History of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees: Its Birth and Growth, 1887-1955

History of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees: Its Birth and Growth, 1887-1955

History of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees: Its Birth and Growth, 1887-1955

History of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees: Its Birth and Growth, 1887-1955

Excerpt

To those who are not familiar with the Brotherhood and its work, a formal outline of its objectives, its creed, and its organizational set-up is essential to a better understanding of this history.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes is a railroad labor organization representing some 300,000 railroad maintenance of way workers in the United States and Canada. Maintenance of way workers are often referred to as the "shock troops of the railroads," for it is their job to keep safe the tracks, trestles, and bridges over which freight and passenger trains move swiftly to all parts of the continent.

You have often seen them putt-putting down the track on a motor car or working in groups renewing ties, replacing rail, or refurbishing the right of way. You have seen them dangling from railway bridges and structures with paint brush or tool in hand, or repairing the thousands of buildings that make up our railroad system. They have no doubt often signaled you and your children safely across grade crossings with warning standard or red light. And you have seen them many times, I am sure, along the railroad right of way, operating cranes, ditchers, bull dozers, concrete mixers, and all the other modern machinery of present-day railroad maintenance.

The work of the maintenance of way man is hazardous. In addition to the ordinary dangers that beset the worker who uses tools and machines, he must often work in high places, on bridges, trestles, and structures. And usually his work is done under the hazards of train traffic, on the main line where he must keep a sharp lookout for trains, or in busy railroad yards where the switching of cars is constantly going on.

Our Brotherhood was formed in 1887 under the name of the Order of Railroad Trackmen. Organized first as a fraternal society, its objectives within the course of a few years became those of a labor organization, although fraternalism is still one of its basic principles. Amalgamation with other similar organizations of railroad workers in the years following resulted in the present form and name of our Brotherhood.

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