Background for Book of the Dead
"Investigation Relating to Health Conditions of Workers Employed in the Construction and Maintenance of Public Utilities"
Transcript of a 1936 Report of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor
MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE
GLENN GRISWOLD, Indiana, Chairman
MATTHEW A. DUNN, Pennsylvania W. P. LAMBERTSON, Kansas
JENNINGS RANDOLPH, West Virginia VITO MARCANTONIO, New York
INVESTIGATION RELATING TO HEALTH CONDITIONS OF WORKERS EMPLOYED IN THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC UTILITIES
THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 1936
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON LABOR, Washington, D. C.
The subcommittee this day met at 10:40 a. m., Hon. Glenn Griswold presiding, for consideration of House Joint Resolution 449, which reads as follows:
[H. J. Res. 449, 74th Cong., 2d sess.]
JOINT RESOLUTION To authorize the Secretary of Labor to appoint a board of inquiry to ascertain the facts relating to health conditions of workers employed in the construction and maintenance of public utilities
Whereas four hundred and seventy-six tunnel workers employed by the Rinehart and Dennis Company, contractors for the New Kanawha Power Company, subsidiary of the Union Carbide and Carbon Company, have from time to time died from silicosis contracted while employed in digging out a tunnel at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia; and
Whereas one thousand five hundred workers are now suffering from silicosis contracted while employed in the construction of said tunnel at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia; and
Whereas one hundred and sixty-nine of said workers were buried in a field at Summerville, West Virginia, with cornstalks as their only gravestones and with no other means of identification; and
Whereas silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing silicate dust, this dust causing the growth of fibrous tissues in the lung gradually choking the air cells in the lung and bringing about certain death; and
Whereas this condition has existed for years and all efforts to expose it have been thwarted; and
Whereas there are other similar conditions existing in the United States in said industry: Therefore be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That (1) the Secretary of Labor shall immediately appoint a board of inquiry to make a prompt and thorough investigation of all facts relating to health conditions of workers employed in the construction and maintenance of public utilities.
(2) The board, or its duly authorized agents or agencies, shall at all reasonable times have access to, for the purpose of examination and the right to copy, any evidence of any person being investigated or proceeded against that relates to any matter under investigation or in question. Any member of the board shall have power to issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of any evidence that relates to any matter under investigation or in question before the board, its member, agent, or agency conducting the hearing or investigation. Any member of the board, or any agent or agency designated by the board for such purposes, may administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses, and receive evidence. Such attendance of witnesses and the production of such evidence may be required from any place in the United States or any Territory or possession thereof at any designated place of hearing.
(3) In case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any person any District Court of the United States or the United States courts of any Territory or possession, or the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, within the jurisdiction of which the inquiry is carried on or within the jurisdiction of which said person guilty of contumacy or refusal to obey is found or resides or transacts business, upon application by the board, shall have jurisdiction to issue to such person an order requiring such person to appear before the board, its member, agent, or agency, there to produce evidence if so ordered, or there to give testimony touching the matter under investigation or in question; and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by said court as contempt thereof.
(4) No person shall be excused from attending and testifying or from producing books, records, correspondence, documents, or other evidence in obedience to the subpoena of the board on the ground that the testimony or evidence required of him may tend to incriminate him or subject him to a penalty of forfeiture; but no individual shall be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter, or thing concerning which he is compelled, after having claimed his privilege against self-incrimination, to testify or produce evidence, except that such individual so testifying shall not be exempt from prosecution and punishment for perjury committed in so testifying.
(5) Complaints, orders, and other process and papers of the board, its member, agent, or agency may be served either personally or by registered mail or by telegraph or by leaving a copy thereof at the principal office or place of business of the person required to be served. The verified return by the individual so serving the same setting forth the manner of such service shall be proof of the same, and the return post-office receipt or telegraph receipt therefore when registered and mailed or telegraphed as aforesaid shall be proof of service of the same. Witnesses summoned before the board, its member, agent, or agency shall be paid the same fees and mileage that are paid witnesses in the courts of the United States, and witnesses whose depositions are taken and the persons taking the same shall severally be entitled to the same fees as are paid for like services in the courts of the United States.
(6) All process of any court to which application may be made under this Act may be served in the judicial district wherein the defendant or other person required to be served resides or may be found.
(7) The several departments and agencies of the Government, when directed by the President, shall furnish the board, upon its request, all records, papers, and information in their possession relating to any matter before the board.
(8) Any person who shall willfully resist, prevent, impede, or interfere with any member of the board or any of its agents or agencies in the performance of duties pursuant to this Act shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
(9) That said board of inquiry shall report to the Secretary of Labor its findings of fact and its recommendations, and the Secretary of Labor shall, with such summary or other report as she sees fit, transmit the same to the Congress.
STATEMENT OF PHILIPPA ALLEN
Mr. GRISWOLD. The subcommittee, which is composed of Mr. Griswold, Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania, Mr. Randolph, Mr. Lambertson, and Mr. Marcantonio, will please be in order. We have with us this morning, to be heard first, Miss Philippa Allen, of the Jacob A. Reis Neighborhood House, 48 Henry Street,New York City.
Miss Allen, the subcommittee should like to have you make a statement, if you have one, concerning conditions at or near Gauley Bridge, W. Va.
Miss ALLEN. As I understand, I am first to tell you what sort of work I am engaged in. I am a social worker connected with the Jacob A. Reis Neighborhood House, New York City.
I have spent the last four summers in West Virginia; and during the summer of 1934, when I was doing social work down there, I first heard of what we were pleased to call the Gauley tunnel tragedy, which involves about 2,000 men.
According to the estimates of contractors, 2,000 men were employed there over a period of about 2 years in drilling 3.75 miles of tunnel to divert water from New River to a hydroelectric plant at Gauley Junction. The rock through which the workmen were boring was of a high silica content. In tunnel no. 1 it ran from 97 to 99 percent pure silica, and the contractors neglected to provide the workmen with any sort of safety device.
None of the workmen, who have lived around Gauley Bridge all of their lives, were aware of the risk they were running, despite the fact that sandstone outcroppings can be seen all over the roads. These were robust, hard-muscled workmen, and yet many of them began dying almost as soon as the work on the tunnel started. With every breath they were breathing a massive dose of silica dust. That was the true explanation of it.
It usually takes from 10 to 20 years to develop fully in a man's lungs this condition, but the medical men said that these men were working under extremely dusty conditions and the doses they received were massive indeed.
Silica dust is deadly in large doses. Every worker examined by a physician after working in the tunnel any length of time has been found to have this dreadful disease. It is a lung disease that cannot be arrested, once it is started. Ultimately, the victim strangles to death.
When I tried to tabulate the number of workmen who had died as a result of this condition, I found it impossible to do so for several reasons: First, because before it was generally known what was really killing these men company doctors had diagnosed the numerous deaths as pneumonia, to which silicosis-infected lungs are susceptible; second, the undertaker who handled many of the burials testified in court that his records had been destroyed; third, after suits were started and everybody knew that rock dust was causing this dreadful state of things and killing the men on the tunnel job, workmen left their jobs there and scattered all over the country.
This tunnel is part of a huge water-power project which began in the latter part of 1929 under the direction of the New Kanawha Power Co., a subsidiary of the Union Carbide & Carbon Co. That company was licensed by the State of West Virginia Power Commission to develop power for public sale, and ostensibly it was to do that; but, in reality, it was formed to sell all the power to the Electro-Metallurgical Co., a Subsidiary of the Union Carbide & Carbon Co., which was by an act of the State legislature allowed to buy up the New Kanawha Power Co. in 1933.
I should like to state that I am now making a very general statement as a beginning. There are many points that I should like to develop later, but I shall try to give you a general history of this condition first.
I found when I went to Gauley Bridge that men were still dying like files in 1934. These were men who characterized themselves as generally following the mines as a trade. Mining in West Virginia is unsteady, and these men went into this tunnel work because they thought it offered opportunity for steady work at better wages, and that it was work which did not posses the hazards they had met in mining coal, such hazards being poisonous gases and falling rocks.
Of the 2,000 men employed there over a period of nearly 3 years, many have been examined by private doctors. Men began to succumb to the bad condition within 1, 2, or 3 years after they started to engage in the work. It seems that but few of the 2,000 men affected will escape.
Nobody knew of the dangers of this dusty tunnel until the first of the $6,000,000 of lawsuits against the New Kanawha Power Co. and Rinehart & Dennis, contractors, of Charlottesville, Va., were filed. All the lawsuits charged that men were dead or were dying because of working in the tunnel.
The first suits were brought to trial in the spring of 1933. The lawyers representing 300 men settled out of court after the first suit resulted in a hung jury. They settled for a sum of $130,000. The lawyers had taken the cases on a 50-percent-contingency basis, therefore only a very small sum was left to be divided between a large number of men after the lawyers' fees had been subtracted; but not all of the 300 men who were made to sign releases of claims for damages against the power company and Rinehart & Dennis, contractors, before settlement was made shared in the division of the money.
The reason for this, as I was told, was the hasty diagnosis of a special commission of three doctors appointed to examine the affected men. These doctors were Dr. Harliss, of Gauley Bridge, Dr. Huey, of Charleston, and Dr. Hayherst, who is a consultant for the State of Ohio State Board of Health on occupational diseases. That board found that only 150 of the 300 affected men had silicosis. The remainder of the men developed symptoms and later petitioned the court to resue.
