The Industrial Dilemma

III

THE RAILROADS AND EFFICIENCY OF SERVICE

THERE is in this country to-day an ever widening circle of people who desire to look beneath the surface of things. In this way the teachings and works of politicians, merchants, ministers, and railroad men, are being constantly subjected to a searching probe of inner criticism. In a score of different ways we desire to get at the truth and meaning of life, whether in regard to labor conditions or to social surroundings.

The public anxiety to which I refer has a very practical origin. On the railroads, for example, the problems relating to efficiency and safety of operation are peculiarly calculated to arouse widespread interest. But safety and efficiency are results; consequently we are first called upon to consider the methods by means of which these desirable conditions are now being encouraged and worked out in industrial circles. From the fact, then, that on our railroads labor is organized and firmly intrenched, and for the additional reason that the organization to-day is probably the most powerful influence at work in forming the type and ideals of the American railroad man, the following declaration of George B. Hugo, President of the Employers’ Association of Massachusetts, should receive attention and analysis: —

“ The strength, power, and cornerstone of the union structure,” he affirms, “ is inefficiency. Inefficiency makes stanch union men. Unionism destroys individuality, and the competitive spirit which urges men to strive to reach the top; it retards growth, offers no goal, discourages effort, says to its members, ‘ Thus far shalt thou go and no farther, ’ and teaches the doctrine, ‘ Get all you can, and do as little as possible.’ ”

It would hardly be possible to submit this statement to the test of a practical analysis, without first glancing at the railroad man and the railroad manager, and at their relations to each other, and to the business of the common carrier.

If the reader were to accompany an engineman, a conductor, or a trainman on one of his daily trips, I am sure he would be very much impressed with the importance and variety of his duties. If any of these men were to explain to him the system of switches and signals as the train is drawn out of one of the great terminals, his respect for the men and their jobs would be still further increased. Continuing his story, the man might post him on a variety of matters to which, perhaps, he had previously given little attention, such as the location of switches, side tracks, and branch tracks on his route, as well as on a score of rules relating to the safety of travel, and the right of way of trains of every description, at different points on his trip. Summing up, I think the investigator would come to the conclusion, not only that brainy, careful, and conscientious men are absolutely essential for the proper conduct of a railroad, but that the men he had met in his travels were of this description and calibre.

Turning his attention to the other side of the problem, if he were to pay a visit to the general offices of any of the big railroad corporations, he would doubtless be gratified to discover that probably ninetyfive per cent of the men who occupy positions of responsibility and influence have risen from the low, and sometimes from the lowest, strata of railroad life. He would be informed that in the past this rule has applied with equal force to roadmasters, to foremen in shops and on the road, to trainmasters and train-dispatchers, to superintendents and managers in every branch of the service.

Furthermore, if the reader should happen to be acquainted with any of these men in private life, he will, I think, agree with me that they are, as a class, more than usually gifted with breadth of intelligence, honesty of purpose, and sympathy of disposition, qualities that are universally judged to be the best qualifications for successful leadership.

So far, then, as material is concerned, the public has little reason to complain of its servants. Furthermore, it must also be confessed that to the outsider the relations between men and managers are apparently harmonious and friendly. Once in a while, it is true, there is a disturbance, and things leak out that immediately set the public mind thinking and wondering.

However, at this stage of our study, we find ourselves confronted with a peculiar situation. We have good men, good managers, apparently good intentions, but unsatisfactory results. While, for the most part, these unsatisfactory results are connected with the safety problem, which of course is of great interest to the traveling public, the fundamental issue is efficiency of service from a much wider standpoint. In a word, the railroad accident, and the question of efficiency of service in connection with it, is a problem of industrial loyalty. The problem, and the community interests that are at stake, have been connected with organized labor by Mr. Hugo, in his published opinion, with an emphasis that is quite startling. The question remains, can we bring Mr. Hugo’s declaration home to the principles and policy of the unions and brotherhoods of railroad men?

