Letter to Coaldale Mining Company Employees in 1959

(Valley Gazette, December 1988; "This message was sent to Coaldale Mining Company employees in 1959 when the handwriting was on the wall for deep mining. From the files of George Harvan.")

February 27, 1959

TO: All Employees of Coaldale Mining Company

FROM: John S. Marshall, Executive Vice President, Coaldale Mining Company

This is your first pay under the February 1, 1959 wage agreement.

Of course, all of us like to get a raise but there are a few of us who have to figure where the money comes from to pay for the raise.

There is only one place the money comes from – the man who buys our coal. However, this man will not pay any more for the coal than he would have to pay somebody else for coal or other fuel.

In a shrinking and competitive market, the sales prices are set by the lowest cost producer. Coaldale miners’ productivity is probably good enough if we only have other union mines to compete with, but we don’t. Fifty percent of all anthracite coal is now mined by stripping or non-union miners. These people set the prices and their costs are lower than ours.

I would like to show you the effect wage increases and fringe benefits have had on strip mining costs as compared with underground mining costs.


--Total Wages & Fringe Benefits: 1936 - $4.759; 1959 - $22.142

--Average Gross receipts for Coal per Ton: 1936 - $4.03; 1959 - $9.23

--Increase in Wages 1936 to 1959: 4.7 times

--Increase in Gross Receipts for Coal per Ton: 2.3 times

The productivity from strip mines is about 6.6 Tons per Man versus 3.3 Tons per Man from underground mining. Therefore, underground costs have been increased by wage increases $4.42 per Ton against stripping costs of $2.21 per Ton.

This gives an overall advantage to the strip mines of $2.21 per Ton. Some of this advantage has been offset by improved mine performance and by increased costs of stripping equipment and supplies, but a substantial advantage still remains to most strip operators.

Here is the reason that nearly all deep mines south of Wilkes-Barre have been abandoned and why, if Coaldale is to survive, we must have a radical improvement in underground costs.