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Mr. MARCANTONIO. And I understood you to say that the ventila. ing fan was never repaired?
Mr. PEYTON. That is right.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. It was inadequate, in your opinion as an enganeer; is that correct?
Mr. PEYTON. It is.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And no masks were at any time used by thu men?
Mr. PEYTON. No masks were ever used by men employed by Rina hart & Dennis.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And those men numbered about 2,000?
Mr. MARCANTONIO. While your company found, after 7 months the necessity of employing masks for 20 of its engineers?
Mr. PEYTON. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You, as an engineer, having worked on that construction job, charge negligence on the part of Rhinehart & Dennis, the tunnel contractors?
Mr. PEYTON. I do.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Also, you charge negligence on the part of the Bureau of Mines of the State of West Virginia ?
Mr. PEYTON. I do.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Do you charge negligence on the part of anybody else?
Mr. PEYTON. Yes; against the New Kanawha Power Co.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You charge negligence against all the companies concerned?
Mr. PEYTON. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You make that charge as a result of your own personal knowledge, I take it!
Mr. PEYTON. Yes.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. You have this disease known as silicosis?
Mr. PEYTON. Yes; I have what the doctors call the first stage of it.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. What is the name of the doctor who diagnosed your case?
Mr. PEYTON. Dr. Harless and Dr. Shamlin, of Charleston.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. And were they ever employed by the company?
Mr. PEYTON. Dr. Harless was employed by the company before this job started.
Mr. DuNy of Pennsylvania. Is he now employed by the company? Mr. PEYTON. He is not.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Did he examine you after he left the service of the company?
Mr. PEYTON. He did.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. How long ago did he make the statement that you have silicosis?
Mr. PEYTON. Two years ago.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You say that Dr. Harless was employed by Rinehart & Dennis?
Mr. PEYTON. No; he was employed by the Electric Metallurgy Co.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Which is one of the companies connected with the operation of this company?
Mr. PEYTON. Yes. When Rinehart & Dennis reached this ground silica rock they sold it at Alloy, W. Va., and it was used there, and they enlarged the tunnel from 32 to 46 feet..
Mr. MARCANTONIO. The enlargement was effected for the purpose of taking out silica rock, was it not?
Mr. PEYTON. It was.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do you know what happened to this silica rock after it was taken out? What I am trying to learn is whether they shipped it out of there and used it for some other purpose—whethe they sold it to somebody else.
Nr. PEYTON. It was supposed to have been sold to the Electric Metallurgy Co. This rock was handled by an engine which Rinehart & Dennis bought from the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Co. That engine hauled this rock out of there, and it was stored at Alloy, W. Va. At that time the Electric Metallurgy Co. was constructing a steel plant there. Now they are using this rock in that furnace steel mill in West Virginia. It is about 6 miles from the job.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do you know whether any of this silica rock was shipped out of West Virginia in interstate commerce?
Mr. PEYTON. I do not know.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE ROBISON
Mr. GRISWOLD. Please give your name and residence to the reporter. Mr. ROBISON. George Robison, Vanetta, W. Va.
Mr. Griswold. Did you work in the tunnel at or near Gauley Bridge, W. Va.?
Mr. ROBISON. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Tell the committee what you know about the work in that tunnel and the conditions under which it was performed.
Mr. ROBISON. I went to work there on September 1, 1931, as a driller. I drilled on the bottom bench. They didn't allow any water on the bench drills. The drilling there had to be dry drilling, because otherwise they couldn't drill fast enough. It was at the head that they drilled with water. We put the holes from 1 to 20 feet, straight down. A fellow could drill three holes dry to one wet; that is, it's about three times faster when a fellow drills dry. In shooting at the head they rushed so that they did not even square at the top. The boss was always telling us to hurry, hurry, hurry. When the rocks were in danger of falling at any time the foreman kept telling us that everything was all right and that we should keep right on.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Did they kill any men by falling rock?
Mr. Robison. Yes. Me and my buddy drilled only 4 feet from two other fellows drilling, and those two fellows got killed by falling rock. They were only about 4 feet from me and my buddy. The boss himself was up there about the time, and he got tangled up with the equipment on the ground, and he saved himself only by retreating. The two fellows that had been drilling near me and my buddy never knew what hit them. They got crushed beyond recognition.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Can you give us the names of those two men who were drilling near you and your buddy and got killed ?
Mr. ROBISON. I do not know the names. There were many persons around there, and it was hard to remember names even if one got a name. Working with so many there, I can't recall their names. Most of the time we didn't know names.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What, if you know, was the name of the boss?
Mr. ROBISON. We didn't know his name. We just called him and all the rest of the bosses "Cap.” That was all I knew.
When we were drilling out that bench there would be 8 or 10 drills going. Some nights there would be 8, some nights 9, and some nights 10. That was caused by some men not showing up for work.
If we could drill out that night in time they always were loaded, and the powdermen would come in and blow the dust out and load them. We would get the equipment, carry it back, and everybody would get in the clear for shooting. When the blast went off the boss would call out, "Come, let's go back.” They loaded them heavy enough to blow the muck'down the tunnel and it stayed in there.
When they would bring in water to drink the dust would settle on top of it and one would have to drink that dust too. When drilling, the hole would go straight down and the air would then force the air back into one's face.
As dark as I am, when I came out of that tunnel in the mornings, if you had been in the tunnel too and had come out at my side, nobody could have told which was the white man. The white man was just as black as the colored man. The
groves near the camps had trees that were all colored with this dust. We all tried to clear our clothes somewhat in the parks or groves so as not to have the dust around the shacks. There was so much dust around those groves or parks that it looked like somebody had sprinkled flour around the place. It really looked pretty. Even the rain would not wash away that dust in the parks or groves.
