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The Washington times. (Washington [D.C.]) 1902-1939, February 07, 1916, HOME EDITION, Image 5

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Anthracite Operators Explain Effect of
Demands of Employes
Miners Demand No. 1.
Wo demand the next contract be for iicrloil of two years, com
menclnff April J, 1016. nnd ending: March 31. 101, and that the mak
ing of IndlvlJual agreements nnd contracts In the mining of coal
shall be plohlblted.
The anthracite miners ask for a two-year agreement, begin
ning and ending simultaneously with the agreements In the bitu
minous field a business arrangement that is shown by actual
experience in the bituminous field to threaten a bi-yearly disturb
ance of the peace and prosperity of the miners, operators, and
general public.
Tho United States Government reports Bhow that the time lost bv
Btrikes nnd suspensions, duo to expiration of wtlgo agreements in tho
bituminous coal field, between 1000 and 1912, in the years in which now
agreements wero negotiated was 81,302,204 working days a loss in earn
ing capacity approaching the labor cost of digging another Panama
Canal. The loss of timo in those years in which no wage agrcomenta
were negotiated was less than one-tenth (1-10) as great.
In 1902, after a strike of six months duration, the President of the
United States appointed a commission, consisting of Judge George Gray
as chairman, with Carroll D. Wright, U. S. Commissioner of Labor; the
Bight Rev. John L. Spauldjng, Brig. Gen. John M. Wilson, Edgar E. Clark,
then head of the Railway Conductors; Thomas H. Watkins, a coal opera
tor, and Edward W. Parker, Statistician of the U. S. Geological Survoy,
and instructed "them as follows:
White House,
Washington, October 23, 19Q2.
To the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission.
At the request both of the operators and the miners, I have appointed
you a Commission to inquire into, consider and pass upon the questions in
controversy in connection with the strike in the anthracite region, and the
causes out of which the controversy arise. By the action you recommend,
which the parties in interest have in advance consented to abide by, you
will endeavor to establish tho relations bctwoen the employers and the
wnge earners in the anthracite fields on a just and permanent basis, and,
ct. far as possible, to do away with nny causes for tne recurrence of such
difficulties as those which you havo been called in to settle. I submit to
you herewith the published statement of the operators, following which I
named you as members of the Commission.
This Commission mado a thorough investigation of labor conditions
lasting four months, nnd its award, except as modified in the additional
concessions given to the miners from, time to time, is still in effect. It has
produced prosperity and reasonable industrial peace throughout tho an
thracite region. The anthracite operators believe that the industrial dis
turbances incident to bi-ycarly contracts are an unnecessary evil, expen
sive to miners, operators, and the public alike, and that reasonable adjust
ments can be made from time to time without the necessity of periodical
disturbances, if the automatic method of the sliding scale, a profit-sharing
plan established by the Commission and abolished at the demand of the
miners in 1912, is restored.
The Bliding scale guaranteed the miners a minimum wage, but
granted them an increase of 1 per cent in their wage for each increase of
5 cents a ton in the price of domestic coal at New York, which was the
basing point.
Present Agreement Protects Individual
Under the present agreement it is provided that all new work shall
be paid for at a rate not less than the rate paid for old work of a similar
kind and character.
Under this provision the operator may contract with his employes for
the prosecution of such work as is not specifically provided for in the
rates already established, paying therefor a rate which will give to his
employes not less then the standard of wages paid for old work for which
rates have already been established.
In case of dispute the agreement provides that the fairness of the
rate is subject to the review of the Board of Conciliation.
The operators hold that it is their unquestioned right to make any
change in the method of mining, or the conduct of thoir mining operations,
which will secure additional safety to their employes or greater efficiency
in their methods of production, provided that said change does not result
in any reduction of wages to their employes below those rates estab
lished by the award of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission and the
agreements subsequent thereto.
Miners' Demand No. 2.
