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a laborer in the mine before he can become a miner, but this law is violated more often than it is obeyed, even by those for whose protection it was enacted. The certificates which every miner must show when he applies for work are handed about with as little regard to the law as are railroad passes among politicians.

In the districts of the anthracite region are employed some fourteen different nationalities : Americans, Austrians, English, Germans, Irish, Scotch, Welsh, Hungarians, Italians, Poles, Russians, Swedes, Slavs and Greeks. Of the Poles, Huns and Italians, Dr. Virtue in his article on “The Anthracite Mine Laborers,” published by the Department of Labor in its Bulletin of November, 1897, says:

“The United States census of 1890 shows the total number of these nationalities in the five anthracite counties to be 28,216. This is 10,307 less than the foreign-born Irish in the same counties, 5,627 less than the foreign-born Germans and Austrians combined, while of English there were 22,729 and of Welsh 23,404. There is no means of knowing the number of the various nationalities employed at the mines, but it is certain that a far greater proportion of the Polish, Hungarian and Italian population are so employed than of the other nationalities named. A fairly accurate indication of the number and growth of this class for the last half dozen years may be had from the following figures furnished by the Philadelphia & Reading Coal and Iron Company, showing the 'nationality and percentage,' but not the place of birth, of the employees at their mines in 1890, 1895 and 1896: Number and per cent of the various nationalities employed at the collieries of the Philadelphia & Reading Coal and

Iron Company, 1890, 1895, 1896.

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28. 360


"These figures account for about 70 per cent of the mine laborers of the Southern field. Assuming the same proportions for the whole region, there are not far from 50,000 of the class of which most complaint is made employed at the anthracite mines. The table shows a rapid increase of the class since 1890. In that year the three nationalities formed 23.6 per cent of the employees of the Reading collieries. In 1896 they formed 36.2 per cent. It may be said that the estimates of this element of the population are invariably higher than here set down. But those estimates are usually based upon impressions rather than the actual returns from the collieries."

Contemporaneous with this increase of European labor in the anthracite fields there has been a noticeable decrease in the last four years in the total number of men employed in the production of hard coal, due partly to the introduction of machinery and partly to a more intelligent direction of labor. From 1890 to 1896 the number of employees increased from 109,166 to 149,670; but in 1897 the employees numbered 149,557 ; in 1898, 142,420 ; and in 1899, 140,583.'

These are the more important general conditions affecting the production of anthracite coal. Weak and defenceless as the individual miner was against such forces he, for long, could do nothing to prevent what, to many, seemed inevitable-a gradual decrease in earnings and a consequent lowering of his standard of living.

The miserable condition of the anthracite mine workers had for several years engaged the attention of the United Mine Workers of America. In fact, ever since the partial success of that organization in the bituminous fields of Western Pennsylvania, in 1897, its officers have had in view a betterment of the condition of the hard coal miner. that year this organization succeeded in having adopted in the soft coal region an agreement between the operators and the miners in accordance with which their representatives now meet annually, about April 1, in joint convention and


i This decrease in the number of laborers has not resulted in any decrease in production, as is shown by the following figures : In 1890 the production was 40,089,355 tons; in 1896, 48,074,330 ; 1897, 46,947.354 ; 1898, 47, 145,174; and in 1899,

determine, among other things, upon the wages of the mine workers for the ensuing year. Prior to this time members of the organization had gone into the Lehigh and Schuylkill districts and by 1896 had formed about ninety-four locals. It was not until 1899, however, that members of the National Executive Board and National Organizers were stationed in the anthracite region. For more than a year before the strike was begun these men were at work preparing the miners for the struggle.

The monumental task which they accomplished in such a short time cannot be even imagined by one unfamiliar with the actual conditions in the anthracite region. They had to organize men of fourteen different nationalities and with almost as many different languages, religions, customs, and standards of living ; they had to allay distrust on all sides, born partly of ignorance and partly of a past full of failures in efforts to attain the very objects that the United Mine Workers were striving for ; they had to overcome a most bitter feeling of jealousy and hatred which had grown up between the miners of the three fields as a result of past strikes, and they had to encounter conditions of mining differing to such an extent in the separate districts as to make almost impossible common and general grievances. These representatives of organized labor went before the men of the anthracite region with a history on nearly every page of which was written failure in strikes undertaken and destruction to every union which had attempted to fight the miners' battle. They had to confront living witnesses among the old and more influential miners who foretold the failure of any and all efforts directed to securing for the men better conditions, and who testified that the condition of the miners after strikes had heretofore in all cases been worse than the state of living which preceded. Not only were all these almost insurmountable obstacles to be overcome before a strike could be called, but the United Mine Workers of America had to deal with a normal surplus of labor, and men bidding against each other for work; they had to face a market over-supplied with coal ; they had to meet the ever present danger of inability, at critical times, to guide and control the storm they were arousing ; they had to fight the bitter, and, at times, almost crushing opposition to organized labor of the operators and railroads. That the union successfully met and overcame these obstacles is more to the credit of the organization and its officials even thau the successful outcome of the strike.

The strike itself was the most successful-practically the only successful one-ever conducted in the anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania. It was the first time in the history of hard coal mining in the United States that the entire region had been involved in a strike for an increase in wages. All previous strikes, with the possible exception of that of 1887-88, were to prevent reductions in wages. That there were general grievances among the men in all three districts is shown by the large number of mine workers who laid down their tools and extinguished their lamps on the first day of the strike. Never before had the anthracite mine workers been brought to realize the solidarity of interest that they recognized on that day.

When the United Mine Workers of America went into the territory' to organize the men, it took the three fields into which the region had been divided in trade circles and made of each a separate district, with a president at its head. The Northern field was called District 1, the Middle, District 7, and the Southern, District 9. The men of the Wyoming and Lackawanna field (District 1), were the first to be thoroughly organized under the banner of the union, and naturally they were the first to take steps looking toward an amelioration of their condition. Before the inauguration of the strike, at a meeting of this district held at Scranton in January, President Mitchell was petitioned by the mineworkers of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys to call a general strike of all anthracite miners. After conferring with the presidents of Districts 7 and 9, the petition was refused. At their next quarterly meeting in April steps were taken to secure a meeting of the miners from all three districts, and in July the union mine workers of District 1, at a convention held at Pittston, petitioned the National Executive Board to call a convention of all three districts. This petition was granted, and on August 13 a joint convention was held at Hazleton. This convention invited the operators to meet representatives of the miners in joint convention in Hazleton, on August 27, at the same time detailing the grievances under which the anthracite mine workers were laboring, and which they desired to have remedied. The operators were unrepresented when the subsequent convention was called to order. The miners then drafted a scale of wages for each district together with general conditions of employment, and asked of the National Executive Board permission to strike for its adoption and for the redress of other grievances, provided the officials of the organization should not be able to effect a settlement within ten days after the application was made.

'The Miners and Laborers' Amalgamated Association and the Knights of Labor were both destroyed in the anthracite coal fields by the failure of the strike of 1887-88. The Workingmen's Benevolent Association had met a like fate in the

Efforts on the part of interested parties to settle the difficulties peaceably, through arbitration or other means, postponed the declaration of the strike from September 8, the date when the ten days expired, to September 12. In the meantime the operators as a class did nothing toward preventing the threatened conflict. They were loud in their claims after the strike began that no complaints of any kind had been made to them by their employees, and that all they knew of grievances existing among the men had been conveyed to them through the newspapers.

The scales of wages demanded by the Hazleton convention differed for the three districts, but similar conditions of

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