To begin with, and turning our attention for a minute or two from men and managers to the methods by means of which the business of the railroad is carried on, we find the situation regulated, and to a great extent dominated, by an agreement which is always spoken of as a schedule. This schedule defines and limits the responsibilities of both manager and employee. Enginemen, conductors, firemen, trainmen, towermen, and telegraph operators have different schedules, which have been drawn up, discussed, amended as necessary, and finally signed by railroad managers and committees of employees. In this way both man and manager are unionized to the extent, and under the terms, of the schedule. Broadly speaking, it can be said that this schedule has had the effect of limiting the initiative and personal authority of the manager, but there is one peculiarity about it that is worthy of notice. It is a secret document, and as soon as signed it is buried from view, and exempt from public discussion. In effect, the schedule says to man and manager, “ Take your medicine, or your increase of pay for another year, and keep quiet.”

This secrecy accounts for the lack of interest manifested by the public in a document which is so vitally interesting to the community. The press, also, is not interested where no discussion of any importance seems to be called for. Neither does the press show any disposition to ask men or managers a single question which would be liable to create a ripple on the surface of such harmonious relations.

Now, there is a distinct line to be drawn through the middle of this schedule, the result and working out of which, it is evident, is what the public secures in terms of service. On the one hand, we have the clauses that define the railroad man’s hours of labor, the nature of his duties, and the remuneration connected with them. On the other, we have certain stipulations in regard to discipline, to the right of appeal, to principles and methods of promotion, and to kindred matters that relate to the fulfillment of the service which every employee owes to the public as well as to the railroad.

It is with the latter we have now to do, and it is evident that if Mr. Hugo’s interpretation of organized labor can be applied to railroad men, and the service they render the public, the trouble must be looked for in the schedule, and in the allegiance of the men to its principles.

But Mr. Hugo has not raised a question of detail. In plainest language, he is describing a state of industrial disloyalty to certain fundamental social requirements. Organized labor, according to him, is a menace to the best interests of human society. We understand this at once when we compare his statement with the following extract from The Social Unrest, by Mr. John Graham Brooks: —

“ The Race sets no such value upon anything as upon individuality and freedom,” And again, “ Unless Society deteriorates, it must give free play to liberty, variety, and individuality.” What then have American railroad managers and employees to say to this indictment ? Let the situation on the railroads to-day speak for itself.

A short time ago, in a lecture at Harvard, a high official of perhaps the largest railroad system in America made a statement somewhat as follows: —

“ In the past it has been the invariable rule and policy of nearly every American railroad to bestow upon their own men the higher offices and executive positions as they become vacant, or as opportunity offers. But I am sorry to say we are being gradually compelled to abandon this policy, and to look elsewhere, particularly to the colleges, for our material. It takes a great many years of close touch with, and of practical interest in, the managing department to fit any employee for an executive position, and with the situation as it is to-day, no employee could consistently follow out such a line of endeavor without becoming estranged from his union. But when loyalty to the union takes precedence of loyalty to the railroad, our supply of capable men is cut off. And besides, in a number of ways, the labor organizations require the services of their best men for their own offices and purposes, so the railroads must now look elsewhere for their material.”

Here is a condition of affairs in which the legitimate growth of the railroad man is checked, and stanch union men are being created at the expense of the railroad and the interests of the traveling public. The point is, not that a man prefers an office in his organization to one on his railroad, but that the company should have the first call on his loyalty and services, and does not get it. The general efficiency of the service suffers in consequence.

But, comparatively speaking, the situation I have alluded to is an insignificant phase of the problem on our railroads. The real issue is the seniority rule, and what follows in its train. This rule is responsible for the obliteration of incentive, and the discouragement of effort, to which Mr. Hugo calls attention in such forcible language. There is no concealment about the nature or intent of this rule, or the quarter from which it has emanated. It was initiated, and it is now upheld, as the corner-stone of the union structure on the railroad, by the employee himself. He has elected to stake his own future, and that of coming generations of railroad men, upon a principle that cuts out merit and ability as factors in promotion, and converts ambition and the desire to excel into the inflexible mandate, “ Take your turn.”

