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Mail Tribune 100, Aug. 25, 1919

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago

Aug. 25, 1919

TIME TO CALL A HALT

What if the president of the Southern Pacific should say to the fruit raisers in Jackson county, “Not another car of fruit will be hauled until you pay 25 cents more a ton for freight.”

And the fruit growers refused to be held up, and consequently the trains stopped. Not only the fruit trains but all trains, including those carrying mail. What would be the general disposition toward the Southern Pacific president?

But that is virtually what the railroad employees in Los Angeles are doing. They want more money for the work they do, this demand is not granted immediately, so they announce no more trains will run until they get it. The result is a complete paralysis of railroad transportation, which doesn’t injure the workers, they are protected; doesn’t injure the railroad officials, they draw their pay as usual; but injures the public to the extent of millions of dollars, inconvenience incalculable, and the entire demoralization of domestic commerce.

Hasn’t it become plain to every fair minded citizen, that this freedom to arbitrarily suspend transportation, on the part of labor, has come to the point where it must be stopped? Labor has no more right to dictate its returns, than has capital. The leader of a railroad brotherhood has no more right to arbitrarily suspend service upon which the public welfare depends, than has the chairman of the board of directors.

If the Southern Pacific president acted as above outlined, he would of course, be placed at once in a straight jacket and transported to Salem, or the nearest haven for the violently insane. Because any person with sanity knows that freight rates are not controlled by railroad presidents, nor railroad employees but by the Interstate Commerce Commission — or were until of very recent date.

But the wages of railroad workers are not so controlled, in spite of the fact that they are a determining factor in the determination of such rates. Doesn’t this anomalous situation plainly demonstrate, that the time has come to place capital and labor in our railroads upon an equal basis, the public giving them both protection on one hand, and demanding protection from abuses of both on the other?

It seems so to us. The present situation simply can’t continue, unless the American people are ready to submit blindly to the dictatorship of railroad labor, as they refused to submit to the dictatorship of railroad capital.

Roosevelt’s old fashioned “square deal,” backed up by the big stick is what we need now.

Both capital and labor should be allowed their just rights, and neither should be allowed more. A court of supreme authority should be created in which both are represented and in which the public is also represented. All disputes should be decided by this court, and refusal to obey the orders of such a court, should be treated as refusals to obey the law are usually treated. Then the railroad strike would be placed where it belongs — a problem for the militia and the police, in their role as protectors of the public peace and welfare.

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