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America. Finally, they accepted the National Industrial Recovery Act; they finally accepted the code; they made an agreement with the United Mine Workers of America, and there is not a coal operator in West Virginia but what will tell you that they are better off now with contracts with the miners' union and a code for fair competition for their industry than they ever were previously, except maybe just during the war.
Before the enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act they made no money. Since the enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act they have made some profit. Prior to the enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act the miners were receiving as low as $1.50 a day for 10 and 12 and 14 hours. Since that time, with the agreements made with the United Mine Workers of America, they are now receiving $4.60 for a 7-hour day. That is just a general outline of conditions as we find them before and after the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Wayne Ellis of the N. R. A. testified here relative to the breaking down of the code, the price structure under the Bituminous Coal Code. I just want to point out to you that more than a year ago the railroads inaugurated a campaign to break down the price structure, the L. & N. Railroad being the chief malefactor.
The only way we stopped it was due to the fact that we just decided we were not going to mine any coal for any operator that sold his coal below code prices.
As a result of this campaign of the L. & N. Railroad to break down the price structure under the Bituminous Coal Code it was necessary for us to have strikes at 8 or 10 mines in one particular district in the southern coal fields where the operators had made contracts with the L. & N. Railroad below code prices. All the other railroads were looking at this L, & N. situation, knowing that if the L. & N. Railroad was able to get its coal below code prices they could do it also.
There was no method, and there is none at the present time, of enforcement in the National Recovery Administration; at least, nobody has ever been able to tell us of any; and, as I say, the only method we knew was the old cat and dog proposition of striking the mines where the operators had made contracts with the railroads to sell below the cost of production as set forth in the price structure of the code.
Senator Davis. Did the selling below the code price bring about a reduction in wages?
Mr. BITTNER. That is what we knew eventually would happen. That is why we were so intensively interested in the situation and that is why we were striking the mines, to prevent the wage reductions which we knew would come as a result of breaking down the price structure of the Bituminous Coal Code. That was more than a year ago.
Senator Davis. That wage reduction had not been suggested?
Mr. BITTNER. No; it had not been suggested, but we knew it was coming and we nipped it in the bud, simply stopped it in the beginning.
That case finally came before the Compliance Board of the National Industrial Recovery Act, and as representatives of the mine workers' union there we took the definite position before the Compliance Board that if they wanted a general strike at the mine in that field, due to these railroads breaking down the price structure of the fair-competition provisions, we were not going to stand it.
Now, I simply state that to show you that if it had not been for these strikes of the United Mine Workers at the mines of these coal operators who had made these low-price contracts below the code price with the L. & N. Railroad at that time, more than a year ago, the price structure of the Code of Fair Competition in the bituminous coal industry would have broken down and been dissolved.
So that the attempt of the large consumers of coal and the attitude of coal operators to have code prices prevail is not due entirely to the fact of uncertainty, as has been said, or due to no one knowing what is going to happen after the 16th of June of this year, because they had nearly 18 months of it then when they started to break down the code prices, so far as the large consumers of coal were concerned, and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad has always been one of those railroads that has been among the first, especially in the southern part of our country, to break down prices and have their coal furnished below cost. I have an idea that you will find as these hearings go on that the Louisville & Nashville Railroad will be one of the chief opposers of the enactment of Federal regulation for the coal-mining industry.
Senator Davis. At the time these strikes took place did you have an agreement with these mines?
Mr. BITTNER. Yes; we did.
Mr. BITTNER. No; everybody knew what we did. The mines simply stopped because we were not going to wait until our wages were reduced and then strike. We decided that while the majority of the miners were under contract in these fields that we were not going to allow them to start sniping at us; that if there was going to be any warfare it was going to be a general warfare and not an operator here and there starting the thing, just as they did in 1924, and break down our wage standards. That was the thought back of the whole thing, and we were successful and received the commendations of the National Industrial Recovery Administration for doing something for them that they could not do for themselves.
Senator NEELY. Mr. Bittner, I suppose you anticipated that if a number of coal companies in the area to which you have referred cut their prices below those fixed by the code, such action would necessarily result in unfair competition against the operators who were obeying the code, and that ultimately the latter would be obliged to reduce the wages of their miners ?