I want to recite some of the conditions that were uncovered concerning working conditions in the tunnel at the trial. The dust was so thick in the tunnel that the atmosphere resembled a patch of dense fog. It was estimated on the witness stand in the little courtroom at Fayetteville, where suits against the builders of the tunnel were tried, that workmen in the tunnel could see only 10 to 15 feet ahead of them at times. Man after man—drillers, drill helpers, nippers, muckers, dinkey runners, and members of the surveying crew who were the plaintiff's witnesses—told of this dusty condition. They said that although the tunnel was thoroughly lighted, the dinkey engine ran into cars on the track because the brakeman and dinkey runner could not see them. Laird King drove his dinkey into the little one and wrecked it, and Otis Edna, his brakeman, jumped off the front end just in time to save his life. Nippers who took charge of the steel bits could not see the signs given by the drillers when they needed "steel" and the signals had to be relayed. Dust got in the men's hair, on their faces, in their eyebrows; their clothing was thick with it. Raymond Johnson described how men blew dust off themselves with compressed air in the tunnel; if they did not they came out of the tunnel white, he said. One worker told how dust settled on top of the drinking water, "so I took milk in the tunnel with me and drank it instead."
What caused this dusty condition? The use of dry drills, said the workmen. J. J. Huffman told the court how he asked the foreman if a little water could not be used in the hole when the bit got hung up, and the foreman's reply was, "Hell, no."
Milledge Venson said that the foreman stopped the dry drilling while the mine-safety inspector was in the tunnel. And Sam Butner testified that he was stationed at the scaling tower, which was several hundred feet—600 I believe—from the heading, and directed to hurry information to the heading foreman of the approach of the mine inspector so that the dry drilling could be stopped before the inspector reached there. Not only Sam, but Laird King and others told how they had acted as lookouts and warned the foreman when they saw the inspector coming.
Rinehart & Dennis, builders of the tunnel, tried in vain to deny that the workmen were forced to drill "dry" holes. Albert Young, a Negro worker, originally testified for the contractors saying that there was no dust and that drills were operated by water, but later he appeared in court as a plaintiff's witness—a witness for the man who was suing—and changed his story. There was "considerable dust" in the tunnel and that drills were operated when dry, he said; he had been praying since he gave the first testimony and now wished to tell the truth. Before he told his story the first time, he said, he was promised a job and pay by an official of the contracting company if he would testify for the company, and "threatened with the penitentiary" if he did not do so.
Another witness for the contractors was Robert M. Lambie, former chief of the State mines department, who said that the tunnel was practically dust-free when he made inspections in 1930 and 1931. He told the jury that the men were easily distinguishable from 500 to 700 feet away, and that drills were operated with water.
Why did he say this now when in 1931 he had written letters to the contracting company instructing them to remedy the dusty conditions in the tunnel, the plaintiff's lawyer asked him. Lambie said he had been misinformed by his inspectors concerning conditions in the tunnel in 1931. He admitted that he had recommended the use of masks—respirators—at the time; but he said later he withdrew this recommendation after a conference with the contractors when he decided that masks were not necessary.
Throughout the court trials the witnesses for the contractors gave the flimsiest testimony. O. M. Jones, chief engineer of the New Kanawha Power Co., "never saw dust, or at least enough to say it was dusty." He saw fog and mist in the tunnel; but "the air was as clear as it was in the courtroom, except on foggy days."
Under cross-examination, Owen Jones admitted that he had received a letter from Lambie, mine safety inspector, on May 18, 1931, saying that the heavy concentration of silica dust in the tunnel was highly dangerous and giving orders that respirators be used by the workmen.
The contractors tried to show in court that they had not been negligent in making arrangements to care for the safety of men on a construction job of this sort. Engineers from other contracting companies were called to testify that their companies made a practice of drilling "dry"; that respirators were not necessary; but, regardless of the legal facts, many hundreds of West Virginia miners who contracted to push the 3¾-mile bore through the mountain are paying for their jobs with their lives.
Last year the first 167 lawsuits filed against the Rinehart & Dennis Co. were settled out of court when a payment of $130,000 was made to the lawyers of these 167 men suing; but there still are more than 200 damage suits that were brought by workmen or workmen's widows against the contractors which have not been settled. They will come to trial later.
It came out in court proceedings that the company doctors were not allowed to tell the men what their trouble was. A Dr. Mitchell, of Mount Hope, a company doctor, testified for the plaintiffs, saying that he had told the men they had "tunnelitis."
It was a Mrs. Jones who first discovered what was killing these tunnel workers. Mrs. Jones had three sons—Shirley, aged 17; Owen, aged 21; and Cecil, aged 23—who worked in the tunnel with their father. Before they went to work in the tunnel, Mr. Jones and Cecil and Owen worked in a coal mine; but it was not steady work, because the mines were not going much of the time.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Can you give us the Christian name and address of Mrs. Jones?
Miss ALLEN. Mrs. Charles Jones, Gamoca, W. Va.
Then one of the foremen of the New Kanawha Power Co. learned that the Joneses made home brew, and he formed a habit of dropping in evenings to drink it. It was he who persuaded the boys and their fathers to give up their jobs in the coal mine and take on this other work, which would pay them better. Shirley, the youngest son and his mother's favorite, went into the tunnel, too. Mrs. Jones began to be suspicious when she saw the amount of sediment that was left on the bottom of the tub after she had washed the clothes of her menfolk. She asked the foreman about the dust, and he said it was just ordinary dust and would not hurt anybody. Then one day Shirley came home and complained, "Ma, I'm awful short-winded." She said to him, "Well, if you never feel no better, you'll not work no more." That was in September of 1931, and he died in June 1932.
Mrs. Jones tried to get Dr. Harloss, private physician at Gauley's Bridge, interested in the youngest boy's condition right at the start. Harloss was the only doctor in their neighborhood whom she had confidence in. He had been the company doctor when her husband worked in a Kopper's mine, but now he would not examine Shirley, because he did not know where his money was coming from. Mrs. Jones told Dr. Harloss that if he would work to get compensation for Shirley, she would give him half of it; but even then he would not do anything. Mrs. Jones had to go out on the road and beg the money for an X-ray. As soon as she had enough money, Dr. Harloss took the money and had the boy's lungs X-rayed and became interested in his case. Three weeks after the X-ray was made Shirley died. She told us that the boy's last wish was that, "Mother, after I'm dead, have them open me up and see if I didn't die from the job. If I did, take the compensation money and buy yourself a little home." Within 13 months of Shirley’s death, Cecil and Owen also died.
Shirley Jones' case was the first of a long line of lawsuits to be filed against the Rinehart & Dennis Co., of Charlottesville, Va., contractors to whom the New Kanawha Power Co. had allotted the work of drilling the tunnel.
Although the workers testified that the dust was thick in the tunnel headings the company officials dared to deny it. How many workers do you think took the company's side when called to the witness stand? One foreman, who has since died of silicosis, and one colored worker, who later changed his story because his conscience bothered him. Two men too many, don't you think?
When suit was instituted in Fayette County, W. Va., it was decided, on appeal, that silicosis was not compensable from the State compensation fund, and that Mrs. Jones was therefore entitled to sue. That applied to all other victims and their kind.
When I first went up to Gauley Bridge, Harless Gibson told me to find out about the whole situation of the tunnel work. People would not believe it. He told me, "You look at that tunnel and you think it is a fine thing when you do not know how many men died in building it. You cannot say anything too bad about the tunnel work; but people will not believe it."
Living conditions of the men were as bad as the conditions of their work. As high as 25 to 30 Negroes used to sleep in a shack no larger than 10 by 12 feet. They were made of Jerryline stripping with a half window in the side and a home-made door. There were two bunks stretched across the side of the room, and he said, "I have observed as many as 15 men piled in a heap on the bunk."
When we said we would like to talk to some of the men who had worked in the tunnel, Mr. Gibson called to a colored man who was passing, "Come here, George, and tell these ladies your story." And George Houston, a hard-muscled, strongly built man of 23, came up to us walking very slowly and breathing with effort. He is in what the doctors call "the third stage" of silicosis, which means that he has not much longer to live. There were dark rings under his red-rimmed eyes, and when he climbs stairs, "It gets me to breathing so hard I have to lay down", he said. George worked only 48 weeks toting water, shoveling muck, or operating a drill in no. 1 heading of the Gauley Junction-Hawk's Nest tunnel, yet in that short time he breathed so much silica dust in the badly ventilated heading that the disease is rapidly destroying his lungs. We asked George how much rent he had paid for sleeping space in one of the box-like hovels Mr. Gibson had described, and this is what he said:
Fifty cents a quarter (a week). They furnished only a little, old shack. We paid shack rent every Friday. There was nothing in the shack. The men had to buy bedclothes, coal, a stove. They used to bring the old dynamite boxes up from the workings to set on. Men, women, and children were crowded up together. Some of the women were married, and some wasn't. Families had four, five other men sleeping on the bunks with them. Some men couldn't stand the conditions of the shacks. You could see they was lousy if you looked in. I went to stay at the Jungle, at Gauley Junction between the railroad and the river, but I had to pay to stay over there. They took shack rent from anyone who had a working ticket.
The well went dry. "They had a tremendous spring up at the camp which dried up", George said. "Then we had to walk 2 miles for water."
How much was coal? "At first we had to pay 25 cents a quarter for coal, then they raised it to 50 cents. Every year they raised it." Each man who worked paid for coal, whether or not he used it.
Wages were cut from the 50 cents an hour that men were paid in 1930, to 40 cents and then to 30 cents an hour.
They made the men work whether wanted to do so or not. If the men were sick they made them work. They had a shack rouster named McCloud, who carried a gun. He was a deputy sheriff licensed by Fayette County, the license having been given on recommendation of the New Kanawha Power Co., and every morning he went up to the shacks and made the men to go work. McCloud threatened to jail men who would not work. When George's partner in the drill had his head cut off by falling rock, George did not want to go back into the tunnel, therefore, Deputy Sheriff McCloud arrested him.
Mr. RANDOLPH. How many hours a day do those men work?
Miss ALLEN. Ten hours for each shift.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Who is Gibson, of whom you have been talking?
Miss ALLEN. Harless Gibson was then what they call down there a runner for a firm of lawyers of the name of Townsend, Bock & Moore, and he was taking care of their cases. >From 1928 to 1932 he was deputy sheriff of Fayette County, W. Va., as I am reliably informed.
