THE BEGINNING OF THE STRIKE
ON March 1, 1920, the road was restored to the owners by the government with a six months' guaranty. Realizing that the road would be unable to pay the standard rates of pay established by Decision No. 2 of the Railroad Labor Board, unless the revenues could be increased, General Manager Phelan appealed to the citizens to join with him in a request to the State Corporation Commission of Arkansas and to the Interstate Commerce Commission asking for permission to raise both freight and passenger rates 20 to 25 per cent. The request was granted, and passenger rates were increased to 5 cents per mile; but traffic declined and revenues remained about as they had been before the increase in rates.1
There was some unrest among the employees during the latter part of 1920, and some dissatisfaction with Receiver and General Manager Phelan. He was reported to be receiving a salary of $12,000 per year; he was accused of having pocketed a sum of money due the employees from the period of government control; and he was charged with having sold the officials' private car and appropriated the proceeds. In connection with these charges conductor J. T. (Pete) Venable was suspended from service, but was reinstated after some delay.
It is impossible to say how much truth there was in these charges, but they were generally believed by the employees. Mr. Phelan seems to have lacked the diplomacy necessary to____________________