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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/226

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LETTER XX.

THE FALLACY OF THE TRAIN-MILE UNIT.

Tucson, Ariz., August 19, 1911.

My Dear Boy:—Do you think it logical and just to pay a train (including engine) crew the same wages for going over the freight district with a light caboose as with 50 or 75 cars? Be careful how you answer.

As I understand it, the train-mile was adopted as a unit of compensation for employes on the theory that piece work rewards the deserving and promotes efficiency. Whatever the merits or demerits of the piece work theory, I have never been able to reconcile its applicability to train service. A man operating a machine in a shop can stop or start his individual machine, can save steam power or electric current without seriously inconveniencing his fellow workers or the general operation of the plant. A railroad train cannot move regardless of all other trains on the road. Such independence of function will cause either a criminal collision or an expensive blockade. A

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