The Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Engineers doesn’t want to get into a dispute with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Amalgamated members feel so strongly about this, The Record reports, that they don’t even want to share a room with Brotherhood representatives at an Albany conference today.
Earlier this month, the Troy branch of the Amalgamated threatened to go on strike against the United Traction Company, the Collar City’s streetcar service, unless the company forced the Hudson Valley Railway to replace Brotherhood workers on its cars from Waterford to Troy, which run on United Traction tracks, with Amalgamated workers.
Today’s conference at United Traction headquarters in Albany is the second round of negotiations for the two rail lines and the Amalgamated. The “comparatively brief” meeting is marked by sharp exchanges between United Traction vice president Harry B. Weatherwax and Amalgamated representative W. B. Fitzgerald.
Weatherwax grows impatient with Fitzgerald’s denial of conflict between the two unions. When Fitzgerald accuses United Traction of trying to “make it appear that the issue was a quarrel between the two labor organizations, “ Weatherwax answers, “This is just what we claim, exactly, and we will not recede from our position one inch.
“This is purely a matter which should be adjusted by two labor organizations, but you are trying to make the United Traction company pull your chestnuts out of the fire.”
When Fitzgerald protests that United Traction is exaggerating the issue between the unions “for effect,” Weatherwax asks, “Can it appear any other way when you want us to put these men out of work?”
Weatherwax challenges Fitzgerald to say whether the Amalgamated intends to strike. Since Fitzgerald isn’t ready to answer, Weatherwax invited Brotherhood representatives in the room to state their side of the case. At that point Fitzgerald leads the Amalgamated delegation out of the conference.
Speaking for the Brotherhood, L. C. Griffin doesn’t want a fight with the Amalgamated, but insists that his union has as much right to work on Troy tracks as the Amalgamated has to work on Brotherhood turf.
Before Fitzgerald leaves, he asks Griffin why the Brotherhood didn’t “put off” Amalgamated men on their tracks. Griffin replies that “the Brotherhood has never favored putting men out of work, as work is sometimes hard to get.”
Some Brotherhood men are less diplomatic. L. C. Stack recounts that Fitzgerald once called the Brotherhood the “missing link of organized labor,” while A. D. Stickney wishes that Fitzgerald had stuck around to explain why many Brotherhood men had quit the Amalgamated. “Fitzgerald knows why we did so better than anybody else,” he claims.
— Kevin Gilbert