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Newspaper Page Text
"MINERS WANT DECENT LIVING," SAYS ROBT.
MINOR, WHO WENT TO MINES TO SEE!
BY ROBERT MINOR
Scranton, Pa., March 7. Before
starting for the anthracite coal fields
to investigate and picture for The
Day Book such conditions as might
account for a threatened strike of
tremendous size I cast about New
York for a "tip."
"Why, they have pianos in their
houses!" exclaimed one wealthy coal
stockholder. They imagine that big
war profits are accruing and they
greedily snatch for a part. They are
making a good living and more; now
they want money to blow in on lux
uries." In the outskirts of Scranton lies
the little mining settlement of Un
derwood. Winning the confidence of
a mine mule driver, I went to visit
some miners under his guidance.
The first home I entered was that
of a Pole, living in a company house.
"Have you a piano?" I asked. He
looked at me quizzically.
"This ain't no place to keep a
piano," he said, pointing to the front
door, where a split up the middle ad
mitted both daylight and whistling
It was cold inside. The back door
was a barn door, so crudely hanging
in its place as to show a bit of land
scape through the crack.
The house is built of one thickness
of lumber with a little plaster inside.
The miner explained that he pa
pered the house and partly floored it
himself, the place as turned over to
the renter by the company having the
bare earth for a portion of its floor.
These company houses each four
rooms and a lean-to are built in a
dismal row, all exactly alike.
Asked where his water supply was,
the miner opened the door and point
ed down the hill to a pump.
"That Is the water supply for eight
houses," he said.
Some of the miners nave rather
decent-looking cottages for exam-
pie, on the opposite side of Scranton,
where a recent expedition of news
paper publishers was taken by the
coal operators to "see how the min
But the vast majority of the min
ers live in dirty, cracked and windy
shacks. Underwood is typical.
A strike is looked for, unless pres
ent negotiations are successful on
April 1. But the Underwood miners
are already on strike.
"We just found we were working
and getting nothing, and decided to
loaf and get nothing," they explain.
I saw due bills covering two weeks'
time spent in the mine, which netted
$8.75, and similar amounts. One
man showed me his due bill which re
corded an eight-cent balance due the
company after two weeks.
There is much rock in the mines
for removal of which the miners say
they are not adequately paid. Then
they spend many hours waiting for
empty cars to load. When the cars
are loaded and sent up, they are
docked for slate and rock in the coal.
This inspires the demand for the
"mine-run" basis that the carload
be paid for as it comes from the mine,
without docking for impurities.
Underwood has the name of being
the most unfortunate mining commu
nity in the hard coal region, but as I
worked south through Wilkes-Barra,
Hazelton and neighboring towns, I
could see little to prefer elsewhere.
Sewage systems are unheard of.
The vast majority of the houses
would just about do for barns. They
are not rented to 'laborers," as "la
borers" (miners' assistants) are not
able to pay the rent
When the union itself tried to get
the Underwood miners to wait, they
threw down their tools, left the old
union, and called upon Joseph J.
Ettor of the I. W. W., to organize
So it Isn't a desire for "pianos and.
.- r-- Li