THE COLVER PAGE

LABOR ISSUES IN THE 1922 STRIKE




The miners strike impacting Colver was part of a general nationwide mine strike called by the United Mine Workers. At the time of the 1922 strike, Coleman was the sole owner of the Ebensburg Coal Company, the partnership of Coleman and Weaver being dissolved in February of 1922. The strike began in April of 1922, but it was not until July 10 that the Colver miners went on strike.

Barton Richards of the New Castle (PA) Daily News met with B. Dawson Coleman in August of 1922 and also interviewed a coal miner a few days later. The Coal miner was from Revloc, but when viewed along with the interview with Coleman, indicates agreement on the issues being dealt with. Richards was in Colver as part of the state militia detachment that had been mobilized to maintain order in the coal regions, and continued exercising his civilian vocation as a newspaper person.

There appear to be three basic issues. First was the issue of Unionism. The miner wanted recognition of the union, Coleman wanted "open shop." Colemanís argument was that unions had the ability to interfere with the production of coal and given his contractural obligations, he could not afford to allow any interference with the production. Coleman indicated that this was steamship coal for the New York City docks.

The second issue was wages. The coal miners had been paid at the rate of 92 cents a ton, the coal operators had cut this rate to 70 cents a ton. Coleman referred to the 92 cent rate as a "war rate" and felt that this made the cost of coal too high for the 1922 market.

The third issue was the union demand for a "checkweigh" man appointed by the union. The weighmaster, a company man, would weigh the loaded cars and the miners were dependent on his honesty. The second man would in the minerís eye serve to insure that the cars were accurately loaded. Coleman saw the check weighman as a duplication of work.

From the tone of the interview, it appears that Coleman took the strike by the Colver miners as a personal affront. He cites the low rent for the company houses and the fact that they were sinking a shaft in town along with building a washhouse and lamp house with the shaft as examples of his concern for the minerís welfare. Also Coleman sees the strike as union/outside agitators taking advantage of personal strife between some miners and their bosses.
 

(Source: New Castle (PA) Daily News of August 9, 1922 and August 15, 1922)



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