« AnteriorContinuar »
time an emergent danger (Coffin v. Blackwell ((1921) 116 Wash. 281, 199 Pac. 239).
From a reading of the above-cited cases, H. R. 3023 is clearly constitutional. In fact, there is no basis to successfully contend that the act is anconstitutional.
Mr. PERKINS. Also, I stated that I would clarify the Kentucky workmen's compensation law, and I have made an analysis of that.
Mr. KELLEY. Without objection, that will be inserted in the record. (The document referred to is as follows:)
PRESENT STATUS OF KENTUCKY WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION LAW
(Statement of Hon. Carl D. Perkins, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Kentucky) In 1946 the Kentucky Legislature enacted chapter 203, which was enrolled on March 7, 1946, but which was allowed to become law without the signature of the Governor. The Governor issued the following statement applicable to chapter 203:
“This bill requires persons engaged in hazardous employment to accept the workmen's compensation law or be subject to fine or imprisonment. There is a division of opinion as to its validity. The [existing] elective compensation law is a mutual arrangement requiring affirmative acceptance by both employed and employer. To compel acceptance by one when it cannot constitutionally be enforced on the other party may engender insuperable obstacles."
At the same session the legislature also enacted chapter 61, which was enrolled on March 15, 1946, and approved on March 26, 1946. This act, known as the financial responsibility act, provided that every employer engaged in hazardous employment and not excepted from the workmen's compensation law and who elects not to come under said compensation law shall deposit security with the commissioner of industrial relations sufficient to insure payment of any judgment obtained against him by an employee.
A case was soon brought to determine the legal effect of the two laws. The Kentucky Court of Appeals considered the legal questions involved in the case of Sumpter v. Burchett as Commonwealth Attorney, et al. (304 Ky. 858, 202 S. W. (20) 735 (1947)), the Kentucky Court of Appeals, without finding it necessary to pass on the constitutionality of the compulsory law (ch. 203) ruled that chapter 61, having been adopted later in point of time and being irreconcilable with chapter 203, had repealed chapter 203. Although the compulsory law (ch. 203) thus repealed, had amended part of the old elective compensation act, the court further ruled that the "repeal of the amending act (ch. 203) simply left the elective compensation law as it was before the repealed amending act (ch. 203) was passed."
In 1948, the Kentucky Legislature enacted chapter 64 which in effect reaf. firmed the continuation of the elective workmen's compensation law as it stood prior to 1946. However, chapter 61 of 1946, the financial responsibility act, continues operative; and "employers engaged in hazardous occupations now have a choice of coming under the elective compensation law or of complying with the financial responsibility act. Under the latter act, employers retain their commonlaw defenses but are liable for unlimited damages."
The appellant Sumpter in the above-cited case, the operator of a lumberyarda hazardous occupation-brought the action asking for a declaration of his rights and alleging that he wished to carry on his business at common law, that is with. out complying with the workmen's compensation law, but that he was willing to comply with the Financial Resposibility Act which required the posting of security bond with the Commissioner of Industrial Relations. He alleged that if he adopted this course of action, however, he would run afoul of the compulsory act.
The result was as above stated, that the court did not pass on the constitutionality of the compulsory workmen's compensation law but held that the law last enacted (Financial Responsibility Act) must be regarded as the final expression of the legislative will and permitted to prevail.
In Kentucky today as a result of the above decision we do not have a compulsory workmen's compensation statute but only have the voluntary workmen's compensation statute modified by the Financial Responsibility Act. This lair merely requires the posting of security bond with the Commissioner of Industrial Relations.
In other words, this is only a subterfuge wherein many employers in hazardous occupations get around operating under the workmen's compensation act by merely complying with the Financial Responsibility Act, which permits him to carry on his operation under the common law. The employee in such instances is always required to prove actual negligence.
Mr. PERKINS. I also request unanimous consent that the statement of the President of the United Mine Workers of America that was made before the Senate committee be included in the record at this point.