Wo demand an increase of 20 per rent on all waee rates now
lifting paid In the njithraclte coal Held?.
Household Coal 60c a Ton Increase
The miners have made a demand for an increase in wages to
the extent of twenty (20) per cent. The present cost for labor
alone of anthracite is approximately S1.80 a ton. An advance of
twenty (20) per cent in wages would mean an increase of thirty
six (36) cents in the cost of every ton of anthracite produced.
The annual production of anthracite amounts to about 80,000,000 long
tons, of which sixty (00) per cent, is for domestic use. The steam sizes,
comprising forty (40) per cent, of the total (in the nature of a by
product), are sold for the best price obtainable in competition with bitu
minous coal. The cont of producing all sizes is the same. The revenue re
ceived from the steam sizes is far below the cost of mining and, there
fore, the coal used by householders and other consumers of domestic sizes
of anthracite must be sold nt a price which will produce, when added to
the receipts from steam roal, a reasonable profit on the entire produc
tion. This demand is equivalent to approximately sixty (60) cents a ton
increase in the ost of the domestic sizeB of anthracite.
Miners' Earnings Over 36 Per Cent Increase
The miners justify this demand as follows: "Wages which were
below normal increased five and one-half per cent, in twelve (12) yean
and food forty (40) per cent. Surely this constitutes the basis for an
even greater demand than was made."
The Anthracite Coal Strike Commission, after careful investigation,
stated "As to the general contention that the rates for contract miners
in the anthracite region are lower than those paid in the bituminous
region for work substantially similar, or lower than are paid in other oc
cupations requiring equal skill and training, the Commission finds that
there haB been a failure to produce testimony to substantiate either of
these propositions." The Commission found that the average annual
earnings of the contract miner in 1901 were $560.00; in the same year the
average working time of anthracite collieries was 196 days of ten hours
each; in 1902 the miners were given a ton (10) per cent, advance plus a
sliding scale; in 1912 they wore given another ten (10) per cent, advance,
the sliding scale being abolished at the request of thq minors, making a
.totnl increase in 1912 as compared with 1901 of twenty-one (21) per cent.
Ip 1914, a normal year of mining operations, the average'working time of
anthracite collieries -was 245 days of nine hours each. The anthracite
miner, therefore, has received an advance in his opportunity for earning
due to the increased time worked by anthracite collieries of twelve and
one-half (12M) per cent, over and above his wage increases. The anthra
cite miner who in 1901 earned $560.00 annually, if he now works with the
same energy as he did at that time, would cam $762.30 annually, an in
creased earning capucity of thirty-six (36) per cent.
In the case of day lnbor in and around tho anthracite mines, such em
ployes were awarded by the Commission, in 1902, the same rate for nine
flours' work that they had previously received for ten hours. Between
1902 and 1912 they were benefited to the extent of the increased working
time nnd the sliding scale. In 1912 they were given a fiat increase of ten
(10) per cent, on the rates of 1902. Under the circumstances this class of
labor has, through increased opportunity for work nnd increased rates of
pny, advanced its earning capacity thirty-seven and one-half (37fc) per
The miners claim that food cost3 forty (40) per cent, more than ut tho
time tho Anthracito Coal Strike Commission mado its award. Wero this
tho fact the reports of the United States Bureau of Labor show that tho
cost of food represents forty (40) per cont. of tho workman's cost of liv
ing for himself and his family- This would indicate an incrcuHe of only
plxteon (16) per cont. in his total cost of living, jib compared with an in
crease of over thirty-six (36) per cont. in his earning capacity.
