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If this bill must pass, it should be amended so that all bona fide groups or organizations of employees whether they be national in scope or not, will have equal opportunity to conduct their affairs in accordance with the long-established custom in America, and title II should be eliminated in its entirety.
We believe that any law that does not give some consideration to the rights of all the citizens forced to come under its jurisdiction is not conducive of good government.
Mr. Hill. We thank you very much for your statement.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE W. DOWELL, CHIEF COUNSEL, PROGRES
SIVE MINERS OF AMERICA, DU QUOIN, ILL. Mr. Hill. The next witness is Mr. George W. Dowell, also representing the Progressive Miners of America.
Will you give to the reporter your full name, your residence, and State whom you represent?
Mr. DoWELL. My name is George W. Dowell; I am general counsel for the Progressive Miners of America, and my address is Du Quoin, Ill.
Mr. Chairman, I think there are some matters which this committee would desire to hear with respect to the bill, as to some of the other objections to it, and I will be very glad to furnish you with that information, if you desire to have it.
Mr. Hill. Have you a brief?
Mr. DoWELL. No, sir; but I would like to mention a point or two that Mr. Keck did not mention.
The bill provides, in various parts of it, where there is an appeal to be taken from the board of commissioners to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, that the transcript of record from the board shall be filed with the court of appeals, and that the evidence, or any substantial part of the evidence upon which the board has based its finding, shall be conclusive upon the court.
Mr. Vinson. Is there any qualification?
Mr. DOWELL. No, sir; it says any substantial evidence, and under that statement of law, or rule of law as to the evidence, we would like to know who is to determine the weight of the evidence.
In practically every case there is a substantial amount of evidence on each side, and if the court is to be confined to any substantial evidence, it may be a very small amount of evidence and still be binding upon the court, under that rule. So the court would have no right to modify or set aside or change this law in any way.
I want it understood, Mr. Chairman, that the Progressive Miners do not object to the collective bargaining feature of this bill, but they are objecting to the many other parts which would eliminate them from the mining industry entirely as an independent organization, and not belonging to a national association of miners in this, that in the selection of the board, as Mr. Keck has already told you about, only members of a national association of miners are to be recognized!
And by that means this bill sets up a monopoly, both for the producer and for the employees in the industry, by the process of elimination, eliminating the employees and eliminating the producer.
You may ask me how? Under part II of the bill, the conservation part of the bill, there is a process provided for the purchase of coal
lands throughout the entire country, as a coal reserve. Now, that would give the right of the appropriation of $300,000,000 in money, plus the interest on that, which is practically another $300,000,000 in money over a period of a few years, and if you take the two combined it means this, that the big operators and mines in this country can eliminate, through the process of elimination, that many independent operators and put the mines into a coal reserve, and when you take the independent operators and put them out of the coal business in this country you have eliminated thousands of miners.
Mr. Vinson. How do you figure that the interest charge would amount to $300,000,000?
Mr. DOWELL. Over a period of years, by a mere calculation.
Mr. Vinson. You are collecting taxes each year. Are you not going to amortize the total amount? We have not heard the statisticians on that point, but you are collecting taxes cach year, on each ton of coal mined, and I think it would be a very simple computation to ascertain that if that production continues as it does and there is a tax on it, it would not be but a few years when the $300,000,000 would be fully liq.iidated.
Mr. DOWELL. The bond issue has to run until 1985.
Mr. Vinson. But you have a provision in this bill for the amortization of that amount?
Mr. DOWELL. Yes, sir.
Mr. VINSON. And on 400,000,000 tons that runs up to $35,000,000
Mr. DOWELL. But you have something else. Out of this fund you are maintaining all the boards set up, out of the taxes you are collecting, as I understand the bill.
Mr. VINSON. Out of the taxes in title II? What section of the bill provides for the use of the taxes under title II for the cost of the operation of title I?
