The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad Strike

By Orville Thrasher Gooden | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
PETE VENABLE AND OTHERS

THE Memphis Commercial Appeal sent a staff correspondent to Harrison at the time of the uprising in January, 1923. In addition to regular news items, a feature story was sent in under date of January 20, and published the next day. This story was reprinted entire, or in part, by many of the local papers. The following excerpts are quoted from the Jacksonian Headlight of January 25, 1923:

Pete Venable conducted one of the most profitable enterprises along the line of the Missouri & North Arkansas railroad during the two years he directed the strike of 700 employees. His executive position as rail strike director paid him $300 per month salary, along with the perquisites. The perquisites are said to have been considerable. The pay of a railroad freight or passenger train conductor was a mere bagatelle for Pete. In this capacity his earnings ranged only from $150 to around $200 per month.

So, while he was a conductor he was a mere wage earner. As the head of a strike industry he became an executive, a potentate, a major-general in a labor conflict, waxed fat and had little to do. Hence the strike business paid Pete more dividends than legitimate railroading.

Peter had 700 strikers on his pay roll for nearly two years. During one period this pay roll, the funds provided by higher- ups in Cleveland, Indianapolis and Chicago, amounted to around $50,000 monthly. The pay to strikers ranged from $35 to $100 per month for a time, maintenance of way men drawing down $35 per month, while the brakemen, engineers and conductors drew up to $100 per month.

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