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CONDITIONS IN THE COAL FIELDS OF PENNSYLVANIA,

WEST VIRGINIA, AND OHIO

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1928

UNITED STATES SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE COMMERCE,

Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 o'clock a. m., pursuant to call, in room 212, Senate Office Building, Senator James E. Watson presiding.

Present: Senators Watson (chairman), Gooding, Couzens, Fess, Sackett, Pine, Howell, Smith, Pittman, Wheeler, Dill, Mayfield, and Wagner.

Present also : Senators Johnson of California and Neely of West Virginia.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order. We are met for the purpose of considering Senate resolution 105, offered by Senator Johnson, to investigate conditions in the coal fields of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, which resolution is as follows:

(Senate Resolution 105]

JOINT RESOLUTION To investigate conditions in the coal fields of Pennsylvania, West

Virginia, and Ohio

Resolved, That the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce be, and it is hereby, authorized and directed immediately to make a thorough and complete investigation of the conditions existing in the coal fields of central Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; also to ascertain whether the railroad companies and their officials have been or are, by agreement or botherwise, endeavoring to depress the labor cost of coal produced by union mine labor; also whether in the said coal fields wage contracts have been abrogated or repudiated, whether defenseless men, women, and children, without cause, hare been evicted from their homes, and generally what has transpired in the said coal fields, and the reasons for conditions and happenings therein; and in this connection, the said committee shall ascertain whether in industrial disputes or strikes in said coal fields injunctions have been issued in violation of constitutional rights, and whether by injunction or otherwise, the rights granted by the Constitution of the United States have been abrogated and denied.

The expenses of said committee hereunder shall be paid out of the contingent fund of the Senate. Upon the conclusion of its investigation the committee shall forth with report to the Senate.

Said committee hereby empowered to sit and act at such time or times and at such place or places as it may deem: necessary, and to require by subpena or otherwise the attendance of witnesses, and the production of books, papers, and documents, and to do such other acts as may be necessary in the matter of said investigation.

The chairman of the committee, or any member thereof, may administer oaths to witnesses. Every person who having been summoned as a witness willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any

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question pertinent to the investigation hereby authorized, shall be held to the penalties provided by section 102 of the Revised Statutes of the United States.

The CHAIRMAN. Senator Johnson?
Senator JOHNSON. Mr. Chairman, will you permit me just a word?
The CHAIRMAN. Certainly.

Senator JOHNSON. Since the introduction of this resolution, and since my attempt to present it upon the floor of the Senate, I want to advise the committee that I have received some hundreds of letters, some of them in hearty sympathy with the expressed purpose of the resolution, some of them friendly to the miners, some friendly to the mine owners, and some neutral in character and dealing entirely with the economic aspects, but I think I am justified in saying that out of some hundreds of letters thus received there was a practical unanimity in favor of the investigation in order that the intolerable situation existing might be made known and might be remedied. There was scarce a dissent in that regard either from those who were friendly, those who were hostile, or those who were thinking alone of the economic aspect. That is number one.

Secondly, when I first introduced the resolution Senator Reed of Pennsylvania asked me to accept a very brief amendment. I told him I should be very glad to accept that amendment because he was sympathetic with the purpose of the resolution and said that with the brief amendment he would be very glad to express himself in favor of the investigation. Within a very short time I have learned that that amendment might cause some difficulty to the committee, or some difficulty in the matter of the investigation. I accepted it upon the theory that it would facilitate rather than retard the investigation, and if in the opinion of this committee its result will be quite the reverse I shall not desire that that amendment should be made to the resolution. I say to you, however, with frankness, that I did accept and did say to Senator Reed of Pennsylvania that I would accept it, and I have been trying to get him on the phone all morning in order to explain to him what has recently been conveyed to me. I leave that matter of the amendment with the committee, of course merely asking that the resolution be acted upon at your early convenience.

The CHAIRMAN. Senator Johnson, I am assuming that if we start in with this investigation, and as you understand this meeting this morning is preliminary only for the establishing of a prima facie basis for a real investigation?

Senator Johnson. I understand.
The CHAIRMAN. That it would take some time.

Senator Johnson. That if the ultimate investigation is entered upon, you mean?

The CHAIRMAN. Yes; that the ultimate investigation would take some time. I would like your judgment as to whether or not you assume that a special committee should be appointed for the purpose of conducting this investigation, or would you rather that the Committee on Interstate Commerce would take it and handle it?

Senator JOHNSON. Personally, I would prefer that your committee should take it and handle it. That is my own view. I would like for this committee to take the matter in charge and handle it.

The CHAIRMAN. We very greatly appreciate the compliment, but we do not like the work.

Senator JOHNSON. I know, but I think it would be better to have it handled in this committee.

The CHAIRMAN. Of course, Senator Johnson, I may say in this regard that if we investigated the question of railroad rates on the transportation of coal, that would be almost an endless subject. Perhaps you know that the Interstate Commerce Commission wrestled with that question on two different ocassions, for about a year each time, and then came to a conclusion that satisfied perhaps only half of the people.

