A Living Wage for Capital and for Labor, 1895–1902
This chapter examines the coal miners' attempt to establish a national market for wages in the period 1895–1902. From about 1895 to 1900, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) held joint conferences with coal operators that would help match wages to production and transportation costs and curb competition. However, the shift to West Virginia and Somerset County did not truly solve things for the railroads or the coal industry. It made the chief problem of the coal industry—overcompetition—worse and forced the railroads to permanently subsidize the West Virginia coalfields with cheaper freight rates, putting downward pressure on wages in the state. This chapter considers the major shifts in coal miner unionism and the great strikes of 1897–1902, along with the coal operators' strengthening of their organization in the Seaboard Coal Association.
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