• U.S.

National Affairs: At New Idria

2 minute read

Citizens who think of Herbert Hoover as ex-President were reminded last week that he is also an experienced engineer, mine owner, ex-prospector.

Mr. Hoover, the miner, was resurrected by a C. I. O. strike at the New Idria quicksilver mine near Hollister, Calif. (100 miles south of San Francisco). New Idria Mining Co. was organized in 1936 by Brother Theodore Hoover, who is president of the company. Engineer Henry W. Gould, vice president and general manager, and State Senator Sanborn Young, a leading sponsor of the antilabor proposal which referending California voters turned down last month. Because war in Spain has curtailed output from the biggest sources of quicksilver. New Idria’s business has picked up lately. The mine produces one-third of the U. S. supply, the U. S. 15% of the world supply. Californians sometimes refer to Herbert Hoover as the owner, but he said in Manhattan last week that he holds 3% of the stock, has nothing to do with management or labor policy. If he did have, he said, the miners could join a union if they wished.

New Idria’s labor policy would never bag Labor votes for Politico Hoover. About 125 men (mostly Spaniards) work in the ground and in two plants where quicksilver is distilled from cinnabar ore. They toil seven days a week (with pay for overtime), get around $4 a day. live in hovels, pay 20¢ a pack for cigarets at a company store. Recently they raised a fund for Loyalist Spain, then split over disposition of the money. One group called in C. I. O. organizers, who last week called them out on strike for union recognition. Brother Theodore and associates declined to recognize or dicker with their union, reported to Brother Herbert that all was peaceful. Eighty-five pickets patrolled the mine while their officers asked for help from the National Labor Relations Board.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com