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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 an abandoned 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. I could have taken a bus, but there was no train service.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Where did you stay?
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 ?
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 turnover 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. GRISWOLD. Have you made any investigation of the labor turnover 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. GRISWOLD. 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.
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 knows 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 pursuade 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 Gauley 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-Metallurgical 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