But the American railroad man is wideawake and intellectual. He realizes the weakness of his position. In his own organization, seniority cuts little figure; merit and ability are the prime factors considered when committees are appointed or officials are elected. But the employee, after giving years of thought to the matter, has come to the conclusion that the existence of his organization depends upon the maintenance of the principle that ranks the best type of man with the lowest, so far as his standing and opportunity to climb are concerned. In this way race ideals are upset, for the man is simply commanded to take his turn, to hold his tongue, and to watch what his organization with its immense power will now do for him. In a word, with his eyes wide open, the employee has consented to retard his own growth, to limit the field of his own effort, and to destroy his individuality, for material considerations, at the behest of his union. It now remains for his organization to “ make good,” at the expense of the employee’s individuality, of the interest of his employer, and of principles which have always been considered the pillar of social life.

At this stage of the discussion, a very simple question presents itself: “ Where has the railroad manager been all this time ? ” The president of one of the largest railroad systems in the country answered my inquiry as follows: —

“ I am going to criticise one or two features of your book, because I think they give a misleading impression.

“In respect to the seniority rule: I agree with you that this rule is a very bad one, if the employing officer has no latitude; but, on the other hand, the rule of favoritism is also a bad rule, and to look at the thing fairly and squarely, one must realize that the seniority rule was urged by the employees because they thought there was an injustice in the old rule. It is a good deal like what we see in the Government Civil Service. The Civil Service method of making appointments was urged by many reformers because the old ' spoils ’ system of making appointments was very vicious. Now I think, however, many reformers and the most intelligent men generally will agree that the Civil Service method of making appointments is very faulty; that it leads, in the first place, to the selection of men who may be ‘glib’ at answering questions and passing examinations, and who, after once receiving their positions, are apparently fairly secure in them, regardless of their general worthlessness and unfitness. In other words, we are confronted by the fact that a reform which was intended to improve existing conditions has been found wanting in an unexpected direction. So, it seems to me, that while you point out the real serious objection to the seniority rule, you omit the statement that the seniority rule became effective because another rule was objectionable, and you do not suggest a plan which is free from the old or new objections.

“ If we are to look the facts squarely in the face, I think we would have to admit that if there had never been an unjust or dishonest employer, there never would have been trades or labor unions. In other words, trades unions grew and developed as a means of enabling the employees to protect themselves against injustice; and having once grown and become strong, like many another unbridled power, it has gone too far, and become tyrannical.”

Here we have a very fair and reasonable criticism of my position. It is at once apparent, however, that it is more of a confession than a criticism. Interpreted in this light, the railroad president’s reply must be construed as follows: “The seniority rule is a very bad one. Being a rule, however, the ' latitude ’ of officers must be looked upon as referring to its working in exceptional cases and nothing more. We, the managers, are obliged to confess that we surrendered to the employees, and granted this rule with all its vital principles, in order to avoid the evils of favoritism; a very important, yet probably a minor consideration, and one which we must have forgotten could have been eliminated by improving and raising the ethics and standards of management. We substituted a superlative evil for a comparative and removable objection, because we had to surrender, horse, foot, and artillery; and now, in this reply, and elsewhere, we are trying to make the best of a bad bargain.”

The necessity for a return to reasonable and businesslike methods in railroading must be evident. The remedy is a high standard of personal management, the recognition and reward of merit and ability in promotion, and the reinstatemen of the manager as judge of the qualifications of employees.

Now, if my diagnosis of conditions on the railroads be a correct one; if, with constantly increasing emphasis, loyalty to his organization is superseding and undermining the man’s loyalty, not only to his work and to his employer, but to society as well, one must be pardoned for examining his work and service for indication of inattention and apathy in matters relating more especially to the common weal. With equal reason and force, if the railroad manager has been made a party, either willingly or unwillingly, to an arrangement or schedule under the terms of which he has signed away his birthright, and the prerogative of his order, one would naturally expect him to be silent and sphinxlike on the business from beginning to end. It seems to me this is just the position we find him in to-day. And in regard to the apathy of the organization and the men composing it, in matters relating to safety, and to problems other than those that immediately concern the union, a glance at the accident situation should prove very enlightening. For the close and vital connection between the sympathetic attention of the labor organization and the railroad accident is worthy of most careful study.