Senator JOHNSON. Well, certainly, Mr. Chairman, I do not want to complicate the situation. And even with that amendment, which I take it now is the amendment of Senator Reed of Pennsylvania, I say even with that amendment incorporated in the resolution, the immediate need of the investigation being matters other than that, it would seem that that immediate need could be first gone into by this committee, before it pursued an investigation in reference to rates as suggested by Senator Reed's amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. Very well, Senator Johnson. We would be very glad to have you present at the investigation, all the time if you can stay.

Senator Johnson. I thank you, and if it were possible I would stay. If it were possible I would like to be a part of it, but unfortunately, like the most of you, I am overwhelmed at the present time with various other committees and various other problems.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Searles, have you a program that you desire to have followed ?

STATEMENT OF ELLIS SEARLES, EDITOR, UNITED MINE

WORKERS' JOURNAL, INDIANAPOLIS, IND.

Mr. SEARLES. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, representing the United Mine Workers of America, we have some things that we want to say to the committee, of course. The statement for the United Mine Workers of America this morning will be made by Mr. Philip Murray, international vice president of that organization, who is present and who is more familiar with all the circumstances and facts than the rest of us. So we have Mr. Murray to speak for the organization.

In advance of presenting Mr. Murray, however, I wish to put in the record a statement by the United Mine Workers of America in support of Senate Resolution 105, introduced by Senator Johnson, and referred to the Committee Interstate Commerce, the statement being dated Washington, D. C., January 17, 1928, and signed by George W. Lewis, legislative representative. The CHAIRMAN. That may be made a part of the record.

Mr. SEARLES. In addition to the copy for the official reporter I have a sufficient number of copies for the members of the committee.

The CHAIRMAN. Kinly pass them around.

(The statement referred to is here made a part of the record, as follows:)

on

STATEMENT BY THE UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA IN SUPPORT OF SENATE

RESOLUTION No. 105

(Introduced by Senator Johnson and referred to the Committee on Interstate

Commerce)

WASHINGTON, D. C., January 17, 1928. To the Members of the Committee on Interstate Commerce.

GENTLEMEN : Senate Resolution 105, introduced by Senator Johnson and which is now pending before the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce, reads as follows:

Resolved, That the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce be, and it is hereby, authorized and directed immediately to make a thorough and complete investigation of the conditions existing in the coal fields of central Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; also to ascertain whether the railroad companies and their officials have been or are, by agree ment or otherwise, endeavoring to depress the labor cost of coal produced by union-mined labor; also whether in the said coal fields wage contracts have been abrogated or repudiated, whether defenceless men, women, and children, without cause, have been evicted from their homes, and generally what has transpired in the said coal fields, and the reasons for conditions and happenings therein; and in this connection, the said committee shall ascertain whether in industrial disputes or strikes in said coal fields injunctions have been issued in violation of constitutional rights, and whether by injunction or otherwise, the rights granted by the Constitution of the United States have been abrogated and denied.

“ The expenses of said committee hereunder shall be paid out of the contingent fund of the Senate. Upon the conclusion of its investigation, the committee shall forthwith report to the Senate.

" Said committee is hereby empowered to sit and act at such time or times and at such place or places as it may deem necessary; and to require, by subpæna or otherwise, the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and documents; and to do such other acts as may be necessary in the matter of said investigation.

“ The chairman of the committee, or any member thereof, may administer oaths to witnesses. Every person who, having been summoned as a witness, willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the investigation hereby authorized, shall be held to the penalties provided by section 102 of the Revised Statutes of the United States."

In support of the above resolution, the United Mine Workers of America begs leave to submit the following preliminary statement of facts:

A group of States, including western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, constitutes what is known in the coal industry as the central competitive field, and ever since 1898 the operators and miners of the central competitive field have followed the policy of negotiating basic wage agreements for that field. Interruptions in the continuity of this policy have been few and brief. A joint conference of miners and operators of the central competitive field was held at Jacksonville, Fla., in 1924, at which time an agreement was reached, with the approval of the United States Government, for an extension of the then existing wage scale for a further period of three years, expiring on March 31, 1927. Among the coal-producing companies that were bound by that agreement was the Pittsburgh Coal Co., the largest producing company in America. Two officials of that company signed the Jacksonville agreement.

Notwithstanding the fact that it was a direct party to the Jacksonville agreement, and that two of its officers had sign d their names thereto in ink, the Pitsburgh Coal Co. very soon afterwards brazenly repudiated the contract and refused to live up to it. Vice President Lesher of the Pittsburgh Coal Co., in a recent published interview, admitted that that company signed the Jacksonville agreement and was bound by it and that it had repudiated the agreement.

Following this act of business immorality and dishonesty by the Pittsburgh Coal Co., other large coal companies of western Pennsylvania followed the lead of that company in repudiating the Jacksonville agreement and attempting to operate their properties with green, inexperienced strike breakers. These companies have imported into the mining field of western Pennsylvania tens of thousands of such men from the slums of Cleveland, Detroit, and eastern cities,

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