Posted on 03-07-2010
Filed Under (Calgary 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

Devised by Railroad Superintended George R. Brown in 1886 was then an innovative system of merits and demerits for railroad employees of the Fall Brook Railway in New York, it was adopted buy many leading North American railways. The system adopted by the Canadian Pacific Railway worked like this, employees were given merit marks usually in the 3-5 range for going the extra distance in helping in the day-to-day operations of the railway for example a conductor and brakeman may receive 3 merits each for their vigalence in observing an unsafe operating condition such as a broken rail and reporting it to the maintenance of way employees for repair before a more serious derailment could occur. On the other hand the railway was quite generous with demerits that were given out in the 10 to 30 range for rules infractions, and the accumulation of 60 demerits would result in dismissal. With good behavior over one year demerits would be reduced by 10, so an employee with 30 demerits on his record could clear it in three years. Some employees were members of the 59 club, the company did not want to dismiss them, but they were walking on thin ice, and were very nervous in the service. The railway slang term for demerits is “Brownies” which is very appropriate.

I received my first 10 Brownies on July 28, 1973 the Form 104 reads as follows;

CALGARY, August 3, 1973. No. AC 319

Mr. BUCHAN, Larry Stuart, Yardman
care of General Yardmaster ALYTH

Dear Sir:

Please be informed that your record has been debited with Ten (10) demerit marks for “sleeping while on duty, violation General Notice, paragraph #4, U.C.O.R., Alyth July 28th., 1973.

Signed by A.E. Fulton Assistant Superintendent
for Superintendent Calgary Division

At the time of this incident I was working the 23:00 Bleeder assignment, and was on my days of rest Thursday and Friday, on the Friday evening I had been out to the local beer parlor having a few socials with some friends, I returned home early that evening of July 27, and the telephone rang at 21:00 it was the Calling Bureau asking me if I wanted to work some overtime on my regular assignment as there were no spare man available, I agreed and went to work at 23:00. I telephoned the Train Yard Coordinator and he gave me two tracks to bleed off V-5 and V-6 as he was going to use the 23:59 Hump assignment to bring these tracks to the Hump. As I have lots of time to do this I laid down on one of the benches in the lunchroom and fell asleep, not waking up until 3 AM in the morning of July 28, some of the other crews were sitting around playing cards during their lunch break, they told me that Mr. Fulton wanted to see me in the General Yardmasters Office. I went down the hall and Mr. Fulton was sitting at the desk in the GYM’s office, he was not too pleased to see me, and asked me to explain what I was doing sleeping on duty, and as a result causing a one-hour delay on the Hump when the 23:59 assignment went to pull tracks V-5 & V-6 and found air on all the cars that they had to bleed off before they could move the tracks. I made some lame excuse about being tired, and Mr. Fulton pulled me out of service pending an investigation. At the time the Company and Unions were fighting over contract negotiations, which had failed, and the serious of rotating strikes were starting across the country and Calgary walked out that morning and the picket lines went up at 7 AM for three days, with the shortage of men the summer I was reinstated on August 3 and received my 10 demerits.Demerits August 3, 1973

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