In regard to these accidents there is this to be said, that you cannot localize them; that it makes little perceptible difference, according to our statistics, whether the man who disobeys rules is a greenhorn or a veteran, on duty for six hours or sixteen; whether he happens to be running fast or slow, crawling through the yard as a switcher, or across the prairie as a flyer. We have illustrations on hand to suit every condition and circumstance.

Naturally, this state of affairs calls into being a great number of specialists, who go to work and diagnose the symptoms. Nostrums by the score are volleyed at every tissue of the railroad man’s anatomy that is open to moral, medicinal, or surgical treatment. It is very doubtful if any section of our fellow creatures has ever before been subjected to such comprehensive and analytical scrutiny. Examine his eyes, his ears, his diet, his alcoholic affinity, his domestic troubles, his mentality, his capacity for prolonged attention under the circumstances, not to mention the discipline he is subjected to, and all the different theories and methods of management. I must not be misunderstood. There is more or less importance to be attached to every one of these considerations. They are all spokes of a wheel, with the man himself and his complete personality as the heart of it all.

Now, for a nmnber of years the public has been furnished with certain statistics relating to preventable accidents. As a matter of fact, we are not immediately concerned with the proportion of the fatalities or expense that can be definitely laid at the door of the employee. Indeed, if we could be convinced, and I think we can, that the employee is actually doing his best according to his light and education, the fact would be comparatively insignificant. What we desire to bring out is that the trainman and engineman are actually and soulfully impressed with the deplorable loss of life and suffering, and that they publicly and privately make known their desire, and make manifest their intention, to improve the records. We desire to make this public spirit of the employee so unmistakable that it will become the strongest factor conceivable in the good work of decreasing the number of those who disobey rules and disregard signals.

But unfortunately, up to date, the railroad employee, represented by his organization, has given no intimation to any one that he is any way responsible or in need of treatment. The statistics that appal the public have not yet aroused him as a class to definite action that you can place your finger on and say, Here is a public declaration, here is a private circular from a labor leader, or here is an account of a convention of railroad men called together to consider and talk over the safety problem. So far as I am aware, we feel no special call for consultation or agitation of any kind. We seem to think that all matters relating to efficiency of service can properly be left to take care of themselves, without our personal assistance or that of our organization. Of course, if it can be shown that the employee, the labor organization, and the labor leader have taken up this matter of wreck and suffering on the railroad with the same businesslike determination that has been applied to the matter of wages and service, my argument falls to the ground. I am not raising questions of conduct, or making inquiries into the habits and thoughts of employees. My point is, first and last, to connect the rule and the signal with the mind of the employee in the most reasonable and sympathetic manner. This matter of personal and sympathetic attention is the key to efficiency.

But from my point of view there is quite a distinction to be drawn between attention and interest. Interest, real and sympathetic, is the soul of attention. Not forgetting other incentives, good work has always been distinguished from imperfect work by the amount of soulful interest that has been brought to bear upon it. Not only is this true, but the very defects and idiosyncrasies of attention are, to a wonderful degree, at the mercy of interest of this description. As a mental clarifier, as an eye-sharpener, as a rulereminder, as a purifier of environment, as a moral and physical regenerator, its efficacy is universally recognized. Along these lines it is, and has been, the only miracle-worker to which science pays any attention. “ In spite of ” has always been its motto. External treatment of conditions relating to overwork, disease, automatic tendencies, and wool-gathering is, to a great extent, mechanical according to common sense, and comparatively efficacious; but the internal application, comprising the conscientious initiative of the employee, the public expression in various ways of the interest and concern of the labor organization, backed by the hearty encouragement of public opinion, is the superlative method of treatment.

That the problem of efficiency of service and safety of travel has now been advanced to the stage when the railroad organization will be compelled to give an account of its stewardship was never so forcibly brought to the public notice as in an able and convincing article written by a brotherhood man, which appeared in the Santa Fé Employee’s Magazine for December, 1908. The following paragraphs speak for themselves: —

“One reason for such lack of interest in a matter (safety) in which railroad men should be so vitally interested, is the general idea among them that the subject is one for the railroad managements to take care of.

