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CONDITIONS IN THE COAL FIELDS OF
PENNSYLVANIA, WEST VIRGINIA, AND OHIO
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1928
UNITED STATES SENATE, SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE COMMERCE,
William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa. The subcommittee met at 10 o'clock a. m., for a conference with Mr. Baker, president of the Pittsburgh Terminal Coal Co.
Present: Senators Gooding (chairman of the subcommittee), Pine, Wheeler and Wagner.
Present also: Horace F. Baker, president, and George F. Osler, operating vice president, of the Pittsburgh Terminal Coal Co.
Senator GOODING (chairman of the subcommittee). Mr. Baker, after visiting your mines and going over your property, I think to a greater extent than any other properties here, the subcommittee felt that it was only proper to have you come before us and make your statement, if you had one that you cared to make. STATEMENT OF HORACE F. BAKER, PRESIDENT OF THE PITTS
BURGH TERMINAL COAL CORPORATION, PITTSBURGH, PA.
Mr. BAKER. Well, Senator Gooding and gentlemen of the committee, what I had in mind to do was this: To have something prepared to present to you in Washington. I really am not ready now to make any statement or to make any presentation of the matter. What I did want to say, or what I could say at least, is this: There has been a great deal of talk about the coal and iron police, about brutality, their usurpation you might say of powers that they do not have and all that kind of business, and in that connection I can say to you that I believe our force of men have been a pretty decent, law-abiding lot.
I know that I personally, and I am a lawyer by profession, have tried to guide these fellows, and I have told them what I believed under the law of Pennsylvania they could do and could not do. I have been very careful to see to it that the right kind of men were employed by us. I can say to you that we have made a real effort in so far as we could to get the proper kind of fellows. We test them to see who they are, what their antecedents and experience are, and whether they are such fellows as we think would be proper for this kind of job.
When Miss Fannie Hurst was in my office this matter came up, and I said to her just this, which I should like to repeat here to you gentlemen: Of course, the men that we get as coal and iron police are policemen. They have not the discretion of an executive or general
officers. Perhaps at times they have done things I would not have advised them to do, or would not have wanted them to do, or would not approved of their doing, in isolated cases perhaps. But as to all these reports of the activities of these men, both as to the arrests that they make, and the troubles that they get into, they are all in the end reported to me, and I look them all over, and I believe that our experience and our history from the beginning of this strike has been rather free from difficulty.
You gentlemen understand that this strike business—and it is all new to me, for I have never before been in this sort of thing-is not a pink tea or anything like that, but is a battle, so that sometimes things arise that cause a good deal of friction and trouble. But I believe if you will look these fellows over you will find they are a pretty decent lot of fellows. They are mostly all ex-State policemen.
You understand that in Pennsylvania the State police are not permitted to be married; that is, they can not remain on the force if married. If a man wants to marry he has to quit the State police. So there are lots of fellows who resign from the State police who are very good officers but who desire to marry or do marry, and then they have to get other work. Many of our officers are men of that kind, fellows who have served honorably as State police, and then have resigned and been taken onto our force. Some of them are Army men and had their experience there, and in general police work, and all that kind of thing. We do not take inexperienced men. We started off with just a very few, and as we went on and had to open up mines, one after another, our police force became large. But it was cut down again until about the first of the year we had only about 40 men. We have seven mines, and you can see that guarding that much property day and night with 40 men is not very much. As a matter of fact, during the day we have had practically nobody doing this work as the men were on duty at night mostly, maybe one man at a property during the daytime.
Right after the first of the year for some reason or other it seemed as if the thing just boiled over. We were attacked at every point, and we put on some 15 or 20 men, and I have forgotten just the number of men, and then the thing quieted down again.
Senator GOODING. Tell us what was done in those attacks.
Mr. BAKER. Several of our open-shop employees--and I do not call them nonunion men because some are union men that are working for us some of our open-shop employees live in Pittsburgh; for instance, let us take the case of negroes living up around Wiley Avenue in Pittsburgh. They come to and from our plant in street cars. I can tell you of many brutal attacks they have been subjected to at places where they had to transfer, and where they have to get off the cars to go to our mines, and the situation has been absolutely rotten.
I do not say that they are all union men who do this kind of business; as to some of them we do not know who they are, but our investigations have disclosed that they were mostly made by men who were formerly employees of this company, and who are union men, and who are picketing, and who are attempting to keep our men away from the work.
Senator WHEELER. Have those men been arrested and prosecuted?
Mr. BAKER. Oh, yes; some have, and some we have not been able to identify. In fact, lots of them we have not been able to identify.
Senator Gooding. Let me ask you this question, and then you may go ahead with your story: You kept your Jacksonville agreement during the life of that agreement?
Mr. BAKER. The old rates of pay provided for in the Jacksonville agreement, both tonnage and day men, we paid up to April 1.
Senator GOODING. You considered that it was a valid contract with your men, and you carried it out?
Mr. Baker. Well, we carried it out. There is no use of my attempting here to interpret the different points of that paper. But it was kept by us.
Senator GOODING. If there was a technicality in it, you did not seek to take advantage of it? Mr. BAKER. I do not know that we would. We paid it. Senator GOODING. You did not, at least? Mr. BAKER. We abided by it. John Morrow called me up on the telephone last night, and he told me that some question was asked him about that, and that he had said that our company-or rather, he said, “Your company did not keep the agreement.
Senator Gooding. He said that your company did not keep the Jacksonville agreement?
Mr. BAKER. I will say that this was raised by accident. I did not raise this question; it was raised by the Pittsburgh Coal Co., and I will have Mr. Osler explain it. Since you ask for the facts, I
I will give them.
Senator GOODING. I should likely have raised that question at the beginning of your story.
