Letter to the NEWS ITEM on the 1925-1926 Coal Strike

Letter to the NEWS ITEM on the 1925-1926 Coal Strike

PostBy: rakovsky On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:09 pm

I live in Danville, attend St Michael’s Orthodox church in Mt Carmel. My great grandparents were coal miners and railroad workers from Pittsburgh and Jim Thorpe.

The following letter to the editor will be published in the Mount Carmel-Shamokin NEWS ITEM.


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This February 12 marks the 81st anniversary of the end of the 1926 coal strike. The mine companies received $100,000 a day in profits, but they lowered wages at contract time in September 1925. So 150,000 miners went on strike at 828 mines in Eastern Pennsylvania.

The thousands of miners in Mount Carmel were still striking when the harsh winter came. Families struggled to survive on their savings and the union strike fund. David Pizzioli and other Italian community activists in Mount Carmel set up the “Relief Social Center” and delivered 20,000 rations.

Finally, Gifford Pinchot, considered Pennsylvania’s best governor, settled the strike. He waited uselessly for help from President Coolidge, who believed that the government should keep its “hands off” corporations. After governor Pinchot met both the mine owners and the United Mine Workers’ leader John L. Lewis, he arbitrated that the companies would not lower wages. Pinchot learned the coal companies were "hard-boiled monopolists whose sole interest in the people is what can be got out of them.” John L. Lewis visited Mount Carmel to much celebration (http://www.kanezo.com/sd/ shows photos online).

Earlier, Pinchot directed the US. forestry service. The logging companies clearcutted forests and 60% of Pennsylvania’s forests disappeared by 1900. The logging towns died. So Pinchot led a movement to make 149 public forests for hiking, fishing, and lumber supplies. In 1933 President Roosevelt asked Pinchot’s advice on reviving logging. Pinchot suggested nationalizing all forest lands because corporate logging had failed.

During the 1926 strike, miners dug hundreds of “bootleg” coal mines to heat their homes. They dug on the land the companies took from the Indians. Both the Indians and the bootleg miners believed the earth’s riches were for everyone. If our communities owned our coal and lumber, these industries might still be running strong.
rakovsky