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Mr. TREADWAY. The aggregate would be 15; 1 killed and 14 injured? Mr. Lewis. Fourteen plus one; that is right.
Mr. TREADWAY. There are variations in the extent of those injuries?
Mr. Lewis. Quite true, Congressman. Some of them merely had their hand injured, their finger mashed, or lost a finger, and others had their eyes shot out. Others had all the flesh burned from their skulls, and forever afterwards have to carry around a grotesque mask to face other men. Others had their backs broken. Some lost a leg, some lost an arm, some were paralyzed, some sustained minor injuries of a temporary nature. They had to take their chances as to what the character of their injury might be.
The men I represent during this 37-year period have carried out of these mines on stretchers, 79,000 dead men. Some of them were mashed into a pulp, other had their flesh so cooked by explosions that the flesh cleaved from the bone when they were picked up, and they were carried up the cinder paths of these mining communities on strectchers and into the homes of the lamenting widows and weeping children.
Mr. JENKINS. Will the gentleman yield right there?
Mr. JENKINS.' I saw in my district 3 years ago 80 men laid out, just like you described, at one time.
Mr. LEWIS. Some of the members of the United Mine Workers are in this audience here today. There is not one of them here--they are members of our scale committee, and most of them work in the mines, and they are merely here temporarily in these negotiations, and their presence at this meeting is incidental--and there is no one of them that has not time after time, without number, 'carried these dead out of these mines and carried the injured to succor and risked their life, without number, in so doing, as much as any soldier of our great Republic in the World War on the battlefields of the western front, of which my distinguished friend, Mr. Cooper has intimate knowledge.
Every day that these mines worked over this 37-year period, Congressman Treadway, 10 men have died and been carried dead out of these mines, 200 days a year, and at the end of that time we had 83 dead men for extra good measure.
Who did that thing? Who is responsible for that?
The United States Bureau of Mines, Department of Commerce, say that: “Accidents to mine workers in considerable measure may be avoided or prevented.”
As a practical proposition, I know that is true.
Mr. TREADWAY. I want to interrupt you because I am extremely interested in the details you are giving there, to know whether in the aggregate number of fatalities that you have given, running over a period of years, the number has varied from time to time? What I have in mind is this: Whether there is a better protection for human life in the mines now than in years gone by?
Mr. LEWIS. The period from 1929 to 1932, inclusive, showed the death roll reduced to an average of 1,600 a year-1929, 1930, 1931, and 1932--but that was due, Congressman, substantially to the reduced number of mine-hour exposures in the industry, the lessening amount of tonnage that was mined, and not due to any greater degree of safety in the industry itself.
May I at this point point out that we butcher and maim four times as many of our mine workers per million tons of coal mined as any civilized country in the world. We pay that price for our efficiency. Our output per man is far in excess of that of any other country, but the price we pay in the loss of life and limb exceeds that of any other country because no country in the world among the civilized nations would permit such a butchery of its mine workers as exists at all times in the United States of America. That runs to the question of the enactment of this bill. Why? Because most of the deaths and most of those accidents occurred because the operator, beset by competitive circumstances, driving his managers constantly to overexert themselves to enable him to compete in the market, failed to make a proper outlay for proper machinery, proper safeguards, proper ventilation, proper equipment. And a penurious operator, facing the coming of the sherifi, or bankruptcy or receivership proceedings, has no money to save human life or increase the safety of his mine personnel. He may need a new rope on his hoisting equipment that lowers the men into the mine, but because he has not the money to get the rope and no credit with which to buy the rope, he uses the old rope, and one day the cage drops, and one day 6, 7, 10, or 12 are crippled for life because the cage dropped at 400 or 600 feet.
He may need new ventilating equipment to get the air down into the mine in sufficient volume to neutralize the gas of the mine, but he has not any money to buy a 24-foot ventilating fan, or a 36-foot fan, or an 18-foot fan, and as a result, the mixture of the gases causes an explosive content in the mine atmosphere, and an explosion occurs and burns them all and kills them, like the eighty-odd men which the Congressman talked about that he saw last year in his own district, and it was caused by the coal operator being compelled to sell his coal below cost in the rigid competitive industry, and he could not buy a fan, and he could not tighten up the brattices, and be could not rebuild his bulkhead in the mine, and the air could not get down into the mine, and even if it went into it it would constantly go up against the bulkheads and brattices so that the air is turned around before accomplishing its purpose.
