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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 compliance with safety recommendations made during the first inspection. According to information gathered by the Federal coal-mine inspectors, a total of 27,313 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 removed. 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 ('ongress 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 decimạtion of the German population during the 30-year war.
In the first 142 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 lifehow 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 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 of the injury, whether it means merely the average 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 foljowers do not like, is finding hundreds of those broken-back cases. A man lay in a 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 operators and the National Coal Association and their hangers-on have been petitioning 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 Castle gate 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 knowledge 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 rescue 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.