Mr. KELLEY. Without objection, it is so ordered. (The statement referred to is as follows:) STATEMENT BY John L. LEWIS, PRESIDENT, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA
During the deliberations of the Eightieth Congress, the Senate of the United States adopted Senate Resolution 98, which provided for a full investigation of the tragic loss of life in the Centralia mine explosion. Pursuant to that resolution such investigation was conducted by a subcommittee of the then Committee on Pubilc Lands, consisting of Senators Cordon, Dworshak, and O'Mahoney. This subcommittee on June 5, 1947, issued a report of their findings, Report No. 238.
I would like to quote briefly certain portions of that report; on page 12 under the heading, "Safety measures in the coal industry generally," we find this paragraph:
“While a discussion and report of the hazards and safety measures prevailing in the coal industry generally is not within the purview of the resolution authorizing this investigation, the testimony developed in hearings before this committee requires that some comment be made upon the general hazards incident to coal mining. The extent and efficiency of safety programs now prevailing, and certain defects in such programs, were made apparent by the testimony before this committee.”
There follows discussion of general mine-safety measures and the last paragraph on page 13 of that report sets forth the recommendation of the committee, and I quote:
“The first and most essential step is the enactment by Congress of legislation that will not only raise the standard of safety but give the Federal Government the power it now lacks to enforce that standard.
"In connection with the consideration of such legislation, the Congress should, without delay, make a thorough investigation into the whole problem presented by the inherent hazards in coal mining. Such investigation should include a thorough study of the various State statutes on the subject, and the methods of their enforcement. It should also include an examination of the mining practices in the different States and in the different types of coal mining and the extent to which such practices can be standardized and uniform safety methods adopted.
"Immediate and affirmative action is imperative."
Acting upon this recommendation the Committee of Public Lands, now the Committee of Interior and Insular Affairs, recommended to the Senate body, and that body subsequently enacted into law, Senate Joint Resolution 130, which became Public Law 328, Eightieth Congress.
Public Law 328 is a law relating to safety in bituminous coal and lignite mines of the United States. It gave to the Federal Mine Safety Bureau the right to have its inspectors inspect mines and report to Congress the violations found with respect to ventilation, rock dusting, storage and use of explosives, roof and rib support, the use of water or water with wetting agents, or other means of dust control, and the prevention of fires. I ask you to note that the above-enumerated violations run largely to the major causes of mine explosions. The improper use of electricity which causes approximately 44 percent of mine explosions was left out of these hazards. The Director of the Bureau of Mines was to notify the owner, the operator of the mines, and the State agencies charged with enforcement of safety measures of any violations of the above subjects and to recommend methods of correction, and to ask them severally to report to the Director of the Bureau of Mines such action taken with respect to said recommendations.
The Secretary of the Interior, through the Director of the Bureau of Mines, shall each 3 months, starting September 1, 1947, report to the Congress of the United States with respect to the conditions of all bituminous and lignite mines investigated or inspected during the period; and all recommendations and notices to the mine owner, operator, and State agencies, and any action taken by such mine owner, operator, and State agencies with respect to his findings and to said recommendations.
This record was to be made available to the public as soon as practicable. The act was to remain in effect for 1 year.
This act did not grant to the Federal Government any power of enforcement of the above safety standards; only the power of recommendation.
The chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, Senator Butler, in submitting his committee's report to the Senate, Report No. 431, charged the States with the burden of responsibility for keeping the mines safe. I would like to quote from the bottom of page 3 of that report:
"Thus Congress places squarely upon the States the burden of making the mines safe and keeping them safe for the protection of men underground until Congress has had an opportunity to study the problem thoroughly, and makes it clear that if the States do not guard the safety of the miners, the Congress will act further.”
Congress, in effect, put the coal-mine owners, operators, and the State agencies charged with maintaining mine-safety standards on 1 year's notice that if under Public Law 328 they did not maintain safe mines Congress would grant such power to the Federal Government as would be necessary to stop the unending slaughter of human life in the coal mines.
Well, Congress has its answer. Look at the record. I quote from the statement submitted to this committee by Mr. J. J. Forbes, Chief of the Health and Safety Division, Bureau of Mines, Department of the Interior:
"During the year in which Public Law 328 was effective 2,184 underground coal mines were inspected; these represented 72 percent of the Nation's coal production. Of these 1,934 were reinspected to determine the extent of compli. ance with safety recommendations made during the first inspection. According to information gathered by the Federal coal-mine inspectors, a total of 27313 hazards identified in Public Law 328 were observed during the first inspection; during the reinspections Federal coal-mine inspectors reported that 34 percent of the hazards were eliminated, 15 percent were corrected in part, and no corrective action was taken with respect to 51 percent of the violations."
