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The Electrification of American Railroads



OR many long years, it was accepted as the

truth that an electric railroad could not suc

cessfully compete with a steam road in long distance traffic. There are still in use old textbooks where one can find the statement. Acknowledged authorities made the statement and repeated it until that great compelling force of all progress, economic necessity, made itself felt and decided otherwise.

The United States was in a fortunate position. It had all the coal it wanted and some more besides. This was not the case in Europe. France and Italy, for instance, were compelled to electrify because of the shortage of coal, its prohibitive price and the presence within their boundaries of water-power resources which presented a more economical way of generating current. Throughout Europe, these dominating reasons have led to the same result. France, Italy and Switzerland have gone in for a comprehensive policy, the result of which will be the complete electrification of their railroad systems. Belgium, Norway, Sweden and England have made a beginning on an extensive scale, and several other countries are still in the period of preliminary studies.

As things stand at the present time, the United States, on account of its size, leads the world in the amount of miles already electrified but, considering the rate of progress of new undertakings in Europe, it is lagging behind, in a relative way.

The electrified road mileage of the U. S. today amounts to 1607 miles, with an equipment of 375 electric locomotives. Eighteen other countries have together 3567 miles of electrified track, which gives the U. S. nearly one-third of the world's electrified

mileage. The work so far accomplished in this country has cost in round figures eighty million dollars.

New projects which have reached beyond the talking stage and which have, at least some of them, been partially started and for which material and equipment has or is about to be ordered, involve between twelve and fifteen hundred miles of road at an estimated total cost of one hundred and fifty million dollars.

Amongst the most important projects are:

The electrification of the Illinois Central terminals in Chicago, and 28 miles of suburban traffic track out of that city.

The electrification of the New York Central terminals in Cleveland.

The electrification of one hundred miles of the Ford road.

One hundred and twenty-five miles of the Milwaukee in the Cascade mountains.

One hundred miles of the Norfolk and Western.

The economic considerations which have influenced the private owners may be summed up as follows:

First, the financial condition of the roads is good and their borrowing capacity at normal rates of interest allows them to find the necessary money through issues of bonds.

Second, the increase in traffic. For several years past the capacity of some of the roads has been heavily taxed by the traffic, to such an extent that something must be done. It is a case of either double tracking or electrifying.

The third factor is the small rise in the price of

JUNE, 19 2 3

coal over the general rate of increase in the average economies of electrification to pay for the entire price of all other commodities.

cost of the work within five years. The cost of electrifying per mile will be on the The interests of the workers do not count before average $45,000 for single track and $75,000 for the boards of directors of the owning concerns. For double track. To this must be added from 40 to 50 that reason, it is not only useful but practically imper cent of the cost of track fitting for power sta- perative that there should be in existence a publitions. The total cost per mile will thus be in the cation like The Industrial Pioneer, where those huge neighborhood of $65,000 for single track and $100,- projects may be considered from the point of view 000 for double track.

of the workers. One of the main features of electrification, where To the construction worker I would say: Are you no water power is available, will be the use of coal ready to get your legitimate share of that expendiat the mouth of the mine or pit. It will not be ture of one hundred and fifty million dollars within very long before as a mere matter of common sense, the next few years ? Besides, an undertaking of for possible emergencies all those mine-mouth power that size means a reorganization of the personnel. stations will be linked up together. The owners

Lots of old timers who think themselves secure in will proceed on a larger scale just in the same man- their seniority are due to go into the discard. Elecner as the private owners of industrial plants today trification means a demand for a new type of labor who generate their own power but find it desirable, to be used in entirely new forms of activity. in view of possible emergencies, to connect their The very suggestion of a craft union makes one private system up with some other electric system smile. The craftsman is not going to get a look-in selling "juice" to the public. Through these con- on those jobs. He would be useless if he tried and nections between power companies will be estab- therefore it is useless for him to try. The man who lished the technical or material basis of one of the is going to be benefited by electrification is not the most powerful trusts of the future.

specialized craftsman but the worker who comes To gain an idea of the imminent developments in upon the labor market with the greatest faculty of that direction, it is only necessary to look at a map

adapting himself to the machine processes to be of the state of California and to consider how the used in the job. various power systems derived from the rivers which We shall probably see a repetition on a much enflow from the high levels of the Sierras toward the larged scale of what took place on many railroads Pacific have all been connected up into one compre- when the block-signal system was put in. There hensive system, which has led to the formation of will be a standardized gang and every man will start the economic power that is ruling the state of Cali- at the foot of his gang, working himself up through fornia today.

all intermediate stages till he reaches the top. In order to gain an idea of the economic conse- Every time a stretch is completed, the men at the quences of electrification, we have at our disposi- top of the gang will be left behind as maintainers tion the traffic figures for the year 1922, as pub- of the completed stretch while the balance of the lished by the statistical division of the Interstate gang will move up to help in further construction, Commerce Commission.

and so on. The coal tonnage carried in interstate commerce To represent the men who do the work in the amounts, roughly speaking, to three-tenths of the various activities of organization, something more general total of tonnage carried. In the total of efficient is needed than a lot of high-salaried craft coal carried by the railroads, one quarter is com- union delegates butting into each other all over the pany coal.

