OCTOBER 6, 1956
CHARLESTON, W.Va.—I was told on Monday night there were a number of Republicans in my audience in Clarksburg, W. Va. In any case, at the end of the evening large numbers of people came up on the platform to shake hands, but we got away at a very reasonable hour and flew back to Charleston with Governor and Mrs. Marland and spent the night there.
I had never before come into the Charleston airport, which is on the top of a mountain, at night. Lights mark the landing lane and it was quite fascinating, gliding out of the darkness onto the lighted field. Flying at night always interests me, for the lights make all the villages and small towns look like a fairyland, especially when you are flying in a small plane and not too high.
It is far warmer here than I expected, but the leaves have begun to turn and the colors are very beautiful. West Virginia is a scenic state. But to anyone who remembers back to the years of 1933 and 1934, it is always difficult to forget that the coal mines lie under these beautiful hills and that there has not been much happiness in these mining villages for many years, though John L. Lewis has succeeded in making his unions strong and gaining many things for his miners.
They told us that there was a great deal of unemployment in this state, but that just now a number of men had been called back to work in the mines. Whether this is just a pre-election move to keep Lewis in line for the Republicans and simply means that the men will be laid off earlier than usual later on, remains to be seen.
Rumors, reported in the state paper here Tuesday, of a secret agreement between Lewis, head of the United Mine Workers and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, were officially confirmed the next day.
Under this agreement, the miners would receive a boost in pay of $1.20 a day, and another raise of 80 cents would be effective next April. They would be given two more days of vacation, $40 more in vacation pay, and three more holidays each year.
The paper stated that this would give the miners a total of $22.25 per day, two weeks of vacation, with $180 vacation pay, and nine holidays a year. The three new days would be a day before Thanksgiving, a day before Christmas and a day before New Year's Day.
This high pay and all these vacations will not really offset weeks and weeks of unemployment, however. It has become a habit in seasonal industries and in industries where there are long periods of unemployment to raise the daily wage scale. But when you take into account the amount of unemployment, the people actually have a very poor living standard. I am afraid that is really the condition in West Virginia.