Seven State agencies chose to ignore completely the provisions of Public Law 328 and refused to submit reports to the Federal Bureau of Mines. They are:
The above figures were taken from page 5 of the original final report submitted to Congress by the Secretary of the Interior.
After being put on notice by Congress to maintain voluntary safety standards in their several States and having a year to show compliance, what record do you have? Only one conclusion can be reached from the above record, and that conclusion constitutes a resounding answer to this Congress:
The owner, operator, and the State safety agencies have not now and have never had any intention of voluntary compliance with the safety provisions embodied in Public Law 328. You have your answer. What are you, the Congress, going to do about mine safety and the abatement of the maiming and killing of the American coal miner?
You have before you Senate bill 1031. This bill amends Public Law 49, Seventy-seventh Congress, and conveys to the Federal mine inspector the power to save a human life in the coal mines when the inspector finds that life in danger. Public Law 328 gave the Federal inspector the right to recommend to the mine owner, operator, and the State agencies that they save that life, but they failed to comply. Senate bill 1031 would give the inspector the power to remove-employees from an unsafe area, whenever the Federal inspector “finds that imminent danger to employees in the mines exists," until such imminent danger is removedl. Is that asking too much?
Several representatives of the coal-mining industry, and of the State mine safety agencies, have appeared before this committee in opposition to this bill. They have opposed all such legislation that has ever been before the Congress. Who are these men? Why, they are the fellows who failed in 1 year's time to correct or to take any corrective action on 51 percent of 27,313 violations. They only eliminated 34 percent and corrected in part only 15 percent. These violations, 27,313 of them, were not violations or ordinary hazards. No; they were violations that swell the fatality rate of the coal miners because they contribute directly to mine explosions.
Mr. Maize, secretary of mines in the great coal-producing Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was one of the principal witnesses before this committee. Mr. Maize testified that the Federal mine inspectors were not properly qualified and did not have the necessary knowledge or experience to examine and pass judgment on the safety of the Pennsylvania mines. He did not submit to the Bureau of Mines any reports of corrective action on 4,071 violations of safety standards covered by Public Law 328 and reported to him by Federal mine inspectors. And, according to a report issued by the Federal Bureau of Mines for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1948, Federal mine inspectors, these same incompetent men Mr. Maize talks about, observed and recorded 4,562 violations of the Pennsylvania State mining laws. Perhaps this record could have a bearing on why Mr. Maize finds the Federal mine inspectors incompetent.
For the same fiscal year, according to the Federal Bureau of Mines Report, now in possession of this committee and part of this record, Federal inspectors observed on the national scale 23,386 violations of State mining laws. And of that total, 13,018 were violations that contributed immeasurably to mine explosions. Those violations involved : 1. Ventilation ---
5, 218 2. Inadequate control of dust and rock dusting
2, 829 3. Electricity (electrical defects have been the cause of 44 percent of all mine explosions-
3, 078 4. Explosives--
13, 018 The Bureau of Mines, through its qualified representative, has testified before this committee that their present force of inspectors average 23.9 years of coal-mining experience, 10.2 years of that experience in supervisory capacity. So this claim of incompetence and lack of experience is a subterfuge. A statement of false propaganda to fool the Members of Congress.
I understand that Senator Morse desired to know (for the record) how Senate bill S. 1031 would affect the death and accident rate in the mines of America. We do not believe that S. 1031 will be a cure-all, or that it will completely eliminate all mine accidents, but it is an abvious faet that if, during the tenure of Public Law 328, the Federal inspectors had been empowered to act rather than recommend, that State agencies act, those 27,313 potential explosive violations reported during the first quarter of that year would not have shown 51 percent of that total to have received no corrective action in the last quarter of that year. And who can say how many lives that would have saved ?
The granting by this Congress of the authority for Federal mine inspectors to remove men from places of imminent danger until such danger is removed, in the face of the record made under Public Law 328, is a last hope for the abatement of the killing and the mangling of the bodies of the American coal miner.