Since tho 11112 ugreomeiit, which was accoplcd by both parties, it has
boon shown by ovidence presented before the Board of Arbitration in the
mutter of the striko of the employes of tho WilkeH-Barro Railway Coin
peny in 1915, that from 11)12 to 1015 the cost of living had increased only
three and onn-tcnth (3 1-10) per cent., including tho cost of food, fuel, rent,
clothing, toxos, insurance, social and religious organizations, tobacco, and
periodicals, etc. Rent, so far as the miner is concerned, has not materially
The increase in the opportunity for earnings as compared with the in
cteaj in the cost of living combine to make the increased prosperity of
the anthracite miner far In ndvance of othor clusscs of labor. The greatly
increased deposits since 1002 in the banking Institutions of the anthracite
region, as well as the increased ownership of homes by mine workers, bear
out this statement.
Miners' Demand No. 3.
We demand an eight-hour da fot all dHy labor employed In nnd
around the mine, the present itttctt to bo tho basin upon which the
ndvnni'4 above demanded ahull apply, with time and half time for
overtime and double time for SuihIujk iiud holldayx.
Users of Domestic Sizes Would Bear the Burden
The miners demand an eight-hour day as the maximum for all
labor in and out the mines. This demand is not made for the con
tract miner, who suits Ills own convenience as to his working time
and rarely labor more than six or seven hours dail.
The Anthracite Cgal Strike Commission awarded an eight-hour day,
without loss of duily Wage, to thdsc classes of workmen such as firemen
and certain engineers whose labor was sufficiently burdensome to warrant
it. Othor classes of labbr work a nine-hour day.
To reduce the maximum number of hours which a breaker may work
each day, as demanded by the miners, will certainly reduce the capacity of
the anthracite mines ami will surely increase the danger of coal shortage
at the timo of year when an increased production is required by the con
sumers of coal.
The employes in the anthracite mines have abundant opportunity for
social recreation. If the higher cost of living is the reason for the de
mands of the anthracite employes, the workmen certainly should be will
ing to givo the same thrift, time and energy as heretofore. There is noth
ing in this demand which will increase their annual compensation. On the
other hand, the cost of maintaining, pumping out, ventilating and timber
ing the anthracite mines is a continuous expense, and nny reduction in
output of the mines must increase the cost of producing coal.
Miners' Demand No. 4.
We ("emard full and complete recognition of tho United Mine
Worker of America of I)l?trlrtn Nos. 1. 7. and 0, Anthracite.
The Same Objections Still Obtain
A complete recognition of the United Mine Workers of Amer
ica of Districts Nos. 1, 7 and - is demanded. The Anthracite Coal
Strike Commission declared that the constitution of the United
Mine Workers did not offer inviting inducements to enter into
contractual relations with it, and the Commission 'declined to order
the recognition of the Union.
The operators asserted at that time, and they continue to assert, that
they have no objection to their employes joining union or labor organi
zations. Under the award of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission there is
no discrimination between union and non-union men. The operators be
lieve that the rights of organized lnbor arc fully protected by the open
shop principle established by the Commission, which declined to approve a
"closed-shop" arrangement, such as is now proposed, involving practically
the compulsory membership of all employes in an organization. In the.
words of the Commission, "the contention thnt a majority of employes, by
voluntarily forming a union, acquire authority over others is untenable"
and as Abraham Linroln said, "No man is good enough to govern another
man without that other's consent."
Their further unwillingness to recognize and deal with the United
Mine Workers, as then and as at present constituted, was based on the fact
that the majority of the members of the union were employed in the bitu
minous coal fields, that the organization was officered chiefly by bitumi
nous coal men, and that to deal with them would be dealing -with an or
ganization controlled by men engaged in a rival industry. The Commission
based its award upon those contentions which were sustained by evidence
and upon the fact that the local unions in the anthracite field were, to
some extent, controlled by the votes of young boys lacking in experience,
wanting in judgment, and, so far, irresponsible. The reforms in the con
stitution of the United Mine Workers, which were recommended by the
Commission, have not been effected. It iB unreasonable to subject the an
thracite region to the politics of an organization absolutely controlled
from the outside. The full recognition of the union, as demanded by the
miners, Involves the "check off," which means the compulsory collection by
the operators of such dues, assessments, fines, etc., as may bo assessed
against the miners by union officials, an un-American practice.
