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give their all, and say, “Don't pass a law that will permit an agent of the Federal Government to remove a man to a place of safety when a perilous hazard is found," and say, “Don't do that; leave it to us. We will protect them or we will kill them. What difference does it make? We hope not to kill any more than we have been killing."
They are the camp followers and the sutlers and the hangers-on of the coal companies and the National Coal Association and the American Mining Congress, which has nothing to do with coal mining; they come down here and hire lawyers and write papers and put out publicity to prevent coal miners' lives from being saved.
I have the most infinite contempt as a man and as a citizen for such polecats who infest this industry and come down here and take the time of public representatives, at the cost of the taxpayer, to ask his Congress to continue to give them the unlimited right to keep on operating coal mines under that recordunder that record.
Statistically every man in this country has been killed or injured three times in that 19-year period. If some man has not been injured during that 19year period, it means that another man has been injured twice--and he takes his chances as to the character the injury, whether it means merely the üverage 40-day loss of time in the injury or whether it means total blindness, loss of limbs, broken backs, the flesh burned from his bones, and total physical incapacitation.
You know, this industry breaks more human backs than any other known industry. And what happens to a man whose back is broken in a mining community without assets or visible means of support when his compensation runs out? Why, he lies in some remote cabin up a canyon or a creek until he dies. The United Mine Workers Welfare Fund, which some of these sutlers and camp follovers do not like, is finding hundreds of those broken-back cases. A man lay in å 10-foot square log cabin up a creek for 23 years without control over his kidneys and his bowels during 23 years of time—and these human leeches who infest the industry come down here and say to the Congress, “Don't legislate so that you can't break more backs."
I wonder how much the mine workers of this country will take sometime from people of that ilk, who fatten on the industry? And, may I say, gentlemen, that the industry is fat and able to furnish protection to its employees. Their earnings and profits in the coal industry in the year 1948 exceeded all other years in history, and those earnings and profits were good during all the war years. They had money to spend on safety.
Nineteen hundred and forty-seven was the best year they had ever had before in all time, but 1948 exceeded it, and the first quarter of 1949 exceeds their record profits of 1948 by millions and millions of dollars, from 25 to 33 percent on the average.
So the operators, some of them do not wish to spend money for improved safety conditions to keep the gas out of their mines and the air in their mines and their electrical equipment in order and timber in their haulage ways and working places, but they do not mind spending money for lobbyists to come down here and criticize the mine workers because they want to be safe and continue to live.
They can hire their lobbyists by the hordes, they can provide them with every modern facility to attract attention, and charge it up to the cost of production; and the public pays the bill—the public pays the bill.
We are asking the Congress to grant this protection and we would like to see the Congress authorize enough appropriations so that an adequate number of inspectors could be employed to inspect these mines more often.
The Senators will note that in this list of violations, during the 1 year the mines were only inspected once. Only a certain number of mines, not all of them by any manner of means. There was reinspection during the fall of the same year, during the latter quarter of the calendar year, and it was only made once.
So that no more than two inspections occurred in any one mine; and in order to concentrate on those mines, thousands and thousands of other mines were left uninspected because of lack of facilities, lack of time for the limited Federal force of inspectors.
That, however, runs to administration. This hearing largely affects the principle of the legislation, as to whether or not the Federal Government will give to these mine workers the protection for which they pray. I hope they will.
The days run on and men continue to die. These lobbyists for the coal cperators and the National Coal Association and their hangers-on have been peti
tioning this committee to postpone this hearing from time to time and to delay. The fact that more delay would cause more men to die apparently rested lightly on their calloused hearts, if they have hearts.
We cannot delay with impunity because men die, men are maimed, men are being carried dead out of coal mines as I sit here talking to you, a constant succession of injured men being carried out of the coal mines as I sit here talking to the Senators.
You know, Senators, it is literally true that some mines are so hazardous that when a strange mine worker comes along and asks for a job, at times the foreman says to him, “We are full up right now, but stick around for an hour or so until we carry somebody out and you can have his place."
That is no exaggeration. Inevitably they are going to be carried out. They may be alive and they may be dead. What difference does it make? They will need another man. Some of these coal operators say they like that system. They want to continue it. They say to the Congress, “Don't pass the bill."
In behalf of all the mine workers of this country, I come down here this morning to urge the distinguished Senators to let nothing interfere with their purpose of enacting this legislation.
There is no security in these mines. As we sit here this morning, an explosion may or may not take place, and it may be in any coal-mining State, it may affect a great number of men or a limited number of men, as circumstances exist.
Our best mining families have explosions in their mines—the Mellons, the Rockefellers, the Graces, and the whole kit and boiling of them. They have them in all States, even in Utah, Senator, we have mine explosions.
