- Partner News
- Media Releases
- Mainstream News
Dec 10, 2014
“You load 16 tons, And what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt, Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store.”
In his hit record, “Sixteen Tons,” Tennessee Ernie Ford sang about how mining companies used to build whole towns that provided for every worker’s need: shelter, clothing, food, furniture and fuel.
Unfortunately, this also gave the mining company a monopoly over every aspect of the workers’ lives. They were even paid in a form of scrip or credit which could be used at the company store, with the wage rate never high enough to cover all the bills – hence the line “I owe my soul to the company store.”
This kind of monopoly was supposed to have disappeared with the coal miners in Cape Breton, but there is at least one Canadian company that still operates the way Tennessee Ernie described.
452 total views, 2 views today