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Mr. WRIGHT. The men who are paid per ton are practically subcontractors ?
Mr. BAER. Yes. They hire helpers at about $1.75 per day, or whatever they pay them.
Mr. WRIGHT. Do these helpers participate with the subcontractors in any increase ?
Mr. BAER. We have no means of knowing that.
Mr. THOMAS. I assume that they must have done so, but am not certain.
Mr. Willcox. There is one thing to say about the United Mine Workers. Do you stop to think of the gigantic character of this attempt? This is a union which seeks to control the entire fuel supply. That sort of a union is objectionable. It is really a trust.
Mr. WRIGHT. What if the present status holds for four or five months? The statement of Mr. Thomas is that the country would adjust itself to bituminous coal.
Mr. THOMAS. No; not in so short a time as that.
Mr. WRIGHT. Then what would happen if the strike continues for four or five months?
Mr. THOMAS. Strikes in anthracite fields have continued longer than that without any general inconvenience.
Mr. WRIGHT. Are the men preventing the pumping of the mines?
Mr. BAER. They are preventing it, intimidating our men, etc. We are keeping the pumps at the mines running by the aid of armed crews. Mitchell's men are engaged in the most active war that is possible, and we can not prevent it.
Mr. WRIGHT. Was the price of coal enhanced last year?
Mr. BAER. For the smaller sizes we get less. There has been no increase in the price of coal since the circular of November, 1900, which was based upon the 10 per cent advance.
Mr. W'RIGHT. Has immigration affected this situation?
Mr. BAER. The act of 1889, which stated that a miner must have a certificate as a licensed miner and have worked two years or more in a mine, was intended to prevent outsiders from coming in. This did not refer to laborers. But we had no trouble up to 1900.
Mr. WRIGHT. Suppose you should make a three-years' contract, or more, with the union on any basis. Would it help the situation?
Mr. THOMAS. How can we tell about the markets—what the effect is going to be next year or the year after? We can no more tell whether we can pay the same wages next year or the year after or for three years from now than we can tell anything. Any recommendation or any statement that we might make, public opinion would compel us to
comply with. Until the union assumes some legal and pecuniary responsibility no contract would be of any avail.
Mr. Wright. What has been the output per man, we will say, during the last two years, compared with the previous output?
Mr. BAER. Our records show that where a man produced 6 tons formerly, before 1900, it has been reduced to about 5; but I have made 124 per cent the basis in the statements, so as to be within bounds.
Mr. WRIGHT. The official statistics of the Geological Survey show rather an increase in the output of the mines.
Mr. Thomas. That is not possible. There is a great deal of this coal, the washery coal, which the miner has nothing to do with.
Mr. BAER. Perhaps they have taken the aggregate number of men employed without reference to the class of work.
Mr. WRIGHT. I am going to ask a question which does not belong
my errand. You are perhaps perfectly familiar with the methods of those coal markets where they have methods of arbitration, all grievances being first submitted to a board, and there being no suspension of work pending their consideration of them. Have you ever considered that method as applicable to your own mines?
Mr. BAER. Personally I have investigated that subject very clearly, and find that in England in times of depression nothing works at all; that if that condition is followed up it generally results in a strike. I have followed up that condition in Australia and talked with a gentleman who has traveled there, and I find that labor always expects something, and any arbitration which does not give them something is rejected. In times of prosperity it works very well, when everybody is making money.
Mr. WRIGHT. Is there any sort of suggestion which the President or anyone else can make, looking to the cessation of this difficulty ?
Mr. THOMAS. If the Civic Federation and all the politicians in this country will simply say, “Gentlemen, this is a commercial transaction, in which we do not see our way clear to interfere,” it will do more to end it than anything else. The sentiment has been right along that, through the Civic Federation, they could bring us to terms.
Mr. WRIGHT. You think that the existence of that committee of thirty-six was more of an obstacle than anything else!
Mr. THOMAS. I do.
Mr. BAER. We are working for the future of an industry which if it yields to public clamor at this time is irretrievably ruined.
Mr. WRIGHT. Would you be willing to cooperate in appointing a small commission to consider the whole mining methods-simply the modus operandi-and to report at a future time for the acceptance of their conclusions by the operators and miners?
Mr. THOMAS. In the first place, to get an intelligent report the men must have had experience in anthracite mining. Just where a body of men can be found who have the experience, the intelligence, and the leisure to devote to that I do not know. Any recommendation they might have to make should carry with it, so far as we are concerned, the force of law. Mr. WRIGHT. I mean a commission of such men
as you would appoint and some to be appointed by Mr. Mitchell and his colleagues to investigate and report what it finds in the matter.
Mr. THOMAS. We are not as free as they could be, on account of public opinion. You say this would be a voluntary commission. If we did not agree to its findings, the public would say: “Well, now that you have agreed to this, prove it."
Mr. BAER. After you have read over the correspondence and the statements we have made to-day, if you want anything more, if you want to send and look at our books, we will do whatever we can for you. It is a great pity that somebody did not go over the ground before this.
APPENDIX F.-STATEMENT OF MR. E. B. THOMAS, REPRESENTATIVE OF ERIE RAILROAD COMPANY AND LEHIGH VALLEY COMPANY.