Mr. Gibson told us more of this "shack rouster." In no. 1 camp for colored people McCloud ran a club for men, a place where they could drink and gamble. "It was a skin game", Mr. Gibson said. "The cut" for the house was 25 cents when betting on cards. He chased the "niggers" in from the hills if he found them throwing dice and made them gamble in the clubhouse so that he would get a percentage of their winnings. He would take all their money away from them and give it back to the company.
What had become of McCloud, we asked. The religious people in Gauley Bridge complained about the gambling, and C. A. Conley, head sheriff of Fayette County, after he had warned McCloud several times to stop the gambling, went up and closed the club house. He took McCloud's commission away from him at the same time. McCloud, his usefulness to the New Kanawha Power Co. being over, is now trying to get a job with the Koppers Coal Co.
The majority of the men working on the tunnel, who died when the work was first started, were colored men. Perhaps because negroes catch lung diseases more easily than white men do. Mrs. Jones, who lives at Gauley River, told us that, "They buried them like they were burying hogs, putting two or three of them in a hole. The men were buried ill what they got killed or died in."
The story of the treatment of the colored men on the job at the tunnel is the same old one of discrimination against them as a race. Look at how much they were docked each week for the company doctor, 75 cents, which was 25 cents more than the white workers paid. They paid 75 cents weekly for the services of a doctor who never came to see them. "I sent ill a call for the doctor for 4 weeks and he never came", George Houston said, "and I was still paying for him."
We heard of instance after instance of brutal treatment and discrimination. "They was treated worsen if they was mules", Mrs. Jones told us. "The foreman would cuss at them bad and run them ragged. He would run them right back into the powder smoke inthe tunnel after a shot, instead of letting them wait 30 minutes like the white men do."
Why did the Rinehart & Dennis Co., contractors, dare to treat the colored "worsen if they was mules"? Simply because these poor, ignorant men had no standing in the community and there was no friendly organization to which they could protest. Most of them were far from home. They had come in droves from States up and down the Atlantic seaboard, from Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and from States as far inland us Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio. Most of them had been recruited by scouts of the company who went through the States giving glowing accounts of "steady work" in Fayette County. In this way, a steady stream of cheap labor kept pouring in, enabling the company to reduce the hourly wage until it reached a low of 25 cents. Unorganized workers everywhere are an easy prey for the large companies who rob working men.
This greedy company of contractors, Rinehart & Dennis, not only robbed its workers by a ridiculously low wage scale, but purposely doomed them to die when they neglected to furnish men respirators (masks) which would have kept them from inhaling the deadly silica dust in the tunnel headings.
Kies, purchasing agent for Rinehart & Dennis, was overheard to say to a respirator salesman, "I wouldn't give $2.50 for all the niggers on the job." Kies was voicing the hatred and greed of this large company for which he worked. Ernest Lyes, a white man of 26, testified in court that he heard Kies say this. I have an affidavit covering this matter.
Why do you think the contractors from Charlottesville, Va., dared not furnish their workers with safeguards of masks and wet drills? Because they thought they would finish the job and be out of the State before the men began to die. Silicosis usually takes from 10 to 20 years to develop in one's lungs. Kies spoke again for the company when he said to Hawkins, the assistant superintendent, "I knew they was going to kill these niggers within 5 years, but I didn't know they was going to kill them so quick." George Houston made an affidavit saying he heard Kies say this in the company commissary where George had gone to buy a can of tomatoes.
Almost as soon as work was begun in the tunnel the colored men began to die like flies, because the percentage of silica in the dust they inhaled was so large.
The ambulance was going day and night to the Coal Valley Hospital. As soon as a man died they would bury him, we were told. One colored boy died at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and he was buried at 5 o'clock the same afternoon without being washed. Why? Because the company did not wish an autopsy made, which autopsy would have uncovered the cause of his death. Had word of the terrible disease killing the men reached their ears, do you think they would have stayed on the job? The tunnel must be finished quick, quick, quick—we want our profits, profits; was all that interested the company. We heard of cases where mothers took the clothing of their husbands to bury their sons in.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. Can those statements be verified; can we get those facts; can it be shown authoritatively that the colored boy died at 4 o'clock and was buried an hour later without being washed?
MISS ALLEN. Most of this I am saying is court testimony. It has been very hard to trace these cases.
I have one story that, I think, is outrageous. Harless Gibson, who was a deputy sheriff, told me how a woman had taken out a warrant against an undertaker to obtain the body of her husband. That was from the head sheriff, C. A. Conley, of Fayette County. A process server tried to get service on him at the hospital in Montgomery, but he escaped into Nicholas county, where he had a burial ground. Conley had to call the head sheriff of Nicholas County and get him to serve a warrant on the undertaker before the body could be obtained.
H. C. White, a Sommersville undertaker, was given a contract by the company to bury the negroes at $55 a head. He buried the man on his mother's farm outside of Sommersville; and it is rumored that this plot of ground was plowed and planted to corn. This fee of $55 a head for burying was lower than other undertakers charged.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Did they not advertise for bids in connection with this work?
Miss ALLEN. No. I was reliably informed that the undertakers at Gauley Bridge would not bury them, but White was hired by the contractors to bury them at $55 a head. The men charged in their suits that the reason he took the work for a smaller price than the local undertakers charged was that the company knew and assured him there would be a large number of deaths.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What does a county or a municipality pay in that community for the burial of a pauper?
Mr. RANDOLPH. $30 each.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Which is $25 less than White received?
Mr. RANDOLPH. Yes.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. I wonder whether we can get that testimony from the court?
Mr. GRISWOLD. I presume there is a transcript of the testimony.
Miss ALLEN. It is hard to do. I tried to get this from the court reporter, but he was absent from his office. In the State of West Virginia it is very hard to get hold of persons and to trace down material.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. There is a good and efficient Congressman from West Virginia on this committee right now, Mr. Randolph.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Have you done this sort of work in other States?
Miss ALLEN. I am engaged in social-service work.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Have you done this sort of work in other States?
Miss ALLEN. Social work?
Mr. RANDOLPH. No; this sort of investigational work.
Miss ALLEN. Social investigation. We do it all the time in social work. It is an important part of our social work.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. You have not yet answered the gentleman's inquiry. Have you done this kind of work in other States?
Miss ALLEN. I do not understand the question.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. The question is whether you have been in other States doing investigation work such as you have done in this matter in the State of West Virginia?
Miss ALLEN. I did not understand the inquiry. I was not down there in West Virginia primarily to investigate this matter.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. But you were down there?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; that is true.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. Have you ever been in other States of the Union doing this kind of work you did in West Virginia?
MISS ALLEN. I am a social worker in New York City.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. But you do not answer the repeated question. What other State or States, if any, have you visited in doing the same sort of investigation work you did in the State of West Virginia?
Miss ALLEN. I studied at the University of Chicago.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. You studied in the University of Chicago to do social work. Have you done such work or investigation work such as you did in West Virginia in any other State or States?
Miss ALLEN. I have done social work in New York and West Virginia only.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. That, at last, answers the question.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You do not know whether it is harder in West Virginia than in other States to—
Miss ALLEN. To get around?
Mr. RANDOLPH. You have here stated that it is harder to get the records in West Virginia, as I understood you.
Miss ALLEN. I meant to say that it was harder to track the facts there, due to the fact that people move so much. It is, of course, you know, a mountainous country, and the towns are scattered up little creeks, and one has to go up the roads. Somebody says the house you are looking for is the fifth one up the road and 4 or 5 miles distant and one will have to get a boat to cross. When one finally reaches the place to which he has been directed, he is told that the man has gone to the store, which is 2 miles down the railroad track. It is simply the difficulty of locating persons. I did not mean any criticism.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You like the State of West Virginia very much, do you not?
Miss ALLEN. I do very much, in the summertime.
Mr. GRISWOLD. May I suggest that the lady be allowed to complete the presentation without further interruption. Members of the subcommittee may, of course, question her at the conclusion of her presentation.
Miss ALLEN. I have visited with a friend the little construction camp, which is high in the hills, and we found that many of the shacks had been torn down. The company had torn them down to get rid of the workmen who were suing. One man said they had threatened him with jail, but they would not run him out before he died or they paid him.
These simple people crowded around us and asked, "'What are you going to do to help us; what are you going to do?" They said the same thing again this year when I went back, and I found that the cases were being settled, some being paid and others not. All were bewildered. Again at Veneta they are asking, "What can be done about this; won't you please help us?"
I feel that this investigation may help in some manner. I do hope it may.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. We are willing to make an effort to help those unfortunates.
Miss ALLEN. I should like to go more specifically into my material, telling stories of a man and checking up statements about the dust in the tunnel, giving concrete statements.
I returned to New York City with the cry, "What are you going to do for us", ringing in my ears.
I attended the annual meeting of the stockholders of the Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation, of which the New Kanawha Power Co. is a part. I had a proxy from one of the shareholders. She wrote me a letter saying that the stockholders ought to be told how many men were dying to make money for them. My chief hope was that the press would carry this story so that it would be well circulated allover the country; but, unfortunately, none of the papers carried it despite the fact I held the floor for a half an hour asking questions.
Mr. RANDOLPH. That was a stockholders' annual meeting of the Union Carbide & Carbon Co.
Miss ALLEN. Yes. The meeting was held on or about April 16, 1935. This is a little introduction that amused me. It tells how I happened to bring in the first question.
Many of the shareholders at the meeting were nervous about the divisions of the profits, when it came time to discuss next year's plans affecting them. A special compensation plan for employees was discussed. It would take not more than 7.5 percent of the company's net Income. Mr. Wood protested, "Is the company forced to take this measure?" The gist of his remarks were that "I prefer to be an employee. Employees never take the losing side." The plan proposed was overpaternalistic. He meant that the company was too good to its employees.
