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complaint, took evidence from the a number of cases which had been driver and a digger in the next room, referred up to them and which had and found, inasmuch as there was no originated under the old committee. difference in the turn at the end of the The first was a case of ‘Bad-Eye,' who day, that no injustice had been done was claiming an additional four hours him. He seemed satisfied to let the for rock-cleaning over and above what matter rest.
had been paid him. “Bad-Eye’is a conOct. 25. — Saw the Top boss and asked tentious individual who learned to dig him to replace some broken window- coal in Iowa, where it is mostly hard panes in the washhouse. Also to repair grubbing, and cannot properly oppose the chain and weight on the washhouse his opponent without bringing some door, so that it would close automatic- hate into it. ... ally. I found on coming out of the mine The next case was Check 58 and 59, this evening that it had been done. involving fifty-three hours for cleaning Oct. 27. — This morning took up with slate. At the request of the Board mem
- the matter of tools not being ber I had telephoned into the mine and properly sharpened. Too soft. He gotten these two young fellows out to promised to take it up with the testify. In the hearing of the previous blacksmith. He protested that the case I had kept one ear open for the blacksmith was expert in his line and signal bells in the engine-room, which could not understand the complaint. could be heard from where we were, and We also took up the matter of men hearing the signal to hoist men, I met not reaching their working-places by them at the pit-head and gave them starting-time. ...
some advice on what to say and how to
say it, when to talk and when not to [In answer to our question about the Pit
talk. One young fellow of nineteen or Committee, Mr. Wieck wrote: ‘The Pit Committee is a grievance committee. Each mine
thereabouts proved an excellent wit
ness. It is generally dangerous to bring under the jurisdiction of the miners' organization has its own Pit Committee, elected by the
our people before the Commissioner in men employed at that mine and composed of such cases, stage fright often operating men actually working in or around the mine. against their interests. This CommisOrdinarily three men compose the Pit Com- sioner is noted for his bulldozing tacmittee. When a dispute arises between an tics and rapid-fire questioning, which individual miner and the mine manager and many times confuse and discomfit even no settlement is reached, the miner refers the committeemen if they be not well case to the Pit Committee, which is the first
the first experienced. step in a long series of courts set up for the
This youth told a straightforward adjustment of grievances in the unionized coal
story of the two of them having worked industry. . . . In the handling of the case by the Pit Committee and the mine manager,
on this fall for three full days and a the dispute is frequently settled on a basis of
settled on a basis of part of the fourth, doing no other work. common-sense and reasonableness.' - The This according to the contract would EDITOR]
entitle them to the amount of time
they claimed. C— claimed that, Nov. 2. — The Sub-Dist. Pres. was on according to the measurements of the job at eight o'clock along with the fall, they should have cleaned it the Asst. Supt. ... Then appeared in forty hours. the Operators' Commissioner and our The Commissioner in pursuance of Board member along with the Gen. his usual tactics snapped at the boy: Supt. Their purpose was to review 'Did you work at it all the time?' He
old fellow goessed. He and contin
replied that he did. “Stop for dinner?' the condition of his mule by one of 'Long enough time to eat it.' 'Did n't the drivers. The mule — this driver stop for lunch, nine or half past?' said — was unfit to be taken out of 'No.' 'Did n't stop for lunch?' 'No' the barn, had been worked too hard very emphatically. 'I said, No. and continuously; and that it was a
The Commissioner digressed. He shame to treat a dumb brute in that said, 'I knew an old fellow some thirty manner. He wound up by saying, ‘By years ago that never ate anything in God, I won't take him out! I don't the mine until dinner-time. Him and give a damn what you do!' you two are the only three coal-diggers The mine manager told him to take I ever heard of that did n't stop for a the mule and do what work he could mid-morning lunch.'
with him; that he had asked the comThe Board member spoke up: ‘Ipany for more mules but had not yet never ate lunch in the mine in my life.' received them; and that he intended to ‘By God, then you're a fourth one. take this mule out when he got the new
His purpose was obvious, but he ones. This failed to pacify Rosa, and failed to fluster the boy. I then asked upon seeing us, he appealed: 'I don't the lad if the stuff that had fallen was have to take this damn mule out, do I? easily broken up.
It's a damn shame and disgrace. The 'I'll say not!' was his answer.
