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tities. The American whites and negroes are less thrifty than other races and usually buy everything needed at the company store.
The expenditures included in this statement are only those for household necessities and clothing, and do not include such other charges as rent, doctor's fees, powder, and smithing, which come out of every miner's earnings, and constitute a deduction of considerable importance.
The following tables show for a representative mine and coke plant average monthly earnings and deductions from earnings of employees, together with the amount of cash actually received:
TABLE 512.- Monthly earnings of employees in southern West Virginia, deductions from earnings, and amount received, by race and occupation.*
This table shows wages or earnings for the period indicated, but no account is taken of voluntary lost time or lost time from shut downs or other causes. In the various tables in this report showing annual earnings allowance is made for time lost during the year.
The average earnings and deductions for the mining employees is submitted below, by race and conjugal condition:
TABLE 513.-Average monthly earnings and amount deducted from earnings of mine employees of a representative mine and coke plant in southern West Virginia, by race and conjugal condition.*
*This table shows wages or earnings for the period indicated, but no account is taken of voluntary lost time or lost time from shut downs or other causes. In the various tables in this report showing annual earnings allowance is made for time lost during the year.
In some isolated communities the prices charged at the company stores are much in excess of a legitimate profit, and the company store in all cases is decidedly a paying institution. They are usually economically conducted and have no bad debts, as credit is rarely extended beyond the amount due the employee in wages. In many of these isolated communities it costs more to get provisions laid down at the stores because of their inconvenient location, and this accounts, at least in part, for the higher prices.
Owing to the fact that the mines in West Virginia are located in more or less isolated localities, where no houses are available other than company houses, practically all are tenants as well as employees of the mining company.
In a majority of cases the country surrounding the company village is rough and sparsely settled. Owing to the rugged topography, there is rarely enough level land for the company village to be condensed and all buildings put in regular rows. The company stores are centrally located and the houses, from 50 to 150 in number, are scattered on hillsides and in the narrow valleys. They are constructed of a cheap grade of lumber, and many of them give the impression of being only temporary structures. They vary in size, as already pointed out, from two rooms to six or eight, are usually painted red or steel gray, and all are alike. There are three general types of houses found in the coal-mining villages of the State, and it is not uncommon to find all of them represented in the same village. The most general type found, especially in the older established villages, gives every appearance of cheapness and lack of permanence. This is a one-story structure of from two to four or sometimes five or six rooms. They are usually boxed on the outside with 10 or 12 inch boards nailed on vertically with 3-inch strips over the cracks. They are either ceiled with good dressed and matched lumber, or plastered and in some cases papered, in addition to being either ceiled or plastered. They are usually two rooms long, and, if there are more than two rooms, the additional rooms are usually built as a wing running back from the front part. A rather narrow porch is built on the front of the house, and in some cases in the rear. The double houses are two stories high, two rooms wide, and two long. If they contain six rooms, the rear ones are only one story high; and if there are eight rooms, the front and rear are both two stories. The houses are divided by a main wall running from front to rear, each section or side accommodating one family. Double chimneys are usually constructed in the front rooms, with open fires as the source of heat. These houses have narrow porches at the front running the width of the house, with railings, or, in some instances, an outside continuation of the dividing wall, which cuts the porch into two sections. The houses are either ceiled or plastered and, in some cases, papered. They are always painted on the outside, and while not attractive are usually comfortable and kept in a very good state of repair. The third type of house found in mining villages is better in quality and general appearance, and occurs less frequently than any other. This type of house is a single one-story building of four or five rcoms and hall, and finished both inside and out with better material than that usually found in the types above described.
The rent charged by the different companies varies widely and, as a rule, includes coal if the employee will carry it from the mining tipple. If coal is delivered, an extra charge, usually just sufficient to meet such expenses as are incurred in the delivery, is made. When a house and fuel are furnished, which is the case in most instances, the rent ranges from $1.50 to $2 a month per room, or from $6 to $8 per month for a 4-room house. Some companies have a fixed rule of $2 per room per month for 3-room houses, and where an employee rents a house containing more than three rooms a charge of $1 per month is made for each additional room.
Where such extra conveniences as electric lights or gas are furnished, an extra charge is made. Some companies claim to furnish these at actual cost, while others make a good profit on the service. In no cases are the houses supplied with running water inside, and the closest approach to it is a hydrant in the yard. In most places where outside hydrants are found, they are arranged so that each will serve from six to eight families. In many of the villages water is secured from wells, and in some communities practically all houses are served by one or two springs. Where wells are found they are barely deep enough to secure a lasting supply, and each well is located so as to supply from three to ten families. Some wells are equipped with pumps and others are furnished with buckets and windlass. Cases were found in some villages where employees were securing all water for household purposes directly from a river without any filtration.
The general sanitary conditions of the average mining village of West Virginia are not good. The drainage is surface entirely, and although in its natural state, owing to the topography, the soil drains readily, when obstructed by buildings and household garbage it is considerably impeded. Toilets are generally dry and of the earth vault variety. Owing to the rolling character of the ground surrounding houses, the lots have no uniform size, and the distance between houses and between the houses and toilets is not uniform. The toilets are often some distance from the houses, but if the houses face the store, or main part of the village, as they usually do, the toilets located in the rear are on higher ground than the houses. Most of the companies clean their villages at least once each year, when all toilets and grounds about the houses are cleansed and lime applied. In some cases this process is carried on twice each year. The insanitary conditions are largely due to the inhabitants themselves. The recent immigrants usually have from two to twelve boarders to the family, and the houses are poorly kept. Little regard is given to appearance, and in the yards about these boarding houses will be found various forms of household garbage. Waste water is usually thrown from the door or from some convenient window.
