United Mine Workers: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United Mine Workers of America
Founded January 22, 1890
Country United States, Canada
Affiliation AFL-CIO, CLC
Key people Cecil Roberts, president
Office location Washington, D.C., United States
Website www.umwa.org

The United Mine Workers of America (UMW or UMWA) is a North American labor union that represents not only coal miners, but also clean coal technicians, health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing workers and public employees throughout the United States and Canada.[1] Although its main focus in the earlier days was on miners and their rights, the UMW of today fights for better roads, schools, and health care for all. [2]

The UMW was founded in Columbus, Ohio, on January 22, 1890, by the merger of two older groups, the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union [3]. It was modeled after the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The union was initially established as a three-pronged labor tool: to develop mine safety; to improve mine workers' independence from the mine owners and the company store; and to provide miners with collective bargaining power. After passage of the National Recovery Act in 1933, organizers spread out throughout the United States to organize all coal miners.

During the 1930s the UMWA was often thought by many men in the field as being too involved in "Washington Politics", a movement which spawned such alternative unions such as the Progressive Mine Workers. The UMWA's history is full of movements and strikes which helped shape it into the strong labor union that it is today. Because of these strikes, the UMWA was able to achieve many rights for the workers and they still continue to fight for fair wages and healthy conditions for the miners. The UMWA was founded to provide fair pay for such a dangerous and demanded job. Although coal is not as much as a primary natural resource as it was when the UMWA was founded, coal mining is still important in society. And as long as there are coal miners, the UMWA will try and protect their rights.

In UMWA's history, strong leaders helped fight for the principles found in the union's constitution. These presidents of the UMWA's past saw the eleven points as a promise to the miners of what all would be accomplished, and the leaders tried to do everything they could in order that the promise be fulfilled. Some famous UMWA leaders of the past include John Mitchell, co-founder Phil Penna and John L. Lewis.


Mining in the 19th Century

The main goal of the UMWA was to provide safety to those not only working in the mines, but also affiliated with the mines. This was because not only were the miners being subjected to harsh working conditions, but also unfair wages and living costs.


Life of a miner

Miners were dependent upon the company store, a grocery store that the miners of the town had to use because the wages in which they were paid could only be redeemed at this one store. They were not paid in federal currency, but in company scrip. One famous song was written about the company stores of coal miners entitled Sixteen Tons. Between the product of the mine and the company store, mine owners became rich. They could increase the prices for commodities and recover wages paid to the workers. Although, company towns that raised the prices of all goods and eviction a constant threat were not the norm for all coal towns. But for the towns that did use the currency to their advantage, mining familes had to face serious hardships when it came to living conditions. [2]Since workers were paid in scrip, they were forced to buy goods from stores that were controlled by the same bosses that they worked for. At many company stores the prices were much higher than at other local places. Besides being limited to where they could shop, many miner's homes were also owned by the mines. Miners had to pay rent and many other taxes which greatly took up a large portion of their already small paychecks.

Safety and health in the mines

Being a miner in the 19th century meant long hours of continuos hard labor. For many workers, it was not unsual to be accostomed to total darkness, many went days without seeing any sunlight. Since miners were paid per ton of coal they produced each day workers would arrive as early as possible and stay till they physically were exhausted. Because of working in the mines, many health issues arose. One problem was that a majority of the areas being mined were on average 3-5 feet high. [2]This meant that most miners worked all day without standing up right to do their labor. Because alot of the places were hard to access by an average man, the demand for young boys to work in the mines grew. More unexperienced miners led to more accidents. Another health concern was the amount of dust that a miner breathed in each day. Now we know that it causes the disease black lung, but then, few miners knew what effects that this job would have on their bodies. Safety was also a big concern, most coal companies wanted to produce the cheapest coal, so in return they would not up date or replace old existing tools and carts. This led to miners becomming injured on a daily basis. However, most companies did not get in to conflict over the deaths because miners would typically work alone or in pairs, meaning that an accident would only harm two people and not a large quantity. As mining became more of a demand, the workers started to understand that something could be done to improve the working conditions, and that something must be done soon before any more lives are lost. The health and safety concerns of miners in the early 19th century are what prompted the labor movements to begin.[2]

