Grievances Reported la the Methods Chief Inspector Ball's Views—The Road's Regulations.
The opposition from certain sources against the methods of watch inspection pursued on .the Big Four railroad system found expression in a lengthy article in the Indianapolis Sentinel, of Feb. 14, as follows:
The general board of adjustment of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers employed on the Big Four railway system has been holding secret sessions at the Hotel English recently to take action on a grievance that the employes affected by the time inspection service hold against the inspectors of timepieces employed by the road. Fourteen members of the board of adjustment have been attending the meetings, representing the leading brotherhood divisions of the Big Four system.
The employees of the road who claim to have a grievance arc the engineers, firemen, conductors and rear brakemen. These include all who are subject to having their watches regularly inspected under rules of the company. The engineers have taken the grievance in hand and are preparing to push it until the evils complained of arc eradicated, however serious may be the consequences.
The Big Four is not the only railroad whose employees claim that they are imposed on by the official time inspectors. Other roads are the L. E. & \V., the C. H. & D., the Lake Shore, the Erie and the Toledo division of the Pennsylvania. The charge is freely .and openly made that the official inspectors on some of the roads arc pursuing a systematic imposition Om the men that amounts to little less than robbery.
The chief inspector of timepieces is appointed by the railroad company. He is . the only one of the whole list of inspectors on the system who is appointed by the company. The assistant inspectors ;ire selected by the chief inspector. The assistants are jewelers, appointed in the various towns along the system. These assistants do not draw any pay from the company. It is claimed, however, that the chief inspector often enters into arrangements with his appointees whereby, if they will use their influence on the men to get them to adopt a certain watch in which the chief inspector is interested in. a "rake-off" of so many dollars on each watch sold is allowed the assistant inspector. As watches have to undergo inspection regularly, and the employee must have a certificate from the inspector before he can go to work again. the opportunities to induce the employee to purchase a certain style of watch are numerous. It is claimed that inspectors frequently intimidate men by telling them it would be "best for their interests" if they would purchase a certain style of watch, or that the only watch that will pass muster r.t all times is the "official" watch. The official watch is always the one in whose manufacture and sale the chief inspector is interested. Watches of other make, it is claimed, are seized upon by the official inspectors and pronounced out of order very frequently when they are keeping excellent time. In such cases, it is asserted, outrageous prices are often charged for repairs, which the employee reluctantly pays
as he cannot return to work until he gets his watch, and a delay of a day or two would mean more to him than the cost of the repairs.
The men do not connect the railroad companies with the abuses that exist in the time inspection service, but are of the opinion that the companies are as much imposed upon as the men. Whenever complaints have been carried to the division officers the reply, they say. has uniformly been:
"We must have the best watches in our service and our inspectors are practical watch men. If they recommend a certain watch it must be all right."
That is the usual consolation they get from the officers, the men claim. If a complaint concerning excessive charges for repairs, when no repairs are needed, is carried to the division officer the reply usually is: "1 don't know anything about watches and our inspector does. If he said your watch needed repairing it is to be presumed that he knows what he is talking about,"
Many of the men who own first-class timepieces that have always kept accurate time have not been able to accept with good grace an order to purchase a new watch or to pay for repairs that are not needed.
The chief inspector of watches of the Bis; Four and several other roads is Webb C. Ball of Cleveland. He is interested in the manufacture of a watch known as "the Ball official standard watch," made at Lancaster, Pa. It is claimed by the men that there has been a systematic effort by his inspectors to compel them to discard watches that they have and purchase the Ball watch, and that furthermore the Ball watch passes inspection readily while watches of other make arc frequently found out of order.
The fight against the Big Four system of time inspection has been going on for several months. At one time petitions wen: circulated among the various lodges of railway engineers and the petition was signed by 80 per cent, of all the engineers on the road. This petition called the attention ol the general officers to the alleged abuse and demanded that the men be allowed to purchase whatever watches they desired, so they were of standard make, and that the abuse relating to excessive charges for repairs be rectified. This petition was presented to General Superintendent Van Winkle in this city last October. Mr. Ball was present and entered a general denial. The company subsequently modified tin- time service by specifying that othei watches may be used, but the men claim the watches specified for use are all as crstly as the Ball watch, which, in connection with the immunity offered to holders of the Ball watch, still gives the Ball people a monopoly. The men claim that abuses still exist.
It is to map out a plan of future action that meetings have been held at the Hotel English. The hoard of adjustment will meet again in a few days and it is rumored that Chief Arthur of the Brotherhood of Engineers will meet with them.
