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ALBANY, March 2, 1886.5 The Governor is informed by Andrew D. Best, of New York city, that the cars of the Dry Dock, East Broadway, and Battery railroad are not running on any of its four lines. This information is respectfully referred to the Board of Railroad Commissioners with the request that such consideration be given as may be deemed proper.


Private Secretary.


ALBANY, March 4, 1886.
On March 2, 1886, there was referred by the Board to Commissioner
Kernan the following communication, which was on that day received
from the Governor, to-wit.



ALBANY, March 2, 1886.5 The Governor is informed by Andrew D. Best, of New York city, that the cars of the Dry Dock, East Broadway and Battery railroad are not running on any of its four lines. This information is respectfully referred to the Board of Railroad Commissioners, with the request that such consideration be given as may be deemed proper.


Private Secretary.

Commissioner Kernan immediately proceeded to New York and held a hearing at the Hoffman House, at which Joseph O'Donnell, Esq., chairman, and Andrew D. Best, Esq., secretary of the Empire Protective Association, and others, representatives of said association, and a number of the car conductors and car drivers of the road, were present; also William Richardson, a director, and F. F. White, Esq., superintendent on the part of the road. At midnight the hearing was adjourned until March 3, 10 A, M., at the office of the company, where the same parties being present, as well as many others on the part of the employees, the hearing was continued and closed.

It appeared that at 4 A. M. of March 2, 1886, the cars ceased to run on any of the four lines of the company, for reasons hereinafter stated, and that such suspension had continued throughout the day, and further continued until the afternoon of March 3, after the close of the hearing, when the road attempted under police protection to start its cars. This effort to open its road to public travel was prosecuted so far as possible in the face of the opposition of those congregated upon the streets.

At 5 P. M. of March 3, the following was received from the road, to-wit:

NEW YORK, March 3, 1886. At a meeting of the directors of the Dry Dock, East Broadway and Battery Railroad ('ompany, held this day, the following resolutions were passed :

Resolved, That the superintendent be authorized and directed to employ all competent men that he can obtain to operate the cars of this company, as conductors and drivers, at the rate of $2.00 per day for twelve hours' work, including not less than thirty minutes for dinner; it being understood that all men who prove themselves competent and faithful, shall, while they discharge their duty, be retained in the employ of the company.

Resolved, That the executive committee and superintendent be authorized and directed to spare no outlay which may be necessary to insure the running of the cars of this company on its various routes to the extent necessary to comply with and fulfil the obligations of the company to the public.

Resolved, That the mayor and police authorities of the city be and they are hereby requested to afford all necessary protection to our employees, cars and other property, from any molestation or unlawful interference.

Resolved, That a copy of the foregoing resolutions, attested by the president and secretary, be sent to the Governor of the State, Attorney-General, Railroad Com missioners, mayor of the city, and the police department of this city.

WM. WHITE, President,
R. KELLY, Secretary.

The road is used, when in operation, by about 50,000 people per day, and these are therefore seriously incommoded in going to and from their daily avocations while the operation of the road is suspended. On March 2d and 3d, the road made no effort to run its cars, except as stated, and except to endeavor to arrange existing difficulties with its striking employees so that through them it might resume. The cause of the suspension of operation was that at 4 A. M. on March 2d the employees of the road struck in a body and refused to work unless certain demands made by them and presented by them through the Empire Protective Association, were yielded by the road. It not being the desire of either party to the controversy to have the Board determine upon the merits of the differences between the road and its employees, the Commissioner confined his hearing officially to ascertaining

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the cause and extent of the stoppage or suspension, and whether or not the road had complied with its charter in what it had done and was doing to enable it to resume the discharge of its carrier obligations.

The power and duty of the Board in this respect is found in section 5 of chapter 353, Laws of 1882, to-wit:

The duty of a railroad toward the public, when contending with a “strike” of its employees, is stated in the case of The People v. The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, 28 Hun, 558, where the court at General Term says :

“The petition in each (this) case alleges that the said railroad company, since about the 16th day of June, 1882, ‘has substantially refused to discharge its duties as a common carrier, and has, to a material degree, suspended the exercise of its franchises by refusing to take freight which has been offered at its stations in the city of New York for transportation, at the usual rates and upon the usual terms.'

“It is not alleged or shown that the workmen committed any unlawful act, and no violence, no riot and no unlawful interference with other employees of the respondents appear. It is urged in effect that the court shouid regard tle case as one of unlawful duress, caused by some breach of law sufficiently violent to prevent the reception and transportation of freight. There is nothing in the papers to justify this contention. According to the statements of the case, a body of laborers, acting in concert, fixed a price for their labor, and refused to work at a less price. The respondents fixed a price for the same labor and refused to pay more; in doing this neither did an act violative of any law, or subjecting either to any penalty. The respondents had a lawful right to take their ground in respect of the price they paid and adhere to it if they chose ; but if the consequence of doing so were an inability to exercise their corporate franchises to the great injury of the public, they cannot be heard to assert that such consequence must be shouldered and borne by an innocent public, who neither directly nor indirectly participated in their causes.

"If it had been shown that a 'strike' of their skilled laborers had been caused or com pelled by some illegal combination or organized body, which held an unlawful control of their actions and sought through them to enforce its will upon the respondents, and that the respondents, in resisting such unlawful efforts, had refused to obey unjust and illegal dictation, and had used all the means in their power to employ other men in sufficient numbers to do the work, and that the refusal and neglect complained of had grown out of such a state of facts, a very different case for the exercise of the discretion of the court, as well as of the Attorney General, would have been presented Whether such a state of facts could have been shown or not we cannot judicially know. The present case must stand or fall upon the papers before us, and we are not to be swerved from thus disposing of it by any suggestion of facts not in the case which might lead, if they appeared, to some other result. The most that can be found from the petition and affidavits is that the skilled freight handlers of the respondents refused to work without an increase of wages to the amount of three cents per hour; that the respondents refused to pay such increase ; that the laborers then abandoned the work, and that the respondents did not procure other laborers competent or sufficient in number to do the work, and so the numerous evils complained of fell upon the public and were continuous until the people felt called upon to step in and seek to remedy them by proceedings for mandamus.

" These facts reduce the question to this : Can railroad corporations refuse or neglect to perform their public duties upon a controversy with their employees over the cost or expense of doing them? We think this question admits of but one answer.

The excuse in law has no validity. The duties imposed must be discharged at whatever cost. They cannot be laid down or abandoned, or suspended, without the legally expressed consent of the State. The trusts are active, potential, and imperative, and must be executed until lawfully surrendered, otherwise a public highway of great utility is closed or obstructed without any process recognized by law. . This is something no public officer charged with the same trusts and duties in regard to other public highways can do without subjecting bimself to mandamus or indictment.”


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