Mr. TREADWAY. Mr. Lewis, to what extent do State laws try to cover those features of safety and those safeguards, such as proper ventilation? Is there any provision in the various State laws?
Mr. LEWIS. There is, Congressman, in most States. The United Mine Worker has pleaded for mine safety laws.
Mr. TREADWAY. That would be State legislation?
Mr. LEWIS. That would be State legislation, and most of the principal mining States have adopted mining codes. But, Congressman, à State mine inspector and a State inspection department cannot even enforce the mining laws against the penurious impoverished coal operator. He may go down a mine and find that there is not sufficient air there to neutralize the methane in the mine or the marsh gas that gathers there, and he wants the operator to put more air in the mine, and he cannot because the fan won't do it, and he has no money to buy any equipment, and if he does, he is going to leave 300 or 500 men idle in the community, and impoverished, because the mine inspector has closed the mine, and generally he
does not do it, and the men are victims of circumstance. They assume the hazard because they do not dare not to assume the hazard, because if they remain away from the mine they starve, and they go to that mine hoping against hope that nothing will occur, and some day something occurs, and there are 20 more widows, or there are 100 more widows in that mining community.
Were the Congressmen ever in a mining community, where all the men in the community were killed in a mine explosion? I do not know of any greater scene of human agony than to be in a community where such a thing as that occurs. Just a couple of Christmases ago, on Christmas Eve, I went to the scene of an explosion in Illinois that killed all the men in the mine. It was not a large mine, but an ancient, old, high-cost, obsolete, uneconomical mine to the operator, and the men were trying vainly to continue in operation against competition that they could not meet. They had no timber in it, they had no air in it, they had gas in it, and the inevitable happened-and it blew up. And for a Christmas Eve gift, the families of that community gathered around that pit head, waiting for their dead to be brought out of the mine.
The mine workers want this industry operated upon a modern basis that at least comprehends some degree of humanity.
I wonder who killed these people of mine for 37 years. Who manages these mines? Talk about the rights of management, the inherent right to do as they please. Why, yes, with their own dollars; yes, with their own tongues. But I protest to the Congress of the United States against their right to do this with the lives of my people.
Who was it that did not ventilate the mine? Who was it that could not buy the fan? Who was it that could not replace brokendown and worn-out equipment? Who was it who could not take safety measures? It must be those who own the mines and who manage the mines, and who prate about their pride in their management before the Congress of the United States.
It was not the mine workers. It was not the Congress. It was not the public, although the public bought that coal at a price during all those years that made it necessary for the coal operator to sprinkle it with human blood and pieces of human flesh. That record is appalling, and it is a thing that faces these men who work in these mines every day, and it is a thing that bears heavily on the minds of every woman in the mining camp, every morning when she sends her man to work,
The mine workers do not trust these managers because they have failed in the management of this industry. They prate about their rights to do voluntarily what they please; and what is their record on that proposition? The impoverishing of an industry, the degradation of the social position of the mining community, receivership, loss of investment, bankruptcy, and the killing and wounding of men on a wholesale basis.
The coal operators have had time to put their house in order. ' It is their house. They have demonstrated that they cannot do it. The men in this industry believe that in the face of that record of failure, and in the face of the contribution which they are asked to make in the industry, that they are right morally, they are right legally, in asking the Congress of the United States to set up rules and regulations for a great basic industry that will rationalize its processes, regulate its competitive practices, and give protection to those who serve it in a humble capacity.
I speak for the mine workers, I speak for them, I plead.
Now comes the question of public interest. The great Congressman from Massachusetts, Mr. Treadway, has been most valiant in his defense, of course, of the rights of the public in these things. But, Congressman Treadway, I will warrant that your great constituency and your great State does not want its coal sprinkled with human blood, and that constituency of yours, my dear sir, is willing to pay a proper price for this coal.
Mr. TREADWAY. I would be the last one to stand in the way of that.
Mr. Lewis. I know that you would be, sir. They are willing to pay a price and to protect the men and to maintain human conditions in this industry.
Let me state to you, sir, just a word or two on the relationship of a iair price for coal to the cost to the consumer. In 1932 the United Mine Workers had an economist by the name of Kenlock Christopher Adams make a study of the relationship of fuel cost to the commodity cost of the finished articles.
