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United Mine Workers of America

miners, strike, union, president, increase and wilson

UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, The, the largest labor union in America, having for its object the union of all mine "employees that produce or handle coal or coke in or around the mines, and to amelio rate their condition by means of conciliation, arbitration or strikes." The National Executive Board levies assessments'and orders strikes by a two-thirds vote. This board consists of the president, vice-president and secretary and 29 delegates — one from each district into which the national jurisdiction is divided. Fraternal benefits do not figure largely in this union, which expends most of its revenue in support ing strikes. In most of the great coal regions the union has secured recognition from the operators of the principle of collective bar gaining and with the latter fix yearly a scale for the succeeding 12 months. The union was organized 25 Jan. 1890, but it made little head way until the great strike of 1897, in which year its membership for the first time passed the 9,000 mark. Within the last 20 years the membership has grown to 420,000 men, divided into 29 districts and over 3,000 locals. The official organ of the union is the United Mine Worker (Indianapolis, weekly). Biennial con ventions are held and proceedings published. In November 1917 wages, hours and conditions of labor were regulated by a contract made in Washington, which was to last until 31 March 1920, or "until the expiration of the war.° On 23 Sept. 1919 the United Mine Workers' Convention at Cleveland declared that this con tract had expired because of the virtual ending of the war on 11 Nov. 1918. The convention on the same day adopted a resolution demanding an increase of 60 per cent in wages, a six-hour day and a five-day week and authorizing the international officials to call a strike, effective 1 November, if a satisfactory agreement had not been negotiated by that date. On 17 Octo ber Secretary Wilson of the Department of Labor conferred with President Lewis of the miners and T. T. Brewster, chairman of

the operators' association, in Washington. This conference was futile, as was also a joint con ference of miners and operators, called by Sec retary Wilson, from 21 to 24 October.

President Wilson issued a statement on 25 October, demanding the recall of the coal-mine strike order and declaring that a "strike under those circumstances is not only unjustifiable, but unlawful." On petition of the government United States Judge Anderson on 31 October issued a temporary restraining order to pre vent miners' officials from doing anything in furtherance of the strike. On 8 November a temporary injunction was granted and a manda order issued requiring the rescinding of the strike order. Meantime the bituminous miners walked out and production in all union mines ceased. Secretary of Labor Wilson again called the miners and operators to Washington and on 21 November offered as a compromise that an increase of 31 per cent be granted the miners. A few days later, after this had been considered by the Cabinet, Fuel Administrator Garfield proposed an increase of 14 per cent, without any increase in the price of coal to the public. This was rejected by the mine workers.

President Lewis and Secretary-Treasurer Green conferred on 6 December with the Attorney-General of the United States and it was later announced that an agreement had been reached, based on the proposal of Presi dent Wilson made on 5 December. Under this plan the miners were to return to work at once; were to receive a 14 per cent increase in wages; after resumption of work the President would appoint a commission of three—one operator, one miner and one representative of the pub lic — to investigate and determine, if possible within 60 days, a basis for a new wage agree ment. The miners' representatives after sev eral days' discussion accepted the proposal on 9 Dec. 1919, and on the same day the strike was called off.