The negroes do not show much greater diligence as regards sanitation than the average recent immigrant of southern and eastern Europe. There is a marked improvement in general household conditions among the families of the southern and eastern European races who have lived many years in the United States. As the period of residence increases, the tendency to keep boarders or lodgers seems to decline. The South Italian has less regard for sanitary
conditions than has any other race. This is due very largely to the fact, especially in the southern fields, that they have been coming in large numbers only within recent years, and the number of families is comparatively small. They live very largely in groups composed of men only, and no thought or time is devoted to keeping up attractive abodes. The houses of American whites, English, Scotch, and Germans are usually very well kept, and a majority of the families of these races do not keep boarders. In households where boarders are kept, more individuals are found per room. The general living conditions of the races of northern Europe are a great improvement over conditions found in the homes of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.
The general conditions in coal-mining localities in West Virginia are not conducive to the ownership of homes by mine employees. In the first place, a majority of the mines are in isolated districts, more or less cut off from other communities because of rugged topography, bad roads, and poor transportation facilities. If an employee should invest in a home near his work and for any reason he should be thrown out of work the property would not be valuable, because there are no other industries near in which he could find employment. The coal mines often have periods when work is irregular, or suspend operations for months at a time, which facts tend to make coal-mining labor migratory. Another fact opposed to home ownership which exists in some locations is found in the policy of various companies not to sell either land on which to build houses or the houses themselves, because in either case they would be cutting into a very profitable part of their business. The mining companies often own such large tracts that no other available land suitable for building purposes is to be had convenient to the work.
In addition to wages paid, the only benefits received by operatives in either the northern or southern coal fields of West Virginia are in the form of medical and hospital service. Even these are usually maintained by a fund contributions to which are required of the mine workers. At every mining village a resident physician is maintained. Hospital service is often a few miles away from the mining villages. The charges for this service are usually one dollar per month for every operative who is married and has a family. Some companies in addition levy an assessment upon each employee for the maintenance of a miner's hospital. The rates charged differ with different companies, but represent the average charges. The following notice, issued by a coal-mining company in southern West Virginia, outlines the insurance system usual in that section:
Commencing this date all employees of this company will be charged 25 cents per month (or fraction thereof) each for accident insurance.
In case an employee receives an injury by an accident while at his work or in going to or returning therefrom and is disabled for work thereby, he will be paid $6 per week, ten days constituting the first week of disability. In no case will benefits be allowed longer than twenty weeks nor for more than the above prescribed amounts. In case of the death of an employee resulting from an accident, the sum of $50 will be paid to his legal heirs for the purpose of defraying the funeral expenses, etc.
In case of the loss of a limb the claimant may draw at once the whole of his twenty weeks' benefits on application.
In case of the death of an employee from natural causes, $35 will be paid to his legal heirs to defray funeral expenses.
In case an employee receives an injury he, or some one in his behalf, must report the fact promptly at the office of the company and must have a physician's attende-the resident physician of the company, if practicable-whose certificate of disability he shall present at the office on making application for benefits.
Should any person while drawing benefits become inebriated or engage in any kind of work, or do anything to retard his recovery, he shall forfeit all further benefits. Should any person who has been drawing benefits return to work, and after twc days find himself unable, he shall report to the office and to the physician, when his benefits shall continue, the number of days worked being deducted therefrom. An old sprain, wound, or sore, or any wound received in a quarrel or brawl, or by the discharge of firearms, will not entitle any person to receive benefits, nor any ailment of the body caused by the elements, such as sunstroke, frostbite, or arising rom miasma consequent on marshy land, wet work in mines, insufficient ventilation, fumes from ammunition used in mines, or anything of like nature.
In case of the death of an employee, or of a member of an employee's family, the company will provide a grave, if buried on the premises.
Copies of this order may be secured by applying at the office.
During the years 1905 to 1907 employment in most of the mines in West Virginia was steady throughout the year. In 1908, owing to the industrial depression, employment was very irregular in most mines of the State. During 1907, 59,029 men worked an average of two hundred and thirty days, while in 1908, 56,861 men were employed an average only of one hundred and eighty-five days. In almost every mining establishment, from which data were secured, throughout the State of West Virginia, short time was worked during the year 1908. Several establishments were entirely closed down for months at a time--some for three and others for six months. The majority of establishments, however, operated during the entire year on short time, the usual number of days worked in each week being three, four, and four and a half. As examples of the foregoing, one important establishment was closed entirely for a period of three months, covering July, August, and September, 1908; another operated on short time from January 1 to October 1 and on full time for the remainder of the year; in another establishment unemployment during the year averaged three days per week; another operated approximately four days out of each week during the entire year; while in another the pick miners worked approximately three days in each week throughout the year, though the day laborers, who were few in numbers, worked full time of six days per week throughout the entire year.
As has been stated before, only a small proportion of the employees working in mines and at coke plants in West Virginia are organized. There has never been any organization in the Pocahontas field, and the unions have not been recognized in the Fairmont field since 1894, nor in the New River field since 1902. In many cases deputies are employed by the mining companies to keep order, and besides this they inquire into the business of strangers coming into the villages. Many companies do not permit agents selling articles to canvass the village without first obtaining the permission of some officer of the company. This rule exists in many instances for the purpose of keeping labor organizers from working up a union sentiment among the men. At the establishments where organized labor is employed the agreement with the union does not permit the company to employ deputy sheriffs.