Women in the mines

Although mining was typically thought of as a man's job women have been in the mines as early as the 1920s and 1930s in some places. However, most women who worked during those times were working in times of war where most men were overseas, they worked for their family who owned the mine for free, or they were operators which was considered to be less of a risk. In the 1970s the amount of women who worked as actual miners and who received wages is the highest percent of women workers in the mines in history. With the help of the UMWA, women were able to receive the same amount of pay as men but they had to deal with more risk factors such as sexual harassment and lack of support from their family. As time went on women began to do more hard labor and did about the same work as a man would do in the mines. In the 19th century there was a relapse in the women's work force in the mines. Many different reasons as to why women were not fit to be miners arose such as health concerns and superstition. The main health concern of the time was that women were not to be seen as strong and able to work in such dangerous conditions, men at the time saw women as submissive and thought that the main job of a woman was to be a mother. All of the hard labor that women did during the war seemed unnoticed and they got reduced back to the roles of just wives and mothers. Another reason why women were not wanted in the mines was due to folk tales. One superstition simply stated that women near mines were bad luck and increased the rate of disaster. Women were seen to be causers of risks rather than as equals. Another folk tale that began in Pennsylvania claimed that women could not work in the mines because a long time ago there were beautiful women who seduced coal miners into betraying there families. So this village of beautiful women was burned down and the remainders of the women were transformed into coal.[3] According to this myth, women miners were a threat because it was thought that they were trying to set free these beautiful women as to cause havoc and destroy the lives of men who worked in the mines. It may sound strange, but these folk tales did keep many women out of job.

Development of the Union

One of the groups in the forefront of the fight for collective bargaining in the early 20th century, the UMW was founded in Columbus, Ohio, on January 22, 1890, by the merger of two earlier groups, the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union. It was modeled after the American Federation of Labor (AFL).The Union's emergence in the 1890s was the culmination of decades of effort to organize mine workers and people in adjacent occupations into a single, effective negotiating unit. The coal indusrty became one of the most demanded natural resources. Coal was used as heat in homes and to power machines in industries. With the increase of demand, the coal mines became a compeptitive and dangerous place to work. And with decreasing amounts of pay occurring on a regular basis, the miners needed somewhere to turn, some group to stand up for their rights. Which is why the talks for starting the UMWA arose.

Early efforts

The first step which initiated the start of the union today was the creation of the American Miners' Association. This creation put into motion the labor movement in America. There are many who argue that the start of the AMA was an attack against the operators of whom suppressed the mine workers, while some argue that because the wages of the miners were so low that they had no other choice but to form a union. The popularity of the group grew immensely. "Of an estimated 56,000 miners in 1865, John Hinchcliffe claimed 22,000 as members of the AMA [2]. As a result of the strong growing union, the people who owned the mines needed to find a way to stop the AMA from becoming even more powerful than it already was. Members of the AMA started losing their jobs and found it nearly impossible to find work at other mines. This was due to the fact that the names of the people involved with AMA were being passed along operators, and the operators were refusing to hire people in association with the AMA. Problems for this early union only grew worse and it became nearly impossible to be a member of AMA and be a working miner. After a short time the AMA began to decline till it was no more.
Another early labor union that arose in 1868 that helped shape the UMWA was the Workingmen's Benevolent Association. The main difference between this labor union and many others of the time was due to the fact that it was an anthracite labor union. The anthracite industry was as conrolling, if not more than the other coal industries. The labors were receiving very low pay and formed the WBA to help improve the conditions. The main reason for the success of this group was the president, John Siney. Siney took a new approach as to help gain benefits for the miners. He sought a way for both the miners benefits to increase while also helping the operators gain a profit. The way that both parties could benefit was to make the production of anthracite limited. Because the efforts of the WBA benefited the operators, they did not object when the union wanted to take action in the mines, actually, they welcomed it because they new that they would be receiving some kind of profit. Because there was so much trust of the WBA from the operators, the first written contract between miners and operators was established.[2]. As the union became more responsible in the operator's eyes, the union was given more freedoms. As a result the health and spirits of the miner's significantly improved. The WBA could have been a very successful union had it not been for Franklin B. Gowen. Gowen was the man who in the 1870s owned the Reading Railroad. Around that time, he bought several coal mines in the area and developed a coal industry for himself. Because he owned the coal mines and the transportation of the coal, he was able to slowly destroy the labor union. He did everything in his power to produce the cheapest product and to ensure that members who were not in the union would benefit. As conditions for the miners of the WBA worsened, the union began to break up, until about 1875, when there was no one left. [2]

