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hours. For the purpose of protecting themselves, therefore,
against the competition of immigrant labor, the Americans and the Englishspeaking races claim that they take an active part in directing and controlling the labor organizations. Although there is prejudice against immigrants from Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Kussia on the part of the English-speaking races, still their attitude is not openly unfriendly as long as they can control the situation, but if any of the first-mentioned immigrants try to show their power in any measure, they are usually forced into submission. The Americans and English are able to retain power for the reason that the different immigrant races never unite with each other.
The presence of the United Mine Workers of America in Kansas and Oklahoma has been of great benefit to the miners. The men are benefited by better prices for mining, shorter hours, and by different rules and regulations concerning appliances to promote safety in mining. In securing industrial peace and stability among employees the unions have also been of benefit to the operators. Before the field was strongly organized and mine labor was scarce, operators, by giving a slight advance in wages could secure men from neighboring rival concerns, strikes were more frequent than at the present time, and the operator was never certain that he could hold his force during the busy season when he needed it most. Under present conditions a contract is signed for a universal wage scale and a strike is called only in extreme cases, where the committee of the United Mine Workers of America and the Southwestern Coal Operators Association fail to settle the difference by arbitration.
MINING ACCIDENTS IN THEIR RELATION TO RECENT IMMIGRATION.
According to the report of the state mining inspector, 27 men were killed and 70 injured in the coal mines of Kansas during 1908. Of the total number of men killed, 7 were shot firers who lost their lives in the performance of their work, evidently by improperly placed shots; 14 were killed by falls of roof and coal in the rooms and entries; 2 men met death by falling down a shaft; 1 cager was caught by the cage and killed; and other causes claimed 3 victims. 27 men killed, 14 were married, and the total number of children left fatherless was 56. The death rate per thousand men employed was 1.94 in 1908 as against 2.57 in 1907.
The number of tons of coal mined for each life lost in 1908 amounted to 231,315. No statistics were available showing the race or nationality of the men killed or injured. During the past year (1908) there were 172 accidents in the coal mines of Oklahoma, 44 of which were fatal, or 1 for every 67,002 tons of coal mined. There were 128 nonfatal accidents, or 1 for every 23,032 tons of coal mined; for every 1,000 employees, 5.08 were killed. Of the total number who were either killed or injured, 79 were immigrants, 81 Americans, and 12 negroes.
a Production of Coal in 1908, p. 121. E. W. Parker, U. S. Geological Survey.
The following table shows the total number of men killed and injured in the mining industry in Oklahoma and Kansas, the percentage of the total number employed who were killed, and the number of tons of coal mined for each life lost in the two States in 1908:
TABLE 421.–Fatal and nonfatal accidents in Kansas and Oklahoma coal mines, 1908. (Compiled from Annual Report (1908) of the State Mining Inspector of Oklahoma and the Annual
Report on Coal Production (1908) of the United States Geological Survey.
a Statistics showing the number of fatal and nonfatal accidents in Oklahoma coal mines are for the fiscal year ending Ociober 31, 1908.
The majority of immigrants from Italy, Russia, and AustriaHungary, on coming to this country, are entirely ignorant of mining and go to the mines without knowledge of the dangers to be encountered, and, in consequence, are reckless. The majority of superintendents and mine foremen interviewed claim that many accidents are due to the fact that the foreigner is not able to speak or understand English and it is hard to make him understand a warning. Before the m ers are allowed to go down for work the mines are thoroughly tested for gas by fire bosses or gas men, and in cases where bodies of gas are found warnings are posted directing the men to remain away from that part of the mine. It is difficult to compel the newly arrived immigrants to regard these warnings, and on this account many men have been severely burned or killed by explosions. Thus the ignorance of the foreigner as to English not only brings great danger to himself, but to every man working in the mine with him. It has been suggested that there should be a law requiring each immigrant to stand a thorough examination before allowing him to be employed in the coal-mining industry, similar to the state examinations required for position of mine foreman, hoisting engineer, or fire boss. The examinations for engineers, fire bosses, and similar occupations are held at designated intervals by an appointed board. The state mining inspector states that of the men who take these examinations, with the exception of the English-speaking races, less than one and one-half per cent are foreigners, and that a very small percentage of these are able to pass the examination. Only in rare instances does the Italian attempt the examination, and usually in such cases the applicant is of the second generation.
RELATIONS AMONG RACES EMPLOYED.
In pick mining it is almost necessary for two men to work together. The universal practice is for two men, who are called “buddies,” to work in the same room, often for a period of years. One does the mining and places the shots and the other does the loading, or they will take turn about at the two tasks. Generally they send out car for car of coal and divide yardage, room turning, and other extra work, so that their pay will be as nearly equal as possible. On pay day if one has a little more money due him than the other they may divide equally, having first taken out of their joint pay all expenses for mining, such as powder, fuse, caps, blasting paper, etc. These men are to some extent isolated, working together at the face of the coal, probably from 100 to 200 feet from the entry, and almost the only other employee they see during the day is the driver, who brings the empty cars and hauls away the loaded ones. It is natural, therefore, that the two men will become very intimate.