Mr. DOWELL. As I get it, I do not recall the particulars, but there is a certain percentage of the taxes collected that are to be used I beg your pardon; I am mistaken about that. The part that is to be used for the buying up of the land and for the purpose of maintaining the board comes out of the 25 percent tax, with the drawback of 99 percent.
Mr. Hill. You say the buying up of the land?
Mr. Dowell. No, sir; the $300,000,000 is for the purpose of buying the land, that is, the bond issue.
Mr. Cooper. What have you to say as to the sufficiency of the amount of $300,000,000 for this purpose? Have you given any thought or study to that. Mr. DoWELL. Only in a general way. But, applying it to Illinois
, if you go to buying up the coal lands in Illinois, you are going to take the bigger part of the southern end of the State. You will take quite a lot in the eastern part of the State also, and you will go into the western part of the State and take a considerable amount, and it will run into millions of dollars to buy coal properties in Illinois.
Mr. COOPER. What would be your thought, if you are prepared to express a thought on that point, as to whether the $300,000,000 provided for here would be sufficient?
Mr. DoWELL. I sincerely doubt it.
Mr. TREADWAY. I did not get your connection when you started testifying. I understand your name is Dowell.
Mr. DoWELL. Yes, sir. Mr. TREADWAY. Where are you from? Mr. DoWELL. From Du Quoin, Ill. Mr. TREADWAY. What is your position? Mr. Dowell. Chief counsel for the Progressive Miners of America. Mr. TREADWAY. That is the same organization for which the last witness was testifying. He is on the list of witnesses as president of the organization? Mr. Dowell. Yes, sir; that is right. Mr. TREADWAY. And you are their counsel? Mr. DoWELL. Yes, sir.
Mr. TREADWAY. Will you tell us something about the Progressive Miners of America? What group does that organization represent?
Mr. Dowell. The Progressive Miners of America is an organization, a voluntary association of mine workers in the bituminous coal fields of Illinois.
Mr. TREADWAY. Limited to the State of Illinois.
Mr. Dowell. It is a national organization, but the activities of the organization are practically confined to Illinois. There are some members, I understand, in other States, but there are no contracts with operators.
Mr. TREADWAY. How many belong to the organization?
Mr. TREADWAY. Are those the ones whom you have just said would be thrown out of employment by the operation of this act?
Mr. DoWELL. A great many of them, in our opinion, would be thrown out of employment.
Mr. TREADWAY. The purchase of the land by this board set up by the Government, if this bill should be enacted, would mean Government control and ownership, practically, of that area, would it not? Who would own it, after you expend this $300,000,000; to whom would the title to the land run?
Mr. DoWELL. As I understand the bill, the Government takes it and puts it in a reserve, and the Government would own the land.
Mr. TREADWAY. And if the Government saw fit to mine the coal under that land these 35,000 miners would have employment, would they not?
Mr. Dowell. I do not believe any provision in the bill would let the Government go in business in competition with its citizens.
Mr. TREADWAY. What do you consider would be the use made of the land after the Government takes title?
Mr. DoWELL. The bill provides for the relocation and rehabilitation of miners who have been displaced by virtue of the operation of this act. I can only see one thing: That they would have subsistence farms where they would put those miners and the men would work on the farms.
Mr. TREADWAY. The Government is trying an experiment of that kind in Alaska right now, taking the people from one section of the country and sending them up to Alaska; is that not so?
Mr. Dowell. My only information on that is from what I read in
Mr. TREADWAY. Evidently there are some of them up there, according to the newspapers.
My colleague offers the suggestions that most of them now want to come back, and the rest of them will want to come back in the near future.
But that has nothing to do with this coal bill, except that there is said to be coal there in Alaska. It might be that the 35,000 members of your organization might be transported to mine the coal in Alaska. They could do it if they were sent there, could they not?
Mr. DoWELL. Yes, sir.
