The “car men” – streetcar operators – of Spokane declared “war” on one-man streetcars.
Spokane’s streetcar companies were increasingly trying to cut costs by running streetcars with just one motorman instead of a motorman and conductor. The Spokane local of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees was demanding the elimination of the one-man cars.
Jobs were the underlying issue, but the union was also making its case on the basis of safety.
“With the two-man cars, the motorman can give his entire attention to the prevention of accidents and the handling of his car,” said the president of the union local. “The conductor guards against accident at the rear end, collects fares and is ready to assist aged people, women and children off the cars. Try and picture a woman with a baby carriage attempting to get on and off a one-man car without assistance and you get some conception of the difference in service between the two types of cars.”
The streetcar companies said cost reductions were necessary to compete with jitneys – largely unregulated private autos or vans that gave people rides for a fee.
Also from the labor beat: Tens of thousands of shipyard workers in Seattle and Tacoma announced their intention to go on strike the next day.
They were demanding higher wages. This labor dispute would soon mushroom into one of the biggest labor crises in state history.
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