Mr. Jesse J. Ricks, the president of the Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation, suggested that the stockholder had better take this question up in a private conference. Therefore Mr. Wood withdrew his question.
But I spoke up. I said this was important. "Has the company been forced to draw up plans for compensation?" "No", said Mr. Ricks in an unconvincing tone.
"Then how much has the company spent on lawsuits for workers dying of silicosis at the Gauley Tunnel in West Virginia?" I asked. President Ricks did not know, but a man sitting on his left volunteered the information. He said $150,000. Then a small man with a wild glare bounced out of his seat to stand over me. "I am familiar with this case", he said grimly. "We haven't spent a cent." He was Attorney Smith, special counsel for West Virginia matters. When I asked Mr. Ricks why the $150,000 had been spent he replied, "Oh for his expenses and salary", pointing to Smith.
Mr. Smith said that the men who worked in the tunnel were employees of the contractors, Rinehart. & Dennis, only. I read him the terms of the contract made by the New Kanawha Power Co. with the contractors, pointing out that the chief engineer of thepower company was not only given the power and authority to direct any change in work in the tunnel, but also the right to hire and discharge any men he wished. "Doesn't this make the New Kanawha Power Co. responsible for the acts of the contractor under the master-and-servant law?" I asked. Of course, that law makes the master liable for injuries done to servants who are carrying out his orders. There was no reply to my query. For further information I was told I could talk the matter over privately with Attorney Smith. Thus a great corporation silently disowned those who made its wealth.
Mr. RANDOLPH. The Union Carbide & Carbon Co. has holdings in many States, has it not?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; it has. It is one of the largest, if not the largest—if its rating has not changed recently—concern of its kind in the United States.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Is Mr. Smith located in New York City or in West Virginia?
Miss ALLEN. He has an office in the Union Carbide & Carbon Co. Building in New York City.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Have you the excerpts about which you just spoke?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Will you please enter them in the record, or give them to the reporter and he will do so.
Miss ALLEN. Quoting from specifications and contract of Rinehart & Dennis and the New Kanawha Co. for the construction of this tunnel, I find in articles X and XX, in part, the following:
The contractor shall take all responsibility of the work, and take all precautions for preventing injuries to persons and property in or about the work; . . . In any case where, in the opinion of the engineer, injuries to any person or corporation or damages to any property are likely to result from any acts or negligence of the contractor, or any of its agents or employees, the engineer shall have the right to employ such measures as he may deem necessary or desirable to effect a satisfactory avoidance of such injuries or damages, and, if, in his opinion, the case appears urgent, he may proceed to employ such measures without previous notice to the contractor, which, however, shall not be relieved from any responsibility on account of such action of the engineer . . .
Specifications; section 124. Ventilation: The contractor shall keep the tunnel air in a condition suitable for the health of the men, and clear enough for the surveying operations of the engineers. All possible precautions shall be taken to keep dust from drilling within such limits as will not be injurious to health. A sufficient supply of fresh air shall be provided at all times in all places underground, and provisions shall be made for the quick removal of gases and dust generated by blasting, or by dust-producing if any be installed in the tunnel. Ventilating plants, of ample capacity, shall be installed and used (until and unless rendered unnecessary by natural ventilation after headings meet) while work is going on in the tunnel . . .
There was not a word in the press about this condition, despite the fact that a World Telegram man before the conference introduced himself to me and informed me that he was interested in what was going to follow.
I went up to interview this lawyer 2 days later, taking a friend of mine with me to check any statement that might be made; and I think you would be interested in one thing he told us. Of course, he denied liability of the company, the New Kanawha Power Co., but he said that he had advised the contractors that they were not liable. he arguing that the men had not had a physical examinationand they had not contracted silicosis on the job, despite the fact that Mr. Ricks himself only 2 days before had answered my question in the affirmative, supposedly that they had made some settlement with the men who were dying of silicosis in the Hawks Nest Tunnel when he said $150,000.
Mr. Ricks said liability was with the contractors, and then we asked whether he was covered by insurance in the event the contractors were unable or failed to fulfill their contract on time, for instance. He said, "Yes; all big companies are so protected." He said the Union Carbide & Carbon Co. was covered by $4,000,000 bond held by two surety companies to protect itself against defaults or other liabilities of the contractor. Then he seemed to be very much upset by what he had said. He showed tremendous distress and continued to say, "This is not important." He talked about it so much and so earnestly that the psychological effect on us was quite contrary to his statement of its unimportance. If we had been wrong, he would have dropped the subject soon, no doubt.
He had been talking about general liability, and we asked him if that did not mean labor liabilities, and he said it had not been interpreted as such in the courts as yet. That was in fact the only new thing he told us.
I went to West Virginia in the summer of 1935 and one of the first things I did when I reached there was to go to the law offices of Townsend, Bock & Moore, which firm had helped me in the summer of 1934 in gathering quite a lot of material. While waiting to be received by a member of that law firm I sat down beside a Negro worker who was the victim of silicosis and the wife of another worker who was too sick to come himself. The Negro muttered aloud angrily, impatient at the delay. This workman said aloud to himself with much bitterness, "You wait, wait, wait, and the boss man gives the poor man nothing. . . . He ain't ever goan to . . . The poor man kaint git nothing." With that wail ringing in my ears I was called in to interview the attorneys of this victim and many others. I asked many questions. "How many cases of the men who sued did the settlement cover?" "Which company made settlement, the power company or the contractors?" "What Charleston lawyers represented the companies in the settlement?" All the while the lawyers sat mysteriously silent, smiling like sphinxes. Ben Moore after a space said, weighing each word as though it were of tremendous import:
We are not at liberty to answer your questions. In this case there is a certain professional obligation to the other side not to disclose any facts they might not want given out. All we can say—yes; I think we can say—is that the settlement was comparatively small.
To all my questions the attorneys replied evasively "it is not known", or "we do not know"—this to my question "How much was the settlement?" "The men will know when they are paid", volunteered Attorney Bock.
But men who brought suit, with whom I talked recently, are still wondering, waiting to be paid off. One man told me of a widow of a Negro workman who was given $85, her share as determined by her lawyers. I asked this man, Howard McAttee, a literate white man, how much he had sued for, and he said, "I don't know." When I asked Attorney Bock this same question he returned the same answer. Perhaps the company's attorney will know, I thought with some anger, but again when I asked for the name of the company's attorney Bock and Moore were cagey and said:
We cannot tell you that. . . . We have a professional obligation to the other side not to divulge facts they might not wish to have known.
Veneta is a small town 2 miles from Gauley Bridge. It is anabandoned town. It used to be filled with men when the tunnel was underway, but there are only a few who linger there. I have seen there recently about 100 persons in all. I do not know how many families are there; something like 34, perhaps.
I wonder whether you would like to see photographs of the workers in the Veneta and the silicosis victims? I have here [indicating] such photographs.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Yes. You may pass them around to members of the subcommittee as you continue your presentation.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. How much time have you spent in West Virginia?
Miss ALLEN. Most of the time was 2 months.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. How much time did you spend in West Virginia in 1934?
Miss ALLEN. I spent 2 months in West Virginia in 1934. The last month is the one in which I concentrated on collecting material for this story. I lived in a town that was midway between Charleston and Gauley Bridge, and some days I would have to hitch into Charleston to see the attorneys, while I would go to Gauley Bridge other days.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. What do you mean by "hitch"—hitchhiking?
Miss ALLEN. Yes. I did not have an automobile.
Mr. RANDOLPH. But you could have ridden in a bus or on a train.
Miss ALLEN. I could have taken a bus, but there was no train service.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Where did you stay?
Miss ALLEN. I stayed at Cedar Grove.
Mr. RANDOLPH. There is train service to Cedar Grove. Miss ALLEN. Up to Gauley.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You said Charleton.
Miss ALLEN. Yes; but not to Gauley Bridge.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. Did you ever hitchhike to any other place? Is that a practice of yours or was that the only time or place you have hitchhiked?
Miss ALLEN. I was working with a firm down there which had cars. They were teachers and taught in the town.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. That does not answer my question. Did you ever hitchhike any other place?
Miss ALLEN. When I was a girl at camp in northern Michigan I hitchhiked short distances. I may add that those in West Virginia are very good about picking up one on the highway.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. What I am inquiring about is whether you had hitchhiked before that time. I want to know about any other hitchhiking.
Miss ALLEN. No; I usually take a Pullman.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You found the people of West Virginia very happy to pick you up on the highway, did you not?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; they are delightfully obliging.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. By whom are you employed?
Miss ALLEN. I am with the Jacob A. Reis Neighborhood House in New York City at present. That is in the lower side of the city.
Mr. RANDOLPH. It is a foundation?
Miss ALLEN. It is a private institution.
Mr. RANDOLPH. It is named after Mr. Reis, who wrote Making of an American, is it not?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; that is true.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do these [indicating] photographs represent victims of silicosis?
Miss ALLEN. They do.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. About how young are the men who worked in that tunnel?
Miss ALLEN. Shirley Jones started to work in the tunnel when he was 16 years of age, going on 17. I found men 21 or 23 who had this disease. I talked to them. On the other hand, Clev. Montgomery was near 40 years of age. Most of the workers were quite young; younger than 50. I do not know Mr. Jones’ age.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. You have told us that about 2,000 workers contracted silicosis.
Miss ALLEN. That is an estimate by the contractors. There was a high turn-over. I asked Mr. Smith, attorney for the Union Carbide & Carbon Co., the largest number of workmen employed at one time in drilling the tunnel, and he said 700. He said, though, that such figure was only an estimate—a guess. There was a large turn-over in the period of a little more than 2 years when they employed 2,000.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Was this large labor turn-over of which you speak caused by the men having silicosis or by unfavorable working conditions? When the men were working there they did not know they had silicosis, did they?
Miss ALLEN. They did not. Men began to leave as soon as word spread that other men were dying on the job.