“ In all my experience in attending lodge-room meetings I have never heard the subject discussed there, and I also note that it is an extremely rare thing to find anything in the numerous brotherhood magazines touching thereon.

I may be mistaken, but it does seem to me that the American people are going to look more and more every year to the individual employee, instead of to the railway companies, in placing blame for disastrous wrecks.

“ The abuse of the power of the railroad brotherhoods in their relation to safety, or rather their interference with the disciplinary measures of railroad managements, has a very direct bearing on the safe and expeditious handling of traffic. This abuse owes its origin to a deep sympathy for a brotherhood man in trouble. The result is that certain classes of employees are careless in their observance of the rules, in accordance with the attitude of their organization in fighting for disciplined members. Officials are well aware, and brotherhood men well know, that these conditions exist, and that they vary, too, according to the conservative methods employed by the different organizations — but we all know that they do exist to a greater or lesser extent in all of them. And yet brotherhood men, through a mistaken sense of loyalty or fealty to their order, refuse to admit, except to other members, that such things are done. I believe that it is a very serious abuse of power, and one that does not advance the interests of organized labor; and which also has the grave tendency of blocking the proper enforcement of disciplinary measures.”

Brotherhood men all over the country have had their attention called to this article in the Santa Fé Employee’s Magazine, and they are giving the subject serious attention.

Having thus described to the best of my ability the status of the race problem as we find it to-day on our railroads, and the dilemma in regard to it which society has to consider, one turns naturally to remedies and influences that are now engaging the attention of sociologists and thinkers. Turn where we will, there are indications that the problems relating to efficiency, and to the educating and training of the worker, are being studied with the greatest seriousness.

Sociologists and others who make the study of industrial conditions a specialty, are insisting upon the establishment of trade schools as the best possible remedy. President Eliot, of Harvard University, for example, has very decided opinions on the subject. He has this to say: “ Public trades schools, which are greatly hampered by trades unions, are being started in Boston, and all over the United States. The movement must be persevered in by the American people. Employers and the people cannot, must not, yield to the unions.”

Among the first to recognize the soundness of this advice, and the necessity of taking action in the matter, are the railroad managers. Complaint is constantly being made that the supply of skilled workers in the railroad shops is short, and that the majority are incompetent. To supply the demand, the Grand Trunk railway system has adopted a form of apprenticeship, which has been in successful operation for a number of years, and has been the means of supplying that company with skilled mechanics.

All apprentices are indentured to the machinist’s trade for five years, and to the blacksmith’s, boilermaker’s, or other trades for four years. The system insures thorough education in all details of the trades. It has been found of great advantage both to the company and to the apprentice. It has a tendency to keep the apprentice satisfied, and to steady his energies along the required lines.

The advocates of the trades schools point to Europe, and in particular to Germany, and say, “Study the schools and methods of these foreign countries, and take warning in time. Bring up the youth in the way he should go, and when he enters the service of the railroad, he will not depart from it.” But any one who has worked in a machine shop, or drawn a day’s pay on the railroad, if he chooses to give an impartial opinion, would tell these sociologists that technical education is by no means the complete guide and key to efficiency of service.

Altogether this question of efficiency, of the best possible service, is the goal to which the best endeavors and the industrial conscience of America are now pressing forward. Public opinion demands that we dig to the root of the matter, and begin at the beginning. So we are now going into our schools and colleges, and we propose to give the rising generation all sorts of facts and information relating to industrial life. This education of youth is to include mental and technical equipment of every description. After the student has received the instruction that will enable him, not only to run the machinery, but to know all about the ingenuities and forces connected with it, he is to be given an insight into the world of affairs. No phase or incident connected with the managing department is to be considered too trifling; no world issue or abstract proposition too large. His education is to begin with the trifles connected with the routine of a day’s work, and is to be followed all the way up to the realm of high politics that enables Mr. Harriman to manipulate millions of dollars, and Mr. Gompers to handle millions of men. In a word, the young man of the future is to be equipped from head to foot with industrial facts and information.