In other words, every fourth car of works and working at all times at cross purposes coal carried in interstate commerce is company coal with each other and hand in glove with the boss. and this proportion only covers the coal used for Besides also, our old friend the employment shark generating steam for hauling freight and passengers. is already figuring on getting his. Effective protecThis fuel used only in transportation service does tion for the workers, efficient representation in all not include the fuel used in railroad shops, offices, transactions with the employers, elimination of etc.

crooked employment agents working in collusion If all the railroads of the U. S. were electrified, with grafting officials can only be brought about no more company coal would have to be carried by a centralized, well disciplined and efficiently and electrification with juice derived from water- manned ONE BIG UNION aiming at nothing less power and generating plants at the pit mouth would than job control in the fullest sense of the word. do away with three-fortieth of all railroad traffic.

To the coal miner it must now become evident In other words, for every forty carloads of freight that before any coal is used for generating current, there would be three carloads of coal less.

every possible available inch of water will have to be The capitalists who own the railroads would never put to work. This will probably lead to a certain have decided upon electrification with the enthusiasm curtailment of coal mining. Can the coal miners which they are showing today, if there did not trust their organization and their officials, as we exist, under the circumstances, a possibility of huge know them by their past records, to stand by them profits. As a matter of fact, one road expects the honestly and faithfully in this crucial hour?

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As for the railroad men, let them not lose sight this marvelous new industrial development with the of that suppression of three cars in every forty and proud consciousness that you are both the creator figure out what it means to every one of them in and the future owner of these electrified roads? particular. Are they efficiently organized to control Do you want to get a fair living out of their conthe changes that are bound to come in the wake of struction and some day to run them with your felelectrification and to see to it that part of their low workers, in one efficient group, and to take part wages does not go to pile up those economies which in the noble adventure of realizing for the common are expected to pay inside of five years for the cost good the technical progress which science has of electrification ?

brought as a boon, not only to the capitalists but to To all the workers affected by electrification I the whole of society and to the producers first of would like to leave this closing thought: Do you

all? want to be, in true A. F. of L. style, just poor imi- Your answers to these questions will decide tations of petty bourgeois puttering along without whether you will do your share in the coming work vision and without profit on the outskirts of a great of electrification with an antiquated A. F. of L. craft industrial undertaking or do you wish to enter into

card or with an I. W. W. card in your pocket.

“Negro Slavery or Crime of the Clergy”

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HERE has recently been issued from the press The quotations contained in the book from the

great abolitionists and Negro sympathizers are well the Negro problem, which is now over four hun

chosen. Among them we find the names of Thomas

Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, dred years old.

Horace Greeley, Abraham Lincoln, Winwood Reade In its time it has engendered a vast amount of and Parker Pillsbury. talking, writing and prejudice, and one naturally

Among the most interesting and startling facts inclines to the opinion that it is far from a solution. in the book is an accurate analysis of the growth Such an opinion, though, is somewhat modified after

of Negro population in the United States. This ana careful reading of Mr. Russo's book. He not only alysis is keen and is presented in such manner has a solution for the question but he sets forth a as to show the gradual increase in power for the program that has the merit of being practical. He

Negroes through the proportional increase of their quite clearly demonstrates that there now are forces population. at work that will solve the whole Negro question.

Also, “The Center of Negro Population in the He indicates further that these forces are fast bring- United States" is set forth with a historical backing on a crisis in the situation. When the crisis

ground. The Negro population, its changes and has arrived our author points out some very definite

movements, the causes and effects of such movepractical steps to be taken.

ments, are accurately set forth and incisively anThe work indicates that the author has devoted alyzed. Perhaps no more interesting facts and data much time to reading, research and study of the have been introduced on this question than those

jestion upon which he writes. His brief and suc- that Mr. Russo compiles under this head. cint history of the slave trade, beginning with The most significant feature of the document, Prince Henry of Portugal, and the extension of that however, is the manner in which the author identifies trade to Spain and England, is not only instructive the cause of the white and black workingmen. He but intensely interesting as well.

shows that their present conditions as workers differ The author is able to carry not only himself but only in degree and not in kind. He concludes by the reader backward in history. In reading this telling us that both the white and black man should work one is carried back to the days when "Black iay aside race distinctions, visualize their common Ivory” was a commercial product and the Negro humanity and organize themselves into an effective was bought and sold in the market much the same social engine for the purpose of breaking down the as cattle are nowadays. Here we find a good an- wage system, which keeps them both in bondage. alysis of the slave-trader's psychology. How the The book is interesting, bristling with facts, and trader would judge a Negro according to his tem- has a constructive outlook. It should be in the perament, weight, strength of bone and muscle, is hands of all those who wish to be informed on the vividly described. Our author visualizes for us social status of the Negro. again the days when the white man haggled and

Samuel Ball. bartered over the amount of gold he would exchange

Published by Pasquale Russo, 833 Sedgwick Street, Chi. for a black man.

cago, Ill. Price, 25 cents.

