1908 - Nine-Hour Law

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Mon Feb 18 22:27:11 EST 2008

Roanoke Times - February 19, 1908


N. & W. Preparing to Comply With Provisions of Measure

The Norfolk & Western Railway Company, so it was stated yesterday
morning, is making every preparation possible to be ready for the new
law which goes into effect on March 4th and which provides certain
hours for labor for those who have to do with operations of trains.
This is a national law known as the "nine hour law". It limits the
hours of service of all classes of train operatives, particularly
locomotive engineers and firemen, train dispatchers, railway
telegraphers, tower men and signal operators.
Recently the Interstate Commerce Commission was requested by the
operating vice-presidents of 10 or 12 important systems of railway to
extend the time when the nine-hour provision is to go into effect. It
was pointed out that nine hours constituted an unusual and awkward
period, as duties of that kind have to be performed in all the 24
hours of every day. If two shifts of train dispatchers, telegraph
operators and signal men each worked nine hours, there would be a
period of six hours in every 24 which could not be covered
satisfactorily, either to the men themselves or to the railroads. It
might be better for all concerned, but for such a period of work the
men could not be paid wages which they would regard as adequate for
their needs. And, in addition, it might be difficult to obtain the
services of enough skilled men to make up three shifts every 24 hours
on all of the railroads in America.
The commission has set February 27 as a date on which it will hear
formal application of the nine-hour provision.
However, the N. and W. does not, from all accounts, propose to
await the result of the hearing. The purpose of the officials is to
put the law into effect.


- Ron Davis, Roger Link

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