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accept one-half-that is to say, 10 per cent increase in the pay per ton where mining is paid in that manner, and 10 per cent decrease in the working day. They also offered to leave the whole matter to arbitration and investigation and to accept the result, provided the operators themselves would comply with the recommendation of the investigating committee.
All these demands and modified requests were rejected by the operators, and so the issue, clearly defined, remains an open one, the officers of the unions claiming that they can hold out for four or five months, while the operators take the ground that they can hold out indefinitely and let the matter adjust itself. The employees are willing to make a three years' contract on the offered terms—that is, one-half the original demands.
The position of the operators and the correspondence which took place between them and Mr. Mitchell are shown in the document filed herewith as Appendix C. The chief points, however, have been brought out above.
CLAIMS AND COMPLAINTS OF THE EMPLOYEES.
The specific demands in a strike are the material elements on which the controversy is based. The psychological elements must be considered, however, in order to ascertain the true situation. Thus the complaints and grievances and the irritations and complications which lead to a controversy are of far greater import than the categorical demands. So far as I can learn, the bottom idea on the part of the operators is to secure discipline or to preserve discipline. They claim that every concession that has been made has defeated this, and that if any ought to be made now, even if the concessions in themselves were right, they feel that they should not make them, as by making them they would defeat their power to preserve discipline. The foremen have their orders to go on under the present unhappy status and make a contest to the end of the matter.
There is not the slightest question that since 1900 there has been more trouble with discipline than during the whole previous period since 1871. The officers of the union are frank enough to say that there is a great deal of truth in this position of the operators, but, on the other hand, they claim that they have not been allowed to discipline their own men. The union officials are emphatic in their statement that they would be very glad to cooperate with the operators in securing wholesome discipline. They recognize that of all industries discipline is more essential in the mining regions than anywhere else. They are ready to guarantee to aid the operators in this fundamental difficulty, and they state that if they can not do it they are not fit to have a union at all; that a leader who can not maintain discipline is not fit to be in his place. They also claim that they have not been allowed (or even to try) to preserve discipline, and thus insubordina. tion has ensued. The miners state that the operators can not control insubordination, but that they themselves can control it. In this matter of insubordination the miners contend that the enormous percentage of foreigners who can not speak the English language necessarily causes a great amount of misunderstanding of orders, and that under these misunderstandings foremen are very apt to cause trouble.
During the investigation the attention of the union officers was called to the criticism on the part of the operators that on account of such insubordination of the miners they were prevented from running their own business, and it was frankly admitted that there was some truth in this assertion, but that it was ridiculously exaggerated; that where foremen got into trouble they usually attributed it to the union. On the other hand, the union claims that it has been antagonized at every point, and that whenever anything of an evil nature occurs it is immediately attributed to it. Many instances are cited to show the truth of this statement.
The operators claim that very many petty difficulties arise because the union officials can not control their men. Many instances of this are cited in a report made some months ago by Mr. E. E. Loomis, superintendent of the coal mining department of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, and submitted herewith as Appendix D. This report was made prior to the inauguration of the present strike.
The claim is made that the union does not allow men to enter the mines unless they have a union card, although they may have the certificate required by the laws of the State of Pennsylvania that they are qualified to work as miners.
Nearly all the operators, so far as learned, have no confidence in the ability of the miners' union to control its own members to any such degree as to assist in maintaining proper discipline. Here is a sharp conflict, and one which reaches to the very essence of the irritating conditions that now attend anthracite coal mining.
Some of the operators do not hesitate to say—and it is believed that this statement is favorably regarded by some of the union officersthat no great progress will be made toward a more peaceful condition in the mining regions until the anthracite miners have a union of their own, its autonomy individualized and not complicated with that of the bituminous coal miners. This suggestion is made when discussing the question of discipline, the operators claiming that they had no trouble in the anthracite regions until the union of the bituminous coal miners undertook to organize the anthracite miners, and that if the anthracite coal miners had a union of their own, which might possibly be affiliated with the bituminous coal miners, they (the
operators) would be in a better position and in better temper to meet their employees through their organization than now, when they are obliged to deal with what they term strangers and outsiders.
The bearing of the operators' position on this subject, taken in relation to the whole question of discipline, is one which should meet with thorough consideration on the part of all, for it is believed by many that with the question of organization settled on the basis of the anthracite interests as distinct from the bituminous interests the
question of discipline might be more easily considered. This is illustrated by the statement, during the present investigation, of one of the leading anthracite coal operators that a man who is not intellectually competent to do business in the anthracite region with a systematic recognition of the trade union is not competent to be there. A very well-known railroad president, although not of a coal-operating road, emphatically agreed in this opinion of the operator quoted, and did not hesitate to say that the present need in the anthracite mining business is for an entirely different type of men from those now engaged in it. If an anthracite coal miners' union could be organized and officered by men from the anthracite industry, such critics as those just quoted believe that the whole matter would be far on the way to fairly satisfactory adjustment.
