Edgar H. Dixon
Homes arc being heated all over the
nation by oil and natural gas. thanks
to the national pipeline system, which
in the |,asl ten years has been »-xl«-ri<l«-«l
throughout the nation, including coal-
The result is that today coal supplies
euih -ome .it) per cent of America s
"energy" instead of the formerly gnat
figure of '"I 1','t* cut at the turn of I In-
l el il men eil-ee he argued thai an)
industry should support firsl those who
work in it, and only those should work
in il whom it can support. Lewis
actions can be ably defended b) a mere
description of the condition of lln- in-
dustn miner-wise during the "heyday.
The lot of the average miner is far
better than il was fifty years ago.
Thanks to Mr. Lewis, safety in the
mines, which was al one lime almost
nonexistent, is now a paramount feature. The I 'MW. under Mr. Lewis'
guidance, has been insist,-nt thai the
condition of the mines he improved I"
meet rigid standards sel down by the
In tin- old <!a\s. In man) mining
areas, each mountain community wets
separated tee em almost unbelievable extent. In each little mining town, the coal
eompan) own.-el the -lore- From which
the miners procured food and the necessities of living. Wages were fantastically
low and the miner was always in debt.
He could not leave the mines, nor could
he improve his |,,t. Conditions down inside the mines were appalling and human life seemed to be not highly valued.
Since then, thanks lo Mr. Lewis, this
The- leei e>f tlie average miner today
is good see long as he is we,iking.
Through the years, Lewis has changed
'-nl conditions to extremely good ones.
Friend and foe acknowledge lhal his
stature is heroic. I nfortunately, many
say he has gone loo far. .Now. he has
been forced to make an "agonizing reappraisal" of his own industry. Mrieiilv
he- has priced himself, his miners and
the mini' owners almost out of their jobs
in many areas, so Lewis, the hard-bitten
independent, lhe man who haled govern-
nient interference, has had to turn to
lhal which he usee! tei despise namely,
Lewis is also, oul of necessity, forced
into a position of partnership with management, lb- has recommended thai the
governmenl sel up a "national fuels
j,.ilicv" which would permit coal to participate in the national economy, al leeisl
tu the extent thai existing investments of
....ll. the mine owners and lhe 1 MW arc
protected. In short, John Lewis wants
the government to set up a definite line
whereby lln- use's of coal would be firm
and guaranteed and protected from other
"energy products." Moreover, he wauls
Vmerican coal promoted all over the
\t the same time a committee of slate
governors has recommended that Congress consider the importance of
to lhe security uf the nation.
Both I .i'w i- .mil spokesmen for the
mine owners are in agreemenl that imports of oil in certain areas shoulel be
hailed. However, the mine owners blame
pari of their position on governmenl
interference, restrictions, and limitations
on their operations. Moreover, lhe geev-
ernment, they claim, supported other
"energy products" eit the expense of
Lewis has become a foremost pro-
tagonist for the coal industry in the
nation. He in his later years has learned
fas others have learned) lln- folly e.f
extremism in anv capacity. Both Lewis
and tbe mine owners are in agreemenl
that to save themselves, they must pre-
vent further inroads front other -011111-.
Politically speaking. Jeelin Lewi-, the
gruff demon of the mine ovvhers. the
ogre From win,in mine owners children once were taught to flee-, has be-
. .eini- one eel the Finest allies of the coal
operators. On tin- other hand, he i- al-.,
a power I,, hind the mine' owners each
is dependent on the other.
V- an example of thc lnv e pact
between the mine' owners and Lewis,
the able- warrior has petitioned the federal governmenl In protect lhe high
wages ,,l the miners through the use of
the Walsh-llealv Act. This legislation
\e.i- designed to protect wages of low-
/ ee sal,scrllie.
-Wide World Pholo
Eugene A. Yates
paid industrial workers, such as the,-''
employed in lhe tobacco, paint, shoe,
anil drug industries. Moreover, Lewis
has accused the Tennessee Valle) Authority "I buying coal from nonunion
plants at a considerably lower price' than
would be the case were T\ \ lei buy
I'min lln- 1 MW contracl mines. In hi*
appeal to ihe government, and in paf"
ticular Labor Secretary Mitchell. Lewi8
is joined l>v several coal operators,
ll is said thai Secrelan Mitchell '•
nol al all tins) mpathetie to Lev, is' v ieWS.
Lewis has not onl) joined fences with
the mine owners, he i- in apparetll
agreemenl with two other gentlemen
M.inieK the Messrs, Dixon and Yates
who also are considered in some que"''
lei's 1 o be in opposition to TVA-
Perhaps Lewi- Feels that the I MW
would actually be better able to bargain
with private industry than with thc government. If SO, hi' i- nut alone in a leu":-1'
and growing field ,,f labor leaders both
at home and abroad, who an' learnin?
at the expense of their unions and union
members thai il is far easier In deal
with private industry which, after all-
is -nil competitive, rather than wilh "
-'ov ernment enterprise.
Today coal mav he In serious Iroub'1''
The troubles mav continue I,, mullip'j
I.ul the long-range outlook i- ; ,
Looking far into lhe future ..I' sever*1
dead,-, fuel experts seem to led I1"'1
coal production mav even double.
In hi- seventy-fifth year. John '
l.e-w is romance « ith the coal operator*'
Iii- apparenl -hill In philosophy to ;l
mine conservative view, and thc eii''
battled position of th.' coal industry '"
general, make Lewi- the linn in a ne*
FACTS FORUM NEWS, April, '"'"'