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This results in doing away with the long shift, and makes an increase in the firemen's wages equal to a little over 7 per cent.
Hoisting engineers are, in most cases, monthly men, receiving from $75 to $78 a month, which is considered ample compensation for the conditions surrounding their work and the services they are called upon to perform. These men have also been working long hours in order to change their shifts once a week from night to day, but we have arranged to correct this matter by adopting the two short shifts, the same as with firemen.
Inside we have driver boys, ranging from 14 to 20 years of age, earning all the way from 13 to 18 cents per hour; trackmen, 244 cents per hour; track layers and helpers, from 19 to 22 cents per hour; timbermen, from 21 to 244 cents per hour; laborers, from 18 to 22 cents per hour; pumpmen, from 19 to 22 cents per hour.
We know of some cases where the father, or head of the family, is employed by the railroad department as a trackman at 124 cents per hour, whereas his son, a boy 15 or 16 years old, is employed inside driving at 14 cents per hour.
We have in effect a large number of prices for the different classes of labor, which are the result of years of experience, and which, in our opinion, are eminently fair to all concerned. They have been adjusted, from time to time, to suit the conditions, and to attempt to put them on the same basis would be most unjust to the companies and the men themselves, and the position we want to maintain is that our employees are to be paid in accordance with the duties they perform, and receive a fair day's wage for a fair day's work, and avoid as far as possible the spirit of unionism--the whole idea of which seems to be equality without regard to merit.
Recognition of the union: The question of recognition is one that has been prominent before the operators since the strike of 1900. We have agreed to meet committees of our own employees and adjust any actual grievances that are found to exist. These committees are in most cases selected by the United Mine Workers' Union or so-called “Locals.” In other words, we are dealing indirectly with the local unions at the different mines. We have refused, however, up to this time, to deal with any of the national officers of the union, and have taken the position that they, not being acquainted with the conditions that exist at the different mines, are in no position to talk intelligently about them; and not being our employees, have no right to interfere or attempt to dictate to us how we shall conduct our business.
It has been demonstrated time and again that even these local grievance committees have been misled by members of their union. Cases of alleged injustice have been represented to them, and they, in turn, have presented them to their superiors, which, upon investigation, have proven to be absolutely false and without any foundation.
The proposition of meeting and entering into any agreement with the organization as a whole, however, is quite a different question. Assuming that the operators should agree to meet the United Mine Workers of America in open convention, any agreement that they could possibly consider would necessarily have to be of the broadest and most indefinite character, on account of the varying conditions in the different regions and mines. The interpretation of such an agreement would result in endless strife, ill feeling, and petty strikes. It has been shown to be an invariable rule that whenever an agreement, either expressed or implied, has been entered into with the officials of the so-called “Locals," covering a proposition that affected a large number of men, both they and the men could and did set it aside at pleasure. Their excuse has been that they could not control the men locally, and this we know to be a fact by experience.
The prevailing sentiment at the last convention of the organization was that if the anthracite miners should fail to gain their demands, and a strike should ensue, and soft coal should be shipped into territory where anthracite had formerly been in use, the national officers should have power to order either a sectional or national strike in the bituminous region. This, notwithstanding agreements made with the bituminous operators, supposed to continue for a year. This, in our minds, demonstrates quite clearly what an agreement with these people is worth. It also demonstrates the value of any agreement or contract entered into with an unincorporated organization composed of men of similar intelligence.
Regarding the minimum wage scale: It is the evident intention of Mr. Mitchell and his crowd to endeavor to formulate a scale whereby every worker shall be insured an income per day whether earned or not. It is patent to everyone who has any knowledge of the anthracite territory that such an idea can but be the product of an ignorant or diseased mind. When it is considered that hardly any two veins in the same mine present the same conditions, it will readily be seen that any attempt to establish a uniform minimum wage scale for the government of the entire region is but an empty dream. The conditions vary so widely in the thickness, quality of the veins, roof, rock, overlying strata, pitch, amount of refuse, that any interference with the existing equitable methods would result in converting the present practice of arriving at a basis of payment into an industrial chaos.
Again, considering the nationality of the mine workers of to-day, we find men of all countries engaged in the occupation of mining, loading, cleaning, and preparing coal. This is a prime factor in the discrepancies that exist in the earning ability of the worker. In one chamber we find employed a skillful workman, or one whose whole life has been devoted to labor of one kind or another in the mining industry. By him, or in the adjoining chambers, we find a man who perhaps up to the time he arrives as an immigrant has never seen a mine. One has the skill born of long practical experience, the other the disadvantages of an occupation for which he has had no training.
These men are both contractors working on their own time. One may be ambitious and work constantly while he is in his chamber, while the other, who is not under the immediate eye of a boss, may spend his time in loafing, and it is for these men, I understand, the Mine Workers want a minimum wage. In other words, they want every miner guaranteed that he will receive a given amount to be agreed upon. If he fails to earn it, it should be made up to him, etc.
The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western has, 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 are paid for accordingly.