Our investigations in the bituminous field fail to show any place where
recognition of the United Mine Workers of America has secured the com
mon benefits tho e'imination of strikes, promotion of peace, and the
bpeedy settlement of disputes which it is cluimed will be accomplished if
granted for the anthracite region.
Miners' Demand No. 5.
Wv demand a more lmplllled, npeed,, and satisfactory
of adjustin ; grievances
A Misleading Statement
The miners give as a reason for this demand that the present
system, "Gi owing out of contract provisions between miners and
operators is antiquated."
This explanation is not in strict accordance with the facts. The pres
ent method of settling differences has not grown out of contract provi
sions between miners and operators. It was imposed upon the miners and
operators in the anthracite region by the Anthracite Coal Strike Commis
sion as a part of its award, which provided a Board of 'Conciliation,
through the operntinn of which strikes and lock-outs should become un
necessary. ThiB Board consists of six parmanent members, three elected by the
miners and three elected by the operators, and an umpire appointed when
the members disagree by the President Judge of United States Court of
Appeals of tho Third Judicial Circuit. The umpires so appointed have
been Hon. Carroll D. Wright, Hon. Chas. B. Neill, former U. S. Commis
sioner of Labor, tnd Hon. George Gray, of Delaware.
In the 1912 agreement the miners insisted upon a departure from the
method of settling grievances established by the Commission. This change
provided for grievance committees at every colliery, which should consider
with the company officials grievances originated by the miners. Instead
of promoting peace, however, the activities of these committoos have in
creased the number of local strikes throughout the region, In violation of
the letter and spirit of the agreement, by almost ten-fold,
The operators believe It better to abolish tho grievance eommitteos
and return absolutely to the method established by the Anthracite Coal
Strike Commission. The Board of Conciliation established by it provides
an open court and a simple and efficient method for tho adjustment of dif
ficulties that cannot be settled immediately by the miner with the local of
ficial of the company. Tho work of the Board of Conciliation has stood the '
test of thirteen (13) years; it is held up by economists and students' of labor
problems, both here and abroad, as a model, and it is believed that any
further departure from the rules Juid down by the Commission will be a
decided stop backward, and an encouragement to labor troubles in the
anthracite field.' Some complaints have been made over delays in securing
action by the Board, but its decisions have always dated back to the time
when tho 'grievance was first raised, and no man has suffered loss on ac
count of tho tiroo required for its proper adjudication. We are not aware
of any court of last resort in tho country .which has cleared its calendar
more thoroughly or more promptly.
It is impossible to decide these controversies at sight. Some investi
gation and earnest consideration i'b required- to decide any controversy.
Tho law's delays have been a fruitful Bo'urce of complaint from time1 im
memorial; but human wisdom has never been able to devise a system of
administering justice which does not involve time for investigation, when
tho passions aroused by the controversy have subsided, and time given for
calm deliberation; all of which are essential to secure righteous judgment.
Miners' Demand No. 6.
W'A demand that no contract miner shall be permitted to have.
t moie than one working place
A Demand That Would Destroy Ambition
This demand is apparently intended to limit the earning ca
pacity of the more elficient miner, who, in reality, acts in the
capacity of a general contractor. There, can be no well-founded
objection to the system for the reason that the agreement of 1912
distinctly pro ides that "the rates paid by any contract miner to
his employe shall not be less than the standard rate for that class
of work."'
This arrangement was satisfactory to tho miners in 1912. Conditions
huve not changed, and wc believe that any individual who desires to take
contracts of this nature, and by his ability and energy is able to increase
his earnings, should be encouraged in his ambition and not fettered by
rules and regulations to the contrary.
Miners' Demand No. 7.
We demand that the uclllnK price of mining supplies to miners be
fixed on a more equitable and uniform basis.
