The Great Coal Strike of 1902 had a great impact on the society of the United States for a number of reasons: how the
miners wanted more money and a shorter work day, how the people needed the coal for heating their houses and how they lived,
and how the union called the United Mine Workers was involved and how the strike finally ended.
The Strike was started for two reasons. First, is that the workers wanted a raise so they could pay off some of their
debts and get their children out of the mines. If they got enough money they could also invest the money in some industries
making the economy better. Second, is that the workers wanted a shorter work day so they could rest up for the next day and
be home with their family. This would most likely make the miners happier and in the long run the miners would work harder
and faster. The workers had a hard life because of the low paying jobs. The parents couldn’t support their families
alone so the some of the children also went there to work.
A consequence that the strike made was that when the miners stopped digging up the coal, the coal ran out and most
of the coal was used to heat houses. The people
needed this coal to heat their houses especially in the winter time. So the people
pushed for an end to the strike, so they could heat their houses again and be comfortable. Another
consequence would be that the mine operators lost there good reputation because
of the way they were paying and treating the workers at some of the mines. They found this out by Carroll Wright sending special
agents, experts, and clerks to look at how the mines
were being run. They found that there where some evidence of terrible conditions
but it was only represented by a small number of cases. In large mining communities the conditions were found to be good,
and miners were judged as only partly justified in their claim that annual earnings were not sufficient “to maintain
an American standard of living”.
The United Mine Workers Union was headed by John Mitchell who became the president, at age 28, of the United Mine Works
in 1898. He hoped to achieve the same kind of success in the anthracite or hard coalfields of Pennsylvania. He achieved
this on October 23, 1902 after the 163-day anthracite coal strike ended.
The United Mine Workers union was a group of miners that came together to make the mine operators give in to the Unions demands
for better work hours and a 20% increase in their wages.
During the strike a lot of things happened the President was going to order the U.S. Army to take over the coal fields
as a last resort. The Army would get the coal out of the mines and sell it to keep the heat in the houses. There were also
a lot of negotiations going on but no group would give in so there was no end in sight.
The mine operators’ reaction to the strike was that they were not going to give in. The mine operators thought
that the mine workers already had a good life. They also thought that the miners lived in good houses in the mining community
and why should they ask for more than what they have already. Another thought that the mine operators
had was that the mining conditions have always been that way and if they should
have heard how bad a life it was from other miners. They should have also expected that from a low paying job. The mine operators
thought that if they were to give in and give them
more money they would go bankrupt because of the operators low income and then
the miners would have no where else to work. They could not give them better hours because that would also decrease their
profits and potentially make them go bankrupt also. These are the reason the employers didn’t give the miners what they
There were a lot of people involve in the Coal Strike of 1902. First of there was 140,000 miners in Pennsylvania
that were the people that started the whole strike. There was also the United Mine Workers which involve more miners and John
Mitchell into the matter. The President of the United States was also involved, so was other people he sent to investigate
what was going to and to become an arbitrator like Carroll Wright. There was also a lot of other people wasn’t mention
above that were involved in the coal strike of 1902.
The following morning President Roosevelt met briefly with the commissioners and asked them to try to establish good
relations between the employers and the workers in the anthracite fields so this would never happen again. The commissioners
met for almost 2 hours at Carroll Wright’s office, one block from the White House. There the commissioners commented
to reporters. The photographers of the reporters also took pictures there, and the room became so saturated with smoke from
the flash powder it had to be aired out. After organizing and scheduling future sessions, the commissioners lunched with the
President, and then began their difficult task of settling the strike.
Before the commissioners ended on agreement they spent a week touring the coal regions. They often rejected the offer
of the coal operator for a special train and visited mines selected only by the opposing party. They saw first hand the conditions
under miners lived and worked.
The commissioners, after their inspection tour met for nearly three months. In the testimony nearly five hundred and
sixty people showed up. About two hundred forty striking miners, one hundred fifty three nonunion mineworkers, and one hundred
fifty four mine operators showed up. The Commission itself requested the appearance of 11
witnesses. The testimony ran to ten thousand forty seven legal-sized pages in
addition to other exhibits. John Mitchell played a major role in presenting the case for the miners. George Baer made the
closing arguments for the coal operators, while Clarence Darrow closed for the workers.
The commissioners saw that some mining conditions were good and some were
bad, so they split what both the miners and the operators were asking for. The miners asked for a 20-percentwage increase,
and most were given a 10 percent increase. The miners had asked for an 8 hour work day and were awarded a 9 hour work day
instead of the previous standard 10 hour work day. After that was settled, the strike that seemed unending finally ended.
The Union was still unrecognized by the mine operator but they were well on their way to be
making they notice. Also other unions were starting to be recognized by
other industries. The Coal Industry was success full in staying operational even
though they had to increase the wages of the workers.
That was all of the people places and things involved in the Great Coal Strike of 1902, which had a great impact on
the society of the United States because of these reasons: that the miners wanted more money and a shorter work day, that
the people needed the coal for heating their houses and that the union called the United Mine Workers was involved and how
the strike finally ended on October 23, 1902.