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Nostalgia & History > Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)


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Date: 12/01/13 18:24
Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: RWS4449

In 1963 the Florida East Coast Railway employees went on strike. The story is well known and is described in detail in Seth Bramson's wonderful book Speedway to Sunshine. In 1965 the Federal Court ordered the FEC to operate passenger service as no authority was ever given to stop service. The attached photos Taken by Buck Price show the strike era passenger train.

Photo 1: FEC EMD E9A # 1035 with the Northbound strike passenger train at the North Miami, Florida station in October, 1965. The hi-rail "bomb sniffing" station wagon driven by railway special agents will run in advance of the train to Jacksonville. This hi-rail operation was conducted due bombings that took place against the railway after the strike was declared.

Photo 2: FEC EMD E9A # 1035 with the strike passenger train at the Melbourne, Florida depot in July 1966. This depot was typical of the wooden depots along the FEC

Photo # 3: FEC observation car on the strike passenger train at the Melbourne, Florida depot in October, 1965









Date: 12/01/13 19:06
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: railstiesballast

I heard a tale that LBJ, as President and visiting Florida, saw a cloud of black smoke and asked what it was. The security detail said it was just another FEC sabotage derailment caused by the strikers, no big deal. He said that he thought wrecking a train was a Federal crime and told the FBI to get off their ___s and get to work. Might be true, might have helped.
Comments?



Date: 12/01/13 19:18
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: highgreengraphics

Scary stuff, and demonstrated union-busting was possible. The results figured into labor/management decisions and troubles on all carriers, and fostered the "us vs. them" attitude of continuous conflict for years afterwards and even now. That's quite the hirail vehicle, though! === === = === JLH



Date: 12/01/13 20:02
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: alamedafrank

I do not see any reason to bring up this subject. Many of us are retired or current employees, union members, and see this as an attack upon us. I think the strike was a mistake, but the typical foamer has no concept of what giving your life to the railroad is all about.



Date: 12/01/13 20:14
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: SR_Krause

With all due respect, some of us learn a great deal from bringing these subjects up. I was born in 1965, and I only have knowledge of these sorts of events through 'memories' discussions like this. It represents a viewpoint on history, not the 'truth' (whatever that is). You, personally, obviously find it painful. You also don't have to read the thread.

SRK

alamedafrank Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I do not see any reason to bring up this subject.
> Many of us are retired or current employees, union
> members, and see this as an attack upon us. I
> think the strike was a mistake, but the typical
> foamer has no concept of what giving your life to
> the railroad is all about.

Steve Krause
Chillicothe, IL



Date: 12/01/13 20:28
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: mopacrr

As a railroader for 40 + years and a foamer railfan longer than that, I think the current generation of railroaders needs to be reminded of the turbulent times of the 1960's. I remember working with old heads in the early 70's who told me the FEC strike and its ultimate out come would be the kind of working environment we would eventually work in and under.As it turned out; they were right.



Date: 12/01/13 21:58
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: highgreengraphics

I am not a "typical foamer" if there is such a thing, if you were referring to me. I am simply stating the fact that the actions on the FEC had far-reaching ramifications, I did not opine farther nor will I now. === === = === JLH



Date: 12/01/13 22:08
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: ts1457

railstiesballast Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I heard a tale that LBJ, as President and visiting
> Florida, saw a cloud of black smoke and asked what
> it was. The security detail said it was just
> another FEC sabotage derailment caused by the
> strikers, no big deal. He said that he thought
> wrecking a train was a Federal crime and told the
> FBI to get off their ___s and get to work. Might
> be true, might have helped.
> Comments?

Actually two trains were blown up in Florida that day, February 9, 1964. One of the blast locations was about fifteen miles away from LBJ.



Date: 12/02/13 04:42
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: DanThorne

I don't see any of this as either an attack on unions or the always contentious relationship between management and employees. What should be crystal clear that the overt acts of violence by a small minority of affected employees reflects poorly on all employees; then as well as now. Deliberately derailing trains, shooting at replacement workers and using explosives was/is never called for.

Back in the 1980s my bullet-proof vest was quite popular in strike service as I didn't see it for about 2 months, after which it was returned to me via RR mail! The sad thing was that even then people needed to take such extreme precautions.


DT



Date: 12/02/13 07:15
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: wlankenau

alamedafrank Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> giving your life to the railroad

I've never seen living the "railroad life" summed up so succinctly.



