Original Document
Original Document
Report of the President and Managers of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Co. to the Stockholders, January 14, 1878 for the year ending November 30, 1877.

The stockholder are referred to the annexed reports of the General Manager and the Chief Engineer for fuller details of the workings of the Transportation and Roadway Departments, but before leaving the subject of the workings of the Railway, it is proper to call the attention of the stockholders to the difficulty experienced by the Company during the past year, growing out of a conflict with one of the most powerful trades-union associations in America, the Brotherhood of Locomotive engineers. About a year ago the officers of the Company received what they believed to be authentic information that the Reading Railroad Company was to be attacked by this organization; and believing that the chief of the association had been instrumental in organizing a general trainsmen's union with a view.

Upon a given day, to make a general strike of all train employees throughout the United States, it was considered by the Managers advisable immediately upon the foundation fro the attack being laid by a demand for 20 per cent. higher wages for engineers and firemen, to notify all of its locomotive engineers that they must either quit the service of the Company, or renounce their allegiance to the Brotherhood. Such notice was accordingly given on the 27th of March last, accompanied by a notification that all engineers would be entitled to the benefits of a Beneficial Fund to be established by the Company, which would present greater advantages than those they would surrender by withdrawing from their own association.

The answer to this was a formal written communication, dated April 13th, signed by a Committee of Brotherhood Engineers, demanding the withdrawal of the notice, the immediate reinstatement of all engineers and firemen to the positions filled by them prior to its issue, and that no engineer or fireman participating in the difficulty should ever be discharged without the arbitrament (sic.) of a Committee of Engineers, who were to be paid full time by the Company when engaged in such arbitration. This remarkable demand was, of course, instantly refused. And on the following day, viz., April 14th, a strike was ordered by the Committee to take place at midnight of that date. Out of 380 engineers and an equal number of firemen, 178 of the former and 127 of the latter quit work, and their places were immediately supplied by others who were anxious to obtain the situations, and who have generally turned out to be worthy and efficient men.

The strikers, with a few other trainmen who left the service of the Company at the same time, maintained a hostile and defiant attitude, and, instead of seeking for work elsewhere, banded themselves in a still closer alliance, for the purpose of forcing the Company to recede from its position, and again to take them into its employment. The headquarters of the disaffected was in the city of Reading, and when the news came of the outbreak of July upon the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Martinsburg, at the direct instigation of a number of those who had left the service of the Company, and aided by the active participation of others, a riotous mob was excited to acts of incendiarism and outrage against the property of the Company at Reading, which resulted in the burning of several freight cars and the fine bridge of the Lebanon Valley branch, spanning the Schuylkill in that city, and which was only checked by the prompt and decided action of a body of Pennsylvania infantry, ably commanded by General Frank Reeder, of Easton.

Credit: Courtesy of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
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