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for weeks at a time, as you gentlemen have, on this subject, and so patiently.
Senator WHEELER. Nobody pays much attention to the Washington Post, I will say to you.
Mr. BELDEN. I want to help you. Is there a way out or not? I think there is, but it is not to be found in this bill. Let us go a step further with this bill in reference to the high lights. Mr. Warrum has said something about mergers. Our friend, as an experienced lawyer, has drawn from all the lessons he could find of legislative experience to support this bill, and he has made the first part of this bill depend upon voluntary acceptance. Of course, coal operators would like to form marketing associations. Marketing conditions are in confusion—it is confusion worse confounded, as all of you here know. And what have we to surrender to come in and do it!
Mr. Warrum referred to mergers. What is the trend of these corporations to-day with reference to mergers and consolidations? I have something to do with the iron and steel business, and consequently have studied most carefully the decisions of our high courts with reference to such matters. My friend goes back to the great case involving the United States Steel Corporation, that the Supreme Court sustained, a consolidation of companies representing approxi. mately 50 per cent of all the steel production in this country. I think of the town where our presiding officer resides, and just think of the great combinations that have gone on there in the automobile business, Dodge and Chrysler; and then General Motors alone représents a giant consolidation of companies such as the world has never seen. All throughout industry in this country consolidations and mergers are going forward under the rule of reason laid down by our courts; and now where do we in the coal industry stand ?
Senator WHEELER. Let me ask you this: Of course we all recognize that these consolidations and mergers are going on, and that there are going to be more of them in every line of industry.
Mr. BELDEN. Yes.
Senator WHEELER. Don't you think that the price the people are going to have to pay, and that the public is going to demand as reasonable and proper when all these consolidations are going on, shall be under regulation by the Government! I am just asking you that as a question. Have you ever given that matter any thought?
Mr. BELDEN. Within certain limits, yes; but the limits here go too far, Senator Wheeler. Now, if you will just follow me: There is not in the coal business to-day more than one or two companies that produce as much as 2 per cent of the total. That would be 10,000,000 tons out of 500,000,000 tons. If we were to take all of our coal mines in the State of Ohio and put them together we would not have more than 6 per cent of the industry. If the great State of West Virginia, that produces so much more coal than all the rest of us, were to put its mines together into one giant company it would not have onethird of the coal production. That is the situation we have to-day. You may ask, Is that right? Secretary Davis of the Department of Labor said to you gentlemen in his very interesting address the other day, that in his opinion the way out and the only way out was through the merger and consolidation of coal companies. And what
are you doing here? You are prohibiting, prohibiting now mind you, the consolidation of two or more corporations engaged in the mining and shipping of coal in interstate commerce, unless what? Unless they come in here and surrender their right to the same freedom of management which is afforded to all these other industries. You are restricting by this bill the very gateway that Secretary Davis pointed out as the road to come in.
Mr. Warrum has pointed to the second part of the bill. You see, gentlemen of the committee, this bill is prepared with a good deal of ingenuity. The first portion of it, which is covered by these primary licenses, requires the voluntary acceptance, as occurs in many statutes. And the theory, gentlemen of the committee, that we have in accepting its terms is that we must undergo that. Let us see why that is true—but I do not care to spend any time discussing it.
Now, I will come down to the second division of the bill: Here are coal companies that have been in business for 25 years, engaged in producing and shipping coal in interstate commerce. They are not asking any favors. They are paying their taxes. They are complying with the laws of the land, and are going forward with their own business. What do you propose to say to them? You propose to say to the Y. &0. Coal Co., and all these other old companies: You shall not be allowed to continuenot to do something new, but to continue your business of mining and shipping coal in interstate commerce, unless what? Unless you come in here and apply for a license, and comply with all the rules and regulations promulgated by this board, among which are first, second, third, and fourth terms and conditions that they impose.