When you and I, Senator, were at a very tender age, they had a terriffic and enormous catastrophe at Castlegate. I am not sure they ever found out exactly how many men died in the Castlegate explosion, but the widows from the Castlegate explosion became subjects of charity among their kinfolks and their friends throughout the entire industry. There was no other provision for them. The Castlegate widows in those days were identified and the Castlegate explosion was fixed in the minds of the mining population as something of outstanding horror, and it made an imprint even on my immature mind. You and I, Senator, have been in Castlegate, we know the environment there.
But that is not all that happened at Castlegate. On March 8, 1924, Castlegate had another explosion in which 171 men died. And who can say that on June 6, 1949, there will not be another explosion at Castlegate? It is as may be, but it should not occur, because explosions are preventable. When an explosion occurs, somebody is at fault, and it is management who permits the hazardous condition to exist.
Methane cannot gather in this room to an explosive degree if the room is ventilated properly. Methane is an insidious and subtle vaporish gas, which is the essence of the ages, the most completely refined, most volatile of all gasses, with tremendous explosive potential.
Odorless, invisible, tasteless, its presence can only be determined through the usage of instruments which the mine worker does not have, but which management should possess.
If methane existed in this room now, the Senators would have no knowlerige of it and, yet, if some Senator were to strike a match and ignite it and the flame would cook every one in this room and burn the flesh from our bones, the word would go out that Senator X, by carelessness, caused the explosion because he struck a match in this room; whereas, common sense would indicate that the persons in charge of the ventilation of this room were at fault in not insuring its safety.
So when an explosion occurs, we have probes and investigations by State agencies and the Bureau of Mines, and resi'ue cars dash madly, experts are called in, headlines are in the newspapers, and Congress threatens a probe. And some weeks afterward we find that the explosion was caused by a spark or the lighting of a match or a defective wire or nonpermissible electrical equipment in the haulage system, or a blown-out shot that created flame and created the dust explosion; and the public clamor subsides, and Congress goes about its business, and the operators go on with their daily business of mining coal and killing men, and nothing is done.
These dust explosions-coal dust in suspension in a coal mine, I hope the Senators know, is the nearest thing we have to atomic power, both in intensity of the heat generated-to thousands of degrees Fahrenheit-and in the force of the explosion through the compression of the air.
So, what difference does it make how the dust was ignited if, contrary to the laws and regulations made and provided, that dust existed there to an explosive degree? That is the problem of management.
Mine workers come to Congress and say, “When an inspector finds that dust to be hazardous, we want him to have the right to remove men from the place of danger," and the coal operators and their paid agents come here and say, "No, don't do that; we would rather kill them."
When they say that, they damn their souls to eternal hell. Yet, that is what they say. Some of them could go out and earn an honest living, but they prefer to do the dirty work of saying that coal miners shall continue to die.
We hope the Congress will repudiate that influence. We hope the Congress will make good its promise, which it gave the coal miners of this country, that if the States would not protect them, the Federal Government would.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. KELLEY. The committee will stand adjourned subject to the call of the Chair. I wish at this point to insert in the record a statement and telegram from interested parties. (The telegram and statement referred to above are as follows:)
FROSTBURG, MD., June 18, 1949. Hon. AUGUSTINE B. KELLEY,
House Office Building:
FRANK M. POWERS,
STATEMENT OF W. F. COBB, PRESIDENT, GALLOWAY COAL MINING CO., INC., CARBON
HILL, ALA., REPRESENTATING THE ALABAMA MINING INSTITUTE
First, I would like to state that the members of the institute, like myself, are genuinely interested in the safety of their mining operations and of the industry as a whole. This, we feel, has been demonstrated by the continued and consistent improvement in safety conditions in the mines and the adoption of any reasonable safeguards that would accomplish this purpose.
These men are deeply appreciative of the good work that has been done, and is being done, by the United States Bureau of Mines and have the highest regard for the ability and integrity of the personnel of the Bureau.
Our opposition to the proposed bill is based primarily on the fact that the proposed bill delegates to the Bureau of Mines duties and responsibilities not intended, or necessary, for it to assume and duplicates the services now efficiently performed by our State agencies.
As an experimental, investigative, educational, and advisory agency, the service of the Bureau of Mines has been, and will continue to be, of material benefit to the mining industry. As a policing agency, we believe that its value to the industry would be lessened, its efforts in this regard would merely result in unnecessary duplication of existing adequate State facilities, confusion as to authority, unnecessary expense to the taxpayer and to the coal industry.
As an experimental, investigative, educational and advisory agency, the Bureau of Mines has rendered a valuable service to the industry and the Nation which, because of the scope of its activities, no State agency could supply. Among the many services rendered by the Bureau of Mines, the promulgation of the Federal Mine Safety Code is recognized as a worthwhile and difficult undertaking as it aitempts to set up some form of standards to be applicable to the widely varying mining conditions applying throughout the coal fields of the United States. As an adjunct to the agreement between the Coal Mines Administration and the United Mine Workers of America, providing for Federal operation of the coal mines in an emergency, its adoption was, no doubt, considered necessary and the Bureau of Mines utilized as the most convenient agency to carry out this commitment. The Coal Mines Administrator, however, in his administrative memorandoum No. 5, dated July 24, 1946, states, in part, that
"Preparation of the code presented difficult and complex questions due, among other things, to the necessity for continued maximum production consistent with reasonable safety conditions and practices in the mines and the wide variety of types, conditions and methods of mines and mining to which the code must be applicable."