Mr. GRISWOLD. It was an unhealthy place?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; and that word spread all over the country. I have heard of New York City hospitals, in connection with postgraduate work, sending down to West Virginia for case histories of those men.
Mr. GRISWOW. Have you made any investigation of the labor turn-over at this particular tunnel compared to the labor turn-over at other tunnels?
Miss ALLEN. I am sorry that I cannot estimate that. I have, however, a lawyer's analysis of one case, which analysis covers many aspects of the problem. It is by Mr. Bock, and covers 22 typewritten pages. I think an answer to your inquiry might be in that analysis, but I am not sure.
Mr. GRISWOW. It is time for the House to convene and for members of the subcommittee to go to the House. Therefore, the committee will adjourn for the day, to meet at 10:30 o'clock tomorrow morning.
(Thereupon, at 11:55 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, 1936, the subcommittee adjourned, to meet at 10:30 a. m., Friday, Jan. 17, 1936.)
INVESTIGATION RELATING TO HEALTH CONDITIONS OF WORKERS EMPLOYED IN THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC UTILITIES
FRIDAY, JANUARY 17, 1936
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON LABOR,
Washington, D. C.
The subcommittee met at 10:30 a. m., Hon. Glenn Griswold (chairman) presiding.
Mr. GRISWOLD. The committee will come to order. We will resume hearing the testimony of Miss Allen. Miss Allen, will you come forward, please? You are the same Miss Philippa Allen that testified yesterday?
FURTHER STATEMENT OF MISS PHILIPPA ALLEN,
SOCIAL WORKER OF THE JACOB REIS SETTLEMENT, OF NEW YORK
Miss ALLEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRISWOLD. All right; you may proceed.
Miss ALLEN. In my testimony yesterday I tried to give a general picture of the situation at Gauley Bridge, W. Va., where hundreds of men who dug a power tunnel through silica are dead or dying.
Today I would like to show how that general situation affects the men and their families by giving several specific examples. I shall be brief so that you may ask me any questions you wish.
Yesterday I mentioned the Jones family briefly—Mr. and Mrs. Charles Jones and their children, of Gamaca, W. Va., a small community near Gauley Bridge.
Five of the men in the family worked in the tunnel—the father, Charles Jones; three sons, Shirley 17, Cecil 23, and Owen 21; and Mrs. Jones' brother, Raymond Johnson. The father and the two older boys were coal miners. Shirley had never worked. The glowing stories of how well the tunnel work was to pay, and how safe it was to be, in comparison to mining, persuaded them to start work for Rinehart & Dennis. Even Shirley was brought in for his first real job.
That was in September 1930. In June 1931 Shirley was ill. In September 1932 he was dead. Within 13 months Cecil and Shirley died, in that order. In November 1934 Raymond Johnson died, after having been bedridden for 6 months.
I hope that you bring Charles Jones to this hearing. His friends are wondering whether he can live until Easter. His breathing shows the unmistakable signs of silicosis. He has lost weight seriously. They are not doctors to diagnose the case.
Mr. DUNN. When may we ask the witness a question?
Mr. GRISWOLD. When the witness has completed her statement, Mr. Dunn.
Mr. DUNN. All right; proceed.
Miss ALLEN. But they know the signs of coming death. He know the signs, too.
He has three small children still dependent on him, as well as Cecil's widow and a grandchild. He cannot get work; the small amount of compensation money he received is gone; he is too weak for work relief. He just sits there waiting to die. The debate as to how much dust was in the tunnel goes on, with doctors and lawyers and engineers disagreeing about details. But there is the Charley Jones family—one family, four dead, one dying.
At Vanette, another small community near Gauley Bridge, I talked with Mrs. Thelma Andrews, formerly of Salisbury, N. C. She is the widow of Sidney Andrews. Sidney, who was 27 when he died, had never been sick a day in the 4 years of their marriage when he became ill on the job. He was taken to Coal Valley Hospital and in 4 days was dead. It has been claimed by Rinehart & Dennis that they were generous in their settlements, but Mrs. Andrews told me that she had sued twice and that she had never received any settlement for the loss of her husband. She would have been content with a trifle—enough to get her back home to her family. Now she waits, hopelessly, in a community where there is no work she can get, and no way she can get back to their old home. She was one who asked me, "Can't you do something to help us?"
"Deacon" Jones—he was called that because he is a lay preacher at a little white church at Vanette, and I do not know his real name—only worked 3 months in the tunnel, drilling. He said he "couldn't stand the pressure on his lungs" because "the air was so thick." He added, "The foreman made us go back into the tunnel immediately after blasting. I couldn't stand it." The West Virginia mining law is said to require 30 minutes after blasting before the men are sent back in, but the tunnel workers were hustled back in immediately. "The foreman treated us rough", Deacon told me. "If you wanted to keep your job you had to go back right away." He sued but did not get any compensation. He is a colorful character, and I wish that he also could be called to this hearing, but late letters from Gauley Bridge say that he is failing fast and I hesitate to suggest his coming. Probably anything that can be done will be too late for "Deacon" Jones.
Nancy Jones, no relation to "Deacon" Jones, is the widow of Lindsey Jones. Lindsey worked for 9 or 10 months as a drill helper. He was one of the first to die, on June 23, 1932. Nancy told me how she was one of the first to institute suits and finally, in 1935, she received a settlement from the contractor. I asked her how much it was, but at first could not persuade her to tell me. She was ashamed, she said, because it was so little. Finally she confessed they had valued her husband at $185.85. "I don't know what that 85 cents was for," she added bitterly. She didn't seem to think it was a generous settlement for the death of Lindsey. He died at the Coal Valley Hospital, and the cause of death was marked as pneumonia, as were most of the silicosis deaths at the beginning.
Jake Swetman is another example of those who were brought in from other parts of the South and want to go home before they die. He was from Orangeburg, S. C. He worked 20 months, he said, a part of the time outside the tunnel, during parts of 1931 and 1932. He was drilling, nipping steel, and, mucking. He went to a Charleston doctor in 1933 and was told that he had silicosis in the first stage. He prepared papers to sue, but E. J. Perkins, Rinehart & Dennis' chief engineer, said, "There was enough for everyone to have enough to go home on."
Anyway, the suit was never filed by the lawyers, and Jake never had any compensation. Last summer, when I talked with him, he was still waiting for money to go back to Orangeburg. He was beginning to suffer painfully although he still looked well.
It was Leo Grey, at Vanetta, who first told me of the "little black devils." That sounds like superstition but was just an angry name for the black pills the company doctor gave them whatever happened. He had worked in the tunnel a year in 1931, and in 1932 he became ill. "My head, stomach, and side began to hurt, and I went to Dr. Mitchell", he told me, "but all I got was little black devils. If rock fell on one of us they just gave us those little pills." When I talked to him he was trying to live by picking berries, with what food he could beg from neighbors at nearby Guauley Bridge. He was unable to handle a job that would support him. Nor could he get relief or any compensation from the company. He just sits in Vanetta awaiting death.
C. M. Skinner, of Alloy, W. Va., shocked me with his experience, showing how little exposure was required to break the health of a powerful man. He had weighed 238 pounds, had passed grade AA in physical tests at Du Pont's, he said, and he had had very little exposure. He had been a car-repair foreman, having to go into the tunnel at times to make repairs. He had never worked for any length of time in the tunnel as the diggers did. Then a walking boss in tunnel no.1, L. B. Faulkner, had warned Skinner that there was a lot of talk about the dust being dangerous, and one of the foremen died—so he just stopped doing any repair work in the tunnel.
Still in the fall of 1933 he began to cough just as the others were beginning to do. He went to Dr. Simmons, physician for both Electro-Metallurglcal Co. and also Rinehart & Dennis. He was told first that he had asthma and then high blood pressure. But gradually the symptoms of silicosis developed. "When I try to walk fast it hurts so I have to sit down", he told me. Telling me that he had lost 44 pounds, he said, brokenly, "I never expected to break down like this." He is 43, can't work any more because his class A rating is gone, and now he can't pass the physical examination. A great, strong man has been crushed. It was almost as pitiful a case as those who were about to die. He had been supporting a widowed sister and her children.
I must give many facts about the lack of safety devices in the tunnel and the dust condition that existed there, and there may be efforts made to confuse the issue with technical questions and discussion. So I wanted to give you these many specific instances of just what the digging of this tunnel has meant in the lives of these families. Boys and men have died, their families have been left destitute. Other men are now coughing away their lives, unable to support their families and looking forward only to death. These facts cannot be denied, they cannot be covered over by statements that the tunnel had no dust but on the other hand had marvelous safety devices. There stands the record of death and suffering and want.
Behind that record other facts stand.
First, the New Kanawha Power Co., Union Carbide & Carbon subsidiary, had geologists who had made test bores and who knew that the tunnel was to go through pure silica and then they enlarged the tunnel of project no.2 from 32 to 46 feet at the location of the richest silica deposit. This was to enable them to take out more valuable silica rock, which was loaded on cars at the tunnel mouth and shipped on the C. & 0. tracks down to Alloy, W. Va., plant of the Electro Metallurgical Co., where it was stored in the yard. It was so pure that it was used without refining. Knowing that this was pure silica, these contractors, with 30 years' experience, must have known that there was danger of silicosis for every man who worked in that tunnel. As Attorney Bock, of Townsend, Bock & Moore, Charleston, pointed out at the Donald Shay trial in Fayetteville, "the engineers of the New Kanawha Power Co. used masks when they went daily in the heading gathering samples of rock."
Second, the men did not know of the danger they were being sent into, because E. J. Perkins, superintendent of Rinehart & Dennis, did not post notices of the danger as required by law, so that the workers did not voluntarily assume the risk. Many of the workers came from agricultural communities in the South where the disease was unknown. They were not experienced tunnel men or hard-rock miners who would have known. Their testimony is universal that it was not until the "ambulance was clanging day and night to the Coal Valley Hospital" that they realized there must be something wrong. Then, there were various diagnoses, one doctor finally hitting upon the word "tunnelitis." When the men realized the danger, it was too late.