Superintendent Darlington of the Indian apolis division of the Pennsylvania appoints the watch examiners himself and has no chief inspector. When a complaint is made he makes a personal examination intu
it. The men on the road have made no complaint. It is claimed by the men that division superintendents should be allowed to select the watch inspectors, as the superintendents hold the men directly responsible for their work and have authority to designate who shall examine their watches and that a chief inspector is not necessary.
Wfbb c Ball's Statement. As Webb C. Ball, Cleveland. O., is deeply concerned in the foregoing article, a letter was addressed by this office seeking his views, which he expresses as follows:
Cleveland, O., Feb. 26, 1898. Editor of The Jewelers' Circular:
Answering your inquiry concerning the article which appeared in the Indianapolis Sentinel, Feb. 14, 1898. wish to say that the statements made therein are misleading in nearly every particular and many are absolutely false, reflecting in an unjust manner on the officials, the employees and the watch inspectors of the railroads mentioned. The Big Four Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, General Board of Adjustment, held their annual meeting in Indianapolis about that time for the purpose of making their annual reports, closing up the year's business, and electing officers for the ensuing year. Time service and watch inspection . matters were not the object of this meeting, and these questions were not discussed: no conductors, firemen or brake- men attended this meeting.
Many of the grievances alleged in the article are without any fact or foundation and the abuses and "rake offs" suggested exist wholly in the minds of the agitators and mischief makers who go prowling around circulating malicious reports about the watch inspectors and the time service and trying to create dissatisfaction for the sole purpose of advertising their own wares. Such methods, to say the least. are very dishonorable, and are liable to inflict much harm not alone on the employees and the officials, bin the patrons as well of every railroad.
The time service and watch inspection rules are created and maintained for the purpose of insuring safety and promptness in the movement of trains and their strict observance is of vital importance, as without correct and uniform time not a wheel could be turned on any railroad with safety. The large number of trains constantly in motion, the rapidity and high speed with which they are being dispatched, makes it a serious and imperative matter that every watch and every timepiece used in connection with the train service must be the very best and safest that experience and skill can produce, and any efforts put forth to debase or lower the standard of safety or efficiency of the time service meets with the prompt disapproval of every official, employee, and the traveling public.
The new time service circular issued by the Big Four Railway Co.. Dec. 15. 1897, a copy of which I herewith enclose and call special attention to the provisions of this circular, which you will see raises the standard of watches to the highest degree of excellence, the intention being to meet the improved and ever increasing standard of railroad service.
That there are some misunderstanding' and grievances cannot be disputed, but where so many large and important interests are involved and such a vast army of people as are connected with the railroad*, it is impossible to avoid all friction, and while the management and employees regret that some errors do come up. their constant: efforts are being directed to eliminate them, and at the same time maintain and improve
the safety and integrity of the time service in the highest possible degree.
Webb C. Ball.
The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis
Railway Co. The Peoria & Eastern
TIME INSPECTION SERVICE CIRCULAR.
Superseding all Former Time Service Circulars.
Indianapolis, Dec. 15, 1897
To meet tile changed conditions and improvements of the times in the safe and prompt movement of trains, and to afford better security for life and for property, this company will readjust the rules governing the time service and inspection of its employees' watches, as follows:
r. The employees affected will be conductors, enginemen, firemen, rear brakemen or flagmen, yard masters, assistant yard masters and yard foremen.
s. There will be a semi-annual inspection of watches, commencing Jan. i and July i each year, and all employees named in this circular who fail to have certificates on file with the proper superintendent by Feb. i and Aug. i of each year will not be permitted to go on duty until they are provided with a watch that will fill the requirements, and such employees while on duty must each use a watch for which a certificate has been issued, and a card certificate must be in his possession.
3. Each employee designated in this circular will be furnished by the superintendent of the division on which he is employed with an order for inspection which he must take to the company's watch inspector. If his watch is accepted, the inspector will issue a certificate and forward it to the superintendent of the division on which the owner of the watch is employed, and at the same time issue an employees' "card certificate" to the employee.
4. Orders for inspection must be presented to the inspector on whom they arc drawn, as certificates will not be accepted if signed by any other inspector. Watches that have been rejected by one inspector cannot be passed by another, except the chief inspector, to whom all inquiries or complaints concerning watch inspection matters must be referred.
5. Each employee will be required to report to the watch inspector who signed his certificate once every two weeks, and oftener when convenient, to give the inspector an opportunity to note the condition of watch, and to make record of its time on the employees'" card certificate; also a corresponding record must be made by the inspector in the company's record book.
