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"Grand Trunk Railway Telegraph Operators Contemplate Strike"
Announced 01 December 1898
A press dispatch from Montreal states that the telegraph operators and agents employed by the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, are contemplating strike action against the company. A committee has been negotiating for sometime with General Manager Melville Hays. Chief Davis, of the Order of Railway Telegraphers, states: "The committee have seemingly exhausted all honourable efforts, and Mr. Hays insists on raising technical points. He wishes to delay the committee as much as possible, and refuses to meet with them without their first securing written authority from the individuals in the telegraph department to represent them. This the committee absolutely refuses to do. It is not necessary, and it has never been the custom. The fact that 90 per cent of the telegraphers on the Grand Trunk belong to the O.R.T. is prima-facia evidence of our right to represent the men." But why object to giving conclusive evidence? A prima-facia case does not amount to much before court or a jury. We know nothing about the strength of the ties by which 90 per cent of operators are joined to their brotherhood; but if the fidelity of these members is as feeble as that of other brotherhoods has proved to be in similar megotiations in past years, Mr Hays has good ground for believing that somewhere from 25 to 75 per cent of the operators would be found to be practically independent, and perhaps on the side of the company, when it came to a test. Brotherhood committees are so often self- appointed or lack binding authority that railroad managers are excusable for treating their claims with suspicion. On the other hand, if nine-tenths of the operators on the road are really united in a given policy, why should they hesitate to avow their responsibility for it?