Mr. BITTNER. That would be the natural result of such a condition.
Senator Davis. Did I understand you to say that now the coal operators, anticipating the expiration of the N. R. A. in June, are soliciting and getting business at a reduced price?
Mr. BITTNER. My understanding is that that condition-
Mr. BITTNER. All I know is what information we received from the Coal Division of the National Industrial Recovery Administration. I think it is authentic, and coal operators tell us that is going on right along
Senator NEELY. Mr. Bittner, will you state whether the coal industry of West Virginia, and particularly of southern West Vir
ginia, has been more or less prosperous since the adoption of the Coal Code under the National Industrial Recovery Act?
Mr. BITTNER. There is not any question about that, Mr. Chairman. The industry generally has been more prosperous under the National Industrial Recovery Act and the code of fair competition for the bituminous coal industry and the agreements they have with the United Mine Workers of America than they have ever been over such a period of time that this law, the code, and our agreement have been in effect. There is not any question about that. They are all agreed. The operators themselves agree as to that proposition. Many of those operators who are most bitter against the union, against any sort of what they call Government interference with their personal rights, are just as strong now as anybody you find in any industry in this country.
Senator NEELY. In your opinion, has the relationship between the operators and the miners throughout West Virginia been more or less amicable since the adoption of the Coal Code!
Mr. BITTNER. Since the passage of the Recovery Act, the adoption of the coal code, and the signing of the agreements with the United Mine Workers of America, the
relationship, with the exception of just three companies in West Virginia, has been wonderfully improved. You cannot tell anyone in words just what the improvement has been. With the exception of the United Coal Co. of Gary, the McKell Co. in the New River field in West Virginia, and the Elk River Coal & Lumber Co. in Clay County, W. Va., which is controlled by Mr. Bradley, all the other companies operating in southern West Virginia are operating under contract with the United Mine Workers of America..
Senator NEELY. Subject to the exceptions you have mentioned, is the relationship between the operators and miners happy or hostile?
Mr. BITTNER. It is a happy relationship. I have been told repeatedly that if the United Mine Workers had done nothing in southern West Virginia but removed the mine guards from their backs, they would owe us an everlasting gratitude for rendering that service.
These mine guards were just as much a detriment to the coal operators generally as they were to the United Mine Workers, because you
know you get a mine guard to go out and beat up an organi: for the United Mine Workers, it is pretty hard to get rid of him.
Senator NEELY. How does the unemployment in the mining industry in West Virginia since the adoption of the Coal Code compare with that which prevailed in the industry in the State during the 2 years preceding the adoption of the National Industrial Recovery Act?
Mr. BITTNER. Mr. Chairman, the relief administrator in West Virginia notified me just before coming here that there were only 9,000 coal miners at the present time, that is, adult coal miners, on the relief rolls. There is probably less unemployment in the coalmining industry in West Virginia than in any other State in the Union.
Prior to the enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act there were at least 20,000 men unemployed in the coal-mining industry, and with the coming of the 7-hour day the men have gone to work in the mines, until today I think we have less unemployment in the mining industry in West Virginia than in any other district throughout the country; that is, any coal-mining district of like size. There are about 9,000 on the relief rolls, as I stated.
Senator NEELY. Will you indicate, what, if any, increase in wages has been received by the coal miners of West Virginia since the adoption of the Coal Code?
Mr. BITTNER. Since the adoption of the coal code and the making of the agreements between the operators and the United Mine Workers of America, the wages have been increased from $1.50 per day for 12 and 14 hours to $4.60 a day for 7 hours. That is the standard day wage in southern West Virginia. Now $4.60 is the basic scale rate for inside men.
The tonnage rates have been increased in many instances more than 100 percent. As you know, there are different tonnage rates. Under the code and the agreements 2,000 pounds makes a ton now in southern West Virginia. That is the condition that did not exist before these things happened, because they were loading coal at the car; there was no check weighing at the tipple.
