The following table shows the total number of tons of coal produced per year at different periods.
Record production in black figures.
Mined by hand
|Shot from the solid||17.5|
|Mined by machine||55.9|
|From steam shovel pits||
This f. o. b. car valuation is a stock argument with which to meet all demands for a living wage. These figures are used to substantiate the poverty plea of the operators when they engage in the old game of "passing the buck," when the question comes up of taking care of the workers of the industry who have made them wealthy. The capitalists are cheap dodgers and bluffers when the question of social responsibility is put up to them. They have all the wealth of the country, practically, but they feel under no obligations jointly as a class, or in industrial groups, to care for the producers. They shuffle the responsibility by pleading poverty. The idea is to prove that labor hardly pays its way in the world. Formerly it was possible to dupe workers with such figures. But nowadays most workers know that labor is the producer of all wealth, rent, interest and profit included.
Any time a capitalist figures out that labor does not pay its way in the world and tries to make the public believe it, he is juggling with the figures. He should take the good with the bad. The workers' needs are the same, no matter what the "f. o. b." price is. And, besides, where are they to go? Can the operators show them a job? Or are they tacitly invited to go and hang themselves? The sooner these questions are answered the better for all concerned.
|Days Worked||Average Tonnage Per Year||Average Tonnage Per Day||Total Number of Men Employed|
|California and Idaho||......||......||......||15|
|Oregon (Coos Bay)||......||......||......||40|
Please note that 1918 was a record year with a production of 678 million tons, bituminous and anthracite. Since that time production has gone down considerably. One of the operators' papers says that while the country absorbed 540 million tons of (bit.) coal in 1920 it did not absorb more than 400 million tons in 1921. As a result the coal industry is "over-manned" and many mines are closed. It is estimated that in the Pittsburgh district in 1921 the workers put in only 40 per cent of full time and had an average yearly income of only $763.00. But the trouble with the coal-mining industry is not that it is overloaded with men or "over-manned." There are just enough men to comfortably get out the coal. The trouble with the coal industry is that it is overloaded with parasites drawing rent, interest, profit and sky-high salaries.
What immediately attracts attention in the above table is the intensification of labor as proven by the average tonnage per man and per year in 1890 and 1918. The increase may partly be due to improved machinery and more efficiency from a technical point of view, but the fact remains that about one-third more coal passes through a man's hands per day in the mine today than in 1890. This is fully in accord with the general speeding up of the workers in all lines of industry while at the same time they hang up "safety first" signs in all places reminding him of his mortal existence. What with the speeding and the constant warning, life becomes a terrible strain on the worker. But those who get the benefit of this industrial frenzy take it easy on their lounge in the city, or under the palms on the sea-shore, where there is neither hustle nor danger.
This intensification of labor becomes still more striking if we turn back to the table which gives the total coal production in they anthracite industry from 1807 to 1918.
From the table given herewith we see that the number of employees in the anthracite industry has decreased since 1914 which was the highest year.
From the production table we see that, in spite of that, production has increased tremendously.
For the sake of comparison we shall put the two tables together for 1890 to 1918.
|Anthracite Production in Net Tons||Number of Workers Employed||Days Worked|
The increased number of days is not a sufficient explanation of the fact that there was a record production of anthracite in 1917 in spite of the great decrease in the number of workers. From 1917 to 1918 there was a decrease of about 7,000 men, and the number of days worked increased only 8. In spite of that, production fell off only about 800,000 tons. Such figures point to a methodical and fiendish intensification of labor which is simply terrific.
This intensification accounts in part for the so-called "over-manning" of the industry.
Over 20,000 men have lost their jobs in the anthracite mines since 1914, apparently through intensification of labor.
|Bituminous and lignite||498,185||104,958||603,143|
|Total for the whole industry||757,317|
|Bituminous and lignite||496,252||119,053||615,305|
|Total for the whole industry||762,426|
As there is always a certain percentage unemployed or laid up, we may roughly estimate the number of workers in the coal-mining industry to be 800,000.
in net tons
The following are the commercial grades of anthracite coal :
|Lump||0.2%||of total production|
|Broken||6.2%||" " "|
|Egg||13.4%||" " "|
|Stove||17.5%||" " "|
|Chestnut||22.7%||" " "|
|Pea||8.4%||" " "|
|Buckwheat No. 1||14.1%||" " "|
|Buckwheat No. 2||7.0%||" " "|
|Buckwheat No. 3||6.5%||" " "|
|Boiler||2.2%||" " "|
|Other||1.8%||" " "|
According to this grading and these percentages the miner gets paid, if he has good luck, which has not always been the case. Shortweighing and shuffling with the grades to the miner's disadvantage has been common. The housewife also thinks she is paying according to this grading when she turns over her 14, 15 or 16 dollars per ton. But some dealers are more good at. mixing grades than others. Besides there is something called "Virginia anthracite" which is at least 3 dollars cheaper per ton than the one that comes from Pennsylvania. It sometimes happens that the housewife is paying for Pennsylvania "stove" or "chestnut" when she is getting Virginia coal or some-thing else.
Also the housewife is at a disadvantage because she cannot control the weight of the bags when the coal is delivered. When it comes to weighing, the operator and the dealer have consciences like India rubber. That's why they get so rich.
If the curtain were to be lifted over what happens to the coal between the mine and her cellar, to make it cost 14 to 16 dollars per ton while the cost f. o. b. car at mine is from 2 to 3.50 dollars per ton, society would be shaken to its foundation. It would be like turning over a rock in the woods. Loathsome creatures of all descriptions would be scurrying in all directions, most of them millionaires, but not all.
(The figures for bituminous coal in this table represent in somewhat generalized form the calendar year 1917; those for anthracite, the coal year ended March 31, 1917.)
Public utilities :
|Power and heat at mines||12,100,000||
Coastwise and Lake trade
Domestic consumers (domestic sizes)
|Artificial gas plants||1,650,000||1.8|
|Steam trade (industries, power plants and heating large buildings)||18,450,000||20.5|
Power and heat at mines