UA Library

Bisbee Daily Review

July 1, 1917

Agitation of Labor Troubles in Arizona Threatens to Exhaust Producers' Patience

            The fifteen large producers of copper in Arizona contributed upwards of twenty million dollars to the Liberty loan. Only about two million of this was credited to various states in which the head offices of these companies are located and from which the boards of directors ordered the scriptions made for the companies. As an instance the Phelps-Dodge Co., is reported to have subscribed some several million dollars to the bond issue, but of this sum only $350,000 was credited directly to Arizona. Senator W. A. Clark contributed several million dollars, but it is credited mostly to New York

            In one day the employes of one mining company in Arizona, the Miami Copper Co., subscribed $16, 500 to the loan. The miners, smelter, and the mill workers of the Globe-Miami district subscribed more than $250,000, which would mean a $50 bond for every one of their number. In the Warren District the miners subscribed more than $300,000, or something over a $50 bond for each one of their number. In the Ray-Superior district, the Jerome district and the Clifton-Morenci district there were also very considerable subscriptions by the miners

            Advance in the price of copper during the present month means that wages will automatically advance under the voluntary profit-sharing plan extended by the producers  when the metal market rallied in 1915 and the work in July the Bisbee miners will receive around $5.80 and those under the Miami scale around $5.70 the day. This is predicted upon the present practical certainty that the average price for the metal in June will be 30 cents or better.

            The workers in every copper district in the state, and in the gold district of Oatman-Gold Roads, where the copper wage schedule was recently with much liberality granted by the mining companies in spite of the fact that while their metal output has no greater value than ever in the market their costs of supplies have gone up several times over, have no complain: to make as to wages or hours or as to safety or health conditions under which they are employed. They concede that these vital points are in as satisfactory a way as they could ask. Yet the are permitting the agitators struggling for their meal tickets and the continuance of pay from foreign enemies of the country to embroil them over minor points that have been raised and which were not contested before the war. That is, the radicals are permitting themselves to be embroiled, or seeking to be embroiled. The conservatives are lining up to oppose the strangling yoke and wholly unpatriotic endeavors of the agitators.

            Arizona's part in the production of nearly one-half of Arizona's total copper output represents monthly wage distribution of more than ten million dollars. Another ten million the month is disbursed for supplies, fuel, steel. Timbers, machinery renewals, and betterment's, taxes and other fixed items. This ten million reaches to every part of the country, there being no section that is not drawn upon in some way to keep the copper mines going at efficiency. Ten million in wages compares with disbursement in that channel in the first months of 1916 of about five million dollars. The wage paid at that time was $3.25 to $3.50 the day, with labor exceedingly glad to secure the employment at that price. The advance since has been voluntary on the part of the copper producers. The total had been doubled, and wages are two-thirds higher. This two-thirds amounts to dividends at the rate of about $3,000,000 the months or $36,000,000 the year voluntarily paid the copper industry workers in Arizona, a total that compares very well with the dividends which have been paid the investors whose money made the copper mines. In this connection there is the noteworthy feature that a great many Arizona miners are at this time drawing both wages and dividends plus dividends, for they have become stockholders in a great many instances in the producing mines, while they are in the developing properties as shareholders by the thousands. The miner, in fact, never before in any mining country had as large incentive as he had in Arizona today to keep mining going at highest efficiency, strictly from the standpoint of personal financial interest. The latter has of course broadened his interest in national welfare and if left alone he would work into a great factor of national support and development of national mineral resources. His understanding of this is in a great many instances arraying him against the agitator formidably.

            Losses to the ranks of labor through intimidation are going on daily in Arizona. A great many men are leaving the state rather than become involved in the labor troubles upon the agitator are insistent. Many men will also be lost through enlistment's in the army, the First Arizona standing at this time is in need of 1,600 men, while there will be further losses when the draft is made.

            All the factors may have outcome, in the opinion of some who have given thought to the situation, in government control of the districts and the reduction of copper output to the tonnage actually required by the government and its allies for their actual war needs. In such event a lower standard of wages, conforming with wages paid eastern miners and standardized over the country. Might be outcome that while distasteful would of necessity have to be accepted. A condition would readily be possible that would conform in many respects to that of 1914, when the mining companies cut their forces in two and reduced wages 10 percent, operating all only for the relief of men with families, all single men being perforce turned adrift and gladly accepting road and other work provided in large measure as a relief expedient at from $1.50 to $3 the day.