Third, as Dr. Emery R. Hayhurst, chief of the division of hygiene of the Ohio department of health says: "These men need not have died." There are safety devices available which would have saved all or most of the lives lost and those which will be lost.
It is agreed there was a 24-inch ventilation duct in the tunnel either all or part of the time. Some say it was not put in until the State mine-inspection Service forced it on the company; and the men tell of the times after it was put into use when it was not functioning. All the men agree that it was totally inadequate, as does Dr. Hayhurst. The men tell how they would go to the mouth of the tube, as they call it, to get a breath of fresh air as a group of chickens go to a dish of water for a drink. There they could get the effect of the feeble flow of air coming into the tunnel; back a few feet it was lost in the clouds of silica dust. The tube was full of holes, as no one disputed at the trial.
Interesting evidence was given by W. C. Boxley, a contractor who testified for Rinehart & Dennis. He was then driving a tunnel working only 20 men, half the size of the Gauley Bridge tunnel and he used a 24-mch vent tube with a 24-inch fan. In silica, at Gauley Bridge, a 24-inch tube was used and only an 18-inch fan.
Again, the amount of dust could have been cut down by the use of wet drilling throughout. This was one of the most hotly fought points of difference at the Donald Shay trial, the executives testifying that there was wet drilling and the men who did the drilling testifying that most of it was dry drilling. Charley Jones told me of the men warning the foreman when the State inspectors came so that the dry drilling could be stopped. He did not realize then what was going on before his eyes: That it was going to destroy the lives of his three sons and his own health—the men were just "trying to keep the bosses in the clear", as he explained it to me. Here again is a disputed point where the final deadly results seem to arbitrate the differences in testimony. Only one man who worked in the tunnel, a foreman, testified for the company at the Shay trial—and he was racked with the silicosis cough as he testified.
As to the most important point in the neglected protection of the health of the men there was no difference of opinion. Clearly the men were not furnished respirators or masks. The men say that some of the engineers wore masks when they came into the tunnel, and one told me that he bought himself a mask when he saw the head men wearing them. But the 2,000 men who went into that silica tunnel in all ignorance of what it meant to them in the future were given no masks of any kind. There is absolutely no debate on that question.
Two years ago there was much debate as to the amount of silica dust in the tunnel. Now the men who swore there was no dust and those who said there was are impartially the victims of that dust, and it would seem pointless to prove the fact any more effectively than the witness, death.
In summary, the men did not and could not have known of the danger they underwent. The company did know the danger they were sending these men to face. They deliberately failed to furnish sufficient protection. The results have been devastating in their deadliness.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Mr. Lambertson, you are the senior member of this committee; have you any questions?
Mr. LAMBERTSON. No; not right now.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Mr. Marcantonio?
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Not just at this time.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Mr. Randolph?
Mr. RANDOLPH. Miss Allen, were you denied access to any court record in West Virginia?
Miss ALLEN. No, sir.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Any records that you asked for from the courts you received; is that true?
Miss ALLEN. I did not ask for any.
Mr. RANDOLPH. But you were denied no records that you asked for?
Miss ALLEN. No, sir.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You have made the statement here, Miss Allen, yesterday, that the undertakers' records of burial had been destroyed ?
Miss ALLEN. Yes sir; I did.
Mr. RANDOLPH. By whom do you believe they were destroyed, or do you have any information as to that?
Miss ALLEN. No; I have not. That is simply what was said in the testimony at the first trial.
Mr. RANDOLPH. No information has been given as to who would be interested in having them destroyed or their reasons, the reasons they might have been taken?
Miss ALLEN. No; I cannot amplify that statement but merely repeat it as it was given to me.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Now, you have mentioned the company doctor; who was that?
Miss ALLEN. Dr. Simmons and Dr. Mitchell were both company doctors.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Do you mean company doctors in the sense of the word as applied to the contractor?
Miss ALLEN. Dr. Simmons was the doctor for the New Kanawha Power Co. and the Electro-Metalurgical Co. I just mentioned that today.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I am sorry.
Miss ALLEN. Pardon me; it is the contractor, for the contract, and the Electro-Metallurgical Co.; Dr. Mitchell for the contractor.
Mr. RANDOLPH. And you say these company doctors diagnosed the trouble causing the deaths as pneumonia? Am I right in that?
Miss ALLEN. I know that was on the death certificates of some.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Now, Miss Allen, how much time did you personally spend in the vicinity of the Gauley Bridge Tunnel?
Miss ALLEN. I spent in the summer of 1934, the month of August.
Mr. RANDOLPH. What additional time did you spend there?
Miss ALLEN. And in the summer of 1935 I would say a week.
Mr. RANDOLPH. The summer of 1935?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Are those the only two trips you took? Miss ALLEN. In the vicinity of Gauley Bridge; yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Were you there, Miss Allen, on the specific case which you are presenting to this committee, or were you there generally as a social-welfare worker?
Miss ALLEN. I was there just to investigate this case.
Mr. RANDOLPH. And, by whom were you sent?
Miss ALLEN. I went there on my own initiative.
Mr. RANDOLPH. And, you were not representing any group or foundation; just representing your individual interests?
Mr. LAMBERTSON. You paid your own expenses, did you? Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. The reason I asked that question, I believe in your testimony you said that you were connected with the Jacob Reis organization?
Miss ALLEN. I have been connected with that organization since October 1934 to the present date, and I took 2 months off in July and August without pay.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. Please amplify that. How are you connected with that organization; are you an employee?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; I am. A permanent member of the staff. My title is that of a social worker.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. You draw your regular salary?
Miss ALLEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I hope, Miss Allen, I am not cluttering the record, but I really never have heard, personally, of the Reis settlement. Would you just tell me about their line of work?
Miss ALLEN. They have done no work in West Virginia at all; they are just a settlement house for a community on the lower East Side of New York City.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You made the statement yesterday, I believe, that men were dying like flies?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Would you just amplify it a little for me?
Miss ALLEN. That is what I was told. And what I found out as I talked to man after man. They are rather hopeless; they sit around. You will find them by the roadside and just waiting to die.
They know they have it and there is no hope for them.
Mr. RANDOLPH. However, Miss Allen, you mentioned Drs. Hayhurst, Huey, and Harless. By whom were these men employed or appointed?
Miss ALLEN. As I understand it, they were appointed by the court as an impartial board to examine the men.
Mr. RANDOLPH. And the last doctor, Dr. Harless, was from Ohio, I believe you said?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; he is a silicosis expert, an outstanding authority on silicosis.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Well, can you give us what the report was, just in brief?
Miss ALLEN. As I was told they found at least 150 of the 300 men they examined had silicosis.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Are there any records that those men have which are available, showing that, do you know?
Miss ALLEN. They testified that.
Mr. RANDOLPH. In the court at Fayetteville?
Miss ALLEN. If they were appointed by the court, they must have given that testimony to the court.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You are not certain of where the testimony was given?
Miss ALLEN. No.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Now, you spoke of the dust being so thick that they could not see more than 10 or 15 feet ahead of them from the tunneling. Was I right in getting that information from you yesterday?
Miss ALLEN. Certain of the men testified they could not see more than 10 or 15 feet ahead of them; yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I understand that they had a buzzer system—someone had a buzzer system—and that they would drill dry, but when an inspector came or was approaching the tunnel, they would buzz to the men inside and wet drilling would begin. Do you have any knowledge of that?
Miss ALLEN. I never heard that. I simply heard that the men themselves acted as lookouts to warn the foremen.
Mr. RANDOLPH. This firm of contractors, Miss Allen, do you know anything about the firm's standing in connection with this sort of work?
Miss ALLEN. I simply know that it is a large firm in Charlottesville, Va. I heard in the summer of 1934 that it was bidding on a Federal job in Grafton, in Taylor County. It is simply a large traveling contracting firm that bids allover the country forjobs.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You do not know anything about their standing, then, with the industry, do you?
MISS ALLEN. No.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Miss Allen, you have mentioned yesterday Robert M. Lambie.
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I know Mr. Lambie personally, and I always had a high regard for his integrity and his honesty. You have made some statements, I believe, which would indicate a change of position on his part, due to certain pressure which was brought from certain sources. Would you tell me just a little more about that?
Miss ALLEN. I am sorry I cannot amplify it. It is in the court's records,
Mr. RANDOLPH. That is all.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Mr. Dunn?
Mr. DUNN. Miss Allen, I understood you to say yesterday that you had visited some of the sheds where the men were compelled to live?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. DUNN. Did I understand you to say that they were about 10 by 12 feet, and 15 men were compelled to sleep in them?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; what I read yesterday, I think the figures show that. Yes; 15 men. The man who told me that was Mr. Gibson, the deputy sheriff of Fayette County, 1928 to 1932, and I looked at them myself and they were very small.
DUNN. Were there white men sleeping in those camps?
Miss ALLEN. They had separate camps for the whites and the colored.
Mr. Dunn. I also understood you to say that men were driven by force to do this work.
Miss ALLEN. The colored men told me about this "shack rouster", as they called him, this deputy sheriff, I think a man by the name of McCloud.
Mr. DUNN. What was the deputy sheriff's name?
Miss ALLEN. McCloud.
Mr. DUNN. What county was he from?
Miss ALLEN. He was licensed by Fayette County, on the records of the New Kanawha Power Co.
Mr. DUNN. Was any statement made in court that the men were compelled to do this work by force?
Miss ALLEN. I do not remember myself. Mr. Gibson, who was also a deputy sheriff, told me of McCloud himself. I was talking to some colored men, and they added to the testimony.
