Wages of Railroad Labor

October 13, 1931

Report Outline
Railroad Freight Rates and Railroad Wages
Federal Railroad Labor Disputes Legislation
Principal Railroad Wage Changes Since 1917
Railroad Labor Disturbances Since 1917
Railroad Employment, Wages, and the Cost of Living
Railroads' Financial Position and Wage Reduction
Special Focus

Railroad Freight Rates and Railroad Wages

Forthcoming Decision in 15 Per Cent Rate Case

Hearings before the Interstate Commerce Commission on the petition of the railroads for a 15 per cent freight rate increase ended September 30, 1931. The commission is expected to announce its decision in the case before the end of October. The generally accepted opinion in Washington is that the carriers will not obtain the full rate advance requested and that they may even be granted no flat percentage increase. If this opinion proves to be correct, it is probable that the railroads will promptly initiate a movement for general reductions in the wages of their employees.

A small percentage increase of all freight rates or the authorization of specific rate advances would presumably be insufficient to cope with the financial emergency outlined by the railroads in their petition to the Interstate Commerce Commission. Other expenditures having already been sharply reduced, the assumption is that if the roads are not assured of an adequate increase in revenues, they will seek to solve their problem through savings on the wage bill. In fact, Daniel Willard, president of the Baltimore & Ohio, recently warned that the railroads “may be forced to seek wage reductions,” and on the final day of the commission hearings railroad attorneys predicted that denial of the petition would be followed by wage cuts throughout the country's transportation system.

Unless voluntary agreements could be reached between the carriers and their employees, any attempts to cut the compensation of railroad workers would result in a long struggle between the two parties. The machinery of the Railway Labor Act of 1926, providing for mediation and arbitration of railway labor disputes, would probably be brought into play. While there is the possibility of strike disturbances and a tie-up of the country's basic transportation system, that eventuality is more remote.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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May 01, 2009  High-Speed Trains Updated
Oct. 18, 2002  Future of Amtrak
Apr. 16, 1993  High-Speed Rail
Mar. 10, 1978  Future of American Railroads
Mar. 07, 1975  Railroad Reorganization
Jun. 20, 1973  Railroad Nationalization
Nov. 17, 1961  Railroad Subsidies
Aug. 24, 1960  Railroad Mergers
Jan. 01, 1958  Condition of the Railroads
Jan. 31, 1951  Railway Safety
Oct. 04, 1944  Railroad Freight Rates
Jun. 12, 1939  The Government and the Railroads
Apr. 21, 1938  Government Ownership of the Railroads
Dec. 07, 1937  Railroad Rates and Revenues
Jul. 17, 1937  Advances in Railway Passenger Service
Sep. 27, 1934  Railroad Rates And Federal Regulation of Transportation
Jan. 11, 1933  Railroad Receiverships and Reorganizations
Aug. 26, 1932  The Railroads and the Depression
Oct. 13, 1931  Wages of Railroad Labor
Jul. 09, 1931  Railroad Freight Rates
Feb. 14, 1931  The Railroad Consolidation Controversy
Sep. 19, 1927  The Problem of Railroad Valuation
Mar. 30, 1927  Railroad Consolidation and Prospective Legislation
Mar. 26, 1927  Principles of Railroad Consolidation
Mar. 08, 1926  Railway Labor Disputes Legislation
May 04, 1925  The Baltimore and Ohio Cooperation Plan
Sep. 12, 1924  National Railroad Consolidation and the Van Sweringen Merger
Aug. 14, 1924  Automatic Train Control in Relation to Railroad Casualties
May 28, 1924  The Condition of American Railroads