All the operators whom I met disclaimed distinctly that they had any antagonism to labor unions as such. They do object, and most seriously, to some of the methods adopted by the unions, and they feel that when asked to make contracts with the unions the latter should put themselves in a position to be pecuniarily responsible for carrying out such contracts.
THE DEMAND TO HAVE COAL WEIGHED.
The specific demand of the miners' union that where miners are paid by weight 2,240 pounds shall constitute the ton, represents an old, long-standing difficulty. The miners see little or no difficulty in adopting the system of payment by weight. They claim everywhere, and almost without exception, that they are systematically defrauded by the arbitrary action of the bosses—the men who determine how much deduction shall be made for impurities—and they especially complain that they are defrauded when paid by the wagon or carload. One inanager stated during the present investigation that there is no end to the abuses of payment by the car. The testimony of foremen and managers is to the effect that these abuses should be done away with, the same as the abuses of the powder system, the truck system, and the company stores have been relegated to the past.
The miners also claim that the cars and the wagons constantly increase in size by various methods, but that they are paid no more for a carload than before such increase, that cars must be loaded to a certain height above the rail, so that when they are received at the breakers they shall be full cars after the jolting and massing of the contents.
All these things irritate, and even if it should be shown that the complaints are, on the whole, ungrounded, they are as real to the men as if the proportions of the complaints were preserved. There is a very great deal of testimony upon these points which can not be very well controverted. Nevertheless, the difficulties which confront the operators are great.
Mr. Loomis, the superintendent of the coal-mining department of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, has discussed this question quite fully (see Appendix D). He says that his road, after long years of experience in the upper anthracite fields, evolved a system whereby coal from certain veins is paid for in accordance with the labor necessary to mine the coal in that specific vein. This system is based upon the cubic feet contained in the car used in the particular vein or mine. Some veins, being thicker, admit of a larger car being used than others, these being paid for accordingly. He argues that, assuming that the operators should concede the miners' demands to weigh all coal, the operators would necessarily have to use the present car prices, of which there are some twelve or fourteen different rates, as a basis to figure back from, and if figured properly the miner would be no better off than on the car basis, while the companies would be put to a great expense on account of scales, rearrangement of breakers, to say nothing of the troubles and controversies with committees in arriving at a ton price, the readjustment of all yardage prices, etc. He thinks that any readjustment would open the door to an endless amount of trouble and expense, while if the adjustment was fairly made the men would in no way be benefited by it. It is known that many of the men prefer to remain on the car basis. The legislature of Pennsylvania has attempted, through legislation, to settle this question of weighing.
Mr. Loomis also states that some of the miners claim that if the companies sell the coal by the ton they should pay for it by the ton. The operators' argument is that one is a measure of labor and the other a measure of material; that they do not buy the coal from the miner, but simply pay him for his labor, whereas, in turning the coal over to the dealer the operator sells it as his commodity.
When it is shown that a ton of coal, as it comes from the mines, contains a varying percentage of refuse, sometimes as high as 30 per cent, making it necessary to clean and prepare the coal before it is marketable, it is difficult to see the force of the argument why it should not be weighed and the miner paid for the work he does, or at least the operators share in the loss of his labor in mining impurities.
The operators do not hesitate to say that the miners' ton and the practice of loading rock and refuse into a car instead of prepared coal appear to be about as hard to explain to the public as was the powder question before that was settled, and that even if it were possible to make changes at the mines to admit of weighing coal, they feel that it would not be a wise thing to do. This may be true, but it should be remembered that the powder question has been settled, and there ought to be genius enough to settle the weighing question.
WAGES AND COST OF PRODUCTION
The remaining demand of the miners relates to compensation, the modified demand being a 10 per cent increase in the rates per ton to those men who perform contract work, and 10 per cent reduction in time to those who work by the day. The miners back this demand by the statement and it has not been controverted—that after the increase which was granted in 1900 (on the face of it, 10 per cent, although in some instances it amounted to more) the prices of all commodities in the mining region were enhanced accordingly, or to at least as much as 9 per cent beyond what they were prior to the increase; that now (in 1902) the general rise, in provisions especially, makes it impossible, or at least exceedingly difficult, for them to live properly on the present wages.
At the close of the report made some months ago by Mr. Loomis (already referred to) for his road, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, there are some very interesting tables of wages. His last table is a summary for four districts operated by his road. He shows that the miners' monthly earnings are $66.48.
Mr. George F. Baer, president of the Reading companies, has submitted the following statement relative to the average daily earnings of 27,523 men and boys employed by the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company last November:
AVERAGE DAILY EARNINGS OF 27,523 MEN AND BOYS EMPLOYED BY THE PHILADEL
PHIA AND READING COAL AND IRON COMPANY, NOVEMBER, 1901. Wagons, miners ..
$2. 293 Runs, miners
2. 615 Robbing, miners
3. 014 Miners' laborers.
2. 083 Day miners
2. 322 Day laborers
1.937 Slate pickers: Men..
1. 200 Boys
.852 Car loaders
1. 591 Laborers: First class...
1.593 Second class