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The operators and the mine workers accepted the suggestion and did extend the agreement, although in doing so the mine workers, of course, deprived themselves of the opportunity to receive any increase in wages or improvement in conditions during that period, and continued to work under the same scale.
I merely point out that that date was the date selected by the National Industrial Recovery Board, to which the mine workers acquiesced.
Just prior to the expiration of that extended contract, a few days before June 16, the President of the United States invited Senator Guffey, Congressman Snyder, Mr. D. C. Kennedy, chairman of the Operators and Miners Joint Conference, spokesman for the operators, and myself, to come to the White House, and there suggested an extension of the existing agreement under the same terms and conditions until July 1.
The mine workers again acquiesced, and the operators acquiesced, but the date was the date suggested by the President of the United States.
I merely point that that the only offense that the mine workers have committed in these matters has been to agree with the several suggestions for the continuance of the contract; and in accepting, first, a suggestion of Mr. Richberg for the National Recovery Ad ministration, and, second, the suggestion of the President of the United States, in extending the contract to the dates selected by them without any change in conditions or wages, the mine workers believed they were making a contribution to the well-being of the country and were exercising all the elements of good citizenship in so doing.
We are now rather distressed that a distinguished gentleman like Mr. Carter, with all the graciousness of his charm and manner, should come before the committee now and suggest that the United Mine Workers of America, after doing these things to which I have alluded before your committee, are doing anything but what is proper in the premises in agreeing with the suggestion, for the wellbeing of the country.
I merely desire that statement to go out concurrently with Mr. Carter's suggestion, so that when the newspapers, if they do, publish his gentle slander, they will also publish our own accurate correction.
Mr. HILL. Mr. Nance.
STATEMENT OF R. M. NANCE, INDEPENDENT MINERS UNION
Mr. NANCE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, my name is R. M. Nance and I live at Providence, Ky.. I am before your committee in the interest of 9,000 native-born American coal miners employed in the mines of western Kentucky, and as the authorized representative of nearly 3,000 who are members of the Independent Miners Union and working under contract with the Operators Association in western Kentucky. About 27 per cent of these miners own their own homes and under their contract they are receiving the highest average wage paid any group of miners in western Kentucky, and I have just been advised by wire that this contract was extended for 2 years by the scale committees of
the operators and miners in joint session at Madisonville, Ky., June 20, 1935.
We desire to enter our protest against the enactment of Senate bill 2481, or H. R. 8479, better known as the “Guffey bill”, to stabilize the bituminous-coal-mining industry. We believe this bill to be unsound in principle, vicious in practice, and of doubtful constitutionality.
We especially oppose those sections of the bill which we believe to be both class and sectional legislation. First, in every instance where the national organization of employees is mentioned, it might as well be written - The United Mine Workers” and this bill proposes to give this organization all representation by labor on both national and district boards or commissions, making them the only bargaining agencies for all producing sections of the United States, regardless of the number of employees in any particular section who are not members of that organization, and in spite of the fact that the announced policy of this organization is for a uniform wage scale for all miners in the United States regardless of location, freight-rate differentials, or other factors entering into the production and mining of coal. In proof of this, allow me to quote from the official organ of that organization in the April 1 edition [reading]:
It has long been the position of the United Mine Workers of America that there should be no differentials between the wages paid in competing fields. This union takes the position that it is worth as much for a man to dig coal in one place as in another, and President Lewis, Vice President Murray, and other representatives of the union, made this clear in the conference.
The conference here referred to was the conference held in March between the officials of the United Mine Workers and the Appalachian Coal Producers. This policy would be perfectly proper if at the same time freight rates to all consuming markets were made uniform, but until such is done it is a policy of industrial suicide for the producers and miners in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and the Southwest. Allow me to remind you in passing that workrelief wages established by the Federal Relief Administration for Kentucky are about 36 percent below the wages for Indiana and Illinois. This legalized monopoly by northern producers and labor dictatorship by the United Mine Workers would, in our opinion, be dangerous in principle, expensive to the consumers in practice, and in the end result in ever-increasing demands that would continue to add to the burdens of coal consumers.
We would like to remind this committee that western Kentucky is one of the older coal-producing sections of this country. The first commercial mines were opened shortly after the close of the Civil War and it was in western Kentucky that the first test of coal as a fuel for railroad locomotives on the Henderson division of the L. & N. Railroad Co. was made. This coal field was developed as the country grew and extended westward, reaching its peak production about 1910 to 1924, and at one time about 130 shipping mines were in operation. However, this number has been gradually reduced until today there are only about 60 mines in operation and for each of the years 1933 and 1934 produced only approximately 8,000,000 tons, and for the record I request permission to file a printed copy of an article prepared by me in the summer of 1934,
setting out these facts in more detail. This article was published in the Louisville Courier Journal and several papers and given favorable editorial comment. At the same time, I will be glad to file for your information a newspaper clipping giving production of coal in Kentucky by counties, and men employed, for the year 1934, as reported by the State Bureau of Mines.
Mr. Hill. The documents may be filed for the information of the committee.
Mr. NANCE. The freight differential between coal mined in western Kentucky reaching the Chicago market over that produced in southern Indiana and southern Illinois is 35 cents per ton with only the Ohio River as the dividing line between the two producing fields, and at the same time coal may be shipped from southern Illinois across the same river into Memphis, Tenn., on equal terms with coal mined in western Kentucky.