That record constitutes a challenge to this Congress to make good to the coal miner, his family, and to society generally their promise that Congress would act if during the year of operation under Public Law 328, State agencies did not maintain safe mines.
May I just reiterate that promise: "Thus, Congress places squarely upon the States the burden of making the mines safe and keeping them safe for the protection of men underground until Congress has had an opportunity to study the problem thoroughly, and makes it clear that if the States do not guard the safety of the miners, the Congress will act further."
The coal miners, their wives and children, ask through this speaker that Congress act now, by enacting into law Senate bill 1031.
(This portion of Mr. Lewis' statement was given extemporaneously :)
Witnesses have appeared before the committee and given full statistical information relating to the hazards of the industry, and I hope not to burden the committee with undue repetition of those recorded facts.
Mr. C. F. Davis, representing the United Mine Workers, a qualified witness, revealed an 18-year-old record, not including 1948, which showed that the recorded deaths and injuries in the industry during that 18 years was 1,169,081. If we add to that record the inconclusive and not final revised figures of 1948 fatalities and injuries, we have a total of 1,259,081 men who have been maimed, mangled, and killed in the mining industry in 19 years.
We can all remember that 19-year period in our country. For those of us who have looked upon the Washington scene, those 19 years do not seem very long. Since 1930, the depths of the depression, confusion, and turmoil has reigned on the public scene. Those 19 years must be vivid in the memory of each of us, and while we were otherwise occupied keeping up day-by-day with the daily sensations of the press and attempts of Congress to legislate wisely for the interests of all Americans, more than a million and a quarter Americans employed in coal mines, an essential industry, were maimed, mangled, and butchered with impunity by those charged with the responsibility for their protection, with no redress for the men so affected, a million and a quarter.
In other words, statistically every man employed in the industry was injured or killed three times during that 19-year period. What a record of horror. Was any war ever fought more terrible or more desolating to the population? That record of human wastage is as bad as the decimation of the German population during the 30-year war.
In the first 112 years of World War II, after the declaration of war by the Congress of the United States, the casualties and fatalities in the coal-mining industry of our country exceeded numerically the losses in our armed forces.
With the one there was concern, with the other there was unconcern in any public sense. Some, perhaps, believe that coal miners had always died in the course of their employment and why should they not continue to die in the course of their employment? Some people thought they never expected to enter a coal mine or to perform the duties of a coal miner, so why should they be concerned with the coal miners who were about to die?
A million and a quarter men-if I had the powers of a Merlin, I would march that million and a quarter men past the Congress of the United States—the quick and the dead. I would have the ambulatory injured drag the dead after them, so that the Congress might see; and I would have the men whose eyes were shot out and who were disemboweled in the mines crawl in that procession along the cobblestones so that the Congress might see them trailing their bowels after them.
I would have that mighty concourse of men flanked by the five weeping members of each man's family, his dependents, six and a quarter million additional people wailing and lamenting, while this concourse of death and agony and travail went by, until the Congress blinded their eyes and stopped their ears and left because a normal man could not look upon such a sight.
But that is the procession in America, and because some of us do not see it, some of us do not care, and the Congress makes promises to abate and then becomes concerned with lesser things than the saving of human life—how long shall these Americans ask the ordinary protection that should be accorded to any citizen when he serves his country in the tasks of peace and the preservation of our economy and the raising of our cultural and our social standards?
Why do we have laws that prohibit the killing of citizens and not apply those laws to mine workers? Is not a mine worker a citizen? They play a citizen's part in peace and in war. Why not protect them?
Thou shalt not kill-should that not run in the underground passages of our great mining industry in this country?
Yet, does anyone recall when anyone was criminally punished for killing a coal miner underground? During this 19-year period, when these million and a quarter men were decimated, how many coal operators were killed, the men who supervised the operation of these mines, the men who operated these mines for profit, the men who took the profits? How many were killed in the industry? Is any of their blood on the coal that we use wherewith to keep our domiciles warm? You tell me.
Yet, their agents come before this subcommittee and they infest these Halls to ask the committee of Congress not to do anything to protect these men who