I knew of one mine in northern West Virginia prior to the enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act, the coal code, and the agreements between the Union and the coal operators, where they were loading only seven cars per day, about 90 tons of coal per day, and they were taking so much of it from the miners and the mine superintendent and the weigh-boss were selling two of these cars under their own name and crediting the company with five of them. The owner of the mine told me this himself when he discharged the superintendent and the weigh-boss. They were not loading coal at the tipple to amount to anything in southern West Virginia, except in the Kanawha and the New River fields.
All coal is weighed and there is a check-weigher on all tipples to see that the wage of the miners is due. All in all, the relationship that is existing today is just a sort of superheaven compared with what it was 2 years ago. This is the condition of affairs.
To show you just how that works out: Take Logan County that we were just talking about. We have had only one wage case. That could not be settled between the joint boards set up by the owners. and miners under our agreement; a board of two operators and two miners as a final court for the field. That case involved quite an amount of money. They referred that to me as the president of the Mine Workers organization to act as umpire. I am just stating that to show you the change in relationship.
Senator Davis. Could you give me an estimate of the increase in revenues that has come to the State of West Virginia in the last year and a half, say; the increase in profits to coal operators, the increase in dividends to investors, and the increase in wages to the miners? Can you give me an estimate?
Mr. BITTNER. I could not even give you an estimate on that this morning, Senator; but, so far as the miners are concerned, you can at least say that 100,000 miners have had their wages increased $2 per day. That is $200,000 per day for that part of the citizenship of the State.
Senator Davis. Of course, they got an increased price for coal to justify the payment of that wage?
Mr. BITTNER. Certainly.
Senator Davis. How many tons of coal does West Virginia produce each year?
Mr. BITTNER. I have not those figures either. I can get that information for you.
Senator Davis. I wonder if you could put that information in the record for us; that is, how many tons of coal they produce and the increased price that they receive for it. What does it mean in the way of increased revenue coming into the State ?
Mr. BITTNER. I shall be glad to do that.
Senator NEELY. In your opinion, the prosperity of the coal industry in West Virginia has increased under the operation of the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Coal Code?
Mr. BITTNER. Yes; I think that is a fair statement.
Senator NEELY. It has come to my attention that some are industriously striving to prejudice the bill by creating sectional strife. A few days ago a distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania asked me in the presence of Senator Davis, a member of this subcommittee, if the bill was not designed to transfer a large part of the coal business of Pennsylvania to West Virginia, and if that was not the reason that a West Virginian had been made chairman of the subcommittee. I assured him that I did not think that was true and that I was quite certain Senator Guffey, the author of the bill, would very emphatically answer his inquiry in the negative.
Since that time my attention has been invited to an article that appeared last Wednesday or Thursday in the Huntington Advertiser, which indicates that someone in southern West Virginia is endeavoring to create the impression that the object of this bill is to injure the West Virginia coal industry for the benefit of Pennsylvania. I supplied you with a copy of that article.
Mr. BriTNER. I have it right here.
Senator NEELY. Please let me read it into the record. This editorial is not complimentary to the chairman of the subcommittee. But he wants those who opposed the bill to enjoy every opportunity of expressing their views on the record. Therefore he reads the article which is as follows:
Hearings on the Guffey coal bill were scheduled to begin before a Senate subcommittee in Washington today. The bill has for its chief purpose regulation of the coal industry as a public utility. Under its provisions a national coal commission would be set up within the Department of the Interior, with power to fix prices and allocate production to the various bituminous fields.
The author of the bill is Senator Joe Guffey, who himself is interested in the Pittsburgh coal industry. Its principal sponsors are the United Mine Workers of America, with Pennsylvania coal operators favoring its enactment for reasons that are obvious.
The Pennsylvania industry has fought for a generation to put the southern Appalachian coal fields, embracing the highly productive territory in southern West Virginia, out of business. The fight began with the earliest development of these fields to the south. For two decades it has been waged largely around petitions for discriminatory freight rates before the Interstate Commerce Commission. Existing freight rates are most unfair, but they would be far more oppressive than they are had it not been for the costly and stubborn resistance of the southern operators over a long period of years. Now the destruction of the southern coal industry is aimed with one fell blow in the Guffey bill.
Our own Senator M. M. Neely is chairman of the subcommittee on the Guffey bill. On the eve of the hearings, the Associated Press reports :