Mr. DUNN. Do you know how many hours a day they were compelled to work?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; there were 10-hour shifts, but the men told me they were made to work until they had cleaned up all that they were supposed to do during that day, clean out the muck and have it ready for the next shift coming on. Sometimes it would be 12 hours and more, and they were not paid for overtime.
Mr. DUNN. What was their salary?
Miss ALLEN. It started out at 40 cents and dropped to 25 cents an hour.
Mr. DUNN. Do you mean that 40 cents an hour was the highest price paid for labor for work done in that tunnel? Was that the highest figure they had given their employees?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. DUNN. Miss Allen, when did they start construction of this tunne1?
Miss ALLEN. They started it, as I understand it, in 1930. I think a little preparatory work was done in 1929, probably the engineers plotting the course of the tunnel.
Mr. DUNN. Is it completed now?
Miss ALLEN. The last reports were, I think, that the steel and concrete work has been completed.
Mr. DUNN. How many men were employed in the construction of that tunnel? I believe I understood you to say about 2,000?
Miss ALLEN. That was just on tunneling. I have the figures here, if you are interested.
Mr. DUNN. Can you give me approximately how many were employed?
Miss ALLEN. On the whole job, the total number of white men was 1,700, and the total number of Negroes was 3,100.
Mr. DUNN. Out of this number, how many have contracted this disease; what figure has been given to you?
Miss ALLEN. Well, I would judge from the number of men suing them—that would be the only figure I would have—those suing the company, and that reaches a total of, well, we have 255 suits after the first 300 suits, and that makes a total of 555 suits instituted.
Mr. DUNN. Well, there maybe 1,200 or 1,500 that did not sue?
Miss ALLEN. Yes. The men scattered all over the country and perhaps they do not know what they have.
Mr. DUNN. I understood you to say that these unfortunate men who have contracted that disease are really in need of assistance, and it is very hard for them to get it, and that some of the men are going from door to door, soliciting food?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. DUNN. Because they are unable to work?
Miss ALLEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. DUNN. What would you say the condition was in that location generally? Is that the condition of practically every man who has contracted that disease?
Miss ALLEN. Well, the relief situation is pretty bad down there. The relief office is quite far from Gauley Bridge and the men have to walk about 14 miles, and they get down there and find the relief officer cannot take care of them, most of them. The victims share with the ones who are able to work, and I have seen George Huston coming back with a loaf of bread in his arms that he got from a colored friend who was working, making very little and giving what he could to his friends, more than he could afford.
Mr. DUNN. You have met these people personally?
Miss ALLEN. I have talked to the people; yes.
Mr. DUNN. Were you present in court at any time?
Miss ALLEN. There were no cases being tried.
Mr. DUNN. Are there any cases pending now?
Miss ALLEN. At the end of May the statute of limitations was invoked by the Supreme Court rule and many of the cases are thrown out because they were not instituted within a year after the injury occurred. Of course, the men did not know; it had not been diagnosed, the symptoms develop later in silicosis. The first men who instituted suit and who died have been paid off and some received a part of the first settlement.
Mr. DUNN. It was said if the company had obeyed the laws of the great State of West Virginia probably these unfortunate men would not have contracted this disease. Do you believe that there was a deliberate violation of the laws in the State of West Virginia by the contractors?
Miss ALLEN. I am sorry. I do not know enough about the laws of West Virginia to say as to whether, if they had been more adequately enforced, they would have covered the situation.
Mr. DUNN. I understood you to say that one man testified that in the tunnel he was working, the pipe that provided air was a 24-inch pipe and in another tunnel it was only an 18-inch pipe. Was that statement made in court by one of the foremen who worked for the company?
Miss ALLEN. Barkley is a contractor; and he was using in his tunnel 24-inch tube—ventilating tube with a 24-inch fan. Rinehard & Dennis were using an 18-inch fan with a 24-inch tube of canvas. that got holes in it that occurred from rocks during the blasting and for other reasons.
Mr. DUNN. I understood you to say yesterday that some of the men you approached asked, "What are you going to do for us?"
Miss ALLEN. Yes; they all say that, everyone.
Mr. DUNN. Undoubtedly they know something has been started here in Congress.
Miss ALLEN. Now, yes; they do. They have said that to me for the last 2 years, "What are you going to do for me?"
Mr. DUNN. What do you think we are going to do about it? Miss ALLEN. Well, I think you are throwing the light of enlightened public opinion upon this tragedy which will perhaps develop into legislation that would correct practices of this sort. Actually, as to what is being done for the sufferers, I understand many organizations have become interested in it through hearing about this investigation. The Red Cross is talking about going in there, and other organizations.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. We do not know, ourselves, what we are going to do until we hear all of the evidence.
Mr. DUNN. That is correct. We have become interested in these unfortunates because it is not only our duty as persons obtaining a salary for our services, but for the sake of humanity.
Miss ALLEN. Yes; from the humanitarian viewpoint.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I think all of the committee will commend you for that attitude.
Mr. DUNN. I want to thank you personally for the good work you have done.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Were you ever in this tunnel yourself ?
Miss ALLEN. I went down in 1932 to see what I could and they were just lining the mouth with steel and concrete. I walked down in there among the men while they were hammering the steel together and riveting it.
Mr. GRISWOLD. That was after the drilling was done in that particular portion of the tunnel?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. GRISWOLD. You were never there at the time tunneling was going on when the dust was hanging in the tunnel?
Miss ALLEN. No; I was not.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Have you ever observed the rock structure that they brought out of the tunnel?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; I have.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What did they do with what they got out of the tunnel from tunneling and blasting; where did they remove it to?
Miss ALLEN. In tunnel no.1 the silica percentage of the rock was so high it was a very valuable deposit, and they enlarged the tunnel at the point of the most valuable part, where it ran 99.4 percent and loaded it into cars on the C. & O. tracks, I understand, and took it down to the Electro-Metallurgical plant.
That was in the beginning, when—you see, this was back in 1932, and at that time the New Kanawha Power Co. was, substantially, what I am sure you would call a public utility. It had obtained a license from the State power commission to develop this power for general sale to public firms that wanted it.
Mr. GRISWOLD. They were developing the power. What I am trying to get at, Miss Allen, is did they use this silica that they obtained from the tunnel; did they afterward sell that and use that in commerce? That is what I am endeavoring to discover.
Miss ALLEN. They used it in the electro-processing of steel.
Mr. GRISWOLD. This particular tonnage that they obtained from this tunnel, did they use that, sell that and use it, do you know?
Miss ALLEN. It was stored in the yard, and I imagine it is being used in this plant.
Mr. GRISWOLD. To your knowledge, they never sold it to any other concern or corporation and shipped it out of there, or used it there in the manufacture of anything?
Miss ALLEN. I could not say on that point, but I was interested in the fact because I think it points to the tie-up between the New Kanawha Power Co. and the Electro-Metallurgical Co., before the Electro-Metallurgical Co. bought the New Kanawha Co. out.
Mr. GRISWOLD. For what purpose do they use silica?
Miss ALLEN. In the electro-processing of steel.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do they use it for anything else?
Miss ALLEN. Well, the New Kanawha Power Co. manufactures electro-metallurgical products, and it is used in manufacturing.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Now, as to this disease that they have, will you tell the committee the symptoms of that disease that would be observable by the layman?
Miss ALLEN. Yes. They are very indefinite, such as heavy breathing, lassitude, red-rimmed eyes, bad eyesight—it affects their eyes. That is all I should say that would be observable.
Mr. GRISWOLD. That is the redness of the rims of their eyes?
Miss ALLEN. And the general lassitude.
Mr. GRISWOLD. And in its more advanced stages, what symptoms are the most noticeable?
Miss ALLEN. The falling off of weight, a considerable amount in a very short time, even from the beginning. In the most advanced stage, the men get down so that they have no flesh left on them at all. As they express it down there, the men get so they are all hide, bone, and leaders, which means he is just skin and tendons and looks like a living skeleton. I took that picture in August of 1934, and I received word that this man died in November, and had lingered on in that condition for about 5 months in bed.
Mr. GRISWOLD. You mentioned the case of Shirley Jones. What doctors was he treated by?
Miss ALLEN. Dr. Harless was the family physician, an independent doctor.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Not a company doctor?
Miss ALLEN. He had been at one time; years ago.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Did he make a diagnosis in the case of Shirley Jones?
Miss ALLEN. After the X-ray of the lungs, he was the man who discovered it was silicosis. He asked some experts on this point, I understand, and made trips to Washington and around the country. I think he went to Johns Hopkins and to a medical college in Chicago. He was away on such a trip when I was down there.
Mr. GRISWOLD. He made a diagnosis of silicosis in this particular case of Shirley Jones?
Miss ALLEN. As I understand it, yes. He was the one that diagnosed it.
Mr. GRISWOLD. You have never heard anything as to the basis of his diagnosis, or anything of that sort, have you, in the case of Shirley Jones?
Miss ALLEN. You mean the medical basis?
Mr. GRISWOLD. Yes. I am asking this question because of the fact that the early symptoms you describe of the disease, are the same symptoms as those of several other diseases that are prevalent in the South.
Miss ALLEN. Yes; that is true. It is very hard to diagnose. They can simply do it by X-raying the lungs and there are certain peculiar formations in this disease. Would you like me to describe simply the process of the disease?
Mr. GRISWOLD. We would. That is what I am trying to get at.
Miss ALLEN. They breathe in this microscopic dust and it forms a nodule that begins—that first blocks off the blood supply, forming this scar tissue. Once the disease has started, it cannot be stopped. It is this progressive formation of scar tissue.
Mr. GRISWOLD. That would be the same sort of scar tissue that. occurs in an arrested case of tuberculosis?
Miss ALLEN. They call it fibrosis of the lungs. I would not know the difference between those except this is progressive and it keeps destroying tissue until it has destroyed the capacity of the lungs, until there is none, and they finally strangle to death and have no lung left.