Assuming that we should concede to their demands to weigh all coal, we would necessarily have to use the present car prices, of which we have 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. 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. It would simply open the door to an endless amount of trouble and expense, and, as stated before, if adjusted fairly, the men would in no way be benefited.
We are satisfied that many of our men to-day would prefer to remain on the car basis, and the question of changing from a car to a ton basis originates in the minds of the agitators and a few irresponsible parties, who feel that they have nothing to lose and are deluded in thinking that they may gain something by the change.
At the last session of the legislature of Pennsylvania a bill was introduced—and passed the house-calling for all coal to be weighed before screening, and also for the coal to be paid for by the ton. This created the impression among people outside of the coal regions that the miner was not receiving just reward for his labor. It was also strongly represented by some of the newspapers that a miner in various cases had to load from 2,500 to 3,300 pounds for a ton. This the operator sold at the rate of 2,240 pounds per ton to the wholesaler, who in turn sold it to the public at 2,000 pounds per ton. The facts were not brought forth that a ton of coal as it came from the mines contained from 15 per cent to 30 per cent refuse, all of which has to be cleaned and prepared before being marketable. Some of the miners, I believe, claim that if the companies sell the coal by the ton they should pay for it by the ton. Our argument is: One is a measure of labor; the other a measure of material. We do not buy the coal from the miner; we simply pay him for his labor, whereas in turning it over to the dealer we sell it as our commodity.
I note that the Industrial Commission, in their report just completed, recommends "provisions for the fair weighing of coal at mines before passing over screens or other devices, in order that the miner may be compensated for all coal having a market value, etc.” The miner's ton and the practice of loading rock and refuse into a car instead of coal appears to be about as hard to explain to the public and the Industrial Commission as the powder question," and even if it were possible to make changes at our mines to admit of weighing coal, we think it would not be a wise thing to do.
A great amount of importance has been attached to the strength of the United Mine Workers' Union in the anthracite region from a political standpoint. An investigation into these matters does not seem to bear out the claim of the immense political power such as a number of the leaders would imply. We find, taking the year 1900, which was the Presidential election year, that in the 10 anthracite producing counties of the State the Republican, Democratic, and Prohibitionist votes for the Presidential electors were as follows: Carbon County.... 8,521 | Schuylkill County
30, 103 Columbia County.
8,375 Sullivan County.. Dauphin County
22, 824 Susquehanna County Lackawanna County.. 32, 297 Wayne County ....
6,311 Luzerne County
Total Northumberland County....
176, 323 In the same year, according to the report of the superintendent of the bureau of mines, there were employed in anthracite mines the following: Inside foremen.
519 Fire bosses...
36, 832 Miners' laborers...
24, 613 Drivers and runners
10, 177 Door boys and helpers..
3, 128 All other inside employees..
2, 780 9,056
Grand total (inside and outside)
If we eliminate the persons who have not the right to vote, viz, boys, etc., under 21 years of age, such as slate pickers, door boys, drivers, runners, and the persons who can not be controlled by the United Mine Workers, such as foremen, firemen, clerks, etc., we have left approximately 107,000.
Inasmuch as the majority of the coal is loaded by unnaturalized foreigners, and a large amount of it is mined by the same class, about 42 per cent would be conceded a fair estimate of those who have not the right of franchise. This leaves us about 64,000, or about 36 per cent of the voting strength of the anthracite counties.
Assuming that this number are members of the union, it is absurd to think that Mr. Mitchell or his leaders can dominate or control their vote. While if he should order a strike they would probably obey, on account of the persecution that might follow, yet some of them have very decided ideas of their own when it comes to a question of political issues, and this number is apt to be composed of the more conservative element, who, in their inmost hearts, have very little use for the United Mine Workers or their methods as practiced to day. The influence of Mr. Mitchell and his crowd dominates more particularly over the boys and irresponsible element, who to-day are practically in control of the organization throughout the anthracite region. A careful compilation of statistics shows that 23 per cent of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western employees who are members of the union are irresponsible and under the age of 21.
As a result of this state of affairs the companies are not receiving anywhere near the same amount of work from their men to-day that they did prior to the introduction of the professional agitator in this region. It is almost impossible to maintain discipline, which is most necessary in the conduct of every business.
The trouble with the miners' organization is that it is organized on the wrong lines. There is no insurance or benefits whatever to be derived, and it is buoyed up and kept in existence entirely by promises, the majority of which are of the most absurd character, and it is only by this continued agitation and by keeping the members in a state of excitement that they can get them to pay their dues, which, of course, is the only thing needful, and goes to pay the so-called “leaders’ " salaries.
Their lodge or meeting rooms have developed a large number of orators, the most successful of which are those of a fiery nature, as they are able to portray in eloquent words, to the boys and foreign element, conditions that do not exist.
They spend their time arraying labor against capital, raising up class prejudices, and many of them seem to be capable of influencing and hypnotizing their listeners. It is this sort of work that is having the most demoralizing effect throughout the region. They tell the