AUGUST 27, 1943
HYDE PARK, Thursday—Some time ago I published a letter from a miner's wife in my column. It gave the average earnings of her husband, which were comparatively small, and added some ideas of her own on what should be done.
Since that letter was published, I have heard from the manager of "Bituminous Coal, Inc." He pointed out that the low rate of wages and the fact that a six-day week was not worked as a general thing, could only be true in a poor mine. This is very likely the case, but I think it should be pointed out that in many reports which have been made by a variety of commissions, this question of the "poor mine" has been discussed.
For many reasons, certain mines cannot be worked profitably except under extraordinary circumstances, such as we face today. Mr. Armstrong gives me the number of days that are worked on an average in one of our great coal mining states, and the total salary paid an average miner, who is neither a foreman nor a superintendent, nor working on some monthly basis. These salaries per year averaged in 1942, $2,617.62, with an average of 308 days work in 1942.
I am going to quote two paragraphs from a second letter which I received from Mr. Armstrong:
"In case it proves of further interest, we will be very happy to furnish authenticated statistics to show that tens of thousands of bituminous coal miners earn $300 a month and more in wages; that many thousands earn $400 and above per month; and that not a few industrious miners can and do earn $600 a month and more in the actual mining of bituminous coal.
"The leaders of this industry, as you may know, have rarely spoken out in public, even in the face of sharp criticism. Rather, they have tried to advance the economic and social well being of the miners by performance, by example to the more backward marginal operators."
I am very glad to have these two paragraphs. I am afraid I am a little of a "doubting Thomas," and wonder how many men managed to earn $600 a month.
I am going to ask my correspondent to send me in greater detail "the efforts that have been made to advance the economic and social well being of the miners." I realize that it is hardest for the marginal operators, who, therefore, are probably the most backward. However, there are too many things I have seen in what are supposed to be prosperous mining communities, which make me feel there is still work to be done. While I am glad of the assurance of good intentions, I am going to ask with interest for the proof of performance.