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CONTROL OF OUTPUT-PRICES AND MARKETING
Discussion of rationalization deals very little with marketing or distribution. No Government action has been taken to control output or marketing in either the bituminous or anthracite mines, and no action by the industry, partly because restriction of production and price agreements are forbidden by antitrust laws.
In bituminous mines, since 1923, costs of production have been reduced greatly, very largely because of wage reductions. Conditions have weakened the position of the miners' union. In 1923 the union had wage contracts negotiated by collective bargaining with employers covering 70 per cent of the bituminous tonnage. In 1929 wage contracts covered only 20 per cent of the tonnage, the remaining 80 per cent being nonunion, employers determining working conditions and wages. Nonunion mines paying lower wages have a com petitive advantage. In mines still negotiating with the union the day wage rate has been reduced by agreement from $7.50 per day to about $6 or even $5, depending on the district. Discharged miners have found work where they could, sometimes being assisted by a local employment agency, but without unemployment insurance derived from the industry or the Government.
The method of fixing wages in fields where the union is recognized is by collective bargaining. Wage agreements run for fixed periods from one to three years and specify wage rates and working conditions to remain without change during the life of the agreement. There are provisions for settling individual grievances and disputes over interpretation, but no machinery exists for arbitration of changes in wage rates or working conditions. There are no arbitration courts in the coal industry nor wage tribunals constituted by law.
Wages in the anthracite industry are fixed by collective bargaining between companies and mine workers, who are fully organized. The present wage contract has a life of five years and expires in September, 1930.
It fixes wage rates and working conditions for the entire period, subject to possible change by complicated arbitration machinery which thus far neither party has seen fit to invoke.
There are no State-supported miners' welfare funds, although most States have accident compensation laws applying to all wage earners. Many local and district unions have small benefit funds covering sickness and funeral expenses, and a few have small mutual insurance schemes. Very few large nonunion companies in either the bituminous or anthracite industry have independent welfare funds in the management of which the miners are allowed a voice.
Profit-sharing schemes are in operation at only a few small individual companies in bituminous mines, but do not exist in the anthracite industry.
(a) Bituminous.--In bituminous mines, which produce 500,000,000 tons yearly, the situation is one of excess mine capacity and labor force, resulting in destructive competition between thousands of mines in 92 districts and 26 States, some of which recognize the miners' union, while some are nonunion. From 1916 to 1923, strikes and shortages of transport kept prices high and wages increased. During this period the State and Federal Governments frequently intervened to settle wage disputes and control coal distribution in order to protect consumers. Since 1924 prolonged depression has prevailed. Fuel economy and competition of oil and water power have checked the demand for coal. Transport facilities have been ample and the several strikes which have occurred have caused no shortage of coal. During this period the Federal Government has held aloof. There have been some hearings by congressional committees, and bills have been introduced proposing regulatory legislation which have been supported by mine workers but opposed by employers, and the bills have never gone to a vote. The present prospects for legislation are exceedingly remote. Thus the Government has left the industry to work out its own problem.
(6) Anthracite. - In the Pennsylvania anthracite industry, which produces 80,000,000 tons, 150,000 men are employed. The anthracite industry is dominated by a small group of powerful companies. Destructive competition between producers was eliminated long ago, and until recently the mines worked steadily, and wages and profits were increasing
Anthracite is the standard house fuel in northeastern United States. Since 1926, however, the consumption has declined because of the low prices of bituminous coal and the competition of coke and automatic oil and gas heating. Profits are declining and the working time of the mines has fallen to 217 days per year as against a former average of 270 days. As in the case of bituminous mining, the Government since 1923 has declined to intervene in wage disputes and has encouraged the industry to solve its own problems.
Anthracite companies have cooperated to improve the standards of cleaning and sizing of coal and have organized a cooperative service to consumers. This service does not handle sales but conducts cooperative advertising, advises dealers and consumers on the selection of heating equipment and methods of combustion, and deals with complaints of unsatisfactory service. Companies feel this service in the interests of consumers is helpful in holding the market against competition of other fuels.
TABLE A.— Average value per ton raised at pit (Weighted average value of coal sold from the mine, including the estimated value of the coal used on
the mines and that supplied to householder employees)
20 4 24 10 20 1 19 4 22 1
14 5 16 19 18 7 13 1142 13 1142 17 3 7 14 492 16 1 17 3 10 14 8
TABLE B.-Production of coal and lignite (in terms of coal) in metric tons
146,000,000 23,000,000 44,000,000 32,000,000 271,000,000 519,000,000
187,000,000 27,000,000 52,000,000 38,000,000 255,000,000 545,000,000
188,000,000 27,000,000 52,000,000 41,000,000 241,000,000 517,000,000
1 Estimate of provisional figures.
Pre-war territory. • Postwar territory.
THE PACKERS' CONSENT DECREE
A HISTORY OF LEGISLATION PERTAINING TO THE
JANUARY, 1931, MODIFYING THE DECREE
FEBRUARY 17 (calendar day, MARCH 2), 1931.-Ordered
to be printed
WASHINGTON : 1931