(letterhead) St. Louis – San Francisco Railway Company
Office of President, St. Louis, MO
J. M. KURN President
Dated: January 28, 1921
(other markings, Executive Office stamp dated Jan 31, 1921)
Dear Mr. Brown:
Beg to acknowledge receipt of copy of your letter of January, 26th; to Mr. Cuyler, upon the subject of revision of wage rates.
I am enclosing copy of my letter of January .25th, to Mr. Cuyler, upon the same subject. I am firmly of the opinion that, just as soon as the question of abolition of national Agreements is disposed of - and I sincerely hope favorably from our viewpoint - the carriers should be ready to instantly present to the Labor Board demands for a revision of wage scales downward.
As stated in my letter to Mr. Cuyler, think it would be very advisable not to press the reduction of wages of men in train, engine and yard service beyond the point of eliminating time and one-half for overtime; that is to say, do not think we should press revision with this class of labor until we have fought the matter out with all other classes of employees. This because, feel sure we can hold the Big Four Brotherhoods - who are outside of the American Federation of labor, in line while the other reduction process is going on., Later, I see no reason why the wage scales of the trainmen, Enginemen and Yardmen should not also be revised, but think we would stand a much better chance of keeping up our operation and a much better chance of handling other labor organizations successfully, if we follow the plan I have suggested. The Enginemen, for instance - I feel quite confident - would keep our power in running condition in such circumstances
Yours very truly,.
signed, J M Kurn
Mr. E. N. Brown
Chairman of the Board,
New York City.
(below is copy of letter Mr Kurn refers to)
January 25, 1921.
Dear Mr. Cuyler:
Member-Road letter No. 2, and your wire 24th:
We, of course, can do nothing regarding National Agreements until after the Wage Board has rendered decision, which hope will be in favor of cancellation, permitting each line to make its own contracts, restoring piece work and making other adjustments which would mean a big saving in Costs
While practically all industries are making reductions in wages, and our high rates of pay, especially to laborers, are generally embarrassing all industries in this locality and causing a rather bitter feeling against the railroads, I feel that it possible would not be discreet to make any radical changes until after the Wage Board has rendered decision in regard to National Agreements; but I do think that we should be ready to submit to them immediately after the hearing on the National Agreements the question of reducing rates of pay.
While do not believe much reduction should be made in the rates of enginemen, trainmen and switchmen, I do feel that we should try and get away from the time and a half for overtime. This, of course, will be a very hard thing to do. In all other classes, I think we should make a decrease of from ten to twenty per cent - possibly in the clerical forces a reduction of ten per cent, shop forces 15 per cent and laborers, depending upon the class of labor in which employed from fifteen to twenty per cent. We are paying our section men in this locality an average of $3.50 per day, eight hours, time and a half after eight hours. Of course in some localities we are paying over $4.00 a day, same class of work. Certain industries tributary to our line have reduced-to as low as $2.50 per day and working ten hours on that rate.
Talking to prominent business men throughout this territory, they all feel that the railroads should take action at the earliest possible date.
In specifying ten per cent reduction in clerical positions, my thought was not to make a straight ten per cent cut, but to select certain positions that are now out of line and over-paid. Have been seriously considering for some time the advisability of making some reduction in
certain localities in common labor, but have not done so on :account of your request and the possible effect it might have on the hearing now before the War Board. We can in certain localities, especially in the South, employ all the common labor we want for $2.00 and perhaps less per day.
Yours very truly,
Signed – J. M. Kurn
Mr. Thomas DeWitt Cuyler,
Care Hotel Blackstone,
C I H I C A G 0.