Coal miners' strike of 1873

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Coal miners' strike of 1873
Youngstown Metro Counties.PNG
Mahoning, Shenango, and Tuscarawas Valleys in the Youngstown area of Ohio and Pennsylvania
Date1873
Location
Goalswages
MethodsStrikes, Protest, Demonstrations
Parties to the civil conflict
Miners' Union (local)
Local coal companies
Number
7,500 strikers
strikebreakers
Casualties and arrests
Deaths: 1

The Coal miners' strike of 1873, was a strike against wage cuts in the Mahoning, Shenango, and Tuscarawas Valleys of northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania. [1] In the Tuscarawas Valley, the labor action lasted six months, and in the Mahoning Valley four and a half months,[2] but the walkouts failed. The introduction of imported strikebreakers and manufacturers finding substitutes for the area's special block-coal, forced the organized miners back to work at prevailing wages.[3]

Strike[edit]

As of 1872, bituminous coal miners in this location received $1.10 per ton of coal mined. Later that year, they demanded a $0.15 per ton increase. The mine operators responded with a demand for a decrease of $0.20 per ton. By January 1, 1873, over 6,000 unionized coal miners had walked out over the proposed 25% wage cut.[4] The local and national press followed the events of the miners' walkout. They covered several violent confrontations between striking miners and replacement workers.

The events around this local miners' action proved to be precedent setting in several ways. Mine owners employed the practice of importing replacement workers (strikebreakers) from far afield, from the Port of New York and other Eastern seaports, and from Virginia.[5] As of February 6, with 7,500 strikers out, owners had imported the first 300 black replacements from Virginia, "and the experiment succeeds so well that other proprietors will probably follow suit."[6] The largest number of these were destitute Italians newly landed at New York City's Castle Garden Immigrant Station,[citation needed] and African Americans from the Richmond area.[7] Newspaper accounts record that the replacement miners were sent by rail to work mines in Coalburg, Hubbard Township and Church Hill, Liberty Township, Ohio.[8][9]

At the outset of their rail journey, neither the Italians nor the Virginia men knew their employment was contingent upon being replacement workers.[10] Throughout the strike and even afterwards, considerable violence and destruction resulted from clashes between strikers and strikebreakers.[11] Strikers engaged in physical attacks against replacement miners and miners who returned to work in Coalburg and in several nearby townships. Local papers recorded arson and one strike-related homicide, that of Giovanni Chiesa, aka John Church, both in Churchill.[12]

Aftermath[edit]

The appearance of the Italian strikebreakers marks one of the earliest recorded arrivals of Southern Italians in the Mahoning Valley. After the conclusion of the strike, many settled in Coalburg's Little Italy.[13] The actions of the coal mine operators may have also added to the number of African Americans settling in the Mahoning Valley. The tactic of exploiting immigrants and blacks as strikebreakers continued for several decades.[14][15] This undermined coal miners' efforts to organize. The strike marks post-Civil War changes in the relationship between capital and labor. Importation of replacements from afar to control the workplace now became possible via new technology, the telegraph and railroads.[16][17]

Although the miners' strike began nine months before the Panic of 1873, railroad construction had begun falling the year before as a result of Civil War over expansion.[18] This had a deflationary effect on coal prices as the demand for iron and steel decreased. Strikes by the same coal workers continued at least through March 1876 in the Tuscarawas Valley, when a strike at the Warmington Mine south of Canton escalated into violence that required the insertion of state troops by Governor Rutherford B. Hayes to restore order.[19] Young attorney William McKinley represented the unpopular miners without a fee, by highlighting the dangers of the industry – 250 fatalities in the state every year, and another 700 injuries – and the practices of local mine owners. One of those owners was Mark Hanna. Although opponents in the case, the two formed a political alliance that saw McKinley elected U.S. president in 1896.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roy, Andrew, History of the Coal Miners of the United States, Green Wood Press, pp. 133–134.
  2. ^ “The Mahoning Valley Strikers Superseded,” Cleveland Daily Leader, May 15, 1873, 2, GenealogyBank, https://www.genealogybank.com/
  3. ^ Powderly, Terrance Vincent; James, Edmund Janes (1886). The Labor Movement: the Problem of To-day: The History, Purpose and Possibilites of Labor Organizations in Europe and America. A.M. Bridgman & Company. p. 259. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Disastrous Strikes Among Ohio Coal Miners," The Evening Star, Washington, D.C, February 8, 1873" online page 1
  5. ^ "Ohio Coal Miners' Strike: Emigrants Taking the Places of the Strikers—Precaution Against Violence". The Pittsburgh Commercial. May 13, 1873. p. 1.
  6. ^ "The Engineering and Mining Journal". 11 February 1873. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  7. ^ The Weekly Telegraph, Ashtabula, Saturday Morning, February 8, 1873, page 3 [1].
  8. ^ The New Orleans Republican, January 15, 1873, page 8
  9. ^ Charles Carr, "Tales of the City's Industries," The Sunday Vindicator, Youngstown, July 10, 1910, page 23
  10. ^ The Canton Repository and Republican, Ohio, April 25, 1873, page 1
  11. ^ The Ohio Coal Miners' Strike," The Daily Graphic, New York, May 14, 1873, page 3
  12. ^ J. H. Odell, "Murder and Arson at Church Hill!", The Mahoning Vindicator, August 1, 1873, page 8
  13. ^ http://www.beyond-books.org/docs/PDF/THEANDREWTUCCIARONEFAMILY.pdf, page 13
  14. ^ Gutman, Herbert (1964). "The Buena Vista Affair 1874-1875". The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  15. ^ Gutman, Herbert (1962). "Reconstruction in Ohio: Negroes in the Hocking Valley Coal Mines in 1873 and 1874". Industrial and Labor Relations Review. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  16. ^ "City Intelligence: Labor Exchange at Castle Garden," The Evening Post, New York, November 4, 1867, 4.
  17. ^ Chicago in the Age of Capital: Class, Politics, and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jentz John.B and Schneirov, Richard, Apr 15, 2012, University of Illinois Press, page 23, 978-0252081057
  18. ^ http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/us/mod05_industry/images/railroad_construction.jpg
  19. ^ Miller, Wilbur R. (29 June 2012). The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America. SAGE. p. 1088. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  20. ^ Skrabec, Quentin R. (2008). William McKinley, Apostle of Protectionism. Algora Publishing. p. 65-66. Retrieved 20 January 2017.