We believe the miners of western Kentucky can take care of themselves in wage negotiations with their employers by representatives of their own choosing if given the opportunity to do so free from outside interference, and a majority of them do not wish to be dictated to by an organization whose members are largely in the producing sections of the country with which we compete, the fundamental law of which permits the national president of that organization to remove duly elected district officials for insubordination and supplant them with provisional officers appointed by him, and we call the attention of this committee to the fact that most of the producing districts of this country, at this time dominated by the United Mine Workers, are governed by provisional officers in most cases who are not natives of the districts which they govern, and subservient to the will and policy of the national organization. This can mean but one thing—the gradual elimination of all outlying districts in the country with the attendant loss of invested capital and loss of employment by miners.
The miners of western Kentucky are only asking to be allowed a chance to compete on the consuming markets of this country with their competitors on an equal destination cost basis and if this is done the producers of the country have a remedy to control reckless price cutting, in the Appalachian sales agreement which has been sustained by the Supreme Court, and if they fail to take advantage of this and commit industrial suicide it is their own funeral.
Mr. Vinson. Are the producers in western Kentucky members of any trade association ?
Mr. NANCE. I do not know whether they are or not. I am not authorized to speak for the producers and do not know anything about their plans.
Mr. VINSON. You refer to the Appalachian coal.
Mr. NANCE. No, sir.
If the coal industry is to be governed by a commission, let it be a commission entirely divorced from the industry, able to decide questions of vital interest to all the miners and producers without prejudice or bias. We are only asking for a chance to maintain our little spot under the sun on equal terms with the other miners of this Nation and we will not be satisfied with anything less than this until we have exhausted every honorable effort to obtain this right.
It might not be amiss to remind this committee of the bituminous coal strike during the administration of President Woodrow Wilson by the United Mine Workers under the same management as at present, which should give you an idea what may and probably will happen if this organization is given a dictatorship over the industry and you can surmise what the effect will be on the coal consumers of our country, In our opinion too much power in the hands of any selfish group,
, and especially so in a basic industry, is dangerous, unwise, and will eventually lead to the socialization of that industry.
I hold no brief for the organization I represent or any other; however I do say this, that the books of the Independent Miners Union are open to any governmental agency, county, State, or Federal. We are incorporated under the laws of Kentucky, prepared at all times to account for every dollar received and every dollar expended. If this committee wishes we will be glad to file with you a copy of our articles of incorporation, our district constitution and bylaws and give you any further information requested that we are able to furnish.
Assuming it to be possible, which I seriously doubt, by an act of Congress to change human nature, thus taking all selfishness and greed out of producers and miners alike, reduce production to 5 or 6 million tons weekly to supply present demand, giving miners engaged in the industry 5 days per week at the present or a better wage and the operators a fair margin of profit, allowing the mines thus retired from production to cave in or fill up with water. Then a national emergency suddenly arises as in 1917, when the country was begging for 13,000,000 tons of coal per week, and stranger things have happened. It requires months to open a mine and bring it into production and during this time the future of our Nation might be at stake.
It occurs to me that with the producers assured of a fair margin of profit and a virtual monopoly of the coal market, the incentive to efficient management and cost control would be lost and the consumers would get not a reduction in cost but, on the contrary, prices would advance from time to time to the point where they would be heard from in no uncertain terms.
It is claimed by the proponents of this bill that it will prevent waste of a natural resource. I know of no coal that is being mined and wasted and as for leaving coal underground in pillars, and so forth, the laws in the State of Kentucky make the producer liable for any and all damage done the surface from falls or cave-ins caused by the extraction of coal, so the mining practice in that State is to leave enough coal to support the surface.
Gentlemen, allow me to thank you for this opportunity of appearing before you, making this brief statement of our case, handicapped
as I am by inexperience in matters of this kind, and speaking only the language of an ordinary coal miner. It makes little difference what happens to me as an individual or what happens to the organization I represent or any other, for that matter, but what you do, gentlemen, is of vital interest to the men, women, and children living in western Kentucky who yield to none in their loyalty to the American flag, the Constitution, and traditions of our great country.
Again I thank you, as I have finished.
Mr. Vinson. Were the coal miners in western Kentucky benefited under the operation of N. R. A.?
Mr. NANCE. They certainly were.
Mr. Vinson. What was the quantity of coal mined under N. R. A. as compared to that which was mined in the period just preceding, a similar time?
Mr. NANCE. For the years 1933 and 1934, the tonnage in western Kentucky dropped about 1,800 tons, for those 2 years, as compared with 1932. This tonnage, put in dollars and cents, would have employed 2,000 men 150 days in each of those years.
Mr. Vinson. What about the prices they got?
Mr. NANCE. I was just going to come to that—and, at $4 per day, would have added $1,200,000 to the trade in western Kentucky.
Mr. VINSON. You say $4 per day. They were not getting that in 1932, were they?
Mr. NANCE. No, sir.
Mr. NANCE. I would say the average did not exceed $2.50 or $3 for day labor.
Mr. Vinson. Just roughly, if I compute correctly, they got more in dollars in 1933 and 1934 than they did in 1932, then.
Mr. NANCE. That is probably true, but there were less men getting it.
Do not understand me to be before this committee or any other committee upholding the low-price wage for the coal miner. God knows he never got too much money for digging coal.
Mr. Vinson. Of course, I did not suggest that. What I wanted to get at was just what had happened to the miners in western Kentucky during N. R. A., and from what you say they were benefited.
Mr. NANCE, They were; yes, sir.
Mr. Nance. This organization I represent has never opposed the N. R. A. They have believed some of the orders by administrators of that act were destructive to us, but we have never opposed the N. R. A. in principle; and we have written our Congressmen advising them to support the extension of the N. R. A. Mr. HILL. Is Mr. Dowell present? (No response.) The committee stands adjourned until 10 o'clock Tuesday morning.
(Whereupon, at 5:10 p. m., the committee adjourned until 10 a. m. Tuesday, June 25, 1935.)