After the fall of the WBA many miners saw that a union that could work with the operators was possible, and they began to create many other small unions in the hopes that they would prosper and become a lasting labor union. Some other groups that arose after the fall of the WBA were the Workingman's Protective Association (WPA) and the Miner's National Association (MNA). Athough both groups had strong ideas and goals of what they wanted out of the union, they were unable to gain enough support and organization in order to be successful. These two labor unions did not last long, but did provide a greater want by the miners for a union which could withstand and help protect the worker's rights.[2]


Although many labor unions were failing, there were two predominate unions that arose and began to hold promise in becoming a strong and permanent figure for the miners. The main problem during this time was the riveralry imposed between the two groups. Because the National Trade Assembly #135, better known as the Kights of Labor, and the National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers were so apposed to one another they ended up creating more problems for miners rather than solving key issues.

National Trade Assembly #135
This union was more commonly known as the Knights of Labor and began around 1870 around Philadelphia, PA. The main problem with the Knights of Labor was the secrecy that went along with it. The word of this particular union spread very slowly and members kept very private their affiliation and goals of the Knights of Labor. Because both miners and operators could become members, there was no commonnality as to which unite the members and become stronger. Also, the main problem that many people had to this particular union was that it not see striking as a benefitial method of attaining rights. To many people of the time, a strike was the only way that they believed they would be heard and their rights made fair, so may people did not agree with the Knights of Labor.
The Knights of labor tried to establish an organized union to ensure that they would be a strong union so they set up a system of local assembly, or LA. There were two main types of LA's, trade and mixed, with the trade LA being the most common. Although this system was put into place to create order, it did the opposite. Even though there were only two categories of LA's there were many sub-divisions of them. For the most part it was impossible to even tell how many trade and mixed LA's there were at a given time. Local Assemblies began to arise and fall all around and many members began to question whether of not the Knights of Labor was strong enough to fight for the most important issue of the time, achieving an eight hour work day.[2]
National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers This Union was formed by members of the Knights of Labor who knew that a secrect and ununified group would not turn into a successful union. The founders, John McBride, Chris Evans and Daniel McLaughlin believed that creating an eight hour work day would not only be benefitial for workers, but also as a means to stop overproduction which would in turn help operators. The main success of this union was due to the founders who put the concerns of the miners first. They were able to get cooperation from operators because they explained that the miners wanted better conditions because they felt as if they were part of the mining industry and also wanted the company to grow. But in order for the company to grow more, the workers must have better conditions so that their labor could improve and benefit the operators. The first main concern of this union was to get a fair weighing system within the mines so that workers wages would be fair. Although during a conference between the operators and labor union the idea of a new system of scaling was agreed upon to be put in the mines, the idea never became reality. Because the union did not deliver what they had promised, they became weak and began to lose support and members.[2]


During this time is when the rivarly between the two unions increased and eventually led to the formation of the UMW. The first of many arguments arose after the 1886 joint conference. The Knights of labor did not want the NTA #135 to be in control so they went against a lot of their decisions. Also, because they were not in attendance at the conference they were not able to vote against actions that should be taken to gain fair rights for workers. Most of the actions required the Knights of Labor to lose their secrecy and make public its members and locations. Because such a problem arose when one union was not permitted to attend a conference, the National Federation held another conference in 1887 with both groups. Like the first, it was unsuccessful and both parties could not agree upon what actions should be taken to provide better conditions in the mines. Throughout 1887-1888 many joint conferences were held to help iron out the problems that the two groups were having. Many leaders of both groups began questioning the morals of the other union. One leader, William T. Lewis thought that there needed to be more unity within the union and that fighting between the two groups just to get members to switch sides was not accomplishing anything. Because of his thoughts, he was replaced by John B. Rae as president of the NTA #135. This removal did not stop Lewis however, instead he got many people together who had been also thrown out of the Knights of Labor for trying to belong to both parties at once, along with the National Federation and created the National Progressive Union of Miners and Mine Laborers (NPU). Although the goal of the creation of the NPU in 1888 was to create unity between the miners, it instead drew a heavier line distinguishing members of the NPU against those of the NTA #135. Because the tension grew, miners of one labor union would not support the strikes of another, because of this many strikes failed and both unions began to show weakness. In December 1889, the current president of the NPU ordered for action, and set up a joint conference for any miner, part of any union or not. John McBride, the president of NPU suggested that the Knights of Labor should be joined together with the NPU to form a strong union that could actually help to gain rights for the miners. John B. Rae reluctantly agreed and decided that the merger of the groups would meet on January 22, 1890.[2]

