This day in 1918 in The Record

The Record (Troy, NY) - - COMMUNITY - -- Kevin Gil­bert

Tues­day, April 16, 1918. Street­car work­ers may walk off their jobs per­ma­nently within the next 48 hours, but two of the area’s largest em­ploy­ers have told them not to come look­ing for work.

Rank and file mem­bers of the Amal­ga­mated As­so­ci­a­tion of Street Rail­way Em­ploy­ees voted last night to au­tho­rize their lead­ers to call a strike against United Trac­tion Com­pany, the local street­car ser­vice provider. The union is de­mand­ing a wage hike to 40 cents an hour to keep up with wartime in­fla­tion.

Union lead­ers are wait­ing for United Trac­tion vice pres­i­dent H. B. Weather­wax to re­turn from New York City for ne­go­ti­a­tions. They most likely not call a strike un­til they’ve had a chance to talk with him, so long as he re­turns “within a rea­son­able time.”

Vice pres­i­dent Pa­trick McKeon of the Troy local warns, how­ever, that “if it ap­peared that there was un­nec­es­sary de­lay other means would be taken to bring the is­sue be­fore the com­pany and a def­i­nite an­swer de­manded.”

The strike threat fol­lowed the fail­ure last week of leg­is­la­tion that would have al­lowed United Trac­tion to raise street­car fares from five to six cents. Many ob­servers sus­pect that the Amal­ga­mated and United Trac­tion are us­ing the strike threat to pres­sure state or local gov­ern­ment into re­con­sid­er­ing the fare in­crease. Troy mayor Cor­nelius F. Burns warns that the city can’t per­mit a fare hike without ab­ro­gat­ing its cur­rent con­tract with United Trac­tion and “set­ting a dan­ger­ous prece­dent.” Rather than strike, union work­ers have threat­ened to quit in or­der to find bet­ter-pay­ing work in boom­ing war-re­lated in­dus­tries. The Record re­ports to­day that Amal­ga­mated work­ers are “in­censed” over an­nounce­ments from Gen­eral Elec­tric and the Water­vliet Ar­se­nal that former United Trac­tion men would not be wel­come at their plants. “It is stated on good author­ity that ar­se­nal of­fi­cials have made a de­mand that the trac­tion com­pany main­tain a ser­vice ad­e­quate to meet the needs of em­ploy­ees of the ar­se­nal,” our re­porter ex­plains, “They have said they will not em­ploy any men who leave the ser­vice of the trac­tion cor­po­ra­tion. “This stand, as in the case of Sch­enec­tady, is said to have been taken be­cause an ex­o­dus of rail­way em­ploy­ees would se­ri­ously hand­i­cap the gov­ern­ment in at­tain­ing a high stan­dard of pro­duc­tiv­ity and that it would re­sult in a la­bor ‘ turn- over,’ me­chan­ics not be­ing will­ing to un­dergo in­con­ve­niences in go­ing to or from their work which would re­sult from a tie-up.” Troy local pres­i­dent Joseph McLough­lin dis­misses a re­port that in­ter­na­tional Amal­ga­mated lead­ers “did not fa­vor” the local ac­tion as “pro­pa­ganda cir­cu­lated with a view of in­jur­ing the stand­ing of the em­ploy­ees with the pub­lic at large.”

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