« ForrigeFortsett »
mining expert of the United States Geological Survey, has supplied me with some of the advance data for his report to the Government. These are shown in the following table:
PRODUCTION OF ANTHRACITE COAL IN THE UNITED STATES FROM 1897 TO 1901.
The statement of the operators and that of the mining expert of the
ton in 1900 was $1.85 and in 1901 $2.05. The average tonnage per man per day showed no increase; on the other hand, it was lower in 1901 than it has been since 1897, it being, in 1898, 2.16; in 1899, 2.23; in 1900, 2.14; in 1901, 2.115. Therefore, while the average value per ton rose the average tonnage per day
per man fell.
The foregoing statement as to the average tonnage per day per man is based on the total number of employees. It would be more accurate to give the coal production according to the total number of men employed underground. On this basis the average tonnage per man per day was, in 1897, 3.27; in 1898, 3.44; in 1899, 3.38; in 1900, 3.35; in 1901, 3.12.
The coal production per day according to the number of miners actually employed shows the same relative position. In 1897 it was 8.48; in 1898, 8.80; in 1899, 8.56; in 1900, 8.38; in 1901, 8.13.
The miners' contention that the output per man has increased is not sustained by the official figures, but when considering the average tonnage per man per year of the total number of men employed underground they have reason for their contention. In 1897 this average tonnage per man per year was 490; in 1898, 523; in 1899, 585; in 1900, 556; in 1901, 612. The average tonnage per miner per year was, for 1897, 1,272; 1898, 1,338; 1899, 1,481; 1900, 1,391; 1901, 1,594. In this latter respect, however, it should be remembered that the number of days varied, as shown in the table giving the production of anthracite coal from 1897 to 1901. The true basis is the average tonnage per day per man and not the average tonnage per year per man.
In this connection it is interesting to note that the anthracite coal trade, as a whole, was free from labor disturbances in 1901, and the output for the year showed an increase of 9,011,207 long tons, or more than 17 per cent, over 1900, when the product was curtailed by the miners' strike in September and October. The average price at the collieries for the coal sold was at an advance of 25 cents per ton over 1900, and reached the highest figure attained since 1888.
During the past twenty years anthracite production has not kept pace with general industrial development. In 1880 the anthracite production represented 40 per cent of the total coal output of the United States. The percentage of anthracite of total coal production since 1880 has been as follows: 1881-1885, 34 per cent; 1886-1890, 32 per cent; 1891-1895, 30 per cent; 1896-1901, 24 per cent. Thus the percentage of anthracite of the total product has decreased since 1880 from 40 to 24 per cent. Comparing the production of 1901 with that of 1880, anthracite is shown to have increased about 135 per cent, while the bituminous product has increased about 425 per cent. These statements relative to production are taken from the Engineering and Mining Journal of June 7, 1902.
Mr. Baer (see Appendix E, pages 1208, 1209) makes the following statement bearing upon this point:
Forty per cent of the anthracite coal is sold in the market below the cost of mining. The reasons are that these coals compete with bituminous coal. The steamboat coal is used almost exclusively in pigiron furnaces. Its price is regulated by the price of coke. Coke is a better fuel for smelting iron than anthracite, because it bears a heavier burden; and while formerly the furnaces of the Schuylkill region and the Lehigh region used anthracite coal exclusively, it is impossible to use anthracite fuel now alone, as the crushing weight of the material is so great that anthracite coal would become a compact mass, which will not let the blast through. Therefore anthracite coal is confined to low-stack furnaces or to high-stack furnaces where a certain percentage can be used. For instance, a company uses 40 per cent of anthracite to 60 per cent of bituminous. The rice and smaller sizes of coal, which would be waste, are sold as low as 41 cents per
ton. The buckwheats and the peas run up until the highest price we get for those sizes is $1.65 for pea. That puts the whole burden of any advance price on 60 per cent of our production, which constitutes the domestic sizes. All other sizes must be sold in competition with bituminous coal, and they must be sold to enable us to take precedence over bituminous coal or they can not be sold at all. The other 60 per cent, which are known as the prepared and domestic sizes, must bear the raise in price, and it comes upon every workingman and everybody who uses coal, for primarily this coal is used for household purposes, not for manufacturing; and were we to increase the price of coal, then the cry would be that the coal barons are oppressing the poor.
QUESTION OF FREIGHTS.
It is often alleged by the miners—and the allegation has been repeated to me in this investigation by capitalists and others not interested now in the coal-mining business—that the operators, where they are also railroad corporations, are in the habit of charging, as a part of the cost of their coal, an increased freight rate for the coal, thus adding to its cost and, in fact, keeping down the statement of profits of mining coal, carrying the profits to the traffic of their roads; that the freight rates thus charged for anthracite are higher than those for bituminous coal carried by the same roads.
It is clear from the statements of the operators appended hereto that they have been able to bring up their traffic business in some cases to such an extent as to avoid financial disaster to their respective roads. One president of a coal-operating railroad informed me that he was obliged some years ago to go into the coal-mining business in order to save his road, and I think this is the general impression. It is very difficult to ascertain the truth in the question, but I have been able to find out the difference in freight rates of bituminous and of anthracite coal.
The rate on bituminous coal from the Clearfield mines of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company is $1.40 f. o. b., Port Reading; on anthracite coal the rate is $1.55 f. o. b., Port Reading.