Constitution of the Union: The Eleven Points

When the union was founded it was clear to see what the values of the UMWA were because they were so clearly stated in the preamble;

We have founded the United Mine Workers of America fo the purpose of...educating all mine workers in America to realize the necessity of unity of action and purpose, in demanding and securing by lawful means the just fruits of our toil.[2]

Besides the preable, the constitution of the UMW was very important at setting up an outline of the rights that the miners wanted. In the creation of the UMWA there were eleven key points that were outlined by the constitution which was meant to be a straight forward request of what the demands of the workers would be.

The first point was a salary commensurate with the dangerous work conditions.This was one of the most important points of the constitution. The second point, related to this, the workers wanted to be paid fairly in legal tender, not with company scrip. The next point, the third point was to provide safety for the operators, necessitating that all operators be able to learn all the new technologies possible so that they could preserve lives and keep the workers in the healthiest condition as possible. The fourth point also had to do with advancing the technologies of the mine by providing better ventilation systems to decrease black lung disease and a better drainage system. The fifth point was to enforce these laws of safety and make it illegal for mines to have inadequate roofing or contaminated air and water in the mines. After the issues of safety were covered the UMWA began to emphasize what benefits that they wanted out of this union. They started with the sixth point, which they would not have any exceptions to,which stated that the workers wanted a eight hour work day. The seventh point also had to do with a common labor right of the time. They demanded an end to child labor and wanted the child labor law to be strictly enforced to promote the well being of the youth and the importance of their education. Next was the eighth point which demanded that they scales used to weigh the coal miner's load were working correctly so that they would be paid the correct amount. This was a big problem for miners because many times operators would try to underpay workers by having the scales off as to show a lighter weight than what was produced. Having this law was very important because miners were paid per pound of coal that they produced. The ninth point was linked to both the eighth and second points, the ninth point wanted the coal miners to receive weekly wages in lawful money. The tenth point wanted an unbiased police force for the mining community. Many operators of the mine would hire police to harass and tournament the mine workers. Because the operators owned all the houses of the miners and the police force, the operators could evict and arrest the workers unjustly. The tenth point was to eliminate this problem by having a police force in the mine that was not employed by the operators that would serve the workers justly. The eleventh point was a statement from the workers to the operators claiming that they would try to come to a reasonable conclusion but that if they thought that they were being treated unfairly, the workers would strike to protect their rights.[2]


Violent clashes

WPA poster
Coal miners in Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 1905

The union's history is filled with examples of members and their supporters violently clashing with company-hired strikebreakers and government forces:

  • Bituminous Coal Miners' Strike of 1894 - April 21, 1894. This nationwide strike was called when the union was hardly three years old. Many of the workers salaries had been cut by 30% [2] and with the demand for coal down, workers were upset that there were not more opportunities for work. The national guard was mobilized in several states to prevent or control violent clashes between strikers and strike breakers. The workers intended on only striking from work for three weeks in the hopes that when they returned the demand for coal would increase as would their wages. They developed the plan that they would continue to strike for three weeks and return to work for a short period of time until the hopes of wages increasing turned into a reality. However, many miners in the union did not wish to cooperate with this plan and did not return to work at all. This made the union seem weak. While many refused to return to work, many workers did not strike at all, and with the demand for coal being so low the remaining workers were able to produce enough to satisfy the demand. By being efficient in the mines, the operators saw no need to increase the wages of all the workers, and did not seem to care if the strike would end. By June the demand for coal began to increase and some operators decided to pay the works their original salaries before the wage cut. However, not all demands across the country were met and some workers continued to strike, which caused harm to the young union. The most important goal of the 1894 strike was not the restoration of wages, but rather the establishment of the UMWA as a cooperation at a national level.
  • Lattimer Massacre - September 10, 1897. 19 miners were killed by police in Lattimer, Pennsylvania, during a march in support of unions.
  • Battle of Virden - October 1898. Part of the larger mine wars that established Illinois as the leading union state in the country, and the reason that Mary Harris "Mother" Jones is buried at Mt. Olive, Illinois.
  • Westmoreland County Coal Strike - 1910-1911, a 16-month coal strike in Pennsylvania led largely by Slovak miners, this strike involved 15,000 coal miners. Sixteen people were killed during the strike, nearly all of them striking miners or members of their families.
  • Ludlow Massacre - April 20, 1914. 20 people, including women and children, killed when armed police, hired guns, and Colorado National Guardsmen broke up a tent colony formed by families of miners who had been evicted from company-owned housing.
  • Matewan, West Virginia - May 19, 1920. 12 men were killed in a gunfight between town residents and the Baldwin Felts Detective Agency, hired by mine owners. This is depicted in the John Sayles film Matewan.
  • The 'Redneck War' - 1920-21. Generally viewed as beginning with the Matewan Massacre, this conflict involved the struggle to unionize the southwestern area of West Virginia. It led to the march of 10,000 armed miners on the county seat at Logan, ending in the Battle of Blair Mountain in which the miners fought state militia, local police, and mine guards. These events are depicted in the 1987 novel Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina and the 2005 novel Blair Mountain by Jonathan Lynn.
  • The Herrin massacre occurred in June 1922 in Herrin, Illinois. 19 strikebreakers and 2 union miners were killed in mob action between June 21–22, 1922.
  • The Pittston Strike of 1989-1990 began as a result of a withdrawal from the Bituminous Coal Operators Association(BCOA) which led to a halt in the health insurance payments for miners who were already retired. Many miners went on strike only to be realize that the company was hiring new miners to be their replacements. The Pittston mine then cut off all benefits to those miners who were striking and their families. Afraid of another Massey strike, the UMWA became more involved with the strike.

BESCO Strike, Nova Scotia

District 26 of the UMWA in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada struck in early March 1925 against the British Empire Steel Corporation (BESCO). On June 4, the union pulled its men from a company power plant in New Waterford. More than fifty company police, many on horseback, occupied the plant on the morning of June 11. An estimated 700 - 3,000 miners and supporters gathered in New Waterford and marched to the power plant that morning. The company police opened fire when the crowd arrived and then charged the crowd on horseback, swinging nightclubs and firing revolvers. Miners fought back with stones and pulled police off horses. William Davis, a miner, was shot dead and several others were wounded by gunfire or trampled by horses. After the riot ended, the miners sabotaged and disabled the power plant for the duration of the strike. Police and company officials that didn't escape the battle were locked up in the town jail. In the following nights, company stores were raided and burned, including the colliery building. The Canadian Army deployed thousands of soldiers to the area in the second largest deployment in history for civil unrest within Canada. The union later suspended the 100 percent strike, allowing maintenance workers to return.

The 1925 strike lasted through the summer and contributed to the bankruptcy and breakup of the BESCO conglomerate several years later. The strike against BESCO by UMWA 26 in the Sydney Coal Field was unprecedented for the violence and militancy exhibited by the company toward the striking miners and changed the labour dynamics in Industrial Cape Breton.

Harlan County War

In the summer of 1973, workers at the Duke Power-owned Eastover Coal Company's Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, Kentucky voted to join the union. Eastover management refused to sign the contract and the union went on strike. Duke Power brought in replacement non-union workers, who were attacked. Hogg, the local judge was a coal operator himself and consistently ruled for Eastover. He was accused of being paid off by the company.[citation needed] During much of the strike the mine workers' wives and children joined the picket lines. Many were arrested, some hit by baseball bats, shot at, and struck by cars. One striking miner, Lawrence Jones, was shot and killed by a replacement worker, Bill Bruner. Bruner served no time for the murder.[citation needed]

Three months after returning to work, the national UMWA contract expired. On November 12, 1974, 120,000 miners nationwide walked off the job. The nationwide strike was bloodless and a tentative contract was achieved three weeks later. This opened the mines and reactivated the railroad haulers in time for Christmas. These events are depicted in the documentary film Harlan County, USA.

Other strikes

On October 21, 1902, the five-month Coal Strike of 1902, led by the United Mine Workers, ended.

In 1993, more than 7,500 United Mine Workers miners went on strike against the Peabody Coal Co., the nation's largest coal producer.[5]

Internal conflict

The union's more recent history has sometimes been marked by internal strife and corruption, including the 1969 murder of Joseph Yablonski, a reform candidate who lost a race for union president against incumbent W. A. Boyle. Boyle was later convicted of ordering the murder.