Humane Society ought to be notified.' 'What did you break it with?' I I answered: 'Since you asked me, I asked him.
am telling you that as long as there is 'Twenty-pound hammer, furnished no danger to your health in handling by the company.'
the mule, you are supposed to take any The usual six- or eight-pound bam- mule that the company provides for mer used by the miner would have you. Do what work you can with him, made no impression on this slate, and and if he lays down on you, sit alongobviously the twenty-pound hammer side of him until he gets up. You are was proof that there was work to be not supposed to abuse him unduly to done there besides moving it, which get him to work.' had been the only thing taken into con- 'Well,' he said, 'can't I notify the sideration in arriving at the conclusion Humane Society?' and I told him: that forty hours was sufficient for the 'Your duties and rights as a citizen to removal of this fall.
report this matter are not abrogated by The Board member then asked the the contract, but your job obligates you question: ‘Was there any boss showed to drive that mule.' He went to the up in your place during the three days barn very reluctantly. and a part of the fourth day that you I know that the boss does n't like to were working on this fall?' When the work a mule like that, and that the lad answered, No, the wise old Com driver's acts showed that he did n't missioner looked at C- with his want to, and I am sure that the comtongue in his cheek; said in a deploring mittee did not want to; but still he was tone, ‘God, there'd ought to have worked. Someone sitting in a swivelbeen!'
chair somewhere was to blame.
No.7. — This morning... we found Nov, 13. — The hoisting engineer saw the mine manager on the bottom, me again this morning, asking that I backed up against the rib, listening help him in bringing influence to bear to an excited, vociferous exposition of on a certain digger whose note he had
the opport.ch he night tes with the
signed for $50 during the strike last committee had more important work of year. I told him that he knew we had disputes with the company. ... Tono power to compel payment, which he night after work there were rumors in admitted, but that if the opportunity the washhouse that the company was presented itself, I would do what I could bankrupt and that there would be no to have the man pay the note. ... pay-day to-morrow. I could find no
In coming out of the mine this eve- head to the rumors and scoffed them. ning and looking over the fines for dirty Nov. 15. — When I arrived at the mine coal, I found one, Check 167, marked this morning, before the men started ‘aggravated case,' which probably will into the mine a man walked up to me mean discharge. It consisted of three and said, “The Top boss says, “no large lumps of coal, one weighing nearly checks to-day.” Better look into it.' two hundred pounds, one about a hun- I sought the Top boss and asked him dred, the other less, with an inch about it. 'Oh, yes,' he said, 'there'll be and-a-half streak of blue-band through checks, after work.' This was changing the middle of each. On my way over to the custom, which had permitted men the washhouse, a digger remarked to to get their checks before work if they me, ‘You'll have a hell of a time gettin' so desired. As the company was well that fellow's job back.' I agreed there within the contract in giving the checks was little chance, considering the out at quitting-time, I let it go and told amount of dirt. Upon inquiry I learned the men I was informed the checks that he was a new man who had just would be there that evening. After I started that morning, and while making had changed clothes I got Gumme and coal had loaded that single box. Well, Bad-Eye and went to the mine manwe'll take it up in the morning. ager, telling him of the rumors and ask
ing him what he knew about them. He Nov. 14. — Check 80 complained to us said that as far as he knew the checks that his buddy, Check 163, did not give would be there that evening, and him a square deal in checking the cars laughingly remarked, 'If the checks in rotation; that his buddy had 12 cars don't come, I guess I'll lose more than more than him, last pay, and was 14 any of the rest of you, as mine would n't cars ahead of him this pay. We knew come either. ...' that Check 80 was not altogether There was a lot of talk all through bright, so we called him and his buddy the mine to-day about whether or not and the check-weighman into confer- the checks would be at the mine at ence. We learned from the check- quitting-time. I doubt whether many weighman that 163 had no more cars had much heart for their work, as the than the turn of that entry, and that 80 pay to be received that evening and the had gone home early several days, two weeks' regularly held back conthereby running behind the turn. stituted a month's hard labor. When I Check 163 complained vigorously about got out of the mine at 3.30, some thirty 80 not doing his share of work in the or forty men were waiting at the office room, and for that reason falling be- and told me the checks were not yet hind. We lectured them both and told there. After I had washed and changed them that it was up to them to work clothes, Gumme and I sought the clerk
last De pay; altor suddy
and only men w
that it was them both anog ber
and to get along. We told them we ex- with the checks?' He seemed quite pected them to do this and wanted to flustered, but insisted that he was going hear no further complaints, as the over to the other mine with his machine in a short time to get them. He did, count of a motor being broken, I went and to the great relief of the men, they to the sub-district office and went over began paying off shortly after four the entire pay-roll matter with the o'clock. The failure of a number of coal President. He admitted the seriouscompanies to pay in recent months has ness of the situation and said that he made men very uneasy. In fact, a near- had made arrangements to meet the by mine of another company failed to District Vice President in St. Louis pay to-day.