The Administrator made no claim of infallibility for this Federal Mine Safety Code and further stated :
"Undoubtedly, as experience is acquired in the administration of the code, there will be revealed desirable additions, deletions and modifications."
Certainly, the promulgation of a safety code, based upon the experience and investigations of the Bureau of Mines, should be available to the industry and to the State departments of mines, as a standard of perfection, to be considered with such modifications as may be necessary and desirable from actual experience to suit the widely varying conditions in different localities. If necessary, or desirable, revisions in State mining laws should be made to cover, and the enforcement of such laws left in the hands of competent mining men from such departments, experienced in such conditions.
The division of safety and inspection of the department of Industrial Relations of the State of Alabama has an adequate staff of mine inspectors, who are competent mining men, experienced in mining conditions peculiar to that area and who regularly and thoroughly inspect the mines of the State. They have ample authority, under the State laws, to order the suspension of operations of any coal mine or pit or part thereof, where there is an imminent hazard to the workmen. The union mine committee at each mine also has like authority. There is no necessity for further division of this responsibility.
In April 1947, the director of industrial relations of the State of Alabama appointed a committee, composed of an equal number of representatives from the coal operators and coal miners, to review the existing mine safety laws and to make recommendations for revision and strengthening such laws. This committee worked diligently and harmoniously to that end, having the advice of practical and technical mining men with many years of experience in the mining conditions peculiar to that field. In the revision of these laws, the provisions of the Federal Safety Code were given most careful consideration and adopted verbatim, where possible.
Unfortunately, the proposed revision of the mining law, although having the support of both the operators and miners, got caught behind a political log-jam last year and was not passed, but I am happy to state that the Alabama coal mine safety law of 1949—-the same bill-passed the Alabama Senate on May 19, and is now before the Alabama House and, as it is an agreed bill, should be enacted into law within the next few days.
This law, gentlemen, we believe, is an excellent coal mine safety law, more rigid in some of its provisions than the Federal Mine Safety Code and it is written to more fully cover the mining conditions peculiar to the district and resulting from the continued improvements in mining methods and equipment. It has the support of the State enforcement agency, the operators and the miners. We feel that it is through such cooperative action as has been demonstrated in this instance, that the cause of safety in coal mining can best be advanced.
Again, we urge you to leave the enforcement of mining laws in the hands of capable State agencies, with their personnel experienced in local mining con. ditions and avoid the unnecessary duplications of effort, confusion as to authority and responsibility, unnecessary expense to the taxpayer, and the coal industry; and let us have the benefit of the services of the Bureau of Mines as the technical, experimental, educational and advisory agency which has rendered much valuable service as such, to the industry and the public.
Mr. KELLEY. The hearing is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 6:55 p. m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the chair.)
FEDERAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY INSPECTION
AMENDMENTS OF 1949
FRIDAY, JULY 8, 1949
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Augustine B. Kelley (chairman) presiding
Mr. KELLEY. The committee will please be in order.
It has been charged at some hearings recently that the John M. Hirst Coal Co. of Ohio has paid no attention to the Federal mine inspector's report when that report requested certain changes to be made because the mine was in a dangerous condition, and for that reason the committee has asked the company officials, the Federal inspectors, and the State inspector of Ohio to appear this morning to testify.
The first witness will be Mr. M. J. Mechling.
TESTIMONY OF M. J. MECHLING, UNITED STATES BUREAU OF
MINES, ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHIO, ACCOMPANIED BY W. J. SYMONS AND R. J. KIRK, FEDERAL MINE INSPECTORS, UNITED STATES BUREAU OF MINES, ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHIO
Mr. MECHLING. My name is Monroe J. Mechling. I am the engineer in charge, Bureau of Mines, St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Mr. KELLEY. It has been charged that you could get no compliance from the company, or the State mine officials, in regard to the dangerous conditions existing in the John Hirst Co. mine. We would like to have you tell us what you have found as a Federal inspector.
Mr. MECHLING. I, myself, did not make the inspection.
Mr. MECHLING. No, sir; but I did contact the other inspectors as they made their inspections.
Nr. KELLEY. Are the inspectors here!
Mr. KELLEY. The Bureau of Minas reported that there were some mines that did comply with the recommendations of the Federal mine inspectors. We will now proceed to ask questions of the Federal mine inspectors who inspected these mines.
Mr. Symons. The mine was inspected June 20 to 24 last, and before that, March 21 to March 23. Mr. KELLEY. Tell us what the conditions were?