He was compelled to make that on the basis of the census report and take the year 1927 as his basis. That report was made to our convention in 1932. I propose to quote briefly from it:
Cost of coal in manufactures, 1927.
Cost of coal to total fuel and power used. Comparison of percent of change in cost as between $2 and $1.50 coal, f. o. b. mines.
At that time the price structure of bituminous coal, the current price structure was about $1.50 a ton, and we felt then, as we feel now, that a realization of about $2 a ton to the mine owners of this country would enable them to pay reasonably decent wages, to maintain proper conditions of safety, without unduly burdening the public.
This table shows that during the year 1927 the total value of manufactured products was $71,454,809,969; the total cost of fuel and power was $1,638,301,182; the total tons of coal consumed (bituminous) was 193,832,957; total cost of coal at $2 f. o. b. mines, was $387,665,914; percent total cost of coal to value of product at $2 f. o. b. the mines, at $2 was 54/100.
Taking $1.50 coal, with the same table, we find that the percent of cost of coal to the value of product at $1.50 a ton f. o. b. was fortyone one-hundredths, making a difference of increased price to the consumer in all those manufactured products of thirteen one-hundredths of 1 percent, as between $1.50 coal and $2 coal, the $2 figure representing reasonable conditions and reasonable return, security from hazard, and the $1.50 representing misery, poverty, and death.
And I assert, sir, upon the basis of that study that as between what this bill tries and will do, and as between what these operators are now doing in this industry, that the consumers of this country will be most happy to make that contribution, and they will do it with a free conscience and with enthusiasm, because they will believe, and rightly believe, that they are making a contribution to human welfare and the elimination of human misery, and they are making it impossible for the great mining population to be continuously degraded.
To read for just a moment a table on the cost of railroad fuel in 1930, the percentage of coal cost to the total operating cost and the revenues, from the same study. In 1930 the gross operating revenue of the railroads was $5,342,957,046. The net tons of coal consumed was 97,000,000 plus-I will just use round numbers. The average price per ton was $1.95. That included the distributing cost to the railroads and not the charges for distribution at all, because they ofttimes do not charge themselves, but include the service in its place for handling the railroad coal and also the price received by the operator.
The total cost of coal consumed f. o. b. the mine was $191,321,399. Percent of cost of coal to gross operating revenue was $3.58. The percent of cost of coal to gross operating expenses was 4.81.
In other words, the fuel bill of the railroads of the country in 1930 amounted to 4.81 percent of their total cost.
Mr. Hill. Does that include the captive mines of the railroads?
Now our railroad friends say that they are against the enactment of this measure. The distinguished economist, Dr. Duncan, comes here and opposes this measure with great vigor. They oppose it as miners of coal, producers of coal. They oppose it as carriers of coal, and they oppose it as consumers of coal. They say it is not in the public interest. They are in opposition to all of its features. They are opposed to the credit of $300,000,000 creating a coal reserve. They are not opposed, of course, to the Government of the United States assisting the railroads in a financial way. They are in favor of the Government now assisting the railroads, but opposed to the Government assisting, by credit, the mining industry. They assert that they are required to be in the mining business. They are not. There is no justification for a railroad to be in the producing-coal business, none whatever. They say they do it to safeguard their coal supply. Their coal supply has never been jeopardized. There is not in the United States during its history now, nor won't be, a time that a railroad locomotive ever ran short of coal. There is no precedent for a railroad to say that its coal supply was ever in jeopardy, because no railroad locomotive in America has ever run short of coal, and there is no prospect of it.
And they say they require a special kind of coal. This is equally absurd. There may be a higher efficiency in certain coal, but they do not protect the availability of that supply of highly efficient coal by going in the coal business, because they can buy all of any character of coal they desire for their locomotives. As a matter of fact, they can use almost any kind in a locomotive by simply adapting the locomotive to suit the coal. There is no justification for a railroad to be in the coal mining business except to use it as a threat upon the commercial producers of this country in order to beat them down through the constant threat of retiring from the commercial market and going into the mining of coal on a broader basis. That is the only justification.
This coal industry has coal to sell in trainload lots, and any kind of coal that any railroad wants anywhere, at any time. They will prepare it in any manner that the railroad desires.