When we look into the matter carefully, we find the simplest kind of a reason for the difficulties with which, at the present day, the problem of efficiency is surrounded. It is essentially an American problem, due to abnormal expansion of the national mind, which in the past has been so much occupied with size and material results that there has been no time to pay attention to detail and thoroughness. In this way the spirit with which the community has become possessed is actually the father and prompter of inefficiency. This is true to a great extent in the public schools. When I read the curriculum, or am informed of the opportunity of the boy to absorb, if he only will, or can, every branch and byway of knowledge, my admiration is unlimited; but when the boy has left school, you find to your sorrow that, generally speaking, he is all sprouts and rarely knows anything well.

But it is to little purpose that you single out the railroad man and concentrate your attention on him and his failings. So far as railroads and railroad accidents are concerned, public methods and public opinion are actually the promoters of inefficiency. This is not only a curious statement, it is also a very important and interesting one. We are all aware how interested the American public is in generalities, in totals, in conditions relating to labor or accidents, reduced into the form of short and eloquent tables of statistics. The press, in touch with the requirements of the public, delights in this kind of educational literature. There seems to be little desire in any quarter to concentrate attention on the concrete example, to take hold of, and so far as possible settle, a question or an accident on some particular spot, and then extend our exact remedy and method until we are able to arrive at general and well-grounded conclusions. Far from desiring such minute and thorough investigations of conditions, the following report may be taken as a sample of what the public has been satisfied to receive from its different bureaus as the limit of practical investigation, ever since commissioners and other investigators began to draw salaries.

How much does America pay every year in human life for her civilization? The government is always discovering remarkable facts through its various bureaus of statistics. This is one of the most startling of all. More people are being killed every year in the United States during times of peace than in the bloodiest battles of history. America is the world’s slaughter-house for human beings. It is the price America pays for her civilization. During a single year 57,513 American men,women, and children were killed or wounded by accident. During the last nineteen years the railroads of America have killed 143,527 persons. During the same period 931,450 persons have been injured by American railroads. The railroad toll alone for twenty years has been more than 1,000,000 American fathers and wives and children. During the last seventeen years American coal mines have killed 22,840 men, made at least 10,000 widows and upward of 40,000 orphans. The total cost of Cuba and the Philippines has been less than 2000 American lives. During a single year American street railways killed and injured a few less than 49,000 persons. In New York the record of only twenty-seven days showed 42 deaths and 5500 injuries. Every year 6000 Americans lose their lives in fires. American industrial plants are estimated to kill every year at least 25,000 men, and to injure 125,000 more. American building operations cost 3000 lives every year, and 10,000 other persons sustain injuries. Pleasure costs more than 1000 American lives each year. The American automobile accidents of last year took 229 lives, without estimating the thousands more or less seriously injured. American drownings last year numbered 492. There are 1000 American murders each year. Each American Fourth of July costs approximately 500 lives, with injuries to 4000 other merrymakers. All of which means that each and every year the United States yields up the lives of 60,000 of its citizens in payment for its civilization.

Of course it is evident that a great deal of honest work has been expended in securing and tabulating reports of this nature, but I think it goes without saying that something more definite and useful is called for in the treating of railroad accidents, which, bunched together for public instruction, reveal such astonishing totals.

Let us take an illustration: The other day in a Boston freight yard, an employee waited for a freight train to pull by, and then, being in a hurry, he ran over on to the next track and was instantly killed by a locomotive moving in the opposite direction. Catching a glimpse of the man in front of the engine, the engineer had given a sharp whistle, but of course it was too late. Without any comment, this accident was looked into by the authorities and added to the list of unavoidable fatalities. A few days later, a telegraph line-man met the same fate in the same way in a different locality.

As a matter of fact, hundreds of lives are annually sacrificed in identically the same way. This has been going on for years, and if one consults the reports of national or state commissioners, no reference to, or at any rate no study of, this particular kind of an accident will be found except as it can be imagined under the general head of “Miscellaneous.” Studying this accident for ourselves, however, we find that these human lives are thrown away because the victim forgets to stop, look, and listen. The fact that theoretically it is the victim’s own fault has actually silenced all public inquiry or endeavor on the part of men, managers, or people, to come to the rescue of unfortunates who are liable to get caught in this way. And yet, if humanity were to apply the same method and principle to sickness, or to forgetfulness in warding off other dangers that our flesh is constantly exposed to, society now-a-days would be in a pitiable position.