Senator WHEELER. Well, suppose we let Mr. Baker go ahead and finish his story and not break in here.
Senator GOODING. All right.
Mr. BAKER. You have had no story of the attacks made upon our men. You have had no story about the dynamiting. You have had no story of the unwarranted and wanton attacks upon these colored fellows; at least you have not had our side of the story. And I do not intend to give it to you to-day, because there are many, many incidents, and each one of them may be a story in itself. I should like to reserve the giving of that story to you, if you care to have it, until later.
Now, Mr. Osler has worked up the details of that, and I propose to have that in shape to give it to you in Washington.
Senator WHEELER. The way the members of the subcommittee felt about it was, that we have been out around the properties here, and we have listened to a number of these things and we thought that you might want to make a statement while we are here, and we wanted to give you every opportunity to present it, and not go back to Washington without it.
Mr. BAKER. Yes, sir; that is quite right.
Mr. BAKER. You gentlemen were out at No. 8 Plant at Coverdale. And you will remember where the street cars stop at our plant, and it is a road that runs down from the main highway. You probably went out from Pittsburgh on the improved road and turned in under the trestle at Coverdale. Do you Senators remember that? Well,
that is called Bethel Stop. That is where the men have to get on and off. Then they have about 200 yards to walk to our plant. That is where the pickets are, or have been.
The barracks of the union are right on the road. These men have to walk by the pickets and by the barracks into the plant. Occasions are too numerous to mention where a fellow will get off, mostly after working a number of hours and maybe at night, who has been attacked right at that point. There have been several of them cruelly beaten up, men we have had to send to the hospital and men who have been laid up, right at that point.
To me, and as I say I am not used to this kind of business, it is perfectly terrible, just terrible to me. That is at No. 8 mine. The same thing has happened at No. 2 mine
Senator WHEELER (interposing). Let me ask you this: You received reports of that from whom?
Mr. BAKER. I got it through the operating department, who got it from the police department.
Senator WHEELER. You mean from your own police department? Mr. BAKER. From our own police; yes, sir.
Senator WHEELER. Do you employ any detective agencies, Burns or Pinkerton?
Mr. BAKER. No; we do not now. At the beginning of this trouble I had some service from the Pinkertons, but just for a short time. The Burns agency did a little work at the beginning for us. But no national detective agency has been doing any work for us for several months.
Senator WHEELER. How long did you employ the Burns men?
Mr. Baker, that we never employed the Burns men for outside work.
Senator WHEELER. Whether outside or inside, how long did you employ them?
Mr. Osler. We started in in April with one man at one mine, and he stayed with us until about October, and we have not had any since that time.
Senator WHEELER. How many of the Pinkerton men have you had? Mr. OsLER. Mr. Baker had one that I did not even know about.
Mr. Baker. That was my own special proposition, for a particular reason, and the operating department didn't know about it.
Senator WHEELER. How many of those Pinkerton men did you have?
Mr. BAKER. One man only.
Mr. Osler. And you understand that the man we used of the Burns agency was to catch some fellows who were interfering with our machinery.
Senator WHEELER. I was not asking the reasons up to this point but wanted to know how many you had.
Mr. OSLER. That is what we hired him for. We did not use him as a policeman at any time.
Senator WHEELER. All right. You may go ahead.
Mr. BAKER. There has been some reference made to deputy sheriffs. We did use some deputy sheriffs at different times, but I think we have had no deputy sheriffs on our properties since about November. Is that correct, Mr. Osler?
Mr. OSLER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BAKER. Now, as to these attacks I have been describing, they have been very numerous although it is strange that they come in bunches. For instance, there will be a sort of blazing up in this business at one time, and then it will quiet down, and then it will at some time all light up again.
Senator WHEELER. I do not say that this occurred in your place but I want to ask this question because I have lived in a place where we have had a lot of this. Did it ever occur to you that your own detectives or policemen might give you an exaggerated view of the situation?
Mr. BAKER. Oh, yes; I have realized that, and I have had men say to me, at the very beginning: That these men in order to hold their jobs are going to cause you trouble, and all that. I have been warned against that.
Senator WHEELER. I could give you some illustrations of where detectives, in order to hold their own jobs, went out and perpetrated crimes themselves. I am not saying that that has occurred in the case of your properties, but I do say that that is something a coal operator certainly has to watch.
Mr. BAKER. All I can say to you is that I had warning of that. As a matter of fact, I thought of that myself in the very beginning and tried to guard against it. As Mr. Osler knows I have been very careful to pass upon these things, and that I have said to him: In these flagrant cases let us see whether our own men have been to blame for it, or started it, or incited it. Now, be sure to get to the bottom of this proposition, because I want to know about it. I am supposed to be fair enough not to charge these other people with things we may be responsible for.
So I believe, Senators, that the things I am able to tell you in detail about are things for which our men are not responsible, but for which the union men or their friends or sympathizers are responsible. Of course, I do not know that they are actually perpetrated by union men; I sometimes think that thugs under the guise of the union perhaps might have been guilty of some holdups and some rough-house methods that have been used, more especially after night at some of our mines, where our men have been literally held up at pay day and their money taken away from them, and their suitcases taken, and they themselves knocked over the head with a blackjack and left lying in the ditch.
Senator WAGNER. These experiences you are relating you speak of only from hearsay.
Mr. BAKER. Oh, of course.
Senator Wagner. Is there any instance of which you have personal knowledge and about which you are telling us here?
Mr. BAKER. Oh, no; I am an office man.
Senator WAGNER. I mean to call attention to the fact that it does make a difference in assessing the value of testimony, and you of course as a lawyer know it, and that this would not be competent
Mr. BAKER. In a court of law?