The killing of Yablonski resulted in the birth of a pro-democracy movement called the "Miners for Democracy" (MFD) which swept the Boyle regime out of office and replaced it with a group of leaders who had been most recently rank and file miners. Led by new president Arnold Miller, the new leadership enacted a series of reforms which gave UMWA members the right to elect their leaders at all levels of the union and to ratify the contracts under which they worked.

Decline of labor unionism in mining

Automation and a general decline in American unions cut heavily into the UMW's membership after World War II. Before the start of the war the UMW was very strong in both membership and in achievements. But during the 1920s it was nearly demolished. Along with automation, there were many other facters that caused the decline in the UMW. One of the reasons was that the coal industry was not prepared economically to deal with such a drop in demand for coal. During the war, the amount of coal that needed to be produced per day was very high, however after the demand decreased dramatically. Not only was the coal industry suffering from not being able to sell as much coal, but the government no longer had control over the price level at which it should be sold. Competition to produce the cheapest coal ended up causing coal miners suffering, which they in returned blamed on the UMW lack of efforts. Decreased faith in the UMW to support the rights of the miners caused many to leave the union. Besides the lack of demand for coal, other alternate types of fuel were being researched and produced at cheaper costs due to the rising level of machines and technology that now existed in the businesses in America. The main cause of the decline in the union during the 1920's and 1930s was do to the introduction of more efficient and easily produced machines into the coal mines. In previous years, less than 41% of coal was cut by the machines. However by 1930, 81% was being cut by the machines and now there were machines that could also surface mine and load the coal into the trucks. [2]With more machines that could do the same labor, if no better than person, unemployment in the mines grew and wages were cut back. As the problems grew, many people did not believe that the UMW could ever become as powerful as it was before the start of the war.[2]

Recently, there has also be a decline in the number of members of the union. In 1998 the UMW had about 240,000 members, half the number it had in 1946. This could be an ongoing effect from the previous decline. Now there are many more alternate fuels that are cheaper and cleaner than coal, so the demand for coal has decreased a lot since 1946. However there is still a need for coal, and therefore there are still miners that need the UMWA to protect their rights and safety. Even now in the early 2000s, the union represents about 42 percent of all employed miners, although this is not as great as it was in the past there are still many miners who need and benefit from the union's protection. The UMW is most powerful in West Virginia, as well as in Montana and other western states.

Organized politics

Throughout the years, the UMW has had to work with the government to help achieve what they wanted. There were many presidents of the UMW who agreed with the government and there were also many who had clashes with the government. The biggest conflict between the UMW and the goverment was when Roosevelt was president of the United States. At that time, John L.Lewis was president of the UMW, orginally the two had worked together well, but after the 1937 strike of United Automobile Wokers agaisnt general motors, Lewis began to not trust Roosevlet. Lewis claimed that Roosevelt went against his word and could not trust him. This conflict is the reason as to why Lewis resigned as CLO president. The problem between these two leaders eventually began to increase up till and during World War 2. Roosevelt at one point did not agree with how the UMW was conducting itself and the union members so he threated government intervention. As the years went on however, the conflict diminished and soon was forgotten.[2]
Antoher instance where the UMW was involved with polotics was when the United Mine Workers ran candidate Frank Henry Sherman under their union banner in the 1905 Alberta general election. Sherman's candidacy was driven to appeal to the significant population of miners working in the camps of southern Alberta.[6] He finished second in the Pincher Creek electoral district.

2008 Election

Many people will agrue that the UMWA is too involved in politics. However, in being a union they need to be as informed as possible to insure that they can have support to help back up their propositions. It is very important that the UMWA be as involved with politics as possible because it is these political leaders that they look forward to in the passing of laws that affect the mines in America. That is why in 2008 the UMWA fully supported Barack Obama, because they felt that he was the best candidate to help them achieve more rights for the mine workers. After tapes surfaced directly quoting President candidate Barack Obama as saying "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement:

“Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have once again demonstrated that they are willing to say anything and do anything to win this election. Their latest twisting of the truth is about coal and some comments Sen. Obama made last January about the future use of coal in America.

