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CONDITIONS IN THE COAL FIELDS OF PENNSYLVANIA,
WEST VIRGINIA, AND OHIO
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 1928
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10.15 o'clock a. m., in room 212, Senate Office Building, Senator James E. Watson presiding.
Present: Senators Watson (chairman), Gooding, Couzens, Fess, Sackett, Pine, Metcalf, Bruce, Wagner, and Black. Present also: Hon. James J. Davis, Secretary of Labor. The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order. We have met this morning for the purpose of considering S. Res. 105, introduced by Senator Johnson, as follows:
RESOLUTION To investigate conditions in the coal fields of Pennsylvania, West Virginia,
Resolred, 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 Pennsyl. vania, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; also to ascertain whether the railroad companies and their officials have been or are, by agreement or otherwise, 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, have been evicted from their homes, and generally what has transpired in the said coal fields, and the reasons for conditions and hap penings 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 subpoena 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.
Under the authorization of the Senate to the committee, we have authority to send for witnesses and papers. I was requested on the part of the proponents to subpæna certain individuals to come here.
We have no choice in their selection; the list is handed to us by the proponents of the measure. We have subpænaed certain gentlemen to appear in accordance with the request made.
The proponents will have the first hearing. After they shall have concluded their hearings the opponents will have their day before the committee and for such time as may be necessary to develop their
It is very desirable that as far as possible the proponents shall consult among themselves and select certain individuals to present the various phases of this matter; and the same is true of the opponents, to the end that this may not be a long and wearisome investigation. However, we want everybody to have as much time as is necessary in order to fully develop the facts.
I understand that Mr. John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers of America, is present and that it has been arranged by the proponents of the measure for him to make the first statement.
Mr. LEWIS. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Where shall I sit?
The CHAIRMAN Come up to the committee table and take a seat opposite the official reporter. You may either sit or stand, just as
Mr. LEWIS. Very well, then, I will sit. The CHAIRMAN. We have before us Mr. John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers of America, Indianapolis, Ind.
STATEMENT OF JOHN L. LEWIS, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, INDIANAPOLIS, IND.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Lewis, you may proceed in your own way
to make such statement as you care to make.
Mr. LEWIS. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I have prepared a formal statement which I desire to read, and will be very glad also, at its conclusion or in the midst of the reading, to answer any questions that may occur to the members of the committee that any member may deem pertinent.
The bituminous coal industry is notoriously overdeveloped. Within the past eight years two Government commission have investigated the troubles of bituminous coal and on each occasion these agencies have condemned the overexpansion of the industry as regards both capital assets and man power.
The bituminous coal industry has been characterized by an eminent engineer, who has also attained world-wide reputation in statecraft, as the worst functioning of all American industries.
The United States Coal Commission, which reported its findings in 1923, stated the overdevelopment as follows:
At the present time America requires less than 500,000.000 tons of bituminous coal a year, while the capacity of the mines in operation is over 700,000,000 tons.
Under the stimulus of war demand many new mines were opened and many old ones expanded in order to secure sufficient coal to meet the exceptional and urgent national requirements. As a result, the coal industry (which was speculatively overdeveloped before the war' is still more overdeveloped now and employs more capital and more labor than is necessary to supply the present needs of the country.
Full-time employment in the coal mines can not, therefore, be expected until the industry is put on such a basis that only those mines remain in operation whose output is required to supply the needs of the country.
To merely state that the bituminous-coal industry is equipped to produce an annual potential production millions of tons in excess of consumption does not adequately tell the tragic story as it actually exists. The following tables of coal production of the seven States of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana for the years 1924–1926, showing production by the classes of mines in operation, will serve to illustrate the overdevelopment:
Summary of coal production of following States, 1924
The seven States listed above produced 84.4 per cent of the total production of 483,687,000 tons in all States during 1924.
One thousand two hundred and fifty mines, representing 22 per cent of the 5,693 reporting mines in the seven States, produced 76 per cent of the production of these States and 64 per cent of the production of mines in all States. Total number of bituminous mines reporting to the United States Geological Survey in 1924 for all States, 7,586.
Coal production, 1924
Mines producing more than 500,000 tons..
Mines producing more than 500,000 tons.
73, 531, 402
101, 662, 897 $185, 229,000
$1. 82 1, 136