The camps of the colored men were not close to the camps for the white men. If a colored man was sick and really couldn't go to work in the morning, he had to hide out before the shack rouster came around. That fellow had two pistols and blackjack to force the men to go to work. He was a fat man and we called him what. we called most of the other white men around there, “Cap."
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Was his name McLoud?
Mr. ROBISON. Yes; I believe it was that; but we just called him "Cap."
We couldn't resist him. As I have told you, he had two pistols and a blackjack. If we didn't go with him or go to work he would club us and make us go, and if we resisted him he would shoot us, so there really wasn't anything to do but to do what he told us to do. The only thing a sick man could do to avoid work was to hide out before this man showed up.
I worked on the night shift a while. We had to pay shack rent amounting to 75 cents a week; doctor bill amounted to 25 cents a week; hospital bill was 25 cents a week; the light bill was 25 cents a week.
Mr. GRISWOLD. When you finished did you owe the company or did it owe you?
Mr. ROBISON. I didn't get very much, I tell you. I always owed the company at the end of the week. Every morning one got a check. They gave a fellow a check, and it was put through at the window. By the time one paid for three meals and got a pint of moonshine, everything was gone.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Did the commissary sell moonshine?
Mr. ROBISON. No. When we began to cough we thought we had gotten a cold, and we thought it would be well to take some whisky for it. Then, too, we took the moonshine to cut the cold from the lungs. We got the moonshine every day; and I don't believe we could have stayed there without it.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. What did you pay for it?
Mr. ROBISON. A dollar or $1.50 a pint. There were different sizes for pints. We just had to drink something.
When it got so a worker couldn't make it at all, when he got sick and simply couldn't go longer, the sheriff would come around and run him off the place, off the works. I have seen the sheriff and his men run the workers off their places when they were sick and weak, so sick and weak that they could hardly walk. Some of them would have to stand up at the sides of trees to hold themselves up. And the sheriff and his men could plainly see that the men were sick and unable to go, yet they kept making them keep on the move.
The workers were there from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida.
Mr. GRISWOLD. From what State did you come?
Mr. Robison. I am from Georgia, sir. One man didn't know anybody else there. They didn't have any private houses. Everybody on the job had to live on the company's property. One had to keep going on his job, because many hundreds of men were coming in by the trainload and hoboing it. When a man began to let up for any reason, even though he was so sick he simply couldn't keep going, the company would run him off the job.
T. J. Thomas and a Mr. Detch were operating a coal mine near there and some of these men from the tunnel got located there and they are there yet. Many of the men died in the tunnel camps; they died in hospitals, under rocks, and every place else. A man named Finch, who was known to me, died under a rock from silicosis. I can go right now and point to many graves only two blocks from where I live there now.
Mr. GRISWOLD. How many men did you help bury-about how many?
Mr. ROBISON. I helped to bury about 35, I would say.
Mr. ROBISON. No, sir; I helped to bury one of the Jones boys. I helped to bury Cecil.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Have you silicosis?
Mr. ROBISON. Yes, sir. Once I was as big as this [indicating] man, but I have fallen off a great deal, as you can see.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. How long did you work in the tunnel?
Mr. ROBISON. Four months.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Is your silicosis in its infancy or is it far advanced ?
Mr. Robson. For 7 or 8 months after I quit the tunnel work, during which time I took medicine, I felt as good as I ever did; but after that I commenced to notice a slowing down. When I walked fast or up a hill I could notice that it cut down my breathing.
I talked to the different ones that were suing on account of their condition in 1932 and they told me I had better go to the doctor for examination. I went to Dr. Harless and he said, "Haven't you been working in that tunnel ?” I told him, “Yes”, and he said, “You have that tunnel dust on your lungs." Then made an arrangement with a lawyer named Mason in Charleston, W. Va. He told me he was going to get me $25,000 and he would charge me half of it for getting it for me.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Was that James Mason?
Mr. ROBISON. Yes. The trials were going on at different places around there, then. Mr. Sumerville, too, had some cases. Dr. Harless stated on the witness stand during the trial that any man who had worked in that dust for only 24 hours was afflicted and he could not be cured. He had a list of men there that he said he could show had died from silicosis. He attended all these 35 men I helped to bury. He wasn't the company doctor at that time that I know of.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. This lawyer was to get one-half of $25,000 that he agreed to get for you. Did he take your case to court?
Mr. ROBISON. No. A little after that they got a settlement and they came around in cars with releases and said if we don't sign this we would not get anything. I wanted to get something at once because I wanted to leave right away. If one signed the release he was given a dollar. He gave me the pencil, and I signed, and he took the pencil back, and I didn't get anything at all, sir.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. You just had the “pleasure” of signing the release?
Mr. ROBISON. Yes. The law firm of Townsend, Bock & Moore had a runner there at the same time.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What do you mean by that?
Mr. Robison. There was a man there boosting that law firm. He said that Mr. Townsend was the best man, the best lawyer, in the State of West Virginia.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Is he the attorney for the United Mine Workers of West Virginia ?
Mr. ROBISON. Yes. He told us to turn all our cases over to Mr. Townsend. He said, “All you men turn your cases over to Mr. Townsend.” I turned my case over to Mr. Townsend. The man said, “Mr. Townsend will fix you up.” When there was a settlement I went down and he came out with a piece of wide, blue-black paper saying, “You filed too late; the statute of limitations has operated against you and turned you down. I can't do anything for you.” And I haven't got anything yet.