Consequently it is an almost unheard-of situation to find an American miner and an immigrant from continental Europe working in the same room. Possibly the force of men working the entry may include five or six different nationalities, but on entering the rooms the "buddies," or partners, will be found to be men of the same race. Often an American works in the same room with an Englishman, Scotchman, or Welshman, but it is rare to find an American miner working with an immigrant of any race other than those mentioned.
With the company or day men the case is different. Drivers, timbermen, trackmen, spraggers, cagers, etc., are very often of different races, and Americans work side by side with Italians, Lithuanians, Poles, or Slovaks. The reason assigned for this is that the miner chooses his own working partner, while the mine foreman hires the company men and places them together irrespective of race. Many pit bosses prefer to work gangs of different races rather than a force made up of the same nationality.
While outside the mine there may be racial prejudices and little association between the races, during work hours little of this is seen and working relations between Americans and immigrants are pleasant, the foreigner receiving as fair treatment as the native at the hands of the company.
HOUSING AND LIVING CONDITIONS.
General housing and living conditions—Rent in its relation to standard of living
Boarders and lodgers--Size of apartments occupied-Size of households studiedCongestion—[Text Tables 422 to 433 and General Tables 169 to 180).
GENERAL HOUSING AND LIVING CONDITIONS.
General housing conditions in Oklahoma and Kansas vary according to localities. Generally speaking, in the larger towns and mining villages, the condition of houses is much better than in smaller and more isolated settlements. The particular race predominating in a community also has a noticeable influence in regard to the general appearance of the home and the sanitary conditions surrounding it. In the older towns throughout the mining sections of the two States, the houses are more substantial, are kept in better repair and more conveniences are provided. The reason for this condition is that in such places many miners own their homes and others rent houses from private persons. On account of competition in renting, the coal companies are forced to provide better dwellings for their employees than they do in places where all the houses are owned by the companies. Length of residence also has much to do with the appearance and comfort of the home, since the immigrant after purchasing a piece of property is constantly improving it. Those who have owned homes for a number of years have set out shade and fruit trees, a good garden usually exists, wells or cisterns are dug, some have small vineyards, and the general appearance of the property denotes pride in ownership. On rented property, the immigrant has no incentive toward improving his home and the effect is at once discernible. Company houses, which have already been discussed, are never as good as those owned by immigrants or as those rented from private persons. In the older mining towns few immigrants rent houses from the company.
A tendency toward segregation on the part of certain immigrant races is very noticeable, and almost every town in the coal fields has its foreign quarter, where the members of one or more immigrant races have purchased homes. There are also a number of towns which have an almost exclusively immigrant population. Italians more than any other race are found in complete segregation. Wherever a large force of Italians is employed there will be found an Italian colony living in a community by itself and associating little with other races or with natives. In some places North and South Italians are living in the same neighborhood, but where there are many of both races they live in separate colonies. More property is owned by Italians in Kansas and Oklahoma than by any other immigrant race, and in every mining locality there are Italians owning homes. When
a See p. 64.
the Italian decides to remain permanently in a town he purchases a home as soon as possible. These homes are usually frame structures of from four to six rooms of one story. Much care is devoted to the premises, a good garden is always maintained, and goes far toward the support of the family, while ovens are built in the yard and such outbuildings as are necessary are erected. The interior of the home, however, is never as clean as it should be, though the North Italians are more careful in this respect than immigrants from southern Italy. The Italian women are not neat housekeepers and are very negligent as to sanitary conditions. The kitchen is used as a living and dining room, and here also the miners wash after returning from work. This naturally leads to a great deal of filth, water is allowed to accumulate on the floors, remains of the preceding meal are not removed, and often dishes go unwashed from one meal to another; no care is exercised in throwing waste water at a proper distance from the dwelling, and as few towns are provided with a sewerage system the back yards are usually in a very insanitary condition. In towns where there is a water system, city water is piped to the houses, but the usual supply comes from wells or cisterns in the back yards, sometimes one well supplying several families. The furnishing of the home is usually very poor, the furniture being of the cheapest grade, and little attempt is made at adornment.
Lithuanians have not settled in all parts of the coal fields as did the Italians, but have confined themselves to certain towns and localities in Oklahoma. Very few, if any, are to be found in Kansas. They are segregated to a great extent and live in communities by themselves. It seems that when one family comes to the United States it induces all its kindred to join it as soon as possible. Most of them have come to this country with the idea of making it their permanent home, and are therefore desirous of becoming property owners. In buying property the effort is always made to get it in neighborhoods occupied by their own people. The interior of the home is generally neat and well kept, and the furniture is of better quality than that of the average Italian family. They are also much more careful as to sanitary precautions. Homes owned by this race are of the same type as those occupied by Italians, consisting of onestory frame structures of from four to six rooms.
Poles, Croatians, Slovaks, and Slovenians also own considerable property throughout the coal fields, but are not segregated to as great an extent as are Italians and Lithuanians. Their homes are of same the type as those previously described. The interiors of the houses are not as neat and well kept as those of the Lithuanians, but are more so than those occupied by Italians.
Mexicans own very little property and most of them live in houses owned by the coal companies. On this account they are not segregated in their living quarters, but at the same time there is no association between them and natives or members of other races. The interior of Mexican homes is usually unclean. Many families occupy houses with no furniture beyond a cooking stove, the inmates sleeping on rude bunks or upon straw thrown on the floor.