The lungs sound, if you tap on a man’s chest, it feels very hard and you hear sort of a metallic sound. Well, it is very peculiar.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What treatment do they use, or have they ever made any attempt to give any studied treatment for silacosis in those places where they do attempt treatment?
Miss ALLEN. I suppose it is simply a matter of rest where they have not been exposed enough to have scar tissued.
Mr. GRISWOLD. After they acquire it.
Miss ALLEN. All of the doctors agree there is no arresting the disease. There is no stopping it once It is started.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do they not have something that they use to relieve it or alleviate it or anything of that sort? After they have the disease?
Miss ALLEN. You can only alleviate it, I should say, through drugs and rest.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. Would not your questions be more proper to be put to a physician?
Mr. GRISWOLD. I am trying to find out about it. This lady has testified about these cases.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. Is she a physician?
Mr. GRISWOLD. I do not think she is.
Miss ALLEN. No, sir; I am not a physician.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. You are asking highly technical questions and I would like to hear a doctor testify.
Mr. RANDOLPH. May I interrupt at this point?
Mr. GRISWOLD. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Somewhere, I have read recently, in connection with a study of the mine situation in West Virginia, because I have the sand mines in my district, that no respirator is effective against rock dust of any kind, that no respirator has been approved by the United States Bureau of Mines up until late in 1934. Do you know whether that is true or not?
Miss ALLEN. No; I do not; but I do know that respirators are the simplest safety devices and that more elaborate safety devices have been recommended. A mask would be the simplest sort that could be provided, but that probably would not be sufficient.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Would you tell us at this time, if you know, and perhaps it is not a fair question, how many West Virginians actually worked on the construction of the tunnel?
Miss ALLEN. No; you will have to ask a West Virginian who is more familiar with the numbers in that particular locality.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You will say though that the majority of the labor was imported, was it not, from other States?
Miss ALLEN. I could not say. I do not have that information, even information to the extent that a majority was imported. Ido not have that information.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I believe you spoke about the mines not operating in that territory to any extent; did you say that?
Miss ALLEN. Not operating?
Mr. RANDOLPH. Yes.
Miss ALLEN. No; there are some mines up Gauley River that I know of go on and off as they get orders. When they fill a contract they close down until they get another contract, as I understand it.
Mr. [unreadable]. . . . information, Miss Allen, is that in this territory the mines have for several years worked about 5 days a week, and that these men could not get work in the mines for the reason that this imported labor came in and flooded the market.
Miss ALLEN. The imported labor, I understood, was mainlycolored men, or it might be migratory labor, people just passing through the State of West Virginia and hearing of this work and stopping off.
Mr. GRISWOLD. There was a new item, I think in one of yesterday's papers by some member of the contracting firm or the power company in which it was stated that all necessary precautions had been taken that were usually taken in that industry to protect these workmen. Has your foundation, or yourself, made any investigation of the precautions taken in other mines of a like nature?
Miss ALLEN. The standard method of drilling in a tunnel, as I understand it, is wet drilling to keep down the dust, and they were not following that practice.
Mr. DUNN. That statement was made in court?
Miss ALLEN. I got it from a lawyer. I could not say whether it was in the court records or not, but I think it is.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. When you stated that the undertaker's records had been destroyed, the basis of that statement was the testimony of the undertaker himself, given in court; is that not correct?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Now, as a matter of fact, this company made some test drillings before they commenced this work?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; that is the usual practice.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And what was the result of these test drillings with regard to silica?
Miss ALLEN. Well, they knew, of course, that sinking a test bore down a number of feet to find out what sort of rock they were going to be drilling through and, of course, they discovered this rich silica deposit and charted the course of the tunnel just to get out that silica. I cannot stress the fact enough that it was a very valuable deposit.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. As a matter of fact they originally intended to dig that tunnel a certain size?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And then enlarged the size of the tunnel, due to the fact that they discovered silica, and this company wanted to get this silica out?
Miss ALLEN. That is true for tunnel no.1.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Now, do you know what was done with this silica that was taken out of the tunnel no.1? Was it sold?
Miss ALLEN. No; it was stored there in the yard at the Electro-Metallurgical Co.
Mr. MAROANTONIO. You do not know whether it has been sold or not, do you?
Miss ALLEN. No; I do not know any of the details of the transaction.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Now, with reference to the records of this commission of doctors, of the three doctors; these three doctors were appointed by the court?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. To examine some 350 men, or was it some 300 men?
Miss ALLEN. Three hundred.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And they then reported back to the court?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And, in all likelihood, that report on the part of this commission of doctors is part of the court record?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; I should think it would be.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Now, aside from the question of dry drilling, which is inherently dangerous, did any of these men ever tell you that they used mask?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; one colored man, when I visited the colored camp no.1, which was set back in the hills, a workman up there said he had come at the very end of the drilling of the tunnel and the rumor was going around then that rock dust was killing the men, and he happened to notice engineers, executives, general officials, when they came to the tunnel to investigate, at times some of them were wearing masks, and he said, "I thought it must be a good thing to have, so I went out and bought one, and it cost $2.50 out of my own pocket.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. But no masks were furnished the men who were actually doing the work?
Miss ALLEN. Not until the very end of the tunnel work. At the end of that tunnel, I understand masks were given; that is, in the last part of 1932 after suits had been instituted.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Do you know whether they were at any time with the exception of the last period which you have just described, ever warned by the company officials that they should go out and buy masks or were masks supplied up until that point?
Miss ALLEN. Never. All of the men I talked to who instituted suit have made it very clear that they knew nothing about the dangers.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. But masks were used, however, by executives and engineers who visited that tunnel?
Miss ALLEN. That is a moot point. As I say, I do know that all of the foremen on the tunnel no.1 job died of silicosis themselves except Charlie Gilmore. I am not sure at this time. I understand he had not died. But the higher laborers of the surveying crew testified they did not warn them. As I say, it is a moot point, but Eddie Clark told me that in this trial—his own words were, "The engineers of the New Kanawha Power Co. used masks when they were gathering samples of rock." He pointed that out during the trial in Fayetteville during 1934.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. So that, according to him, the engineers did use masks when they went into this tunnel, but no warnings as to the necessity of the use of masks was given nor were masks furnished these men except toward the very last part of the construction of this tunnel; is that correct?
Miss ALLEN. That is true.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. That is all.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Do you know whether many States, or do you have a group of States that have silicosis as a compensable disease as the result of which money could be collected through the State compensation departments?
Miss ALLEN .Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. How many are there, approximately, do you know ?
Miss ALLEN. No; I am sure I do not know the correct figures, but there are more enlightened States that have such legislation. There is legislation now being pushed through.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I am glad of that, because we must be enlightened because last year in West Virginia we made silicosis a compensable disease.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. As for the West Virginia statute, which I shall present before this committee later on and which I shall attempt to analyze, while it makes silicosis a compensable disease, that statute needs plenty of amending, because it does not afford the workers adequate protection.
Mr. RANDOLPH. I do not know anything about the amendment. It was passed last year.
Mr. GRISWOLD. You spoke about Drs. Simmons and Mitchell. Will you tell us where they are located; give us their addresses?
Miss ALLEN. Dr. Mitchell lives in Mount Hope. He was fired by the contractors when they finished drilling the tunnel.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Do you know whether they did use the word "fired"?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; that was the explanation of his testifying. Mr. MARCANTONIO. Why was he fired, do you know?
Miss ALLEN. His services were no longer needed. .
Mr. MARCANTONIO. He was fired at the end of the tunneling, you say?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; when his services were no longer needed. Mr. DUNN. What is the difference between "fired"—
Mr. GRISWOLD. Please allow her to give us the addresses, Mr. Dunn, before you ask another question.
Miss ALLEN. Dr. Simmons was connected with the Electro-Metallurgical Co. in Alloy, W. Va.
Mr. GRISWOLD. His address is Alloy, W. Va.?
Miss ALLEN .Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Coming back to the point that Congressman Dunn raised with respect to this doctor's being fired, did you mean simply he was discharged because his services were no longer needed?
Miss ALLEN. Yes; I understood he was simply discharged because he was no longer needed.
Mr. DUNN. The reason I made that statement is because I know it is a fact that if any professional man appears to be interested in humanity and appears to be against corporations, he is usually fired.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. You did not mean any slight on the doctor?
Miss ALLEN. No, sir; the fact that he did diagnose these case as tunnelitis is criticized by the profession, however.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. This doctor, while in the employ of this company, told the men they were suffering from tunnelitis, is that correct?
Miss ALLEN. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Which was an incorrect statement as to the diagnosis that had been made?
Miss ALLEN. It is absolutely foolish as far as medicine goes; there is no such disease.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. You make that statement and yet you are not a physician?
Miss ALLEN. Dr. Harless' son was commenting on the fact to me.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. May I say, Mr. Lambertson, that we will try to get some doctors here who will prove that there is no such disease as tunnelitis and that it is a highly ficticious statement of any doctor to make.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. It must be highly technical but if we are going to have doctors, and this is technical, I do not think we ought to take the time to take the testimony of somebody that is not an expert on these medical subjects.
Mr. GRISWOLD. The lady testified, and probably that should have been stricken out, but she did testify in her statement regarding the symptoms of this disease and the disease.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. But she drew conclusions about it.
Mr. GRISWOLD. That might be, but nobody offered any objection.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. At any rate, whatever testimony she gave as to the disease will be taken for what it is worth until we get medical testimony.
Mr. LAMBERTSON. I think we could spend our time more profitably with the physicians who have a knowledge of the disease itself.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. I wonder if it would be possible to get at least one of those doctors who was appointed by the court?
Mr. GRISWOLD. We will handle that in executive session. Are there any further questions by any members of the committee?
If not, the committee will go into executive session.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. I have one more witness here today if you would like to listen to him for a little while.
Mr. GRISWOLD. We had better wait because we would like to have an executive session.
(Whereupon the committee went into executive session.)
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