“Here is what the McCain campaign left out of Sen. Obama’s actual words: ‘But this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is, is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal. And China is building a coal-powered plant once a week. So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it.’
“Sen. Obama has been consistent with that message not just in the coalfields, but everywhere else he goes as well. Despite what the McCain campaign and some far right-wing blogs would have Americans believe, Sen. Obama has been and remains a tremendous supporter of coal and the future of coal.
“I noted that Sen. McCain even went so far yesterday as to say he has always been a supporter of coal. I wonder, then, how he can justify his statement at a Senate hearing in 2000 that, ‘In a perfect world we would like to transition away from coal entirely,’ and his leading role in sponsoring legislation in 2003 that would have wiped out 78 percent of all coal production in America?
“Fortunately, UMWA members, their families and their friends and neighbors in the coalfields know all too well what is going on here. They’re not going to fall for it, and we urge others throughout America who care about coal to review what the candidates’ records on coal actually are. We are confident that once they do, and once they see the many other benefits to working families of voting for Sen. Obama, they will make the right choice for themselves and their families."[7]

The United Mine Workers believe that Obama will help them to continue to improve the quality of the mines and help produce clean coal techniques. They continued to support him throughout the entire election in 2008.

List of UMWA presidents

The districts of the UMW through the years


  • 5- Western Pennsylvania
  • 6- Ohio
  • 11- Indiana
  • 12- Illionois
  • 17- West Virginia
  • 19- Eastern Kentucky and Tennesse[2]


  • 1- ANTHRACITE (North)
  • 2- Central Pennsylvania
  • 5- Western Pennsylvania
  • 6- Ohio
  • 7- ANTRACITE (Central)
  • 8- Indian (Block)
  • 9- ANTHRACITE (South)
  • 11- Indiana (Bituminous)
  • 12- Illinios
  • 13- Iowa
  • 14- Kansas
  • 16- Maryland
  • 17- West Virgina
  • 19- Eastern Kentucky and Tennesse
  • 20- Alabama
  • 21- Arkansas and Indian Territory
  • 23- Central Kentucky
  • 24- Michigan
  • 25- Missouri[2]


  • 1- ANTHRACITE (North)
  • 2- Central Pennsylvania
  • 5- Western Pennsylvania
  • 6- Ohio
  • 7- ANTRACITE (Central)
  • 8- Indian (Block)
  • 9- ANTHRACITE (South)
  • 10- Washington
  • 11- Indiana (Bituminous)
  • 12- Illinios
  • 13- Iowa
  • 14- Kansas
  • 15- Colorado and Wyoming
  • 17- West Virgina
  • 18- Alberta and British Columbia
  • 19- Eastern Kentucky and Tennesse
  • 20- Alabama
  • 21- Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas
  • 23- Central Kentucky
  • 24- Michigan
  • 25- Missouri
  • 26- Nova Scotia
  • 28- Vancouver Island[2]


  • 2- Central Pennsylvania
  • 4- Southwest Pennsylvania
  • 5- Western Pennsylvania
  • 6- Ohio
  • 11- Indiana (Bituminous)
  • 12- Illinios
  • 14- Kansas
  • 15- Colorado, New Mexcio, Montana, and North Dakota
  • 17- Central West Virgina
  • 18- Alberta,British Columbia, and Saskatchewan
  • 19- Eastern Kentucky and Tennesse
  • 20- Alabama
  • 21- Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas
  • 22- Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona
  • 23- Central Kentucky
  • 25- Anthracite
  • 26- Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
  • 28- Virginia
  • 29- Southern West Virginia
  • 30- Eastern Kentucky
  • 31- Northern West Virginia[2]


  1. ^ United Mine Workers of America
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u United We Stand, The United Mine Workers of America 1890-1990, by Maier B. Fox
  3. ^ a b The United Mine Workers of America: A Model of Industrial Solidarity? Edited by John M. Laslett 1994
  4. ^ a b c www.umwa.org
  5. ^ "The Almanac -- weekly". Jan 27, 2009. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/almanac----weekly/story.aspx?guid={D7AC1A0C-DAFA-42EE-A8C9-5BBB9E237651}&dist=msr_1. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  6. ^ Brown, George; David M. Hayne, Francess G. Halpenny, Ramsay Cook (1966). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto Press. pp. 950. ISBN 0802039987. 
  7. ^ 2009 Presidential Campaign.

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address