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The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.) 1924-1958, January 30, 1926, New York Edition, The New Magazine, Image 14

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020097/1926-01-30/ed-1/seq-14/

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Machines Replace Human Flesh in Digging Coal
By ALEX REID.
THE introduction o£ coal producing
machinery in the large mines
thruout the country is rapidly taking
place. Many changes result in this
system of mining, and incidentally one
of the changes is an addition to the
ranks of the already large army of
unemployed miners.
In the southern field of Illinois
where natural conditions are good,
with solid roof and rock bottoms,
machinery has displaced human labor
power to a comparatively large degree.
With the latest addition of a loading
machine which is displacing about 3-1
percent of the miners, the outlook is
black, indeed, for the miners.
The development and installation of
mining machines has kept pace with
that in the most mechanicalized indus
try and, viewing the large economical
mines in southern Illinois, it is hard
to figure where any more machinery
could be placed.
Whereas, prior to the introduction
of the loading machine, a miner load
ing behind the cutter would earn
around $lO per 8-hour day for loading
about 12 tons of coal, today with the
aid Os the mechanical loader, about
twice the amount can be loaded per
man, at a flat rate of $8.04 per eight
hours, per man.
With the introduction of the loader,
the system of mining is also being
changed and a great saving to the
coal baron is the result. Likewise the
system is being attempted behind thr
cutting machine where the mechanical
loader is not in use, whenever physical
conditions permit.
The machine is now taken to the
boundary of the room <St entry, and
cut clear down the pillar to the other
end of the working place, generally
a distance of 350 feet. This system
has taken the miners from the ton
nage rate to a day rate basis.
Prior to this method of mining the
leaders received 83 cents per ton. and
earned about $9.00 per day, while to
day they load about twice the amount
of coal in places for $8.04 a day.
This method of removing the pillars
of tfoal, that'wds formerly left in the
mines, between rooms and entries,
has given the coal barons twice the
amount of coal with approximately the
same amount of expense for rails,
timber, etc., and resulted 'in great
economy to the owners.
The miners have suffered from this
change in various ways. A few of
them follow: Increased production,
speeding up by the machine, forcing
out of employment the older men who
are physically unfit to stand the pace
and who are thrown on the scrap
heap to starve after a life spent in
the mines.
Another injury is the comparative
reduction of wages, due to the estab
lishment of the day rate, and in
creased production for that day rate,
in comparison to the wages that had
been earned for less coal under the
tonnage basis.
The machines have resulted in the
loss of, or the worsening of the work
ing conditions of the miner. Truly
the miner is becoming more and
more a mere object, a slave to the
machine. Conditions which have been
fought for in many better industrial
battles are being ruthlessly destroyed,
while the miners receive no aid what
ever from their officials to combat
the process.
The large mines are almost com
pletely mechanicalized. It would be
hard indeed to find where improve
ments could be made. Let us ex
amine this process of mechanical in
stallation in the mines.
The system of pulling off cars of
coal on top of the mine gave way
to the self-dumping cages, from which
the coal was dumped without the cars
leaving the cage, and this in turn gave
way to the coal being dumped into
skips in the bottom, holding 10 or 12
tons and then shot to the tipple by
electric hoists. Where coal mines with
a production of 3,000 tons were con
sidered large 10 years ago, that old
rate of production is significant In
comparison to the mines which today
have productive capacity of 14,000
to 16,000 tons per eight hours.
In the shaft bottom, automatic
couplers, greasers, spraggers, cugors,
tranpers, have displaced human labor
power.
“I Mean to Get In!”
Fred Ellis shows the insistent demand of the Negro workers to obtain their full equality in the trade unions.
The labor movement can never be what it should be until the Negro workers enter the unions on an equal basis.
Mules have given way to large Gen
eral Electric motors, which haul long
train-loads of coal from inside switch
es to the bottom. The performance of
hose large motors are marvelous. In
nine No. 9 of the Kincaid, Peabody
Coal Co., a schedule is made and ex
press speed maintained. Trips of coal
weighing hundreds of tons are de
livered for hoisting continuously on
schedule time In the shaft bottom.
Inside at the working places, gather
ing motors have displaced mules and
horses and continuously deliver coal
to the main line motors on time.
Hand drilling, like hand pick min
ing, has given way to the machine,
while the latest addition, the mechan
ical loader, has left the miner gasping,
wondering what is Igoisg 4o happen
next.
Complete mechanical operation is as
near perfect as It could possibly be
in the large coal mines, and some of
it is, indeed, wonderful to behold.
The foregoing has resulted in in
creased production, and greater effi
ciency. It has brought decreased cost
of production and enormous profits to
the coal operators.
But what of the workers? Are they
to profit none from all the improve
Batter Down the Barriers!
wJL ■W
Ks Ait “ V
a' v£**, * B •
It It the duty of the white workers to join wtlh the Negro worker# to batter down all restrictions which inter
fere with the admission of the black workers into the unions, says Fred Ellis.
inents? They are being forced out of
the industry in ever increasing num
bers. Their wives and families are
starving.
Many of the miners have a deep and
bitter hatred for the machines, which
they feel are mostly responsible for
their condition. Many of them, no
doubt, feel that the remedy lies in the
destruction of the machines. The
writer only a few weeks ago heard
varlons miners discussing that very
so-called remedy, and many of them
were convinced that the policy of ma
chine prevention was sound, for, had
not the machine beaten them out of
their jobs and caused their little ones
to starve?
How little removed from that group
of angry, bitter Englishmen, congre
gated together in England to destroy
the textile machinery at the beginning
of the .mechanicalizing of the textile
Industry!
We see those "Englishmen” in the
coal miners of today,—many ofc them
ready to destroy the machines.
John L. Lewis, the international
president of the miners, realizes that
the change has taken place. He re
ferred to the situation a few days ago,
and gave as the “remedy” for the
8
horrible condition of the miner, “More
machinery, more efficiency, fewer
miners, and—continued private owner
ship of the industry!”
I venture the assertion that Lewis,
either ignorant of the most elementary
economics, or a deliberate traitor to
the miners, if not both (no matter
which) has proven himself utterly un
fit to lead the miners.
The fault is not in the mechanical
ization of the mines, but in the private
ownership of the machines, John L.
Lewis to the contrary, nothwithstand
ing.
The remedy Is collective ownership
of the tools of mining, and their con
trol in the hands of the miners.
The changing from a-wystem ran
for profits to a system for service.
The progressive miners of the United
Mine Workers of America will not be
fooled by this Wall street wail; thru
Lewis, the Coolidge campaign com
mitteeman, we demand nationalization
and democratic control of the mines,
and pledge ourselves to never rest un
til it Is realized.
Subscribe to the Progressive Miner.
50c per year. Address, Alex Reid,
Secy., 7020 S. Chicago avenue, Chi
cago, Illinois.

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