6. Division watch inspectors have been appointed and located, as far as practical, at such points as will make it most convenient for the employees
affected by this service, their names and addresses being given in circular, Jan. i, 1898.
7. To further insure a correct and uniform understanding of the rules governing the time inspection service, the chief inspector will supervise the inspections and explain the details to the employees on application. lie will also issue the necessary instructions to the division watch inspectors and see that they are fairly administered.
8. The minimum standard of excellence for "old watches" now in service .shall be of a grade equal to what are known among American watches as the fifteen jewel patent regulator adjusted, and they must be in condition to keep time within thirty seconds per week.
9. So long as the old watches at present in service keep "safe" time they will not be disturbed, but when from long continued wear, or other cause, they begin to fail so as to make them appear doubtful, and the owner of the watch wishes to continue to use it in the service, and is willing to sign a statement on the back of the certificate that lie has used the watch at least six months, and that it is now keeping time within thirty seconds per week, the inspector may pass the watch, on trial, "providing it is in good order," and mark the certificate that is sent to the head of the department in which the owner of the watch is employed, "ou trial."
16. The highest grades and most carefully finished and adjusted American made watches approach nearer the point of absolute safety and certainty than any other make of watches. They are simple and strong, not liable to get out of order, easy to handle and repair, and reasonable in price; therefore the company will require all new watches going into service to be of the highest grades. which quality is represented by the "Howard Nickel. 18 size. New 1895 Model;" by the "Hamilton Nos. 938 and 939," by the "Waltham Vanguard" and "Crescent Street Vanguard Model." both open face and hunting; by the "Illinois Watch Co. Bunn Special," both open face and hunting; by the "Hampden Special Railway," both open face and hunting; by the "Elgin Nos. 181. 149 and 150, and by the "Ball Official Standard RR Watches.
n. Twelve being the starting point for reckoning time, all watches put up in open face cases must wind at figure 12, excepting such "old open face" watches as have been accepted in the time service previous to the date of this circular, and it is recommended that only open face American made watches be used, and thus establish a uniform standard.
12. Old watches grading below the standard for new watches cannot be transferred from one employee to another, and employs coming under the time service rules from promotion or otherwise, must provide themselves with a watch of the required standard, as designated in paragraph number 10.
13. When watches need cleaning or repairing, they may be left with the company's watch inspector if the owner so desires, or they may be taken to such watchmaker as the owner may select, but the watch carried in the meantime, and* his own watch, after the same has been repaired, must be submitted to the company's inspector for inspection and approval, and an employees' card certificate must be issued on each watch before either can be used in service.
14. Arrangements have been made with the company's watch inspectors to keep on hand a sufficient number of watches of the required standard to loan to employee "free of charge" during the time their watches are being inspected, cleaned or repaired by the inspector, and an employees' card certificate must be issued with each watch so loaned.
15. There should be no attempt on the part of the employee to set and regulate their own watches, or the standard loaner watches used in service. The watch inspectors are employed for that purpose. A safe time service cannot be obtained unless the rules for comparison and inspection are strictly observed.
16. The importance of having reliable watches in train service is one in which the company's patrons, the employees, and the company, are mutually interested, and it is earnestly desired that every employee, in any way connected with the movement of trains, will give the officers and employees a loyal support in keeping the time inspection service in successful operation, which will insure for all interests a higher degree of safety.
J. A. Baknard,
General Manager P. & E. R'y Co.
J. Q. Van Winkle,
General Superintendent C., C'., C. & St. L. R'y Co.
Webb C. Ball,
Chief Inspector of Watches.
Below Ad copy provided by Tom Brown from RAilway Master Mechanic Jan-DEC 1900
Also from Tom Brown
Article from The Jewelers' Circular 1899 Rockerfeller Capital Put into Webb Ball Co.
Rockefeller Capital Put into the Webb C. Ball Co.
Cleveland, O., Oct. 29.—It has just been officially announced that an important change will be made in the conduct of one of Cleveland's foremost jewelry establishments. Rockefeller capital will henceforth play an important part in the furthering of the business interests of the Webb C. Ball Co., of this city.
At a meeting of the stockholders in the local offices of the company, Frank Rockefeller and Frank Brewster, of the Standard Oil Co.. New York, identified themselves with the Ball company by investing in substantial blocks of stock. Frank Brewster was elected president of the company, with the following persons composing the directorate: Frank Rockefeller, Frank Brewster, J. A. Beidler, J. H. Dempsey, F. I. Ball, J. P. Dawley and Webb C. Ball.
It is the purpose of the company to push the Ball watch among railroad people and the public generally.