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Who said the workers “will not stick ?” 66 ATIONS which have no vision, pe

Talk about solidarity! Here is an example rish" so says history—and proves it.

of it-par excellence. First, the sailors and Individuals who live without vision, degen- longshoremen tie up the port, practically one erate and become outcasts among human hundred per cent. Over ninety ships laying kind. The same is true of men in the ag

idle. Then, meetings—peaceable, orderly, gregate, of societies and even of labor un

well-conducted, held by the strikers and ions. Man does not live by bread alone. sympathizers within their constitutional

rights of free speech and free assemblage. The Industrial Workers of the World is an

Daily meetings attended by thousands of organization with ideals. Its members carry striking workingmen and justice-loving in their hearts at all times a vision of a

citizens from all walks of life who believe in future society in which crime and degrada- fair and square dealing. tion, poverty and slavery, will have been forever wiped off the face of the earth. The I. . Second manifestation of solidarity: ArW. W. is a labor union which fights the mas

rest of speakers; one after another, a seemter class at the point of production for more ingly endless stream of them are arrested and wages and better conditions, but it is also at thrown into jail. But does that break the the same time something more than that. spirit of the strikers, or lessen the enthusiasm Something infinitely more than that, for it of their supporters? Why, no! It merely fights for an emancipated and a regenerated serves to fan the flames of discontent, to humanity.

bring together still closer all those who are

fighting the vicious and corrupt power which Witness the spirit of the I.W.W. General

rules the state of California. Strike! What a wonderful, what a magnificent display of idealism, class solidarity and Third manifestation of solidarity: thouself-sacrificing enthusiasm! A hundred sands of membership cards in the Industrial thousand lumber workers, tens of thousands Workers of the World are issued. The workof marine transport, construction, and oil ers and citizens of San Pedro have realized workers quit their jobs and announce for the the necessity for a permanent and a fighting whole world to hear that the first and fore- labor organization. most of their demands is the liberation of all class war prisoners.

At last, having lost all sense of decency

and every vestige of self-control, and having This might be a decadent and materialistic age, as regards the members of the parasitic become raving mad at the unflinching and and ruling classes, but the base spirit of dauntless spirit of the striking workers and narrow-minded self-interest has neither cor- citizens of San Pedro, the police, at the beroded nor corrupted the souls of working- hest of the shipowners, arrest every member men. They are as ready now as ever to fight of the strikers' committees—sixty-eight in for right and justice.


This is followed by the arrest of six SAN PEDRO

hundred strikers sympathizers—includHE marine transport workers strike in

San Pedro will go down in the annals ing Upton Sinclair. The jails are filled to of history. "The San Pedro Spirit ought to capacity; a stockade has to be built. We are become a watchword thruout the nation; it confident that “The San Pedro Spirit” will is an inspiration and a prophesy.

be equal even to this crowning outrage.



benefits out of their own pockets, they will HE purpose of a strike is to compel the let the boss pay them— in the form of wages. boss to grant the demands of the strikers.

Striking on the job means—any one of a It therefore stands to reason that those tac

multitude of things. It means slowing down tics which will achieve this end are the right

on the job, retarding production by a multitactics. That up till now they might not plicity of methods; it means, in short, hitting have been frequently resorted to is beside

the boss in the pocket-book. And the beauty the point. The question is—do they deliver

of it is that the boss is paying all the expense the goods?

of conducting the strike. The long-drawn-out strike has been proven

The marine transport workers, excepting to be a failure in the majority of cases.

the San Pedro strikers, stayed out for a week

and a half after the lumber workers went How many strikes of this character have there been in the last ten years that have

back, and then they also returned to their been successful? Very few indeed. Labor jobs. They won practically all their decannot fight capital with money; labor does mands, outside of the release of class war not have enough of the “long green" to sup- prisoners. ply it with the necessities of life if the strikes

The moral is: strike while the iron is hot! lag on for months and months.

The workers cannot afford to stay away The I. W. W. lumber workers went back

from their jobs months on end, in the vain to work on May 7, but they are still on strike!

hope of "winning." If they cannot win in a This will be a surprise to the standpat oldtimer in the labor movement. All that the

comparatively short time off the jobs, then lumberjacks have done is to carry the strike let them carry the strike back on the job, and back on the job. Instead of paying strike win there!

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SEE, tho

the oil be low, more purely still and higher
The flame burns in the body's lamp! The

watchers still
Gaze with unseeing eyes while the Promethean will,
The Uncreated Light, the Everlasting Fire,
Sustains itself against the torturers' desire
Even as the fabled Titan chained upon the hill.
Burn on, shine here, thou immortality, until
We, too, have lit our lamps at the funeral pyre;
Till we, too, can be noble, unshakable, undismayed;
Till we too, can burn with the holy flame and know
There is that within us can triumph over pain,
And go to death alone, slowly and unafraid.
The candles of God are already burning row on row.
Farewell, Lightbringer, fly to thy heaven again!

A. E.

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