Mining Supplies
This demand refers to the price of mining supplies, mainly ex
plosives and oil. To safeguard the lives of the miners and protect
the mines it is necessary to have explosives and oil standard in
character. The operator is responsible for accidents, and, there
fore, must necessarily purchase and distribute proper supplies to
the miners. They are sold at little advance over their cost and
expense of handling, and at the present time the cost of some of
these supplies to the operator is greater than the price at which
he sells them to the miner.
Miners' Demand No. 8.
We demand that wherever coal in mined by the car all coal shall
be weighed and be paid for on a mine run basis by the ton of 2,240
pounds, and shall be paid for dirt and rock.
A Great Expense Without Gain for Anyone
The subject of this demand represents another case where the
Anthracite Coal Strike Commission declined to interfere with
established custom. In rendering its decision the Commission
said it was "not prepared to say that the change, to payment by
weight, based on 2,240-pound ton, when the price would neces
sarily be adjusted to the number of pounds, would prove of
sufficient benefit to the miner to compensate for the expense and
trouble thereby imposed upon the operators, now paying by the
There has been no change in methods and the same argument applies
with equal force today. A car of fixed capacity is certainly a standard of
measure, just as the quart and peck are standards' in trade.
The price paid per car has been fixed on the basis of coal cleaned to
v.ithin a fixed limit of impurities. For veins carrying a large amount of
refuse material, either the price per car has been adjusted to meet the
condition or the miner is paid a special consideration for eliminating dirt
and rock. Under the circumstances, it is not necessary to hoist such
refuse to the surface and go through the process of removal in the course
of manufacture in the breaker. Every well-managed business throws out
waste as soon as possible; to do otherwise would be asking the public to
pay a premium for inefficient methods that were entirely unwarranted
and unjustifiable.
Miners' Demand No. 9.
We demand readjustment of the machine mining scale to the
extent that eciulUiblo rates and conditions shall obtain as a basis
for this syetem.
A Matter for Adjustment
The operators believe the rates now paid are fair, but if any
adjustment is necessan, there is no objection on their part to
making such changes as will give the machine mining men the
opportunity of earning wages that are equitable as compared with
those of equivalent occupations.
Miner' Demand No. 10.
AVe demand that the arrangements of detailed wane scales and the
settlement of irternal iuestlonp both as repnrdH price! and con
ditlonri be referred to the representatives of the operators and miners
of each dUtrlct to be adjusted on an equitable basK
Miners' Demand Will Abolish Arbitration
The miners justify this demand on the following ground:
"Miners and operators constitute the contracting parties for the pur
pose of mining coal. It is absurd to refer differences arising from
this contractual relationship to parties other than their representatives."
Disputes between citizenB over their contractual relations are settled by
the courts, and tho judges, who are empowered by law to find and declare
justice, are not the representatives of either party. The operators be
lieve that differences between employers and tneir employes who are di
rectly affected should be settled by the interested parties, if possible. If
they cannot agree, they believe that the differences should be adjusted by
tho fair and open arbitration provided by the Board of Conciliation as es
tablished by the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission, by whiph the 308
cases that have come before it have been satisfactorily adjusted.
Every well-informed man who has made a study of conditions
in the anthracite field will agree that the anthracite industry as a
whole ia now conducted on as low a margin of profit as is possible
if the operators are to continue to serve the public.
As any increase which may be granted must necessarily be
eventually paid by the heads of families and other users of anthra
cite, the operators, while desiring to deal justly with their em
ployea, deem it their plain duty to resist any unreasonable demands.
doiisox coal company, By alax c. dodsox.
PANY, Br IS. E. I.OOM18, Vice President. I
WIU, JAMS. Vice Prraldrnt.
eral Mnnnf-er.
II y h. D. WAMUNER, President.
Vice Prectdent.
. ny c.
P. irt'nEn. President.
Committee Representing Anthracite Operators
LIAMS, PrealUent.
dent. J. M. WENT. A COMPANY. By D. U. WKNTX.

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