What is the first term? Now, the first term is a troublesome one. Let me just talk about it carefully and kindly—and I have none but the kindest feelings for our friends over on the other side of the table. I do not want to say a word that is going to involve you gentlemen of the committee in any controversy. But I submit this, that under the law of the land in which we live, I may hire out on the basis of being a union man if I want to, or I may hire out on the basis of being a nonunion man if I want to. On the other hand, my friends over here in another company, who are employing labor, if they like union labor best, have the right to employ it. And yet, if they like nonunion labor best, they have the right to employ that kind of labor. That is the fundamental law established by case after case in the United States Supreme Court. I am not going to stand here and read to you out of law books, but surely there will be good lawyers following me who will present to you those authorities.
Senator WHEELER. I do not think it is worth while, and candidly believe it would be a waste of time of the committee to read fundamental principles of the law such as that.
Mr. BELDEN. Everybody knows about that. Senator WHEELER. Everybody recognizes that. Mr. BELDEN. All right. In order to get a secondary license it will be necessary to give up the right to continue in business after we shall have surrendered our right to use nonunion labor if we see fit, in the first cause. Senator GLENN. How does it read ?
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Mr. BELDEN. I will read it to you, Senator Glenn. It is section 10. Let me read to you quite a little of this section, because it is worth your careful consideration:
Every corporation engaged in mining and shipping or shipping bituminous coal in interstate or foreign commerce, after this act goes into effect, and declining to accept the provisions hereof and to comply with the rules and regulations of said commission, shall apply for and secure a secondary license from the commission permitting it to continue in such interstate or foreign commerce, the granting of which license shall be conditioned upon the said corporation agreeing to and accepting the following conditions:
Now, here is the first of those conditions: If any such corporation desires to employ only nonunion mine workers, its employees shall be free to terminate their employment and join a labor union at will, and no contract of employment which is intended to impair this right shall be lawful,
Now, gentlemen of the committee, we have had some pretty hard times in our bituminous fields, and I am not going to tell you that we have always been right and Mr. Lewis has always been wrong, or that Mr. Lewis has always been right and we have been wrong.
Senator WIIEELER. Probably you have both been wrong at times.
Mr. BELDEN. That is quite possible, Senator Wheeler. We have had some pretty hot times together. We will admit that Mr. Lewis is honest in making his fight, and I am going to assume that Mr. Lewis will admit that we have been honest in making our fights. But over in Ohio, where a year ago when we were down here before you, there existed a state of more or less turmoil, and we had injunction suits in the courts, and there were soup kitchens and the State was feeding hungry children, 10,000 men are working in our mines, producing millions of tons á month, and over a million dollars a month of pay roll is pouring into the towns in southern Ohio, and comfort and happiness and prosperity prevails where a year ago all the ills of a terrible labor strife existed. And those men, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, are nonunion. Many of them were members of the old union, but are working to-day under contracts which we have the right to make, and which require that they continue to be nonunion men while they work for us.
Now, that does not necessarily prove that Mr. Lewis's organization is bad. It does not necessarily prove that Mr. Lewis's leadership is bad. I am not going to say any of these things. But it shows that we prefer the other kind of labor; and Senator Wheeler will have to agree with me that is our constitutional right to do that.
Now, suppose you were a coal company of two generations duration. Suppose you conducted your business as an honorable citizen of Ohio; are you going to come in and surrender your right to manage that business?
Senator WHEELER. Let me ask you this question: As I understand this bill, it does not insist that you shall employ union men; it only says that the men shall be free to join a union if they so see fit.
Mr. BELDEN. Very well, Senator Wheeler, but-
Mr. BELDEN (continuing). We have tried that class of labor, and we have tried this class of labor; and it is our experience
Senator WHEELER (interposing). Let me come back and ask you this question: You have given some thought to the labor question in the United States, I dare say? Mr. BELDEN. I certainly have.
Senator WHEELER. Let me ask you if it is not a fact, as a general proposition, dissociating yourself for the moment from this particular situation, that labor organizations in general in the United States--while there has been a great deal of strife, it is true—have been for the betterment of society in this country and have done much to raise the standard of living for the average man in this country?
