N&W in 1908 -- Telegraph operators
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Sun Aug 17 14:11:10 EDT 2008
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
March 6, 1908
SEVENTY-FIVE NEW OPERATORS GET JOBS
Some Trainmen Said to be Dissatisfied With Workings of New Labor Law.
It is said that about seventy-five additional telegraph operators have been employed by the Norfolk & Western to meet the situation presented by the new law, which went into effect Wednesday [March 4, 1908] and which requires that telegraph operators having to do with the operation of trains shall not be required to work more than nine hours out of each twenty-four.
The Norfolk & Western arranged some days ago to be prepared for the law, and consequently every detail was ready and the introduction of the new condition caused no confusion, So far as can be ascertained the machinery of the road is running along just as smoothly under the changes required by the new law as they were under the old law. It will of course take weeks, if not months, to test the full force and scope of the new regulation. The Norfolk & Western has won a grand reputation for its freedom from serious wrecks and it is pointed to by railroad men all over the country as an example of fine railroading. Consequently, it is very certain that the record of the Norfolk & Western had nothing to do with the action of congress in passing the law in question, but nevertheless the Norfolk & Western is of course just as much affected as any other road and must bow to the dictum of the Authorities.
Some of the trainmen, who are not to be employed for over sixteen hours out of twenty-four, are said to be very much dissatisfied with the way in which they are affected. It is pointed out that in order to comply with the law some of them will not be able to make nearly as many hours as heretofore, and therefore their incomes will be materially diminished. This result, it is said, is not in any way the fault of the railroad company, as they can only comply with the law in the best way possible, although in some instances it may work a hardship for some of the men.
It is said that the crews that have been running between Roanoke and Williamson have been affected to their disadvantage. They now only run to Bluefield and return, and if their train from Roanoke happens to be late to any extent, they run the risk of losing the return trip entirely. Under the best of circumstances they have only a very short while to stay in Bluefield.
[It is interesting that the trainmen were complaining about being able to work only sixteen hours.]
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