Telegrapher Seniority

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Fri Jun 19 19:07:18 EDT 2009

Re: Telegraph Arrangements
Friday, June 19, 2009 12:19 PM

One thing you may want to factor in, Frank, when questioning why there were only 4 agents at Boyce during its entire history...

The Order of Railroad Telegrapher's contract with the N&W had a provision that any seniority "bumps" had to be exervised within the ten lowest seniority men on the division. So, if you were a senior employee and your job was abolished, if there was no advertised vacancy for you to bid, then you had to make your claim within the ten lowest seniority men on your district.

This wasn't hokey. It was to protect the older men from having to move all the time. Remember that back in those days people didn't just hop in a car and drive sixty miles to work... they rode a passenger train to work and perhaps stayed at the work location all week. It was a painful thing to have to relocate your family and your residence.

So, when a man got a job as agent at Boyce (which was probably a very good job,) he had some protection. Even an older telegrapher probably wouldn't be able to bump him out, due to this contractual clause !

That provision was still in the contract when I left the N&W in 1979.

Harry Bundy would probably be able to give you better details. I was only a brakeman, and what do brakemen know...?


June 19, 2009

Hello, Abram:

That's a very interesting provision. Since I never had any seniority to amount to much, I wasn't aware of that aspect of the agreement.

Were Western Union telegraphers represented by the ORT, or another union/brotherhood?

Best wishes,

f_scheer at

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