Mr. BELDEN. Now, Senator Wheeler, I am going to answer you broadly in the spirit in which I think that question was propounded. I am going to say to you that I feel the general level of labor conditions is better in this country because there has been cooperation amongst labor. I have also got to tell you that I have lived in a mining country for many years in the northern part of this country like yourself-where there are other industries that have to do with iron and copper; and I also know that the most of our strife in those sections arose as the result of the action of agitators connected with labor organizations. And yet I think I am broad enough to say that notwithstanding that evil, which' oftentimes grows out of them, that probably on the whole they have been beneficial. But now, Senator Wheeler, never mind the rest of this argument I was going to make on this point, but let me get right down to the heart of this thing; and let us get quickly to the real problem that we have before us. The way I look at it is--millions of years ago nature put coal down in the earth. It has well been referred to as bottled-up sunshine, as crystallized sunshine-containing light, heat, and power for the human race.
More than one-half of the coal is in this country. All the future prosperity of this Nation rests on conservation of the deposits of coal; the future of iron and steel, the comfort of our domestic firesides is all related to these deposits. It is not like iron. When a steel rail has served its purpose it goes back to the melting pot and comes out a plowshare, and then from that on to something else. But when coal is burned it is destroyed. And so it is a national problem; and you gentlemen are entirely right—it is not a State problem. You never could depend upon the States, with their diverse and conflicting interests, to have State laws which would properly deal with this subject. It is a national problem, but how are you going to deal with it?
Do not make the mistake of throwing this harassed industry into still greater confusion by attempting to regulate it, by attempting to say to the men who own these mines: You must keep your money in them but you must run your mines the way we tell you to—and we have not the power to fix the price which you can charge for your coal. We can raise these labor conditions, we can do that, but we can not help out in your money receipts. We can not compel one mine owner to shut down and another to operate. We can not restrict production.
Oh, gentlemen of the committee, what is the way out?: There is only
one way out, and that is, as I am going to teil you frankly, through Government ownership, not Government regulation..
But I do not come here to advocate Government ownership. We are not trying to sell you our coal mines. But this much I do say to you: That if you think it is of supreme importance to control the production of coal, and perhaps it is—and I read Mr. Lewis's paper made here, and I tell you he is right in his statements to you that the coal deposits of this country are being wasted by present methods of mining. It can not be otherwise with the low prices of coal, for the operating men are forced to take out only those coal deposits that can be mined within the limits of market prices.
I have had veteran coal men say to me in stronger terms than Mr. Davis and Mr. Lewis have said to you, that upward of onehalf, in some districts, of the coal that is developed by exploration is never taken out.
Senator GLENN. Just a moment. I do not like to interrupt you, but we are getting away from this specific matter that we are talking about, of contract. If your position is sound and if it was generally followed by other industries it would result in the absolute destruction of the right of men and women to organize any union in this country, is that not true?
Mr. BELDEN. No; I do not think that is true at all, Senator. Other operators may think differently from what we do
Senator GLENN. Ño; but I say if it is sound and generally followed in your industry and other industries, it would result in an absolute prohibition to employees to form any organization in the whole country?
Mr. BELDEN. If everyone in the country adopted our kind of contract it is probably true.
Senator GLENN. And do you think that would be a good thing for the country as a whole and for the mass of the people?
Mr. BELDEN. Now, of course, when you ask questions like that I should be very careful in trying to answer.
Senator GLENN. Certainly.
Mr. BELDEN. I can only speak with reference to the districts with which I am familiar, and over and over again in this hearing I have noticed how strong men were when they kept within 'what they knew about, and what mistakes they made when they undertook to answer your questions and go outside. I can not answer that, Senator. I can simply tell you that in the districts in which we operate we have tried both kinds of labor, and we find it more advantageous
Senator GLENN. To you?
Mr. BELDEN (continuing). To use the kind we are taking. And, as Senator Wheeler has agreed with me, and I know Senator Wagner would, where there is no coercion, no undue influence, it is thoroughly established by the courts that each individual may settle that question for himself.
Senator GLENN. That is true; but do you think that an individual perhaps an uneducated individual and a poor individual alone, can deal upon an equal footing and a fair basis with a great corporation ?
Mr. BELDEN. Now, you are asking me that as a question of economics and not as a question of law at all?
Senator GLENN. Certainly not as a question of law. I am asking it as a question on economics.