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TABLE 196.-Deductions from earnings of selected employees, by race and by individual, April, May, and June, 1909-Continued.
A brief study of the availability and regularity of employment in some of the chief bituminous fields of Pennsylvania, based on the normal years 1905, 1906, and 1907, shows the following facts. The data given relate, not to the average number of days worked by the employees, but to the average number of days that the mines were operated.
In the Connellsville coke region work is practically continuous, the plants running about three hundred days a year. In no other part of the bituminous field is this condition found. The CambriaSomerset mines run about two hundred and forty-four days a year, those of the Irwin field two hundred and forty-five, and those of the Pittsburg district about two hundred and twenty-two days. This difference in the number of days operated in the various fields is accounted for in part by the following considerations: The demand for coke is normally steady and continuous, and the plants in the Connellsville region are operated with corresponding regularity. The Irwin and Cambria fields largely supply eastern markets, and have a steadier demand than has the Pittsburg district, which depends in part on the seasonal lake trade.
Upon comparing the figures already presented, it would seem that the mine worker's opportunity for employment is better in the Cambria and Irwin districts than in the Pittsburg region, and much better
in the coke-producing district than in any of the others. A migration of labor might naturally be looked for from those regions in which the opportunity for employment is least to those in which it is greatest. No such racial movements are taking place, but, on the contrary, there is a tendency to migrate in the opposite direction. This is due to the fact that the Pittsburg region is unionized and shorter hours and better conditions of work prevail, as compared with the Irwin and Cambria fields, both of which, together with the coke regions, are without labor organizations.
The investigation in Pennsylvania, based upon reports from 1,994 males of working age in the households studied, discloses the fact that only 20.7 per cent were employed for the full twelve months; 59.5 per cent for nine months or over; 88.4 per cent for six months or over; and 98.5 per cent for three months or over. The detailed showing, by general nativity and race, follows:
TABLE 197.—Months worked during the past year by males 16 years of age or over employed away from home, by general nativity and race of individual.
(STUDY OF HOUSEHOLDS.) [This table includes only races with 20 or more males reporting. The totals, however, are for all races.)
A comparison of persons native-born of native father with those native-born of foreign father and with the foreign-born, shows that a larger per cent of the first named than of the others were regularly employed. Thus the native-born report 22.9 per cent of their number working the full twelve months, 63.2 per cent nine months or over, and 91 per cent six months or over, as compared with 20.5, 59.2, and 88.2 per cent of the foreign-born, and 17.6, 57.1, and 89 per cent of the native-born of foreign father, respectively.
As between the whites native-born of native father and the Slovaks native-born of foreign father, it will be found that only 5.7 per cent of the former had less than six months' work during the year, while the Slovaks report 11.1 per cent. On the other hand, the nativeborn Slovaks report 51.9 per cent working less than nine months, as compared with 26.4 per cent of the native whites, while 32.1 per cent of the native whites worked the full twelve months, as compared with 14.8 per cent of the native-born Slovaks. Of the foreignborn, the Roumanians lead all other races, reporting 79.4 per cent of their number as working the full twelve months, and 100 per cent nine months or over.
The Ruthenians report the next highest per cent employed for the full twelve months. This race is followed by the Germans, who also show a large per cent employed nine months or over and report their entire number employed for six months or over. Very little difference exists between the South Italians and Poles, the former reporting 33.3 per cent of their number employed under nine months, as compared with 36 per cent of the Poles. Although the Lithuanians report a slightly higher per cent for persons employed twelve months than do the Slovaks, the latter, during all other periods, report a higher per cent—68.7 per cent and 92.9 per cent working over nine and six months, respectively, as compared with 43.4 and 76.1 per cent of the Lithuanians. The Croatians report a larger per cent than do the Bohemians and Moravians or Magyars employed nine months or over, and a smaller per cent than these races employed the full twelve months. Only 5 per cent of the Russians were employed for less than six months, but the per cents working the full twelve months or nine months and over are much lower than those of any other race-2.5 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, for the periods mentioned.
DESCRIPTION OF A TYPICAL MINING AND COKE VILLAGE. The coal and coke villages in which the immigrants live are much alike. Constructed in regular rows on a hillside are 50 or 100 red or slate-gray box houses, all two-story, double, frame dwellings of cheap construction. At one end of the 'patch," or village, is a large building, the “company store," and at the other end usually a schoolhouse and a church are found.
As a rule, below the village in a narrow, smoke-filled valley, rise the iron stacks of an engine house and the steel frame of a coal tipple. Along the opposite hill base and in bank" along the valley floor are the long lines of coke ovens, every alternate oven sending forth flames together with a column of heavy, brown smoke. Through the semiobscurity electric larries run out along the oven tops and stop to let their loads of coal slide down into the empty ovens.
From the smoke come the incessant rattle and screech of coke-drawing machines as they empty the oven and load the coke into the big bird cage" or car on the sidetrack. The wind rolls the heavy smoke steadily up the slope through the town. It drifts through streets and alleys, yards, and houses, and on across the hills, smudging everything in its path. Some towns are built far enough from the coke ovens to be affected but little by the smoke, but many are only a few hundred yards away and are very smoky when the wind blows from the ovens. In many towns the smoke is so thick and heavy that not a spear of grass can grow. In the mines where no coke is made the smoke nuisance does not exist.
