« ForrigeFortsett »
of net tons)
Dis-Trade names roughly equivalent
to this district
1, 489, 811
1 Eastern Pennsylvania, Fayette
and Westmoreland Counties,
Fayette and Westmoreland) and
panhandle of West Virginia...
ginia and Virginia..
ginia and Virginia..
5, 157 2, 296 1,404 22 | Now Moxico and Huerfano and
2, 718 1, 387
105, 371 38, 652 17, 142
1. 42 .52 23
+.37 +.07 +.02
1, 326, 062 250, 876 71, 679
1, 039, 346 215, 037 35, 839
1, 912 7,408, 772
Las Animas Counties, Colo.
Other States and Alaska not as-
United States total.
15, 016, 750
15, 016, 750
11, 647, 837
11, 647, 837
STATEMENT OF VAN A. BITTNER, REPRESENTING THE UNITED
MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA
Mr. BITTNER. Mr. Chairman, my name is Van A. Bittner. I am president of district 17, United Mine Workers of America; also a member of the Bituminous Labor Board, Division 1, South, and a member of the National Bituminous Coal Labor Board under the Code of Fair Competition for the Bituminous Industry, Charleston, W. Va.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, representing the mine workers of West Virginia, I desire to say that we are entirely in accord with the enactment of the Guffey bill. Our experience in the industry has certainly taught us that it is absolutely necessary to have permanent Federal regulation of the bituminous-coal industry in order that the industry might live and prosper.
I do not think it is necessary to go into the past condition of the industry, because that is too well known to everybody that has taken any interest in the affairs of bituminous coal throughout the United States; but I have been an officer of the mine workers' organization now for about 27 years, and I know from my own experience and from a thousand contacts of coal operators that it is necessary to have Federal regulation of this industry.
There is quite an opposition being fostered against the bill in some of the newspapers in West Virginia, but I just want to say this to the committee, that that is not anything unusual. The same sort of sentiment was expressed in editorials in newspapers throughout West Virginia against the National Industrial Recovery Act; in fact, the day before the National Industrial Recovery Act was passed by Congress Mr. Jesse Sullivan, the secretary of the West Virginia Coal Operators' Association, gave out a statement that it was unthinkable that the American Congress would pass such a law as the National Industrial Recovery Act; that the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act would destroy the coal-mining industry of West Virgina, the industry upon which the great majority of the citizens of that State depend. Those operators have never been able to do much for themselves, and they have always assumed an attitude that they wanted to be left alone in their mad desire, as it seems to me, to destroy themselves.
I just mention that to show you that this sentiment against any measure that means progress has always had the opposition of these people. I am sure today that the same people that stated the National Industrial Recovery Act would destroy the coal-mining industry of West Virginia would tell you that if you did not have the National Industrial Recovery Act or some other Federal regulation of their industry it would destroy itself. That is the position that we find them in now.
Senator NEELY. Mr. Bittner, briefly, what has been the effect of the National Industrial Recovery Act and the adoption of the bituminous coal code under it so far as the coal industry of West Virginia is concerned ?
Mr. BITTNER. If you will permit me, Mr. Chairman, I will go into a brief history of the National Industrial Recovery Act and its relation to the coal industry in West Virginia.
That act gave the miners of West Virginia an opportunity to organize and belong to the United Mine Workers of America. Soon after the passage of the act, on June 16, 1933, 99 percent of the coal miners of West Virginia had organized into the United Mine Workers of America.
Senator NEELY. What percentage of the West Virginia miners had been organized before the adoption of the National Industrial Recovery Act?
Mr. BITTNER. Prior to the adoption of the National Industrial Recovery Act, out of approximately 100,000 coal miners in round numbers, 3,000 of them were members of the United Mine Workers and were working under contract while the others were working without any wage agreement as nonunion miners.
Senator NEELY. What was the general attitude of the operators of the State toward the organization of the miners by the United Mine Workers prior to the adoption of the National Industrial Recovery Act?