Date: 12/02/13 07:33
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: ctillnc

>> giving your life to the railroad
>
> I've never seen living the "railroad life" summed
> up so succinctly.

Yes, at least for road crews. There are other professions, union or non-union, that have the same all-consuming aspects... an independent dairy farmer, an obstetrician, a long-haul truck driver. But most professions don't.



Date: 12/02/13 10:31
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: retcsxcfm

Roger,
Do you know any of the people in the pictures?

Uncle Joe,Seffner,fl.



Date: 12/02/13 12:41
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: RWS4449

Hi Joe,

Buck took these photos on railfan outings with the Miami NRHS chapter. I don't know the folks in the posted photos, but I believe Charlie Dunn was along as I recognize him in some of the other slides I have of the trips.



Date: 12/02/13 12:44
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: LV95032

Any operation / job that is part of an operation that runs 24/7 is in that category. Steel mill workers, refinery workers, and similar all give up a lot for the job. Sorry the railroad is not unique.

RWJ

ctillnc Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> >> giving your life to the railroad
> >
> > I've never seen living the "railroad life"
> summed
> > up so succinctly.
>
> Yes, at least for road crews. There are other
> professions, union or non-union, that have the
> same all-consuming aspects... an independent dairy
> farmer, an obstetrician, a long-haul truck driver.
> But most professions don't.



Date: 12/02/13 13:01
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: RodneyZona

Operating crews of that FEC train above during the strike were based out of both Miami and Jacksonville an worked to where the other FEC passenger train to swap crews and return to their home terminals.



Date: 12/02/13 15:29
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: railwaybaron

Thanks for posting these very rare color shots. I always thought the wings on the FEC's blue units were white, now I know different. I remember the day the blasts went off and LBJ hit the roof. He was pro-union but such dangerous anarchy is simply unacceptable. Peaceful civil disobedience has a proud tradition, but overt violence is chaos and leads to innocent people being injured or killed. LBJ did the right thing. Of course, the railroad unions (I was a member) lost the high ground and never regained it. The rail unions are no better than their members. The unions have improved life, but I have seen them protect crooked members too--not much difference from the railroads themselves. Let's see that an E unit, a Budd coach and a BUDD observation.



Date: 12/02/13 16:29
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: dcfbalcoS1

I was 15 when that happened and it was important to me. Someone ( whoever it was ) decided the deaths of others were trivial in comparison to their own desires. If we do not know about our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Irregardless of what the differences were, this still represents a history lesson.



Date: 12/02/13 17:06
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: RWS4449

The reason I posted these photos is that this period was important to me. I too was 15 when the bombings took place. I was growing up in Vero Beach, Florida and one of the bombings took place on a trestle just south of town. In 1981 I joined the Florida East Coast Railway Property Protection Department. That was the designation for the Railway Police Department at the time. My chief was Robert Vest who was one of the Special Agents that drove the hi-rail station wagons in front of the trains. He told us that he felt like a mine detector stomping on the ground to set off a mine. When they were driving ahead of the trains they did not know if they would set off a bomb or not. The hi-rail vehicle would precede a train by only a few minutes and the agents kept in constant communication with the engineer of the following train to avoid being run over if they had to stop and check out something suspicious.
During this time signs were posted at stations and in the passenger cars advising "THIS RAILROAD OPERATING UNDER STRIKE CONDITIONS. RIDE TRAINS AT YOUR OWN RISK."
The first photo taken by Buck Price at the North Miami Station is one of the few photos that show one of the FEC strike era passenger trains with the hi-rail station wagon in the lead.



Date: 12/02/13 17:33
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: Panamerican99

I shot a little 8mm footage of that train at Cocoa, FL in 1967 or '68. If I can locate it, I'll post it.
-JH



Date: 12/02/13 17:47
Re: Florida East Coast Railway on Strike (1965)
Author: CZ10

That brings back some memories, Roger. I remember when
Buck showed me those photos back in the 1980's.

Is my memory correct in thinking that the REC posted some
guards/snipers on the towers of the old lift bridge that crossed
the Okeechobee Canal between Miami Springs and Hialeah?

- Bruce

RWS4449 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In 1963 the Florida East Coast Railway employees
> went on strike. The story is well known and is
> described in detail in Seth Bramson's wonderful
> book Speedway to Sunshine. In 1965 the Federal
> Court ordered the FEC to operate passenger service
> as no authority was ever given to stop service.
> The attached photos Taken by Buck Price show the
> strike era passenger train.
>



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