New Organizational Forms, 1886–1890
This chapter examines the emergence of new organizational forms in Central Pennsylvania's coal industry in the late nineteenth century. It begins with a discussion of the coal miners' strike staged in winter 1889–1890 in the town of Punxsutawney and how it inaugurated a new scale in organization, both for the miners and for the coal operators of Central Pennsylvania. It then considers the founding of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in January 1890 and goes on to analyze the negotiations between UMWA leaders and local activists for a more modest wage agreement. It shows how coal operators, instead of fighting to eliminate all unionism, decided to work with so-called “checkweighman associations.” Finally, it explains how the Punxsutawney strike helped to spark a formal wage agreement between coal operator and coal miner organizations.
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