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Transportation Act

( Originally Published 1918 )

Settlement of Labor Controversies.—The act of February 28, 1920, which is known as the Transportation Act, in addition to its numerous amendments to the Interstate Commerce Act in extending the powers and duties of the Inter-state Commerce Commission, provides a comprehensive plan for the settlement of labor controversies between carriers and their employees and subordinate officials through the medium of railroad boards of labor and a Railroad Labor Board,

Avoiding Interrupting Traffic.--It is made the duty of carriers and their officers and employees (Sec. 301) to use every means to avoid any interruption of the operation of any carrier growing out of labor disputes, and same are directed to be settled in conferences between representatives chosen by the carriers and the men. If such conferences fail, the dispute is then to be referred to either an "adjustment board" or the "railroad labor board" as provided in the act.

Adjustment Boards.—Railroad boards of labor adjustment may be established (Sec. 302) by agreement between any carrier, group of carriers or the carrier as a whole and any employees or subordinate officials of carriers or organization or group of organizations thereof.

Proceedings by Adjustment Boards.—The hearings by the adjustment boards shall be had (1) upon the application of the chief executive of any carrier or organization of employees or subordinate officials whose members are involved, (2) upon the written petition of not less than 100 unorganized employees or subordinate officials, (3) upon the adjustment board's own motion or (4) upon the request of. the labor board, should it decide the dispute is likely to. interrupt traffic, and the adjustment board shall promptly hear and decide the differences involving only grievances, rules or working conditions not decided between the carrier and its employees as provided in section 301.

Railroad Labor . Board.—The railroad labor board is composed of nine members (Sec. 304) three constituting the labor group, representing the employees and subordinate officials of the carriers, to be appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate from not less than six nominees, nominated by the employees; three constituting the management group, representing the carriers, and appointed in like manner; three constituting the public group, representing the public, to be appointed directly by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, vacancies to be filled in like manner as original appointments.

Failure to Make Nominations.—It is provided (Sec. 305) that if either the carriers or employees fail to make nominations for either original appointments or to fill vacancies within a specified time, that the president may make such appointments, selecting as far as he deems practical, individuals associated in interest with the group he or they shall represent.

Disqualifications of Members.—No member of the labor board may during his term of office (Sec. 306) be an active member or in the employ of or hold any office in any organization of employees or subordinate officials, or any carrier, or hold any stock or bonds thereof or be pecuniarily interested therein, but such prohibition does not affect honorary membership in or rights to any insurance, pension or other benefit fund.

Term of Office.—The members shall serve for a term of five years, except that the original members shall be appointed, one from each group, for respective terms of three, two and one year each, and their salary shall be $10,000 a year to be paid by the United States.

Proceedings by Labor Board.-The labor board shall hear all questions certified to it from adjustment boards or on application by employees, subordinate employees or carriers (Sec. 307) where no adjustment boards are organized, decide disputes involving grievances, rules or working conditions not settled in conferences between the carriers and their employees, and also shall hear and decide all questions as to wages or salaries also not settled in such conferences.

Suspending Wage Increases.—Where as the result of any conference between a carrier and its employees regarding wages or salaries of employees or subordinate officials, the labor board is of the opinion that any increase so granted is likely to necessitate a substantial readjustment of the rates of the carrier, then the board is empowered to suspend the operation of any such increase.

Majority May Decide.—At least five of the nine members of the labor board must concur in its decisions, and in all cases involving any wage or salary disputes, at least one of the public group shall concur. The act further provides for copies of the decisions of the labor board together with such statements of facts as as the board may deem proper to be communicated to the parties to the dispute, the president, each adjustment board and the Interstate Commerce Commission, as well as such other publicity as the labor board may decide.

Scope of Hearing As to Wages.—In all hearings on disputes as to wages, salaries or working conditions, it is provided that the award must be just and reasonable, and that in so determining the result the board shall take into consideration:

(1) The scales of wages paid for similar kinds of work in other industries.

(2) The relation between wages and the cost of living.

(3) The hazards of the employment.

(4) The training and skill required.

(5) The degree of responsibility.

(6) The character and regularity of the employment, and

(7) Inequalities of increases in wages or of treatment the result of previous wage orders or adjustments.

Duties of the Labor Board.—It is provided (Sec. 308) that the labor board shall elect a chairman by majority vote; maintain central offices in Chicago, but may meet elsewhere; investigate relations between carriers and employees, particularly as to wages, hours of labor and other conditions of employment and the respective privileges, rights and duties of carriers and employees, and shall classify and publish such data from time to time; and annually publish the decisions and regulations of the labor board, adjustment boards and all court and administrative decisions and regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission relative to the scope of the functions of the board.

Counsel May Appear.—Any party to any dispute to be considered by an adjustment board or by the labor board shall be entitled to a hearing in person or by counsel (Sec. 309).

Subpoena Powers.—The labor board is granted power to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers and documents by subpoena (Sec. 310) and to inspect records, papers, correspondence (Sec. 311) upon written order from the board, failure to comply being punishable as provided therein.

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