Some years ago the question was brought to the attention of the Interstate Commerce Commission by the suit of Coxe Bros. & Co. against the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, the claim being made that the mileage rate should be the same. The operating roads maintain that there is no similarity between the transportation of anthracite coal and that of bituminous coal. The anthracite region is geographically a broken country. To reach the mines expensive lateral railroads are required, with very heavy grades. Not only is the construction and maintenance of these roads costly, but, by reason of the grades, their operation is expensive.
Again, it is claimed that the distribution of anthracite and of bituminous coal is essentially different, bituminous coal being, as a rule, sold in large quantities to manufacturers and to the steamship trade. The contracts usually cover a year's delivery, thus enabling the transportation companies to send full train loads to one shipping point or consignee, the cars being unloaded at once and returned to the mines promptly.
On the other hand, it is claimed that anthracite coal is generally used for domestic purposes, one train load containing six or seven different sizes of coal consigned to many different parties. This distinction in the sizes of coal, and also in the quality, is exceptional to the anthracite trade. Bituminous coal is practically of the same quality. These conditions involve not only the detention of the cars but a vast amount of shifting, so that the detention of anthracite-coal cars at the points of destination is much greater than that of cars used in the bituminous coal trade. By way of illustration, as it has been pointed out to me, there are in the city of Philadelphia 300 miles of track owned by the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company, together with 50 freight stations and a large number of coal yards. To reach these points of distribution there must be much shifting. Sometimes only one or two cars are taken out of a train for each yard, and as the size and quality () of the coal vary, the expense in this constant shifting is claimed to be very heavy.
These conditions apply to the shipping ports, where the coal companies are compelled to keep coal standing in cars to be shifted out from time to time according to the orders of the shippers. At some of the very large ports, such as Port Richmond, the Reading people endeavor to overcome this difficulty by storing, when possible, large quantities of special sizes; but this method, it is claimed, subjects the company to the necessity of picking it up and reloading it, which, of course, is expensive.
It is also claimed—and I believe conceded by all—that the haul on bituminous coal is longer than that on anthracite coal, and that when once coal is loaded on cars and full trains are obtained the cost of a longer haul of, say, 50 miles or more is relatively a small additional expense; that a full train can be transported a long distance much cheaper than miscellaneous traffic can be, where trains must be broken from time to time. These are the justifications for a less rate on bituminous for a long haul than on anthracite coal for a short haul.
The expense of producing coal, profits, transportation questions, and some other matters of great value and interest to this whole subject are shown in the letter of Mr. David Willcox, vice-president and general counsel of the Delaware and Hudson Company, attached hereto as Appendix G.
Much evidence has been offered to show the general condition of miners, their complaints and grievances, and the complaints and grievances of the operators. In a critical sense, these have all been referred to above, and the various appendixes give them more fully. It is very clearly shown by the evidence that the miners have done something in the way of securing discipline, although they have disappointed the operators in such attempts. The miners claim that they have forced their members to accept discharge whenever they were wrong, and have ordered men back to work when the strike was not authorized by the labor union; that when the officers of the union have been able to see the manager of a company concerning any case and have been allowed to confer, they have almost invariably been able to arrive at an adjustment of the difficulty, but that where the manager
a In the coal business “ quality” means different kinds of coal, such as red ash,” "white ash,” and “free burning.” The product of nearly every colliery varies more or less. Many consumers require coal from a particular colliery.
refused to deal with the representatives of the union there was no choice but to pass upon the matter according to the evidence of one side only, such evidence being taken as conclusive, and the officers being obliged to decide in favor of the men, who have preferred a wish not to work under existing conditions.
This, it is claimed, injures the corporations, because the results have not been based upon full evidence. The miners feel that the
corporations, when they refuse to recognize the right of the unions to represent the men in adjusting any difficulty, can not deny that the officers have the power to decide whether or not the employees shall strike. They also state that if the operators will make an agreement with them they will carry it out as far as it lies in their power to do so, but that without an agreement they are all the time quibbling as to conditions under which miners shall work. They feel that an agreement in writing will protect the corporations from unjust strikes, if they really desire such protection. The way it appears to the average workman is that the operators do not want an agreement that will bind them and prevent them from following their usual course.
On the other hand, the operators contend that no such agreement would have any binding effect upon the miners, and that it is ridiculous and foolish to undertake to make one; that they are interfered with constantly in their efforts to preserve order and good discipline.
All this shows, and proves clearly, that there is no confidence existing between the employees and their employers, and that suspicion lurks in the minds of everyone and distrust in every action on either side.
It is represented to me by reputable parties who have no interest in the mining business one way or the other that the chief difficulty lies in lack of organization. This is shown by the existence of many practices in the management of coal mines which appear to be unwise, unfair, and calculated to work hardship. There are many prosperous miners in the coal region, and of course there is also, as in every industry, great destitution. The whole problem is an extremely complex one, and involves many practices that have been built up through long years. The mine owners too often have regarded the average miner as unreasonable, and likely to be unruly when occasion offered. The miner has come to regard the average owner as greedy and ready to do anything which will take advantage of him. Long-continued conditions on this basis of suspicion make the question one of great difficulty.
It would seem reasonable that if the men should be sure of steady work, or fairly steady work, they could well afford, perhaps, to take less wages, or even to continue on the present basis of payment. It is insisted by many that eight hours a day for six days in the week at less wages than they are now receiving would make the miners as prosperous a class of workmen as can be found in the United States.