In 1922 the average amount of coal produced by each of Besco’s more than 12,000 workers was three tons of coal a day. The average daily wage was just under $6.
When Besco took the coal to market, the corporation got a price of $6 per ton. For three tons, $18. So, for the produce of one man’s daily labour -- three tons of coal -- Besco could get $18. After you subtracted the cost of the worker’s labour --$6-- the capitalists still had $12.
It is out of this $12, value created by the worker but not paid to him, that the capitalists pay their own handsome salaries, pay the costs of equipment and pocket their profits.
In 1921 the profits pocketed by Besco in this way amounted to a clear $9.6 million. During the war years, we might add, profits were frequently double this amount. That’s why it was so important for Besco to cut the workers’ wages: they wanted to get back to that higher profit level.
This profit amounted to a robbery of about $800 from each of the men who toiled in Besco’s mines in 1922. A miner was lucky if he was paid that much in a year of work.
This whole process amounts to little more than a socially sanctioned form of robbery. The owning class says to the workers: ‘You go and produce the wealth and you can have half of all you produce if you give us the other half.’ The capitalists control the state, the armies, the newspapers and the school systems to teach people to accept this arrangement.