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ored 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. 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. 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?
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.
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 all over 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 the power 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. 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 examination
and 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