As regards this specific accident, railroad men are well aware that the most careful employee is at all times liable to get killed in this way, as well as the farmer on the crossing in the country.

In my opinion, the public and the management of the railroads could immediately cut the casualty list, from this and similar causes, in half, by getting after every specific accident and by treating it in a common-sense and practical manner.

There is still one point or phase of the efficiency problem on American railroads to which the attention of the public is frequently directed. Briefly stated, we all look with astonishment and envy at the accident records of European railroads. From various quarters come statistics in regard to the roadbed, the density of traffic, the general condition under which trains are moved, from which information we are called upon to bunch together and frame our excuses for inefficiency as best we can. It is all to no purpose. If people will only take the trouble to study the actual accidents and the way they take place, they will quickly discover that very few accidents are common to European and American railroads. The American accident is a characteristic of personal behavior which, in fact, has no counterpart in any other part of the world.

The compass and trend of American progress points to these accidents as the natural outcome of freedom of thought and action running riot. This is no illconsidered statement. For a number of years there has been a scramble in almost every line of industrial behavior to kick over the traces. In many directions the results have been surprisingly beneficial, but on the railroad the principle has proved to be surrounded with numerous and well-defined dangers. Illustrations of this fact are to be met with on every side, and they are very significant.

For example, “ taking chances ” is distinctly a characteristic of American railroading. You will search in vain on European railroads for accidents of this nature. The European railroad man is too stolid —too stupid, if we prefer the term — at any rate he is too methodical, to get caught in this way. He has been too long accustomed to the rut of unquestioning obedience in matters relating to the safety of travel; and I think it would be an easy matter to demonstrate that the difference between the records on American and European railroads is to be found in these accidents that are distressingly typical of American temperament. Making use of a significant illustration, — on our railroads to-day the kicker is king. We kick against discipline, we kick against merit and ability as factors in promotion, we kick against publicity of almost any description; but there is one feature of our occupation and duties that has escaped our attention: We don’t kick against the accident record.

Summing up then, and reviewing the evidence, what is the conclusion to be arrived at in regard to this charge of industrial disloyalty on the railroads which Mr. Hugo makes in such emphatic language ? “Unless society deteriorates,” we are told, “ it must give free play to liberty, variety, and individuality.” The railroad man is world-wide in his sympathies, but I think I have made it plain that his behavior and duties on the railroad are arranged and regulated by his committee. He now consults his schedule to discover how much liberty, how much variety, how much individuality, it is lawful for him to exercise. The man is organized, grouped, and scheduled into items, and when the mechanical process is complete, liberty, variety, and individuality have disappeared. The future of the race depends upon the cultivation of these social forces, and efficiency of work and service are very important branches of social development. Finally, then, the efficiency problem is the employers’ problem. Far be it from me to criticise the American railroad employee so far as his honesty of purpose is concerned, but we must all agree that a certain number of deplorable accidents have happened, and are still continuing to happen. A minority of railroad men are accountable in some way for these fatalities. Now, the only power in the United States to-day that is able peacefully, radically, and permanently to reach and influence this responsible minority is the railroad labor organization. The centre of influence upon the personality of the men has passed, to a very great extent, into the hands of the Union. This is the power behind the men at the present day, that can be exerted in a variety of ways in the interests of efficiency.

Just at present along these lines there is very little doing. Nevertheless on all sides, among railroad men, there are indications of awakening. We are all right and wrong in spots. But this safety problem, and the wider problems of efficiency in industrial life, are bigger than any man or collection of men who dislike to be criticised. I am a firm believer in the splendid prospects and future of the railroad man, but there are breakers ahead of him, and storms to weather.

So intimately related to the conduct and policy of the railroad organization is this matter of efficiency, that I think I am justified in applying the memorable words of Abraham Lincoln to the accident situation, and in saying that it is now for railroad men themselves to determine that these dead shall not have died in vain, and that we by our policy and conduct in the future, under God, shall take on a new birth of freedom.