Mr. TREADWAY. But it is possible to send them up there today and bring them back tomorrow. It is a nice trip, and I think if I had the chance to go at Government expense I might go up there, not that I would want to stay there. But, perhaps, considering the climatic conditions, it might be desirable to work in a coal mine there during the better part of the year. However, I doubt if that is in keeping with the provisions of the bill.
What, in your judgment, will be the result of the Government buying up all of that area in Illinois to which you refer? What will the Government then do with that property, and what will become of the people who are now employed in those mines?
Mr. Dowell. As I see this bill, it means that the people employed in the mines will be displaced and placed on subsistence farms and doles.
In addition to that, when the Government buys up this land in the various States and places it in a reserve, they take it out of the various counties for taxing purposes, which, necessarily, is going to cause the taxpayers of the various counties throughout the country to look to other lands or to other property on which to raise the necessary amount of taxes in the bituminous coal districts to keep up the local or State expenses.
Mr. TREADWAY. Of course, with the tremendous appropriations we are making, the Government might pay taxes on its own land for the benefit of the State and county treasuries.
Mr. DOWELL. Of course, that would be a matter involving the passage of an act of Congress.
Mr. TREADWAY. I do not think it is out of keeping as a possibility, with the kind of legislation we are putting through now.
But you feel that your people, the 35,000 miners in your organization, would be deprived of their present method of livelihood.
Mr. Dowell. Yes; and it would mean the elimination of the mines that would come under this bill.
Mr. TREADWAY. How do the wages paid to the miners in the organization for which you are counsel, the Progressive Miners of America, compare with wages paid in other bituminous fields?
Mr. Dowell. Illinois has always maintained, until the present time, under the N. R. A., as I understand it, the highest wages of any coal producing part of the country, or approximately so.
Mr. TREADWAY. Then under the N. R. A. they were reduced?
Mr. DOWELL. They had been reduced prior to the N. R. A., but wages in other parts of the country had been brought up, as I understand, on a competitive basis with Illinois.
Mr. TREADWAY. And your Illinois rates of pay were, in your opinion, higher than the average throughout the bituminous fields of the country?
Mr. DOWELL. As I understand it, generally, it has been considered a standard State.
Mr. TREADWAY. Are those miners satisfied with the conditions under which they are employed?
Mr. DoWELL. In what way, may I ask?
In other words, have you had trouble with the employees there in the mines?
Mr. DowELL. The miners in Illinois naturally want shorter hours and higher wages.
Mr. TREADWAY. That feeling is not limited to miners. Mr. DOWELL. No, sir. Mr. TREADWAY. That is very general. Mr. DoWELL. Yes. Mr. TREADWAY. Sometimes even Congressmen want shorter hours. Mr. DOWELL. In our particular organization there has been no friction between the operators and the miners since their contract was made in 1932. In the fall of 1932 they made a contract with the producers which expired on the 1st of April 1933. They renewed that contract, or made a new contract, which was in full force and effect until April 1935.
Then in April 1935 there was an agreement entered into, by virtue of the convention of the miners authorizing the executive officers to continue operations under that contract, pending negotiations between them for a new contract, and that is now pending, and their negotiations are continuing.
Mr. COOPER. Will the gentleman yield right there?
Mr. COOPER. Do you have any contract now between the operators and the miners?
Mr. DoWELL. Yes, sir.
Mr. DoWELL. There is no definite time; it can be canceled or revoked on 10 days' notice.
Mr. COOPER. By either party?
Mr. COOPER. What is the situation? Do you anticipate that these operators and these miners for whom you speak will continue under the present arrangement?
Mr. Dowell. They will, until it is finally decided that they cannot longer operate on this basis of pay, and cannot reach any agreement for anything more definite than what they have now.
Mr. Cooper. In case it should develop that they cannot reach an agreement on a contract for a definite period of time, what do you anticipate will then occur?
Mr. DoWELL. Well, if they are not given collective bargaining, as they should have, without intimidation or coercion from any source,