on Wednesday, the District President Nov. 16. — Talked to the mine man- being in the hospital. ager this morning about the pay. Nov. 20. — After consulting with the checks. He said that on account of a rest of the committee, I called a meetnumber of circumstances, the matter ing of the men at the mine in the washhad been balled up; that he expected house before going down to work, and the checks to be there earlier next pay- told them what had been done in the day. All the rumor and talk, however, pay-roll matter and of the conference had had its effect, and quite a number arranged for in St. Louis. It was voted of men came to me asking what could be that I attend that meeting. done toward having the pay-roll guar. Nov. 21. — Went to St. Louis this anteed. I told them that I would get in morning with the Sub-District Presitouch with the Sub-District President dent to meet the District Vice Presiand see what could be done. I was dent, to see what could be done toward unable to get him on the telephone having the company guarantee our to-night and will try again to-morrow. pay with a surety bond or some such Nov. 17. — The mine manager was in device. The V. P. seemed inclined to my place this morning and we infor- the belief that the company, through mally discussed the matter of companies their peculiar methods of finance, was defaulting pay-rolls. Among other probably in a bad way, but did not things he said, 'Situations like that put seem to know just what should be a boss in a bad hole. He has nothing done. After quite a bit of talk it was to do with and knows nothing about decided that the Sub-District Presithe financial end of the business. He dent and myself should call upon the can't tell the men they will get their President of the company. On the checks when he does n't know, and telephone this gentleman declined to obviously he can't tell them they won't.' make an appointment 'to meet a comWe discussed also the new mine this mittee,' when informed that a commitcompany has recently sunk and into teeman from the Warren mine would which they have put about a million accompany the Sub-District President. dollars, and in which things don't When asked if he had any objections seem to be going right. It is now shut if the committeeman accompanied down.
the Sub-Dist. Pres., he said the SubCalled up the Sub-District President District officer should come without to-night, explaining this pay-roll situa- an appointment, and in that way he tion to him. He agreed that something would not know who was coming. I should be done toward guaranteeing have yet to fathom the purpose of this pay-rolls generally. He said he would grandiose gesture. lay our matter before the District Upon arriving at his office the girl at office and see what could be done. I the telephone, after the Sub-District will see that he does not procrastinate. President's name was announced, asked Nov. 19. — There being no work on ac- us to wait a few minutes. After five minutes or so the President ushered a I said, “You may know. I did my caller out down the corridor and wel best to find out their head, but was uncomed us with a hearty, 'Come on in, able to do so. I wish I knew who Pete,' to the Sub-District President. started them and why. If we did, the While being introduced and shaking men might feel easier about their hands with me, he must have scruti- money. Looking straight at him, I nized me as closely as I did him, for as went on: 'When they were first started, we sat down his first remark was, glanc- I thought their purpose was to boost ing at my gray flannel shirt: ‘You've the sticker market.'1 stolen my shirt.' I told him I may have He pulled hard on his cigar. In fact stolen it, but it cost me $3.50.
by now it never left his face, his left He said his cost him $3.85. It was hand holding it close to his mouth behis Sunday shirt, he explained. “I tween puffs. He seemed disturbed, alshave and dress up every morning dur- though his rapid smoking was the only ing the week, but let the shaving go and evidence. After studying awhile he reput on my flannel shirt on Sunday. marked: 'I won't spend thirty cents to That is my day. I don't go to church, bond that pay-roll. In fact, I have although I don't think anybody can be been studying whether or not to shut harmed going to church. There are no those three mines down. We can buy bad influences there. I am saying all coal in the open market cheaper than this not knowing what church you men we can produce it. belong to. What church do you belong ‘You can buy it pretty damn cheap
. if you can buy it cheaper than you Laughing, Pete replied, 'Let's see — can produce it at the Warren mine,' I think I was in a Methodist church the I remarked. last time. Every time I go I want to 'Well, we can,' he answered. (I still debate with the preacher, although I doubt this, as I am convinced that coal have never had that opportunity. is produced more cheaply at that mine
He looked at me. “What church do than at any mine in the state of Illi. you belong to?'
nois.) 'Our properties,' he went on, 'I belong to the big one,'I answered. 'will appraise two million dollars. He looked a little embarrassed, and The Sub-District President asked if thinking that perhaps he took me for a that were a 1923 appraiser. Roman Catholic, I added, “The one “No,' he said, 'I have deducted a that has the most members — I attend million and a half. They did appraise none.'
three and a half million.' With that, he lit a long cigar and said, “How about encumbrances?' asked 'Well, boys, what brought you?' the Sub-Dist. Pres.
The Sub-District President opened 'I was coming to that,' he replied. up by telling him that he was doubt. “We have three hundred thousand dolless aware of the various coal companies lars on them. I don't think it's right to recently defaulting the miners' pay- ask us to bond the pay-roll, and we roll, and told him that there were con- don't intend to do it. The men can siderable rumors at the Warren mine quit or go on strike or do as they please that the company was in a bad way for all that we care’; and he repeated financially.
1 'Stickering' is discounting wages and drawing ‘Yes, I've heard about that. Know
them in advance of the regular pay-day. This pracwho started the rumors and why they tice is forbidden by laws of the miners' union and were started.'
the contract with the operator. - THE AUTHOR