The village streets are but slightly improved. Some are covered with coke ashes or slate from the mine; others are the original clay
and in winter and spring are mere mud and water. The gutters are open, shallow ditches, unless the hill slopes sharply, in which case they soon become deep gullies. These gutters are always a place of deposit for rubbish, household garbage, and discarded articles. Such articles, however, are not confined to the gutters, but litter streets and alleys, sidewalks and yards, as well.
In some towns the sidewalks are of coke ashes. In many cases there is a path at either side as unimproved as the street, sometimes not even separated from it by a gutter. In wet weather boards of various lengths and widths may be laid end to end along parts of the way by the neater of the inhabitants, but in general tenants step directly from their houses into the street. At intervals of perhaps 200 yards on either side of the street are hydrants, one for every eight or ten families. In some towns the ground about the houses is fenced off and there is sufficient space for small gardens, with lawns in front decorated with flower beds. There may even be shade trees along the sidewalks. In others there is only a small, untidy back yard, with a dutch oven. In still others the walks, yards, and grounds are covered with coke ashes. The typical company village is exceedingly insanitary. Surface drainage is the rule. The toilets are dry, with ground vaults, and in many instances are near the dwellings. In frequent cases the water supply comes unfiltered from wells sunk about the village, sometimes deep enough to insure good water, sometimes so shallow as to make the water of doubtful purity. A few mines located near cities are furnished the regular city water. At many plants, however, the water comes from company reservoirs, which sometimes derive their supply from very objectionable sources, though more or less filtration is provided. There are localities in which the water is taken directly from contaminated streams running through the village, but is softened” by the use of soda ash and lime and is then filtered through coke ash and charcoal beds. On the whole, the water supply of the coal and coke town is very impure and a source of disease. The companies usually “clean up” the towns once a year; sometimes twice, but often not at all. There is little to stimulate cleanliness on the part of the tenants under such circumstances. The mine operators say that the existing conditions result from the fact that the foreigner is too dirty for the town to be other than what it is, but whether this is true or not, it seems that very little effort is made to improve the living conditions.
Relatively few mines are located sufficiently near the larger towns and cities to permit of their employees securing houses within such towns or cities. As a result, the mining companies find it necessary to erect houses to accommodate the workmen and their families in the detached and often isolated mining communities. A town is laid out, with streets, alleys, and lots properly platted, and dwe'lings of the type selected are constructed. These are usually, as has already been pointed out, two-story, double, frame buildings, of eight or ten, and in some cases twelve, rooms. They are designed to accommodate two families, one on either side of the building. Some of
a For floor plan and front and side elevation of a typical house, see p. 495
the houses are plastered and fairly well finished inside; others are much rougher in their finish. In a very few cases the houses are lighted by electricity supplied by the company, but as a rule oil lamps or other means of lighting must be furnished by the tenant.
Water for all domestic purposes must be carried by the housewife, from a few feet to several hundred yards. The distance of dry toilets from the houses varies with the depth of the lot, from a few feet to 30 or 40 yards. Waste water from the houses is sometimes carried off to the gutters along the village street by drain pipes from the kitchen. Sometimes these are omitted, and water which has been used for washing is emptied anywhere about the yard or grounds.
The usual rent for these houses is about $1.50 a room a monthe. g., a four-room house rents for $6 and a five-room house for $7.50. There are, of course, many variations, depending upon locality, size and type of house, and company, but this is a fair, general average. It should be noted in passing that this rent is usually a very satisfactory return on the investment. For instance, the houses of one company, costing $1,100 to construct, rent for $156 a year; at another mine, houses of similar construction and approximate cost rent for $144 a year; at another, similar houses, of approximately the same cost, rent for $168 a year. It is true that such houses could not now be constructed for this amount, since the cost of labor and material has increased; but, taking this fact into consideration, it is still evident that the houses yield a very good profit.
It is the policy of the companies when employing men to give preference to those who will live in company houses, and in cases where it is necessary to "lay off” a part of their workmen, other things being equal, those are usually first discharged who do not rent company houses. Less pressure is brought to bear in this direction when there is a shortage of labor. At such times men may be very gladly taken on whether their families occupy company houses or not, while at other periods, when labor is plentiful, those men are first chosen who will occupy company buildings. From this standpoint, the recent immigrants are more desirable than natives as workmen. The former will usually rent company houses without objection, while the latter generally prefer other dwellings.
It should be said that this policy of the companies is not altogether intended for the purpose of keeping up the profit from the rental of the houses, but also proceeds from a legitimate desire to keep an organized body of workmen at the plant. These houses are not always owned by the company itself, but are sometimes the property of individual members of the company.
THE COMPANY-STORE SYSTEM.
Company stores are generally found in all the detached mining villages. As conducted in the mining regions of western Pennsylvania, the company store system is usually an evasion of the law, and is often a means of exploiting immigrants and other employees. These company stores, strictly speaking, are not owned and managed by the same corporate body which owns and operates the coal mines, since the laws of Pennsylvania forbid a coal-mining company to own and operate such stores. In actual practice, however, they are very elosely related to the coal-mining company. In most cases