Mr. BITTNER. Prior to the adoption of the National Industrial Recovery Act, through the "yellow dog" contract, protected by Federal court injunction and mine guards, it was just an impossibility to get into many mining fields to even talk to the miners.
As one instance of that, we had what is known as the “red jacket” decision where the "yellow dog” contract was protected by Federal Court injunction and where 40,000 coal miners in one area of West Virginia were entirely isolated and insulated from any sort of Jabor organization. The injunction went so far as to say that if they even talked of organization of any kind they were in violation of the injunction. So in that one instance we had 40,000 men who just could not mention the word " organization." If a man went home at night, after working in the mine all day, and wanted to talk to his wife about bettering his conditions through organizing and anybody heard it he was subject to contempt of court for violating this “ red jacket” injunction.
Those were the conditions with respect to the mine guards. There were not only hundreds of mine guards in West Virginia, but there were at least more than a thousand of them employed for the distinct purpose of preventing the miners from holding any meetings or organizing in any way. In fact, it was just impossible to organize the miners of West Virginia under the conditions that prevailed prior the enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act.
I have been in West Virginia for 11 years now. I have spent all of that time in West Virginia and I know just exactly what the conditions are there. In fact, I made a survey of large southern nonunion fields back in 1925 or 1926. I think it was 1925. The reception that we received was not any reception at all. We were just told by chambers of commerce and mine guards and anybody that we met upon the streets that we were just not wanted in the community and to leave town. That was the general sentiment prevailing, especially in the coal fields of southern West Virginia.
Senator NEELY. What happened when you and others who were interested in organizing the miners failed to respond to the admonition that you leave town?
Mr. BITTNER. Well, it sounds sort of like a fairy story. I do not repeat it any oftener than is absolutely necessary. For instance, we went into the town of Logan. This was, of course, before the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act. Logan is a mighty decent place for a man to live in now, since it has come into the United States.
Myself and several of my associates went to Logan. The president of the chamber of commerce notified us that they wanted a meeting. They met us about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, about 40 gentlemen representing the chamber of commerce. The spokesman for this group of men said we were not wanted in Logan, notwithstanding the fact that there was a sign just as you go into town reading, “Welcome to Logan”, and put up by this same group of gentlemen. They told us that we were not wanted in the town; and, furthermore, we were not going to stay because they were not going to allow us to stay.
These mine guards followed us everywhere. In fact, we went into a Greek restaurant to get some lunch and mine guards were thicker in this Greek restaurant than the flies were. They were there by the dozens. They surrounded us and stayed with us morning, noon, and night. That is just one instance of what happened. That was just the general scheme of things down there, and the regular method was to see that no one connected with the United Mine Workers of America had the least possible opportunity of talking to any of the coal miners about anything.
I might say also that the fight to break down the wage scale between the United Mine Workers of America and the coal operators, the wage scale negotiations being known as the “ Jackson wage agreement which was negotiated in 1924—the fight to break down that wage agreement was inaugurated in the southern coal fields of West Virginia when the Kanawha district and the other districts refused to sign an agreement with the United Mine Workers of America, and the operators in northern West Virginia, with whom we had a wage agreement, which was to run from 1924 until 1927, ruined and abrogated that wage agreement and locked the miners out.
As I say, this started in southern West Virginia, moved up to northern West Virginia, and then went into the Pittsburgh district, and, finally, resulted in the breaking down of the labor standards in the coal-mining fields of practically the entire country.
Since the passage of the National Industry Recovery Act, as I said a moment ago, the miners have been organized, but with the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act we were months before we could even get a meeting of the coal operators relative to deciding upon any labor provisions that should be in the code. The facts are that they were not in favor of any code, even under the National Industrial Recovery Act. They were suspicious of one another, just as they are today. You talk to these operators individually and they will tell you they are for this Federal regulation, but they will also tell you not to say anything to anybody about it because they do not want their position to be known. First, they were against the National Industrial Recovery Act; secondly, they were against the making of any codes, and then they were against the making of any wage agreement with the United Mine Workers of