I fully concur in Mr. Baer's general statement and in the figures which he has submitted. I did not come prepared for any meeting of this character, and brought no statistics as to the cost of mining, the rate of wages, or any facts whatever connected with the production of anthracite coal in so far as they relate to the Lehigh Valley and Erie companies.
I will cheerfully furnish, on request, any figures or statements desired. The great and growing industry of this country is the bituminous coal industry. The percentage of increase in tonnage and value exceeded in the last year that of any one industry in the United States. For several years prior to 1900 the best that could be said of the anthracite industry was that it was stationary, and indeed in some respects might be counted as declining. Seventy-five per cent of the increase of 1901 has come from what is known as “washery” coals and from the better practice that we have inaugurated in saving coal that heretofore went to the culm piles. This character of fuel is only marketed along our lines locally and at tide water, and is in active and keen competition with bituminous coal. Much of this character of coal does not net to producing companies over 25 cents per ton at the mines, but by reason of the facility with which it is handled, its cleanliness, and better method of preparation, the market for coal heretofore wasted has been increasing. In respect of the prepared sizes, that consumption will increase only as the prosperity of the country increases and with the building of homes. Anthracite coal is not strictly a necessity, but may more properly be classed as a luxury, and if some unfortunate accident should overtake the anthracite country and entirely extinguish the industry, leaving the rest of the country unimpaired, with our enormous supplies of bituminous coal it would simply take the place formerly occupied by anthracite. Bituminous coal is the fuel of the world, and is universally used in foreign countries, the only anthracite produced abroad being what is known as Welsh coal, but that is little used in England, being marketed almost entirely on the Continent. Prior to 1901 the difficulty in the anthracite region was to find a market for 60,000,000 tons when the consuming capacity of the country was only about 45,000,000.
The consumption of coal being in the fall and winter months, no one will buy coal in May and June for consumption in January unless it is to his advantage. Last year our companies inaugurated, and I think most of the other companies followed, a plan of reducing the price of coal to the consumer 50 cents per ton in the month of April and increasing that for five months at the rate of 10 cents per ton,
in order to make an inducement for people to take their coal in the summer, and thereby more evenly distributing the production over the twelve months. For the first time in the history we made some progress in that direction. We had started in that direction this year when our work was interrupted by the strike of the miners.
The coal that is marketed in the West is transported in returning grain cars at a rate a little higher than the grain coming East. That same rate can not be applied to tide-water coal, because it has to be transported in an entirely different class of equipment, which returns empty and requires entirely different preparation.
I think that the management of the anthracite properties are as earnest in their efforts to continue the prosperity of the industry as any body else in this country, but the anthracite industry is not broad enough to carry the financial and political prosperity of a country of 77,000,000. I want to state one point that we made before Mr. Mitchell at our conferences. We are not opposed to union labor. I have been dealing with union labor for thirty years, but what Mr. Mitchell is seeking to bring about is simply impracticable. Mr. Mitchell admitted in our conference that he had never been inside an anthracite coal mine but once in his life. I said, “Mr. Mitchell, I have not only weighed coal in bituminous mines, but I have had fifteen years' experience in the anthracite mines, and it is absolutely impossible for you to realize the differences which exist." There are carried on the pay rolls from 70 to 80 different occupations. They raised a question a while ago in the case of a man who was getting $1 a day and another who was getting $1.50 a day for mule driving. One was a cripple and the other was uninjured. It stands to reason who could do the most work. Now, the anthracite mining varies in its districts. You understand what are known as the anthracite districts. The different chambers in the same mine differ. I feel that our labor is better protected in the anthracite region, and that the companies--the larger companies; I do not speak of the smaller operators-are more disposed to give attention to petty complaints and questions of injustice, and make every effort to make the conditions of work pleasant. All of our division superintendents are held for the results of the men under them. Should the men under one division superintendent stop working for one or two days, naturally there is a falling off in the production of that mine. That man is under constant pressure to keep his men at work, and he can only do so by fair treatment of the men under him. The Lehigh Company has one mine from which it had not mined a pound of coal in the four months prior to this strike, because the miners declined to allow nonunion men to work in the mine. I think it is an injustice. Every man has the inalienable right to work, and if he is required to have a license from a labor leader to do so, I say the time has come for a new Declaration of Independence.
In our posted notices to the miners we told them we would take up any grievances which might occur with the superintendents, and that we have done, and that we expect to do, and that seems to us fair, but we can not take up differences through persons not in our employ. The discipline of the men can not be taken out of our hands, because we are responsible for the safety of life and property.
Now, you take it on our railroad. We have had agreements with our men, and have them now, and can not see that there is any reason why we should not.
Mr. Wright quoted the following from Mr. Mitchell: “That they are not interfering with the pumpmen.”
Mr. Thomas stated: “Now, their demand is this: That these pumpmen should have, instead of a ten-hour day, an eight-hour day with the same pay. By a system of intimidation they have forced the most of all those remaining men out, and we have been compelled to go outside for men.
One of the largest dry-goods firms in Wilkesbarre yesterday declined to sell blankets to the Lehigh Valley Coal Company to cover our imported labor under the threat that they would be boycotted if they did. Not only that, but a poor school-teacher was obliged to give up her position because her father remained at work. But for the system of intimidation and boycott which prevails in the anthracite region, comparatively few, if any, of our engineers, pumpmen, or firemen would have left our employ, but the policy which is being pursued and the annoyance to which they are subjected is a disgrace to civilization.”