. 622]

The annual cost of this increase was estimated at $600 million. [Stover, p. 195]

December 28, 1920
Association of Railway Executives announce average miles per car per day has been increased to 28.6 miles from the 22.3. Average car load has been increased to 30 tons from 28.3 tons, reduced the accumulation of loaded but unmoved cars from 103,237 on March 1 to 21,991 on December 3, of which only 6,386 were detained because of the inability of railroads to move them, relocated approximately 180,000 box cars from the East to the West to move farm products, relocated approximately 180,000 open top cars from the West to the East for the production of coal. [Loree, pp. 298-99]


1921

US average tons handled per loaded car: 24.60
US average tons per train: 579
[Daggett, pp. 668-69, via Annual Report, 1924, ICC, pp. 105-06]

US railroad employment: 1,659,513
US railroad compensation: $2,765,218,079
US average compensation per hour: .667
US average compensation per employee: $1,666
(Includes General and Divisional Officers)
[Daggett, p. 660, via Annual Report on the Statistics of Railways in the United States, ICC, 1922, p. xxi]

''There is some indication...that the average railway employee did not produce as much in ton-miles under federal control in 1918 or 1919 as either before or after these years. In 1918 the output was lower both per employee and per hour.''
''While it is dangerous to be dogmatic about the reasons for the decline in the effectiveness of the railway labor force, there is evidence of lowered morale under federal control; moreover, the administration suffered in 1919 the effects of a slump in traffic upon an enlarged labor force.'' [Daggett, p. 667]

March
Several carriers who were seeking to reduce wages submit disputes to the Railroad Labor Board. [Loree, p. 622]

April 18
Railroad Labor Board begins hearing cases regarding wage reductions. [Loree, p. 622]

May 16
Railroad Labor Board finishes hearing cases regarding wage reductions, begins consideration. [Loree, p. 622]

June 1
Railroad Labor Board announces Decision No. 147, reducing wages roughly 12 percent, effective July 1. [Loree, p. 622]

August 29
Big Four brotherhoods submit a referendum to their membership 'to determine for themselves whether the wage reduction authorized by the USRLB in Decision No. 147 and addenda thereto will be accepted or rejected.' More than two-thirds vote to reject. [Loree, p. 622]

October 26
Railroad Labor Board summons all parties after the Big Four issue orders to withdrawn from the service of several companies in successive groups on October 30, November 1, 3 and 5. ''The railroads denied that any dispute between the companies and the employees existed...'' [Loree, pp. 622-3]

October 29
Railroad Labor Board clarifies itself. When disputes are brought before it no action must be taken until the Board authorizes it, the Big Fours strike call was a violation of Decision No. 147, acts by either side which threaten the interruption of transportation are a cause and source of great injury, and 'when such action does result in a strike, the organization so acting has forfeited its rights and the rights of its members in and to the provisions and benefits of all contracts theretofore existing, and the employees so striking have voluntarily removed themselves from the classes entitled to appeal to this Board for relief and protection.' The Big Four canceled their strike calls before the Board made its announcement. [Loree, p. 624]



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(C) 1997
J.A. Phillips, III
July 1, 1997
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