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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (April 18, 1909)
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THE OMAHA SUNDAY BEE: APRIL 18, 1900
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The operation of a large street railway system demands the
earnest physical and mental effort of a large number of men.
The Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway Company en
deavors to be a just and generous employer, ranking the quality
of service as of first consideration. The force has grown year
by year from a dozen or so required to run the first horse-cars,
to approximately 1,000 men permanently on the pay rolls.
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Club Rooms at Car House.
The passing of the fare cash or transfers to our conduc
tors now means that upwards of 150,000 business transactions
take place on our lines every day. Let the reader imagine him
self meeting and doing business with the entire population of
Omaha men, women and children all inside of about 18
hours and he will begin to appreciate the human chances for
error, accident and ill-temper.
Of the force of 1,000, about 600 are conductors and motor
men, with a somewhat larger proportion of the former. These
are the men whom the public meets and sees and to whom our
reputation as an efficient and careful public servant is largely ,
entrusted. They are the men who bear the brunt of contact
with people and conditions as they are; who are accountable
for the safe transportation of passengers, and who are expected
to be always courteous, wise and exact under all conditions.
We think our car men as a body are as loyal, patient and
efficient as any force of public service employes in the country.
Out of the 600, more or less, 38 have been with the company
twenty years or longer; 131 ten years or longer; and 233 five
years or longer; stated in another way, 39 of the car men have
been in the service five years or more, this despite the fact that
street railway conductors and motormen throughout the coun
try do not, as a rule, remain in the service for long periods.
The Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway Company's
system is operated in four divisions, as follows: Ames Avenue
Division, with its car house at 24th and Ames Ave.; Vinton
Street Division, with its car house at 24th and Vinton Sts.;
Harney Division, with its car house at 20th and Harney Sts.;
and Council Bluffs Division, with its car house at 28th Street
and Ave. A, Council Bluffs. Each car house is under the super
vision of a day Foreman and a night Foreman, who have im
mediate direction of the car men. The latter are ranked in
order of their seniority according to the divisions to which they
are attached, the older men having preference of runs, etc.
Ten Road Officers are vested with general direction of car
men while the latter are actually on the cars, and with the
responsibility of maintenance of schedules, and prompt and safe
operation of the cars. Foreman and Road Officers report to the
Superintendent of Transportation or Assistant Superintendent
of Transportation, who in turn report to the General Manager.
There are, of course, other important departments in the or
ganization, but we are dealing here only with the men on the cars.
As the force of conductors and motormen is constant.lv de
pleted by men leaving the service, either voluntarily or through
discharge, it is necessary to keep building it up, although nearly
50 of the men who leave voluntarily return at some time for
re-employment. In employing new men, the greatest of care
is exercised in selection, and an applicant is carefully scrutinized
as to his physical and temperamental adaptation to the work re
quired of him. After that, his past record is thoroughly investi
gated before he is entrusted with the safety of the public.
New men are required to spend at least twelve days on the
cars under the tutelage of old employes, who are paid an addi
tional compensation for the instruction so rendered. They are
then further instructed and examined by Road Officers, given
some practical experience alone by themselves and finally ex
amined by the Superintendent of Transportation before they
are considered regularly employed. It is necessary to maintain
an extra list of about 150 men, who must hold themselves in
readiness to take the places of absentees from day to day and who are rotated
in priority. At the present time, a man usually serves about six months on
the extra list before he obtains a regular run. Trie company prefers to employ
married men because of their usually steadier habits and greater sense of
responsibility. The positions of Foremen and Road Officers are filled by pro
motion from the ranks of conductors and motormen.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the wages paid conduc
tors and motormen in Omaha are considerably above the average paid in other
cities in the United States. The scale is graduated according to the number
of years of service and is as follows: For the first year 21 cents per hour; second
year 22c; third year 23c; fourth year 24c; fifth to ninth years 25c; and there
after 26 cents. The pay of a conductor or motorman begins when he steps on
the platform of his car, and stops when he leaves it at the car house.
Men on regular runs work about ten hours per day on the average, as
nearly as possible within a space of twelve hours. They may work every day
in the year if they choose, or lay off several days a month a their option. The
maximum earnings per month are about $90; the minimum $60; and the aver
age $75 for men having regular runs. Men on the extra list average about $45
At each car house there are club rooms, fitted with libraries and reading
and writing tables for the use and convenience of conductors and motormen
waiting to go on duty, or at which' they may spend their leisure time.
Car House at 24th and Ames Ave.
In every organization where large numbers of men are employed, it is
necessary to have a system of discipline. The method followed by the com
pany consists largely of reprimands, warnings and recording violations of the
rules, penalties such as taking men from regular runs and placing them on the
extra list for short periods and as a last resort, discharge from the service.
Every man employed is an important unit of the system and necessary to
the operation of the road. The co-operation of all is a prime requisite if the
best interests of the public and the Company are to be served. Towards im- ,
pressing this cardinal principle, the company about a year ago inaugurated a
series of lectures or talks for the benefit of employes, in which various phases
of operation were taken up, discussed in a practical way and the logic of meth
ods and rules fully explained. These meetings have resulted in so much good
that they will be continued as a permanent feature.
The employes of the company have an organization to which all em
ployes are eligible, called the Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway Em
ployes Relief Association. It is conducted absolutely by the men themselves,
although the Company lends encouragement. Membership is voluntary and
the dues are 50 cents per month. One dollar a day is paid sick or disabled
members after the first 6 days of disability for a period not exceeding 6 months.
A death benefit of $100 to cover funeral expenses is paid in case of death. The
Association is in a flourishing condition and now has about 600 members.
The company and its employes have had the good fortune never to have
experienced difficulty which could not be adjusted without a strike or lockout.
G. VV. WATTLES, President,
Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway Company.
(Next Sunday's Article Will Deal With the Increased Cost of Operation )